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Piri Piri Bubble Chicken Soup


Nothing makes me more exited than getting a package in the mail and opening it up to find some sort of tasty food item for me to try out. Okay, going out for dinner to some place that sells, crispy spicy Korean chicken wings would make me pretty damned excited at this very moment but getting a box of Nandos Piri Piri sauces came pretty close. I really love a good Portuguese rotisserie chicken and am pretty happy that Toronto is home to a large Portuguese community so there is no shortage of great places to get it but what makes Nandos Piri Piri a bit different is that their flamed grilled chicken originates from the Mozambican–Portuguese community. The discovery of the African Bird's Eye Chili back in the day resulted in a dish that is much spicier than traditional Portuguese rotisserie. I was just about to make myself lunch when the box came so I switched out the intended aji amarillo sauce for some piri piri in my freshly made chicken stock (made from the remnants of a rotisserie chicken so it just felt destined to be) and then drizzled a tiny bit more right onto the top of the soup just before I ate it. 

Speaking of rotisserie chickens, one of my favourite lazy supper time cheats comes in a cute plastic bubble.You know those rotisserie chickens that you pick up from Loblaws on your way home from work on those nights where you are running late, there is nothing but a dried out chunk of cheddar, two slices of stale bread and a frozen pizza and a passel of hungry people waiting for you at home? For us, one bubble chicken will provide three meals. We eat it as an actual roast chicken on day one, shred up the leftover meat and do something like quesadillas on day two and turn the carcass and leftover bits into stock and make soup on day three. Three dinners out of an $8 chicken certainly works for me.

As for the Nandos peri peri, the hot is very hot, the medium is almost just as hot and the garlic is a bit milder than the medium. I think that I like the medium the best so far, although the garlic is tasty but it's a bit mild for me. The citrusy, herby flavour was a nice change from some of my other hot sauces - I do really prefer a hot sauce that is also full of flavour as opposed to straight up heat only and I can't wait to try this stuff on some chicken. I did use a couple tsp of the garlic in the soup for flavour but added another tsp of the medium for more heat so you could skip the garlic sauce and just use 2 or 3 tsp of the medium hot sauce in your soup.  This was a nice, quick way to jazz up a simple noodle bowl on an overcast, crappy afternoon and I look forward to it out in something else soon.

*Clearly, Nandos gave me the sauces to try out and play with for free but if I didn't like it, I would have just kept my trap shut and slowly backed out of the room. 


 Piri Piri Bubble Chicken Soup with Vermicelli


serves one

*2 cups bubble chicken stock
1 serving rice vermicelli (you determine what one serving looks like to you, as always, I don't judge)
1 handful brocolli florets
1 small chunk of yellow and orange pepper, sliced into strips
1 small chunk red onion, sliced
2 tsp of garlic piri piri
1 tsp med piri piri (or to taste)
handful of shredded chicken leftover from making the stock
1 scallion sliced
1 tsp black sesame seeds

*Bubble Chicken Stock

1 tbls olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
chicken carcass
water
kosher salt

Heat the olive in a medium sized stock pot over med heat and throw in the garlic, bay leaf, carrot, onion and celery and saute until the veg are soft and very fragrant - about 5 to 7 minutes, more or less. Put the chicken carcass into the pot (break it up if it's whole) and add enough water to cover. I always pour very hot water into the bottom of the bubble container and swish around to make sure I get all of the congealed fat and juices at the bottom and add that to the soup pot.

Give it a quick taste and add a bit of salt if needed then bring it to a light simmer and let it simmer away for at least 45 minutes. If I have the time, I like to turn off the heat and let the whole pot cool down enough that I will be able to handle the chicken but if you don't have that time, you can strain it while it's hot. So, strain the solids out and set the chicken stock aside while you pick through the solids, looking for chunks of chicken. When you have picked out all of the chicken meat, discard the rest of the bones and solids, shred the chicken and set aside until you make the soup.


