Showing posts with label soup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label soup. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Sorry Beginning

One of Foodgoat's current favorite dishes is something he calls Blade Runner soup - an Asian noodle soup inspired by what for me is the most memorable scene in the film.

But our very first time making an Asian-style soup was a rare abject failure.

I read Saveur because the food is as authentic as it gets, it hasn't been emeril-ified or americanized or low-calorie-inated. Alas, that's the reason I don't often cook from Saveur: the ingredients are so exotic that I don't know what they are or where to find them.

That's the point where I usually give up. Fortunately, there is an Asian spice stand at the West Side Market, and she not only had kaffir lemon leaves and lemongrass and palm sugar, but she asked me if I needed galangal too, thereby sparing me from having to try to say it correctly.

Too bad the recipe didn't work out.

We neglected to rinse out the shrimp thoroughly, resulting in a gawdawful bottom of the sea taste. And the jalapeño we threw in made burn all the way down my throat, which is just too spicy. And we added too much water.

We ended up actually throwing the whole dish out.

Good things though: palm sugar in the soup rocked. And we discovered a new ingredient in galangal, a root related to ginger. Both are now in Foodgoat's repertoire, and Foodgoat managed to make Blade Runner soup, quite tastily and successfully, several times since then.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More Blade Runner Noodles

On a very cold winter day, a bowl of hot, spicy noodles is a very delicious thing.

After making the soup, Foodgoat felt there was something missing. It was spicy and tasty and yet still somehow incomplete.

A ha! A spoonful of miso and a half can of coconut milk made a world of difference - adding some depth and balancing out the spice just right.
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Monday, January 7, 2008

A Reluctant Acknowledgement of Southern Ohio Cuisine

I've been campaigning for Foodgoat to make Cincinnati chili ever since we saw Anthony Bourdain have a unpleasant-looking, probably worse-tasting, chain store plateful of the stuff on the Cleveland episode of No Reservations. But although his particular dish and the restaurant he go it from didn't look all that good, the theory behind Cincinnati chili seemed pretty sound to me. Pasta = good. Chili = good. Cheese = good.

Ergo, we should make our own.

And then it showed up on the Saveur 100! We must have some now!

Of course, Foodgoat's version is slightly different from the traditional version of Cincinnati chili. For one thing, instead of spaghetti, we used rigatoni. And our chili was thicker and spicier, rather than the thinner version laced with Mediterranean spices like cinnamon, cocoa, cumin, and allspice.

We had a pile of cheddar on top (making it a three way chili; with just pasta and chili it's a two-way chili), but we could have also added chopped onions as well (four way chili). Kidney beans would make it a five way chili, but since we had kidney beans already in the chili, I'm not really sure what number assignment to give it.

Despite of, or maybe because of, these deviations, Cincinnati chili turned out to be very filling, and very tasty - an excellent way to use the leftover chili.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Just Souper

There is an small, empty restaurant front around the corner from work, and each time that I pass it, I wish wish wish that the Souper Market would open an east side location there. University Circle needs it - nay, I need it. I could walk over every day, even on snowy days like this, and get a bowl of their hot, delicious soup, maybe even their lobster bisque, along with the chunk of sourdough, for lunch. And I would be happy. So happy.

Check out their awesome help wanted ad on craigslist:
Don't lie about your experience beacause I'll know. Resumes are a huge plus. If you dont have something to show me, don't bother to reply. We need people with good knife skills in the kitchen who can rock out some mirepoix in no time. We need personable people with good attitudes, that can wheel out some soup to the masses when the sh*t hits the fan and still keep a smile on their face for the most fickle of customers.
Unfortunately, what I do with a knife can only be described as anti-skills, and I don't even know what a mirepoix is, otherwise I would love to work there.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Foodgoat Chili

Foodgoat hasn't tried Cleveland chili (chili with a fried egg and sour cream on top) but he was inspired to invent the never-before-seen Foodgoat chili ... chili with bleu cheese and sour cream on top. Yup, that's bleu cheese. And yes, it was a bit odd ... oddly delicious! Boo-yah! Boo-YAH!! BOO-YAHHH FROM CLEVELAND!!!

