Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pho or Vietnamese Shrimp Noodle Soup

Here's David's quote regarding one of the families all-time favorite recipe:

"For me, eating this pho is the culinary equivalent of listening to the Grateful Dead.  When I listen to the Dead, I can hear each of the individual players and instruments playing separately and beautifully, but together for the benefit of the whole.  When I taste pho, I can taste the individual flavors of chicken, shrimp, basil, cilantro, garlic, ginger, mint, cinnamon and lime as they all come together to make a symphony of tastes that makes my tongue dance!"

We absolutely love pho any which way! Check out our beef version that I posted earlier in my blog.  It's a staple dish among the Vietnamese and in our household as well. Enjoy!

4 boxes of chicken broth
2 cans vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined (save the shells to help add flavor to the broth)
3 - 4 carrots, broken into pieces
3 - 4 celery ribs, broken into pieces
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 head of garlic sliced in half
6 - 8 cloves of garlic, mashed
1 - 4 inch piece of fresh ginger
8 whole cloves
12 whole peppercorns
1 stick of cinnamon
3 - 4 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire
1/4 cup white wine
5 oz sliced shitake mushrooms
fresh basil
fresh cilantro
fresh mint
1 bunch green onions sliced thin
2 large red onion sliced paper thin
8 ounces bean sprouts
3 fresh limes sliced into wedges
1 - 2 fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced thin
1/2 lb. rice stick boiled in water for 4 minutes right before serving
Tuong Ot Sriracha Red Chili Sauce
Hoisin Sauce (optional)

Bring water, broth, shrimp shells, carrots, celery, chopped onion, whole head of garlic sliced in the middle, half of the ginger, peeled and sliced, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, a few sprigs each of cilantro, basil and the zest and juice of 1 lime. Simmer for at least 1 - 2 hours.

Marinate the shrimp in soy sauce, wine, Worcestershire, minced garlic, finely grated ginger, sliced red onion and green onions. Set aside in fridge.

Arrange a platter of bean sprouts, all the fresh herbs, sliced jalapenos and lime wedges.

After broth has cooked, strain the broth. Discard veggies, shells, etc... Bring the broth to a boil and skim the foaming fat. Add bouillon, stir well. Add shrimp, onions, remaining marinade and mushrooms to the broth. Heat though and bring to another boil until shrimp turns pink in color, then ready to serve.

To assemble and serve soup, distribute noodles in big soup bowls, then pour broth and shrimp mixture over noodles to cover.

Just before eating tear the fresh herbs into pieces. Add a handful of sprouts and squeeze a lime wedge or two, jalapeno slices to taste. Serve with Sriracha and Hoisin Sauce. Use Sriracha sparingly.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mediterranean Grilled Red Snapper

What is better in summer than some grilled Red Snapper.

1 whole red snapper (about 4-1/2 pounds), scaled, gutted and cavity cut open*
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
freshly ground pepper pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves or 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 2 teaspoons dried basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or 2 teaspoons dried cilantro

2 teaspoons lemon pepper
2 teaspoons Tony Cachere's Cajun seasoning
4 slices lemon
5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
splash of Worcestershire Sauce

Fresh oregano sprigs (optional)

*This can be done by your fish retailer at the time of purchase or you may wish to do this yourself.

Prepare grill for direct cooking. Rinse snapper under cold running water; pat dry with paper towels. Open cavity of snapper; brush with lemon juice. Sprinkle lightly with Tony Cachere's and pepper. Combine 1 tablespoon oil, chopped oregano, basil, cilantro, garlic and a splash of Worcestershire in small bowl. Using small spatula, spread mixture inside cavity of snapper. Place lemon slices in cavity; close snapper. Secure opening by threading 6-inch metal skewer lengthwise through outside edge of cavity.

Place snapper directly on oiled grid. Grill snapper, on uncovered grill, over medium-hot coals 20 to 25 minutes or until snapper flakes easily when tested with fork, turning halfway through grilling time.

Soak oregano sprigs in water. Place oregano sprigs directly on coals during last 10 minutes of grilling.

Transfer snapper to carving board.  Remove skewer from snapper. Slit skin from head to tail along back and belly of snapper; pull skin from top side of snapper with fingers. Discard skin. Using utility knife, separate top fillet from backbone; cut into serving-size pieces. Lift up tail; pull forward to free backbone from lower fillet. Cut lower fillet into serving-size pieces.

