matzah ball soup

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For a few days I have been thinking about making matzah ball soup so I can achieve fully the inner Jewish grandma status I’ve always wanted to be. Sure, I won’t actually get there. But the soup has been made for the very first time. It can certainly be improved, but it was a good first try and lovely for a rainy, stormy day.

I adapted this Bon Appetit recipe, which was okay, but I am going to look at other methods.

I also had to buy a new, giant stock pot.

for the chicken stock (this includes the adaptations I made)

2 3-lb. chickens, cut into 8 pieces
2 large yellow onions, unpeeled, quartered
6 celery stalks, cut into 1″ pieces
4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
2 large shallots, quartered
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon black peppercorns

Bring all ingredients and 12 cups cold water to a boil in a very large (at least 12-qt.) stockpot. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken breasts are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Transfer breasts to a plate (remaining chicken parts are strictly for stock). Let breasts cool slightly, then remove meat and return bones to stock. Shred meat. Let cool, tightly wrap, and chill.

Continue to simmer stock, skimming surface occasionally, until reduced by one-third, about 2 hours. Strain chicken stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large saucepan (or airtight container, if not using right away); discard solids. You should have about 8 cups.

matzah mixture

3 large eggs, beaten to blend
¾ cup matzah meal
¼ cup schmaltz (chicken fat), melted
3 tablespoons club soda (I didn’t use this because I forgot to buy it – it probably would have helped… but oh well. Next time)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix eggs, matzah meal, schmaltz, club soda, and salt in a medium bowl (mixture will resemble wet sand; it will firm up as it rests). Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

assemble and serve

1 small carrot, peeled, sliced ¼” thick on a diagonal
Kosher salt, to taste – don’t go too crazy with it
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill (I hate dill so I did not use this)
Coarsely ground fresh black pepper

Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Add carrots; season with salt. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat, add reserved breast meat, and cover. Set soup aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Scoop out 2-tablespoonful portions matzah ball mixture and, using wet hands, gently roll into balls.

Add matzah balls to water and reduce heat so water is at a gentle simmer (too much bouncing around will break them up). Cover pot and cook matzah balls until cooked through and starting to sink, 20–25 minutes.

experimental vegan cream of broccoli soup

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Experimenting over the last few months with using what I have rather than racing to the store to buy something random. I have been messing about with some variation of this recipe for cream of broccoli soup… I don’t have exact measurements, but will indicate in the description some approximations.

Vegan cream of broccoli soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
diced or crushed garlic, to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard (Dijon or plain yellow mustard)
4 cups vegetable broth/bouillon
sprinkle of turmeric
1 teaspoon mustard powder
6 cups of broccoli (I often use frozen bags of broccoli for this recipe)
nutritional yeast to taste
lemon juice
coconut milk, salt, pepper to taste (after blending)

Saute onion for about five minutes in the olive oil in a pot large enough to make a soup.

Add garlic, pepper, and mustard. Stir and cook for about half a minute before adding the broth.

You can use vegetable stock, vegetable broth or just make some vegetable bouillon. I always add a sprinkle of turmeric at this stage and a teaspoon of mustard powder.

Once you’ve added the broth to the onion/garlic in the pot, bring to a simmer and then add your broccoli.

Let the mixture come to a good simmer and cook for about 10 or 15 minutes. The longer it goes, the more the flavor develops. But you don’t have to spend long on this if you’re hungry and just want to eat.

Once you’re satisfied and the broccoli is soft enough to blend, remove the pot from heat and add the lemon juice (to taste, but this could be anything from about 1 teaspoon to a tablespoon) and nutritional yeast if you like the stuff (not necessary but does add a cheesy/umami flavor); I have at times added up to a cup, other times I’ve added maybe a quarter cup. It really depends on your taste preferences.

Once this is stirred, blend the soup in the pot with a stick blender (preferably; you could of course do this in a blender but that’s always messy).

After blended, you can eat it, add some garnishes and eat it or add salt, pepper to taste and possibly even coconut milk if you would like it thinner, creamier or milder in flavor. In the photo below, there is coconut milk in it – and there was some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top making it not-quite vegan.

Ugly lockdown cooking: Vegan lentil slop

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In emptying the cupboards all the remains are lentils, dried legumes and tinned tomato. For a while a few containers of coconut milk lingered.

In the last few days I’ve made ugly variations on this recipe (if you could really call it that) using different sorts of lentils I had on hand.

Variations on lentil slop

1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 bunch of cilantro (I have not had any of this, but used coriander powder)
1 tablespoon curry
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 (or 1.5c) cup lentils
1 can coconut milk (15 ounce/standard size) or 1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth or water
pinch of salt

Saute onion for about 3 minutes, add garlic, ginger, cilantro and saute another minute. Stir in the other spices – be creative and choose what to add and in what your proportion to your own taste.

