Chinese Beef Soup

Nourishing and delicious.

Nourishing and delicious.

This soup needs some preparation, but is well worth it. It is my original recipe, and based on some great Chinese cooking techniques.
Ingredients:
–4 cups beef broth (use homemade if you have it. If you buy it, try to use a high quality brand such as Knorr or Swanson.
–I bunch green onions (or scallions)
–8 ounce fresh sliced mushrooms. I love baby bellas (portabellas)
–8 ounce chuck steak (or another tender beef, sliced in small pieces)
–1 pack of extra firm tofu (fry in oil until they golden brown and put aside).
–2 tsp. black pepper
–Chinese cooking wine
–Sesame oil (you can use the hot version or the regular version)
–One star anise
–one bunch of small Udon noodles. Par cook, and put aside.

The broth is the star of this show. Prepare the above ingredients as described, and I put them on separate plates. Sauté mushrooms in a small bit of oil. Add the beef, and sauté. Add the cooking wine. Add the broth, and flavor the broth with the star anise, pepper, salt. Simmer for a few minutes, and add the green onions, prepared tofu and taste broth. Add the par cooked noodles. Adjust seasonings, and add 1-2 teaspoons of sesame oil. I have the hot version, as well as the regular. If you use plain sesame oil, and want a little heat, add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce.
Bon appétit!

A Beginning and an Ending-Goodbye to 2014, and Welcome to 2015

Today got to a balmy 51 degrees. I was so needing some vitamin D!  We went out there and cleaned up the 2014 garden (hence the ending part of the title). There was old vines, frozen plants as the last two weeks have just been crazy in terms of weather, and then there was the holidays before that. Anyway, it was a time for evaluation of what had made it, and what hadn’t.  Some herbs are perennial, and I hoped that we still had some of our fresh herbs. Of course, winter is not over yet, but the days are getting longer.  Eventually, there will be enough light to stave off the cold, and it will be mostly in the wee hours of the night.

The Ending part was that there were many dead broccoli, cauliflower, Swiss chard and peas that we never got.  We hauled the husks to the street, and then focused on what did make it.

The Beginning is that many of the herbs did make it.  There is a ton of fresh cilantro to pick, the oregano is prolific, sage, lavender and rosemary (although I think the rosemary won’t make it), horseradish and summer savory all looked pretty happy.  We cleared all the debris away, pruned the lemongrass, and cut all the raspberry canes down to the ground.  They were already green, and looked like they were already trying to bud.  The asparagus national forest has been trimmed down, and it all looks neat and clean.  We still have our Brussell sprouts and collards and leeks still to come.  We had sauteed Brussell sprouts tonight with garlic, butter and herbs.  Yummy:) I “think” the artichokes made it, although they are decidedly not happy. I will baby them, as they are wonderful.

It doesn’t look like much, but I did take a picture. It looks LOW, compared to the midsummer six foot tall plants.  However, it has begun.  Out of the wreckage comes a new garden season.–welcome 2015.

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Galumpkis (Stuffed Cabbage)

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There are a lot of components to this that all fit together nicely.  It is good to have all ingredients prepped before you build the cabbage rolls.

First off, make a sweet and sour tomato sauce. Sauté a rounded teaspoon of garlic in a small pan.  Add 6 cups of diced tomatoes.  Use fresh or canned tomatoes, depending on the time of year.  Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, cracked black pepper and salt to taste.

I like barley in my stuffed cabbage, but rice can be used as well.  It does need to be cooked though. I use 2/3rd cup of barley, and cook it in 3 cups of water until it is done. Set aside.

Sauté a chopped Vidalia onion  along with a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Add a splash of red wine, ½ cup of the sweet and sour tomato sauce, at least 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon thyme, and other fresh herbs such as marjoram, chervil in small quantity if you have them.

In large bowl, place 1 ½ pounds of hamburger, 1 egg, the cooked barley, and the above mixture of onions, garlic, tomato paste, wine, sauce and herbs. Mix together well.

In large pot, prepare the cabbage leaves. I use Savoy cabbage, as it rolls up SO well. Pull off the outer leaves.  If they don’t look good, toss them out, and go to the next layer.  I cut the middle tough stem out in a V shape with a sharp knife. In any of the cole crops (collard greens, Swiss chard, cabbage, etc) the inner stem can make the dish very tough and bitter. Anyway, heat a large pot of water to poach the leaves in.  I get them to a very bright green, and remove from heat.  Put into colander and cool down with cold water.  Let them cool.

