Homemade Chicken Soup with Noodles Made from Scratch

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By Erik & Kate Mignault  (Kate’s Family Recipe)
 
What is it about a cup of hot chicken noodle soup that can warm your bones on a cold winter’s night?  And yes, it gets cold enough here in Texas for hot soup. In New England, my mother would use our 35° garage to store this soup over night as the pot was usually too large for our refrigerator and she was too lazy to put it away in a tupperware. We would come home from church and put it directly back on the stove to warm, and eat as a family with a loaf of crusty bread. 
 
Family recipes are a staple on this blog, what is my family’s recipe today, might be your family’s tomorrow. This soup is from my great grandmother and has a rich broth as well as a rich history. 
 
These flavors could never come from a can, most soups from a can should just stay there!
 
What you will need -
 

Chicken Soup 

  • 2 whole organic young chickens – 2 or 3 pounds each
  • 1 cup flat parsley, rough chopped
  • 1 bag of carrots, about 7 or 8 peeled and chopped
  • 4 or 5 celery stocks washed and chopped
  • 20 cups of water (filtered or bottled)
  • 1 whole onion peeled
  • 5 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper

Noodles from Scratch

  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 3/4 Flour
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Cup of Milk

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Unwrap and rinse the chickens. Make sure to take out any of the innards from the chickens. Most come with neck and livers inside, discard them. In a very large stock pot, (12 plus quarts) add the chickens, crushed garlic and the peeled yellow onion. Bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

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Meanwhile use this time to peel and chop all of your veggies, setting them aside in a bowl.

After simmering for an 1 1/2 to 2 hours, remove and discard the onion. Remove the chickens and set aside to cool. Add your bowl of chopped veg and bring the stock back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the veggies and stock for about 30 minutes until the veggies are soft.IMG_9403

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Once the chickens have cooled, carefully separate the chicken from the bones making sure to discard any funky pieces. Tear apart the chicken into small pieces with your hands. This will ensure that you have removed all of the bones and inedible pieces of chicken. Add the chicken back into the soup with the vegetables. Now for the noodles.

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Noodles From Scratch -

Making the noodles (Country Noodles also sometimes called Spaetzle) from scratch is the most time consuming piece of the recipe. Up until this point we’ve chopped a few veggies and waited for time to pass. In a separate pot bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, salt the water with about 1 Tbsp kosher salt. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt and flour. Mix until smooth. IMG_9451

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On a clean flat cutting board pour 1/3 of the noodle batter onto the cutting board. Use a butter knife to evenly spread the batter across half of the cutting board up to one edge. While holding the cutting board over the pot of boiling water, use the butter knife to shuck (or scrape) small, even amounts of the batter into the water. Have fun with the size of your noodles, tailoring them to the size you like. Cook the noodles in batches, making sure the water continues to boil.

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As the noodles rise to the top they are done cooking and can be transferred to the chicken soup with a slotted spoon or a spider. The noodles cook fast, in about 30 to 60 seconds depending on how large they are. Repeat and continue this process until no batter remains and all of the noodles have made their way into the stock pot full of soup.

IMG_9477Enjoy on a cool winters night with a loaf of crusty bread, such as a rye bread topped with butter.


Perfect Summer Pasta

I could eat pasta anytime, any day. I’m a pasta junkie. The good news for me and other pasta junkies is that pasta, and their accompanying sauces are really versatile. There is a combination for every season. A rich meaty bolognese (see here) is great on a cold winters night. With the summer upon us, I’ve got the perfect pasta recipe to share with you. I’ve been making this dish for years, to the joy of family and friends. Made with ripe cherry tomatoes, sweet basil, garlic and olive oil, this dish bursts with flavor. The tomatoes and garlic marinate in the olive oil, making a deliciously light summer sauce.

