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East Coast USA, United States
Lowcountry porch sitter. Appalachian Mountain lover. Finger Lakes dreamer.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Librarians and Green Chile Chicken Stew

Name a group of people that seem to have all the answers and if they don't know the answer they always know where to go to get the answer. Librarians. Total info junkies and always interestingly unique individuals. (i.e., Amanda Brewer one of our county librarians who aspires to be a country music singer). Somehow in every locale I've lived in there's been a librarian or two engaged in my life. This stew recipe is straight from the reference desk of the Interim Head Librarian, Instructional Support Services at our local technical college (TCL) and was submitted during 2005 for the school's Favorite Happy Holidays recipes (a staff enrichment exercise generated by the PR office that year). This is definitely a go-to-dish for pot luck or day after new year's eve dining. Needless to say librarians always deliver!

1 chicken cooked & de-boned (use chicken broth for stew, add water to make 2 qts liquid)
3-4 large potatoes cut into 8ths
1 roll frozen creamed corn (or 1 can creamed corn)
3 cans chopped green chiles
Salt & Pepper to taste
Flour for thickening

Boil whole chicken, de-bone and chop meat. Add remaining ingredients to broth and bring to boil. Make a roux using 1/4c flour stirred into 2 tbsp melted butter, then add boiling liquid. Cook until potatoes are tender. Garnish with cheese and greens of choice.

Roux (pronounced /ˈruː/) is a cooked mixture of wheat flour and fat, traditionally clarified butter. It is the thickening agent of three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking: sauce béchamel, sauce velouté and sauce espagnole. Butter, vegetable oils, or lard are commonly used fats. It is used as a thickener for gravy, other sauces, soups and stews. It is typically made from equal parts of flour and fat by weight.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cumquat Duck with Chile Citrus Sauce

Had I known how easy duck is to prepare I might have attempted it far earlier than post 40 years of age (ok, way past 40). My all-time favorite duck dish to date was a breakfast dish of Duck Confit French Toast that was served at Maxies Supper Club in Ithaca, NY (I don't believe they continue to serve breakfast nor that this dish continues on the menu almost ten years later). That love of dish was accentuated by the atmosphere of the restaurant and my fondness for the owners and their staff. I'm rather over enthusiastic about duck at the moment so the holiday meal I've planned has two duck options. The Cumquat version comes from Alastair Hendy and the Crispy Duck recipe hails from Nigella Lawson (for the better part of a year I've idolized everything Nigella and though that admiration will continue I have shifted a great deal of attention to Mr. Hendy). Just saying the gentleman's name "Alastair" heralds the trumpets, much like the affection Elizabeth Gilbert has for saying "Attraversiamo." I know corny, but I like it and would name my first born as such were that not already well past capability, so it likely will be bestowed on a future cat I own. Back to cumquats. (Cumquats with a "c" is the British spelling). I relish citrus essence for its awakening quality. Grapefruit bath soaps, candied lemon peel, limeade koolaid, beaumont citrus room deodorizer, navel oranges pierced with peppermint sticks, all bring out the inner smile. Why cumquat? Nature's sweet tart. A sweet rind with a zesty tart center. You eat them as you would grapes, discarding the seeds (though I suspect some eat the seeds too just like some Lowcountry folks eat shrimp tails). Back to the why of cumquats. Truth be told, a friend who resides near Dade City, Florida sent cumquats from Kumquat Growers as a holiday gift and it seemed appropriate to translate the gift into a holiday food offering. Alastair sites them as the snowpea of the citrus world. His duck recipe was featured in a 2001 article in SeattlePI Soak up some sun with in-season citrus fruits along with an assortment of other citrus recipes. It is also contained in the 2000 text Cooking for Friends that resides in my small but holistically abundant cookbook library. There you have it plenty of reasons why, but simply the opportunity to indulge the 12+ gathered at The Duck Blind to spend Christmas eve together is reason enough for me.
Note: The Kumquat Refrigerator Pie recipe found on the carton lid from Dade City has been reserved for some future occasion.

May any and all JOY find its way to you and yours during the season!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Puerto Rican Coquito

Here's an alternative recipe for the eggnog lovers out there. Blender + ingredients + frothing = lovely. Happy Nogging!

1 15-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 cup white rum
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until frothy. Pour into a glass pitcher and refrigerate. Serve chilled with a pinch of cinnamon.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Crunchy Sweet Brussels Sprout Salad

You either love Brussels sprouts or you don't. I happen to like them, most especially as I uncover preparation options (warm and cold) that go beyond steaming, adding butter and seasoning to taste (though I enjoy them this way too). First I had to tackle the origin of its spelling, was it brussel or Brussels? Just because I'm geared that way as an info junkie. A quick search with Wikipedia delivered the answer to that question. Forerunners to modern Brussels sprouts were likely cultivated in ancient Rome, sprouts as we now know them were grown possibly as early as the 13th century in what is now Belgium. Even more interesting is the connection to our beloved state of Louisiana as production of Brussels sprouts in the United States began around 1800, when French settlers brought them to Louisiana. Coring brussels is easy with a vegetable peeler tip and tossing the shreds in a pan with olive oil and a few simple ingredients is a real snap. What I most enjoy about this particular preparation is the vibrant green, crisp and sweet combination of the ingredients (served warm). Next preparation option to try is a cold salad with bacon and a creamy-style dressing. One can not overlook that Brussels sprouts come with an aromatic essence that some find distasteful, sad but true these divine morsels of goodness do pack a lingering pungent aftermath. From my perspective one has several options at this juncture to continue to enjoy these lovelies...light a match, spring for some smelly candles or pop some buttery popcorn in the microwave.

Thank you Sunny Anderson for this easy recipe:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dad's two favorite things at Christmas

My dad's two most favorite food products to receive and consume at the holiday times are fruitcake and eggnog. We are talking obsession, has to be bought, has to be consumed, has to be enjoyed. Though our household went many years without celebrating Christmas (my mother essentially suffered a massive heart attack on Christmas eve 2001 and died 2 days later) we both have learned over time to embrace our sorrow, but not let our enjoyment of the season suffer in the process. Most especially the food components of the holiday. It is fair to say that neither of these particular holiday foods capture my full attention, but that has not stopped my dad from ordering fruitcake made by the monks at Gethsemani Farms and insisting that Pet Dairy eggnog be stocked in my refrigerator. This year I'm taking the plunge to make the eggnog from scratch. This Martha Stewart version has enough adult beverage in it to warrant a disclaimer for my beloved nondrinkers, but worth sharing with those that won't shy away from a bit of jolly juice. Enjoy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happiness Soup

Simply show me the color yellow, send me a bouquet of sunflowers or smack me in the face with a broad smile and it invokes my utter happiness. Same holds true for yellow spices, freshly picked ears of corn, butter, and sun beams. One's level of happiness varies by the moment but the bright sunny disposition of this golden broth will signal its arrival through aroma, taste and comfort. And that state of bliss is exactly why many of us hold memories of food experiences indefinitely. (Thank you Nigella!)

2 large yellow courgettes
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 litre chicken broth
100g basmati rice
Maldon salt and pepper

I had to look up two words in this recipe, because they were new to my vocabulary.

Maldon Salt: Sea salt which comes from the Maldon area of Essex, UK.
Courgettes: Zucchini: marrow squash plant whose fruit are eaten when small

For the complete recipe simply go to:
Life Enrichment is like a travel and learn program...offering infusions that make every day life thereafter far more interesting! ~ Ann-Marie Adams, Reflections on a Meaningful Life