Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wonton Chicken Noodle Soup

If you’re not familiar with Marion Grasby, she is a Thai-Australian cook, television presenter, cookbook author, food writer, and the owner and creator of the Marion’s Kitchen Asian product line. She makes the preparation of Asian food look easy. Essentially, it is, but it’s also very time-consuming if you don’t know what you’re doing, and I didn’t. I watched Marion make a delicious looking wonton soup in a video that lasted about 15 minutes. This morning I made that soup; it took me three hours, and afterwards I had to have a nap. But the soup is delicious, and most importantly, authentic tasting, thanks to Marion’s Asian chicken stock that is a serious game changer. When I finally sat down to enjoy my soup this afternoon, I could not believe that I had made something that tasted of restaurant quality.

I got the idea to make wonton soup because Chinese New Year will be celebrated at week’s end, and I like to be authentic. Any celebration that involves Chinese food is right up my alley. This doesn’t need to take you as long as it took me, because you can make the components ahead of time, something I strongly recommend. I chose to do mine all at once, and I will not do that again.


Here is Marion’s recipe with a few of my adaptations. For one, I used Melissa’s Produce’s wonton wrappers, that may be a little smaller than the norm. I like the smaller ones, because it allows a better filling-to-wonton-wrap ratio, as well as allowing for adding more wontons per bowl of soup. I also changed her directions a little bit to reflect a more American understanding of things, and I cut back on the amount of chicken that she used because I wanted equal parts shrimp and chicken in my wontons.

Try this for yourself, but do yourself a favor and make your stock one day, your wontons another day (they can be frozen on a cookie sheet, then placed into a Ziploc bag so they’re
there anytime you need them), and then making a nice hot bowl of delicious wonton soup will be a breeze.

Wonton Chicken Noodle Soup

Slightly adapted from Marion Grasby

3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1-1/2” piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 bone-in chicken thighs
4 whole star anise
6 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
Blanched bok choy, to serve
Cooked noodles, to serve

4 oz. skinless, boneless chicken, partially frozen, minced in processor
¼ cup finely sliced scallions
1 tsp. sesame oil
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. ground white pepper
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
4 oz. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, roughly chopped

Use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, peppercorns, and ginger into a rough paste. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat and fry the paste for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the chicken pieces and cook, turning, until golden brown. Add the star anise, chicken stock, soy sauce, and salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Remove chicken thighs from stock; allow to cool; slightly. Remove meat from bones, chop, and set aside to include in soup.

In the meantime, make the wonton filling. Place the ground chicken, scallions, sesame oil, salt, pepper, water, and cornstarch into a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined and sticky. Then stir in the shrimp.

To form the wontons, place a tablespoon of the mixture onto the center of a wonton wrapper. Moisten edges with water and fold in half diagonally, and then bring one corner of the wonton to the center to meet the other. Repeat with remaining filling mixture.
Divide bok choy, chicken meat, and noodles among serving bowls.
Cook wontons in boiling water for 5 minutes or until cooked through. Drain and divide wontons among serving bowls. Strain the stock and ladle over the top.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Chocolate Fondue for Two

If you’re thinking about ending your Valentine meal with anything other than chocolate, think again. Chocolate is the quintessential Valentine’s Day dessert, and this easy and delicious Chocolate Fondue for Two is the answer. It stirs together in minutes, can be made ahead, served quite elegantly with a glass of champagne, and you can get as creative as you like with the dippers. Nothing says I love you like this sinfully delicious dessert.
Chocolate Fondue for Two

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 14-oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 tablespoons Kahlúa
¼ teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In heavy saucepan, over medium heat, melt chocolate chips and butter with sweetened condensed milk; stir in espresso powder. Cook and stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and Kahlúa.
Serve warm in your favorite fondue pot. Store leftovers, covered, in refrigerator.
Suggested Dippers:
Pound cake cubes, Amaretto Cherries, orange sections, melons balls, pineapple chunks, strawberries, banana slices, apple wedges, Melissa’s Red Muscato or interestingly shaped Sweet Sapphire Grapes, pear slices, and Plush Puffs marshmallows.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Parmesan Roasted Fioretto Cauliflower

If you haven’t tried Fioretto Flowering Cauliflower, you are in for a real treat. It’s a delightful vegetable, a pleasing combination of broccoli and cauliflower -- sweet, mildly grassy, and tender. It can be eaten raw or cooked, and is excellent in stir fry and tempura. Today I am giving you an easy recipe that the entire family will enjoy.
This recipe provides your children with an opportunity to get involved in meal prep. It has been my experience that children love to be involved in cooking, and enjoy the meal most when they’ve taken part in its creation.

This is enormously easy to put together, smells delicious when cooking, and is wonderfully crunchy and flavorful. I was so enamored with this dish, that one night I had it for dinner. DINNER! That’s right, as my main dish. I am not kidding you; I started eating it and just couldn’t stop! I paired it with a crusty roll slathered with whipped chive butter, and a nice glass of Riesling. I can tell you, I was a happy girl.

If you’re disinclined to have a vegetable as an entrée, this makes a wonderful side dish with fish, chicken, or a nice medium rare fillet mignon. If you’re looking to dazzle your sweetie on Valentine’s Day, or please yourself and your family on any day, give this recipe a try. Let the kids put it together!
Parmesan Roasted Fioretto Cauliflower*

1 10-oz. pkg. Melissa’s Fioretto Flowering Cauliflower
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425° F. Cover the bottom of a baking pan with foil, spray with Pam; set aside.

