Recipe Revisit: Spring Matzo Ball Soup

DSCN4285As I was trying to decide what I was going to write about this week, I decided to revisit the very first recipe I shared three years ago, my Spring Matzo Ball Soup, which I actually made for lunches this week. Chicken soup of any sort is comfort in a bowl for me, and adding dumplings, noodles, or in this case, matzo balls, makes it all the more comforting.

I took my original recipe and added and subtracted a few ingredients based on what I had on hand. I usually have some homemade chicken broth in the freezer, but you can certainly make this with boxed broth. I love the flavor of the added fresh dill, it tastes like summer to me, but of course, it’s optional, or you can use another herb. Carrots, celery, and onion are a classic soup combination, but I’ve also added turnip and parsnip if I have it on hand. And if you have some leftover chicken in the fridge, by all means throw it in!

Our early spring, along with our winter, has been terribly chilly, so a big bowl of this for lunch is what Mother Nature ordered!

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Spring Matzo Ball Soup
Since the matzo mixture needs to rest for at least 20 minutes, make that first before you start working on the soup. I like my soups less brothy, so you may want to use more.

5+ cups chicken broth
2 tsp. olive oil
I cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup celery stalks, diced
1 cup onion, diced
A splash or two of white wine (optional)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
A few snips of fresh dill weed
Salt and pepper
Matzo ball mix (see recipe below)

1. In a large Dutch oven, warm the olive oil, and add the vegetables. Saute until soft.

2. Add in the broth, wine (if using), and tomato paste. Bring it to a boil.

3. When the matzo is ready, wet your hands and form matzo into round, one inch balls (about 7-8) and place on top of the soup. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Add the dill weed, if using, at the last minute.

Homemade Matzo Balls
I can’t take credit it for this, my good friends at Manischewitz can, as it is what I follow when I make matzo balls. They are the best!

2 eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 c. matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon of salt (I usually leave out)
2 tablespoons water or broth
A little bit of fresh dill weed

Beat the eggs, blend the eggs with the oil, matzo meal, salt, and dill weed. Add broth or water, mix until uniform. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Orange-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops

This is what last Tuesday and Wednesday looked like. Fingers crossed it's the last storm of the winter!

This is what last Tuesday and Wednesday looked like. Fingers crossed it’s the last storm of the winter!

Every couple of years or so, I buy a jar of orange marmalade. I love the stuff, but I eat it on only one thing, English muffins. Which I buy maybe once a year when I get a craving. So I always have a jar in the fridge, just sitting there, lonely, waiting to be eaten. Thank goodness I had some on hand, because these pork chops were delicious!

I thought I had bone-in pork chops in the freezer, but it turned out to be three boneless chops. No matter, you just need to watch the cooking time to make sure they don’t get dried out. I also used a half-cup of orange juice out of the carton, although I’m sure using fresh squeezed will give it even more flavor.

So if you’re like me and have a jar of marmalade in your fridge, give this recipe a try. It made a quick and easy dinner on a work night. Serve it with some brown rice and a green salad, and make sure you leave enough leftovers for lunch the next day!

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Orange-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops
This recipe originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Marmalade provides pectin to give the glaze syrupy body and balances the sweet orange juice with a touch of pleasant bitterness.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: 1 chop, about 3 onion wedges, and about 3 tablespoons sauce)
Total: 40 Minutes

Ingredients
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 (6-ounce) bone-in pork loin chops (1 inch thick)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 rosemary sprigs
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Combine juice, marmalade, and mustard in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until syrupy.

3. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Add to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned. Turn pork; add rosemary and onion to pan. Pour juice mixture over pork; bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until a thermometer registers 140°. Place onion and rosemary on a platter. Return pan to medium-high heat; add lime juice. Cook 4 minutes or until liquid is syrupy. Add pork to platter; drizzle with sauce.

Luck O’The Irish For St. Patrick’s Day!

four-leaf cloverCongratulations to Linda J., the winner of the Global Kitchen cookbook giveaway! Thank you to all who participated!

While I don’t have a speck of Irish blood in me, I always like making a recipe or two for the holiday. First off, it’s a big mark that spring is coming (although they are predicting 12-20 inches of snow for today! Yikes!) and the food is always delicious and hearty. Who can say no to some corned beef, cabbage, a slice of bread, and a Guinness?

This recipe for Irish Oatmeal Bread is really delicious. You get two big loaves of dense, chewy homemade bread. It makes a great peanut butter sandwich if you are going on a hike or a nice addition to soup for lunch. It also makes great toast!

A standing mixer is suggested since the dough is so dense, but I don’t have one so it’s a lot of elbow grease on my part. I mixed it with my favorite wooden spoon that I’ve had for close to 25 years, but twice in the last week when I was mixing dough, I heard a small crack. So be sure your spoon is a sturdy one!

