Tag Archives: Foodie Tuesday

4 Asian Soups

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

Curry laksa. Image from Bidu Recommends.

As the weather gets cooler, don’t we crave more the warmth of hot hearty soups? Let’s venture into exotic territory with these Asian classics. One thing these have in common is that they pack a punch in terms of flavor. They’re not the soothing, comfortable types — they’re passionate and intense, fragrant and fiery, rich and spicy. They make quite a food trip.

Another thing they have in common is that they’re very complicated to make, if you’re making them from scratch, because they either involve a lot of ingredients or a whole lot of steps. The good news is you can buy packets that can give you the real thing with very little time and effort.

Tom Yum

It’s a classic Thai soup with fierce hot and sour flavors that make me perspire just thinking about it. It’s smells heavenly — with a light freshness from kaffir lime leaves and cilantro, and the heady earthiness from the shitakes and whatever protein, usually seafood, that is in it.

Image via No Such Thing

Try making it from scratch or get tom yum mixes from Asian Home Gourmet,

Laksa

Image via Rasa Malaysia

This one’s a well-loved staple in Singapore and Malaysia. There are many different variations on this noodle soup, but my favorite is the coconut milk based curry laksa. The soup itself is rich, thick, and creamy. It’s spicy and has a riot of flavors from different spices in it. There’s also a salty and seafood-y base flavor from prawns. Here’s a recipe if you want to make it from scratch, or get it from a Prima Taste box.

Sinigang

Sinigang is basically a sour soup, and its variations are derived from the different sources of the sour component. My favorite is the tamarind-based soup, and though we had a tamarind tree in our backyard, I never saw my mom make sinigang old school — by cooking the tamarind to a pulp and straining the liquid through as sieve. The soup mixes are really quite excellent, and I grew up with this one made by Knorr, and available at the Filipino Store. But if you want to make it from scratch, here’s a recipe. You can also try this sinigang from the Kitchn.  The soup is made with either prawns, milkfish, pork, or beef, and a selection of vegetables — string beans, water spinach, radish, chilies, and taro.

Sinigang

Via Rasa Malaysia

Bak Kut Teh

It is basically a slow cooked pork bone soup. Literally, its name means, “meat bone tea”. There’s no tea in it though, but it is flavored with numerous spices such as cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and fennel — all wrapped in muslin that stays in the pot for the entire cooking process, and fished out just before serving. The tricky part in this is gathering the correct blend of spices, so using a store-bought ready-made bak kut teh spice bag is definitely a good way to go, and you can get it from Prima Taste. But if you want to conquer this particular mountain, here’s an excellent recipe for making it from scratch.

Image via Almost Bourdain


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Spooky Foods

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

mummy dip with veggies

Image via Hostess with the Mostess

I am planning a not so spooky Halloween party for some preschoolers and I’m most excited by the menu (and the kids of course).  If you’ve got little ones and are trying to get into the Halloween mood, here is a quick round-up of spirited foods for any meal of the day.  (Bonus:  these are all pretty darn easy to prepare and use standard kitchen items!)

Ghost Toast

ghost toast

Special Equipment: Ghost cookie cutter

This recipe is nothing more than toast with cream cheese (optional raisins for eyes and mouth).  After you toast your bread, use a cookie cutter to make your ghost shape.  Really nothing could be easier.

Spider and Web Pancakes

spider web and spider pancakesImage via the Domesticated Academic

Special Equipment: Squeeze bottle for the batter (you may need to cut the spout slightly wider by snipping off the tip)

Technique: Using your regular pancake recipe (just make sure it’s smooth and thin enough to pour through a squeeze bottle) create an asterisk with the batter and then use additional batter to connect each point. Spiders are easy to create on a griddle:  just create an oval and extend some legs and a string of web if you like.

Mummy Pizzas

Image via Nugget Market

Technique: Using regular pizza dough (or English muffins, pita bread) create individual sized pizza crusts, spread with tomato sauce and decorate using strips of mozzarella cheese, to create a bandaged look. Finish off with two olive slices (or ingredient of choice) for the eyes.  I don’t know about yours, but our kid only likes cheese pizza and is obsessed with mummies making this the ideal meal.

Mummy hotdogs

Image via Picky Palate

Technique: So this recipe is decidedly low-brow, but at least we use organic hotdogs in our house?  And the resulting mummy dogs are cute and alarmingly tasty.  I usually use prepackaged crescent rolls that I cut into strips to wrap the hotdogs. Bake in the oven until bandages are puffed and golden (about 15 minutes).

