Thanksgiving Menu and To Do List

Thanksgiving Table

November 2017 Update: It’s been a long while since I posted. Life is busy, good busy, but busy; we have two in high school, one in middle school and a 77lb puppy who thinks she’s a lap dog. My passion for cooking and all things food related still runs strong (not to worry- we are eating over here at White House Red Door!), but finding the time to sit down to document recipes and edit photos seems to be elusive at the moment. I’m hoping to make carving out time for the blog a priority in the new year.

As I was wrapping my head around Thanksgiving prep, I pulled up this blog post. Immediately, a feeling a calm enveloped me… the day to day planning, core recipes, and to do list set my mind at ease. I’m reposting in the hope that it helps you too.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving!                                         ~Jean

Throughout November, I’ve posted some of our traditional family Thanksgiving recipes. You may have noticed that there are no appetizers. This is not without thought, we have so much food for dinner, that I don’t want people to fill up beforehand! We’ll have a few nibbles out…  nuts and a “relish tray.” It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without one.Celery, Olives, and Pistachios

At our house, a relish tray is simply a small platter of olives and celery sticks lying side by side; the celery sticks bathing in the salty brine of the olives. Every year my mom would set the tray on the dining room table before anything else. The grown-ups would walk by in passing and grab an olive or celery stick.

Cranberry Pineapple Sauce
Cranberry Pineapple Sauce

As a child I thought this was incredibly sophisticated, and by default, if I ate the olives and celery I, too, would be incredibly sophisticated- braces and all. I willed myself to eat the green olives stuffed with pimento, chasing them down with celery. A fake grin pasted on my face, I proudly showed my younger sister and brothers that I was well on my to adulthood. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I actually enjoyed the relish tray, the crunch of the celery alongside the saltiness of the chilled olives is terrific and definitely whets the appetite. So I will continue the tradition, setting out a tray of my own. The kids will reach for it when they’re ready, a culinary right of passage.

Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing
Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing

Do you set out appetizers? Or, is it all about the main event and desserts?

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie
Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

Happy Thanksgiving from White House Red Door!

Apple Cream Pie dusted with powdered sugar.
Apple Cream Pie

Thanksgiving 2015

  • Servings: varies
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Ingredients:
Turkey- this year my husband will be cooking the bird on his Big Green Egg. In previous years the turkey has been fried or roasted in the oven. This is the first time doing the turkey on the Egg, I’ll let you know how it goes!
Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Candied Yams
Green Beans with Almonds
Peas with Sautéed Mushrooms and Roasted Red Peppers
Creamed Onions
Cranberry Pineapple Sauce
Apple Cream Pie
Sweet Potato Pie with Maple Meringue

Instructions:
Monday:
* Make cranberry pineapple sauce
Tuesday:
* Cube bread for stuffing and allow to dry overnight.
Wednesday:
* Brine turkey
* Make stuffing
* Make pecan graham cracker crust for sweet potato pie
* Roast sweet potatoes for pie and puree
* Roast sweet potatoes for candied yams and slice
* Prepare topping for candied yams- chopped pecans, brown sugar, and butter
* Sauté mushrooms and dice roasted red peppers for peas
* Toast silvered almonds for green beans
* Set table
* Organize and label serving platters/pieces
Thursday:
* Cook turkey
* Make apple cream pie (morning)
* Finish sweet potato pie (morning)
* Make creamed onions (morning- stove top)
* Make mashed potatoes (afternoon-stove top)
* Finish candied yams (afternoon- oven)
 *Finish green beans and peas (afternoon- stove top)
* Have a drink!

Irish Stew

Irish Stew with Irish Soda Bread
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Tonight we’re celebrating not with corned beef and cabbage, but Irish Stew. Now don’t get me wrong, I love corned beef and cabbage, but to be honest, I prefer Irish stew for sentimental reasons. My grandparents, who were from Belfast, never had corned beef and cabbage growing up. It wasn’t until they came to America that they had corned beef and cabbage. According to this New York Times article, corned beef and cabbage is definitely more of an American tradition than Irish.

Knowth, Brú na Bóinne
Knowth, Brú na Bóinne

In any event, here is my version of Irish Stew. It was inspired by Nanny’s, with a little help from Darina Allen in terms of quantities. This dish can be served on any cold night; there is no need to wait for St. Patrick’s Day!

