November 26, 2012 by MaryAnne
The wind is just howling out there. Last night, I was kept up until the uncivilized hours by the noise of it just whipping around the building, slamming against the balcony that juts out, catching on the corner. Being on the 16th floor is loud. I had no idea before we moved here. I’d always been a first or second (or 5th, at most) kind of gal.
Anyway, it’s still noisy this morning and I’m tired and it’s Monday.
It’s also grey and grim and cold, as is to be expected here at this time of year. I really should get a stock photo for this, to put on every post between now and next April. (more…)
Category Baked Things, Soupy Stewy Things, Spicy Things, Uncategorized | Tags: Autumn,Beef,Cabbage,Irish,OMFG Yum,Polish,Toaster Oven | 5 Comments
June 30, 2012 by MaryAnne
This is part 2 in my noodle series. Part 1 (the hand pulled noodles) is here.
This is quite possibly the best broth in the whole universe. Except, perhaps, for a fine Tom Yam with all the bark and twigs still nestled at the bottom of the bowl. This one has its own mighty collection of bark and twigs, and plays the role of hearty autumn and winter to Thailand’s fierce summer in the Cartesian dialectic of soup broths.
This is a broth that will make you pick up the bowl and sip away at the broth until it’s gone, leaving only a few stray chili seeds at the bottom, long after the noodles and greens have been spooned/chopsticked away. The rich beefy scent, umami’d up to the hilt with soy, garlic, star anise and cinnamon, needs to be brought up close to your nostrils as you sip. The chilies and garlic will sternly resolve any colds you may have stubbornly residing in your system.
Keep a few Tupperware containers of this stuff in your freezer for a cold, rainy day, then note how your mood significantly lifts after you heat up a bowl of it. Seriously. This stuff is mood altering, up there with crack and bath salts. (more…)
Category Made in Jianada, Soupy Stewy Things, Spicy Things, Uncategorized | Tags: Beef,Canada,Chinese,garlic,OMFG Yum,soup,spicy | 7 Comments
May 17, 2012 by MaryAnne
This is Part 1 in a series on Lanzhou noodles. Part 2 (the broth) is here.
This one has been a long time coming. Seriously. This dish is quite possibly the one thing we have eaten the most of in China. At 6rmb a bowl (like, 80 cents, maybe) and incredibly delicious, it’s hard to beat.
I was introduced to Lanzhou lāmiàn on my second day in the country, still jet lagged and wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into.
February in Shanghai, 2009; cold, grey, grim, absurdly smoggy, rainy.
I was flat hunting with Elaine, the admin assistant from my then new job, and I kept getting shown flats that were dishearteningly dreadful and embarrassingly over-priced (the laowai effect, I presume).
Elaine took me to lunch at a tiny Lanzhou noodle place just up the street from the flat I would eventually take (and then get booted out of 3 months later when the landlord suddenly decided he was itching to sell). She ordered me a bowl of piping hot 牛肉 拉面(niúròu lāmiàn), or beef pulled noodles. (more…)
Category Made in Jianada, Pasta Things, Soupy Stewy Things, Uncategorized | Tags: Canada,Chinese,noodle,OMFG Yum | 7 Comments
May 1, 2012 by MaryAnne
This one started out as just a sauce, intended to use up the tin of coconut milk that had been hanging out in our cupboard for at least the past six months. The recipe had promised me a multitude of uses- drizzled in soup, swirled into eggs, spooned into spring rolls. It was going to be my go-to sauce this week, just as the roasted garlic oil holds a permanent position in the fridge door. (more…)
Category Improbable Things, Soupy Stewy Things, Spicy Things, Uncategorized | Tags: Chicken,Mexican,OMFG Yum,soup,Thai | 5 Comments
November 30, 2011 by MaryAnne
This was originally going to be my ode to caldo xochitl, the soup I first had in a tiny little cafe in San Cristobal de las Casas about 3 years ago. I should note that thereafter, I had it again in a few dozen more cafes in Mexico and then again in Nicaragua. It revolutionized the concept of chicken noodle soup for me.
Some versions of it had vermicelli in them, others had pieces of leftover boiled potato. Some were spicier, with wrinkly chipotle peppers to be found floating lopsidedly in the broth. Some were very delicately flavoured. Some had shredded chicken while others sliced it. Some were vegetarian, focusing on starchy squares of orange and yellow gourds. The thing that remained constant was that you added fresh, raw ingredients at the end: minced chilies, pieces of avocado, freshly squeezed lime juice, salsa fresca, vinegared onion, cilantro. It made for a wonderful contrast.
We have been making this at home here in Shanghai since we arrived- it’s super fast to throw together after a long day in the educational salt mines and it’s great for using up leftovers: a bit of spud here, some chicken there, a quarter of an onion, a fistful of cilantro, etc.
Unfortunately, that’s not what this post turned into. (more…)
Category Soupy Stewy Things, Spicy Things, Uncategorized | Tags: Autumn,crock pot,OMFG Yum,Pasta,soup | 6 Comments
November 10, 2011 by MaryAnne
Shanghai’s frigid and grim season has landed with a cold, heavy thump. Last night in bed, my hands went kind of numb as I tried to read a book under my two thick duvets, with just my head and fingers poking out. Right now, I can hear the wind howling outside the flat, a rather dreadful feature of living on the 16th floor.
