RECIPE: Triple C Chowder: Cauliflower, Chicken and Corn Chowder

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Late in October I was really thrilled when JJ and TT (many thanks again!) brought me some Hungarian paprika as souvenir from their European trip; I admit this is not the spice I use very often in my cooking, I had to give it some serious thought…

Rewind back to early October when I went for my haircut at Fab’s; my hair colouring session is the time when I catch up on my magazine reading; we are mostly digitized (twitter, Facebook, instagram) these days, so I rarely buy hard copies of any magazines unless it’s some special edition which I would like to keep. I was flipping through the October issue of Canadian Living magazine and came across their wonderful cauliflower corn chowder recipe; I love the idea of using cauliflower or potato in soups to add the texture without the need for whipping cream.  As usual, I took a snapshot and “tuck” it away in my cookery files…

So here you go; here’s my own version – the end result? It’s a lighter and healthier chowder, and certainly makes a hearty weeknight meal.  Please feel free to change things up anyway you like to suit your own taste and dietary needs.

There’s still paprika left in the pantry, so what’s next? Perhaps a Hungarian goulash for my dear friends? (OO)

Ingredients: (Serves 4-6, parts of the recipe adapted from Canadian Living’s Cauliflower Corn Chowder)

2 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 large yellow onion (diced), 4 cloves of garlic finely minced, 2 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, 1 1/2 Tablespoon smoked sweet paprika, 4 corn cobs (husked, kernels removed, save the cobs), 1 small head cauliflower (cut into bite size), 2 boneless chicken breast (skinned and cut into bite size), 3 cups low sodium chicken broth*, 1 to 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk*, 1 large sweet pepper (seeded and cut to bite size), 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, sea salt for seasoning to taste and sliced green scallions (or chives) for garnish (optional).

*almond milk and using mostly organic produce is my own preference; I’ve used homemade chicken stock as the soup base.  To add some heat – add 1 chili pepper to soup mixture or just use hot sauce in the end when ready to serve.

Preparation:

– In small bowl, prepare marinade for chicken; whisk together 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 Tablespoon paprika and pinch of sea salt.  Add chicken breast cubes to mixture and marinate for at least 20 minutes.

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 In a small pot using medium low heat, add the cobs to the chicken stock, let mixture simmer for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.  Turn off heat and set aside.

– In Dutch oven or large heavy pot, using medium high heat, saute the chicken breast until the meat is slightly browned and half-cooked, about 2 to 3  minutes.  Remove chicken meat from pot.

– Using the same pot, heat remaining olive oil, add onion, garlic, chopped fresh thyme and remaining paprika; saute until onion is softened, this takes approximately 3 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 the corn kernels, cauliflower, pre-heated chicken stock, sea salt and 1/2 cup water, bring mixture to boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until cauliflower is tender, approximately 10 minutes.

– Using an upright blender, working in small batches, process and puree the soup until smooth (be mindful to fill blender jar less than half way). To prevent the hot liquid from splattering: remember to allow heat to escape by removing the blender’s lid centre insert (cap), hold a kitchen towel over the top when blending.

– Return puree soup to pot, add remaining corn kernels, red pepper and half-cooked chicken breast cubes, bring soup to boil.  Reduce to low heat, stir in almond milk, let it simmer and stir occasionally until red pepper is tender and chicken cubes are cooked through.  Season with sea salt to taste. Turn off heat, stir in lemon juice.

– When ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls, add hot sauce (optional) and garnish with chopped green scallions or chives (optional).

 

 

“Lazy” Phnom Penh Dry Noodle

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“Phnom Penh” is one of our favourite Vancouver eateries; my friend “PPQ” came up with this “lazy” version (without soup) and recently I have fine tuned this easy recipe. The ingredients are simple and easy to prepare, it is also fun to prepare this for a “buffet” or potluck party, all you have to do is prepare the toppings and everyone can assemble their own noodle dish and spark an interesting dinner conversation! Enjoy (OO).

Ingredients: (Serves 2 – 4 as light meal/appetizer)

1 package of fresh Chinese rice noodle “Cheong Fun” roll (650g, with scallions and dried shrimp) (available at most Asian supermarkets),  Tiger prawns (approximately 3-4 each person for each serving, shelled, deveined, boiled), lean pasture raised ground pork (250g), fish sauce (for seasoning the pork), cilantro, fresh lime, 1 package of bean sprouts, green scallions (chopped), fried garlic and fried onion (you can make your own or purchase prepackaged product from Thailand), fresh Thai chilies (seeded and finely chopped, optional), Chinese “Tianjin” preserved cabbage (small handful)

For the sauce:  Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce, low sodium chicken stock, dark soy sauce (1-1-1 ratio)

Other condiments: Store bought Sambal Olek Chilli Sauce, chopped Thai chillies mixed with white vinegar (optional), Homemade prawn oil (optional)

Preparation:

–  Cut the rice roll into bite size (approximately 1 inch lengthwise); then slice through the middle to make them thinner; sprinkle with cold water and reheat in rice cooker (leave them in rice cooker under  “keep warm” mode”).

– To prepare the sauce: mix all ingredients and bring to boil, adjust sweetness and saltiness according to your liking

– Instead of oil, add a little water to skillet and saute the ground pork in high heat, add a little fish sauce for seasoning, set aside

– To prepare the prawns: shelled and deveined (with tail intact), add water to medium size pot (enough to cover the prawns), add a slice of lemon and a few black peppercorn and bring liquid to a boil; add prawns and cook until just opaque throughout. Have an “ice” bath ready; when prawns are cooked, pour the prawns into strainer and “shock” in ice bath immediately to stop the cooking process.  Strained and set aside.

– Parboil the bean sprouts quickly, strain and set aside.

– Prepare the preserved cabbage – soaked in cold water for at least 15 to 20 minutes, squeezed dry and chopped finely; chop green scallions, cilantro, slice the limes.

– To serve, Place each ingredient in individual serving bowls, prepare a condiment tray and set up the self-serve noodle bar.  Enjoy!

Notes:

You can adjust the meat/vegetable quantity and taste according to your taste and dietary needs.  Steamed pork belly slices are also good addition to this dish.

Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce – the brand which I’ve used is called “ABC”, it’s available at T & T Supermarket.  When making the sauce, I diluted the sweet soy sauce with low sodium chicken broth to lessen the sweetness.

I used the prawn shells and prepared my own oil (It’s simple and easy to prepare).

 

 

 

RECIPE: Corn Potage (Japanese Corn Soup)

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Over the weekend I hosted a bridal shower for my dear friend Virginia (Congrats!) and she specifically requested to have corn soup on the menu! I choose to make my favourite recipe, adapted from Jane Lawson’s Yoshoku – Japanese food western style with slight modifications (added chicken stock, omitted sesame oil). This is very easy to make; it’s great as a starter or a meal on its own, Enjoy (OO).

Ingredients: (Serves 2 – 4 (as small starter)

4 cups kombu stock, 1 cup organic low sodium chicken stock (optional), 4 cobs fresh sweet corn (peaches and cream); 1 oz organic unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon grape seed oil, 1 medium leek (white portion only, thinly sliced), 1 celery stalk (finely chopped), 1 to 2 garlic clove (crushed), 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger, 1/4 (60 ml) cup mirin, 1/2 cup (125 ml) cream, salt and pepper to taste, nori flakes and thinly slice green scallions (optional for garnish).

Preparation:

– Cut the kernels from the corn cobs, set kernels and cobs aside.

– Prepare the kombu stock; in a separate saucepan, bring chicken broth to boil, turn off heat and set aside.

Kombu stock: (1 piece of kombu (around 20 g – gently cleaned and wiped with damp cloth), 4 cups of cold water

– Put the kombu and 4 cups of cold water in a large saucepan.  Heat up the water slowly on medium low heat; just before it starts boiling, remove the kombu.

