Saturday, July 11, 2015

Caramel Coated Catfish

This was a different fish dish for Fridays. I looked up more recipes and this is a Vietnamese specialty. There are many versions. This was very tasty – sweet, salty and a bit sour and spicy. Mmmm!

I also researched making caramel. The original recipe called for cooking equal amounts of water and sugar until golden brown. All that happened was it took forever for the water to boil away and I was left with hard lumpy sugar in the pan. Just start with melting the sugar to a golden brown.

Be sure to have all ingredients ready. When the sugar gets to the right point, you will need to act quickly.

Serves 4 - 6

1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp fish sauce
¼ tsp granulated onion
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/3 cup sugar
1 lb. catfish nuggets, trimmed to large chunks
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp lime juice
Dash Sriracha sauce to taste

Mix 1/3 cup of water with the fish sauce, granulated onion, garlic, and black pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat 1/3 cup of sugar in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar turns deep golden brown.

Gently stir in the fish sauce mixture and bring to a boil.

Add the catfish. Cover, and cook the catfish stirring occasionally, until the fish flakes easily with a fork - about 5 minutes.

Scoop the catfish to a plate, cover, and set aside. Increase heat to high and stir in another teaspoon of sugar and the lime juice. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce has reduced.

Return catfish to the pan and toss to coat with sauce.

Serve over rice or noodles. I served this over stir fried rice noodles and vegetables.

Adapted from: 

Mango Chicken Curry

This was sooo good! I really wanted seconds. I took left-overs to work for lunch the next day.

Serves 4 - 6

1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp candied ginger, diced
2 Tbsp yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
Sriracha sauce to taste

Heat large stainless skillet until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while preparing chicken and vegetables.

Turn heat to high and add sesame oil. When oil is hot, add chicken and sauté while stirring, until it starts to brown. Turn heat down to medium and add onion, bell pepper, garlic, ginger, curry and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens.

Add coconut milk, mango and lime juice, stirring to pick up all the browned bits. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Add salt, pepper and Sriracha to taste. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens.  

Serve over a very good rice like jasmine or basmati.

Adapted from: 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Third Annual Soup Party

Hosted by Kevin & Lynne
February 8, 2014
Reviewed by Gail

The Setting

There were ten entries this year. Jamie brought two! She must not have been able to make up her mind. I know I have that problem every year. I managed to try each one. I was so busy taking pictures of the soups this year that I didn't take any notes on the go withs. lol

 Attendees this year were: Kevin & Lynne, Jesse & Dianne, Doug, Carlie & Tammy, Paul & Judy, Ed & Linda, Matt and Dawn with daughters Hannah and Emily (who had her third birthday cake!), Bill & Cyndi, with granddaughters, Juliana and Joanna, (Jessica’s daughters), Chris & Jessica with baby, Deta & Dave, Richard & Gail with son Thomas, Jamie & Tommy.
2nd Runner Up

 Cindy’s Chili Soup
And this is a soup, not a chili. Ground beef and beans in a light beef and tomato broth.
+Texture: Good, the beef was loose, not chunky, the beans were tender. A very nice proportion of meat to broth and beans.
+Color: Excellent and appealing. A nice red chili color.
+Flavor: Excellent flavor - full chili flavor with overtones of beef broth and tomato juice without any overpowering saltiness or spicy heat.

Runner Up
 Dawn’s Turkey and Vegetable Soup
This was a lovely surprise. It looked like just any other chicken vegetable soup. But it was tasty. Dawn made it last week and froze it. It held up to freezing very well.
+Texture: Nice big tender - not mushy - chunks of carrot, zucchini, potatoes and tomatoes. There were some big chunks of turkey, but most of the turkey was shredded. I wished for more of that zucchini, especially this time of year. I really couldn't believe this soup had been frozen, given the very nice texture of the vegetables.
+Color: An appealing mix of green zucchini, orange carrots, red tomatoes and yellow potatoes in a nice light poultry and tomato broth.
+Flavor: Excellent. Something to warm up with on a cold winter night. Full flavored, savory, even umame.

