Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hawaiian Portuguese sausage and Minnesotan wild rice Soup

For 25 years, end of Oct meant it was time to get ready for a long winter. Soups and stews were very comforting especially after a day of racking leaves. It is so different from sunny Southern California. I still do not feel California is home yet. I guess 25 years is a long time.

I was accepted into a new hula halau a month ago. We are having a fun raiser, we are actually selling Portuguese sausage. I tasted the sausage, it was very good and it is very reasonably priced at $2 each!!!
Having in the business for all these years, creating a personal experience has been my business motto. I want to give my "customers" a few recipes with their purchase!!! I am inspired to do something different with the sausage.  I brought some wild rice back from Minneapolis last week and I also have some porcini mushroom I picked up in Italy last month.  I have all the ingredients to make a perfect soup... Itʻs October and it is Fall after all.

Here is a few things:
1 - You will notice I cut the vegetable in big pieces. Since I am not pre-boiling the wild rice. I want to keep this simple, but I donʻt want all the vegetable to disappear in the soup. The bigger pieces help to hold up the shape in cooking.
2 - I didnʻt peel the potatoes. I am using fingerling, red skin and purple potato here. The skin helps to keep the potato pieces intact.
3 - There is a casing on the Portuguese sausage, it is edible. Itʻs just my preference not to have the pieces of the casing flowing in the soup, I took the casing off.
4 - The porcini mushroom here is to enrich the flavor of the soup, you can certainly skip the ingredient. However I love adding porcini to wild rice. I love that earthy richness for a fall soup.
5 - Remember I made Portuguese bean soup? Cilantro is added at the end. Cilantro is a great compliment to the sausage. If you donʻt like cilantro, replace it with parley
6 - please make sure you keep an eye to the liquid level, it is a longer cooking time - able 2 hours. You may need to add some water..

For vegetarian and vegan, here is a few changes.
1 -  you can easily make this soup vegan, by replacing the sausage with a soy sausage.
2 - use 1 can of pre-cooked wild rice instead of the grain. The soy sausage will not work in long cooking time.

If you canʻt get the sausage, kielbasa can be a quick substitute for this.

Hawaiian Portuguese sausage and Minnesotan wild rice soup
1 Hawaiian Portuguese sausage (chicken or pork). Casing removing, quarter the sausage and cut in 1/2" pieces.
1/2 cup wild rice, rinsed.
1/4 cup or 1 package 0.5 oz. dried porcini mushroom. Rinse and soaked in 1 cup of water till softened. roughly chopped the mushroom. Reserve the liquid from the mushroom.
5-6 red skin potatoes. Cleaned, remove eyes and cut into 1" pieces
2 medium size or 4-5 smaller carrots. Peeled and cut into 1" piece
1 onion. Peeled and cleaned. Cut into 1" chunks
1 leek. Remove leaves. Slice in half, Rinse all int layers under running water, make sure all the dirty and sand is removed. Cut into 1" pieces
Olive oil
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups water.
Salt and pepper
1 bunch of cilantro or parsley. roughly chopped.
Heat up a couple tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot,
Saute onion and leek till soften
Add sausage piece
let it  cooked over low heat till the leek starts to disintegrate about 5-8 mins. This will also render some of the fat in the sausage.
 Add wild rice, mix well
Add in all the vegetable
Then the chopped porcini

Mix well, then add the reserved liquid from the porcini into the vegetable and sausage
Increase heat to medium high, add stock and water.
Make sure you have enough water and the liquid will cover the vegetable and meat
Bring to a full boil, reduce heat to low. Cover and let the soup cook for about 2 hours. Stir the soup and check the water from time to time. As some of the vegetable breaks down, the soup will get thick. Add more water if it it too thick
Once the wild rice "flowered", basically burst open, it is ready
Check seasoning. You will most likely need to add salt and pepper. 
Reason why we didnʻt add salt earlier, the sausage can be salty. I tall depends on the brand, we do not want to over salt.

