Category Archives: Soup

Moroccan Carrot Soup


Back in March, Collin and I purchased our very first home together.  It was ragged, beaten down and was practically obliterated by termites.  The woman who owned the house before us lived here for over 40 years and never did a single update.  I want you to imagine that — original wall paper and carpet, stove tops and ovens from back in the 70s, we even found a hoover vacuum cleaner back from the the 60s, and not to mention that the doors and walls had deeply yellowed with age.  It was just plain awful.

But together we saw something in this house: potential.  We knew with a little lot of hard work, we could make this into something liveable, something beautiful, something we’d be proud to call our very first home.  Finally now after 6 months, we’ve finished: new walls, new kitchen, new paint, new floors…the list goes on forever.  And let me tell you, it’s freaking fantastic.  As a way to celebrate our achievements, I’ve decided to throw a housewarming party this Saturday — complete with a roast pig, a keg, and plenty of food but most importantly sharing our new home with our family and friends. 

In many ways this house has become representative of my personal struggles these past couple of years.  Since graduating college two years ago it has been a challenge to figure out what direction I wanted to take in my life, especially career wise.  At my lowest point, I felt like this house the way we first found it: dark, in shambles, and completely unorganized.  However, with time, ample searching, commitment and hard work I’ve found my niche in cooking, photography and piano and slowly but surely I’m begining to feel myself flourish.  I wouldn’t be here if Collin didn’t notice my potential and continued to push me to strive for my dreams, what once seemed like an impossible feat has now become my gorgeous reality. 

We completed the very last project, the deck earlier this week and we couldn’t contain our excitement and wanted to put it to use right away. I made this hearty, comforting to the soul bowl of Moroccan Carrot Soup to perfectly compliment our cool Fall nights we’ve recently been having (finally Texas!!!!).  We spread out a blanket, lit a few candles and basked in the aromas of cumin and fresh wood as we had our soup in silence.  Collin laid back on the blanket, closed his eyes and let out a huge long sigh — “I can’t believe we live here, we have the best house in the world.” 

Indeed we do my love, indeed we do.

From Epicurious

Ingredients for Moroccan Carrot Soup:(serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 pound large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 2/3 cups)
  • 2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred to loosen
  • Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Mix in carrots. Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes; cool. Finely grind in spice mill.

    Remove soup from heat. Puree in batches in blender until smooth. Return to same pan. Whisk in honey, lemon juice, and allspice. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle yogurt over; sprinkle generously with cumin.

    FoodBuzz 24,24,24,: Awesome Rawsome – A 5 course Raw Food Dinner


    As celebration of FoodBuzz’s new Healthbuzz section, I wanted to discover the mysteries of the Raw Food diet.  This month, FoodBuzz selected my proposal for 24,24,24  I decided to invite a group of my friends and together we explored the beauties of eating raw through a 5 course meal. Does that sound Awesome Rawsome?  I think so.

    This was probably one of the most challenging menus for me to think of — I mean eating RAW? I am use to the heat of the kitchen, the sounds of oil sizzling in a pan but no, not this time.  One of the main rules of eating raw is nothing is cooked above 118F, any temperature above that will begin breaking down the natural enzymes in fruits and vegetables. Now many of you are thinking — So what? but because of the degradation of these enzymes, it forces our bodies to generate the enzymes necessary to digest cooked food. Our bodies are unable to produce enzymes in perfect combinations to metabolize our foods as completely as the food enzymes created by nature do. As a result, starches, proteins and partially digested fats can cause blockage to your body’s intestinal tract and arteries leading to health challenges such as high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke.

    I used Raw, a cookbook written by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein, as guidance through my exploration of raw foods.  They included this example about Eskimos and their raw diet:

    The Eskimos are a remarkable example of the transformative power of enzymes.  The word Eskimo means one who eats raw. While living for centuries on a diet that consisted primarily of raw whale or seal blubber, Eskimos developed no arteriosclerosis and experienced almost no incidence of heart disease, stroke, or high blood pressure.  Established nutritional doctrine would predict a high rate of these ailments given the diet, but even blubber will digest itself completely if it is not cooked since its enzymes are intact.  Once you heat even the finest olive oil above 118F, you will not be able to digest it completely.  More important, many authorities believe that eating cooked foods depletes our finite enzyme reserve.  Proof of this effect is that an eighty-five-year-old has only one-thirtieth the enzyme activity level of an eighteen-year-old.  In other words, your enzyme reserve is slowly exhausted over a lifetime of eating cooked foods.”


    I found this compelling, I never thought about the importance of eating foods raw.  I mean in my mind, raw food meant leafy salads and those party veggie trays, — food isn’t meant to be eaten raw, right?  I guess that’s why I had so much fun with this proposal I had to think of a 5 course menu consisting of all raw foods, made in different ways and in clever combinations to make my guests say — Wait, this is RAW? I could eat this!

    To do this, the most important thing would be to pick good quality produce and discovering the beauty of fruits and vegetables in their natural state and using them in way that would enhance their flavors. An interesting fact I also learned when reading Raw, was our bodies’ struggle with digesting unsprouted nuts and seeds — nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors that prevent them from sprouting into a plant or tree; however, if they have been sprouted (soaked in water), these enzyme inhibitors will degrade and then our bodies are able to digest them naturally.

    Maybe it may not be practical to say– I will eat raw for the rest of my life! In the society we live in today many of us are not able to do that.  However, I’m going to make a personal commitment to improve the quality of foods I place into my body.  Maybe as a start, I’ll start eating raw a couple nights a week, or making my meals half cooked and half raw either way, incorporating raw foods into my daily diet would never be detrimental to my health and would only improve it.  Our health is one of the few things we are able to control in our lives through daily practices of healthy eating habits and exercise; our bodies will take care of us if we take care of it.

    In all of the food we eat, (fruits, vegetables, meats), there are natural food enzymes that are present in their raw state.  These enzymes are a perfect combination and fit to help our bodies digest it completely.  Enzymes act as catalysts for every metabolic reaction in our bodies: cell division, energy production, brain activity, which are essential to our mental and physical well-being.

    “Nature in her never-ending perfection sees that all food, whether flesh, fruit, or vegetable, decomposes and returns to the earth from which it came.“ Roxanne Klein


    Menu for Awesome Rawsome

    Appetizer

    Gazpacho Granita

    relish of cucumber, red and yellow bell pepper and red onion

    Soup

    cream of corn soup with tomato basil lemon oil

    Salad

    heirloom tomatoes with arugula served with lemon tahini

    Entrée

    jicama ravioli with avocado crema and southwestern corn slaw

    Dessert

    watermelon medallions served with a tropical salsa in a chilled mango soup

    Ingredients for Gazpacho Granita: (serves 4 to 6)

    Granita

    • 2 pounds ripe sweet tomatoes, peeled
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1 garlic clove
    • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
    • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
    • ¾ tsp salt

    Dressing

    • ¼ cup cold pressed olive oil
    • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

    Salad

    • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
    • 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
    • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
    • ½ red onion, finely diced

    To make granita: Quarter tomatoes and puree in a food processor with sugar and garlic. Strain puree through a sieve to discard seeds. Stir in basil, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Let mixture chill in refrigerator at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

    Pour the granita mixture into a wide and shallow container, such as a stainless steel baking dish (the shallower the container, the quicker the granite will freeze). Cover with a lid, foil, or plastic wrap. Freeze the mixture 1 to 2 hours, until it is solid around the edges.  Take the container out of the freezer and scrape the ice with a fork, mixing it from the edges into the center.

    Repeat this scraping and mixing process every 30 minutes or so (at least three times) until the entire mixture has turned into small, sequined ice flakes.  When ready to serve, scrape with a fork to loosen the granita and spoon into serving dishes.

    To make dressing, whisk together all ingredients until blended.  To assemble salad, in a large bowl combine all ingredients; add dressing and toss to coat.  Spoon granita on center of serving dishes.  Arrange salad evenly around each.

    Ingredients for Cream of Corn Soup: (Makes 4-6 servings)

    • 4 cups sweet corn kernels
    • 2 cup filtered water
    • ½ avocado
    • Celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper

    Place ingredients in a large bowl and using a blender or hand held blender, puree until it is a smooth consistency.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove skin of kernels and taste with salt and pepper.


    Garnish for Corn Soup:

    • ½ cup sweet corn kernels
    • ¼ cup julienned jicama
    • ¼ cup microgreens
    • 4 tsp tomato basil lemon oil


    Ingredients for Tomato Basil Lemon Oil:

    • ½ pound ripe tomatoes
    • 1 ½ cups cold pressed olive oil
    • ¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • ¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes
    • 2 tsp lemon zest


    Slice the tomatoes in half crosswise (through the equator) and gently squeeze out the seeds; discard them.  Working in a large bowl, rub the cut sides of the tomatoes across the large holes of a metal grater so that the flesh is coarsely grated but the skin remains intact in your hand.  Discard the skin.

