Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hearty Lasagna Soup

Lasagna-in-a-Bowl Soup

Everyone talks turkey in late November, so we opted to pick another topic that's very appropriate for this chilly time of year - Soup. If you have visited the Italian pasta aisle in the International Department at Jungle Jim's International Market, you have arrived in pasta paradise! The curly, trumpet-shaped Gigli pasta was the inspiration for the lasagna soup recipe in today's post. You could break apart dried rectangular lasagna sheets, but the Gigli pasta is frilly and fun and makes a pasta-tive statement for this hearty bowl of steamy, cheesy soup.

The cast of ingredients is pretty standard fare; however, we especially like Gerber Farms hot Italian chicken sausage, whole milk ricotta and of course, the Gigli pasta. If you are lucky enough to shop at the Eastgate location, you can purchase the fresh ricotta they make at the store.

The chicken sausage comes in links, so remove the casings and prepare as you would bulk sausage. Keep stirring because the Gerber Farms chicken sausage is very lean and may stick to the bottom of the pan - don't walk away! You may want to add a tablespoon of olive oil.

Add all the fresh vegetables and other ingredients to the sausage and mix - you can see it is a nice, thick soup. If your prefer a thinner soup, you can add more chicken broth. We used low-sodium chicken broth, so check for seasoning before serving.

The Gigli pasta should be done in 8-10 minutes. Don't stir too vigorously because the ruffled edge starts to break apart once it is cooked.

It's a very impressive and showy pasta shape! Don't you agree?

The ricotta dumplings are just small pillows of cheese flecked with fresh parsley. You can form them with a regular tablespoon or with a cookie/ice cream scoop.

Depending on the size of your ricotta dumpling, you can add several to each bowl to maximize the cheesy goodness. The dumplings really make this taste like lasagna!

We enjoyed a bowl of soup for lunch and it tasted great! Each spoonful brought up a bite of melted cheese. Be sure to sprinkle each bowl with a generous handful of fresh Parmesan. 

Lasagna Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

1 pound Italian chicken sausage, removed from casing
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 (14½) can low sodium chicken stock
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 ounces small ruffled pasta–or mini lasagna noodles or broken lasagna noodles
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the sausage in a 5 to 7-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. As the sausage cooks, break it up into bite-sized pieces. Continue cooking for 8-10 minutes until the sausage is browned and cooked thoroughly.

Add the onion, red pepper and garlic to the pan and sauté until onion softens, about 3-4 minutes. Add Italian seasoning, chicken stock, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, wine, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add noodles and continue simmering the soup for 8-10 minutes or until the noodles are tender.

While the soup cooks, make the dumplings. Mix ricotta, Italian blend cheese, parsley, salt and pepper together until well blended. Scoop heaping tablespoons onto a plate and set aside.

To serve soup: Place a ricotta dumpling in the bottom of each bowl and pour hot soup over the top. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese and serve.

Serves 6 generously

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

For Dinner Tonight

Roasted Chicken and Chorizo with Fingerling Potatoes

"What's for dinner?" If you hear that plaintive question asked repeatedly at your house, The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market has a ready answer! One quick stop in 3 departments will have you leaving with a bag of fresh ingredients ready to make dinner for 4 in just about an hour. Roasted Chicken and Chorizo with Fingerling Potatoes is a hot and hearty, just-a-little-spicy entree that is easy to make and clean up. This is a versatile dish that lends itself to some experimentation. Check out the bins of fresh root vegetables - parsnips, turnips and golden beets - to add even more color and variety. In case you aren't acquainted with cooking chorizo - it's a spicy, pre-cooked Mexican sausage that you will find in the Hispanic refrigerated section. Try it! You'll like it!

We used a pack of 8 Gerber Farms bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs to test the recipe. Drumsticks will work well also or a mix of both. Tip -  if you pat the thighs dry with a paper towel, they will brown very nicely.

There were a variety of fingerling potatoes available in the produce section today, so we opted for a colorful mix of purple, red and yellow. If you can't find fingerling potatoes, substitute Yukon Golds or even russet potatoes. Be sure to cut them into similar sized chunks so that they bake evenly. Red onions, garlic and fresh rosemary add a wonderful flavor and fragrance to the dish.
You will find everything but the chicken and chorizo in the produce department. 

Depending on the brand of chorizo you purchase, you may need to removed the "skin" - just peel it off and then slice into coin-sized pieces. Once you have all the ingredients cleaned and chopped, place them in an even layer in a large rimmed baking sheet covered in foil. Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In 50-60 minutes - dinner is served!

Roasted Chicken and Chorizo with Fingerling Potatoes

3 ounces chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 medium red onions, cut into wedges
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
8 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
12-16 fingerling potatoes or 3 medium potatoes, unpeeled and cut into wedges
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the chorizo into 1/4-inch slices. Put the onion and garlic in the foil-covered baking sheet. Scatter over the chorizo, then add the chicken pieces, potato, rosemary and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Halfway through the baking process, turn the chicken pieces and baste with the cooking juices.

