Copycat Recipes – Famous Soups!

So some of these soups I’ve only heard about, whispered, as if part of a fabled legend, the epic tastiness, the supreme awesomeness, the warmth, the… well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, I don’t see The Cheesecake Factory opening up a kosher establishment anytime soon, so the chances of me getting my hands on a bowl of their famous Chicken Tortilla Soup is pretty much slim to none.

So, my fellow kosher foodies, I have tracked down a few of the greats here below for you, from Panera, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and yes, Cheesecake Factory. You will notice the use of items like non-dairy creamer or shredded cheese, or pareve chicken stock (made from bouillon). You can always switch items up, use real chicken stock, and then use creamer instead of heavy cream, margarine instead of butter, etc. If you have any requests, leave a comment, and I’ll try and track down the recipe for you! Enjoy!


Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup“Panera” Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups pareve chicken stock
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)*
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 ½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for serving
salt and ground black pepper to taste
* Click here to learn about cleaning broccoli.

Directions:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic in the hot butter until translucent, about 5 minutes, and then set it aside. Whisk the ¼ cup melted butter and flour together in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until flour loses its granular texture, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk if necessary to keep the flour from burning, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually pour the remaining milk into flour mixture while whisking constantly. Stir chicken stock into milk mixture. Bring to a simmer; cook until flour taste is gone and mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots, celery, and sautéed onion and garlic. Simmer everything until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir the cheddar cheese into the soup until the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with extra cheese on top.


“Applebee’s” Tomato Basil SoupApplebee Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup minced white onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
3 cups pareve chicken broth
¾ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup minced fresh basil*
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley*
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
seasoned croutons, for serving
parmesan cheese, for serving
* Click here to learn how to clean basil and parsley.

Directions:
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and then add onion and garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes and chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let mixture cool, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so. You can let it sit for as long as an hour, if you like.

Pour approximately half of the tomato mixture into a blender. Put the lid on the blender and hold it down with a dish towel. Mixture may still be hot and you don’t want the lid of the blender to pop off. Blend on high speed for about a minute, pour the mixture into a large bowl or pitcher, then add the rest of the mixture to the blender and blend on high speed for a minute.

Pour all of the pureed tomato mixture back into the saucepan and then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the soup back up to a bubble then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve approximately one cup of soup with a garnish of 3 or 4 croutons on top and a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese.


Olive Garden Pasta e Fagoili Soup“Olive Garden” Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 (540ml) can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 (540ml) can navy beans (with liquid)
1 (680ml) can tomato sauce
1 ½ cups vegetable cocktail juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ pound (½ pkg.) ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)

Directions:
In a large pot over medium heat, brown the ground beef, until it is cooked through. Drain off most of the fat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.

Once the soup has been cooking for about 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 1 ½ to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is just slightly undercooked. Drain the pasta, and add it to the large pot of soup. Simmer the soup for an additional 5 to 10 minutes and serve hot.


“Cheesecake Factory” Chicken Tortilla SoupCheesecake Factory Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 gallon water
6 carrots (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
6 celery ribs (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
1 onion (chopped)
4 tablespoons garlic (minced)
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup cilantro (chopped)*
½ (796ml) can diced tomatoes
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup non-dairy creamer
1 (341ml) can corn
20 corn tortillas, fresh
oil for frying
1 ½ cups non-dairy shredded cheese
* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:
Simmer chicken in water, with the 3 roughly chopped carrots and celery, ½ the chopped onion, 2 tablespoons of the garlic, the salt and the white and black peppers for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, remove all the excess fat and the vegetables used to simmer the chicken in and discard.

Add the remaining carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the soup pot, along with the cayenne, cumin, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapeno and corn. Stir well. Remove the chicken meat from the carcass and add it to the soup in large chunks. Add the non-dairy creamer to the soup for colour and thickness.

