Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Asian Style Soups

I made a roasted chicken for Domenick and figured a soup would be a great way to use the leftovers. I was in the mood for a soup with an Asian flare so I came up with these recipes.

Asian Style Chicken Soup

1tbs of canola oil
½ medium onion
1 leek sliced
3 cloves of garlic
¼ of mirin
¼ of soy sauce
1 box of low sodium chicken stock
1 large piece of ginger (a nub) with the skin removed
1 sprig of lemongrass
Pepper to taste
2 ½ cups of shredded chicken
1 cup of fresh snow peas
½ package of frozen peas and corn
3 ½ small grated carrots
Slices of green onions and sprigs of cilantro for garnish and flavor

First start by prepping all of your veg and shredding your chicken. This will make the soup easier to deal with. Add to a large soup pot 1-2 tbs of canola oil on medium. Then add your diced onions and leeks. Then grate in your garlic with a microplane or finely dice it. Sautee until veg is translucent. Then deglaze the pot with the mirin and add your stock. Season the stock with pepper, soy sauce, lemongrass, and ginger. Whatever you do, do NOT add salt. Let this simmer for 15 minutes and then add the shredded chicken. Let simmer for another 15 minutes until the flavor comes together. Next add 1 cup of fresh snow peas, ½ pack of frozen peas and corn, and grated carrot. Feel free to use other veggies if you’d like. The veggie soup recipe below includes different veggies. Simmer for 10 minutes making sure the veggies are not getting too soft. Then fish out the lemongrass and ginger. You top some noodles with the soup or eat it plain. I preferred it plain but my husband likes noodles. Garnish with green onion rings and sprigs of cilantro.

Asian Style Vegetable Soup

2 tbs of canola oil
½ medium onion
1 leek sliced
3 cloves of garlic
5oz of fresh sliced Shitake mushrooms
¼ cup of mirin
¼ of soy sauce
1 box of mushroom stock
1 large piece of ginger (a nub) with the skin removed
1 sprig of lemongrass
Pepper to taste
1 cup of fresh snow peas
2 heads of torn baby bok choy
½ package of frozen peas and corn
3 ½ small grated carrots
1 tsp of fresh grated Serrano chile (adjust the amount for the spice level)
Slices of green onions and sprigs of cilantro for garnish and flavor

Once again make sure to prep your veg. Add 2 tbs of canola oil to a large soup pot on medium. Add your diced onions, leeks, and mushrooms. Then grate in your garlic with a microplane or finely dice it. Sautee until veg is translucent. Season the stock with pepper, soy sauce, lemongrass, and ginger. Whatever you do, do NOT add salt. Simmer for 30 minutes then add all of the veg, bok choy, snow peas, peas and corn, carrots and Serrano chile for some heat.

Overall, my first attempt at making an Asian style soup was successful. My parents loved both versions, Domenick loved the meat version (he would not try the veg version because he despises mushrooms) and I loved the veg soup. It was a great way to warm up a cold winter night and great as leftovers. This is a great soup to play around with. You can use any type of meat or veg stock and any type of veggies you enjoy. Have fun and let your mind create!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese

When it starts getting cold outside I constantly crave soups and stews. They just seem to warm me up in a way other hot foods just cannot. After going to South Philly Taproom and enjoying their fabulous tomato soup, I decided to create my own tomato soup. This is only the second time I’ve made tomato soup, because the first time I made it, it just tasted like sauce, the key for me is using butter or a butter substitute instead of olive oil, adding brown sugar and milk, because that’s what distinguishes it from sauce.
Roasted Tomato Soup
3 cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes and the juice (the ones I bought also had roasted garlic in it)
1 can of diced tomatoes
3 tbs of butter
½  a medium onion (more if your roasted tomatoes didn’t include onion)
5 cloves of garlic (more if your roasted tomatoes didn’t include garlic)
A pinch of Italian seasoning
¾ of a bottle of beer
A few tbs of brown sugar to your liking to bring out the sweetness in the tomatoes
3 cups of milk
S & P to taste
Start by sautéing the onions and garlic in butter. Once these are lightly browned add in your canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning, beer, brown sugar, salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes. Then puree your soup with either an immersion blender or a regular blender. Add in Milk and simmer for another 15 minutes. Now you have a quick and easy tomato soup! Serve with grilled cheese and a beer of course!
For the grilled cheeses
I used Rosemary Bread from Whole Foods for mine with Colby and Munster Cheeses. For Dom’s I used Whole Foods French banquette and the same cheeses.

