Monday, October 8, 2012

Brazilian Chicken Soup

With the leaves changing to vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows there also comes a chilly threat of winter. The crisp autumn air reminds me that it is officially soup season! I love the way a bowl of hot soup warms you from the inside out. It comforts the soul. I truly believe a hearty, delicious bowl of soup and a steaming cup of tea help us who live in the Midwest survive our bitterly cold weather-- at least they make a big difference for me. Expect many more comforting soup and stew recipes to come.

I found this Brazilian Chicken soup recipe in my trusty Soup's On cookbook. It appealed to me because you cook a half of a chicken in water which creates its own broth. Then you pull the moist chicken meat off and put it directly into the soup. Because the Marinade Express process removes impurities from the chicken, the broth will not require skimming to remove the impurities that usually form as a scum in soup broth. The broth is subtly flavored; I added some extra spices to bump up the flavor complex. The carrots are a great way to make this soup a meal in one.


Brazilian Chicken Soup Adapted from Soup's On cookbook (6 servings):


Half of a 3 to 4 pound chicken
Santa Fe MX Seasoning mix
4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
1 sprig fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1. Process the whole chicken in the Marinade Express for 15 minutes with the Santa Fe Salsa Mx Seasoning.
2. Reserve 1/2 of the chicken for another use and place the other 1/2 into a large stock pot with the bay leaves, tomatoes, onion, celery, and parsley. Add 2 quarts (8 cups) water, cover with lid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the broth is flavorful, about 1 hour. Remove the soup form the heat.
3. Remove the chicken from the stock and let it cool. When it is cool enough to handle, use a fork to pull the meat from the bones. Set the meat aside and discard the skin. I put the bones in a freezer bag to save for another soup later.
4. Put the stock and vegetables through a food mill (or use an immersion blender) to create a thick chicken stock.
5. Return the stock to the pot, add the carrots, rice, salt & pepper, cumin, curry, and smoked paprika and 2 cups water to the pot. Cook on medium heat, reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, until rice is tender. Add the chicken in for the last 10 minutes to heat. Serve hot and enjoy.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Postscript To Crispy Oven Fish Fry With Mushy Peas: The Proposal Story

My apologies for the lack of blogging in the past several weeks. I think you will understand that I have been busy elsewhere when I share my exciting news. On September 8th Paul popped the question! Even though the subject of marriage had come up, he had led me to believe that we wouldn't be getting engaged for several months. Therefore the day of the proposal was a huge surprise.

My Gorgeous Ring!

It was Saturday, September 8th, which happens to be our 2 year 4 month anniversary (who's counting?). Normally we barely acknowledge our monthly anniversary so our Saturday was just a normal one. Paul wanted to go hiking at Swiss Valley, a gorgeous nature preserve park with hilly valleys, a woodsy area, and a stream running through it. This is not an unusual activity for us. At 6:00 I put on my "attractive" hiking clothes, and we hiked for about an hour to our favorite spot, where a boulder rests on the top of a wooded valley. Swiss Valley has become "our" place: it was where Paul took me on our first date together; it is also where he asked me to be his girlfriend. Paul will not hesitate to remind me that my answer that day was,  "No". But two weeks later, on the 8th,  we were officially dating. This particular boulder is also where I later told him for the first time that I loved him.

As I stood in front of him on the boulder this chilly fall night of September 8th enjoying the scenery, Paul asked me to turn around. He had to ask me twice because I didn't want to take my eyes off one of my favorite places. When I finally turned around I saw a glimpse of something shiny in a black box. I barely looked at it but I knew what it was. The way he asked me was simple but perfectly sweet, "Emily, I love you. Will you marry me?" I was so excited that it took me a while to realize that he never knelt down on one knee. However,  I can forgive him since he was on an uneven boulder. I wouldn't want my new fiance to literally fall head-over-heels for me and break his thumb again.

It is ironic that Paul proposed two days after I made the Crispy Oven Fish Fry with Mushy Peas recipe.  Paul, who had never liked fish, loved the dish. It must be proof that you can speak to a man's heart through his stomach, especially when you prep your food in a Marinade Express! We are so excited for our wedding next summer and I am blessed to be marrying my best friend. Oh, and how perfect is it that we get to preserve our dating / proposal anniversary of the 8th? Our wedding date will also be the 8th.

At a wedding we attended in July I caught the bouquet and Paul caught the garter. Guess that superstition is true!