Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chop Suey

Contrary to popular belief, Chop Suey is a Chinese dish that did not originate in China. It is in fact American. Chop Suey became popular in the 1950's after the US armed forces returned from the Orient following the Korean War with a host of new culinary sensations that resulted in an explosion of Chinese restaurants here in the USA. No one knows exactly who first came up with Chop Suey, but it was quickly established that this dish wasn't a gift from the Chinese. (In fact, in the Chinese language "chop suey" literally translates as garbage.) But this one quickly became a huge hit with Americans who didn't know it was an invention of our own. Its popularity waned in the 70's after more authentic Chinese restaurants became the norm around the country. There are many recipes for Chop Suey but this one is my favorite. I originally got it from a Julia Child cookbook over twenty-five years ago and I still make it today.

1/4 cup shortening
1 pound stir fry cut beef
1 cup diced onions
1 1/2 cups chopped, raw cabbage
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 can green peas with carrots
2/3 cup cold water
2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 12 ounce package La Choy chow mein noodles
Cut the stir fry beef into 1-2 inch chunks. Melt the shortening in a frying pan and then add the beef and onions, and fry until the beef is done. Drain the excess shortening from the meat and onions.
Add in the cabbage, salt and pepper, hot water, and peas with carrots. Bring to a boil. Then turn down heat, cover and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a separate bowl, combine the cold water, corn starch, soy sauce, and sugar. Mix well and pour over the meat and vegetables in your frying pan. Cook over medium heat for five minutes or until thickened to taste, stirring constantly.
Take one 12 ounce package of La Choy chow mein noodles and prepare as directed. Stir into the meat and vegetables.
Serve while hot. This one heats over quite well, too!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ema Datshi

Ema Datshi is a national dish of Bhutan. It is traditionally screaming hot, as are most Bhutanese dishes, but it is very good and also a perfect way to liven up any dinner party you want to give. I originally got this recipe from a British friend who didn't warn me ahead of time just how hot it is, and while I am not generally a fan of really hot foods, I found this to be delicious! If you can't stand hot, spicy foods, leave this one alone. If you can, you'll thank me for sharing this.

8 ounces chili peppers (green and of medium hotness, cut lengthwise)
1 onion, chopped lengthwise
2 tomatoes
8 ounces Danish Feta cheese (The cheese used in the Bhutanese recipe cannot be found outside Bhutan.)
5 cloves of garlic, finely crushed
3 leaves of cilantro
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups cooked red or white rice

Put the chilies and chopped onions in a pot of water (about 12 ounces). Add the vegetable oil. Then boil on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add tomato and garlic and boil for another 2 minutes.

Add cheese and let it remain for 2-3 minutes.

Add coriander and turn off the heat. Stir. Put a lid on the pot for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve a plate at a time on a bed of red or white rice.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Easy Potato Soup

This is a very easy recipe that I learned from my dad. It really hits the spot on a cool autumn day.
4 large potatoes
1/2 large sweet onion
1 small canned ham
2 cans Swanson chicken broth
Wash your potatoes, peel them, wash them again and dice them up. Put in a soup pot. Wash and peel your onion. Cut it half in two and dice up one half for the soup. Add to potatoes. (I always put the other half of the onion in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for later use.) Open your canned ham, drain, and then cut it into bite size pieces. Add to the potatoes and onions. Lastly, pour the two cans of chicken broth over your other ingredients. If all ingredients aren't covered by the broth, add extra until they are. Stir well.
Bring to a boil then cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the potatoes are tender. This usually takes about an hour. Stir occasionally.
When the soup is almost ready, you will need to take one cup of milk and one and a half tablespoons of corn starch, mixed well together, and add to the soup as a thickener. Remove from heat when your soup is the consistency you desire.
This is really good served with shredded cheddar cheese on top and oyster crackers, or with cornbread. Either way it's a winner.