And the Grand Prize Winner!

Linda’s Meatball and Tortellini Soup
A delightful entry from Linda. The little meatballs complemented the tortellini well. Nice size diced carrots and celery with diced spinach in a chicken broth.
+Texture: Excellent, everything was tender, not mushy or tough. Pasta nicely al dente; meatballs, carrots, celery tender; spinach tender - not stringy. Broth light and thin.
+Color: Excellent, nice contrast of creamy white pasta, diced carrots, flecks of green spinach.
+Flavor: Excellent. If I’d had the room, I would have eaten a whole bowl of this soup. Flavor was, hmmm, umame would describe it best. Savory, not salty, nothing overwhelming, but you will want more.

The Rest of the Tasty Offerings 

 Judy’s Spicy Tortellini Soup

 Lynne’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

Deta’s Wild Rice Soup

Dianne’s Beef and Vegetable Soup

Jamie’s Potato and Bacon Soup

Gail’s Polish Dill Pickle Soup

Jamie’s Taco Soup

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Second Annual Soup Party

January 26, 2013
Hosted by Kevin & Lynne
Reviewed by Gail

This was our second gathering, on its way to a truly annual event! I managed to sample all 9 soups :-) Again! After the unofficial, and totally unbiased ;-), judging, this year’s winners are:

2nd Runner Up
Carlie’s Ground Beef and Vegetable Soup. Carlie presented a colorful array of small diced tomatoes and veggies, cooked just tender and not mushy, in a flavorful beef broth.

Runner Up
Gail’s Hotel Roanoke Peanut Soup. This soup was a creamy, smooth, full flavored peanut butter soup. It was a little sweet, a little tart, a little savory and a touch of salty. If you like boiled peanuts, it had that almost addictive flavor.

And the Grand Prize this year goes to:
Judi’s Tortellini Soup. This very flavorful combination had delicious tender tortellinis in a beef broth with little sliced (breakfast?) sausages, diced tomatoes and veggies, with a touch of hot pepper. There was not enough of this entry. Everyone wanted to take some of this one home!

The Rest of the Tasty Offerings:
Lynne’s Butternut Squash Soup
Linda’s Turkey with Lentils & Barley Soup
Dawn’s Split Pea with Carrots and Ham Soup
Karen’s Spicy Beans and Rice Soup
Cynthia’s Potato Soup
Deta’s Zippy Corn Chowder

The go withs were great too!
Judi’s Bruschetta Appetizers with Chicken and Cheese – The Best!
Karen’s Cornbread and Butter – Great accompaniment to Carlie’s soup
Judi’s Date Walnut Bread with Cream Cheese – sweet and rich
Lynne’s Olive Rolls – nice and hard and crusty
Tammy’s Real Mincemeat Pie – an old fashioned venison favorite
Judi’s Brownies with Marshmallows – a yummy treat
Richard’s Home Canned Hot Pepper Mix – crunchy and not too hot
Gail’s Strawberry Banana Jello Fluff – what can I say? It’s Jello.
That Judi sure likes to bake! Thank you Judi.

Attendees were: Kevin & Lynne, Paul & Judi, Raymond, Ed & Linda, Dawn & Emily, Karen, Carlie & Tammy, Bill, Cindy & Juliana, Deta & Dave, Richard, Gail & Thomas.

First Annual Soup Party

January 28, 2012
Hosted by Kevin & Lynne
Reviewed by Gail

Lynne started this community event to get together during the mid-winter blahs. And what could be better than hot soup, good friends, a toasty wood stove and a few beers? My secret is to pace myself, so I manage to get a good taste of each entry.;-)

2nd Runner Up
Gail’s Smoked Chicken and Leek Soup. Here was a decadently savory broth with tender, tiny strips of leeks, shredded carrot and bits of smoked chicken. This soup was not as salty as the others and came off light in comparison. It could have benefitted from the addition of some fine egg noodles.

