Spicy Sichuan-Style Soup with Pork, Lettuce, and Soft Tofu

 

spicy-pork-soup

Ingredients

300 gm coarsely minced pork
80 ml (1/3 cup) each
Shaoxing wine and soy sauce, combined
1 tbsppeanut oil
20 gmginger, finely chopped
garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tspcoarsely ground Sichuan peppercorns
1 tbspchilli bean paste
1 litre (4 cups)chicken stock
2 tspcornflour mixed with 1 tsp water
1 bunchChinese chives, finely chopped
500 gmsoft tofu, cut into large cubes
small lettuce (baby cos or butter), leaves separated

Method

  • Combine pork and half the Shaoxing and soy mixture and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok or large saucepan over high heat, add ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add Sichuan pepper and pork and cook until pork is starting to brown (5-10 minutes). Add chilli bean sauce and chicken stock, remaining Shaoxing and soy, and bring to the boil. Stir in cornflour mixture to thicken the soup, then bring back to the boil.
  • Add chives and tofu to soup and stir gently until tofu is just warmed through (1 minute). Divide lettuce among bowls, then pour in soup and serve.

Original recipe from Gourmet Traveler.

Strawberry and Apricot Crisp with Pine-Nut Crumble

strawberry and apricot crisp

Check out Martha Stewart‘s recipe for this Strawberry and Apricot Crisp with Pine-Nut Crumble.

INGREDIENTS

CRUMBLE

  • 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for baking dish
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 ounces pine nuts, toasted (1/3 cup)

FILLING

  • 4 apricots, pitted and cut into sixths (about 2 cups)
  • 12 ounces strawberries (about 15), hulled and halved, or quartered if large (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt

SERVING

  • 1 pint strawberry ice cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all crumble ingredients in a medium bowl and massage together with your fingers until butter is incorporated and mixture forms small clumps. Refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 1/2-inch shallow round baking dish or pie plate. Combine all filling ingredients in another medium bowl. Transfer to baking dish and top with crumble. Bake until bubbling in center and crumble is browned, about 40 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.

Martha Stewart’s Fluffy Eggnog

ms-eggnog

Try Martha Stewart‘s recipe for fluffy eggnog!

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 large egg yolks, plus 2 large whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • Large pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces bourbon, such as Michter’s or Maker’s Mark
  • 2 ounces dark rum, such as Appleton Estate
  • 1 ounce cognac
  • Unsweetened freshly whipped cream, for serving
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until pale yellow and thick, about 2 minutes. In a medium saucepan, bring milk and salt to a bare simmer. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot milk mixture into yolk mixture.

  2. Pour yolk mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is just thick enough to coat back of spoon and hold a line drawn by your finger, 3 to 5 minutes.

  3. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Let cool, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Add cream, bourbon, rum, and cognac; cover and refrigerate overnight.

  4. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup sugar and egg whites in a heatproof mixer bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm (it should feel smooth between your fingers), 2 to 3 minutes. (For fully cooked eggs, a thermometer inserted into meringue should register 160 degrees.) Remove from heat. With a mixer on high speed, beat until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold into eggnog.

  5. Pour into glasses (or a punch bowl); top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Gingerbread House Tips

Matthew Lodes, the executive chef at the stylish Rose Bakery in New York City, does not mess around when it comes to gingerbread. Lodes, who is also a classically trained pastry chef, spends each Christmas season building towering gingerbread houses that take months of sketching, test runs and long hours in the kitchen. These are not the cardboard-like gingerbread houses that you find in your local supermarket: Most of the candy is made from scratch, the gingerbread is fresh and aromatic, and the houses are incredibly sturdy. Here, the gingerbread master himself tells Food & Wine how it’s done and shares his essential tips to help you make your most impressive, centerpiece-worthy house yet.

gingerbread-house

When it comes to the gingerbread: to buy or not to buy?
It’s absolutely important to make your own gingerbread. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it gives your house a unique, personalized touch. Unless, of course, you want to buy one from me!*

How do you prevent your homemade gingerbread from baking into a giant blob?
When you roll out your gingerbread, let it rest for a few hours—ideally, overnight. Then bake it at a low temperature, say 300°. This way your gingerbread won’t rise and will keep its shape. If the gingerbread does become misshapen, you can pull it out of the oven halfway through baking to trim the edges with a serrated knife. Then return it to the oven to finish baking.

The day after decorating, my gingerbread house is always a big, naked cookie surrounded by a pile of candy. Tips for making it stick?
Absolutely. I always add a bit of distilled white vinegar to the royal icing—it aids in hardening. A lot of people skip this step.

What about candy—any favorite decorations?
In the past, I’ve made a lot of the candy myself, but in all honesty, it’s a pain. Candy-making is dangerous; coming into contact with cooked sugar is painful and the pain can last for hours. Not to mention, the scar it will leave!

My suggestion? Just buy it. The key to picking your candy is in the size. I like small candy so that you can fit more details onto the house, such as Skittles and Tic-tacs. They adhere nicely to the icing and the small size shows how much work you put into it. I also enjoy sticking with the traditional seasonal colors for candy and I’ll occasionally dye my royal icing, as well. Another favorite ingredient: nuts. Whole hazelnuts, almonds and pecans add nice texture and walnut halves make for great mini-wreaths!

