09/20/16
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Making soup…Samurai style

Perfect chicken soup recipe

Okay, first things first, a couple of statements to divert the inevitable snarky, know-it-all, blog-nazi  comments…

I know that “Asian” is a common generality, which is typically a bad thing in most subjects and even more so when plastered over the subject of cuisine…

I know that “Samurai” (or more correctly “Bushi”) were specifically the military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan, and not any of the other countries I reference…

I know that these two words are then, obviously, a contradiction in terms…

HOWEVER…that said, ‎I like alliteration, it’s my blog, and it makes for a snappy post title, so I’m going with it. 😉

Okay…done with that.

The reason for this post, and recipe, is that after much happy experimentation, I am of the not-so-humble opinion, that “Asian” cultures are the gods of broth and stock-based soups (cream soups and bisques, stews and chowders, I might give the nod to France, but this ain’t that post…)

That said, what makes the soups of Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, etc., etc., so amazing is more about technique than ingredients…though they certainly have some amazing ingredients…the most basic difference between how “they” make soup, and how “we” make soup, is technique, most importantly the technique of prepping each individual ingredient separately for optimum taste, instead of simply tossing them in a pot (or, God-forbid, a slow cooker) to become a one-note burbling homogeneous cauldron of meh.

Example: If you’ve ever seem a properly prepared bowl of pho being made, and you really should, it’s amazing…you’ll note that the bowl is first loaded with cold cooked noodles, cold cooked meat, and raw veggies, then, filled with boiling-hot stock, to bring everything to a balanced temp.

This allows each ingredient to maintain its own specific flavor and  uniqueness, but still maintain the crunchy texture of the veggies, the perfect texture of the meat (brisket and tendon, please) and the chewy elasticity of properly cooked noodles (this, btw, is the same reason that ramen is best when the noddles are cooked, cooled, and the dipped in hot stock at the last moment, on the way to the mouth).

So, I said to myself, “Self…what if I tried this classic style, this “cook first, then assemble” technique, of Asian-style soup cooking, with that most classic of Western soups, Chicken Vegetable. (The fact that my wife and daughter are sharing a horrific cold this week, didn’t hurt in the decision making process of the test subject, either…)

So, here we go! (Spoiler: it’s awesome…)

Chicken Vegetable Soup using “Asian” Techniques

For the stock:
Bones and skin of 1 rotisserie-roasted chicken
1 whole head of roasted garlic
1 cup roasted carrots, chopped
1 cup roasted celery, chopped
1 lemon, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped and packed
2 Tbs. fine sea salt
1 Tbs. ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. whole fennel seed

1/4 cup sweet cream butter

For the soup:
3 ears fresh sweet corn, cut from cob
2 cups carrot rounds
2 cups celery chunks
1/2 cup shallot, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 cups diced rotisserie chicken

The best Chicken Soup Recipe

Rotisserie Chicken (I prefer Costco)

Debone one whole rotisserie chicken, save bones for stock, and meat for soup.

Roasting veggies for chicken soup

Roast celery, carrots, and onions on at 450F oven until browned (but not burned).

Best chicken soup recipe

Combine chicken bones, skin, roasted garlic, ginger, parsley, lemon, fennel seeds, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Add roasted veggies, cold water to cover, and bring to a simmer.

Best chicken soup recipe

Dice carrots, celery, shallot, ginger, and set aside.

Best chicken soup recipe

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Cut fresh corn kernels from ears, set aside.

Chicken soup stock

Strain meat and veggies from stock, and whisk in butter.

Veggies for chicken soup recipe

Pan-sear diced carrots, celery, shallot, and ginger i a little stock, until just starting to soften. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.

The best chicken soup recipe

Assemble pulled chicken, sauteed veggies, and raw corn in a bowl.

Perfect chicken soup recipe

Ladle simmering broth over the top of the veggies, taste for salt and pepper, and top with fresh chopped Italian parsley.

Perfect chicken soup recipe

Optional additions: Rice noodles, soy sauce, Thai fish sauce, jalapeno slices, Sriachi sauce.

ENJOY!

