Wild Rice and Turkey Soup

I am always looking for ways to turn leftover into gourmet.  When I cook a turkey, leftovers are a given, so I plan a couple of follow-up meals, including this creamy soup. If the base of this soup seems familiar, you are following the same basic steps as when you make cream of chicken (or in this case turkey) soup, with the addition of a few extra ingredients.  You could also make this soup with leftover chicken.

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

2/3 c. uncooked wild rice
6 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 c. turkey or chicken stock
2 c. chopped cooked turkey
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. half-and-half

Cook rice according to package directions.

.Melt the butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the  onion becomes translucent and the celery softens. Add the flour, and stir frequently until it becomes a light golden brown. Add the stock one ladel-ful at a time, whisking constantly.  Continue wisking for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken.  Stir in the wild rice, turkey, salt, pepper, sage and thyme. Return to a simmer, and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, half-and-half and white wine.; bring the soup almost to a boil (but do not allow to actually come to a boil), and serve hot.



My hubby and I first became acquainted with the concept of the pasty from reading Lilian Jackson Braun's Cat Who... books.  Pastys .(also sometimes spelled pasties, and occasionally known as Cornish Pastys) are empanada-shaped hand pies.  In the Cat Who . . . . world of Pickaxe, they are filled with steak or ground beef, onion and turnip. Turnip is not on either of our favorite veggies list, so I was relieved to learn that the original Cornish version often uses potato instead.  (Early versions used venison, but we're sticking with beef). 


1 lb. ground beef
1 medium.onion, chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and minced
4 sprigs parsley, minced
2 tbsp. breadcrumbs
1 tsp.Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4. tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 c. beef stock
1 egg
4 c. flour
2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. sugar
1 1/3 c. butter
4 tsp. white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  I a large mixing bowl, combine beef, onion, potato, parsley, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, nutmeg and stock. 

In a separate large bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar.  Cut in butter using two knives or a pastry blender until mixture is pea-sized and crumbly.  Add vinegar and 10 tablespoons water.  If necessary, add additional water, until you can roll the dough up into a neat ball.  Roll the dough out to 1/4" thick, and cut into a dozen 5" to 6" circles.  Place circles onto ungreased baking sheets.  Divide the meat mixture into a dozen equal pieces, and place one piece onto each pastry circle. 

Fold the circle in half around the meat to form a moon shape, moistening the edge with water if necessary.  Beat the egg in a small bowl, and use a pastry brush to brush egg wash across the pastys.   Bake for 40-50 minutes.


Fried Rice

I love making fried rice.  It's easy, it goes with everything, and if you do it right, it can be very healthy.  You can use brown rice, and even picky eaters probably won't notice.  You don't even have to use rice at all for this technique to work: you can stir-fry any mix of healthy grains.  Feel free to add whatever veggies you have on hand (red bell pepper, sugar snap peas, etc.)  but this makes a nice basic combination.

This recipe is vegetarian, but you can make it vegan by eliminating the egg.

1/4 c. olive oil, plus one tablespoon
2 c. cooked brown rice *
1 carrot, diced
1/2 a medium onion, diced
1/4 c. frozen peas
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 egg

Over high heat, bring the 1/4 cup of oilve oil almost to the smoking point in a wok.  Add the rice and stir fry until the rice browns and starts to get scortch marks in a few places.  Use a spatula to press the rice down against the wok, and then flip it.  Repeat frequently as the rice cooks.  Remove the rice from the wok to a plate or bowl.

Add the tablespoon of olive oil to the wok.  Add the carrot, onion and frozen peas.  Stir fry until the carrot is tender and the onion starts to turn translucent.  Return the rice to the wok, combining it well with the vegetable mixture.  Add the soy sauce. 

In a small dish, scramble the egg well.  Make a well in the rice and vegetable mixture.  Pour the egg into the well, and cook it until it is almost to the texture of scrambled eggs, stirring constantly as the egg cooks.  Mix the egg into the rice and vegetable mixture and cook for a minute or twl longer.

 * I like to cook my brown rice following the instructions at Saveur.  It always comes out fluffy.


Dallas Foodie: Zach Townsend

When we were at the chocolate conference in Addison over the weekend, we met Zach Townsend, owner of Pure Chocolate Desserts By Zach.  There were a lot of choclatiers at the conference, but only one who is also a cookbook translator.  His book, an English translation of Larousse on Cooking, comes out October 16.  He had a preview copy at the conference, so we were able to flip through the pages of beautiful photos (all of which were taken in France) while sampling his dilectable mousse truffles.