Okay to make the soup:

Heat 2 cups of chicken stock in a soup pot until it comes to a light simmer. Meanwhile, pour boiling water over the vermicelli noodles in a big bowl and let them soak while you prepare the soup.

Into the simmering stock, add the broccoli, peppers, onion, piri piri and chicken meat and cook for about 4 minutes. Check your noodles and make sure they are soft and drain them, adding the strained noodles into your big soup bowl. Cover the noodles with your chicken soup (make sure you taste it one last time and adjust any salt and/or piri piri to your liking first), scatter the sliced scallions and sesame seeds on top and, if you want a bit more of a spicy hit, drizzle a bit of the med piri piri over the top.


The Week in Yum Oct 19-24

baked potato+chili+cheese=happy men folk here at casa shack


It was a bit of a slow week as far as exciting food experiences go but on Sunday, I finally got around to making  Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce after reading about it for years. It was very tasty but it didn't blow my socks off - I won't go into it again, just click the link if you want to hear all the gritty details about how I lose my blogger badge.


I don't even recall what we ate on Monday so that probably means pizza was ordered. It happens. All I care about is that I went to see Gravity with a friend and that means that I dined on my personal crack, movie popcorn and I wasn't hungry at dinner time so I  just made myself a salad. I have to say, the movie, the company and the popcorn were wonderful and I highly suggest that you indulge in both of these things ASAP.

Tuesday, Shack and I went to see ANOTHER movie in the afternoon - two days in a row spent eating movie popcorn and watching movies. I am totally living the dream people. We went to see Rush, another very good movie and if you think you aren't interested because you aren't into auto sports, think again. It's a great story, beautifully shot and MR HEMSWORTH. And movie popcorn.


Before seeing the movie we decided to give Ryu's Noodle Bar another chance. A few weeks back we dropped in for some pre Bowie AGO lunch and poor Shack had the worst restaurant karma. They actually ran out of rice (at a japanese restaurant????) and when he then changed his order to gyoza, they had ran out of those and were going to have to make more and it would be about a 40 minute wait. Poor Shack. The food that we did eat was very good and this time, although he didn't actually order gyoza or rice, we did enquire and were relieved to hear that both of these items were made and in stock. I do worry about a japanese restaurant with such a tiny menu that actually runs out of things on that menu during a lunch service (I can always understand running out of the daily special later on in the evening but rice?). Anyway, I am happy to report that we enjoyed our miso ramen with spicy tofu just as much as we did the last time although we both left half a bowl of broth uneaten because we were absolutely full. It is such a ridiculously rich broth that we would only be able to finish it if we could split it with a side of extra noodles perhaps. It would be great to see half orders on the menu.
that black stuff is the addictive garlic shallot oil that you should order and add straight into your soup



Wednesday for dinner we had those baked potatoes stuffed with chili and piled high with melty cheese, salsa fresco and sour cream that you see up top because I love my boys and food like that makes them very, very happy.

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce At Last




So, as a food blogger, you can't escape food trends. You wake up one morning and suddenly every man and his dog is making one pot pasta and then a few months later it's nothing but cake pops as far as the eye can see. Sometimes you get lucky and you are one of the mavericks who makes boozy popsicles before the trends catches on and you can feel like a rock star for two minutes but you usually just sit there wondering where in the hell these trends are manufactured. On the whole, I tend to shy away from many of them unless they truly intrigue me (which is also why I tend to stay away from holiday themed posts because, lets be honest, with 3330000000098898.43 food blogs out there making halloween themed recipes, do you really need any more from me?)


With the recent passing of Marcella Hazan, the grandmother of Italian cuisine who taught generations of North Americans how to cook Italian food, we are seeing a retrending of her famous tomato sauce. This sauce could not be more simple - simmer a 280z can of good quality of plum tomatoes, 5 tbls of butter, a whole, peeled onion halved with a bit of salt for 45 minutes. That's it. That is the recipe that set the blogger world on fire.


