Wednesday, September 27, 2006

French Onion Soup

Holy horrible photo, Batman. I'm never shooting a pic on the downstairs bar ever again...the lighting is flat and lifeless. I'll replace this one next time I make the soup, promise. As it is I had to swipe one of my guest's bowls as I had forgotten to take a photo at all until Karen reminded me.

Don't let the bad photo ruin it, though, the recipe is excellent.

2 tablespoons butter
8 onions, thinly sliced
50 ml red wine
50 ml balsamic vinegar
2 liters beef stock
1 bouquet garni
salt and pepper to taste
2 baguette croutons per bowl
Gruyere or Provolone cheese

In a large dutch oven or other suitable pot, heat butter until it just begins to brown. Add onions and cook over medium heat, until they caramelize and brown a bit. This will take some time, don't leave it. Stir occasionally until it happens.

Raise the heat to medium-high and add the wine and vinegar, then the stock. Add the bouquet garni and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni. Ladle into bowls, add the bread pieces, and pile on some cheese. Broil in a hot oven or just torch the cheese by hand like a crazed welder, which is way more fun.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't even need to say anything.




* 1 cup butter flavored shortening
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 2 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups milk chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter flavored shortening, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla .Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.

3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until light brown. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Hot Hoisin Chicken

Have you ever, on the last day before a big grocery trip, throw something together with whatever you have around the house? This would be it. The only two things I had that were really fresh and good were some boneless, skinless chicken thighs and a large bag of terrific carrots from the market. This is what I came up with...I'll do the recipe from memory...

Eight pieces of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cooking onions, chopped
1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
1/2 green pepper, sliced thin
4 carrots, cut into thick sticks
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, or 2 light
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 cup hoisin sauce

Cut chicken thighs in small pieces. Heat oil in wok or large nonstick pan. Fry (in batches) until edges are browned, set aside.

Stir fry carrots until partially cooked, this may take 10 minutes or more. Set aside with the chicken. Briefly stir-fry onions, peppers, ginger, and garlic until slightly softened. Re-add carrots and chicken to the wok.

Add soy, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce and toss to heat through. Serve over steamed rice or rice noodles.

Simple, huh? If you have hoisin sauce just hanging around, of course. Black bean or teriyaki sauce should work well also.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Beef Fried Rice

It's a good thing I took this picture when I did, five minutes later most of this was gone. I think Karen and I left teeth marks on the wok.


2 Tbsps. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 lb. finely chopped beef
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2 cups cooked rice, cold


Combine soy sauce, sugar and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Cook eggs about 45 seconds, stirring constantly, until eggs are just set. Transfer eggs to a bowl and set aside.

Add beef, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry until browned, remove and set aside.

Heat a bit more oil, and add carrots. Stir fry for 5 minutes, then add celery and green onion. Stir fry for one more minute then remove and set aside.

Increase heat to high and add rice. Stir-fry about 1 minute, until heated through.

Add all other ingrediants to wok, stir fry to heat through. Serve.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Curry Stock

Part two. This is used with in conjunction with the curry sauce, as just posted.


250ml water
the coarse stalks from a 15g – 20g bunch of fresh coriander
10 whole black peppercorns
1 × 2.5ml spoon whole coriander seeds
a thin slice of fresh ginger (skin left on)
1 skinny clove of garlic, peeled but left whole


1. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan.
2. Bring the water to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Pour off the liquid through a sieve into a jug and discard the herbs and spices left in the
4. Use as directed in the recipes. Refrigerate the stock once it has cooled to room
temperature. It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Base Curry Sauce

I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but it'll be lengthy and involve several posts so I've put it off a bit. But anyway, now is the time, so here we go. I ordered online a cookbook specific to replicating the curry dishes that can be had in English curry houses. Curry as we know it (Vindaloo, Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken and all that stuff) isn't really from India normally can't go there and just find it (unless they have some places now to keep the tourists happy). In the 1970's when "Indian" food really took off in England, it was actually restaurateurs from Bangladesh, mostly the city of Sylhet.

So, the book. It's not exactly a series of separate recipes, but more of a "system" that a restaurant would follow, as they have to put out a lot of food in a fairly short time, but the food benefits from long cooking. To solve this issues, they make a vast amount of a long-cooked basic sauce, and a basic stock. Pretty much every dish is created from this base, saving a lot of time. It's not unlike a typical Italian place which has many dishes coming forth from a gigantic pot of a basic tomato sauce. I've previously posted one finished dish from this system, Beef Bhuna, but note there is no recipe. I really appreciate this book and the author's intent, so I won't publish and recipes except for the few that he has available as "samples" and are publicly available from his website.

So, a day or two before you are going to cook your dishes for the guests, you make your sauce and stock and keep them on hand, this way when it's time to start cranking out dishes you're pretty much 1/2 done already.

Curry Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 2 medium onions - finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic - peeled and sliced
  • 1.5 inch piece root ginger - peeled and thinly sliced (it should look about the same volume as the garlic)
  • teaspoon turmeric powder
  • teaspoon ground cumin seed
  • teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 small can of tomato paste mixed with 1 cup of water
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan then add the chopped onion and stir for a few minutes with the heat on high.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic. Stir for 30 seconds then put the heat down to very low.
  3. Cook for 15 minutes stirring from time to time making sure nothing browns or burns.
  4. Add the turmeric, cumin and coriander and cook, still very gently, for a further 5 minutes. Don't burn the spices or the sauce will taste horrid - sprinkle on a few drops of water if you're worried.
  5. Take off the heat and cool a little. Put 4 fl oz cold water in a blender/food processor, add the contents of the pan and whizz until very smooth. Add the tomato paste mixture and stir. Even better, do this right in the pot and use a stick blender.
  6. Put the puréed mixture back into the pan and cook for 20 - 30 minutes (the longer the better) over very low heat stirring occasionally. You can add a little hot water if it starts to catch on the pan but the idea is to gently "fry" the sauce which will darken in colour to an orangy brown. The final texture should be something like good tomato ketchup. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Turkey Noodle Soup

At the end of a relaxing long weekend at Karen's parent's place, we left with a big Ziploc bag of leftover turkey. As I still had chicken stock in my fridge from one that I roasted last week, I decided to make soup. Good news for Karen, as she picked up a bad cold while we were gone.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 large carrots, diced
4 celery sticks, diced
1 lb. chopped cooked turkey
6 cups good chicken stock*
1 large onion, halved
2 bay leaves
175 g vermicelli pasta
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in large dutch oven or stock pot, saute carrots and celery until slightly softened. Add turkey and stock, onion halves, and bay leaves. Simmer for an hour, do not boil if possible.

2. Optional step: Remove and chill the soup, then skim off the surface fat, this will make the finished soup more clear and consistant.

3. Add the pasta and chopped parsley, and season. Simmer for 6-8 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Serve.