An Easter Menu

Easter Menu

TO START
Fritelle di Baccalà
Pickled Beet Eggs
Deviled Eggs

SOUP
Stracciatella (Italian Egg Drop Soup)

MAIN
Agnello al Forno (Oven Baked Lamb) with Potatoes

VEGETABLE
Piselli alla Fiorentina (Florentine Style Spring Peas)

DESSERT
Pastiera Napoletana (A Neapolitan Easter Cake)
Keep on reading!

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Easy Ryazhenka (Cultured Baked Milk) Pancakes

Nothing says “GOOD morning” like a hot stack of pancakes! Whether they’re buttermilk, blueberry, or banana chocolate chip, kid’s love ’em and this recipe literally takes 5 minutes to whip up… but there is a “secret” ingredient: Ryazhenka. Keep Reading!

22 Must-Eat Soups at Hot Spots Across the USA

From soothing matzo balls to screaming hot chili, the one thing about soup is that it always gives back. Keep Reading!

Toronto’s Most Authentic Shui Zhu 水煮肉片 or “Water Boiled Fish”

I’ve found myself on an eternal quest for hunting down the best ethnic eats that Toronto has to offer. I scour Yelp, and head to pockets of Toronto that I never even knew existed, all in the name of finding hidden secrets of tasty success! While on my quest, I find it rightfully just to share some of those secrets  – as a sort of public favor. Keep Reading!

Hotpot at Home Guide | xiaoEats

Toronto food blogger xiaoEats brings us her exclusive guide to preparing a hotpot at home and we couldn’t be more thankful. Armed with a trusty camp stove and Xiao’s helpful list of ingredients you too can be enjoying this fun and warming meal! Keep Reading!

Sour-And-Hot Silken Tofu

Get your spoon ready, ’cause you’ll be slurping this Sichuan, silken tofu mixture like it’s going out of style. I was recently gifted, Fuchsia Dunlop’s cookbook, Every Grain of Rice and I can not recommend it enough. Keep Reading!

Roasted Red Pepper Asiago Soup

Last week for “coffee talk Sunday,” my coffee talk friend suggested soup from Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop.  I don’t know why I don’t go here more often, it’s basically genius.  The atmosphere is perfect, the soup is hot, and they have grilled cheese prime for dunking.  We split a Goat Cheese and Rosemary Scented Grilled Cheese to dunk in our respective soups: Creamy Tomato Basil and Roasted Red Pepper Asiago. I had the Roasted Red Pepper and wanted to re-create it at home, in fact I almost took it home with me as I may have had a slight spill 🙂 oops!

Roasted Red Pepper Asiago Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Asiago Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Asiago Soup
makes a BIG pot

2 Tbs olive oil
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans (15oz) fire roasted tomatoes (I use the Muir Glen Organic)
1 jar roasted red peppers, finely diced
2 red bell peppers, roasted
5 oz Asiago cheese, grated
4 cups vegetable broth
4 oz almond milk or cream
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of thyme
pinch of sage
pinch of oregano
A bunch of basil, chopped

*I also added fresh lemon juice but I would hold off and add when you serve as it makes leftovers a bit bitter!

To begin char the red bell peppers on all sides over an open flame, grill or broiler.  The skin will be blackened and the pepper may split open, this is okay. Place the charred peppers in a covered bowl or paper bag to cool. Once cool seed (some people prefer to remove the blackened skin as well, but I leave it on) and set aside

Meanwhile, in a soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrot and celery cook to soften vegetables, 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, sage and oregano and cook 2 minutes more.

Add the roasted peppers, fire roasted tomatoes, onion mixture and Asiago cheese to a food processor or blender (if you have an immersion blender go ahead and leave everything in the pot to blend) Puree the mixture until smooth, then add back to the soup pot and stir in the vegetable stock.

Add the basil, almond milk or cream, salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil.  Then simmer until heated through.  Best served with Grilled Cheese!

Shchi

Borscht is what comes to mind when talking about Russian cuisine, however shchi is just as distinguishable.  Shchi is a hot soup with cabbage as the main ingredient and even more favorably sauerkraut, lending it an appealing sour taste.  With a myriad of recipes shchi can be made with meat or without, with cabbage or with sauerkraut but one thing remains the same, the soup should cure before eating.  Most cooks wait at least a day or two before serving it hot alongside rye bread and butter.

Shchi
Shchi

Take note from the Russians and cut the cold of winter with this hearty soup brimming with vegetables and tangy sauerkraut.  Sauerkraut may not appeal to every palette but for those who do enjoy it  you’re in luck because pickled cabbage is a superfood.  Fermented or pickled foods can be found all over the world and many cultures believe it is important to include these foods in their diets;  Kefir, natural pickles, kimchi, tempeh, miso and sauerkraut.  Sauerkraut is known to boost the immune system, possesses cancer fighting properties, aid digestion and can fight the flu.

Most commercially made sauerkraut is actually ‘dead’ meaning it is void of the probiotic qualities that make it a superfood.  To reap the benefits of nutrients, look for fresh sauerkraut in the refrigerated section of the grocery store or make your own, it’s not too difficult.  The best recipe that I’ve used for homemade sauerkraut is from Sandor Katz author of Wild Fermentation, find his recipe here.

