Category Archives: soup

Chirashi Sushi (Scattered Sushi) and More

Eating out at one of the local sushi restaurants is a great treat, but, when I’m strapped for cash, I make my own.

There are many rolled and shaped types of sushi but this version is one of the easiest to make and requires no special equipment or rolling skills. And nori (seaweed) is not needed.

You can serve/assemble this dish in whatever container you’ve got … a special sushi bowl, a bento box or just a pretty bowl that’s large enough to hold your rice and toppings.

Chirashi or “scattered” sushi starts with a bowl of sushi (seasoned) rice and is topped with an assortment of ingredients. Of course, you may use raw fish (dip in soy sauce before eating) or other items traditionally found in sushi rolls.

Chirashi Sushi – serves 2,  1 1/2 cups of cooked rice per person

1 cup raw sushi rice**, Calrose, Nishiki and Kokuho Rose are what I’ve tried

Cook according to package directions and then season with two to three tablespoons of seasoned rice vinegar. Each cup of raw sushi rice will give you three cups of cooked sushi rice.

** Note: This amount of rice is enough to make 4-6 sushi rolls

I decided to cut back on the rice serving size, to one cup (instead of 1 1/2), so that I could make three different sushi dishes.

Toppings

raw ahi tuna
blanched shrimp
hard boiled egg, sliced into wedges or rings
sliced avocado
sliced green onion

Condiments

wasabi
soy sauce, for the raw tuna
pickled ginger

If you can find wasabi powder, make it fresh ( 1 1/2 heaping teaspoon of wasabi powder with 1 tsp of cold water stirred in) for each sushi meal as the heat lessens as it stands. Store the powder in the freezer to keep it fresh.

Garnishes

shredded nori
masago (capelin or flying fish roe)

Ochazuke or “rice with green tea” is a great way of using up leftover cooked sushi rice, odds and ends from making sushi rolls, grilled fish and blanched fresh or pickled vegetables.

Ochazuke – serves 1

1 cup leftover cooked sushi rice (unseasoned), reheated in the microwave
1 cup of hot green tea
toppings ie furikake (rice seasoning)

If you stir your raw fish into the hot tea, it will poach quickly.

And with my third cup of sushi rice and the last of the raw ahi tuna I had thawed, I made these two traditional sushi rolls. The spicy tuna roll was topped with masago (capelin roe) while the other roll just had strips of the tuna and avocado so that the flavour of the tuna could be appreciated ‘naked’.

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Boneless Pork Loin

This is another reason that my freezer keeps filling up, in spite of my attempts to clean it out.

A local grocery store tempted me with a meat display refrigerator filled with vacuum packed boneless pork loins at a crazy cheap price. For $11 I brought home this vacuum packed beauty and stood there looking at it with a chef’s knife in hand. Oh, the possibilities.

In this picture, the ‘fatty’ end is on the right.

After cutting off and discarding the fat cap and removing as much silver skin as I could from the loin, I started at the ‘not so pretty’ fatty end and cut it off. I bagged and weighed it at about three pounds before freezing. I haven’t decided if I’m going to cut this piece into 2 1/2 inch wide strips to marinate for Chinese barbecued pork or turn it into pulled pork. Still, this left about two thirds of the loin to play with. I also removed the streaky ‘rib portion’ of the loin, about three finger widths in size, that you can see at the top of the picture above. It was set aside until I got to the end.

I moved to the other end of the loin and cut off two 1 1/4 inch portions for butterflying and then continued cutting until I got to a portion of the loin that transitioned in appearance between the pretty loin and the fatty end that I had already cut off. I ended up with a baker’s dozen (that’s thirteen, if you don’t know) 1/2 inch pork chops.

The rest of the pork, between the fatty end and the pretty loin end in appearance, along with the streaky ‘rib portion’ that I had set aside earlier, was cubed, bagged and frozen for pork stew. I ended up with a bit over one pound (500 gm) of meat.

Butterflied pork chops before and after pounding and after seasoning

Delicious meal of pan fried butterflied pork chops with mashed potatoes, pan gravy and raw broccoli florettes with ranch dressing

Pan-Seared Butterflied Pork Chops – serves 4

1 pound pork loin boneless center cut butterfly chops, fat trimmed and pounded to about 1/4 inch thick
3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
3/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp paprika
2 tbsp olive oil

Mix together 3/4 tsp each salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika, set aside.

Trim off any excess fat from the chops and rub the spice mix on each side.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron frying pan until it’s hot, then reduce heat to a bit under medium.

