Improv Challenge: Fish and Chips (Fried Fish-Shaped Chips)

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are fish and chips.

Sounds a bit limiting as challenge ingredients, doesn’t it? My initial plan was to make a traditional fish with a beer batter and chips. Then… Kristen sent out the update, making this challenge a bit more interesting!

“Fish can, of course, be any real fish like tuna, snapper, salmon, tilapia or trout, but you can also use Swedish fish, or any fishy crackers/pretzels or fish shaped bread from Pepperidge Farm. Chips can also be the traditional homemade thick cut fries, but feel free to use anything that is a chip: potato, tortilla, sweet potato, veggie, chocolate, butterscotch, etc.”

This opened up so many more possibilities! This month, I decided to go with something simple yet fun. I played with the idea of fish-shaped food… and because the second half of this challenge was to include chips… I made fish-shaped chips! This is a great way to change up your every-day chips.  And I’m sure these chips would be a fun activity if you have children helping you in the kitchen.

Fried Fish-Shaped Chips

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • Oil for frying – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Draw an oval on a small piece of paper.
  2. Fill in the details showing where you need to cut to make a fish shape.
  3. Preheat a frying pan with enough oil to shallow-fry the potatoes.
  4. Set the paper near your cutting board as a reference.
  5. Slice the potato so you have several large oval-shaped pieces.
  6. Follow your diagram to cut the potato slice into a fish shape.
  7. Use a chopstick (or similar tool) to poke a hole in the potato where you would like the fish’s “eye.”
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 for each of the oval slices.
  9. Cut the unused pieces of potato into bite-sized pieces.
  10. Salt the potato pieces.
  11. Fry the fish-shaped potatoes and bite-sized pieces in batches so as not to overcrowd the frying pan
  12. Turn the potatoes once when about half-cooked (after approximately 5 minutes).
  13. Continue to fry until cooked through (about 10 minutes total, depending on the thickness of your chips).
  14. Remove from oil.
  15. Allow chips to drain on a paper towel.
  16. Serve hot and enjoy!

Makes 4-6 fish-shaped chips and bite-sized chips (approximate cost: $0.53 per serving).


My previous Improv Challenge contributions include:

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Creamy Asparagus Soup

For those of you who follow regularly, you might be a bit confused just by the title of this post. Creamy soup? What is she doing? I thought Amber was lactose-sensitive?

Well, turns out I can have milk… I just had to shop around for the right type! How exciting is that?!

I still can’t have most dairy. I still have to be careful when eating out, asking if and how much dairy is in a dish. I still have to politely decline milk products when visiting friends. But, when I cook at home… I can have as much as I want! I’ve been enjoying a glass of milk with my breakfast every morning… just because I can. Seriously, I didn’t realize how much I missed copious amounts of dairy in my diet until I found a way to enjoy it again.

Guernsey cows — the blurry one was trying to lick me as I took the picture!

(This is yet another post that was a long time in the making… I started drinking milk again in late February and have been cooking with it regularly since about April.)

So, what makes this milk different? It comes from a different breed of cow: the Guernsey (most milk comes from Holstein cows), and it is A2 grade (most milk is A1). The Bovine‘s article “Mercola advocates raw milk, discusses A1 A2 beta casein in connection with autism, diabetes, heart disease, etc.” gives a good explanation of the differences between A1 and A2 cows:

The type of proteins in milk, and the proportion of various proteins, varies depending on the breed of cow and the type of animal (sheep, goat, cow, etc.).

One of the major proteins in cow’s milk is casein, the predominant variety of which is called beta-casein. In older breeds of cows, such as Jersey, Asian and African cows (called A2 cows), the beta-casein contains an amino acid called proline.

In newer breeds of cows like Holstein (A1 cows), however, the proline has mutated into an amino acid called histidine.

[T]he proline that exists in A2 cows has a strong bond to BCM-7, which helps keep it out of the cows’ milk. The histidine in the newer A1 cows, however, has a weak hold on BCM-7, which allows it to get into the milk, and also into the people who drink the milk.”

