February 26, 2013

Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)

I wasn't planning on posting this (hence the crappy phone picture below), but it was SO FREAKING GOOD that I decided to share the recipe.

I recently bought a new pressure cooker, and BOY am I glad I did! It's a handy piece of equipment, easy to use and versatile. The first thing I made in it was brown rice, which took only 20 minutes to cook. I have plans to make pulled pork, pot roast, osso bucco, pork rillettes, and artichokes in it as well.

Sunday night, I made chicken broth for pho in less than an hour, something that would normally take at least three hours to cook!

And it was SO DELICIOUS. Seriously. It tasted just like the pho I order at my favorite Vietnamese restaurants.

Pho Ga 

For the broth:
1 chicken *
2-inch piece of ginger
4 garlic cloves, peeled
6 whole cloves
4 star anise
4 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 onion
2 teaspoons fish sauce (or substitute salt)

For each bowl of soup:
rice noodles (cooked according to the package)
shredded chicken
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1 green onion, sliced
4 basil leaves, torn
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tablespoon soy sauce

* I used the bones from a leftover roasted chicken & picked all the meat off to use in my soup before making the broth.
  • To make the broth: Toast the ginger, garlic, cloves, anise, cardamom & cinnamon in a dry pressure cooker pan over medium heat until fragrant (just a minute or two). Add the onion, chicken, fish sauce, and enough water to cover the ingredients. Be careful not to fill the pot more than 3/4 full. Close the lid & bring to pressure over high heat, then turn down to medium low & cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Release the pressure. Remove the large pieces from the broth (be sure to pick the cooked chicken off the bones, shred or chop, & set aside) and strain though a cheesecloth-lined strainer.
  • To make a bowl of soup: Put noodles (as many as you'd like), shredded chicken, sprouts, green onion, and basil in a large soup bowl. Top with the broth and finish with the lime juice & soy sauce.

February 18, 2013

Espresso Meringues

Confession: Recently, I made meringues for the first time. They were another thing on my "to cook" list that seemed difficult & persnickity.

I was wrong.

Meringues are actually very easy...just four ingredients & little prep time. Plus, you can flavor them with just about anything (vanilla, chocolate, citrus, herbs, peppermint, berry). 

I made espresso meringues (which we sandwiched together with bittersweet chocolate ganache) in my cooking class last weekend. My class chose to make heart-shaped meringues for Valentine's day. But, you can make stars or kisses, depending on what kind of pastry tip you use, or simple disks.

Espresso Meringues

Just a quick, not-great pic snapped with my phone during class.

4 egg whites

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon espresso powder

  • Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. 
  • Sift the powdered sugar, cream of tartar, and espresso powder together and then slowly beat them into the egg whites. Continue beating until all of the sugar is incorporated and the whites form stiff peaks. 
  • Scoop the meringue into a pastry bag & pipe onto silicone mat-lined baking trays. 
  • Bake for 90 minutes until the meringues are hard. Remove from the oven and let cool.

February 9, 2013

Meat Corn

Still looking for an appropriately anti-Valentine dish? This snack is pretty much the epitome of anti- EVERYTHING.

A few years ago, my BFF Sarah joked around about bringing “meat corn” to my Fourth of July party. Our menu planning went a little like this:

Sarah: “This might be a good time to try out the recipe from ORVILLE REDDENBACHER’S POPCORN COOKBOOK for ‘Meat Corn,’ a delightful blend of popcorn sprinkled with Brown Gravy Mix and pieces of Beef Jerky.  BLARGH!”

Me: “OMG. Please tell me that’s NOT real. Because if it is, I’m TOTALLY MAKING IT ON SATURDAY! Trashy foods, FTW.”

Sarah: “It is TOTALLY real.  I think there is a picture in the book.  ‘Perfect for Armchair Quarterbacks’”

Me, barely able to contain my mounting excitement: “BRING THAT BOOK WITH YOU ON SATURDAY!”

And, so, being the AWESOME friend she is...Sarah showed up with the ingredients (and I’m using that term loosely) to make TWO batches of the now infamous MEAT CORN.

With all the fabulous homemade food we had that day, the meat corn was actually the most popular.

Meat corn: who knew what was so absolutely wrong--in more ways than one--could be kind of right.

For hot meat-on-meat action:

MEAT CORN (aka Mighty Meaty Mix) *

“An armchair must while watching any sporting event.”
from Orville Redenbacher’s Poporn Cookbook, circa 1992

* Disclaimer: I am in no way advocating that you make this recipe as instructed by Mr. Redenbacher. I am merely the messenger.

makes 3 quarts

1 bag popped Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Natural Microwave Popping Corn
1 (.82 oz) package brown gravy mix
2 tablespoons Orville Redenbacher’s Buttery-flavor Popcorn Oil
1 (1.2 oz) package beef jerky, snipped in pieces
  • Place popcorn in a brown paper bag, sprinkle with gravy mix (Mmmm...powdered graaaaaavy) and shake; pour oil over and shake again.  Place in a large bowl and stir in beef jerky pieces.
  • Variation: You can substitute salami or pepperoni for the beef jerky. (But why would you? I mean REALLY.)