Cut tortillas in strips and fry in oil. Put tortillas in bottom of bowl, sprinkle with non-dairy cheese and pour soup on top. Top with more non-dairy cheese and serve hot.


Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup“Panera” Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Ingredients:
½ cup orzo pasta
¾ teaspoon olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
8 cups chicken broth
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
½ lemon, zested
5 ounces cooked chicken breast, chopped
½ (8 ounce) package baby spinach leaves*
½ lemon, sliced for garnish (optional)
* Click here to learn how to clean baby spinach.

Directions:
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo in the boiling water until partially cooked through but not yet soft, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, and rinse it with cold water until cooled completely.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté and stir carrots, celery, and onion in hot oil until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion becomes translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Season the mixture with thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, and the bay leaf. Let everything cook for another minute before pouring chicken broth into the pot. Bring the broth to a boil, and then partially cover the pot, reducing the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir the orzo, lemon juice, and lemon zest into the broth and add the chicken. Cook the soup until the chicken and orzo are heated through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the baby spinach, stirring until the spinach wilts into the broth and the orzo is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.

Make-Ahead Soup Mixes

Soup Mixes in a Jar

So according to the weatherman, this afternoon with the Humidex it is supposed to feel like 39°C, or 102°F. For those of you that don’t know what a Humidex is, you are SO lucky! Humidex is the humidity index, that takes the actual temperature, and then adds the humidity factor, so it tells you that while it may only be x degrees out, it feels like the surface of the sun. In Toronto, we’re fortunate enough to have both the Humidex in the summer and the Windchill in the winter, which calculates how much colder the lake effects wind makes it seem, so again, it may be x degrees out, but now it feels like the dark side of the moon. What can I say, we can’t seem to win here… except for our falls (autumns) which are pretty awesome. Oh well, one out of four ain’t bad. (yes it is, it’s very bad.)

So continuing on our theme of prepping ahead, and making it look like we are uber organized, I thought today in honour of the heat, we’d hit up some soups. It may seem strange, but trust me, when the days start getting cooler, you’ll appreciate being able to open your pantry and see these beautifully layered, labelled jars of soupy goodness. Again, these also make great hostess gifts or last minute grab-n-give ideas for a friend who has a cold. I’ve even included a recipe for the traditional condensed “Cream of _____” soup. You know what I’m talking about. You come across a recipe that calls for cream of mushroom, or celery or asparagus, and at least here in Canada, it’s pretty hard to get a decent kosher one. With this recipe, you will have the base for any flavour “Cream of” soup you want. You’re welcome.


Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
½ cup dried split peas
3 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, leaving the bay leaf on top, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound stew meat, cut in 1″ cubes
6 cups water
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 jar Beef Vegetable & Barley Soup Starter Mix
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the meat, sautéing until the meat is browned on all sides. Add the water, tomatoes, and soup mix. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the celery and carrots. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Discard the bay leaf.  Serve with Cornbread or biscuits.


Beef Chili Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup dried red kidney beans
½ cup dried navy beans
½ cup dried black beans
⅓ cup dried minced onions
2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried cilantro or parsley flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried minced garlic

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds ground beef or stew meat
6 cups water
1 jar Beef Chili Soup Mix
1 (1.36 L) can tomato juice

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the meat, sautéing until the meat is browned. Drain any excess fat that has come off the meat, then add the contents of the soup mix, plus the water and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Add the tomato juice, and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat again, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with Cornbread or biscuits.


Colourful Soup Mix

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon beef bouillon powder
¼ cup dried minced onion
½ cup dried split peas
½ cup uncooked macaroni
¼ cup barley
½ cup dry lentils
⅓ cup long-grain white rice
1 cup uncooked tri-colour spiral pasta

Measure all of the above ingredients, except for the tri-colour pasta and macaroni, into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Put the pastas in a separate smaller baggie, and then put the baggie in the larger container with the rest of the soup mix. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound ground beef or stew beef
12 cups water
1 jar Colourful Soup Mix

In large pot, brown the ground beef or stew beef the oil. Remove the pastas from top of jar and set aside. Add 12 cups of water and the remaining jar contents to the pot. Bring the soup to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tri-colour pasta and simmer 15 minutes more. Serve with your favourite bread or rolls and a tossed salad.


