Pho real

Who doesn’t love a good noodle soup??

Not too many people I know have heard of Pho. I had no idea what it was until a friend of mine made it for lunch one afternoon. This delicious Vietnamese noodle soup is one of my favorite international dishes. It’s simple to make, reasonably inexpensive, and very tasty. The traditional way to make it is much more complex that the recipe I’ve created.

Pho is usually served with beef (pho bo) or chicken (pho ga). This soup includes rice noodles and is often accompanied with basil, mint, limes, and bean sprouts for a garnish. If you love soup I highly recommend you give this recipe a shot.  I’ve included the full recipe and the shortened recipe if you are on a budget or time limit.

Ingredients:

A.)   Broth

–          5 pounds beef marrow or knuckle bone.

–          2 pounds Beef chuck

–          2 pieces of ginger, cut thin, slightly charred

–          2 Yellow onions, quartered and peeled, slightly charred

–          ¼ Cup fish sauce

–          3 Tablespoons sugar

–          5 Whole star anise, lightly toasted

–          2 Cinnamon sticks

–          1 Tablespoon salt

 

B.)    Alternative Broth

-Substitute Beef broth from the store instead of making your own.  Include all other above ingredients minus steps 1 and 2.

C.) Noodles

– 1 package Rice noodles, soaked in warm water

-1/3 pound Beef sirloin, slightly frozen, sliced thin across the grain

D.) Garnish

1/2 Yellow onion cut paper thin

1 Bunch Cilantro, rough chop

1 Can bean sprouts

Basil, chiffonade

3 Each limes, cut in wedges

Preparation:

-In a Large stock pot, add in beef broth, cover and bring to a boil.

-While the broth is slowly coming to a boil char the onions and ginger.

-Once the broth has come to a boil add in onions, ginger, fish sauce, and sugar.

-Simmer for about 1 hour

-Wrap spices in a cheesecloth and add in bouquet  to broth and let infuse until fragrant, about another 30 minutes.

-Discard the spices and onions

-Add salt and continue to simmer.

-In a serving bowl add in noodles and very thinly sliced beef.

-Add in boiling broth.

-Add in preferred garnishes

-Enjoy!

The Hot liquid will cook the beef. Beef must be thinly sliced, if not beef may not fully cook in the liquid not to mention sirloin can become tough if not sliced thin enough.  I found it easier to freeze it slightly prior to cutting. You can use any cut of beef, most recipes call for sirloin. You can also substitute chicken or have no meat at all just vegetables.  Brandon and I just happened to have marrow bones left over from dinner a previous night so I added that to the broth as well. Other popular garnishes for the soup are scallions, hot sauces, chilies, Asian basil, and mint. If you decide to make your own broth, preparation instructions are below in a link.

                           

Source: “The foods of Vietnam” by Nicole Routhier

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/232434

Advertisements

Anytime chili

The Year was 1998 and the Gresbach family was all gathered around the television watching Superbowl XXXII: Greenbay Packers and Denver Broncos. With my family being from Wisconsin, this was a very big game for us. Although Denver defeated the packers in a 31-24 final, it was still a great game and another wonderful evening spent with my family.

During halftime my grandpa always had chili waiting hot on the stove along with all the toppings of sour cream, shredded cheddar, and chives alined on the counter in front. I don’t know who he got the recipe from or how he makes it but it is the best chili i’ve had. I think about that chili every day and think of all the football games and gatherings my family had when chili was the entree.  Needless to say you don’t need to wait for a superbowl or cold winter weather to make a steaming hot pot of chili.

Traditional versions of chili are made using chili peppers, garlic, onions, and cumin. The addition of ground beef is sometimes used depending on culture. Variations on geographic or personal reasons may include beans and tomatoes as well. After years of messing around with chili recipes, I’ve put together a recipe everyone will enjoy.

What you will need:

-1 Small yellow onion, small dice

-1 Stalk celery, small dice

-4 Cloves garlic, chopped

-1 15 Oz can red kidney beans, rinsed

-1 15 Oz can black beans, rinsed

-1 4 Oz can chopped green chili’s

-1 28 Oz can tomato sauce

-1 Tablespoon Sambal

-TT Cumin

-1 Teaspoon chili powder

-1 Teaspoon Cayenne powder

-TT Salt and pepper

-1 packed smoked sausage (Omit if vegan)

Preparation:

-Turn oven on to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat a large sauce pot with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.

-Once hot, saute vegetables and garlic until translucent. Approximately 3 minutes.

-Add in beans, and Tomato sauce followed by seasonings and sambal until desired taste. Stir to combine and cook over low heat stirring often for 1 hour.

-While that is cooking, cut sausage on the bias and line on a sheet tray covered in foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

-When sausage is ready add it into the chili and continue cooking for one hour.

– Serve immediately with toppings of your choice.

-Enjoy!

The seasonings in this chili can be tricky. I didn’t put up specific measurements because with my taste I prefer mine spicier. If you are unsure start with 1 Tablespoon of each and adjust flavor from there. Go light on the chili powder and cayenne because flavors continue to develop throughout cooking and those two are powerful together and may cause your chili to become too spicy. If you don’t have any dry chili in your pantry you can substitute chili sauces such as Texas Pete or Franks. Lastly, I prefer to use tomato sauce because the beans soak up a lot of the liquid throughout cooking getting it to the perfect consistency.

