It was a phlegmy slide from Friday into Saturday. By 3pm Mike and I still hadn’t eaten a thing, so I turned the about-to-be-chucked stump of (three) day-old French bread sitting on the counter into French toast. I haven’t had French toast in eons, but it was all I could muster making, and although my stomach was rumbling louder than the nearby trains, it was all I could imagine eating.
Coincidentally, I just got an assignment to write a short piece on chicken soup and other food remedies and whether or not there is any substance to the old wives’ tales of cure-alls for the common cold and flu. Since no food lore required me to drown my phlegm in milkshakes, I made a pot of chickenoodle soup instead. Which I haven’t really had an appetite for since I was pregnant – roasted chicken was the worst, for some reason – so Mike ate some, W picked out the meat and noodles, and I ate more grapes, a spoonful of peanut butter and a Coke.
Ginger-Garlic Chicken Soup
There are many ideas of what kind of chicken soup should be administered as cold remedy; spicy soup laced with garlic and chilies is said to clear nasal passages, even temporarily (certainly chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C), and while egg noodles are traditional, barley, brown and wild rice deliver complex carbohydrates, fiber, and more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
1 small rotisserie chicken, or the leftover carcass from a roasted chicken with some meat still attached to the bones
1 small onion, unpeeled and cut into quarters
2 stalks celery, chopped (with leaves)
6-8 cups water
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 cup dry egg noodles, 1/2 cup pearl or pot barley, or 1/2 cup brown and/or wild rice
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 green onion, chopped
salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 350F. Shred the meat off your chicken (don’t worry if some is left clinging to the bones), chop it and set aside. Place the carcass in the oven and roast for about half an hour; this will darken and enrichen the broth, but it isn’t necessary. Transfer the carcass to a large pot with onion, one stalk of celery, water, garlic, ginger and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until slightly cooled. Pour through a colander or sieve into another pot, and pull any chunks of chicken off the bones and add to the stock. Discard the rest.
Boil the noodles, barley or rice according to the package directions. Bring the broth to a simmer, add the other stalk of celery and the carrot, and cook for about 7 minutes, until they are tender. Add the cooked noodles, chopped chicken, and green onion. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
Later, Mike had the last Maple Pumpkin Panna Cotta I had brought home from Thursday’s Thanksgiving segment shoot. Panna cotta – an Italian cream Jell-O – is dead easy to make, far more foolproof than pie, and its cool, smooth lightness is a welcome relief after a big feast. Because it’s served chilled, it can be made a day or so in advance, leaving you more time on the day of the big dinner. As it cools, it separates somewhat into a subtle orange layer topped with a thick band of white cream.
Maple Pumpkin Panna Cotta
3 cups half and half or 18% coffee cream
1 package plain unflavored gelatin
1/2-1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract or maple extract
Pour about a cup of the cream into a medium pot and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface. Let it sit for about 5 minutes to let the gelatin soften.
Set the pot over medium heat and stir, bringing it to a simmer, until the gelatin is completely dissolved. This should take 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the rest of the cream, the pumpkin and maple syrup. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the mixture into individual wine glasses, small dishes or ramekins. (If you want to unmold them onto a plate to serve them, spray the ramekins with nonstick spray first.) Put them in the fridge for at least 2 hours, until set. Serves 6.