Country Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
½ cup dried split peas
½ cup uncooked white rice
½ cup dry lentils
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
2 tablespoons beef bouillon powder
½ cup uncooked alphabet pasta
1 cup uncooked macaroni

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Country Soup Mix
3 quarts of water
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup shredded cabbage* (optional)
2 large tomatoes, diced

*Click here to learn how to clean cabbage.

In a large pot, combine all of the above ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for at least an hour, until the veggies are tender and the barley and peas are cooked through.


Cream of Anything Soup Mix

Ingredients:
1 cup powdered milk
⅓ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons pareve chicken/beef/vegetable bouillon powder
1 teaspoons dried onion flakes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This makes the equivalent of 4 cans of Cream of “Something” soup and can be stored for up to a year. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
⅓ cup cream mix
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
½ cup minced or chopped “______” Choose one or more for whatever “cream of” flavour you need: onions, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, celery, etc.

In a pot, melt the butter and sauté the “something” that you are using (mushrooms, onions, etc.). Cook until translucent, then add the cream mix, and stir to combine. Add the water, and whisk gently over a low/medium heat until thickened.

This can now be used directly in a recipe that calls for a can of condensed “Cream of ___” soup or you can dilute it with milk and water to make “Cream of ____” soup.


Layered Bean Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup kidney beans
½ cup split yellow peas
½ cup black beans
½ cup red lentils
½ cup small red beans
½ cup split green peas
1 tablespoon dried sweet pepper flakes
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon celery seed
4 tablespoons brown sugar

Measure all of the above ingredients, keeping the spices separate from the beans, peas and lentils. Put the spices in a separate smaller baggie, and then put the baggie in a larger contain with the rest of the soup mix. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Layered Bean Soup Mix
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
10 cups water, divided

Rinse the beans and place in large stock pot. Pour 4 cups boiling water over beans; cover and let soak overnight. Drain the beans and return to the stock pot. Add 6 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until beans are almost tender. Add the tomatoes and seasoning mix. Stirring occasionally, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover beans and continue to simmer about 1 hour longer or until beans are tender and soup thickens. Serve warm.


Mushroom Barley Soup Mix

Ingredients:
½ cup barley
¼ cup dried mushrooms
2 tablespoons dried minced onions
¼ cup dried carrot slices (optional)
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
2 tablespoons dried dill
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, leaving the bay leaf on top, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Mushroom Barley Soup Mix
1 quart water
2 carrots, sliced (if you didn’t use the dried variety)

In a large pot, add the carrots and soup mix to 1 quart boiling water and simmer until the barley and carrots are tender. Remove the bay leaves before serving.


Sun Dried Tomato & Penne Soup Mix

Ingredients:
2 cups penne pasta
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms (or other variety)
¼ cup dried onion flakes
¼ cup dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 jar Sun Dried Tomato & Penne Soup Mix
8 cups vegetable broth
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 (540ml) can cannelloni (white kidney beans) beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, combine all of the above ingredients, except for the beans. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer until the pasta and veggies are tender. Add in the beans and simmer an additional 15 minutes or so. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot with some crusty bread.

One-Pot Creamy Southwest Pasta

Creamy Southwest Pasta

Okay for the last slot in our tour of one-pot pasta meals, we’re heading to the Southwest for this rich and creamy pasta. You can adjust the heat level on this dish by upping or leaving the jalapenos out all together. As is, this dish will serve 6-8 people, but if you want you can switch it up by leaving out the cheese and adding cooked chicken pieces to the dish. No matter how you make it though, it will be delicious! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 (454g) box of rotini (or any pasta you like)
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 medium green bell pepper cut into thin strips
½ medium red onion, sliced
¾ (796ml) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup sliced pickled jalapeno peppers (optional)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 dashes cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (540ml) can black beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
½ cup cilantro, chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:

In a large pot, add the pasta noodles and the rest of the ingredients except for the beans, goat cheese and cilantro. Add the broth last, pouring it over everything. Drizzle the oil over all of the contents.

