Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Simple Things

My daughter came home from college this past weekend with a cold. And like most college kids, she has eaten her entire weight in Ramen noodles.

I offered to cook her something special, but she was still craving something hot, briny, with lots of noodles ... just not out of a plastic wrapper or can.

What to do?

Thankfully she was blessed with a mother who's favorite toy in childhood was an Easy Bake Oven. (Which should have been a sign.) So I whipped out my favorite smallish soup pan and began chopping carrots, onions, and celery ... and making a quick homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. It's easy, if you have some stock and some store bought noodles on hand.

Quietly, my daughter studied French while I sauteed and simmered and reminisced about my childhood, eating canned soup.

Andy Warhol and I have a lot in common(!).  

Andy's soup endeavours, however, proved much more lucrative than mine.

His art goes for millions.

I just reap the benefit of a smile on my kid's face.

Which are actually worth more than all the famous paintings in the world.

That night as my daughter went off to bed, we both agreed that, in life, it's the little things, like a warm bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup that we enjoy best.

So I urge you to try this recipe, it's simple and much tastier than anything out of a can.

Chicken Noodle Soup

6 Cups Chicken Stock
Some leftover chicken (if you have it) cut up or shredded into bite-sized pieces.
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 oz. dried thin egg noodles
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Saute onion, carrots, celery and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender about 10 minutes. Add cooked chicken, salt and pepper.

Normally I would finish this with a little fresh chopped parsley if I had it on hand.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A True Find...

Okay, I know this blog is supposed to be about soup. But sometimes a gal needs something sweet and chocolaty and gooey. And I have the perfect find ... brownies!

This weekend I was browsing some old cooking magazines (I happen to have a few) when I stumbled across a Midwest Living from exactly 1 year ago this month.  It was a special edition titled "Our 20 Best Recipes of All Time." I immediately turned to this picture of delectable, fudgy, nutty brownies. Who couldn't resist that?

Now, I can't understand why on earth it has taken me so long to try this recipe. For I seem to recall thinking that that was the main reason I had bought the magazine in the first place. That and the fact that I am from the Midwest, and all the recipes inside did look quite delicious.

Before I go any further, let me say that I have been searching for a good brownie recipe for about as long as I can remember. I have tried many different recipes, but none of them ever added up. Until now. These are sweet, chocolaty, and addictive. 

I must admit, mine weren't as pretty as the ones in the pic, but that didn't matter, they disappeared quickly. In fact, by the end of the day, only crumbs were left on the plate. The only evidence that I had actually made the brownies.

They're a little more work than your average quick mix, but well worth it.

Magic Brownies
Adapted from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michigan

13 tablespoons butter
6 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate,
coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan, set aside. In a heavy small saucepan, heat the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes, or until lemon-colored and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add cooled chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat on low speed until combined. Add flour mixture. Beat on low speed until combined, scraping sides of bowl. Stir in walnuts. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake in 325 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until brownies appear set. Cool in pan on rack. Makes 15 brownies.

Note: I only had semisweet chocolate on hand, so that's what I used, and they still turned out great. But next time I'm going to try bittersweet for that extra dark punch.