Friday, December 10, 2010


My husband left his credit card in Olde City so we figured we’d go pick it up and get something to eat while we were down there. There are so many amazing places to choose from when venturing into olde city but I knew I wanted to eat at Amada. I love Jose Garces, his food is amazing no matter which one you choose! The best thing about Jose Garces is that he is ALWAYS willing to accommodate vegetarians.

Domenick was a little apprehensive when he first looked at the tapas menu at Amada. He said there was nothing on there for him, but I told him not to be overwhelmed by the vast menu options. He then looked at the menu again and chose a few dishes that suited him. To drink we chose the Temporada Sangria (seasonal sangria: white wine with peaches, ginger brandy and mint). It went down too smoothly if you know what I mean! Our waitress brought us a complimentary plate of bread crisps, tuna with black olive oil for dipping and a special roasted red pepper dip made for vegetarians.

Bread Crips with Tuna on left and Roasted Red Pepper on Right

We started off with the Aragones cheese that comes with white sangria honey and golden raisins. The cheese was great but when paired with the sangria honey and golden raisins it was amazing!

Aragones with White Sangria Honey and Golden Raisins

The Spanish olives came out with the cheese. I suggest getting the olives to complete any tapas meal you have at Amada.


Next came out the empanada which is stuffed with spinach and manchego on a bed of roasted peppers, artichokes, and red onions. They were oozing with cheese and they were good, but the succeeding dishes, blew this dish out of the water.

Amada's Empanada

Domenick also got the patatas bravas, which were almost like fancy tater tots with a smoked paprika aioli. They were good but also paled in comparison to the rest of the food.

Patatas Bravas

Then the Entrecote came out, which is prime sirloin sliced to allow sharing. Domenick ate it all and loved it. He said he would get it again.


I don’t know if this was intentional, but they saved the best for last. The Alcachofas a la Parmesana (Parmesan Artichokes) were one of the best food items I’ve eaten, and I eat a ton of artichokes. They were 3 artichoke hearts with a parmesan cream sauce and pine nuts. The artichokes just melted in your mouth, but the worst part was that 3 of these left us wanting more, much more. I would order 4 orders of these and call it a day!

Alcachofas a la Parmesana

Last but not least came out the Esparragos con trufas (Grilled Asparagus, Poached egg, Mahon Crisp and Truffles). This was also one of our favorite dishes. The shaved truffles, the perfectly poached egg, the amazing grilled asparagus, tender but still crisp! Wonderful! What brought this dish down a notch in both of our books was the Mahon Crisp, it was way too salty. I couldn’t even finish the half I broke off. This dish would have been so much better if the Mahon Crisp was just left off.

Esparragos con trufas

Although we were pretty much stuffed after this amazing meal, we decided on dessert because it just felt like the perfect way to end the night. The boy settled on the Crèma Catalana de Chocolate. It was caramelized dark chocolate custard, strawberry gelee, and berry sorbet. It was a good dessert and Dom scarfed it down.

 Crèma Catalana de Chocolate

I went with the waitresses recommendation the Pastel con Escabeche, which is a warm brown butter cake, seasonal fruit escabeche, and almond ice cream. I loved the brown butter cake and the almond ice cream. The best part was the warm cake melted some of the ice cream which combined with the escabeche to make a wonderful sauce. I’m beginning to realize that I love warm cakes on cold winter nights!

Pastel con Escabeche with a bite missing

At the end of the meal the waitress brought over a almond crisp and it was very tasty, I just wish I wasn’t as stuffed and I could enjoy more of it.

Almond Crisp

Overall it was a great date night and wonderful food. I would recommend Amada or any of the other Garces restaurants.