Rainbow in Donegal
Donegal

“May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
Slow to make enemies,
Quick to make friends.
But rich or poor, quick or slow,
May you know nothing
But happiness
From this day forward.”
Sláinte

Irish Stew with fresh herbs in dutch oven

Irish Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
2 pounds lamb stew meat
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/3” thick
1 pound onion, peeled and sliced ½” thick
4-5 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1” chunks
salt and freshly ground pepper
water
½ teaspoon dried thyme or 1 sprig fresh thyme
3-4 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Instructions:
In a large dutch oven, layer the meat and vegetables beginning with the lamb, followed by the potatoes, carrots, and onions. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Follow with another layer of meat, potatoes, carrots and onions, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add any remaining meat, carrots and onions and finish with a layer of potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Fill dutch oven 2/3 of the way full with water. Add thyme and cover. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and reduce to a simmer. Keep covered and simmer for 1-2 hours or until meat is tender.

Just before serving, stir in fresh parsley. Serve hot with freshly baked soda bread.

Lamb, potatoes, carrots, and onions for Irish Stew
Gather your ingredients… lamb, potatoes, carrots, and onions.
Onions, carrots, and potatoes peeled and sliced on cutting board
Prep your ingredients… peel and slice onions, carrots, and potatoes.
Layers of lamb, potatoes, carrots, and onions seasoned with salt and pepper in dutch oven.
Start layering your ingredients in a dutch oven… layer of lamb, followed by layers of potatoes, carrots, and onions. Season with salt and pepper.
another layer of lamb, followed by potatoes, carrots, and onions seasoned with salt and pepper.
Add another layer of lamb, followed by potatoes, carrots, and onions. Season with salt and pepper.
Final layer of Irish Stew ingredients in dutch oven
Add final layer of lamb, and any remaining onions or carrots. Top with potato slices. Season with salt and pepper.
Adding water to Irish stew ingredients
Add enough water to fill 2/3 up the side of the pot.
Irish stew ingredients in dutch oven
Sprinkle with dried thyme or add sprig of fresh thyme. Cover pot and bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook 1-2 hours or until meat is tender.
After 1-2 hours, when the meat is tender, add chopped parsley.
Start checking meat after 1 hour. When the meat is tender, remove from heat and add chopped parsley. (Total cooking time will be between 1-2 hours.)
Irish Stew with Irish Soda Bread
A wonderful dinner any night… serve stew with thick slices of Irish soda bread.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

Joseph Lincoln, author and native of Cape Cod wrote, “A New England clam chowder, made as it should be, is a dish to preach about, to chant praises and sing hymns and burn incense before. To fight for. The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought for — or on — clam chowder; part of it at least, I am sure it was. It is as American as the Stars and Stripes, as patriotic as the national Anthem. It is ‘Yankee Doodle in a kettle.’”

New England Clam Chowder

In his epic novel, Moby Dick, Herman Melville wrote, “However, a warm savory steam from the kitchen served to belie the apparently cheerless prospect before us. But when that smoking chowder came in, the mystery was delightfully explained. Oh, sweet friends! hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt.”

New England Clam Chowder

There is nothing more satisfying on a cold wet night than a steaming bowl of clam chowder, specifically New England Clam Chowder (not the tomato based Manhattan Clam Chowder!). We had just such night last week and this is exactly what I made…

Cook’s Notes:
*The starch released from the potatoes naturally thickens this clam chowder. Some recipes call for a flour and butter roux to thicken the soup, but I find the resulting chowder far too thick and pasty.

*Buy the smallest clams you can find, as they are the sweetest. Traditionally, quahog or large chowder clams are used, but littlenecks are more tender and sweet. Because of their small size, I like to leave the clams whole, but if you end up with larger clams, by all means chop them up.

