Tag Archives: rapunzel bouillon

Bacon And Ham Soup With Broken Spaghetti (serves 4)

Necessity is most certainly the mother of invention when it comes to dinners some nights in my house, and this soup-y dish stretched that saying to the maximum. I suppose I could have called this “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink”  but I wanted it to sound as sophisticated as it turned out to be.

Bacon And Ham Soup with Broken spaghetti

Bacon and Ham Soup with Broken Spaghetti

I love to cook but don’t always love to shop for ingredients (unless it is a great outdoor market in some far-flung part of the world, or a really dynamite foodie emporium like Eataly in New York City!), especially if it is just to rush for supplies to my dreary supermarket for one measly dinner.

I was down to the dregs as far as choices go but was determined to find what I could and make a meal out of it. I literally put the pot on the stove with the bacon and onions before I knew what I was making. As I found things, I just added them to the pot (like the cooked ham I had mistakenly tucked into the cheese drawer in my fridge).

I ended up with a really great zesty soup that appeared out of nowhere and disappeared quickly. So, never underestimate the power of a bouillon cube, a few stripes of bacon and a 1/4 box of spaghetti!

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You will need:

1 tbs olive oil

1/2 lb cooked ham, large dice

1/2 lb bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 medium onion, (yellow or sweet), diced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

juice of 1 small lime (3 tbs approx)

1 cup peas (I used frozen baby peas)

6 cups spinach leaves (if they are large, chop them)

1 tbs curry paste (I used a Patak brand medium paste)

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes

1 veggie or chicken bouillon cube (I used Rapunzel brand)

10 cups water

1/4 lb spaghetti, broken into short pieces

Method:

1 – Prep all ingredients and put large soup pot on medium heat. Add oil and when it is warm add the chopped bacon and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the onions and garlic and continue to cook for another 8 or so minutes (until onions are soft and bacon more crispy). Next add the other seasonings (pepper flakes, stock cube) and stir.

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Cook the base ingredients

2 – Turn heat up to high and add the water and curry paste.  Bring liquid to a boil.

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Add the liquid

3 – Add the peas, spinach and bring stock back to a boil, while giving the pot a stir.

add greens

Add greens

4 – Turn the heat to medium and add the spaghetti, lime juice and diced cooked ham.

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Add pasta, ham and lime juice

5 – Cover and simmer until pasta is almost cooked (about 6 minutes). Turn heat off and let pot sit for about 10 minutes, in which time the broth will thicken and the pasta will completely cook through. Taste and add seasonings to your taste (sea-salt and/or freshly ground black pepper)

add ham and cook spaghetti

add ham and cook spaghetti

Serve in warmed bowls with lots of crusty bread, more cayenne flakes or sriracha sauce.

serve with toasted bread

Serve with toasted bread

Spicy Crispy-Fried Beef with Noodles & Greens (serves 4-6)

 This was last night’s dinner and it was pretty great. I had some ground beef and thought I would be lazy and make burgers, but as I was rooting around in the fridge for some burger buns I happened upon a lime and 2 Anaheim peppers. I really wanted to use them, so my plan changed.

Spicy Crispy-Fried Beef with Noodles

Spicy Crispy-Fried Beef with Noodles

As I sifted my brain for something creative I remembered seeing a picture of a dish Jamie Oliver had made by cooking the beef to a crumbly crisp and adding honey. I decided to completely rip that idea off but made more of an Asian spicy concoction to mix into the beef. I served it atop pasta and the remnants of whatever greens I could find.

the inspiration for last night's dinner

the inspiration for last night’s dinner

And yes, it really tasted as good as it looks!

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You will need:

1 lb ground beef

3 tbs mirin

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flake (or up to 1 tsp if you like more heat)

2 Anaheim peppers (roasted, peeled & diced – method below)

5 large mushrooms, diced

1 cup peas (I used frozen baby peas)

1 large head Romaine lettuce OR Escarole OR spinach (enough for 6 to eight cups when chopped)

2 tbs chopped fresh tarragon leaves (if you don’t have tarragon, don’t worry)

1 good quality bouillon cube (I use Rapunzel brand)

2 1/2 cup to 3 cups water

1 lime, quartered

1 lb spaghetti pasta (I use Barilla brand)

Method:

1 – Roast peppers as follows: Put your oven rack a few inches from the grill (I’m guessing the second rack) and put the peppers on a baking tray and place under the hot grill. Check every few minutes and turn peppers as they blacken (look at picture below to gauge)

grill peppers until charred

grill peppers until charred

2 – Remove peppers and place in a brown paper bag (I use the bags I get when I buy a bottle of wine) and close. Leave for about 15 to 20 minutes undisturbed. Remove from bag and peel off the skin, remove the stem and seeds. Do not rinse with water or you will lose flavor and texture.

peel and de-seed the peppers

Peel and de-seed the peppers

3 – Dice the pepper and set aside in a little bowl until needed.

dice peppers

Dice peppers

4 – Prep rest of ingredients before you begin cooking:

Tarragon leaves (to be chopped)

Tarragon leaves (to be chopped)

dice mushrooms

Dice mushrooms

chop your greens

Chop your greens

place your peas in a bowl to thaw a little

Place your peas in a bowl to thaw a little

I always chop my bouillon cube (makes it easy to mix into dishes)

I always chop my bouillon cube (makes it easy to mix into dishes)

5 – Chop garlic and combine with cayenne flakes, and mirin. Set aside.

6 – Put big saute pan (big enough to hold the finished dish) and add 2 tbs olive oil. when it has warmed, add the mushrooms for about 8 minutes.

cook mushrooms

Cook mushrooms

7 – Add the chopped tarragon and continue to cook until the mushroom juices begin to dry up and mushrooms are nice and brown (another 8 or so minutes)

cook until browned

Cook until browned

8 – Add the bouillon and mix until it dissolves. Add the water and turn heat up to high. Add the greens, peas and 1/2 of the Anaheim peppers, (reserving the rest for a garnish). Stir everything together and cook until the broth boils. Turn heat down and cover.

Add bouillon cube, then liquid adn greens

Add bouillon cube, then liquid and greens

9 – Cook at a gentle simmer for between 5 to 10 minutes (test by tasting the greens. If they are soft with a little crunch at the stem and rib, it is cooked)

cover adn cook for about 10 minutes

Cover and cook for about 10 minutes

10 –  While greens are simmering, put the water on for the pasta and cook the meat as follows: Put saute pan on med/high and add the meat (no oil). Cook, stirring very frequently until meat releases the fat. Continue to cook until meat is beginning to get crispy.

cook beef

Cook beef (use potato masher to break up the meat)

11 – Stir in the mirin mixture and remove to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

cook until browned adn criapy, add mirin mixture

Cook until browned and crispy, add mirin mixture

12 – When pasta is cooked, drain and immediately toss into the pan of cooked greens. Turn off heat (if you haven’t done so already) and mix everything together.

cook spaghetti..

Cook spaghetti..

To serve, divide noodles and broth between 4 to 6 bowls (depending) and top with the crispy beef. Garnish with a lime and reserved diced peppers.

serve with lime wedges

serve with lime wedges

Slow-Cooked Pork with Pungent Juniper & Caraway (serves 12-14)

Amazing Pork dish

Amazing Pork dish

Planning the Christmas menu is always a challenge for me. I am a sort of irreverent traditionalist in that I like to refer to the foods that relate to the holiday, while at the same time, serving dishes that are a little unexpected. My idea of the perfect meal is one where the entire length of the table is filled with an astounding sea of platters filled to the brim with the flavors of the season.

Christmas day cooking

Christmas day cooking

I spent at least 6 weeks composing our Christmas dinner. This makes me sound a little intense and a tad overly meticulous, but I assure you most of the planning was done while day-dreaming about food while driving, or when lying in my bed late at night when my brain refused to turn itself off.

dessert would not be complete without Christmas Crackers!

dessert would not be complete without Christmas Crackers!