Yes, Ladygoat may have been watching too much Mad Money lately.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Blog Party #2: Tiki

After my sorority initiation, we celebrated at the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar in San Francisco's Fairmount Hotel. Amid the Bay Area fog and Union Square sophistication, it was a kitschy, campy fake Polynesian paradise, featuring a tiki-boat-cum-stage that floats across the pool with a full band, and a "monsoon" and thunderstorm that sprays the dance floor every half hour. I don't remember a thing about the food, but I do remember a partaking in a few gigantic tropical drinks for four people that might have been called a Scorpion Bowl. (Perhaps that explains why I do remember spending part of the evening sliding down the Fairmount staircase bannisters).

But the Tonga Room is hardly the best known of Bay Area's tiki attractions. That honor goes to Oakland's Trader Vic's, one of the original tiki-themed restaurants and soon after opening in 1936, one of the most popular watering holes of its time. Trader Vic's gave us the original Mai Tai. I've never been there, but the December 2004 Saveur has a delightful article on it, and more importantly, some intriguing recipes from the restaurant.

The one I wanted to try was Bongo Bongo soup. With a name like that, who could resist?

It is made of spinach, fresh oysters, and a bit of clam juice, in a lot of half and half, and flavored with hot sauce, Worcestshire sauce, and A-1 sauce ... a pureed spinach and oyster bisque, I suppose. It was creamy and delicious, and went well with our crab cakes to a light, sea-worthy meal. Easy to make, tasty to eat, and above all, fun to say. Bongo bongo!

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Fancy soup

Foodgoat has been eyeing the sea bass, which we've only tried once before, at the fish market for weeks, and finally could resist no more. I found this recipe, a seafood soup from the Caribbean coast of Guatamala, in the September 1988 issue of Cook's (the previous, and frankly, better incarnation of Cook's Illustrated) to use it in.


1 can coconut milk
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 lb fish fillets (red snapper, sea bass), cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lb shrimp
1 tablesppon oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp annatto
salt & pepper
1 medium banana, peeled and sliced
1 medium tomato, diced
3 Tbsp minced cilantro
After heating the oil in a large skillet, we added the onion and red pepper to saute until softened. Except we didn't see any red peppers at the market, so we used a green pepper. And a Hungarian hot pepper, because Foodgoat can't resist spicing things up. Opt for the red pepper only, and the soup would be more sweet than spicy.

Then the coconut milk, oregano (except we were out of oregano, so we used thyme instead), salt (and guess what? we used pink Hawaiian alaea salt that I almost forgot about), pepper, Hungarian paprika (so what if it's not in the recipe, do you think Foodgoat would cook without it??) and annato went in. Annatto, also knowns as achiote, is sometimes called poor man's saffron. It's a red seed that's used in Filipino (and Indian and Hispanic) food for its slightly bitter, earthy flavor and bright red color. It's used in the U.S. to color butter, margarine, and cheese. I had a packet, but had never used it before, and dumped a spoonful. Only later did I realize I should have ground it up.

The soup was brought to a boil and simmered on low heat until slightly thickened, but it was a little too thick so we added some water. Then the fish and shrimp were added. We used rock shrimp, which were small and easy to work with, since they came already shelled.

After simmering about 10 minutes, the banana and the tomato were added, and simmered 'til cooked, 5 minutes or so, when you then stir in the cilantro. And yes, that was a banana. Adding a banana to soup is such a novelty we took a picture of the event.

The result was quite the success. It was, as Foodgoat said, the kind of soup you might only have in an expensive restaurant: unusual ingredients, spicy (because of the Hungarian pepper), complex in flavor, and rather pretty. The rock shrimp tasted like regular shrimp, but with more flavor: shrimpy plus, you might say. The banana was the great surprise: its sweetness took well to the spiciness, and we wished we had added more than one banana.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Yet Another Creamy Soup
Cauliflower seems to be everywhere these days. I've had it twice in three weeks. And now it seems it's the vegetable du jour, the new black, the ingredient everyone's using in all the fancy restaurants. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised: cauliflower just seems like a paler, blander version of broccoli. Now the green or bright purple cauliflower varieties, that would be something special. But I haven't seen that anywhere yet.

