holy grail chicken soup recipe

Recipe: Holy Grail Chicken Soup

“Holy Grail” should be an extremely rare title to give something, but this chicken soup recipe really deserves it.  I’ve made chicken soup numerous times before but have never tasted one quite so rich and full bodied as this one.  I took Bobby Flay’s recipe for making chicken stock from scratch by first roasting the chicken bones and used it for the base of my chicken noodle soup recipe that has been improved over the years by trial and error.  In this recipe I used mirin, a japanese white wine that is similar to sake.  It adds a subtle complexity to the dish that makes such a difference!  Using whole grain pasta instead of your traditional egg noodles is a super important modification too because the pasta continues to absorb the liquid once it’s finished cooking and I find that egg noodle get soggy and gummy while whole grain pastas tend to hold up a firmer consistency over time.

So for this recipe you’ll need:  3-4 lbs chicken bones (store bought cut up chicken backs with exposed bone marrow), 3 carrots chopped into 1 inch pieces, 3 large spanish onions quartered with skin on, 4 sticks of celery chopped into 1 inch pieces, 4 bay leaves, a whole 3 .lbs organic chicken, one bunch parsley stems only saving the parsley leaves for garnish, 1 cup whole grain elbow pasta or 2 cups of cooked white rice, fresh thyme, 3 T olive oil, 1 T mirin, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

First prepare the stock a la Bobby Flay. I modified this recipe by simmering the stock with lid on for 6 hours instead of 4 and starting off with 16 cups of water instead of 12, and using 4 bay leaves instead of 2.  For the last two hours of simmering you can remove the lid to reduce the stock by about 25%, concentrating the flavors.

Once the stock is done, separate out enough stock to cover the whole chicken completely in a large pot.  Bring to boil on high heat, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Then remove the chicken from the stock and add the remaining 1 carrot and 1 cup of whole grain elbow pasta (or you could use 2 cups of cooked white rice after the carrots are cooked through).  Let the carrots and pasta cook on very low heat until both are softened, about 15-20 minutes.  Meanwhile, with your hands roughly pull off chicken meat from the whole chicken and add it to the soup at the very end.  Add 1 tablespoon of mirin, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Be generous with the salt and pepper!

And that is it!  If you’re getting over the flu like me, make this!  You won’t regret it.  You can save the leftovers by freezing it in small containers for up to 3 months.  Enjoy!

agedashi fried tofu

Recipe: Agedashi Tofu

Agedashi tofu really hit the spot during this freezing cold winter.  It is a delicate comfort food, with deep fried tofu in a dashi-mirin-soy broth.  I love the various textures in this recipe, it’s crunchy surface breaks way to silken tofu which absorbs the dashi sauce beautifully. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but a typical American kitchen might not have the dashi broth ingredients.  But it is well worth putting in the effort to buy these basic ingredients, as it will allow you to make many more Japanese recipes with ease.

You’ll need:  1 package soft tofu (but medium and firm will work well too), 1/2 cup corn starch, thinly sliced green onions, 1 1/2 cup dashi broth (water, bonito flakes, and kombu), 2T mirin, 2T soy sauce, 2 quarter sized slices of ginger (optional), ichimi togarashi (optional), 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil.

First, drain the tofu, wrap in 4 paper towels, and sandwich between two plates to remove excess water.  Now, combine dashi broth, mirin, soy sauce, and ginger and simmer for 20 minutes partially covered with lid.  It’s okay to let the sauce reduce to 1 cup to concentrate the flavor a bit.  Cut the tofu into 16 pieces (about 1.5 inch rectangles) and dredge in corn starch.  Deep fry tofu in vegetable oil for about 8-10 minutes, flipping over once.  The color should resemble french fries.  When done, plate 4 pieces each in a shallow bowl, cover with green onions and a bit of ichimi togarashi (for spice).

fried tofu

Then ladle each serving over with 1/4 cup of the dashi-mirin-soy sauce.  You must serve it immediately to get the full experience.  Dipping the tofu repeatedly once the crust is bitten into is essential to get all the flavors incorporated.

