Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

This was surprisingly easy to make, even without a recipe to work from.

Ingredients

  • 2 yellow/white onions
  • 1 lb white or brown mushrooms
  • 1/2 lb other mushrooms (I used shitake and oyster, but you can use what you have/like (not enoki))
  • Butter
  • Thyme, parsley, salt & pepper
  • 1 L chicken stock
  • 1 L beef stock
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup whipping cream

Steps

  • Slice the onions fine. In a large pot on medium-high heat, melt about two tbsp butter and saute the onions until they are translucent.
  • Slice the white or brown mushrooms – size depending on you – I chopped these into a small dice and added them to the pot. Stir frequently.
  • Slice your remaining mushrooms into large chunks and add them to the pot.  You may need to add more butter to keep things from burning.
  • Add some salt (to start drawing the water out of the mushrooms) and pepper and about 1 tsp thyme and 1 tsp parsley. Cook the mushrooms until they are browned.
  • Deglaze the pot with a bit of stock, then slowly (to keep the soup at temperature) add in your stock.
  • Turn soup down to medium-low to simmer for about an hour.
  • Half an hour before you serve, add the sour cream.
    • To temper the dairy before adding it in, put the sour cream in a bowl and then add 1/2 cup of the soup and stir to warm the dairy up. Then pour this into the soup.
  • Then add the (unwhipped) whipping cream, stirring as you do so.
  • Cook until ready to serve. You might like to add some more pepper at this point.

Enjoy!

 

Shrimp Salad (to impress all your friends)

My new year’s resolution is to blog more here – and I have a lot of pics for the 2014 year in review coming up. In the meantime:

Shrimp Salad

Ingredients:

  • One bag of frozen pre-cooked shrimp (find the kind with shells and tails removed; it’s so much easier)
  • Half a medium-sized onion (white or red)
  • 3 celery stalks (washed etc)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dill (dried or fresh)
  • Granulated garlic
  • Red chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon

Steps

  1. To thaw the shrimp in a food-safe and efficient manner, empty the frozen shrimps into a bowl in the sink and run cold tap water over the shrimps until thawed. Drain the shrimp well.
  2. Finely dice the onion and celery.
  3. Chop the shrimp as fine as you want it – it’s nice to have a bit of variety in the shrimp.
  4. Combine in a bowl with two tablespoons of mayonnaise. (You may want to add more later but start small)
  5. Add 1 teaspoon dill, 1/2 teaspoon garlic (or less depending on your crowd), 1 teaspoon chili flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir to combine, then put in the fridge for a few hours.
  7. Just before serving, squeeze over the salad the juice of 1/4 lemon (or more) and add more salt to taste.
  8. Serve on crackers.

The Best French Onion Soup

I was going to make a recipe my mother had, but then today I realized that I didn’t actually have the recipe so I winged it. And oh my, did the fates smile on me today.

The bulk of the work here is done in the oven, so yay!

Soup

Ingredients

  • Butter
  • 3 medium-to-large yellow onions
  • Fresh thyme (leaves from about 10 stalks)
  • 1 cup of cooking sherry
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
  • 1 l beef stock (no salt added)
  • 1 l beef stock (regular)
  • Ground salt and pepper to taste

Total cooking time – 5 hours, but most of it is in the oven.

Preheat your oven to 350F

Peel and slice your onions and place them into oven-safe pot. On top of the raw onions, place four slices/pats of butter. Do not be stingy with the butter.

Place the cover on your pot and put it in the oven. Leave it alone for one hour.

Remove the pot from the oven, and set aside the lid. The onions by this point should be starting to sweat and go limp. Stir, cover, and put back in the oven.

Over the next two hours, remove the pot from the oven every 30 minutes, and stir. When you get close to that third hour, your onions should be browning and caramelizing nicely.

When your onions are caramelized enough, move the pot to the stovetop, and turn your burner on medium-high.