I was able to catch up with Zach and find out a little bit more about him and his work.  Here's a peek inside the world of a cookbook translator:

How did you get into recipe translation?
I started studying French in high school and felt a connection with the language, so I continued my studies in French at Murray State University in Kentucky. I decided to pursue a minor in the language along with my business degree.  I also enrolled in a private school in Paris for about 6 months where all of my courses were in French. When my studies at Murray State were completed, I had the equivalent of a major in French.  After college and working for awhile, I pursued my Master of International Management at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona where a second language was mandatory. By the time I had my Masters degree, I had achieved fluency in the language. I went on to obtain my D.E.L.F. 2nd degree certification in the language, a set of official French proficiency tests administered by the Centre international d'étude pédagogique. Once my culinary career started, I pursued combining my love for food with my love for writing and the gravitation toward translating culinary books was a natural step. I have also translated for Wine Enthusiast magazine.

How did you become connected with this manuscript? My editor at Dessert Professional magazine, Tish Boyle, is also an author, and her books have been published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. She recommended me to the editor at Wiley who needed someone to translate Petit Larousse Cuisinier whose English rights they had purchased from Larousse. Since I was also a contributor to Rose’s Heavenly Cakes (by Rose Levy Beranbaum), also published by John Wiley & Sons, the editors were familiar with my name and work so they offered me the book.

What appeals to you the most about this book? The enormous amount of recipes contained in the book covering a wide variety of cuisine, but also the fact that Larousse kept every recipe to 1 page in length to make them all approachable. The book also has a beautiful photograph for each recipe, and there are over 300 recipes in the book. It also has a great little techniques section in the back.

I can't imagine the amount of work involved in doing translation work on this scale. What helped you to accomplish it? Passion and perseverance, driven by very tight, short deadlines! I was determined that the book be as accurate as possible in terms of connecting with an American audience and in terms of the accuracy of the conversions and translation. I believe I achieved this. It required a huge amount of hours per week for three months, not only translating but editing, then editing again and again. I worked with my editor and the people at Larousse in France any time I had a question about their approach or the ingredients.

What is the one thing you wish everybody knew about French cooking?
That it’s actually a healthy and happy way to eat, in moderation.

How long were you in France? I have spent more than a year in France living, working and studying. My time was spent mainly in Paris, but I have spent a significant amount of time on the Côte d’Azure, in Burgundy, the Centre, Normandy, Brittany, Champagne, and the southeastern part of the country, to name a few. In 2004, I traveled throughout France staying in people’s homes to collect soup recipes from the different parts of the country. I continue to travel to France, usually once every 1-2 years to catch up with friends and stay on top of food trends.

How do you feel your time spent there shaped your cooking style? Of course I have an affinity toward French-style cooking, both rustic cuisine (which is sometimes referred to as “peasant” cuisine or la cuisine bourgeoise), and haute cuisine. The rustic home-style cooking of France reminds me a great deal of the type of food I grew up on in Kentucky, so I love this type of cooking with its rich sauces, hearty vegetables and stewed meats – it’s the ultimate comfort food, and there is nothing better, in my opinion, than this type of food. But I also love the refined and delicate nature of haute cuisine. Usually when I’m in France I spend time indulging in both. I think the most important aspects of French cooking that influence how I cook at home are “refinement” and “simplicity of ingredients.” The French have a way of making the most delicious dishes out of a minimal amount of ingredients. To do this, they focus on the quality and freshness of their ingredients and on the small details of cooking them properly.

If you had to pick one region of France and one restaurant in that region that you enjoyed the most, what would it be? One of the best restaurant meals I have had in France was at Au Bon Laboureur in Bray-sur-Seine in the Champagne region. The restaurant is owned by an older couple and the food they serve is refined and regional. They have the most incredible in-house terrines and pâtés and fantastic stewed dishes, and their selection of local cheeses, served on a large straw tray at the end of the meal, overwhelms you when they bring it to the table. Their service is impeccable because it’s warm and inviting, and if you eat there more than once, which I have, you’re suddenly part of the family. I spent many long nights at the table there with friends.

