Saturday, December 13, 2008

Souper celebration

St. Paul's Memorial Church's first Guadalupe Day service and dinner to raise money for PACEM was enjoyed by about 50 people on Dec. 12, 2008. Here, as promised to those who asked, is the recipe I used for the tortilla soup. Meredith Frazee (who turns 7 today) made the quesadillas to go with them; and many, many thanks to Pam Dennison who made the delicious flan. Many thanks, too, to the many hands who made the work light, especially Jane Rotch who chopped the onions, and Lisa Inlow and Jim Richardson who diced the jalapeños. And gratitude beyond measure to the cleanup crew, spearheaded by Simeon Fitch.

Tortilla soup
Prep time: 15 minutes / Cook time: 1 hour / Serves: 6

I adapted this recipe from the soup served at The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. -- Lori Korleski Richardson

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 cups diced onions
1 15-ounce can tomato puree
1 15-ounce can small dice tomatoes
1 large can Ortega diced chilies
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon epazote (optional)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 large bay leaf
1½ quarts chicken stock
½ cup frozen corn
½ cup frozen peas
4 tortillas chips, crunched up
Fresh lemon wedges
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or 1 tablespoon epazote)
2 fresh jalapeno chilies, chopped
1 cooked, whole skinless, boneless chicken breast, seasoned with cumin and salt, cut into thin strips
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree, tomatoes, chilies, cumin, epazote (if using), coriander, bay leaf and stock. Bring to a boil. Add corn and peas. Lower heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Prepare garnishes while soup is cooking.

Process soup through a food mill if desired. Season soup to taste. Ladle over tortilla chips into warm bowls and garnish as desired, with fresh squeezed lemon and the other garnishes. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blog fog

Forgive me for not posting much this week; I have a church dinner to prepare for (unknown number of guests, a fundraiser for a homeless program in town) besides the usual nuttiness of trying to adjust to a new town during the holidays. More next week, for sure!

Pasta pronto

I love fresh pasta. But the price often stops me. At $4 or more for 8 ounces, that's about the same per pound as a nice piece of fish or steak. And whole wheat pasta, which has more nutrition, often is even pricier.
What to do? If you know how to roll out a pie crust, and you don't mind it looking a little rustic, you can make it yourself. Jamie Oliver, TV's Naked Chef, says making pasta is so easy that he's "seen a 10-year-old turn out a decent ravioli." He's right about it being simple; I made some this morning for lunch.

Lori K's basic wheat pasta
Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side

½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup pasta flour, divided
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix the wheat flour, ½ of the pasta flour and salt in a large shallow bowl. Make a well in the middle. Beat together the egg, milk and oil (if you need to limit your cholesterol, use just the egg white and add another tablespoon of oil). The dough will be sticky; add as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a rather dry dough. Knead for at least 3 minutes until smooth. Form into a ball and cover bowl with a towel, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While waiting, roll out the dough to about an ⅛-inch thick, then slice it into ¼-inch ribbons. When the water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta strands. Stir as the pasta cooks and check it for doneness at 3 minutes. Do not overcook or it will turn into a paste. Drain and toss with a little olive oil and whatever else you desire. I used chopped sun-dried tomatoes and olives for lunch today and that was delicious. 
If you don't use all you've made, it dries easily. Drape it over a rack for faster drying, but it will dry on a breadboard as well; flip the strands over every hour or so.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat?

While I lived in Northern California, one of my favorite destinations was to San Francisco to take in a meal (or a series of meals, wandering from neighborhood to neighborhood). Yet in all the time I was there, not once, NOT ONCE did I ever EVER come across Rice-a-Roni on a menu! Yet I knew from years of watching television that it was "The San Francisco Treat." It even featured a cable car. So what gives?

Apparently, it was only created there. Here is the company's version of its history:
Like most great products, Rice-A-Roni® began as a well liked family recipe…

The DeDomenico family all enjoyed an old Armenian dish consisting of rice, vermicelli pasta and chicken broth. The rice and pasta were sauteed in butter before the liquid was added, giving the dish its distinctive taste.

In 1958, Vince DeDomenico decided to take this recipe and produce it for sale in grocery stores. He placed the rice and pasta in a box, and added a dry seasoning mix in place of the liquid chicken broth. Because this product was made up of half rice and half pasta, he decided to call it RICE-A-RONI®.

Chicken RICE-A-RONI was first introduced in the northwestern states in 1958. With it came the first RICE-A-RONI commercial, featuring San Francisco's Cable Cars and the now famous jingle. Created in San Francisco, RICE-A-RONI would soon be known to all as "The San Francisco Treat®!".

I long ago swore off the stuff, since the rice no longer tasted like rice, and it had more sodium in it than a person needed in a week. But I always liked the way it looked and decided to cook my own at home. It was surprisingly delicious! 

Lori K's Twice-as-Nice-a-Roni
Makes 3 cups

1 tablespoon oil or butter
½ cup filini pasta (or vermicelli pasta broken into 1 inch pieces)
½ cup bastmati rice
1¾ cups chicken or beef broth

Heat the oil or butter over medium high heat; when hot, add the pasta and sauté until it begins to brown, then add the rice and continue stirring until the most of the rice turns white or begins to brown. Add the broth and turn up the heat to boil. When it comes to a boil, cover and turn heat down to low. Cook for 15 minutes, fluff and serve hot.