Rinse your lentils and add to the pan along with the coconut milk. If you’re using tomato instead of coconut milk (or in addition), you might want to add the tomatoes to the spice mixture to simmer for a bit before adding the lentils. Stir everything together once it’s in the pan. Bring mixture to boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every so often until the lentils are soft.

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The worst one of all – beluga lentils (made with coconut milk) topped with Oatly oat-based sour cream.

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Red lentils (made with coconut milk) with brown basmati rice

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Yellow lentils (made with tomato and water – not vegetable broth).

Ugly lockdown cooking: Chickpea quinoa concoction

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I don’t like cooking, and I don’t enjoy shopping for food. Preparing anything beyond just throwing asparagus or broccoli into a roasting pan or whipping spinach and kiwi together in a blender with frozen berries is taxing and not how I prefer to spend my time. But now that we’re facing the dregs of my cupboards, I’m just making whatever is… possible. Something vegan… and ugly as usual.

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Chickpea quinoa concoction

1 cup quinoa (I used a tricolor mix; rinsed)
1.5 cups water
1 tin crushed tomatoes (you could use stewed tomatoes with chilies, peppers, garlic or just plain tomatoes)
1 tin chickpeas, drained (you can of course also use fresh chickpeas)
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil (butter if you don’t care if this is vegan)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
pinch of black pepper
pinch of turmeric
pinch of salt

Heat oil in a large pan and add onion; saute for about five minutes, add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Add the spices (cayenne, cumin, pepper, turmeric).

Increase heat on stove to medium-high. Add the rinsed quinoa, water, tomato. Stir. Add in the chickpeas. Stir again. Bring to a boil.

Stir, reduce temperature to low to maintain a low simmer. Cover the pan, let cook for 15 or so minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for a minute or two.

Serve on its own, with a flatbread, with a dollop of sour cream (or non-dairy sour cream) or whatever strikes your fancy.

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scoop on soup

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Even though Sweden still isn’t on lockdown, I am not keen to exit my self-imposed isolation. This means I end up cooking with what I have, and right now, soup is the only thing I feel like eating anyway.

Yet I’m out of many of the ingredients I most love in soup… so it’s been experimentation time. I wanted something tomato-based – maybe just a pure tomato or tomato garlic soup. But I also felt like having something more substantial. I couldn’t find any recipes online that gave me quite what I wanted. But here we are… an experimental, slightly spicy tomato chickpea coconut soup.

Experimental tomato chickpea coconut soup
1 medium onion, chopped and sauteed
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
a pinch of sugar
1 tin (15 ounces or so) of crushed tomatoes or equivalent chopped, peeled fresh tomatoes
1 tin (15 ounces or so) of drained, rinsed chickpeas
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water (here you could add bouillon of some sort if you want more flavor; I used a half teaspoon of some browned shallot flavored liquid base/bouillon)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion; add garlic once onions are translucent. After 20 or 30 seconds of stirring, add cayenne, then vinegar, tomatoes and sugar. Stir.

Add chickpeas and coconut milk. Stir. Bring to simmer. Add water.

Cover and simmer about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool down before blending with an immersion blender.

Once finished, taste it to see if it’s spiced and seasoned properly. Add salt, pepper, more coconut milk, whole chickpeas (or whatever you want). Drizzle with high quality olive oil when serving.

In the photo I was just going to serve the plain soup but added some wilted spinach on top at the end. That wasn’t too bad.

I suspect this will taste better, as do many things, on the second day.

soup for the win

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In a post-tooth extraction/infection world, operating with ingredients on hand, the diet becomes overwhelmed by soup. Smooth soups. Good thing soup is a favorite – and easy. For a few days running, I’ve been on a semi-spicy black bean soup (a variation of this recipe) kick, but blended everything so as not to disturb the sensitive mouth. But today I had a bit of pumpkin leftover from something else, some must-use coconut milk and, most of all, hunger.

Hunger led me to the latest soup experiment, which is a take-off on my old go-to pumpkin curry soup recipe. In my updated version, I have guessed at the ratios – you can spice it to suit your own tastes, of course. I am not sure about the measurements. This is a super inexact recipe.

I added white beans to this because I wanted to thicken the soup a bit, add a bit of protein and a bit of texture. White beans don’t add much flavor, so this won’t ruin the flavor profiles of anything else you have going on.

New, improved (?), improvised pumpkin curry soup (vegan)
1 tablespoon (or so) olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon curry
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

On medium heat, saute the onion until golden. Add garlic and spices, stir and cook for about two minutes. Remove from heat until other parts of the soup are ready.

Liquid step
1 cup water
1/4 cup (or so) coconut milk
2 teaspoons vegan bouillon cube or powder (or equivalent)
15 (or so) ounce white beans (I used rinsed, tinned beans)

Mix all the liquid ingredients together with white beans in container or pan you can use for blending. Blend together with an immersion blender. When smooth, add to the spice mixture and return to medium heat.