What is the most extreme gingerbread house you’ve ever made?
The biggest one I’ve ever made was four feet wide and three feet tall; however, it had to go in a narrow space, so it was only nine inches deep. It was tricky because I had to carry it up two flights of stairs. My only tip for transporting a gingerbread house is to hold tight!

Food & Wine: Rose Bakery Gingerbread House
© Matthew Lodes

So we all want to know: Any gingerbread house epic fails?
Luckily, I’ve never had a major disaster, but one time I was doing an all-day demo at Williams-Sonoma and my tempered chocolate roof didn’t want to cooperate—chocolate and hot lights do not mix well. To make matters worse, a chocolatier friend of mine from Spain, Ruben Alvarez, was there to watch me. He understood the situation, but that didn’t stop my roof from almost collapsing in front of the whole audience!

 

Article published in Food&Wine.

DIY Holiday Centerpieces

Check out these easy at home center pieces and table top ideas to add some elegance and warmth to your dinner parties, wine tastings, or holiday gatherings. 

 

cp1

 

Similar to the “Popcorn Keneral Candles” we shared with you last month, this centerpiece is a unique way to use some food items you may already have in your cupboards. Buy a candle that will fit into your cynical container leaving about ½ an inch from the glass all the way around. Simply slide a cookie stick around the candle, leaving no gaps. To finish it off, wrap twine at least 4 times around the glass and tuck the end into place, or tie a bow. You could also change this look a bit by trying it out with candy cane sticks and red ribbon on the outside!

http://designdininganddiapers.com/2012/05/simple-tips-for-decorating-on-a-budget/

 

cp2

 

This elegant centerpiece is the ultimate “reuse” project! You are going to need some old jars, long stem flowers, lace, and ribbon. Assemble the band for the jar before attaching it to the jar. When using one width strip of lace, find a decorative ribbon that matches with the party’s colors and hot glue it onto the middle of the lace strip. When using two smaller strips of lace, glue the edge of both lace strips onto the sides of your favorite ribbon. One the band is assembled, just glue the edges onto the jar and let dry. Feel free to mix it up a bit and alternate ribbons and/or widths of lace strips.

http://designdininganddiapers.com/2012/05/simple-tips-for-decorating-on-a-budget/

 

cp3

Comfort, warmth, and elegance, and nature are all wrapped up in this simple centerpiece. You do not have to use your fancy cake stand for this, buy a cheap one from a local store (as long as it has a nice foot to stand on!). Place a cluster of candles around the center of the stand by making a small circle around one candle placed in the middle of the stand, using about 7 candles in total. These candles can be in holders, or not, it is up to you! Alternating between one large pine cone and a piece of evergreen, place the decoration alongside the corners where each candle meets another candle.

http://carolinacountryliving.blogspot.com/2011/01/simple-winter-centerpiece.html

Spooky Stuffed Halloween Roasted Peppers

 

halloween-peppers

 

Serves about 4

Ingredients: 

  • 4 orange bell peppers
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounce package frozen spinach, defrosted
  • About 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the quinoa, onion and spinach mixture, salt, pepper and Parmesan to a large bowl. Mix to combine.
  3. Meanwhile, de-seed the peppers and cut off the tops. Using a sharp, small paring knife, cut out eye, nose and mouth holes into the front of the peppers (to make the jack-o’-lanterns).
  4. Fill each pepper with about 1/2 cup of the quinoa mixture. Serve immediately.

Original recipe from SheKnows.

Preparing for Trick-or-Treaters

You want your home to be scary this Halloween – but not for the wrong reasons! Start this Halloween off right by considering the safety of your visiting trick-or-treaters when making your preparations. By taking care of a few minor details around the outside of the home, you can help keep kids and parents safe during the holiday!

trick-or-treaters

  • Keep walkways to the front door safe with no broken or uneven stepping stones, and remove clutter or debris that could cause someone to fall.
  • Repair loose railings on outdoor steps to prevent an accidental fall.
  • To make dark walkways safer all year long, illuminate with solar-powered lights.
  • Don’t leave burning candles unattended indoors or outside. Try using small flashlights instead. If you’re hoping for some ambiance using lighting, try Halloween-themed flashlight covers.
  • Keep your yard free of debris, branches, rocks, yard tools, toys or anything that could cause someone to slip, trip or fall. That gnome will enjoy a night inside for a change!
  • Make sure the porch light is working and on if you’re giving away candy.
  • Be sure to plan for your pet(s). Some animals may become frightened by the noise and costumes, and could bite or bolt through an opened door.
  • Trim hedges and bushes so that anyone walking by can easily be seen.
  • In addition to watching out for kids and parents on your property, you can also keep a watchful eye on those in your neighborhood. While greeting happy trick-or-treaters, be sure to observe any vehicles lurking around that aren’t with children and keep an eye out for older kids that may be harassing younger children with no escort.

Post originally published on Homes.com.