Sunday, 28 September 2014

Asian Chicken Soup with Beef Wontons

So, as most of you know, we just finished this holiday called Rosh Hashana, which is just the beginning of a month of nonstop eating (minus Yom Kippur of course).
Don'tya just love it?
I hosted my first Rosh Hashana meal this year, and of course overcooked, but it was worth it.
Since some of you might be interested in ideas for Sukkos cooking (or just in general), I'll share my menu with you.

Challah with crumb topping (basically cake, I make this once a year, SO good)
Panko Gefilte Fish
Smoked Herring (bought from store, for the 'head of the fish')
Beet Salad with Lemon and Dill
Simanim Salad with Spinach, Romaine, Pomegranates, Apples and Dates
Asian Chicken Soup with Beef Wontons (Recipe to follow)
Butternut Squash Kugel
Apple Noodle Kugel
Date Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
Garlic Sesame Green Beans
Eggplant Roulades with Zucchini Stuffing
Cilantro Lime Chicken
Orange Herb Roasted Chicken
Kefta Kebabs with Tehini 
Pumpkin Cake
Mini Apple Pies

This list is exhausting to type out! No wonder I have so many leftovers in my fridge and freezer... But I am not complaining, as this means no cooking basically this whole week :P. 
Now onto the main event, the recipe!

This soup was definitely a showstopper. I have been craving this soup for a very long time. We don't really have good kosher Asian food in Toronto, so I have to get creative. 
When it comes to cooking for holidays, I am not a big fan of the overly traditional recipes- kugel, kreplach, gefilte fish, etc. Not to say that I don't make them, but I like to give them a modern twist. Chicken soup with kreplach is a pretty traditional Rosh Hashana food. Change the flavours around, and now we're talking Wonton Soup! Most recipes I could find online incorporated pork and shellfish. While tasty, those are kind of big no-no's in kosher cooking. I had to take some ideas but basically start from scratch. This soup turned out so delicious and authentic! My friend who has had her share of non-kosher Wonton soup said it tasted like the real thing. It really is a pretty simple recipe, and its really about incorporating the key Asian flavours together to create something extremely delicious!

Asian Chicken Soup with Beef Wontons

1 package chicken bones
2 green onions
Chicken soup powder and/or salt to taste (I know, it's the devil, but it's the secret ingredient and gives the soup more flavour, especially since nothing else is really going into the soup).
Wonton Wrappers (I buy the double package, and used one of the packs which made 30)
1/2 package ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger (I grate it from frozen)
Splash soy sauce
Splash sesame oil

Place the chicken bones and just the green stems of the green onion into a large crock-pot. Fill the crock-pot until almost the top with water. Set on low and cook for 8-10 hours (I opted for overnight; it made my cooking so much easier without having to worry about making soup with 1000 other things to make. When soup is cooked, skim the top of the yucky foamy looking stuff. If you have a chance, bring the soup to a cool and stick in the fridge, and when it's cold, the fat will solidify. If you don't have a chance, do what you can, and it will be fine. Remove the green onion, and have fun picking the meat off the chicken bones when its manageable/not too hot. Return the chicken to the soup. Now, you could also make this soup in a pot, it was just easier for me in a crock-pot, but regardless how counterproductive this sounds, pour the soup into a pot. Season with salt and/or chicken soup powder( I did a little of both). 
Now that your soup is ready, let's focus on them wontons!
You could easily double this recipe and make the whole pack of wonton wrappers, but I was lazy and wasn't having that many guests that I needed 60 wontons. 
In a medium bowl, add 1/2 pack of ground beef (I used medium but I prefer lean), 2 minced green onions (white/light green parts- remember we used the dark green parts for the soup?), minced garlic, minced ginger, a splash of soy sauce and a splash of sesame oil. Sorry, I did not measure my splashes, but they're somewhere between 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp. Mix the beef and seasonings with your hands, and make around 30 tiny beef balls. Get a small bowl and fill it with a little cold water. Open you package of wonton wrappers, and one at a time, dip your finger in the bowl of water, and line the edges of the wrappers with water, and drop a beef ball in the middle. This is where it is helpful to have someone else in the kitchen, because it gets messy with meat-y hands and trying to fold a wonton. If you don't have someone with you, it may be easier to do a few at a time and then wash your hands in between. My husband is an excellent meatball roller- and dropper! Sh'koyach to him! Anyways, back to the folding: fold the wonton in half so it makes a triangle. Then, fold the outer edges in, so that it is almost 'hugging' the meatball. I know this is a little difficult to explain in text, so you will see in the picture how I did it. Make sure you wet where you are placing the edges, so that it sticks together. Now I will mention, this takes some time to do all of these, but it is definitely worth it. When you are done, you will have 30 adorable wontons, as pictured below:

Now comes the next step. bring your seasoned soup to a rolling boil. Carefully, put the wontons in the pot. Let it boil for a few minutes, stirring as you would pasta. When the wontons float to the top, they are ready. I Cut one in half just to make sure it is fully cooked, because I didn't think just a few minutes would cook meat, but it did! 