Friday, August 27, 2010

David's Infamous Frozen Margaritas

David and I have been known to take our blender to many places....near and far.  David's been making these tasty, tangy beverages for as long as I've known him, almost 25 years now.  =)

1 small can frozen Minute Maid Limeade
1 can tequila
1/2 can of Triple Sec

In a blender combine all ingredients, except salt and lime.  Squeeze some lime juice onto a small saucer and onto another saucer add salt enough to salt a couple of margarita glasses.  Twirl the lip of the margarita glass in the juice and then twirl in the salt if desired.  Serve margs in the salt-rimmed glassed and garnish with a slice of lime.

Ginger, Soy, Lime Marinated Grilled Shrimp

This is a fabulous grilled shrimp recipe we tried for the first time and was a hit with the family.   This has a great combination of flavors and is a great summertime meal.  I highly recommend using whole shrimp, heads, shells and all because it adds such great flavors.  Although, it is a bit of a mess, it's worth it.  This marinade would be good on chicken too.

2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 pounds large shrimp, shells, heads and tails on

Place shallots, ginger, garlic, soy, lime juice, and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the green onion and oil and blend until combined. Season with black pepper, to taste. Place shrimp in a large bowl, pour the marinade over, and let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Preheat a grill to high. Remove shrimp from the marinade and grill for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Arrange shrimp on skewers (if using wood skewers makes sure you soak them in water for thirty minutes so they don't burn on the grill).  Serve on brown paper bags, if desired.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Spicy Corn and Potato Chowder

This is a delicious corn and potato chowder recipe.  I used fresh corn cut from the cob instead of frozen. This is a great base recipe that can be tweaked to satisfy your foodie pallet any time of the year. You can add crab in the summer, shrimp in the fall, or ham in the winter. Easy to make and it smells great while cooking.

4 pieces thick-sliced bacon, chopped
1 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small jalapeno, chopped seeds and ribs removed
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 large red potatoes, well scrubbed and small diced
1 cup heavy cream
16 ounces frozen corn
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf

In a small saucepan over medium heat, saute the bacon until crisp and browned and the fat is rendered. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel and reserve. There should be about 4 tablespoons of bacon grease in pan.

Add the onions and red pepper to pan. Saute until tender and translucent, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the jalapeno and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the flour until thoroughly combined. Cook the flour until it reaches a slight blonde color, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken stock and the potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes; potatoes will become soft. Add the cream, corn, cayenne and bay leaf. Simmer for 15 more minutes. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with the reserved bacon.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Monte Cristo

This is a really good twist on the traditional grilled ham and cheese.  The onion rings are a sweet compliment to the sour and savory mustard. 

8 slices of brioche bread (about 1/4-inch thick)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Creole or whole grain mustard
16 thin slices of honey maple ham
12 thin slices of Swiss cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium red onions, marinated in hot sauce, dredged in flour and fried until golden brown and seasoned with Tony Cahchere's.  Recipe can be found here: Sweet Onion Rings

Brush one side of each piece of brioche with butter. Spread the other half with mustard. On four slices of bread, mustard side up, lay a piece of cheese. Place four slices of ham on top of the cheese. Layer a few onion rings over ham.  Lay a piece of cheese over the onion rings. Top each pile with the remaining bread, mustard side down. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and cream together. Season with salt and pepper. Dip sandwiches in the egg mixture and place 2  sandwiches on a hot skillet with melted butter and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and the cheese has melted.  Fry the remaining sandwiches adding more butter as necessary.

Slice the sandwiches in half and serve with the remaining fried onion rings.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Onion Rings

This is super easy, but one of the best onion ring recipes I've found.  Having dinner last night at the Twisted Root with Avery, her 3 best friends and their Mom's inspired me.  TR has some of the best burgers, fries and onion rings in town.  After dinner it was off to watch Jack Johnson perform live at Super Pages.  Great food, great music and a great time was had hanging with the girls!

1 red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup  Tabasco
1 cup all-purpose flour 
vegetable oil
Tony Cachere's Creole Seasoning

Marinate the onion slices in Tabasco, just enough to coat the onions.  Set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to an hour.  Dredge the rings in flour and fry in hot oil until golden.  Place on paper towel to drain.  Season immediately with Tony Cachere's.  Fry in batches so as not to crowd the rings.  Keep warm in the oven until all batches are done.  Serve with ketchup.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Italian Carpaccio

We're definitely in carpaccio mode this week.  There are so many different ways of preparing carpaccio.  Here's a classic, yet easy Italian version.  Honestly, we prefer the Vietnamese version (recipe below), but this is still very good.

12 ounce whole beef tenderloin
Bunch of arugula, torn
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and cracked black pepper to season
Parmigiano Reggiano shavings
1 lemon, juiced

To start your Beef Carpaccio:

Freeze your beef tenderloin for at least 2 hours. This makes it easier to slice the beef.

