Tag Archives: Saveur

Hot and Sour Soup: The cure for what ails you (like that dumb flu)

MMMM MMMM, hot, sour and just right.

MMMM MMMM, Hot, Sour and just right.

It finally hit me.  The flu–yes that one.  Where you think you might be able to get out of bed while lying very still (in bed) but then put two feet on the floor, feel dizzy and realize, “nope, not getting out”.  I drank a lot of tea with lemon and nibbled buttered toast and then pulled out the big guns.  Hot and Sour Soup.  A step beyond comfy chicken soup, like the Buckley’s of cough syrup–except it tastes great.  And it works.

PIC 4 broth hot and sour

Broth for the Hot and Sour Soup–involves chicken stock, white wine vinegar and cayenne

I’d discovered the recipe in October issue of Saveur, “150 Classic Recipes” which I have a subscription for on my iPad.  The whole issue is amazing and inspiring and mouth-watering but I had never made Hot and Sour Soup and what a great skill to have I though!  The recipe is from the December 2005 issue and the little blurb I missed the first time around explained that, “Other cultures soothe their sick with bland milk toast and chicken broth but the Chinese kick their sick in the pants.  This soup doesn’t just warm you, it burns through you and brings you back to life.”- Mei Chin

Back to Life is just what this self-diagnosing patient needed.

PIC 3 marinating pork

So I began with marinating the pork.  Cut 4 oz pork tenderloin in 1/4″ cubes and toss with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp brandy and 1 tsp corn starch. I didn’t have brandy so used Madeira.  Let it sit 15 minutes at room temperature.

Meanwhile make the broth-in a large pot whisk together 8 cups chicken stock, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, 3 tbsp corn starch, 1 tsp ground white pepper, 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp cayenne.  (I used a pinch of red pepper flakes).  Bring that to a boil over medium-high and add the pork.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the soup thickens–about 30 minutes.  Give it an occasional stir.

PIC 5 Hot and sour soup tofu

Meanwhile you can cut 12 oz of firm tofu (drain and press lightly) into 1/4″ cubes.  Do the same with a potato to get about 1/4 cup cubed.

Pic 6 Hot and sour soup shiitakes

Take 6 shiitake mushrooms and cut them into thin strips.

Now add your tofu, potato and mushrooms to the pot once the soup is thickened and cook until the potatoes are tender.

PIC 7 egg

Now for the best part of the job!  Lightly beat 1 egg in a bowl and drizzle it into the simmering soup in a thin steady stream–egg strands will start to float to the surface and you will feel that YES, you see it all coming together.  Now stir in 1 tsp toasted sesame oil.

**I add about a teaspoon of Mirin at the very end, just rounds out the flavour for me with a hint of sweetness.

PIC 2 FInal Hot and Sour Soup

Ladle into a bowl and garnish with cilantro.  Eat in bed for lunch and again for dinner.  And of course, you should not be making this yourself, you are far too weak.  Your spouse, partner, mailman or cat is more than capable of following these simple directions.

For the recipe on-line at Saveur click on HOT AND SOUR SOUP RECIPE.

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Lemon Icebox Pie Recipe (nope, there’s nothing better)

I wish I could post this bigger, please CLICK on it to really get your mouth-watering.

Have I mentioned how much I love whipped cream and lemon and pie and being frozen?

Actually I hate being frozen, ask my toes, they where frozen on many a Vermont ski lift in – 25 C° when my dad would insist the weather (howling wind, sleet) was perfect for a full day of skiing.

ANYWAY, I now know how to ski thanks to my dad.  And I  know how to make Lemon Icebox Pie thanks to the  SAVEUR 100 2012 issue which I downloaded on the iPad– and will continue to do so-love how easy it was to access everything.  (Fromage Fort is in the top 100 by the way, recipe and blog here.)

Amongst the many recipes included in the magazine was a picture of the above dessert.  How could I refrain from making it?  It’s billowy and loaded sky-high with luscious whipped cream and dense lemon filling all situated on a thick buttery graham crust.

You start by combining melted butter, graham crumbs and sugar in a food processor and pack that  into a 9″ deep dish pie dish.

Once this is done you can set it aside and begin juicing your lemons.  About 8-10 lemons make for 2 cups fresh juice. I find the easiest way to juice lemons is by twisting the lemon around a fork, gets as much juice out as possible.

You then combine the lemon juice with 2 cans sweetened condensed milk and 2 egg yolks.  Best of all–you get to scrape out and lick the remaining condensed milk off your fingers.

Then beat til frothy, about 5 minutes.

And pour into your graham crust after many tastes to ensure everything is A-OK.  You are a perfectionist after all.

The pie now goes into the oven for about 20 minutes at 400 F°.

Admission: I altered the recipe as this pie dish was the only one we had and was obviously not deep enough for all the lemon filling.  So I halved the lemon filling in the version I made.  I then only baked it for 10 minutes to adjust for the thinner lemon layer.  You want to just set the filling and get the crust golden.  It will finish setting in the freezer.

