Sunday, December 30, 2012

Smoked Salmon Mousse

The refrigerator is free from holiday leftovers and the house is clean.  There is no sign of holidays past and I just got a call from dear friends who want to stop by to deliver holiday gifts.  I had no idea I would be entertaining this evening nor am I prepared for company, but after a quick scan of my pantry and refrigerator, I know I can turn to an old faithful. 

My friend Ilene gave this recipe for Smoked Salmon Mousse to me 30 years ago and I still turn to it when I need a quick hors d’oeuvre or addition to my brunch buffet. I still can't figure out why it's called Smoked Salmon Mousse.  It's not made with smoked salmon and it's not a mousse, but who am I to rename someone else's recipe.  Since it tastes best served at room temperature, it makes a good contribution to a 'pot luck' New Year's Eve party or you may want to have it on hand if you are expecting guests over the holiday weekend.  Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

§     2 6 or 7 ounce cans of skinless and boneless salmon
§     1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
§     1 tablespoon lemon juice
§     2 teaspoons finely chopped onion (optional)
§     1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
§     1/4 teaspoon salt
§     1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

In a medium sized bowl, mix all ingredients and serve with crackers. 
If possible, I prefer to make this at least a day ahead so the flavors have time to meld, but last minute, this will still be a hit.  For a hors d’oeuvre, I sometimes fill hollowed out cherry tomatoes with this smoked salmon mousse to create an “Amuse Bouch,” a single bite to delight while enjoying a cocktail before a meal, but I most often serve this in a bowl surrounded by crackers. 
If I have some left over, I eat it for breakfast/brunch spread on a toasted bagel topped with a slice of tomato, chopped onion and capers. 
For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Smoked Salmon Mousse. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

When Mama Marko comes to visit, we always make it a priority to spend bonding time in the kitchen….but it’s not always my kitchen.  My dear friends, Honey and Tina occasionally make a special request that this dynamic cooking duo come to their home and make Chicken Matzo Ball Soup.  

During my mother’s recent Thanksgiving visit we were able to accommodate our friends’ request.  We packed the car with my oversized stock pots and knives and drove to Franklin to make a huge pot of Jewish Penicillin.  By the end of the day, they had a counter lined with portion sized containers to fill their freezer and hopefully last them through the winter.

§     1 whole chicken approximately 3 1/2 pounds
§     1 pound short ribs (optional)
§     4 large carrots
§     4 celery stalks
§     1 whole onion
§     4 celery stalks
§     Salt and pepper to taste
§     1 Small bunch of fresh parsley
§     1 Small bunch of fresh dill
§     1 bag of egg noodles (optional)

In a large stockpot, place the whole chicken.  To add more flavor, I typically add the neck bone, but don’t add the liver, it will make the soup bitter.  My mother always added short ribs to her chicken soup.  Back then, short ribs were not as trendy as they are today…and we called it “flanken,” but this meat added another layer of flavor to her special soup.  Add the short ribs (optional) and pour in enough water making sure the chicken and meat are covered by at least an inch or two. 

Cook over medium heat until the soup comes to a slow boil.  Lower the heat to medium low and simmer for approximately 1 hour.  If you allow the broth to boil hard, the soup will become cloudy.  After 1 hour, there will be impurities that rise to the surface.  With a slotted spoon, skim the impurities into a small bowl and toss.  Add water if necessary to keep the chicken completely covered. 

I like to add my vegetables after cleaning the impurities from the soup.  Once the broth is cleaned, add the whole carrots, celery stalks, parsley and whole onion.  At this time I add salt to the broth.  I begin with about a teaspoon or two, depending upon how large a pot you have. 

Cover and cook on medium low heat for approximately another hour.   While the broth is cooking, prepare the noodles and matzo balls. 

In a separate pot of boiling water, cook the egg noodles according to directions on the package.  Drain and set aside. 

For the matzo balls, I prefer to use a matzo ball mix.  It tastes exactly the same as using matzo meal and adding the additional ingredients, and I find that it is easier and readily available.

§     1 package Matzo Ball Mix
§     2 eggs
§     1/4 cup vegetable oil
§     1 bouillon cube (optional)
§     1/2 teaspoon salt

Break 2 eggs into a medium bowl.  Add the vegetable oil and mix gently with a fork.  Do not whip.  Add the contents of one bag of the matzo ball mix and gently mix.  Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes making sure the plastic wrap is touching the mixture to prevent the batter from forming a crust. 

In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil with 2 teaspoons salt and a bouillon cube.  To add another layer of flavor to the matzo balls, I like to season the water so feel free to add an additional bouillon cube or other available chicken enhanced flavor packet. 

Using wet hands, form small balls from the matzo meal batter, each about the size of a grape or walnut, depending on the size of matzo balls you prefer.  Mama Marko is using a small ice cream scoop to keep them small and consistent in size.  Matzo balls swell as they absorb the water in which they are cooking.  Once the water boils, reduce heat and bring to a simmer.  Add the matzo balls, cover the pot and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. 

When chicken is done, carefully remove the chicken, short ribs and vegetables to a cutting board.  When cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones and shred the meat into portion size pieces.  Discard the whole onion and cut the carrots and celery into serving size pieces.  Carefully strain the stock through a sieve into another pot. 

To serve the soup immediately, place a few pieces of chicken, meat, carrots and celery into a bowl.  Add noodles and several matzo balls and cover with broth.  Top with a sprig of fresh dill or a teaspoon of finely chopped dill. 

If you have leftover broth, freeze in containers.  The next time you need chicken broth for a recipe, you now have homemade stock.  For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Chicken Matzo Ball Soup. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Corn Soufflé

When I posted the recipe for the Praline Sweet Potatoes I make for Thanksgiving, I happened to mention that I also make Corn Soufflé. 

I must have gotten at least 30 emails requesting the recipe for the Corn Soufflé.  I actually have two recipes.  Both are easy but one requires cutting the corn from the cob, which means you have to plan ahead to make sure you have fresh corn.  The second contains ingredients you probably have in your pantry.  I replied to each request by forwarding both recipes.  Each person who responded telling me how much they enjoyed the dish told me they made the one containing the canned corn, so that is the one I will share with you today.

§     2 (15.25 ounces) cans whole kernel corn (drained)
§     2 (15.25 ounces) cans creamed corn
§     1/4 cup sugar
§     1/4 cup all-purpose flour
§     1/4 cup whole milk
§     4 eggs, room temperature
§     1/2 teaspoon salt
§     2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare your casserole dish by spraying with non-stick cooking spray to keep the soufflé from sticking, and spread the softened butter onto the bottom and sides of the baking dish to add flavor.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt.  In a large bowl combine the eggs and milk and beat lightly.  Add the dry mixture to the egg and milk mixture while whisking to prevent lumps. 

Add the whole kernel corn  (drained) and creamed corn and mix well. 

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until set. 

For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Corn Soufflé. Enjoy!