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STOCK INVESTMENTS  Friday, November 20, 2009

Soup season has arrived here in the North East (and our Midwest friends were probably putting up a pot in September when they had their first snowfall). It’s easy to add this comforting course to your weeknight menu by making stock in advance and storing in your freezer. Come dinnertime, just defrost it in the microwave, and you’re ready to saute and simmer some vegetables or leftover chicken. Paired with a salad, it’s a healthy, quick and easy way to balance all those holiday treats you’ll be eating from now until the New Year. I’m sure you’ve heard chefs say never cook with any wine you wouldn’t drink. Well, the same goes for water, so use only the best and purest when putting up your next pot.

Easy Everyday Vegetable Stock
Feel free to add whatever vegetable scraps you have around too, including mushroom stems, corn cobs, etc., adding more water if necessary.
makes about 4 cups

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 ribs celery, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 dried bay leaf
8 to 10 whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
6 cup cold water
  1. Heat a deep stock pot over medium flame. Add oil, then toss in celery, carrots, onion, garlic and other vegetables you're using. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until the carrots begin to caramelize and the mixture becomes very fragrant.
  2. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns and salt. Stir to mix well, then slowly pour in the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are extremely tender (read: they've released all their flavor). Pour through a metal sieve or strainer, discarding cooked vegetables (I always hate this step, and always intend to puree them to thicken sauces and soups, but...). You're ready to use for soup, as a consomme, or store in the refrigerator (up to one week) or the freezer (up to two months).
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
adapted from Jenny Linford's From My Mother's Kitchen

For stock:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds chicken legs & thighs
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 leek, bottom white part only
a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
1 dried bay leaf

For soup:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 celery stalks sliced 1-inch thick
3 ounces fine eggs noodles or spaghetti, broken into pieces
¼ cup fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large stockpot. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in small batches, being careful not to overcrowd pan. When done, return chicken back to pot. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Pour in 6 cups of cold water, add leek, parsley and bay leaf and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for one hour.
  2. Skim fat from surface of stock. Using tongs or a large slotted spoon, remove chicken from the pot and set aside. Pour stock through a fine strainer, and discard vegetables and herbs. Let chicken cool, then remove meat from bones and roughly chop; set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil over medium-low heat in stockpot. Add onion, carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, then pour stock over vegetables. Bring to a boil, then add noodles and cook until desired tenderness, about 8 minutes for al dente. Add chopped chicken, stir in chopped parsley and cook until chicken is heated through. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

  4. THE SECRET TO GREAT TASTING ICE  Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    Sure summer is the season for lounging with friends and frothy margaritas, but fall is one of my favorite cocktail times. Starting with Halloween, it seems to be a revolving door of parties, and what better reason to expand your mixology know-how?

    The best drinks, whether non-alcoholic or spiked, start with clean, pure water. Aside from the taste minerals and metals impart in water, they also create a cloudy cube. For clean tasting, clear ice cubes you just need to remember two things: use hot, filtered water. Why hot water? In tech talk, it’s all about molecules and freezing time. Basically, you want to slow down the freezing process, so using hot water ensures a delayed cooling time. Luckily, there’s no need to start boiling water since the Cuisinart CleanWater Countertop Filtration System delivers filtered, hot water, right to your ice cube trays, with just a press of a button. Clean, fresh tasting ice helps bring out the full taste of your favorite drinks.

    Need some cocktail ideas? Check out the recipes for our classic gimlets and sidecars.

    Vodka Gimlets
    Makes two 3-ounce drinks
    The classic version of this drink uses gin and Rose’s Lime Juice. Sometimes change is good—I certainly think so in this case.

    2 ounces vodka
    2 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice
    2 ounces simple syrup

    1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodka, lime juice and simple syrup. Stir vigorously until beads of sweat form on the outside of shaker. Strain into prepared glass. Serve immediately.

    Makes two 3-ounce drinks
    Modern twists on this drink use whiskey instead of brandy. On Mad Men Sunday nights though, I’m sticking with this classic recipe.

    2 ounces brandy
    2 ounces triple sec
    2 ounces fresh-squeezed lemon juice
    1 orange

    Two cocktail or martini glasses
    Superfine sugar, to rim glasses

    1. Add sugar to a small plate. Make two twists from orange rind, by cutting strips with a paring knife or vegetable peeler (try not to get any of the bitter white pith). Cut a wedge from remaining orange and wipe it around the rim of each glass. Dip rims in sugar and add one piece of rind to each glass.
    2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add brandy, triple sec and lemon juice. Stir vigorously until beads of sweat form on the outside of shaker. Strain into prepared glass. Serve immediately.
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