I'll settle for the ordinary white kind, though. Easy to cook, inoffensive to the taste, and full of helpful nutrients like vitamin C for people, shadows of their former selves, wasting away with bronchitis.

[from epicurious]

1 small onion, chopped fine
1 small garlic clove, minced
1-2 teaspoons curry powder (mine is a mix of cardamon, cumin, cinnamon, fennel seed, and turmeric)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 large Granny Smith apple
1 small head cauliflower
5-6 cups chicken stock (or mix of stock and water)
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a 3 1/2- to 4-quart saucepan cook onion, garlic, and salt and pepper and curry powder in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened.

Peel and core apple. Chop apple coarse and add to curry mixture. Add cauliflower and stock and simmer, covered, until cauliflower is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Purée soup until very smooth. Stir in cream to taste.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Questions That Need Answering

1. What is bird's nest?

I mean besides the nest of a bird, smart ass. Because it's the second main ingredient, after hashima (we don't know what that is either, but one thing at a time) in this pretty little canned beverage that Foodgoat picked up at the Asian market. I have this vague recollection that birds use spit to keep their nests together, and now he refuses to drink it.

2. Why don't you use the tops of leeks?

All the recipes with leeks (the giant and fancy-pants version of green onions) say to use only the white and pale green part, which leaves a whole lotta leek left over. What, are they poisonous or something?

3. Why is it illegal to sell pork blood in Ohio?

A couple months ago, ER finally did something realistic and had Filipina nurses on an episode. They were portrayed as subversive and bitchy and accent-heavy, but hey, that's a post for another blog. And after their token appearance they promptly disappeared. But the highlight of their all-to-brief time (3 minutes, tops) on-screen was their meal of dinuguan.

Dinuguan, colloquially known as chocolate soup, or more accurately as pork blood stew, is a traditional Filipino dish. Basically, it's pork (organs or just the meat) cooked in fresh pork blood. No need to scream in terror -- it's really very good. Even Foodgoat has had it (of course, that was when my grandmother insisted he try it without telling him what it was). The blood cooks up to a nice dark brown, along with various spices. Scoop this on top of some puto (sweet rice cake), or white rice, and yum-my.

Well, ER apparently didn't see it this way, because Pratt made a face before even trying it, the fool. After that, I decided that it was time to make me some of my own dinuguan. So off to the pork stand at the West Side Market I went, and I ask for pork blood.

"We can't sell pork blood, we're not allowed."
"You're not allowed?" (Picture me, confused. I know, it's not that hard.)
"It's against the law in Ohio. Yah gotta go to a slaughterhouse. Yah can't sell pork blood outside of the slaughterhouse."
"I couldn't tell ya. I can get you all the beef blood you want, but no pork blood. Don't know why, blood's blood, I don't know what the difference is. I wish I could sell pig's blood, I could sell it by the gallon, I tell ya, by the gallon."

I'm not sure who he thinks would be buying the pork blood, since I only need two cups or so, but although there isn't a slaughterhouse nearby, he did tell me that the Asian market does have pork blood imported from California. So a few weeks later, I went to the meat counter at the Asian market and asked for pork blood.

He pointed to a gray, square blob.

"That's pork blood?" (Picture me, distressed and slightly disgusted).

Pork blood, as I know it, is a bright red liquid that comes in a tub. It's only solid if you freeze it. This looked well, not like that. Apparently, pork blood doesn't import well.

And so, thanks to obscure Ohio laws, I didn't make dinuguan after all. I could use beef blood, but the taste would be a little different, and call me stubborn, but I wanted the good ol' taste o' pig blood that I was used to. I may start a petition.

