Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hot and Sour Soup

Our first attempt to convert a hot and sour soup recipe was OK, but not great. It tasted a bit bland and under seasoned compared to our memory of the original recipe. We jotted down a few ideas for improvement and tried again this week. This time the soup was deliciously flavorful and spicy - comfort food for a rainy Friday night.

Hot and Sour Soup - serves 4 (<400 mg sodium per serving)

4 c organic low sodium chicken broth
~1/4 lb mushrooms (we used baby bella and shitake), sliced
1 small can bamboo shoots, sliced into matchstick size
1 1/2 T ginger root, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T  low sodium soy sauce
1 t hot pepper flakes
1/2 lb pork tenderloin, cut into bite sized strips
2 t sesame oil
2 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3 T Chinese black vinegar (or substitute 1 T balsamic and 2 T red wine vinegar)
2 T cornstarch
1 egg
1/4 t salt

Season pork with salt (very lightly) and pepper. Drizzle with the sesame oil. Lightly brown the pork in a dutch oven over medium heat, working in batches. Remove and cover (the pork does not need to be cooked through at this point). Set aside.

Add garlic and ginger to the pot and saute about 1 minute. Add stock, soy sauce, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, red pepper flakes, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Add pork and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes.

Mix vinegar and cornstarch in a small bowl. In another small bowl, beat the egg. Slowly pour in the beaten egg, stirring constantly. Stir in the vinegar and cornstarch. Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes, until soup begins to thicken. Stir in scallions just before serving. Top with cilantro and a dash of sriracha sauce if desired.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Braised Beef Burritos with Tomatillo Salsa

PDM came up with this recipe to improve our beef burritos, which were always tasty but sometimes a bit on the chewy side. The braising method tenderizes the meat and adds to the flavor, plus it makes a nice sauce that can go into the burrito with the other ingredients.

Braised Beef Burritos - serves 4 (~400 mg sodium per serving)

1.5 lb skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat and cut into skillet sized slabs
cumin powder
cayenne powder
chile powder
black pepper
garlic powder
1 T canola oil
1 cup beef broth (low sodium if possible)
1 medium onion, sliced into half rounds
1 T unsalted butter
Tumaro's Gourmet Tortillas - multigrain, low in carbs variety
Mexican shredded cheese blend
Tomatillo salsa (recipe below)
Hot sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 300 F. Sprinkle the skirt steak slabs liberally with cumin, cayenne, and chile powder. Dust lightly with black pepper and garlic powder. (See photo below.)

Sear seasoned beef in oil, working in stages using a cast iron dutch oven or oven-safe skillet over medium high heat. Remove and set aside. Add broth to pan and use wooden spoon to deglaze the pan and incorporate the fond into the liquid. Return the beef to the pan, cover, and cook in oven for about one hour. Turn the meat over half way through the cooking time, and add enough water to keep the liquid level about halfway up the side of the meat.

During the braising time, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add onion slices and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to carmelize (~30 minutes).

Remove meat from braising liquid, transfer to cutting board and slice into small, bite-sized pieces. Meanwhile, reduce the braising liquid over medium heat on the stovetop until it is about 1/3 of the original volume. Return chopped beef and any juices to the pan, toss and saute briefly, and remove pan from heat.

Steam or heat tortillas topped with cheese until the cheese melts and tortilla is softened. Fill with beef mixture, carmelized onion, hot sauce and tomatillo salsa; wrap and serve.

Tomatillo Salsa

3 tomatillos, diced into medium cubes
~1/3 medium onion, diced medium
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced
juice of 1 lime
1 t sugar
1 t cumin powder
2 T minced cilantro

Saute tomatillos 3-5 minutes until softened. Drain excess liquid and allow to cool. Add the remaining ingredients, mix and refrigerate until ready to use.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Orechiette with Cannelini Beans & Spinach

We had a busy week, so this week's new recipe was from one of our cook books. We did not make any substantial changes other than to omit the salt and use organic low sodium vegetable broth, which has much less sodium than the usual kind. I could not find no-salt-added cannelini beans, so I bought the normal kind and rinsed them thoroughly to remove as much sodium as possible. Since this is NOT an original recipe, I will simply cite the source and tell you it was very tasty. We'll definitely make this again.

Gourmet Meals in Minutes by The Culinary Institute of America, Lebhar-Friedman Books, NY, 2004, page 264.  ISBN 0-86730-904-0

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lamb Vindaloo

Lamb Vindaloo (serves 6-8)

Whole spices:
4 dried Arbol chiles, seeded and cut into coarse shreds
2 T coriander seed
2 T cumin seed
1 T peppercorns
1 T cloves
1 T mustard seed
1 stick cinnamon, cut into 1-inch lengths

Dry Spices:
1 T turmeric
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T cardamon
(If you can get your hands on whole cardamom pods, grind that with the whole spices.)

1 cup yogurt
1 T sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 t salt (or salt substitute)
2 lb lamb sirloin, cut into cubes

1 potato
1 onion
3-6  finger hot (serrano) peppers (how hot do you like it?)
~10 cloves garlic
~equal amount minced ginger root
14oz can diced tomatoesoil
chopped cilantro for garnish

Dry saute whole spices to toast, then grind. Add powdered spices. Mix with yogurt, half of lemon juice, vinegar,  sugar, and salt. Marinate the lamb pieces in this mixture for at least 1-2 hours (overnight if you can).

Dice potatoes and lightly fry in oil, set aside to drain. Remove about 1/2 - 1/3 of lamb from marinade, scraping off excess liquid, and brown in batches in a large Dutch oven or heavy stockpot (goal is to build up a good fond); set aside.

Add onion and hot peppers and saute for about five minutes, or until onion begins to brown. Add garlic and ginger, saute one minute more. Add tomatoes, scraping up fond to incorporate with liquids. Add potatoes and all of the lamb, and bring to a simmer.  Cook 30-45 minutes until liquids reduce.

Remove from heat, and stir in remaining lemon juice.

Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.

Less than 300 mg sodium per serving.