Tag Archives: comfort food

Ginger Chicken Jook

2 Dec

Wow, Alice. That ginger rum drink was quite refreshing and will definitely be one of my go-to summer drinks.

Ginger is such a great flavor to add to both sweet and savory dishes. In this case, it’s a comforting chicken soup/porridge with an Asian bent.

Ginger Chicken Jook

A friend shared this recipe with me when I was feeling a bit under the weather last year. It’s tasty, easy and one of the best things to eat when your tummy is not quite right, sort of like the old standard chicken noodle soup.

It’s also good for cool, damp winter nights, when you’re chilled all the way through and you just need something to warm you up, something you can pour into a bowl or a large cup and wrap your hands around to warm you down to your toes. That’s what this does.

Ginger Chicken Jook 010

The ingredients are simple – chicken legs or thighs, chicken broth, water, rice, ginger, salt and pepper – and the flavor is deceptively simple. I blame the ginger.

Chop the ginger into thick slices


No need to peel the ginger, just slice it up.

Then pour everything into a large stock pot and bring to a boil over medium-high.

Ginger Chicken Jook

Reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about an hour.

Ginger Chicken Jook

After an hour, the chicken will be tender, the rice will be softened and the soup will be thickened and porridge-like. Pull the chicken from the pot, cool and remove the meat from the bone.


Return the chicken to the pot, pull out the chunks of ginger and dish up a bowl of the jook. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and scallions, if you have them.

Ginger Chicken Jook


Alice, what sort of adventure in cooking do you have for me?

Ginger Chicken Jook (Rice Porridge)


6 cups water
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken legs or thighs
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, skin on and sliced into 4 pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
Pinch freshly ground white pepper, plus more as needed
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish


Place all ingredients except the cilantro and scallions in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook at a lively simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice has completely broken down and the mixture is creamy, about 1 hour.

Turn off the heat and remove the chicken to a cutting board. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding the cartilage and bones. Return the chicken shreds to the jook. Stir to combine, taste, and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro and scallions.

Soup with Sausage, Silverbeet (Chard) and White Beans.

30 Aug

Soup soup soup! French onion soup is such a special dish. So nice to have your recipe for it B.

This recipe is a soup my family have been making a bit of recently… it is hearty and wintry, and special enough to serve as a meal for weeknight guests.

I buy sausages made by our local butcher made with pork, fennel and chilli, they flavour up the entire soup beautifully. I would think that any good quality sausages will work well. Here in Australia we call this leafy vegetable ‘silverbeet’, but I understand it is simply ‘chard’ in the USA. I have made it to our new house finally (yay!) and I thought it fitting for the first meal I cooked to be this soup.

I am not sure if you collect Parmesan rinds, but this is a great way to use them. You don’t eat the rind, you remove it from the soup before eating, but it imparts a flavour through the soup as it cooks. So don’t throw them away… keep them in the fridge for dishes like this.

Here is what you will need:

Sausages, cannellini beans, garlic, rosemary, onion, carrot, celery, silverbeet (chard), olive oil, pepper, and a dash of vinegar. Possibly salt too, but taste before adding any. Also, some chicken stock, tomato paste and the rind of some Parmesan, which missed the photo shoot. Must have been still getting their hair done.

I started by tearing the casing off the sausages and rolling small meatballs from the filling.

I heated up a little olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot, and then added the meatballs to brown over medium heat.

While they were cooking I chopped up some onion, carrot and celery, the classic trio, and then added them along with some chopped rosemary to the browned meatballs. I left them to cook and absorb all of the flavour the sausage had given to the oil.

While that was cooking away I prepared everything else. I minced garlic, then washed and drained the canned beans. I removed the stem from the silverbeet, which is hard to take a photo of without a tripod, but I hold it by the stem, and then run the knife downward along the edges of the stem. It is easier than it looks. I then washed it well and sliced it up roughly.

When I was happy that the onion was transparent, I added tomato paste and the minced garlic to the pot, and let that cook for about a minute before adding in the stock, silverbeet, Parmesan rind and beans. My pot overfloweth!

I put the lid on, opening it up to stir from time to time. As the silverbeet cooks down it starts to resemble soup. I think I needed to chop my silverbeet a bit finer than this. So use this as a guide for a bit large, OK?

I simmered the soup for about twenty minutes, just prior to serving I added a dash of vinegar. This gives a nice acid balance.

Lovely vibrant colours and flavour to match. I removed the rind, added a grind of black pepper and it was ready to go.

I am glad to have documented this recipe… as I will be returning to make it myself, over and over.

Over to you B… are you in a soupy mood?


serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
250g (1/2 pound) sausage. I used pork, fennel and chilli, but any good fresh italian sausage would work. Remove casings and roll in to small meatballs
1 brown onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 garlic cloves finely chopped, crushed or grated
1 large bunch silverbeet
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained
1 litre (1 quart) chicken stock
1 Parmesan rind (if you have one handy)
1 generous tablespoon cider vinegar
Pepper and possibly salt, to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Brown the meat balls, for around 8 minutes, before adding the onion, carrot, celery and rosemary. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for around 10 minutes or until the onion is transparent.

Add the tomato paste and garlic, stir for a minute then add the stock, silverbeet, beans and Parmesan rind. With the lid on, cook for 20 minutes over medium low heat, stirring from time to time. Remove the rind before serving, and season with the vinegar plus a little salt and pepper to taste. Serve. Eat. Say “yum”.

Macaroni and Cheese

18 Mar

All this cheese talk has made me very hungry. Well, that and the fact that I’m currently sitting in an airport having eaten only those little ginger cookies that they feed you on the airplane these days.

But back to cheese. Alice, that cheese recipe was great! Such a sophisticated dish to serve to guests.

There’s something about cheese that is very comforting. And what is more comforting than adding it to macaroni, topping it with crunchy crumbs and baking it?! I didn’t grow up with macaroni and cheese, but I discovered it as an adult and set off to learn how to make the good creamy home-made stuff, not the stuff from the little blue box.

Here is my favorite macaroni and cheese.

It calls for quite a bit of cheese, as might be expected.

You can use any kind of cheese you like or even a combination of cheeses. I like to go with cheddar for the nice orange color and Gruyère for a nice tangy flavor.

Shred the cheese first, as things move very quickly once you get cooking. It’s best if you shred it yourself, as the convenient bags of pre-shredded cheese you can get from the grocery store tend to be tossed in something to keep them from sticking together into one massive glob. That also keeps the sauce from getting nice, smooth and melty.

See, it’s not THAT hard to shred it yourself. Really.

After the cheese is ready, it’s time to move on to making the roux. Roux is a way to thicken a sauce by cooking butter and flour together before adding the liquid, which in this case is milk.

So, start by putting a pot of water on to boil for cooking the pasta, heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat, then melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed pan over medium/low heat

once the butter is melted, add the flour and stir around until it is fully incorporated into the butter.

Let it cook for a little while, so the flour taste is cooked out of the sauce. Then pour in the hot milk, whisking all the while

Whisk until the milk has been fully incorporated into the flour mixture and is smooth and starting to thicken, then toss in the cheese.

Mix until the cheese is all melted,

then add the cooked and drained pasta.

Mix it all together until it is fully combined

then pour into a baking dish

Prepare the bread crumbs – I like to use Panko bread crumbs, as they are finer, flakier and lighter. Read all about them here.

Mix the crumbs with melted butter and some grated parmesan cheese

sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese and bake until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the topping is browned

Look at that cheesy, gooey, crunchy goodness!

Macaroni and Cheese

(inspired by the Barefoot Contessa recipe)

1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart (4 cups) milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces (4 cups) Gruyère, shredded
8 ounces (2 cups) extra-sharp Cheddar, shredded
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, six to eight minutes (don’t overcook it as it will cook a little further while it is baking). Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt six tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for two minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Add the Gruyère, Cheddar, salt and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter, combine them with the bread crumbs and two tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the crumb topping is browned on the top.


OK, Alice. What next? Your move.

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