Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fried onion and carrot soup (with bonus shallot oil!)

I made this soup as a vaguely-North Indian spiced vegetable dish to go with a lamb rogan josh Australian pie that we had in the freezer from TA Pies in Montreal. It would stand up just fine as an entree soup and seems like it would be especially good with warm naan.

Serves four as a side dish or two as an entree.


3 Tbsp ghee or clarified butter
3 thinly sliced, medium yellow onions
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp whole cumin, ground
2 tsp whole coriander, ground
2 pinches ground turmeric
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 cm slices
2 bouillon cubes (my favourite are Maggi)

1/4 cup ghee
1/4 cup neutral high-smoke point oil (or more ghee)
4 small shallots, sliced as thinly as you can
Green parts of 2 large scallions, thinly sliced

Large saucepan.
Small saucepan (2 cups is perfect).
Wooden spoon or stiff, heatproof spatula.
Small strainer.
Paper towels,
Hand blender.


Heat the ghee in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until very soft. Add the garlic.

Continue stirring almost constantly as onions and garlic begin to brown. We're aiming for dark brown, but not burned, and very aromatic. You don't want super-soft, sweet, caramelized onions, you want the taste of browned onions that are so great with flat-top homefries. But you *don't* want them to burn, so if you're going to err, err on the side of caution.

When the onions and garlic are brown, add the spices and stir for another minute.

Add the carrots and bouillon cubes and stir to combine. As the carrots cook they will release liquid that will keep the onions from overcooking. Once the onions are out of the woods and you're not going to burn them by stepping away, put on a kettle of water to boil.

Continue cooking, stirring frequently but no longer constantly, until the carrots begin to become tender. Pour enough water to cover and cook until the carrots are very tender.

Put ghee and oil over medium-high heat and heat until a drop of water fizzles in the oil immediately. Fry the shallots in batches, fishing them out with a small strainer when they are crispy. Drain on paper towels and season with salt immediately after they're retrieved from the oil.

(I strained and saved the oil, which is now deliciously shallotty. It will be great for eggs, sauteed cabbage, or Burmese cooking.)

When carrots are tender, blend the soup using a hand blender until completely smooth. Season to taste. Serve with scallions and shallots to garnish on the table and let people customize how much shallot vs. scallion they want in their soup.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Impromptu al pastor

Tacos al pastor are delicious. But unless you have a vertical roasting spit in your home, you probably have a hard time doing it justice. (If you have a vertical roasting spit in your home, I am jealous.)

Serious Eats is typically serious about faithfully reproducing the flavour and texture in this in-depth recipe development. But I wanted al pastor on a weeknight. And even with what I came up with we were eating late - but only because I did it all at once. This recipe can be broken down, so I did.

The results are not totally authentic, but pretty good, without so large a time commitment.

al pastor progression

The three stages to this recipe can be broken down to make it doable on a weeknight, as long as you have a bit of time in the morning. Recipe after the break.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Soba and shrimp with broth

No big story here. Just a simple, satisfying meal to recover from indulgence over the long weekend that turned out well so I had to write down what I did before I forget! I will say that it's perfect for a cool spring evening, though.

Soba and shrimp with brothServes 2

One 400g package whole (head on) shrimp
5 cups water
4 fat scallions, white and green parts separated and green parts thinly sliced
Golfball-sized piece of fresh garlic
2 Tbsp shaved bonito
2 pieces (about 2"x5") dry kombu
4 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin

1 package shimeji mushrooms (oyster are a good substitute)
100g sugar snap peas
100g dry soba noodles
2 tsp peanut oil
2 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Salt and more water
Shichimi togarashi to taste

Put 5 cups of water in a kettle to boil. Remove heads and shells from shrimp, clean the shrimp and reserve. Bruise the white parts of the scallions with the back of a knife and whack the ginger with a pan or rolling pin hard once or twice to crush it open. Add heads, shells, scallions, and boiling water to a medium pot. Bring just to a boil and simmer for at least half an hour. The kitchen will smell deliciously shrimpy. Fill the kettle to boil again.

