Tuesday, January 31, 2012

curry in a hurry

Greetings fellow eaters. I made a veggie curry, wanna see?

 The veg in question. Later I added mushrooms and frozen peas, because my dad loves frozen peas and he was partaking in this particular curry. That, and my mom asked me if I would put peas in for my dad 130,004,287 times during the making of this curry.
Chop the veg up. Put some effort into it!
Stir fry the veg (I like to use coconut oil) starting with garlic and ginger. Then add the firmest veggies in first, such as potatoes and carrots. After frying and softening the veggies a little, I added the curry paste.
I like to doctor the jarred sauce with a variety of India spices. It makes me feel like I actually cooked rather than mixed things around. Anything to boost the self-esteem, people!
Time to add in the softer veggies like peppers and mushrooms.
I love mushrooms in curries.
Yes, I finally added the peas, minutes before serving this on some quinoa. Quite the satisfying meal, and even tastier the following day!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

pho fantasy

If there is one soup I can't ever live without, that brings so much hot, slurpy, soupy pleasure to my life, and has even brought a tear of joy to my eye, is the mighty, unequivocal, irresistible pho. I love this soup. No, you don't understand. I LOVE this soup. Ever since I tasted what I consider to be the original pho back in 2009, I have dreamed of trying to recreate it; that full, deeply flavourful broth, the green, lively herbs brightening up the taste of the soft and yielding rice noodles, the paper thin beef slices cooking instantly from the ladles of hot broth showered on them... I could write an ode to this soup. But instead, as is customary on this blog of mine, I will show you how I made some pho 'fo my fine self!

Using and adapting a recipe found on epicurious.com, here's what happened.

Charring onions and ginger. I imagine that back in the day, pho would have been made over an open fire, thus making it quite easy to blacken the onions and ginger. The modern version saw me broiling these guys until they got smokey and black. Then I peeled them and they went into the stock pot.

Toasting the spices to go into the broth. Do not underestimate the power of a medium heat applied to fragrant cloves, anise seeds and cinnamon. By throwing this trifecta of deliciousness into a hot pan, you release all of its oils and somehow, the secrets of the universe come wafting into your nostrils. You smell this, and you just KNOW it's going to taste good. These spices go into cheesecloth and basically brew in the beef stock, elevating a beef bone tea into delicious pho juice. 

Starting the broth. Beware, this blog is becoming very very non vegetarian. After a visit to the local butchers, where we bought some beef bones, some flank roast, and some sirloin, we came home and started the broth.

The broth takes hours, people. Hours wherein you skim the scum and fat from the liquid, transforming bones and bringing them one step closer to some Vietnamese fantasy.

Repeat after me: Pho juice! Pho juice! Pho juice! The broth's been strained, the cheesecloth with spice trifecta has been removed, and it's piping hot, ready to be made into pho.

This isn't just about the beef broth and the noodles. Oh, no. Pho is all about the garnishes. When I ponder the mysteries of the beautiful pho, I realize that it's the perfect combination of soup AND salad in one bowl. 

When I was in Vietnam I was amazed at the variety of greens that you could throw into your bowl: mustard greens, dandelion leaves, mint, holy basil, coriander, beansprouts...and those greens just kept on coming, appearing in huge wet piles on white plastic dinner plates. 

You mustn't forget about balancing the flavours with some lime, chillies, hoisin and hot sauces too!

Steamed some properly cut (lengthwise!) baby bok choi to add even more greenery to the pho.

Pho assembly line action. Getting all the ingredients in the bowl before pouring the broth.

  That flank roast bubbled away in the stock pot for over four hours. It tasted like heavenly cows. Please note the raw, paper-thin sirloin. Just a bit in the bowl, save some for the others!

My bowl, post-garnishing. I was so excited to finally taste it!

Ah...perfectly nourishing, just the right amount of heavy and light, of crisp and soft, of spice and sweetness. If this soup was a gesture, it would be a hug.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Holiday Food Recap 2011

Welcome to 2012! Last year certainly was delicious, wasn't it? This year I resolve to grab my camera and take the time to photograph more meal-making. Either that or find a way to acquire a fancy smart phone so I can upload photos more easily to the blog.

Here's a look at all the yummy food I made and ate over the holidays.

New year's eve appetizer. Malpeque oysters with a white onion mignonette and some bubbly.

New year's eve dinner. Drake Qwacker the Third got roasted up with some baby potatoes and organic carrots. I am such a non-vegetarian now.

Sushi with my oldest friends. That is some mighty futomaki!

My hometown sushi joint is expanding into the realm of Korean food. Some spicy soup with kimchi. It was pretty awesome.

My lovely cousin made these gingerbread cookies.

My grandma's petes de soeurs (nun's farts) and some "Davy Crockets" AKA peanut butter balls.

Made some veggie curry for my family on a whim. No biggie. Thanks Patak's paste, you make me an adequate Indian cook.

Here is the first attempt at making pho, from scratch, including boiling bones for beef broth. Not bad, not bad. One step closer to recruiting a broth whisperer to make me bases for my soups.

Highlights of the holidays included:
-making pho for the first time
-having a dinner party with my parents
-my dad's emotional cosmo drinking
-adding the adjective "christmas" to every action or thought, such as "christmas annoyance", and "christmas tension"
-looking at ducks
-eating ducks
-roasting a duck for the first time

I hope that the holidays left you with some warm and fuzzy memories. Now it's get back to work time, and I will be posting the epic pho times very soon!

Bonne Année! xo