Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Peking Duck at Gourmet Garden was an excellent idea! I only wish i'd had my real camera...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The pound cake of your dreams

This recipe comes from my granny, Ruth Cox. She got the recipe from a friend at a bridge party, long ago. How come no one plays bridge anymore? This cake is heavy, literally and figuratively.
Here's the recipe, in my granny's words:
Sponge Pound Cake
3 sticks butter (or 2 butter and 1 marg)
6 eggs
1 box powdered sugar
1 box (powdered sugar box full) of twice sifted flour (cake flour)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Cream butter, add sugan, then eggs, beating well after each. Add flour, then vanilla, using slow speed of mixer.
Bake in greased and floured large tube pan in 300 degree oven for 2 hours.
Invert on to rack leaving pan over cake till it drops onto rack then cools.
**Laura's notes: You should make sure everything is at room tempurature before mixing! Also, as you can see from the picture, you can also bake this in two loaf pans. Just shorten the time to about 50 minutes. You can also sprinkle powdered sugar on the cake if you want to gild the lily.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup: It'll cure what ails you

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup:
I know it looks like a long recipe, but if you have everything out, it really isn't hard. It is yummy and fairly healthy, and it keeps and you can reheat it. It's better than boring regular chicken noodle soup. And in all fairness, I didn't invent this, this is pretty much a recipe from cooking light, but I made a couple (tiny) changes.

First take:
2-3 chicken breasts
Boil them until they are no longer raw. Then REMOVE THEM FROM THE WATER, BUT DON'T DUMP THE WATER OUT. Chop up the chicken. (Or you can skip this and just use 2-3 cups already cooked chicken, like those cute little rotisserie chickens from the grocery store. In which case, start the next step with 4 cups boiling water).

Then take:
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 lb or so snow peas
and put these in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. The spinach will wilt and the snow peas will turn a slightly brighter green. Remove these and drain in a colander, then put them in a big bowl, but once again DO NOT DUMP OUT THE WATER!

Now take:
1 package of rice sticks/pad thai noodles (the wide ones, fettucine-width, NOT angel hair-
Put these in the ever boiling water for about three minutes, then drain (now you can dump the water). Put them in the bowl with the vegetables. They will form a clump in a few minutes and you'll think you ruined them, but don't worry - they'll loosen back up in the soup.

Now heat over medium-high in a big pot (all the soup will end up in it):
1 Tbs vegetable oil

2-3 thinly sliced shallots, or frankly, 1/4 sliced regular onions
2-3 tsp red curry paste (comes in a little jar next to soy sauce etc. in most grocery stores)
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Saute these for a minute or so, and stir, stir, stir

Now add:
6 cups chicken broth
Let it come to a boil, then add:
1 can coconut milk
Reduce the heat, simmer 5 minutes

Now dump the chicken in and add:
4-5 chopped green onions (green and white parts)
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs fish sauce (nam phoc, i think. Again, check with the various asian sauces, or go to an
asian grocery store and get some. It is cheap and it keeps, plus it's a key ingredient for pad
thai, so there you go. I use the brand with the picture of three crabs on the front, if anyone
Handful chopped cilantro OR several cubes of frozen chopped cilantro, which they sell at
trader joe's and are very handy, especially if you don't love cilantro (Tip: too much cilantro
tastes like soap!)

Cook for a couple minutes to let all the flavors blend. Now, taste it and add salt if it needs it, which it will unless you used really salty broth.

Last of all, dump in the clump of noodles and vegetables. Stir it around to loosen up the noodles. Squeeze in a lime and add some Sriracha sauce (has a picture of a rooster on it, if that helps) or other hot sauce i guess would work.

Garnish the bowl with dots of sriracha and lime wedges, if asthetics mean anything to you.


Ok, you could easily substitute tofu or shrimp for the chicken. You could also sub the broth for vegetable broth. You could toss in some chunks of peeled lemongrass, then take them out before serving. You could probably get away with adding a little rice vinegar in place of lime juice if you didn't have limes. And you could add a bunch more and/or different vegetables. Basically if you have the spices, the fish sauce, the curry paste, and some kind of broth, you could throw in whatever, and it would probably be pretty good. You could likely substitute the noodles without anything dire happening, too.