Chef Perry

 

03/23/16
The Perfect Ramen Recipe

Ramen, the Right Way

The Perfect Ramen Recipe

First, Some Top Ramen History

Momofuku Ando began the Nissin company as part of a small family operation in 1948. Facing major food shortages after World War II, Ando decided that a inexpensive, quality, and convenient ramen product would help feed the hungry masses of post war Japan.

In 1958, Ando and Nissin introduced the first instant ramen, Chicken flavor. Ironically, it was largely considered a luxury food, as it was six times more expensive that the fresh Japanese noodles (udon) sold in Japanese grocery stores at the time.

Types of RamenThe conservative Japanese culinary scene rejected instant ramen, branding it a novelty food with little future. They were, or course, completely wrong….and Chicken Ramen sold beyond its inventor’s wildest dreams. Almost instantly (if you’ll pardon the pun), dozens of other companies were stuffing the shelves with their own versions.

By the end of ’58, grocery stores were dedicating whole aisles with this wildly popular new staple for the Japanese kitchen.

The rest of course, is history.

These days, Ramen in the US is highly misunderstood. The butt of jokes as the 4-year staple of broke, lazy college students. Ironically, nothing could be further from the truth, and Ramen…properly prepared Ramen may just be the hew food craze of the West.

The Sushi of the new millennium.

Best ramen soup ingredients

THE STOCK
8 oz Clam broth
16 oz. hot water
2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
1/4 cup dry sake
1/2 lb thin sliced pork belly, in 1-inch slices
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons grape-seed oil
2 tsp. Sesame oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
1 1″ piece ginger, peeled, sliced into matchsticks
1 Tbsp. bonito flakes
1 star anise
1/2 lb raw jumbo shrimp

Perfect Ramen Recipe

Heat oils in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute until onions have softened. Add pork belly and cook 5 more minutes, stirring.

Perfect Ramen Recipe

Add clam broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, bonito, salt, pepper, and sake. Bring to a simmer then add water and star anise. Return to simmer. Meanwhile, toss peeled and deviened shrimp in a bowl with 1/4 cup of lime juice, and 2 Tbsp. of fish sauce. (Make another bowl of the marinate for brushing.)

Let rest 10 minutes.

Steaming shrimp

Meanwhile, steam the shrimp over the simmering stock, brushing with the marinade until just pink through. Set shrimp aside.

Steamed shrimp

Strain stock through a fine sieve, rinse the pot, and set pork belly and cooked veggies aside. Run stock through a fat separator, and return the defatted stock to the pan.

Perfect stock for ramen soup

Bring back to a simmer and reduce by 1/4.

THE GARNISHES
1 large egg, hard-boiled, peeled, and halved.
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. minced sweet onion

DOING NOODLES RIGHT
1 packet of ramen noodles per person.

Like most Asian noodle recipes, the real secret of great ramen lay in two factors, the broth, and the noodles.

If “ramen” makes you shudder at the thought of a bowl of mushy, slimy pasta, here’s how they’re supposed to be served.

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1. Open the ramen packet and immediately throw away that nasty, salty “flavor” packet. Nothing good can come from it.

2. Bring 1 1/2 cups of salted water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the noodles and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain.

Shocking ramen in ice water

3. Immediately plunge the noodles in a large bowl of ice water, and stir. Let sit until completely chilled, then drain and set aside. By chilling the noodles you stop the cooking process, and tighten the gluten in the noodles back up, making them chewy and elastic to the bite again.

Perfect bowl of ramen

ASSEMBLING THE PERFECT BOWL

Place chilled noodles, shrimp, pork belly mixture, shrimp, cilantro, egg, and raw onions into a soup bowl.

Ladle simmering broth over the ingredients in the bowl, and serve immediately.

As soon as the stock has cooled enough to not burn yourself, dig in!

Enjoy!

Chef Perry

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10/8/15
Pork & Chicken Cassoulet Recipe

Soup Week: Pork & Chicken Cassoulet

Pork & Chicken Cassoulet RecipeIt’s day two of Soup Week, celebrating the season with warm and wonderful soup recipes. Yesterday we made a delicious Oxtail Miso Soup…today, let’s head to France for an amazing cassoulet.