Runner Up
Judi’s Cabbage Soup. This soup was a pleasant surprise. It was the first soup I tasted and was so delicious, it was hard for the other entries to measure up. It had an attractive presentation with 1 inch pieces of pale green cabbage floating in a light clear broth with chunks of diced red tomatoes, carrots and Kielbasa. The vegetables were tender and perfect – not crunchy and not mushy. There were a few too many vegetables to broth ratio, but not so much to even come close to thinking it a stew. The flavor of the broth impressed me the most. It was savory and rich tasting, but not too salty. Recipe follows.

Grand Prize
Carlie’s 17 Bean and Bacon Soup. This was the only male entry and was absolutely delicious in its simplicity. When asked, Carlie said he “should have used more bacon”. There were tender, meaty, half inch pieces of bacon floating over an interesting variety of beans. The beans were a very pleasant surprise as they melted smoothly over my tongue. This soup was rich and flavorful, with a nice dark color, a good balance of savory and salty and a good proportion of beans to broth. I only wished there was more. Thank you, Carlie!

The Rest of the Tasty Offerings
Linda’s Italian Wedding Soup
Cynthia’s Vegetable Beef Soup
Deta’s Potato Soup
Karen’s Broccoli Cheese Soup
Lynne’s French Onion Soup
Janice’s Chili
And lots of go withs – breads, desserts, pickles.

Attendees: Kevin & Lynne, Judi & Paul, Ed & Linda, Bill & Cynthia, Carlie & Tammy, Karen, Gail, Richard & Thomas, Kerry & Janice.

Judi’s Cabbage Soup

Dice cabbage in one inch pieces and par-boil until just tender in a large box of Swanson’s Chicken Stock. Add diced onion, a large sliced carrot, a can of diced tomatoes, some sliced kielbasa, parsley, oregano, thyme, and 1 can beef broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until done.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Bleu Cheese and Sausage Crêpes

By Gail Foley

This recipe is from my first computer file of recipes, dating to the early ‘90s. I have the original magazine clipping that I adapted, but don’t remember the magazine. I dated the year to 1973/74 from the Fisher-Price Family Play Farm advertised on the back. The original recipe, Sausage-Filled Crepes, can be found all over the internet and contained no brand names.

This recipe is made so savory and elegant by substituting shredded process cheese with crumbled bleu cheese. It is also a bit lower in fat by using low-fat milk in the batter, Neufchâtel instead of cream cheese in the filling and non-fat sour cream in place of sour cream and butter for the sauce.

This makes an elegant brunch served with Mimosas and fresh fruit.

Serves 8

3 eggs
1 cup low-fat milk
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 cup sifted flour

1/4 cup (1 small) onion, finely diced
1 lb. bulk ground sausage (Good quality country sage)
3 oz. Neufchâtel
4 oz. crumbled bleu cheese
1 cup non-fat sour cream

Combine eggs, milk and oil. Add flour and beat until smooth. At this point the batter can be refrigerated for 3 to 6 hours. At least let it sit for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a 12x8-inch baking dish with canola oil spray.

Sauté sausage with onion until done. Drain well, then turn out on paper towels to drain some more. Rinse skillet with hot water to degrease. Place meat back in skillet and stir in Neufchâtel and bleu cheese.
Heat a 6-inch skillet until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return to medium heat and pour 2 tablespoons of batter into skillet and rotate to evenly distribute. Cook until set. Invert on toweling and stack to the side. Repeat, to make 16 crêpes. Remember to remove skillet from heat and give a quick spray of oil between each crêpe.
Place 2 tablespoons of meat mixture across center of each crêpe and roll up. Place seam side down in prepared baking dish.

Bake, covered, 30 minutes. Spoon sour cream over top. Bake, uncovered, five more minutes.

Serve immediately with some attractively arranged fresh fruit - a few strawberries, a small clump of grapes, apple slices or wedges of melon. Citrus slices are also elegant.