Italian Wedding Soup

Quick Look_______________


This is my one of my favorite soups. I tried it at the SJSU DC 10 years ago and I had to find out how to make it.  For a long time I thought it was traditional wedding food in Italy, but according to Wikipedia: "The term "wedding soup" comes from the Italian language phrase "minestra maritata ("married soup")," which is a reference to the flavor produced by the combination/"marriage" of greens and the broth." Basically, it's a meat and veggie soup so it's kinda healthy.
  • Cook time: 2 hrs
  • Difficulty: easy.
  • Labor Intensity: 2-3 people would be nice to have
  • 1 gallon /10 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 1 gallon water
  • 3 pounds chicken drumstick
  • 1/2 lb baby spinach (add more if you like)
  • 1/2 lb Acini Di Pepe Pasta
  • 1 oz fresh basil (optional, I don't recommend substituting it with dried basil. Fresh basil is often sold in 2 oz clam shells)
  • 1 lb bulk Italian Sausage
  • 4 tsp kosher salt (1 tb + 1 tsp)
  • 4 tsp sugar (1 tb + 1 tsp)

Directions_______________

1. Bring water + chicken drumsticks to a boil. Reduce to a simmer once boiling and let it boil for 1 hour
2. While water is heating, make small meatballs with the Italian sausage and pan fry. Set aside
3. Skim off any foam and curdled blood from the soup and throw it away. 
4. Get another stock pot the same size or larger and put a strainer over it. Pour contents into the new pot to strain out the chicken and any other brown blood curdles.
5. Place the new pot with clear liquid broth back on the stove on medium heat.
6. Set the hot chicken aside to let it steam off and cool down for 10 minutes.
7. Add 1/2 lb of Acini di Pepe noodles into clear broth on stove.
8. Add 4 tsp sugar and 4 tsp kosher salt to broth on stove.
9. Add cooked Italian sausage to broth on stove.
10. Once the chicken drumsticks are cool enough, peel off meat and put it back in the soup. Throw away skin, cartilage, bones.
11. Add baby spinach and basil to soup just before serving. Stir and serve.

Infrared Thermometer Gun

In my last post, I talked about the importance of the Maillard reaction. By controlling temperature and getting it in that 300F-400F environment, you can get a nice color and flavor. It's easier for baked and deep fried items, but what about the stove? Most people sear their steaks on the stove before they Sous-vide. I actually cook my steaks using only a stove. I like to stir fry veggies on the stove and over the years I found the majority of the cooking I do is on the stove. How can we know the temperature of the frying pan?

A couple years ago I got one of these:
https://www.amazon.com/Etekcity-Lasergrip-774-Non-contact-Thermometer/dp/B00837ZGRY on sale for $11 w/coupon code. It is currently at $16 and is still a great price.
My 3 year old daughter broke mine this morning and I will definitely order another, maybe an extra to keep in my car for times I need to cook at HB. I like that model and it worked well for me for a couple years. 

When I looked it up on Amazon this morning, I saw another one with good reviews for $5.34 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JCFPODM/ At that price, I might just give them away whenever I go to someone's house to cook. 
It's pretty fun to use inside and outside the kitchen. On a hot day I go into the kids' room and aim it at the ceiling. "Hmm. 87 degrees. yeah it's pretty warm in here." In the kitchen I set my stove to a 7 and wait a while. The pan heats up to 350F to 400F before it starts slowing down to eventually 500F. I made pancakes this morning and it was 375 before I made the next batch. After I took it off, the pan was around 310F and ready for the next batch within a minute. Through trial and error I decided that a 7 on my stove would get me the best temperature range as I cook. When I got to 8, it starts to burn the food a little. 
When I go to my parent's house, their stove is completely different and I find that I need to go to a 9 to get the same results. At HB, I am turning the stove to 2/3s of the way to get the range I like. This cheap tool lets me get the nice Maillard reaction (from the last post) when I cook something on the stove. 