Rinse cauliflower and pat dry. Place into the bottom of a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, and drizzle with olive oil. Seal bag; shake to coat.
Add remaining ingredients, in order, seal bag once again, leaving plenty of air inside. Shake until the cauliflower is coated, and no coating ingredients remain in bag.
Empty cauliflower onto foil-lined baking sheet, and place into the oven. Bake for 12 minutes, turn over, and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove to a serving dish and serve warm, as is, or drizzled with hollandaise.
*This recipe works equally well with standard cauliflower, broccoli, or a combination of the two.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Nostalgic Valentine's Day Table

When I set out to create a Valentine’s Day table this year, I had no idea how emotional the experience would be. 
In assembling the various components that I had set aside for my table, I came across an envelope that my dad had given to me years ago. 
It contained a wide variety of things that my mother had saved from past Valentine’s Days, including all of the cards that we had sent her. We knew that she liked the old-fashioned kind, so that’s what we tended to buy and send. 
She even saved a computer-generated one that my dad made from back in the 80’s when we did that sort of thing, as well as one featuring the Rugrats that my son had sent her back in 1996. 
The red cardboard cupids (along with doilies and hearts that I did not use) graced her tables annually. 
All of the ephemera on this table once belonged to my mother.
As I got out the fabric that I intended to use as a tablecloth, I realized that this had once belonged to her too, purchased, I assume, in 2002 as that was the date on the selvage
Today marks the five-year anniversary of her passing, and that makes this all the more bittersweet.
I’ll provide no more commentary, just photos of the table, followed by a list of sources.
Miss you, mom!

Carved wooden chargers – Pier One Imports
Cranberry red dinner plates - Pier One Imports
Ikat heart napkins - Pottery Barn
Heart-shaped salad plates -
Eiffel tower wine glasses - La Rochere
Mugs –
Maison Versailles “Amelie”
Flatware - Target
Red Pitcher - Fiestaware
Small heart dishes - Amazon

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Amaretto Cherry Butter & Kiss Me Scones

If you’ve been following along with me this week then you should have a lovely batch of Amaretto Cherries on hand. You can turn these cherries into the most absolutely delicious Amaretto Cherry Butter, and/or use them to flavor sugared Kiss Me Scones, both of which you can serve for Valentine’s breakfast. I used the entire jar of maraschino cherries that yielded approximately a cup of cherries. I divided these in half in order to make a half-cup of Amaretto Cherry Butter, and used the rest in the scones. This is a delicious combination, sure to please and delight your loved one on Valentine’s morning.
Amaretto Cherry Butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup Amaretto Cherries

Mince cherries (I pulsed mine a couple of times in my bullet blender), and beat into softened butter. You can use an electric beater for this, or, if you have decently strong arm muscles, a whisk. I molded my butter into heart shapes using
this mold, but you can just as easily turn yours out into an attractive container and set it on your breakfast table.

Kiss Me Scones

2 cups sifted cake flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 T. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 egg
1/2 tsp. almond flavoring
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heavy Cream
Pink Sanding Sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

In the work bowl of a food processor combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter.  Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal; empty mixture into a large bowl. Place cherries into the food processor; pulse, and empty/scrape into the large bowl.

Place egg, cream, and almond flavoring into the food processor and pulse until combined. When thoroughly blended, pour it over the flour/cherry mixture in the large bowl and fold until it just comes together.  Add 1-3 more teaspoons of cream, if needed.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. With floured hands, press into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Cut out hearts with a heart-shaped biscuit cutter and arrange 2 inches apart on a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Gather scraps together and cut out additional scones.

Brush tops of scones with cream and sprinkle liberally with pink sanding sugar. Bake scones, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack before serving. Serve with Amaretto Cherry Butter.

Makes 8-10

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Friday, February 9, 2018

Beef Stroganoff for Two

If you’re trying to decide what to fix your sweetie on Valentine’s Day, nothing says romance like a nice piece of beef (and you can take that anyway you like). This recipe for beef stroganoff, based upon one by Sara Moulton, makes two servings, employs the use of a filet mignon (the most romantic cut of beef), and despite what you’ve come to think in the past, can be made a day ahead. Generally, because of the last-minute addition of sour cream, it’s thought that it should be served immediately. You can do that, but this can also be held in the refrigerator until the following day, and warmed gently on top of the stove. That way you’re not spending your evening in the kitchen, but where you belong, beside your loved one, even if that loved one happens to be your dog.

Served with my
Sweetheart Salad, and a nice glass of red wine, it makes a wonderful Valentine's dinner.
Beef Stroganoff for Two

3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 1/2-ounce package Melissa's dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
1-1/2 cups beef broth
1 8-ounce filet mignon, cut into strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
4 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dry red wine
4 ounces egg noodles
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon
Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a small sauce pan combine the dried porcini mushrooms and beef stock. Bring the mixture just to a boil, remove the pan from the heat to allow it to steep for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid, reserving it, and rough chop the mushrooms.

In a large skillet, fry the bacon over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a warm plate, leaving drippings in the pan. Season filet with salt and pepper; add it to the pan, and sear quickly on all sides. Transfer it to the same plate as holds the bacon.

Reduce heat to medium and add the shallots, cooking and stirring until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned, then add the garlic, thyme, tomato paste, flour, and cook, stirring, one minute.

Add the red wine, reserved mushroom water, 1-1/2cups water, the chopped porcinis, and noodles to the skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until the noodles are done to your liking, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in sour cream, Dijon, and lemon juice, taste and adjust seasonings. Add the beef, beef juices, and bacon to the pan, and simmer until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

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