Food Hero

Comforting Potato Soup by Rachelle
October 22, 2008, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Main Dish, quick fix, Rachelle Mee-Chapman | Tags: , ,

submitted by rachelle

This is an affordable, filling and comfortable soup — perfect for a cold day. Plus, you won’t have any complaints at the dinner table from the kiddos. Have Yum.

Comforting Potato Soup

6 strips of bacon, sliced into strips
1 lb thin skinned potatoes, cubed
1 c chopped onion
2 c chicken stock plus 1c chicken stock (to use in step 3)
3 T flour
salt and pepper for taste
1/4 c fresh chopped parsley

Liven up this soup with toppings. Anything that would taste good on a baked potato will be yum on this: shredded cheddar cheese, chives, sour cream, and of course, lots of fresh ground black pepper.

1) In the bottom of a large stock pot, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper plate. Leave bacon drippings in the pan.

2) Saute onions in bacon drippings until softened. Add potatoes and broth to pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer, stirring occasionally until potatoes are tender. (About 10 minutes.)

3) I always have a hard time adding flour without creating lumps so I usually use this method. Heat one cup of broth in glass bowl or large pyrex measuring cup. Sprinkle in flour a little at time while whisking, whisking, whisking. Then add this roux to the soup. If it’s too thick, just add more warm broth or hot water.

4) Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in parsley just before serving. Sprinkle on top and add other toppings.


Chocolate Chip Banana Bread by Rachelle

submitted by rachelle

Here in Denmark, chocolate chips are a precious commodity. People ship them to us at high postage costs and carry them to us in suitcases. We reduce the amount we put into our cookies, and dole them out into pancakes just four chips per flapjack. When I mention putting chocolate chips into my famous orange-chocolate scones, the Brits in my cooking club look at me askance. Clearly, the love affair with the humble chocolate chip is a uniquely American phenomenon.

That being said, this Chocolate Chip Banana Bread recipe is my favorite thus far. It’s here straight from my favorite cooking magazing, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. I’ve included the baking time for muffins below. Have Yum!

1 c mashed banana (3 medium)
1/4c vegetable oil
1t orange zest (how to grate proper orange zest here)
1/2 t salt
1t baking soda
1 c sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2c all-purpose flour
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 6 cup loaf pan, or a 12 cup muffin tin. (If you use the muffin tin, you will have enough batter to do a 12 mini muffin tin as well.)

In a large bowl, mix bananas and wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed. Add chocolate chips and walnuts.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean: 70-80 min for loaf, 20-25 min for muffin, 12-15 for mini muffins. If the loaf browns too quickly, cover loosely with tin foil. Cool loaf for 12-18 minutes in pan before turning out and cooling completely on a rack.

Tip: Banana bread is best with ‘fresh’ over-ripe bananas. But if you want, you can freeze your soft bananas for later and it will still be nice. Just peel the bananas and freeze them in batches of 3 or 4 in a ziploc freezer bag. To defrost, put the bag into a large bowl and allow them to melt. Pour off some of the accumulated liquid before using, or your batter might be too runny.

Australian Pumpkin Soup by Rachelle
October 18, 2008, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Main Dish, quick fix, Rachelle Mee-Chapman | Tags: , , ,

Submitted by Rachelle: Australian Pumpkin Soup with Pine Nuts

Australian Pumpkin Soup

In graduate school, my part-time job was to cook soup for the entire school once a week — 300 people! It was an international grad school, and we tried to cook foods from some of different countries that were represented in the student body. One of my classmates from Australia taught me how to make this ‘pumpkin’ soup — what we in the States call butternut squash. It’s a bit of a sweeter soup with a nutty taste and interesting flavor from the worchestershire. When Barbara, a new friend from South African managed to scare up some butternut squash here in Denmark I was quick to whip out this recipe. It’s one of my favorites.

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped
4-6 c vegetable or chicken stock
2 onions, chopped
2 T olive oil
1/2 t nutmeg
black pepper and salt to taste
1 -14oz can creamed corn
1-3 T worchestershire sauce

Optional: slice almonds or pine nuts

1) Use a good vegetable peeler to peel squash. Cut in half. Remove seeds. Chop into roughly 1 inch pieces.

2) Put stock and squash in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 15-20 minutes or until tender.

3) Using an immersion blender, puree squash and stock. An immersion blender is one of the best tools you can have in the kitchen. But if you don’t have one you can do this in a blender in small batches. It can be helpful to hold the lid down with a potholder to prevent the steam from forcing off the lid.

4) In a skillet, saute onions in olive oil, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

5) Put onions mixture in the stock pot with squash/stock and add worchestershire and corn. Gently heat through. Adjust seasonings. Serve topped with toasted nuts.

