Quick Bites: Asian-Style Noodle Soup

20120218-141305.jpg
On our way to get our veggie share, we randomly stopped into an Asian market. I love browsing Asian and Indian markets and checking out all the cool new foods. We left with a bunch of things including rice sticks and a spicy chile and bean paste. When we got shiitake mushrooms in our share, I knew that I would be making soup for lunch.

Here is a helpful hint for when you make chicken stock. When the stock is cooled, measure it in 1, 2, and 4 cup increments into plastic freezer bags. Then you always have stock at the ready for a quick soup for one or two people.

For this soup I cooked 1 cup of chicken stock, a few sliced shiitake mushrooms, minced garlic and ginger, and some chopped scallion. When the mushrooms were softened and the soup boiling I took it off the heat and added a small handful of the rice noodles and a splash of fish sauce and let it sit for a few minutes. I garnished the whole thing with some toasted sesame oil, a bit of tamari soy sauce, a bit more chopped scallion, and a healthy spoonful of the chili paste. It was delicious… Spicy and salty with ginger and barely chewy noodles.

Have a great weekend!

Leave a comment

Filed under Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Quick Bites, Soup

Grenadine

Grenadine

I thought about posting a recipe that you could make for the big game. I am making buffalo wings myself. The thing is, there are lots of great recipes out there for appetizers, entrees, and desserts all geared toward tomorrow’s festivities.

Ingredients (juice is already in the pan)

So instead, I thought I would post a recipe that will help you with the other important element of game day… the drinking. Beers are of course, de rigueur. However, sometimes you just want an ice cold cocktail. And when you make a cocktail, you want to use the freshest ingredients available.

Simmering the deliciousness

This recipe for grenadine takes only a couple of ingredients and a little bit of time. Mix real pomegranate juice (POM is good) with sugar, lemon juice, and orange zest and let it cook down until syrupy. Bottle, store in the refrigerator, and swoon over the delicious taste it adds to your cocktails. Forget that bright red cough syrup stuff sold in the grocery stores, make this and make your cocktails great.

Straining the grenadine

Grenadine

Recipe from Boozehound by Jason Wilson

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups pomegranate juice

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

Strips of zest from half an orange

To Make:

Place pomegranate juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the orange zest. Let the mixture simmer until reduced by about half (30-45 minutes). Strain into a bottle or other glass container. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

To Serve:

Use in delicious cocktails of all sorts. If you would like to store it longer (up to 2 months), add 1/4 ounce of 151-proof rum.

2 Comments

Filed under Add-ons, Bar, Recipes

Don’t Call it a Comeback

Hello everyone! We have been away for a long time and have missed you all. About 1.5 years ago I started a business and it takes a lot (I mean a lot) of my time. Thankfully, the business is going very well but between work and family, I have very little time to post. We are still cooking and eating lots of great food but find it hard to take photos while cooking with two little kids running around.

The thing is, I really miss sharing our food. We create lots of yummy things using leftovers or pantry staples that I would love to share. Unfortunately, these creations start on a whim and are often eaten before I can get a picture. Despite the lack of a formal recipe, I think that folks might be inspired to try new things if they read about the food we are making. So I decided that we will have a new category of posts called Quick Bites. These posts will share the fun and different food ideas that we try. They won’t contain many pictures or full recipes but I hope you will find them enjoyable all the same.

Happy eating!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Guacamole Pasta Salad

Guacamole Pasta Salad (still waiting for the avocado)

Guacamole Pasta Salad (still waiting for the avocado)

Our posting has been much less frequent than last year but we have still been busy in the kitchen. This summer has been all about canning for me and I have been making batch after batch of jams, relishes, and pickles.  Of course I took a couple of breaks from canning to do some party cooking.  With both Thing 1 and Thing 2 having late summer birthdays there has been lots of cake and also this delicious pasta salad.

Dressing ingredients

Dressing ingredients

The nice thing about this salad is that it comes together quickly and makes enough to serve an army.  Also, it tastes really yummy.  The lime-y dressing is addictive and I find it hard to make it in advance because it ends up poured over everything from steamed vegetables to grilled chicken (which leaves nothing left for the salad).  The dressing volume may seem like a lot but I found the pasta absorbs a lot more than one would think.

