Category Archive: In the Kitchen

Koselig Cooking: Kale, Sausage and White Bean Soup

Hooray hooray hooray! I finished my seminary semester yesterday morning with an exam (my cohorts were a-mazing and encouraging and we did a great job collectively!) and after having a celebratory lunch and a celebratory nap, I braved Super Target at dinnertime to both replenish our pantry and buy ingredients for dinner. We needed to eat something besides fast food, and my body felt sure it required a vegetable. And since I, the resident chef, loves soups, this recipe was a winner. I picked out Kale, Sausage & White Bean Stew from Jenny Rosenstrach’s Dinner: A Love Story and that was that. Livia did not exactly love it, but she ate it. She said the french bread tasted bitter—which honestly made me question my own taste buds and, man, am I losing my tasting abilities now that I’m 40??–so I dolloped some strawberry jam on her already-buttered slices and called it good. Feeding children is a game, right? I wanted to “win” by not having her ask for a snack before bed. It’s bean soup and bread or NOTHING, my friend. It worked, all was well, I had a mom win, amen.

One last thing… if you’re curious about the word “koselig” read my first blog entry in this series. Really, this series began as a justification for my Le Creuset purchase. It’s all worked out well, I’ll admit.

Kale, Sausage & White Bean Stew

1 onion, chopped
3 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
S&P, to taste
1/2 t red pepper flakes
4-6 links (about 1.25lb) Italian chicken or pork sausage, casings removed
1-32oz chicken broth
1-14oz can diced tomatoes
2-14oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 bunch kale, washed, stems removed, chopped into small pieces
Drizzle of red wine vinegar (about 2 T)
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Saute onion in a Dutch oven over med-high heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, s&p, pepper flakes and cook, stirring 1 minute.

Add in sausage and brown until cooked through, 4-5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil. Add kale, simmer until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in a drizzle of red wine vinegar and serve stew with parmesan cheese and crusty bread.

**I substituted 1lb milk pork sausage for the links, and—gasp!—didn’t have any garlic in my pantry but made do with garlic powder.

Thanksgiving

There’s something so satisfying in the quiet after a party is over. Everything echoes of the warmth and love that existed a few hours before. Counters now clean were filled with platters of comforting foods. The empty sink and wet dishcloths cleaned glass upon glass. The dinner table still bears a centerpiece but now only a few crumbs remain to remind me of the feast enjoyed by all who sat here. Memories of family and laughter and moments are all tucked away in my mind after a good Thanksgiving was held. I’m grateful for this space because it can hold these people. And these people are worth remembering.

Summer Fruit in Morning Light

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There’s nothing better in this life than a perfectly ripe nectarine.

Oh, who am I kidding… I’m exuberant and have lots of feelings and lots of love so the statement above could be filled in with a number of adequate nouns. But I really do love nectarines. Their hairier cousin–the peach–is a close second.

A Beautiful Mess

My thoughts swing wildly from school (finals, books, topics, people) to church work (mercy meals, deaconessing, worship tonight) to home life (mothering, wifing, laundry). I plug in my new speaker and play music from my phone, each song compelling me forward in the tasks I’ve been called to do. I’m not sure that my life will ever find a clearcut path, but the neurons are happiest when multitasking, each job connecting to another with creativity and passion, joy and energy. There is time to be tired later, but for now, I’m taking delight in the beautiful mess I’m creating with prayer, a heart of service, a few dance moves, bananas, and a stick of butter.

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A recipe worth your time can be found here.

December 18

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Leftovers from baking cookies.

December 15

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Funny how a bowl of pears can delight me so much. There’s something about the glass, the fruit, the light that captures my attention over and over.

December 14

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First opportunity for Christmas treats and I pick caramel popcorn. Yum.

Koselig Cooking: Pork Shoulder Ragu

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A few thoughts…

1) I’ve been eager to cook this recipe since Lindsey and Bethany recommended it to me. Thanks, friends!

2) Cooking family dinners is way easier when we have no plans during the week. Once we add in meetings and church activities, it’s much much harder to lovingly stir those onions into butter and oil. I’m torn by this! I’ve discovered that home food tastes a lot better than eating out and I really enjoy the creativity of finding a quality recipe and trying out something new. But it simply doesn’t work when we have to be somewhere by 7:00pm. It also didn’t work at all for me when Livia was little. I didn’t enjoy cooking at all back then. Now that she’s a big kid I can enjoy the process while she eats a pear or piece of string cheese and peruses Netflix.

3) I am a certified meat section dummy. I always feel like I’m on the bloopers reel of some television program when I’m trying to find the right cut of meat. There’s an old story about me and chicken—at a deli counter—that shows this absurdity has been a lifelong reality for me. This recipe clearly states that I was to purchase a “boneless pork shoulder roast” but all the pork roasts at my grocery store also had the work “butt” thrown in there. Now, I’m not porcine expert, but how can the shoulder and butt be in the same 2.5lb cut of meat??? This seems perplexing. And thank you, I do know how to Google. This just ain’t at the top of my To Learn list.

Without further ado, the recipe that fed my family last night and will serve as delicious leftovers tonight. We were all fans and it will be made again in my kitchen!

Pork Shoulder Ragu

2 to 2 1/2-pound boneless pork shoulder roast
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small pat butter
1 large can whole tomatoes, with juice
1 cup red wine
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh oregano
Small handful of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon hot sauce, for smokiness (I used Trader Joe’s Hot Chili Sauce)
Pappardelle
Freshly grated Parmesean

Preheat oven to 325°F. Liberally salt and pepper the pork roast. Add olive oil and butter to large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high until butter melts, but does not burn. Add pork roast to pan and brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes in all.

Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, fennel, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Cover, and put in oven. Braise for 3-4 hours, turning every hour or so. Add more liquid (water, wine, or tomato sauce) if needed. (The liquid should come to about 1/3 of the way up the pork.) Meat is done when it’s practically falling apart. Put on a cutting board and pull it apart with two forks, then add back to pot and stir. Cook 1 to 2 pounds pasta according to package directions. When it’s is ready, put into individual bowls and top with ragu and lots of Parm.

Koselig Cooking: Broccoli Cheese Soup

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I read a book when I was a kid about a girl who, for some reason I cannot recall, lived on her own for awhile in a big city. Maybe New York. To combat all the lonely feelings she had, she would cook up garlic and onions in order to generate a homey smell. I really don’t think she ate them or turned them into a complete recipe. Okay, so that sounds really silly all typed out, but there is a small corner of my brain dedicated to this memory. And I think I understand her mindset now.

I actually like to cook onions. And garlic, carrots, and whatever veggies I need.

I can admit my new dutch oven makes this process more enjoyable than it used to be. The Le Creuset I picked out—yes, the splurge that means I don’t need a Mother’s Day gift, an anniversary present or any gifts for my 39th birthday next year—is this lovely oval shape with a creamy white interior. Cooking in it is a dream. I can SEE what’s happening when the oil and butter begin to melt together and the diced onions begin to sizzle. I can watch the onions turn translucent and know it’s time to toss in the remaining vegetables. I can notice when things start to get a little brown—wait, they’re burning! turn down the heat!—and I know it’s the right moment to add chicken broth. My stockpot has steadily served us for our 17 years of marriage and I have a certain fondness for it. But I can’t see a darn thing in it’s metallic abyss.

Thank you, adorable dutch oven, for making this winter a little more bearable and a lot more delicious.

And now, the recipe I used as a baseline for our Life Group meal last night. Yes, I did accidentally put an entire quart of half and half in the soup. I gasped in horror, stirred, and decided nothing more could be done as friends were walking in my home. It was a bit brothier than expected, but still good on a cold dark night, and it reminded me that I should commit to a very low-fat season of cooking when warm weather visits again. (My own changes to the recipe are listed on Needs More Butter where I will continue to post all these recipes.)

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (1 pound) loaf processed cheese food, cubed
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup water

Directions:

In a stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion in butter until softened. Stir in broccoli, and cover with chicken broth. Simmer until broccoli is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Reduce heat, and stir in cheese cubes until melted. Mix in milk and garlic powder.
In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into water until dissolved. Stir into soup; cook, stirring frequently, until thick.

Koselig Cooking: Chicken in Coconut Milk with Lemongrass

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This recipe was one of the first ones that made me feel like I HAD to get a dutch oven. I mean, I’m a grown woman and I have no ability to take a dish from the stovetop to the oven? What’s wrong with this world? (Sarcasm alert, first word problems, whatever. I’m joking. Kind of.)

I read through the comment section over and over in an attempt to glean wisdom from the other chefs’ comments. Per their advice, I juiced a lemon and zested it rather than throwing entire slices in the dish (the pith can make the final flavor too bitter). In lieu of fresh lemongrass, which was not readily available at the closest grocery story, I tossed in small pieces freeze-dried lemongrass. This was before I had read anything about lemongrass whatsoever. In the end I had to strain out all the hard little pieces which didn’t make for the nicest texture. You live and learn. Final note: I added an extra can of coconut milk, which, in my opinion, put the dish over the top into a too-creamy territory. Despite the small quibbles, the dish was really delicious. I’ll definitely be fixing this again for my family.

Chicken in Coconut Milk with Lemongrass
Serves 4 to 6

1 whole roasting chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro stems
1 large lemon, cut into eighths
1 stalk lemongrass, 5 inches of white part only, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 (14- to 16-ounce) can coconut milk
3 cups torn greens (spinach, kale, chard, mizuna, etc.)
2 green onions, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
Chopped cilantro, to garnish
Cooked rice, to serve

Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper. Put the chicken, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, or if you’re going to cook it right away, set it aside while you prepare remaining ingredients.

When ready to bake the chicken, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the oil. Put in the chicken, breast-side up, and let it sizzle for about 30 seconds. Carefully flip the bird and crisp the other side for another 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and pour off the fat in the pot.

Transfer the chicken back into the pot, breast-side up, and add the cinnamon stick, star anise, chopped cilantro stems, lemon, lemongrass, garlic, and coconut milk. Cook, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes (depending on size). Spoon the sauce over the top of the bird to baste every 20 minutes or so. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°F.

Remove chicken from the pot and put it on a plate. Pull out and discard the cinnamon stick and star anise. Put the pot with the sauce back on the stovetop over medium heat, add the spinach and stir until just wilted, about 10 seconds.

Carve the chicken and serve each piece over rice with sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro leaves.