Put the thyme into the onions, and stir. Remember that you only want the leaves from the thyme stalks, not the stalks themselves. What you’re doing now is waking up the aromatics in the thyme.

Now it is time to deglaze your pan. Slowly pour half the cooking sherry into the pan, and stir to scrape the lovely caramelized bits off the pan. Add the rest of the sherry, and then the crushed garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until the pot is bubbling (a few minutes at most).

(If you don’t have any cooking sherry on hand, you can use dry white wine. If you are using wine, you will need to add more salt)

Now it is time to add the beef stock.

(As an aside, I used one litre of unsalted beef stock and one litre of salted as cooking sherry has quite a lot of salt in it. You will be able to add more salt at the end for taste.)

Stir well, turning the burner to high. Bring the soup to a boil, then turn down to low/medium low. You’re going to want to cook the soup down for about an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.

After about an hour, you can start tasting it to figure out how much salt and pepper you want to add.

When it’s time to serve, measure out into bowls and add in the cheesy toasts.

Cheesy Toasts

Ingredients:

For each bowl, one slice of sourdough bread
Grated cheese (gruyere if you have it, or whatever you do have)
Granulated garlic (optional)

First off, toast the bread in the toaster until it’s nicely golden (not browned)

Turn on your oven’s broiler

On a cookie sheet, lay the bread flat, then cover with a healthy amount of grated cheese, and if you’re using it, a dash of granulated garlic.

(Most recipes call for gruyere cheese, but if you don’t have any in stock you can use another cheese like cheddar – gruyere can be expensive).

Broil the toasts, keeping a close eye on them. They are done when the cheese has melted and is just starting to turn golden-brown on the edges.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Put the cheesy toasts on a cutting board and cut them into squares. This will save you from the usual problem with French Onion soup, which is making a mess of things when you can’t cut up your cheesy bread with a spoon.

Carefully slide each toast directly into the bowls (cheese side up, obv).

Time to eat. Be careful do you don’t burn your mouth with the deliciousness.

World’s best Alfredo sauce

I had a dinner party yesterday and made my mother’s very best ever Alfredo sauce. It is incredibly good and very easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 l whipping cream (33%mf)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Half a block of cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated/flaked parmesan
  • A dash of freshly ground pepper
  • A shake  Hot paprika (like 1/16 tsp)
  • Salt (to taste)

Cooking time: 90 minutes or more.

Steps

  1. Add the whipping cream to a saucepan  and turn  the burner on to low.
  2. Crush the garlic clove into the cream and give it a stir.
  3. Cook the whipping cream on low for about an hour, until the cream has reduced to about 3/4s.
  4. Add the cream cheese, the parmesan,  pepper and paprika. Stir.
  5. Keep stirring and cooking on low to medium-low for a while longer, half an hour if you have it.
  6. Add salt and more pepper to taste.
  7. Serve over freshly made pasta.

Baked Egg Cups

A fun breakfast idea.

Ingredients:

  • Whole egg (1 per cup)
  • Thin sliced ham or cooked bacon
  • Cheese (I used old cheddar)
  • Chipotle hot sauce

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Put two slices of ham into personal ramekins in a “cup” shape (ie line the cup with ham). If using bacon, either shape the bacon to the cup if it’s not too cripsy; otherwise break the bacon up and line the ramekin
  3. Crack one whole egg into the ramekin on top of the ham.
  4. Add a couple of dashes of chipotle hot sauce on top of the egg.
  5. (Note that there is no added salt in this recipe – if you’re using ham or bacon, there is already a lot of salt in this dish, and the egg doesn’t need additional seasoning) (well, maybe a little pepper)
  6. Add a few slices of cheese on top of the egg, just to cover the top of the egg.
  7. Bake the ramekins for 16-18 minutes. The goal here is to have the egg white set while the yolk is still a bit running.
  8. Remove from the oven, and eat.

 

 

Taste of Yaletown 2012: Bistro Sakana

This Wednesday, we went to Bistro Sakana in Yaletown for their Taste of Yaletown menu. It was, as always at Bistro Sakana, amazing.