Just before serving, add chopped cilantro or parsley. Reserve a small amount to garnish at the table.

Serve 4-6. 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Simple homemade Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese

My very dear Chaminade University sister, Karen came for a quick weekend visit last week. We had so much fun - doing nothing!! Since we both lived in Hawaiʻi, we got to have our Hawaiian food fix. I am so lucky I live in Southern California, there are a few good places! After a couple meals of ono grind, we needed to clean up our act. We went to the farmers market and picked up some vegetable, I made an open face  tomato, basil and avocado on pita sandwich for lunch before we headed off to the beach . Just to give our open face sandwich a little moisture, I put a layer of yogurt cheese on the pita. Karen loved it.

She was quite surprised I made yogurt at home. It is actually very simple. All you need is a pot, an thermometer, and storage container for the yogurt. I usually make 4-6 1/2 cup serving of yogurt that I will have for breakfast in the morning for the week. I  love the freshness of home made yogurt, just a splash of fresh lemon juice and a little of honey, a perfect breakfast for me!

I strain the rest of the yogurt to make yogurt cheese. It is a quick alternative to cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise. I use it as spread on bagels, sandwiches and it also make a great base for dips.  I

You will also notice my yogurt is a bit on the thinner side, I am using 1% milk this week. The milk fat do make a difference in the consistence of your yogurt. If you starting your first batch, use a good yogurt with live and active culture - I would recommend using a brand the you like. I started the batch with 6 oz Chobani plain yogurt.

This recipe is for you Ms Karen:

Homemade Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese
1 Qt (4 cups) of Whole milk or low fat milk.
1 6 oz container of plain yogurt
Sterile 1 1 Qt jar or 8 1/2 cup container.  Here is my trick to sterile the jars for the yogurt - wash in it the dishwasher when you are about ready to make yogurt. The heat in the dishwasher will sterile your containers. I am making 5 1/2 cup serving yogurt and the rest will become yogurt cheese.

Pour 4 cups of milk in a medium size pan with a thermometer
Bring the milk to 180  degrees over medium low heat. Do not let the milk boil and do not stir. Let it cook for about 10 mins.
Turn the heat off and let the milk cool down to 120 degrees
Stir in the yogurt culture. I am using 6 ozs of yogurt that I made a week ago
Mix well

At this point, you can pour the yogurt into the jars, or you can leave it in the pot.
Cover and let it sit undisturbed in  a warm place for about 10-12 hours. If you live in the colder climate, I would recommend put the yogurt in the a warm oven.
Yes I left mine in the Microwave. It is a nice draft free spot!
After 10-12 hours, you have fresh yogurt. Transfer the yogurt to the in prepared individual serving jars. Store the yogurt in the fridge. The fresh yogurt may appeal to be a bit thin, it will continue to thicken in the fridge after a day or so.

I strain the rest of the yogurt in a strainer lined with cheese cloth. I use a Donvier yogurt cheese strainer. It is a great tool and well worth the $20 investment.
Simple version:
Place the strainer over a bowl to catch the whey, the liquid. Cover the cheese with a loose plastic wrap.

Let it sit the fridge for about a day or 2 till all the liquid has drained off.
Transfer the cheese to a cover container. Store in the fridge, it will stay fresh for about 2 weeks.
f you are into smoothie, save some of the whey liquid, it is very high in protein and great way to add a little protein to your fruit smoothie. Store the whey in a jar and use it within a few days.
Make 1 Qt yogurt, use with 2 weeks


Monday, October 14, 2013

Chicken with Preserved lemon, olives and artichoke stew

I made "wet lemon peel" - preserved lemon a few weeks ago. I am amazed how fast and simple it is when the weather is warm and sunny. The preservation process just went so much faster. A batch of lemon used to take me 6-8 weeks in Minneapolis during the cold season verse just 4-5 weeks here. The best part is: I got fresh lemon at the farmers market. It is the end of Eureka lemon season, I had to take advantage of those beautiful lemon!

