Batch and Fridge: Onion and Chorizo Mixture: Chickpea Chowder

Rugged coastline of pacific grove

Rugged coastline of pacific grove

Over Mother’s day weekend, we went to Pacific Grove near Monterey, CA for our 10th anniversary.

Being in a coastal town, the dinner had to be seafood.  We were lucky to be able to grab a last minute cancellation at well-known fish restaurant in town.  We were all set.

Having over 2 hours to spend before dinner, we decided to go for a walk by the bay enjoying the rugged coast line…  We ended up walking a lot further, all the way from the lighthouse to downtown. So we had to take the main road back to the hotel.

Pacific Grove  walk

Pacific Grove walk

As we walked along Lighthouse Avenue, something caught our attention.  The sign said “Passionfish”.   Even though we were on the other side of the street, we had to check out the menu. (Menu browsing is one of my favorite pastime.)  Something smelled good too.  Zagat rated…  Food 25, Service 21..  Both very good signs.  And the menu sounded really interesting, much more than our original reservation.  OK, we decided, we are eating here.

We cancelled the other reservation, and ended up having our anniversary dinner at Passionfish.  It was a good decision.

passion fish outside w flash

Passionfish Restaurant in Pacific Grove, CA

One of the specials they had that night was Moroccan Chickpea Chowder with green onion lime cream.  The thing is, people at the next table convinced us that we had to have this out-of-this-world calamari salad, and duck confit, so we decided to skip the soup.  BUT!  Food-obsessed me had to try this some way.  (Don’t worry, I didn’t beg the waitress to give me a sample.)

Since I had a garlic, onion, and chorizo mixture left over in the fridge I made for Portuguese cabbage rice, I decided to make it up at home as soon as I came home.

Since I didn’t even see the soup, it may be very different from the original version at Passionfish, but none the less, it was super fast and delicious (I’d say for this version, Zagat rating 27).  If you make it, you’ll be shocked how easy and flavorful it is.

Chickpea Chowder with green onion lime cream

  1. Heat 1 can chickpeas, 1/2 cup cooked chorizo mixture and 2 cup chicken stock. Puree.  If you just serve this hot, it’s super delicious, especially with drizzle of EVOO, lemon juice, cream or butter.
  2. (Optional) Puree green onion and creme fraiche with hand blender or in a mini-bowl in a food processor.  Mix lime juice.  Add to the hot soup.

    Passionfish inspired Chickpea Chowder

    Passionfish inspired Chickpea Chowder

For the detailed review of Passionfish restaurant I posted on Foodbuzz, click here.

Bon appetite!

Mirepoix Three Ways: 2. Sauteed Mirepoix

After uncooked mirepoix, of course, the sauteed version….

Now this one is handy.  So I keep some in my fridge all the time.

In French restaurants, they make this in advance and use it in many different dishes to save time.  I even use it beyond French border…  into Italy (ex. Bolognese sauce), into Mexico (ex. Chili), and so on.

To make it more versatile and healthy, the Kitchen Wizard version mirepoix is cooked in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. When butter flavor is needed, you can simply add butter later.

Try sautéed Mirepoix in other things to add flavor, nutrition and color.

  • Add some rice and/or meat and use it as stuffing for vegetables and/or ravioli.
  • Saute with rice for easy fried rice.
  • Mix with ground meat and make meatballs, hamburgers, meatloaf, etc.
  • Steam mussels with it… Heaven!
  • Use as bases for soups, stews, sauces, pastas…. Your imagination is the only limit!

Mirepoix Three Ways…  To be continued…

Magic Flavor Enhancer: Uncooked Sausage

Do you want to shorten cooking time for things like Bolognese sauce and chili without sacrificing the taste?

I do.

So I use magic flavor enhancers such as uncooked sausages.  If it’s in the casing, just squeeze out the meat. You can also use them as a condiment in vegetable gratin, soups, braised dishes, etc…    Everything taste better, a lot faster, because it’s pre-seasoned.  Make sure to keep a versatile one on hand, even frozen.  My favorite is Trader Joe’s Chicken Romano Sausage. Specialty sausages such as mango chipotle are not as useful.

Kitchen Wizard KWIK Chili

  1. Chop onions, carrots, and celery by hand, or in Food Processor (about  1/3 to 1/4 in cubes).
  2. Sautee vegetables in extra virgin olive oil, add uncooked sausages out of casing and brown.
  3. Add a can of diced tomatoes and beans with liquid. (I like chickpeas or canellini.) Add broth or water as needed.
  4. Season with chili powder, cumin, oregano.  Bring to a boil, simmer about 20 – 30 min. (could be shorter or longer depending on the time you have, and taste you prefer.)
  5. (optional) Add corn toward the end.
  6. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and tabasco.

Tips:

  • Set a timer so that you can leave the stove to make another dish, or help your child with homework, etc.
  • For vegetarian options, omit sausages.  Add other vegetables such as chopped broccoli.
  • When there’s extra sausages, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, store in a Ziplock bag and freeze for later use.
  • If it’s already out of casing, you may want to make smaller portion packages so that you can thaw only the amount you need next time.

Kitchen Wizard Tricks:

  1. When making mirepoix, save some chopped vegetables, in separate bags or containers for later use.
  2. When sauteeing mirepoix, make extra, and keep in fridge for later use.
  3. After you brown sausages at Step 2, save the meat mixture and keep in fridge for later use.

So what can we do with these three “Batch and Fridge”-ed stuff?

It’ll be covered in my upcoming posts…