*Soak those clams in water before steaming! There is nothing worse than biting into a clam and getting a mouthful of grit. Pick over the clams; throwing away any with broken shells or that aren’t tightly shut. Place them in a bowl of cold water and let them soak for 15-30 minutes (prep the veggies while your waiting), changing the water every so often. When the water stays clean, scrub and rinse one more time for good measure and you’re ready to go.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

  • Servings: 8
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*adapted from Jasper White, chef and owner of the Summer Shack

Ingredients:
4 oz salt pork, rind removed and cut into 1/3-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
2 dried bay leaves
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½- inch dice
3 cups reserved clam broth (from steaming clams)
8 pounds live clams (about 5-6 dozen littlenecks)
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tablespoons minced fresh chives
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Prepare clams:
Place clams (in their shells) in a large bowl filled with cold water. Allow to sit for 15-30 minutes, changing the water every so often. This will help release any grit. Give clams a final scrub and rinse to remove any remaining grit.

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Gently place clams in boiling water, distributing evenly. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Carefully remove lid and check on the clams. The clams are done when they have opened. Using tongs, remove any opened clams. Replace lid and continue to steam any clams that are still closed. After 3 minutes or so, carefully remove lid again… remove any clams that have opened and discard those that are still closed.

Pour clam broth into a large measuring cup, if you see any grit, pour it through a fine mesh sieve. You should have about 3 cups.

Remove clams from the shells and set aside. If you used large clams, roughly chop them. If they are small, you may leave them whole.

Prepare chowder:
Heat a large dutch oven over low heat, and add salt pork. Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase heat to medium and cook until salt pork is a crisp golden brown. Remove the salt pork and set aside for another use.

Increase the heat to medium high and add butter, onions, garlic, celery, thyme, and bay leaves to the pot. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and turning golden, about 5-10 minutes.

Add potatoes and reserved clam broth. The broth should barely cover the potatoes; if it doesn’t, add enough water to just cover them. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Cover, and cook potatoes vigorously until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center, about 10 minutes. If the broth hasn’t thickened lightly, smash a few potatoes against the side of the pot, and cook 1-2 minutes more to release the starch.

Remove pot from the heat, and stir in clams and cream. Add parsley and chives. Season to taste.

Serve with Tabasco, or your favorite hot sauce.

Steamed ClamsOnion, garlic, celery, salt pork, yellow potatoes, thyme, parsley, and chives

Sautéing onion, celery, garlic, and herbs in dutch oven
Add celery, onions, garlic, and herbs to dutch oven. Sauté over medium heat until onion softens, about 5 minutes.

IMG_0094

Adding cubed potatoes to onion, celery, garlic and herbs
When onions are just turning golden, add cubed potatoes.
Adding clam stock to barely cover potatoes
Add enough clam stock to barely cover potatoes. If you don’t have enough clam stock, add water as needed.
Boiling potatoes in dutch oven
Over medium high heat, bring vegetables to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender on the outside, but are still firm inside.
Pressing potatoes against side of dutch oven to release starch
Carefully remove the lid and check the soup. It should have thickened slightly. If not, take a few potatoes and press them against the side of the pot to release their starch. Recover and simmer for a few more minutes.
Adding clams and any juices that accumulated to dutch oven
Add reserved clams and any juices that accumulated.
Adding cream to soup
Add cream…
Stirring in parsley and chives
Add chopped parsley and chives. Check for seasonings… because of the natural saltiness of the clams and their broth, you probably won’t need any additional salt, but I love adding lots of freshly ground black pepper.
Ladle full of New England Clam Chowder
Be sure each serving gets a good amount of clams, celery, and potato!

New England Clam Chowder

 

Jamaican Rice and Peas

Jamaican Rice and Peas in bowl

We just got back from a wonderful trip to Jamaica. This is our third visit, and it’s always such a welcome treat to dip our toes in the sand, feel the warm tropical breezes, hear birds chirping, and see every shade of blue imaginable all in the middle of winter!

IMG_9693

And the food! Amazing locally grown coffee from the Blue Mountains; fresh caught conch straight from the sea, tropical fruits dazzle with a rainbow of color, coconuts plucked right from the tree, notched open, and a straw stuck in. Sidenote… I didn’t know until our first visit that not all coconuts are brown and “hairy.” By the time a coconut has reached that point, it is already dried up inside, leaving only the meat. The green coconuts, still hanging on the tree, are full of sweet coconut water, ready for drinking. After you finish drinking the water, the coconut can be completely split open allowing you to scoop the soft flesh enjoying it like custard. My daughter loves it sprinkled with sugar before she digs in!