Tomatoes ready for roasting

Tomatoes ready for roasting

This dish was inspired by our love of guacamole and the desire to make a pasta salad that was light and fresh tasting, not heavy with mayo.  The avocado gives it a creamy taste that is contrasted nicely by the lime dressing and the bite of the red onion.  The sweet tomatoes finish it off.  So grab a few of the last tomatoes we are likely to see for a while here in the northeast (*sniffle*) and whip this up for one last summer party.

Hello cilantro

Hello cilantro

Guacamole Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

For the dressing

juice and zest of 3 limes (about 3/4 cup of juice)

1/4 cup mild vinegar such as white wine or champagne

3 shallots, chopped

2 tbls Dijon mustard

3 cups of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

For the salad

16 oz rotini or penne pasta

2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes*

3 ripe avocados

1/2 cup minced red onion

1 large bunch fresh cilantro

To Make:

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.  Meanwhile, make the dressing.  In a blender combine the lime juice and zest, vinegar, shallots, and mustard.  Blend until smooth.  With the blender running, slowly pour in the olive oil until a smooth, emulsified dressing forms.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour 2 cups of the dressing over the still-warm pasta and toss until well combined.

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and fold, along with the onions, into the pasta.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  This can be made a day or two in advance.

Just before serving chop the avocados and fold them into the pasta.  Top with additional dressing as desired (we found we needed quite a bit because the warm pasta absorbed a lot of the dressing) and lots of chopped cilantro.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately.

To Serve:

Serve this salad cold or room temperature.  Because there is no mayonnaise it can safely sit out at a picnic or party for a while.  The avocado will start to turn brown eventually so make sure not to add it until just before serving.  This recipe serves a bunch but it can easily be halved to make a smaller amount.

* The first time I made this salad tomatoes weren’t in season and all I had was a couple of containers of bland-tasting tomatoes from the grocery store.  To up their flavor I drizzled them with olive oil and roasted them on a sheet pan for a couple of hours in a 250 degree oven until they were shriveled and concentrated.  You can do this with in-season tomatoes too.  The flavor is extra delicious.

2 Comments

Filed under Dairy-free, Pasta, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce


Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

About a month ago we decided it was finally time to cook the gigantic 16lb pork shoulder we have had in our freezer ever since we bought our last hog (hint: almost a year now).  Rather than eat leftovers for weeks we decided to throw a party where the centerpiece was a huge brined and smoked hunk of pork.  Doesn’t that sound like the best centerpiece ever?

The Simple Ingredients

The pork was pretty amazing on its own.  However, we are sauce people at heart.  Marc has been known to whip up a batch of his favorite Thai peanut sauce and pour it over just enough rice to make it appear as if he is not eating only sauce.  The problem with commercial bbq sauces is that they tend to be loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup and light on things like tomatoes and spices.  So we figured we had best make our own. Besides, if we are going to spend 11 hours smoking fresh pork, why would we let someone else add the final touch in the form of a sauce?

Onions and Garlic in the Pan

Turns out that this project was really pretty simple.  As a matter of fact, we already had all of the ingredients in the house, no shopping necessary.  Gently saute some onion and garlic in oil, add all of the ingredients, simmer 15 minutes and it’s pretty much done.  A final whiz in the blender to make a nice smooth sauce and it was ready to go.  So easy… why haven’t we done this in the past?

Simmer Simmer

Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

Adapted from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (70 grams) chopped onion

1 tbls (18 grams) chopped garlic

1 tbls (15 ml) vegetable oil

1/2 cup (25 ml) cider vinegar

1/2 cup (125 ml) Worcestershire sauce

1 tbls (4 grams) dry mustard powder

2 tablespoons (26 grams) dark brown sugar

2 tbls (16 grams) paprika

1 tbls (15 grams) kosher salt

1 tsp (3 grams) cayenne pepper

1 cup (250 ml) catsup (we like Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup because it actually tastes like tomatoes, you could substitute the same volume of tomato puree if you would like)

To Make:

Start with a medium sized heavy bottom sauce pan and heat the vegetable oil (or use olive oil if you want that flavor as part of your sauce). Add the onion and garlic and gently saute until soft but not browned.

