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Archive for the ‘Food Talk’ Category

In an effort to make my mornings easier, save money and eat better, I am back to making a soup on Sunday night that I can have for lunch throughout the week. Last week, it was a hungarian mushroom with smoked paprika (and mushrooms were on sale) and this week, its a split pea soup.  I’ve been also trying to utilize what goods I have in my pantry/cupboards. And so, this pea soup came together easily using ingredients that I already had on hand.

Smokey Split Pea Soup

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 celery stock
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • bacon fat or olive oil (I have rendered bacon fat from my local pork)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 4 cups of stock
  • 1 cup split peas

Heat pot to medium and melt bacon fat.  Cook the aromatics and bacon for 10 minutes. Add cumin and cook for an additional  minute. Add stock and peas. Cook over a simmer for 90 minutes. 

It’s up to your own preference, but I used my immersion blender to puree the soup.  And now, I’ve a wonderful soup for this short, 4-day work week.

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Ms. Ray has nothing on me with this recipe. I can seriously have it tucked in my bowl with chopsticks in hand in 15 minutes or less. This is the ultimate “I need to eat now!” noodle dish.

There really isn’t any ‘recipe’ that you need to follow for this noodle bowl supper.  And, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t make it the same way twice.  This dish is about what you have on hand and how to best use ingredients that are already in your fridge.

What I had available was: red, green and yellow peppers, grated carrots and mushrooms.  I already had a bottle of peanut sauce and one serving of udon noodles left.  But wait. Where’s the tuna?  Ah… my secret weapon!

Say hello to spicy tuna in a can.  Currently, I can only find these gems in Canada now.. so I usually stock up whenever I go home to visit.

Peanut Satay Tuna with Udon

  • 2 cups of veggies (peppers, carrots, onions, mushrooms, broccoli… etc)
  • one can of spicy peanut tuna
  • 2 tbsp peanut satay sauce
  • 1 serving udon noodle (small or large, your choice – its what you have on hand!)

Bring a pot of water to boil, salt and cook udon according to package directions.

Meanwhile, prep veggies.  Heat wok, add 1 tbsp of cooking oil (I’m currently using canola). Stir-fry your veggies until al dente. Yes, like pasta.  I like my veggies to retain a bit of crunch.  Next, toss in tuna and sauce.  Heat through.  Add drained udon and mix up.

That’s all there is to it!  Happy wokking and see you on another Wednesday!

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Now that I’m in the possession of an amazing iron wok from the Wok Shop, I’m on a mission to use this wok as much as possible.  About a year ago, I found a 1st edition copy of The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo online.  I believe it was on Slashfood that I read a blog that spoke highly of this book.  And I want to use this book as a foundation to learning how to cook real chinese cuisine. I do feel really inspired to create asian dishes with my wok.   Or maybe asian fusion would be a better category, because I’m so prone to recipe tweaking.  I’m also going to use food blogs as another resource in my attempt at creating an asian fusion recipe bank. 

Now, of course, all of this will be more fun if I had friends to join in and help me! And I do! Linda, from One Scoop at a Time , is a west coaster I met while at BlogHer Food ’09. And she, too, is an avid wok user.  We’ve decided that something needs to be done to encourage more wok-style cooking.  Now, from her perspective, woks can be used to make ANY kind of dish – not just chinese or other asian creations.  And, I am beginning to see that.  A wok is very versatile, quick and simple to clean.  All excellent characteristics to have on a busy weeknight.

So, I invite you to join our special event.  Either weekly, monthly or when you have a chance.  I can’t promise that I’ll always have a post every wednesday, but I do promise to provide you with interesting and healthy dishes that I’ve made with my wok.

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At the cocktail party hosted by Campbell’s/Swansons at BlogHer Food ’09, they served the most amazing butternut squash soup that I’ve ever encountered.  It was amazing. And, as my luck would have it (and I was quite lucky that weekend), I won a Campbell’s gift basket that contained a cookbook. And on page 71 of that cookbook, was my dearly beloved butternut squash soup.

Butternut Squash Soup

Now, I’m going to come right out and say it:  I didn’t like my soup. But, I’m not giving up on it.  For I made a few changes to the original recipe, because it was what I had available to me at the time. In the future, I will make certain that I have all the required ingredients on hand. Ok. End of disclaimer; on with the soup!

Butternut Squash Soup (with Sage Butter) – {adapted from Swanson Homemade Soups}

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-2.5 lb butternut squash: peeled, seeded and cubed (1″)
  • 2 md granny smith apples ( I had Mac’s in the house)
  • 1 lg onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander (I ground whole seeds; possibly too old)
  • 3 cups chicken broth

Squash cubes

Using a 6qt soup or stock pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Toss in squash, onion and apple; cook until the squash is almost fork tender. This took about 10 minutes or so.  Next, sprinkle in coriander; stir. Cook for 2 minutes.

Coriander

 Add broth and heat to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until squash is tender.

*Recipe calls for removing squash with slotted spoon and processing in food processor until smooth. Then add liquid back into puree until desired consistency. I did not do this.  I used an immersion blender to puree the soup in situ. Then I wasn’t happy about the smoothness, so I then put it through the f/p anyhow.  So, this is me, telling you, to go ahead and listen to the recipe and not me. For next time,  I’ll do it the way I am told.