IMG_9668

We ate well everyday… oxtail, curry goat, fish, coconut shrimp, and of course, jerk chicken and pork. Almost every dinner included a side of rice and peas, not green peas, but beans. The rice and peas are steamed in sweet coconut milk with onions, garlic, and thyme; they are perfect to eat on their own or served as a side dish.

Scotchie's

I’ve already made Jamaican Rice and Peas since we’ve been home, and it’s definitely going into the rotation. I served it alongside pork tenderloin that had been marinated in a wet rub of jerk seasoning. But again, this dish works with a wide variety of meats and fish, or stands alone with a simple green salad as a complete meal.

Cook’s notes:  Check for salt as you go along… the coconut milk is naturally sweet, and combined with the low sodium broth, you may find it necessary to add more salt to suit your taste. The hot pepper isn’t required, but it does add the most lovely hint of fruity heat because it’s kept whole. Allspice is a very traditional component of jerk seasoning and I like bringing that flavor into the dish. This recipe uses canned kidney beans as a matter of convenience; feel free to use dried beans that you soak and cook yourself. If you go that route, be sure to save some of the cooking liquid to use for cooking the rice- just swap out an equal amount of chicken broth. Finally, the cooking method, baking the rice in the oven, is from the New York Time’s Cookbook,  “The Perfect Batch of Rice”. It’s hands down my favorite no-fail method of cooking rice.

Jamaican Rice and Peas in bowl

Jamaican Rice and Peas

  • Servings: 8-10 as a side dish
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Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, butter, or extra virgin olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 cups long grain white rice, rinsed and drained
salt to taste
3 cups liquid (1 13.5oz can coconut milk + enough chicken broth to total 3 cups combined)
4 sprigs thyme
¼ tsp allspice or 3 allspice berries
1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, left whole
1 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat oil or butter bottom in bottom of ovenproof saucepan. Add the finely chopped onion. Stir and cook until onion wilts. Add the smashed garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the rice and stir until the grains are coated. Add salt to taste.

Add the coconut milk and chicken broth. Add hot pepper, thyme, and allspice to the rice and let broth come to a boil.

Stir in kidney beans. Cover pan and place in the oven. Set timer for 17 minutes.

Remove pan from the oven. Let stand 5 minutes, then uncover. Remove thyme, scotch bonnet, garlic clove, and allspice berries if using. Gently fluff rice with fork. Check for seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Ingredients for Jamaican Rices and Peas: rice, beans, coconut milk, chicken broth, onion, thyme, allspice and pepper

Rinsing and draining rice in mesh strainer
Rinse and drain the rice as part of your prep.
Wilting finely chopped onion in saucepan.
Melt butter or coconut oil in ovenproof saucepan. Add finely chopped onion and sauté until wilted.
Adding coconut milk/chicken broth mixture to rice
Add coconut milk/chicken broth mixture to rice.
Timer set for 17 minutes
Set timer for 17 minutes.
Jamaican Rice and Peas
After 17 minutes, remove pan from oven. Let stand for 5 minutes before removing lid.
Fluffing rice with fork
Use a fork to gently fluff rice. Carefully remove pepper, thyme sprigs, garlic clove, and allspice berries (if using). Check seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Jamaican Rice and Peas in bowl
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Longevity Noodles

Longevity Noodles in serving dish with chopsticks

Noodles have long been a part of Chinese cuisine. In fact, back in 2005, a bowl of 4,000 year old noodles was unearthed at an archeological site in northwest China. On birthdays and during Chinese New Year celebrations, Longevity Noodles are often served; the longer the noodle the better, and to be able to eat the noodle without cutting or biting ensures an even better, longer life. This Longevity Noodle recipe comes from Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, a chef and author of 11 Chinese cookbooks.

Tip: The fresh egg noodles are quickly cooked, then rinsed and drained. It’s important that the noodles are drained well, the drier the strands, the better they will absorb the sauce at the end.

Tip: Once you start stir-frying, the recipe comes together very quickly, literally in minutes. Have everything prepped and ready to go; even the sauce should be made in advance so that all you have to do is pour it in.

The Longevity Noodles can be enjoyed on their own or as part of a larger meal. They would be wonderful with grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu. We enjoyed the dish as is, adding a squeeze of Sriracha and a dash of extra soy sauce at the table.

