Vietnamese Pork Pho Soup ~ Delicious, Healthy Love for Your Tummy!

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When the Mr. and I used to frequent Montreal for our weekend “adult” getaways, our favorite go~to hangover remedy, as with most other cultures was some sort of big, fresh vegetable, noodle and protein soup.

Thanks to many great reviews online from Montreal natives, we were lucky to find a lot of great restaurants that are “off the beaten path” of tourists, that have phenomenal cuisine at low prices!

So where is the best place to get pho?  A tiny hole-in-the-wall place in Chinatown, Cristal No. 1.

It was absolutely AMAZING!

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/67/1548051/restaurant/Chinatown/Cristal-No-1-Montreal

The whole late night, post partying, healthy soup practice, seems to not have taken hold here in the U.S. as it has pretty much everywhere else.   That is, it’s probably unlikely that it will become popular, unless the Golden Arches start carrying it, anyway!

I’ve been making this soup at home for years in the chicken form.  Chicken stock and meat.   This past week I made pho with a lovely, tender pork loin and it was absolutely amazing.

Here is the recipe I used.  Feel free to add any variety of veggies on top that you have, the key is to add them AFTER the noodles, meat and broth.  The idea is to keep them fresh, vibrant and crispy.  The nice thing about this soup is it’s easily made ahead of time.  If you chop the veggies first and refrigerate till you’re ready, it’s only a matter of heating up the broth.  This means, healthy, quick dinner!

Here are some fresh / raw veggies I’ve seen on Pho:

Julienne carrots

Julienne cucumbers

Mushrooms

Cilantro

Sliced thin red peppers

Jalapeno thin sliced

Bean sprouts

Sliced thin read onion

Chopped mint

Chopped basil

Lime wedges

http://guiltykitchen.com/2009/10/14/daring-cooks-vietnamese-pork-pho/

And if you’re ever in Montreal, definitely check out Cristal No. 1.  It’s the best pho in Montreal!

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Chinese Steamed Chicken Buns ~Bread Machine

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When I was in Jr. High School my mom worked with a gal Keng, from Singapore.  Occasionally Keng would bring in food that she had prepared.  Sometimes it was noodles and once in a while it was these deliciously savory, fragrant and chewy steamed buns.  They were like nothing I had ever tried at any Chinese restaurant.

I was recollecting Keng and her amazing steamed buns and decided to make them.  I had just bought an industrial size pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast and was tired of oven fried chicken, I needed something more complex and savory. Sadly, I cannot honestly recall what the meat was in Keng’s buns.  I believe it was ground pork.  That would be amazing too.

I found a recipe or two online and one in my bread machine cookbook and combined them all to create my own recipe.  My girls and husband were crazy about them and The Mr. promptly said “You can make these anytime you want!”  I laughed and assured him, it was going to be a while before I did these again.  Not because I did not enjoy them, but they are a lengthy project to undertake.  But, yes… they are mighty tasty!

Dough Ingredients:

5/8 cup lukewarm milk

2 cups unbleached white flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon room temp butter

1 teaspoon rapid rise yeast

Pour the milk into the bread machine and add the butter.  Sprinkle the flour to cover the milk.  Add the salt and sugar into separate corners and put the yeast directly in the center.  Use your dough cycle on your machine.  Allow the dough to rest after the cycle ends.  I allowed mine to hang out for about three hours after the cycle ended.

Filling Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

2 inch piece of ginger root finely minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1/8 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder (*this seems like a small amount but the flavor is needed)

8 ounces chicken breast, thinly sliced and cut into 1″ pieces

3 scallions chopped

1 tablespoon cilantro chopped

Salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients and marinate for at least 1/2 hour.  Heat a non stick skillet and add 1 tablespoon of oil.  When the skillet is hot add 1/2 of the chicken and stir fry for approximately 3 minutes. Remove from skillet and add the second batch of chicken.  Cook for 3 minutes and add the the first batch.  Let rest for 1/2 hour to cool the ingredients.

