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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mexican Tortilla Soup

Mexican Tortilla Soup

This is the second time I've made tortilla soup on this blog.  My previous recipe uses tomatoes, but this one has a clear broth flavoured with chipotle peppers in adobo and cilantro.

chicken broth

It starts with a broth made from whole chicken legs, onions and garlic and adds a few beef bones for extra meaty flavour.

fried tortillas

While the broth is simmering, fry two whole tortillas and 4 tortillas cut into strips. 

chipotle cilantro puree

After simmering for an hour, the chicken is shredded.  Chipotles, cilantro, onion and crumbled fried tortillas are pureed and added to the broth.

green broth

The broth takes on a greenish colour with the puree added in.  The shredded chicken goes back into the soup and I added some corn as well. 

garnishes - avocado, chopped cilantro and shredded cheese

Once the soup is warmed through, place the garnishes in the bowl - avocado, chopped cilantro and shredded cheese.

Tortilla Soup

Ladle the hot soup over the garnishes and top with fried tortilla strips. 

This soup is slightly spicy, hearty and warming. It makes a fantastic winter dinner. 

Here's the recipe, adapted slightly from Mark Bittman's Tortilla Soup recipe in the New York Times. 

4 large chicken legs
2 meaty beef bones (optional)
1 medium onion, skin on, quartered
1 whole head garlic, halved, skin on
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 corn tortillas
2 chipotles in adobo
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup frozen corn (optional)
shredded cheese
diced avocado


Place chicken legs, beef bones, garlic and 3/4 of onion in a large pot. Cover with water, about 10 cups. 

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer.  Cook for about an hour. 

Strain the broth through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter.  Set chicken aside to cool.  At this point you can also chill the broth to let the fat rise to the surface. 

Meanwhile, slice 4 tortillas into strips. Heat oil in a pan and cook 2 whole tortillas until light brown and crisp, about 1 minute per side. Remove tortillas and drain on paper towels.  Add tortilla strips to oil in pan and toss until brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Drain strips on paper towels. 

Add the chipotles, 1/4 cup cilantro, the remaining 1/4 onion and a teaspoon of salt to a blender.  Crumble in the two whole, fried tortillas and add 2 cups of the broth.  Puree until smooth.

Remove the chicken from the bones and shred the meat. 

When ready to serve, skim the fat from the chicken broth and pour into a pot to reheat.  Add the chipotle mixture and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes. 

Add the corn and chicken and bring back to a simmer to warm through.  Season with salt to taste. 

Add avocado, cheese and cilantro to serving bowls and pour soup over top.  Sprinkle fried tortilla strips over the top and add more cheese if desired.  


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Happy Hour: The Sherman / Doctor Strange Cocktail

This post comes from Matt, the Beer Baron.  Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @geekcanuck

We seem to be living in the Golden Age of geekdom, where even lesser known characters from the comic books of my youth are being given the full-on blockbuster treatment. Case in point: Doctor Strange, the Marvel Universe’s own sorcerer supreme, created in 1963 by artist Steve Ditko, whose brilliant, creative and often trippy style of art was a perfect fit for both the time and the good doctor’s strange, interdimensional adventures.

Flash forward to 2016 and the Doctor Strange movie boasts a cast (Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, etc.) that betters that of most Oscar-bait movies and stunning visuals that still honour Ditko’s awesomeness. Clearly, it is a good time to be a geek. To celebrate, I wanted to find a cocktail that would be worthy of Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum (aka his magical residence for you non-geeks out there) is in New York, so my first idea was a Manhattan, but that didn’t quite have the flair of Doctor Strange (or Benedict Cumberbatch). However, it did lead me to a variation of a Manhattan called a Sherman, whose recipe comes by way of the Old Waldorf Astoria Hotel (opened in New York in 1893 and demolished in 1929 to make way for the Empire State Building, which is suitably cool) and contains absinthe (which seemed suitably trippy).

Without further ado (and geekiness), here is our slight variation of a Sherman cocktail, rechristened The Doctor Strange cocktail, which turned out to be just as awesome as the movie:

2 ounces bourbon

1 ounce sweet vermouth 

3 dashes absinthe

3 dashes orange bitters 

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnished with a lemon twist

Yes, that is my normal shot glass and yes, I’ve clearly leaned in to my geekiness. 
Most Sherman cocktail recipes call for rye whiskey or leave it up to you to choose between rye and bourbon. The Clockwatching Tart and I developed a crush on bourbon during our trips to Kentucky, so this was an easy decision to make. 

One of the many wonderful benefits of living with a good cook is the fact that the cupboards often contain many different types of alcohol. My new slogan: “Booze: It’s not just for cooking anymore!”

Absinthe smells and tastes like black licorice / anise but it isn’t as overwhelming as I might have expected. That said, it is still there to round out the flavours and not dominate them, so go easy. I used a tiny little salt spoon to make sure I didn’t overdo it.

The craft beer revolution has been in full swing for quite some time now, but the craft cocktail craze is relatively more recent (and much to our delight). Our favourite craft beer bar now boasts a fantastic cocktail menu as well and a relatively local distillery, Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers of Beamsville, Ontario, has a display of different bitters at the local LCBO. Good times all around.

The lemon twist isn’t just to look cool, the actual twisting is what releases the oils, which adds both aromatics and flavour to finish off the cocktail.

In the end, both The Doctor Strange (the cocktail) and Doctor Strange (the movie) get perfect scores of 4-out-of-4, as all four people at our little cocktail-party-turned-movie night loved both. Long may the Golden Age of geekdom continue!