Guernsey Cow

Back in February, I visited an A2 Guernsey cow farm. The farmers showed me around, explained their product, and shared delicious samples with me. They even insisted I wait around for at least 1/2 an hour so I would be somewhere comfortable if I had a negative reaction. So kind of them! After a wonderful experience, I signed up to buy a share in the herd of cows. I now get my milk straight from the farm. (Which I LOVE visiting… the cows are docile and let me pet them, the farm dog is friendly and always greets me enthusiastically, a few of the barn cats are friendly, and I love to look at the gorgeous horses) The benefit? I enjoy dairy and no longer fear the consequences of accidentally eating a bit too much. I am confident that I will not be ill when consuming milk products.

Sylvester the Barn Cat — this handsome little guy LOVE attention (and the camera)

I’m excited to make and share family recipes that I had given up for the last 10 years or so! 😀 Today I’m sharing my family’s Creamy Asparagus Soup recipe.

And I’m going to share a little secret… we usually make this with the “scrap” pieces of asparagus. That is, when we cook asparagus, we save the ends that we snap off for this soup. I like to buy an extra small bunch of asparagus so we can reserve a few spears to make a pretty garnish. However, this is not necessary if you don’t like a smooth soup. This is a great way to use up something that would otherwise go to waste.

Please, please, please share any great recipes you have that use a large amount of dairy products. I’m so used to cooking without milk, I find it hard to come up with anything but soups. I need more ideas of delicious milk-based foods that I can now enjoy without worry!

Creamy Asparagus Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken broth – approximate cost $1.25
  • 4 cups asparagus pieces, spears reserved – approximate cost $2.50
  • 2 cups whole milk – approximate cost $2.66
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add the asparagus pieces (reserve the spears if you would like to use them to decorate your soup later).
  3. Cook the asparagus in the broth for 7-10 minutes (the broth should reduce by about half and the asparagus will be very tender).
  4. Allow the asparagus and broth to cook slightly.
  5. Move asparagus and broth to a blender and add half of the milk (1 cup).
    1. Note: An immersion blender is not ideal for this soup because you will need to strain it.
  6. Blend until smooth.
  7. Pour the asparagus through a fine strainer back into the soup pot.
  8. Press the asparagus gently to help release the liquid from the tough pieces. Be patient, this can take a while!
  9. Discard the pieces in the strainer.
  10. Turn the burner on medium-low.
  11. Add the remainder of the milk (1 cup), sea salt, and black pepper.
  12. If you reserved any asparagus spears, add them now!
  13. Cook the soup until it is steaming.
  14. Serve hot with crostini pieces or your favourite sandwich.

Makes 2 large servings (approximate cost: $3.28 per serving).

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Asian-Inspired Bean Sprout Salad with Citrus and Soy Dressing

Whew! I’ve made it through yet another exam season. Grad school is a bit different, we tend to have large research papers to hand in. I’m relieved to be done course work for a few weeks. And am working on a few other projects before the spring term begins. One is a research project I’ve been working on for a little over a year. It’s nice to see it coming together! The other is an event for game enthusiasts: Make a Game or DIY Trying. We’ve invited local speakers who work in the game industry to talk about their careers and will host a design competition in the afternoon. I’m looking forward to taking a few days off next week to relax before the next set of classes start.

With everything coming to an end for the term, Bryan and I took the evening of April 23rd off to celebrate our 9 year anniversary! 9 wonderful years. It sounds like a long time. It hasn’t felt all that long.

Us at Bryan's convocation -- there are very few pictures of us because I'm usually the one holding the camera

Us at Bryan’s convocation — there are very few pictures of us because I’m usually the one holding the camera

Anyway, we were both quite busy during the day, but were able to spend the entire evening together, starting with dinner at our favourite restaurant, Taka! It’s on the opposite side of the next town (near where I grew up), but is always worth the trip! The family that manages the restaurant is very generous, they always greet us with enthusiasm, give us appetizers on the house, which usually means we go home with leftovers. Yesterday was no different. Warm welcome, fantastic and friendly service, delicious food, and enough leftovers for a quick lunch today. We then headed home for a quiet evening. We’ve been watching Game of Thrones (I got the DVDs for my birthday a while back) and watched the final episode of season 2. We can’t wait for season 3 to finish and come out on DVD!

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a salad that I’ve been making a lot recently that we’re both very fond of. The idea for the salad is based off of a recommendation from a friend. It’s very easy to make and surprisingly filling!

