Friday, May 29, 2009

One Plump Breast Chicken Noodle Soup

I had one very plump, boneless, skinless, chicken breast in the refrigerator and I was thinking about what I could do with it. At first I thought it would not be enough for a chicken noodle soup, but then I remembered that ubiquitous Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, with the tiny pieces of chicken. And I realized that, yes I can.

Rocquie's Chicken Noodle Soup #1
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into small dice
1 onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
8-10 cloves garlic, sliced
8 cups soup stock, divided
6 fresh bay leaves (less if using dried)
8 oz. egg noodles
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Melt butter and olive oil in a large pan. Add diced chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add onion and carrots, stirring for a couple more minutes. Add garlic and stir another minute or so. Add about a cup of the soup stock and deglaze the pan. Finally add about another 2 or 3 cups stock and the bay leaves. Simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes, until everything is very tender and flavorful.

Remove bay leaves, add remaining soup stock and bring to a boil. Add noodles and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until noodles are desired tenderness. Just before serving, stir in parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

5 Organic Eggs

For cooking and baking, I use regular commercial eggs, which remain one of the few food items that doesn't shock me with the price. However, for an "eating egg", the organic egg is far superior in taste. I had 5 left and was trying to think of a way to use them while they were still nice and fresh. I was also eyeing a jar of home canned tomatoes. I was thinking along the lines of Huevos Rancheros. I checked a little online, found a recipe in Martha's Everyday Food which was blogged about by our friends at The Bitten Word and sounded good, so I sort of made that.

Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Quart tomatoes
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh herbs, your choice, I used rosemary, parsley, oregano
4 plump cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
5 organic eggs
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in heavy saucepan, the add the garlic and herbs. Stir for a couple minutes until very fragrant. Add tomates and heat through. Add 1/2 the cheese and stir until melted. Pour tomato sauce into a shallow baking dish, crack eggs and slip into the liquid. Sprinkle with the remainder of the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree for about 20-25 minutes, until eggs are desired doneness.

The servings suggestions I saw recommended crusty bread for dipping in the sauce. I served mine Southern style, with stone ground grits and hot biscuits.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Grill Day

Salmon slightly veiled with olive oil, sea salt, and freshly cracked black pepper, with grilled lime juice.

Zucchini and Cremini mushrooms sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, ready for the grill.

Tomatoes stuffed with bread crumbs, blue cheese, and a little olive oil. Vidalia onion slabs drizzled with sourwood honey and sprinkled with a little cayenne pepper.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Blackberry Winter

Blackberry Winter is a brief period of cold weather in spring. Here in the mountains, it generally occurs around mid-May, and coincides with the blooming of the blackberries, thus the name. We are having it.

After I had exhausted the free ham I received at Easter, cooking everything I could think of that involved ham, I put the bone in the freezer. I was planning ahead for Senate Bean Soup for Blackberry Winter.

Stories and recipes for this famous soup, which is served in the Senate's restaurant every day, are many and varied. The actual soup is simple and has very few ingredients. My only variation is that I used ham bone, rather than ham hocks. And I only used 1 pound of beans because I was serving the two of us. This is the official recipe.

The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup Recipe

For Blackberry Winter

2 pounds dried navy beans

four quarts hot water

1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

salt and pepper to taste

Wash the navy beans and run hot water through them until they are slightly whitened. Place beans into pot with hot water. Add ham hocks and simmer approximately three hours in a covered pot, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hocks and set aside to cool. Dice meat and return to soup. Lightly brown the onion in butter. Add to soup. Before serving, bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper.

That's it, simple as can be. With cornbread, this made a satisfying supper on a cold spring night. I saved some of the browned onions for garnish and also sprinkled with a few drops of hot sauce.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Cornbread is the other beloved Southern bread. It is for dinner what biscuits are for breakfast. Traditionally, dinner was the main meal of the day, and was served at noon. Later in the day would come a lighter meal known as supper.

Nowadays, we have lunch, which is typically eaten away from home. Then we have dinner, the main meal, when we arrive back home at the end of the day.

Regardless of when you eat it, cornbread is an essential component of the vegetable plate, which is very Southern. I can't imagine eating a bowl of pinto beans without cornbread. Collard greens, without cornbread to soak up the pot likker? Unheard of.

Recipes and methods for cornbread are one of the passions among Southern cooks. White or yellow corn? Buttermilk or "sweet milk"? Sugar? You will hear one Southerner say, "I love a sweet cornbread", and another spat, "I cannot stand sweet cornbread!" There is the classic black skillet cornbread, corn pone, corn cake, hoe cake, fried cornbread, hushpuppies. I find the controversies nostalgic and endearing.

Myself? I like them all, including this recipe for Mexican Cornbread, which was scrawled on a scrap of paper, and given to me many, many years ago, with the request, "Please make some".

In this recipe, self-rising cornmeal mix, is assumed. Salad oil is vegetable oil. Sweet milk means, not buttermilk (although I have made it with buttermilk). The small can of niblet corn, at the time, was 8 ounces, and I have used fresh, grilled, cream-style, and frozen corn. The recipe is very forgiving - and delicious.

Mexican Cornbread

3 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 onion, grated
1 cup corn
3 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Mix ingredients in the order given, then pour into a greased and floured pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes, until brown and a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

By the way, in my neck of the woods, in Alabama, we never said, "sweet tea", sweet was a given. We called it, "Ice Tea".

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Church Lady Salad

The ladies at my Mother's church love this salad for their luncheons. Because I live 325 miles from Mama, I will not be seeing her today, but I will talk to her. I have been thinking of her and I used one of her recipes as part of the lunch I prepared for my lovely Mother-in-law, Phloxy.

My mother has bestowed a great gift to me: knowledge of the joy and fulfillment that comes with the nurturing of the body and soul of people you love with home cooked food.

Strawberry Congealed Salad
1 1/4 cup coarsley crushed pretzels
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup, butter, melted
Mix together; press into a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish. Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool.
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. Cool Whip
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Whip together and spread over cooled pretzel crust.
2 cups water
1 large (6 oz.) strawberry Jello
16 oz. strawberries
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
Boil water; add Jello, then fruit. Allow to thicken. Spoon over top of crust and cheese layers.
Chill until firm.
This is exactly as she wrote the recipe for me. I have always been amused that Southern ladies refer to such congealed concoctions as "salad". But I have to admit that it was surprisingly refreshing and tasty as part of our lunch.
Moms are the Best!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Simply Cheese Toast

Sometimes the simplest foods taste best.

To make this snack, I turned the oven on to 350 degrees. I buttered a couple slices of honey wheat bread, and topped them with a few slices from a chunk of extra sharp cheddar cheese. Before I put it in the oven, I picked up my peppermill and cranked some black pepper on top. I then placed it in the oven and baked for about 15 minutes.

My mother would say, "Now, Rocquie, you can't afford to be running the oven every time you want to make a piece of toast". She toasts her bread first, in the toaster, then tops it with cheese, which she proceeds to melt under the broiler.

That method works, but I like my toast really crisp, which baking achieves. This cheese toast was golden brown on bottom and very crispy. I take it out just as the cheese barely begins to brown, because I like the cheese really gooey.

The baked cheese toast made a fine lunch with a hot cup of tea with scalded milk.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I think of Gazpacho as liquid salad. It is cold, refreshing, and satisfying. A few additions can make this a complete meal. A thick, hearty slice of whole grain bread with butter, a wedge of cheese, and a boiled egg all make fine companions. This recipe is adapted from my 1977 edition of the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.


  • 4 cups cold tomato juice
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced green pepper
  • 1 diced cucumber
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • dash of ground cumin
  • dash of tabasco sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and chill for several hours.