In my neck of the woods (So. Florida), the temperatures are climbing. Without a doubt, the calendar might say otherwise; but, the sizzling days of summer have arrived and so are the crispy corns of summer.
Decided to honor one of summer’s wholesome foods by grilling a couple corns on the cob.
As I removed the kernels, I had to pull myself away from the sweet and crispy treats. I nibbled on quite a few as they made their on the chopping board. These will be added into a warm bed of assorted veggies consisting of:
mini sweet peppers of assorted colors
Then, I will season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. I will make a slightly sour and sweet dressing made from honey and a splash of vinegar along with finely chopped parsley.
On this day (Super Bowl 50), while the Panthers play the Broncos, kitchens around Unites States of America will be feasting on a number of bites. One of the favorites is chicken wings. It is said that approximately 1.3 billion or 162.5 million pounds will be consumed. Now, that’s a whole ‘lotta’ wings.
I’ve decided to join in and add my few to the total. Buffalo wings are very popular; however, I’ve gone with my favorite style, Jamaican jerk wings. Yeah mon! By the way, Super Bowl is also huge on the island.
Served my spicy ‘bad boys’ with refreshing sticks of celery. I even got a bit messy and further temper my wings with the tart/sweet ketchup.
A serving of roasted sweet potatoes brought a delicious contrast. These sweet delights were first cut in halves and drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with powered cinnamon and ginger. Then they were roasted on a high of 420 degrees fahrenheit for approximately 45 minutes. They were then topped with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with cinnamon.
Frankly, I’m looking forward to the Half-time show and of the ads while I nibble on my ‘bites’. But, may the better team win. Go Broncos!! Go Panthers!!
What a difference a day makes! Once again, we here in South Florida, U.S.A. have been blessed with a snippet of Fall. I woke up to the trees doing their signature dance as the blustery winds took hold of their branches. I was also fortunate to behold the trees ridding themselves of a few weakened leaves that made a little mess on my back patio. I didn’t mind. After all, its Fall Florida-style.
It seemed like the geese and the ducks felt the change; and, they too went prancing along. With a slightly cool and refreshing wind brushing my cheeks and shoulders, I took that as my cue to retreat to my kitchen. Something warm and comforting was on my mind. So, I reached for my baking sheet tray and lined same with foil paper.
I decided to make a roasted carrot,sweet potato and pumpkin soup. I retrieved a few carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and onions and cut them in wedges. I drizzled them with a little canola oil and sprinkled a cinnamon, salt, and paprika on them.
These were roasted in a preheated oven at 410 degrees for approximately 35 minutes. As the heat hit them, the spices perfumed my space and reminded me that it was Fall. These were then cooled.
In a stockpot, a drizzle of olive oil was added. Roughly chopped celery, onion, and crushed garlic were softened and seasoned with a pinch of salt and black pepper. These were then added to roasted root vegetables and pureed with chicken stock to a chunky finish.
Soup was returned to stockpot. Fresh thyme and chicken noodle along with a little cold tap water were added to further enhance the taste and flavors. Soup was simmered on low heat for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes until heated through and arrived at the preferred consistency.
As I sipped my warm and satisfying soup,on my patio by the water nearby, I smiled. I was in a perfect place. A place where the animal lives ran wild and free, a place where the trees were alive and the sound of carefree kids squealed with delight.
I’m being pro-active. You see, once again, Mother Nature is playing tricks. One would think by now the cool days of autumn would be gracing us with its presence. But no! We’re still patiently awaiting the refreshing conditions of Fall in South Florida. Temperatures are flirting in the 80’s and 90’s which makes it feel like summer.
I’ve decided to take matters in my hands. And, what better way to do so than retreating to my humble kitchen. Call me ‘nut’s; but, I did a nosedive of sort to my thermostat. I placed it in the late sixties. That felt like Fall Florida-style. I smiled and shivered a bit.
Apples are one of the popular fruits of Fall. As a result, their prices are relatively inexpensive. I bought some McIntosh as well as a bottle of Apple Cider. I had a plan. I decided to slowly braise some drumsticks and thighs (skinless/bone-in) flavored with apple cider. I took a sip of the cider (which are basically pressed apples) and found it not overly sweet, tart and refreshing. I knew my drumsticks and thighs were going to be super-happy.
Overnight, I chopped my drumsticks and thighs in smaller portions. These were seasoned with salt, black pepper, paprika, grated onions and crushed garlic. The other ingredients used were:
A drizzle of olive oil was added to skillet.
Remnants of garlic and onion were removed from chicken pieces and dried.
A very light sprinkle of whole-wheat flour was applied to chicken pieces. This action also aided in the thickening the sauce later. Chicken pieces were then seared on both sides on medium to high heat so as to lock in flavors. These were set aside.
Chopped root vegetables were added to skillet under low to medium heat. These were seasoned with a sprinkle of paprika, salt,black pepper, and a splash of vinegar. Fresh rosemary and thyme were also added.
As soon as veggies were sautéed and combined, apple cider was added along with cold tap water.
Seared chicken pieces were added back to skillet.
This was simmered under low to medium heat for approximately 30 to 40 minutes or until fork tender (a fall from the bone effect).
Half-way through cooking process, chicken pieces were turned and to ascertain if additional liquid was needed.
Braised chicken was served with a creamy Irish potato side dish and a fresh spinach and tomato salad.(Not in pic). As I sat and devoured my comfort dish, I reached for my warm throw making sure not to spill any of that rich sauce on same.
Mother Nature has a way of reminding us that it’s time to make that switch. She does so by orchestrating the beautiful trees within our midst. As they sway and perform their dances, we know it’s that time of year; a time when the air is dry and a little crispy.
