Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friday night Pho

The recipe for this meal is super long, so I'll keep my babbling to a minimum. I made stock early last week because, well, I don't have a reason why. My freezer is still pretty full, and I'll be getting a new third of a cow at the end of summer, so I need to get cookin', I guess. I wasn't sure what I was going to make with the stock, but I had pho in mind (see more on that below).

Pho is way easier than I thought it would be, though getting the broth just right is not easy (more on that below too).

Whatever, here's the recipe.

For beef stock:
2 medium yellow onions, chopped roughly
2 medium carrots, chopped roughly
4 stalks celery, chopped roughly
4-inch piece ginger, peeled
5-6 pounds beef soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones)
8 - 10 peppercorns

Note: the below is how I made my stock because I wasn't sure I was going to use it all for pho.  I made a semi-traditional brown stock.  To make a stock specifically for pho, do not roast the beef bones, do not add celery or carrots, and add 5 star anise, 6 whole cloves, and a cinnamon stick to the stock in the beginning.  If I was ever to make stock specifically for pho, I would probably make pork stock, actually.)

1. Roast the onion, carrot, celery, and ginger on a cookie sheet in the oven for 15 - 25 minutes. Use tongs to occasionally rotate them and to grab and discard any flyaway onion skin. You do not have to blacken entire surface, just enough to slightly cook them.  Roast the beef bones in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.

2. Place the roasted vegetables, beef bones, and peppercorns in a stock pot (minimum 12-quart capacity) and cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 6 - 12 hours.  In the beginning, skim off any fat and impurities from the surface of the stock.

3. Once done, strain the stock through fine strainer. Discard solids.

4. Cool the stock and refrigerate it overnight.  Makes about 4 quarts.

For pho broth:

1  1/2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 ounce (1-inch chunk) yellow rock sugar (duong phen; see Note)

1. Remove the stock from the fridge, and skim the fat off the top.

2. Ladle the amount of stock you intend to use into a large saucepan.  Add the salt, fish sauce, and sugar - but not all the quantity stated above unless you are using the all the stock you made, adjust the quantities to the amount you are using.  

3. Taste and adjust flavor with additional ingredients if you would like. The pho broth should taste slightly too strong because the noodles and other ingredients are not salted. (If you've gone too far, add water to dilute.)

For pho bowls:
1  1/2-2 pounds small (1/8-inch wide) dried or fresh banh pho noodles ("rice sticks'')1/2 pound raw eye of round, sirloin, London broil or tri-tip steak, thinly sliced across the grain (1/16 inch thick; freeze for 15 minutes to make it easier to slice)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Ground black pepper

Asian/Thai basil (hung que)
Bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound)*
Red hot chiles (such as Thai bird or dragon), thinly sliced
Lime wedges
Hoisin sauce

*I don't like bean sprouts so didn't include them, but it is traditional to do so.

The key is to be organized and have everything ready to go. 

1. Place the basil, sliced chiles, and lime wedges on a garnish plate.

2. Heat the pho broth (should already be heating) and ready the noodles. To ensure good timing, reheat broth over medium flame as you're assembling bowls. If you're using dried noodles, cover with hot tap water and soak 15-20 minutes, until softened and opaque white. Drain in colander. For fresh rice noodles, just untangle and briefly rinse in a colander with cold water.

3. Blanch noodles. Fill 3- or 4-quart saucepan with water and bring to boil. For each bowl, use long-handle strainer to blanch a portion of noodles. As soon as noodles have collapsed and lost their stiffness (10-20 seconds), pull strainer from water, letting water drain back into saucepan. Empty noodles into bowls. Noodles should occupy 1/4 to 1/3 of bowl; the latter is for noodle lovers, while the former is for those who prize broth.

4. If desired, after blanching noodles, blanch bean sprouts for 30 seconds in same saucepan. They should slightly wilt but retain some crunch. Drain and add to the garnish plate.

5. Add other ingredients to the bowl. Place slices raw meat atop noodles. Garnish with chopped cilantro (thinly sliced onion and scallions are other garnishes, but I don't like either). Finish with black pepper.

6. Bring broth to rolling boil. Check seasoning. Ladle broth into each bowl, distributing hot liquid evenly so as to cook raw beef and warm other ingredients. Serve your pho with with the garnish plate.

