Buncha Mumbo Gumbo

Give a man a bowl of gumbo, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man how to make gumbo, he’ll apparently eat for eternity.

The weekend. The perfect time to whip up a batch of food that will last a few meals during the upcoming work week. I’ve been trying to get in the mode of making batch food since I don’t have as much time on my hands with the little one now in the fold. What I thought was going to be a nice big batch of gumbo turned into a monster batch. I’m pretty sure it’ll last us this week and I will have to portion the rest out and freeze it. Not a bad problem to have with food as delicious as chicken, smoked sausage, and shrimp gumbo.  Continue reading Buncha Mumbo Gumbo

Hearty Quinoa, Chicken, and Swiss Chard Soup with Quick Sauerkraut Grilled Cheese

My friend over at Write.Click.Cook.Listen. posted a great looking soup/stew dish the other day.  My wife is seemingly always nagging encouraging me to make more soups, especially with both of us going back to school to teach the kiddos.  She loves taking soup to work and I love not having to slave over the stove every night.  Win win.  This will become even more convenient when the birth of our first child blesses us.  I know time will definitely not be on my side at that point.  

I used his recipe as the base and then added my own flourish.  In the dutch oven that I was to prepare my dish in, I braised some chicken thighs in crushed tomatoes and white wine until fall apart tender.  Then I separated the meat from the bone and skin to be added to the soup later.  

I wiped the dutch oven fairly clean, added some olive oil and then added diced celery, carrots, garlic, and onion.  Cook those until softened.  I added some other aromatics besides what was in the original recipe also.  I added ground cumin, crushed red pepper, and smoked paprika.  Add the meat to pot, the swiss chard (leaves rinsed and stripped and stalks diced up for use also) then the dry quinoa and add enough stock to cover the ingredients by double.  Cook until the stalk pieces are cooked through as well as the quinoa.  About 25 minutes.  

Though you can certainly eat this as is because of the great and healthy ingredients, it is nice to mix it up a bit and serve it with a half sandwich.  I had some leftover sauerkraut in the fridge so I added a  hefty layer to some buttered whole wheat bread and then added cheddar cheese.  Press or griddle to make your hot sandwich to accompany your hearty soup.

Quinoa, Chicken, and Swiss Chard Soup with Sauerkraut Grilled Cheese Quinoa, Chicken, and Swiss Chard Soup with Sauerkraut Grilled Cheese-2 Quinoa, Chicken, and Swiss Chard Soup with Sauerkraut Grilled Cheese-3



Pork Gone Wild: Tonkotsu Ramen

Sorry it has been so long since my last post.  I’ve been busy with my Bob’s Kitchen: Dinner With Friends events.  My latest event was an asian-inspired menu which included a ramen dish for the masses.

I have made ramen numerous times and no I don’t mean the kind from the pack with the powder.  No, that stuff was strictly relegated to my college days and will stay locked away in my memory, sure to never return to the forefront.

As I was saying, I have made ramen many times, usually with a broth that I thought was sufficient enough to pass as a nice flavorful ramen broth.  All that went down the tubes when I saw a Food Lab post on Serious Eats from Kenji Alt-Lopez about making Tonkotsu Ramen.  While I have eaten Tonkotsu Ramen before I have never made it.  After reading the article, my mind was blown and I knew I had to make this ridiculously flavorful, gelatinous, porky goodness.


There is a lot going on in this pot, but it promises to be wonderful

It’s amazing how how much gelatin formation comes from the pig trotters and bones.  This stuff totally seized up like jello when I refrigerated it for leftovers.

