Sunday, April 25, 2010

Today's Special: Around the World in Four Easy Meals

Vietnamese-Style Beef and Noodle Broth- New Recipe. This was one of the better Asian meals I've made in a while... well Asian soup anyway. It was a tad bit bland made as-is, but this type of soup is meant to have things added to it, so I put a dollop of Thai garlic chili paste and a couple shakes of soy sauce in mine and it was perfect. Seth said this reminded him of Pho.
Black Bean and Salmon Tostadas- Repeat. I made these once before and used guacamole instead of the chopped up avocado. This time I made these with the chopped up avocado and I have to say it wasn't as good. Which is fine because it's so dang hard to find a ripe avocado at the store anyway. I thought the guacamole cut down on the fishiness of the canned salmon as well.

Vegetarian Reubens with Russian Dressing- Repeat. Here is proof of how good these sandwiches are... I asked Seth what he wanted for dinner and read off all the recipes I had planned for this week. He chose this one. Take my advice and make this. In fact, double the recipe... you'll thank me later.
Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans- New Recipe. We both really liked this. I used 10 oz. of spinach instead of chard because Wally World didn't have it. I also used some chicken broth instead of the water it calls for to add a bit more flavor. Seth said he liked this better than Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons & Parsley Brown Butter. I don't know that I agree, but it's a close call. This recipe says there are 6 servings. I'd say there's 4 small servings. Um... Seth and I ate this all ourselves. So yeah...2 large servings.

Food How-To:
Bok Choy

There are many of you out there who probably don't use things like bok choy in your cooking because a) You don't know how or b) You're sitting there thinking...what the hell is bok choy? If this is you, don't be ashamed. I don't think the typical American uses much beyond carrots and potatoes. In fact when I bought bok choy for the Vietnamese soup this week, the girl who rung up my groceries had no idea what it was.

I first tried using bok choy a few weeks ago and having never used it before, wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I assumed you just used the dark leafy part. So I did. And I threw the rest away. Only this week did I learn that I had done it ass-backwards (which is also how I did my 3-point turns in drivers ed).

Not that you aren't supposed to use the leaves, but of all the tutorials I watched, most used bok choy like celery. Yeah, that's it. Think of bok choy like Asian celery. You can eat the leaves, but most people just use the stalks (or separate the two and cook them for different amounts of time. Leaves take a lot less time to cook).

I tried chopping up bok choy a couple different ways, but this way was the easiest and produced the most uniformly size pieces, so for simplicity's sake, I'll just show you one way. The best way. MY way.

This is bok choy. Buy some.

Break off one stalk and wash all the dirt off.

Slice off the leaves where the white stalky part starts to narrow. Slice off the very bottom of the stalk to remove any woody bits.

Cut the stalk lengthwise into several thin strips.

Gather the strips together and slice across them, making small diced pieces. 

The finished product.

If you want to use the leafy part too, just slice it up into thin strips and add it toward the end of the cooking process to make sure it doesn't get too wilted and mushy.

See? Bok Choy isn't scary. It's just celery's really pale friend. Try it out!


Holly said...

Can you come cook for me? Pretty please?

I love your photos! I told Mitch I wanted a new camera, one with a food setting like yours. He asked me why, since I don't cook or bake. I really had no response to that. Perhaps I just want the delicious food you make. :)

Karen said...

You just gotta tell Mitch that you WOULD cook and bake if you had a camera with a food setting. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. :D

heidi said...

I'm with Holly! Come COOK for US! And Holly sounds so nice, I just KNOW she deserves a camera with a fancy food setting just like yours. I'm sure it would inspire tremendously wonderful efforts in the kitchen. Or... she could always record particularly special restaurant experiences. :)

Oh--by the way--Paul and I have a major love affair going on with BOK CHOY! (We got some in our local/organic produce delivery recently, and I was inspired to make your "Brothy Noodles" recipe. AGAIN! SO GOOD! Want to try the new soup. AND the gnocchi. AND the veggie Reubens. I hope you're reading this, Paul! We need to get the Reuben ingredients asap.)


Paul said...

Yes honey, I will.

Karen, I am drooling over your chopping block (stone? counter top?). Anyway, it seems like chopping surfaces have gotten really fancy in the last few years! Ours are boring.

Karen said...

You guys are so funny!

Lol, Paul, are you referring to my beautiful 70s formica countertop or my cheap black plastic "granite" cutting board? I assure you, there are no cutting surfaces to drool over around here. Although, you may continue to think so if you like :D