Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chicken Stock & Soup

My son loves soup. If I let him, he would have soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner. His favorite is Chicken Soup with rice or noodles. We've been purchasing the good stuff, Healthy Choice or Progresso low sodium for at best $0.75 per can. He can eat at least 1/2 a can and some days the whole thing.

Whole chickens were on sale at Albertson's for $0.69/lb so we purchased 4 chickens for about $14.00. We attempted our first chicken soup with homemade stock. It turned out really well, better then I thought it would. The soup after it was canned was much better then it was the day before which I thought was handy :)

The herbs are variable and completely up to your specific taste preferences. I made more stock last night from the left over carcass from dinner (it takes about 3 hours) and used Thyme, Parsley, and Oregano (the herbs used to season dinner).

Chicken Stock Recipe

1 Whole Chicken, cut into pieces (I obviously left it whole and it worked just fine. You can also use a carcass here instead of the whole chicken if that's all you have. OR you can use just legs and thighs, whatever you have on hand.)
4 Quarts Water (you may need to add more throughout cooking, next time I will start with 5 quarts)
2 Stalks Celery, quartered
2 Medium Onions, quartered
10 Peppercorns
2 Bay Leaves
1 T Salt (optional, you can add it at the end if you want for seasoning sake or just leave it out)
Optional Herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Oregano. You can use fresh or dried but fresh has a more substantial flavor.

Combine chicken and water in a large sauce pot or stock pot. Bring to a boil and boil for about 30 minutes to remove any impurities. Skim off the foam that has formed. Add remaining ingredients. If you are using fresh herbs be sure to tie it up in some cheesecloth before putting it in the water. Return to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours or until the chicken is tender. Remove from heat and skim off any additional foam. Line a colander with cheesecloth and place the colander over a large bowl. Pour stock through colander and let the chicken cool. If you wish, allow stock to cool until the fat solidifies and then return to a boil in a large sauce pot. From here you can can the stock as is or you can make it into soup.

For Canning: ladle hot stock into jars leaving 1 inch head space. Adjust lids and process in a pressure canner: pints for 20 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (15 pounds if you live above 1,000 ft altitude) and 25 minutes for quarts.

For Soup: Combine 4 quarts chicken stock, about 2-3 cups celery (depending on how much you want), 2-3 cups sliced carrots, 1-2 cups chopped onion, salt and pepper to taste in a large stock pot or sauce pot. Brig mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until carrots are tender. Adjust seasonings as desired, you can add bouillon as well if you want to. Serve from here or can as follows: pints 1 hour and 15 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 30 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (15 pounds if you live above 1,000 ft altitude).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tarte Tatin