I made this buttery tomato sauce last night after years of reading virtual soliloquies devoted to the wondrousness of this stuff. If you google Marcella Hazan tomato sauce, you will be rewarded with page after page of newspaper articles, blogger entries and entire treaties written about this sauce which is probably why I wasn't in a rush to make it. My inner anarchist teenager wanted to stay away from something that was so popular, much like my dismissal of any band that anyone else had heard of when I was 16. I am no longer 16 and so I finally decided it was time.

This sauce was very good. I don't want you to misunderstand because I really did like it but I am not 100% sure that I actually prefer it over the old saute onion and garlic in lots of olive oil then add the tomato kind. It was really, really rich and almost kind of bordering on too heavy and I am not sure if I would make it again. Shack said he really enjoyed it but The Kid immediately asked me why it tasted different and said it was okay but he preferred the sauce I usually make and actually left half of his pasta unfinished. I found that I could only eat a small bowl before feeling like it was enough which is kind of good because it means I am eating less pasta but kind of bad because that sauce had 5 tbls of butter in it in the first place so I am sure it all comes out equal in the wash. I don't use 5 tbls of olive oil in the same size batch of sauce but even if I did, the much olive oil is healthier than that much butter so there is the health aspect as well. Oh my god, I just brought health into it which means I really am getting old. In the end, I think I was expecting too much - I was expecting the culinary version of Walter White's blue meth and instead it was just a really tasty tomato sauce. Am I going to lose my food blogger badge? 

Now, that said, you should all make it and try it because, as I said, it is really good and totally worth the effort and I am sure that most of you will love it so much that it will become your new, go to tomato sauce. I would happily eat it again but I am just not sure that the next time I crave a simple marinara, that I would choose to go this route over sautéed garlic and onion in olive oil. I think what I might do is try it again and replace the butter with olive oil and throw in a clove of garlic and see how that turns out.




Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce


28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes, ran through a food mill (Shack hates chunks)
5 tbls butter
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
pinch kosher salt 
1 bunch of fresh basil (I added this and it is not in the original recipe but I think it was great)

Put the tomatoes, butter, basil and onion with a pinch of salt in a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the onion before serving. I wish that I had kept the onion and mashed it up and spread it on toasted bread instead of throwing it out so don't throw it out if you think that sounds like a plan


The Week in Yum Oct 12-18

strawberry skor pavolva


This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving which means I was busy shopping, cooking and cleaning in preparation for our Sunday dinner. We had the MVP family over as well as my mother in law and enjoyed a thankful feast of roast turkey, port gravy, portuguese cornbread stuffing (recipe coming soon), mashed buttermilk potatoes, lots of veggies and salad and two desserts. I made an apple pecan upside down cake and a strawberry skor pavlova loaded up with dulce de leche drizzle and dark chocolate curls. I have to say that a big turkey dinner is truly one of my favourite things on earth and I am always especially thankful that the Canadian holiday usually falls early enough that it doesn't spoil my desire for turkey again by Christmas.
Thank you Canada.

Strawberry Skor Pavlova


I know what you are thinking. Nothing says the harvest, fall and Canadian Thanksgiving like a berry pavlova!
Whatever. You eat your pumpkin pie and leave me to my meringue for the love of god.



Okay, I actually LOVE pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin creme brulee and every other, more traditional, thanksgiving type dessert. I did make an apple pecan upside down cake  too but I just really love pavlova and although I flirted with the idea of incorporating some pumpkin into it, I couldn't get the skor bar thing out of my mind and I wanted to keep it tasty but simple. There is enough work going on when you are making a big turkey dinner and two desserts and I love that you can make the meringue a day or two in advance and just throw it all together right before dinner.  As it happens, the MVP (most valuable Peruvians) family came for dinner and they devoured the pavlova in record time while the more white bread branch of the family (Shack and MIL specifically) skipped the pavlova and ate seconds of the apple cake so it was a good mix. I am sure there is a scientific study on cultural dessert preferences in there somewhere.


