Be Thankful

I’m not sure if my kids were looking forward to Thanksgiving because of the family day or because I’ve been saying for months “once it’s done you can play Christmas music.” ¬†ūüôā

Pretty sure it’s both! They had the day before off from school so they spent time making Thanksgiving decorations. ¬†I love that they still get into stuff like this. ¬†But what I really love is that they get the real meaning of the holidays.

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My daughter put this up in our dining room and it just warmed my heart.

Of course after Thanksgiving we are faced with what to do with the leftover turkey!   We did end up with less that I thought we would because of a mix-up with the order at the co-op.  I had ordered a 15lb turkey that would come from a local farm that employs and takes care of homeless vets and vets with head trauma.  So it was a win-win for us.

However, I got a message the day before picking it up from the co-op saying the turkeys came in “a bit small”. ¬†I called back asking how small? ¬†8lbs! ¬†I’m sorry, that’s not a bit small! ¬†That’s half the size! ¬†Fortunately they had other options.

But back to the leftover turkey!

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After the usual having the turkey meal a couple of times and turkey sandwiches we floated a few ideas for dinner and the family consensus was to have a curry. ¬†You would think we’d get sick of curry but there are so many variations and it seemed like a fun idea.

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I was in the mood for a Thai influence.  Because the turkey is already cooked, this is a very quick dish to throw together.  Which is what I needed because we were still working on redoing the room.

In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.  Finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and a couple of scallions.

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Saute for a few minutes and add a couple of sliced mushrooms.  Then mix in a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and about 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar.  Dice up a red pepper and grate about an inch square piece of fresh ginger.  Add to the skillet.

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Near the end of cooking add the turkey.  Finish with about 40z of coconut milk, a splash of lime juice, a tablespoon of red curry paste, and a few dashes of red pepper flakes.

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My husband made up his naan.  Sometimes I think I just make curry so I can get that naan!

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And because it was officially after Thanksgiving we enjoyed this watching a Christmas movie. ¬†Let’s just say the kids are very excited about this season. ¬†ūüôā

 

Mushroom Curry and I’m Getting Too Old for This!

As I sit here and write this post, I ache from the neck down. ¬†Why? ¬†Because my husband and I seem to really like saving money by doing house projects ourselves. ¬†By last night we were seriously questioning our sanity. ¬†Our current project is redoing our lounge. ¬†We are hiring someone to do the drywall and mudding. ¬†So maybe we’re finally learning. ¬†Maybe.

But for three days this weekend we brought back the room to the studs. God the mess! ¬†It gets everywhere despite our best efforts of blocking off the room. ¬†Let’s just say me climbing in and out of the window is not the most graceful thing to behold. ¬†But I can’t wait for the room to be finished so it’s worth the effort.

As you can imagine, not a lot of cooking happened. ¬†No energy! ¬†But this is a curry I made a few weeks ago when my in-laws were visiting. ¬†This is a great dish for those that don’t eat meat. ¬†It is also very easy to make on those busy nights.

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I made this on the mild side but you can easily turn up the heat with more chilis. ¬†Again I used my “Best-ever Curry Cookbook” but as you know I changed it up. ¬†Primarily because of the ingredients I had on hand. ¬†In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil. ¬†Add about half an onion chopped and cook for a few minutes to soften. ¬†Add 4 cardamon pods, 1/4 tsp of ground turmeric, 1 1/2 tsp of ground cumin, 1 tsp of coriander, 1/2 tsp of garam masala, and a few pinches of black pepper.

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Chop up 2 garlic cloves and one chili, cook for a few minutes.  If you want this on the mild side remove the white and seeds from the pepper.  Add about 10oz of chopped tomatoes.  Season with salt and grate a 1 in/2.5 cm sq piece of fresh ginger.  Bring it to a simmer.  Half or quarter (depending on the size) of about 12 oz of mushrooms.  I used white button mushrooms.

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We also had this with the peshwari naan my husband made.

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This was a lovely warming curry. ¬†My MIL, who isn’t the biggest fan of curry, really enjoyed it. ¬†ūüôā

Chicken Dopiaza

It is amazing how fast a month can fly by with family visiting. ¬†It was a great time but we’re now back to reality with getting the garden cleaned up before the snow comes. ¬†Which doesn’t look like it will be long now for snow. ¬†Higher towns around us got snow last night though for us it has just been bucketing rain. ¬†This week we had the wind show up on time to shake the trees free of their leaves.

