30 January 2010

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup with Bok Choy

As noted the other week, I've been experimenting with more Asian-style chicken soup recipes, and got the basics of this one from a Food & Wine recipe. Worked well and there's probably even more ways to go within this basic framework.


  • 1 tbs. cooking oil
  • 1 tbs. sesame oil (not toasted)
  • 1 onion, diced finely*
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2" piece fresh ginger, cut into thin slices
  • 1 tbs. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried red-pepper flakes
  • 6 c. chicken stock
  • 1 c. crushed tomatoes
  • 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bit-sized pieces
  • 3 tbs. fish sauce
  • 1 c. cilantro leaves plus 1/4 c. chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. thick rice vermicelli
  • 1 lb. bok choy, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 c. lime juice 
*Interesting note: I didn't have any fresh onion and couldn't get out of the house due to snow (right?), so instead used a jar of Cippolini onions in Balsamic vinegar. They were dynamite, so maybe adding a few dashes of Balsamic vinegar to the soup (or soaking the onions in it for a 20 minutes) might be good.

  1. In a large heavy pot, heat both oils over moderate heat. 
  2. In a separate pot, soak the vermicelli until soft and drain; set aside  
  3. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, chili powder, and red-pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 min. 
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, fish sauce, salt and chicken, coating each thoroughly.
  5. Add the stock and cilantro leaves (if using), and bring to a simmer. 
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked, about 20 min. 
  7. Add the vermicelli to the soup; cook for a few minutes.
  8. Add the bok choy; bring back to a simmer and cook for about 1 min. 
  9. Stir in the lime juice and chopped cilantro, if using. 
  10. Serve in large wide bowl and enjoy!

Freakin' fantastic; very savory and a nice balance between sweet, sour and spicy. I didn't use the cilantro but it'd go well; additionally, if you like it spicier, having a bottle of Sriracha handy would do quite nicely. Veggies can very comfortably sub out the chicken stock with veggie, chicken with tofu, and fish sauce with... well you're on your own for finding some umami.

UPDATE: Upon re-heating, it became clear that given how relatively delicate the bok choy is, this is a better soup to make and eat all of it that night (still fine re-heated, just the bok choy becomes a bit fall-aparty); if you want a re-heatable alternative, sub in kale, collards, chard, etc. and cook for several more minutes.

28 January 2010

Empty the pantry

With my imminent departure, I've been trying to use up as much as I can from my pantry. Last night the almond flour caught my eye, and I remembered I hadn't baked anything in a while.

Of course, the pantry already had been dwindling, so the process called for many adaptations. And again I felt like I could handle a lot of experimentation on such a basic recipe. Here's what happened:

-2 cups flour ----> replaced by 2 cups almond flour
-1 TBS baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 large egg
-1 cup sugar ----> replaced by a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and two drops of stevia
-4 TBS butter ----> replaced by 4 or 5 TBS of coconut oil (I lost count)
-1 and 1/4 cup sour cream ----> all I had was Salvadorian ricotta
-1 and 1/2 cup blueberries ----> I hate blueberries, so I replaced it with chocolate and walnuts, about a handful.

350F - non-stick spray - 25 min
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg (20 seconds), add the sugar, whisk another 30 seconds, add gradually the oil, the sour cream. Add the blueberries/chocolate/walnuts/whatever to the dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, combine without overmixing.

"Bof". Just maybe a bit too much experimenting in this case. Maybe it was that the non-stick spray was done and I used spray olive oil for the muffin pan. Maybe it was excess coconut oil (they sure are moist though). Maybe the almond flour just by itself isn't all that great for muffins. They also crumbled a bit, was the egg too little? Whatever the reason, the tweaked recipe needs more tweaking, back in the direction where it originally was.


They were at the co-op, they were fresh... So why not buy them? They look like turnips, I was surprised. With so many syllables in their name, I expected something more extravagant-looking, like roman cauliflower.
After a bit of online search, I found this excellent recipe for them (and for once actually followed the instructions):

Lemon carrots and rutabaga


* 4 medium carrots, cut into 3 inch julienne strips
* 2 cups rutabaga, peeled and cut into 3 inch julienne strips
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon brown sugar
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
* 1/4 teaspoon dill weed (dill weed! Yes! Don't skip it)


1. In a large saucepan, combine the carrots, rutabaga and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook for 13-15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients; cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until butter is melted.
2. Drain vegetables; add butter mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are glazed, stirring occasionally.