Asian-Inspired Bean Sprout Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bean sprouts – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1/2 cup watercress – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen edamamae beans – approximate cost $1.50

Method

  1. Cook edamamae beans according to package.
  2. Soak hot edamamae beans in an ice water bath.
  3. Rinse the bean sprouts and watercress.
  4. Pat dry.
  5. Combine bean sprouts, watercress, and edamame beans in a large salad bowl.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Top with Citrus and Soy Salad Dressing.
  8. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Citrus and Soy Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine) – approximate cost $0.15
  • 3 teaspoons Kikkoman soy sauce – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing glass. 5.75
  2. Mix well.
  3. Pour over salad (before the oil and citrus separate).

Makes 2 meal-sized servings (approximate cost: $2.88 per serving) or 4 appetizer-sized servings (approximate cost: $1.44 per serving).

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Nana’s Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

This post is for my childhood best friend and her mom. I know you’ll be reading this and you’ve wanted to know the “secret” macaroni and cheese recipe for a while now (I put sectret in quote not because this recipe is secret… but because it’s one of those things I had to be in the kitchen to learn, there wasn’t a written recipe for a while). This recipe is my progress so far at imitating Nana’s Macaroni and Cheese Casserole. It’s not quite as delicious as hers (yet). She jokingly told me last weekend that hers tastes better because of the added love. 🙂

To me, this is my all-time favourite comfort food. It reminds me of my childhood. When I was in grade school, Dad would pick my brother and I up from school during lunch hour and we would go visit Nana and Boppa (I had trouble saying Papa as a toddler and the nickname “Boppa”stuck). Nana always had a fantastic meal ready when we arrived. We ate lunch, visited, and Dad dropped us back at school on his way to work. Back then, I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have a home-cooked meal every day. And to spend time with my family at every meal.

Nana’s repertoire seemed endless, I remember homemade soups (chicken noodle, cream of asparagus) and sandwiches (grilled cheese made with a sandwich press, ham, turkey, hot chicken with gravy). Lunch was rarely the same two days in a row.

My favourite was always the Macaroni and Cheese Casserole. This was Dad’s least favourite meal, so Matt and I would beg Nana to make it. And she would.

I miss those lunches. But it’s a fantastic memory! As we grew up, we went to different schools, Dad was moved to an office that was further away, and eventually Nana decided to move. We still try to get the family together on weekends for dinner when possible.

Over the years, I’ve tried my best to learn from Nana and imitate the recipe. You see, it was originally my Great Grandmother’s recipe and it had never been written down. Interestingly, Nana tells me that she and her sisters each have their own way of making the recipe. And each of them insists theirs is “just like mom’s” The differences are minor: the tenderness of the pasta before it is added to the casserole, the topping, the way you prepare the cheese, and whether or not you include the liquid from the canned tomatoes…

I hope to learn to make more family recipes, but this is the one that I hope to perfect soon!

Nana’s Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried macaroni noodles – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1 sleeve salted top crackers – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1 796 mL can of whole tomatoes, undrained – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 egg – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 cup milk (the type of milk has changed over the years, I currently use whole milk or 2%, Nana uses Skim or 1%) – approximate cost $1.33
  • 250 grams of medium cheddar cheese, cubed – approximate cost $3.50
  • 250 grams of medium cheddar cheese, shredded – approximate cost $3.50

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  3. Add the macaroni noodles.
  4. Boil the noodles for HALF of the recommended time (Nana calls this “parboiling”), about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water.
  6. Add the noodles to a large mixing bowl.
  7. Drain the liquid from the tomatoes into the mixing bowl with the noodles.
  8. Dice the tomatoes into small pieces.
  9. Add the tomato to the noodles.
  10. Add the cheese cubes and shredded cheese.
  11. Mix until well-combined.
  12. Pour the noodle mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  13. Add the milk, egg, sea salt, and black pepper to the now empty mixing bowl.
  14. Mix the milk and eggs until well-combined.
  15. Pour milk mixture over the noodles (The noodles should be just covered, and it’s ok if a few tops of the pieces are not submerged. Add a bit extra milk if needed).
  16. Put the salted-top crackers in a plastic bag.
  17. Use a rolling pin to crush the crackers into fine crumbs.
  18. Sprinkle the cracker crumbs over the noodles, making sure to completely cover any exposed noodles so they do not dry out.
  19. Bake for 1 ½ hours (the edges should be slightly browned and the topping golden-coloured)
  20. Remove from oven.
  21. Allow the casserole to stand for 15-20 minutes on the counter.
  22. Serve and enjoy!

