Tag Archives: vegetables

Chicken Meatball Soup

It’s that time of year again … soup making time.

Not that I don’t make soups year round. It’s just that I kick it into high gear when the weather gets cooler.

This chicken meatball soup uses lean breast meat ground up in my food processor and a half package of chopped spinach. The result is delicious and filling.

Chicken Meatball  and Spinach Soup – serves 4-6

Meatballs – makes 16 meatballs (292 gm, divided into 16 x 18 gm portions)

210 gm chicken breast, ground
1 egg
3/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp several shakes of garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

For the Soup

3/4 cup orzo, tubettini, ditalini or other small pasta
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup chopped spinach, frozen and thawed*

* Swiss chard was used in the original recipe that inspired this.

In a medium bowl, combine the ground chicken, bread crumbs, egg, Parmesan, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well, then form into 1-inch (2 cm) meatballs. You should have 16-18 total.

In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Sear the meatballs on all sides until golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the remaining tbsp of oil. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the pasta and meatballs. Cover and simmer for 7-8 minutes, until the pasta is tender.

Add the Swiss chard, cover, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the chard has wilted.

Add the Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

Mushroom Egg Foo Young

Cooking for one means you ALWAYS have odds and end of leftovers from recipes you’ve made to deal with. Often they’re perishable and I hate to throw things away because they’ve spoiled. In this case, it was bean sprouts from making Pad Thai. And white button mushrooms.

So I made mushroom egg foo young.

Mushroom Egg Foo Young – makes 4 omelettes, serves 2

Omelettes

1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1/2 lb white mushrooms, thickly sliced
4 large eggs
1/2 lb bean sprouts, rinsed and drained well
1-2 green onions, tops only, thinly sliced
1-2 handfuls shredded coleslaw mix
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper

Sauce/Gravy

1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine or mirin
dash or two white pepper
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp sesame oil

Making the omelettes

Preheat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add about half the vegetable oil and the white mushrooms, saute without stirring until golden brown on one side, flip and saute for another minute or two until that side is also golden brown. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and let cool slightly.

Return the saute pan to the heat.

In a large bowl, add the eggs, beat well. Add the salt and pepper, bean sprouts, green onions, coleslaw mix and cooled mushrooms. Mix well.

With a ladle, add about 1/4 of the egg/vegetable mixture to the saute pan. Try to give the mixture a roughly round shape. Cook for several minutes until the base is set and golden brown, flip and continue cooking until the second side is set and golden brown as well. Repeat with the remaining egg/vegetable mixture using additional vegetable oil if needed.

Making the sauce

In a small bowl, combine about 1/4 cup of the chicken stock with the cornstarch. Whisk well so there are no lumps.

Combine the remaining stock, soy sauce, rice wine, pepper and sesame oil in a small saucepan. Bring just to the boil over medium heat.

Whisk the cornstarch mixture again and slowly whisk into the stock mixture. Cook while whisking until the mixture comes to a boil. Allow to boil for one minute and then remove the saucepan from the heat.

Serve the omelettes alongside a serving of steamed rice, drizzling some of the sauce over both.

Happy Easter!! (2019)

No, you’re not having a flashback to four months ago.

I just realized that I never posted the meal for this past Easter.

Which was a shame, because I made a delicious Tuscan bread and vegetable soup called “ribollita” for starters …

… baked lamb chops seasoned with rosemary and garlic, risotto and asparagus for the main and vanilla “cake for one” filled and frosted with a vanilla buttercream and decorated with Easter jimmies for dessert. A simple lemonade spiked with raspberries and blackberries to wash it down.

Easter cake

It’s been so long since I made the soup that I can’t remember which adaptation I used of the four recipes I have saved in my Italian folder. Based on the pictures of the ingredients in the photo folder for the soup, I’m guessing this one. Though I didn’t use canned beans but cooked cannellini beans from dry.

Home made croutons were used both in the soup itself as a thickener and, seasoned, as a garnish that was stirred in just before serving. If you like your croutons crunchy, serve a bowl of the croutons on the table and let each diner add their own.

 

 

It was a great meal … even in retrospect.

Asparagus, Mushroom and Shrimp Fried Rice

I’ve been out of potatoes for about a week so when I thought about starch sides to pair with one of the several proteins in my freezer, pasta/noodles, quinoa and rice were among my options. I also wanted to use up the last few stalks of asparagus in my fridge. I finally decided on a Chinese classic … fried rice. Mainly because I had a pound of inexpensive white button mushrooms to pair with a scant half pound of large cooked, peeled and de-veined shrimp in my freezer.