Autumn wasn’t as spectacular as it can be but it was lovely to see the colours, fortunately my in-laws were here for the short peak. ¬†They got some really nice pictures to bring back home.

We’ve started a sort of a tradition of when we are all together we do a curry night. ¬† I do two, one spicy and one on the mild side for my MIL. ¬†This dish was definitely spicy but with loads of flavour. ¬†I used the recipe for Chicken Dopiaza from “The Best Ever Curry Cookbook”but I changed it a bit. ¬†One I was restricted with some ingredients and two I wanted this to use as few dishes as possible. ¬†Especially since I was doing two curries!

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This would probably be a great dish for a cold given how much onion it calls for.  And ginger!  A cure for sure.  In a skillet heat up vegetable oil and add 8 cardamon pods, 2 bay leaves, and 2-3 chilis, chopped.   If you want this dish to be milder (crazy I know!) use less chilis and/or remove the seeds.

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Chop two small onions and add to the skillet. ¬†Cook for a couple of minutes then add 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped. ¬†Cube about a pound of chicken breast and add to the skillet. While the chicken is cooking grate a piece of fresh ginger which is about 1″sq/2.5cmsq.

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Then comes the fun part, adding all the fabulous spices!  Add 1 tsp of ground coriander, chili powder, and ground cumin.  Add 1/2 tsp of turmeric, ground pepper, and sea salt.  Add a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Adjust the seasoning as needed.  If you want it even spicier add more chili powder.

The recipe calls for 8 small onions.  I bought 5 cipollini onions and quartered them.  Add them to the skillet and cook through.

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My FIL requested peshwari naan for curry night.  My husband looked up the recipe and made some.  I was a bit worried, given the stuffing, how it would pair but it worked really well.

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This had quite the kick to it. ¬†One by one our eyes started watering. ¬†But the heat didn’t overwhelm the flavour of the dish. ¬†Like I said, possible cold cure!

Curry Inspired Couscous

We still have tomatoes and aubergines coming out of our garden at a great rate so it is time to get creative so they don’t go to waste. ¬†It was a crazy week last week with my husband traveling and with the kids schools stuff so I only got round to cooking a meal for the kids on Friday. ¬†Well, I did feed them the rest of the week, not that much of a slacker! ¬†But I stuck with the easy stuff I could do with my eyes shut. ¬†I was in the mood for something curry flavoured and we had chicken on hand. ¬†This could be done!

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I thought it would be a fun twist to use the Israeli Couscous I had on hand.  Cook that using the directions on the package.  First I prepped the chicken with a marinade paste.  I mixed a tablespoon of olive oil with a tablespoon of red curry paste, a teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 a teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/2 a teaspoon of cumin, and a bit of sea salt and pepper.  Mix well and spread it on the chicken thighs.

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Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and brown both sides of the chicken.

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Finish off the chicken in the oven.  Chop up a small onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.  Add them to the skillet and cook on medium low temp.

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Slice up the aubergine and several tomatoes and bring the temp up to medium to saute.

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Add 1/2 a cup or so of chicken stock.  Add 2 tablespoons of red curry paste, 1/2 a teaspoon of ground ginger, a teaspoon of chili powder, a few dashes of garam masala, and a sprinkle of asafoetida.  As it simmers also add a few splashes of lime juice.  Stir in the couscous.

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The kids came into the dining room and said how wonderful it smelled. ¬†I was a little jealous as I don’t have a sense of smell and the spices that go into curry can be wonderful.

 

There is a Curry for Everyone

When we visited my in-laws I wanted to do a curry night because my father-in-law loves curry ¬†but knowing that my mother-in-law isn’t a huge fan of curries I planned on doing something for her as well. ¬†Especially since the curry I wanted to make was the tomato garlic beef curry which is really spicy. ¬† When my MIL said that it’s the heat that turns her off of the curry I thought I would make her the mild chicken curry I make for those that aren’t into the spicy side of things.

This recipe uses thai curry paste. ¬†I agree with both camps of buying the paste or making it. ¬†Making it isn’t difficult if you have some time and all the ingredients. ¬†However, we had the kids this weekend and now that the weather is warm we have to work on a ton of projects, so time was limited.

My husband also made naan to go along with this.