A few people asked me what I do with the lemon... I donʻt make Prune Mui all the time! Itʻs a special treat I make it once a year. Preserved lemon is great to have on hand. It works great with sore throat. 1/4 of the lemon smashed up with hot water, sip it while itʻs hot. Itʻs very soothing. I also add strips of lemon in steamed fish or some of the shoyu base sauces.

The other reason: I love Moroccan cooking. Here is a recipe very similar to the classic tagine. Here is the trick with this recipe - you donʻt need any salt. The salt from the olives and the lemon is enough. I also used the packaged steam artichokes from Trader Joeʻs, itʻs less salty. If you are using the can or jar, please make sure you rinse it and drain well before use.

You will notice I use chicken thigh here. I prefer chicken breast usually, but the meat gets very dry in a stew. The thigh meat on the bone gives the stew more flavor, and the meat stay moist. It is a bit more work to remove the skin and fat, but it is well worth the extra step. You can also purchase skinless and boneless thigh if you prefer.

I also leave the carrot and potatoes in bigger piece, I would love to still "see" them in the stew. If they can cut too small, they will completely disintegrate in to the sauce. The potatoes in this dish also helps to thickened the sauce.

Chicken with Preserved lemon, olives and artichoke stew
3-4 chicken thighs about 2 lb.. Skinned and fat removed.
1 onion, peel and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 cloves garlic. Peeled, end removed and roughly chopped.
4-5 green-top carrots, cleaned and peeled. Cut into 1" pieces. I am using red carrot, the regular carrot will be fine too.
4-5 potatoes, cleaned and peeled. Cut into 1" pieces. I happened to have a few purple potatoes that I need to use up
1 package or 1 can of artichoke heart. Drained and quartered.
1 tsp Herb de Providence
1/2 black olives. Rinse in cold water, drain. half the larges pieces.
1/2 perserved lemon.
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 cups low sodium stock - chicken or vegetable
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream if you prefer a heartier dish. I am using yogurt cheese I made, it is slightly thicker than Greek yogurt.
1/4-1/3 cup finely chopped Italian Parsley
1 lemon, cut in half and reserve 3-4 slices for garnish. Leave the rest in half.
Pepper to season
Rinsed the preserved lemon under cold water to move some of the salt.
Cut the lemon in 1/2. Chopped 1/2 the lemon and reserve the other half for later used. Keep the unused 1/2 in covered container in the fridge.
 In a medium pot, heat a 2-3 tbsp olive hot till hot over medium heat. Add the onion
 Once the onion caramelized, add the garlic and sauté till lightly browned.
 Add in carrot and potatoes to brown. About 4-5 mins. Remove the vegetable.
Brown the chicken in the same pan. The chicken may stick at the beginning. Lower the heat to render the fat in the meat.
 While browning the meat on both side, add 1tsp of Herbs de Providence. Once the meat is well browned. Remove the meat from the pan.
 Add 2 cups of stock in the pan, bring to a boil
 Deglaze the pan over low heat. The stock will thicken slight with the flavorful "brown bits" from the chicken and the vegetable.
Once the stock comes to a boil, add chicken and vegetable back in. Keep at low heat.
 Add in preserved lemon
 Artichoke and season with freshly granted  pepper
Combine well and add reminding cup of stock
 Bring to a boil, lower heat to low. Cover
Let it simmer over low heat for 30 mins till the chicken is very tender.
 Add chopped parsley, mix well.
 Add yogurt, then bring the stew to boil.
 Finally squeeze juice of the 2 halves of fresh lemon in the stew. Check for seasoning. Ready to serve.

To serve: the chicken piece can be served whole  with the vegetable
Remove the chicken from the stew. Debone the chicken and return the meat to the stew.
Garnish with parley and lemon twist.

Serve 2-3