Sunday, December 28, 2014

Eggs in Purgatory or Shakshuka

There’s something special—even exotic—about starting off your morning with a piping hot, brightly colored plate of Shakshuka or Eggs in Purgatory, a Israeli-tunisian egg dish that’s packed with flavor and, usually, a lot of spice!

The antioxidant-rich tomatoes, coupled with the warming properties of the hot pepper, make it a dish that’ll perk up your taste buds and the rest of you with every savory bite. Generally served at breakfast, this is a meal happily eaten at any time.

What I love about Shakshuka is that the dish lets you be creative and get liberal with your favorite ingredients. Shakshuka literally means “all mixed up” in Hebrew, and that’s part of the fun of making it. If you prefer your eggs poached to over-easy, go ahead! If you want extra onion, throw it in! For those that relish a real spicy kick, add a few more slices of hot pepper to the mix, and if you can’t take the heat, just leave them out. The choice is yours!

The sauce is just made for dipping, so consider soaking up the medley of rich flavors with pita, or hearty toasted sourdough or french bread. 

This is a crowd friendly meal as well, it's just as easy to have two pans going as it is one. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Turkey Wild Rice Soup

This is one of the most beloved soups in this frigid region I live in. With good reason, it's so good.

Minnesota might be known as the state of 10,000 lakes but it is also a large producer of Wild Rice. 

Wild Rice, Minnesota's State Grain, is almost as old as history itself. This highly nutritious grain is not actually rice, but an annual water-grass seed, "zizania aquatica". Naturally abundant in the cold rivers and lakes of Minnesota and Canada, wild rice was the staple in the diet of the Chippewa and Sioux Indians, native to this region.

And, that folks has given us the beautiful recipe shown here. Wild rice is nutty and slightly chewy combined in this super creamy, flavorful soup that is chock full of carrots, celery and turkey (or traditionally chicken) meat. 

This version is super easy because it's mainly made in the slow cooker. You come home to this soup and you know you're going to have an awesome, comforting meal. 

This soup freezes and reheats beautifully, so be sure to portion and freeze some for a really quick meal another day.

Come know you want to make this....

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Country Fried Chicken

I love a really good, crispy piece of fried chicken. 

That crunch, and then the juicy, plump, seasoned meat. Being able to pick it up and eat it with your fingers, it's food manna.

I have a confession though...

I hate, absolutely hate to make fried chicken. 

Yep-I said it and it's out there now. Mainly because I despise making a mess of my stove and the surrounding counters and floor. That's why in the past my poor family only got this dish homemade about 1-2 times a year. Seriously. Oh and of course there's the "fry" factor also, I just don't fry anything hardly anymore.

But, this time I think I did it right, because there really was minimal mess! 

And the chicken had a beautiful color and crunch and really was probably the best fried chicken I've ever made. 

Fried chicken evokes many emotions and memories for me. My paternal grandmother was from the South and she made awesome fried chicken, but as a child what I loved even more was the leftover gravy she served me the next morning over toast. It's one of my first really good food memories. 

So in my mind, I have always had a pretty high standard set when it came to fried chicken and the resulting gravy. And...I think I may have finally met it!

This chicken is soaked in a spicy buttermilk, shaken in a paper bag with a flour/cornstarch mixture and then fried in shortening before baking in a low oven. Awesome, really awesome.

Use a whole cut up chicken, or like me, a package of chicken thighs. (It's what I had-and they were the best!) I fried them in a heavy cast iron pan, it was perfect, and only used about 1/4" depth of hot shortening, so these weren't deep fried, but they were crispy and crunchy none the less.

Give this one a try, I think you'll make it 4-6 times a year, or more!

Oh, and be sure and make the gravy to serve over those buttery mashed potatoes!