Carefully place the chops in the hot oil. Cook and brown approximately 1 minute per side.

When both sides are evenly browned, cut into the thickest part to make sure they are cooked thoroughly. Allow them to rest a minute or two then serve.

I used one of the boneless loin chops (about 2 oz each) to make two huge pork and shrimp udon noodle bowls.

Pork and Shrimp Udon Noodle Bowl – serves 2

2 x 2 oz pkgs uncooked udon noodles, or 100 gm dry spaghetti noodles
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups pork, ham, chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sake, dry sherry or dry white wine*
1 tsp honey
cooking spray or 1 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup sliced mushroom (~5-6 medium mushrooms)
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot (~1 small/medium carrot)
2 oz lean pork loin, thinly sliced
2-3 oz shrimp**
salt and white pepper, as needed
1/4 cup broccoli florettes, and a half dozen or so leaves for garnish
1 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

* I used the wine as I had an opened bottle in the fridge
** I used 6 large raw peeled shrimp

Cook noodles per package directions; drain and set aside.

Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and broth to a large saucepan; bring the broth to a boil. Lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes to flavour the broth.

Combine soy sauce, sake, and honey in a small bowl; stir and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray or a tsp of vegetable oil over med-high heat. Add in broccoli, mushrooms and carrots, stir/saute 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce mixture; cook 2 minutes stirring constantly.

Add vegetable mixture to broth mixture. Stir in sliced pork, raw shrimp and broccoli leaves. Cook for 2 minutes or until the pork turns white and the shrimp turn pink. Taste the broth for seasoning level adding a bit more salt and some white pepper, if needed.

Divide cooked noodles among two bowls. Add half the soup mixture over each bowl of noodles.

Serve immediately.

NOTE: If, like me, you forgot to add the red pepper flakes to the broth, add some Sriracha sauce to your bowl of soup, stirring it into the broth.

Sesame Semolina Bread and Soup (Two versions)

NOTE: The potato gnocchi soup below is a tomato based adaptation of the kale and sausage soup posted here.

After an indulgent last dim sum outing with my nephew, on Friday, I used the afternoon to make another bread that I had added to my ‘to do’ list, while I was flourless.

The recipe came from the King Arthur Flour web site and is called a “Sesame Semolina Lunetta”. I have NO idea where the term lunetta comes from … lunetta means ‘little moon’ in Italian but this S-shaped bread doesn’t fit. In French, lunette refers to ‘eyeglasses’ … I guess you can vaguely picture two circles of glass in the S-shape. Sometimes, names have no clear explanation.

The dough turned out very wet but I suspect that my measuring cup didn’t allow me to be precise enough. (Next time, I’d try using the weight option for ingredients. ) Since it was too wet to hand knead, and I didn’t want to dig out my stand mixer, I decided to use a ‘stretch and fold’ process (every 15 minutes for an hour, for a total of 5 S&F’s) letting it rest for a further 30 minutes. I shaped the dough into an 18 inch rope and then coiled it into the S-shape and let it proof until it got very puffy, about 50 minutes.

Since it was still such a wet dough, I increased the baking temp to 400 deg F, rather than the 350 deg F in the recipe and baked the loaf until it got golden brown, 35-40 min (NOTE: 37 1/2 min).

The crust was crispy and the crumb was relatively open. The taste was good and there was a faint scent of sesame from the toasted sesame seed oil used in place of olive oil.

To accompany the bread, I made a pot of kale, hot Italian sausage and potato gnocchi soup. For a change of pace, I divided half the soup and added whipping cream to one portion.

Creamy version served with sliced and toasted sesame semolina bread, spread with pesto and grilled long enough to melt the Parmesan cheese in the pesto.

Pantry/Freezer Clearout – Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

It’s always fun when you have all the ingredients for something that catches your eye.

I saw these delicious looking biscuits on one of the FB food groups I belong to. When I checked out the link I found that the recipe used whole wheat flour and fine porridge oats and not all purpose flour. I happened to have some leftover finely ground rolled oats, from a previous sourdough bread bake, in my pantry, so it was a win-win situation. Cookies/biscuits AND it used up another item from my pantry. The recipe, as posted by Paul Hollywood, seems to be similar to the McVitie brand of biscuits.

Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

 

  

Review: Just a touch of sweetness. I used a 72% dark cocoa chocolate for the coating but if you want something sweeter, a milk chocolate would be tasty as well.