Here’s the link: Tonkotsu Pork Broth

I also used Kenji’s Chashu Pork recipe except I braised the pork belly without rolling it up. When almost fall-apart tender, I transferred the pork belly to a wire rack set over a baking sheet.  I added some gochujang to the braising liquid, reduced it down, basted the pork with the sauce and then roasted the pork at 450ºF until crisped up a bit.  I then cranked the broiler up to get the skin crisped up nicely.

roasted pork belly
roasted pork belly
roasted pork belly
roasted pork belly

For my finished product, I spiked the broth with a touch of tare (a concentrated soy and chicken bone sauce), I also added braised leafy yu choy, enoki mushrooms, little fried quail eggs, of course the braised and roasted pork belly, and a sprinkling of toasted black and white sesame seeds.  I made the original bowls with Japanese marinated soft-boiled eggs, but to be honest with you it was a pain in the ass, so I subsequently used fried quail eggs for the leftovers which is what is pictured below.  The entire process is quite daunting and not for the faint of heart, but for anyone who loves ramen it is worth the journey.  Isn’t that what food is all about?

Tonkotsu Ramen; quail eggs, pork belly, enoki mushrooms, yu choy
Tonkotsu Ramen; quail eggs, pork belly, enoki mushrooms, yu choy

Livin’ In A Winter Paradise

Potato Leek Soup
Potato Leek Soup

I am truly livin’ in a winter paradise.  While everyone across the nation has been freezing their asses off, we Floridians have been hosting Christmas parties wondering when we will be able to use up our fire wood so we can enjoy some beverages by the warmth of our fire pits.  I know, I know, we have it pretty rough.

Certain things get lost for me though when the cold weather fails to appear, namely soups. Most of us have this association of soups and eating them during cold spells.  Well, when the weather is 85°F it’s just too damn hard to get excited about the prospect of enjoying a hearty warm bowl of the good stuff.  So this post is for all you poor freezing souls up north everywhere.

This time though, Floridians will be living vicariously through you and your stomachs.  As we wonder when stout and porter season will finally arrive, my peace offering to you is my potato leek soup.  Only seems fair.

♥For The Potato Leek Soup:

  • 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 leeks, sliced and washed well
  • 1 ½ lbs (680 g) russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 6 C veggie stock (homemade preferably, or quality store-bought)
  • salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Extras For Garnish:

  • creme fraiche, hefty drizzle
  • bacon, crumbled
  • chive, minced
  • pink peppercorns, ground
  • extra virgin olive oil, hefty drizzle

To Make The Potato Leek Soup:

roughly 10 servings

•The great thing about this recipe is that it is easily adapted to fit a vegetarian or vegan diet by omitting and replacing some simple ingredients.  So feel free to do what you need to do to make this your own.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter or olive oil over medium heat.  Add the thoroughly washed leeks and season with some salt. Cook the leeks over med heat for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re completely softened.

I use the whole leek except for the very ends of the green parts.  That’s why my soup is more green than some other people’s.  Make sure the leeks are thoroughly washed because there are lots of nooks and crannies for dirt to hide out.  I usually do a good bowl rinse and let the grit settle to the bottom of the bowl before scooping the sliced leeks out of the water, careful not to stir up the grit-filled water.

Add the thyme and crushed red pepper, stir for about 30 seconds, releasing the flavors into the butter and leek mixture.  Pour in the veggie stock, and add the potatoes.

Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, easily pierced with a knife or fork.  The time this takes will vary based on how big you cubed the potatoes and the type of potato you used.

(optional) If you would like an even creamier soup, this would be a good time to mix in a nice big dollop of creme fraiche.  Feel free to make your own creme fraiche, it’s so easy to create and you will want to use it all the time.  The great thing about adding creme fraiche to hot sauces and/or soups is that it doesn’t curdle like sour cream can.

Puree the soup with the white pepper, seasoning with more salt if necessary. This is a great time to use your an immersion blender.  If you use a standard blender, be sure not to fill it more than half-full and secure the lid, and cover it with a kitchen towel when blending.  This will reduce the chance of your hot mixture injuring yourself and going all over your kitchen.

Ladle soup into bowls and use whatever garnishes you wish or just dig in.  Serve with some warm, crusty bread.  I hope this dish provides some sunshine to you all.♥

Potato Leek Soup
Potato Leek Soup