I guess, technically, Cassoulet is a stew, but I’ve never been a big fan of technicalities, so I’m calling it a soup.

My blog, my rules. :)

Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked bean stew or casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat (typically pork sausages, pork, goose, duck and sometimes mutton), pork skin (couennes) and white haricot beans.

Beloved by generations of French cooks, cassoulet is a rustic, slow-cooked dish made with white beans and a lavish assortment of meats, from duck confit* or foie gras to sausages and succulent cuts of pork, lamb or poultry.

Best Cassoulet PotThe dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, oval, earthenware pot with slanting sides.

The following recipe is adapted from Guy Fieri’s “pork-oulet”, though I put in more celery, carrots and yellow onion than the original recipe asked for. Somehow I managed to miss getting a pictures of the chicken thighs browning, but you’ll get the idea!

I make this recipe regularly and, seriously…it’s one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Incredibly rich and savory, layer after layer of flavors, big hunks of spoon-tender meat and veggies…this cold-weather comfort food at it’s best!

Tip: When buying your herbs, look for the “pork mix” package of fresh herbs. The one I found contained almost the perfect proportions of thyme, sage, and oregano, that this recipe calls for.

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Also, be careful not to add salt until the dish is ready to serve. Both the bacon and chicken stock (if canned) can be wild cards for saltiness, especially after cooking down. Test the broth just before serving and adjust accordingly.

Pork & Chicken Cassoulet

1/2 pound thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 pounds pork butt, cut into 2-inch by 3-inch pieces
4 bone-in chicken thighs
3 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
1 lg sweet onion, chopped large
2 cups peeled baby carrots
1 cup (1/2-inch) diced celery
1/4 cup roughly chopped garlic
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tbs fresh sage, chopped
1 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 lb button mushrooms, scrubbed
4 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained

In a pre-heated cast iron Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add the bacon and cook until just crisp. Remove from the pot and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.

Braising Pork for cassoulet

Season the pork and the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the pork pieces to the bacon fat and brown on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside on a large plate. Add the chicken thighs to the pan and brown evenly, then remove and add to the plate with the pork.

Browning chicken thighs for cassoulet

Add the onion, carrots, mushrooms, and celery into the pot and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Mushroom Mirepoix Recipe

Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, then add in the stock, bay leaves, thyme, oregano and sage and combine well.

Perfect Cassoulet Recipe

Put the pork and chicken pieces into the sauce and cover. Reduce the heat and simmer until the meat is fork tender, about 2 hours.

Chicken and pork cassoulet recipe

Add in the cannellini beans and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with reserved bacon, and serve hot with warm crusty baguette, or over rice.

BON APPETIT!

– Chef Perry

*Confit (con-fee) is a term for various kinds of cooked meats that have been immersed in a substance for both flavor and preservation. Sealed and stored in a cool place, confit can last for several months. Confit is one of the oldest ways to preserve food, and is a speciality of southwestern France.



10/7/15
Oxtail Miso Soup Recipe

Soup Week! ~ Oxtail Miso

Oxtail Miso Soup Recipe

It’s starting to get frosty in the morning. Apples and leaves are falling, we’re busting out jeans and hoodies, and that means…it’s soup season!

Nothing better than a steaming hot bowl of soup on a chilly evening, but leave those sad cans of tinny-tasting goop on the grocery store shelves…because there’s nothing better than a bowl of homemade soup, and we’re going to look at some of my favorite simple soup recipes from home and abroad.

Today, we’re going to use one of my favorite under-rated cuts of beef to make a light, but filling soup with just a hint of the exotic.

This is some seriously good soup!

Oxtail Miso Soup

2lbs meaty oxtail
2 Tbs sesame oil
1 whole sweet onion, diced
2 Tbs minced fresh garlic
1/2 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp sea salt
8 Tbs Mirin
1/2 tsp Coarse black pepper
3 cups dashi soup stock
3-4 Tbsp miso paste
1/2 cup chopped green onions, divided
6-8 mushrooms, thinly sliced

Braising Oxtails for Soup

Salt and pepper oxtails and brown in sesame oil. Move oxtails to pot and saute sweet onions in the pan with remaining oil and drippings. Add onions to pot with garlic and ginger.