    Combine the tomatoes, oil, basil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a large bowl.  Place at room temperature for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, before using.  Strain and spoon the oil off any juices into clean, dry jar.  The oil will keep in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month  Bring to room temperature about ½ hour before serving.

    To assemble soup, pour corn soup into bowls and garnish with jicama and corn mixture.  Drizzle with tomato lemon basil oil and top with microgreens.

    Ingredients for Heirloom Tomatoes with Lemon Tahini: (Makes 4-6 servings)

    • ½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
    • Zest of 2 lemons
    • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • Salt
    • 8 medium heirloom tomatoes, washed and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
    • 3 cups Arugula
    • 1lemon,, thinly sliced, for garnish
    • Freshly ground pepper


    In the bowl of a food processor, place tahini, half the lemon zest, and lemon juice; pulse to combine. With the motor running, add 7 to 8 tbsp cold water and continue to process until mixture is thick and smooth. Add salt to taste, and refrigerate until cold.

    Bring tahini to room temperature.Place arugula on a large platter and arrange tomatoes on top in a tight overlapping pattern; drizzle half the tahini over the tomatoes.  Scatter remaining lemon zest on top.  Tuck lemon slices around and between tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Serve remaining tahini on the side.

    Ingredients for Jicama Ravioli: (serves 4-6)

    • 1 ½ medium-sized jicama, washed and peeled
    • 3 cups raw walnuts, sprouted
    • 1 tsp garlic
    • 1 tsp chile powder
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Finely chop the walnuts and mix with chile, cumin powder and salt pepper to taste. Set aside. Take peeled jicama and cut into paper thin slices using either a sharp knife or mandoline.  Place in a large bowl of water with some fresh lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

    Ingredients for Corn Salsa:

    • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
    • ¼ cup jalapenos, seeded and minced
    • ¼ cup red onion, minced
    • 1 tsp cilantro, minced
    • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and taste with salt and pepper.

    Ingredients for Avocado Crema:

    • 1 ½ avocado, pitted
    • ½ cup filtered water
    • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
    • ½ tsp garlic, minced
    • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Puree and strain ingredients into a large bowl, adjusting the consistency according to your preference–  if it’s too thin add more avocado, if it’s too thick add more water.  Adjust the flavors to your taste.

    Take jicama slices and using a round cookie cutter, cut into desired sizes.  Lay one jicama round and spoon walnut mixture in the middle and top with another jicama slice.  Make 3-4 per plate and top with Corn Salsa and Avocado Crema.  Serve immediately.

    Ingredients for Watermelon Medallions in a Chilled Mango Soup: (serves 4-6)

    • 4-6 Watermelon pieces cut into 4″ rounds 2″thick

    Slice watermelon into 2″-thick slices and using a 4″ round cookie cutter, cut out 4-6 rounds.  It would be preferable to use seedless watermelon so it is easier to eat for your guests.

    Ingredients for Chilled Mango Soup:

    • 3 Champagne Mangoes
    • 1 ½ cups filtered water
    • 1 tsp agave
    • ½ vanilla bean

    Peel and slice the mangoes, discarding the pit, and place in a large bowl with water and agave.  Using a blender or hand held blender, puree ingredients until nice and smooth.  Scrape vanilla beans from the pod and allow soup to chill for at least an hour.  To make mango stars, pour some of the mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze for 1-2 hours.


    Ingredients for Tropical Fruit Salsa:

    • ½ pineapple, small-diced (about 2 cups)
    • 1 mango, small-diced (about 1 ½ cups)
    • ½ vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 Tbsp ginger, crushed
    • 2-3 cinnamon sticks

    Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and allow fruit to macerate/marinate overnight. You may add a little agave or honey if the fruit is not sweet enough.

    To assemble the dessert: place watermelon rounds in bowls and spoon chilled mango, filling bowls ¾ of the way.  Top with tropical fruit salsa and garnish with mint and frozen mango ice cube.

    Cream of Potato Soup with Jalapeno Oil & Neiman Marcus Popovers with Fresh Strawberry Butter


    You guys will not believe the weather we are having in Dallas.  For the 17 years I’ve lived in Texas I have never seen this much snow, a record breaking 12.5 inches of snow in a 24 hour period.  INSANE!!  We had a transformer blow out last night and the power went dead, thankfully we were able to seek shelther at Collin’s parents.  Thank goodness for family 🙂

    We woke up early this morning and built an 8 foot snow man!  Actually it was more Collin who built the entire 8 foot body and I sculpted the face :).  I was off taking pictures and I turned around and what do I see?  Collin rolling a gigantic snow ball around the front yard that sat almost as tall as my shoulders… I was concerned as how he was going to get the midsection on there, which weighed at least 200 lbs.  Thankfully with a family full of big Polacks (sp?), Collin and his dad moved it on there just fine.

    It’s been years since I’ve built a snow man, and never one of such massive proportions (Which I have my intense fiance to thank for that)! 🙂 On our way back to our house this morning we saw streets decorated with all different types of snowmen of all shapes and sizes, it was truly adorable.

    With weather like this I felt nothing could be better than warm bread and soup.  This classic cream of potato soup recipe can be dressed up in several different ways.  You can add bacon or sour cream, or perhaps some smoked chicken and cheddar cheese?  I decided to add some heat and drizzled it with some Jalapeno oil to give the soup an extra kick!

    The popovers are to die for.  I had my first popover experience when Collin’s father took us out for dinner over the holidays and the restaurant had served them as starters.  They were warm and had a crunchy outside but a warm and chewy inside.  The recipe I am using is Neiman Marcus’, they suggest using a their popover pan, which I recommend using if you have it, but if not you can use a muffin pan.

    Ingredients for Cream of Potato Soup with Jalapeno Oil:

    (serves 4)

    • 8 medium sized potatoes, cleaned peeled and cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 jalapeno, top discarded and thinly sliced
    • 2 small leeks, white part only, washed and finely chopped
    • 4 shallots, finely chopped
    • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
    • 2 carrots, washed, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 celery washed and finely chopped
    • 4 cups of chicken broth or water
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1 teaspoon white pepper
    • salt pepper to taste

    Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter starts to foam.  Add the leeks, celery, carrots, onion and shallots along with some salt and cook over gently heat for 5-6 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.  Add the stock and potatoes, bring back to the boil, then lower the temperature to a simmer and cook slowly for 10 minutes.  Puree the soup in batches in a blender.  If you’d like you can pour the soup through a metal sieve.  Heat the pureed mixture and cream in a pan, check for seasoning and taste with salt and pepper.

    Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until oil slightly smokes.  Add the sliced jalapeno and allow to sautee until oil is fragrant and jalapenos are softened, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour oil mixture through sieve.  Set jalapenos aside for garnish.Divide the soup among four bowls and add a generous dash of black pepper.  Drizzle with jalapeno oil and add jalapeno slices.  You can also serve this soup with some crostinis as I have.  You simply slice a baguette into 1″ pieces and brush with a butter mixture.

    Ingredients for Crostini Butter mixture:

    (for about 12 crostinis)

    • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 1 shallot, minced
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced

    Mix ingredients together in bowl and brush onto sliced crostinis.  Bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until bread is golden brown.

    “The key to making great popovers is having the eggs and milk warm before mixing.  It is also important to let the batter sit for an hour before baking it.  Popovers do not freeze well, and pre-made batter has a tendency not to work properly the next day.”

    Ingredients for Neiman Marcus Popovers:

    (about 2 dozen popovers)

    • 3 1/2 cups milk
    • 4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 5 large eggs, at room temperature

    Preheat the oven to 450F.

    Place the milk in a bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until warm to the touch.  Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl.  Crack the eggs into the work bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until foamy and pale in color.  Turn down the mixer to low and add the warm milk.  Gradually add the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  Turn the machine off and let the batter rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

    Spray a popover tin or muffin pan generously with nonstick spray.  Fill the popover cups almost to the top with the batter and place the popover tin on a cookie sheet.  (If you are using a muffin pan, fill every other hole because the bread will puff up when baking).  Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Turn down the oven temperature to 375F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes longer, until the popovers are a deep golden brown on the outside and airy on the inside.  Turn out the popovers and serve hot with strawberry butter.

    For Neiman Marcus’ recipe they used strawberry preserves, I actually used fresh strawberries and 1 tablespoon of agave syrup.  I have cut down the quantity of butter so the following recipe makes about 1/4 cup of strawberry butter.

