Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It is still soup weather in the Midwest!

Southwest Chicken Soup

The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market hosted a sold-out class with Brian Reed of Mogo Tago. His Columbus, Ohio, food truck business is a popular stop for hungry people. This past Saturday, he fed 40 of our students a delicious menu of his taco favorites. The staff at The Cooking School was fortunate to be able to sample some leftovers for lunch which inspired us to assemble this simple soup you can make at home - even if you don't have some of Brian's leftovers! It is an easy soup recipe packed with bright, Southwest flavors. When you stop at Jungle Jim's for the ingredients, take a swing through the Bakery and pick up a loaf of sourdough bread or jalapeno cheddar pretzel bread. For something a little different, try Kontos brand Southwest flatbread. 

Brian makes a superb roasted tomatillo salsa that we used in place of a jarred salsa verde. Frontera brand makes an excellent salsa verde that is readily available on our shelves. Beware - green salsas can be spicy - so if you are not an adventuresome heat-aholic, look for a jar that is labeled as "mild."

If you are in Columbus, check out where Brian has parked his truck for the day. You will enjoy meeting him and sampling the tacos and sauces on his menu. And don't forget the homemade tortilla chips! 

The ingredient list for this soup is short:  salsa verde, shredded, cooked chicken, cannellini beans, chicken broth and cumin. The sour cream, green onions and tortilla chips are for the garnish. This soup can be assembled and on the table in less than 30 minutes. If you have some leftover rotisserie chicken, this soup recipe is a great way to use that up.

Once the salsa verde and chicken broth has simmered for 10 minutes, add the shredded chicken, beans and cumin. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and then simmer gently. Assemble the garnishes and you are ready to ladle the soup into bowls and serve!

Southwest Chicken Soup
(adapted from a Real Simple magazine recipe)

1 12-ounce jar salsa verde
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken or other cooked leftover chicken) 
1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or homemade chicken broth)
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
2 green onions, chopped (optional garnish)
sour cream (optional garnish, but really good)
tortilla chips (optional garnish, almost necessary!)


Combine the chicken broth and the salsa into a large saucepan. Cook for 2 minutes over medium-high heat, then add the shredded chicken, beans, and cumin. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with green onions, add a dollop of sour cream, and some tortilla chips (if desired).

Serves 4

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lazy Morning Sweets

Pecan Sticky Buns

Weekend mornings are the perfect time for relaxing with a sweet treat and a good cup of coffee or tea. Puff pastry dough is a buttery alternative for making your own sweet roll dough. It is readily available in the frozen food section of Jungle Jim's International Market. We had a sheet of leftover puff pastry dough from a cooking class and rather than waste it, we baked a pan of Pecan Sticky Buns - much to the delight of the staff!

When you purchase the frozen puff pastry, it should be defrosted before using. So, if you purchase the day before, you can store it in the refrigerator until ready to use the next morning. Or, if you forget to defrost it in the refrigerator, take it out and set it on your counter top 45 - 60 minutes before using. A box of puff pastry contains two sheets, which is what the recipe calls for. Since we had one sheet to use - we made a batch of 6!

Unroll the puff pastry - no need to roll to a larger size. Spread the softened butter, brown sugar and chopped pecans (filling) evenly across the top leaving a 1/4 inch border on 3 sides and 1/2 inch border along the top edge.

Roll into a jelly roll starting with the edge nearest you. Put the seam side down like the photo above.

Prepare the topping ingredients and evenly place the mixture into the muffin tins. This will make the gooey, sticky topping that is the hallmark of pecan sticky buns. Cut each roll into 6 pieces - about 1 1/2 inches each. Place them spiral side up in the tin over the topping mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes - be careful to watch because they will easily burn. Allow the sticky buns to cool 5 minutes in the pan before inverting and devouring.

Pecan Sticky Buns

For the topping:
8 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

For the filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup lightly toasted pecans, chopped

All-purpose flour, for work surface
1 package (17.3 ounces/ 2 sheets) frozen puff pastry 

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Prepare topping: Combine butter and brown sugar in a small bowl and mix well. Scoop mixture evenly into the muffin cups. Sprinkle with the pecans.

Prepare filling: Combine melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans in a medium bowl and mix well.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Pat one-half of the filling evenly over the pastry, leaving a ¼-inch plain border on 3 sides and a ½-inch border at the top. Brush the ½-inch border lightly with water. Starting with the bottom end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam-side down. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, about 1½-inches each. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden brown on top and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon) and cool a few more minutes before serving.

Makes 12

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chilly Weather Chili

Beef and Butternut Squash Chili

Winter continues to batter the Midwest, so keeping warm indoors is becoming an essential survival skill! Our latest recipe from the Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market will expand your chili recipe collection to include a beef and vegetable filled rendition of this beloved bowl of soup. Corn muffins slathered with butter are ideal companions for a steamy bowl of Beef and Butternut Squash Chili. A twist of freshly squeezed lime juice and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro will brighter the flavors, so dig in!

The ingredients for this chili are easy to find on the shelves and in the produce section. Our choice of low-sodium products helps reduce the amount of sodium in the finished dish, so please taste the chili for satisfactory seasoning before serving it to your family or guests.

Many of our cooking school students express their interest in learning the easiest way to prepare diced or chopped hard winter squash. Leigh suggests slicing the squash in half lengthwise. Cut off the neck, peel with an ordinary vegetable peeler and chop. Then peel the bottom half of the squash, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits and then chop. Peeling a squash can be a little challenging, but it is worth the work to add this nutritious and delicious winter vegetable to chili.

If you enjoy dishes that are meals in themselves, join us for One Pot Wonders and A Can of Tomatoes Plus...  Taking a cooking class introduces you to new flavors, ideas and techniques that can enhance your skills and renew your excitement for cooking. You are guaranteed to go home with tested, proven-to-work recipes that you have tasted in class.

Beef and Butternut Squash Chili

1 pound lean ground beef
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5-ounce) cans Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 (16-ounce) can chili beans
½ small butternut squash, peeled, small dice
1 cup low-sodium beef broth.
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

Brown beef in a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven and drain well. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes to soften. Stir in tomatoes, beans, squash, broth, cumin and chili powder; bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in corn and hot sauce and simmer, uncovered 15 minutes or until squash is tender and chili thickens. Season generously to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 6