If you go up to the windows, you can feel a layer of cold air puffing through the cracks and thin panes. The wind is making it all rattle disconcertingly. Shanghai isn’t actually all that cold, at least not compared with, say, Beijing or Harbin, but it is in complete and utter denial about its lack of tropical winter balminess. Buildings are not particularly insulated and there is no central heating to speak of.
Kevin the Panda shudders at the thought of going out into the chilly overcast morning
Category Improbable Things, Soupy Stewy Things, Spicy Things, Uncategorized | Tags: Autumn,Beef,crock pot,garlic,OMFG Yum,stew,wok | 3 Comments
October 26, 2011 by MaryAnne
I should preface this one by noting that I’m sick today. Part cold, part sore throat, part achy dopiness. Which is why I kind of screwed up some key parts of this recipe.
If you look below at the recipe, you’ll see it calls for 5lbs of pork shoulder.
On Monday afternoon, when I bought and initially prepared the piece of pork, I didn’t look at the size or weight or cut. I just bought a reasonably sized piece, fit for a household where one person doesn’t really eat meat (me) and the other doesn’t really like pork (Doug). However, I really like the pulled pork sandwich at Boxing Cat Brewery (about 80rmb) and thought it would be worth attempting at home. (more…)
Category Improbable Things, Soupy Stewy Things, Spicy Things, Uncategorized | Tags: Autumn,crock pot,Flatbread,OMFG Yum,Pork,wok | 9 Comments
October 16, 2011 by MaryAnne
Now this one…this one’s going to be a search engine disaster in the making. It may also be the one that gets me pushed over the proverbial edge of the Great Firewall. Sorry.
This stew is technically a basic Irish stew, though lacking in lamb and Guinness. I did, however, have some leathery supermarket Chinese beef and a bottle of Sinkiang stout from the far, far west of China, from what’s known on maps as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (or شىنجاڭ ئۇيغۇر ئاپتونوم رايونى or Shinjang Uyghur Aptonom Rayoni or 新疆维吾尔自治区). I made the stew yesterday, along with the spicy roasted pumpkin soup. It was a lovely autumnal dinner. (more…)
Category Soupy Stewy Things, Uncategorized | Tags: Beef,crock pot,stew,Turkish,Uyghur,wok | 11 Comments
October 15, 2011 by MaryAnne
This one is technically a two-parter, as I made the soup at the same time as I threw together the Xinjiang Irish stew. The stew will come later. I don’t want to confuse everyone with too many different things under one heading. The pumpkin should suffice.
Today, Shanghai surprised me on two fronts: first, it’s cool enough now that I wore a sweater when we walked up to the Sichuan place for lunch and had to crunch through a light sprinkling of fallen brown leaves on the road, and second, the sky was…pretty. There was blue in it. Seriously. Patches of blue in the Shanghai sky! Normally it’s like the skies over the Planet Krikkit. No point in looking up cos there ain’t nothing to see.
Look at that sky! This was my view through the kitchen balcony's window as I cooked today.
Our kitchen is tiny, long and narrow, culminating in a semi enclosed mini balcony made of glass and safety railings, which has just a simple cold water utility sink and a corner to store mops and brooms.
We’re 16 floors up and if you stand in that tiny balcony, you are surrounded on 3 sides by pretty much just glass and open windows overlooking the French Concession. Terrible if you have a fear of heights (which I don’t); wonderful for washing dishes with a view. Today was so lovely that I voluntarily sequestered myself in the kitchen, scoping out the sky as I chopped a lot of things with my really big knife.
Let me show you how to make a really easy roasted pumpkin soup in your toaster oven. I did mine at 200 degrees C for about 45 minutes to get it nice and squishy. Easy peasy.
Category Soupy Stewy Things, Spicy Things, Uncategorized | Tags: Autumn,garlic,Indian,OMFG Yum,Pumpkin,soup,Toaster Oven | 7 Comments
October 5, 2011 by MaryAnne
So I’m cheating a bit on this one.
I have a secret weapon. A secret Canadian weapon. A secret, um, Surrey, BC, weapon. Which is also, technically, an Indian weapon. Or Pakistani, depending on which one I use. My aunt gave it to me, so you can speak to her sternly about my lack of Sino-authenticity.
I will admit it: the spices are not from ’round here.
Whenever I go home, my aunt (hi Pat!) goes shopping in her local Vancouver supermarket and buys me an enormous supply of Indian spice mixes. Jalfrezi, Korma, Biryani, Chana masala, the works. I have a cupboard loaded with these things. They’re all from India or Pakistan, and the instructions on the back pretty much assume you’re cooking for 15 people and happen to have, say, a side of mutton and a large barrel of ghee at hand.
I have, um, 2 very small pieces of awful boneless ‘Chinese top’ beef, whatever that is. They’re the kind of cuts that need to be marinated in something penetratingly acidic (hence my fridge full of citrus fruit and yogurt) and then cooked for a rather long time before they take on a texture that could be described as anything other than leathery. The recipe on the back of the box calls for bone-in chunks of beef or mutton, about twice as much as we have. We’re not big meat eaters here (I’m a lapsed vegetarian) and the photo on the front of the box, replete with enormous bones jutting out of rice, is daunting.
I’m a brave little culinary soldier, so I forge ahead.
Let me show you how to make a beef biryani with just a wok and a rice cooker. (more…)
Category Improbable Things, Soupy Stewy Things, Spicy Things, Uncategorized | Tags: Indian,OMFG Yum,rice cooker,wok,Yogurt | 5 Comments