15 ounce can pumpkin (or the “meat” of a baked butternut squash)

I only had about half this amount of pumpkin, and you adjust to your taste. Obviously. Mix this pumpkin into the simmering soup base. Let simmer about 10 or 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend with the immersion blender.

1 cup coconut milk
Coriander garnish if desired

Return the blended soup to low heat, mix in coconut milk until warm enough to serve.

Make your own lemon curd

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Why buy pre-made lemon curd when it’s easy to make your own?

Lemon curd
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
6 tablespoons butter

Whisk all ingredients but butter in a saucepan. Stir in the butter over low heat on the stove. Whisk until mixture thickens (between 6 to 10 minutes).

Cover with plastic wrap, ensuring that the wrap is on the surface of the curd so that it doesn’t grow a skin. 🙂

Chill.

I used this to make lemon meringue cupcakes.

lunch

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The fight against eating easy, grey food is ongoing. As I wrote the other day, I’m striving for color. I am also playing a game with myself to see how many/much of the recommended daily allowance(s) of vitamins and such I can pack into what I eat in a day while still eating fewer than specific numbers of calories. It’s not difficult at all since I don’t eat things like flour, processed stuff or sugar. But it adds some marginal entertainment to the drudgery of coming up with and preparing food. Which I have always hated doing. These may be the only times I have ever seriously considered getting married: find the person who can cook and wants to, and I’m halfway down the aisle.

In any case, today’s lunch is a variety of cherry tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, a sprinkling of green onions, cucumber, black beans, about a half cup of the red quinoa-amaranth-buckwheat-millet mixture I wrote about before (see image below) and some salmon. This whole thing might excite others more with some dressing or vinaigrette, but I don’t like sauces and that sort of thing, so it’s just dry.

Maybe not inspiring for others, but it is nicer to look at than previous lunches, and I am meeting my daily nutritional needs, so can’t complain.

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subtle change

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I may finally have emerged from a grey-food period. I was eating mostly the same mundane meal daily because it was easy, healthy and almost instant. But I’ve finally decided I should put in a bit of upfront effort and prepare some variation and make a few meals for a few days in advance.

My latest go-to, at the very least, is very colorful, although not necessarily pretty. With a base of a grain mix of quinoa, buckwheat, millet and amaranth, I throw in some beans (kidney or black usually), red and/or yellow peppers, red onions, asparagus, baby spinach, tomatoes and who knows what else? And then sometimes add a bit of salmon or a few prawns, if I am in that kind of mood (prefer mostly vegan eating but sometimes seem to need a change).

I think my laziest thing is that I don’t want to bother cooking, so if I do it all at once and make a bunch of well-measured out bowls and cook enough of this grain stuff to many such bowls, I don’t have to think about it every single day. I know people have been saying that to me forever – just take the one ‘hit’ in terms of time, prep, patience, and you will thank yourself. But even that, until recently, I could not force myself to do. But I suppose alongside all the rest of the changes this year, thinking ahead and preparing even for the most boring thing I can think of (eating) is something I can ken.

Now the question remains: will I ever bake again?

Living on soup: Black bean soup

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So a few weeks ago I decided to make spicy black bean soup, and I went way overboard on the spice because I made something that was inedible. I made it edible, eventually, watering it down with water, broth and coconut milk, but it was still so incredibly spicy that I was eating less of it at a time than I normally would as a serving, meaning that it lasted far longer than it should have.

Now, wanting a more palate-friendly version of the soup, I tried again, shying away from the several teaspoons of chili powder the original recipe called for, and I am happy to say this was perfect and has kept me in delicious soup for days.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 diced red onion (any kind of onion you like will do, though)
1 or 2 diced carrots, depending on how much you like carrot
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups vegetable stock
2-3 containers of black beans (drained)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 container (about 15 ounces/425g or so) stewed tomatoes

Heat oil, cook onion and carrot on medium heat for five to ten minutes, add garlic, cook for another minute. Keep stirring. Add spices (except black pepper). Stir and cook for about a minute. Add vegetable stock and 2 containers of black beans and the pepper. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes and other container of beans together in a blender and add to the pot. You could experiment here and add more beans to the blend (for a thicker soup). Stir while cooking for about another ten minutes.

You can also experiment with what you throw into the soup. If you like red or green bell peppers, chop some up and throw them in at the beginning with the onions and carrots. If you like spice, you could always chop up and throw in some jalapeno. Maybe you like corn – “liberate” some corn from the cob or throw in a drained can of corn. It’s up to you. Similarly, at the end, if you like a creamier soup, you could also add some coconut milk or cream/milk as well.

It was great when newly made but the leftovers the next days were REALLY good because the flavors had a chance to develop and the base of the soup got a bit thicker.