This is how they looked right after cooking. So amazing. The mistake I made was getting over-excited and cooking the wontons way too early in the day. The wontons did get a little too puffy from sitting in liquid, but regardless, this soup was delicious. The flavour from the meat mixture seeped into the soup giving it just that perfect Asian flair. 

That's all for now folks!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Gefilte Fish Makeover Time!

I'm sure most people's memory of gefilte fish is a round white disc with a carrot nicely plopped on top. Don't forget the chrayonnaise!
Now, not to say there is anything wrong with this classic Shabbat appetizer. Au contraire! I love gefilte fish so much, but I have gotten bored of the same old presentation and cooking technique (boiling being the usual way).
I must say, I can get pretty creative at times!
And desperate to satisfy my creativity, I have thought up some interesting combinations.
Being said, here is a list all the different ways I have made gefilte fish.
P.S. not one of these include boiling :).
These are not all my inventions, some are recipes I have gotten from other people.
Gefilte fish shnitzel (can fool the biggest fish haters!)
Salsa gefilte fish (easy crowd pleaser)
Gefilte fish Crab Cakes
Baked gefilte fish sticks
Matbucha baked gefilte fish
Asian sesame gefilte fish (probably the wackiest idea)
Crispy Corn Flake Baked Gefilte fish
Panko topped Italian gefilte fish
Dill baked gefilte fish

9 different ways!!!

I'll start with posting just one recipe, but will slowly be adding more as the summer comes to an end. Can't believe I'm even saying that!
The problem with posting recipes is I don't measure to begin with, so I have to go by what I remember doing, as being a recipe developer is not my day job. Having said that, my memory is pretty good, so don't worry!
Also, I must note, I only use the sweet gefilte fish because that's the only kind I like!

Crispy Corn Flake Baked Gefilte Fish

1 defrosted loaf Gefilte Fish (the sweet kind! very important!)
1- 1 1/2 cups Corn Flakes
Italian herbs (dried basil and parsley)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Spread defrosted gefilte fish in a glass or Pyrex dish (smaller than 9x13 but still rectangular). Make sure it's not too thin, it should be a good layer of fish. With your hands, crush Corn Flakes over the gefilte fish, in an even layer. I like the corn flakes to still have a good texture, so don't crush them too finely.  Sprinkle Italian herbs, salt and pepper over the crumbs. In hindsight, I forgot that I wanted to drizzle some olive oil on top, so you can try doing this as well to make it crispier, but mine turned out just fine without that addition, so it's up to you. Put the pan in the oven, and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned and fish is firm. Reheats well for Shabbat lunch! Also, now that I think of it, it might be yummy with marinara sauce but that's pushing it!

Note: I didn't grease the pan (because I forgot to) but probably might be a good idea to grease with an oil spray.

What do you think?
Ready for more?

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Tangy Tomato Basil Chicken

Oh, hello there!
It's been a while, but I'm not sorry.
My last post was in October 2013! I have some explaining to do.
I've been very busy, you know, with the usual school, work... oh and the whole getting married bit :).
Planning a wedding and then having a husband take a lot of time and energy, but I'm not complaining!
Now that I'm basically settled and have a few minutes, I want to let you know that I've been doing a lot of cooking! I would like to share a few recipes over the next few weeks that I hope you will enjoy.
This new recipe is something I invented for this week's Shabbos dinner. I have to apologize, I didn't think to take a picture; but you will have to trust me on this! It was so good, easy and flavorful! My husband said it was delicious and couldn't stop eating it!
Bon Appetit! Or as the Italians say, Buon Appetito (or something like that).

Tangy Tomato Basil Chicken

1 package Chicken (I used about 12 drumsticks but you could use whole chicken cut into 8ths)
1 onion, thinly sliced in half-moons
1 Tomato, chopped
3 cubes frozen basil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 big splash Balsamic vinegar (maybe 2 tbsp)
1 smaller splash Extra virgin olive oil (maybe 1 tbsp)
 salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 9x13 glass dish, preferably with parchment paper (helps with cleanup big time!). Lay chicken inside dish, and sprinkle with onions. I keep the skin on, as it keeps it moist, you can take it off after. Put the rest of the ingredients in a bowl with high sides. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth. You can also do this in a food processor or a regular blender. Pour this mixture on top of the chicken and onions. Cover the pan with tin foil, and pop in the oven for an hour. At the end of the hour, crank up the oven to 400, remove the foil and cook uncovered for about half an hour or until it browns nicely and cooks to your liking.
Serve over couscous or rice.


Now, here's a vote- who would be interested in 3 new, different ways to reinvent gefilte fish?