Wednesday, January 25, 2012

avgolemano!

I am eating this soup RIGHT NOW and did not want to waste another second before posting it.  It is delicious and can be ready in about 30 minutes with some convenient subs like rotisserie chicken.  This is the recipe that I made, which is a riff on a fantastic Cooking Light recipe they featured in their most recent issue.

This soup is purportedly a fantastic hangover cure as well as a delicious, warming meal at any time of day.

Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Egg soup)

2 cups of cooked chicken, diced or pulled (I used a garlic rotisserie chicken)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup of shallots or onions, sliced and diced (whatever you have around works, I prefer shallots)
7 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of quinoa (red looks best!)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of dried dill or 2 tablespoons fresh
1 tablespoon of dried tarragon (optional, but i looove the flavor)
2 tablespoons fresh italian flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons of cornstarch
2 eggs
4 - 6 basil leaves, torn
salt and mixed color peppercorns in large grinds, to taste (I used McCormick's garlic pepper grinder)
1 tablespoon of EVOO

Add EVOO to deep sauce pan on high heat.  After it heats for 60 sec, add shallots and sautee for three minutes. Add garlic, dill and tarragon (if using) and sautee for one minute more.  Add quinoa, tossing in oil, and shallot mixture, sauteeing for two minutes.  Add chicken broth and reduce heat to medium, stirring frequently as it simmers.  Meanwhile, add eggs and lemon juice in a small bowl.  Combine and whisk in two teaspoons of cornstarch, and salt and pepper to your liking.

After the broth, quinoa etc have been simmering for 15 minutes, or when quinoa is tender and about to be done, add egg/lemon mixture in three sections, whisking nonstop so that the eggs do not cook in clumps when they hit the broth.  If you'd prefer you can remove the soup from the heat for this portion.  When egg mixture is completely added, put it back on the heat and whisk for 60 seconds.

When the mixture reaches a solid simmer, add cooked chicken, stirring well.  Cook mixture together for 2 - 3 minutes or until chicken is heated through and quinoa is cooked to your liking.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4!  Great with a salad for dinner, on its own for lunch. You can also sub long grain white rice, basmati brown rice or arborio rice for the quinoa if you'd prefer.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Queen of Dips has returned from her holy hiatus.

Someone bestowed the above title on me on New Years Eve when I proudly displayed four variations of dips for my party guests.  I shrugged.  Mostly because I've only transcribed one dip recipe and generally just wing it and taste, taste, taste until it goes somewhere I like.  Here are the four I made for NYE that are perfect for football playoffs, awards show parties and a bevy of other occasions that will be coming up in the next few months.

To lighten up the below, use lower fat cream cheese or tofutti soy cream cheese in place of full fat cream cheese or creme fraiche and consider 0% greek yogurt instead of sour cream.  Keep the ratios the same.  Daiya's super stretchy cheeses are great in the black bean dip in particular, to keep it vegan friendly.


Black Bean Dip

2 cans of black beans with their liquid
3 green onions, thinly sliced from root to tip
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
8 oz extra sharp cheddar
8 oz creme fraiche
1/2 cup of salsa verde

Preheat oven to 350.

Reserve a small handful of sliced green onion, a pinch of cilantro and about an ounce of cheddar for the top of the dip.

Add black beans + liquid, salsa verde, creme fraiche and remaining cilantro, onions and cheese to an 8x8 baking dish. Mix until combined.  If you have an immersion blender, puree mixture in baking dish until at least half of the beans are creamy.  If you'd prefer a creamier dip, you can certainly continue. I like to leave some beans whole for texture and presentation. Otherwise, you can use a potato masher for a rougher consistency or use a blender. Before baking, top with reserved ingredients.

Bake for 20 minutes or until top is browned and dip is heated well throughout.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

9 oz box of frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry of water
9 oz frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, or 2/3 jar of marinated artichokes, chopped
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
pinch of salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until dip is browned and bubbling.

Carmelized Onion and Shallot Dip


2 medium to large onions, thinly sliced into long pieces
2 shallots,  thinly sliced
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon hot hungarian paprika (or 1/4 tsp cayenne and a tablespoon of reg paprika)
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons of butter
1/8 cup vegetable oil

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet.  Add onions and seasonings and sautee for 10 minutes over medium heat.  Lower heat to low or medium low and cook until the onions are browned and caramelized (about 20 minutes).  While the onions cool, place cream cheese, sour cream and mayo in the bowl of a mixer and beat until all three are one cohesive mixture.  Add onions and mix well.  Optional: bake for 15 minutes at 350 to combine flavors.

Garlic Shrimp Dip

16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of shrimp
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 green onions (or 1 yellow onion), chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add shrimp and sautee.  After first turn of the shrimp (once one side is pink), add in yellow onion (if using), red pepper flakes and garlic.  Sautee until shrimp is cooked and then roughly chop. Add chopped shrimp mixture (scrape the skillet for extra flavor!) to a baking dish with room temperature cream cheese, herbs and parmesan cheese.  Stir well to combine.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 and serve hot.

All of these can be served with your favorite veggies, chips or crackers. I love Mary's Gone Crackers black pepper crackers in particular with dip. I also love using left over black bean dip as a spread for sandwiches or on toast as a snack.

Hope you'll all enjoy them as much as my guests do.  My boyfriend is salivating just watching me write this post, if that is any indicate of what is in store.  Cheers to your next gathering!