Add in the cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, dark brown sugar, paprika, kosher salt and cayenne pepper.  Stir the ingredients together and bring to a gentle simmer.  Add in the catsup, return to a simmer and set your timer for 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally to make sure the mixture isn’t sticking to the bottom of  the pan.

After 15 minutes of simmering, remove the pan from the heat and allow to slightly cool before blending.  Using a blender, puree the mixture until smooth.  Please, please, please be careful blending hot or warm liquids.  The steam builds up and can cause the sauce to splatter all over, creating both a mess and potentially burning you.  To avoid this, puree in small batches and remove the top from the blender lid to allow the excess steam to be released.

To Serve:

This is a nice, slightly tangy bbq sauce that is great on meats of all kinds (especially smoked ones!).  It would also make a great base for a bbq chicken pizza (like this one). Makes about 2 cups and stores up to a week or so in the fridge.

1 Comment

Filed under Add-ons, Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

For my birthday this past year my mother-in-law gave me The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving to further encourage my canning aspirations.  Marc and I have been making jam and applesauce for years, dabbling in the occasional fruit butter.  However, I was looking to move beyond the traditional strawberry, blueberry, and peach jam and into the world of unusual jams, marmalades, conserves, and pickles.  Unfortunately, my birthday is in January so I have been staring longingly at the book and waiting for the day when I could pick it up and start using it.

The key players

The key players

Finally, those days are here.  In anticipation of the start of u-pick fruit season and our veggie CSA I sat down with the book a few weeks ago and found myself tagging lots and lots (and lots) of recipes that I want to make.  The first one I picked was for a strawberry lemon jam made without added pectin and cooked in the microwave.  I made two pints of that yummy, deep red jam and I was hooked.

Lots of honey

Lots of honey

Next up, this rhubarb and honey jam.  I was fortunate to be able to take an armload of fresh rhubarb stalks from the many plants at my in-law’s house and immediately set about prepping and chopping.  Overall, this recipe is pretty easy to make.  The prep time is relatively low as all you have to do is clean and chop two cups of rhubarb and one tart apple (I used a Granny Smith) and zest and juice a lemon.  The fruit cooks with a little water until is is bubbling and starting to break down.  Then you add sugar, a lot of honey, lemon juice and some candied ginger.  You cook the whole thing until it forms a gel, ladle into prepared canning jars, and process for 10 minutes.  Because it is a small batch (makes 3 cups plus a little more) it cooks relatively quickly.  In fact, it only took about 6 minutes of strong boiling for my gel to form.  The finished jam is balance of tart and honey-sweet with the occasional bite of ginger.  It is a nice option for those who like their jams a little less sweet than typical commercial products.

A couple of things to consider:

  1. Make sure to follow the most recent guidelines for safe boiling water canning.  Properly preserved, this jam will last for a year in a cool, dark place.
  2. Take a few minutes to read about how to test to see if your jam is set.
Gel is almost set