Sometimes, my cooking choice is designed around using up a specific ingredient. Like  the cream of wheat dumplings (Hungarian grizgaluska) I made with the last 3/4 cup of cream of wheat in my pantry. And the pot of chicken stock made with a chicken carcass, a few chicken backs and about a dozen chicken thigh bones that I ran across, as I was transferring the contents of the upstairs freezer to the basement one. I served the dumplings in the resulting soup.

 

Wakame Soup with Ajitsuke Tamago (Seaweed Soup with Marinated Soft Boiled Egg)

I recently came home with a bag full of goodies from a local Japanese grocery store I visit occasionally. Along with the canned inari-zushi on my list, I also picked up a package of dashi granules, a stick of kamaboko (cured surimi or fish paste), in the pretty white and pink swirl Naruto-maki style, and a tub of gochujang (Korean red chile pepper paste).

I was particularly excited at the idea of adding the kamoboko as a garnish to a bowl of ramen noodle soup, so I divided the kamaboko into four portions, and then wrapped and froze three of them while keeping the last portion in the fridge.

Circumstances led me to skip making the planned noodle dish and instead I made a very simple seaweed and tofu soup. Mostly because I soaked one tablespoon instead of one TEASPOON of dried wakame (seaweed, sea mustard in English). And because the marinated soft boiled eggs, another commonly seen garnish on the ramen noodle soup, were more fragile than I imagined. While peeling the first egg, it cracked … a LOT. Even the second and third egg weren’t perfect, though my peeling got progressively better. These last three eggs were placed into a soy, mirin and dashi stock mixture to marinade overnight.

And, even though the first bowl of seaweed soup I assembled wasn’t particularly pretty, it was delicious even without using a marinated egg.

I marinated the remaining eggs for 3-4 hrs and then refrigerated the eggs until the next day when I used one of them to top a second bowl of soup. (I hope to be able to replace this picture … soon.)

Wakame Soup with Ajitsuke Tamago (Seaweed Soup with Marinated Soft Boiled Egg)

Hammy Yellow Split Pea Soup

A meaty ham bone, flavourful ham stock from boiling a large smoked picnic shoulder ham, a pound of split yellow (or green) split peas, and you’ve got a delicious and filling soup for not a lot of money.

Hammy Yellow Split Pea Soup – serves 6-8

2 cups (~450 gm) dry yellow split peas
6 cups (1.5 L) ham broth, from cooking a smoked, picnic shoulder ham
1-2 cups water or chicken stock, as needed
1 ham bone with some meat on it
1-2 tsp vegetable oil
1-2 tsp dry thyme
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped*
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped*
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped*
1 tsp salt, start with 1/2 tsp
1/2 tsp celery salt**
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2-1 cup diced ham (optional)

* If you’re going to leave your soup chunky, dice your onion, carrots and celery finely.
** It turned out that I was out of celery, so I added the celery salt. Soup recipes are usually adjustable depending on what’s in your pantry or veggie drawer.

The night before you make the soup, pick through the dry split peas for any impurities, place the peas into a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Rinse a few times, rubbing the split peas between the palms of your hand to help any dry skins come off, and then let sit covered with fresh cold water overnight. You’ll see some foam produced during this process (from the starch in the split peas) which is visually unattractive but not actually harmful.

The next day, drain the split peas and reserve.

In a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, saute the onion in the vegetable oil until the onion is translucent and tender. Add the diced carrots and celery and saute for a few more minutes.

Add the bay leaf and thyme, ham bone, drained soaked split peas, and ham broth. Add half a teaspoon of the salt, celery salt and the ground black pepper and bring to a boil. You may need to add another cup or so of water or chicken stock to cover the ham bone. Cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 1-2 hrs until the split peas are very tender.

Check after 5-10 minutes and skim off any foam or other impurities that have come to the surface.

Remove the ham bone, trim any meat from the bone, dice into bite sized pieces and return to the saute pan of soup. Discard the bone and gristle.

If a smooth texture is desired for the soup, puree the soup before returning any meat to the soup. For a more meaty soup, add additional diced ham to the pot after the soup has been pureed and re-heat before serving.

Taste again before serving and adjust as necessary by adding more salt, or water, if the texture of the soup is too thick.

Creamy Corn, Ham and Potato Chowder ver 3 (or is it 4)

I rarely make a soup the same way twice in a row. Like this ham and potato chowder. Usually, I use carrots as well as celery to give it added body and flavour. Sometimes I add cream. Sometimes it’s just milk. And the thickener may be flour or cornstarch. Sometimes, there’s no thickener except for the starch from the potatoes. For a change of flavour, I used dried thyme in this batch. It’s always good.