Cut beef into thin slices and place each slice between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. With a beef pounder, flatten out the beef until it is paper thin.  Remove from plastic wrap and place on a large plate. Add a few arugula leaves, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese shavings over the raw meat.

Add a generous amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice, just before serving.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Vietnamese Beef Carpaccio

This fantastic, upscale Vietnamese carpaccio recipe is guaranteed to please the palette.  Yes, the beef is 'raw', but it has been cooked in the acidity of the fish sauce and lime juice. If you're the squeamish type, you can sear the beef on the outside before slicing, but why mess with a wonderful thing? Just make sure you have a reputable butcher where you can find a nice, fresh cut of beef.  One of our favorite meat markets in Dallas is Rudolph's in Deep Ellum.  They've been in business since 1895 and the butchers are always very welcoming and have great tidbits of advice.  For instance, to get the thinnest slices put the beef in the freezer for at least 2 hours before slicing.  If you haven't been to Rudolph's yet I highly recommend you check them out.

We came to love this dish at one of our favorite restaurants in Dallas, East Wind.  Miss Davis, the previous proprietor, is always so sweet and charming.  My In-Laws went into the restaurant for the first time and carpaccio wasn't on the menu, but Miss Davis always being the kind soul that she is said "It's not on the menu, but we can certainly make it."  Carpaccio's been on the menu ever  since and Tom, my Father-In-Law is known by her as "Thomas Carpaccio."  David and I had our rehearsal dinner at East Wind 19 years ago, so it holds a very special place in our hearts as does Miss Davis.  Miss Davis, this recipe is for you!  

1 - 1/2 lbs beef tenderloin or eye of round, sliced paper-thin against the grain

For the Dressing:

Juice of 3 limes
¼ cup good fish sauce (nước mắm (fish sauce))
3 tablespoon white sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece (½ inch) ginger, grated
1 pinch dried chiles or 1 Thai bird chile, chopped fine, suit to taste

For Garnishes:

crushed roasted peanuts or cashews
cilantro, chopped
Thai basil, shredded
mint, shredded
scallions, chopped or shallots, minced
fried garlic bits
drizzle of lime juice

Mix dressing ingredients until sugar is well dissolved. Let stand for at least 10 minutes, up to overnight.

Add beef and ¾ of dressing to a bowl and ensure all slices are in contact with dressing.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain beef and arrange on a chilled platter. Drizzle with remaining dressing or serve the dressing in a small bowl and use as a dipping sauce, then sprinkle with garnishes of your choice, I recommend all of them. Serve immediately. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tempura Fried Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Served with a Tomato Dipping Sauce

We were at Spiceman's FM 1410 again this weekend, always curious about all the wonderfully fresh produce they have to offer.  Cole helped us this visit and they had the most beautiful squash blossoms, among many other tasty, veggie delights.  I had just seen a show on how to prepare these and I was all over that deal.  They literally are these gorgeous, yellow flowers that are edible.  Cole suggested we fry them in a tempura batter, which is exactly what we did, but we took it a step further and stuffed them with a savory, herb and goat cheese mixture.  We also made a zesty tomato dipping sauce that was a great compliment to these fried, crunchy treats.  If you don't want to spend the time making tempura from scratch, then buy the boxed batter in the Asian section of your grocery store.  I've always loved tempura fried vegetables (especially sweet potatoes) and now I will add this recipe to my repertoire.  This was so unique and interestingly good, I was thrilled with how well they turned out.  This would be a fun dish to serve at a dinner party or a luncheon.

In addition to the blossoms we got a $20 assortment of their wild mushrooms to make our fabulous Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup.  Check out this link to learn more about our new, favorite farmer's market, Spiceman's FM 1410 and also to check out this rich, earthy and flavorful soup. 

Spiceman's and our Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Tempura Batter:

1/4 cup rice flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups soda water

Goat Cheese Filling:

1 (8-ounce) log mild goat cheese, softened
5 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped chervil or parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
16 squash blossoms
Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
Fried Basil Leaves, recipe follows

Tempura Batter:

Sift together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk in the soda water, a little at a time, until the right consistency is achieved. The batter should coat the back of a spoon, but some excess batter should run off the spoon. Allow to rest in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before use.

Goat Cheese Filling:

Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Shape the mixture into 1 tablespoon balls. Make sure the squash blossoms are well cleaned. Open the flowers and insert 1 goat cheese ball in each flower. Gently press the filling into the base of the flower. Cover with the petals and pinch the top to seal. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat a fryer or a deep pot halfway filled with peanut oil to 375 degrees F.

