French onion soup looks like it should be a simple dish. Cook onions, add stock, simmer; add bread, melt cheese. Serve. Easy, right?
The key to all excellent French onion soups centers around how one cooks the onions, a process called caramelizing. Low and slow, deglazing with broth as needed, until a soft product with a deep, brown color that produces a hint of sweetness. I give a tip for those interested in speeding up the process, but it's better if you don't.
This French onion soup recipe uses Gruyere cheese for a mellow, smooth topping on what is surely to be a favorite for frigid winter nights.
3 large onions, sliced thin (any type of onion will do, but yellow onions make a delicious soup, and are cheaper)
2 oz clarified butter
3 quarts beef stock
4 oz sherry
4 oz Alaska Distillery Bristol Bay Gin (or a similar, less-juniper-y gin)
A sachet, or tea ball ,containing;
3 parsley stems
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp cracked black peppercorns
½ tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf dry French bread, sliced
½ pound Gruyere cheese
In soup kettle or dutch oven, cook sliced onions in butter until a deep brown color develops. Add small amounts of broth if necessary to prevent burning. In a hurry (but try not to be)? Add a pinch of sugar at this point to speed caramelizing.
Add sherry and deglaze. Continue to cook until the onions and broth have a slightly-syrupy consistency.
Add remaining broth and sachet of herbs.
Simmer up to 25 minutes and remove sachet. Add the Bristol Bay Gin and stir.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in to bowls and top with bread as pictured (above). Add Gruyere cheese and place under a broiler until desired cheese melt is achieved.
Serve carefully, bowls are hot.
Using tea as a smoking agent for meats is not a new concept. In fact, the Chinese have been doing it this way for centuries, and I find its rich, juicy flavor a winner for not only chicken, but salmon as well. This recipe may look complicated, but it's really not -- just a matter of careful timing and vigilance on the part of the chef. The first step involves steaming the chicken on a rack inside a wok (or a large saucepan if you don't have a wok). The second step brings the "smoking" mixture into the process, allowing the mixture to reach temperature, then turning heat off so the chicken sits and absorb the wonderful flavors of jasmine, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Perfect for a cold winter day. This recipe serves two, mostly due to space constraints in a wok. It pairs nicely with rice and a fresh salad.
2 bone-in chicken breasts, skin left on
2 Tbs Jasmine tea (loose tea)
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs long-grain rice
Heavy aluminum foil
A wok or large saucepan with a rack
- In a small bowl, mix loose tea, sugar, and rice. Set aside.
- Place the wok or saucepan on the stove and add 1 ½ - 2 cups water, and turn heat to high. Place rack in the pan or wok and place chicken on top. Cover and steam for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Tear off a piece of foil and fold and shape until it resembles a circle about 8 inches in diameter. It helps to fold up the sides a little bit to form a rim.
- Drain the pan or wok of initial drippings, and place back on stove. Place the foil creation in the bottom of the pan. - Add the smoking mixture to the top of the foil, and turn heat to high. Place rack back into pan.
- Rub the chicken pieces with sesame oil.
- When smoke starts to rise from the tea mixture, place the chicken back on the rack and cover.
- Heat on high for 5 minutes, then turn the burner off. Leave chicken covered for about 20 minutes.
- NOTE: Be sure chicken is fully cooked by piercing it with a sharp knife; juices should run clear. At this point you have a succulent and delightful treat, and I usually eat it at this point.
You can however, go one step further by removing the bones from the chicken, slicing, and returning to the wok with sesame or peanut oil, and frying until the chicken is a deep, rich brown. Add a dash of Szechuan pepper and salt to taste.
Your grandmother was right: Chicken soup is one of the best remedies for a common cold, and judging by the number of people in Anchorage coughing and sneezing, looks like this recipe is going to be worth its weight in gold.
The ingredients of a basic chicken soup are not fancy in any way; chicken broth, chunks of chicken, vegetables, and maybe some salt and pepper for seasoning. But it's exactly those elements that make it good, and good for you. Hot broth soothes a sore, scratchy throat; vegetables provide vitamins, and chicken is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, perfect for the achy, stuffy head.
The Flying Chef recipe goes a bit further, with a bunch of onion, a few potatoes for bulk, tomatoes, and some heat from spicy peppers. I cook it in a crock pot, but a deep dutch oven will work as well; just make sure heat is low and slow for best results if you go that route.
Serve this soup in big mugs, with some warm bread, and perhaps a blanket and cozy fire.
Spicy Crockpot Chicken Soup
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced in to chunks
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
4 tomatoes, cut in quarters or eighths
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 jalapeños (remove seeds), diced
1 bag of frozen sweet corn
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups chicken broth (want to make your own? Go HERE)
2 or 3 cups leftover chicken, cut in to bite sized pieces
Honestly, there is no real technique; just put all ingredients into the crockpot or dutch oven, and cook for six to eight hours on low (if using stovetop, add ingredients, bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer on low for two hours). Need soup faster? Hit "high" on the crock pot for four hours, but longer and slower is always better.
Americans are obsessed with hummus, a spread with options so complex it belies the simplistic nature of its makeup. Anyone with a blender or food processor can whip together a hummus dip with results that will leave guests reaching for the....veggie tray?
Yep. Hummus is one of those things that make the crunch of fresh vegetables even more appealing, even though hummus can and does make just about any snack food better. From pita chips to celery, hummus is the perfect healthy snack as we approach comfort food season.
This simple hummus recipe is quick, easy, and will keep for at least a week in a tightly-covered container. If it lasts that long.
Want some spice? Add cayenne pepper, paprika, or cumin for a bit more flavor.
Need some ideas for serving hummus, besides the usual vegetable tray or naan flatbread? Try using hummus instead of butter or mayo on sandwich wraps, on toast, or a burger. Yum. It's also awesome on pizza.
2 8 oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
½ cup tahini (sesame paste, easily found at grocery stores)
¼ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, or to taste (don't skimp!)
1 TBS cumin
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste (add more at the end, if desired)
¼ cup olive oil
Drain beans, reserving the liquid in case you need to thin out the mixture later.
Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.
(Are you kidding me? That's It?)
Yep. That's it.
Go wild and add other flavors such as sweet peas, red pepper, or even beets for a cool color shift, blending main ingredients first, then adding "extras" last.
The venerable horseradish has been a staple of gastronomic use for more than 3,000 years, and as a medicinal therapy long before that. The long, white root is known for its ability to spice up meats and seafood, but it also is reportedly an excellent therapy for sore muscles, as a cough syrup, and, um, as an aphrodisiac.
Globally, the horseradish market is a vibrant one, especially here in the United States where six million gallons are produced annually, enough to season enough sandwiches to wrap the planet 12 times. That's a lot of spice.
What is horseradish, exactly? A long, tapering root that is is harvested every spring and fall and sold to processors who work their magic; grating the root and releasing volatile oils that distinguish horseradish from all other flavors. The ground horseradish is then mixed with distilled vinegar to stabilize that distinctive burn that can clear out sinuses in a snap; but this is also where formulas can vary -- additions usually include salt, sugar, cream or vegetable oil.
The Flying Chef recipe is similar to many, but with the addition of gin, which I think provides an unusual bite to the already-spicy horseradish. It's great on grilled red meats.
4 Tbs horseradish
1 jigger of gin (1.5 oz)
1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
3 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
- In a small bowl combine all ingredients except the gin.
- Stirring with a fork, add small amounts of gin until you achieve a desired constancy. It is better to be on the thicker side.
- Cover, refrigerate and give it another stir just before serving atop grilled meats or as a side for sandwiches.
Let's talk about two very special Alaska things: berries and fish. For centuries, Alaskans have utilized both as mainstays to a healthy diet, even if they didn't know it at the time. Cranberries, crowberries, watermelon berries, salmon berries, and, of course, blueberries. This has been a fantastic year for blueberries, so why not combine this bounty with another Alaska resource; salmon. Reds or kings are best for this recipe.
Oh, and while I'm at it, I should mention that my salmon came from the good folks at Catch 49, a cool new co-op opportunity that allows the purchase of shares for such wonderful products as wild Alaska salmon. So check them out HERE.
1/2 fillet of red or king salmon
Large pinch of salt
Large pinch pepper
4 sprigs thyme
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 TBS butter
2 cups blueberries
2 cups white wine
2 TBS honey
2 TBS white wine vinegar
1 stick cinnamon
1 TBS butter
- In a small saucepan, add shallots, wine, vinegar, thyme, cinnamon, and a small pinch of salt. Reduce until the liquid has all but evaporated, approximately 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- When reduced, add blueberries, half the butter, the honey, and cook until the berries are soft and the sauce turns pink.
- Heat grill to medium and make a foil “boat” to contain the salmon.- Place foil on grill and add remaining butter. When melted, place salmon in the foil boat and spoon blueberry mixture over the salmon, reserving just a bit of sauce for the presentation.
- Grill for about 10 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily. - Plate salmon and drizzle with the remaining sauce.