Agua Fresca

Agua Fresca

One good thing about working in kitchens is the amount of diversity you come across with your co-workers. It is typical that in most kitchens there is someone of mexican discent working. since working at the Greenbrier, I have worked with many passionate and food driven chefs and I have never worked anywhere else where I have seen so much creativity. One of the chefs in our kitchen is crazy about making this fruit drink just about every day for our family meal. I finally went up to Armando and asked him what the deal is with him making these delicious and refreshing drinks. He told me that this melon water or Agua Fresca is a very popular drink in Mexico. Traditionally when they drink water they add any fruit of choice preferably watermelon  for a delicious flavor. I did some research on this tradition and according to the Hawaiidiner.com, this beverage literally translated as “fresh water” is a drink made from what ever fruit is in season and usually has a sweetener such as sugar added to it. You will find these drinks all over Mexico on the street or in restaurants and the distinct fruitiness balances very well amongst Mexican cuisine. This beverage can also be see in the Philippines.
I watched Armando prepared this tasty beverage one day and asked if it was okay to copy the recipe and add it to my blog.  You can use any fruit you like, we prefer to use compressed melons such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. We compressed them due to the fruit we received this year not being as sweet as it should be therefore compressing it in simple syrup added great sweetness to it.

To make you:
-Add into a blender or vita prep any kind of fruit cut into small chunks up to the top. For this recipe we used all three melons as mentioned above.
-Add in 1 cup lemon juice
-Add 4 oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, cooked down)
-Add in small handful mint leaves (optional)
-Blend together
-Strain though a fine mesh strainer or chinoise
-Serve over ice and enjoy.

You can also add in berries if preferred for additional flavors. This is a very delicious and light refreshing beverage. Goes wonderful with hot/spicy foods, and great to enjoy on a hot summer day.

Pictured above is an example of how to start the beverage with adding everything into the blender prior to blending.

Drunken Cheese

The fun part of working in an Italian restaurant is the use of as much authentic Italian food as possible. One of the garde manager menu items, that is common on most menus is a cheese plate. There are many varieties of cheese in the world as I’m sure most of us know, and it seems every time I’m around a cheese cooler in the store I’m finding another cheese I’ve never seen or eaten before. I was introduced to a wonderful Italian cheese the other day called Ubriacone cheese. It is translated in Italian to “drunken”. When I first picked up the cheese I was curious because the color was a pale yellowish gold and it almost looked like Parmesan Reggiano by the texture. I was confused by a cause of a dark purple rind that smelled like wine. I took a bite and sure enough the first thing that came to my mind was this would go excellent with a glass of Pinot Noir. Ubriacone (Ubriaco) is from the province of Treviso in Italy and made from raw cows milk. This young cheese is soaked in local wine, both red and white then covered with crushed grape skins, seeds or stems left after from the wine making process (wine must) and then allowed to mature for six to ten months. The cheese is then pierced with tiny holes to let the flavor and aroma of the wine permeate the cheese. As mentioned above it is covered with grape leaves to keep mold from entering the holes of the cheese. Ubriacone has a hint of pineapple and a slight nutty taste. The texture is firm and slightly crumbly similar to Parmesan. If you are a wine lover like myself, this cheese would pair well with medium bodied wines and sweet or sparkling wines such as Prosecco. You can buy this cheese online at http://www.dibruno.com for $12.99 / 8oz.

Peppermint Meringues

It’s that time of the year with Thanksgiving being a few days away and Christmas to follow shortly after that. Everyone is back into the swing of things with pulling out their favorite holiday recipes from entrees to desserts.

As most people do most of the same cooking every year I decided to try something different. I spend most of my day cooking and when I’m not cooking on my days off I like to try baking instead. I’m no pastry Chef but I do love the challenge of trying something new with recommended recipes or something I’ve come across in a magazine. This year I decided to try meringue cookies. A college room mate of mine loves the vanilla meringue cookies from Trader Joes and back in college we would always have a box waiting in the kitchen as an after class snack. I always thought about making my own except I never got around to doing it. I figured given the winter season it would be good to try making a cookie with a peppermint flavor that would pair well with another seasonal treat like hot chocolate.

Making a meringue is not hard by any means. It’s all about whipping egg whites to the right peak, but for whatever reason it took me 3 times to make before the meringue came out perfect. From my experience some recipes that you find in a magazine don’t always work out at all because you don’t know how well tested or proven they are. using my knowledge of food I was able to figure out what I was doing wrong to finally accomplish the proper texture I was looking for. If you’re a fan of mint and meringue, I encourage you to try this recipe for yourself. They are a wonderful after dinner treat and something to snack on while drinking hot chocolate. You can use a different flavor of extract if you don’t like peppermint.I added red food coloring into the meriunge before piping to give a candy cane effect.

 

Ingredients:

-3 Large egg whites

-3/4 Cup sugar

-1/8 teaspoon peppermint (or other flavor) extract

-1/8 teaspoon salt

 

Method of Prep:

-Set oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit

-On medium-high speed whisk egg whites and salt together until a foamy white color appears, approximately 1 minute.

-Add in sugar at 3 different times, within 2 minutes of each other until soft peaks form

-Add in extract and combine for 1 more minute.

-Grab a piping bag and insert round piping tip

-Fill piping back with meringue and pipe onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

-Set in oven until dry, roughly 1.5 hours

Enjoy!

The final result