I think my first foray into pho was a success. I am spoiled here in Portland with a vast number of excellent pho places, and the fact that mine even semi-stood up made me happy. 

Here is the pho I ate while watching baseball last Friday night. A fine Friday night indeed.

Bon appetit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Beef Panang Curry

I know, I know, I already posted a beef panang curry recipe (here). I wouldn't have posted this meal except that I tried something a little bit novel, at least for me, and it turned out spectacularly.

Here's how it went down: I took a pack of beef stew meat out of my freezer on Sunday so that I could make chili on Monday. Monday, I got home from work and headed directly to the store to get the ingredients I needed for the chili. I was planning on making my regular chili recipe, a recipe I basically know by heart. I got home from the store and realized I forgot two key ingredients: onion and beer. 

Loyal readers, you know I have a busy life. When I get home from work, I am tired. Going to the store once is an ordeal, and twice is impossible. I was left with two options: make something different with the stew meat or make chili another night, but I have plans for Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and am likely leaving for Chicago on Friday evening. I don't want to make chili on Wednesday if that's the only night I'm home to eat it. So I had to figure out something else to make.

Whenever I don't know what to make with a certain ingredient I google "[whatever ingredient] martha stewart recipe" and on the rare chance I don't quickly find something that looks good, I will google "[whatever ingredient] recipe".  Martha failed me this time, but one of the first recipes I found with "beef stew meat recipe" was for beef panang.  Beef panang with stew meat?!? you say? I KNOW. But check this out:

~1 pound beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
~2 Tbsp panang curry paste
1 can coconut milk
~1 Tbsp fish sauce
~1 Tbsp shaved palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
Some basil leaves

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the beef, reduce heat so that the water is simmering, and cook the beef for about an hour and a half, until the meat is tender.  Drain the meat*, and put aside.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in whatever you're going to make the curry in. I used the gorgeous All-Clad saute pan my parents got me for my birthday.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

3. Add the curry paste, and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, then add the coconut milk and stir to combine.

4. Add the meat and bell pepper. Add the fish sauce and palm sugar. I don't measure either of these ingredients, so the quantities listed above might not be correct.  I'd say start with less, and add to your taste.

5. Simmer until the bell peppers are at your desired tenderness.  Add the basil leaves.

6. Serve over rice.

* The broth that is left after boiling the meat is delicious. I was effing starving while cooking this meal, so on a whim I spooned some of my already cooked rice into a bowl and poured the broth over it for a snack while the curry finished cooking. It was a fantastic snack. I saved the rest of the broth so I can pull that move again.

So, ya, boiling the meat first makes it super tender, and it soaks up all the delicious curry flavor. Very delicious.

Bon appetit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thai Street Food

It's been a long time since I have seen your smiling faces, loyal readers. It's been a rough spring in terms of getting regular free time, so though I have been cooking here and there, I just haven't had time to tell you about it.  I think I will be in town, at least during the week, for most of the summer, so I am back. Hopefully.

Remember last summer when I took the Thai street food class at the Portland Culinary Workshop (check out the green papaya salad)? Well, here are a couple more recipes from that class. I made this meal sometime in April, I think. 

Grilled Pork Skewers (Muu Bing)

10 oz pork loin, butt, neck, etc (I used a shoulder steak)
1/4 bunch cilantro
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp shaved palm sugar
Dash of soy sauce
Juice from one lime
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
About 1/4 cup coconut cream to brush onto skewers while grilling

1. Make a marinade: using a mortar and pestle, pound the sugar, salt, pepper, and cilantro to form a paste.

2. Combine with soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, and oil. Stir together well.

3. Slice the pork into very thin and combine with marinade. Let marinate for 3 hours.

4. Skewer the pork on soaked bamboo skewers.

5. Turning often, grill on a charcoal or gas grill, brushing with coconut cream. This should take about 10 minutes on a medium hot grill.