Has your translation work helped you in creating your own unique recipes? Each time I work with someone else’s recipe, I am inspired, so yes, it has. I am always creating new recipes, and when I make a recipe I’ve translated, I think about how I can adapt it or use components of it to create my own version of it or something new.

Would you be willing to share a recipe with us? Yes, this is a great recipe that my best friend’s mother made for me one evening when I was visiting her and her husband at their summer home in an area of France known as La Creuse (in the Centre). They live in Paris and are retired school teachers, but they maintain their family home in Chambon-sur-Voueize where they spend the summers. The recipe is very simple but there is not a lot of detail. It’s easy enough, however, to adjust and learn from after making it once. It’s delicious and a great dish for winter when you’re in the mood for something hearty. If you have difficulty getting the potatoes to cook all the way through before the pastry browns, I suggest par-boiling them in milk first.

Pâté aux pommes de terre (or “Recette Belle Hélène”)One 10” tart pan.
Two puff pastry sheets, 8 oz. each (you will need enough to fill a 10” tart pan, top and bottom)
2-3 medium Yukon gold potatoes
Flat parsley (enough to chop and mix with the potatoes)
1 shallot
Approximately 2 cups crème fraîche (or sour cream)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into dime-size pieces

Preheat the oven to 375.
Slice the potatoes into thin rounds, preferably using a food processor slicer or mandoline to ensure even, thin slices. Season with salt and pepper. Finely chop the parsley and shallot. Mix all together in a large bowl, set aside.
Roll out the puff pastry sheets and line the bottom of the tart pan with one of the sheets, ensuring to line the sides as well. Arrange the potatoes in the pan on top of the pastry sheet. Scatter the butter pieces on top of the potatoes. Cover the potatoes with the other pastry sheet and crimp the edges to seal. Cut 2-4 small slits in the top of the pastry. Place in the refrigerator to chill, about 30 minutes.
Brush the pastry with egg wash (1 whole egg beaten with a little bit of water). Bake for about 50 minutes or until the pastry is a deep gold brown. You may have to cover the top of the pastry with aluminum foil if it begins to brown too much before the potatoes have enough time to cook.

After 50 minutes or when the pastry has browned, remove from the oven and cut out the top of the pastry, running your knife around the outer edge of the top all the way around. Lift the top up carefully and test the potatoes for doneness using a toothpick or tip of a knife. If still firm, replace the top, then place back in the oven until tender, keeping in mind to protect the pastry from browning too much by covering with the aluminum foil. When the potatoes have reached the desired tenderness, remove the top and spread the crème fraîche or sour cream over the top of the potatoes. Season again lightly with salt and pepper, if desired. Replace the pastry top.
Set on a cooling rack to cool slightly. If it needs to sit for a long while, return to a warm oven before serving.
Slice in wedges to serve.

Photos courtesy of D Magazine and Zach Townsend


Chocolate Conference Roundup

On Saturday, we went to the annual Chocolate Conference in Addison.  If you've never been, I highly recommend it, for the tasting room alone.  Dallas has so many talented chocolatiers, and this year they had four -- count 'em -- four artisinal chocolate makers from around the country.  One of them is even local to Texas (Tejas Chocolate, which is made in Spring, Texas).

In addition to being delicious, many of the chocolates presented were edible works of art.  Check out these gorgeous masala truffles from Annie Rupani's new venture, Cacao and Cardamom.  She hand paints the molds using dyed cocoa butter.

And look at this high heeled shoe from Chocolate Secrets.  I love the detailing.

One of my favorite tasting offerings was from Taza chocolate.  They do stone-ground organic chocolate (processed the way drinking chocolate is made in tropical countries), but the rep told most people eat it.  The discs come with a number of added flavor choices, including two with different kinds of peppers.

So much to see . . . so much to taste.  It was a great event!


Green Chilie Stew

Hatch chilie season is so fleeting.  They were already sold out yesterday when I checked both the local (to Arlington, Texas) Whole Foods and the nearest Central Market.  Strangely, enough, Kroger still had some, so we grabbed them up.    They are the star of this classic New Mexico stew.

