Diary of a Mad Chef



Today I was craving pulled chicken tacos so I started boiling some chicken thighs. As I was watching the bubbles in the pot of chicken stock I was making I looked in my pantry and saw some dried lentils and I said to myself … “That stock would make a nice lentil soup.” Then as I was grabbing my root vegetables and lentils to make the soup I saw some other vegetables and my mind went off on another tangent … I had some zucchini, fresh fennel, mushrooms and spinach in the fridge that needed to be used, so I said to myself “I could reserve some stock and make some braised vegetables.” Then I said to myself, “I better get going if I am going to accomplish all 3 meals.” Here we go…


    Chicken stock:

6 chicken thighs

1 large onion quartered

4 stalks of celery coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, slightly crushed

¼ tsp celery seed

1 bay leaf

10 pepper corns

¼ tsp rosemary

¼ tsp thyme

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp parsley

½ tsp cilantro

2 tsp salt

2 quarts water

Place all ingredients in a large pot at high heat. When pot comes to a boil reduce heat to a low and simmer for 1 hour, covered. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh and reserve. Discard the vegetables and spices from the remaining chicken. Remove the meat from the bone and shred into coarse chunks, discard the skin. Then set chicken aside.


    Lentil Soup:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion diced

1/2 cup diced carrot

1/2 cup diced celery

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 bay leaf

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

2 tsps red wine vinegar

1 pound lentils, rinsed

1 cup diced tomatoes

1-½ quarts chicken stock

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp cilantro

2 lemon slices

1 tsp parsley

Bring oil to heat in a large thick bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add remaining ingredients except parsley to the pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 45 minutes or until lentils are tender. Remove lemon slices and bay leaf. Add fresh lemon slice to garnish.


Braised Mixed Vegetables:

3 tbsp olive oil

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1 bulb fennel quartered and sliced (reserve tops for garnish)

2 med onions halved and sliced from top to bottom

3 stalks of celery sliced into ½ inch pieces

2 cloves of garlic minced

2 cups button mushrooms, quartered

2 small zucchini sliced

1 cup chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 lemon slice

8 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add fennel, onions, celery salt and pepper to the pan and sauté for 8 minutes or until onions become translucent. Add mushrooms, zucchini and garlic to pan and sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, bay leaf and lemon slice and simmer on medium low heat for 15 minutes covered. Uncover pan remove bay leaf and add spinach and cook covered until spinach is wilted. Adjust for salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon.


Soft Chicken Taco:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion medium dice

1 green pepper medium dice

2 jalapeno finely diced

1 – 4 oz can diced mild green chilies, drained

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp dried cilantro

¼ tsp dried oregano

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

Pulled chicken reserved from 6 thighs

8 ounce can of tomato sauce

1 tsp white vinegar

½ cup chicken stock

Flour tortillas

Chopped lettuce

shredded jack cheese

Sour cream

Place oil, onions, jalapeno, green chilies into a pre-heated pan and sauté until onions become translucent. Add garlic, cumin, cilantro, oregano, salt and pepper and cook for 1 more minute. Add chicken, tomato sauce, vinegar, chicken stock and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Plating – place tortilla on plate, top with lettuce then the chicken and then the shredded cheese, serve with sour cream on the side.


About Renee Lalane
I was born and raised in New York. Later in life I moved to Central Florida. I am of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Puerto Rican and Cuban decent. I have been working in the restaurant business for most of my life and have owned five along the way. Recently I became aware of the fact that as my elders passed away their recipes passed with them. I call these recipes "Heirloom Recipes" I am dedicating this site to saving recipes from extinction. Not only recipes from my family but from yours. Do you have a unique recipe that needs saving? Send it to me along with a name and picture of your relative and I will review it and possibly post it as an Heirloom Recipe.

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