Shchi
Shchi

Schi with Dilled Sour Cream
Vegan Eats World, Terry Hope Romero

2 cups cremini mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean

1 large leek, root and dry leafy ends trimmed, cleaned and finely diced

1 cup finely diced carrot

2 stalks celery, finely diced

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 cup dry white wine (or vegetable broth)

2 cups diced parsnip or potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

6 cups vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional, but very good)

2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano

2 1/2 cups sauerkraut, with juices

1/2 cup sauerkraut juice (or more vegetable broth)

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

A few twists cracked black pepper

Slice mushroom caps in half, then slice the caps into quarters to create bite-size mushroom pieces. In a 4-quart soup pot over medium-high heat, sauté the leek, carrot, and celery in vegetable oil for 6 minutes. Stir in garlic and mushrooms and sauté for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until mushrooms have reduced in size and released most of their liquid.

Pour in the wine and simmer for 2 minutes, then stir in parsnip, vegetable broth, bay leaves, allspice, caraway seeds (if using), marjoram, sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice, and ground black pepper. Increase heat and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat, stir occasionally and cover.

Simmer the soup for 35 to 40 minutes or until the parsnips are tender. Remove the bay leaves, turn off the heat and season with cracked black pepper and salt if necessary and garnish with parsley. Allow soup to cool 5 minutes before serving. Top each bowlful with a generous tablespoon of sour dilly cream, recipe follows.

For garnish:

Shchi with Sour Dilly Cream
Shchi with Sour Dilly Cream

Sour Dilly Cream

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch of sea salt

3 tablespoons finely chopped dill

In a food processor or in a large measuring cup using an immersion blender, pulse together the yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic and salt until smooth.  Pulse in the dill a few times.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Pimp my Ramen!

Already hungry with nothing prepared for dinner, and unmotivated to make a trip to the grocery store because it’s close to Thanksgiving and they are filled with frantic shoppers wheeling carts around in a hectic fashion.  I turned to my cupboards, freezer and fridge, which had the possibility of leading to goodness or grossness.

Miso Butter Mushrooms and Shrimp

Tonight it was goodness! A cheap package of ramen set the tone for an Asian inspired dish.  I always have a bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer, buying it whenever it goes on sale. This habit results in an easy way to add protein to meals or having a quick appetizer on a platter in a pinch.  I also store a canning jar of white miso in my fridge because it lasts for months and months.  Sometimes lazy to cut fresh garlic or ginger I typically keep jars of chopped garlic and minced ginger in the fridge as well.  A dash of miso, Maggi and ginger later I had a pan of steaming, miso butter mushrooms and shrimp.

Miso Butter Mushrooms and Shrimp

Miso Butter Mushrooms and Shrimp

1 pkg of Ramen Noodles (do not use the flavoring, just the noodles!)
8 oz. Portobello Mushrooms, large slices
10 Tail on Cooked Shrimp, completely thawed
4 Tbs. Butter
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tsp minced Ginger
4 Green Onions, chopped
2 Tbs. White Miso Paste
2 tsp. Maggi Sauce (found in the ethnic aisle, made by Nestlè)

Cook the ramen in a pot of boiling water, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat add butter, garlic, ginger and green onions.  Cook until fragrant about 1 minute. Add in the shrimp and cook about 2 minutes just before it turns pink add the mushrooms, miso and Maggi seasoning. Cook until mushrooms are tender about 1 minute more.  Add in the cooked ramen noodles and heat until warmed through.  Serve.

Phở….sounds like “fuh”

Some say that chicken noodle soup feeds the soul but for me it’s straight up Phở! Seriously, how can one say no to a slow simmered broth made from charred onions, beef bones, oxtails, anise, cinnamon, cardamom, clove and ginger?  This delish broth is served in a large bowl with a heaping parcel of white rice noodles to slurp up.   You also have your choice of thinly sliced flank steak (cooked or raw), tripe, tendon, brisket, meatballs or less traditionally chicken or pork.  Accoutrements include, mung bean sprouts, culantro, Thai basil, white onions, lime, fish sauce, Sriracha and hoisen sauce.
Phở is best eaten with chopsticks and little sighs of joy between each slurp of rice noodle and soul satisfying broth.

Eventually, when I am less daunted by bone broth I will attempt my own home-cooked version of Phở .  But for now where I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan we have a few Phở places to check out… (like 4).  I recommend two dives–either Pho Sac Trang on Div-Ave. or Pho99 on 28th St. SW.  For those of us who are not too adventurous when it comes to restaurant ‘ambiance’ consider this your warning when I say dive.  Personally I’m okay with a little hole in the wall interior so long as the food is fantastic and fresh!

Phở broth can also be purchased in Asian markets much like chicken stock…

Pho stock, photo from google images

So, now that Phở has made a it’s move into mainstream America please extend nhiều nhờ (many thanks) to Vietnam the country in which pho hails from!

Cozido

Fall is creeping in with crisp and cooler evenings.  Kitchens warmed with simmering stews and soups are quintessential classics.  This is a Brazilian take on “boiled dinner” or stew.
Assorted vegetables and meats are slowly cooked tender and served together with  Pirão (farofa/cassava flour mixed with hot broth).

Ingredients:

Beef Chuck

Assorted salted pork cuts

Smoked Sausage (such as Polish)

Potatoes

Pumpkins

Chayote Squash

Okra

Beets

Cabbage

Plantain

Carrot

Farofa

Boil Meats until tender at least 3 hours.  Boil Vegetables beginning with longest cooking time (ie Potatoes) until tender.  Add Farofa to a skillet and simmer with broth from the cooked meats until creamy.  Serve meats and vegetables on a large platter with Pirão on the side.

Muito Bom!