Gel is almost set

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam
Ingredients:
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 lemon zested and juiced (reserve 1 tbls lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1 1/2 tbls diced candied ginger
To Make:
Prepare your jars, rings, lids, and canning vessel.  I used a small stockpot with 5 jar rings tied together to serve as a rack.  A nice thing about small batch canning is that I don’t have to bust out my large speckled canner which uses an enormous amount of water.
Combine the rhubarb, apple, and lemon zest in a stockpot or large saucepan with 1/2 cup of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer until fruit is tender and starting to break down, about 15 minutes.  Add the sugar, honey, lemon juice, and ginger to the pot.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn the heat back up and bring the contents to a rapid boil that can’t be stirred down with the spoon.  Boil, uncovered, stirring frequently until the jam starts to set, anywhere from 6-12 minutes. I recommend using the freezer test (link above) to test if your jam is gelled.  If you watch it closely, you will see when the mixture starts to thicken and change into its gelled form.
Once the jam is set, ladle into your hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Get rid of any bubbles, wipe the rims, top the jars with the lids, put the rings on, and tighten until they are finger tight (don’t crank them on).  Place the jars in the canning vessel, cover, and bring the water to a rapid boil.  Once the water is boiling set your timer and process for 10 minutes.  Once the 10 minutes is over, remove the canner from the heat, take the lid off, and let the jars sit for 5 more minutes.
After 5 minutes, carefully and gently remove the jars to a towel or rack set in a draft free area.  Then walk away.  Leave them alone and don’t touch them until they are sealed and cool (can take 12-24 hours).  If you are lucky, you will hear the tell-tale “pop” of the jars sealing.  If you have a jar that doesn’t seal you can either reprocess with a new lid or simply put it in the fridge and eat it first.  Once the jars are sealed and cooled, remove the rings, wipe off any wayward stickiness, and store.
Apple and lemon juice both add nice amounts of pectin so you should be able to achieve a good gel.  However, pectin levels vary by individual fruit so if you can’t get a good gel, process it anyway and use it as a delicious ice cream topping.
To Serve:
I probably don’t need to tell you how to serve jam.  This jam is delicious on toast or biscuits but would also work well in more savory applications such as on top of a piece of roasted chicken or pork chops.  Makes 3 1/2 cups.

1 Comment

Filed under Add-ons, Breakfast, Gluten-Free, Recipes

Pickled Radish Greens

Pickled Radish Greens

Pickled Radish Greens

Summer is finally here in New England and I couldn’t be more excited.  For me, the start of summer doesn’t correspond with a date on the calendar, a particular holiday, or even the weather.  Summer truly begins when I come home to that first veggie CSA pickup.  After a long winter of root vegetables, potatoes, and sad grocery store tomatoes, the box full of greens, strawberries, spring onions, and radishes makes me so thrilled.  We were all so excited that when that first box arrived, we consumed its entire contents in 3 days flat.  I think that might be a new record of vegetable consumption for us.

With our second box, I was determined to eat every single thing in the hopes of making our veggies last longer than 3 days.  I thought I remembered reading that you can eat radish greens so I hit the internet in search of some inspiration.  Turns out, radish greens are absolutely edible and many bloggers sing the virtues of sautéed  radish greens and radish green pesto.  Unfortunately I had just made a nice batch of pesto using fresh peas, Italian basil, and Thai basil.  After doing a bit more searching I decided to create more of a pickle / brined radish leaf dish to use as a condiment on top of some polenta slices.

Turns out, this is an easy and really delicious way to use radish leaves.  The brine softens the leaves and imparts a nice pickled flavor but still allows the flavor of the greens to come through.  Even better, the whole thing takes minutes to pull together and can sit in the fridge for a day if needed.  So instead of tossing your radish greens, try this recipe and see if it doesn’t convert you to a greens lover*.

Greens soaking in the brine

Greens soaking in the brine

Pickled Radish Greens

Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small bunches of radish greens

1/2 cup water

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp rice vinegar (white wine vinegar would work too)

1-2 dried hot chilies, snipped into pieces

Sesame oil, for drizzling

To Make:

Wash the greens very well in several changes of cold water.  Radish greens tend to be very dirty so err on the side of over-washing so they aren’t gritty.  Once they are clean, spin them dry and remove the tough (and sometimes spiny) stems.  Coarsely chop the leaves and place them in a small bowl along with the chilies.

In a measuring cup (or another small bowl) mix together the water, salt, sugar, and vinegar, stirring until dissolved.  Pour the mixture over the greens and let sit on the counter for at least 3o minutes (toss it in the fridge if you are going to let it sit longer).

Drain the liquid and drizzle the greens with toasted sesame oil.  Toss gently to combine and serve.

To Serve:

Serve as you would any Asian-style pickle… on top of rice, on a burger, alongside a piece of meat, or just eat it from the bowl.  The beauty of this preparation is that it seems to take the bitterness and sharpness out of the greens while still leaving their earthy flavor.

* Or at the very least, you can enjoy the weird stares people give you when you tell them you ate pickled radish greens

4 Comments

Filed under Add-ons, CSA Talk, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian