Chicken Udon Noodle Curry


When I was first introduced to Japanese cuisine, I didn’t know that they made curries.  I thought curries were for Indians Or Thai who delight in the hot and spicy.  When I started to assemble Japanese bento lunch boxes, I began to appreciate just how delicious and varied (way more than sukiyaki, tempura and sushi) Japanese cuisine was.


I discovered S & B Golden Curry Sauce mix in one of my first forays into Japanese cuisine. Later on I discovered that these curry tablets are also used in Indian cuisine.  The tablets come in mild, medium hot and hot.  The mild and medium hot are for babies and the hot is for the discerning adult but not overwhelming.


I wonder how long I’ve had this box 😀

Chicken Udon Noodle Curry

2 enormous, probably hormone enhanced chicken thighs or 4 normal local farm chicken thighs

3 carrots, diced

1 onion, halved and sliced


4 Golden Curry Sauce Mix tablets, quartered

1/4 cup Hon-tsuyu soup base

3 frozen blocks of fresh udon noodles

2-3 handfuls of baby spinach

Scallions, sliced

Hard boiled eggs halved

Place the thighs, carrots and onion in a stock pot with water to cover above ingredients 1 1/2 inches.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove thighs from pot, discard bones and skin, cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Add the curry tablets to the broth and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens. Add the reserved chicken and soup base, bring to a boil, then add the noodles and bring to a boil again.  Remove the pot from the flame and stir in the spinach.

Ladle into bowls, topping with scallions and egg.







Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Asian Braised Oxtails with Spinach


I really miss seasonal fruits and vegetables that even if not local, at least come from the same country I’m living in.  This is not to say that I’m opposed to buying imported produce, I’d just like a choice that’s not limited by considerations of maximum profit for the purveyors.  We have some wonderful agricultural states; California, Florida, Washington State, etc., but apparently South American imports, which don’t even produce the best quality, are adored by our suppliers.  And Peru must be giving the stuff away because I see their stickers all over the produce section 😦


Back in the day, when we were running in and out of Ireland, I bought matching wine and water glasses from Waterford.  Unfortunately, many were broken in storage but I still have a few, maybe enough to set a table for eight.  So that’s okay.  The pomegranate from south of the border was ruby red but not very sweet.  California has nice pomegranates.


On the other hand, I bought a couple of Bosc pears from Washington State that were very good and would have been perfect with a Brie de Meaux and a glass of the Veuve.  Sigh.

Anyway, there were some oxtails in the freezer and since they were on top of everything else, I thought why not?


I was determined to do something easy and Asian, so I gathered my ideas and ingredients about me.  My pantry is almost as bad as my freezer.  Overkill.  But that means I can pretty much satisfy most of my foreign food cravings 🙂


This is really easy.  If you want, you can brown the oxtails before hand but it’s not necessary and I couldn’t be bothered.  All you have to do is cut up and mix the ingredients, put everything into a decent pressure cooker and it’s over in 30-35 minutes.


I used to be afraid of pressure cookers but my cook Abdoulaye taught me to use them safely and insisted that I buy a deluxe model because he liked pressure cookers and knew he would get it when I moved on to another country  😀


In the meantime, saute some shallots and mixed mini pepper slices in butter, adding and wilting handfuls of spinach inside and you’re good to go.


Asian Braised Oxtails

2 1/2-3 lbs 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 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Canadian Bacon Fry Up


In general, I would say that I’m a confident cook, especially when I’ve done something a zillion times before.  However, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve cured meat, I have a tendency to freak out a bit when I remove it from the brine and it looks gray and unappetizing.


Me:  Oh my God!  It didn’t cure!

Meat:  Stop it.

Same thing when I cut into it.


Me:  Is that raw?  Didn’t that cure? Holy Mother of God!

Meat:  Sigh

Anyway.  Since this was my first time making Canadian bacon, I wanted to taste test it before rolling in cornmeal and freezing for the holidays.  The recipe was good!  Not at all like the smoked Canadian bacon you can buy in the supermarket, but more like fried country ham without the American flavoring.


I cut some slices from the back end of the bacon for the test, preserving the meatier front end for attractive, holiday breakfasts and brunches that will include Eggs Benedict.  I’ve got this easy, age old recipe for blender hollandaise sauce that can be kept warm in a thermos.  But more on that during the holidays.


I don’t know why the Canadians roll the bacon in cornmeal but if you do, let me know.

Okay, to finish the recipe:  Remove the cured bacon from the brine, rinse, then soak in cold water for about 40 minutes, changing the water twice.  Drain and dry the bacon, then roll in yellow corn meal.  Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.



Posted in Canadian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Chicken Noodle Soup with Sage


There’s nothing like a big pot of soup to chase the winter chill from your bones!  We’ve had our first snow; not a lot but just a warning.