In terms of changes, I made a couple. I only had dark brown sugar on hand, so I decided to substitute maple syrup. Also, one of my bread pans seems to have disappeared, so I made a nice, round boulé for my second loaf. Just to note, this is time consuming; it took me the better part of four hours from start to finish. So plan to make it on a morning or evening when you don’t have to go anywhere–or during a snowstorm!

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Irish Oatmeal Bread

This recipe first appeared in the January 2004 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

This recipe yields a dense dough, so use a stand mixer for mixing. Make sure the oatmeal mixture is cool before combining with the yeast mixture. If you have oatmeal at breakfast and make a sandwich with this bread for lunch, you can meet the recommended 1 1/2 cups oatmeal per day.

Yield: 2 loaves, 14 servings per loaf (serving size: 1 slice)

2 1/4 cups boiling water
1 3/4 cups steel-cut oats
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
Dash of granulated sugar
2 packages dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons each)
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 cups whole wheat flour
Cooking spray
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Combine the first 5 ingredients in the bowl of a stand-up mixer, and let stand 25 minutes.

Dissolve granulated sugar and yeast in warm water; let stand 5 minutes or until foamy. Add to oat mixture. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Gradually add 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 3 cups whole wheat flour to oat mixture. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of the remaining all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide in half. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each portion into a 14 x 8-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Roll up each rectangle tightly, starting with a short edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch seam and ends to seal. Place each loaf, seam sides down, in a 9-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350º.

Uncover dough, and brush egg evenly over loaves. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes or until loaves are browned on bottom and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pan, and cool on wire racks.

Weeknight Dinner Series #7! New Food Labels! A Cookbook Giveaway!

There is a lot of excitement this week! March 7th marks the third-year birthday of My Vermont Kitchen; I’ve made it through my infancy and the terrible twos! It’s the first week in March, where a sigh of relief can be heard round the world that yes, the long, dark, and cold winter is slowly winding down. This month always has warm days and cold nights, the perfect recipe for maple sugaring. The chirp of the red-winged blackbird will be making its way to the meadow by St. Patrick’s Day. Plus we spring forward this weekend! I can feel the spring in my outside steps already!

So the news first. The United States Food and Drug Administration announced last week that food labels are getting an overhaul for the first time since the early 1990s. Taking the nutrition course I mentioned last week, one week was devoted to reading food labels, which was a real eye opener. The new label changes are meant to be easier for the average consumer to understand and will focus on calories and sugar content in particular. Hooray to this, as sugar content was not on the labels before because there was no set standard for sugar consumption. But given the obesity and diabetes epidemic in this country, I am pleased to see this addition. This article printed in the New York Times clearly explains the matter in more detail.

This week’s recipe: Chicken and Leeks. While it has a boring name, this is a simple weeknight supper that takes about 30 minutes to make and it’s a delicious and nutritious! Rarely do I make pan sauces, and I’m really not sure why, because they are fairly easy. You can always cook the leeks in the pan with the chicken, but in this case, I cooked them separately. And don’t be like me–watch the pan sauce! I reduced it a little too much, but it was still delicious! Serve along side with rice and a salad, or steamed broccoli with lemon and butter.
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Chicken and Leeks
Extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds of chicken tenders
1 cup chopped leeks
½ cup chicken broth
A glug or two of white wine (Optional. If not using, just use a little more broth.)
1 Tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place enough olive oil in the bottom of a large skillet and warm. Add the chicken and cook until they are tender, turning frequently, so both sides are golden brown. When finished cooking, put on a plate and set aside.

2. As you are cooking the chicken, add 1 Tablespoon of butter to a small skillet. When it’s melted, add the leeks and cook until soft and a little brown.

3. Place the chicken skillet back on the burner and slowly add the chicken broth, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon or spatula. Bring to a boil, add the wine if using, and reduce down until it is the consistency you like. Add the leeks and chicken to the pan, cover with the sauce and serve.

Free Cookbook Giveaway!

global kitchenAs a member of Cooking Light magazine’s Blogger’s Connection, I sometimes get a few perks and this time I get to pass something on to one lucky reader! Just this week Cooking Light’s Global Flavors will be in bookstores! And this cookbook is fantastic! Written by New York Times best-selling author and food writer David Joachim, you’ll find recipes from all over the world, but they’re easy to make and accessible for the home cook. You’ll find recipes from East Asia, India, Southeast Asia and Australia, the Middle East and Africa, Europe and Eurasia, South, North, and Central Americas. I sat down to breakfast the other morning and was salivating over all the dishes. I’m especially excited to make Chicken Tikka Masala, Indonesian Stir-Fried Noodles, and Hungarian Goulash (although there are tons more I’m going to try!)

The contest is easy! Just leave a comment with what your favorite global meal is, I’ll put all the names in a hat, and the Eater of the House will pull out a name. I’ll contact the lucky winner to get shipping instructions. Deadline is Tuesday, March 11 at midnight Eastern Time. Good luck!