A quick version of pho, Thai style

I like pho. Do you like pho? I bet you do. You just don’t know it yet. Pho is Vietnamese noodle soup. I wanted to make the authentic version, but figured it would take too long (who has three hours to make stock?), so enter… Thai culinary stock. Some recipes use a chicken stock, but I figured the Thai stock would have a flavor profile closer to Vietnamese. Or something like that.

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I used this recipe as a rough guideline, but as usual, I changed a few things. I specifically liked the idea of pan searing some of the elements to add more flavor; thus the mini stir fry. Enjoy!

  • 1 medium onion, peeled, halved through root end
  • 2 Thai chili peppers or ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 1” piece ginger, peeled, chopped
  • 8 cups Thai culinary stock
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. of peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 2 cups baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 cup beech mushrooms
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces Thai Kitchen straight rice noodles
  • Mung bean sprouts, fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems, thinly sliced scallions, chopped unsalted, roasted peanuts, and lime wedges (for serving)
  • Heat a dry large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Cook onion, cut side down, until lightly charred, about 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  • Add chiles (if using crushed red pepper flakes, add with fennel seeds), garlic, cinnamon stick, and star anise to skillet and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add fennel seeds and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds (do not burn). Quickly transfer to a large saucepan (reserve skillet) and add onion, ginger, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until broth is flavorful.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in reserved skillet over medium-high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper, toss in the skillet with baby bok choy and beech mushrooms. Stir fry for a minute or two until shrimp is cooked through.
  • Cook noodles according to package directions. Divide among bowls and add stir fry. Strain broth and ladle into bowls. Top pho with bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions, and peanuts and serve with lime wedges.

 

Ahhh, Calamari. Why have I not made thee before?

This was so easy, and so fabulous. Sautéed calamari is a frequently ordered item when Heather and I go out, but I’m kicking myself for not making it before. All in all, prep and cook time was 15 minutes or less. The recipe is below. As usual, I’m pretty vague with my portions (you just need to feel it). Make sure to do the cooking in portions, as the calamari must be cooked in a single layer. The sauté time is quick, so you need to make sure it gets cooked through. Enjoy!

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  • 1 pound cleaned calamari
  • 2-4 garlic cloves chopped
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • 1/2 lemon
  • tri color grape tomatoes, halved
  • small bunch chopped oregano
  • small bunch chopped parsley
  • salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  1. Dry calamari with a paper towel and cut into 3/4″ rings. The tentacles can be left whole, unless very large.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until smoking. Add butter (to taste), then only enough calamari to cover the pan surface. Add similar portions of garlic, tomatoes, oregano, and parsley to the pan, and season with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Cook, tossing frequently, until squid is opaque and cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Make sure not to overcook. Repeat until all the calamari is cooked. Squeeze lemon over squid, toss and serve.

Octopus, anyone?

Every time I passed the sushi case, the octopus was there, daring me to step up and order some. Yesterday, I finally did. Have you had it before? You just have to get past the fact that it’s covered in suckers. The texture is not nearly as chewy as you may think. Heather described it as almost crunchy, like a soft water chestnut. It has a mild flavor and is truly excellent.

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It was too beautiful not to photograph the whole leg, but we served it diced up into bite-sized pieces, along with finely diced ginger and scallions, and drizzled with teriyaki sauce.

I said “pretty” in public.

We were in the Italian market in Canandaigua. It just slipped out in my fascination with the garlic. “Wow, these are pretty!” Not that I wouldn’t normally use the word pretty, just not in reference to garlic. I think the clerk’s strange glance towards me brought Heather to say, “Oh, he’s a photographer, he says that all the time.”

You can’t say they aren’t pretty, so can you blame me? In the weeks since I purchased them, I’m having trouble deciding if I was drawn to their subtle coloring, or nice shape and amazing texture. A color photo emphasizes one trait, black and white the others. I like them both! What’s you’re favorite?

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The nap inducer.

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving nap! The super fun chaos of hosting Thanksgiving for 30 delayed the start of my nap (as well as the posting of this image/animation), but I did manage to finish the entire plate, making it inevitable. And it was good.

A toast to leftovers starts now! Cheers!

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I’m thankful for cheese. Good cheese.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! I’m thankful for love, family, friends, all the wonderful things around me, getting to say y’all every now and then, and life in general. I hope y’all feel the same way, everything is great in your world, and you are spending time with your loved ones. The Thanksgiving turkey post will come (no pictures yet, insert segue), so I’m going to shift gears and say I’m thankful for cheese. Especially when all you have to do is say, “Yes, please. I’d love a sample!”

I was walking through the Wegmans cheese department (this happens frequently, as I photograph cheese often), and the Giorgio Cravero Parmigiano Reggiano was being sampled, paired with pear infused balsamic vinegar. It took me just to the end of the first bite to grab a chunk and a bottle…and go in search of more balsamic flavors.

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As you can see, I decided on fig, along with the fresh fruit to pair with it. Bread and wine (which I’m also thankful for) weren’t far behind on my shopping list.

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The ciabatta baguette was a nice way to soak up a little extra vinegar, and to keep it from dripping as you’re dipping. The pear variety is a little sweeter, blending well with the tart balsamic vinegar base. The fig version is lighter (just like the color), and considerably more tart. Both were excellent (slight edge to the pear), and went well with the cheese. The cheese was a little softer and more moist than most aged parm, with more brilliant flavors of caramel, fruit, and nuts. Giorgio Cravero created an excellent (as the label states) “small batch, Artisinal, Parmigiano Reggiano”.

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Two varieties of Apothic wines seemed appropriate, as we had the 2 varieties of vinegar. They were probably too deep a red for the pairing, but were very good! Both are California blends with dark fruit and layers of flavor. The Red (Heather’s favorite) is definitely lighter and adds a few notes of vanilla and jam. The Dark (my favorite) is true to name, darker, with hints of coffee and dark chocolate.

Enjoy your day! Cheers!

Summer Sunday breakfast

Seeing as it’s been so long since my last post (most humble apologies!), I wanted to officially say, “happy summer”! I hope yours has been as busy and as fun filled as ours, so far.

I thought I’d share our thyme French toast breakfast with you, as it was delightful. Fresh figs are always a highlight for us, and this was no exception. Especially with the addition of good Italian bread, thyme egg batter, and agave nectar.

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Make your egg batter for the french toast with several egg whites, only one egg yoke, a dash of milk, a little salt and pepper, and thyme.

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Quarter the figs and throw them in a hot pan with some blue agave nectar to slightly caramelize them.

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Top with maple syrup and a little powdered sugar, and your day is off to a good start! Enjoy your Sunday!