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Because this was just for me and my husband I cubed a breast and a half of chicken and heated up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Start cooking the chicken.  Finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and slice a couple of scallions.  Cook for a few minutes.

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Slice a few mushrooms and about a cup of pepper.  I chose orange to make the dish pop.  Add half a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Add Thai Green Chili paste.  Start off with a little bit and build up to the heat level you would like.   Add 1/2 -3/4 cup of coconut milk.  Adjust the heat level with the curry paste.  Season with cilantro (coriander leaf) and a teaspoon of garam masala.

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Once the chicken is cooked through serve in a bowl with the naan.  My husband also made a wonderful mango chutney to go along with this.

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When I made this for my mother in-law she really enjoyed it.  Success!  It was nice to make something she liked since she had made us so many yummy meals while we visited.  We ate very well!

Beef Vindaloo to Welcome my Husband Home

You know, Christmas comes the same time every year.  Yet every year I find myself in full scramble to get it all done.  I swear I will start in September.  Unfortunately good intentions are not a guarantee!

I should finish the gifts I’m making today and get everything wrapped and under the tree. ¬†Then there is the dump run and grocery shopping. ¬†But I should have plenty of time tomorrow to decorate the Christmas cake.

My husband had to do a business trip last week.  Luckily it was only four days rather than the two weeks last December but I still wanted to make a nice home cooked dinner for him.

I was in the mood for curry and thought I’d try beef vindaloo. ¬†Beef you say? ¬†There are areas in West India that have Muslim and Christian communities that eat beef and add in the fabulous flavours you find in India, amazing dishes happen.

Vindaloo has it’s roots in Portugal and was originally based in wine and garlic but gradually evolved to have vinegar instead of wine. ¬†When a lot of people hear vindaloo they think off the charts for spicy food but that isn’t always the case. ¬†I didn’t make this crazy spicy but you can if you add more hot pepper.

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I adapted a recipe from the Best-Ever Curry cookbook. ¬†I used ground cumin instead of the seeds and I could have sworn we had fenugreek but nope so I had to leave that out. ¬†The recipe did call for a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. ¬†To be honest I didn’t miss it.

In a spice grinder, grind up 3-4 chili peppers or hot peppers of your choice, 1 teaspoon of black peppercorn, 5 green cardamon pods, and 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds.

In a small bowl add the spice mix, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and 4 tablespoons of white vinegar.

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Set that aside.  Chop up a large red onion and saute in olive oil until softened.

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In a food processor add the onions and spice mix.  Process until it is a paste.  In the skillet add a bit more oil and start browning stewing beef.  I used just under a pound.  The recipe called for two pounds.  As it is browning, finely chop a couple of garlic and grate a piece of ginger about 1-2 inches square/3-4 cm square.

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Cook for a couple of minutes then add the onion spice paste.  In addition to that add a scant tablespoon of ground cumin, 2 teaspoons of ground coriander, and 1/2 a teaspoon of ground tumeric.

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Stir well then add 300ml/1 1/4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.  Cook for at least an hour.  You want the sauce reduced and the meat tender.  My husband made naan to dip into this curry.

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I was a bit worried because there was only enough for about 1/2 a cup a serving for the four of us.  But with the naan we were stuffed.  I love that our kids love the spicy flavours, they really liked this.

Grilled Thai Steak and Ever So Grateful

It was a very long week last week but everything went well with my dad’s surgery. ¬†Yesterday they discharged him from hospital and now he is recuperating at home. ¬†We were all breathing a sigh of relief. ¬†Still are if you want to know the truth.

So he’ll be causing trouble for a good long while now and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

As you can imagine I’m a bit backed up with blog posts and getting everything else back on track. ¬†Kids are back at school this week so we’re winding down the summer the next couple of days. ¬†Making sure they get back into the routine of things.

Last weekend I was in the mood for Thai flavours and decided to do a grilled steak with rice noodles.  We have had some success with growing fresh garlic this year and we also had ginger and cilantro on hand.

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In a bowl mix 2 tablespoons peanut oil, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons amino acid, 1 tablespoon lime juice, one to two teaspoons of fresh chopped cilantro, a large clove of garlic, finely chopped, and salt and pepper.  Add the steak to marinate for at least an hour.

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When it is time to cook, heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.  Add a few cloves of garlic, finely chopped, and a couple of scallions, chopped.  Saute until the garlic starts to soften.  Add a cayenne pepper.  When slicing use gloves, saves on burning skin.  We keep the seeds but some may find that too hot.  Saute for a few minutes.