For me, it’s the perfect indicator to head to my kitchen and pamper this stomach and palate of mine. And, what better way to warm and care for my culinary needs than with some chicken, pumpkin, assorted vegetables and spices all in a stockpot in the form of soup.
I love soup because it is very satisfying and healthy. This one pot wonder is loaded with nutrients such as, protein from the chicken, and large amounts of vitamins, mineral, fibers and other beneficial nutrients that are great for the body.
I didn’t need a large amount of chicken to ‘kick-off’ my chicken and veggie soup. I used the dark portions of the chicken. I would’ve also preferred the backbone and other bony sections of the fowl; however, I rolled with what I had on hand. I chopped a couple of drumsticks and thigh in small portions. I seasoned with a salt and black pepper and seared these for a few minutes in a sturdy stock pot with a drizzle of olive oil.
To that, I added chopped onions, carrots, pumpkin pieces, and other root veggies. These were combined and coated with the warmth of the chicken pieces. I made sure to season along with salt and black pepper. Cold tap water was added to cover same and allowed to come to a boil. Then stove was turned down to a low to medium for a simmering effect. Garlic, thyme, rosemary, pimento (all spices) were added.
After pumpkin pieces were fork tender, these were removed from soup and cooled. Then they were added to standing blender and pureed and added back to soup. At this point, okra, scallion, Grace chicken noodle Cock (packaged) soup mix were added to soup. Additional seasoning and herbs were added after taste test.
Soup was simmered on low heat for approximately fifteen minutes until the right consistency was had. Soup was served warm. I know I shall revisiting this dish throughout the cool months of the year.
I had just finished my morning’s work out and my endorphins were kicking. Moreover, I had all this pent-up energy within. What did I do? I headed for my kitchen and grabbed a couple of snapper fish that I had reserved for tomorrow’s dinner. Immediately I had a clear plan. I grabbed my cutting board and butcher’s knife and went chopping.
Those big guys stood erect and stared back at me. Their eyes were brilliant as they ogled me. It was as if they were beckoning me to come and get them. And I did. I took my knife and gently but firmly removed their heads, and set them aside. Where I come from, we don’t toss these.
Funny how a couple of fish heads bring back heart-warming memories when things were simple. You see, my dad used to bring home these King fish heads at least once a week. And mom being that ‘iron chef’ that she was turned out some mouth-watering fish broths for the entire family (well, it was one of dad’s favorites). In Jamaica, we call it ‘fish tea’. It’s a cross between soup and broth. It’s an excellent starter for a meal.
So, with that in mind, I decided to replicate my dear mom’s fish tea. I gathered a few root vegetables and fish heads.
With a few rough chops I added same to stock pot and allowed them to simmer under low to medium heat. I also added veggie bouillon and seasoned along with a pinch of jerk sauce, crushed garlic,thyme, pimento and salt and black pepper to taste.
Close to the end I tossed in a few pieces of blanched chopped okra I had in the freezer.
In less than half an hour my fish tea was ready for serving. In my broth (tea), I don’t strain; everything is consumed. It’s vital to be careful of all those bones. I don’t worry. By now, I’m a pro!
I know what I’ll be having for a light lunch today. I’ll pair with some crusty English muffins with a smear of butter. By then, I’ll be relaxed and ready for a siesta. By the way, the rest of the fish (body) will be done up in an escovitched. I can’t wait.
When it comes to utilizing a whole chicken, I’m first in line. Nothing goes to waste for yours truly. So, I had previously made chicken dishes from the dark and white portions. As a matter of fact, it was just a couple of days ago I had the left-overs of a super delicious curried chicken dish. Oh, I’m still salivating in that goodness.
I love the necks and back bones of the dear bird. I do think they make the most aromatic and tasty soups, gravies and broths. Frankly, I prefer to use these parts when I cook a chicken soup. Originally, I had a chicken broth in mind; however, when I went shopping, I couldn’t help myself after spotting those corns on the cob. I decided to make a chicken back soup consisting of corn on the cob. Corns are plentiful on the market. And I fetched five of the yellow/golden wonders for $1.50.
Already, I had all the other ingredients:
Bouillon cube (veggie flavor)
Chicken noodle soup mix
Scotch bonnet pepper
It was going to be a back to basic sort of dish. You see, over the years, I’ve devoured several chicken back soups; so I knew exactly my plan of action.
The skin and excess fatty parts were removed from chicken back parts. Then they were scalded with boiling water for a few minutes, drained and set aside.
In a sturdy stock pot, a drizzle of olive oil was added. To that, diced carrots, onions, celery and bell pepper were added. Chicken parts were then added along with a seasoning of salt, black pepper, and crushed garlic.
All ingredients were blended for approximately five minutes. Then roughly chopped pumpkin pieces were added along with thyme, bouillon cube,crushed pimento (all spice) and chopped pieces of corn on the cob.
Cold tap water was then added to cover all the ingredients under low to medium heat with lid on.
When pumpkin pieces were tender, these were removed and crushed with fork. Crushed pumpkin was added back to pot.
After tasting, extra seasonings were added along with chicken noodle powder mix.
This simmered under low heat until soup acquired the preferred consistency.
Chopped scallion,parsley and scotch bonnet pepper were used to garnish.
My chicken back soup was chock full of amazing flavors. The corn was sweet and still possessed its crispness. I didn’t evade my chicken back bones. I removed the pieces of flesh and sucked on the bones. The scotch bonnet pepper was visible but not overpowering. All the aromatic flavors became one. It warmed my palate and stomach in a beautiful way. Moreover, it brought back childhood memories of when things were simple and foods were wholesome.