Creamy Corn, Ham and Potato Chowder

2 tbsp bacon fat or butter
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced (optional)
1 medium onion, small diced
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels or kernels cut from a couple of cobs of fresh corn
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups stock (chicken, vegetable or ham*)
1 1/2 cups whole milk (or 1 cup 2% milk and 1/2 cup whipping cream**)
2 medium or 3 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes
7-8 oz (220 gm) leftover ham, 1/2 inch cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

* Ham stock used from boiling a smoked picnic shoulder ham with a tablespoon of pickling spices.
** I didn’t have any whole milk and I liked the richness that the whipping cream gave the chowder.

In a large saute pan over medium/medium high heat saute the onion in bacon fat or butter, until it’s translucent and starts picking up some colour on the edges. Add the diced garlic and saute for another minute or two.

Stir in the corn and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

Stir in flour and cook for another couple of minutes. Gradually stir in the stock, and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Stir in potatoes.

Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer covered until the potatoes are tender, about 12-15 minutes.

Stir in the ham, milk, salt and pepper, to taste, heat until the ham is warmed through. If the chowder is too thick, add more milk as needed until desired consistency is reached.

Serve immediately.

Soup Duo … Vegetarian Friendly

Half an onion and four cups of stock (vegetable or chicken) form the base of both these soups. Your choice depends on whether you want the final product to be vegetarian or veggie-friendly. For some reason, both of my soups are in the orange-red colour palette.

First, an Indian flavoured vegetarian soup. The soup that inspired this used whole cumin seeds but I couldn’t find them in my pantry and I was out of ground cumin so I used a combination of curry powder and garam masala. For a middle-Eastern themed soup, you may used harissa paste or a dry harissa seasoning mixture.

Spiced Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

Spiced Carrot and Red Lentil Soup – serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
400 g carrots, peeled, trimmed and coarsely chopped
140 g split red lentils, rinsed and drained
4 cups/ 1 liter vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
salt to taste (start with about 1/2 tsp)

Yogurt for garnish
Warmed naan bread, to serve

In a large saute pan over medium heat, saute the onion in vegetable oil until it gets translucent and pick up some colour on the edges.

Add the curry powder and garam masala and toast for a few minutes to freshen the dry spice mix. Add the carrots, lentils, salt and the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil then cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

Puree the soup with a stick blender, in a stand blender (in several batches) or in a food processor until smooth.

Season to taste and adjust the thickness with more vegetable stock or water. Another option is to add some milk (coconut or regular milk) to thin down the soup.

Serve with a spoonful of yogurt and warmed naan breads, if desired.

A dozen home made ravioli (sweet potato, ricotta and Parmesan cheese) stretched to serve four in this hearty soup which is put together quickly with the help of a liter of stock and a cup of jarred marinara (or spaghetti) sauce. If you have fresh tomatoes, you can peel, seed and dice them and add them to the soup instead. For a vegetarian version, omit the sausages and use vegetable instead of chicken stock as a base.

Ravioli and Vegetable Soup

Ravioli and Vegetable Soup – serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1 cup fresh corn kernels, cut from a whole cob (diced zucchini are another vegetable option)
3 links hot Italian sausage, removed from casing (optional)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp dried basil or Italian herb mix
4 cups/ 1 liter vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
1 cup/250 ml marinara or spaghetti sauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 dozen frozen ravioli, home made or purchased

Frozen sweet Potato, ricotta and Parmesan cheese ravioli

In a large saute pan over medium heat, saute the onion in vegetable oil until it gets translucent and pick up some colour on the edges

Crumble the sausages over the surface of the pan and cook until no longer pink. Try to break up the sausage as much as possible. Add the minced garlic, corn kernels and dry herb mixture and saute for a few more minutes.

Pour the chicken stock and marinara over the vegetables and sausage. Add about half of the salt and the ground black pepper and bring the soup mixture to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the frozen ravioli, making sure that they’re submerged in the broth and cook covered for 5 minutes, then flip the ravioli and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Serve.

February Wrap-Up

ANOTHER PICTURE HEAVY POST WARNING:

February’s been a month of snow and rain and cooking.

I’ve already posted a number of things but there have been meals and dishes produced to nourish the body even if they were not post-worthy on their own or repeats of previous posts.

No-knead sourdough with a bit of ground rolled oats added to make for a taste boost. Toasted and spread with peanut butter … a delicious breakfast addition or snack.