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Add a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  I made the mistake of adding the rest of the veg too soon.  I like my veg on the crispy side.  If you like them soft then add the peppers and mushrooms when you add the stock.  Also add carrots.  I added a couple of tablespoons of green curry paste, a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of amino acids, and a splash of lime juice.  Continue to simmer.  As it cooks adjust the flavour to your liking.

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Grill the steak to medium rare.

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Take the leftover marinade and add it to the skillet and continue to simmer.  While the steak is resting add half a cup light coconut milk.  Add a few more teaspoons of freshly chopped cilantro at this stage as well.

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While this is being created cook rice noodles according to the package.  Toss the noodles in the sauce and serve.  Top with the steak and peanuts.

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I enjoyed this dish.  The heat was mild but you could always add more hot pepper as you cook.  Tonight we are doing Pad Thai for dinner.  Another one of our favourites!

Kung Pao Chicken and Maybe Going Overboard on the Healthy Bit

Despite my obsession with crisps and chocolate I do try to have very healthy food at the house. ¬†It’s important to me to put good food into my family. ¬†But my husband, ahem, has made it known to me that I might go a little overboard in my endeavor.

Conor from One Man’s Meat posted a wonderful Kung Pao Chicken the other day that I wanted to try. Of course you need rice for this dish so off I went and bought brown rice. ¬†My husband inquired as to why I didn’t get white rice. I replied but brown rice is healthier. ¬†He just shook his head and let me know it’s ok to go crazy and have white rice! ¬†LOL

At any rate, I had most of the ingredients to give this dish a go.  Could not find Schezwan peppercorns anywhere though so I had to use regular black peppercorns.  Also, I stuck with amino acids for the soy sauce due to cutting out a lot of gluten in my diet.

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Prep everything before you start cooking as it doesn’t take long to cook. ¬†Also, prep the rice as well.

Coarsely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and about an inch and a half(3-4cm) of fresh ginger. ¬† Slice the about 2 scallions into inch (2-3cm) slices and the chilies about half that size. ¬†Depending on how hot you want your dish, you can deseed the chilies or leave them in. ¬†Because we didn’t have the Schezwan peppercorns I left the seeds in the dish.

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Because I was making this dish for two I used two small chicken breasts.  In a separate bowl mix 1 tablespoon of the amino acid, 1 tablespoon of Mirin (rice cooking wine), a tablespoon of corn flour, and about 1/2 a tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper.  Coat the chicken and set aside.

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In a separate bowl mix 3 tablespoons of amino acid, a teaspoon of corn flour, the garlic, ginger, and chilies. ¬†Set aside. ¬†Heat up the wok with 2 tablespoons of peanut oil. ¬†When the oil is good and hot fry a heaping 1/2 cup of peanuts. ¬†If you have peanuts that haven’t been dry roasted use those. ¬†The ones we have on hand were already dry roasted but they worked fine. ¬†These will not take long to fry so keep an eye on them. ¬†Once golden brown set aside.

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Add a bit more oil if needed then cook the chicken.  If you are doing more chicken than I did then doing it in batches would be a good idea.

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Add the sauce with the ginger and garlic and most of the scallions. ¬†I have to admit this is when it started looking different from Conor’s as his pictures show a lot more sauce than mine. ¬†I read it and reread it and I followed the amounts. ¬†So if this happens to you add equal amounts of the amino acid and Mirin to increase the sauce being careful to keep the balance of the flavours.

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Once it is the chicken is cooked through serve immediately over the rice.

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We really enjoyed it. ¬†The heat was really balanced with the flavours. ¬†And it’s a dish that is easily adjusted to make it milder or hotter depending on your taste. ¬†My drink of choice for this dish was a lovely Mexican Mule, the ginger was a great pairing.

Asian Meatballs and the Education System

Mind boggling.¬† That is how I felt last night when we were talking about school.¬† Both kids had tests yesterday.¬† Both mentioned how they had to finish them today.¬† I asked what they meant finishing it a day later.¬† Apparently that is the norm in our school system.¬† If you don’t finish it in time that is ok.¬† This just blew my mind.¬† Growing up if I didn’t finish a test in the set amount of time that was on me.