Cover your pot and bring the contents up to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, remove the lid and give the contents a good stir, to help keep the pasta from sticking together. Return the cover and reduce the heat to a steady simmer (medium to medium-low heat). Cook for an additional 12-15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and al dente. There should be ¼ to ½ an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot when it’s done.

Remove the pasta from heat, and stir in the beans and goat cheese. Let the pasta rest for 5 minutes to give the beans a chance to warm up, and the cheese to melt, absorbing any excess liquid. Serve hot, garnished with the chopped cilantro.

One Pot Pasta Alla Puttanesca with Chickpeas & Artichokes

alla-puttanesca

So this spicy, red pasta dish is a favourite for those that like spicy, briny, salty dishes. While the meaning of the name can denote different things, depending on which part of Italy you come from, in the end it is a delicious, hearty meal that is sure to please. While some recipes call for the use of anchovies, this recipe, in its one-pot format, does not. It also does not call for cheese, however a sprinkling of parmesan over top at the end is always a hit in my book.

Two items to note in this recipe for 6, the artichokes and the amount of broth needed. There is great debate over the use of artichoke bottoms or hearts in the kosher community. Some lucky cooks can find canned artichokes with reputable hechshers, but for the rest of us, I find using the bottoms found in the frozen section a good substitute. With regards to the type of pasta used, you may find that you have to add more broth when using whole wheat compared to regular pasta. I say start with the lower amount, and as it’s cooking, you can add more if needed. Please note though if you add more broth, make sure it’s hot, so that it doesn’t delay the cooking time of the rest of the dish.

Ingredients:

1 (500g) box whole wheat or regular long noodle pasta
½ – 1 cup sliced black olives, such as Kalamata
1 ½ bags frozen artichoke bottoms, mostly defrosted and chopped (total amount of 21 ounces)
¾ (540ml) can canned chickpeas, low sodium
3 tablespoons capers
1 medium white or yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ (796ml) can diced tomatoes, low sodium
1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes (reduce to ¼ teaspoon if sensitive to heat)
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper (reduce to 1/3 teaspoon if freshly ground)
4 ½ – 6 cups vegetable broth (you may need to add more broth depending on what type of pasta you use)
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions:

In a large pot, add the pasta noodles, breaking them in half if needed to fit, and then the rest of the ingredients, pouring the broth over everything last. Drizzle the olive oil over the whole dish.

Cover your pot and bring the contents up to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, remove the lid and give the contents a good stir, to help keep the pasta from sticking together. Return the cover and reduce the heat to a steady simmer (medium to medium-low heat). Cook for an additional 8-10 more minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and al dente.

If you find that there is a bit too much liquid in your dish, let the pasta sit for a little bit off the heat, and the pasta will absorb the excess liquid. If you have leftovers, I suggest tossing them with a little olive oil before storing in the fridge.

Non-Dairy Butter Chicken

Butter ChickenWell, our travels now take us to India, and the city of Bombay, or what is now known as Mumbai. This is a classic Indian dish that is local to the region, but often unattainable to those keeping a kosher diet. Here, with the replacement of dairy with coconut milk, you get the best of both worlds! This recipe will serve 6, and despite the long list of ingredients, is very simple to make! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes

Tandoori Marinade:
⅓ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Butter Chicken Sauce:
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon chili powder
1-2 bay leaves
2 (740ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder + 1 ½ cups warm water
⅓ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
⅓ teaspoon sea salt
⅓ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh cilantro*
1 ½ tablespoons potato/corn starch (if needed)

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:

Place cubed chicken in a large gallon re-sealable bag, and set aside. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Pour the marinade mixture our over top of the chicken. Seal the bag, taking out as much air as possible. Using your hands, mix the chicken up with the marinade through the bag, flipping it to help combine. Marinate in the fridge for 8-24 hours. The longer you marinate the better, but do not exceed 48 hours.