the faceless style blog

blogging: faceless fashion

What’s in a face? There’s a long list of fashion/lifestyle blogs that I subscribe to and most of the draw comes from the voyeuristic pleasures I get from peeking into someone else’s life/closet.  Gawking at pretty things and pretty people is fun.  But what I didn’t expect was that of all the blogs, I’m most intrigued by the ones that are faceless, whether the blogger crops out her head or stratches it out in old school paint programs.  I find that it shifts the focus onto the topic of style and the substance of style.  Don’t get me wrong I still love my full faced bloggers but the faceless ones have a distinctive quality and place in my feed.  The featured image above is taken from thefacelessstyle blog.  It’s creator designed the blog with a LookBook concept, each post with a mysteriously hidden face, making it solely about style (and not the person).  I’m not a fan of many of the outfits on the site, but it’s conceptually interesting and there are enough gems here to keep me coming back.

faceless fashion

winter texting gloves gray

wardrobe: the simplest winter texting gloves

I love these cozy gray knitted gloves.  The slits let your fingers slip out for touch screen accuracy, ’cause let’s face it, those gloves with the off colored texting tips just don’t cut it.

(I know it must seem like I’m a walking advertisement for Madewell.  I have no brand loyalty, but do think they do a particularly good job at creating quality, simplistic staple-wardrobe items like this one.)


Recipe: A Mini(malist) -Thanksgiving

This year, while having little time and being far from family, we decided to have an impromptu mini(malist)-Thanksgiving feast.  Our menu included an 8-lb roasted capon, filled with an almond-bacon stuffing, gravy and garlic mash potatoes, rice pilaf, roasted asparagus with a balsamic soy dressing, and pumpkin pie.

What is a capon you might ask?  Well, a capon is a neutered rooster, which we accidentally picked up after it got mixed in to the turkey pile.  Yeah bummer at first, but it turns out that capons are rarely available, prized poultry meat! The neutering process renders the meat more tender and less gamey than chicken and turkey.  It can be roasted just like a turkey but with less time.


So to cook this bird, fill a large ceramic pan with baby carrots, celery, onions, a tied bunch of parsley stems, 1/2 cup water, and the giblets & neck of the capon.  Plop the capon on top, tuck the wing tips in to prevent burning, fill the cavity with stuffing, tie the legs, smear the beast all over with butter, salt and pepper.  Let it roast for 45 minutes at 425 degrees F, then lower the temp to 350F for another hour, basting every 10 minutes.

stuffing raw capon

This was my first time trying capon.  I loved the texture.  It was more moist and tender than chicken and turkey but had a more neutral flavor.  Definitely yummy, but I do think it’s mildness requires pairing with a high quality homemade savory sauce or gravy.

roasted capon with stuffing

lipstick queen endless summer

Beauty: The Perfect Nude Lip

[Lipstick Queen, Endless Summer ‘Hang Ten’, $22]

I’m not a lipstick girl. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I think lipstick appears dated and matronly. BUT, I do love THIS lipstick! It’s the only nude that I’ve found that looks good with tanned skin. Because it is somewhat sheer, it conforms to your natural lip color while still being opaque enough to create a soft muted effect that makes your eyes sort of pop. When going for an ultra matte look, I blot off the excess and dust with a thin layer of sheer setting powder. The texture feels natural and it’s got added UV protection as well. Definitely a holy grail product in my book, so thought I’d share.


Recipe: Shrimp, Collard Greens, Whole Grain Pasta, in Anchovy Sauce

This recipe is packed with flavor and  was pretty easy to make.

You’ll need: small tin of anchovies in olive oil, 6 cloves garlic chopped, bunch collard greens stems removed and sliced, whole grain thin spaghetti 3/4 of a box, 10 large fresh shrimp, 1/4 cup dry white cooking wine, 1/2 a lemon, 4-5T of EVOO, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, red chili flakes

First sear shrimp in 2T EVOO in a hot pan, leaving it undisturbed for 2 mins on one side then cooking for 60 seconds on the other side. Set aside the shrimp. Now in same pan add anchovies, stirring until they disintegrate in the oil. Add garlic and red chili flakes and cook til garlic is browned. Then deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup dry white cooking wine and lemon juice. Then add the collard greens and mix, cooking until the collard greens are really wilted, like 5 minutes. Then add cooked pasta, toss around and add more EVOO so that the pasta is just glistening. Generously season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 more minutes.  I like to let the pasta sit undisturbed for a few minutes towards the end so that some pieces get crispy. Before serving toss in the shrimp.