Chicken Tortellini Soup

When I was young, we would go to see my paternal grandmother once a week.  She lived about a half hour away from us, and to me, she might as well have lived across the country. How I dreaded that drive as a young child.  But, there was one thing that made the trip worthwhile…my grandmother’s chicken soup.  How I loved that soup!

From the moment we walked in the door we could smell the broth simmering away.  And as soon as she saw my face, she would cook the pasta.  My father’s mother spoke only Italian, so we had virtually no verbal communication; it was all about the food.  This was how I was assured as a small child of my grandmother’s affection…she took the time to cook for me.  That is what I love about food.  It communicates to each of us in a different way…no words are necessary.

Chicken Tortellini Soup
• 8 Whole Chicken Wings (you can use whole chicken if you wish)
• 7 Quarts cold water
• 2 Beef marrow bones
• 4 Carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
• 4 Stalks celery cleaned
• 4-6 scallions, left whole with ends trimmed
• 3 sprig fresh thyme
• 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
• 1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
• 1 pound fresh or frozen tortellini

To Make the Soup
Rinse the chicken wings and pat them dry.

Place them in 7 quarts of cold water and put the pan over medium heat.

Add the salt and peppercorns, and cover the pot.

While the water begins to increase in temperature, place a sauté pan over medium heat.

To the sauté pan add the beef marrow bones, and let the bones caramelize on all sides. This will take about 8-10 minutes.

With a pair of kitchen tongs add the beef marrow bones to the pot with the chicken, but keep all the juices from the beef bones in the sauté pan.

Add the carrots, celery, scallion and thyme to the sauté pan and cook over medium low heat for ten minutes, turning them every few minutes. The vegetables will soak up the flavors of the beef bones, and they will soften and release their flavors as well.

When the vegetables are ready, pour the contents of the entire sauté pan into the soup pot (including any accumulated juices).

Cover the pot again, and let the soup simmer for a minimum of four hours or up to six. As you approach the end of the cooking time, you want to taste the broth to check for seasoning and adjust as desired.

When the soup has finished cooking, strain the entire pot of soup through a colander so that you discard the chicken, beef bones, vegetables and peppercorns. The broth should be a rich golden color.

Chill the soup for a few hours, and then skim off the layer of fat that accumulates on the surface.

At this point, you can divide the soup into containers and freeze, or continue to the next step:

To Serve the Soup
Bring the broth to a full boil, and add one pound of fresh or frozen tortellini (such as Digiorno).

The tortellini is done when the little pastas float to the top.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with some fresh thyme and a grinding of black pepper, if desired.

The Elegant Occasion Note: If you are using dried pasta for the soup (dried tortellini, orzo, pastina, etc.) cook the pasta in a separate pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain the pasta, and then divide it into bowls and pour the hot broth over.

This is a great lunch for kids to take to school. Simply place boiling water in a thermos and close the lid. Let the water sit in the thermos for 20 minutes to a half an hour. Drain the water from the thermos and replace it with the hot soup. Because you have pre-heated the thermos, the soup will stay warm for hours!

The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing: Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay

March 1, 2013 - 1:30 pm

Rhonda - I love the new look! Thanks for the memories! Brings me back to being young!

March 5, 2013 - 1:29 pm

Kristin - My Auntie’s Chicken Noodle Soup has truly nourished my soul since I was a little girl. It’s one of those ultimate comfort foods that I look forward to immensely- no matter how old I get. Can’t wait to continue this tradition with my Honey and our kids some day!

Romantic Dinner for Five

Romantic Dinner for Five

Who says a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner is only for couples? My husband, Tom, and I have a date night almost every week, so maybe that is why we don’t feel the need to go out on the actual holiday of Valentine’s.  Instead, we like to stay home and celebrate with our three young daughters.  Showing my love for my family is so naturally expressed through cooking, and through the years I guess my idea of romance has changed.  Oh sure, I love to be thrilled by my husband, but I also love watching him interact with our girls, hearing them giggle and seeing his smile.  I don’t always need to sit alone at the dinner table with him to feel romance.  Sometimes, gazing around the table at the four most important people in my world, and knowing he is responsible for giving me my dream, is what I call romance. So this year while others made reservations, I a planned a Valentine’s Dinner that warmed my entire families’ heart.

My children love custards of any kind so to start our meal; we began with a savory pots de crème.  Pots de crème is basically a fancy word for pudding.  This rich egg and cream mixture is usually served for dessert, but by omitting sugar and adding a savory gruyere cheese, this becomes an elegant appetizer.  It takes only minutes to prep, but looks and tastes restaurant quality.

For the entrée, I made a rib veal chop with mushroom Demi-Glace.  It was mouthwatering!  Be sure to get the pan hot before you put the veal chops in so that you get a good sear. The Demi-Glace is found at specialty markets such as STAR Fish here on the shoreline.

 I hope you find these dishes as lovable as I do.

Savory Pots d’ Crème
Serves 4
• 1 Cup Heavy Cream
• ¾ Cup Milk
• 3 Extra large eggs
• ¼ teaspoon Thyme
• ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
• 4 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
• Pinch of white pepper

To Prepare the Baking Dishes
Butter four ramekins or oven-safe cups.
Turn the oven to 200 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Shred the cheese and divide it between the four ramekins

To Assemble the Pots de Crème
Pour the cream and milk into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.

While the cream and milk mixture cook, whisk the eggs, thyme and garlic salt together in a bowl.

When the cream has come to a boil, remove it from the heat.

Slowly add about ¼ cup of the cream mixture to the eggs and whish briskly to temper the eggs.

Then slowly pour the rest of the cream into the egg mixture, making sure to whisk as you go.

Place the custard in the prepared ramekins and put them on the baking sheet.

Place in the oven for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, until a knife inserted in the center comes out

Remove from the oven and place the ramekins on a cooling rack for ten minutes.

Serve as they are or with a small green salad dressed simply with lemon and olive oil.

The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing: Champagne

Pan Seared Veal Chop with Mushrooms and Demi Glace
Serves 2
• 2 Rib veal chops (if you cannot find the rib chops, substitute the loin chops)
• 6 Ounces Trumpet Mushrooms (or the mushrooms of your choice)
• 1 Shallot, diced
• 1 Tablespoon olive oil
• 1 Tablespoon butter
• Salt and pepper
• 1 Tablespoon veal demi- glace diluted in one cup hot water.

To Prepare the Veal Chops
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the olive oil and butter in a frying pan over medium high heat.

Season the veal chops on both sides with salt and pepper.

When the butter has melted and the pan is hot add the veal chops to the pan.

Do not touch the chops for 4 minutes, simply let them sear.

Turn the veal chops over and cook for another 3 minutes.

Place the pan with the veal chops in the oven, and finish the cooking process in the oven for another five minutes.

When the veal chops are done, take them out of the oven and put them on a plate with a piece of foil loosely covering them.

Place the same pan (with the juices from the chops) on the stove over medium heat.

To Make the Demi-Glace
Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook until the shallots have wilted and the mushrooms have caramelized.

Add the demi-glace and let the sauce simmer for about seven minutes. It will reduce slightly.

Transfer the veal chops to the plate, and pour any of the veal juices that accumulated on the plate into the demi-glace.

To Plate the Veal Chops
Spoon the demi-glace and mushrooms over the veal chop and serve.

The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir

Chocolate Pate
• 16 ounces dark chocolate
• 1 Cup heavy cream
• 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
• 4 Extra large egg yolks
• 1 Cup confectionary sugar
• ½ Cup Grand Marnier or Black Coffee
Line an 8-inch cake pan with saran wrap.

To Make the Pate
In a double boiler, combine chocolate, cream and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove the bowl from the double boiler and one at a time add the egg yolks, whisking briskly after each addition. Be sure to work quickly so that your yolks don’t cook in the warm chocolate.

Gradually whisk in the sugar and the liquor or coffee.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and then cover with another sheet of saran wrap.
Refrigerate for 24 hours.

When ready to serve, simple invert the pate on a cake plate and peel away the saran wrap.

To Serve the Pate
Slice as you would a cake, place a spoonful of the raspberry coulis (recipe follows) on the plate and then place the pate on top. Garnish with a mint sprig and a dusting of powdered sugar.

• 1 Pints fresh Raspberries
Raspberry Coulis
• 3 Tablespoons Raspberry Jam
• 1 Tablespoon Chambord

Place the raspberry jam in a small saucepan and heat until the jam turns to liquid
Immediately add the fresh raspberries and Chambord and mix together.

Let the mixture simmer and reduce for approximately 10-15 minutes.

Strain the mixture (optional) and discard any raspberry seeds.

The Elegant Occasion Note: This sauce can be made three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing: Champagne

March 6, 2013 - 9:12 am

Kirsten Carbone - I love the idea of a savory twist on pot de creme – especially with gruyere. Can’t wait to try it.

March 6, 2013 - 9:15 am

Cheese Shop of Centerbrook - This dinner sounds great. We love the idea of a savory twist on pot de creme, especially with a classic choice like gruyere.