    Ingredients for Fresh Strawberry Butter:

    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1 cup good-quality strawberry preserves (I used 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, chopped)
    • 1 tablespoon of agave syrup (I added this)

    Place the butter in a bowl with minced strawberries and syrup.  Beat on high until lught and fluffy.  To serve, spoon or pipe the flavored butter into a plate or bowl.

    If you have leftover strawberry butter it goes great on toast or any type of bread you may have lying around.  It am sure it is great with preserves, but the butter is SO fragrant when I made it with fresh strawberries, I recommend that everyone tries this recipe.  It is so ADDICTING!!

    I hope everyone has a great weekend.  I am off to ice a cake for a special someones birthday that is coming up!  🙂  Stay tune on Monday for a very special birthday dedication post for a very special lady!  In the meantime, everyone stay warm eat lots and be merry!!!

    p.s.

    Our 8 foot snowman 🙂

    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!


    Glad to be back — I have been out of commission for the past week due to a gallbladder infection…ick.  December has been a riot thus far, first bronchitis then the gallbladder infection — thankfully the new year is only a few days away so I will be leaving all bad ju-ju behind. 🙂

    I reviewed my resolutions from last year and realized that I have again only achieved a little less than half of my goals so this year opposed to making long-term goals (Running a 10K) I’ve made short-term, easier to reach goals (Run 1 mile/day for 5x a week).  One of my main goals for this year is to lead a healthier lifestyle, through exercise, a proper diet, and a peaceful spirit.  Seeing that I am only in my twenties and I frequently deal with malfunctions with my immune system, the only logical response would be to keep my body in better condition —Your body is your temple…


    What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions?
    I had a wonderful Christmas — I redecorated my kitchen so now it feels more like a real kitchen opposed to a small cramped horrible mess. I’ve been having a BLAST with my favorite present of all — my new Sony alpha 550 dSLR camera, all thanks to my one and only of course :)!! One of the upsides of being sick was being able to spend plenty of time with Collin’s family and grandparents (Hi Pearl!).  We spent time playing cards, watching movies, playing video games and of course, eating.

    I did not have much time to cook but I did make this delicious soup from a leftover ham bone that Collin’s dad gave me!  Perfect for the weather we’re having here in Dallas, can you believe that it’s actually snowing? Anyways, the trick to making this soup delectable is making a stock out of the ham bone first — this is easily done by placing the ham bone and scraps in a large pot of water and simmering at a medium low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours with some onion, a bay leaf and for this stock I used turnips and carrots as well.

    I always love using leftover bones, especially ham bones and chicken carcasses — they always make such a savory broth.  By keeping your broth at a low medium heat (the soup should be at a very slight boil), it slowly draws out the proteins (flavor) from the bones, thus ending in a rich decadent broth.  Because I am using mostly root vegetables in this soup, I simply used the scraps and remains of turnips, carrots, rutabagas and onions and later strained them out of the soup — this will add body and character to your broth as well. After straining your broth, don’t forget to reserve the ham meat for the soup!

    Ingredients for Winter Vegetable Soup:

    (serves 8-10)

    • 8 cups ham broth (see directions above)
    • 1/2 cup cauliflower, cut into small florets
    • 1/2 cup carrots (I used baby carrots), diced
    • 1 cup cabbage, thinly shredded
    • 1 medium rutabaga, peeled and diced 1″
    • 2 turnips, peeled and diced 1″
    • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon cream
    • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
    • 1 tsp white pepper
    • salt and pepper to taste

    In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil at medium heat.  Place the onions in the pan once oil is heated and begin the “caramelization” process.  It is important to cook the onions at the prefect heat, do not burn them, it will ruin the flavor completely!  The key to caramelization is gradually cooking the onions down so that the sugar slowly begins to oxidize, producing a nutty and sweet flavor.  The onions will slowly turn a pale yellow, then eventually a rich brownish yellow or caramel color.  Once it reaches this state, remove from heat and set aside.

    Meanwhile, heat your ham stock at medium heat in a large deep bottomed pot.  Add the cabbage and rutabagas and turnips and cook for 30 minutes, or until very soft.  Next add the carrots and cauliflower and cook for an additional 20 minutes.  By adding vegetables in at different times, it will give your soup a range of texture opposed to soft goopey vegetables at the end.  Since cabbage, turnips and rutabagas tend to taste better when cooked very soft I chose to add them first, then kept a slight firmness and crunch through the carrots and cauliflower.