I also made another loaf of sourdough quinoa for sandwiches.

I tried out a recipe for Chipotle Yum Yum Sauce posted on “The Frugal Housewifeblog and used it on pork roast and on poached eggs served on toasted sourdough bread … a sort of Tex-Mex eggs Benedict. Fast and easy to make and delicious.  I’m sure I’ll think of other ways to use it in the future.

Devilled eggs made with the Yum Yum sauce in place of the mayonnaise … so good

Meals and stuff

Creamy beef tortellini soup

Teriyaki baked salmon

Japanese chicken and tofu curry (using prepared roux) over rice

Chinese sausage rice bowl

Sliced bread/baguette pizza

Grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup … I added a couple of strips of cooked bacon to the sandwich as well.

Fried eggs, Polish sausage, cream cheese breakfast or lunch

Puff pastry filled with sweetened whipped cream and fresh blackberries

Blackberry lemonade

 

Edited: Chicken and Dumplings (Trial #1)

Chicken and dumplings were on my bucket list … sort of. As in, I have wanted to make them, for some time, but I didn’t actually write them down on my ‘official’ bucket list.

Recently, someone posted a picture on FB and, since I had six chicken drumsticks thawing in the fridge, and all the other ingredients needed, I thought I’d finally give it a try.

The dish is a soup but I’ve seen a thickened version which is almost stew-like. I found a nice simple recipe online … and then I messed with it by deciding to thicken it with a ‘beurre manie’, a flour and butter paste. I combined a tablespoon each of the two until it formed a paste and stirred about a third of the mixture into my chicken soup. But then, I said what the heck and stirred in a bit more. At the end, I had added the entire thing. A bad move it turned out.

I had concerns about the dumpling part of this dish, too. There are two versions. A batter that’s scooped onto the top of the simmering soup and allowed to steam with the lid on until set. And a rolled out thick ‘noodle’ which cooks in the broth. You need both a big pot of soup stock for this latter version, and time to roll it out and cut it. Neither of which I had. So I went with the steamed batter version. At least this part of the dish turned out well. Another possible problem, along with thickening the soup too much, was my choice of cooking vessel. I used a large (11 inch diameter) saute pot which meant that the soup level was fairly shallow and the large surface area meant that a lot of the liquid evaporated even with the lid on.

While steaming the dumplings, I lost even more liquid to the dumplings, and the thickening soup stuck to the bottom of the pan and scorched. I couldn’t lift the lid but I shook the pan several times to free any dumplings. The dumplings didn’t stick … but the ‘soup’ did because by that point I had something that was more like the filling for chicken pot pie in density.

On the plus side, it was all edible. Even the scorched bits.

It was also saltier than I would have liked.

Oh well.

Chicken and Dumplings

NOTE: The recipe below doesn’t use a thickener for the soup.

Chicken and Dumplings – serves 3-4 people

Chicken Soup

2 tsp vegetable oil
6 chicken drumsticks
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled, medium dice
2 celery stalks, medium dice
1 clove garlic clove, peeled and smashed but still intact
4-5 cups chicken stock, divided (edited: increased from 3 cups)
salt and pepper to taste (1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper to start)
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tbsp dried parsley

Over medium heat saute onions, carrots, celery and garlic clove until the onions start to caramelize on the edges. Remove the vegetables and brown the chicken drumsticks on both sides.

Return about half of the veggies to the pot (retain the rest of the veggies until the last 15 minutes so they’ll still have some texture), four cups of the chicken stock, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and parsley. Bring to the boil, cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes, turning the chicken at least once.

Remove the garlic clove and discard.

Remove the drumsticks to a large bowl and take the meat off the bones. Discard the skin and bones and shred the meat. Return the meat to the saute pan along with the reserved vegetables. Simmer for another 15 minutes. If the soup looks like it’s reduced too much, add the reserved cup of chicken stock.

Make the batter for the dumplings and spoon rounded teaspoonfuls over the top of the soup, leaving some space between the dumplings so they can swell during cooking.

Place the lid on tightly and steam for 15 minutes, shaking gently a few times to reduce the chance of scorching.

Dumplings – makes 12 dumplings, serves 3-4

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter or margarine

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and parsley.

Cut in the butter.

Stir in the milk just until the flour is moistened.

Drop heaping teaspoonfuls batter on top of chicken mixture. Cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. (I steamed them for the full 15 minutes.)

Serve the chicken and dumplings topped with additional chopped parsley.