Inspired by Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa -

Perfect Summer Pasta
1lbs Angle Hair Pasta
2 Pints Cherry Tomatoes
5 – 6 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Red Chili Flakes
15 – 20 Basil Leaves, Julienned
1/4 Cup of Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp Kosher Salt

Rinse, then slice all of the cherry tomatoes in half. I used a variety of both red and yellow cherry tomatoes. In a bowl top the sliced tomatoes with 1 tsp of kosher salt. This is really important, because the salt pulls the water and flavor out of the tomatoes. This helps to make the sauce extra flavorful.

Add to the bowl, the sweet basil, red chili flakes, and garlic. Pour the olive oil into the bowl and mix all of the ingredients together. Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for 2 – 4 hours. This allows time for all of the flavors to come together.

The rest is easy. Boil your water and cook the pasta according to directions on the package. Angel Hair pasta usually cooks really fast, in just 3 – 4 minutes. Once the pasta is cooked and strained pour the tomato and olive oil sauce over the top along with the parmesan cheese, toss together. Plate, and top with a little extra parmesan cheese. If you friends and family are like mine, they will be clamoring for seconds, so make plenty.


Really Quick Naan Pizza

Naan Pizza is perfect as an easy mid week dinner or a quick throw it together lunch. Kate and I on occasion order a pizza and a salad to be delivered. This Naan Pizza can be thrown together faster than you can order for delivery.

It’s easy and starts with grilling the Naan on a panini press (or in a frying pan if you don’t have a panini press). Once your Naan is hot and grilled your ready to top your Naan Pizza and broil it for just a few quick minutes to melt the cheese and warm your toppings. It’s that easy!

Heat the Naan on a Panini Press

Top with your favorite toppings

Pepperoni & Provolone Cheese – Sprinkle with Oregano

Broil in the oven until the cheese is melted and begins to turn golden brown

Presto, you’re ready to eat – Could you order delivery that fast?

For sauce you can follow the recipe below or use your favorite jared sauce (you can cheat I won’t tell. Plus it’s faster).

Pizza Sauce -

1 15 oz can of Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
1/2 Can of Hunt’s Tomato Paste (The small 6 oz can)
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Oregano

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. If you have time let the sauce sit for at least half an hour to let the flavors combine.

For cheese – I like to use sliced provolone (Sargento is a good choice).

Don’t forget, Pizza and a salad is a solid combination.


Houston Food Trucks

Gourmet food trucks are becoming all the rage. Food trucks are popping up (driving up) all across the country. Los Angeles, CA and Austin, TX are already known for their food trucks. Food trucks are on the rise in Houston, TX. Facebook and twitter have revolutionized the food truck industry, allowing food trucks to advertise their locations at a moments notice to thousands of people… for free. With new technology like Square, food truck vendors can except credit cards easily and at a low cost. With twenty of the Houston area food trucks getting together for a food truck festival, Kate and I just had to check it out. We were able to interview a number of the food truck teams to ask them questions about their food and signature dishes, as well as the food truck business.

Houston Area Food Trucks -

Good Dog Hot Dogs

Eatsie Boys

Phamily Bites

Bullbutter Bros. Barbecue

Cut & Fry

Frosted Betty

Angie’s Cake

For a full list of the participating food trucks click here.


A Philly Cheesesteak Fight! {Video}

I think we can all agree that the best cheesesteaks are found in the city of Brotherly Love – Philadelphia, PA… Better knowns as Philly. The sandwich itself even has Philly in the name! The big names that everyone has heard of is Pat’s, Geno’s and Jim’s. I set out to evaluate the competition, to see if anyone of these Philly icons makes a better cheesesteak than the others. The cheesesteak fight was on. I visited Geno’s, Pat’s and Jim’s. I also took a poll of just about everyone that would speak to me on the streets of Philly to get local feedback.

I started out asking, “who’s better, Pat’s or Geno’s?” Some liked Pat’s others liked Geno’s. The rivalry between the two is fun and the locals really get into it and take it pretty seriously. Pat’s and Geno’s sit across the street from one another making the rivalry more intense. I started asking the who’s better question and while people love Pat’s and Geno’s they are not the only game in town. A lot of people told me other lesser known sandwich shops, likes Jim’s and Campo’s.