I combined the elements of a couple of recipes I found on-line, mainly using one which featured mushrooms. The egg was added to extend the protein content.

RECIPE EDITED TO FIX GLARING TYPOS:

Asparagus, Mushroom and Shrimp Fried Rice Bowl

Asparagus, Mushroom and Shrimp Fried Rice – serves 3

~1/3 lb/177 gm peeled and de-veined cooked shrimp
1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain rice (or medium-grain)
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4-1 lb/340-454 gm white button mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
4-6 green onions including green tops, sliced thinly
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup mixed vegetable (diced carrot, frozen peas, sliced asparagus)**
1/4 cup water, or as needed
1 egg, optional
1 tsp Asian sesame oil, for garnish
1-2 green onion tops, sliced thinly, for garnish

** equal parts diced carrot and sliced asparagus (3 stalks) used

Cook the long or medium grain rice the day before you plan on making this dish and refrigerate overnight.

In a large nonstick frying pan or wok, heat 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.

Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Turn down the heat to medium and in the same frying pan, heat another tbsp of vegetable oil. Add the red-pepper flakes, grated ginger, and green onions and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Raise the heat back to medium-high and add the mixed vegetables, stirring to char the vegetables for a minute or so. Add the water, cover, and let cook/steam about 5 minutes, to par cook the vegetables.

Push the vegetables to one side, and, if needed add a bit more oil to the pan in the empty spot. Add the rice to the area where you cleared the pan. Break up any rice clumps a bit and then sprinkle the salt and soy sauce over the rice. Stir to coat the rice evenly.

Add the mushrooms and cooked shrimp to the pan, stirring through until everything’s warm, another few minutes.

If adding an egg to the fried rice, again push the rice etc to one side leaving an empty area on one side. Break the egg into the space and let cook for a minute to set the white, then break up the egg yolk gently. Lift and turn the fried rice on top of the partially cooked egg. The heat from the rice will continue cooking the egg. Mix the egg through the rice.

Divide the fried rice among the serving bowls, making sure everyone gets an equal amount of the shrimp, and drizzle a bit of the sesame soil over the top.

Sprinkle green onion over the top for a garnish.

Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions on a Hoagie

One of my favourite ways of using freshly made hot dog buns/hoagies is as a transport vehicle for grilled or bbq’d hot (or sweet) Italian sausages, sauteed onions and sweet pepper strips. If you like some tang in your sandwich, you can add a few jarred pepperoncini, along with some of the juice, to the filling.

Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions Hoagie – serves 2

2 6-inch hoagies, sliced like a hot dog bun*
2 6-inch sweet or hot Italian sausages, grilled or bbq’d

Hoagie Filling

1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large sweet pepper (or an assortment of red, yellow and orange), cored and sliced into thin strips
1 clove garlic, peeled, smashed lightly
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tbsp jarred marinara sauce
1-2 pepperonicini (sweet pickled peppers), thinly sliced with some juice, optional

* I used home made hoagie buns made according to this King Arthur flour beautiful burger bun recipe.

In a large pre-heated saute pan, over medium-high heat, add the oil, the sliced onions and the clove of garlic. Let sit until the onions just start to brown a bit then stir and continue sauteing the onions and garlic for a few more minutes. Remove and discard the clove of garlic as it’s seasoned the oil. Add the pepper strips and pepperoncini, if using. Saute for a few more minutes until the peppers start to pick up some colour as well. Add the jarred marinara sauce and some of the pepperoncini juice, to taste.

Add the sausages and warm briefly in the sauce.

Place some of the peppers and onions in each of the buns. Add the sausage and top with the remaining filling ingredients.

Serve with your favourite sides.

Making the Buns – The dough was divided into eight equal portions with half being shaped into hamburger buns and the other half into 6-inch hoagie buns

The hamburger buns were delicious, just slightly sweet and fluffy, though at 105 gms, a bit large for the hamburger patties I had cooked. Next time, I’d divide the dough into NINE portions.

Omurice in a Mug

The classic omurice (watch Tampopo for an intriguing Japanese food referencing movie) is basically an omelette wrapped around fried rice … a delicious repurposing of the leftover rice dish. Ketchup features prominently in seasoning the rice and garnishing the omelette.

