Virginia Willis Blog

What’s in Season: Cooking with Citrus

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Cooking with Citrus

Winter is citrus season and the produce departments are overflowing. There are the diminutive Tangerines, Clementines, Tangelos, Mineolas, and Satsumas in the “cutie” citrus club. Down the aisle, big bold Navel oranges with their thick skins and bright colors rest aside their more thin-skinned, but certainly no-less-sweet juice oranges. With their intense colors and vibrant aromas, the decidedly more exotic Blood Oranges, Cara Cara Oranges, and Meyer Lemons often are featured in decorative baskets to highlight their preciousness — and higher price. Lastly, oversized red, pink, and white Grapefruit and the nearly comically large Pomello round out the bunch. There are a lot of kitchen choices for cooking with citrus. (more…)

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Sinless Seven Layer Dip for Your Super Bowl Party

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Super Bowl Party

The Atlanta Falcons are in the Super Bowl — and there’s going to be a lot of tailgating. Falcon and Patriot fans alike will be dining on wings, pizza, nachos, and guacamole. According to Forbes magazine, Americans will eat almost 200 MILLION pounds of Avocados from Mexico on Super Bowl Sunday! (more…)

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Chicken Wings for the Dirty Birds

 

Dirty Bird Wings on www.virginiawillis.comRise Up!

Other than the recent reports concerning Georgia’s Fifth District, the big deal right now in The ATL is that the Falcons are playing the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship — and a ticket to the 51st Super Bowl. In honor of the Falcons, also known as the “Dirty Birds,” I thought I’d share a few of my favorite recipes for wings. The sweet heat glaze for the Dirty Bird Chicken Wings is made with none other than Coca-Cola, which of course, also hails from Atlanta. And, the Curried Wings are served with a (Georgia) Peach Dipping Sauce. Both recipes are guaranteed winners. It’s a toss up to which one will score more points at your Falcon’s Tailgate! Each wing recipe can be made ahead and reheated; both recipes are baked, not fried, making for healthier wings; and lastly, no oil means a pretty easy clean-up. I’m also including a short video on how to make the Dirty Bird Chicken Wings. Check it out below or on my Facebook page. I’ve got a feeling!  (more…)

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Ground Corn 101: Cornmeal and Grits

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Corn

The importance of corn in the Southern diet cannot be overstated. Corn was eaten fresh in the summer, and dried and ground into meal for boiling and baking in the winter. Cornmeal has also played a major role in Northern foodways and while grits are far more popular down South, cornbread is a universally American dish. However, all ground corn is not the same. (more…)

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Soup’s On!

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Soups On!

Snow, sleet, freezing rain means that soup’s on in my kitchen.  There’s nothing like a steaming hot bowl of soup in in the winter to take off the chill. And, not being adverse to leftovers I love making a pot of soup early in the week and enjoying it for lunch for a few days. Towards the end of the pot, I usually freeze a pint or two for later. Then, when I am at a loss for what to have for lunch or dinner or don’t have time to cook, I love to go “shopping” on the soup shelf of our freezer. Between recipe testing and the saved last bits from the pot, we often will have quite the variety of soups.

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Soup Swap

My friend and colleague Kathy Gunst takes this concept on the road! She has a new book out called Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share. Kathy is an award-winning cookbook author, journalist, and radio host. She’s the resident chef for NPR’s “Here and Now” and I love her sense of taste, well-written recipes, and writing style. Her brilliant idea is to host a soup party where everyone brings a different soup — then everyone gets to go home with an array of soups for later. It’s genius!

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Sharing is Caring

The book’s premise is that there is no better way to cultivate community, foster friendship, or simply nourish family than over bowls of homemade soup. Kathy offers 60 terrific recipes, featuring such classics as Tomato Soup with Grilled-Cheese Croutons and New England Fish and Clam Chowder, plus international favorites like Provencal-Style Fish Soup with Rouille; Portuguese Kale, White Bean, and Chorizo Soup; and Sopa de Lima, the recipe I am sharing with you in this blog post. Kathy has suggested side dishes for each recipe that will make a pot a soup a meal (Buttery Biscuits, Skillet Cornbread, and Salads and Slaws) as well as tips for easy transporting, which makes them just right to bring to a soup swap where everyone can sample the offerings and then take home a variety of leftovers to enjoy all week. Love it!

