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Miso Pork Ramen

24 Oct

The ultimate hangover food. Sunday morning started with 2 eggs, fried to perfection, mopped up with challah. A bacon and lemon cheddar scone snack at Kiwiana w. Sam & Ellie. And homemade ramen for dinner.  Now since I was a bit non-functional and indecisive, I kind of winged it on the recipe and prayed for the best. To my surprise, it worked out- deliciously.  I was inspired by a pork miso soup recipe in Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking- a cookbook I bought after I came back from Japan- convinced I would make Japanese food all the time (didn’t happen). The original recipe includes potato and tofu- but no noodles or other toppings. I also scoured various internet recipes, including one from a blog called Tess’ Japanese Kitchen- I mean, how could I not listen to that?  As I am a ramen novice, if anyone has any additions or tips- let me know.

I ended up making a ton of broth- 6 servings maybe.
1 pound of pork (i used pork loin- and cooked it whole, but it but would ideally recommend pork belly. the loin ended up really drying out, excepts near the great fatty cap.  if not, then I think pork butt/shoulder- which you should cut up into chunks before cooking- and allow to cook for longer- about 2-3 hours.  Pork bones etc could also enrich the stock.  Next time, I might also follow my original thought- and use pork ribs- which I think should only take an hour to cook the meat- and you get the added flavor from the bones. Thoughts anyone?)
water
7 tablespoons awase miso (awase is a mixed miso. I couldn’t find- so made mixing half red miso, half white miso)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 package dried ramen noodles (i found these at the corner store. they were packed like spaghetti– not like those 75 cent ramen packs- they used to give out on septa)
3 green onions/ scallions
sriracha or that red chili powder

Toppings of your choice.
spinach (1 package of baby spinach)
seaweed (6 sheets of dried nori)
hard-boiled eggs  (I did 6. One per serving)
bean sprouts (1/2 package, raw)
Put pork belly/butt/loin in a large pot.  Fill up with water, about an inch or so over the pork- I used maybe 8 or so cups of water.  Add soy sauce and mirin. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour (or longer if using butt/shoulder.)  Take off heat. Skim fat off top. Let pork stand in cooking broth for 15 minutes.  Remove pork from pot and thinly slice. With heat still off, whisk in miso.  Add more miso to taste– mine didn’t need additional- but if used much more water, you might.

Meanwhile, prep your toppings.  To hard boil eggs, put in a small saucepan. Add water, covering an inch or two above the eggs. Bring to a boil. Lower, still boiling cook for 9 minutes.  Remove eggs with a slotted spoon. Put in a bowl w. cold water. When cool, peel. You can store unpeeled hard-boiled eggs in fridge, adding as you go. Or just keep peeled, whole eggs in soup.
In a separate pot, boil water. Blanch the spinach (put in boiling water) for 2 minutes until wilted and bright green, then remove to colander. Next- in same water, rip up sheets nori, and blanch until wilts- about 30 seconds, and removed to colander. In same water, boil ramen noodles for 2 minutes (or according to package directions).  Remove to colander.

Place noodles in your bowl. Ladle broth over. Arrange toppings. Add fresh scallions and sprouts. Enjoy.

I think it’s best to store your ramen noodles separately from the broth. Also, as with all broths, best to store without any of the toppings, the first night.  So the next day, you can easily skim the fat off the top. Though i kept the meat in the broth, in efforts to rehydrate a bit.

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Vegetarian Chili

4 Oct

So many veggie chili recipes to choose from. This one is from the Frog Commissary Cookbook, which I borrowed from Debby (my sister’s mother-in-law) and was apparently all the rage in the 80’s. The recipe intrigued me because it contains bulgur wheat- which is sort of all the rage now.  Unlike other vegetarian recipes, you don’t feel like you are missing anything here- the bulgur gives the heartiness and even the appearance of meat.  Unconvinced, I tried to un-vegetarian it and add a couple of turkey sausages I had in my freezer- but honestly– I could barely taste it- and would just as soon leave out again next time. Could it be the meat was just not necessary?  Color me impressed.  As Frog Commissary says, don’t be intimidated by this long list of ingredients- they are all pretty basic and you probably have a good deal of them already. By the way- chili is one of those things- that the leftovers taste even better. And don’t forget to top w. some shredded cheddar.

*Note- I made again- as totally vegetarian- so good! seriously no meat required

1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots (3 carrots maybe)
3/4 cup chopped celery (a couple stalks)
2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
1 cup chopped green pepper (1 large)
1 chopped and seeded jalapeno [original recipe called for 2 tablespoons chopped canned green chilis or to taste]
2 cups sliced mushrooms (12 white mushrooms)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (4 cloves)
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
if you require even more heat, you can add a small pinch of cayenne

2 cups chopped tomatoes (5 plum) *Note- I used a 28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes which come in tomato juice as substitute for the chopped tomatoes and tomato juice. I was a bit more heavy handed on the red wine to give a bit more liquid.*
1 25oz can of kidney beans, undrained (just pour out the top 1/5 of liquid)
2 cups tomato juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice (1/2  lemon)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup bulgar wheat
1/4 cup dry red or white wine
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce (or other hot sauce)
[I added a couple drops of liquid smoke- it is great for creating a smokey flavor- but watch out- it is very potent- find it in your grocery store near the Worcestershire]
[if you can’t bear the thought of no meat– add a couple links sausage, take out of their casing]

Have all your ingredients prepped. Heat oil in big pot. Add top list of ingredients into pot and cook on high for a couple minutes. [I added some time here, let veg at least onions soften] [Add meat, if using.] Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. [add more wine at any point if feel needs more liquid.] Then lower and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered.  Original recipe ends there. Can keep simmering-covered.  (as i do) to soften the veg a little more- or deepen the flavors. But don’t stress- eat whenever you feel- or take out a bowl- and keep the rest on low for a little extra time.

Gazpacho

22 Jun

Quick and easy. With a food processor – took maybe 15 mins to make. Refreshing and delicious. Perfect for summer. No cooking required. I’m thinking about making this the summer of gazpacho- so if you have any favorite recipes- send along. This one is from Ina, the Barefoot Contessa. I was a little put off by the tomato juice- because it’s not something I drink usually- but think of it more like cold tomato broth. I topped mine w. a bit of ricotta salata… feta or goat would also work nicely.

1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 jalapeno (optional)

Keep the vegs separated- chopping cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, jalapeno, red onions into 1-inch pieces.  Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped (each breaks down at different rates). Do not overprocess!
After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Egg Drop soup

5 Apr

This is my new comfort food.  Takes about 5 minutes to make.  Such a simple idea- but I never would have thought of it.  Until, I can’t quite remember how,  I came upon a 2006 NY Times recipe for poached scrambled eggs and egg & rice soup.  I was intrigued, but fyi just scrambled eggs poached in water are not so flavorful.  And recently, Bittman wrote about this egg drop variation in his NY Times soup matrix.   This recipe can be varied as you wish.  I really like it without the sesame oil and soy sauce too- and I call that Chicken & Egg soup.  And have added rice to that. Great w. sriracha (thai hot sauce).

4 cups chicken stock, as Ina always says, homemade is best
2 eggs
optional: soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions, sriracha, rice, chicken etc.
salt and pepper to taste

Bring stock to a boil in saucepan.  Beat eggs well in a little bowl. Lower heat to a simmer. Use fork to create a whirlpool in broth.  Pour eggs into center of whirlpool and keep whirling around for 1 to 2 minutes.  Eggs will be light and cooked- and delicious. I have made the mistake of adding too much soy sauce and sesame oil- which has a very strong flavor.  So maybe start w. a teaspoon of soy sauce and half a teaspoon sesame oil and add more to taste.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

Carrot Ginger Soup

7 Feb

Delicious simple soup.  My mom used to make this for holidays- Thanksgiving, I think.  When I was young, I thought orange soup was weird.  But now I think it’s pretty.  Terry, a longtime friend of my mother and a great cook herself, recently gave me an immersion blender.  This was my first shot at using it- and i’ll say that it is pretty dope.  If you aren’t familiar with these- they are basically like a blender wand (Micah argues it should just be called this- as it a more apt and cool term).  So just stick the blender wand into your pot- and you don’t have to worry about transferring to a food processor.  A Silver Palate recipe, of course.