217-219 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Soft Sugar Cookies

I decided to make something for my bosses baby shower at work and I knew sugar cookies would be the perfect treat. I found these sugar cookies on allrecipes.com
. I love that they were simple and easy to make, but still tasted delicious.
2/3 cup of vegetable shortening
2/3 cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ½ unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup decorating sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and beat into the mixture until the dough comes together. Roll dough in the palms of your hands into walnut sized balls and roll the balls into sugar and bake on a cookies sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes until bottoms are light brown. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks. This makes about 24 cookies.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Top Chef All Stars Premiere Party at 10 Arts

I had an amazing night at the Top Chef Premier Party. It started off with meeting Jen Carroll and Kevin Sbraga when I walked into 10 Arts Lounge! Awesome! Then Brian from Bridges Burgers and Beer arrived and we ordered cocktails. I had the Maple Ginger Press which is a martini with tequila, grand marnier, pineapple juice and maple syrup yumm! Brian had the Ri-Pear which is a martini with muddled pears, grey goose la poire and white cranberry juice. I tried his, but I preferred my martini, I love tequila and maple syrup and they go fantastic together. I have a feeling I will make pancakes with tequila laced maple syrup in the near future!
We sipped our drinks until it was time to move onto dinner at the 10 Arts restaurant. Chef Jen was doing a Top Chef tasting menu of 4 of her dishes on Top Chef, which is what Brian got and I ordered a few of our waiters vegetarian recommendations.
For the first course, Brian had the clam ceviche. It looked amazing! 
 Clam Ceviche
For the second course Brian had blue bay mussels and I had celeriac soup with roasted mushrooms and jus. The soup was fantastic and took me back to my mom’s homemade cream of mushroom made with wild mushrooms. It was creamy and perfectly seasoned. 
 Blue Bay Mussels
 Celeriac Soup
For our third course Brian had Halibut and I had the casserole of seasonal vegetables. It was a small dutch oven with perfectly roasted diced veg, including squash tomatoes and eggplant. It reminded me of a ratatouille with a little spice! Perfect for a vegetarian! I would get this and soup or salad and call it lunch or dinner any day!
Casserole of Seasonal Vegetables
For our Fourth course Brian had snake river Kobe skirt steak and I had a special vegetarian pasta dish. It was egg fettuccine (I highly suggest you have them once in your life) they are so much lighter than normal fettuccine, like a smaller paperadelle pasta. The sauce was rich and creamy (I think they’re may have been a hint of saffron in it, and there were sundried tomatoes and wonderful wild mushrooms. I loved this pasta and would love to have it again, but the veg dish of the night changes from what I’ve heard. 
 Kobe Skirt Steak
After dinner we went back to the kitchen to visit the awesome pastry Chef at 10 Arts, Monica Glass. Brian and I loved the kitchen! It was such a treat to go into the kitchen.
After we were done in the kitchen we sat down for our fifth and final course, DESSERT! Brian’s tasting menu came with reinterpretation of Smore's: soft chocolate, pomegranate, toasted marshmallow and graham cracker ice cream (a favorite dessert of Chef Jen’s) and I choose her Beignets because I’ve heard wonderful things about them. She also sent out pettis fours for each of us and the special dessert of the night, spice cake with sour cream ice cream and persimmons. 
 Pettis Fours
 Spice Cake
The smores were fantastic. The beignets were the lightest donuts I’ve ever eaten and they just melted in your mouth! The pettis fours were delicate and delicious; there was a brownie, mint macaroon, and a ginger bread cake. The spice cake was probably my favorite of all of the desserts  because it was light and had the right amount of spice, it just tasted of the Holiday season!. It was the perfect way to end a cold night winter in Philadelphia.
I had a fantastic experience at 10 Arts! I met wonderful, friendly, and vivacious chefs and had an amazing dinner, from the first sip of my cocktail to the last bite of dessert. I would recommend 10 arts to anyone anytime. The best part about it is you can go all out and spend a ton of money there, or you can keep it cheaper by selecting soup and salad or eating at the lounge.  I believe there’s a menu item that will satisfy everyone’s wallet as well as their stomachs! I hope to be back someday soon!