white bean soup with kale and sausage

Friday, January 27, 2012

Is Mercury in retrograde or something? Weirdness surrounds me.

The other day (incidentally at our Runyon Canyon), an older, bespectacled man made a point to deliberately approach me as I was entering the park. He looked me square in the eye and said, "Down the road there's some fresh horse manure!" Funny thing though: it sounded less like 'watch out!' and more like 'get it while it's HOT!'

Then I stopped at the drug store to pick up something and when I asked a question of the white-coated lady behind the pharmacy's register she answered me back in a pinched whisper. She had horrible laryngitis yet her lab coat was embroidered with the label WELLNESS AMBASSADOR.

The next stop was the dermatologist's, where a nurse led me into a room to wait for the doctor while saying, "Thank you for coming." Like it was a party and I was doing her a favor by attending.

I suppose you could say I'm the common denominator. There is that.

I'm sure I contribute to The Weird in the World (or at least Los Angeles). And I'll bet right now in some parallel universe I'm being cited by a blogger for some of it.

Like maybe wearing (unused!) poop bags as makeshift mittens on mornings when it's in the lower 40s. (Don't knock it. They are surprisingly toasty.)

Or scaring my neighbors with the same threadbare pair of saggy Juicy sweatpants every single day while wearing said makeshift mittens. (One of these days they are gonna turn to velour dust. David will cheer.)

Guess what? This soup is decidedly not weird. It's delicious. What you see is what you get. It's not gonna make you feel uncomfortable. Or have to stifle laughter. It's just some soup.

White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale
(adapted from Epicurious)
yields 6 large servings

This soup takes a bit of time but if you have the foresight, it'll be worth it. What's awesome about it, too, is that it's super hearty. Don't you love soup that is an entire meal in a bowl? Plus there's kale (kale=the new black)

1lb. dried cannellini beans
2 onions, chopped
2 T olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 quarts water
1 (3"x 2") Parmesan rind
2 t salt (and then more to taste)
1/2 t black pepper (more to taste)
1 bay leaf
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to your liking)
1 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1 lb. kielbasa (or other smoked sausage), sliced crosswise into 1/4" thick pieces (optional)
8 carrots, chopped
1 lb. lacinato kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves chopped (this is about 2-3 bunches)

Rinse beans, then cover with water by 2 inches in a pot. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes and then turn the heat off, cover and let sit/soak for one hour. Drain in a colander and rinse.

Sauté onions in olive oil in a large soup pot over med-low heat until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic for another minute or two. Add beans, broth, water, bay, cheese rind, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and rosemary. Simmer, half-covered, for 50 minutes or until beans are tender.

While soup is cooking, brown sausage (if using) in batches over medium heat in a heavy skillet. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Set aside.

When beans are tender, add carrots, kale and sausage and simmer another 12-ish minutes or until kale is done to your liking. Taste for salt.

FYI, you'll be glad this recipe yields a boatload. This soup is definitely better the next day. It will thicken slightly so add a bit of water if you need to.

*Note--this soup is very bean heavy. Beans are definitely the main event here. If you'd rather it be less bean-y, try starting with 3/4 lb. dry instead of a full 1 lb.

Hope your day is just weird enough to be entertaining.

cool stuff, vol. 8

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Monday, lovelies!

It's super rainy out there today and I'm cozy-ing up inside which is the perfect place for me after a long week of work. How are you? Wonderful, I hope. As I work on a kale soup recipe for you this week, I will ply you with funny/cool links:

Pictures can be misleading.

This is the best tooth-extraction idea ever!

This is the sweetest:)

Love these scrabble pillows.

One time a guy told my mom she was the "best dressed lady at Starbucks." She was like, "Thank you?"
Well, this video reminds me of that.

This girl's got some serious bowls! (Via my bro Josh:))

Gullible frat guy seeking advice from lawyer on Craig's List.

Genius interview with a one-year-old.

Hope you have a great day:)

P.S.  The above photo was taken underneath the water tower on the Disney lot in Burbank.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

A middle-of-the-night conversation in our house might go something like this:

D: [sneeze sneeze sneeze sneeze sneeze]

Me, waking up: "Are you okay?"

D: "Huh?"

Me: "Are you okay? It sounds like you're having an allergy attack."

D: "Wha?"

Me: "Are. You. O. Kay????"

D: "I cannot hear you."

Me: [exasperated sigh]

D: "Do you have the covers over your head?"


Me: "Yes."


A conversation with a T-shirt vendor at the Farmer's Market might go something like this:

Me: "I think I'll take this shirt here. The green one with the chicken on it. It's so cute!"

T-shirt-selling Man: "That's a rooster, ma'am."

Me: "I know, I just like calling it a chicken."

TSSM: "Chickens are boring."

Me: "Excuse me?"

TSSM: "Roosters are way more interesting. That's why it's the logo of our T-shirt company."

Me: "Oh. Cool. Well, my husband's a chicken so that's why I want to get him a chicken shirt."

TSSM: "Is he afraid of something?"

Me: "No, it's just a nickname we have for each other. He's a chicken and I'm a chicken too. I guess you think that makes us boring, huh? Ha ha!"

TSSM (nonplussed): "That'll be fifteen dollars."


A conversation with DP while trying to write a blog post might go something like this:

Me: "Will you go put on your new chicken shirt?"