This year was more ambitious than others, with 15 people to cook for.  Four close friends would be staying at the house, as well as my two brothers, one of whom was bringing his wife, three kids and mother-in-law! They were all traveling from places as close as New York City, to as far away as Colorado and Canada. Right there was pressure to please all of my wonderful friends and family who were making the effort to spend time with us. I wanted everything to be spectacular and fill them with so much goodness that they would think of nothing but that when they remembered the Christmas of 2012!

Everybody has now come and gone, and a quiet has descended upon my kitchen. It was a marvelous whirlwind of conversation, laughter, games, silliness (the silliness part being mostly my brothers’) and a joyously frantic marathon of cooking and eating.

The Christmas table had a parade of food including: slow-cooked pork with root vegetables, (recipe below), turkey breast with rosemary scented gravy, curried meatballs, roasted aromatic bread stuffing, baked rigatoni in a rich beef ragu sauce, Celine’s famous Meat Pie, creamed mashed potatoes, cranberry/orange relish, balsamic dressed green beans, romaine salad, and for dessert, Italian trifle, warm plum pudding, an array of Christmas cookies, and chocolates.

Delectable Christmas Cookies (labourious made by my freind Bird)

Delectable Christmas Cookies (laboriously made by my friend Bird)

I am only posting one recipe, but it was one of the biggest hits and could be made any wintry night. It is rich, mouth-wateringly good and unusual. I was definitely pulling from and inspired by a recipe from one of my latest Saveur magazines, but as with all recipes I believe you should allow yourself the liberty of tweaking it to your own taste and convenience. For instance, the recipe called for juniper berries which I decided to pulverize and make into a paste using extra-virgin olive oil and the other spices. Also I used the vegetables of my choice (what was available in my supermarket) and added more liquid and wine. Feel free to ad-lib from my recipe below to make something that is more you!

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Preheat oven 350*

You will need:

6 to 7 lb pork shoulder, de-boned and butterflied (I took this to the butcher right at the supermarket counter and got him to it – all you have to do is ask!)

2 oz pancetta (don’t worry if you don’t have this ingredient)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

10 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 1/2 tbs dried juniper berries (you can find this in well-stocked supermarkets or spice shop)

5 tsp  caraway seeds

1 tbs fresh rosemary leaves

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp course sea-salt (I use Maldon sea-salt flakes)

2 pale green inner celery ribs including leaves, roughly chopped

4 big carrots, peeled & sliced thickly OR 2 cups baby carrots, left whole

3 big parsnips, peeled and sliced thickly

1 very large sweet potato, cut into big chunks

1 good quality stock cub (I use Rapunzel brand, herbs with sea salt)

1 cup red wine

4 to 6 cups water (more instructions in the method)

Equipment: Roasting pan or big saute pan (oven proof), kitchen string/twine

Method:

Preheat oven 350*

1 – Put juniper berries, caraway seeds, garlic, rosemary leaves, salt, pepper  and the 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil in a food processor and grind to a rough paste (pulsing action works well).  Open butterflied pork (like opening a book), and rub paste over every part of the inside. Lay pancetta in a single layer keeping about 1 inch from the edge. Roll the pork up as tightly as you can and lay on cutting board with opening facing down. Firmly tie with string.

Prepare meat

Prepare meat

2 – Put roasting pan or big saute pan on high heat and add the 1/4 cup olive oil. When it is hot, add the pork and brown on all side. This will take about 20 minutes. When done, place on plate and set aside.

cook veggies

cook veggies

3 – Turn heat down slightly and add the root vegetables and thyme sprigs. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 12 minutes. Add stock cube and stir. Add wine and cook on high heat for about 2 minutes. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Turn heat off and place the pork on top.

Cook

Cook

4 – Cover with foil and place in oven until meat is done (until meat reaches 165* This will take anywhere between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. Check each hour and add water if it looks low (about 1 cup each time).

Rest meat, then slice adn serve with veggies

Rest meat, then slice and serve with veggies

5 – When done, rest meat on a plate for about 20 minutes and keep veggies with au jus warm on low heat on stove top.

I cannot tell you how cook this tastes. You may just have to make it for yourself!

I cannot tell you how cook this tastes. You may just have to make it for yourself!

Slice meat and lay onto a serving platter. Pour the pan juices and vegetables over the top and serve. This is great with rice or mashed potatoes and a fresh green salad on the side.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Smokey Pork With Capers & Penne – So Good! (serves 6 in a hurry!)