There are a lot of potatoes in this world, all of them good. But some, like Yukon Gold, are just better. Yukons are smaller, with yellow flesh (hence the name), and a slightly-sweet, smooth flavor. Mashed with lots of butter and the right seasonings, they're simply sublime. As harvest season goes full bore, perhaps you've found yourself with an abundance of these little beauties and wonder what else can be done with their deliciousness.
Behold the smashed Yukon Gold tater with hints of orange and garlic; the perfect sweet-tart combination topped off with bacon bits. Be sure to leave the skin on these potatoes for a rustic look and lots of vitamins (your mother was right!).
Smashed Potatoes with Orange and Garlic
2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, quartered
6 cloves garlic, chopped
½ stick butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 oz orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Rinse and quarter potatoes, leaving the skin on.
- Place potatoes in pot and boil until they can be pierced easily with a table knife. Drain pot and leave potatoes in.
- Chop garlic and set aside.
- Add your butter, garlic, and half the whipping cream to the potato pot.
- With a table knife or spatula, use a slicing motion break down the potatoes. When a desired texture (i.e. 'smash') is achieved, add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the rest of the cream - a little at a time. You don’t want to turn the smashed potatoes into a gooey paste.
- Add orange juice, mixing carefully, and adjust with bacon bits, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with parsley and serve hot.
The oldest-known recipe using Fritos brand corn chips in combination with chili was first published in the state of Texas in 1949. Word has it that a Mrs. Daisy Doolin, mother of Fritos founder Charles Doolin, was the inventor of this savory, filling dish, but some also believe that Mr. Doolin's secretary, Mary Livingston, may have also had a hand in creating the crunch heard round the world. By contrast, the Frito-Lay company credits the official Frito Pie recipe to Nell Morris, who joined the company in the 1950s, and who helped develop a company cookbook that included the Frito Pie recipe.
While controversy surrounds the invention of this late-night dish for the sometimes-inebriated masses, Frito Pie also stands on its own as an American icon of guilty pleasure food. And now you can make it yourself, The Flying Chef way.
1 or more individual snack-size bags of Frito brand corn chips.
Your favorite chili. I, of course, recommend my Crowd-Pleaser Chili. Find it HERE.
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Salsa of your choice
Set out all ingredients to let people choose toppings.
In a small bowl place bag of Fritos and slice open the top of each bag, which will become the "bowl."
Spoon chili onto chips, then add toppings. Don't be afraid to go crazy. After all, you're eating Fritos. Have fun. Crack open a cold beverage. Talk about the old days.
OK, it's July now, and Alaska's temperatures are rapidly approaching "hot," so this Japanese cucumber salad is a cool way to beat the heat. A few facts about cukes: There are quite a few different types (who knew?). Some are best for pickling, some for eating, and some are good for both. Look for cukes with descriptors like "burpless," or "slicers," meaning they are crunchy and light, and literally won't make you burp.
Find cucumbers at Alaska's farmers markets from now through September, or pick some up at your local grocery store. Just be sure the cukes are firm, not mushy (especially on the ends). Serve up this dish with fish (salmon and halibut, anyone?), or grilled meats. It's perfect for deckside dining.
1 cup rice wine vinegar
2 TBS of Nori (a Japanese seasoning) or 2 TBS white sesame seeds
1 TBS sesame oil
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp ground or crushed dried chill pepper (or to taste)
1 mason-type jar or plastic container. If using a traditional mason jar, the metal bands and lids are OK for use, otherwise, avoid any other metal.
Trim ends of the cucumbers, and slice in half. Then, slice cucumbers in half again, lengthwise. Slice that in thirds lengthwise. Now, one more time: slice the cucumber into thirds again, this time perpendicular so you end up with nice chunks.
Place cucumber chunks in mason jar.
Add remaining ingredients. Close the lid and shake to mix.
Leave in refrigerator overnight or up to four days.
Shake or invert the jar once in a while to infuse dressing around cucumbers.
Alaska's summer is in full swing, with sunshine and warm temperatures to boot! On a day as warm as this one (75F here in Anchorage), this is the perfect time to take advantage of fresh fruits and outdoor dining.
Try this strawberry salsa with grilled flank steak, sliced thin, and served in a warm flour tortilla. It would also be tasty on grilled halibut.
2 cups chopped strawberries
Zest and juice of one lime
Lime wedges for serving
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs honey
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ cup chopped shallot
1 Tbs chopped cilantro
Extra chopped cilantro for garnish
1 Tbs chopped mint.
In a non reactive bowl (remember, glass or plastic -not metal), mix all the ingredients and set aside. Add more cilantro for garnish. Drop the lime wedge to the plate and that's all, The Flying Chef wrote!