Archive for Salads and Soups

Not Your Grand Mother’s Matzo Ball Soup

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Make it exactly I say and you will have a perfect matzo ball soup. Pay special attention to making of matzo balls. Serves 2, twice. Or serves 5 people.

Ingredients: 

For soup: 

  • 2 chicken quarters with skin and bone, dark meat only (this is lots of chicken, feel free to use less)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic crushed
  • Salt as per taste, somewhere between 1 tsp to 2 tsp or more

Optional Spices: these will give the additional oomph to your soup.

  • 1 ” cinnamon
  • 3 pods of cardamom (whole cardamom)
  • 5 – 10 black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cloves
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1″ ginger crushed
  • muslin cloth

For Matza Balls: I made them instant Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix however not as per their recipe but my recipe.

  • 1 packet of Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil

Method:

Tie all the spices except turmeric in a muslin cloth. In a large stock pot boil water and all soup ingredients including spices in a muslin cloth and turmeric but salt. Let everything boil for a 5 minutes then let the chicken cook on medium heat. Once the chicken is cooked (when chicken is cooked it starts to separate from the bone of the drumstick.)

While soup is getting ready start with matzo balls. In a bowl combine 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of oil and beat it for a minute or till transparent strands in the egg disappear. Add a single packet or matzo meal and mix it with a fork, till there is no dry meal left. Don’t over work it. Cover it and set it aside, no need to refrigerate it.

By now if the chicken is cooked, carefully take it out on a paper towel. Debone the chicken and put the bones back in the broth. Add 1 tsp of salt to the broth and taste it, add a little more if you need more, make it little less seasoned that you need. The salt from matzo ball is going to mix with the broth too.

Discard the spices and bones from the broth.

Now divide matzo ball in 5 parts (not 8-10 as the packet says) and lightly, extremely lightly shape it somewhat like balls. If you try for a perfect ball, you will be working the dough too much and the balls won’t fluff. This is the most important part in a great matzo ball soup. Drop the balls one by one in the simmering broth. Cover the pot and let it cook for a good 10 minutes.

If making for more than 2 people take matzo balls that are ready out and add another batch of matzo balls to the broth.

Alternatively you can use the broth next day and add another batch of matzo balls then. Don’t make a huge quantity of matzo ball and save it. The balls taste good only when they are freshly made.

To serve: 

In a bowl place some chicken (the one you deboned earlier) pour some broth and 2 matzo balls. check for salt. Add a pinch or two if you need some more.

 

Thai Inspired Salad

When I made summer rolls for the first time I had lots of sprouts, shrimps, julienne carrots and julienne dicons left. I made this salad just to make good use of all those left overs and have been making it since then. And love it every time. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup sprouts
  • 1/2 cup small shrimps, cleaned, deveined and cooked (of course don’t use shrimps if you are making vegetarian)
  • 1/2 cup julienne carrots
  • 1/2 cup julienne dicons
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup crushed and roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (use soy sauce for veggie)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt if needed

 

Directions: 

In a salad bowl mix everything except cilantro and peanuts, use them to garnish.

 

Thai Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Thai is one of the cuisines that i just couldn’t get right. And Z loves Thai food, may be thats why he signed both of us up for Thai Cooking Class by MasterChef, my valentine’s day gift =) . Although I was pretty bored with chef’s yapping, I did pick up a few tips and tricks. And just handful of these opened up all new possibilities with this yummiest cuisine for me.

Here is my first one from the Thai series: The Summer rolls with peanut sauce.

Summer rolls: 

Ingredients: 

  • 6-8 rice roll wraps, found at asian grocery stores
  • 1 cup julienne carrots, as per the chef, julienne = 8 x 8 x 2, which essentially means all pieces should be 1/8″ x1/8″ X 2″ in size.
  • 1 cup julienne dicon
  • 1 cup small shrimps, cleaned and deveined
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • a few cups of hot water

Directions: 

  1. Mix shrimps, fish sauce, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl. Cover it with paper towel and microwave for 5 minutes. Alternatively you can saute’ the mix on a pan.
  2. Take hot water in a large bowl. Dip one wrap at a time for 15-20 seconds in the hot water. Take the wrap out and spread it over a cutting board or any other flat and clean surface.
  3. Place some carrots, dicons and shrimps in one line, in the center of the roll. Do not over stuff. Roll the side towards you over the stuffing then fold left and right sides. finally apply some water to the open edge and seal it. Try to make tight but not very tight rolls.
  4. Place the rolls in the fridge for a few minutes before serving. Cut them in half and serve with peanut sauce.

Peanut sauce: 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp chili paste
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp fish sauce

Directions: 

  1. Mix the ingredients well with a fork or in a blender till they form a uniform mix.

 

 

 

 

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, P F Chang inspired and better!

Last time we went to P F Chang, wasn’t a very good experience. The waitress was preoccupied, food was mediocre etc. So as a revenge I made P. F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps at home and I assure you these turned out better than the original. Of course they were the improvised version. Made them little more colorful by using red bell peppers and spring onions. The added red and green. Why not? After all the food appreciation starts from it’s looks. Something that looks good and smells good, we assume it will taste good. Almost always it does, unless you have forgotten the salt! 