If I can find someone to julienne the vegetables (I rarely have the patience), I'll be making this again, with fish...

27 January 2010

Sautéed Scallops with Bacon and Shallots

A classic, via Bittman and modified slightly.


  • 1 lb. sea scallops, quartered
  • 1/2 tbs. butter
  • 1/2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. bacon or pancetta, diced
  • 1/4 c. shallots, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil and butter in nonstick skillet over medium heat
  2. Sautée bacon 5-10 min.
  3. Add shallots and cook 5 min. 
  4. Add scallops and cook several minutes until stark white
  5. Serve over capellini or thin rice noodles and enjoy!


You kidding me? Fantastic.

25 January 2010

Perfect Fried Fish

On the one hand, it's kind of difficult to screw up fried food: delicious fatty hot oil goes a long way towards ameliorating what might lack. But a truly perfect fry-job is a real joy, producing food that is hot, flaky, and really does melt in your mouth. Such is the case with this preparation, courtesy of Alton Brown.


  • 1.5 lb. fish, cut into 1-ounce strips [cod is of course the best; also haddock and similar are good]
  • 12 oz. dark, malty (not hoppy) beer, cold [I used Duck Rabbit Wee Heavy Scotch Ale]
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
  • cornstarch for dredging
  • lotsa vegetable oil for frying


  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper
  2. Whisk in the beer until the batter is completely smooth and free of any lumps
  3. Refrigerate for 15 minutes (the batter can be made up to 1 hour ahead of time)
  4. Heat vegetable oil in large cast-iron skillet to 350 degrees 
  5. Lightly dredge fish strips in cornstarch
  6. Dip the fish into batter, covering completely and immerse into hot oil
  7. When the batter is set, turn the pieces of fish over and cook until golden brown, ~2 min.
  8. Drain the fish on a rack
  9. Serve and enjoy (preferably with fries and malt vinegar)


Just perfect; the last fish-and-chips recipe I'll ever need.

24 January 2010

Vaguely Asian Cornish Game Hen Soup

First, roast two cornish game hens. Pull off the white meat and put in the fridge in marinade below; eat the dark and after all bones are available, make a big pot of stock.



  • white meat from two cornish game hens, marinated [see below]
  • 8 c. stock from game hens
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, half sliced thinly and half diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 6 oz. thin rice noodles
  • 1 bundle mustard greens, washed, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1 can aduki beans, drained


  • 2 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tbs. garlic pepper sauce
  • 1 tbs. fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce


  1. Combine marinade ingredients in bowl and mix thoroughly; add chicken and place in fridge for 30 min. or more
  2. Heat stock in large pot to medium
  3. Add diced onion, ginger and garlic; cook while preparing other elements
  4. Add carrots and sliced onion; cook for 10 min.
  5. Add chicken and aduki beans; cook for 5 min. 
  6. Add mustard greens and raise to boil for 5 min.
  7. Add rice noodles and boil for 5 min.
  8. Lower heat to simmer and cook for 5-10 min. 
  9. Serve and enjoy!


12 January 2010

Russian Mushroom-Potato Soup

I, also, was feeling in the mood for mushroom soup but wanted some potato in the mix. Bittman came through as he so often does; I modified the recipe slightly based on not having the called-for porcini mushrooms.


  • 4 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and roughly chopped [I also chopped and used the stems]
  • 6 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 6 small potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 c. stock [your choice; I used homemade chicken stock but you could use veggie or mushroom water if you're reconstituting]
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • salt to taste


  1. Pour olive oil into medium saucepan and turn heat to medium-high
  2. Add mushrooms, onion and carrots, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown – about 10 min.
  3. Add the potatoes and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown [add a bit of stock to keep from sticking to the pan]
  4. Add bay leaves, pepper and remainder of stock
  5. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until potato is very tender, 20-30 min., adding salt and pepper to taste
  6. Serve hot or cover and refrigerate for up to a day before reheating, adding more water to thin soup
  7. Enjoy!