Anyway, nothing comes together as easily as a pavlova and you really get a ton of bang for your buck because it looks impressive, most people aren't familiar with it so it is exotic and it's crazy sweet and delicious. I made this one for easter last year and, just like last year, I didn't get a proper shot of the finished pavlova because everyone descended on it like a pack of rabid weasels before I could even get my camera out so, again, you will have to make do with an iphone photo.

This recipe should be good for approximately 8 people OR four really hungry Peruvians with a sweet tooth.


Strawberry Skor Pavlova

Berries:
1 lb strawberries (set aside a few for garnish)
2 tbls chambord
1/4 cup sugar

Whipped Cream:
1 to 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 tbls chambord
scant 1/4 cup sugar

Meringue:
6 large egg whites, room temp
pinch cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups super fine sugar (I whiz granulated sugar in my bullet first and then measure)
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp white wine vinegar (i used white balsamic)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

garnish: dulce de leche or any other caramel type sauce you have on hand and like and a chunk of dark chocolate to shave



Preheat the oven to 250F
draw an big circle on a piece of parchment paper (approx 9 or 10"). Turn the parchment over so the side with the marking is on the underside.

Before I do any kind of meringue, I wipe my bowl and my beater with white vinegar and then rinse and dry well just to make sure there is no grease on anything because I have had whites not whip to stiff peaks and I will be forever paranoid. You do what you have to do.

Beat the whites with cream of tartar still soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar, 1 tbls at at time on medium high speed. When the sugar is all added in , throw in the cornstarch and salt and beat until stiff peaks form. Turn off the mixer and fold in the vanilla and vinegar.

Mound the meringue onto the parchment and start spreading it out , trying to maintain the circle shape you drew on the underside of the parchment. Bake it for 1 1/2 hrs, turn off the heat at that point and leave it to sit in the oven for another 2 hours, until it's completely cooled to room temperature.

To assemble:


Whip your cream, chambord and 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.
Take your skor bars out of the freezer and crush them up roughly.

Lay the meringue disk onto your serving plate. Using a spatula, spread the whipped cream on top of the meringue. Spoon the strawberries evenly over the whipped cream. Now, sprinkle the crunched up skor bars .

Next, I used dulce de leche from a jar that I really like so I did the same - I heated it up a bit in the microwave to thin it out, spooned it into a little ziplock, snipped the end and then I drizzled that over top of the whole thing. Or, if it's thin enough you can just dribble it and whip the spoon back and forth and drizzle it straight from the spoon - this method is easier but messier.

The final step is to take a chunk of good, dark chocolate and a potato peeler and peel off some chocolate curls all over the top of the pavlova.

Now, artfully  arrange the whole strawberries you had reserved

The Week In Yum Oct 5-11

mural painting Nuit Blanche

Last week started off with a bang. We joined our friend, Jen, and her little man for some Indian food when they met us at Delhi Bistro on Queen East. The Kid's sensei has often raved about this spot and for some reason, I have never been there. From the outside, it looks kind of dark and uninviting and although I have been curious, it just never really drew me in. What a mistake on my part.

The Great Canadian Food Experience - Preserving : Our Canadian Food Tradition and some Peach Jam

Nona and her tomatoes


It's time again for the Great Canadian Food Experience. Every month we approach a different aspect of Canadian food and it's traditions and what it means to each of us. This month we are talking about preserving, which is clearly a huge part of our Canadian culinary heritage. Any country that enjoys a short growing season and long, harsh winters is going to depend heavily on food preservation and Canada is no different. From salting fish on both coasts to our modern freezers, we have always looked for ways to make our summer bounty carry us through until spring.

