Soup Up My Soup

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Ettabelle’s Spareribs

A few years ago we moved my Grandma from her house in Goderich, Ontario, into a retirement home in London close to my parent’s house. When it came time to clean out her home, I naturally called dibs on all of her cookbooks (not sure how happy she was about parting with those actually). I now have about twenty of these on my bookshelf, with some of them as much as fifty years old.

The other day I picked up “A Continual Feast,” a compilation of recipes put together in 1981 from the ladies of the local church, my Grandma included. She has about a dozen recipes in there with her name next to them, and one of them are these spareribs.

These are really easy to make; brown the ribs in some oil in a skillet for a few minutes and then transfer to a baking dish with the sauce for about an hour and a half at 350. I actually just had a saute pan with a lid (All Clad, it’s awesome use it all the time), and just used that and it worked fine. Also, I used convection baking and they were cooked perfectly in an hour.

The lemon and the vinegar are a nice contrast to the sweetness from the “catsup” and the brown sugar, also I left out the water but only because I forgot it. The end result was quite nice. Two thumbs up. I’ll comb through the book and post some other recipes that I liked.

 

 

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Pork Lion with Dijon Mustard (Filet de Cochon a la Dijonnaise)

I don’t cook a lot of pork but came across this recipe so thought I’d give it a shot and thought it was pretty good.

When cooking recipes that call for pork loin, make sure you figure out if you need to be using pork center cut loin or tenderloin. The latter is much smaller, tender, and cooks faster. For this recipe, you are using the center cut loin and will be braising for about 45 minutes in total. Keep a meat thermometer nearby if possible and make sure you don’t cook much past 141 degrees Fahrenheit/60 degrees Celsius. You can cook pork to a medium rare or medium temperature,  it doesn’t have to taste like a hockey puck.

You could alter this recipe to use tenderloin, however because tenderloin is fairly tender (the name ain’t lyin to ya), it’s not a meat that lends itself to braising. Braising is usually done with tougher cuts of meat. What you could do is sear the tender loin, add all the liquids, and then put in the over for about 12-15 minutes at 400. That should do it.

Pork Cut Sheet

 

If you are getting pork from a supermarket, you’re likely to only see pork loins cut into thin pieces which are then fried like a steak. This happened to me so I asked the butcher to cut me out a long strip instead. This allows for better cooking through braising.

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Ingredients

  • pork loin, center cut, 2.5 lbs
  • onion, 1 medium, chopped
  • stock, veal or chicken, 1 cup
  • whipping or heavy cream, 1 cup
  • rosemary, a handful
  • dijon, 3 tbsp
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps

  1. Brown the pork loin on all sides using butter or clarified butter, a couple minutes on each side, and set aside
  2. Chop a medium onion and saute it in the pan for a few minutes. Deglaze the pan with white wine or a white port. Make sure you get all the scrapings off the bottom in the pan so they will be properly incorporated into the sauce. Return the pork to the pan, cover and cook on low heat on the stove for 30 mins.
  3. Add the chicken or veal stock and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the cream and cook for a final 10 minutes.
  5. A few minutes before you’re done and about to serve, add the dijon mustard and incorporate into the liquid. You might find you want to add more than 3 tbsp to get more of a mustard-y kick.
  6. To serve, place the pork pieces onto a plate, and spook some of the sauce on top. Have enough on the plate that you can dip the pork pieces onto the sauce

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Choucroute Garnie (Sauerkraut a l’alsacienne)

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Last night I had the pleasure of going for dinner at Le Paradis on Bedford Ave. (one of the best values in the city for French food) and ordered Choucroute Garnie, a dish from Alsace Province in France consisting of various assortments of pork nestled in sauerkraut and cooked in wine.

I learned a bit about Alsace from a wine class I took a few years ago. As for wine, their two most notable grape varietals are Riesling and Gewurztraminer, the latter being German for “spice” or something to that effect. That’s it, that’s all I got.

Through war and conflict the region has bounced back and forth between Germany and France four times in the last hundred years or so, presumably finding a permanent home now in the latter. Although, with the way they have been getting along lately at the ECB, you sometimes wonder.

