Shrimp and Fish Ball Soup

It’s still winter and snowy here in Honesdale, PA, and cold.  Soups and stews continue to warm and comfort us as we stare from the kitchen table, through the windows at our winter garden of ice-laced trees, frost ravaged herb garden and our poor bamboo, slumped to the ground with the weight of the snow.  On the positive side,  bright colored birds visit the feeders in the yard, deer pass in the forest and we saw an enormous eagle perched on one of the trees, while we wished for a  bear 🙂

I’m still working on the freezer and pantry, pleased by the wonderful edibles I’ve found, including fish balls and shrimp.  Every ingredient I used was either in the pantry, the freezer or refrigerator; bok choy, shrimp, mushrooms, fish balls, daikon, scallions, makings for homemade dashi and soup seasoning.  Bravo me!

I first added the mushrooms, daikon and scallions to the dashi broth.  It looked so good, I ate some and it was marvelous!  So if you’re allergic to seafood/fish, you needn’t go any further than this mushroom rich broth.

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Chili Verde

I’ve never made chili verde before, but I’ve always wanted to.  I’ve always lived in places where the fresh chillies and tomatillos were not available.  I should have never left California 😀

I remember my mother and her friend roasting chillies( I think Anaheims) over the gas flame, sealing them in a brown paper bag until cool, removing the skins, slitting the chillies on one side, stuffing each chilli with raw onion and grated cheese, dipping them in egg batter, then frying in oil until golden brown.  The chillies rellanos were served with fresh salsa and a dollop of sour cream.  Authentic Mexican!  To my shock and disbelief, I found fresh poblano, jalapeno and serrano chillies for the first time here in Honesdale!

Fresh tomatillos were not available, but I did have a case of canned tomatillos in the pantry, bought in hope that I would be able to use them one day. Of course canned tomatillos are not the same as fresh, but the flavor was there, if not the texture.

Once the roasted chillies, tomatillos and aromatics are chopped and blended, you have a thick, rich sauce that surely can be used in other Mexican dishes.  I’m certainly going to try.

This recipe was inspired by isabeleats with very few changes.

For the meat, I used a 3 lb pork rolled roast, cut into cubes, decreasing the cooking time it would have taken with a less expensive cut.


This was delicious, not that spicy hot, but you could taste the chillies and know that the cuisine was Mexican inspired 🙂  Serve with rice or warmed flour tortillas.

For recipe, see Isabel Eats by clicking the link above.






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Texican Pantry Chili

Our refrigerator freezer is back in action.  The thing was only 2 years old and needed major repairs!  I don’t understand how things work anymore.  We’ve had appliances that were 15 years old that never needed repair.  If only they made a Toyota refrigerator……

With no refrigerator to look into we looked in the pantry a lot, throwing away dated cans, jars, sauces, and weevily flours.  Still, the pantry, along with downstairs freezer could feed the masses.  I’ve resolved to cook solely from the freezer and pantry, buying only fresh produce until reason has been restored.  It won’t be easy, as interesting nor as entertaining as impulsive shopping, but when I’m done I can start all over again 🙂

Olive oil, lots of garlic, onion, bell pepper and ground steak, diced tomatoes, Rotel tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, bay leaf, cumin and Mexican chili powder.  Not authentic Mexican nor quite Tex-Mex but the tomato richness, spices and aroma were there.

Before adding the canned pinto beans, I  added a can of refried beans to thicken the sauce and to add a nostalgic texture of creamy beans.

Texican Pantry Chili

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2-6 garlic clove, chopped

1 large bell pepper (I used yellow)

1 1/2 lbs ground steak

2 cans diced tomatoes

2 cans Rotel diced tomatoes and chillies

1 small can tomato paste

2 cups water

1 tbsp oregano

1 1/2 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp Mexican chili powder

1 large bay leaf

1 can refried beans

3 cans pinto beans

Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the onion, garlic and bell pepper.  Saute until the vegetables are just soft.  Add the ground steak and saute with the vegetables until most of the red has disappeared.  Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste and water to the pot.  Stir in the oregano, cumin, chili powder and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in the refried beans until well blended, then stir in the pinto beans, bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Serve with sliced scallions, grated cheese and warm flour tortillas.


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Dashi Poached Chicken Soup with Bok Choy

Our refrigerator freezer has been broken for about a week.  Although parts and repair are expensive, it would be economically irrational to toss it and buy another.  Of course, the warranty has expired.  We have moved what we could to the downstairs freezer and were able to save some refrigerator items in a cooler on the back porch.  Everything else I’m cooking or tossing.  So annoying while we wait for the parts and repair 😦

In the meantime, I’m taking this opportunity to identify and cook through the myriad items in the overcharged freezer downstairs, like these “I don’t know when I bought them” kosher chicken legs.  I poached the legs in homemade, seasoned dashi stock.  Really nice.

My poor un-refrigerated bok choy was beginning to go down hill and made a great addition to the chicken soup.

Dashi Poached Chicken Soup with Bok Choy

1 large piece of kombu

6 cups water

2 cups bonito flakes

4 tbsp Usukuchi soy sauce

2 tbsp tamari soy sauce

2 tbsp sake

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp mirin

1/4 tsp salt

4 whole chicken legs

4 bok choy, sliced

5 boiled eggs

Place the kombu in the 6 cups of water and set aside.  After at least 30 minutes, pour the kombu and water into a pot and bring almost to a boil (small bubbles appear on the edges of the water).  Remove the kombu and discard.   Add the bonito flakes, bring to a boil and boil for 30 seconds.  Place a paper towel lined strainer over a bowl and pour the bonito flakes and water into the strainer.  When cool enough, gather the flakes in the paper towel and squeeze the liquid out into the bowl before discarding the flakes.  To season the broth, add the soy sauces, sake, sugar, mirin and salt.  Add the chicken legs to the broth, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Take the chicken out, remove skin, bones, shred the meat and put back into the broth with the bok choy and eggs.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.








Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Mushroom Soup Meatloaf

In the beginning before the newness had worn off our marriage, I continually tried to please my husband with food.  It wasn’t that hard because his mother’s food was more plentiful than interesting and her mother came from Ireland in 1910 almost 100 years before the Irish developed a cuisine; corned beef and cabbage is Jewish.  The plate and the pitcher are a part of the first set of dishes I bought, over 40 years ago 🙂

My husband, no lie, thought black pepper made food “spicy”, didn’t like fish and ate his steak well done.  My mother was from Texas and our family menu included well spiced and tasty southern dishes,  Mexican, Asian, Italian and anything she found of interest in homemaking magazines.  We preferred flavor over quantity.

For the first 5 years I made the dishes he grew up with but my way, easing in the herbs, spices and black pepper, while adding those he wasn’t familiar with but keeping the ingredients recognizable and non-threatening, encouraging him to taste the food first before pouring on the salt and threatening divorce if he ever put ketchup on my meatloaf 😀  In fact the reason I first made the Campbell Soup mushroom meatloaf recipe was to demonstrate that no meatloaf ever had to be cooked so dry and tasteless that ketchup was needed to wash it down.

After the loaf is baked for an hour, the mushroom sauce is added and baked with the loaf for 30-40 minutes, creating an attractive, light brown sauce for mashed potatoes or rice and for the slices of meatloaf, if wanted.

This picture reminds me of the food pictures in old Sunset magazines.  Notice the “not dryness” of the inside of the meatloaf 🙂  Perfect for sandwiches.

Mushroom Soup Meatloaf

2 lbs ground round

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

2 cans Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, mixed with 2 cans of water

Place the ground round, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, eggs and bread crumbs in a large bowl.  Add 1 cup of the soup and water mixture, then mix well by hand.

Oil a baking pan, add the meat and form into a loaf in the pan.  Preheat the oven to 325 F and bake the meatloaf for 1 hour.  Pour over the remaining soup and water mixture, return to oven and continue to bake for 30-4o minutes.



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Pistou Soup with Smoked Ham

Pistou soup is a delicious, hearty vegetable soup from Provence, France.  Choosing to spend our winters in Northeast Pennsylvania, it’s only normal that stews, roasts, soups and heavier fare are a large part of our winter menu and I was happy to make this soup because I like it and it “sticks to the ribs.”

To change it up a bit, I used a Jamie Oliver recipe and added a piece of smoke ham.  The ham is optional; this soup is just as good without it.

The pistou paste is a cousin of pesto, without the pine nuts.

Pistou Soup with Smoked Ham

1 – 1/2 lbs smoked ham or ham hocks

1 onion, quartered

2 celery branches, quartered

2 carrots, quartered

2 bay leaves

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

3 leeks, sliced and rinsed

2 celery branches, sliced

3 carrots, sliced

3 cloves garlic, slivered

3 courgettes, large diced

3 potatoes, large diced

1/2 cup baby green beans

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 medium can cannellini beans, drained

1 medium can pinto beans, drained

2 sprigs parsley, chopped

1/3 cup small macaroni


6 cloves garlic, chopped

6 sprigs basil, chopped

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tbsp olive oil

Place the ham, onion, quartered carrots and celery, bay leaves, salt and pepper in a stock pot.  Cover with water 2 inches above ingredients.  Bring to a boil, them simmer for 1 hour.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the sliced leeks, carrots, celery and garlic until the leeks are soft.  Add to the stock pot with the courgettes, potatoes, green beans, diced tomatoes, canned beans, and parsley.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the macaroni and continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until the macaroni is cooked.

Grind or pound the garlic together with the basil.  Blend in the cheese, then stir in the olive oil a bit at a time to form a thick paste

Serve the soup in bowls and top each with a blob of pistou.







Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Braised Oxtails with Spicy Bok Choy

My mom made oxtails frequently (at that time they were cheap).  Everyone loved them because of the generous meat portions that enrobed the bones and the rich onion gravy she “smothered” them with.  This was usually accompanied by rice and mustard greens.

Weiss Supermarket had some exceptionally fresh bok choy and I’m always up for that.  I simply steam them, then drizzle with a spicy sauce.

Unlike the rare tuna, my husband and I both love this dish 🙂  In fact, we went back the next day to get more bok choy but no joy.  There remained only one dried out bulb.  Weiss, from time to time, has fresh Asian vegetables that disappear fast!  Who’s my competition?  We should eat together 🙂

The bok choy inspired the Asian oxtail braise with cinnamon and star anise.  Pressure cook for 35 minutes and before you know it, you’re eating.

Asian Braised Oxtails

3-4lbs of beef oxtails

1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce

1/4 cup sake

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

8 thin slices of fresh ginger, skin on

2 star anise

2 sticks cinnamon

Peel from one mandarin, cut into strips

Mix the soy sauce, sake, brown sugar and water together and set aside.  Place the oxtails in the bottom of a pressure cooker.  Sprinkle the scallions, ginger, star anise, cinnamon sticks and mandarin peel over the oxtails.  Pour the soy sauce mixture over all.

Put the top on the pressure cooker and seal well.  Put the little bobble thing over the vent in the middle of the pressure cooker top.  Turn the gas up to high and when the bobble starts to swing back and forth, decrease the heat until the bobble continues a gentle swing. Cook for 30-35 minutes, remove from flame and set aside until the pressure button, located at the top of the handle, sinks completely to the bottom.

Open the pressure cooker and place the oxtails in a platter.  Boil the liquid down (no top) until it is reduced by half, then pour over the oxtails.


Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments