Friday, July 28, 2006

Michelle took me to a coney island near our homes. I hadn't had a gyro in a long time, so it tasted sooo good to me. My family used to eat in a Greek-style family restaurant often, and their chicken lemon rice soup and excellent rolls were a main attraction for me, as well as eggplant or veal parmesan. Michelle had chicken lemon rice soup, so here's a recipe (which I got from a vegetarian cookbook and unvegetarianized. Anita, try it!) You may think lemon doesn't belong in soup, but if you haven't had it before, please trust me and give it a try the next time you eat in a Greek restaurant or coney island.

Avgolemono Soup - fairly easy and fast and good/different
3 cups water or stock, appropriate amount of Better than Bouillion (it's good)
1/4 cup rice
Bring to boil, then simmer 20 minutes. I added two chicken tenders and sliced them when they thawed in the broth. I also added black pepper and about 1/8 of an onion finely sliced. Actually, I added paprika too- although I was a little skeptical about that, I'm pleased with the result.
Add sliced spinach and simmer 5 more minutes. You could add tomatoes instead but I haven't tried it.
Avgolemono refers to an egg and lemon juice sauce (avgo=ovo?) used to thicken the soup so that it resembles a cream soup, because cream is not used in Greek soups. Juice a lemon, and add about two tablespoons of juice to 2 beaten eggs in a bowl. Pour some hot broth into the bowl, beating constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking the way they do in egg drop soup. Pour it all back in. At this point, you can keep heating the soup if necessary, but don't let it boil. Doesn't it taste good?
Searching online reveals that this is the most basic recipe, and some recipes add butter, milk, or cornstarch, while some use only egg yolks or add lemon zest. Some start with cooked rice, a good way to use it up and speed up the process, and a few use orzo. Asparagus and dill are the most popular add-ins, rather than spinach or tomatoes, and parsley is a popular seasoning, as is mint. Most of the recipes are based off of each other, suggesting that there is a general lack of knowledge about this food. I think I'll try cornstarch next time, and maybe milk, and probably lemon zest.
Tomato Orzo Soup sounds good too. And I've got a recipe for moussaka picked out.

I made tuna salad last night and had it for lunch today. I used to hate tuna because it's smelly and reminds me of cats. But in Hong Kong I liked it, and AE eats it. So I used 1 can water-packed tuna, 2 hard-boiled egg whites, some diced shredded carrots, one diced celery stalk, 3 diced sweet pickle slices, paprika, and celery salt. Some people put grapes, right? I ate it on romaine leaves with cherry tomatoes. I'm reasonably happy about it.

I also made wheat pilaf (w/orzo, Mediterranean style), from a Near East brand box which was on sale at Busch's. It's pretty good; even my dad liked it. It has lots of fiber, and didn't make the pan sticky. It took only 20 minutes, compared to brown rice, which takes 45 minutes.

I was also trying to think how to make curries which are usually thickened with coconut milk, without coconut milk, which has appx. 999,999 calories per can. One idea I was reading is pureed vegetables. I think that idea has possibilities, but I don't know how to start.

Ground Turkey: Ingredient of the Day
Sometimes I act like the iron chef competition, and go to the store and buy some new ingredient I've never used before. Today I bought ground turkey, which is high in protein compared to fat. What should I do with it? I'm leaning toward recipes involving spices, yet that still allow the turkey flavor to come through.
For my first recipe, I cooked 1/2 diced onion, garlic, a few slices of ginger, some ground turkey (4 oz?), Chinese-style chili garlic sauce (3 T?). I also thought about cooking turkey with basil or cumin and coriander or as meatballs.... What I made was quite tasty, easy, healthy, and quick, so I recommend it. It's good with brown rice and cold tea.
Let me know how you would use ground turkey.

My mom picked out this recipe for Savory Lentil Soup, and it's surprisingly tasty. I'm not sure why Campbell's has recipes for homemade soup, but every time we've made their soups they are really good, so I recommend them highly. I didn't add watercress, red pepper, or parmesan, but it's still good.

I also sort-of accidentally made spiced mashed potatoes, with cumin, paprika, and a little bit of the broth from the soup, as well as tiny amounts of butter and milk. Next time I'll use garam masala and beat it with a mixer.