Some notes:
  • It should not be used to see if someone has a fever. You are measuring surface temperature and not internal temperature. Your skin is around 80F not 98F. An error range of 2-3F matters for the human body. It may say 100F when aimed at your tonsils when it is actually 98F. I don't really care much if the frying pan is read as 350F when it is really 345F. It is a tool not meant for something as sensitive as the human body. 
  • I like to use this when I grill as well. I like to get the grates at double desired temperature so 600F-700F. When the meat goes on, it sizzles and slightly chars but then the whole thing cools down as the meat robs all the heat from the grates. It makes nice sear marks when I do this. 
  • It will not be accurate on soups or liquids because the surface may be cooler than the rest. In this case you should stir it around and then measure or use a probe/instant read thermometer
  • It can be used to calibrate ovens (especially old ones). Let it preheat and then aim it at a wall. When I set mine to 350F, it really is 350F give or take a few degrees. Some ovens are set to 350, but are actually 300F and it never comes out right when you bake. There are oven thermometers for this as well.



Maillard Reaction

An important chemical reaction that happens during cooking is called the Maillard Reaction (pronounced may-yard). It's responsible for many of the flavors and smells of the foods you enjoy.

Some examples include:
  • the brown color of a seared and grilled steak
  • the smell and taste of sauteed onions
  • the brown crust of baked breads
  • the golden brown color in fries....and so on
 The Maillard reaction happens when a reducing sugar cross links with an amino group and it creates something entirely new and delicious. How can we get this when we cook? The Maillard reaction happens somewhere around 300F. If you are steaming something or pan frying below that temperature, you will not get the Maillard reaction. If you go to hot, you will burn food. The smoke point for many oils is around 400F. When it gets hotter than that, the oil will smoke and the food around it will start to burn and char.

So we have a window of 300F-400F where the delicious Maillard reaction takes place without burning the food. Have you ever wondered why most baked items set the oven at 350F? The thermostat in the oven will kick on at 300F and turn off at 400F so it stays in that sweet spot the whole time. There are times when certain items go to 400F or 425F, but it is fairly standard to bake most things at 350F. The same goes for deep fryers, most restaurants set their fryers to 350F for their fries (I did the fries at In-N-Out in high school). If ovens and deep fryers are set to 350F for this reason, then the best results for pan frying on the stove would likely be 350F as well. The trouble is at my home, the stove says 0-10 and I don't know how to get it at 350F. My next post will address this.

Temperature Notes Example Example Example
212F to 300F light colored,
Bland



300F to 400F Maillard- Reaction,
Golden brown,
seared



400F and up Charred and burnt



By the way, that is why Kalbi is best over an open flame on a grill. The liquid/marinade cools the frying pan too much and surrounds the meat so it is steamed/braised at 212F and never gets hot enough for the maillard reaction to happen. If you crank up the heat higher to compensate for the drop and to evaporate all the liquid, you usually burn the meat or the sticky residue from the dried marinade and cause it to char/burn.

Kalbi has so much sugar from the marinade that it is able to get a lot of the maillard reaction. That is why it when it is cooked properly, it gets a brown/almost reddish maroon color. Most other meats that aren't marinaded in sugar get a slight hint of that brown red as it makes a nice sear.

Chicken Tinga

This recipe comes from Shauna from Gracepoint Austin. If you have any recipes you'd like posted, please email me.

Chicken Tinga (Serves 30)

Equipment:
·         2 large crock pots

Ingredients:
  •      40- Roma Tomatoes
  •        5- (24 oz.) Picante Sauce (Medium)
  •        5- Large Yellow Onions
  •        6- Jalapeno Peppers
  •        15 cups- Rice (white or brown)
  •        100oz.- Mixed vegetables (corn, peas, carrots)
  •        10 lbs Chicken (diced)
  •        Cilantro (chopped)
  •        Olive Oil
  • .   Chili Powder
  • .   Cumin
  • .   Garlic Powder
  • .   2 boxes- Chicken Bouillon Cubes
  • .   Salt & Pepper
Procedure
  • Cook rice
  • Cook mixed veggies ; set aside
  • Dice Roma Tomatoes (small); set aside
  • Dice Onions (small) set aside
  • While rice is cooking prepare chicken. Dice chicken & season with Chili Powder (generously), Cumin (moderately), Garlic Powder (generously), Salt & Pepper. ([All to taste] make sure chili powder doesn’t have salt or it will be too salty.) Cook the chicken in a small amount of olive oil (enough so that the chicken won’t stick to the pan.)
  • While chicken is cooking divide tomatoes, picante sauce, and onions into two crockpots and turn on HIGH heat.
  • Cut stems off Jalapenos and place WHOLE Jalapeno into crockpots;  divide b/w 2 crockpots (If you decide to cut it up it will be spicy, but up to you!.. remember the heat is in the seeds!- it adds a nice flavor if you leave it whole and it’s not too spicy!)
  • When Chicken is cooked, shred; divide into the two crockpots.
  • Dissolve 5 chicken bouillon cubes in a little warm water & divide into the 2 crockpots.
  •  Let mixture cook for 1 hour in crock-pot or until all the vegetables are soft (should look like a stew-> w/ less liquid than ingredients-but there should be liquid).
  •  Add more salt/pepper if necessary
  •  Mix rice w/ chicken bouillon(to taste, be careful-its salty) and mixed veggies
  •  Serve Chicken Tinga over the Mixed Veggie Rice.
  • Garnish w/ Cilantro :D












Sesame Noodle Salad

This recipe comes from Lena.

Ingredients
·         1 (16 ounce) package angel hair pasta
·         1/2 cup sesame oil
·         1/2 cup soy sauce
·         1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
·         1 tablespoon hot chili oil
·         1/4 cup white sugar
·         1 teaspoon sesame seeds, or more if desired
·         1 green onion, chopped
·         1 red bell pepper, diced
·         1 head of lettuce chopped
·         Shredded Costco Rotisserie Chicken

Directions
  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the angel hair pasta, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.
  2. Whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, chili oil, and sugar in a large bowl. Toss the pasta in the dressing, then sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onion, and bell pepper. Serve warm, or cover and refrigerate for a cold salad.



Another turkey post

Every year I run into the usual turkey problem: the breast is cooked at 155-160F and is dry by 170. The thighs are bloody until 170F. You either have juicy breast and slightly bloody thighs, or dry breast and fully cooked thighs. My solution is to cut off the dark meat and allow each section to cook to its optimal temp: (1) Cook entire turkey for 7.5-8 hours at 200F, (2) Remove main body/breast, (3) Cook dark meat for 20-30 min longer at 400F. Read more here: http://www.dishgracepoint.com/2015/11/a-juicer-turkey.html 

We just had a Thanksgiving lunch for Interhigh last week and I'm going to write my notes for how I did my turkey.

Friday afternoon 5pm:
I injected my turkey. 18lb turkey = 12 tsp kosher salt (1/4 cup), 12 tsp sugar (1/4 cup), 1.5 cup hot water. I injected into the breast, thigh, drumstick and then transferred to a small clear trash bag, tied it and put it in the fridge. I like to inject but you can dry brine/dry rub or traditional brine your turkey.
 
Friday just before midnight: I cut up the turkey. I wrote about this in my last post. I cut off the leg quarters and wings from the main body. It was a little tricky to cut the joints but do your best.


  I put the oven at 200F. Then I arranged the turkey pieces. The thighs flat on the bottom, the wings tucked against the body. It was the best way to tetris it into the tray. I suppose any arrangement would work.

 I wanted to slow cook the turkey while I sleep and have it ready to go in the morning. I was afraid of overcooking it. I put my meat thermometer straight into the middle of the breast and stuck it into the oven. Use one of these thermometers: http://www.amazon.com/Taylor-Digital-Cooking-Thermometer-Timer/dp/B00004XSC5/ 

Here are my notes:
*This is for an 18lb turkey. At 200F, most turkeys should cook at the same rate whether 12lbs or 22lbs. That and oven variance can lead to different cooking times. Use the info below as a guideline.

