Sunday, April 7, 2013

Back to the Basics: Homemade Chicken Broth

This post may be overkill for many of you, but I figured I'd do more of a "how-to" entry today. In the interest of time, many people just buy soup broth out of the carton, or buy bouillon cubes to drop into a pot of boiling water. Nothing wrong with this--I do this a lot, especially when I don't have the prep time to make my own broth. But the fact of the matter is everything homemade just tastes better. So for those who have the extra day prep time to make homemade chicken broth, here's how it goes:

1 pack chicken thighs and/or bony chicken pieces
2 quarts water (roughly)
2 celery ribs
2 large carrots, peeled
1 large onion, outer shell removed
A few stems of fresh parsley
1 garlic clove
1 parsnip, peeled
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste (careful not to make the broth too salty!)
Pepper to taste


1) Rinse your chicken pieces thoroughly and drop them into a tall empty pot. Add your water, or roughly half the pot, depending on its size. Bring the water to a boil.

2) As your water boils, you'll notice a fatty foam from the chicken rise to the surface. Use a straining spoon to skim the foam off the top of your water. You'll have to repeat this step several times until finally no more foam appears at the surface.

3) Once your mixture appears relatively clear, add your vegetables. Reduce the heat and let simmer for an hour. Set aside to cool.

4) Once cool, remove the meat and store for another purpose (great for some sort of pulled chicken dish!) Strain your broth, discarding vegetables and seasoning. Refrigerate over night and your broth is ready for use the next day.

I made this broth a week ago to be used in some homemade matzah ball soup, similar here.

Hope this was informative!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know the season for pumpkin-things has basically passed, but my general philosophy is eat what you want when you want it. All in moderation. So this week I wanted something pumpkin. This recipe is just a simple twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookie, but it's a twist that I think makes a world of difference. By adding pumpkin puree to the cookie batter, you get a fall and winter-appropriate cookie great for the holidays.

Ingredients (makes roughly 30 cookies)

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
A little less than 1/4 tsp nutmeg
A little less than 1/4 tsp gound cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup, about half a bag, of dark chocolate chips


1) Heat oven to 350 degrees and line your cookie trays with parchment paper.

2) In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat the butter with a mixer until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Add in the egg and continue to beat, followed by the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Feel free to use more than 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, it's really a matter of preference.

3) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the baking soda, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and salt.

4) Slowly add the wet batter to the flour mixture and beat until smooth and the batter is one even texture. Stir in the chocolate chips until they're evenly distributed.

5) Use a small ice scream scoop to scoop the cookie dough onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges look crisp. Once cooked, allow the cookies to cool before removing from the sheet.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year and a great start to 2013. With all of these holidays underway, I must say I've really been missing my sister lately, who's been in London now for 6 months. Exactly two months ago we were in France together traveling with our friend Nisha. It was the perfect vacation except for the fact that it had to end.

Me and Rona in Nice, France

She'll be happy to know one of my New Year's resolutions this year is to stick to our FaceTime at least once a week rule.

Happy New Year everyone!

~ Alyssa

Friday, December 21, 2012

Back to Blogging: Minestrone Soup

It's pretty incredible how much can change over a short span of time. Take our Two Minds Cook Alike description for instance:

"We are two sisters in two kitchens, living in New Jersey/New York."

This was written when I was living in NJ at home with my parents and my sister was pursuing her masters at NYU. Yes, I'm still in NJ, but I'm now living with a childhood friend in our own apartment in Hoboken. My sister has since had two HUGE moves, from New York to Istanbul shortly followed by another move from Istanbul to London. On top of that, she's had another huge life change: an engagement to her amazing boyfriend (now fiance.) It's funny how relationships change, friendships change, and even homes change in a time as short as 1 year.

So aside from needing to update our blog's description, I also need to say I'm happy to be back and blogging again. Sometimes the creativity comes in spurts, as well as the free time. But for when it's available, I hope our dedicated readers, who I'm sure have forgotten about us in our 8 months of absence, will come visit Two Minds Cook Alike again to see what's cooking in our new kitchens.

Today's blog post, in honor of this cold gloomy day, features a hearty Minestrone Soup. I made a massive batch of this soup and gave some to my boyfriend's family to try and they all seemed to love it. Given he comes from a big Italian family, their praise felt like a huge accomplishment.

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
Kosher salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 28 oz. can Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes 
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (homemade always preferred, but I had to use store bought this time)
1 15 oz. can low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed (cooked fresh is an option also)
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups ditalini pasta, cooked (I like a lot of pasta in my soup!)
2 bay leafs


1)  Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

2) Add the celery, carrot, and zucchini and cook until they begin to soften, approximately another 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, basil, an thyme and cook for a few more minutes.

3) Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes (I personally do not like chunky tomatoes so I would have preferred to purée them in a blender in retrospect), chicken broth and bay leaves to the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.

4) Stir in the beans and let simmer for another 15-20 minutes. As the soup is cooking, cook the pasta separately. I prefer to cook the pasta separate from the soup because it allows me to make sure they're perfect al dente.

5) Season with a little more salt if you'd like. Then add the pasta after the soup has cooked and serve! Feel free to garnish with any fresh herbs, like basil or parsley.

When I finished cooking the soup, it felt a little too thick so be sure to add water or more broth, depending on your preference.

Thanks for reading! I highly recommend trying this one.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Chocolate Orange Almond Cake (Flourless)

When it comes to baking, there are some recipes that are just plain easy.

You find yourself using only one bowl, or two at the most. There is no stand mixer involved or even an electric mixer. You get to the end of the recipe and haven't even broken a sweat, it is that easy.

This chocolate cake is not one of those recipes.

You may be thinking to yourself that it is just a chocolate cake, is it really that difficult to make?

And the answer is, this cake is no 'piece of cake'. (Pun intended!)

It required no less than a food processor, an electric mixer, a grater, 3 mixing bowls, and the other usual measuring cups and spoons.  

Sure, reading this list makes it feel like I am complaining for nothing. However, in my defense, I do not have a food processor or an electric mixer so I had to be creative.

And for me, being creative usually leads to making a big mess.

Now, talking about the cake. Once it was done and the kitchen was clean, I was tired.  The cake however, did make me feel better!

It was moist, light, and fluffy. I felt like I was eating a brownie, only less dense, with a hint of citrus, and definitely more guilt-free. The cake does have texture from the nuts, but I think that could have been solved with a food processor and a lot of processing.

In the end, despite its success, I decided that this is cake will be a special occasion only cake. It looks good, taste delicious, and would be sure to impress guests. But as someone who is not a big chocolate person, I could get through about half of the cake in a week.  And I hate not being able to finish something I made while it is still fresh!

Happy weekend everyone!

Chocolate Orange Almond Cake
Adapted from

Melted butter for the pan
1 1/4 cups whole almonds (6 to 7 ounces)
1 cup sugar, divided
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
6 large eggs, separated
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush bottom of 10-inch-diameter springform pan generously with butter. 

2. Blend almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in processor until almonds are finely ground. Add chocolate; blend until chocolate is finely ground, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally.

3. In a small bowl, whisk cocoa, orange juice, and orange peel in until smooth. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean. Then, using electric mixer, beat until yolk mixture is very thick, about 4 minutes. Beat in cocoa and orange mixture. 

5. Fold in the ground almond and chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture and set aside.

6. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and salt in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar, beating until whites are stiff but not dry. 

7. Fold whites into chocolate batter in 3 additions. Transfer to prepared pan.

8. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.