Simmering Oxtails

Cover oxtail with water, uncovered, bring to boil. Lower to simmer, and cook until oxtail is tender (about an hour) an liquid is reduced by 1/2.

Reducing Oxtail Soup

Remove meat and strain the broth, returning the liquid (stock) to the pot.

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Add dashi soup stock in a pot and bring to a boil. Scoop out some soup stock from the pan and dissolve miso in it. Gradually return the miso mixture in the soup. Stir the soup gently. Don’t let the soup boil after you put miso in.

Sauteeing veggies for Oxtail Soup

Coarsely chop the cooled oxtail meat. Brown sliced mushroom and 1/2 of the green onions in a little oil. Add the chopped oxtail meat, toss well until the meat is just warmed through.

Sauteeing meat and veggies for Oxtail Soup

Stop the heat and add the remaining chopped green onion.

Serve soup with several chunks of oxtail per bowl, sprinkle with remaining green onions.

Oxtail Miso Soup Recipe

*Makes 8 servings

05/6/15

Pork neck bones …really.

Cooking Pork Neck Bones

Subscriber and long-time friend Rebecca asks:

Help! I was just given some pork neck bones. What do I do with them? Usually I would boil beef down and make soup. Is that what you do with pork too?

Rebecca,

I LOVE pork neck bones. Truly one of the great under-appreciated cuts!

I usually use them to make stock for soup or Pho. Pork neck bones make the best stock!

homemade pork stock recipeUnfortunately, I haven’t posted a pork neck recipe, yet, but you can use our Chicken Stock recipe, and just replace the meat.

I would salt the raw neck bones, and roast them at 400 degrees until dark brown and starting to crisp, them throw them directly into the stock pot.

For the Pho version, you can check out this post:

Just sub the beef stock for your pork broth, and the meatballs with the tasty bits of pork from the necks.

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After browning, they would also be excellent in split pea soup, Southern style greens, or instead of roasting, brown them in a pan, deglaze with red wine, and build a classic ragu like the one in our Braciole recipe.

 Enjoy!

Chef Perry

02/23/15

Easy Stock from Chicken Wing Tips

Chicken Wing Stock

We go through a LOT of chicken stock in my kitchen, and I like to make my own.

I discovered a few years back the those chicken wing-tips that I usually cut off the wings before cooking, have a near perfect ratio of skin to bone for making a rich, delicious stock.

Chicken feet are also ideal for stocks and broths, but we’ll stick to the shallow end of the pool today… :)

Now, I keep a zip-bag in the freezer and toss my wing tips in it whenever I cook a chicken, or chicken wings. About once a month, I’m usually ready to make a half-gallon batch of stock.

Note: If you don’t have the wing-tips, you can use the leftover carcass of a rotisserie or roasted chicken, instead.

Here’s the recipe…

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
joinmykitchen.com

Simple Chicken Stock
1 gallon water
1 lb chicken wing tips
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs salt
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 tsp. black pepper

Note: You can customize your stock based on the recipe you plan to use it for, I made my last batch specifically for some roasted mushroom udon soup, so I also added 2 Tbs of Thai fish sauce, 1 cup of roasted mushrooms, star anise, and fresh cilantro to the stock.

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Heat butter in a pan over medium heat, and sauteed thawed wing tips (sprinkle with 1/2 of the salt) until browned. Transfer to a stock pot with water.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a low simmer, and cook until liquid is reduce by half (about 2 hours).

Strain the stock into a bowl to remove solids. Taste and add additional salt, if needed.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

Refrigerate overnight, and then remove the solid fat that rises to the top.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

You can throw this away, or (better) save to to fry with as you would butter. Jewish cooking calls this fat “schmaltz” and it makes the best scrambled eggs ever!

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Wing tip chicken stock recipe

Stock will keep 2-3 days in the fridge, or several months in the freezer. I like to freeze it in ice-cube trays, so it’s ready in pre-portioned cubes when I need it.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

02/19/15

Valencian Paella Tomato Soup

A big Thank You to Aneto for including our Valencian Paella Tomato Soup in their new recipe collection!