6. Enjoy!

Sticky Rice with Mango (Kao Niaw)

1 1/2 cups sweet rice
3 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
2 fresh mangos
1/2 cup coconut cream
2 pandan leaves, tied in a knot (I almost always omit this because it's not something readily available in the supermarket)
2 tsp vegetable oil

1. In a medium sauce pan, heat oil and gently toast the rice.

2. Add the coconut milk, water, pandan leaves, sugar, and salt, and stir well. Let simmer for about 20 - 25 minutes until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is cooked through.

3. Remove the pandan leaves, taste the rice for level of sweetness.

4. Stir in the coconut cream. Serve with sliced mangos. 

Bon appetit!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chinese Sizzling Rice Soup with Pork Stock

My freezer is packed tight now that I have my 2012 pork. Because I need to keep more than just beef and pork in my freezer, I desperately need to make some room. Since I just took the Stupendous Stocks class at Portland Culinary Workshop, I decided to use my new skills and make pork stock.

8 lbs pork soup bones
1/4 lb carrots (about 3), roughly chopped
1/4 lb celery (about 4 stalks), roughly chopped
1/2 lb onion (about 2 large), roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
5(ish) black peppercorns

1. Caramelize bones in oven (30 - 45 minutes at 450F) on a cookie sheet. Deglaze the cookie sheet with about a cup or so of red wine.

2. Place bones to a large stockpot and add enough water to cover.

3. Bring to a simmer, skimming off foam and impurities.

4. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer on very low temperature for at least 8 hours.

5. Strain the stock through a fine mesh. Let sit until the fat has solidified on the top, and skim off.

6. Refrigerate.

I didn't know exactly what I wanted to make with the stock, but a soup seemed like the most obvious choice. During some down time at work, I perused many many recipes using pork stock until coming across a recipe for sizzling rice soup (which, by the way, did not call for pork stock). Sizzling rice soup is one of my favorite things to order at a Chinese restaurant, and it reminds me of my childhood. Why not give it a try?

1 cup uncooked white rice – should make 2 cups cooked
6 oz. fresh shrimp, de-shelled and de-veined
10 oz. skinless, boneless chicken pieces cut into chunks and cooked (saute or use leftover chicken) 
1 Tbsp cornstarch
8 cups lightly seasoned homemade pork stock (or use chicken broth)
2 cans sliced water chestnuts
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 cup snow pea pods, cut into 1 inch pieces
3/4 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp pepper (preferably white pepper but any ground pepper will work) 
4 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp soy sauce

1. Before starting to make the soup cook the rice. Then, spread cooked rice in a thin layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake about one hour at 300 degrees, turning the rice layer over after 30 minutes. (Ovens vary; you may need to bake a bit longer to get it crispy, but don’t let it burn.) Break rice apart and set aside. Fry and add to soup as directed.

1a. I saved the shells from the shrimp to simmer with the pork stock while the rice was baking. You don't have to do this, but it may or may not give the broth a more fishy flavor, in a good way. I sauteed the shrimp shells until pink in my Dutch oven then added half the stock. I simmered it for almost an hour, then strained the stock.

2. Mix together the chicken with half the cornstarch, sherry, ginger, and soy sauce in one bowl. Mix the shrimp with the other half of those ingredients in another bowl.  Set both these aside. 

3. Into the soup pot put the broth and water chestnuts. Bring to a boil, add salt and pepper. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 3 or 4 minutes. Add any fresh vegetables you are using.

4. Heat 3 Tbsp oil until hot in a frying pan; place rice in oil to brown.

5. Add chicken and shrimp mixture to hot broth; stir and return to a boil. If adding fresh shredded greens, now is the time!

6. Remove rice from oil with slotted spoon, drain very briefly on paper towels.

7. Carefully pour soup in large serving tureen – or just serve from the stock pot. Tableside, add rice to soup. If both are hot enough, your soup should sizzle. 

8. Dish into serving bowls immediately and enjoy!

This recipe turned out better than I could have imagined. It almost tasted like it does at a Chinese restaurant, except my rice didn't fry quite right. Also, I think I would omit the cornstarch, rice wine vinegar, ginger, and soy sauce marinade for the chicken and shrimp. Sizzling rice soup should have a delicate flavor, and the sweet/salty of the marinade threw it off a little. Other than that, delicious.

Bon appetit!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Irish Week (still?!?): Corned Beef Hash and a Reuben Sandwich

These pictures suck. I was much more concerned with eating than taking pics of the food this weekend. I apologize.

Making 4 pounds of corned beef for yourself means that you will have quite a bit of leftover corned beef. Hence, Irish week continues. 

Thank goodness there are a million ways to use leftover corned beef. And on Saturday, there sounded nothing better to a maybe slightly hungover me than consuming corned beef hash while watching NCAA basketball. So that's what I did.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 baking potatoes (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
8 oz shredded corned beef
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Heat oil in a 10- or 12-inch cast iron (or other non-stick) skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes; cook, turning often, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

2. Add onion; season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until potatoes and onions are browned, 5 minutes.

3. Add bell pepper, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until peppers are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in corned beef and cream until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Who needs to go out to brunch when something so spectacularly tasty can be made at  home???

Still left with quite a bit of corned beef, I made a Reuben on Sunday (while watching NCAA basketball, of course).

2 slices rye bread
1/4 lb corned beef, sliced thinly
3 slices Swiss cheese
Russian dressing

For Russian dressing:
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp ketchup
2 tsp dill pickle relish (I minced half a dill pickle instead of using relish because I don't have or like pickle relish.)
Salt and pepper

1. Combine ingredients for Russian dressing in a bowl.

2. Place corned beef, cheese and sauerkraut on 1 slice rye bread. Spread the Russian dressing on top and place the second slice of bread on top of that. 

3. Butter the outside of the top piece of bread, place in a pan (or a panini maker) to grill butter side down. Butter the top side, flip, and grill. 

Another wonderful corned beef meal. I am sad to say goodbye to Irish week, but it has to happen. Until next year...

Bon appetit.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Week: Corned Beef and Cabbage and Irish Whiskey Sours

There is no way that Irish Week could be complete without the classic corned beef and cabbage, so I saved the best for last. I also gave myself a St. Patrick's day manicure.

I have to admit, my version of corned beef is super lazy and consists of the following: buy and cook a package of corned beef from Trader Joe's. If I had a brisket in my freezer, I would have corned that beef myself, but since I didn't, I figured I'd just buy one pre-made. And I have had the Trader Joe's corned beef before, so I know it's good.

1 package Trader Joe's Corned Beef (or another pre-made corned beef, or make it yourself)
1 lb. baby potatoes
1 head cabbage, sliced into about eight wedges

1. Cook corned beef according to package directions. At the last hour of cooking, add the potatoes to the pot and continue to cook until the meat is very tender and begins to fall apart.

2. When the meat and potatoes are done, remove them from the pot and reserve the liquid. Place on a serving platter and cover with foil. Add cabbage to the reserved pot liquid and simmer for 15 minutes or until cabbage wedges are soft, but not quite limp (to preserve wedge shape). 

3. Remove the cabbage wedges from the pot and add to the serving platter. Serve warm. 

For my alcoholic beverage tonight, I thought Irish whiskey sours sounded delicious.

2 ounces Irish whiskey
2/3 ounce lemon juice 
1 teaspoon superfine sugar

Shake the whiskey, juice, and sugar well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass (unless you happen to have a Sour glass).

It's a meal fit for a leprechaun! And it was a great meal to eat while sitting in front of the TV watching NCAA basketball. My bracket looks pretty good...

Bon appetit!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Irish Week: Shepherd's Pie

Doing all this cooking this week for St. Patrick's has left me with quite a bit of leftovers in my fridge, but being the good single girl that I am, I planned ahead for that. What do you do with leftover stew and colcannon? Make shepherd's pie, of course!

Leftover Guinness Beef Stew
Leftover colcannon
Splash of milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Irish cheddar

1. Preheat the oven to 450F.

2. Warm up the colcannon in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Stir it and add some milk to make it less dry. Then stir in 1 cup of the cheddar.

3. Pour the stew into an appropriately sized baking dish. My 9x9 dish was perfect, and it using it saved me from doing dishes because I removed the colcannon from it and poured the stew right in.

4. Spoon the colcannon over the top of the stew, spreading to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar over the top.

5. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until the top is browned and the stew filling is bubbling. Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Those Irish sure do know of a delicious way to re-purpose leftovers!

Bon appetit!