TabiEats has a delicious, made from scratch version, which is made in a microwave, in a lot less time. The only tricky part is the wattage of your respective microwave but, after your first omurice, you can adjust quickly.

I’ve written out the list of ingredients and instructions from the video below, with some clarifying information, so you can make your own, but watch the video linked earlier. It’s informative and fun.

Omurice in a Mug – makes 1
from TabiEats

1 1/2 oz/42.5 gm chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/8 onion, finely chopped (or 1 tsp fried onion)
2 tbsp mixed vegetables (frozen corn, carrots, peas)
3 tbsp ketchup, plus an additional 1 tbsp ketchup for garnish
salt and pepper, to taste (1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp to start)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup Japanese shortgrain or sushi rice, washed well and drained
1/2 cup water
1 large egg

Put all ingredients, except the egg, into a large mug. (The mug should have a 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cup capacity.) Give the contents a good stir so the ingredients are combined.

Crumple a sheet of parchment paper and lay it on the surface of the rice mixture. Loosely cover with a sheet of plastic wrap.

Microwave for 2 minutes 30 seconds at 600 watts (60%). Carefully open the plastic wrap and give the contents a quick mix. Cover and microwave at 300 watts (30%) for 10-12 minutes. (NOTE: Depending on your microwave, you can use defrost mode, which is 30% in my microwave.)

Carefully peel off the plastic wrap and take out the parchment paper. Discard the parchment paper.

Whisk the egg well and pour it over the top of the rice. Cover the mug loosely with the plastic wrap and microwave for 2-3 minutes, at 200 watts, until egg is cooked. Don’t overcook!

Serve the omurice with a tablespoon of ketchup and garnish with peas.

Here’s a picture of the traditional omurice from a previous post.

And the contents of the mug turned out into a soup bowl … you can kind of see the chicken, carrots, peas and corn.

Velveting Beef and a Spicy Beef Bowl

For some reason, I never shared the results of a recent experiment in turning a relatively tough eye of round roast into a more tender piece of beef. The technique of ‘velveting’ is practiced in Chinese restaurants and is used for both beef and chicken dishes. I velveted in water, not oil, because I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of the latter, nor did I want to waste the oil. I’m frugal that way.

For the spicy beef dish below, I used the recipe/technique found on the YouTube video here. The ingredient list and amounts I used are listed in the bare bones recipe below.

Velveted Beef, Broccoli and Mushrooms over Rice

Spicy Beef, Broccoli and Mushrooms – serves 2

300 gm velveted beef

1 tbsp vegetable oil (and 1 tsp sesame oil)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 inch ginger, minced or grated
3-4 dried red chilis
5 large mushrooms, cut in half and thickly sliced
1 head of broccoli, broken up into florettes

Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2-4 tbsp water

Serve over rice

After marinating the meat

How to Velvet Meat – yields 2 cups

1 pound boneless chicken, beef or pork, cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
1 egg white (2 tbsp)
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine (mirin or sake)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

Velveting in Water

large pot of water
1 tablespoon oil

Wash meat and drain well.

In a bowl, combine egg white, Chinese wine, oil, cornstarch and salt. Whisk together until smooth and frothy. Add meat and marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. In a colander, drain meat.

In a pot over high heat, combine about 2-inch deep of water and 1 tablespoon of oil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and immediately add meat, stirring to disperse. Bring water back to a gentle simmer and once it’s barely bubbling, continue to cook meat for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. With a slotted spoon, remove meat from pot and drain well.

NOTE: You’ll want to velvet the meat in two or three batches making sure that you add the meat slices a few at a time, rather than in clumps, so they don’t stick but float freely in the pot of water.

After velveting in water and the stir fry

Review of the Velveting Technique: While delicious and noticeably more tender than previous attempts at the dish using the same cut of beef, WITHOUT velveting, the beef wasn’t quite as meltingly tender as the beef I’ve eaten in Chinese restaurants. I think the technique and dish will continue to be a work in progress.

 

Easy Japanese Dishes Pt. 3 – Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu)

The last post on the theme of easy Japanese dishes features a Japanese version of the classic Western hamburger, hambagu, or hamburger steak patty. I’m including a couple of miso soups, a vegetable side dish and some pudding (or purin, in Japanese) to finish things off.

The recipe for the hamburger comes from TabiEats and the result was meant to be used in a bento box. Instead, I used it as a topping for leftover Japanese mixed rice.

Hamburger Steak Mixed Rice Bowl

Hamburger Steak Patty – for 2 patties

100 gm /~1/4 pound ground beef or chicken
30-40 gm enoki mushroom base, shredded
1/8th finely diced onion (or 1 tsp fried onions)
1/4 tsp salt
few grinds of pepper

Ground beef and shredded enoki mushroom base

Mix all the hamburger patty ingredients together well. Shape into patty to get out the air. Divide into 2 and reshape into hamburger steak patty. Make a small depression in the center as the middle puffs up during frying. Pan fry over medium heat in 1 tsp vegetable oil for a few minutes on the first side and then turn and finish.

Since the burger on its own seemed a bit dry, I borrowed a recipe for a wine reduction hamburger steak sauce from Nami’s Just One Cookbook. Halve the ingredient amounts for the sauce, from the recipe below, if you’re only making two patties.

Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) – for 4 hamburger steak patties

1-2 tsp vegetable oil
4 hamburger patties, about 90 gm each
~1 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp unsalted butter

Sauce for the hamburger steak

3 tbsp red wine
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp tonkatsu sauce (or Worcestershire sauce)

Heat a cast iron or non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the hamburger patties and fry 3-4 minutes on the first side. Flip, and add a couple of teaspoons of red wine into the pan.

After you flip, pour 2-3 tsp red wine into the saucepan and then lower the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minute, or until the inside of the patty is no longer pink. Take the lid off and increase the heat to medium-high to let the red wine cook off. When the pan is almost dry, remove the patties to a serving plate and reserve.

Combine the liquid sauce ingredients in a bowl. In the same pan in which you fried the hamburger patties, add the butter the and sauce ingredients and mix well. Lower the heat to medium low and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol. With a slotted spoon, remove any meat bits or scum from the sauce so it’s nice and smooth.

When the sauce has thickened to your liking, pour it over the hamburger steaks.

Serve with vegetable sides and rice.

Shira-ae is a tofu ‘dressing’ made of ground sesame seeds/tahini, miso and tofu and added to shredded vegetables.

I used it to dress some blanched broccoli florettes and served it with one of the hamburger patties and a bowl of miso soup.

Two kinds of white miso soup … egg drop/egg flower and tofu or a clear soup.

To finish up … dessert. Cause you ALWAYS need to finish up with something sweet. (Ok, I like cheese and fruit and nuts too but they weren’t in my budget nor did I know any savoury Japanese afters.)

Dessert was pudding, or purin, in Japanese. Both these desserts were made with the same vanilla bean custard mixture. For the flan/creme caramel, I made a hard caramel and poured it into the bottom of the large ramekins. The smaller ramekins were turned into creme brulee and bruleed under the broiler.

Vanilla Bean Flan/Creme Caramel and Creme Brulee


Kung Pao Pork (or Chicken)

Kung Pao chicken is a classic Szechuan dish, but I had a two pound piece of pork tenderloin in the freezer, that I wanted to use up, so I switched things up a bit. The other elements were still there including the hot chili and crunchy peanuts, even if I forgot to add the latter to the dish, until I was almost finished devouring my first bowl.

Kung Pao Pork – serves 2-3

1 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into bite sized pieces

Marinade Ingredients

1 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch

Sauce Ingredients

1/2 tbsp light soy sauce, or Kikkoman
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tbsp Shaoxing wine or cooking sherry
1/2 tbsp black vinegar or rice wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp water

From left to right: Shaoxing cooking wine, black/Chinkiang vinegar, Kikkoman soy sauce and dark soy sauce

Remaining Kung Pao Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 small white onion, finely diced
1/2 tbsp minced or grated ginger
1/2 tbsp minced or grated garlic
1-5 whole dried red chilis, with or without seeds depending on preference, broken into 1/2″ pieces*
1/2 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
1 medium zucchini, diced (optional)
1 small red bell pepper, diced
2-4 tbsp dry roasted peanuts, unsalted

From top left, clockwise: dried chili, ground Szechuan peppercorns, onions/ginger/garlic, marinated pork cubes, and lo mein noodles (no egg, 3 minute cooking time)

* I used one chili, with seeds, and it was very bland.

1-2 stalks of green onions, thinly cut on the diagonal, for garnish

Marinate the pork: In a medium bowl, combine the pork, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Mix well and let the pork marinate, for 1 hour, in the fridge.

