Avgolemono

Last night I had a delicious bowl of Avgolemono at a fancy Greek restaurant in Manhattan. Unlike most restaurant food, this was something I felt I could reproduce without too much trouble. So I did, and if anything mine was even better!

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns (about 10)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • About 4 lbs of chicken/turkey bones/parts (carcass, wingtip so, necks, tail, etc)
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/3 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 eggs
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh dill for garnish

Directions

  1. Add meat, vegetables, and seasonings to pressure pot with 8 cups of water.
  2. Bring to boil on medium heat and cook for about 45 minutes.
  3. Strain broth into saucepan.
  4. Add rice to pot and cook for about 7 minutes.
  5. Shred/chop meat and carrots.
  6. While rice is cooking, whisk eggs and lemon juice in small bowl. 
  7. Add a ladleful of broth to the egg-lemon mixture to temper it, stir to prevent it from clumping.
  8. Add warm egg mixture to pot in a thin stream while stirring.
  9. In each bowl, add about 1/2 cup chicken, then ladle in soup, and garnish with fresh dill.

Notes

I used raw turkey carcass, bones, and tail. Made a nice rich broth, and had enough meat left on to both flavour the soup and serve with it to make it a full meal. A whole chicken would work fine too, and will yield plenty of meat to use for other purposes.

Below are the pictures from last night’s $10 bowl and tonight’s homemade. 

   
 

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Humus-Mushroom Tapenade 

Tapenade is tasty, but tends to be too salty and too heavy for my tastes. I ended up with some gorgeous mixed olives, courtesy of Scuba New York (long story), and wanted to put them to good use. For the basics on how to make a traditional olive tapenade, take a look at Alton Brown’s video: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/tapenade-recipe.html

I lightened it up a bit by adding 1 can each of chickpeas and unsalted mushrooms (store brand “stems and pieces”). It would be good with fresh mushrooms too, pre-sautéed to remove excess moisture. I think it would be magical with assorted exotic mushrooms. The mild ones I used are barely discernable in the final spread, but add a subtle earthy undertone that complements the olives nicely, without it tasting too diluted. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound mixed olives, pitted
  • 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 can chickpeas (15 oz, rinsed and drained)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 can unsalted mushrooms
  • 2-4 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 basil leaves

Directions

  1. Start with the garlic and the mushrooms in the food processor, and pulse until broken into small pieces. 
  2. Add the chickpeas and mushrooms and pulse until broken up. 
  3. Add remaining ingredients except for olive oil, pulse a few times, scrape down side of bowl, then add oil in thin stream while blade is spinning. 
  4. Adjust seasonings to taste, then allow to rest at least 30 minutes before serving to allow flavours to blend and rawness of garlic to dissipate. 

Pictured: Christmas brunch of anchovy omelette with tomato and basil, topped with the tapenade. 

  

Cookies From Heaven

I am not generally a huge fan of cookies, but can’t have Christmas without them. I made these today for the first time in many years; pictured below is the original recipe and also directions for my interpretation. The big difference is using American butter instead of Israeli margarine, and pecans instead of walnuts. The ingredients below are for a half batch, which made 20 cookies. The recipe scales seamlessly, so make as few or as many as you like. It is a very easy recipe, but incredibly delicious!

Ingredients

  • 200 grams butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered confectioners sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 TB rum (or brandy)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp rose water

Directions

  1. If nuts are not pre-chopped, pulse in food processor, smash with hammer, or do what I did and add to bowl of stand mixer and let the paddle break them up into tiny chunks at medium-high speed.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar, and nuts on medium speed in the stand mixer. This can be done by hand too, but is more tedious. The butter will blend better if at room temperature and cut into pats. The KitchenAid will not care either way, as long as it isn’t frozen solid.
  3. Add liquids and beat until smooth.
  4. Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, scrape down the bowl if it sticks, and beat at low speed just until incorporated. 
  5. Form dough into 20 balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet(s). Leave round or pat down into discs as prefered.
  6. Bake  for 18-20 minutes in preheated 350F oven, bottom should just start to turn golden grown, but tops should still be light. 
  7. Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar and allow to cool before eating or they will be too crumbly. 

Notes

  1. Although not too sweet, these are very rich, serve with mint tea and don’t eat too many at once.
  2. This recipe comes from an excellent cook from an old Christian family in Nazareth. Christmas Cookies don’t get much more authentic than that!