With the use of sauerkraut and various pork products such as sausages, I guess it comes as no surprise, then, that Alsace is so close to Frankfurt. Choucroute Garnie is a staple in Alsace during the wintertime, and given the horrible weather here in Toronto these past few weeks I thought I’d give it a shot tonight and it turned out pretty good. If you decide to make it, ensure you have at least a few delicious mustards on hand; mix and match for best effect. Nothing better than good mustard.

You can find reliable instructions for Choucroute Garnie in Larousse Gastronomique (I found a copy from the 1960s at the Trinity College Annual Book Fair for 5 bucks (!) that has served me quite well), or if you want a quicker version, here. Enjoy with a nice Reisling, or in our case tonight, a good Italian Chianti.


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Sauce Bordelaise

Bordelaise just refers to something that comes from Bordeaux, and this sauce is great for profiling wine from the region, if you decide to use it. An interesting fact about French cuisine is that the are actually only two red wine-based derivative brown sauces (sauces that use demi-glace and red wine), whereas there are several that use white wine exclusively. The second, Meurette Sauce, comes from Burgundy. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the two most notable regions in France for red wine are the ones that have a sauce that uses it.

According to the 1961 edition of the French food encyclopedia Larousse Gastronomique, Sauce Bordelaise simply refers to white, and then later red wine, as well as marrowbone fat. This differs somewhat to more modern definitions, which generally define the sauce as sautéed shallots with a red wine and then once the wine has been sufficiently reduced, finishing it with some butter for taste and thickening. You can see versions here and here. (Note: if you clicked on those links, notice in the video the chef added sugar to counterbalance the acidity of the wine, and in the second link, the Wikepedia page, calls for adding demi-glace to the sauce).

Although the above video is probably a more traditional version of the sauce, I much prefer sauce Bordelaise as it appears in James Peterson’s Sauces, 3rd edition. I don’t much like sauces that are too thin when poured over a protein such as steak, and I prefer sauces to be smooth over having chunks of shallots in them (most of the time). Just a preference though, not claiming that the below recipe is the proper or the best one.

A couple notes on the ingredients. You can buy demi-glace at most upscale grocery stores, and many butchers will make and sell it. If you don’t mind paying 7 bucks for a cup of it, you can purchase it at Cumbrae’s in Toronto. If you’re keen to use marrow instead of butter, you’ll want to call ahead to make sure the place you’re going to look for it has it. I buy bags of bones from places like Sanagan’s Meat Locker (same location as the old European Meats on Baldwin in Kensington), and will cook with them. I like butter in sauces just as much though.

Ingredients:

  • red wine, 1 cup
  • demi-glace (can be veal, beef or chicken), 3/4 cup
  • minced shallots, 2 tbsp
  • black pepper, crushed, 1 tsp
  • dried thyme, 1 pinch
  • bay leaf, 1/2 leaf
  • red wine vinegar, 2 tsp
  • cognac (if you have it), 2 tsp
  • beef marrow cubes or cold butter, 1 1/2 ounce

Steps

  1. Combine the red wine and demi, along with the shallots, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf and simmer gently until reduced by about half.
  2. Strain the mixure into a clean saucepan with a fine mesh strainer (or whatever you normally use).
  3. whisk in the vinegar (and Cognac if you have it), simmer for 30 seconds, then add the marrow or butter. Season with salt to taste.

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What is Teriyaki?

Teriyaki is derived from the word teri, which refers to the shine produced by the sugar in the marinade, and yaki, which means to grill or broil. The marinade used to make teriyaki in traditional Japanese cuisine consists of soy sauce, mirin (similar to sake but lower alcohol and higher sugar content), and sugar. Like the recipe below, it’s more common in Western recipes to see garlic and/or ginger added to the marinade.

Teriyaki Marinated Salmon Fillet w/ Herb Dressing 

Ingredients:

  • Salmon Fillet, 1.5 lbs.

Marinade:

  • Sherry, Sake, or Mirin, 3 tbsp.
  • Brown Sugar, 3 tbsp.
  • Water, 2 tbsp.
  • Soy Sauce, 2 tbsp.
  • Vegetable oil (or Olive oil), 2 tbsp.
  • Minced Ginger, 1.5 tsp.
  • Minced Garlic, 2 tsp.

Sauce:

  • Sour Cream, 1/4 c
  • Lemon Juice, half a lemon
  • Vegetable Oil (or Olive Oil), 1.5 tsp.
  • Choppd Fresh Dill, 2 tsp.
  • Chopped Fresh Basil, 2 tsp.