Making the Kung Pao sauce: In a small bowl, combine the light and dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, black vinegar, cornstarch, sugar, sesame oil, and water. Stir to mix the ingredients. Set aside.

Cooking the pork: Heat up one tbsp of cooking oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the marinated pork cubes and flash fry for 3-4 minutes or until the outside is lightly browned. With a perforated spoon transfer the pork cubes to a shallow bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the majority of oil. Retain the remaining oil in the wok as you’ll need it to fry the rest of the ingredients.

Cooking the other ingredients: Measure the oil remaining in the wok and if needed, add more oil to equal 1 tbsp. Place the wok back over medium-high heat and add the diced onion, bell peppers, zucchini (if using), ginger and garlic. (NOTE: I don’t have a kitchen fan so I didn’t flash fry the chili pieces and the peppercorns by themselves over high heat before adding the onions etc. Instead, I fried them briefly in the next step.)  Stir fry for about 5 minutes. The diced onions should be translucent and both they and the zucchini cubes should have browned a bit.

Push the vegetables to one side and add the chili pieces and ground Szechuan peppercorns. Fry for a minute or two just to toast the chili and peppercorns. Add the fried pork and continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients to redistribute the cornstarch, which will have settled to the bottom, and pour over the meat and vegetables. Stir well to distribute the ingredients and continue to cook until the sauce thickens and starts to bubble a bit.

Transfer to a serving plate and serve with the sliced green onions sprinkled over the top as a garnish.

If desired, pour the kung pao over a bed of plain steamed rice or cooked noodles.

NOTE: I decided to use lo mein noodles as my starch. For serving, I tossed the noodles with the pork. It’s a fairly dry preparation.

Italian Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta E Fagioli)

This delicious Italian soup is filling and usually inexpensive to cook up. The name says it all … “pasta and beans”. I used a copycat Olive Garden recipe that I found on line many years ago, and adjusted the recipe for ingredients and amounts that I liked and had available. I’ve re-posted the recipe below.

I was being stingy with the amount of cannellini (aka white kidney) beans I used in this soup, since they’re pretty pricey at my local Italian grocery store, but you can’t beat the delicious, creamy texture of the beans once cooked. I added about a third of a pound of light red kidney beans, that I already had in my pantry, to make up the difference. Unfortunately, they took longer to cook than the cannellini so the latter were pretty much falling apart at that point.

Oh well.

And then there’s the pasta. I used just a very small amount of tubetti which I cooked separately, just until they were “al dente” or with a bit of texture left, and then added them to the soup for the last five minutes or so to finish cooking.

You can add meat or leave it out. I had about two thirds of a pound of ground beef which, added to two/two and a half cups of cooked beans, was plenty.

Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli – makes ~4 quarts/16 cups, quantities of ingredients don’t need to be exact

1/2-1 tbsp vegetable oil, depending on how fatty your beef is
454 gm/ 1 lb lean ground beef
6 oz/ 1 cup onion, small dice
7 oz/ 1 cup celery, small dice
7 oz/ 1 cup carrots, small dice
24 oz/3 cups canned tomatoes, diced
1 cup cooked red kidney beans*
1 cup cooked white kidney beans*
5 cups beef stock (or chicken or vegetable stock or water)
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
salt as needed, start with 1/2 tsp
2 1/2 tsp chopped parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
3/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
24 oz/ 3 cups spaghetti sauce
4 oz/ 1/2 cup/113 gm small shell macaroni (or any other small pasta)

*  Or use 2 cups of whatever type of cooked beans you like

Saute ground beef in oil over medium/medium-high heat, in a large 5 qt pot until the beef starts to brown. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and saute for 5-7 minutes just until the onions get translucent and start to pick up some colour.

Drain and rinse the beans, if using canned, and add to the pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes and pasta. Taste and add salt as desired.

Add the chopped parsley and simmer until the celery and carrots are tender, about 25-30 minutes.

NOTE: Make sure to stir all the way to the bottom at least every 7-10 minutes as the ingredients, especially the beef, settle and may stick and burn. I threw in some frozen corn for the last 5 minutes for added colour. If the soup seems too thick before serving, add a bit of water. You may garnish the soup with some grated Parmesan cheese.

Other vegetable add-ins you can include: cubed zucchini, fresh, torn spinach, and frozen green peas.