Only spending a week in Philly, I didn’t have time to try them all, but I was able to hit up the big three – Pat’s, Geno’s and Jim’s.

Here’s the break down in the order that I visited them -

Geno’s – Cheesesteak with Onions & Wiz

Geno’s, offers the most flash and pop from a visual perspective of the building. Bright colors and neon signs. I ordered a cheesesteak with onions and wiz. From the time I ordered the sandwich to when I received it, it was lightning fast. The second I had finished paying for the sandwich it was done and in my hand ready to eat. Geno’s steak was the most different from the three locations. They sliced the meat and cooked the whole slices without chopping the steak. Wiz and onions were added to the cheesesteak, it was wrapped in flashy paper and handed to me. The flavor of the steak was great and the bread was perfectly chewy and fresh. It was by far the best looking bread of the group. The average cheesesteak at Gino’s is $9.00

Pat’s – Cheesesteak with Onions & American Cheese

Pat’s is located directly across from Geno’s. Pat’s building looks a little old compared to Gino’s. The building has been in operation since 1930, many years before Geno’s got into the business. At Pat’s, I ordered steak with American cheese and onions. (I should have gone with the wiz!). The bread was very different at Pat’s. It was softer and less dense. The cheesesteak was good, but I found the steak to be a little dry. (maybe if I added wiz that would not have been the case). The speed of service was equal to Geno’s. The pricing was the same.

Jim’s Cheesesteak with Onions & Wiz

Jim’s Steaks is located in a different area, away from Pat’s and Geno’s. Jim’s is located on South street. South street is a very lively area, great for people watching. I was told that the lines at Jim’s can extend out the door and around the corner. This could be an issue if you are in a rush. The service here was the slowest out of the three, but not unreasonable. What I enjoyed about Jim’s is that you order your sandwich downstairs and then there is a seating area upstairs that overlooks South street. The steak was chopped very fine. More fine than even Pat’s, but the meat was incredibly moist! The bread was similar to Pat’s, but less dry. I got my cheesesteak with onions and wiz, it was delicious. The cost of a cheesesteak at Jim’s is about $8.00, a little less than the other guys.

Are you anxiously awaiting for me to declare a winner of this cheesesteak fight? First let me say, if you are in Philly, it’s hard to find a bad cheesesteak. The same isn’t true in most other parts of the country. For example, cheesesteak’s in Houston are pretty terrible, because the bread is just not that good.

The break down -

Geno’s was pretty good, they had the best meat and their bread was very good. They come in at number 2. Pat’s was my least favorite. I found the meat and bread to be a little dry. I found the best overall combination at Jim’s, my favorite of the three. The meat was chopped fine, but very moist. The bread was perfectly soft and chewy.

The bottom line, Philly is a great food town with lots of great cheesesteaks to choose from, I think you’re going to have to come to Philly and find your favorite. The good news is, I have laid the ground work for your mission. Go forth and report back on your findings.

Note – I think it’s pretty clear how I like my cheesesteak, wiz and onions. There are lots of other combinations to choose from. You could try Provolone cheese or add marinara sauce to make a pizza steak. You could even add mushrooms. Yum!

Something to keep in mind – none of these places accept credit cards. Cash only!


Tomato & Spinach Tortellini Soup

A few weeks ago my aunt made this delicious tomato and spinach tortellini soup for me. She had it for the first time while visiting a friend in Europe. (We can think of the recipe as exotic, since it comes from overseas). One bite, and I knew I would be sharing it with you. It’s a perfect spring time soup, and packs tremendous flavor in each spoonful. It’s also a soup that can be paired with a salad or piece of bread and enjoyed for dinner. It’s very easy to make and can be thrown together in no time. When I’m putting my meal plans together each week, I’m always careful to include a few meals that are really fast and easy to make. We are all busy and don’t always have the time or energy to make a complicated meal. With this soup, the hardest thing you will have to do is chop an onion. If you can operate a can opener and open a bag of spinach you will have no problems putting together this great meal. This soup has everything, a little bacon, fresh spinach and cheesy tortellini. At dinner time I am usually pretty hungry and a bowl full of soup won’t cut it for me. This soup is different, with the bacon and tortellini it’s both satisfying and filling, but light enough that it won’t weigh you down for the rest of the night. Make one night this week a soup and salad night.

