Simple Chicken And Vegetable SoupLiving in Thailand now, not having my own kitchen setup yet, I only get to cook once in a while at my friends place. This soup isn't just very easy to prepare, it's also the type of food I like to eat when I have a bit of an upset stomach. This certainly tends to happen here in Thailand if I had a few chilies too many the day before. You can also prepare quite a big pot of this tasty soup, then keep it for the next few days or even freeze it.For a big pot:1,5 l (50 oz) chicken stock1/4 l (1 cup) white wine for cooking2 bay leaves1 clove5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (for the veggies)2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (for the chicken)1 large onion, chopped3 cloves of garlic, chopped2 large carrots, cut into large pieces2 spring onions, chopped1 celery root, cut into large pieces1 broccoliany other veggies you'd likechicken thighs, breast or legs, cut into large piecessalt and pepper to tasteInstructions:Add bay leaves and clove to the stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce the temperature so the stock simmers gently.In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for at least 5 minutes. Add garlic, spring onions and all the other veggies that take longer to cook. Don't put broccoli and similar types of veggies in yet as they only take a very short time to cook. Pour in the wine.Stir well and sauté for another 5 minutes over medium heat to let the wine absorb a bit.Add the chicken stock including the bay leaves and clove and adjust the temperature to let the soup simmer.In the meantime, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and season well with salt and pepper. Sauté all the pieces well all around, then put them into the soup.Keep everything simmering and taste the soup after another 15-20 minutes. Adjust the taste if necessary by adding more wine, salt and pepper. About 5 minutes before serving, add broccoli and other fast cooking veggies.If you're interested in other easy to prepare dishes, check out:Spaghetti with Oven Roasted Tomatoes
Pasta with Sage
Venison on pepper sauce with mashed potatoesHunting season brings a variety of game meat to the markets. While this particular sauce could be used for beef or pork tenderloin as well, it pairs really well with venison. It might look like it's a bit time consuming, but if you're preparing all your ingredients ahead of time, it's done fairly quickly and tastes wonderful. You could also serve noodles instead of mashed potatoes.for 2 people:for the pepper sauce:5g (0.2 oz) white pepper corns, crushed2 tablespoons olive oil1/2 shotglass whiskey (could be replaced by rum)1 slice of bacon, cut into small pieces1 shallot, chopped1,5 dl (5 oz) white wine1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (red is ok too)1 twig of thyme30g (1 oz) whipping cream100 ml (3,5 oz) chicken stock30g (1 oz) flakes of butter, put into freezerfreshly ground salt and pepperfor the mashed potatoes:4-6 medium sized potatoes, peeled2 tablespoons buttermilk, until desired consistency is reachedthe meat:2 venison fillets (or beef fillets or pork tenderloin)freshly ground pepper and salt2-4 tablespoons olive oilInstructions:Preheat the oven to 80 C. (180 F.)Grind pepper (not the white one!) preferrably in a mortar and season fillets well all around with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over high heat, sauté strongly on both sides then place into pre-heated oven. Depending on the thicknes of your fillets, expect the meat to be in the low-temperature oven for at least 45 minutes.As I've mentioned in earlier posts, time is not very crucial for low-temperature cooking. You should be fine between 45 and 90 minutes. Just make sure you've sautéd the meat well enough before placing into the oven (about 5 minutes total).For the sauce, sauté the white pepper corns over medium heat in the olive oil. Add whiskey (or rum) and flambé immediately. Never do this under the hood as the flames might get in there! And watch your hair too!Add bacon and shallots and sauté for a few minutes. Then put white wine, balsamic vinegar and the thyme twig into the sauce. Let the liquid absorb completely before adding the chicken stock and the whipping cream. Let the sauce simmer over low heat.For the mashed potates, wrap the peeled potatoes in plastic foil and microwave for about 3 minutes until soft. This is the easier way instead of boiling the potatoes.In a large pot, add potatoes, butter and some milk and mash them over medium temperature until you have a fairly smooth paste.Keep on adding milk if the mix is too thick. Keep the mashed potatoes warm with closed lid over low temperature.Once your meat is almost ready, add the butter from the freezer into the sauce and move the sauce pan in circles for the butter to mix into the sauce. Don't stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove the thyme twig.Serve your fillets sliced with mashed potatoes on the side and pour over the sauce. I would also recommend heating the plates first. At this low temperature in the oven, any plates should be fine to be put in there together with the meat for preheating. Enjoy!
Italy Part 4 - Three treasure restaurants
As usual, I've been doing quite a bit of research about which restaurants to visit during the tuscany trip. But the best ones were either found accidentally or by recommendation of our local hosts, Josiane and Narciso. Generally, the restaurants were all very good or even excellent. The pasta where it's made fresh by hand is always a real treat. A normal italian dinner consists of four parts, first antipasti, then primi, then secondi and then dolci and of course an espresso at the end with possibly a grappa. the antipasti could be some slices of prosciutto and a local salami, primi are most of the time a plate of handmade pasta, the secondi (main dishes) meat or fish, then any kind of dessert like handmade vanilla ice cream with a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar on top. To summarize it, it's usually quite a feast and you won't leave the table too soon.
Ristorante I' Polpa (Fiesole)
This place was found completely accidentally as all the other restaurants around were filled with tourists in their garden patio. I' Polpa didn't have outdoor seating which obviously kept most tourists away from it. But the menu attached outside looked very promising and the food ended up being fantastic!
The kitchen, quite simple.
A fresh porcini mushroom, grilled with olive oil, pepper and salt. Amazing!
The chef is putting the salsa verde on plates.
The lovely chef serving our dishes.
Stuffed goose throat with salsa verde and the best potato I've eaten in a long time. One of her grandmother's recipes.
A wonderful pie with grapes and rosemary.
Ristorante I' Polpa
Piazza Mino, 21/22 - 50014 Fiesole
Ristorante Il Pozzo (Monteriggioni)
At this place, the pasta was really standing out. Even though we didn't order it, the bistecca fiorentina they served at the next table, looked amazing as well. Specialty here the pasta al cinghuale (wild boar).
Besides a nice interior, Il Pozzo also offers a nice garden patio which was filled with tourists though.
Papardelle al Cinghuale. A must try here!
In paper wrapped ravioli with truffle sauce.
Ristorante Il Pozzo
Piazza Roma, 2 - 53035 Monteriggioni (SI)
Tel. (0577) 30.41.27
Osteria Locanda (Terranuova)
One of Josiane's and Narciso's special recommendations, this restaurant is beautifully located. During warm summer nights, the garden area is available for seating in the middle of a herbal garden. It's a bit hard to access on top of a hill located down a small alley, but certainly worth a trip. Amazing food, very friendly service, great atmosphere and cheap, good wines.
Raw sole fillets marinated in olive oil and lemon juice with a lentil salad.
Pasta with porcini.
A simple beef stew. Heavenly done.
Narciso having a little chat with the chef after our fantastic meal.
Osteria Locanda Il Canto del MaggioFrazione Penna 30/d - 52025 Terranuova B. ni ARTel. 055.0705147www.cantodelmaggio.com