Vegetables For Filling:

1 small can sliced water chestnuts ~ Drained

2 carrots peeled and roughly chopped

1 small onion roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic roughly chopped

Add all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the vegetables are well chopped.  Add the chopped vegetables to the chicken, once the chicken is cooled and easy to handle.

Dough Preparation:

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and roll the dough into a log shape.  Cut the dough into eight uniform segments and cover with a tea towel.

Take the first piece of dough and roll it into a 5″ round.  Recover and roll out the remaining dough balls into 5″ rounds, covering the dough as you work to keep it from drying out.

Heat approximately 6″ of water in a large stockpot and place your bamboo steamer on the pan.  Heat the water to a boil.

Take one round of dough and add about 2 tablespoons of filling and pull the dough out a bit.  Run a small amount of water around the edge of the dough.  Bring the sides of the dough to cover the filling and pinch the edges together to seal.  Place the bun on a small square of wax paper or parchment.  This is used to keep it from sticking in the steamer.

Cover the completed bun with a tea towel as you create the remaining seven.

Load the buns into the steamer, being careful not to allow them to touch the sides of the steamer or each other.  Keep in mind that the buns will expand as they cook.  It’s quite surprising how much larger they get while steaming.

steamed bun

Steam the buns for ten minutes and serve immediately.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Banana Bread

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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Banana Bread

Ingredients

    • 1 cup butter, room temperature
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 1/2 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together.
  2. Then add the eggs and mix.
  3. Then put in the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add the bananas and sour cream and mix.
  5. Then add in the chocolate chips and pour into 3 greased loaf pans.
  6. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until a toothpick that has been inserted into the center comes out clean.

 

 

Mushroom Pies with Pear Salad

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I adore a good hand pie!  These pastry wrapped little beauties look absolutely delicious and are surprisingly easy to make!  They would be cute & easily portable for a picnic or impromptu lunch at your honey’s office, or served with eggs for a delicious breakfast.  Add a lovely side salad for a divine brunch or dinner.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar and/or muenster cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces mache or other salad greens (about 6 cups)
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and mist with cooking spray.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 14-inch square and cut into four 7-inch squares. Brush the center of each with mustard and season with salt and pepper. Place the mushrooms gill-side up on the pastry and season with salt and pepper.

Toss the breadcrumbs and cheese in a bowl and sprinkle over the mushrooms. Fold in the pastry edges, pleating to fully cover the mushrooms; press to seal. Brush both sides of the pastry with the beaten egg. Place seam-side down on the baking sheet, make slits in the top and bake until golden and crisp, 25 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine the shallot, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl, then whisk in the olive oil. Toss the dressing with the salad greens and pear. Serve the salad with the mushroom pies.

Serves: 4

Per serving: Calories 736; Fat 47 g (Saturated 18 g); Cholesterol 106 mg; Sodium 1,045 mg; Carbohydrate 54 g; Fiber 6 g; Protein 27 g

Photograph by Antonis Achilleos

Stuffed French Toast with Orange Marmalade

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Last year my sister in law made stuffed french toast.  Yes, it was as amazing and rich as it sounds!  We had a side of bacon which really helped to offset the immensely rich toast.

Ingredients:

Cinnamon chip bread or thickly cut french bread ( day old works best)

4 Eggs

½ Cup   —   Heavy cream

1 Tsp.   —   Vanilla

4 oz.   —   Whipped cream cheese

Grated zest of 1 orange

Orange marmalade

Procedure:

In a bowl, combine eggs, heavy cream and vanilla mix well.

Dredge each slice of bread in the mixture.

Place soaked slices on hot griddle. Cook each side until golden brown.

Stack toast slices with orange zest and whipped cream cheese spread between each layer. Add orange marmalade on top.

 

 

Egg’n’Grog

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Holiday Eggnog (Spirited)

1 dozen eggs

1 pound powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup vanilla

8 cups evaporated milk

3 cups water

1 quart spiced rum (optional)

Nutmeg, to garnish

Beat eggs until light in color, gradually add sugar, salt and vanilla. Then add milk and water. Stir in rum (brandy, bourbon or rye may also be used). Cover the nog and ripen for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Stir again and garnish with whipped cream, a cinnamon stick and sprinkle with nutmeg.