Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Turkey Day!  Nothing says Thanksgiving like turkey cookies, right?  (As I had to explain to my classmates:  they're turkey-shaped, not turkey-flavored!) 

We had an afternoon full of family and food.  I was responsible for cranberry sauce and green bean casserole (with the cookies thrown in).  I used the cranberry sauce recipe Granny Rae gave me last year and took the green bean casserole recipe from a magazine. 

I'd definitely add twice as many green beans next time.  The recipe called for "8 cups."  I guess I was supposed to mash them down and pack in as many green beans as I could into those 8 cups?  Eh, at least they tasted good.

My mouth is watering looking back at these pictures, and I didn't even bring the pies!
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends.  I'm thankful for all of mine, that's for sure!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pho real

Jazzed by the thought of the upcoming weekend and coming off a relatively quiet week I made this a "make a mess in the kitchen" kind of night.  There's a pie contest at work tomorrow so I had to make a pie for that.  Don't get your hopes up, I'm not a pie person so I'm not counting on placing.  In fact, I scrapped the first pie because my crust was so hideously misshaped.  I don't like regular crust anyway.  I cheated and used a store-bought graham cracker crust and switched from a chocolate chip pie (which would require baking at the same time as the shell, and as I mentioned that wasn't gonna happen tonight) to a banana cream pie.  I'd show a pic but it's not finished yet--whipped cream happens tomorrow morning.  I will point out that it's the first time I've made a cream pie without scrambling the eggs!  See, I'm making pie progress.

The real star of the show tonight was pho.  The HC is the pho capital of the area and my work buddies have introduced me to a few places, which we like to call "dirty pho" and "clean pho," mostly because one is nasty and made me feel sick afterward and scared me off of pho for a while since it was my first pho experience and the other is bright and clean and delicious.  Don't let the first pho place I mentioned scare you--it was all about the location and no fault of the dish itself.  Pho is a Vietnamese soup that usually features beef, kinda like sliced brisket.  There's also chicken pho, the star of today's post.  I had the bright idea to make it at home since it's getting cooler and I had a half of a rotisserie chicken left in the fridge.  By Googling "rotisserie chicken pho" I found this recipe.  I altered it a little, particularly when it came to the five-spice powder.  I was being cheap because I'd already bought a bunch of strange new sauces like "fish sauce" and "hoisin sauce" that I wasn't sure I'd ever use again, and after reading the ingredient label on the powder I figured I could make my own.  That kinda worked, and by kinda I mean I had three of the five ingredients (star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, and a funky pepper I can't pronounce).  Well, I had two, plus I added ground ginger, partially because I read it's sometimes used in five spice powder and partially because I feel guilty about buying spices and only using them once or twice (cardamom, I'm looking at you). 

Enough with the talking--let's make some pho!

Soak 4 ounces of rice sticks in water for 15 minutes and then rinse and drain.

In your big pot (or Dutch oven from your obscure Christmas gift list) heat 32 ounces of chicken broth, a bay leaf, a pinch of five spice powder (ahem!), and one tablespoon of fish sauce over medium heat.  Simmer for about five minutes.  Add shredded chicken (rotiserrie, leftover grilled, whatever form of chicken you have that already been cooked) until heated through, about five to ten more minutes.  I'm reading now that you're then supposed to add the drained rice sticks/noodles and simmer for 30 seconds until hot, but I think I missed this part.  I guess instead you could be like me and put your noodles in a bowl, then spoon the pho over the noodles.  Looks a little something like this:

Look at that cute little spoon that probably has a proper name!  I look like a fool eating noodles with it, but it's fun for the first few bites until I give up and get a fork to twirl the noodles and spear the chicken.  Reminds me of every single time I've attempted chopsticks.

You don't want naked pho, unless you're Adam, so here's my take on the traditional plate of toppings: cilantro, lime, and bean sprouts.  Don't forget the bottle of sriracha for some heat!

There you have it:  a hot bowl of pho that only takes about 20 minutes.  Pho sho!