13 September 2008

Sausage and Spinach Soup

With fall around the corner, I'm definitely in the mood for soups! I just made the clam chowder last week, so I was hoping for something totally different. My mom actually gave me the idea to put together a sausage and potato soup. She likes to add whatever veggies she has on hand, so that's what I did.

2 small yellow onions, chopped

3 spicy Italian sausages, casings removed

7 small red potatoes, chopped

chicken broth

1 bag fresh pre-washed spinach

I used the scraps left over from a rotisserie chicken to make my own chicken broth. Place everything that's left of your rotisserie chicken into a soup pot, cover with water, and simmer. Mine simmered for maybe five hours over the course of two days, but I'm sure you could do less.

In a soup pot, saute the onions in a small amount of olive oil. Salt them right away so that they release their juices and soften, rather than browning. Move the onions off to the sides of the pot and add the sausage to the pot. Cook it through.

I found that my sausage was a little more fatty than I planned on. I dealt with it by continuing on making the soup the way I planned - when it was simmering later, I simply skimmed the fat off the top. Next time, I might have cooked the sausage first, drained it, and added it back to the pan at this step.

Add the potatoes to the pot. Stir to coat the potatoes in the oil, onions, etc. Pour the chicken broth into the pot and bring contents to a boil.

Simmer on your stove until the potatoes are fork tender. I garnished mine with green onions and fresh basil. Simple and delicious!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Risotto

I love risotto, but Andrew is not a fan. An evening when he is out fishing is the perfect time for me to eat whatever I want, and tonight, I was in the mood for risotto! People think it takes a lot of work, effort, or skill, but this couldn't be any further from the truth. Of course, you can tweak my recipe to include whatever vegetables, herbs, cheeses, or other flavors you can think of.

You'll need:

1 cup arborio rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 small yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2-4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

In a medium sized saucepan, saute garlic in about 1 tbsp olive oil until it begins to soften. Add the onion. Salt the contents of the pot lightly and cook until onions are translucent. You do not want to brown the onions or the garlic. In a separate, small saucepan, heat the chicken broth. You just want to warm it - you do not need it to boil or even simmer.

Add the rice to the pot and stir to combine. Toast the rice for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a 1/4 of the broth to the rice mixture. Allow the rice to absorb all the liquid, stirring occasionally, before adding more liquid. Continue to add liquid, allowing the rice to absorb it each time.

When you have added all the liquid to the rice, stir in the spinach. I did not use the entire box, more like 3/4.

Finally, add the goat cheese and stir to melt it into the risotto. The goat cheese I had on hand was purchased at the West Side Market down in Cleveland. It was a spectacular chevre goat's milk cheese...and I'm not gonna lie, I definitely ate some off my fingers!

This recipe takes 15-20 minutes from start to finish. If you wanted to stir in cooked chicken, that would be good too! I preferred it this way, but chicken, sausage, bacon, etc. would all be nice add-ins.

Risotto is so simple and delicious. Once you start making it, you will be amazed at the combinations that pop into your head - butternut squash and pancetta, poached pears and carmelized onions, and any other delicious flavor melds you can come up with.

07 September 2008

Chicken Summer Rolls

I found a recipe for an easy lunch for kids on Food Network's website. The Chicken Summer Rolls are touted as a Vietnamese-style meal that's light but filling. I decided not to use the rice paper, mostly because I couldn't find it in either of the two stores I looked. Instead, I laid the lettuce leaves on plastic wrap and packed them into a plastic tub to keep in the fridge.

It seemed easiest to chop everything first and set up an assembly line, so I prepped all the parts and then put the rolls together.

There were extra carrots, cucumbers, scallions, and leaves of Boston lettuce, so I added some romaine lettuce, croutons, and goat cheese for a big salad later in the week.

If you click the title of this post, you will be directed to Food Network's website to view the full recipe. In the meantime, here is what the insides look like:

I thought this recipe came out nicely, but I don't know that I would make it again, for several reasons. First, my goal was to have this be an easy to grab lunch during the week. Too bad for me, Andrew did NOT like these rolls, so the easy lunch option was out for him. Second, this recipe is extremely labor intensive. Last, it turns out I don't really like rice vinegar, so there was an underlying flavor that I didn't love.

Sometimes, it has to be about what works best for you and your family, and these rolls, while pretty and relatively tasty, don't work well for mine.