I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that while I am far from being vegetarian I have been making efforts to eat less meat for a variety of reasons…but sometimes I crave it. Today was one such instance. Maybe it was that I swam 1/2 mile and hauled concrete blocks about 5 miles (one way) on my Mundo–what, do I think I’m Jack Lalanne or something–but I really had a hankering for lamb, which is my favorite meat, by the way. Anyhow, I made the pictured recipe for Lamb Ragout and ate it tossed with whole wheat penne. Like most of what I post here…it is really easy to make, nutritious, and really delicious. It would also be great over rice or as a pizza topping.
A basket full of fresh vegetables, which I turned into a hearty chicken-and-vegetable soup/stew with Near East spices.
This is a very simple yet hearty and flavorful ragout. The method for a dish like this is about as simple as it gets: Saute or sweat whatever ingredients you have at hand or want to eat–meat, fish, poultry, or just vegetables–then add seasonings, liquid (broth and sometimes wine) and simmer for a while. Having made a recent trip to Penzy’s spices (and spending a tad too much money there), and lamb being my preferred red meat, I made this stew. I love to cook this type of food at home–one dish meals that are self contained and easy to clean up–to see other versions with recipes and pictures click here, here, here, or here.
Soup to me is the ultimate one-pot meal…simplicity at its best. It’s a method that has been used to cook foods for eons…since we humans first figured out how to cook food in a leak-proof/fire-proof vessel over a live fire (some of the earliest vessels were dried hollowed-out gourds, and even dried animal’s stomachs). In its most basic form it is simply a matter of putting food in a pot with liquid and boiling it. I am fully convinced that virtually any foodstuff can be turned into a delicious and healthy soup in very little time and with minimal effort (granting you follow a few basic culinary techniques). And the best part is the leftovers…I like to make more than needed and the flavors taste better the next day. Anyhow, this is how I made mine.
Here’s some of the ingredients I had in my fridge.
I diced them to relatively the same size. Then I sweat them in a little olive oil (meaning I cooked them over low heat with a lid on to bring out their natural flavors…a sort of vegetable steam bath). The seasoning opportunities are almost endless for a soup like this…I added garlic and hot peppers (of course), but also whole fennel, ground turmeric, smoked paprika, and a little gray sea salt.
I then added broth. You can use water in place of the broth, but I wanted a meaty flavor without adding actual meat, so I used a combination of chicken and lamb broth (which I had in the freezer…otherwise I probably would have used water). Anyhow, it simmered for about 1/2 hour and tastes delicious. It was really hearty and more of a vegetable stew; I could have added more broth or a little water to thin it, but it was delicious as it was. With a few slices of homemade bread and a pear it was a complete meal (click on the below photo for a larger image…but be forewarned, it may make you salivate).
Well, Buffalo’s climate is once again living up to its reputation. We got pelted with something like a foot of snow today (judging by the news, so did much of the rest of the northeast). I was out driving in it today (yes, I do use a vehicle now and again) and at points it was near whiteout conditions…traffic would come to a halt because the farthest you could see was maybe ten feet in front of you.
Here’s a shot of my backyard, note the Chinese trike buried in snow…I won’t be riding that any time soon (to read more about the trike click here).
By this point you’d think I’d learn to use the firewood in the backyard before the snow really hit, leaving wood on the front porch for times like this. Anyhow, I had to retrieve firewood from the backyard and had to shovel not only a path to the wood, but also shovel out a small clearing so I could split a few logs.
I was craving something hearty and spicy for dinner, so I scoured my refrigerator and freezer. In addition to leftover frozen turkey and turkey stock I had plenty of vegetables to work with. I also had some kim chi, some not-quite-ready citron confit (preserved lemons), and a can of white beans.
I used a basic stewing/braising method; it’s simple and can be done with most foods. This is how I made mine: Start by dicing the vegetables (note my two pugs in the background waiting for scraps to fall).
Then I added the turkey stock, a couple preserved lemon wedges, a good scoop of kim chi, and the rest of the diced vegetables and potatoes. After simmering it for a few minutes I added the drained and rinsed white beans.
After simmering it for about twenty minutes longer, I ladled it into a bowl that I warmed over a flame (the rear of my house is cold this time of year). Not bad, I thought as I ate it…for being made out of leftovers and a few other ingredients I had on hand. It was perfect food for a cold winters evening such as this.