Monday, October 12, 2009

Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan has come full circle. Originally made with mornay sauce (bechamel or white sauce with cheese in it), over the years it turned into something you dumped canned chicken, frozen broccoli and a can of cream-of-something-soup into.

Well. We don't eat cream-of-something soup anymore because it usually has soy. I don't like frozen broccoli because the stems are tough and the crowns are mushy. So, let's go with a standard recipe and cut down on some of the butter and cheese to reduce the fat. The classic cheeses to use are half gruyere and half parmesan, but you can use anything you have on hand. We like sharp cheddar.

Chicken Divan
Serves 4

4 cups broccoli
4 tsp butter
1/4 cup minced onion or shallot (optional)
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup chicken broth (or water)
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder or 1 cube
1 cup milk
2 oz shredded cheese (1/2 cup)
10 oz sliced, cooked chicken
Cooked noodles, rice, or toast

1. Steam the broccoli--let the water in the steamer come to a rolling boil, then steam the broccoli for 8 or 9 minutes, covered.

2. While the broccoli is cooking, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Saute the optional onions until they are soft but not browning at the edges. (If you don't want to do this, add 1 tsp minced dried onion later with the chicken bouillon.)

3. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and stir. Add the chicken broth or water all at once and stir until smooth. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly, until it is all incorporated and smooth. Heat until just bubbly.

4. Add the chicken bouillon and shredded cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the chicken and stir to coat with sauce.

5. Dish out the rice, noodles, or toast on 4 plates or shallow soup dishes. Divide up the broccoli over this. Ladle the chicken and sauce over all.

Note: If you are really energetic you can poach your own chicken for this. I simmer chicken breasts with some celery leaves, a couple of baby carrots, several grinds of pepper, and a bay leaf. When it is done, I simmer the broth down to concentrate it and use in the recipe.

No-soy considerations:
Check the chicken bouillon for soy.
If serving over toast, check the bread for soy or soy oil.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Obesity and Processed Foods

Today in the Washington Post, on page 2 of the Outlook section in a column called Outspoken, David Kessler, the former head of the Food and Drug Adminstration, talks about the connection between processed food and obesity. Also today, in the New York Times Magazine, is an article called Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch. It is about: the movie Julie and Julia, the disconnect between TV food shows and cooking. . . and the connection between processed food and obesity.

The NYT article quotes Harry Belzer, "a veteran food-marketing researcher". In answer to a question on how to "undo the damage that the modern diet of industrially prepared food has done to our health", he says,

"Easy. You want Americans to eat less? I have the diet for you. It's short, and it's simple. Here's my diet plan: Cook it yourself. That's it. Eat anything you want -- just as long as you're willing to cook it yourself."

Looking at the soy allergy in a glass-half-full kind of way, I say we're way ahead of the rest of America on this one. We have to cook a lot of our foods from scratch and we don't eat out much. I won't say I couldn't lose (ahem) a few pounds, but I still eat processed foods. Granted I had to hunt them down in Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and among the gazillions of foods on the regular grocery store aisles, but I eat crackers, breakfast cereal, cheesy-poofs and the like.

Maybe I'll stop.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

England and Scotland Don't Let You Know What Vegetable Oil They Use.

Just got back from Scotland and northern England. They don't seem to use much soy oil, but it's hard to tell. They list ingredients on groceries, but don't tell you which "vegetable oil" is used.

Sometimes a product will tell you--mostly when it's trying to convince you it's organic or a health food. They they will list safflower oil or the like.

The pubs and restaurants are very helpful, though. Britain has a lot of vegetarians and other heath-food aficionados, and they will go out of their way to make sure you get what you want to eat. One pub cooked me a ham and egg supper with no oil, and a waiter at Heathrow airport went back himself to check out the oil in his restaurant's kitchen (it was soy, darn it.)

We had two suppers at the pub pictured, with the kitchen staff making my chicken one night and trout the next was made with with butter or olive oil. Another day we had a wonderful lunch at a little cafe next to a train station where the proprietor was Spanish. She made us a Spanish tortilla with salad and potatoes, all with olive oil. She said she had had a customer in the day before with a soy allergy, so she was already familiar with what she could serve and what she could not.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kroeger's Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

I love me some Nutella, but it has soy, darn it.

