I don’t do new year’s resolutions. However, I do like the odd challenge.
And I think I’ve come up with a good one for 2014.
I’ve been an avid Bon Appetit reader and subscriber for years. I read them front to back and back to front. I save them. Cook and bake from them – well, the recipes that catch my eyes (and stomach) anyways.
This year? This year I’m going to cook each and every cover recipe.
Yep. I may not like the cover, or be inspired to eat it, but I want to try. Just to challenge my palate and stretch my skills in the kitchen.
And I’m going to let you know what I think!
First up? January 2014’s cover recipe: spicy pork and mustard green soup.
I made it multiple times. I LOVED it.
I subbed in ground chicken. I used kale. One time I tried soba noodles. Another time I threw in homemade peanut sauce at the end to thicken it to a stew-like consistency.
I’ll be making this soup again, and again, and again.
I’m already looking forward to February’s cover – a chicken and dumpling concoction.
I don’t know about you, but frigid weather always means soup. And I don’t mean soup out of a can. I’m talking about real, homemade soup.
I don’t use a recipe. I make my “kitchen sink soup” based on whatever I have in the house. I promise you this soup is so easy you’ll wonder why you ever would buy soup again. Make it vegetarian with vegetable stock and seasonal veggies. Change up the spices to dramatically alter the flavour. Add different meats, add different grains. It’s really, really hard to mess up soup. Use flavours you love and you will always have a winner.
Here’s my recipe from today’s meal:
As I haven’t done groceries in a couple of weeks (oops) I grabbed chickpeas, quinoa, and frozen veggies. At the last minute I subbed roasted chicken for the quinoa.
I cooked the veggies in a couple teaspoons of vegetable oil for about five minutes. Then I added my broth and water. I use three cups of broth and two cups of water. At this point I also added my chickpeas and seasoning of choice. For today’s soup I used two teaspoons chile flakes, ginger and coriander, and one teaspoon rosemary and chile powder. I wanted something spicy to warm me up! I also tossed in a tablespoon of soy sauce for colour and zing.
The I let the stove do the work. It needed to simmer for half an hour. This is the time I get antsy and ready to eat. I recommend you open a bottle of wine, pour yourself a glass and paint your nails.
When my nails were dry I threw in my chicken and simmered for ten minutes more.
Then I added freshly ground pepper and devour. See? Easy peasy. This batch made me about four servings. The other three are in my fridge, and will act as meals for the weekend, although it can just as easily be put in the freezer.
Being in my new place for a little over a month now, has reminded me how much pleasure I can find in feeding myself in the fall. The produce is abundant, and flavourable, and nothing takes a lot of prep to make amazing; my kitchen is sparkly new and a pleasure to cook in. I putter around, and find myself calling friends to come over to eat, as I inevitably make far too much food. Example number 1: tonight’s dinner.
I call it: throw it in a pan dinner. It’s pretty much impossible to screw up. All it is pan-warmed veggies (with olive oil and chile sauce) served over mixed greens and goat cheese. I normally throw in whatever I have on hand. This version stars roasted brussels sprouts, baby heirloom tomatoes, bacon (!) and olives. The delicious side is pumpkin ravioli from President’s Choice. So good, inexpensive, and simple to make that I may try all the flavours. Anyone else tried them?
A bold red wine is all it takes to finish the meal. I’m currently loving Yellow Tail’s Shiraz/ Grenache blend, but any Shiraz or Cab Sauv would also work well.
The perfect soundtrack for this meal was Alicia Keys’ ‘As I Am’ – because a Chopin inspired R&B album is perfect on a fall night.