Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Simple Tomato Soup

I just made tomato soup from scratch. It's my first time actually. Aside from mushroom and corn soup, tomato soup is also a favorite. One stormy weekend, I went out to buy some sandwiches in a nearby Subway. While waiting for the sandwiches, I ordered a small cup of  tomato soup. It was very rich and yummy. With that, I also bought some for my boys and they loved it too. So this week, I decided to make home-cooked tomato soup.

The secret to a rich tomato soup are roasted fresh, ripe tomatoes. It brings out the natural sweetness and flavor of the tomatoes. Chicken stock is also a key ingredient. I bought chicken stock from the grocery just to shorten the process, but you can make your own stock as well.
Ingredients:
  • 6 ripe tomatoes (roasted)
In roasting, cut medium sized tomatoes into half , place it in a baking pan or dish, then season with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary then roast it in the oven for 20 minutes. Usually, garlic is included, but in my case, I like to saute the garlic with the onions in a separate pan before mixing everything together. 
  • 2 400g can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 medium white onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup green peas
  • 1 tsp dried basil or fresh
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • a dash of salt and black pepper


Important Equipment:
  • Blender or food processor or hand blender
  • Baking dish for roasting
Procedure:
  • After roasting the seasoned fresh tomatoes, cool it down for a few minutes and place it in the blender. Add 1 can of diced tomatoes and blend it together until smooth. If you're using a hand blender, pour the roasted tomatoes after the rest of the ingredients are sauteed, then blend everything together.
  • After blending the tomatoes, set it aside.
  • In a separate sauce pan, heat olive oil.
  • Saute onions and garlic both at the same time, stir for a few seconds.
  • Add the remaining can of diced tomatoes and green peas. Mix and simmer for a few seconds.
  • Add the chicken stock and simmer again for about a minute.
  • Add the roasted tomato mix and simmer for 10- 15 minutes until thick.
  • Add more chicken stock if necessary.
  • In low fire, Add heavy cream and dried basil, stir and simmer again for 3- 5 minutes.
  • Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Adjust according to preference.
  • Simmer the tomato soup until smooth and thick.
Best served with Parmesan croutons and grilled cheese.
I'm a happy cook! I was able to create a simple Tomato Soup recipe. It is very healthy especially tomatoes are rich in Lycopene, a cancer- fighting agent. It sure feels good knowing that I can make a healthy soup anytime I want to. This will probably end up on my weekly menu. Just like Okra, it's best to include healthy dishes if not daily at least, on a weekly basis, or just jumble these dishes to serve something new and healthy everyday.
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Friday, October 16, 2015

Yakisoba

Here I am with another exciting recipe. My eldest son is very much into Japanese cuisine. Everytime we're out, he'd always choose Japanese food or any restaurant where he can use chopsticks. The other day, he was watching some cooking demos on YouTube, particularly how to cook Yakisoba. We watched the video together and he asked me if we can cook it. So the following day, I went to a nearby grocery store and bought ingredients. Please take note that whatever ingredient is seen on this post, are mostly the very same stuff used in the Japanese cooking demo (link below), except for the sauce which I made myself. I also added carrots and bell pepper.

Yakisoba is a variant of fried noodles in Japan. Yakisoba noodles are made from wheat flour fried in chunks of pork, shredded cabbage, carrots and mixed in tonkatsu/ oyster- like sauce, topped with fish flakes and paired with pickled ginger.
For my recipe, I used egg noodles, some suggests angel hair pasta.

Yield: 3-4
Ingredients

Main:
  • 400g egg noodles (boiled, drained)
  • 3 chicken breasts ( sliced into chunks or thin pieces)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 medium carrot ( sliced thinly)
  • 1/4 of whole cabbage (chopped)
  • 1 small green bell pepper (sliced thinly)
  • 2 scallion stalks (sliced thinly)
  • 4-5 pcs. Shiitake mushrooms (sliced thinly)
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil 
  • a dash of salt 
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper 
  • chili (optional)
  • pickled ginger (Benishoga)
  • Aonori (dried seaweeds)
  Sauce: 
  • 1 tsp Sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1 tbsp  Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Kikoman soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
Tip: Mix Worcestershire sauce and catsup, you'll have Tonkatsu sauce.

Procedure:

If you noticed, I have ginger. Ginger is a good flavoring agent. I often mix ginger in Kikoman soy sauce to get a "certain" Japanese flavor. I also prefer using sesame oil because it gives a distinct Asian flavor.

Sauce:
  • In a small sauce pan, heat 1 tsp sesame oil and saute ginger in low heat for about 10 seconds.
  • Mix catsup, Worcestershire sauce, Kikoman soy sauce in a small bowl and add it with the ginger.
  •  Let it simmer in low heat for a few seconds.
  • Set aside.
Main:
  • Heat 2 tbsp sesame oil and pan fry chicken until cooked. Set aside.
  • In the very same pan, heat another 1 tbsp of sesame oil and saute garlic until light brown. 
  • Add chicken and stir fry for a few seconds.
  • Add shiitake mushrooms, carrots and bell pepper and stir fry until vegetables are half- cooked.
  • Add cabbage and half of the scallions and stir everything until well- combined.
  • Add the cooked egg noodles.
  • Add prepared sauce and mix everything together.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve in a platter, garnish the remaining scallions.
I didn't have pickled ginger (Benishoga) and Aonori (dried seaweeds) but in every Yakisoba dish, they're essential in adding flavor and texture.
One of the things I learned in this recipe is how to cook using chopsticks. Though I'm not sure if I'm using the right kind, but over- all, it made me aware that I can cook noodles better with chopsticks. It doesn't stick. 

Next is a realization, that I need to seriously go to a Japanese grocery and buy Benishoga,  Aonori and other essential Japanese condiments and--- that we have a Japanese grocery nearby--- and I didn't even know. Hehehe!

Yakisoba on YouTube
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