Once marinated, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Place the marinated chicken on the sheet, spreading it out so that they cook evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to sit.

Meanwhile, prepare the butter chicken sauce by sautéing the oil, onion and garlic in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat for 10 minutes until onion is brown. Add the ginger, garam masala, cumin, chili powder and bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, chicken bouillon powder, water, coconut milk, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

If you find that your sauce needs thickening, remove about 3-4 tablespoons of sauce into a small bowl, and mix in the potato or corn starch. Once the starch has been thoroughly combined with the sauce, return the sauce to the main pot and mix through. This will thicken up the sauce. Add the cooked chicken, cilantro and remove the bay leaf, and serve with hot basmati rice.

Spanish Paella

PaellaSo how can you have a week dedicated to rice and not touch on paella? Originating in the Valencia region on the east coast of Spain, paella is widely regarded as Spain’s national dish, as well as the identifying symbol of the Valencians. The three best known types of paella are Valencian paella, seafood paella, and mixed paella, but there are many others as well. Valencian paella is believed to be the original recipe and consists of white rice, green beans, meat (chicken and rabbit), white beans, snails, and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary. Another very common but seasonal ingredient is artichoke. Seafood paella replaces meats with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans.

The dish earned it’s name from the pan in which it is prepared. Derived from the Old French word paelle for pan, which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan as well. Valencians use the word paella for all pans, including the specialized shallow pan used for cooking paellas. Paelleras are traditionally round, shallow and made of polished steel with two handles. As most North American home kitchens don’t have paelleras hanging around, a large, oven proof skillet will do as a replacement.

The recipe below is a bit of a twist on a traditional paella, as there is chicken and sausage, but no fish or shellfish. A key ingredient that is present though is saffron. It adds an essential taste and colour to the dish that is a must! Due to the high cost of saffron, you can use Mexican saffron rather than Spanish or European, as it tends to be cheaper. Just note that you need to use a bit more, as the flavours are not as intense. If you can’t find kosher chorizo sausage, you can use a substitute such as a smoked paprika or spiced sausage. The recipe below will serve 8 very happy people.

Ingredients:

Chicken:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces

Rice:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
1 large pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf
½ bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped*
1 litre chicken stock
1 (398ml) can of diced tomatoes
2 lemons, zested**

Sausage & Vegetables:
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and sliced/diced
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
½ cup frozen green peas

* Click here to learn how to properly clean parsley.
** Click here for tips on zesting.

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, diced tomatoes and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Add the cut up sausage to the skillet and saute until the fat begins to render from the meat. Once the sausage is cooked/heated through, using a slotted spoon, remove it from the pan, but keep the majority of the fat/drippings in the pan. Return the pan to the heat, and add the marinated chicken and onion, cooking for 5-7 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Once the chicken is almost fully cooked, return the sausage to the skillet, along with the peas, and mix to incorporate.

Combine the meat/vegetable mixture with the semi-cooked rice, and place in the preheated oven for 10-20 minutes, until the rice has completely finished cooking and has begun to get a bit crispy. Serve hot!

Cabbage Borscht – Капуста Борщ

Cabbage BorchtIngredients:

1 large cabbage, cut into large chunks*
2 cups (about 1 lb.) beets, peeled and quartered
2 cups (about 1 lb.) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 lb. stew meat or flunken
1 – 2 beef bones, with marrow
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 (156ml) can tomato paste
3 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
3-4 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder (to taste)
½ cup Brown sugar
Salt, to taste
LOTS of pepper

Instructions:

In a large stock pot, place the meat and bones, and fill with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, skimming any fat or debris that rises. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil again. Once temperature has been reached, reduce to a simmer and let cook for several hours, stirring every now and then so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot and burns. Taste for flavouring, adding more lemon, sugar or pepper as needed. Serve hot.