Hold the squash blossoms by the stem. Dip each into the tempura batter, making sure to coat completely. Let any excess batter drip off. Place the blossom in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, turning often to brown evenly. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Place some of the Tomato Sauce on the bottom of a plate. Top with 2 squash blossoms and garnish with Fried Basil leaves.

Tomato Sauce:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Pinch chili flakes
2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
4 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
4 basil leaves, chiffonade
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and heat. Add the onion, garlic, and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Lower the heat and cook until the tomatoes start to disintegrate and mixture is of sauce consistency, about 15 minutes. Add the thyme, basil, and remaining olive oil and mix well.

Fried Basil Leaves:

Vegetable oil or peanut oil
8 basil leaves
Heat about 1/2-inch of the oil in a steep-sided saute pan to 350 degrees F. Or heat a deep fryer to 350 degrees F.

Pat the basil leaves dry to remove any surface water. Carefully drop the basil leaves in the hot oil. The oil will spit and splatter as the moisture in the leaves fries. Fry for 10 seconds or just until the leaves start to become translucent. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Steamed Blue Crabs

Another one of our family favorites hails from Baltimore, David's birth town and it's a blue crab feast.  Like crawfish, we usually buy our live blue crabs from either Fiesta Supermarket or an Asian market.  For our family of five, we buy about 10-12 pounds. Spread out a good layering of newspaper to cover your table.  Have plenty of crackers on hand to crack into the very hard shells.  Serve with "Old Bay" and an icy cold beverage and feast away.

A great recipe for the leftover crab is my Aunt Bette's easy, but delicious crab dip. 

Bette's Crab Dip

10-12 pounds of live blue crabs
Old Bay Seasoning

Pour the crabs into one side of the sink, and spray them to clean them.  Then, mix up a cup of Old Bay and salt.  Begin to boil a large pot with only a couple inches of water in it.  Put a vegetable steamer into the pot to keep the crabs out of the water, and layer the crabs onto the steamer.  Once you’ve got a good layer of crab, generously sprinkle the Old Bay/Salt mixture on the crabs, then another layer of crabs, etc...

Let the water boil as the crabs steam for approximately 12 minutes.  Once the crabs are a red color, take them out and put them in a large plate or bowl.  Spread newspaper on the table and serve with cold beer for adults and ice-cold lemonade for the kids.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Cassidy baked up a batch of her favorite cookies, Snickerdoodles.  Oh my, how wonderful they made our house smell.  Nice job, Cassidy, the cookies turned out perfect.  =)

1 - 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 - 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix 1 - 1/2 cups sugar, butter, shortening and eggs.  Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  Shape into 1 - 1/4 inch balls.

Mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon.  Roll balls in mixture.  Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until set; cool.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Crispy Skillet Potatoes

This was the perfect accompaniment to the Chicken Fried Pork recipe I previously posted.

1 tablespoon hot chili oil
1 cup cooked Yukon gold potatoes
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat hot chili oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the potatoes. Stir in the garlic cloves, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until crispy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chicken Fried Pork with Sweet Jalapeno Sauce

I was looking for a good boneless pork chop recipe and leave it to Robin Miller to come to my rescue.  I served this with Crispy Skillet Potatoes (recipe to follow).  So easy and everyone loved it and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand so I didn't have to make a grocery store run

4 (4-ounce) boneless pork chops
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt-free garlic and herb seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapenos
1/4 cup honey

Place pork chops between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/2-inch thick. Season both sides with salt and black pepper.

In a shallow dish, combine flour and garlic and herb seasoning. Mix well. Add pork to flour mixture and turn to coat both sides.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine beef broth, jalapenos and honey. Mix until blended. Add broth-jalapeno mixture to the pork and bring to a simmer. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes, until pork is cooked through and sauce thickens.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chicken Flautas

A store bought rotisserie chicken works great for this recipe.  This is a good recipe to double and after frying freeze half of the flautas to have later for another meal or snack.

Vegetable or canola oil, for frying
2 TBSP butter
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 

1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat finely shredded
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime 

Salt and pepper to taste
16 corn tortilla


Fill a large pot with enough oil to reach 2 inches up the side of the pan.  Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reads 375 degrees F.  To make the filling: In a skillet, over medium heat, melt butter and saute onions and jalapenos until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant, another 2 minutes.  Add chicken; stir to combine.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, and lime juice.  Add a little more butter (about 2 TBSP) if you prefer a more moist filling.  Let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Working with 4 tortillas at a time, spread a heaping spoonful along the middle of each tortilla.  Roll tortilla tightly around the filling. Using tongs, hold each flauta, seam side down, in hot oil until firm, then release to continue cooking; turn frequently.  Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with salt.  Keep flautas warm in the oven on a cookie sheet, while assembling and cooking the remaining flautas.

Serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.