Friday, September 28, 2007

The American French Onion Soup

The weather here has been crazy. End of September and it's in the 90s?!?! Today was the first day that it was a little cooler all week, and I was craving a good soup. Maybe it's because I have a cold, maybe it's because I am ready for those Fall days, pumpkin patches and jackets to cover my growing belly (we had the ultrasound yesterday--we purposely didn't find out the sex, but the baby looks healthy!).

When we lived in Mexico City we went to Au Pied de Cochon for our last night in the city with a friend. It was just a couple blocks away from our apartment and I can't believe we didn't go all the time. The food was divine, and they had this amazing French Onion Soup. I love the crusty cheese on the top of French Onion Soup. With this recipe I recreated that crusty cheese, but with a more American style soup--Broccoli, Potato and Cheddar Soup. It definitely hit the spot after being at the playground with the munchkins as the cool evening was setting in.

Broccoli, Potato and Cheddar Soup

4 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups broccoli (about 8 oz)
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cumin
1 1/2 T dijon mustard
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups potato/broccoli water
2 T flour
1 cup half and half
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

Steam potatoes for 10 minutes, until tender. Set aside (reserving the water). Steam broccoli 3 minutes, until tender. Set aside (reserving the water).

Heat olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender about 8 minutes. Add potatoes, salt, cumin, dijon, pepper and 1 1/2 cups reserved water. Combine remaining 1/2 cup potato water and 2 Tablespoons flour. Add to pot. Simmer about 20 minutes. Add half and half and 2/3 cup cheese. Simmer about 15 minutes more.

Preheat broiler. Using four oven-proof bowls or ramekins, fill with chowder and sprinkle with cheese on top. Broil for 2 minutes, until golden on top.

note: The soup is still good if you are too lazy to put it in the broiler. Just add all the cheese into the pot.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Farmer's Market

I heart Farmer's Markets. I don't go as often as I'd like, mainly because I forget what days there is one and where (there are tons all around me)! We went Saturday, to Reston's Farmer's Market at Lake Anne. Lake Anne has special meaning to me. Not because I went "skinny dipping" there (we had some undies on, so it wasn't ACTUALLY skinny dipping) in high school, but because it was where S. and I decided we would start dating again (ummm, yes, I was a little undecisive at first--WHY? I know, I was crazy. He is such a catch. Thank goodness he agreed to date me again).

We picked up some apples (I highly recommend Honey Crisp), peaches, tomatoes, and fresh feta and mozzarella. Oh, and of course some Kettle Corn!

We HAD to make something with those cheeses and tomatoes! Here is our first creation.

Chicken Souvlaki with Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Relish

Chicken Marinade:

Serves 2

3 T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks

Combine ingredients in a ziplock bag and marinate 30 minutes-overnight. Preheat grill or broiler. Place chicken on skewers (if using bamboo skewers be sure to soak them in water for 20 minutes beforehand). Cook about 3-5 minutes on each side. Be sure to watch closely if you are using a broiler.

Tzatziki Sauce

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cucumber, chopped

Combine ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Note: Tzatziki sauce often has dill in it, but we are not big fans. If you are, add about 1/2-1 teaspoon.

Tomato, Cucumber, and Feta Relish

1 cup seeded, chopped tomato
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 T minced red onion
1/3 cup feta (or more to taste), crumbled or cut
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T olive oil
1/2 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried oregano flakes (or fresh--chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and salt and pepper. Gently toss with tomato, cucumber, red onion and feta.

Our Menu:
Chicken Souvlaki
Feta, Tomato and Cucumber Relish
Tzatziki Sauce
Whole Wheat Pitas
Cilantro Rice
Fresh fruit

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dia de la Independencia

Mexican Chicken Salad 2, originally uploaded by mud pie gourmet.

I know, I know, I haven't posted for a while. We have been to Disney World, and I have been adjusting to teaching an early morning church class. Yes, I am completely insane. I am pregnant with my third, and I wake up at 5:15am to teach 17 and 18 year olds about the Old Testament at 6 am (and I still haven't gotten to bed before 11pm). Thank goodness I split the teaching with my husband.

September 15th is Mexico's Independence Day which might explain why I made this Mexican Salad. Who am I kidding? I crave Mexican all the time. I have been known to have to have my own bowl of salsa at Mexican restaurants.

The secret ingredient is jicama. It is an underused vegetable if you ask me. When I worked at the American School Foundation in Mexico City the teachers would eat jicama in strips--like carrot sticks, with some ranch dressing. It is really good. It has a mild taste and a fun crunch. Here's to healthy eating...

Mexican Chicken Salad

(Serves 4 hearty main courses)

Marinade for Chicken

3 T olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 tsp cumin
1 T honey (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 chicken breasts

Combine above and place in a ziplock bag. Marinate 1 hour-overnight.
Heat grill to medium-high heat. Place chicken on grill, and cook about 7 minutes each side, until no longer pink in the middle. Let sit wrapped in tin-foil for 5 minutes, slice diagonally.

The Salad

1 cup corn (I use frozen)
1/2 cup jicama, diced
1 can black beans
1/3 cup red onions, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper,chopped
3/4 cup tomato, chopped
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup queso fresco or feta
5 cups romaine lettuce, cut into bite-sized pieces

Combine above ingredients (saving cheese and avocado for the last minute), toss with dressing. Top with chicken and tortilla strips or chips.

Cumin-Lime Dressing

1/3 cup lime juice
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 serrano pepper, seeded (for less heat, if desired) and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3 T chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Combine all ingredients, whisk in olive oil.

Tortilla strips (optional):

Cut 6 corn tortillas into strips. Heat 1/2 cup canola oil over medium-high heat. Add strips, cook about 2 minutes (watching closely so they don't get too done). Drain on paper towels. Add salt, if desired.

If you want to use as a side salad, just omit the chicken. It is great with fajitas and tacos (really, all things Mexican).


Mexican Chicken Salad
Oranges, strawberries and grapes
Dessert: Key Lime Pie