11 January 2010

Thai Saffron Rice

Was bringing rice to a friend's house and he was making salmon, so the fish-sauce-themed Thai saffron rice was a good fit. I'll have to try some other recipes, too – the fish sauce is certainly noticeable, so moderate as you deem fit – with other takes on saffron/yellow rice.

  • 2 c. white Thai jasmine-scented rice (not brown rice)
  • 3 1/2 c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tbsp. fish sauce, OR 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili
  • squeeze of lemon juice

  1. Pour stock into a medium-size pot with tight-fitting lid and place pot on the stove over high heat.
  2. While stock is coming to a boil, add the turmeric, saffron, garlic, chili, and a squeeze of lemon juice; stir well.
  3. Add the rice, plus fish sauce (or salt) and stir. 
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover tightly with a lid. 
  5. Cook 12-15 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed by the rice. 
  6. When most of the liquid is gone, turn off the heat and place lid on tight. 
  7. Allow the pot is remain on the burner another 5-10 minutes
  8. Serve and enjoy!

06 January 2010

Fish Chowder


  • 8 oz. fish [something on the meatier side], chopped into 1" cubes
  • 3 medium-large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 6 c. stock [I used chicken; use what moves ya]
  • 1 c. milk or cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 oz. preserved pork of your choice, finely chopped [optional; I used 2 slices of Canadian bacon and a few slices of salami]


  1. Melt butter in large stewpot with a cover over low heat
  2. Add garlic and cook until fragrant
  3. Add pork product if using; cook for 3-4 min.
  4. Add onions and mix thoroughly; raise heat to low-medium and cook until onions begin to soften
  5. Cover with stock, 1/4 c. milk/cream and some salt and raise to low boil
  6. When at low boil, add potatoes and mix thoroughly. Cover again with stock and raise again to low boil
  7. Add fish, mix thoroughly, and add remainder of stock and milk/cream. Cover and cook.
  8. Cook the soup on a medium boil, stirring periodically to avoid sticking to pot, and mashing as fish and potatoes become softer. Variously cover and uncover until soup has cooked down to desired consistency, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve and enjoy!


Fishy, savory, tasty!

03 January 2010

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I found this recipe by googling "Mushroom soup", and I love it. It doesn't require to puree (i.e. only the pot to wash afterwards, instead of the pot+food processor), and it uses dill weed, which I rarely use usually. This recipe passed both the Slovak-tasting test and the Friends of MtP tasting test with high colours.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup sour cream


1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onions in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes (or more if you like). Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and broth. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk and flour together. Pour this into the soup and stir well to blend. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally. N.B. Once, I skipped that step altogether. The soup came out more 'stewy', and it tasted fine. I'll probably continue to skip that step.

3. Finally, stir in the salt, ground black pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over


What on earth is that stuff??! I understand it's not sugar, but what is it exactly? A brief google search wasn't helpful.

I still gave it a try. I dished out the $12 for a tiny bottle, scornful at the rip-off. Three months later though, I use it about every other day (I don't know what it is so I don't trust it fully to consume it daily), one drop at a time, using with great care the eye-drop (I made the mistake the first time to use four drops in my green tea--it was undrinkable). At this rate, it looks like the bottle is going to last until 2020. (Maybe in the meantime the internet will have figured out what it is and whether it is safe for me to consume it?). I needed something else.

This morning the rock-hard bread was making fun of me, of my incapacity to eat the whole loaf before hardening, and I pulled out Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook at page 199 for the easiest bread-pudding recipe on earth (I take out an egg from her ingredients). I decided to replace the sugar with stevia, adding two drops, then risking a third. I followed the variations suggested below the recipe, namely: a few dark chocolate chips, some chopped frozen banana, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. It came out very lightly sweetened, so I may start using the stevia a bit more into my baking...

The bread-pudding recipe is on page 199 of the Moosewood Cookbook. But here's what I baked:
-placed the hard bread cut into bite sizes in the ceramic baking pot
-in a bowl, quickly whipped together: 2 eggs, 2 cups of milk, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, 3 drops of stevia.
-found the chocolate chips from their hiding place, dug out the frozen bananas from the freezer. Added a handful of chocolate chips to the bread, chopped one banana thinly and filled the holes between the bread pieces.
-covered the whole thing with the custard.
-Sprinkled cinnamon and nutmeg on top.
-Oven: 350F, 35 minutes.