* Click here to learn how to check cabbage.

Chocolate Chicken Mole

Chicken MoleYou may look at this list of ingredients and be a little shocked! Moles, meaning sauce, traditionally have at least 20 different ingredients on average and are a source of great pride. They usually involved several different types of peppers, dried fruits, nuts and a hint of chocolate. This version is a bit of a dumbed down one, as it only contains 12 (chicken and garnish not included)! If you don’t have a rotisserie chicken, you can poach or roast off the equivalent amount of chicken yourself.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ chipotle peppers with 1 ½ teaspoons adobo sauce from can (or more to taste), chopped
1 ½ cup raisins
1 (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
4 ½ tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 teaspoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ¼ ounces unsweetened chocolate (or 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 ½ rotisserie chickens, meat removed and shredded (skin and bones discarded)
⅓ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
1 ½ teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish
Zest of 1 orange, for garnish
Fresh cilantro, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for serving
Flour tortillas, for serving

Directions:

Place a pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion and garlic, stirring to soften for 5 minutes. Add the chipotle with adobo, raisins, and tomatoes, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Add the peanut butter, broth, chili powder, and cinnamon. Puree the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the mixture to the pot over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the shredded chicken and heat through.

Transfer the mole to a serving dish and garnish with peanuts, sesame seeds, and orange zest. Serve with cilantro, lime, avocado, and tortillas.

Chocolate Chicken Mole

Chicken MoleYou may look at this list of ingredients and be a little shocked! Moles, meaning sauce, traditionally have at least 20 different ingredients on average and are a source of great pride. They usually involved several different types of peppers, dried fruits, nuts and a hint of chocolate. This version is a bit of a dumbed down one, as it only contains 12 (chicken and garnish not included)! If you don’t have a rotisserie chicken, you can poach or roast off the equivalent amount of chicken yourself.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ chipotle peppers with 1 ½ teaspoons adobo sauce from can (or more to taste), chopped
1 ½ cup raisins
1 (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
4 ½ tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 teaspoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ¼ ounces unsweetened chocolate (or 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 ½ rotisserie chickens, meat removed and shredded (skin and bones discarded)
⅓ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
1 ½ teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish
Zest of 1 orange, for garnish
Fresh cilantro, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for serving
Flour tortillas, for serving

Directions:

Place a pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion and garlic, stirring to soften for 5 minutes. Add the chipotle with adobo, raisins, and tomatoes, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Add the peanut butter, broth, chili powder, and cinnamon. Puree the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the mixture to the pot over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the shredded chicken and heat through.

Transfer the mole to a serving dish and garnish with peanuts, sesame seeds, and orange zest. Serve with cilantro, lime, avocado, and tortillas.

Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Sausage and PeppersIngredients:

8 (4 ounce) links sweet Italian sausage or other sweet/mild sausage
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 (796ml) can of diced or crushed tomatoes
⅓ cup wine or beer
½ tablespoon of corn starch

Directions:

In a large pot, add the canned tomatoes and herbs, then cook on low while preparing the remaining ingredients. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown on all sides. Remove from skillet, and slice. Add the sliced sausage and any drippings to the pot with the tomatoes.

Add the oil to the same skillet that you used for the sausages. Stir in the onions and garlic, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peppers, and then stir in the wine/beer. Continue to cook and stir until peppers and onions are tender.

Once tender, add the vegetables to the pot with the tomatoes and sausages. Let everything simmer on low for an hour. If you find that the sauce is a bit too watery, take about 3 tablespoons of liquid from the pot and mix it with the cornstarch. Once dissolved, add this cornstarch slurry back to the pot. It will thicken up the sauce. Serve hot.