Rick, my sweet, has been laid low with a bad cold for the last three days. I actually enjoy taking care of him although I must admit he’s been a bit of a right grumpy old Eeyore! He is a worker bee through and through and does not like to lay about so keeping him down is a challenge!
First thing is to start killing off the germ factory in the throat so I heat the freshly squeezed juice of one whole lemon until it’s boiling hot, add a shot of good Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey and a teaspoon of honey (I love local honey such as from Zoe’s Garden or nationally Savannah Bee Company’s Black Sage Honey is excellent) and have him gargle with it a bit before swallowing. The advantages are that it swabs the throat with alcohol, heats it, numbs it and the honey soothes it all at once along with a generous dose of ascorbic acid to change the pH in germ land. (Plus that way he’ll never be a scurvy knave! 😉 I do think this home remedy works well and the whiskey helps with the aches too. 🙂 Another favourite remedy is a big shot of Hennessy X.O.Cognac in a glass of orange juice- put on your warmest pajamas and get right under the covers to sweat it out and sleep.
As for food- I think there is nothing so comforting as a pot of homemade chicken soup loaded with immunity enhancing Alliums such as leek, onion, shallot and garlic as well as all the other healthful veggies you can chuck in there. Served over a scoop of garlic mashed potatoes it warms and comforts the throat and tummy. To really take it over the top make some fresh biscuits or bread to serve along side.
Comforting Chicken Soup
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced with a little sea salt
- 6 leeks, cleaned well and diced with only a bit of the green tops included
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 4 red potatoes, scrubbed well or peeled and diced
- 1-1/2 cups of chopped spinach- can use frozen chopped spinach
- 1 cup of corn kernels- can use frozen
- 3 slices of Proscuitto shredded roughly
- a 1 inch piece of Parmigiano Reggiano rind
- handful of Italian Parsley, washed and minced
- 3 bay leaves
- one 1/4″ slice of fresh ginger, peeled
- a large soup spoonful of prepared basil pesto
- a large pinch of ground cumin
- a large pinch of Old Bay seasoning or other season salt
- 4 small inner cloves of garlic left whole but peeled
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 6 cups of good quality chicken stock- hopefully homemade
- leftover roasting chicken carcass with a bit of meat on it or 1 cup of cooked chicken
- a shot of good quality whiskey I likeWoodford Reserve small batch Bourbon for this too
- To serve:
- warm garlic mashed potatoes
In a large stockpot or saucepan heat the olive oil and add the onion, shallot, celery, carrots and pepper. Cook for about 5-10 minuted or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and leeks and continue to cook until everything is soft. Add the potatoes, spinach, corn and Prosciutto. Cook until the Prosciutto is shrinking up a bit. Add the Parmigiano rind, parsley and the rest of seasonings. Cook a few minutes. Cut the backbone out of the chicken with kitchen shears so that the bones don’t come apart in your soup. Add the chicken and the remaining ingredients (except the mashed potatoes) and bring to a boil. Transfer to a crock-pot and cook for several hours or all day. Remove the chick body and take the meat off and discard the bones and skin, return the meat to the soup. Ladle the soup into a bowl over warmed garlic mashed potatoes.
Garlic mashed potatoes are easy to prepare. Just peel or scrub several potatoes- I usually use about 6 so that we have leftovers. Cover with cold water with a large pinch of salt. Add a couple of peeled whole garlic cloves. Bring to a boil and simmer until fork tender. Drain and return in the pan to the stove with the burner turned off so that the potatoes and garlic dry out a tiny bit. Mash them in the pan with a potato masher, large spoon or use a ricer. Then add some butter and coat the starchy potatoes before adding a bit of heated milk or buttermilk. This will prevent them from turning into glue. Continue stirring or mashing until they are mostly smooth- I like a bit of lumpiness in mine though. Add salt and pepper to taste and top with a couple of small knobs of butter.
Buttermilk Biscuits with Shallots and Parmesan
- 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 Tablespoons cold butter cut into smallish pieces
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese plus a bit more for topping
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 Tablespoon butter to saute shallots
- 3/4 cup cold buttermilk, plus a bit for brushing on tops
- sea salt (Maldon flakes are good for this)
Preheat the oven to 425F. Mix the flour, baking powder, soda and salt together in a bowl. Cut the cold butter into it until it resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea sized pieces left. Add the cheese and mix in well. Saute the shallot in the Tablespoon of butter in a small skillet and let cool a bit before adding to the flour mixture. Add the 3/4 cup of buttermilk in and mix just until and moist dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times just until it comes together. Pat out into a 9×9 inch square, brush the top with a bit of buttermilk, sprinkle with a bit more of the grated cheese and a tiny bit of sea salt and cut into 9 squares and then each square crosswise into triangles. Place on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until risen and golden brown on top. Serve warm -butter optional. Try not to eat them all in one sitting as I am really tempted to do- when cold they are good for ham sarnies!
I put “What a Way to Go!” from 1964 in his stack of movies to watch just for fun- it’s a quirky classic- a guaranteed laugh to lift the spirits and get that immune system going! “Hop- Hop to Hopper’s….”
Lots of hot tea and buttered toast, some soup and biscuits- old movies- Kleenex- cough drops- ibuprofen- a hot rice bag for his feet- hot toddies- mustard plasters- cozy blankets- a bit of grump… and he’ll be better in no time- he really will!