Fish out shells, scallion, and garlic from broth and turn off heat. Add bonito and kombu and steep for 15 minutes. Remove the kombu and strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Rinse and wipe the pot to get rid of any stray bonito, then return the broth to the pot. Add soy sauce and mirin and set aside.

Use boiling water from the kettle to fill a large saucepan, then fill it again to top up. Salt generously and keep at a rolling boil. In another bowl, prepare a large ice bath. Add peas and boil until they are bright green, then remove the peas from the water and dunk into ice water while bringing water back to a hard boil and using the kettle to fill the pot with lots of water to allow noodles to cook evenly. Add soba and cook until just finished (don't let the noodles get too soft!)

While the noodles are cooking, strain the peas, shake dry, and toss with 1/2 tsp sesame oil. Divide peas between two plates and season with shichimi togarashi to taste. As soon as the noodles are finished, strain and pour into ice bath to stop cooking and cool. When they are cold, strain and toss with 1 tsp sesame oil. Divide between plates.

Bring the broth back to a boil while you cook the mushrooms and shrimp. Skim off the foam when it boils - the broth should be dark but clear.

Add peanut oil and 1 tsp sesame oil to a frying pan. Add the shimeji mushrooms and sauté for three minutes. Add the reserve shrimp and sauté with the mushrooms until just cooked. Divide hot shrimp and mushrooms between the plates, placing them next to the cold noodles and peas. Divide the very hot broth between two bowls. Scatter scallion greens over broth and noodles.

Serve with broth on the side, or add the noodles and toppings to the broth as desired.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pumpkin, bacon, Parmesan soup

A few years ago, I made my first pumpkin and bacon soup. You don't have to do much to make it tasty. And you don't have to use pumpkin (one of the tougher squashes to find out of season). My favourite is hubbard, which is also great for dishes like warm squash salad where you don't want much moisture. 

Squash, onions, garlic, bacon, thyme. I ended up complicating it only a bit by enriching the broth with Parmesan, but it's really that simple.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Vegan walnut lettuce wraps

Readers and friends will know that I don't often go the vegan route. I'm more likely to serve a part of an animal you've never thought about eating than imitation meat. But when I saw a recipe for walnut lettuce wraps with jicama slaw and avocado cream, I was intrigued enough to try.

It turns out it's delicious. Prepared this way the walnuts are a much better stand-in for meat than TVP, the avocado sauce is better than soy-based sour cream, and put together the wraps were light and fresh tasting. They'd be good with some quesa fresca, but they were also good on their own.

I'd make two changes to the recipe: drain the jicama before you add it to the other slaw ingredients, and add a bit of cold water to the blender if your avocado cream is too thick.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Watercress and Mahimahi soup

Greetings, friends! It's been a while.

Some time last year I tried making a watercress and leek soup. It was okay, but missing something when hot, even though it was quite tasty cold.

Tonight I decided to give it another go, but with some changes to deal with the fact that I didn't have a few ingredients for the original recipe and wanted to incorporate some protein. The results were much tastier, but still healthy. Rejoice! Then make soup.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ugly Pizzas

My friend Vanessa may have created a monster by introducing me to the 101 Tastes of Ottawa List from Ottawa Magazine. I don't plan to try the whole list (I'm not going to pay for a whole meal at The Whalesbone Oyster House on the off-chance that they will serve browned butter, which I can make at home.) and a lot of it is stupid (Kale?!) but it's a handy guide for narrowing down a lot of things to those worth trying.

Meanwhile, my friend Lucia recently gifted me some smoked ricotta that her parents brought back from Italy.

Sooooo delicious.
Number 92 on the 101 Tastes list is Pingue's Prosciutto (not from Ottawa, but whatever) that can be purchased at a great deli/butcher/grocer/baker called The Piggy Market in Westboro.

I don't know about you, but to me ingredients as delicious as these scream "Pizza!"