The Week in Yum Sept 28-Oct 4



This was a much better week than last week but let's be honest, pretty much any week would be better than last week but enough about that.

spicy miso tofu ramen from Ryu's Noodle Bar, just don't get exited about the rice

What did I do this week? Hmmm, not a ton but what I did do was really cool. On Saturday we went to see the Bowie exhibit at the AGO and before we ventured in to that particular exhibit on a weekend we knew we would require some serious fortification so we parked by Baldwin St and popped into Ryu's Noodle Bar. I like the idea here - you choose your basic ramen and one dipping sauce and then you can choose add ons like a half cooked boiled egg or wok fried veg and they also offer a combo menu so you can throw in some rice, gyoza and a free pop. The Kid ordered a combo with the shio ramen, a half cooked egg and gyoza, Shack and I both got the spicy miso tofu ramen and I got the half sized combo with wok veg. Shack ordered his combo with rice with more spicy tofu. Our lovely waitress came out a few minutes after we ordered to inform Shack that they were out of rice.

Fresh Canteen and Butter Chicken Two Ways



I was invited to an event at beautiful The St Lawrence Market Kitchen (upstairs at the market) to introduce me to Fresh Canteen , a new dinner prep concept launched earlier this summer here in Toronto. It's a service that caters to people who want to cook fresh, delicious dinners in their own kitchens but are often just too busy to shop for all the ingredients they need. They are quite committed to using locally sourced products whenever possible and that appeals to me very much. I have used Supperworks in the past to stock up for those times that I am too busy to shop but you still have to put aside time to drive down there, put all of the stuff together and get it back home. You also have to remember to take those damned bags out of the freezer the night before so it will be thawed by dinner time so you can actually cook it which doesn't come easily to me.  I love the idea of everything for a dish being brought to my house for me by a handsome stranger. Okay, I just like to imagine it's being delivered by a handsome stranger with floppy hair and piercing blue eyes so don't judge- it's unbecoming. Think of it as a personal shopper for your belly.

Apple Pear Crisp


I am really pissed off at this weather. It is just barely mid September and it is freezing outside. This is Toronto. We should be having a lovely, long, hot September, not a cold, windy, overcast September and I am about to just quit. I am not sure what I am quitting exactly, but I quit.

The only good thing about this stupid weather is the fact that it felt like the right time to make an apple crisp. I got all exited about doing something new, maybe adding some chunks of dark chocolate with some crunchy nuts or something and made the mistake of musing out loud so that Shack got wind of my plans. I swear to god, this guy is turning into his father over night. Suddenly, there is only ONE way to eat apple crisp, three ways to eat pasta and the only thing I am allowed to add to homemade ice cream are either raspberries or strawberries. 

I said to him "you do realize that I am a food blogger, right? I won't have much to write about if I can only make apple crisp with cinnamon and butter every single time I make it" 
At this point, The Kid pipes up "I think chocolate would be great in an apple crisp"
Thank you son.

Anyway, to make us both happy, I made it his way but I snuck in a bit of cardamom and some pumpkin seeds for a bit of extra crunch. I was thinking of putting pistachios in there instead but I want this to go to school for lunch and you can't send anything with nuts to schools here. As it happens, the pumpkin seeds were perfect - just the right amount of crunch and the flavour isn't as overpowering as pistachio so it was a win, win all around. Shack didn't even notice the cardamom so he thinks he won as well so everyone is happy.

The next one is getting dark chocolate in it and he will just have to learn to suck it up.


Apple Pear Crisp

adapted from My Baking Addiction

4 large gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
4 small Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
juice of 1 limes
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbls AP flour
1 tbls cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
Topping: 
1 1/4 cups old fashion oats
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F and butter a baking dish that will fit your fruit. I used a Le Crueset 1.1L dish
Toss your fruit with the lime juice in a big bowl. Now mix in the sugars, flour and spices and our the fruit into your baking dish.

In another bowl, mix together the oats, flour, pumpkin seeds, brown sugar and spices until its well mixed. Now add the vanilla to the butter, give it a stir and pour it over the dry ingredients and mix completely. I start with a wooden spoon and then get in there and mix it with my hand until the butter it fully incorporated and its got a mealy texture. Spoon this topping over your fruit and spread it around until the fruit is totally covered.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is nicely browned and you can see the juices bubbling up at the sides.

serve warm (it's always great with vanilla ice cream)

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