Please forgive the overly orange tint to this picture. Unfortunately an orange Tupperware plate is the only plate that I have large enough to hold this masterpiece. I've been craving Caramel (or toffee or any browned sugar really) for the last few weeks. I saw a recipe on one of my favorite food blogs for an apple upside down cake and wanted to do something with my apples.
I attempted a Tarte Tatin. It is a french upside-down apple tart. I have to admit, it was awesome. The toffee coated edges are my favorite. My husband said it needed something to "tart it up a bit, like stiletto heels." I'll try this again but next time I am going to try adding some lemon zest to the crust along with replacing the water with lemon juice. We'll see if that works. My other thought is to add some cranberries right before the crust goes on. We'll tweak it and I'll you know how it goes.
I used a 10 inch cast iron skillet and it worked beautifully.
6 medium-large Golden Delicious Apples (or about 3 pounds. I used Fuji and Braeburn since that's what I had I don't know if Granny Smith would work, they might have a bit too much juice)
1/2 C Butter
1 C White Sugar
1.) Make dough (see below). Roll into a 12 inch round and refrigerate.
2.) Peel, core and quarter the apples, set aside
3.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.Melt the butter in the skillet and sprinkle the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and arrange the apples against the side of the pan, standing the apples on a thin edge to fit as many as possible (it will not stay pretty unless you rearrange before you put on the crust). Fill the center of the skillet with as many apples as possible. (There may be some left over)
4.) Place the skillet over high heat and cook, stirring frequently for about 15-18 minutes. (The sugar should be caramelized and the apples should be slightly tender).
5.) Remove the skillet from heat and slide the prepared crust onto the apples. Being careful not to burn your fingers (I used forks), gently tuck the edges of the dough against the inner sides of the skillet (make sure it's around all the apples).
6.) Bake the tart until the crust is browned 25-35 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 20 minutes then loosen the sides with a knife and invert it onto a serving plate that can withstand heat. Return any apples that stick to the skillet to their proper place on top of the tart.
Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
Flaky Butter Pie Crust (for 1 tatin or 9 inch pie crust)
1 1/4 C Flour
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C Cold Butter
1 1/2 T Shortening
1/4 C Cold Water (more as needed)
1.) Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl
2.) Cut butter into 1/4 inch pieces and cut into flour mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles pea-sized pieces.
3.) Add the shortening and cut into mixture. Continue to blend with the pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. This should be done quickly to prevent the mixture from softening.
4.) Drizzle over flour mixture about 1/4 C Cold Water and gently mix until the mixture looks evenly moistened and begins to form small balls. Press down on the dough and if the balls do not stick together add a little water 1 T at a time. If they do, press the dough together with your hands until it is all incorporated. Do not overwork the dough. It should look rough.
5.) Roll between 2 pieces of plastic and refrigerate for the Tatin or wrap the unrolled dough in plastic and freeze or refrigerate. Frozen it will last up to 6 months, refrigerated it will last about 2-3 days.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jam, Jelly, Preserves, etc

I've been getting into canning a lot lately and there have been awesome sales on fruit as well. I've been trying to figure out what the difference is between a fruit butter, conserve, jam, jelly, etc. In case you were wondering here are the differences.

Fruit Butter:

Fruit butter is made by cooking fruit pulp and sugar to a thick consistency that will spread easily.


Conserves are jam-like products made with a combination of two or more fruits, nuts, and raisins.


Jams are made by cooking crushed or chopped fruits with sugar. Jam can be made of one fruit or a combination of fruits, they do not hold the shape of the jar.


Juice strained from fruit is used to make jelly. It holds its shape when removed from the jar but can be spread easily.


Marmalade is a soft jelly containing small pieces of fruit and peel evenly suspended int he transparent jelly.


Fruit is preserved with sugar so it retains its shape, is transparent, shiny, tender and plump. The texture can vary from the thickness of honey to that of a soft jelly. A true preserve does not hold its shape when spooned from the jar.

Kiwi Jam

Reams (a grocery store here in Utah) had an awesome sale on Kiwi last week. It was only 9 cents per kiwi. So other than drying, which used up a little more than 1/2 of my kiwi supply I made Kiwi Jam with a friend of mine this morning. It turned out well, just a little different then planned. I would however make this again, it tastes really really good.

The recipe didn't turn out exactly as planned. That could have something to do with the fact that although I read the directions, I didn't fully read the directions if you know what I mean. First, you're not supposed to multiply the recipe, just make it as is. We tripled it. Second, you are supposed to add the pectin, let it boil then add the sugar. I added it all at once and then boiled it. Third, the recipe calls for 1 C unsweetened pineapple juice and I think I may have added an extra cup. Fourth, the recipe calls for 4 C of sugar. I only used about 8 C total (it should have been 12). Fifth, (yes I know I did a lot of things wrong) the yield says about 4 half-pints so we expected to make a total of about 12 half-pints. We made 15 half-pints and still had some left over that we put in a zip-loc container and froze.

Even for all the things I did wrong it turned out well. It tastes really good. The sugar doesn't overpower the Kiwi and the pineapple makes a great combo. If you want to learn more about Kiwi here's a link to wikipedia, it's actually pretty cool. Did you know it's actually a berry?