Makes about 8 servings (approximate cost $1.40 per serving).

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Hummus and Vegetables

Back during the summer, my best friend and I had an evening together. Most of the time, we get together as couples. I don’t remember why it was just the two of us, but it’s what made the evening memorable. We ate homemade hummus (Bryan’s least favourite snack), chatted, and made an impulse decision to go to Dairy Queen at about 10:30pm. I was really impressed with her homemade hummus and ate way too much of it. I was even more surprised when she told me that it was very easy to make. (Put all of the ingredients in a blender, combine, and enjoy!)

The next day, I got a call saying that the hummus tasted even better the next day. The flavours had a chance to meld.

This recipe is my attempt to re-create T’s hummus. I made it based off my memory if the ingredients she told me to use. Adding a bit of this and that until it tasted right. I even took some of the finished product to work and allowed my co-workers to taste test. I’m thrilled to report they thought it was pretty good!

I like to serve hummus with vegetables (carrots, radishes, celery, etc.), but it’s also great with pita  chips.

Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 x 540 mL can of chickpeas, ¾ of the liquid drained – approximate cost $1.25
  • 5 tablespoons tahini – approximate cost $0.75
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice – approximate cost $0.50
  • 4 cloves of garlic – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  2. Process until chickpeas are smooth in texture.
  3. Pour into a serving bowl.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours so the flavours meld together.
  5. Serve with a side of fresh vegetables such a mini carrots, radishes, celery slices, green pepper slices, etc, and/or pita chips.

Makes 2 lunch-sized servings (approximate cost: $1.50 per serving) or 6 servings  (approximate cost: $0.50 per serving) as a snack.

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Side Dish: Spicy Green Beans with Garlic

Again keeping with my theme of things I can make quickly, our other side dish is another staple around here. Spicy green beans! The beans are not too spicy, just a bit of heat to make this dish more interesting!

The green beans were the least stressful part of the entire meal! Again, this is a side dish that I make regularly and knew would turn out well. Usually, I’ll use frozen green beans for this recipe. But, because it was a special occasion, I opted for fresh green beans.

The night before, I trimmed the beans and put them in a bowl of cold water. In a separate container was the butter and chopped garlic. And the spices were on the counter, ready to add on a moment’s notice. It was that easy. Best of all, everyone enjoyed them!

Spicy Green Beans with Garlic

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh green beans – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 tablespoons butter – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Trim the green beans.
  2. Heat the butter and grapeseed oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the minced garlic when the butter is melted.
  4. Cook garlic until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  5. Add the green beans, sea salt and cayenne pepper.
  6. Cook until beans are bright green but still crispy.

Makes 3 servings (approximate cost: $0.88 per serving).

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Side Dish: Roasted Potatoes with Fresh Thyme

I tried to keep our Thanksgiving dinner relatively simple, prepping some everyday foods, like these roasted potatoes, with a few fancier items.

The majority of the dinner was prepped the night before so I could simply put the food in the oven when I got home from work and entertain instead.

Last week, I shared the Deviled Eggs appetizer (which was all prepped the evening before, and the yolk mix was piped into the eggs moments before serving). Delicious, but our guest was not a fan. Not a complete disaster though, because Bryan loved these deviled eggs and was more than happy to eat the leftovers as a snack for the next few days. And there was still more than enough food, No one would go home hungry.

This week, I’m sharing another dish that was a near disaster… the roasted potatoes. I make roasted potatoes at least once a week. I change up the herbs and spices frequently. However, it’s safe to say that roasted potatoes are a staple around here. How could I mess up something that I make so often you ask? Well… it was my need to prepare everything the day before that almost made me panic (ok, I panicked, but only briefly).

When I pulled my prepped potatoes out of the fridge to pop into the oven, they had turned a bluish-black colour! They looked terrible and I was sure that they had somehow gone rotten in the time since I sliced them to the time I wanted to cook them. I didn’t have any extra potatoes left in the fridge and our guest had already arrived. I thought I was going to have to toss out this side dish. I wanted to cry. Instead, I searched the Internet to see if I could salvage my side dish. Good thing I looked around for an answer because sites such as e-How let me know that this happens, how to avoid it, that it’s still safe to eat the potatoes, and that the unappetizing colour will fade with cooking. Phew! Disaster avoided.

While everything turned out alright, I wouldn’t repeat this time-saver. Slicing potatoes doesn’t take all that long and the black colour didn’t fade from all of the potatoes, so in the future I won’t prep roasted potatoes ahead of time, I’ll slice them and toss them in the oven immediately. I wasted much more time looking for answers on the Internet about the potato situation than I had saved by prepping the dish.

Roasted Potatoes with Fresh Thyme

Ingredients

  • 9 small red potatoes – approximate cost $1.50
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash the potatoes.
  3. Cut the potatoes into quarters (or bite-sized pieces).
  4. Mince the fresh thyme.
  5. Combine the potato slices, thyme, sea salt, black pepper, and grapeseed oil in a baking dish.
  6. Toss the potatoes until well coated in the oil and spices.
  7. Bake for about 40 minutes (or until tender when pierced with a fork), turning occasionally so all sides are crispy.

Makes 3 servings (approximate cost: $0.72 per serving).

Monday Link Parties

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Everyday Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Tomato and cucumber salad is a staple in our home. We enjoy it at least once per week. More often in the summer when fresh vegetables are cheaper. We served this salad along with the hanger steak last week.

I posted a fancier version of this salad when we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. However, I wanted to share this version as well to reinforce that healthy and hearty salads don’t necessarily have to be expensive.

Because it’s summer, we’re eating salads more often than usual. Not just because the ingredients are cheaper this time of year, but also because it’s too hot to be cooking in the kitchen for a long time! Throwing a salad into the mix (instead of cooked vegetables) means less time making the apartment unbearably warm.

One of the nice things about preparing this salad in separate bowls is that we can choose our own salad dressing. Bryan generally opts for the balsamic vinegar. Lately, I go for an apple cider vinegar (prior to that, I would use lemon juice) .

While we love this salad, but I’m looking to branch out and make a few more type of salads. Not just to try something new, but to make sure we don’t get bored of this one!

What’s your favourite summer salad? Please share links to your favourites!

Everyday Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 English cucumber – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 package of mixed tomatoes (grape cherry, etc.) – approximate cost $2.50
  • 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Slice the cucumber bite-sized pieces and divide into two bowls.
  2. Slice the tomatoes in half and divide evenly into two bowls.
  3. Pour 1 1/2 teaspoons of desired vinegar over each serving.
  4. Sprinkle each serving with ¼ teaspoon of sea salt.
  5. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $1.73 per serving).

Come share in the tomato love at the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange, hosted by Gimme Some Oven & Bake Your Day.  Also visit Recipe for Change to learn more about how to support tomato farmers.

Pad Thai from Relish Cooking Studio

When you think of Thai food, Pad Thai is probably the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, when I mentioned that I had attended a Thai cooking class many of the responses were “Did you learn how to make Pad Thai?!” Yes, I did learn.

Will I be making it at home? I’m not sure. Maybe if I have a Thai-themed dinner at some point I will attempt this at home. I’m not very good at stir-frying in large quantities, so maybe I’ll make half the recipe the first time I try to make it myself.

A few things I took away from the course are that Thai food doesn’t take a long time to cook, but takes a very long time to prep. And the noodles can be a bit finicky (the water needs to be boiled first, tap water isn’t hot enough for soaking the noodles).

If you’re adventuresome enough to make Pad Thai at home, this recipe was delicious!

Pad Thai

Recipe by Akeela Rabley from Relish Cooking Studio

Ingredients

  • 1/2 package of Thai rice stick noodles – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/3 cup boneless, skinless chicken pieces (or super firm tofu if you’d like to make this dish vegetarian-friendly), cut into strips – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 1/2 cups Chinese chives, chopped into 1 inch pieces (optional) – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 1/3 cups bean sprouts, rinsed well (optional) – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 egg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/2 pound shrimp (optional) – approximate cost $5.00
  • 1 shallot, minced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.30
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tamarind paste – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or palm sugar) – approximate cost $0.10
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper, dried and ground – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons roasted, unsalted peanut pieces (optional) – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 bunch of Thai basil – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Boil water in a large pot.
  2. Remove from heat and add dried noodles to the water (noodles should be flexible and still fairly solid after soaking, if the noodles are over soaked, they will become soft and mushy).
  3. In a wok (or large pot), heat the vegetable oil on high heat.
  4. Add the shallot, garlic, and chicken (or tofu) and cook until the chicken is browned and cooked through.
  5. Drain the noodles and add to the wok (stirring frequently so nothing sticks).
  6. Add the tamarind paste, sugar, fish sauce, and chili pepper and continue stirring. (Note: If there is a lot of liquid in the bottom of the wok, it’s not hot enough and turn the heat up!)
  7. In a separate frying pan, scramble the egg and remove from heat.
  8. Fold the scrambled egg into the noodles.
  9. Test the noodles (if the noodles are chewy, they’re done! If the noodles are crunchy, add a bit of water to cook them).
  10. Add the shrimp and stir.
  11. Add white pepper, bean sprouts, and chives and continue stirring for anther another minute or so (the noodles should be soft, dry, and very tangled).
  12. Pour generous amounts onto serving plates and garnish with peanuts and black pepper.
  13. Serve hot with a lime wedge and Thai basil on the side (Optional: have additional raw bean sprouts and Chinese chives available as garnish).

Makes about 4 servings  (approximate cost: $4.15 per serving).

Egg Drop Soup

I usually avoid cooking Asian foods at home. The recipes often call for a variety of exotic sauces and spices that I don’t keep on hand. That, tied in with the perceived complexity of the recipes usually discourages me from even trying.Last week, I came across a recipe on The Kitchn for Egg Drop Soupthat looked so simple I had to try it for myself. It really was easy to make! From start to finish, I think it took 20 minutes to prepare (and I might even be over-estimating!).egg drop soupWe needed a quick dinner with a few leftover in case our guests were hungry when they arrived. Our friends assured us they weren’t hungry, but a few hours later one of them gave the soup a try, saying they just wanted a small taste. As I filled the soup bowl, he commented that it would be way too much because he wasn’t very hungry. When we cleared the table, the bowl was empty. As you can imagine, I was very glad that our guests enjoyed the dish as much as we did.This soup is so simple and tasty that it could easily be served as the main course on a busy weeknight or as an appetizer when you have guests.

Egg Drop Soup

Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chicken broth – approximate cost $4.00
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch – approximate cost $0.10
  • 8 large eggs – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons red miso – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/2 package of firm tofu, diced into bite-sized pieces – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 bunch bok choy, thinly sliced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 8 teaspoons of sesame oil – approximate cost $0.20
  • 2 teaspoons of white pepper – approximate cost $0.10

egg drop soup

Method

  1. Pour the chicken broth into a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add miso and soy sauce. Stir until miso dissolves.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium-low (so the mixture simmer for 15 minutes)
  4. Taste and add more soy sauce as needed.
  5. Add the tofu pieces and bok choy slices.
  6. Whisk together the eggs in a small bowl and add the remaining teaspoon of cornstarch to the eggs. Mix well until there are no powdery lumps. Set aside briefly.
  7. In a separate bowl or cup, combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with a small amount of cold water. Mix well until there are no powdery lumps.
  8. Slowly mix the cornstarch and water mixture into the stock and let it simmer for a minute or two until the broth no longer tastes starchy and begins to thicken.
  9. Ask a friend to help you with this part. Have your friend to hold a fork over your pot of soup.
  10. Slowly pour the eggs through the fork while constantly stirring the soup. Let the soup stand for a few seconds to finish cooking the eggs.
    Note: If you don’t want to invite anyone to assist, work in batches. Pour a small amount of the eggs through the fork and take a short break to stir the soup. Repeat until you run out of eggs.
  11. Serve immediately. Provide green onions, white pepper, and sesame oil on the side as a topping and allow others to add these items to taste.

Makes 8 servings (approximate cost: $1.25 per serving) as an appetizer or 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.50 per serving) as a main course.

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