12:30am- in the oven at 200F. Turkey was in the low 40Fs
4:40 am- turkey was 124F
6:30 am- turkey was 145F
7:30 am- turkey was 152F
8:10 am- turkey was 156F



I took out the main body and put into my cooler and put the lid on.
 
 The dark meat now has to get to 175F. I put the thermometer in the thigh near the bone. I broiled it for about 2-3 minutes or so until it got that nice color. Then I put it on high at 400F for about 20-30 minutes
 At around 8:45am I took it out of the oven and rearranged the legs with the body to make it fit in the cooler. Start to finish about 8 hours 15 mins. Depending on when your event is, you can back track it and figure out start time. Give yourself an extra 15 minutes to be safe.
 Results: The white meat was one of the juiciest turkeys I ever made. I pulled it out at 156F. It's the border of just being cooked. It will be white with some pink tint (look at Costco rotisserie chicken if you are wondering what white w/pink tint looks like). The juice that pools on the bottom will be clear with a slight pink tint but no blood. 6 years ago I made one that I pulled at 152 and that one was juicier (though a little more pink). The thighs were nice and fully cooked with no blood or redness.


That joint that I cut off was very bloody and looked like it had some major blood vessels there (probably the femoral artery). That area is tucked inside between the body and the thigh. It's insulated by all that meat and hard to fully cook. It's normally the bloodiest part of the turkey, affecting some of the meat near that area. This method exposes that area to heat




you can that area on the sides are fully cooked and roasted here.

A Juicier Turkey

There are many ways to do a tasty and juicy turkey and it all comes down to preference. Here are some quick tips:

1. brine, inject, or dry rub your turkey. Whatever way you want to salt (and sugar) the meat. Use whatever herbs you want.

2. Don't over cook the meat. That means mid 150Fs for the breast. The thigh should reach at least 175F-180F. Low heat or high oven temp - do whichever you want.

3. I highly recommend using a meat thermometer like this: http://www.amazon.com/Taylor-Digital-Cooking-Thermometer-Timer/dp/B00004XSC5/ you can get something like this at walmart or any local store. Stick it in the middle of the turkey breast, put it in the oven, check the temperature dial. Take turkey out when it reaches temp. There is an alarm that goes off when it reaches the temp

4. Cut the turkey legs and wings off BEFORE it goes in the oven.

If you talk to anyone about how to make a juicy turkey, they will all agree on #1-3. Most people will cook until 175F when the plastic popup timer goes off in the turkey. By then the thighs are done but the breast is now dry and horrible. Others will pull it out around 160F and serve bloody thighs, embarrassment, and excuses. Why is it so hard to do this right?

Norm Rockwell. Most people attribute the iconic thanksgiving dinner to this painting:


 Years of tradition and childhood memories tell us that we need to have a nice centerpiece turkey that looks beautiful on the dining table before it's carved. We sacrifice so much to have that beautiful (whole) turkey. What happens at my house and at sometimes at TC is that we slice up the turkey on the kitchen counter and bring to the table a plate of sliced meat:
If we aren't bringing out a whole turkey, why not cut it up before cooking it?
That way you take out the main part (the breast) when it's 155F-160F and it's just barely cooked, white with a slight pink shade. Then you put the legs and wings back in the oven until it's 180F.
Take your cooked pieces and reassemble the turkey nicely and serve. You have the entire turkey fully cooked but not overcooked while remaining juicy. It's just 1 extra step but makes a big difference. 


Beurre à la bourguignonne - Garlic Butter

This recipe comes from Sam Cho:

Beurre à la bourguignonne - Garlic Butter

It sounds fancy, but it's really just a quick, cheap, and easy 4 ingredient compound butter that works well on a slice of of hot bread, slightly melted on the protein of your choice, or even to flavor popcorn. We used all sorts of compound butters in the restaurant, and this was one of them.