Monday, December 15, 2003

A Lot of Background For One Recipe
Down the middle of Cleveland runs the Cuyahoga River, and near its mouth is an area of lowlands called the Flats. Cleveland's earliest (white) settlers initially built their cabins here, but so many fell ill in the swampy environment that most soon migrated to the higher plateaus on the east and west sides, and then out onto the even higher continental shelf, which why the suburbs are invariably called something-"Heights", though there's a nary a hill to be seen for miles.

In the 19th century, the Ohio & Erie Canal and the growth of railroads turned the Flats, with its abundant room for docks and warehouses, into the industrial powerhouse of furnaces, mills, shipyards, oil refineries, and paint and chemical factories that built Cleveland's storied Millionaire's Row.

Alas, the boom times were not to last. Aircraft and roadways would replace water and railroad as the main modes of shipping. By the 1960's, the Flats had become a dumping ground for unwanted waste, leaving the Cuyahoga River so polluted that it literally, infamously, burned. The event lit the flames, so to speak, for environmental reform. But it also left the Flats a grim, post-industrial landscape of abandoned buildings and burned into the American consciousness an image of Cleveland as an urban nadir.

But in the mid-80's, from the ashes rose a new Flats for a new economy, fueled by entertainment and gentrification. Trendy riverbank restaurants by day and throbbing clubs by night. Weekend pleasure boats and high-end condos instead of shipping docks and warehouses. And for a long time things were good again.

Alas, this boom time seems not to have lasted either. It's now 2003, and the local hipsters are instead lunching downtown and partying in the warehouse district, and many a Flats fixture on the East Bank has had to pack it up.

The latest to go is the Watermark, which was located in a pre-Civil War chandlery shop. I myself have only been to the Flats two or three times, and the Watermark never. But we still have their soup recipe: a light, creamy pumpkin soup with the surprising yet delicious topping of cheddar. And it takes all of twenty minutes to make.

Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

3 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream (or evaporated milk)

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (packed) grated sharp cheddar cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro

Bring chicken stock and cream to boil in heavy medium pot. Whisk in canned pumpkin, brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, coriander and nutmeg. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until soup thickens slightly and flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish each serving with cheddar cheese and cilantro and serve.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Orange you enjoying all my soup adventures?

All my soups, thus far, have been orange and had the consistency of baby food. You tell me what that says about my state of mind.

This recipe was as easy as it gets. Still, there were problems. First of all, even after you add the coconut milk, it's really thick, so it doesn't so much boil or simmer as violently erupt. I turned my back for one minute and suddenly there were all these orange splotches on the ceiling, on the wall, everywhere. So I'd recomment: thinning it out with more broth, covering it, or stirring constantly. Secondly, I didn't have pepper flakes, so I carelessly used a liberal amount of cayenne pepper. Note to self: there are many peppers in this world, and none of them should be used lightly.

Pumpkin-Coconut Bisque
[from epicurious]

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic gloves, minced
~3 cups canned solid pack pumpkin (1 big can)
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth (1 regular can)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

~1 1 /2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
Ground nutmeg

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add pumpkin, broth, sugar, allspice and crushed red pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer until flavors blend, about 30 minutes. Puree soup with coconut milk in blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.

Friday, February 14, 2003

French protest

By just calling it onion soup. And by adulterating it with Japanese sake, using red wine instead of white wine, and beef stock instead of chicken stock. But it still turned out quite tasty. So the following recipe, from, is not necessarily to be taken literally.

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
10 cups thinly sliced onions (from about 5 large)
1 cup dry white wine
10 cups chicken broth or water
Three 3-inch pieces baguette, halved diagonally
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Melt butter in heavy large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Stir in onions. Cover and cook until onions are very tender but not brown, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Add wine. Cover and cook until liquid has evaporated and onions are pale golden, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Add broth. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat simmer until flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into flame-proof bowls. Top with bread & sprinkle with cheese. Broil until cheese melts and bubbles, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. OR: Arrange bread on baking sheet. Sprinkle cheese evenly over bread pieces. Broil until cheese melts. Top soup with toasted cheese bread and serve.