You can see the step-by-step recipe, with photos, here.

Disclaimer: I received this box of Valencian Paella Cooking Base as a free sample at the 2014 International Food Blogger’s Conference.

Tomato Paella Soup

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11/28/14

Thai Turkey Soup: A Post-Thanksgiving Favorite

Thai Turkey Soup

One of my favorite Post-Thanksgiving recipes…

Thai Turkey Soup

There are numerous Thai soup recipes. Soup is eaten almost daily, as an accompaniment to a Thai meal. Unlike in the West, it is not served as a first course, but is served with all the other dishes on the table.

In Thailand, at a family-style meal, everyone shares from the serving bowl, by spooning some of the soup into his own spoon.

Thai soups are not only easy to make, but also healthy. Bok choy, turmeric, fish sauce, and fresh chilies are common ingredients.

Cooking time is short, unlike soup recipes from other parts of the globe. With shorter cooking time, vitamins are retained and preparation time is reduced.

Active Time:15 min.

Total Time: 30 min.

1 cup coconut milk​
1 tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric​
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth*
1 tbsp. Tiparos brand fish sauce​
1 cup macaroni pasta, cooked
10 oz. turkey breast (see 1a)​
1 Thai red chili,(opt.)
2 green onions​
1 baby bok choy

*We recommend “Better Than Bullion” Chicken Base

Mise en Place:

Dice turkey, slice green onions. Cook macaroni, chop bok choyand chili (optional)

Prepare the Dish:

In a large stockpot, combine coconut milk, curry powder, bokchoy, and turmeric.

Stir in fish sauce, and chicken broth, until well combined.

Stir in turkey and noodles. Warm gently.

Stir in green onions and red chilies right before serving.

Switchable! – If you’re not a fan of Asian flavors, replace the coconut milk, curry paste, and turmeric, for whole milk, “BetterThan Bullion” chicken base, and fresh chopped Italian herbs, respectively, in the same proportions. Maybe double the fresh herbs, to taste.

Chef PerrySimplySmartDinnerPlans
MY KITCHEN Outreach
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10/30/14

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

Are you enjoying your free weekly meal plans?

Here’s another new recipe I whipped up (pun intended) in my New Ninja Duo Blender. If you like rich, creamy soups, this one’s for you…a perfect bowl of warm awesomeness for a cold fall night!

butternut squash recipeI’ve made butternut squash soup a number of times, but was pairing this one with a Mexican dinner, and it turned out to be the best version I’ve ever made. Most of these ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard.

If you want a lighter version, use 2% instead of heavy whipping cream (but…I’d recommend the cream.)

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja BlenderSouthwestern Acorn Squash Soup
Total Time: 1 hr 30 min
Prep: 30 min
Cook: 1 hr
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 whole butternut squash
2 shallots, diced and divided
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp pepper
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. chile powder
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 cups chicken stock*
Dash of cayenne (optional)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

*I like Better Than Bullion’s Organic Chicken Base.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut a flat spot on bottom of each rounded  end so the squash will sit flat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the squash, cut side up.

Roasting butternut squash

To the squash halves, spread half of the shallot, and half the garlic on each.

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Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and season with 1 tablespoon each of the salt and freshly cracked pepper, and half of each of the cumin, chile powder, and paprika.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

Roast in the hot oven about an hour, until the squash is very tender and the surface is starting to caramelize and collapse.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

Allow to cool (make a few cuts to help cooling), and then remove the skin.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja BlenderIn a large sauce pan, heat the butter and remaining olive oil over medium-high heat and when melted, add the remaining diced shallots and saute until they are starting to caramelize, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and stir.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja BlenderReduce the heat to medium-low and add in the reserved squash and  the remaining chicken stock. Stir, and then pour into your Ninja blender and hit the “puree” button. (Or, do the same in your blender or food processor.)

The puree will be very thick. Stir in the cream and Worcestershire sauce.

Taste, and add in the remaining spices to your liking, and heat slowly over medium-low heat.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

When the mixture comes to a slow simmer, mix again with a whisk and turn heat to low.

Ladle into soup bowls and serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro.