Monday, November 24, 2014

Turkey Wonton Soup

After Thanksgiving, don't tell your family they're having turkey leftovers until Sunday. Don't even say the word turkey after Thursday! When they ask what's for dinner or lunch, just say "Want some wonton soup?" Or how about ravioli with a lemon butter caper sauce? Just don't say the word turkey because people get sick of "leftovers" after like, one day. So, they just don't have to know.....and you don't have to see the eye rolling or tongue gagging.
You can transform turkey just by using it as your protein in some other ethnic class of cuisine. Go Asian one day, Italian the next. Mix it in with some spaghetti sauce & some pasta. Mexican style tamales are also a great idea! For this soup you can buy individual won ton wrappers or the large sheets. I chose the large sheets and cut them with my pizza cutter into 4 pieces.

I love the texture of slippery, soft wonton wraps that are dunked in a hot well seasoned broth!
Chinese sausage is most likely only available in the Asian market in your area. At Fubonn in Portland, there are so many to choose from. I'm an obsessive label reader and very anti - MSG, so I found this to be my preferred brand. Why am I anti - MSG? I just try to go as natural as I can when I shop for food to cook. I can't dodge all chemicals and preservatives, but I try to lessen the amount of intake.

Traditional Vietnamese won ton soup is called Mi Hoanh Thanh. Yes, that's my name. I grew up in a tiny town called Nashville, Arkansas. When I was little, the boys called me Wonton. I really didn't like it. So I developed a pretty thick skin early. And learned to avoid immature boys. Usually Vietnamese wonton soup has slices of barbecue pork and egg noodles, but I didn't have all that on hand so this is my rendition. At Cartlandia in Portland, the In and Out Kitchen food truck makes excellent Vietnamese wonton soup. Just not with turkey!
I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving! This year, I am so thankful to be in the Portland area where my two daughters are going to the most excellent schools. I'm thankful to see my husband so much more than when he was working weeks at a time in Alaska. I'm thankful for a best friend in Little Rock, AR that favorites almost every tweet of mine on Twitter and another best friend in Hawaii who almost always comments on my Facebook posts. I'm thankful that I found garlic - infused chicken broth at Safeway. As soon as I peeled back the silver seal, the garlicky aroma intoxicated me. And I'm thankful for all of you for following, interacting, and +1ing on Google Plus so much that I've had over 2,596,000 hits.  Love you mean it! 

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups of garlic - infused chicken broth, or plain chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • About an inch of ginger, peeled
  • Leftover turkey meat, shredded
  • 2 links of Chinese sausage, sliced
  • Chopped green onions & cilantro
  • Won ton wraps 
  • Ramekin or small bowl of water
Directions:
  1. Warm the broth in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the fish sauce.
  2. Either grate the ginger with a microplane over the broth, or slice it into smaller pieces and add to the broth. You can discard later.
  3. Prepare the wontons. If using a large wonton sheet, cut into 4 squares. Place small pieces of shredded turkey in the center of each. Dip your finger in the water and run along the 4 edges of the wonton wrap. Fold over to make a triangle, then dip the long points with water. Pinch those over to make sure they're sealed. Make 16.
  4. Add one link of sausage to the broth, bring up to a boil, then add 8 wontons for one portion.
  5. After adding the wontons,  lower heat to a gentle simmer so they don't break apart. After 2 - 3 minutes, ladle wontons into a bowl. Add the sausage, some broth, and garnish with cilantro & green onions.
  6. Repeat process for one more portion.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Roasted Turkey Legs


This time of year, people are probably researching the Internet for instructions on cooking turkey for that special holiday, Thanksgiving. Turkey legs are currently really inexpensive, so I picked up a package of 2 to bake at home. Oh how I love the smell of turkey baking in the oven! I prefer dark meat, so I would never invest in an entire turkey. If I were cooking for others who preferred white meat, then I'd buy the whole bird.
I think the best way to go with turkey is to use a thermometer to make sure it gets cooked properly. These huge legs were done at about an hour and 15 minutes. The temperature drops pretty quickly once you remove them from the oven.
The meat was so juicy and tender.
I pulled the meat off the bone as soon as it was cool enough to handle. We enjoyed it for dinner, but had enough left over to make a couple of other dishes the next day. Check back here to see what else to do with turkey leftovers!

The marinade:

Since we're in the land of Asian fusion here in Portland, Oregon, a town famous for Pok Pok's famous  Vietnamese fish sauce chicken wings, I'll let you know that I've always marinated all my poultry in fish sauce. I usually freely pour, but I'll try to estimate it for you. Just throw the legs inside a large sealable bag, throw marinade ingredients in, toss, and refrigerate overnight. Anytime you go to the kitchen, massage the bag a little and turn.
  • 1/2 cup of fish sauce - try Red Boat or Tiparos brands - watch the sodium & msg!
  • 2 tbsp sugar - I prefer turbinado
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a pan with foil for easy cleanup. Place the legs on top. Insert the thermometer so that the tip is in the center of the leg.
  3. Roast in the oven until 180 degrees, about an hour and 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven, let cool, then shred the meat.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Chili Oil Noodles with Chicken Hearts

If you subscribe to my blog posts by email or follow closely, you've got to be an adventurous eater, right? This dish is spicy and full of flavor, and cost about $3 to make. It was also quite filling.

I grew up eating organ meats in many dishes that my mother made. Congee was one that would be full of things with interesting textures, full of things like chicken heart or beef tongue or beef heart. We were sitting at Smallwares in Portland one Sunday for brunch when my daughter asked what congee was. I described it as a kind of rice soup. I knew it was one of her dining considerations because it featured Chinese sausage, one of her favorites.