– When kombu stock is ready, add corn cobs and hot chicken stock to the pan and return to the boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, remove from the heat, discard the corn cobs and set aside.

– In a separate 8 quart stock pot, add butter and grape seed oil, melt over medium heat.

– Add leek, stirring regularly, cook for approximately 5 minutes or until lightly golden.  Add celery, garlic and ginger, cook until fragrant (approximately 1 minute); stir in corn kernels, mix well with other ingredients and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.

– Add stock and mirin to corn and leek mixture, and bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

– Using an upright blender, process and puree the soup in small batches (be mindful to fill blender jar less than half way).To prevent the liquid from splattering, remember to allow heat to escape; remove the blender’s lid centre insert (cap), hold a kitchen towel over the top when blending.

– Return puree soup to stock pot, stir in the cream and heat gently over low heat, do not bring to boil.

– Season to taste with salt and pepper; to serve, sprinkle with nori flakes and green scallions (optional).

Notes:

– I added the organic chicken broth (optional) for more flavour; the original recipe calls for 4 cups of kombu stock only, because I’ve added the additional cup of chicken broth, the soup is not as thick. If you want a thinner soup, add more cream.

– For a smoother and more refined texture, push the puree soup mixture through a fine sieve before stirring in the cream.

– I opted to use a light cream and seasoned the soup with sea salt from Okinawa (a precious gift from my friend “FanFan”, thank you very much!!).

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Corn Soup in “Pink Striped” Icecream paper bowls for the bridal shower

– For the bridal shower, I served them in little “ice-cream” cups:)

RECIPE: Braised Pacific Wild Cod with Leeks and Shimeji Mushrooms

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This was a recent weekend experiment based on an older #Fine Cooking’s recipe (http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/braised-pacific-halibut-leeks-mushrooms-clams.aspx); pacific wild cod was used instead of halibut, clams were omitted and shimeji mushrooms were used.  The cod is very delicate, be sure not to overcook and handle with the fish with extra care while serving.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, 4 packages of shimeji mushrooms (can be found in Asian supermarkets), 3 large leeks (white and light green parts only, thinly sliced, about 4 cups), kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 cups low sodium organic chicken broth (or homemade , 4 pieces Pacific wild cod (medium size, 6 ounces), 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (for garnish, parsley infused oil will be a good option), black truffle salt**optional 

Preparation:

Melt the butter over medium heat in Dutch Oven.

Add leeks to pan, cook for 2 minutes, then add mushrooms; season lightly with kosher salt and pepper. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned,  approximately 7 to 8 minutes.

Add broth, raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.

Pat dry the cod with paper towel; portion the fish (same size to cook evenly) then season both sides with salt and pepper. Gently place (nestle) the fish among the vegetables in the Dutch Oven.

Bring the broth back to a boil, cover tightly, and reduce the heat to low. Cook gently until the fish is just cooked through (approximately 8 minutes, I used a knife to “peek” and check for doneness, colour changes from translucent to opaque).

Serve the fish in shallow soup bowls (preferably warmed), topped with leeks and mushrooms, ladle the broth. For finishing touches, sprinkle a hint of black truffle salt (optional, do not overuse as it’s overpowering) and garnish with chopped parsley*.

*Additional notes:

The black truffle salt is optional – My friend Haruko brought me a jar from Italy as a present (Thank you so much!). We used very little to finish the dish and it was stunning!  Since we didn’t use the clams, the truffle salt added more depth and flavour to the broth. Perhaps a few drops of parsley infused oil will round off the dish nicely than the chopped parsley.  If you have time and the ingredients (do not throw away the roast chicken caucus), it is worthwhile to make your own chicken stock and have it ready for use in the freezer anytime.  We had a salad as a first course and I will post the recipe later (OO).

You can use olive oil instead of butter (1/2 cup butter = 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil), or combine together to enhance the flavour.

#Fine Cooking offers many excellent basic cooking tips, other than Rouxbe, I use the website and cookbooks/magazines as reference all the time.