One of the nice things about Bistro Sakana is that it’s fairly reasonably priced for consistently amazing sushi. There’s a lot of attention put into the food and it’s always a fun night out.

Waiting for the food to arrive
Waiting for our food

Wild sockeye salmon miso chowder

Wild sockeye salmon miso chowder
Full of carrots and potato and delicious

and the Platter:

Sample Platter
We didn’t think that we’d have enough to eat – small portions and all, but the soup was filling and the food was a nice variety of flavours.

Wild sockeye jalapeno aburi (box sushi): Sockeye salmon topped with jalapeno slices

Toro red chili aburi (box sushi): albacore toro marinated in Junmai sake and miso, topped with red chili and key lime slivers

Box Sushi
Salmon in front

Teppan roll

Teppan Roll
fresh tomato, Hotate scallop sashimi, fresh bocconcini mozzarella and pesto, sauteed,  served with a drizzle of aged balsamic reduction and virgin olive oil

As an aside, we’ve decided we have to go back and just order Teppan roll in future.

Nasu Dengaku

Nasu Dengaku (Eggplant)
baked Japanese eggplant with aka miso sauce

Ginger citrus Hamachi

Ginger citrus Hamachi
Yellowtail sashimi, layered with pink grapefruit sections, soy-balsamic vinaigrette.

I’m not normally a fan of hamachi, but the citrus and ginger balanced the flavour of the fish.

Chocolate brownie with dark chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream

Chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream

See the entire set on Flickr

Prawns with Spinach

A delicious recipe modified from one in  Indian Cooking for Family and Friends.

Ingredients

Vegetable oil or some other neutral oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tbs tomato paste
1 pound raw prawns, shells removed and well rinsed
Salt to taste
Two large handfuls fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 heaping tsp garam masala
2 tbs cream

Steps

Heat two glugs of oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and bay leaf; stir and cook until the seeds start to crackle. Add the chopped onion and cook for around 10 minutes.

Add the ginger and garlic; cook for another 2 minutes. Add the turmeric and chili powder, stir, then add the tomato paste. You may need to add some water to allow this mixture to cook for a bit (you will want to cook the tomato paste until it has mellowed).

At this point, add a bit of salt to taste. Don’t make it too salty – the garma masala will add much flavour in just a little bit, and you can always add more salt at the end.

Now add the prawns. Stir them in and keep stirring on-and-off for approximately 5 minutes. Add the garam masala.

Turn down to medium heat. Add in the spinach, stir to coat with the mixture, and cover to let the dish steam.

Uncover, add the cream, and stir to incorporate. At this point you can either turn off the heat, or if your dish is a little too wet, cook out a bit longer. Be sure you don’t over-cook the prawns.

This can be served with rice, although I ended up accompanying it with a rustic sourdough toast.

Mmm taco: We go to La Taqueria

Today: tacos!

We went to La Taqueria! The new one on Cambie.

La Taqueria menu!
La Taqueria menu!

 

Authentic Jarritos Mexican sodas
While we were waiting, we had las sodas. Mexican Soda. Mmm

 

Tacos!
Mmm TACOs (l-r: Asada (beef flank), Carnitas (pork confit), Pescado (fish) and Tinga de Hongo (vegan mushroom))

 

Salsas!
Salsas!

The only thing wrong? The salsas weren’t labelled, so it was a bit of an adventure on which was which.

The place was totally packed, but hopefully that was just Friday night. The kitchen staff was stupid busy but on top of things, and it was nice to see the executive chef keeping an eye on things.

I look forward to going back.

And because tacos weren’t enough, we went to Marble Slab afterwards. Which was a bad idea because, well, ice cream.

Marble Slab
The Marble Slab man does his Marble Slab thing

 

Bananas Foster
Bananas Foster: Vanilla ice cream with bananas and caramel

And then I came home and fell over.