Happy Hour – Sparkling Campari Cocktail by Katy K
October 17, 2008, 4:47 am
Filed under: cocktails, happy hour, Katy K

Campari is the bright red aperitif drink from Italy. Supposedly its ingredients are a secret so all I can say, from experience, is that Campari has an unusual taste that is really quite bitter. I’ve had other cocktails made with Campari that highlight its bitterness (a Negroni, for example) but these can be an acquired taste.  I found this recipe in a cute magazine called CHOW (Volume 1, Number 4, November/December 2005) which may be just a website now. This cocktail mixes Campari and a simple syrup made with fresh grapefruit and I think it puts the Campari taste in a familiar context that makes it more accessible.  The similarly bitter grapefruit flavor complements the Campari perfectly. To complete the picture (pitcher?) this strong concoction is spangled with light, sweet, sparkling wine.  I’ve made this drink for New Year’s Eve, for Sunday brunch and, this week, for Canadian Thanksgiving. It’s interesting, pretty, and delicious – what more could you want at a party?

Sparkling Campari Cocktail

Sparkling Campari Cocktail


1             grapefruit
1/2  Cup  sugar
1/2  Cup  water 
1     Cup  vodka
1     Cup  Campari
3/4  Cup  sweet vermouth
1 bottle    sparkling moscato

Cut the grapefruit in half, juice one half and reserve the fresh-squeezed juice. Cut the other half of the grapefruit, including the rind, into wedges. Prepare grapefruit syrup by heating the water and sugar in a saucepan on medium until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for a couple of minutes until the syrup thickens slightly, then add the grapefruit wedges and simmer for about 5 minutes until all the juices are released. Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.  To the cooled syrup, add the vodka, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Mix thoroughly and store in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 1 hour). To serve, pour strained cocktail mix over ice in a glass, add a splash of the reserved fresh grapefruit juice, and top off with 3 ounces of moscato.


...sparkling in the sun.

...sparkling in the sun.

I have made this drink a few times so I took some measurements and the ratio of cocktail mix to sparkling wine seems to be 1:1. After having a conversation with a woman who works in my local wine store regarding exactly what was meant by sparkling moscato in the magazine, she advised me to buy an inexpensive sweet sparkling asti spumante from the grocery store.  It wasn’t a great wine but she thought it was exactly what this recipe called for and it was delicious the first time I made it. The last time I made this I sprang for a more expensive Moscato d’Asti.  I noted that this wine had a regular cork when it was being opened and I felt that the resulting cocktail lacked its usual zing.  So my advice is to choose a sweet sparkling wine that requires a champagne cork.  I think that this will guarantee enough sparkle in your glass…enjoy!

Red and White Chili with Pineapple Salsa by Rachelle
October 15, 2008, 1:59 pm
Filed under: Main Dish, Medium Fix, Rachelle Mee-Chapman | Tags: , , , ,

On Autum Equinox we had our our annual Fall Chili Party. This was our first traditional family celebration in our new Danish home. We had a few new friends over. Each person brought something to put in our family room shrine — a Fallish thing like an apple or a string of Autumn leaves. Then we all grabbed a microbrew or ginger beer and made toasts to the things we love about fall.

As usual we had yummy seasonal foods, although a lack of black beans at the grocers made our traditional three bean chili collapse down to two. Sure was good though! This is always a fun thing to make because of the toppings bar that allows people to stylize their dish. Try it with this Buttery Cornbread from Epicurious which is fantastic and easy to make. Have Yum!

Red and White Chili with Pineapple Salsa
serves 6-8

Chili Ingredients
2-14oz cans canellini beans (white beans) rinsed and drained
2-14oz cans red kidney beans rinsed and drained
1/2 c crushed tomatoes
1/4 c diced tomatoes
1 lb lean ground beef (optional)
1-2 onions, chopped
2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 T olive oil
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 t cumin
1 1/4 t salt
2 1/4 t black pepper
2 tsp basil
1/4 – 1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 T lime juice
2 cans chopped green chilis

Optional Toppings
sliced limes
grated cheese
sour cream
chopped cilantro
jarred jalapeno rings

Salsa Ingredients
2 c crushed pineapple
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 T fresh mint, chopped
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cumin
1/8 t cayenne

For the chili:
Add beans and tomoatoes to pot and simmer. Carrots don’t soften well with tomatoes, so parboil them in a glass bowl in the microwave and then add them to the pot. In a large skillet heat olive oil. Saute ground beef, onions, bell peppers and spices. Add the saute to the large pot and heat through. Add chilis and lime juice. Adjust seasonings.

For the pineapple salsa: just mix and chill slightly. You must use fresh mint. If you have extra mint try freezing it like this.
(Maybe Katy K can tell us how to use it in a lovely mojito!)