When the dish arrived, she asked if it was porridge. I said sure. I told her about the congee that her grandma used to cook for us. She enjoyed her dish very much, and when our server took it away, she commented that it had been a very mature decision on my daughter's part. Well, I've been talking to Gianna like an adult since she was a baby, so by the time she turned 3, she was talking back to me like an adult. Once a stranger at Barnes & Noble started laughing because they heard her say, "I want this book but it's out of my budget." It sounded so adult from a tiny 3 year old with a raspy voice.

So we were at Albertsons one day, and she saw a package of chicken hearts. She said she wanted to try it. I Googled chicken heart recipes, and learned that they're extremely nutritious. I especially enjoyed this lady's take: Organ Love. At another site, the author said she liked to eat organ meat twice a week: South Beach Primal.

This is why I love talking to my chef friends who have lived or travelled around the country or the world about food. Some of them have shared accounts of really diverse tastes that they've tried, which really tickles me. And some of them have created the most original taste combinations that also have inspired me to cook a good variety of food as a home cook for my family and friends. I'm so thankful for my 11 year old daughter and her adventurous palate, too! She also inspires me!

Ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp chili oil
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 package of chicken hearts, each heart cut in half
  • Handful of kale
  • 1 bundle of glass noodles (also known as cellophane noodles or bean thread)
  • 1 fresno pepper, seeded and sliced
Directions:
  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. Cook the glass noodles briefly (about 3 minutes), drain, then add back to the pan until the moisture evaporates from the noodles.
  3. Heat a pan over medium high heat, add some oil, then add the garlic and fresno pepper.
  4. Add the hearts. Toss to brown all sides, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add the chili oil mixture.
  6. Add kale and noodles. Toss to combine.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs

Short ribs can be fairly expensive, so I don't buy them often. But.....one day I spotted some in the Manager's Special section, and they looked great! No brown spots, and the date was still good on the package. So I snatched them up! My husband said it was the greatest thing he'd ever eaten. But he says that pretty much all the time!
I browned the short ribs on all sides before placing them inside the slow cooker. I decided to throw some leftover brussels sprouts in too. I probably should have waited a few hours before putting those in, though.
Next, I made a gremolata with lemon zest, grated garlic, and cilantro instead of parsley. Most people chop their parsley finer than this, but I'm fine with a course chop.
Lobster tails are very inexpensive at this store nearby, so I made this meal a surf and turf dinner. (They're $4 per tail!) I run a skewer through them to keep them from curling up - for a prettier presentation. Then I steam them about 5 minutes on medium high heat.
Aren't quick and easy meals great?

Ingredients:
  • 6 beef short ribs
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 2 tbsp of worcestershire
  • 2 tbsp of stone ground mustard
  • 1 red onion, chopped
Directions:
  1. Season the ribs with salt and pepper, then sear over high heat on all sides until browned.
  2. Place the onions inside the slow cooker. 
  3. Place the ribs on top. Add the broth, worcestershire, and mustard. 
  4. Cook on low 6 - 8 hours. Serve with some of the sauce from the slow cooker, then some gremolata.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Oven - Baked Bacon

I have never in my life baked bacon until this past week. I feel like I've experienced some kind of magical revelation. It's really my new favorite way to cook it! I know this is a very simple post, but I must encourage you - if you've never baked bacon in the oven, please find some time to do it! It's the easiest, simplest thing you can cook, and it yields the tastiest, crispest outcome. I guess I've always been old school, standing there in front of the frying pan letting it pop at me, trying to turn and turn, swapping out pieces that were unevenly cooked. No more! 

Thanks to Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo for putting this solution in her book. I've never actually thought of baking bacon in the oven before. I know, I know, the directions are right there on the package! Bake 15 - 20 minutes at 375 degrees. So, so simple!!


Friday, November 7, 2014

Ceviche Style Oysters

I LOVE the Pacific Northwest!! I am sooooooo glad my husband chose to take the job in Oregon so that we could move to the Portland area.  My favorite thing is the availability of fresh oysters in the many restaurants and grocery stores that we frequent. These Goose Point Oysters came from our neighbors in Willapa Bay, Washington. They preshuck them at New Seasons, one of the best ever stores here!! And they're just a few blocks away from my home...
Ceviche Ingredients:
  • 2 oz. extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 2 limes
  • thinly sliced red onions
  • chopped cilantro
  • salt, to taste
  • dash of lemongrass mint white balsamic (optional)
Directions:
  1. Mix the ceviche ingredients.
  2. Shuck the oysters, then add to the mixture in a glass bowl. Wash the oysters shells.
  3. Cover the oysters and mixture with plastic wrap in the fridge 45 minutes to an hour.
  4. Place the oysters back on the shells and top with the ceviche mixture.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gumbo z'Herbes

I had never heard of Gumbo z'Herbes until last month when it was served to me by my friend Brian Kearns, Executive Chef of Oceans and Arthur's in Little Rock at a group dinner with several other friends where we had all signed up for a 4 course tasting at his restaurant.  He served it with an oyster on the side that we could add just before diving in. I had to look up gumbo z'herbes after that, so I found some great info at Saveur. It's essentially a meatless gumbo served during lent with greens, and since I grew up Catholic, I would have loved knowing about this dish! I also love kale, so of course I chose it as my greenery of choice. 

I have a love of Cajun food because Louisiana is a neighboring state of Arkansas where I grew up, and I visited the state often. I also visited New Orleans regularly because I shared an apartment with a girl from Louisiana in my college years. She attended Loyola University, and her family had a part of a company called Savoie's Sausage and Food. Needless to say, I sampled many of those great wonders!! But no wonder she never told me about this dish, there's no sausage in it!!