Tomato & Spinach Tortellini Soup
Recipe Inspired by a family Friend

What you will need -

2 Tbs Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic chopped
1 Large Yellow Onion chopped
4 oz Bacon or Pancetta diced
9 Cups Chicken Stock
8 oz Fresh Spinach
1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
9 oz Cheese Tortellini (I used a spinach and plain mix which is usually easy to find)
28 oz can of Crushed Tomatoes
Salt & Pepper

In a large thick bottomed pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta or bacon and let cook for 3 minutes, then add the chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add a few pinches of salt to season the onions. Once the onion becomes soft add the chopped garlic and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, don’t let the garlic brown or it will become bitter. At this point your bacon should be browned and the onion and garlic cooked through, but not browned.

Add the chicken stock and crushed tomato, and let come to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook for 7 minutes. Add the spinach and parmesan cheese to the pot.

The cheese will melt and the spinach will wilt immediately. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with a slice of bread or a fresh salad.


Great Steak, it’s About Technique

While on vacation in Florida a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to cook several meals with my mom. Cooking with her is always fun and brings back so many memories of my childhood. My love of cooking comes from those childhood experiences. I love hearing the stories my mom tells of how she learned to cook from her mom and grandmothers. Being a dad, I really look forward to teaching my son to cook and enjoying time with him in the kitchen.

Lessons learned cooking at my grandfather’s. Let’s just say the kitchen tools we had available to us were sparse. It was kind of like camping, except we had electricity and a wonderful view that overlooks the inter-coastal waterway. We did have a sharp knife, a cast iron frying pan and an oven… not vast, but they got the job done.

So you are wondering… What did we cook together? We made some of the best steaks I have ever eaten. Perfectly seasoned, cooked to perfections, melt in your mouth steaks. My mouth still waters when I think about them. You might remember the lamb chops I shared with you. We used a variation of that spice rub to season the meat. Why did our steaks turn out so wonderfully? Technique, we seared the steaks in a cast iron pan to lock in flavor. We then placed the steaks in a preheated (oven at 350 degrees) and then actually turned the oven off soon after placing the steaks in. In no time (12 -15 minutes) our steaks were ready. There are many ways to cook steaks, but this is by far the best technique I have found that consistently produces great steaks.

What you will need -

A Cast Iron Pan
1 – 2 lbs Steak Cut Thick – Ribeye or New York Strip (the steaks were so good we made them twice. Once with a ribeye, once with New York Strip. I preferred the ribeye).
2 Tbs canola oil

Pelham Inn Inspired Spice Rub -

1 Tbs Celery Salt
1 Tbs Garlic Powder
1 Tbs Onion Powder
1/2 Tbs Kosher salt

In a bowl combine all of the spices to make the rub. Coat each steak with the spice rub. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. (The secret to these great steaks is the use of a cast iron pan). In a cast iron pan add the canola oil and heat the pan over medium heat. You want your pan to be very hot before you add the steak. Add your steak and cook for 3 – 4 minutes. With a fork pick up one end of the steak to look at the doneness. You want the steak to be caramelized, nice and golden brown. Once caramelized, flip the steak over. After both sides are browned, place the cast iron pan with the steaks into the preheated oven.

Close the oven and after 3 minutes turn off the oven. Leave the steak in the oven for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes the steaks will be cooked to a perfect medium rare. If you like your steak cooked more, you will need to adjust the times.

Chefs Note – I know some people like their steak cooked well done. The problem with a steak cooked well done, is that you cook a lot of the flavor right out of the steak. You don’t need to cook your steak rare, but there is a good happy medium.

~ Understanding different Cuts of beef steak ~


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