October 31, 2014

Burmese Noodles

When I saw this recipe I am pretty sure I squealed with joy.  There used to be this fantastic Burmese restaurant in The Castro District of San Francisco where I ate noodles on a magical jungle patio as often as possible, and I was dying to try this recipe immediately and slurp delicious noodles in a nostalgia haze.

The recipe was easier than I expected it to be, with the payoff of a very flavorful sauce at the end.  The hardest part was probably finding shrimp paste (belachan), which I admittedly did not try too hard to track down, assuming it would be anywhere.  I was wrong, and so instead of trekking to an Asian market, I googled to find a substitute and it worked out fine. Blending up the spice mixture as the base of the soup is different, but it was a lot faster than dicing and sauteing everything separately.

These noodles are hearty and delicious, not quite a soup, but still a bit saucy, with sort of a mild curry flavor (though it did not have the exact right flavor that I was dreaming of).  I will probably make this again but I will try to track down the shrimp paste and see if it hits closer to home.  I loved the chicken in this dish, it was super tender and delicious from cooking in the coconut broth, and next time I may add some mushrooms and spinach, which probably wouldn't be considered Burmese at all anymore, but I just think they would taste good with this delicious sauce!

Burmese Noodles
Slightly adapted from Food52
Serves 4 - 6 hungry people

2 medium yellow onions, chopped roughly
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp shrimp paste (belachan) or 2 Tbls fish sauce or 2 Tbls anchovy paste
1 Tbsp water (if using fish sauce, omit this ingredient)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 Tbsp chili powder (plus a little extra to serve)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces.
1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
2 tsp salt
12 oz packet of rice noodles
1 shallot, thinly sliced and fried to a crisp
3 eggs, boiled and chopped
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped fine
2 limes, quartered
sambal olek chili sauce (optional)

Place the chopped onions, garlic, ginger, shrimp paste, and water (or fish sauce)  in a blender or food processor. Pulse well until you have a smooth paste.

Heat canola and sesame oils in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion/garlic/ginger blended mixture and saute for about 5 minutes to get the rawness out of the onions.

Add 1/4 tsp turmeric and 2 Tbsp chili powder, stirring to distribute throughout the onion mixture.

Add the chopped up chicken to the pot along with the salt.  Cook the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring well to coat with spice mixture.

Add coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Stir well and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat and reduce soup to a simmer.  Cover and let the soup simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the other components are ready.

While the soup is simmering, juggle these other tasks:

Cook the rice noodles to the package directions.  Drain well and set aside.

Fry up some crispy shallots by heating enough canola oil over medium heat to cover your sliced shallots. Toss the shallots in and stir them around until they are golden brown and crispy.  This took about 15 minutes or so. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel.

Boil a few eggs, peel them, and chop them up.

If the chicken is cooked through by now, taste your broth. Adjust salt if needed.

Assemble by scooping a large helping of rice noodles into a soup bowl. Top with ladlefuls of soup. The noodles should swim in coconut broth. Add pieces of chicken. Top with crispy shallots, chopped egg, a sprinkling of chili powder, some cilantro, and a large squirt of lime juice.  I also added some sambal olek which was really good with this dish if you like a bit more spice!

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October 23, 2014

Avgolemono with Chicken, Rice, and Spinach

Avgolemono is a lot harder to spell and to pronounce (Ah-vo-lem-oh-no) than it is to make, at least that's what I discovered this week.  This is a Greek soup, the name Avgolemono translates to Egg-Lemon. I know, I know, it sounds a little weird. But if you have ever tried this delightfully comforting soup, you know how great it is!  I have only ever had this at a sort of 'fast food' version of Greek food, but I loved it so much. I always imagined it to be much more difficult to create at home and I am so glad that I was wrong!

This is comfort food for sure, a Greek version of chicken noodle soup, perfect for rainy days.  Requiring few ingredients that you probably already have on hand, perfectly creamy from the eggs, and bright with lemon, this soup is comforting as well as light and refreshing! This is one of my favorite soups that I have made, and I would not change a thing. 
I was inspired to make this by a recipe that was in a local grocery store ad booklet that came in the mail.  I cut it in half and combined it with some elements from a recipe I had seen on The Kitchn.  Below is the recipe as I made it.  

Avgolemono, with Chicken, Rice, and Spinach
Serves 4 hungry people as a main course

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 of a medium onion, diced (about 1/4 cup)
1 carrot, shredded (about 1/4 cup)
2 celery sticks, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
fresh spinach, I used all of a 5 oz package
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, depending on your taste)
1 cup of cooked jasmine rice or other white rice
1 cup cooked chicken, diced (I used some breast and some thigh meat from a rotisserie chicken))
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 egg yolks (room temp if you can!)
1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp of lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped (to serve)

Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery.  Cook until the onion is slightly translucent.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for about a minute until fragrant.  Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, broth, and diced chicken.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

While the broth is simmering away, cook the rice.  This should take about 20 minutes, depending on the type of rice you use. (I used 1/2 cup dry jasmine rice, and ended up with just about 1 cup of cooked rice. It was the perfect amount. )

Once rice is cooked, remove from heat and set aside.  Reduce the heat of your broth to the lowest heat your stove allows.

Now to temper the eggs.  Whisk the egg yolks vigorously in a medium bowl until they are frothy.  Take a small ladle full of the soup broth and slowly pour it into the yolks while continuously whisking.  Do this a few more times, allowing a minute or two between each new addition of hot broth, all the while whisking.   (I was super nervous of ruining this step, so I was super cautious, adding a very little bit at a time, but I don't think you can be too cautious.  You are not making egg drop soup, you want this to just create a frothy, creamy texture, and you are trying to bring the egg yolks to a temperature close to the temp of the broth, so that you can combine them without them curdling/cooking.)   Once you have whisked in a fair amount of broth and the temperature of the yolk mixture is pretty warm, nearly hot, add it slowly into the soup pot, whisking in the soup pot this time. 

Add the spinach to the soup. Don't bother chopping it or anything, just throw it in and stir.

Let the soup cook for about 10 minutes on very low heat, until slightly thickened and the spinach is wilted.  Adjust seasonings.  Serve immediately and top with fresh chopped parsley.  We ate this with a delicious olive bread which was a perfect accompaniment.

***One more note: If you do not eat this all on the first night, be aware that it does thicken up overnight because of the rice, but ours was still pretty soupy, and did not need additional broth.  If you need to, yo could add a bit of broth when heating up.  But,  be careful when reheating! Heat the soup over very low heat, in a pot with a lid, so that the eggs don't curdle.  Not sure how well a microwave would work in this situation.

I cannot wait to make this again!

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October 22, 2014

Crockpot Crispy Caramelized Pork Ramen with Roasted Acorn Squash

Yes the name is quite a mouthful.  However this recipe, oh this recipe.  It was definitely one of my favorite meals I've ever made.  To quote DP, my eyes while eating it looked like "Call of the Wild meets Top Chef".  It left me kind of speechless.  I think I was actually dancing with anticipation while caramelizing the pork, because I mean, is there anything better than pork that's been caramelized in sesame oil and a sprinkle of brown sugar after slow cooking it all day long?  I'm beginning to think not.  We made a couple of small edits to make the recipe gluten free but we mostly stuck to the script.  I found this to be just a tad salty for my palette so next time I might ease up on the soy sauce element but I'm very sensitive to salt.  DP thought it was perfectly salty.

The recipe itself is not hard at all but I would say it's a little involved.  For a leisurely Sunday though I didn't mind sporadically tending to it throughout the day, step by step.  Since most of the cooking time happens in the crock pot you could pull this off on a weeknight if you planned well.  Whatever the case may be I highly encourage you to make this ramen.  It is, by far, the tastiest version I've had outside of the real deal.  Enjoy! (and maybe invite me over when you make it)

Crockpot Crispy Caramelized Pork Ramen with Roasted Acorn Squash
modified ever so slightly from Half Baked Harvest

  • 3 lbs of pork butt (shoulder)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tblsp of low sodium soy sauce (Bragg's if you're gf)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tblsp of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tblsp of red curry paste
  • 1 tblsp of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tblsp of sambal oelek (chili paste)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tblsp chinese five spice
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tblsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tblsp of brown sugar
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, left whole
  • 4 packs ramen noodles (we used gf ones and they were great)
  • 4 soft boiled eggs for serving - I used this method
  • chopped carrots, cilantro, jalapeno + green onions for servings
Curry Roasted Acorn Squash
  • 1 medium acorn squash, seeded and diced
  • 2 tblsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tblsp curry powder (we used garam masala)
  • 1 tblsp white miso paste
  • 1 tblsp brown sugar
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  1. Add the pork to the bowl of the crockpot.  Pour the chicken broth, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, fish sauce, red curry paste,  ginger, sambal oelek, lime juice, five spice, pepper, and 1 tblsp brown sugar into the pot.  Flip the pork around so it's all evenly coated and mixed together.  Cover and cook over low for 7 hours.
  2. About 40 minutes before the pork is set to be done preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In a small bowl mix together the coconut oil, curry powder, miso, brown sugar, and pepper for the squash.  Add the diced squash and mix to evenly coat.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until soft, tossing a few times so the sides of the squash get a little crispy.
  4. Remove the pork from the crock pot once it's done and place in a bowl to shred with two forks or your hands.  Add mushrooms to broth in crock pot and cover again.
  5. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat.  Add 1 tblsp sesame oil and once hot add about half of the pork.  While cooking sprinkle brown sugar over pork and 1 tblsp of soy sauce and rice vinegar.  Let the pork caramelize for 3-5 minutes stirring only once or twice.  Repeat process with remaining half of pork.  Keep the pork warm - I used the residual heat from roasting the squash to keep mine in the oven.
  6. Add the ramen noodles to the crock pot, cover and cook until soft.  At this point start your soft boiled eggs.  After noodles are soft, add half the pork to the crock pot.  Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with extra pork, carrots, green onions, cilantro, jalapeno, and boiled eggs.  Try not to let your jaw drop with amazement!

October 16, 2014

Chinese Style One Pot Beef Stew

Being in the mood for stew a lot recently is sometimes tough.  Tough in that it can often take forever to get that fall apart texture to your meat when it's a week night and you just don't have all day to make it.  I live for that meat texture - it's definitely my favorite when the meat seems to melt away.  This Chinese style one pot meal makes for a good rendition of a week night stew recipe.

It doesn't take too long, the meat texture was good, and there's minimal chopping which seems to get your meat a-stewin' quicker. I also liked doing something a little off the beaten path as far as flavor profile. The shot of greenery in the form bok choi is also a nice touch and I think broccoli would work just as well.  Hope you enjoy!

Chinese Style One Pot Beef Stew
from BBC's goodfood blog

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • good thumb size piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 1 red chili, seeded and thinly sliced (I used a jalapeno since I couldn't find a red pepper)
  • 3 1/5 lbs stew beef, cut into large pieces (I used
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chinese five spice powder
  • 2 star anise 
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine or cooking sherry
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 bunch bok choi, chopped and steamed
1.  Heat 2 tbsp of oil in large dutch oven or stock pot.  Sautee the garlic, onions, ginger and chili until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Put onto a large plate.  Toss the beef in the flour and salt and pepper generously.  Add 1 more tbsp of oil to the pot and brown the meat in two batches, adding the last tbsp of oil in between batches.  Put on the plate with the garlic sautee mixture.

2.  Add the five spice and the anise to the pot, fry for 30 seconds, then add the sugar.  Keep the heat high and add the wine or sherry, scraping up any meaty bits.  Put the meat and garlic sautee mixture back in the pot, add the stock and soy sauce (it won't cover the meat completely), and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is very soft and sinewy bits have melted away.

3.  When the stew is close to finished, steam your bok choi and make some rice to serve stew over.  Add the bok choi to the plate with stew and rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.


October 13, 2014

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

I'm going to go ahead and say that this is the best dessert I've eaten in a long time, let alone made.  It was seriously good.  This might have something to do with my palate craving fall flavors and this being one of the first fall items I've made this year.  But I also have some serious back up in thinking this cake is the jam.

It also was insanely easy to make.  I made it a little harder by making my own applesauce from scratch, which is not a requirement, but probably made this cake that much better.  Plus making your own applesauce may seem like it's a crazy thing to do when store bought is pretty legit but honestly it's so easy and the fall bounty of apples is upon us.  I got mine at $1/lb at my local farm stand and I've seen grocery store prices hover not too much higher than that.

I have to say that for such an easy cake to make, it's pretty impressive looking and tasting.  So if you have some folks you'd like to impress or a loved one then whip this up and let them think you slaved away.  Happy fall everyone!

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze
made from Food52; applesauce recipe was made up on the fly


  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  •     1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •     1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  •     2 teaspoons cinnamon
  •     1 teaspoon ground ginger
  •     1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  •     2 large eggs
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     1/2 cup light brown sugar
  •     1 1/2 cups unsweetened (preferably homemade) applesauce
  •     2/3 cup vegetable oil
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla

Caramel Glaze:
  •  4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar    
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 lbs of apples.  I used gala but feel free to use a mix of sweet/tart apples
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup apple juice or cider
  1. If making the homemade applesauce, start with that recipe.  Core apples and cut into medium size chunks.  Add to a large dutch oven or stock pot.  Add lemon juice and apple juice.  Bring to a boil and then let simmer until apples are broken down and soft, about 25 minutes.  Using a hand blender or regular blender, blend the mixture until smooth.  Jar up anything you don't use in the cake recipe.  Feel free to add spices or sugar at this point but you don't need that for the sauce you use in the cake.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees and butter/flour a bundt pan.  Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and spices and set aside.  In large mixing bowl of a stand mixer beat the eggs with both sugars until a light color. Mix in the applesauce, oil and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Using a spatula fold in the dry ingredients - don't over mix.  Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning it out on a rack to cool completely.  Make sure the cake is cold before glazing.  
  4. Put the butter in a medium saucepan with brown sugar, cream and salt and set over medium heat. Bring to a full rolling boil while stirring constantly.  Boil for one minute exactly then pull off the heat.  Leave the pan to cool for a few minutes.  Then gradually whisk in powdered sugar until you have a thick but pourable consistency.  You might not use all the sugar.  If it becomes too thick then add a splash of cream to thin it out again.  Immediately pour over the cooled cake.  Let the glaze set for a few minutes, or longer, before serving the cake.

October 6, 2014

Jalapeno Corn Soup with Seared Scallops

After getting back home from a two week long trip overseas I was dying to cook, bake, clean.  Basically all things domestic were calling my name.  I was also expecting to get home to some chilly fall weather here in Portland.  But as it turned out it's still fairly sunny and hot here so I decided to milk a little bit more summer fare out of the dwindling days.

As you can see here; I'm pretty into corn.  Especially summer corn.  So I saw this recipe and decided to go for it.  I also am such a novice when it comes to scallops.  I'd never even eaten a scallop until probably 3 years ago and I've never cooked them - until now.  Turns out they are super simple and the satisfaction you get from searing one off and seeing the caramelization is deeply gratifying.

I changed a couple of things on this recipe.  Mainly I used coconut milk instead of cream and subbed olive oil for the butter to make it dairy free.  I also cut down on one of the jalapeno peppers thinking it'd be too spicy but in retrospect that was a mistake so I've listed it back to the original two.  I hope you enjoy this, be it these last weeks of summer, or maybe save it for next year!

Jalapeno Corn Soup
adapted from Food 52

  • 9 ears of corn, kernels removed and 4 cobs reserved
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeƱos, seeded and diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  •  Salt and pepper
Melt the oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot or dutch oven. Add in the onion and jalapeƱo and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until soft but not brown. Add in the garlic and the corn kernels and cook for another minute or until fragrant, making sure that the garlic doesn't burn.  Pour in the chicken stock and coconut milk and add the corn cobs. Season with a few large pinches of salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook for about 45 minutes.  Discard the cobs and blend the soup until smooth. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.  Ladle the soup into a shallow bowl and top with seared scallops. Soup can also be cooled and refrigerated for a few days or frozen for a couple months.

Seared Scallops
  •     12 large sea scallops, preferably fresh and/or dry-packed
  •     1 tablespoon olive oil
  •     1 tablespoon neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
  •     Salt and pepper
Melt the butter and oil together in a large heavy skillet until very hot, but not smoking.  Rinse the scallops, pat very dry, and season generously with salt and pepper.  Add the scallops to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until caramelized on the outside and just slightly translucent in the center.


October 1, 2014

Beginning of Fall Bounty Salad

This was a huge surprise and revelation to me, though it may seem an obvious sort of dinner to throw together. I am not usually very successful in my thrown together ideas, at least in my mind (my mister always thinks I am nuts).  But this one, cobbled from a recipe I had in the back of my brain and using up things in the fridge turned out great and I can't wait to make it again.

The abundance of ingredients beginning with B was absolutely not planned and I did not even realize it until I was trying to think of what to call this feast while devouring it.  Bacon, Brussels, Butternut, Broccoli, Balsamic... believe me, this is a combination from the heavens, and was a great way to welcome Fall!

Beginning of Fall Bounty Salad
Adapted from here
Serves 4
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, washed and sliced in half (or quartered if they are big ones)
  • 1/2 of a medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets 
  • baby spinach
  • 4 slices of thick-cut bacon, sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • lemon (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the squash is tender but not too mushy.

While the squash is roasting, heat a Dutch oven over medium heat and cook the chopped up bacon until about halfway cooked.

Add the sliced shallot and let it get a little bit soft.  Add the brussels sprouts, broccoli florets, a bit of salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally until the brussels and broccoli are just tender and the bacon is fully cooked.

When your brussels and broccoli are cooked to perfection, add the roasted squash and toss it all together.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Put a handful of baby spinach into each bowl. Add a scoop of the bacon, brussels, broccoli, butternut, shallot mixture.

Drizzle balsamic over each bowl, and squeeze a bit of lemon on also if you wish.
Serve immediately!

not the most photogenic thing, but so tasty!