Once out of the oven settle the vanilla wafers around the edge and in the dense filling.  Allow to cool completely.

Now into the freezer.  The recipe says minimum 2 hours or overnight.  We had it in there for about 6 hours.  It was quite frozen when we removed it but softened quickly–maintaining a great CHILL in the mouth.

in freezer in case it looked like it was in a giant, metal press

Once out of the freezer add your whipped cream (3/4 cup).  You can serve immediately or put the pie in the fridge until you can’t stand to be without it any longer.

While whipping the cream,  I questioned the lack of even a teeny bit of sugar but held back and only add the suggested vanilla.  Ultimately, the creamy naked whipped cream top was perfect with the sweet lemony basement layer.

And if you do spill some sugar during this whole process….be creative with it.  Especially if you’re almost three and this is your birthday pie….

Happy Birthday Will!!!

Here is the link to the actual recipe for Lemon Icebox Pie, it’s ridiculously simple to make and people will be Mmm, Mmm, Mmming like mad.

THANKS to my brother Dave for taking all these pictures.  Check out his macro photography.  It’s unbelievable.

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Thanks for the ribs Pete Watson

Man, my camera was so sticky.

Nothing grilled, nothing gained as they say.  Five years after Pete Watson and his wife Lara gave us a Weber kettle grill for a wedding gift we finally made ribs on it. What idiots we were to deny ourselves the pleasures of grilling ribs on charcoal for sheer procrastination.

But we have gained, oh yes, we have gained.  Sticky fingers, kind of sexy, smoky smelling hair and the most envious aroma of deliciousness coming from any backyard in the neighborhood.   If only I had begun the process in the early afternoon as I declared I would, we could have actually had the ribs for dinner rather than the cold pizza we half-heartedly choked down waiting until the ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender at 11pm.

Here is our talented little grill pre-show.

The kettle potential.

And then I bought myself some apple wood chips and though I could not get a coal chimney (sold out) I got some quick burning coal starter things which were quite effective as long I did not let my thought wander to the substances that made them so quick-burning.

My indirect heat set-up is almost ready.

I have the coals on one side and a drip-pan filled with water on the right.  I put a stainless steel box of soaked applewood chips on the coals just before I added the top grate and the the lid.

Ribs: rubbed, rested and ready.

Two racks of baby back ribs, about 2 lbs each.  I put a dry rub on them and left them for an hour at room temperature.  The rub had sweet paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, celery seed, fresh back pepper and chili powder.  The recipe (BBQ Back ribs with Sweet and Sticky Sauce) came from the Saveur BBQ Issue (I know, what else, right?  I will branch out one day but once again not only were the magazine’s recipes lipsmacking but the stories of BBQ, coleslaw, baked beans, coals, tradition and rivalry were addicitive too!)

And while the ribs cooked between 225 F-250 F over 3 hrs  ( I actually found it hard to keep the heat below 300 F even adjusting the vents as much as I could) I made the sauce.  Honey, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, worcestershire, hot sauce, cloves……MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMessy.

Served with coleslaw and napkins.

And finally at 11pm, with the grill lit from the soft glow coming through the back door of the kitchen, I was able to pull off  shreds of the crispy rib-ends that were slowly caramelizing from their recent basting in sticky sauce.  And I ate them greedily, slightly out of site of my husband before he next opened the door to ask, “are they done yet?”.  And they were good.  Sigh with pleasure good.

Like Angelina Jolie, I am now a Pitt master.

And that’s why I want to thank you Pete Watson.

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Busting (out) Some Sicilian Balls

Can I be this good? We shall see.

It wasn’t until I had the addictive arancine at Enoteca Sociale that I decided to try and make them myself. They were so delicious that I could not bear to be without immediate access in my own home.  When I say immediate I mean after you’ve made the rice and the ragu for the filling and dredged them and deep fried them.  But after that–they’re ready in a jiff!  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The arancine would be my first foray into deep-frying (in my own kitchen). My bible would be The Saveur ‘Sicily” issue (March 2011), currently sitting on the back-burner of my desk taunting me with amazing recipes for local Sicilian dishes (recipe here).

I made the ragu in advance.  Not so much an indication of proper planning and forethought–more a result of “Oh crap– that beef has been sitting in the fridge forever”  Which is why the pictures below, taken at 11pm at night under tungsten lights are a bit….yellow.   I started out with a finely chopped mirepoix (celery, onion, carrot) which I sautéed until soft.

You then add in ground beef and ground pork and cook until browned.  Finally you add fresh, strained tomato sauce and some tomato paste and simmer until it thickens (30 minutes-ish).

Finally, let the sauce cool and put it in the fridge.  Meanwhile you make your rice.  In my case, you make the sauce and put it in the fridge and make the rice 2 days later. (as you can see, it might just be faster to cross town and go to Enoteca Sociale for my arancine fix).  But less an adventure.

Love this machine. Less incidence of runny mascara. (and mascara is KEY to a good arancine.)

For the rice you begin with a minced, small red onion and sautéed over medium til softened. The you add 1 1/2 cup Arborio rice.

Arborio Rice- pearly white, short-grained rice used for risotto

Once you stir in the rice and coat with the oil and onion, you add the key ingredient “1/4 tsp crushed saffron“.  Well, it did not even occur to me I did not have saffron.  Until I could not find it–did I hastily purge it one day in with “clean out the pantry” conviction?  Or was it just stuck somewhere in a large crack in the back of my very deep, 1960s cupboards which would require removing about 15 bottle of various oils and vinegars to even begin a search.  What to do!?  So much for mise-en-place.

I had no choice, I just added some turmeric for colour at least.  (Shhh, don’t tell anyone in Sicily).  Then I added 1 1/2 cups water, brought it up to a boil and removed it from the heat.  You need to let it sit for 20 minutes.

In case your imagination can't handle a covered pot with arborio rice inside.

I grated 2 tbsp of parmesan while I waited and stirred that into the rice with some salt and pepper.

Once everything is combined you spread the rice on a tray and let it cool.

Don’t you (kind of) want to press your face into this?

Meanwhile you can make your batter by whisking together 1/4 cup flour, 2 eggs and 1/2 cup water. Set up a separate bowl for the bread crumbs.

At this point, I am thinking, this is so much fun.

Assembly:  You take a hearty tbsp of the rice in your hand a flatten it into a disc. Then make a bit of a well in the centre and then put in about 1 tbsp of your cooled ragu.

Using your fingers you bring the edges of the rice around the filling to gently enclose the ragu.  Finally you roll the ball around in your hand to seal it and to slightly compact the mixture. The recipe makes 2 dozen arancine.

It works. Now to make 23 more.

It took a bit of practise to figure out how much ragu was too much, and to seal it without the ragu showing through.  Donna, our babysitter, had actually stayed to watch me finish and I think after one ragu ball and 23 more to go she was regretting her enthusiasm.  “I’d just buy them frozen” she said.  (Have I mentioned how much more efficient Donna is than me?)

Finally, they were done.  I actually made 22, so I think I sized them fairly well.

Now to dredge in the batter and coat in the bread crumbs.

Pre-dredge.

I started heating up the Canola oil in my Dutch Oven bringing it up to 360 F.

Battered and ready for service. Enoteca here I come!

I fried the arancine in batches of four.

Frying arancine feels rustic, unlike frying mozzarella which feels like a hangover.

Recipe says to pop them into the hot oil for about 3 minutes until the exterior is golden.  I timed it and 3 minutes seemed about right.  Finally my 22 balls of arancine are down and cooling on paper towels.

Oh boy--I wish there was more than two adults and a toddler to eat 22 of these.

And voila! (wait, that’s French) ummm, Tah-Dah!  Is that universal?  My Sicilian balls were a success.  I will make these again.  Maybe in advance and then just deep fry them at the last minute for an appetizer or a patio snack if you were entertaining.

Suck it Enoteca Sociale.

Anything I would do differently?  Well, not eat five in a row.  Remember the saffron.  Also, the rice seemed like it could have been cooked a little more though I followed the recipe and it had absorbed all the water.   (Ok, fine, don’t suck it Enoteca Sociale–you’re still better than me.  For now.)   Maybe I need to be better aquainted with the brand of arborio rice I had.  Overall though–I love Sicily!  Especially if a Sicilian nona wants to make these for me.  Maybe an ad for Craigslist.

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It’s Sandwich Day!

Immediate Impulse Buy

I unknowingly woke up into sandwich day.  It started when I was walking by a store window where the new Saveur magazine was on display.   Saveur is probably my favourite food magazine–I love the feeling that if I read a full years subscription I would be the savviest foodie on the block. I haven’t yet subscribed because I fear a pile up of unread issues will trigger massive foodie-anxiety.  (Only a subscription to The New Yorker is more terrifying in potentially magnifying my ignorance….of everything.)

BTW Canadians–the last issue had a great piece on Quebec and the maple syrup tradition (The Sweet Life) by Sasha Chapman.  And the sap is now running so get out there and lick it up.

Memories of my old sandwich stomping ground

Back to sandwich serendipity:  on my way home I stumbled across the Yorkville Sandwich Box location.  I have not eaten at Sandwich Box since it was a little store inside a strange little food strip at McCaul and Queen.  But man–the memories!   Grilled, hot, crispy, gooey, savoury, sweet, grilled, spicy…..oh the land of sandwiches.  I went with white panini  (sometimes whole grain is not the right choice) smoky grilled eggplant, crisp pancetta, bocconcini and curried apple spread.  I think I ripped the box in my excitement to get to the food.  And as after any great sandwich, I simply felt…happy.

So sandwich it up today people!  It’s meant to be.

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