Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Japanese Shoyu Ramen

When we think of Ramen, the first thing that comes to mind are those inexpensive packaged noodles with a spice packet included.  Ramen, in Japan, is a dish that is passed on from generation to generation and often has a Master of Ramen soup.  

Ramen is made with spirit - and the magical ingredient comes from the heart.
Almost all of the ingredients for this soup can be found in any supermarket.  Two specialty Asian items are the dried kombu and bonito flakes.

Kombo is a wide leaf sea vegetable (kelp) that grows in cold Artic currents among Japan's northernmost Hokkaido Island.  It is popular for its umami flavor.  Kombu is essential to the delicious Japanese noodle broth 'dashi' but can be added to any soup or soup stock to bring it to life.

Bonito flakes are another component of traditional dashi noodle broth.  Bonito is a type of mackerel which is steamed and dried to wood-like hardness, then shaved into flakes.  I found both of these items in Whole Foods.  Although both of these items are strange to me, I really wanted to make a traditional Ramen.

2 pieces dried kombu
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
1 Tbsp. White Wine Vinegar

1-1/2 lb. boneless pork butt or shoulder
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2-1/2 lbs. chicken wings
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, cut into chunks
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
1" piece ginger, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup bonito flakes

Ramen Noodles (discard spice packet) or Rice Vermicelli Noodles

For the Dashi:  Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.  Add two strips of Kombu.  Lower heat and simmer for 4 minutes.  Remove and discard Kombu reserving liquid.

Season pork with salt and pepper.  Roll up and tie with kitchen twine at 2" intervals.  Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Cook pork, turning until brown all over, 10-12 minutes.  Add chicken, scallions, carrots, garlic, ginger and bonito flakes.

Add kombu liquid.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, skimming the surface occasionally.

Simmer until pork is tender and stock has reduced slightly; about 2-1/2 hours.  Add soy sauce mixture.

Remove pork from stock and let cool.  Chill until ready to use.  Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into another large bowl or container; discard solids.  Cover and chill.

When ready to serve, bring stock to a simmer; it should be very hot.  At the same time cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions and drain.  Slice pork or cut into strips.  Add noodles to your soup bowl.  Top with sliced pork and add hot stock over pork to warm through.  Stock should come up just to the level of the noodles.

Top with chopped scallions, hard-boiled egg half or pieces of nori sheets.
Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or chili oil over pork if desired.

Bringing ramen home may take a special trip to an Asian Market, but it might be the best noodle soup you'll ever make.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Deviled Potato Salad

The creamy dressing for this potato salad is what makes it taste similar to deviled eggs!
This is a cool, creamy potato salad with great old-fashioned flavor.
3 lbs. red-skin potatoes cut into 3/4-inch chunks
Salt and Pepper
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
4 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled
1/2 tsp. celery seed
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 celery rib, chopped fine

How to Boil Eggs 

Bring potatoes, 1 Tbsp. salt, and enough water to cover by 1 inch to boil in large pot over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.
Microwave vinegar and sugar in small bowl until sugar dissolved, about 30 seconds.  Process vinegar mixture, mustard 1 hard-cooked egg yolk (reserve white), celery seed and 1/2 tsp. salt in food processor until smooth.  Transfer to medium bowl.
Drain potatoes thoroughly and transfer to large bowl.  Drizzle 2 Tbsp. dressing over hot potatoes and using a rubber spatula, gently toss until evenly coated.  Refrigerate until cooled, about 30 minutes.
Whisk mayonnaise into remaining dressing.  Add remaining egg white and 3 hard-cooked eggs to dressing and using potato masher, mash until only small pieces remain.  Add dressing and celery to cooled potatoes, tossing to combine.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Philly Fluff Cake

 We made a trip recently to a bakery that my niece was raving about!  This family-owned bakery, Natale's  specializes and is famous for this cake.  Where did it get it's name?  Philly, I assume comes from the cream cheese in the recipe.  
In the bakery case, these cakes look like an Angel Food cake dusted with powdered sugar - so what's the big deal?  It's sweet, moist and buttery with a crisp brown crust and literally melts in your mouth - that's the big deal.  
10 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cup granulated sugar, divided
6 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan.
     2.  In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter and shortening on medium-
          high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. 

I think this is where the "Fluff" comes in.

          In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
          Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix on low speed until blended - it will
          be very thick.

     3.  Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar and the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add
          the vanilla and the remaining 1 cup sugar and continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl 
          once or twice, until the batter is smooth.

The cake will settle while cooling - it's too pretty to turn over!

     4.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center
          comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack to 15 minutes.  Invert the cake onto a platter and cool 
          completely.  Dust with a generous amount of confectioner's sugar.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tortellini, Spinach & Tomato Soup

If you have tortellini in your freezer, a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano in the fridge, and a can of diced tomatoes on the shelf, all you'll need to do is pick up a bag of triple-washed spinach on the way home for this terrific soup.

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken stock
14 oz. frozen cheese tortellini
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, with liquid
5 oz. pkg. baby organic spinach, coarsely chopped
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and onion and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Add the tortellini and cook about 5 minutes until pasta is almost tender.  Add the tomatoes and their liquid, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until pasta is tender.  

Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.  Serve sprinkled with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Next-Day Turkey Soup with Crispy Stuffing Croutons

We all know that leftovers can be the best part of Thanksgiving.
Make up a batch of soup to use up your leftovers.
You can add just about anything to this soup!
Thanksgiving leftovers for me are generally a sandwich.  I love leftover turkey sandwiches.  With cranberry sauce and a slice of dressing and a little gravy on the side for dipping.
I always make a whole turkey, but the dark meat gets left aside.
Get the most out of your turkey! It's also a great way to use up what's left in the fridge.
If you have a pressure cooker, it takes no time at all to make a batch of soup.
I made double stuffing this year and thought I would use some of it to top off this delicious left-over turkey soup.

1 Turkey carcass
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery with leaves, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 scallions, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. turkey fat drippings (skim off the top of your gravy)
10 cups water

Place all ingredients in pressure cooker.  Cover, bring to high pressure and cook for 30 minutes.  Let pressure come down naturally.  If you don't have a pressure cooker, you'll have to simmer this stock for about 3 hours.

Remove bones and large pieces of turkey.  Strain remaining stock through a cheesecloth.  At this point you can add whatever veggies you have left from Thanksgiving or in the fridge.  

2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
2 cups leftover turkey
1/2 cup white rice
1 cup leftover stuffing

Bring stock to a simmer.  Add vegetables, thyme and white rice.  Simmer on low for about 30 minutes.

Cut up leftover stuffing into cubes.  Saute in about 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter until browned and crispy.

Add stuffing cubes to your soup and enjoy!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Copycat Rao's Famous Broiled Lemon Chicken

The most requested dish at Rao's  in New York City.
Chicken broiled with a tangy lemon, olive oil and garlic sauce.

This dish seems to go out to almost every table.
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 2 1/2-lb. chickens with legs, thighs,
   and wings separated and breasts quartered
   on the bone
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Place oven rack in the upper third of the oven, and preheat broiler for at least 15 minutes.

Whisk together lemon juice, oil, vinegar, garlic and oregano in a 2 cup measuring cup.  Season the salt and pepper.

Place chicken skin side down, on a baking sheet and broil for 15 minutes.  Turn chicken skin side up and broil until skin is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes more.

Remove chicken from broiler.  When cool enough to handle, cut into serving pieces.  Pour over lemon mixture.  The chicken was not quite cooked through at this point.

Broil additional 5-7 minutes on each side until chicken is browned and cooked through.
Stir in parsley.
Serve with plenty of crusty Italian bread.

~Recipe from Rao's Cookbook

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Easy Kimchi

Every Korean meal includes anywhere from 2 to 12 side dishes (banchan).  The most important and well known is Kimchi, of which there are 100+ varieties.  This pickled and fermented cabbage is the most popular.  This hot, spicy, garlicky dish is incredible over rice, paired with meat, or just on its own.
Kimchi is usually made without vinegar and needs to sit for 2-3 days to ferment.
This is a quick version that is ready to eat in about 4 hours.
You can make this as spicy and you like by adjusting the amount of Chili Garlic Sauce.
If you are not a fan of fish sauce, which is used in most Asian dishes, or if you can't find it in the Asian section of your market, I found a great substitute.  One of the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce is anchovies, a small amount makes a great substitute for the fish sauce.

1 medium head Napa Cabbage
2 Tbsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2-3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 to 1/2 cup Chili Garlic Sauce (Sambal Oelek)
1/4 cup Miso or Vegetable Broth (in place of fish sauce)
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Cut the cabbage in half (lengthwise), then into quarters, and then chop it into 1-inch pieces.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the cabbage with the sea salt and sugar.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator, allowing the moisture to be drawn out of the cabbage - about 2 hours.

Rinse well under cold water.

In a food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, chili sauce, vegetable broth, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sugar and pulse to combine.

Toss the cabbage with the chili sauce mixture.  Pack into jars and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  This will keep up to a month refrigerated.

~Adapted from "cook yourself sexy"

Easy Kimchi  on Punk Domestics

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mounds Poke Cake

I've seen many a "poke cake" and have yet to make one (it's true!)  They always looked a little too sweet for me.  My blogger buddy Brandi over at The Country Cook has more poke cake recipes than you can shake a stick at!  Head on over for all her poke cake recipes!!  We don't have a lot of sweet tooths here - in fact I still have leftover Halloween candy - of which Mounds and Almond Joy, which are my favorites, are still in a little bowl on the dining room table.  When I saw this recipe for Mounds Poke Cake I just couldn't resist.

This cake is not overly sweet with just a hint of coconut flavor.
I barely got to take this photo - it was gone in no time!

What I loved most about this cake was that it is chilled.
The creamy topping and cool coconut cream and condensed milk really made this a delicious cake!

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1-6 oz. can cream of coconut 
1-9 oz. Extra Creamy Cool Whip
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Bake cake using package directions in a 9×13 pan. Remove cake from oven. While still hot use a fork to poke holes in top of
cake. In a bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and cream of coconut. Pour mixture over cake, spreading evenly so it will soak into holes. Cool completely. Top with Cool Whip and then coconut flakes. Chill overnight.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Polish Spareribs and Sauerkraut Stew

This is a traditional Polish stew called Bigos or Hunter's Stew.  There are so many variations of this pork dish.
You can go to Hog Heaven and add smoked pork shoulder, pork butt, bacon and kielbasa.  Spareribs and sauerkraut are something I've never had outside of my own home.  This is the way my mother made it, and it's a perfect dish for a cold winter day.  She always served it with simple boiled, mashed potatoes and fried onions.

2 lbs. meaty spareribs (or country style)
2 lbs. sauerkraut 
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Smashed Potatoes with Fried Onions

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2-1/2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 medium onion diced
Salt and Pepper

Season ribs with salt and pepper.  In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil.  Add spareribs and brown lightly on both sides.  Add onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.

 Deglaze with white wine.  Add sauerkraut.  You can drain it and rinse it depending on how sour you like your kraut.  I don't drain or rinse.  Add bay leaves.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until pork is very tender, about 2-1/2 to 3 hours.  Adjust salt and pepper.

Cook potatoes in boiled salted water until tender.  Drain. Saute onions in butter until nicely browned, about 20 minutes.

Add fried onions with the butter and mash with an old-fashioned potato masher (if you have one). Season with salt and pepper.  If the potatoes seem a little dry, add a splash of milk.

We always had this in soup bowls.  Place a generous amount of smashed potatoes in your bowl, and cover it with the tender pork and sauerkraut along with the juices.

I suppose if you've never had spareribs and sauerkraut, it might not look very appealing, but they are wonderful.  The ribs are as tender as can be and just melt in your mouth. The sauerkraut is mild and flavorful from the meat juices.  A spoonful of those mashed potatoes with fried onions with all those juices and sauerkraut....hog heaven.

My mom would have never added the wine, or garnish with parsley, it's a peasant dish - one that truly brings me back home to Mom's Kitchen.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Roasted Pickled Beets and Onions

This is an easy recipe for delicious pickled beets and onions.  I happen to love beets.  I grew up on them.  Polish and Slovak cuisine include many beet dishes (borscht - beet soup, pickled beets and Red Beets with Horseradish Relish )  These are great on a salad or as a side dish.

This recipe isn't processed so it's meant to be eaten within a few weeks.

Roasted Pickled Beets and Onions

16 baby beets, tops trimmed
(you can also used canned or jarred beets)
1 medium onion, julienned
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup water

To make the beets:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Trim greens from beets.
Wrap each beet in foil.  Place beet packets directly on oven rack and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.  Cool and peel beets (I suggest you use gloves or paper towel to do this, beet juice stains everything.

Cut beets into wedges or slices.

To make the marinade:

In a small saucepan, combine onions, vinegar, sugar, salt and 2/3 cup water and bring to a boil; simmer 5 minutes.  

Pour hot marinade over beets and cool to room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.

Roasted Pickled Beets and Onions  on Punk Domestics

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ultimate Chicken 'N' Dumplings

Tender poached chicken, fresh carrots, celery, onions and garlic......
simmering in a rich and creamy savory gravy.......
topped off with light, fluffy dumplings.......

Ultimate Chicken 'n' Dumplings

Chicken and Stock:

1 (3 to 3-1/2 lb.) chicken cleaned and rinsed
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
5 black peppercorns
1/2 head garlic (split through the equator)
2 Knorr or Maggi Chicken Boullion cubes
Salt to taste

For the Gravy:

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/3 cup flour
6 cups Chicken Stock (above)
1 pkg. frozen peas
1 pkg. pearl onions
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper (and plenty of it)
Chives or scallions for garnish

Place the chicken and stock ingredients in a large Dutch oven and cover with cold water.  Set over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle simmer (do not boil).  Think of it as a poaching liquid.  A gently simmer makes for the most tender poached chicken!  Simmer for 1 hour, skimming the surface of fat and scum as it cooks.

When done, remove chicken to a pan and set aside to cool slightly.  Strain the stock and shred or chop the chicken, set aside.

To prepare the Gravy:

Using the same Dutch oven,  over medium heat, add butter and oil.  Add carrots and celery and saute until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the flour to make a roux.  Continue to stir and cook for about 2 minutes.  Pour in the hot stock and stir or whisk to incorporate.  Add frozen peas and pearl onions (I added two small, diced potatoes).  Let the sauce simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Stir in heavy cream.  
The gravy was delicious, but looked a little pale to me, so I added two drops of yellow food coloring to enhance the color - totally optional!!
Fold in the reserved shredded chicken into the gravy and let simmer on low while you prepare the dumplings.


2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup buttermilk
Chopped chives or scallions
Salt and pepper to taste

Drop heaping tablespoons of the dumpling batter onto the simmering gravy.  Cover and let the dumpling poach for 15-20 minutes until they are firm and puffy.

Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and chopped chives or scallions for garnish.

Makes about 6 servings.
~Adapted from Tyler's Ultimate

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