The other day, Elder Daughter and I were out of town and went to a Kroeger's supermarket. They have their own brand of Chocolate-Hazelnut spread and there on the ingredients label, instead of "soy lecithin," it said:

"sunflower lecithin"


Of course we bought it. It is delicious.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chocolate Bundt Cake from Cook's Illustrated

I won't publish the recipe here, but if you subscribe to Cook's Illustrated online, you can find the best chocolate bundt cake I've ever had. It has semisweet chocolate and cocoa in it (and butter and sour cream*), and gets better with time. I made one for work the other day. My husband and I tried a cupcake we had made just for tasting purposes the night I made it, and it was good. The next day at work, the cake was better. And one of my colleagues took a bite in the morning, then saved the rest for after lunch, and he told me after lunch it was even better.

Cooks Illustrated will give you a 14-day free trial before you have to pay for the content. The recipe is called "Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake."

Cook's also tested a number of Bundt pans. I asked for, and got, a Nordicware Bundt pan for Christmas, and it is awsome. The cake came out of the pan looking perfect.

*note: I didn't have any sour cream on hand so I used yogurt. It came out fine.

Lecithin-free semi-sweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate bars (two 3-oz bars)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Random Thoughts and Dill Meatballs

Blog Hiatus: sorry about that. Haven't been cooking much because I had pneumonia the end of February and have been sleeping a lot, sometimes through supper.

***Lecithin in tea: Look out for tea bags that include lemon flavor. This week I came across two different lemon-flavored teas, from two different brands, that had soy lecithin in them! Who would be looking for soy in tea?!?!

Fish Tacos: recommend that you check out the New York Times site this week because there is a great-looking recipe in the Magazine today (Sunday) for fish tacos. I intend to try it this week.

Kosher for Passover: scored some kosher-for-Passover chocolate chips this week at our local Giant grocery store, so we made Congo Bars to celebrate.

Saint Patrick's Day: of course required Corned Beef and Cabbage (and carrots and potatoes) which is inherently soy-free.

Each of my kids has a favorite meal, and this one is Younger Daughter's:

Dill Meatballs with Noodles

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (from 4 or 5 slices), whole wheat preferred but not mandatory
1 Tbsp dried onion flakes *
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp grainy mustard
2 tsp fresh dill or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups reduced-sodium soy-free beef broth
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp dried
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup fat-free or light sour cream

Hot cooked noodles or bow ties

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Greast a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Put the bread crumbs and dried onions in a bowl and let soak for a few minutes in the water. Add the mustard, dill, and salt, and combine. Add the meat and combine. Shape into meatballs about 1" in diameter. Arrange 1/2" apart on the baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes.

3. Near the end of the meatballs' cooking time, heat 1 3/4 cup of the beef broth in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add the mustard, dill, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Mix the flour and the remaining beef broth in a cup until you have a slurry. Slowly add slurry to the hot beef broth, stirring constantly. Heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens, about 2 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the sour cream. Add meatballs to sauce. Serve over noodles.

*Note: you can use a finely chopped onion, but this is tedious and sometimes the onion doesn't cook all the way, so I used to end up sauteeing the onion first, which adds some extra oil to the recipe and makes this recipe take W-A-Y too long for a weeknight.

Make sure the beef broth is soy-free.
Otherwise, none.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Paprikas Krumpli -- Hungarian Potato Stew

I read murder mysteries when I am not alert enough to read anything deeper. I have read all of the Kinsey Millhone series, by Sue Grafton, to date. Kinsey spends a lot of time in a hole-in-the-wall neighborhood bar/Hungarian restaurant. In R is for Ricochet, the owner bullies her into eating Paprikas Krumpli ("Is stew made of boil potato, ongion, and what you call weenies cut in pieces. Is always serve with rye bread . . . ")

I got curious about it and looked it up online. The following is an amalgam of several recipes I found. It is very good! My husband asked me to keep the recipe.

Paprikas Krumpli

4 slices bacon (or can use 2 Tablespoons of canola oil)
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 tsp minced garlic, or up to 2 tsp, optional
5 cups potatoes, cut into 1/4" slices
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
water, just enough to barely cover

1. In a large saucepan or a dutch oven, fry bacon until fat renders and bacon is just crisp. Remove bacon pieces and set aside

2. Add onion and peppers to bacon grease (or oil) and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes on medium heat.

3. If using garlic, add here and saute for 30 seconds to a minute. (Until you can smell the garlic cooking.)

4. Add potatoes, paprika, caraway, salt, and pepper. Stir to distribute seasonings.

5. Add water, cover, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

6. Crumble bacon and sprinkle over potatoes, if desired.

7. Note: can add 1 tomato, and/or 1/2" slices of cooked kielbasa, hot dogs, or Hungarian paprika sausage. If you add the meat, brown it a little with the "ongions."

[no picture at the present time]