Serves 4

*Note: If you have left over chorizo, you can add it to a frittata, omelet or quesadilla.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another Gift Idea

Over-the-Rim Savory Rosemary Shortbread

The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market just concluded a week of "Gifts from the Kitchen" classes that are an anticipated holiday tradition. Our next holiday class series begins the first week of December with a hands-on candy class, then a gourmet holiday desserts class and finally, the popular "Great Cookie Caper."  To help you jump start the season of giving, we invite you to try Savory Rosemary Shortbread which is a little bit cracker and a little bit cookie. We hope it puts you in the holiday spirit and encourages you to join us for some delicious holiday classes. 

This display gives you an idea of how unique an over-the-rim treat can be. Stack some in a cellophane bag, tie with a festive ribbon and attach to a favorite bottle of wine. What a great hostess gift!

Before you begin your preparations, take the butter out of the refrigerator. It should sit out for at least an hour before making the dough. Follow the directions below for making the dough, form into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. After chilling, place the disk on a lightly floured work surface.

Our sous chef, Debbie, likes to roll out dough that has been covered with a piece of plastic wrap. The dough doesn't stick to the rolling pin. You can choose not to use plastic wrap, just make sure your rolling pin has some flour on it. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness.

These cookie cutters are specially cut to allow the shortbread to hang over the rim of a glass. This star shape looks a little strange, but when baked, it hangs perfectly over the rim of a glass.
We found 4 available cutter shapes:  a star, a fluted circle, a heart and a sun burst. 

They are small, so you can fit a lot of them on a rimmed baking sheet.

They should bake until the edges just turn golden. Allow them to cool and then taste one! These are a perfect gift for the wine lover. Of course, you can skip the special over-the-rim cookie cutter and opt to use a small cutter to make savory shortbreads to enjoy with cocktails or for your cookie platter.

Savory Rosemary Shortbread

1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon white sanding sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1¼ cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 300°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon sanding sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

In a food processor with a metal blade, process the sugar for several minutes until the texture of the sugar becomes very fine. With the processor on, add the butter and process until smooth and creamy. Scrape down sides of bowl; add rosemary and flour and process just until mixture turns to crumbly bits.

Scrape dough out of processor bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until mixture just holds together. Chill dough about 30 minutes for easier handling.

Roll the dough out on lightly floured parchment or other floured surface to a
¼-inch thickness. Cut out cookies using a 2-inch cutter and place on prepared baking sheet. (Scraps may be re-rolled 1-2 times) Sprinkle tops liberally with salt/sugar mixture.

Bake 15-18 minutes, until pale gold in color*. They should not brown. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store completely cooled cookies in an airtight container.

Makes approximately 36 savory cookies

*If using over-the-rim cutters, check after baking 12 minutes. If space to hang cookies over-the-rim is closing, remove baking sheet from oven, use a sharp knife to gently re-open the space, and return to oven for 3-6 minutes until pale gold.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Apples and More Apples

The Season for Apples!

The fragrance of apples can't be mistaken when you walk into the produce section of Jungle Jim's International Market. Right now the locally harvested apples are in abundance - so enjoy them while they are at the peak of crispness and juicy goodness. You'll discover new varieties and old friends, like Golden Delicious, just waiting to be transformed into pies, muffins, crisps and quick bread. If you are looking for a special apple treat, try one of Sharon's caramel apples. They are perfection - seriously. You'll find them in the Bakery. 

For the Cinnamon Apple Cider Quick Bread recipe below, you'll need to grab 2 large apples and some apple cider. Locally grown apples will work just fine. They are a bit smaller, so you may want to use 3 instead of the 2 called for in the recipe. The Huber's Orchard & Winery cider captures the essence of fresh, crisp apples and added to the recipe, it magnifies the apple flavor in the quick bread. Give this local Starlight, Indiana, cider a try.

We used a 5-cup bundt pan for the batter. If you don't have a bundt pan, consider using a 12-cup standard muffin tin, a 9x9 inch baking pan or a standard size loaf pan. The baking times may vary, so check the suggested times in the recipes.

You can mix up this recipe by hand in 2 bowls. It is easy - dump and then gently stir together! 

The bread releases from the sides of the bundt pan easily if you butter or spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray before hand. Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

The apple cider glaze is just a little bonus. If you like a bread that is less sweet, omit it. This is a dense, moist bread; it would make a good breakfast selection because it is not too sweet. You could use white whole wheat flour in place of one cup of all-purpose flour to add a whole grain component. 

This chunky, hearty bread is a nice fall treat that you can enjoy any time of the day. 

Cinnamon Apple Cider Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute 1 cup of white whole wheat flour for 1 cup ap flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2 small apples (about 3/4 pound), peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup toasted and coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Apple Cider Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons (plus a couple teaspoons more if needed) of apple cider

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With nonstick baking spray or butter, grease either a standard 12-cup muffin pan, an 8-inch round, a 9-inch square baking pan, a standard loaf pan or a 5-cup bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Gently stir in the diced apples and chopped walnuts.

In a larger bowl, whisk the apple cider, maple syrup, eggs, melted butter and vanilla. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and gently combine until just mixed. Do not overmix.

Pour batter into the greased baking pan of choice. Bake until bread is golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Time in the oven varies depending on your choice of pan:  30 minutes for muffins and 45 minutes to 1 hour for a cake, loaf or bundt pan. Our bundt pan was done in 45 minutes.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Apple Cider Glaze:

Whisk the apple cider into the powdered sugar until well incorporated. Adjust the glaze with more apple cider if it is too thick. Drizzle over bread.