Whenever I cook, I miss my family.  The children of course are doing what young adults must; college and working.  On the other hand, my husband is still in Haiti, having a last fling, pretending not to be retired.  That’s coming to a screeching halt December 15th when he finally surrenders, comes home and has something decent to eat 🙂

Chicken Noodle Soup with Sage

2 tbsp olive oil

6 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on

1 onion, chopped

3 celery branches, diced

3 carrots, diced

Ground sage

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper


1 pkg frozen fresh noodles, coarsely broken

In a skillet, briefly brown the thighs in the olive oil, then remove and place in a stock pot. Add the onion, celery and carrots to the skillet, sauteing until the onion is soft.  Sprinkle a coating of ground sage over the vegetables, add the salt and pepper, then place in the stock pot with the chicken.  Add water to the pot 1-2 inches above the ingredients, bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour.

Remove the chicken thighs from the pot, remove skin and bones, then cut into bite size pieces.  Return the chicken to the pot, bring to a boil, add the noodles and boil for 1-2 minutes.


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

Udon Soup with Seaweed


I had some vaguely hopeful news this morning and decided to celebrate with a quick udon noodle soup.  I had some frozen noodles blocks in the freezer, scallions, seaweed salad and an udon noodle Hon Tsuyu soup base.  Perfect.

Udon Soup with Seaweed

1/4 cup Hon Tsuyu noodle soup base

1 1/4 cup water

2 scallions, sliced

1 serving block of frozen udon noodles

1/3 cup Japanese seaweed salad

1 hard-boiled egg, halved

Chilli garlic sauce (optional)

Bring the soup base, water and scallions to a boil.  Add the noodles, bring back to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes.

Place the noodles in a serving bowl, top with the seaweed and hard boiled egg.  Pour the soup over the top.  Serve with chilli sauce if desired.


Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Les Boites


I made a very easy kale and veal meatball soup today.  It was easy because I used “les boites” or cans, prepared veal meatballs and kale in a bag.  Sometimes I lack drive 🙂  The meatballs, while expensive, are of excellent quality and the kale was okay but perhaps not the variety I prefer.  Still, the soup was good and will be better tomorrow.


When we were overseas with our toddler son, he would request a “can” for lunch or dinner, meaning Spaghetti O’s, Chef Boyardee’s ravioli, Beefaroni, etc.  We had cases of these for the times when we had to go to early receptions or couldn’t be bothered on the weekends. Yeah, I felt sort of bad about it, but we still had a lot of cases 😉

Kale and Veal Meatball Soup

6 thick sliced bacon strips, sliced into batons

2 tbsp butter

1 large onion, halved and sliced

4 garlic cloves, chopped

8 0z bag of kale, cleaned and tough stems removed

2 (14 oz) cans of diced tomatoes

3 (14 oz) cans of chicken broth

2 cups of water

Salt and pepper

24  prepared and cooked veal meatballs

Parmesan cheese, grated

In a large skillet, brown and crisp the bacon, remove and set aside.  Pour out the bacon fat and melt the butter in the skillet.  Add the onion and garlic, sauteing until soft.  Add the kale in handfuls, continuing to saute until all the kale is wilted.  Transfer the skillet contents to a large stockpot.

Pour the tomatoes, chicken broth and water into the stockpot, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the meatballs, bring back to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.

Top with the bacon and cheese to serve.





Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Real Canadian Bacon I


For over 30 years in countries, including France, I have brine cured pork to transform it into American style ham.  I like other hams; Bayonne, Serrano, Jambon d’Aoste, but my favorite ham remains that cured and smoked/unsmoked in the United States.  Sue me.

This week I was discussing boneless pork loin roast for the holidays with the butcher at the Super Duper market.  He went into the back room and returned with an enormous, over 12 lb boneless pork loin roast.  He explained the cut and mentioned that about 3 lbs of the leaner portion at the end was the portion used to make Canadian bacon and that the larger portion would still make a substantial roast.  Of course I had to do this 🙂  He showed me where I should cut it and away I went.

Interestingly, while researching recipes for Canadian bacon, I discovered that we don’t have it in the U.S.  The bacon that we call Canadian is smoked to appeal to American tastes.  Real Canadian bacon is brined, rolled in corn meal or ground yellow lentils and either sliced and fried or cooked as a roast.  So I’m doing that!

The brine recipes that I saw on the internet were un-Rosemary, in that the fresh garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves were missing.  I did add bay leaves, substituted the white sugar for brown sugar and used potassium nitrate instead of Prague powder.  The large white container in the top picture is potassium nitrate that has bumped around the world with me for decades, doesn’t go bad and always works.


I will keep the pork in brine for 2 weeks.  I like to put the meat in a zip lock bag, pour in the brine and, in case the brine leaks a bit, put the bag in a vegetable bin in the refrigerator.

We’ll see what happens in two weeks.  I’m a little excited about rolling the roast in yellow cornmeal.  Those Canadians!

Canadian Bacon Brine Cure

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup kosher salt

1 tsp potassium nitrate

1 tbsp powdered garlic

2-3 bay leaves

1 gallon pure, filtered water (can buy at store if your house water is questionable)

3 lb boneless pork loin

Mix the sugar, salt potassium, garlic powder, bay leaves and water together until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

Put the pork loin in a 2 1/2 gallon zip lock bag, pour in the brine, expel the air from the bag and place into a refrigerator, vegetable bin.  Make sure the meat is completely submerged.  You can weight it down with a pint jar filled with water.  Refrigerate for 2 weeks.



Posted in Canadian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments