Chicken n Noodles

I tend to be most interested in the simplest of recipes. The recipes with the fewest ingredients, often exhibit the greatest variability. Bread is the best of example of this and that's what I spend a great deal of time on. I enjoy the pursuit as much as the final product.

Something different today, though. Inspired by a meal we had a week or so ago, I tried chicken and noodles. A most gracious neighbor served us one of the best examples of this dish I've ever had. The chicken broth was rich and the noodles tender without being mushy. It was decadent. I'm afraid I may have been overzealous in probing our generous host for details of the preparation, but I couldn't help myself.

In my attempt, the chicken broth was made from a whole chicken and vegetables. The chicken was pulled from the pot and the meat rescued from the bone only an hour into the simmering. The meat was put aside for the final dish and the bone returned to the simmering soup of veggies (carrots, onions, parsley, pepper, etc., standard stock stuff) and left for a few hours.

The noodles were prepared from 2.5 cups of all-purpose flour and 3 eggs, a 1/2 t salt and a dash of olive oil. The dough was kneaded and divided into 3 portions. Each portion was rolled into a ca. 12" diameter circle, rolled up, cut into thin strips and the resulting noodles released after unrolling the cut up shreds of dough. They were kind of thick and only a few inches long (I cut most of them in half). The noodles then were allowed to dry for a few hours.

Next the stock was filtered to remove all the bones and veggies, the reserved chicken returned, the resulting mixture heated to a brief boil and the noodles tossed in with just enough water to make a thick mass of everything. Not too soupy. It cooked on a low heat for about 12 minutes and was seved over biscuits.

It was good but not nearly as good as our neighbor had prepared. My stock was good but the noodles were much tougher. This is the variability I was referring to. Noodles are a simple prep, but the details are in the process of making them. How much additional flour is incorporated while kneading, how long the dough is kneaded and just how the dough is handled prior to cutting the noodles are all critical parameters that are difficult to describe. So trial and error kicks in. I think I'll try to kneed the dough less next time trying to achieve a more tender noodle. I still haven't had the leftovers re-warmed, maybe they'll be better.

Postscript: 22-Nov-03
The leftovers were reheated for about 5 minutes on the stove for a quick lunch. Much better. I think the noodles are actually fine but need to be cooked much longer to become more tender.



I've recently become interested in food blogs. A popular one all the cool kids visit is Food Blog. What I like most about these sites is the recipes are accompanied with the experience of the cook who executes the recipe. And, in the best cases, a picture of the final product and comments about the food are described. It's a great advance compared to simply finding a recipe on the web. It's this testing (and validation) of a recipe that gives it value.

With that in mind, I repeated a simple macaroon prep from Chocolate & Zucchini (it's French you know) and repeated Clotilde's macaroon recipe. With only four ingedients and an equally uncomplicated procedure, these treats became an instant part of our repertoire. A great snack to take for a party (or today - a play group for Frankie to see Aaron, Benjamin and Sarina). I think everyone liked them very much. I'm a little sad there's none left. They were slightly crunchy on the outside and tender inside without being too sweet. I used unsweetened coconut that was kind of old, so next time I'll use coconut that's a bit more fresh but they still kicked. Thanks Clotilde!


mmm ... Pork Rinds

There is no food more likely to make people go "eeewww" when you tell them about it than Pork Rinds. But when it comes to my consumption of the wispy, delicate, savory crisps made from some section of a pig, I am in the closet. In fact, the only one I could openly share these treats with was our dearly departed cat, Eliot. He loved 'em as much as I. Well, Atkins and the oh so righteous NPR have now put the spotlight on these treats (the Real feed here). I love NPR, I just think they're pompous and not quite as unbiased as they would lead one to believe. While this mention on NPR may not bring Pork Rinds the popularity of being slashdotted, I bet you see a few empty bags lying around your local independent coffee house (Starbucks) or wherever NPR addicts hangout. In fact, I'm on my way to get a bag. And maybe I'll eat them in public.


Farewell our last tomato

Tonight we had a salad. Not just any salad but mixed greens topped with a hard boiled egg, lightly seasoned, roasted beets and our very last tomato of the season. Trish just pulled it from our withering pile of tomato plants. An Early Girl I think. Plump and juicy and very ripe; it had been sitting on the counter for a couple days. The salad was topped with a dressing of wine vinegar, mustard, a bit of sugar and whisked in xv olive oil.

We finished the meal with a cheese pie from Cooking Light (sorry, it's a pay site). It was kind of a cheese cake, only lighter. The cheese mixture was made from cottage cheese, cream cheese and yogurt and boy was it scrumptious.

Tomorrow, Frankie permitting, Clotilde's macaroons. I can't wait, this recipe looks simple and good.


I'm not dead yet (pickling revisited)

About 3 months ago, I gave a lazy person's pickling method. Basically, I made a brine, didn't boil it, immersed some small cucumbers and let 'em rip for several days at room temperature. I let them go at room temperature about 2 days, tasted the pickle goodness, let them sit another 2 days at room temp. and then put them in the fridge.

Today, while reading Amanda Hesser's, Cooking for Mr. Latte (a great collection of recipes and stories), I got the urge to make my own mayonaise. She makes it several times throughout the book with different oils, etc. So, got my homemade mayo and what did I do with it? You got it, tuna salad on my bread and a pickle on the side. It was simple and tasty and wanted to update that the pickles from the simple brining procedure were better than I remembered. Perfectly crisp and crunchy, yum.


It can't be good, we haven't sacrificed an animal

The other night, Trish and I met Dan, Sharon and the slightly younger man in Frankie's life, Benjamin (6.5 months), for dinner at a favorite noodle place of ours, Haiku. I got tofu pad thai which was so good, I haven't been able to get it out of my mind.

I searched for a recipe and found one that looked great on the Cooking Light website. It's a pay site, so I don't think it's right to post their recipe. I love their recipes. They make smart substitutions and I've rarely seen margarine used in their publication. I've rarely had a flop from them.

My attempts at pad thai have been miserable in the past but this one was quite tasty. I could taste the individual components like the soft-scrambled egg (which usually gets lost in the mixture), the sauteed tofu, the bean sprouts and the noodles were cooked perfectly, a slight bite. The best thing was the sauce composed of chilli sauce, brown sugar and fish sauce had a great salty/sweet balance and it pulled everything together nicely.

The only challenge stemmed from having a child. Used to be, I'd visit two asian markets, the local food co-op and the Big Bear to find all the ingredients for a recipe. Those days are sooooo gone. One solitary stop is the maximum allowed for a 7 month old's "schedule". Frankie is a bundle of smiling joy 95% of her waking moments, but, you don't want to push it. The ingredients, while not exotic, are varied and cannot be substituted, e.g., fish sauce, eggs, cilantro, sprouts, tofu, green onions, rice noodles, limes, chilli sauce, etc. I chose the Big Bear (our local grocery) and got it all (I had the fish sauce on hand, it lasts forever). Local big groceries, while hated by many are starting to accomodate diverse food trends. For that, we are appreciative.

I won't post the recipe, but email me and I'll send it to you (I've never been totally consistent in my ideology). The picture isn't the best, sorry.