Notes:

Marinade the fish for at least 20 minutes. An easy way to do this is to add the fish to a dish and pour the marinade mixture over the fish and put in the fridge.

While the fish is marinading, make the sauce and set aside.

Cook for about 4 minutes on each side on minimal heat. I took the skin off (scortched it and then it slide off), if you want to keep the skin on, turn the heat down slightly and if possible, use a non-stick pan.

While cooking the fish, continue to baste it with the remaining marinade mixture.

To serve, place a dollop of sauce and put on the plate, along with the fish and whatever else you’re serving it with.

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Khao Soi Soup (Sans noodles)

Khao Soi is a popular dish in Thailand and Myanmar, although there are many variations and you won’t get a consistent recipe. However, they all start with creating a paste of some kind, and then use that as the basis for a soup. Most recipes that I come across for Khao Soi use both coconut milk and chicken stock. Hopefully you make your own stock, but use whatever you can.

The recipe below is basically the same one from the March 2013 issue of Bon Appetite, however I have made this noodle-free to make it friendly for a paleo or grain-free diet (not that I follow it that closely, but I cut it out where it’s easy.) The main differences compared to the magazine (aside from being sans noodles) are that I added a pound of tiger shrimps, and used more chicken than their recipe called for. I also used coconut oil to sauté the paste, you can substitute for vegetable oil if you want. Also, if you really have to eat gluten-free, make sure the fish sauce you use doesn’t have any wheat in it, or just cut it out entirely. The rest of the ingredients should be fine.

If you want to add noodles, no problem, just cook according to the packages instructions towards the end of the process. Egg noodles probably would work best here, but use whatever you like.

Chicken Khao Soi

(Serves about 6 as a meal, or more as an app)

Khao Soi Paste

  • Large dried Guajillo Chiles, stemmed, halved, and seeded, 4
  • Medium shallots, halved, 2
  • Garlic cloves, 8
  • Ginger, peeled, sliced, 1 2” piece
  • Turmeric, ground, 1 tsp.
  • Coriander, ground, 1 tsp.
  • Curry Powder, 1 tsp.

Soup

  • Coconut oil, 2 tbsp.
  • Chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, 2 lbs.
  • Tiger shrimp, 1 lb.
  • Coconut milk, two cans (use light coconut milk if you want to cut the fat a bit)
  • Fish sauce, 3 tbsp.
  • Palm sugar, 1 tbsp. (can substitute brown sugar if you want)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Sliced red onion, bean sprouts, cilantro sprigs, crispy fried onions or shallots, chili oil, and lime wedges (all for serving with at the end, pick and choose the ones you want, they all work)

Making the Paste:

Put the chilis in a bowl of hot water and let sit for half an hour to reconstitute. Drain and put in a food processor (or mortar and pistol it all if you have the patience) along with the rest of the khao soi paste ingredients. Keep adding the reserved chilli water as needed until you get a consistent paste.

Making the soup:

Heat the coconut oil (or vegetable if you don’t have any, but you should!) and add the khao soi paste on medium heat. Cook the paste while stirring for about 5 minutes, until it starts to darken and become fragrant. Add the coconut milk and the chicken stock, and then bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and add the chicken, cook for about 25 minutes. With about 10 minutes left add the shrimps.

Remove the chicken and shred it, or slice it into thin pieces. Then add back to the soup, and add the fish sauce and the palm sugar. Add salt to taste (remember you can put it in but you can’t take it out!).

Serve, along with the added toppings you wish (lime wedges, sliced onion, bean sprouts, etc.).

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Super quick baked fish

Baking fish is super easy and requires literally no active time. I got a couple yellowtail snapper from Kensington market. Have the fishmonger clean it for you (descale and gut it). When you’re ready to cook it, sprinkle liberally on the outside and inside with salt and pepper, and rub some oil on there (I used olive oil here, just make sure the oil you use doesn’t have a smoke point lower than 400 degrees). I also added some “Bangkok Blend” spice that I got from The Spice Trader on Queen west that is quite nice. Just preheat your oven to 400 degrees, wrap the fish in foil and throw it in there for 40 minutes, depending on your oven. That’s it.

I like to finish with some lime juice and more salt before eating. The meat should just flake off, and chopsticks are best to use I think, but you can also use a fork.

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