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Southern Living: #CookingwithVirginia

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I want to share that my seasonal column “Cooking with Virginia” for Southern Living is going great! Thanks for all the kind notes and social media love. I am thrilled that my Cinnamon Pecan Rolls from the November issue were rated as one of the favorite recipes of 2016! YAY! This month’s issue features Brussels sprouts including a cool recipe for Brussels Sprouts Tacos inspired by my visit to Houston’s Eight Row Flint. If you give any of my recipes a try and post on social media, please tag me and post with the hashtag #CookingwithVirginia (By the way, Southern Living is currently offering a subscription promotion for both online and in print.)

 

A Chicken in Every Pot

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you enjoy Kathy’s recipe for Sopa de Lima as much as we did! I am also sharing my quick and easy recipe for Chunky Chicken Noodle. Shhh. Don’t tell. It’s really vegetable soup with just enough chicken and noodles in it to warrant the name. And I’ve got another secret: both of our soups use a rotisserie chicken. Because, guess what? If you start with a store-bought rotisserie chicken and work with a little zip, you can have homemade soup on the table in just about 30 minutes.

Bon Appétit Y’all!
Virginia Willis

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Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

Makes 9 cups to serve 6

2 teaspoons pure olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 cups homemade chicken stock or reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
Bouquet garni (see note, below)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
6 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/3 cups)
2 ounces (1 cup) uncooked egg noodles
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (about 12 ounces), from 1 (4- to 5-pound) rotisserie chicken

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms start to wilt and brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and stir to combine. Add the bouquet garni and sweet potato. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to simmer and cook until the sweet potato is just tender, 15 to 17 minutes.

Add the green beans, egg noodles, and chicken. Stir to combine and poke with your spoon to make sure the beans and noodles are submerged. Simmer until the noodles and green beans are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle into warmed bowls and serve immediately.

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Sopa De Lima

Makes 8 to 10 tasting portions or 6 full servings

For the Tortilla Strips
Canola oil for frying
6 corn tortillas, about 51/2 in [14 cm] in diameter, cut into 1/2-in- [12-mm-] thick strips
Sea salt

For the Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 jalapeño chile, cored, seeded, and finely chopped, plus more as needed
1 cup [240 g] diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
4 cups [960 ml] Roasted Chicken Stock or canned low-sodium broth
1 cup [110 g] cooked shredded chicken
1/4 cup [60 ml] fresh lime juice, plus more as needed

For the Garnishes
1 poblano chile, seeded and chopped
1 ripe but not overly ripe or mushy avocado, cut into 1/2-in [12-mm] cubes
1/4 cup [10 g] finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup [80 g] cotija Mexican cheese or feta, grated or finely chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add enough canola oil to reach a depth of 1/2 in [12 mm] and heat until a small piece of tortilla or a speck of salt immediately sizzles on contact. Cook the tortillas, one at a time, for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and slightly puffed. Using tongs, transfer the tortillas to paper towels to drain; sprinkle with salt.

In a large stockpot over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the jalapeño, and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano and cook for 5 minutes more. Turn the heat to high, add the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for another 5 minutes.

Just before serving, add the lime juice to the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, jalapeño, or lime juice if needed.

Ladle the soup into mugs or bowls, top each with two or three tortilla strips, and serve. Have all the garnishes arranged decoratively on a large serv­ing plate and let guests add their own.
Cinnamon Pecan Rolls by Iain Bagwell
Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup 1  and Sopa de Lima by Virginia Willis
Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup 2 photo by Angie Mosier

 

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Copyright © 2017 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

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