Chicken Soup Stir Fry. Really?

Chicken Soup as a stir fry?  Yup, that’s the one.  Of course, I’m sure a zillion questions are coming to your mind as you try to picture this:, with the main one being, “why?”  Why change a classic soup, arguably the best cure for the common cold, and do it as a stir fry?  Well, that’s not exactly it.

I’m doing this because I was asked.  No, no one came to me and said, “Oh masterful chef, please tarnish a classic dish.”  Here’s what happened:  As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my New Salad entry on the blog, I do classes at the D’Amour Cancer Center in Springfield, for groups of women going through breast cancer treatment.  Instead of the usual class, Chris Carpenter, who runs the Rays of Hope program, asked me and two other chefs to do a round-robin kind of thing.  I’ll have 30 minutes to greet people, cook something, have them sample it, and do it twice more.  Sort of a “rinse and repeat” with food.  Only different.

So I was trying to think what I could do, without an oven (but I do have a burner) that’s not just seasonal.  So I started thinking about soup.  But bringing the stock and vegetables to a simmer took too long.  Then I thought about sautéing the veg.  And viola!  It worked!  My sautéed veg became stir fried veg.  And then I threw everything else in.  And, from start to finish (excluding the veg chopping, which was 4 minutes, 19 seconds), the whole soup took 22 minutes to cook.

Yes, you can try this at home.  If you find that you’re pressed for time, do this faster soup.  If not, make it the regular way.  It’s just as good.

And if you want a recipe for the regular way?  Let me know, and I’ll add it to my recipe page.

Happy souping!  The soup season will be starting soon.  Too soon.

Corn Stock (not stalk…)

My favorite food in the whole wide world is corn.  Really.  It’s great on the cob.  Frozen (the Trader Joe’s organic frozen is amazing).  Even canned.  When I have it on the cob, I like it without salt or butter.  Just the corn.  And I try to eat only the local corn when it’s fresh.  I’d rather skip it for the rest of the year than have less-than-great corn.  Truly, I can think of no other foods that are worthy of my being this picky.  Why?  I really have no idea.  Go figure.  But this is why I’m now getting ready for winter: soups.  They might be chowders.  Or regular soups.  Or chicken and corn soup.  Or whatever I have hanging around the kitchen to go into the soup pot.

Umm, getting ready for winter?  Absolutely.  A number of years ago, I tripped over an idea that changed me and corn soups forever.  When the corn is still fresh, boil (or steam) an extra six ears.  Then take the kernels off the cobs.  Then, take two quarts of chicken (or vegetable) stock, and simmer the cobs in the stock, covered, for 2 hours.  Then, remove the cobs, and cool down the stock so you can freeze it.  When you freeze it, store the stock in one pint (2 cups) containers.

Why do this?  Because you’ve just created a stock that tastes like corn.  When you have that hankering (Hankering?  Is that still a word?) for a corn soup or chowder, you can make one that has a great corn taste in every bite, and not one with some kernels of corn floating around.

So make the stock soon, before the corn season is over.  Then check back this fall, and I’ll post a corn soup recipe.  Or two.

Really.  Hurry up.  The corn season is fading.  Heavy sigh…

Reinventing the BLT

I can’t eat another BLT.  Well, that’s not true.  I’m down to (barely) less than one per day.  I can’t help it. It happens around this time every year.  It’s not my fault.  It’s the tomato’s fault.

First of all, I grew up in a deprived home.  We never had bacon.  So naturally, I’m drawn to it like a moth to, well, bacon.  But I’m also looking at a bit of a better diet.  So I’ve reinvented the BLT.

First, the basics:  bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.  What could need reinventing?  Two things.  I’ve switched to turkey bacon.  No, not the regular supermarket kind.  When I was but a mere child, and my mother made me eat something repulsive, like asparagus (asparagus and I have since made up), I was told I had to be polite about inedible food.  I had turn down the food by saying, “No thank you.  I don’t care for it.”  And while I have yet to meet most supermarket turkey bacons that I like, the best I can say, at this point, is that I don’t care for them.

So what am I eating?  There’s a turkey bacon from Wellshire Farms that is wildly great.  It’s available at many markets around the country, including Whole Foods.  And if not for this great turkey bacon, I’d just be eating tomatoes and mayo.  It’s that good.

Ahh, the mayo.  Hellmann’s mayonnaise, the gold standard of mayos, has one they make with olive oil.  It’s very good.  And healthier than their regular mayo.  And with the local tomatoes (those not killed of by this year’s tomato blight, as ours were in our yard), it makes the perfect BLT.  On toasted rye bread, of course.

So get out there, and go wild with the a BLT.  Once the tomato season is over, it’s back to Fluffernutters on rye.

A New Salad

I’ve been getting lots of comments about my comment last weekend on Facebook about a salad that I made for a dinner on Saturday, which is a variation of the classic Caprese Salad.

For those of you who might not know it by it’s name, a Caprese Salad is sliced tomatoes layered with fresh mozzarella cheese, sprinkled with fresh sliced basil, and spritzed (shpritzed?) with balsamic vinny and olive oil.  So, what’s the variation?  Swap the mozzarella for fresh, sliced peaches.  Really.  Sliced peaches and tomatoes.  At first glance, it might seem shocking. Or at least a bit surprising.  But it was suggested by a friend of mine, Chris Carpenter, the Wellness Coordinator of Baystate Hospital’s Rays of Hope program.  So I tried it for a class.  And since that first time making it, I’ve made it more than a few times, including for a dinner party for seven people tonight.  And every time, it’s been very well received.  After people get over their initial surprise (and, in one case, a stunned look), they  come back for more.

So, run out now, and get some peaches and tomatoes.  Why the rush?  Because their season is so short that you don’t want to miss out on this great salad.