Finally, the recipe says to garnish with fresh sage leaves (which I didn’t have on hand). Also, in a side note, it recommends frying 12 sage leaves in 1 tbsp of butter until crisp. Then, drizzle each serving with fried sage leaves and sage butter. I’d really like to try this next time.

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At the BlogHer Food ’09 after-party, more treat bags were handed out to the lucky first party-goers. In those bags, was a bounty of goodies supplied by CHEFs catalog.  While I was overly excited about the 4-piece spatula set, I was more excited about the $25 gift card.  (Even more so, when KB donated her card to me!) So, after much drooling over the catalog and all the ooohing and aaahhing, I finally chose to purchase the Salter Nutrition Scale from CHEFscatalog.com.

The scale arrived this morning on my front door-step.  Santa came early!  The scale is very slim.  I appreciate the switch between metric and imperial measurements.  And while I may not need all 900 programmed food codes,  there are times that I definitely would like to know the nutritional details of my bulk food items.

baby bok

Bok details

 

 

 

 

 

 

This baby bok choy is only 120 grams. When I poke in the key code #820 for boy choy, it calculates the calories, salt, fiber, fat and protein. Obviously, I need to start eating more boy choy. Which is fine by me.

And so now, I go forth, able to make bread and other delicious food items with precision.  UK recipes can no longer scare me now!

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I’m not too sure yet, but I’m tempted to change the title of this blog to “Adventures of a White Girl in Asian Fusion”.  Catchy, yes? Its so easy to be excited when you have the proper cooking utensils and I must say, the new wok is fast becoming a treasured piece in my collection.  On Monday night, I tried a new dish that I found on Rasa Malaysia that seemed a little challenging but a good step forward. I did make an addition, obviously, b/c I can’t leave well enough alone. In an attempt to promote a well-rounded meal, I added asparagus to the dish. Thus, Orange Zest Chicken with Asparagus was born in a wok on Monday night.Orange Chicken with Asparagus

The most important thing that I learned through making this dish is be prepared.   I had everything prep’d before I started the cooking procress. And while it seemed a little hectic in the beginning, the cooking phase was actually quite easy and quick.  I first started by making the orange sauce that would be added at the very end. Next I made the batter for the chicken and then I prep’d the ingredients that would be fried together at the end.

Orange Sauce

  • 1/4 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed
  • 3 tbsp chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • pinch white pepper powder
  • 1 tsp corn starch

Mix well and set aside.

Batter

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup – 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • salt

Mix batter well. Dunk chicken in batter to coat. Sit until time to cook chicken.

Orange Chicken Stir Fry

  • 1 chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 cup asparagus, blanched
  • 1 inch ginger, zested
  • 2 cloves garlic, zested
  • 4 dried chilis (soak in hot water, remove seeds)
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • Oil for deep drying

Prepped Ingredients

I used vegetable oil (about 1/2 cup) in the wok to shallow fry the chicken. I scooped out 5-6 pieces of chicken from the batter bath and dropped it into the wok. Once golden brown on one side, I turned the chicken pieces over.  Complete process until all chicken pieces are cooked.  Set aside on paper towel to drain.

Frying chicken

Clean wok of oil. I actually saved the frying oil for another occasion in a mason jar. Its your choice.

Next, heat 2 tsp canola in wok. Quickly cook minced (I use a zester to grate) ginger and garlic. Next toss in chilis and cook for 1 minute. Add orange zest and chicken. Stir for one minute. Next add orange sauce, continuing to stir until sauce thickens slightly.  Serve over steamed brown long grain rice.

Orange chicken with Asparagus

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During my trip to San Francisco, it was a priority for me to visit the Wok Shop on Grant St. in Chinatown. I read about this shop on one of my food blogs almost a year ago now. (Tried to find the original post, but can’t remember where it was from!)  And, as luck would have it, the Wok Shop does have a virtual store on Amazon.  But I put off purchasing online b/c of the cost of shipping. Did I really need an authentic wok that bad? mmm …  No, I guess not.  Etc., etc.

The Wok Shop

All that nonsense changed as soon as I decided to go to San Francisco with Sassymonkey for the BlogHer Food ’09 conference.  Getting a wok was the ONLY priority I had. I didn’t care about doing anything else but.  And, wouldn’t you know, Chinatown was only 4 blocks or so from our hotel. Wok Shop, here I come!

The owner of the store, while super busy with end-of-the-day store business, stopped what she was doing to help me choose my wok.  I told her I’m using electric heat now, but eventually will switch to gas.  So she pointed to the not-so-pretty iron wok.  And, then I fell in love.  Sigh.

Wok-a-liscuous

I am now the proud owner of a wok set from the Wok Shop.  I’ve the 16″ iron wok, with cover, steaming rack, wok chuan, cleaning whisk, and traditional cooking chopsticks.  I think I’ve gone to heaven!  The owner also through in a curly cue cleaning brush and a bamboo back scratcher. Can’t go wrong with freebies!

As soon as I publish this post, I’m going to season my wok, and crack open The Key to Chinese Cooking and see what trouble I can get myself in to. I’ll keep you posted… (wow, I just did a blog pun!).

Wok Seasoning

ALL DONE!

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