Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dilled Chicken Croquettes with Mushrooms and Creamed Leeks

If the word croquette is new to you, think in terms of something smaller than a crab cake but bigger than a meat ball. A croquette usually has a crumb coating.

I first had a puddle of creamed leeks at a wonderful restaurant in Cleveland. I've been thinking about them ever since. I decided to try the simplest of preparations: just simmering in skim milk. Bill said, "Try to remember this recipe!" So here we go.

Ingredients for two servings:
  • 1 boneless chicken breast half, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, divided, 1/3 cup for the mixture, the rest to roll the croquettes in.
  • 1/2 cup or more sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 3 Tbl. olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, julienned
  • 1/2 cup milk (any fat content)
  • a few grinds of nutmeg
  • white pepper
  • salt
  1. With a cleaver or large knife, chop the chicken breast until it is not-quite minced. Although ground chicken may be used in this recipe, the chopped chicken provides a more interesting consistency.
  2. Stir together the chicken, eggs, dill, 1/3 cup bread crumbs. Add salt & white pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes for the bread crumbs to swell.
  3. Slice the mushrooms and sauté in 1 Tbl. olive oil
  4. While the mushrooms are cooking, form croquettes of the chicken mixture and coat in the remaining bread crumbs.
  5. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
  6. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and heat.
  7. Brown the croquettes on all sides but do not worry whether they are cooked through at this point.
  8. Remove the croquettes from the pan and place on a microwave safe plate.
  9. Pour any remaining olive oil from the pan but do not wipe the pan.
  10. Put the julienned leeks in the pan and and cover to allow them to steam a bit.
  11. Add the milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg to the leeks and simmer until the leeks are tender and the milk is somewhat reduced.
  12. Heat the croquettes for 90 seconds in the microwave to make sure they are thoroughly cooked through.
  13. To reheat the mushrooms, stir them into the leeks.
  14. Arrange the croquets on the plates and spoon over the leek and mushroom mixture making sure not to waste any of the thickened milk.
If you want to make this look more impressive, reheat the mushrooms for a few seconds in the microwave. After spooning the creamed leeks on the croquettes, spinkle the mushrooms on top.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yummy Ham & Split Pea Soup

Hams were on sale last week for Easter. We've been making meals of a very tasty smoked bone-in ham since Friday. By tonight, we had gotten to the bone with a bit of meat left on it. No sense wasting any of it! Time for pea soup.

Split pea soup doesn't take much work and is done in about an hour. If you don't have a leftover ham bone, a ham shank or even a smoked turkey leg will work.

  • 2 cups green split peas, washed
  • ham bone with some meat
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 or 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  1. Put all ingredients in a large soup pan, covering as much of the ham as possible with the water.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally to bring the peas off the bottom of the pan.
  3. After about 45 minutes, remove the ham and let it cool about 15 minutes while the soup still simmers.
  4. Whir the soup with an immersion blender.
  5. Cut the remaining ham off the bone and add it back to the soup.
  6. Add salt & pepper to taste.
That's it. Smooth, warm, and creamy and all it has in it is water, ham, and veggies.

Pea Soup on Foodista

Imprecise & Inexpensive

Two themes predominate in my approach to cooking. 1. Daily cooking of flavorful food need not be a precise art. 2. You can be an adventurous cook on a budget. Cooking and eating should be fun for both cookers and eaters.