Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kim Chee Soup

I think we are secretly Korean in this household. We love everything Korean. So Kim Chee is always a welcome dish, especially on a cold evening. We buy the Costco HUGE jar of kim chee. One day I will make my own kim chee.
I only started making the soup a few months ago. All along I thought it would be difficult but this is one of THE SIMPLEST soups to make. When I was recipe hunting online I found that all the recipes were pretty much the same. You can fancy and perhaps one day I will but for now, simple works for me and the fam.


Recipe
5 garlic cloves (or so)
4 oz. belly pork (optional, usually I don't even add meat)
2 or so cups of kim chee, rough chopped
1 onion, cut the long way, into strips (or whatever way you like...I notice Koreans do the strips)
1 cup (or more) kim chee juice
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water (or so)
firm tofu, cut into cubes
green onion (optional)

Using a little oil (maybe sesame oil would work well for taste), fry up the garlic cloves with the onions. While this is frying and you are stirring periodically, start chopping up the kim chee. When the onions are limp (not totally translucent, that just takes too long), add the chopped kim chee and stir around a bit. Then add all the liquids: kim chee juice, chicken broth, water. Taste. If it's not tasty enough, you can try adding more broth or chicken stock powder/cube (I just bought a huge jar of Knorr chicken flavor bouillon and I think it's going to be my new best friend because I always use chicken stock). Let it simmer for about 1/2 hour. Maybe. Less is probably okay. Garnish with green onions. Cut up the tofu and leave it in a bowl on the side. Not everyone in my family appreciates tofu so I let them add it to their own.
I bought, as a fundraiser, raw marinated teriyaki meat. I fried that up and cut it into strips for people to add to their soup. It was a great addition to our soup tonight but generally, no meat.
Verdict
Kaipo says, "You can eat 5ths of that!" Glen didn't have any. But when you have white rice and spicy pork as the main course, well, sometimes you just skip the soup. Kim chee soup is ALL I ate. Shelby said, "It's no good. It makes you eat so much. I went back 3 times." I guess that's an A.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

OMG Brownies

The son and his fam came over. Two things get triggered in me whenever they visit. The need to cook/bake and the need to drink. I don't know what it is. He brings out the worst in me. With only 4 eggs in the fridge, my options were sorta limited. Definitely no creme brulee (as if) or bread pudding (no bread either!). Brownies came to mind. And then of course a visit to my favorite food searching blog, Food Gawker, and a quick search for brownies. That led me to (after many lookeesees at many options) Sing For Your Supper Blog and a wonderful brownie concoction. I did a few modifications, as almost always.





Recipe
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa (regular cocoa is fine too)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional (I didn't use any but would have loved to if I had it)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups chocolate chips (actually one 4 oz. bar of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate broken up into pieces and 6 oz. dark chocolate chips)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans), optional
1/4 teaspoon mint extract

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan
In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth. Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth
Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips. I didn't do this. I'll do it next time, though.
Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan. It is thick. You have to spread it out with a whatever you're using spoon. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

Verdict
The texture was fabulous. Whenever I make brownies or eat someone else's it's either too cake like or the edges are too done while the middle is undone. These were perfect all around. I did end up baking them for about 8 minutes more than the recommended time (I used a glass pan...I don't know if that made the difference). And it tasted VERY dark chocolate, probably due to my choice of chocolate. Next time I will use the regular semi sweet chips, two cups worth and probably more nuts. I love nuts. These brownies would go perfect with some high quality vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream. And coffee. Yum.

Warm Beet Salad

I have memories of beets and they aren't very fond. My mom used to "prepare" beets for us, straight out of a can, cut into nice circles, plopped onto a plate. Then my dad would proceed to put some on his plate and then plop a glob of mayonnaise onto his beets. I. Hate. Mayonnaise. I've gotten much better about it, but when I was a kid I detested everything about mayonnaise. Couldn't even stand to make my dad his sandwiches because sometimes, when there was hardly any mayonnaise in the jar I would have to really reach in there with the butter knife and my fingers would brush against the inside and mayo would get on my hands and GROSS!!! Ugh. The mayonnaise, combined with the rich dark color of the beets, would turn pink. Pink mayonnaise. What could be worse. Why not have a bowl of mayo-chili to go with it?
But I love fresh beets. And I know this because on my last food visit to Hilo Bay Cafe (I have other visits there besides food as my daughters, husband and close drinking buddies can attest) I ordered a beet salad and loved it. Despite the fact that my close friend Lisa insisted that beets smell and taste like dirt, I thought they were unbelievably tasty. I loved the texture, the color, and the taste. A light dressing. A beautiful plate. Yum. I'll find the picture I took and post it soon.
So I bought beets at the Waimea Homestead Farmers Market last week. And today I finally got around to figuring out how to prepare them. Yay. My first beet adventure.
I went straight to my new favorite go-to blog to search for a beet recipe, Food Gawker. That led me to The Hungry Mouse, my very first visit. You'll see, once you check out this site, what I meant in my first blog when I talk about great photography. That I have not.
Her (okay, I know I'm making assumptions but I'm guessing The Hungry Mouse is female) directions were great. I just made a few modifications. I wanted beet salad. Fast. The fam was already making rice and frying up sausage and onions and I didn't want to be enticed to join them. New healthy eating venture and all. So instead of baking the beets (which I prepped by cutting off leaves/stems and long root thing on other end, washing off dirt, and NOT peeling) I put an inch of water in my pressure cooker (thanks mom!), threw the beets in and cooked them for about 15-20 minutes. Once they were done, I put them all out on waxed paper (thinking I didn't want to stain my cutting board) to cool slightly so I could peel them. The Hungry Mouse, true to form, said it would peel quite easily and it did! I used my fingers to peel the cooked beets (did I tell you I tested for doneness by poking the biggest beet with a fork? Goes through=done. Doesn't go through=oops. cook longer). I peeled, cut off the ends, and quartered the beets, depending on their sizes. Some beets were big like a small tangerine. A few were small like a large grape. I wasn't about to get picky about equal sizes when I bought them. That's just too complicated at this stage in my life.
Then I threw the beets into a metal bowl (staining plastic? nosirree). Of course then I had to wipe the counter because my great wax paper idea didn't pan out the way I thought it would and my counter was now pink. But it came off easily. Don't know if I would have achieved great success on a nice ceramic tile/grout countertop. Here is a picture of the beets all cut up. Sorry. Didn't think to take pictures of the before cooking beets and after. But they look just like The Hungry Mouse uncooked beets except all one color.


Then I proceeded to make the dressing. Now The Hungry Mouse calls for 1/4 clove of garlic, chopped fine, 2 tablespoons of orange juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I didn't measure a thing. I cut an orange in half and squeezed that into the measuring cup (which I grabbed because it was sitting on the counter), threw in two cloves of chopped garlic (we love garlic...it's a weakness and I'm sure I overdo it for most people but in my house of onion and garlic lovers, you can never put too much), and squirt in some olive oil (I bought a new squirt bottle...one of those older looking ketchup squirt kind of bottles and I LOVE IT).

Then I poured it over the beets, sprinkled over some chopped green onions, and voila. All set and ready.

Once it was on my plate all I needed to do was sprinkle on some feta.

Verdict: It was oh so good. Yum. And I have just a tad more for a late afternoon snack. Kaipo said it was good. I said, "if you had to give it a grade what would you give it?" She said, "Why do I need to give it a grade?" Come on, girl, humor me sometime. She ended up giving it an A. Yay! I did need to check on her grading system so I asked her to grade her white rice and sausage/onion lunch. She said, "It was good but I wouldn't grade it." Yay. And I think I heard Glen in the kitchen say something to the effect of, "Mmm, that's good."
Next course of action: figure out how to arrange the pictures to match the words.

Quack Quack

As of late, I have been obsessing over food blogs. It all started with a simple venture into commercial sites like Cooks Illustrated, Food Network, and, of course, Martha Stewart. But one day, somehow, someway, I stumbled upon a food blog. Written by a regular person like you and me. And that blogger had other food blogs in her blog roll. And the madness commenced.

The food blog madness, coupled with the cooking madness (all my dear friends and family members know that my favorite shopping adventure includes food stores--Whole Foods & Trader Joes, and kitchen related stores--William-Sonoma & Target [we will get to that someday in a post]), have all led me to where you are today, Duck Soup. And this one (once you get to know food blogs) is in no way, shape or form, close to the quality and finesse of a "real" food blog. They are serious cooks and photographers and to them presentation is everything. I have barely gotten out of the "paper plates are fine" stage. And I am starting out using my iphone camera. But this blog is mine. All mine. And now yours, if you wish.

I named it after a phrase that my dad always used when something was easy. DUCK SOUP. He said that to anything that he felt should not be posing as big a challenge as was in my mind. "Liana, das duck soup". And so it went. If dad said it was duck soup, it must be duck soup! Of course, ducksoup.blogspot.com was already taken. So...we (namely, Kika) stuck so in front of it, because not only is this food EASY it is SO EASY. Seriously. If I can do it, you can, too. Seriously. I mean I remember when I needed a recipe to bake a canned ham. You don't even have to COOK canned ham. In all its chemical processing glory, it is already cooked! Just heat and serve! But I digress.

This is a simple blog that will grow out of my love and continual search for a more "healthy" appetite. I'm talking "whole food". Buh bye packaged processed stuff. As much as one can reasonably expect and not be called a crunchy granola tree hugging organic fanatic at least. This I am pursuiting as I am reading Omnivore's Dilemma, the latest book of my book club (thanks Jo Kim). I am also going to seek out "local" foods, as in striving to buy in season and locally grown vegetables (I mean seriously, why try to make mango chutney in the winter when we all know that summertime is where it's at...who wants mangos that took more fuel to get here from Mexico than I care to support. This desire, also stemmed from one of my favorite books, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Buy local, grow your own foods: animals & vegetables (and fruits). Those are all my goals. And when I accomplish all of that, I will have all my recipes, ready and waiting, neatly organized right here in Duck Soup.

Welcome.