This is my second week not working (um… third, if you count my week in Barcelona and Amsterdam) and I really thought I’d be bored out of my mind by now, but I’m not! Is it sad that I derive pleasure from going to the grocery store during the peaceful hours before people get out of work? (I am reveling in my latest acquisitions: Mt. Tam triple creme, freshly baked sourdough–one of the most perfect loaves of bread I’ve ever had–from Bay Cities Italian Deli, frozen puff pastry to bake on top of lobster bisque…) Today, I had time to make some soup and some fantastic chicken liver mousse. These are seriously easy recipes I adapted from longer ones because even though I have all this time on my hands now, I’m seriously lazy. What’s even better is that these recipes cost next to nothing and make a TON of servings.
WHITE BEAN, BACON, & KALE SOUP
4 slices center cut or thick sliced bacon, diced into small pieces
1/2 onion, roughly chopped (I like chunky vegetables in my soups)
1 minced garlic clove
1 can cannellini beans
bunch of kale, chopped (I used half a pack of bagged Trader Joe’s kale)
5 cups chicken broth (I used 5 tsps. Better Than Bouillon mixed in 5 cups hot water)
1/2 – 1 tsp. thyme, other herbs as desired (I think I added a pinch of rosemary and nutritional yeast to make up a parmesan cheese taste)
1 – 2 cups short egg noodles (optional; cooked separately)
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, fry bacon for 3-5 minutes, then add onion and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant. Add cannellini beans and herbs. Let them hang out for a few minutes. Add broth and simmer. Toss in a huge bunch of kale and watch it shrink down. You’ll probably need more kale than you think. When the soup is done, add the noodles that were cooked separately (otherwise they’ll absorb too much broth and you’ll probably end up with a really wet bean, kale, noodle salad rather than soup). Eat.
I love soup. It’s kind of a catch-all for whatever vegetables I have lying around that I don’t know what to do with. Kale-and-bean soup usually uses Italian sausage instead of bacon, but I didn’t have sausage and didn’t feel like buying it specially for this soup. You could also add some chopped tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, whatever. These are just the things I had in my kitchen.
CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE – LAZY WAY
I combined Alton Brown’s recipe and this faux gras recipe by Michel Richard and nixed the easy-yet-more-complicated-than-I-wanted steps such as making a hot water bath and whipping heavy cream into medium peaks. I also balked at the amount of butter and cream, so I reduced the amount and as a result, my mousse probably isn’t as creamy as it could be, but I’m sure I’ll eat enough to make up for that.
1 lb. chicken livers (got some fancy schmancy organic free range whatever from Whole Foods for $2.99/lb)
2-3 shallots, finely diced
1/2 apple, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 Tb. or 1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup cognac, armagnac, or other brandy
Over medium low heat, melt about 2 Tb. butter and saute shallots until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add apple and thyme, cook covered, until apples soften. Add garlic and cream, cook for about 4-5 minutes. (I really didn’t time these at all; I just cooked them over medium-low heat until they smelled and looked really good.) Add the rest of the butter. It will probably smell incredible right about now. Increase to medium or just a little less than medium high heat. Add chicken livers and cook for about 5 minutes until fully cooked on the outside but still pink in the middle. While still hot, add cognac and let some of the alcohol burn off. Season with salt and pepper. Puree everything in a blender until smooth. Pour into ceramic ramekins or small mason jars. Seal the tops with a thin layer of melted butter or rendered fat. Cover, either with jar tops or parchment paper or foil, and refrigerate for a couple hours.
This recipe made about five jars of mousse. The cost of ingredients makes it about $2 per jar. They charge about $8-$15 for a small serving in restaurants.