Gingerbread Skeletons

Image via Our Best Bites

Special Equipment: gingerbread person cookie cutter, white icing piped with a fine tip

Technique: Using your favourite gingerbread or sugar cookie recipe, use a gingerbread person cookie cutter (and/or assorted animals) to cut your shapes and bake as usual.  Once cooled, use white icing to pipe skulls and bones onto your cookies.  Et voila!

Monster cupcakes

Image via Tiffintales

Image via Martha Stewart

Make your favourite basic cupcake recipe and then just let your imagination run wild, really wild.  A collection of candies, sprinkles and various icings should be all you need to create scary monsters, icky insects, the undead from assorted mythologies and frightful aliens.

Happy Halloween everyone!  Hope you enjoy the spooky season!


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Oodles of Noodles

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

What’s your comfort food? I’m a total carb addict, so noodles are what I often turn to in order to soothe my soul. I usually whip up some pasta with tomato sauce or maybe gooey mac n’ cheese when I’m at home but when I crave something like pho or yakisoba, I head out to a restaurant.

asian noodles

Image: Wheatflourbook

I don’t know why I am hesitant to make these dishes; most large grocery stores stock both a wide variety of Asian noodles and the necessary condiments to recreate them at home. It’s not like I have to make the noodles by hand, which really is an art:

Video: Chef Danny Yip Makes Noodles

My favourite noodles are soba, thin strands of pasta made with buckwheat flour. Despite the delicate texture, they have a hearty taste and texture. Unfortunately, Japanese restaurants in North America rarely offer many soba dishes; one might find a cold salad of noodles tossed with vegetables or a hot soup of noodles in broth but that’s about it.

Image: Full Fork Ahead

This time of year I’m looking for something heartier and this recipe for Stir-Fried Pork and Sugar Snaps with Soba Noodles sounds both easy and delicious.

udon via spoonImage: Spoonful

As much as I love the nutty flavour of soba, sometimes I miss the toothsome texture of a thicker noodle. This is when I turn to udon, another Japanese noodle. In addition to its larger size, udon is made with regular wheat flour and therefore has a much more neutral flavour profile. Like soba noodles, udon are traditionally served both cold and hot, and often in a broth. When I start to come down with a cold, I crave miso soup instead of chicken noodle. I will have to try New Asian Cuisine’s recipe for Udon Miso Noodle Soup the next time I start to feel poorly.

Image: Carey Jones, New York Serious Eats

In China, rice noodles are more common and these have spread to several other parts of Asia. One dish that I have heard about from foodie traveler friends is Char Kway Teow (“Stir-fried Ricecake Strips”), which is popular in the night markets of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore.

Image: Ooh, Look…

Flat rice noodles are stir-fried with sausage, seafood, and egg; I think this would be the perfect street-snack after having a few drinks. Since we don’t have night markets in Louisville, I will have to try to make it at home. The Chinese sausage might be a challenge but MasterChef Australia contestant Poh Ling Yeow has a recipe that is otherwise fairly easy to put together in the home kitchen.

Steamy Kitchen Vietnamese Pho Noodle SoupImage: Steamy Kitchen

Rice noodles are also the star in Vietnamese pho, a soup made with either beef or chicken. The broth is fragrant with spices (including cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, and cloves) and brightened with fresh cilantro and mint. When you need a sensory pick-me-up, this dish is the one try. Steamy Kitchen’s recipe isn’t the easiest but I bet it produces a fantastic pho.

Seattle Chocolates Savory RamenRamen noodle chocolateImages: Seattle Chocolates

My other go-to comfort food? Chocolate. I’m not sure that I am ready to mix my two faves but if you are braver than I am, you can try Seattle Chocolate’s Ramen Noodle Bar, a mix of uncooked ramen and dark chocolate or the even bolder Savory Ramen, with onion, garlic, and soy sauce added to the mix.

Image: Simply Reem

This winter, when the going gets tough, this girl will be going for the noodles. Who’s with me?


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Picking Pumpkin

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

What do you think of when you hear the word “pumpkin”? For me, it’s either “pie” or “jack-o-lantern.”

Jack-o-LanternsImage: Lola’s Curmudgeonly Musings

But many would answer “Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte.”  The autumnal beverage has rabid fans, as evidenced by the public reaction when the company recently ran short of the spicy-sweet syrup needed to make their signature drink.

cup of pumpkinImage: Mashable Business

I have to admit, I have never had one; it just doesn’t appeal to me. Neither do the dozens of other “pumpkin spice” products that crop up this time of year, everything from Pop-Tarts to Hershey Kisses. In fact, there is a bit of a backlash happening against this fake-flavour fervour. A recent Guardian UK article urged Britons to resist “the US pumpkin invasion.”

collection of gourdsImage: Tracey Eckersley

While I agree that artificial pumpkin should be avoided (as should most artificial flavours), I disagree with the author when she denounces pumpkins themselves as “tasteless and watery.” When prepared properly, this type of squash can be quite yummy.

braised pork with pumpkinBraised Pork Ribs with Pumpkin; Image: Christine’s Recipes

Pumpkin has been delegated to dessert in America but, like other types of squash, it also suits savoury dishes. It pairs beautifully with pork or chicken but is hearty enough on its own to make a satisfying vegetarian soup or stew. The mild flesh can be bland, so feel free to play with spices like ginger, curry, and chili.

Curried pumpkin stewCurried Pumpkin Stew; Image: Guilty Kitchen

As much as I love a good spaghetti Bolognese, my favourite fall pasta is pumpkin ravioli with a sage and brown butter sauce;  it manages to be rich and decadent while still light and delicate.

Pumpkin ravioliPumpkin Ravioli; Image: Culinary Masterclass

The biggest problem with fresh pumpkin, besides trying to find it beyond the few weeks around Halloween, is the messy preparation. For many, scooping out the “guts” is enough to turn them off this vegetable for life. If this doesn’t gross you out, The Pioneer Woman has a wonderful tutorial on making pumpkin puree.

roast pumpkin via Pioneer WomanImage: The Pioneer Woman

Thankfully, for squeamish people like me, there is canned pumpkin. Low in calories and fat, this high-fiber puree makes an excellent substitute for butter or oil in baking recipes, so go nuts with pumpkin breads, scones, and brownies all year long! Just make sure to buy canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, which has sweeteners and spices added.

pumpkin pull apart breadPumpkin Pull-Apart Bread; Image: love.life.eat

As for pumpkin pie, I have to admit that I’m not really a fan of it either. I find the texture to be a bad mixture of grainy and mushy. The solution? Add something creamy.

pumpkin cheesecakeDouble Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake; Image: Ask Chefs

I think a pumpkin cheesecake might grace my Thanksgiving table this year, or maybe pecan pie with pumpkin frozen yogurt.

pumpkin frozen yogurt


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The Cider House Rules

It’s Foodie Tuesday

I love fall. For me, nothing beats the colours of autumn, in either nature or clothing. I adore wrapping up in a cozy sweater and enjoying a cup of tea in the waning sun. And the cooler weather inspires me back to the kitchen to cook up comforting classics for family and friends.

apple harvestImage: The Purl Bee

Autumnal fruits are not abundant but who needs a wide variety when the versatile apple is in season? The perfect fall treat, apples are as crisp as the weather. But as much as I love eating them straight from the tree, I love apple cider even more.

apple ciderImage: Room for Dessert

Unlike filtered and pasteurized apple juice, which brings up awkward memories of kindergarten, apple cider is thick and rich- it really is like drinking an apple. I love to have a pot of cider on the stove when guests come over; simmering with orange peel, cinnamon, cloves, and a touch of nutmeg, it perfumes the whole house with a welcoming scent.

Image: Scarlet Lime

I know that it is truly fall when my local coffee shop offers fresh, hot cider from a nearby farm. They serve it laced with caramel, which is one of the most decadent treats I can think of. Imagine my joy when I stumbled across Scarlet Lime’s recipe for apple cider caramels!

Image: Smitten Kitchen

As a child, my school took us apple picking almost every fall. It is still something I love to do when I have the time. My local orchard (which provides that wonderful cider to the coffee shop) takes advantage of the season by making apple cider donuts. You know they are making them when you walk into their shop: the room is filled with an enticing aroma of apples, sugar, and cinnamon. I wait all year for these donuts and now, thanks to Smitten Kitchen, I can make my own!

Image: Gimme Some Oven

I tend to think of apple cider as a sweet treat but it pairs remarkably well with meat and poultry. I often braise chicken in apple cider with chunks of apples and onions. Gimme Some Oven kicks it up a notch with an easy skillet recipe laced with lemon and herbs.

pulled pork with apple ciderImage: A Sweet Pea Chef

If you think pork chops with apple sauce is a winning dish, try making pulled pork with apple cider. A Sweet Pea Chef’s version roasts slowly in the oven, leaving lots of time to enjoy the wonderful fall weather while it cooks.

rutabaga glazed with apple ciderImage: Bon Apétit

Many autumn vegetables are intrinsically boring; rutabaga, anyone? But glazed with apple cider? Yes, please! I bet even the most stubborn of veggie-haters will like this recipe.

applesImage: NPR

Pick up some apple cider at a local orchard or market and experiment: mix it with chicken stock as a basting liquid for turkey or substitute it for water in a spice cake recipe. I promise you that it will make your recipes’ flavours as bright as the fall foliage.


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