6 tablespoons butter (3/4 stick)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup finely chopped ginger
7 cups chicken stock (or veg stock)
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 pounds carrots, cut in 1/2 in pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
chopped chives or parsley to garnish (optional)

Melt butter in a large pot.  Add onion, ginger, and garlic and simmer for 15-20 mins.  Add carrots, stock and wine- bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for another 45 minutes.  Blend/food process the soup until smooth.  Put back in the pot, stir in curry and lemon. Salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken Stock

25 Oct

Check out the new section- Inside The Tiny Kitchen!!

Make your own stock. So much better than the store bought kind- what’s in those bullion cubes anyway?  This particular recipe simmers for 4 hours but there is very little effort required- you don’t even have to peel and chop the vegetables.  I learned a couple things while making this the second time around.  First, I bought this thing called a soup sock (got it at the co-op, obvi) but it is basically just a mesh bag.  It doesn’t look like it can fit very much but it stretches- I put the whole chicken, all the vegetables and peppercorns in it.  Last time I made it, it was a bit of a struggle straining out the chick & veg–this way, you just lift out the whole bag.  Next, I used a small saucepan lid as a weight to keep the bag submerged- so I didn’t have worry about flipping the bag over or smushing it down.  Also, I decided to refrigerate this stock in the big pot which, makes skimming the fat off easier.  Then, when you are dividing it into container for freezing, measure out the amount that fits in each tupperware (use a measuring cup as ladle so it is not an extra step.) That way, when a recipe calls for 4 cups of stock you know how many containers you have to defrost.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa.  I halved the original recipe because her’s requires a 16-20 quart pot– and I only have an 8.  She uses three chickens and takes two out after an hour and shreds breast meat for chicken noodle soup- and returns carcasses to pot.  After 4 hours of simmering, just throw the chicken & veg out.

1 chicken, about 3 pounds, rinsed
1.5 onions, quartered, unpeeled
3 carrots, unpeeled and halved
2 celery stalks, cut into thirds
10 fresh parsley sprigs
7 fresh thyme sprigs
10 fresh dill sprigs
1/2 head garlic, cut crosswise
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Put everything in the pot.  Fill up pot w. water.  Bring to boil.  Lower and simmer for 4 hours.  As water cooks off, can add more water. When done, strain.  Chill.  Skim off fat. Divide into Tupperware and freeze. (You can see stock comes out pretty dark– but oh so delicious)

Butternut Squash Soup

12 Oct

A perfectly fall soup. For those of you with abundant CSA shares, this is a great way to use your squash and apples. The apples make it a little sweet and the curry a little spicy.  I topped mine w. some grated apple and toasted butternut squash seeds.  You will need a food processor, a blender or a food mill.  According to America’s Test Kitchen, a blender is the best way to go— but as I don’t have one, I used a food processor.

Adapted from Ina, the Barefoot Contessa
3 to 4 pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium/small squash), peeled and seeded (save seeds for toasting)
2 yellow onions
2 apples (it says core and peel- but I did not bother peeling)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 cups chicken broth (can substitute veg stock)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (I used 1 teaspoon)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.
Chop butternut squash, onions and apples in 1-inch chunks.  Toss with olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Split among 2 baking sheets- spreading vegetables in a single layer. Bake for 35-45 minutes until vegetables are very tender.  Meanwhile, heat stock to a simmer.  When vegetables are done, put them in food processor/blender/mill and add a couple ladles of stock.  Process in batches.  Add soup back into a pot.  Stir in a couple ladles of stock.  Let it absorb– and add some more– stopping when you have the consistency you want- should be a thick soup.  Add curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Taste for seasonings, be sure there is enough salt to bring out curry flavor.  Can top w. a couple grates of apple.

To toast butternut squash seeds– place on baking sheet.  Add some olive oil and sprinkle liberally w. salt.  Toast for about 7 minutes.  While these taste good on the soup, I like to just to snack on them.

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