Thai/Vietnamese Fusion Chicken Soup, a recipe

I was hungry for something spicy, and had a few odds an ends lying around, so I decided to make this soup. It is very spicy, but can be made less so by diminishing or leaving out the chili.

I’ll admit this is a bit difficult to write up, because I wasn’t measuring and had to guess how much of what to add, but I think that if you follow the approximate measurements and then adjust to your tastes, you’ll have something very nice.

Tools:

  • cutting board and several size knives
  • large soup pot
  • small pot
  • colander

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 qt chicken stock
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 leek
  • 1 bundle spring onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bundle cilantro
  • 1 bundle basil
  • 5 kefir lime leaves
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass, or about 2 Tbsp minced, preserved lemongrass (found in tiny jars)
  • a large ginger lobe, about 2 inches square or larger
  • red and green Thai chili (I’d get about 10 of each, looking for the ones that are fat on one end, but curled and shriveled on the other. If you’re not able to tolerate that much, cut it back to two in the pot and about six in the oil. If you want more and are tickled at the notion of the punishment, add several ghost chilies.)
  • baby corn
  • 2 heads of bok choi
  • button mushrooms, about 1 c.
  • 1 tomato
  • 5 limes
  • bean sprouts
  • fish sauce
  • a little olive oil
  • Vermicelli noodles

Instructions:

  1. Mince 1/2 the onion, the garlic, ginger. Chop up the cilantro, especially the stems. Pluck the leaves off the Basil. Cut about 1/2 the leek into ringlets. Bisect two of each color chili, discard the seeds, and mince the meat. Pound the lemongrass to release the aromatics, then chop into segments. Cut the tomato into quarters.
  2. In the large pot, place the chopped onion, leek, garlic, ginger, 1/2 the basil leaves, kefir lime leaves, 1/2 the minced cilantro (stems and leaves), lemongrass, and the chopped chilies. Drizzle with oil and then toss this over medium heat until you can really smell the elements.
  3. Add chicken stock and chicken breasts. Toss in the tomato. Add the juice of 3 limes. add about a quarter cup of fish sauce.
  4. When this is boiling, add the mushrooms, corn, and the leaves of the bok choi.
  5. Allow to boil until the chicken is cooked, then remove the chicken. On the cutting board, shred the chicken and return it to the soup. This will be your opportunity to taste the soup and determine what it needs. It should have a tangy, citrus flavor, but be spicy and richly savory too. If it appears to be missing anything, add more ginger, lemongrass, or fish sauce.You can also add stock cubes or bouillon.  Then allow the thing to boil a little longer
  6. While this is boiling, put the vermicelli noodles in the small pot. Add whatever you like to the water (I usually put a bit of lemongrass and some lime in) and cook through. When done boiling, it’s best to shock the noodles with cold water as they drain in the colander, in order to stop the cooking process.
  7. While everything is cooking, prepare your condiments. Remove and discard the seeds from all but two of the chilies and mince the meat. Place these into a small dish. Mince the last two chilies whole and add to the same dish. Smother this in about a cup of fish sauce and set aside
  8. Quarter the remaining limes, mince the green onion and remaining cilantro. On a plate, arrange the lime segments, bean sprouts, cilantro, the remaining basil leaves, and the green onion.

To serve, put a lump of noodles into each bowl. Fill with soup. garnish with a lime segment, a few basil leaves, green onion, cilantro, and been sprouts. Each person can add the chili-infused fish sauce (by spooning out only the oil) to their bowl if they wish. It also keeps very well and becomes hotter as it sits. I also have a lovely jar of Tom Yum Chili Oil that I add to this. This soup can easily be adapted to shrimp, or even thinly sliced pork.

 

Dill Pickles, a recipe

This recipe is a tip of the hat to those who’ve been paying attention to my Tumblr blog. You may have seen my recent bit of humor concerning my Decade Dills, called “Decadills” by one reader, and I like the name well. In truth, it’s not wise for humans to eat a decade-old pickle, and I seldom leave them that long. You can certainly try, if the seals are all still good, the acid levels right, the canning lid still intact, but that is a very rare occurrence, indeed. I make them for me — which is why I hide them, but…it seems wrong to tease and never give the humans a chance to experience my pickles for themselves. So here you have my recipe.

Tools:

  • medium sauce pan
  • 1 qt. mason jar with ring and lid
  • pot large enough to submerge the jar, up to the ring
  • mortar and pestle

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 c water
  • 4 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 c. white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (if you add more chilis, you may prefer the white, if you want more tang, add the apple cider.)
  • 1 lb cucumbers (I know many people use a specific type of cucumber, but I just use whatever I have handy. I usually have quite a variety, because I like to add them to all sorts of things. I believe the brand most often used is called Kirby)
  • half a dozen garlic cloves (I’m sassy, but you can get away with 2-3)
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flake (you can substitute whole tiny chili if you like, simply omit the red pepper flake from the dry spices and pack five or six peppers into the jar as you do the garlic cloves)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seed
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp.allspice
  • 5 sprigs of a dill plant, cleaned, or 2 tsp dill seed
  • 5-10 dried bay leaves
  • 1 large grape leaf

Instructions:

  1. Sterilize the jars by boiling them and their lids. If setting them aside for a time, set the lids on to keep them covered.
  2. In the medium saucepan, heat the water, vinegar, sugar and salt until boiling. Stir until the salt dissolves completely then set aside to cool
  3. Peel and smash each garlic clove
  4. In the mortar, combine the pepper flake, pepper, coriander, allspice, mustard, turmeric, and bay and grind together until you have at least a coarse powder
  5. Wash the cucumbers thoroughly and snip off the very ends, not just the stems. This can keep them crispy longer. You can also cut the pickles into spears, if you prefer. It’s up to you.
  6. Pack the cucumbers into the jar, adding in dashes of the spice mix (aim to use half to all, but this is what makes the recipe unique to you, so do a few test batches to see what your tastes are), sprigs of dill (or pinches od dill seed), garlic cloves, and pieces of the grape leaf evenly distributed. Pack tightly, but be sure to leave s bit of space at the mouth of the jar, so that it can vacuum seal.
  7. When the liquid is completely cool, pour this over the cucumbers. Shake the jar gently to get out any air bubbles, and continue to fill, leaving the space in the neck of the jar.
  8. Place the lid and ring on tightly.
  9. Submerge the jar into the large pot and fill up to the neck with water. Boil this for about 20 minutes to seal the jar and perform low grade pasteurization. If you want a crispier pickle, then try to measure and keep the temperature between 180-185 for 30 minutes without going under or over.
  10. Remove this carefully from the pot and allow it to cool completely before you store it away. Be sure to test the lid to make certain the seal has firmly depressed.

These must cure for at least a month to become pickles. After that, they can sit on a shelf for a few years in a cool, dry place. If opened, you should refrigerate them to keep fresh.  You can try leaving them for a decade, as I always do, but you’re not a monster, so I wouldn’t recommend it. However, so long as the seal is unbroken and the food smells fine, it is usually fine to eat. Just remember, the longer they sit, the more rubbery they become, so I’d recommend that you eat them within a few years, and that you serve them chilled.

Frozen Dessert Tutorial

In discussion with some of my gentle readers, it became clear to me that many of them would like a way to experiment with various frozen treats like ice cream, gelato, Italian Ice, and sorbet. So here, in this tutorial, I will give you hints on how to produce all of the above, in your home, without the aid of an ice cream making machine.

Each recipe will indicate materials and give general information.

Floral Ice Cream, a recipe

Ice cream is, as the name implies, frozen cream. By using condensed milk, we are cutting out a step, but it is the step that requires the equipment, so I don’t think you’ll mind.

This recipe can be used for any edible flower species. There are many! Roses, lavender, fuchsia, orange blossom, hyacinth and so forth. floral ice creams are a lovely addition to tea time, or as a compliment to a fruit tart.

Tools:

  • Hand held or standing mixer (standing mixer is easiest, but not required)
  • large mixing bowls
  • plastic wrap
  • shallow steel pan that fits into the freezer (if using a standing mixer, merely use the metal mixing bowl and freeze it in advance of all use)
  • fine mesh strainer
  • pot

Ingredients:

  • flowers/petals  (about six cups will do to make the syrup, which will last beyond this one application)
  • several cups of sugar
  • 3 1/2 c. water
  • 2 c. Heavy whipping cream
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (one of the few cans i can abide)
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. In the pot, place the flowers and the water. Boil for 15 minutes
  2. Strain the liquid into a bowl and measure
  3. Add an equal amount of sugar to the liquid and return to the pot
  4. Stir until everything is dissolved, and until it comes to a boil.
  5. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool
  6. Whip the cream until it comes to peaks and then set aside
  7. Combine your condensed milk, salt, and floral syrup and mix well
  8. Fold the mixture into the whipped cream until well incorporated
  9. Scoop into a container and cover. Place this in the freezer. It will be solid within a few hours.

 

Nutella Gelato, a recipe

Gelato is a custard-based frozen milk. Custard means eggs.

Yet again, the flavor was chosen as a type of universal element (and also, my readers wanted something nutella flavored) But you can do this with almost any topping.

Tools:

  • Much the same as the above

Ingredients:

  • 2 c milk
  • 3/4 cup nutella
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 c. sugar

Instructions:

  1. Separate the egg yolks and beat them with the sugar. Set aside.
  2. Using low heat, bring the milk slowly to a boil, but remove just before.
  3. A little at a time, spoon the milk into the yolks while mixing furiously. When you’ve incorporated half the milk, reverse the process and put the egg mixture into the milk a little at a time until it is all thoroughly mixed.
  4. Put this back over heat and stirring occasionally, allow to come to the boil.
  5. Remove from heat as soon as the boil is reached.
  6. Incorporate the nutella
  7. Spoon into the metal freezing container and allow to sit in freezer for two hours
  8. Every 45 minutes to an hour, stir to break up any ice crystals. When you’ve done this a few times, You no longer need to but do allow it to fully freeze, about 8 hours.
  9. When it is finished, I recommend you give it an incredible stirring. Smash the hell out of it. Don’t serve until you have.

 

Lemon Lavender Italian Ice, a recipe

Both “Ice” and “Sorbet” are made up of syrups and fruit juices, the primary difference being that sorbet tends to use more starchy purees, while ice is merely a frozen liquid.

This dessert is ideal for those who cannot enjoy dairy, and works well with acidic ingredients that don’t lend themselves to dairy.

Tools:

  • See above
  • Blender or food processor

Ingredients:

  • 1 c water
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • Several Tbsp Lavender syrup (see the first recipe to learn to make this yourself)
  • The zest of two lemons

instructions:

  1. Chill your shallow metal pan by storing in the freezer.
  2. Combine the water and sugar in a pot and simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  3. Add the zest, syrup, and juice and mix thoroughly
  4. Pour this into the metal dish (If using a standing mixer, use the mixing bowl)
  5. Put into freezer
  6. Ever 30 minutes, remove and stir thoroughly (the standing mixer breaks up the crystals until they are much smaller, increasing the smoothness and decreasing the coarse texture)
  7. Do this at least 5 times
  8. After several hours, it should be completely frozen

 

Blueberry Beet Sorbet, a recipe

This is another recipe perfect for your lactose intolerant friends. It is essentially identical to the above recipe, but the Italians prefer to have their “ice” actually a bit course, while sorbet can be creamier. Sorbet is also mostly a puree. It is excellent with banana, avocado, and so forth. When crafting flavors for this type of treat, try combining one “creamy” or denser fruit with a more juicy fruit. For example, banana and orange, or avocado and lime.

Tools:

  • See above
  • Blender or food processor
  • wax paper

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 2 c. blueberries
  • 2 c. beet (peeled and chopped)

Instructions:

  1. Combine water and sugar in the pot and bring to the boil
  2. Remove from heat
  3. Add the blueberries, and juice and run through the blender or food processor.
  4. Run this through the fine mesh strainer
  5. Line the shallow metal dish with wax paper (So you can get the solid block out)
  6. Pour in the juice and allow to freeze
  7. Remove and run through blender, and allow to freeze once again.
  8. Repeat as many times as it takes for you to be happy with the consistency, But it likely won’t take more than two times (We use this technique because we are working with absolutely no fats of any kind, just syrup and ice. We are relying on the starches and sugars in the fruits to bind together. and it is just far easier with a high powered means of breaking up the crystals as they form)

 

All of these recipes are easily altered. The measurements aren’t necessarily precise, and everything is essentially to taste. If you want more toppings, then add more. If you want plain vanilla ice cream, just add vanilla. Or if you want a key lime pie with the crust in, add lime and graham crackers. You want a sweet potato and ginger ice cream? Have at it. The possibilities are actually endless.

 

 

 

Hot Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cocoa, a recipe

Tools:

  • Three pots, two that can comfortably nest.
  • Metal whisk
  • Mesh strainer

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz heavy cream
  • 20 oz whole milk
  • 1/2 c chopped chocolate (for this I prefer dark or extra dark chocolate)
  • 2 lbs Raspberries
  • 4 c. Water
  • 2 c. Sugar

Instructions:

  1. In the lonely pot, place berries and water and boil for about 20 minutes, being careful not to smash or damage the berries. Skim any foam that rises to clarify the syrup.
  2. Strain the liquid to remove the berries, being careful not to smash the now pale berries.
  3. Add the liquid back to the pot and dissolve the sugar, (add a dash of a raspberry liquor or port if you like) heating to a boil.
  4. Reduce the liquid until it is the consistency of maple syrup. 
  5. Store excess in glass container.
  6. To make the chocolate: Fill the larger of the two nested pots with water (only so that the smaller pot may nest comfortably without water splashing up into it) and bring it to a boil.
  7. Set the small pot in with the chocolate, milk, and cream inside. (If you want truly rich cocoa, do use dark chocolate, which has a different fat content.)
  8. Whisk continually until the chocolate is melted and thoroughly incorporated. 

To serve, add the desired amount of syrup to your cocoa. Top with fresh whipped cream, marshmallows, or powder with chocolate. 

Easy Mini Apple Pies, a recipe

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience: you’re standing in line for something else, at a coffee shop, or a gas station, or a fast food location, or a cafe, and suddenly…you see them, or smell them, and the helpful clerk says “Would you like an apple pie for a dollar?

And you give it a moment of thought. You cave. You cannot resist.

But I prefer to know who made my food and what’s in it. So, here is a very simple and very quick recipe for a tiny apple pie that will be just as delicious, if not moreso.


Tools:

  • Mandolin slicer or other appliance for producing extremely thin slices
  • Large mixing bowl
  • A ravioli press (tiny folding clamshell with a textured edge for making ravioli. If you don’t have one, I suggest using a shallow dish to fill the pastry and then using a fork to seal the edge)
  • Baking pan
  • Small pot
  • Spatula
  • Whisk

Ingredients: 

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry (any flavor or brand, and you can use crescent roll sheets too)
  • 3 apples (of all different types. I personally chose a Red Delicious, a honey crisp, and a Granny Smith)
  • 2 large lemons
  • 8 Tbsp (or more) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Cinnamon stick or fresh ground cinnamon
  • Pinch or two of clove
  • Pinch or two of nutmeg
  • Some loose flour, a couple Tbsp or so
  • Powdered sugar
  • Butter (not much)
  • About a cup of some sort of alcohol (rum, brandy, whisky, bourbon. I used ginger snap vodka and dark rum)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven as per the directions on the pastry packaging 
  2. Juice the lemons and pour juice into mixing bowl
  3. Thinly slice the apples (I suggest peeling and quartering the apples before doing this, and add to bowl
  4. Add half the sugar, spices, and vanilla and toss until the apples are completely coated. Allow to sit for about ten minutes. Drain the excess moisture into the pot
  5. Roll out the pastry on a floured cutting board and cut out the shapes (it should be about the size of your ravioli press or your shallow dish
  6. Place the pastry shape in the press or dish. Fill with apples (depends on the size of the press/dish). Fold in half or fold while tucking the apples inside, and seal shut. If using the press, I recommend flouting it lightly so that the pastry doesn’t stick to it as you seal
  7. Bake (this will likely take longer by half again as much as the instructions indicate. I used a spatula to lift and flip these beautiful things about five minutes before completely done to crisp up both sides.
  8. While these are baking, add the butter, alcohol, the other half of the sugar and extra spices to the pot. You can even add some apple juice if you want more sauce, and reduce this over medium heat until you have a nice sauce. If it doesn’t thicken as you like, sprinkle in some flour while whisking.

To serve, brush with a bit of melted butter, powder with sugar, and drizzle with sauce. Or roll the top side in the sauce and powder with sugar. Or just dip in sauce and shove directly into face.

The Best Spaghetti!

 I just received this image from Tumblr user @philosophy-and-coffee, who this evening, made the spaghetti recipe from my book! The one with the blood in it!
Well, done my friend! I do love to know that my tinkering has paid off!

And if any of you make any of my recipes at home, do please send photos my way, so that they may take their place here!