Wishing you a wonderful Year of the Monkey and best wishes for a long and healthy life!

Longevity Noodles in serving dish with chopsticks

Longevity Noodles

  • Servings: 4
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*slightly adapted recipe by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo for Food & Wine

Ingredients:
2 quarts water
5 oz mung bean sprouts
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ lb fresh Chinese egg noodles
¼ low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
One ¼ inch thick slice of fresh ginger, lightly smashed
4 oz snow peas
6 canned water chestnuts, sliced ¼ inch thick

Instructions:
Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Put bean sprouts in a strainer, lower into the boiling water and blanch for 10 seconds. Remove the strainer and rinse the sprouts in cold water; drain well.

Add salt to the water in the sauce and bring back to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Drain the noodles thoroughly in a colander and rinse them in cold water and drain. Rinse again, then drain, lifting them carefully to separate and dry the strands.

In a small bowl combine the chicken stock with the soy sauce and sesame oil to make the sauce.

Warm a large skillet or wok over high heat for 45 seconds. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the skillet. Stir in the ginger and cook for 10 seconds. Add the snow peas and stir-fry until bright green, about 1 minute. Add the water chestnuts and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the bean sprouts and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Stir the sauce, then add it to the skillet and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and stir-fry until they absorb the sauce, about 2 minutes. Transfer noodles to a platter and serve immediately with Sriracha and soy sauce for passing.

Longevity noodle ingredients: noodles, bean sprouts, snow peas, water chestnuts, ginger, peanut oil, soy sauce, chicken stock, and sesame oil.
Prep and gather all your ingredients, including making the sauce. This recipe comes together in minutes, so it’s important to have everything at the ready.
Blanching bean sprouts
Blanch the bean sprouts for 10 seconds. Remove strainer from water and rinse sprouts under cold water. Drain well.
Peanut oil in skillet
Warm a skillet or wok over high heat for 45 seconds. Add peanut oil and swirl to coat pan.
Add ginger to skillet
Add ginger and cook for 10 seconds.
Adding snow peas to skillet
Add snow peas and stir-fry until bright green, about 1 minute.
Adding water chestnuts to skillet.
Add the sliced water chestnuts, and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
Adding bean sprouts to skillet
Add the bean sprouts, and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Adding sauce to skillet
Stir the sauce, add it to the wok and bring to a boil.
Adding noodles to the skillet
Add the noodles and stir-fry until they absorb the sauce, about 2 minutes.

Longevity Noodles in skillet

Longevity Noodles in skillet

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup in serving bowl

Happy Chinese New Year! Monday, February 8th marks the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Monkey. Billions, that’s right, billions(!) of people are expected to travel within China over the next couple of weeks. It really is a mass migration as people go home to celebrate this holiday with their families. And when families get together over holidays, there is sure to be delicious food.

Bowl of Clementines

The foods associated with Chinese New Year are very symbolic and are meant to bring good fortune, longevity, and happiness. Oranges and tangerines are often displayed and eating them is said to bring prosperity and luck. The Chinese words for gold and orange sound alike, and the word for tangerine is similar to the word for luck.

Red Snapper

Another play on words is associated with fish. The Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for abundance. Fish is often on the menu for the Chinese New Year, and is served whole signifying a good beginning and ending to the New Year. To serve two fish is even better, one on New Year’s Eve and the other offered on New Year’s Day, guaranteeing good fortune year after year.

Red Snapper

One of my favorite Chinese dishes (New Year’s or not) is Hot and Sour Soup. Unfortunately, so many restaurant versions are too thick and viscous, almost coming off as slimy, victims of cornstarch added by a heavy hand. This homemade version is infinitely tastier. Instead of cornstarch to thicken the soup, eggs are whisked in to add body without muddling the bright tangy flavor of the vinegar or heat of the pepper. Ground pork is not traditional, but is faster than roasted pork. The original recipe comes from Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery and Myers and Chang restaurant in Boston. I’ve cut the ground pork in half, and doubled the amount mushrooms. You can easily make this completely vegetarian by eliminating the pork all together and using a vegetable broth instead of chicken stock. You’re in complete control of the tanginess and the heat, both quickly adjusted to your taste by ramping up or toning down the rice vinegar and Sriracha sauce.

