Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recipe - Hot and Sour Soup

Hot & Sour Soup

I don't know what it is with me and soup. Much like the black bean soup, when I left Northern Virginia, I began a quest to recreate my favorite Chinese restaurant's hot and sour soup. Unlike the black bean soup, so far I have failed at coming close. The original bubbled dark and murky, full of unidentifiable objects. I assumed most were mushrooms, but could never be 100% sure.

I have come up with a suitable replacement recipe, though. It tastes good and curbs my craving even though it is really quite different from the original. Maybe knowing what I'm eating takes away from the fun of it all?

These proportions serve 2 VERY heartily if you are just eating soup or 4 if you serve something else along side. You might as well eat it all up at once - it doesn't keep well in the fridge. You could make this in a large pot, but a wok really does the job nicely.

Hot & Sour Soup

2 thin cut boneless pork chops, cut into 1/4 inch thin strips
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 cups chicken broth
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
6 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced into 1/4 inch thin strips
8 ounce can sliced bamboo shoots, drained, cut into 1/4 inch matchsticks
1/4 block extra firm tofu, cut into 1/4 inch thin strips
2 large eggs, beaten

Hot & Sour Soup

Marinate pork strips in 1 Tbsp soy sauce about 5 minutes. Combine remaining soy sauce, cornstarch, vinegars, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Stir well to combine. Heat oil in a wok or large pot over med-high heat. Add pork and stir-fry 2-3 minutes.

Hot & Sour Soup

Add bamboo shoots and mushrooms. Cook, tossing constantly, about 1 minute.

Hot & Sour Soup

Add broth and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Add tofu and vinegar mixture, stir and bring back to a boil.

Hot & Sour Soup

Slowly pour in beaten egg in a drizzle, stirring constantly. A fork works best for this to make sure the egg doesn't clump, but we cheated and used a spoon. I eat it right after adding the eggs, but if that makes you nervous, let it boil again, but beware of the foam.

Hot & Sour Soup

Enjoy a bowl of non-mysterious hot and sour soup!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dress Up - Frock Shop

I have been a fan of Frock Shop for awhile now. They always have a darling selection of clothes and accessories, and I am on board with their 'Get dressed up, sweetie,' mantra.

In these scary economic times, I can't help but fear that one day I will click over only to find that all my favorite small shops have been closed.

I certainly hope that won't be the case for frock shop! Just look at these darling clothes! They are also having a sale right now, so click over and support a great small business!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Recipe - Perfect Roast Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes

We're gearing up for St. Patty's day in our household. Plans for a party are underway and right now I think the menu will revolve around the humble potato. As such, I am trotting out my favorite potato recipes to see if they can easily adapt to a large batch. This recipe most certainly will be making an appearance.

I adapted this recipe from a funny little British cook book, the kind they sell at TJ Maxx in the discount bins full of recipes for Yorkshire Puddings and bangers and mash. The trick is to par-boil the potatoes before putting them in the oven. Yes, it is an extra step and an extra pot to wash. However, while I think any roast potato is delicious, this technique makes the prettiest, crunchiest, most superior roast potato EVER.

A word of warning. The original recipe called for olive oil. DO NOT USE OLIVE OIL. It's smoking temp is too low and your house will quickly fill with hazy, oily smoke. The smoke alarm will go off. Neighbors will knock on your door, concerned for your safety. I speak from experience when I say this is semi-embarrassing.

Roasted Potatoes

2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1/3 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Put potatoes in a large, lidded pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook 5-7 minutes.

Pour oil into a large roasting pan. Put pan in hot oven once potatoes begin to boil.

Drain potatoes and return to pot. Clamp the lid on tightly and give the potatoes a few good, hard shakes. The goal is to roughen the edges of the potatoes, not to break them up.

Roasted Potatoes

Take the hot roasting pan with oil out of the oven. Carefully dump the potatoes into the pan. Arrange in a single layer and put in the oven. Roast 45-50 minutes, flipping potatoes once. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 2 heartily.

Roasted Potatoes

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dress Up - Spring's in at Old Navy

ACK, why did I click over to old navy this morning? Today is pay day, so my bi-weekly allowance is burning a hole in my wallet, but I do try not to blow it one day like I am tempted to this morning! Spring is nearly here in our part of the world, so I could actually be wearing these in a few weeks. Sigh.

all images from old navy

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Recipe - Lemon Chicken and Kidney Bean Salad

Day 34

This is one of the husband's favorite meals. I am also quite partial to it. The flavors and textures are quite sophisticated for a meal that flys together in 20 minutes. If you have longer, the chicken does benefit from an hour's rest in the fridge to soak up some goodness from the marinade. Start the chicken in the broiler and finish the kidney bean salad while it cooks.

A few words about the kidney bean salad. Unfortunately, a lifetime of Aunt Edna's 3-Bean salad at every family gathering might have turned a few people off from the idea of a bean salad. This salad is something quite different. The beans are meaty and complimented by the vinegar and crunchiness of a handful of nuts or chopped celery. Whatever you do, don't use dried herbs in place of the parsley or cilantro. Omit them totally if you don't fresh ones at hand.

Lemon Chicken:

1 pound chicken tenders

Juice from 1 lemon

1 small onion thinly sliced (reserve a few slices for the salad)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Move oven rack to top position. Preheat broiler. Place all ingredients in a medium sized pan, coating the chicken well. Broil 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Kidney Bean Salad:

2, 15 ounce cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 Tablespoons onion, finely chopped from reserved onion slices

1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley or cilantro

1/4 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or celery

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Gifts - Personalized Valentines

Sigh, I love this idea. I love everything about it, the personalization, her style, the intimacy of her photos. I also love that I love it and though the husband would think it strange if I purchased one for him, he would display it anyway. Lucky for him I've already purchased his gift. Perhaps for his birthday...

all images from Aubrey Trinnaman
found via Kids and Cocktails

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Home Style - Mini Mobile

Day 32
Due to the recession, and the husband's general disapproval of spending money, my near future won't include a purchase of one of these lovely mobiles for the downstairs powder room. Instead, I tried my hand at making one. Several puncture wounds and one hand cramp later, I completed the above pictured birdie mobile. I also have a new appreciation for the mobile-making ladies I featured previously.