Monthly Archives: August 2015

Asian-style Meatball Soup

Nearly a decade ago a man’s fantasy became reality in a form never seen before…okay, yes I am totally riping off the introduction from iron Chef but there is a reason for that. This recipe I am about to present was inspired by an episode of Iron Chef. It actually was about a decade ago and Iron Chef Chen was squaring off against Hisao Oidate, who is an expert in Chinese Medicinal Cuisine. As an aspiring chef the idea that food could be both used to nourish and to heal interested me. I knew that food could help make you feel better but Chinese medicinal cuisine is much more than just that. They believe that what you eat affects your health by creating imbalances in your spirit. And to put it right you need to eat foods that restore the balance between Yin and Yang.

So this recipe comes from what I learned researching medicinal cooking. It is perfect for the cold winter months because it is chock full of ingredients that are meant to be eaten in that season. However this is also great to eat at other times of the year as well. To prepare this wonderfully balancing meal you will need the following:

One pound of ground pork

One head of cabbage, diced

One carrot, sliced

one medium onion, halved and sliced

Two cups of sliced mushrooms

One teaspoon of ground ginger

Four green onions, chopped

Four cloves of minced garlic

Two tablespoons of soy sauce

One-half teaspoon of pepper

Six cups of chicken broth

One half pound popcorn shrimp (optional)

One package of rice noodles

Combine the ground pork, ginger, soy sauce, egg, garlic, and the tops (the white parts) of the green onions into an even mix. In a large stock pot add the cabbage, carrot, onion, mushrooms, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Make meatballs either by hand or by using a scoop and drop them into the boiling broth. Stir gently and cook for ten minutes. Add the shrimp and rice noodles and cook until the noodles are soft. Garnish with the remaining chopped green onions and serve.

Sunday Pasta Supper

A few years back I was looking for something special to make for my (now) ex-wife for Valentine’s Day. Now I know most people would do something like make steak and lobster or more simply and conveniently, reservations. However I wanted something more creative and unique to show her how special she was to me at the time. So I came across a recipe that seemed like a good starting point and the started to experiment and refine it.

The end result was a delicious concoction that I ended up being addicted to. I have constantly been refining it and it gets better every time. A few weeks back I made it for my family for Sunday dinner and they loved it. My mom asked me how to make and I shared the recipe with her and now I am sharing it with you. You will need the following ingredients:

One pound of chicken tenders, cubed

One cup of sun dried tomatoes (the dry packed tomatoes, not the tomatoes in oil)

One 14 ounce can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained (reserve the liquid for use later)

One cup of sliced fresh mushrooms

One 14 ounce can of medium black olives, drained

One tablespoon of diced garlic

One teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

One cup of chicken broth

Two cups of uncooked penne pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown it in the skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute until they are brown and tender. Add the garlic and the artichoke hearts and the garlic and quickly saute for just a minute until the garlic becomes fragrant. Don’t over cook the garlic or it will become bitter. Add the sun dried tomatoes, reserved liquid from the artichoke hearts, and the chicken broth. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the olives and the crushed red pepper flakes and simmer for another 5 minutes. Toss the chicken mixture with the pasta as serve.

Italian Sausage and White Bean “Chili”

One of the more popular soups at the chain restaurant “Olive Garden” is their pasta e fagioli, which is sort of an Italian chili. The soup is hearty and great for a cold fall or winter day and let’s face it those days are coming sooner than we might like. However, making the soup the way Olive Garden does it is difficult, time consuming, and expensive. So I developed this simplified version of the recipe that is every bit as tasty as Olive Garden’s but a lot less work. To get started you will need the following ingredients:

one pound of mild or spicy Italian Sausage (I prefer spicy)

six cups of chicken broth

one 20-24 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

two 16 ounce cans of great northern beans

one bag of seasoning blend (a mix of onions, green peppers, celery that can be fond in the freezer section of most major grocery chains)

two cups of matchstick carrots. (You can buy a small bag of them in the produce section of most grocery stores.)

two cloves of minced garlic

two teaspoons of Italian seasoning

one tablespoon of white vinegar

one half pound of macaroni, cooked

First off, it is important that you cook the pasta before you add it to the soup or you will end up with a mess, a fantastic tasty mess. Also you need to “shock” the pasta to stop it cooking or it will absorb all the liquid from your soup. To shock the pasta means to rinse it vigorously with cold water to stop the cooking process.

To prepare the soup begin by browning the Italian sausage. One the sausage is browned add the bag of seasoning mix, the carrots, and the garlic for roughly ten minutes and make sure that you stir often so that the garlic does not burn. After ten minutes add all of the remaining ingredients except the macaroni and the vinegar and bring the whole thing to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. After an hour add the pasta and the vinegar and simmer for another ten minutes and then serve. Since this is an “Olive Garden” soup it would be great served with a green salad and lots of warm garlic breadsticks fresh from the oven.