Now, I’m off to make Longevity Noodles. The key is not to cut the noodles… the longer the noodle, the longer your life. Will post Friday!

Hot and Sour Soup in serving bowl

Hot and Sour Soup

  • Servings: 4
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adapted from Flour, Too by Joanne Chang

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
1 Tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger (about 1 ½ inch piece of ginger)
4 scallions, white and green parts, minced, set aside 2 Tablespoons sliced for garnish
4 oz ground pork
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 lb block firm tofu, (not silken or extra firm) cut into ½ inch cubes
8-10 medium button mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon Sriracha sauce
2 large eggs

Instructions:
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and ground pork and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Break the pork into smaller pieces, but don’t worry about breaking it down completely. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

Add the tofu, mushrooms, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce and bring the soup back to a simmer over medium high heat. (Taste the soup. If you want it hotter, add more Sriracha; if you want it more sour, add more vinegar.)

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. With the soup at a steady simmer, slowly whisk in the eggs so they form strands. Bring the soup back to a simmer. Divide the soup among four bowls and garnish each with a sprinkling of scallions. Serve immediately. The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Hot and Sour Soup ingredients on cutting board
Prep your Hot and Sour Soup ingredients: garlic, ginger, scallions, ground pork, chicken stock, tofu, mushrooms, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha, and eggs.
Ground pork, garlic, ginger, and scallions in a saucepan
In large saucepan heat oil over medium high heat. Add garlic, ginger, scallions, and ground pork. Cook for 1 minute, breaking up pork, but not completely breaking it down. You want some chunks.
Adding chicken stock to ground pork, garlic, ginger, and scallions
Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
Adding tofu to soup
Add the tofu…
Add mushrooms to soup
Add the mushrooms…
Adding sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha to soup
Add sugar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha (I had all these ingredients in one bowl, as I knew they would be going in all at once).
Adding rice vinegar to soup
Add the rice vinegar and bring the soup back to a simmer over medium high heat.
hot and sour soup in saucepan
Bring soup back to a simmer.
Hot and Sour Soup garnished with scallions in serving bowl
Garnish with scallions and serve immediately.

Shish Taouk- A Rare Recipe Challenge

Platter of shish taouk with grilled peppers, onions, and tomatoes

Well, I’ve done something new, actually a few new things. Lina over at Lin’s Recipes created a food challenge for the month of January, a “Rare Recipe Challenge.” Lina did her Rare Recipe Challenge Pichomework and found dishes from around the world that may be new to you and me. People were invited to pick one of the dishes to research, find recipes for, and create. The hook- you had to choose something you had never eaten or made before. Clearly, I was still riding the sugar and cocktail fueled high of the holidays because I quickly agreed to not only my first “challenge,” but also to making something I had never eaten, heard of, or had a recipe for. Oh and let’s not forget, by participating I agreed to post all about it! Yikes!!!

I chose to make Shish Taouk (pronounced “shish tawook”), a Middle Eastern type of fast food. Here’s a bit of trivia: did you know that ‘shish’ means skewer and ‘taouk’ means chicken in Turkish? These marinated chicken kebabs are found throughout Middle East; though each country has its own twist on the marinade. And that is the biggest challenge… not only does each country have its own version, but each cook within each country has their own Shish Taouk ingredients on cutting board: ingredients: cubed chicken breast, plain yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, tomato paste, salt and pepper.version. It would be like doing a Google search among Italian grandmothers, with the inquiry “meatball recipe.” The number of results would equal the number of grandmothers, and each recipe would be slightly different. There would be no ONE meatball recipe. Well, it’s the same with Shish Taouk. There are thousands of recipes out there, and I read a lot of them. Some use yogurt, some don’t; some use tomato paste, some ketchup, and I found a few that use both; the spices were all over place- mint, thyme, cumin, paprika, oregano, cayenne. Lemon juice and bunches of garlic were a constant, though even there the amounts varied. For example, one recipe called for 1 cup of lemon juice, while another (using the same amount of chicken) used only ¼ cup. Cooking methods ran the gamut from grilled on a barbeque to pan fried to broiled. I would have preferred to grill, but because of weather, I broiled my chicken kebabs and the veggie kebabs I made to serve alongside the meat.

After loads of research I came up with my recipe for Shish Taouk; full disclosure here, since I’ve never tasted an authentic Shish Taouk I have no Shish Taouk on pita with grilled veggies and toumidea if my method is a proper interpretation or not. That said, the night I was making this for dinner my oldest walked into the house after basketball practice and announced, “It smells good in here, like a Middle Eastern restaurant!” Ahhh, the sweet smell of success (or shish taouk!). The yogurt tenderized the chicken; the lemon juice added just enough tang to balance out the pungency of the garlic. The spices I chose worked well- cumin brought just the right amount of heat and the smoked paprika added a lovely smokiness that was especially welcome since the kebabs were cooked under a broiler, not grilled outside over a fire. The tomato paste and smoked paprika turned the entire mixture an orange-pink which provided a beautiful color to the finished dish.

The entire family loved it and I’ll definitely be making it again. I served the chicken with broiled skewers of bell peppers, red onions, grape tomatoes and warm pita bread. In Lebanon they traditionally serve Shish Taouk with toum, a garlicky lemony mayonnaise. Oh my, it is good and will be used in my house for more than just these kebabs. Tzatziki would also be delicious- not traditional, but it seems everyone has their own version of this dish, so why not?

Well, I’m off to the Rare Recipe Challenge and bringing my Shish Taouk. Thank you to Lina for creating this fun challenge, and thank you to Jhuls from thenotsocreativecook.wordpress.com for judging the entries. I loved getting outside my culinary comfort zone, researching this delicious dish, and devouring the results. New year, new foods, new challenges!

Platter of shish taouk with grilled peppers, onions, and tomatoes

Shish Taouk

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
For marinade-
2 cups plain yogurt
2 lemons, juiced
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper, to taste

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into kebab sized pieces

For Toum-
2 cloves garlic
1 egg white
juice of ½ lemon
generous pinch of kosher salt
½ cup of canola oil
1-2 Tablespoons ice water

Instructions:
Combine yogurt, juice of 2 lemons, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, cumin, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well. Add chicken pieces to yogurt marinade and stir. Be sure that all the chicken pieces are coated in the yogurt mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

While chicken is marinating make the toum (garlic mayonnaise). In a food processor place garlic, lemon juice and generous pinch of salt. Process to chop up garlic. You will have to stop and scrape sides of processor several times while chopping the garlic. With processor running, slowly drizzle in the egg white. As the processor continues to run, slowly add the canola oil in a steady stream. You should have a mayonnaise at this point. Thin out slightly by adding 1-2 Tablespoons of ice water while the machine is running. Transfer mayo to airtight container and refrigerate.

When you are ready to make the kebabs, preheat your broiler or grill. Thread 5-6 pieces of chicken on each skewer (It will be gloopy, but don’t worry. There is no need to scrape yogurt mixture off the chicken pieces).

Broil or grill chicken until done, about 15 minutes, turning over once at the halfway mark. Serve immediately with pita, toum, and grilled veggies.

Shish Taouk ingredients on cutting board: ingredients: cubed chicken breast, plain yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, tomato paste, salt and pepper.
Gather your ingredients: cubed chicken breast, plain yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, tomato paste, salt and pepper.
Combine ingredients to make yogurt marinade.
Combine all the ingredients, except the chicken, to create the marinade.

 

Make the toum while the chicken is marinating…

Raw Shish Taouk skewers on broiler pan.
After marinating, preheat grill or broiler. Thread chicken on skewers. (Tip- if using bamboo skewers, give them a soak in water so they don’t burn on the grill or under the broiler.)
Grill or broil the kebabs- depending on your grill or oven, approximately 7 minutes per side. My broiler pan was set about 6 inches under the heating element; my kebabs took about 7 minutes per side.
Grill or broil the kebabs- depending on your grill or oven, approximately 7 minutes per side. My broiler pan was set about 6 inches under the heating element; my kebabs took about 7 minutes per side.
Platter of shish taouk and grilled veggies.
Serve with grilled veggies, toum, and pita bread.
Shish Taouk on pita with grilled veggies and toum
Shish Taouk with grilled veggies and toum on pita bread.