    Add the cream and white pepper along with the caramelized onions, and cook for an additional ten minutes — season with salt and pepper to taste.  I cannot stress this enough, always add salt at the end of cooking soups, this helps keep the delicacy of the broth as well as avoiding the common sin of “over-salting” food.  I like to add salt literally pinches at a time, and taste after each addition until I achieve what I feel is the best flavor.  I always say its better to undersalt food than oversalt it! Garnish with some fresh parsley and you are ready to go 🙂

    Aaaah, nothing hits the spot like a good hearty vegetable soup — many thanks to my neighbor Michael for the beautiful cauliflower, it was by far the best one I’ve had all year.  The best part about soup is that it tastes even better after sitting in the fridge for a couple days, all the flavors marinate and develop into full and rich broth.  For once, leftovers taste better than they did initially!

    This will probably be my last post for this year, I am looking forward to the New Year — I have good feelings about 2010 🙂  I hope everyone has a very safe and Happy New Year, see you next year yall!!!!!

    Steamed Black Bean Chilean Sea Bass with Hot Ginger and Scallion Oil


    While I was home, my gracious mother sent me back with this beautiful cut of Chilean Sea Bass.  OH the wonders of sea bass, this has got to be my favorite kind of fish.  Everything about it is perfect — the rich buttery flavor and firm texture of the delicate flaky meat are all reasons why I would eat this fish every day if I could.  I hear that it is becoming “over-fished” which breaks my heart because it sure is a delicious piece of fish.  I’ve never tasted anything close to the wonders and perfection of Chilean Sea Bass, so one can only imagine my excitement and joy when my mother gave this to me.

    I decided to fix this fish in a traditional Cantonese style by steaming the fish first and right before serving, pouring very hot oil over ginger and scallion pieces.  The hot oil poured ontop makes the flavors of the ginger and scallion SO fragrant, and blends together beautifully with the precious juices from steaming the fish.

    Ingredients for Steamed Black Bean Chilean Sea Bass: (serves 3)

    • 3 x 6oz Chilean Sea Bass fillets
    • 3 tablespoons Chinese Black Bean Paste
    • 1/3 cup fish stock (juices from steaming)
    • 3 tablespoons Shao Hsing Rice Cooking wine
    • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup olive sesame oil mix – 1/2 olive oil 1/2 sesame oil
    • 1/4 cup ginger, matchsticks
    • 1/4 cup green scallion, matchsticks

    Place seabass in heat proof bowl and place 1 tablespoon of Black Bean paste on each fillet.  Place bowl on steaming rack in a deep large pot with 6 inches of water for steaming.  Pour cooking wine and soysauce over the fillets and allow the fish to steam at medium high heat for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.  You can test the doneness of the fish by using a toothpick or chopstick to pierce the meat, if it goes through it is done, if there is much resistance continue steaming for an additional 5 minutes, repeat until desired result is reached.

    Remove fillets from pot when ready, and set fillets aside.  Retain the liquids from the bowl that the fish was steamed in and transfer to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Pour stock over fillets and place cut ginger and scallions on top.  Meanwhile, heat your oil mixture in another small saucepan and when almost smoking, remove from heat and quickly pour over scallion and ginger mixture ontop of fillets.  Serve immediately.

    It is important to make sure that your oil is very hot before pouring over the fish, or else the ginger and scallion flavors will not be released into the broth.  This is such a simple way to prepare a good quality fish because the flavors are not over powering and compliments the sea bass’ flavors, allowing it to stand on its own.

    I also prepared a fish soup to go along with this dish — I couldn’t bear to throw away any scraps of the sea bass and in my opinion, fish stock is probably one of the most rich and intoxicating stocks there is! It is rich in “umami” flavors and always soothing to the belly.  Oh..and did I also mention that my heater is currently broken in my apartment?  Cold fingers = sad panda. So having this soup not only warmed up my tum but my hands and body as well 🙂

    Ingredients for Fish Soup:

    • Fish bones and scraps
    • 2 large slices of ginger
    • 2 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
    • 1/2 yucca, peeled and sliced
    • 1/2 cup tofu
    • chopped green scallions for garnish
    • salt to taste

    In a medium pot, place the fish scraps and bones along with the ginger and shiitake mushrooms and fill to the top with water.  Allow stock to simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Add the yucca and tofu last and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until yucca is soft.  Add salt to taste and garnish with green scallions.

    You can choose to strain the soup, or when eating it just be aware of the bones!