There are many versions of this recipe.  One resource I looked at calls this New Mexico's answer to chicken soup -- both a "cure-all" and a family tradition.  Some variations start with water and boil the pork with peppercorns and bay to make a stock.  Others use jarred chile verde salsa in place of fresh chilies.  Some recipes include potato. But here's my favorite way to make it: 

Green Chilie Stew

10 Hatch chilies
6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 1/2 lb. boneless pork butt, trimmed
1 c. onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup flour
2 c.tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, minced
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 c. chicken stock

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place chilies on a baking sheet and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the oil.  Roast the chilies until they begin to blister and form black spots.  When they are cool enough to handle, cut off the tops, then peel and dice the chilies.  Set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot . Cut pork into 1" cubes.  Rinse pork and pat dry, then add to the hot oil and cook, stirring frequently, until browned on all sides. Add onion and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently until the onion turns translucent.  Add flour and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, green chiles, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper and stock.  Stir. Lower heat. Cover pot and simmer for about an hour and a half, or until the pork becomes very tender.


Burgers Around the World II

I hope you enjoyed the Burgers Around the World I post last week, and maybe even got to try one of the recipes (after all, Hatch chili season is fleeting).  This week Jake is bringing us "burgers" from the other two cultures I'll be covering in Cooking Around the World.  These are a little more unusual than the ones from New Mexico and the Philipenes -- there's not a speck of ground beef in sight.  Here's what he has to say:

While they do serve westernized hamburgers in Greece (and there are a number of "Greek" burgers out there, made with olive-studded buns or topped with tatziki or feta), the more traditional equivilant of the burger is the sandwich-style souvlaki. Once the meat hits the pita, the terms souvlaki and gyros are often used interchangably, but if you want to get technical about it, gyros are made from large cones of meat that spin (the word "gyro" after all means "to spin") as meat is shaved off of it, while souvlaki is made from chunks of meat that have been grilled kebab style (great for street vendors, and also more "doable" for the home cook).  In Greece, these are most often made from pork, though you can substitute lamb, beef or chicken as desired.

Sandwich Style Souvlaki

2 cups of Greek yogurt
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 English cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
1 1/2 lbs. pork roast or stew meat

3/4 c. olive oil
1 onion, minced (first reserving 2 or 3 thin slices for serving)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. fresh Greek oregano, minced

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
6 round pitas
1 medium tomato, sliced

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, oilve oil, lemon juice, and garlic.  Grate the cucumber into the bowl, stir well and referigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors combine.
Cut pork into 1" cubes and place in gallon size zipper bag.  Add olive oil, onion, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  Seal the bag, then squish the ingredients around inside the bag to combine the marinade and work it into the meat a little.  Place the bag in the referigerator and marinate for at least an hour (or overnight), squishing the bag again in the middle of the marinating time.

Meanwhile, soak 6 wooden skewers in warm water (for at least half an hour).  When the pork is done marinating, drain off the marinade and thread the pork cubes onto the skewers.  Grill the pork until it is cooked completely through, turning occasionally.  Remove the skewers and set aside.  Grill the pitas until browned.  Top each pita wit a couple of slices of tomato and a few rings of onion.  Unthread  a skewer worth of meat directly on top of each pita. Top with the cucumber yogurt mixture (tatziki sauce) to taste. 

In China, burgers are commonly conisdered street food.  Often, they resemble open-sided steamed buns (with the "bun" portion of the burger coming from the same type of dough, and , yes, having been steamed).  The bun is split (or else steamed folded over), and then some type of meat is placed in the center.  It can really be whatever you like, from a gingery ground chicken patty to chipped teryaki style beef.  For mine, I'm going to stick with the pork theme and do slices of teryaki pork.

Chinese Bun Burgers

1 1/2 lb. pork butt, sliced 1/2" thick (try to make 6  pieces) 
1 c. soy sauce
1 c. sugar
1 clove garlic, minced 
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing
1 tbsp. scallions, minced

Place pork slices in a gallon sized zipper bag.  Add soy sauce, sugar, garlic and ginger.  Seal bag (removing as much air as you can) and squish and shake the mixture until the sugar disolves completely.  Place the bag in the referigerator and let marinate for at least two hours, flipping and squishing the bag during the marinating process.  Once it has completed the marinating process, grill it until completely cooked.

