Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

March is a great month for soups, if for no other reason than the weather is so unpredictable. A week or so ago we had a dusting of snow and the last few days have felt like early summer. A good soup, I think, sort of smooths out the temperature’s ups and downs. This sausage and gnocchi soup was inspired by something I spotted on another food blog somewhere, that used beer and brats and home-made gnocchi. My reaction to that was something along the lines of “Interesting, but this needs to be an Italian style soup.” And so I set to work.

The result was a rich tomato-vegetable broth full of the flavors imparted by the sausage, tomatoes, basil and oregano with contrasting textures of crisped sausage and soft potato gnocchi — sort of like a liquid pizza, in fact.

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Persian Khoresh Gheymeh

Persian Khoresh Gheymeh

You may recall that a couple of weeks ago, I asked some of the users on Reddit’s r/recipes to suggest some dishes they’ve enjoyed and would like to duplicate at home. I offered to research the dish and come up with the best version I could — one that might come close to what they remembered, but more important, could serve as a base for their own exploration. Khoresh gheymeh is one of the dishes that came up in that discussion.

I’ve not had the chance to sample much Persian food, so I had not encountered this amazing combination of meat (beef or lamb) and split peas. A bit of research, including calls to a couple of Persian friends and some web searching, made it clear that Khoresh gheymeh is the Persian equivalent of Grandma’s mac and cheese. Comfort food. It only took a couple of tries to get it right (at least to my taste).

As often happens with recipes from a particular region, this one has some ingredients that you probably won’t find in the local Safeway. In particular, it requires Persian dried limes (limoo amani) and a bit of rosewater (which seems to be optional, though I like what it did for the flavors). Fortunately, good ol’ Amazon came through and I was able to have both delivered to my door. (Note the links above.)

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Balsamic Braised Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

Balsamic Braised Chicken

Balsamic braised chicken with roasted vegetables isn’t the quickest dish you can make, but it’s aromas and flavors are worth it if you are looking for a wonderful Mediterranean-style Sunday dinner. Balsamic vinegar has been a bit overused as an ingredient in recent years. Here, it works very well by turning a simple braising liquid of wine and stock into a complex sauce that complements both the chicken and the vegetables.

Feel free to change up the vegetables as you like. I’ve made this with broccoli, artichoke hearts and Brussels sprouts and the results were equally delicious. For the wine, I like to use a medium-bodied Italian red like a San Giovese/Chianti — something you might like to drink along with the dish. 

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Romanian Sour Meatball Soup

sour meatball soup

When a friend suggested I try my hand at this sour meatball soup, I was skeptical, to say the least. I just didn’t think something this simple could be very good. I was soooo wrong. This is now at the top of my favorite soup lists. The flavors and aromas it produces are nothing short of amazing and to be honest, I can’t figure out how it happens. 

The recipe is Romanian in origin. There it is called Ciorba De Perisoare. 

The soup  base is beef stock with onion, carrots, parsnips and chopped parsley (traditionally, the dish calls for lovage, a leafy herb that tastes a bit like celery), seasoned with some paprika. The meatballs are ground beef, veal and pork (your basic meatloaf mix), a little uncooked rice, minced onion and breadcrumbs. Toward the end of the simmering, a little tomato paste and either sauerkraut juice or vinegar goes in the pot (you can also use lemon juice), giving the soup its characteristic tartness. 

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Lemongrass Chili Chicken

lemongrass chili chicken

A week or so ago, I posted a question on Reddit, in the r/recipes subreddit, asking for examples of dishes people liked but had not been able to duplicate. It’s a tricky challenge, since I had obviously couldn’t taste what they had tasted and had no idea what I was shooting for in most cases. This lemongrass chili chicken is my first attempt at tackling that challenge. It’s a simple stir fry that, apart from the marinating, can be assembled in about the time it takes to steam up some jasmine rice, or about 20 minutes.

Rather than try to guess what the Reddit user was looking for, I decided to find as many recipes for the dish as I could and distill out of those the ingredients and techniques that they all had in common and build from there. After a couple of near misses, I arrived at the recipe below, which not only was a hit here at Discovery Cooking, but even impressed a friend who spent a lot of time in Vietnam and remembered the dish fondly.

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