This really concerns me because as a parent I want the best education for our kids.¬† I don’t want education to be a limiting factor to whatever progress our kids make.¬† Last year the US was ranked 14th in the world when it came to education.¬† The past couple of years think tanks have mucked about with different ways the kids should be taught without really vetting the programs.¬† Common core has been a nightmare.¬† I’m sorry 2+2 does not equal 5!¬† I get that kids should learn to think through the process and understand how they got to the answer but it is not ok if the answer is wrong.

It is hard for me to understand the overall disconnect between what I see our teachers doing locally and how our students stand vs other countries.¬† The teachers our kids have, bar one, have been amazing.¬† They are dedicated to our kids, they work long hours, they work to try to tailor lessons for each student, and communicate with us.¬† So I have to think our system is held back at the higher level.¬† For example there is an OK senator who wants to cut funding to the AP History classes because it “teaches students what is bad about America”¬† It doesn’t promote “exceptionalism”.¬†¬† Constantly chanting “We’re #1” isn’t leadership, it’s insecurity.

To rise back up the ranks, kids need to have positive learning experiences while being prepared for the real world.¬† They need to stop being let down by those who forget separation of church and state actually exists, to be allowed to actually learn science and the truth about history, and to know that 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 5.

We are fortunate that our kids love to learn and seek out ways to learn new things.  But not all kids have that support.

We did have a nice meal to go along with the enlightening conversation.  I was in the mood for meatballs and wanted an Asian flair.  And guess what my husband found at the co-op?

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Galangal!  How cool is that?  In a bowl I mixed up a half pound of beef with a few tablespoons of freshly grated galangal.  I found it to be very dry and flaky.  I also added chopped chives and couple of teaspoons of amino acids.  Otherwise known as gluten free soy sauce.  Then roll the meat into meatballs about an inch to an inch in a half in diameter.  In a skillet heat up a few tablespoons of peanut oil.

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Brown the sides of the meatballs then finish off in an oven heated to 350F/175C.  Meanwhile, saute chopped veg of your choice.  I did up peppers, scallions, garlic, carrots, and mushrooms.

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I messed up on the portion of sauce vs the portion of rice noodle.¬† I made enough sauce for two people but enough noodles for 4.¬† So I would double what I’m putting here.¬† Otherwise the dish ends up bland and trust me, the sauce wasn’t bland!¬† I added 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, a couple of teaspoons of amino acids, a few splashes of fresh lime juice, and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.¬† Bring to a simmer and add a cup of homemade chicken stock.¬† Reduce down a bit then add the meatballs.

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Cook the rice noodles per the directions then serve with the meatball sauce.

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Next time I make this I will definitely increase the sauce because the flavour was amazing.¬† Just wish the rice noodles hadn’t dulled it down.

Warming Ramen Soup

Awhile back my son and I were checking out new food shows and came across “The Mind of a Chef”.¬† It’s a bit dull but they did an episode about ramen in Japan.¬† It piqued my son’s interest so I added it to the list of things to try.

The fascinating thing about this soup is how varied it can be from town to town.  So I did a bit of research and came up with my own.  It is fairly easy to make and full of flavour.

Prep the ingredients before you begin cooking.  Do up the soft boiled eggs and set aside to cool a bit before shelling.  Also cook up some frozen corn and set aside.

For this soup I wanted to use the flank steak we had on hand so I seared both sides in peanut oil.  If you like the steak medium rare keep it on the rare side after the sear.  Cover with tin foil and let it rest while you cook the rest of the soup.

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I chopped up red onion, carrots, scallions, some mushrooms, and a few cloves of garlic.  The amount depends on how many servings you are doing.  Total for the five veg I had about a cup and a half.  In a saucepan saute the onion, carrots, garlic and mushrooms in peanut oil.

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Add four cups of veg bouillon and bring to a simmer.  Grate about inch or two of fresh ginger, add about a cup of mung bean sprouts, and add a couple of teaspoons of fresh cilantro.  A few squeezes of fresh lime juice brightens the soup. Meanwhile cook the noodles according the package.  Drain the noodles.

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In the bowls add the noodles and layer with the sliced beef.  Add the soup over the noodles.  The broth will cook the beef to medium rare at this point.  Top with half an egg, corn, and the fresh scallions.

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Omit the noodles if you need to be gluten free.¬† It’s a very filling soup without the noodles.¬† I look forward to trying different flavour profiles with different proteins.¬† ūüôā