D: "Why?"

Me: "So I can take a picture of you in it. It's for the blog."

D (annoyed but pretending not to be): "Yes. Hold on."

[5 minutes later]

D (yelling down from upstairs): "It's dirty."

Me (yelling up from downstairs): "Crap. Is it super wrinkly?"

D (yelling down from upstairs): "Sorta."

Me (yelling up from downstairs): "Ok, just throw it on quick and come down here so I can take your picture."

[5 minutes later]

D (mocking as he watches me put the camera strap over my head): "You look like a doctor or something, the way you're putting that over your head."

Me:  "What? You're the one who told me to always put the strap on so I don't drop it."

D: "Can you hurry it up? I have to get on a conference call."

Me: "Yes! Just hold it kinda tight so the wrinkles don't show so bad......why are you scrunching up your face?"

D: "I don't want my face in the picture."


Like that would ever stop me.

Happy Weekend!

P.S.  I'm working on this fine television program next week so I'll be back on Joeycake when I come up for air!

scenes from my carwash's auto fragrance aisle

Friday, January 6, 2012

Nothing like getting into your car and being hit in the face by the refreshing yet acrid aroma of gourd.

Perhaps the people who lather up with sugar cookie soap enjoy this product.

Happy Friday!

P.S.  Yesterday, at an audition the casting director mentioned Runyon Canyon and the assistant running the camera said, "Is that what you are??!  I knew you looked familiar!"  I love that he said 'Is that what you are?'

That is what I am indeed.

chicken posolé

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Holy cow. I knew posolé was a New Year's tradition but in researching *why* I had no idea the horrors I'd uncover. As if the use of pig's feet in several recipes wasn't unsavory enough, get this: Wikipedia states that pozole was intended for consumption on special occasions by the Aztecs and other Mesoamerica inhabitants. After they'd kill their prisoners (by tearing out their heart in a ritualistic sacrifice), the rest of the (human!) body was chopped up and cooked with corn. The meal was shared by the whole community as an act of religious communion. Years later, after cannibalism was banned, pork became the replacement meat because some Spanish priest said it tasted "very similar."

Bon Appétit!

Once I made it past all the human consumption business, I found the reason posolé is a New Year's tradition--it brings good luck. Good luck, perhaps, that you don't become chopped up into next year's posolé? Yeek!  

It didn't bring David luck when we played Scrabble last night (sorry, Chicken!). But I kinda think he was lucky that a hot lady made him a big bowl of soup for dinner. Bonus: not the kind made out of humans.

Chicken Posolé
serves 4-6

There are so so so many different types of this Mexican stew--red, green, chicken, pork and every combination of the four. And not only do people seem really devoted to their version, they're very quick to disparage someone else's. I decided to combine a couple recipes that looked good (and somewhat healthy) to me and I think it turned out delicious. One of the many reasons I'm devoted to my version? It tastes nothing like people.  

1 cooked rotisserie chicken, organic if possible
2 quarts chicken broth/stock
1 brown onion, quartered
1 1/2 large white onions, chopped
one head garlic, 4 cloves removed and then halved width-wise through the cloves
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
2 bay leaves
1 t dried oregano
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped (leave the seeds in for more heat, if desired)
1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped (leave the seeds in for more heat, if desired)
2T evoo
1 cup cilantro leaves and fine stems
1 1/2 cans hominy, rinsed and drained
juice of 1/2 lime

for serving:
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
small bunch radishes, cut into small matchsticks
several romaine lettuce leaves, shredded 
lime wedges
tortilla chips

Okay. First we're gonna make a version of the Doctored Broth I've made before. This is the best way to fortify store-bought chicken stock and bring kick-ass depth of flavor:

Remove all the meat from the rotisserie chicken. Shred it, cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for later. Combine all the bones and skin (discard all the creepy parts) in a big soup pot. Add the chicken stock and bring the heat to high. Meanwhile, quarter the brown onion, chop the carrots and celery into large chunks and throw all that in the pot along with the bay and oregano. Take 4 cloves of garlic out of the head and set them aside for later. Slice what remains of the garlic head in half width-wise and throw it in the stock too. [Note--it's fine to leave the skin on the onions and garlic.] When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 2-3 hours.  

Husk, rinse and halve the tomatillos. Whiz them up in a blender (with a little broth if needed) until they are pureed. Keep in the blender and set aside.

Heat 2T olive oil and saute the onions, chiles and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until soft, about 7-8 minutes. Add this mixture to the tomatillo puree in the blender along with the cilantro. Blend it all together until smooth. Return the mixed puree back to the sauté pan and cook, stirring constantly (because it bubbles and splatters otherwise) for about 7 minutes, until the mixture becomes a brighter green and all the flavors come together. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Strain the Doctored Broth first through a colander and then through a finer strainer. Discard all solids. Place the broth back on the stove. Add the tomatillo/onion puree and let that simmer on low for 15 minutes. Add the lime juice. Drain and rinse the hominy and add it. [Note--the hominy will thicken the soup the longer it cooks. So best to add it 10-15 minutes before serving.] Add the chicken and cook until heated through. Serve topped with a big handful of lettuce and a sprinkling of radishes and onions. Add more lime and chips crunched on top if desired.

Here's to a 2012 with lots of luck and lots of good soup!

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