Then the fun begins.  Assemble. Lay one leaf (with V cut out) and pull the leaf parts together.  Put ½ cup of meat mixture on leaf.  Lay this the opposite of the V, so it will roll up without having the meat fall out. I do the top, the roll the sides, and then the bottom.  It look rather like a little sleeping bag.  Place these in a casserole with the seam downwards.  Then sprinkle the sauce over them.  I cover mine so keep them moist.  They cook for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

Mexican Beef Stew

(Caldillo Duangueno) Beef Stew from Durango

This recipe is credited to Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz, and the book is

“The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking”. The book is very worn out, and I have not changed a bit of this recipe (which is unusual for me, as I normally take 4-5 recipes, read them, add my own ideas and create my own version.  This wasn’t needed in this case.  My family loves it, and it is a warm, comforting dish that is fairly easy to make.

I have some explanations of how to prepare and use some of these ingredients. First off, use the lard—it cannot be substituted for the flavor in the recipe. Splurge if you don’t normally use it, but use it in the recipe.  Trust me.

Prepared chilies—are now found in most grocery stores in the ethnic section. If you grow them (which I do, but they are not always in season, and the prepared ones are wonderful). There are two types used in this recipe.

Ancho (dried) peppers are also known as poblanos (fresh), so if you see either, they are the same pepper. Mulato is the other type, which is sweeter and softer.  I buy a bag of each in the store, and they last a while.  If you can only find the anchos, use double.  It is all good. These are very mild peppers, and there is very little heat in this recipe.

Ok. Let’s prepare the chilies.  They are dehydrated, so they EXPAND.  Put them in a huge bowl, and pour boiling water over them.  Prick with a fork, and allow to rehydrate.  They will look like fresh peppers again.

Beef stock-always great to have fresh. However, if you don’t, use Knorr beef bouillon cubes versus anything else, as it actually tastes like beef stock.

Lean stewing beef—but into bite size pieces, and trim fat. Ok..we are ready!

Ingredients:

3 ancho chilies

3 mulato chilies

3 TBSN lard

3 Lbs. lean stewing beef, cut into ½” cubes

I large Vidalia onion chopped

2 cloves garlic (although more won’t hurt)

1 large can Italian plum tomatoes (or fresh Roma tomatoes deseeded and skinned)

2 cups beef stock

Salt

Pepper

½ tsp. oregano (fresh is bestJ)

Prepare the chilies. Reserve ½ cup of the seeds. Heat lard and sauté the beef until close to rare.  Set aside. Reserve remaining fat, and cook onions, and garlic in it. Add tomatoes.

Put prepared chilies and seeds in blender and blend to a smooth paste.

Combine everything in large pot, and simmer (do not boil or you will toughen the meat) for about 2 hours. Before it is done, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with tortillas that are tossed in a fry pan for about a minute.

Bon Appetit

Irish Soda Bread

2 cups flour

½ TBSP baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1/8 cup sugar

2 ½ TBSPS butter

¾ cup raisins

1/2-3/4 TBSP caraway seeds

¾ cup buttermilk or soured milk

1 egg (beaten)

Blend flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar together. Cut in butter until less than size of peas. Add raisins and caraway seeds and mix.  Mix in milk and egg.

Turn out onto floured surface, and knead for one minute.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 min. It is customary to cut a cross in the unbaked bread.

***This recipe is now going down to the fifth generation in my family. Bon Appetit.

Chicken Fried Rice

1 large chicken breast-cut into bite sized pieces

2 ½ cups jasmine rice- cooked until slightly dry

1 Vidalia onion or yellow onion

1 large or 2 small green peppers

1 bunch green onions (or scallions)

2 eggs, beaten

1 TB minced ginger

1 TB minced garlic

1-2 tsp sesame oil (can use hot—then omit the red pepper flakes)

Dash red pepper flakes

Soy sauce-use to taste when mixing all ingredients-should use about 1/3

Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Other veggies can be added—mung bean sprouts, baby corn, water chestnuts, snow peas, etc.

(be imaginative)

 

 

Put a small amount of oil in wok or skillet.  Scramble up the eggs, and set aside.

Stir fry chicken.  Put aside.

Stir fry onion, garlic, green pepper, ginger, green onions.

Add cooked rice, and mix. Add back in the eggs and chicken.

Add soy.  Keep stirring. This is an individual thing, but the reason the rice needs to be dry is because this will remoisten it, and you do not want it to be mushy.  On low heat, keep mixing and stir frying the entire mixture. A wok works best for this, as it has a lot of surface area. It should begin to look done after a few minutes of stirring and cooking.  Add sesame oil and pepper flakes to taste. Salt & pepper to taste. This recipe can be done with other meats, fish, tofu,  or no meat at all. Experiment! Enjoy.  This is an easy one.

 

Bon Appétit