Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Beef Bone Stock

Daikon Noodle Soup with Beef Bone Stock 
Whenever I make Roasted Bone Marrow, I also make Beef Bone Stock with the bones that are leftover.  There are usually pieces that still have bits of bone marrow that I couldn't get to.  The knuckle pieces also contribute a lot of collagen to the stock, giving it more body.  It makes for a flavorful and robust soup base.  I like to add salt to taste as I use the stock instead of cooking it in.

Beef Bone Stock
3 lbs beef marrow and knuckle bones
filtered water

Place beef bones in a stock pot.  Add enough filtered water to fill the pot 3/4 of the way.  Cover pot and bring to a simmer.  Prop pot lid up to vent and keep at a barely simmer for 4-5 hours.  If it gets to a boil, the stock will be cloudy.  It doesn't affect the flavor, so don't worry about it if it happens.  Skim away the scum that rises up to the top every now and then.
Place a pot of equal size in an empty sink.  Fill the rest of the sink with ice.  Pour the stock into the empty pot through a sieve to strain out all the solids.  Discard the bones and solid bits.
Stir the stock to cool.  Drain the sink as ice melts.  Add more ice if necessary.  Cool stock to room temperature and pour into containers to store in the freezer.
I like to use mason jars as they are perfect for single serving sizes and have the measurement markers right one the sides.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dau Sot Ca Chua (Tofu in Tomato Sauce)

Dau Sot Ca Chua (Tofu in Tomato Sauce)
Since my chinese mother grew up in Hanoi, I was blessed with both homemade Chinese and Vietnamese food during my childhood.  Dau Sot Ca Chua over a fluffy bowl of steamed rice was one of my favorite comfort foods growing up.  The tofu acts like a sponge and soaks up all the flavors of the sauce.

Dau Sot Ca Chua
1 lb. medium-firm tofu
5 large ripe tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
2 tbsp oil for pan-frying
minced scallions for garnish, optional

Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes.  Drain tofu pieces on paper towels to remove excess moisture and minimize spatter.
While tofu is draining, julienne the onion.  Remove the stems and seeds from the tomatoes and dice.
In a large sauce pan, pan-fry the tofu cubes for 1-2 minutes on each side to a golden yellow.  Remove tofu from pan and set aside.
Add onions to pan and cook until translucent.  Add tomatoes and cook until soft.  Add a few tablespoons of water if too dry or if you want more sauce.  Stir in fish sauce and sugar.  Do a taste test.  If needed, add salt to taste.  Add tofu and let simmer for about 15 minutes.  Sprinkled with minced scallions.  Serve over steamed rice.
The flavor really soaks into the tofu if made one day prior to be reheated the next day.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Roasted Bell Pepper Soup

Roasted Bell Pepper Soup
Although we did not get hit with the polar vortex in southern California, I decided a few weeks ago that it was cold enough to qualify as "soup weather".  Our "cold spell" didn't last very long, so I had a very small window of opportunity for winter boots, scarves, comforting soups and hot beverages.
I made a small batch, enough for dinner and lunch the next day.  Unfortunately, I did not secure the lid of the container well and most of my lunchtime soup spilled all over my lunch bag.  That was my great tragedy of the day.  At least I got to enjoy half of it.
If you are not too picky about the color, any color bell pepper can be used.  Red, of course looks better, but I think green, yellow or orange also taste great.  I bought 2 green bell peppers and one of them turned red by the time I decided to use them for this recipe.  My soup came out a delicious golden yellow.

Roast Bell Pepper Soup
2 large bell peppers
1 small tomato
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 small onion, diced
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup half & half
salt & white pepper to taste

Broil the whole bell peppers and tomato on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes.  Let cool and rub the skins off.  Remove and discard the stems and seeds.
Sautee the onion and butter in a large soup pot until translucent.  Add broth, bell peppers and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.
If you have a handheld blender, pulse the soup at the lowest speed setting until smooth.  Make sure that the pot has sides that are high enough so that the soup doesn't spill over.  Hot soup spilling all over you is not good.
If you are using a regular blender, make sure to let the soup cool to room temperature before blending.  Otherwise, the heat will cause the contents of the blender to expand during blending and hot soup may explode out of your blender.
Reheat soup to barely a simmer, stirring frequently.  Add half & half.  Stir until warmed through.  Remove from heat and add salt and white pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms
Once in a while, I would think about the stuffed mushrooms that was served at a get together that I had attended a few years ago.  I love mushrooms and were still thinking about them the next day.  The hostess recited the simple recipe when I asked what was in those delectable morsels.  Unfortunately, I never wrote it down.  So I put together a recipe based on what I think were the list of ingredients.  I think it came pretty close to the original.

Stuffed Mushrooms
12 large white button mushrooms
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
3 tbsp parley leaves, finely minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp olive oil
zest from 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Wipe mushrooms clean with a wet paper towel.  Remove stems*.
If you have a Misto, lightly spray the bottom and sides of the mushroom caps with olive oil.  If not, toss the mushroom caps and 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large bowl until coated.
In a mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley and 3 tbsp olive oil.
Arrange mushroom caps on a baking sheet so that they hollow end up and are not touching.  With a spoon, fill the mushroom caps with the breadcrumb mixture.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until top of fillings are golden brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with lemon zest.

*Roasted mushroom stems add umami flavor to homemade vegetable stock.