Compound butters are very versatile and can also be frozen and stored away until needed later, or you can use them the day of.

Total time: 10 minutes, ~$4, ~15 servings

Ingredients:
~1/2 cup unsalted butter
~2-4 medium sized garlic cloves
~2-4 tablespoons parsley
~Salt (and pepper) to taste
~(optional) 1 tablespoon fine brunoise shallots

Directions:
1. Bring butter to room temperature until soft and malleable. If necessary, microwave your butter for a couple seconds, but melted butter is a no-no. 
2. Chop your garlic very fine, almost until it is a paste. Sprinkle a good whack of salt on your garlic to help break it down, and that's also how you're going to salt your butter (since salt doesn't melt in fat/oil/butter).
3. Finely chop your parsley.
4. (optional) Finely chop your shallots.
5. Combine butter and garlic first (and shallots), and then fold in the parsley. Avoid over-mixing or the entire butter will turn GREEN.

Enjoy by spreading on a nice slice of (grilled) baguette.

Notes: 
-Buy a decent quality butter like Straus for best flavor, but if not, no problem
-Chop your parsley with a very sharp knife so you get minimal bleeding and smaller specks of parsley.
-Feel free to experiment with different compound butters!
-I'm not a huge fan of pepper in this, but feel free if that's what you prefer.

Kale Salad Dressing

Kale Salad Dressing

100 servings (3 bags of kale salad)

2 cup honey
1.5 cup lemon juice
2 cup water
2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp dijon mustard or spicy brown mustard
salt & Pepper to taste


whisk well with wire whisk and massage well into kale about 20 minutes before serving.  (You have to use your hands to make pinching rubbing motion in order to make the kale absorb the flavor)  Add mango and other items as needed.  (thinly sliced red onion is good.  So are blood oranges or oranges)

Clam Bake

Clam Bake

Ingredients/Shopping:
clam bake
sausages (Kielbasa - 1 bag - Costco)
$49.93
potatoes (red or yellow potatoes - 7lbs - Costco)
$5.85
corn (20 ears of white or yellow corn - Safeway)
$10.00
mussels (1 pack - Costco)
$15.23
shrimp (2 packs - Costco)
$32.22
onion (3 large)
clams (1 pack - Costco)
$36.93
pasta
parmesan shredded cheese (1 pack - Costco)
$17.19
noodles (15 lbs - linguini - Costco)
$0.00
parsley (3 bundles - Safeway)
$2.95
lemon (5 large)
$0.00
3 large cans of chicken broth

Prep (can do night before if cooking is in stages)

Wash/cut corn (into 2" pieces)
Wash/chop parsley
Boil Pasta (al dente)
Cut sausages (1/2 inch thick rings)
Wash potatoes and cut into large chunky cubes
Wash/chop onion into diced size
defrost seafood
Cooking
Sautee sausages in olive oil with onion (add pepper flakes to taste - pizza pepper flakes are fine - just 1 or 2 packs)
Put chicken broth and bring to boil
Put potatoes and boil till cooked 1/2 way
Add corn and bring to boil
Put seafood and close lid till clams/mussels open up and shrimp is pink through
Noodles/Pasta
Put hot broth into the cooked noodles and sprinkle with cheese, chopped parsley

Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce

Here is the recipe for 30-40 servings:

·        1 large bundle parsley (Italian or curly, doesn't matter)
·        4 medium garlic cloves, peeled or 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
·        1 bundle cilantro
·        1/4 cup red wine vinegar
·        1/4 cup lemon juice
·        3 tbsp sugar
·        1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (about 1 pizza packet)
·        1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
·        Freshly ground black pepper
·        1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Put everything in food processor and blend till smooth.  

This goes well with brisket and all kinds of meat roasts, even can make rotisserie chicken from Costco something special!  People even eat it with roasted veggies.

From Cathy Park