A few days ago I posted a recipe just to demonstrate how frozen pork tenderloin could be sliced and used handily, (Pork Stir-Fry). Well, here is another one.

I cannot tell you how convenient it is to have ingredients like a quick-cooking meat and baby peas in the freezer. 

Yes, I come off as being boringly organised in the kitchen, but it is because I am just the opposite that I make sure to have food like this stashed away! It rules out a lot of thinking and planning. I will say that I am good at winging-it in the kitchen, so not knowing what I am going to cook each evening is more of a joy than a challenge (my one talent).

So Good

But, if you’re not a fly by the seat of your pants style cook, this is a great recipe for you. It is also ideal for a crowd, so double the amounts and have a party!

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You will need:

1 lb pork tenderloin, thinly sliced (if the pork is semi-frozen it is very easy to slice)

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 good quality veggie or chicken bouillon cube (try to keep Rapunzel cubes on hand)

3 heaped tbs capers with their briny juice

1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup peas (I used frozen baby peas)

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tbs unsalted butter (optional)

1 lb penne, mini penne if you can find it (I use Barilla brand)

freshly ground black pepper

pasta water and cream as necessary

Method:

1 – Slice the pork and set aside. Put water on for pasta and when it boils add some salt and cook according to instructions. The pasta should be cooked right about the time you need to add it to your pan. *Do not rinse pasta and reserve about a 1/2 cup of the cooked pasta water for use later*

sliced pork tenderloin

2 – Put large saute pan on low/medium heat, (large enough for the whole dish). Add the oil and when it warms swirl in the stock cube and stir until dissolved.

oil and bouillon

3 – Add the capers and stir to cook in for a minute. Add the paprika and pepper flakes and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Add capers, then smoked paprika

4 – Turn heat up to close to high and add the pork. Arrange on the pan in an even layer and let it cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes, (it will get liquid-y).

add pork

5 – Turn and allow to cook for another 3 minutes or so, after which point it should be nice and tender.

saute pork for 4 or so minutes

6 – Add the peas and cook for another minutes. Turn heat down to low (or just above) and add the cram and water. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes. Taste for addition of salt and pepper and add accordingly.

add liquid

7 – Add the cooked pasta and the optional butter and mix together. If you need to loosen up the pasta you can add a little more cream and/or the reserved pasta water until you are satisfied with the consistency.

add pasta

Serve in warmed bowls or put one large bowl on the table and let everyone help themselves.

add things like black pepper and chili flakes

If you are a condiment-type person I suggest more pepper flakes and black pepper. Some grated Parmigiano Reggiano would be delicious too.

The Best Bouillon Cube Ever!

I cannot believe I have neglected to talk about this until now.

I am a devotee of all things fresh, and as locally grown as possible (just read my blog!). But, there are times, lots of times actually, when I need to use the best bouillon cube ever!

Yes, in the ideal world I would have bags of homemade chicken and vegetable stock in my freezer. As energetic as I am, I still don’t seem to be able to muster up the enthusiasm to boil chicken carcasses or beef stewing bones to make lovely stocks and broths to add to my dishes.

Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon Cube

I know that broths can be bought in cans or cartons, and they are good alternatives to the real deal. However, they take up lots of room and I would constantly be running out of them. I never really liked bouillon cubes. They were either too salty, had too many artificial ingredients, or both.

It was very frustrating to make some really fabulous dish only to be ruined be a crappy stock cube! This all changed when I discovered the bouillon cubes made by the Rapunzel brand. The cubes are nice and big (frequently, I only need half a cube), and the ingredients, straightforward and fresh (sea salt, organic non-hydrogenated palm oil, organic herbs & spices). I buy the one with sea-salt because I am a saltaholic, (the salt comes from the French Atlantic coast and is sun-dried – yum), but you can also buy it without salt, and even without herbs.

I used them anytime I need a broth, and just add water. I store them in the fridge and that makes them easier to crumble into dishes.

They can be found in well-stocked supermarkets and specialty shops. I hope you can find them and give them a try.