Kiwi Jam

3 C chopped and peeled kiwi
1 package powdered pectin
1 C unsweetened pineapple juice
4 C Sugar (I used 2 2/3 C per recipe)

Combine kiwi, powdered pectin and pineapple juice in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. (you have to adjust for altitude, this time is for sea-level processing)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Drying Kiwi

I haven't been able to find any instructions online or in the cook books I own regarding drying Kiwi. I'm making it up as I go. I currently have 5 racks of kiwi (appx 50 small) peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch thick with my dehydrator set at about 135 F. I did not sweeten them or dip them in citric acid as some websites say is done commercially. I started them about 6:50 PM. I'll dry them overnight and see how they go... It's a work in progress. Has anyone ever dried kiwi before?
Update: I was able to take off the majority of the kiwi (all but about 1.5 trays worth) at 8:30 AM. That's a total of about 13.5 hours of dry time. The remaining kiwi slices were a little thicker and stayed in the dryer until about 12:30 PM, so an additional 3 hours or so. They are tasty, a little tart, but still have a great kiwi taste. I'm sure you could do this in the oven, but you will not be able to do as many.
The 50 small kiwi I used made about 9.5 ounces of dried Kiwi. If you try this, let me know how it goes!

Drying Cranberries

I have been on a food preservation kick for the last little while. I recieved a dehydrator for Christmas 2007 and I love it. It is a L'Equip dehydrator with 6 racks. I've made jerky and a few dried fruits over the last year or so. I had some left over cranberries from Thanksgiving (about 2 pounds) and had no idea what to do with them, so I tried my hand at dehydrating. I searched online and in my cookbooks and could only find one semi-reliable recipe for drying cranberries. Here it is with my notes and comments throughout.

These turned out pretty well for the most part. They are still on the tart side, definately not as sweet as the Ocean Spray Craisins you can purchase at Costco, but still quite good. They are also much more sticky and it was bit of a pain to remove them from the drying racks. Next time I think I may not let them sit in the water for so long (pull them out just as they pop) and I'll let them cool before trying to make sure they are all popped.

Have you ever tried drying cranberries? Any tips or ideas would help.


Prep Time: 10 minutes (it took me about 20 mintues between picking over and removing the bad ones and getting them cooked a bit in the boiling syrup)

Cook Time: ~8 hours (I had to cook mine for about 18)

· 1 bag (12 oz) fresh whole cranberries
· 1 C sugar (or sugar substitute of your choice)
· 1/2 C water


Preheat oven to 200 F (or turn your dehydrator on high)
1. Put cranberries in large skillet, and pick through to remove soft and/or brown ones.
2. If sweetener is powdered, dissolve in water. (comparison of sources of "liquid Splenda"). Pour over cranberries and stir.
3. Heat on medium high until cranberries pop, about 4-5 minutes. Stir every minute or two. When all seem popped, turn off the burner and let them cool for 10 minutes. (If you heat the syrup before hand the cranberries will cook faster)
4. Squish them down with the back of a large spoon. Don't worry if it seems they are melding together. Let cool another 5 minutes or so.
5. Cover baking sheet with three layers of paper towels and a piece of parchment paper. If using a food dehydrator lightly spray trays with cooking oil.
6. Spread cranberries on the parchment or tray. If unpopped ones remain, squish them down now.
7. Put in oven and turn heat down to 150 F. Leave your dehydrator set at about 150 F.
8. In 2-4 hours, replace parchment and flip paper towels over. (You don't have to do this, but it speeds up the process.) If you are working with a dehydrator, just let them sit.
9. Start checking after 6 hours. Total time depends upon humidity and other factors. It usually takes me about 8 hours. It also depends on whether you want to dry them to the point where they still have some "give" or whether you like them "crispier". (It took me about 18 hours to dry them to the point where they were leathery with a little give)
10. Separate them, and store covered (zip-type bags or a food saver works as well).


I love to cook. I love reading about cooking and I love experimenting with food. This site is mainly an effort to keep my recipes straight and to keep my comments on recipes in a central location. Feel free to comment!