Meanwhile, cut six 3" squares from parchament paper, and set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and yeast with 1 cup warm water.  Set aside for at least five minutes to allow the mixture to become foamy.  In a large bowl, combine flour and baking powder.  Add yeast mixture and combine thouroughly.  Add the vegetable oil, and knead until a smooth dough forms.  Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Divide into six equal portions.  Roll them into balls and let rest for five minutes.  On a floured surface, roll each ball out into a slightly elongated oval.  Useing a pastry brush, brush the top with oil.  Fold into a moon shape (oiled side in) and place each piece on one of the parchament squares.  Place each one (square side down) in a bamboo steamer placed over room-temperature water.  Allow the dough to rest in the steamer for ten minutes, then turn the burner on to medium high heat.  Start timing when the water boils, and steam for five minutes.  Allow it to rest for a minute or two before you open the steamer.


Flop each bun open, place in a piece of pork, and garnish with a few minced scallions.



Every time I eat moussaka, I think about the movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."  You know, the scene where the little girl has it in her lunchbox, and the other girl makes fun of her for it.  Oh, if only those other kids knew what they were missing out on, with their paltry bologna sandwiches on white bread.  I myself grew up in a less than adventurous family when it came to food, so it wasn't until I became a teenager that I started to explore the tastes of the world.  I eventually became a librarian, and one of my special research areas became food and culture and how they intersect and change over time.  I always try to approach my subject with respect, learning about another place and people, while adding my favorite things about a cuisine to my cooking repertoire.

Right now, my kitchen smells faintly exotic (the cinnamon and allspice make the meat sauce quite unlike an Italian version) as I prepare the bonus recipe for this week's Cooking Around the World class.  It starts Saturday, when we will be covering Greece.  There are still a few spots left if you would like to sign up.  

There are a number of versions of Moussaka, but the most notable ones are the Greek variety (as outlined in the recipe below) and the Turkish one (which involves green peppers and onions, and is not baked).  Classic Greek moussaka can also be made with ground lamb.  If you are a vegetarian, just omit the ground beef and add some chunky tomatoes in its place.  Remember to allow it to cool for  a while (at least ten minutes) before you cut it, or it won't come out in one piece.  It is meant to be served luke-warm.

1 large eggplant
3 medium potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 onion, diced
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. red wine
2/3 c. tomato puree
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 c. breadcrumbs
4 eggs, divided
1 c. Kefalotyri cheese, grated
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. flour
2 c. milk
1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

Peel the eggplant, leaving a few vertical strips of peel about an inch and a half apart.  Slice the eggplant into 1/2" thick pieces.  Place a colander in the sink.  Salt both sides of the eggplant, placing each slice into the colander as you salt it.  Cover with a plate and something heavy as a weight and let drain for about an hour.


Place the potatoes in a medium pot over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil and cook until the potato can be pierced with a fork.  Drain the potatoes and let them cool enough that they are easy to work with.  Slice the potatoes into 1/2" thick slices.  Sprinkle a few breadcrumbs into the bottom of a 13"x9" baking dish and assemble the potatoes in a layer on top of them.  Sprinkle on a third of the grated cheese. 

In a large heavy skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion turns translucent.  Add the the ground beef and cook, stirring frequently, until it browns.  Add the wine, tomatoes, parsley, cinnamon, allspice, sugar, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until the liquid has reduced and the sauce is thick.  Pour the sauce over the potatoes in the baking dish.  Add a third of the grated cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse eggplant, then dry using paper towels.  Line  baking sheet with parchment paper.  Beat the egg whites until well combined and a little frothy.  Place the egg whites into a wide shallow bowl, and add 1 tsp. of water.  Place the breadcrumbs on a flat plate.  Dredge the eggplant into the egg whites and then into the breadcrumbs, making sure to coat them thoroughly.  Place each slice on the baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Flip the eggplant slices.  Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.  Make a layer of eggplant slices on top of the meat sauce layer.

Meanwhile, in a small pot, heat the milk until steams (but does not boil).  In a medium pot, melt the butter over low heat.  Add flour, and whisk constantly, until the mixture becomes smooth and thickens.  Continue whisking while you add the milk in three additions, making sure that it is thoroughly incorporated and that the mixture is smooth between additions.  Add a good grinding of nutmeg.  Temper the egg yolks by adding some of the hot liquid to the bowl the eggs are in.  When the bowl becomes almost hot to the touch, add the egg mixture to the rest of the sauce in the pot.  Simmer for 2-5 minutes, until the mixture thickens.  Pour the bechamel sauce over the eggplant layer in the baking dish, and top with the remaining third of the shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden.