RED CURRY CHICKEN SOUP WITH LENTILS AND TURMERIC

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In my  large repertoire of soups there are several that I return to time and again.   Heading the list is this sublime, exotic tasting soup.  It is not complicated to prepare but has such outstanding addictive flavours and textures it is a wonderful dish to serve to family and friends.   The title tells it all.   Red curry paste and turmeric combine to give it exceptional flavour.  The red lentils cook away  to thicken the soup to an almost stew-like consistency.    You can prepare it several hours ahead by refrigerating the soup after you have simmered the vegetables in the chicken stock.  Then about half an hour before serving reheating the soup and adding the chicken and sweet potatoes.   We know dishes like this taste even better for the resting time.

Tasting is important when you are cooking.  Not just at the end of the preparation of a dish but also while you are cooking it.  When I suggest two to four teaspoons of red curry paste, for example, start with the lesser amount  then taste to check the flavour.  Salt is an ingredient in a recipe.  It should be added while you cook, not at the end.  Again it is all about tasting, tasting, tasting.  I keep a container of oversized soup spoons by the stove.  You need to taste a generous amount of what you are cooking.

Like most recipes you cook over and over again improvements in ingredients and methods change a little. I have made this soup/stew for you before but this is the updated recipe for   RED CURRY CHICKEN SOUP WITH LENTILS AND TURMERIC.

THE SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT CUP FOR MORNING COFFEE . . . A FAIRY TALE ENDING

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It’s the little things in life that make a difference.  Nothing is more important than the way you start the day.   For me it is my perfect cup of café au lait.    Like Goldilocks’  search for perfection in  the fairy tale encounter with Three Bears I have searched for the perfect cup.  It has to be able to hold one and three-quarter cups of liquid.  I found the right size cup but the lip of the cup was two thick.   I tolerated that cup until   I found a cup with a thinner lip,  but the cup was so thin my coffee cooled  too quickly.   I really didn’t have time to enjoy it.    My dear friend Ellen has given my fairy tale search a happy ending.  Knowing my love for all things French  she arrived at my door with a pair of perfect café au lait cups.

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My morning ritual begins when I spoon the  mahogany coloured French roast beans into the grinder.   I stop and inhale the rich, heady aroma of the beans.  This is the way to begin your day.  I grind the beans exactly 7 seconds – to get my perfect grind for  pour over coffee.

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I very slowly pour the boiling water over the coffee.  Then tuck a coffee cosy around this fragrant wake-up elixir.    The timer is set for exactly 5 minutes.

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I pour boiling water into the perfect cup.  One simply does not pour hot coffee into a cold cup.  Meanwhile the milk is heating.

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It is this perfect cup that makes my perfect café au lait.  It is exactly the right size for equal parts of coffee and milk.

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I pour the dark, rich coffee.  Add the very hot milk and savor the milky coffee fragrance.

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In the quiet early morning light I sip my coffee.  The perfect beginning for my  day.   Coffee in the perfect coffee cup.  C’est bon dear Ellen.  Thank you for my perfect cups.

THE ‘NEW’ BEST WAY TO REVIVE LEFTOVER PIZZA and DEFROST STEAKS OR CHOPS QUICKLY

 

There are kitchen tips you just don’t read about in a recipe book.  The kind of knowledge that makes life easier in the kitchen.  They are meant to be shared .  Rather a pass this on – it actually works!  I am sharing with you a new tip on  reheating pizza and thawing meat.

Pizza lovers are just that.  Lovers of pizza.  Pizza hot.  Pizza cold.  Pizza in the middle of the night.  Pizza at picnics.  Pizza and old movies.  Everything goes with pizza.

We  loved pizza so much that we opened a pizzeria.  PASSIONATE PIZZA introduced artisan pizza to Vancouver many years ago.    It garnered lots of kudos including Best Pizza in the Pacific North West, and Best Pizza in Vancouver.    We’ve retired from all that but we still make Passionate Pizza’s at home at least once a week.  We always make enough to have left over the next day.  Our recipe for pizza is on our food blog, MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.

This is how  my new method to re-heat left over pizza works.  Preheat your oven to 300F.   Put your left over pizza on a baking sheet or a large pizza pan.  Cover it tightly with plastic wrap tucking it under the crust.    Put your pizza in.  IMMEDIATELY turn the oven off!!  Leave in the oven for about 10 minutes or until it hot.  Remove the plastic wrap and voila!  You pizza is ready.  (The plastic wrap will not melt – just remember to TURN THE OVEN OFF.)

This new and improved method leaves the interior of the crust soft, the cheese melty, and the toppings and bottom hot and crisp but not dehydrated. It is also important  to  store your left over pizza correctly –  carefully wrapped with plastic wrap.    So now I’ve spilled the beans on reheating your leftover pizza get busy and make pizza tonight, and eat left overs tomorrow.

To defrost meat – wrap loosely with wax paper, parchment paper or plastic wrap. Place the meat on a metal surface – either a skillet or a cast iron fry pan.  Turn every 20 – 30  minutes or so until thawed.  Refrigerate meat until needed.  This works best with flat cuts of meat such as steaks and chops.  I’ve even defrosted bacon this way.   Don’t use this method with ground meat.

Just don’t forget about your meat and leave it out too long  .Always practice food-safe when handling meat to avoid cross-contamination.  Wash your hands well, and scrub any surfaces that come in contact with raw meat.

ROASTED VEGETABLES AND CHICKEN POT PIE

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Of all the one dish meals I make this one is hands done my absolute favorite.   It is this recipe for ROASTED VEGETABLE AND CHICKEN POT PIE I go to when I really want to wow family and friends.  It tells them how important they are to me.

The secret is the way the vegetables are prepared.    They  are roasted deeply golden and take on a sweet caramelized flavour.  They colour and flavour the glorious, rich  sauce .  The sauce seductively cloaks the succulent chicken.  Then the buttery, crisp puff pastry sublimely tops everything .

You can assemble the pie (except for the crust) ahead of time.  This makes it the perfect entertaining dish.  For large groups the recipe is easily doubled and baked in two dishes.  This is a stellar one dish wonder.  It takes chicken pot pie to delicious new heights.     The puff pastry is courtesy the frozen food counter so how deliciously easy is that.  Comfort food at its finest.  Pop over to MRS BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for   ROAST CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE POT PIE

THE CHAIR THAT WANTED TO BE SOMETHING ELSE . . . and how it became a garden show.

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“Excuse me, Miss Virginia.  I would like to discuss my future with you,” said the sewing room chair.  “I’ve become rather shabby.  I’m a boring office chair, and my striped seat really doesn’t go with this room.  You’ve taken the chair you found by the side of the road  and turned it into a Belle Epoque creation.     The two sofas you slip covered  in white linen.   Not  to mention the side chairs you painted and upholstered  and now they look like something from a Russian Winter Palace.”

“Do you have something in mind?” asked the magic seamstress.

“The Chelsea Flower Show.” replied the dissatisfied  chair.  “Outrageous flowers.  Gorgeous roses and daisies and violets and buttons.  I want to be noticed, not neglected”.

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The seamstress took her silver scissors and  silver pins.  Unrolled the Chelsea Flower Show fabric.    Sniped and fitted.   Cut and sewed.  Pleated and hemmed.

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She tugged and smoothed and pulled the slip cover over the quiet chair.  It was covered in roses in every colour.  There were daises.  And something blue.    It was an old English country house chair.  It was a Chelsea Flower Show creation.

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The chair turned to her.

“Thank you Miss Virginia.  It’s perfect.  It is all I imagined.  I am the Chelsea Flower Show.  But, I have to ask you one question.  Does this cover make me look fat?”

“No my darling chair.  It doesn’t make you look fat.  It’s perfect”.

(For those who don’t believe in fairy tales, the chair required two yards of material.   The pattern is one I adapted from Simplicity patterns. The vintage fabric is by the English company  SANDERSON.

 

 

ADDENDUM TO THE FRENCH PASTRY TART . . . A COUPLE OF THINGS I FORGET TO TELL YOU ABOUT MAKING FRENCH LEMON TART

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Ahem.  The only excuse I have for omitting these steps in my recipe for FRENCH LEMON TART  is familiarity.  If you were beside me in the kitchen you would see me using a fork pricking the unbaked tart before I filled the shell RIGHT TO THE TOP with beans.  It’s all about keeping your pastry from puffing up and robbing you of space you need for your lemon cream filling.  It’s an automatic step for baking blind pastry.   But how would you know that if this if the first time you have baked blind pastry?

Then there’s the step where you ease your precious pastry gently into the tart pan.  You let the excess  pastry  hang over the edge and using the rolling pin  trim off the edge.  The next step is to gently ease a little of the dough above the edge to compensate for shrinkage.  Here’s the trick to doing this.  YOU DON’T USE YOUR FINGERS.   You take a little of the left over dough and roll it into a small ball.  THIS is what you use to nudge your precious pastry gently above the edge.

This is really not a difficult pastry to make .  You do need a stand mixer.  But it really is “a wink” to make.  Remember practice makes perfect and all tarts don’t have to be filled with lemon cream.   You could spread a little melted chocolate on the bottom of the tart and then fill it with vanilla custard and top it with  fresh strawberries or any other fresh fruit in season.  It will quickly become your “little black dress” of desserts.   Baked or unbaked tart shells can be carefully wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for three days or frozen for three months.  Bon Appetit dear friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRENCH LEMON TART . . . Bringing Paris home to the kitchen

 

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We bring back a million memories from Paris.  We remember how a Parisian women ties her silk scarves. And how our heart skipped a beat at the first sight of the Eiffel tower.    We pack our suitcases with French linens  and red soled shoes.  We take a thousand photographs.    We close our eyes and savor again the sublime lemon tart from our favorite patisserie.   Among all the gorgeous tarts in the bakery showcase it is always the lemon tart I choose.

The lemon tarts created by Pierre Hermes are utterly sublime.  They are not difficult to make, but with something so simple, each element has to be perfect.   The  pastry must be crisp and cookie-like.  .  The lemon filling flawless.    I have adapted his recipe and if you follow the instructions carefully you will create a tart worthy of any patisserie.   The French Lemon Tart is divided into two parts.  You make the crust and bake it.  You make the lemon cream (think curd) filling..  Then you fill your tart.  Done – except for extravagant swirls of whipped cream.

The tart should serve six to eight people, but last week at Sunday dinner I will unashamedly admit that four of us –  myself, husband, son and  and daughter-in-law went back for second servings and left an embarrassing small slice of tart on the plate.

The secrets for a perfect FRENCH LEMON TART  are yours  at MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.