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 chicken breast, skinless and boneless
  • 2 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless (I like dark meat, that’s why I mixed it. If you don’t. Then use one more breast)
  • 1 can water chest nuts
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce/ soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice/ vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6-7 lettuce leaves
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil

Method: 

  1. Chop chicken, mushrooms, water chest nuts, bell pepper and spring onions into tiny pieces
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add chicken. Saute’ chicken for a while on medium to high, till it’s dry, golden brown and starts to give away some oil.
  3. Take the chicken out and set it aside. Add mushrooms, water chest nuts, red bell pepper and spring onions to the pan and saute for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Once the mix looks dry add rest of the ingredients, except lettuce leaves. Mix it well and add chicken. Mix it for a minute more.
  5. Set lettuce leaves in a plate and add the mix in each leaf. Serve it.

 

 

Quick Fix Okra

We mostly eat fresh fruits and vegetables, yet for the unplanned times I always have a packet of frozen okra. It makes an excellent side for dinners when you are late.

Quick Fix Okra

Time: 10-15 minutes

Difficulty level: Simple

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pkt frozen okra
  • 1 tbsp or lesser oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method: 

  1. Heat oil in a pan and empty entire packet of okra. Sauté it by turning continuously till okra gets some black spots.
  2. Sprinkle some salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes more. It’s ready!

Black Bean Soup or Should I Call It Black Dal?

Many friends have asked me to write quicker and simpler recipes. This one is for my friend Anu. Anu, if you are making it to eat after your Friday fast, just avoid garlic and tomato step, it will still be yummy. 

black bean soup or clack dal

Time: 10-15 minutes

Difficulty level: Very simple

Ingredients: 

  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 crushed garlics
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili pepper powder/ cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 tsp oil

Method: 

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and add garlic. Once the garlic is crisp, take it out with a slotted spoon and set it aside. (If you are in a greater hurry then
  2. Add cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper powder quickly follow it with tomatoes. Cover and simmer it for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Empty the bean can in the pan. With the spatula smash some of the beans on the edges of the pan. This will give thickness to your soup/dal. Be careful not to smash all of them.
  4. You can eat it like a dal with rice or roti. If you don’t have time for rice or roti, feel free to have it as a hearty soup, will fill you up like a meal. For yummier version,  add a dollop of sour cream.

 

 

 

The Quickest New England Clam Chowder Gluten Free

Although it was 9:30 by the time we reached home, I still wanted to make New England Clam Chowder. For various reasons, including to keep up with our that week’s theme, the American food theme and to finish clams before they were spoiled. Most recipes I looked up online were for at least a people and I just didn’t have patience to work out the quantities for 2. So I made up my own and it tasted just like any other excellent clam chowder. Additionally the recipe turned out to be way simpler and quicker than other. Make some gluten free biscuits parallel to this chowder and your quick and yummy dinner will be ready in 30 minutes. 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 stripes chopped bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup peeled and cubed potatoes
  • 1 cup clams, shelled, cleaned and chopped
  • clam juice, whatever quantity is available with your clams
  • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • 1/2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 3 cups water

Directions: 

  1. Fry bacon in a pan till crisp. Take the bacon out on a paper towel with a slotted spoon/spatula.
  2. Add potatoes and onion to the bacon fat. Keep turning it till it’s browned.
  3. Add flours and turn it for a while
  4. Add clams, cover the pan and let it cook for 5 minutes on simmer
  5. Finally pour clam juice and water, bring it to boil and simmer till you get desired consistency.
  6. Take out in serving bowls and finish with some crispy bacon

Simple Strawberry Salad

I had this salad at The Saniford Cafe. A very healthy salad, however I make the healthier version of it by letting go the crackers and cheese, and yet a tasty one. And a salad cannot get simpler than this. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup halved strawberries
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup crushed walnuts (I normally lock them in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin)

Method: 

Just mix everything well and eat!

Cauliflower Soup

One day I thought I looked pretty cause I wore a new dress. So I told him, I look pretty. He said then we must go to a pretty place and just like that we went to Le Bernardin. For no reason other than I thought I looked pretty. 

Thats where we had this unforgettable cauliflower soup. But it came in those tiny little tasting shot glasses, so we had to ask for more, and we did! we got proper bowl full of soups, yummm, will never forget that taste. I dont know how they make it, but this is how I make it. Except for they had added some truffle oil and I didn’t. 

You need following for this amazing soup: 

  • 1/2 head of medium size cauliflower, chopped. Use only white part, not the green leaves
  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 onion chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup celery chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups chicken stock/ vegetable stock for veggie version
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

Method: 

  1. Combine everything except for chicken stock and cream. Sauté the mix on medium heat in a deep pot.
  2. Mix it frequently with spatula, add stock when onion turns translucent.
  3. Cover and let it cook for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Let the mixture cool down a bit, then blend it for puree.  Taste for salt.
  5. Add cream or truffle oil and serve.
  6. I used neither. Just sprinkled some dried parsley, was still great.

 

 

 

Not So French Onion Soup: A Gluten Free French Onion Soup

This is a French Onion Soup inspired soup. Healthier than its origin, due to added vegetables and no bread. This time I made it from left over Brisket gravy. Tasted real good! However recipe below is from the scratch.

Serves 2

Time: 50 minutes total, 20 minutes active and 30 inactive

You will need: 

  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 5-6 baby carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • 1 potato quartered (this allows the cheese to float in absence of a bread)
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese, not very matured not very young

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan
  2. Add onion and garlic, sauté it for a while till it turns brown
  3. Add broth, and all other vegetables
  4. Take it off the heat when broth is reduced to 2/3rd
  5. Let it cool and then puree it in a blender
  6. Take it out in an oven proof individual bowls. This recipe is for 2, so it will be 2 bowls.
  7. Preheat the oven at 350F and place the bowls on top shelf.
  8. Take it out and serve when cheese has started to turn brown on edges.

 

 

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