Homemade Beef Pho

Homemade Beef Pho

The more J and I cook at home, the more we find amazing recipes of meals we once thought were super complicated and therefore only available in a restaurant. Pho is one of those dishes. With the complexly deep flavors and food coma inducing warmth, we were sure we couldn’t make it in our own kitchen. We were so wrong. J found this recipe from Sarcastic Cooking (love!) and it was dead on. We adjusted a few things to our taste and suggest you do too.

Ingredients For the Broth:
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (we used vegetable)
2 Yellow Onions, halved (we ended up quartering them)
1, 3-inch Piece of Fresh Ginger, halved (we left this whole but kind of crushed to infuse more flavor)
2 Cloves Garlic (we used minced)
4 Quarts Low-Sodium Beef Stock
In a tea ball we put: 1 Cinnamon Stick (broken),  3 Star Anise Pieces, 3 Whole Cloves
⅓ Cup Fish Sauce
3 Tablespoons Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
Button mushrooms (we used about a cup sliced)
If you do not want to invest in cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves, some stores sell pho seasoning packs. But it’s worth it to have your own, plus, with a tea ball removing it is simple!

Ingredients for the Pho:
1, 12-Ounce Package of Bahn Pho or Udon Noodles (Flat Rice Noodles) These ended up being hard to find so we just used glass noodles (thin rice noodles).
1 Pound Flank Steak or charcoal steak
2 Thai Chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced (we left these out)
2 Handfuls Bean Sprouts (fresh is crunchier and we loved it!) 
1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro
1 Bunch Fresh Mint
½ White Onion, sliced paper-thin
Sriracha or Chili Garlic Sauce for Serving
Lime Wedges for Serving

Directions:
Fair warning, these directions look complicated, but really aren’t. Promise.  In a large stockpot, heat the  oil over medium heat. Add the onions, ginger and garlic when the oil just starts to simmer/shimmer. Cook, turning a few times, for about 10 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low. Simmer, partially covered, for at least 50 minutes and up to 3 hours if you like a richer flavor. (It is absolutely worth it to let it simmer for 3 hours, do that). After desired taste is reached, strain broth (we didn’t strain the broth, we just removed the tea ball of spices) and add back to the pot. Note: If you are not serving the soup right away, you can store the strained broth in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

This is the best trick ever: Place the beef into the freezer for at least 15 minutes. This makes it easier to slice.  Bring the broth to a slow simmer over low heat. Add rice noodles and cook according to package directions. Once the noodles are cooked, remove pot from heat. Using a very sharp knife, slice the beef as thin as possible. Ladle some broth into a few deep bowls. Add noodles to bowls. Serve Sriracha, bean sprouts, herbs, onions, lime wedges, and beef on the side so each person can add in what they want to their pho.

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My opinion:
This makes a lot. Enough for three of us to have two large bowls each and quite a bit left over. It’s in the freezer waiting for one of those cold, rainy late fall days when soup sounds best. I love this dish. I couldn’t eat it fast enough. 

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Homemade Paseo Caribbean roast

You may have noticed that whenever we take a vacation, we come back with a recipe. Our recent jaunt to Key West was no different. While we could have come back with a recipe for traditional Key Lime Pie (we did) and the best lime slush (also have that), we really wanted to recreate our favorite lunch at Paseao (which apparently is also in Seattle, who knew?).

Here’s a picture of the original sandwich.

Paseao Caribbean roast

We found a pretty easy to follow recipe and with a few tweaks got our version really close. Finding the mango juice was the hardest part. We ended up finding Mango Puree in the natural food section of our favorite grocer.

Pork Ingredients:
1 cup Mango juice
2 cups orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice (Key West is best, but if you can’t find it regular lime juice is just as good)
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped garlic
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped oregano
sprinkle (about 1/2 teaspoon each) kosher salt and black pepper
1 shot of rum (splurge a little and get a good dark, non-spiced rum)
3 pounds pork shoulder
tablespoon or two vegetable oil

Onion ingredients:
2 yellow onions

Garlic Aioli ingredients:
1 cup of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice

Additional ingredients:
good, crusty baguette (bigger than a french loaf)
Fresh Romaine lettuce
fresh cilantro
pickled jalapeños

Directions:
Combine the pork ingredients in a large Tupperware container. Add pork. Seal. Shake. Leave it in the refrigerator for at least 4  hours, the longer the better. We left it in overnight.
Caribbean Roast Marinade

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the pork from marinade, but don’t discard! Sear the pork in a lightly oiled pan or skillet (save that pan for later!) on all sides. It will lose all the marinade at first and get really bubbly. Don’t worry. Just let it get crispy on all sides. The juices will evaporate.
Caribbean Roast sear

Place the pork in a roasting pan and pour the marinade on.
Caribbean Roast
Tent the roasting pan with foil to seal in the steam. Place the roasting pan into the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Then uncover and cook for at least 1 hour and 30 minutes, basting as needed and flipping the meat over half way through. We ended up cooking it for a little over two hours. The longer the better. Let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

When you put the pork in the oven, you can prepare garlic mayo by peeling 8 cloves of garlic (we left them whole, even though the original recipe called to chop the garlic). Put the garlic in an oven proof custard dish and pour about 2 tablespoons of lime juice on top of the garlic. Add to the oven with the pork and cook for about 30 to 45 minutes or  until the garlic is soft and roasted. Add this to 1 cup of mayonnaise. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lime juice and stir. The original recipe called for relish, but we left that out.

Caribbean Roast Garlic Aioli

While the meat is roasting, cut up the onions yellow onions into wedges. We went with strips in the food processor and it wasn’t quite right. Place in the same pan that you seared the pork shoulder in and set to medium high heat. Cook for about 10 minutes or until onions are caramelized and have picked up all of the fond.

Cut bread in half. Slather garlic mayo on both sides and place in toaster oven till the mayo puffs up a bit and the bread slightly browns.

Last step, assemble the sandwich by adding a little more mayo on the bread, topped with romaine leaves, onions, pork, a few pickled jalapeños and some cilantro.

Caribbean Roast Sandwich

My opinion:
Three pounds of pork made five sandwiches the first night. We opted to freeze the rest, which will make at least four more sandwiches. Plan for a feast. It’s just as tasty cold the next day. I only wish I’d had a few more pickled jalapeños to add a bit more heat.

Texas sweet onion casserole

It does not look pretty, but it tastes amazing!
It does not look pretty, but it tastes amazing!

Homesick Texan doesn’t disappoint. This recipe makes both J and I miss Texas sweet 1015 onions terribly. Vidalia onions are good substitutes, but don’t quite have the flavor. Since we can’t find the onions in Mid-Missouri, we had to make a few changes to the recipe, but it still turned out quite well.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2  pounds of your favorite sweet yellow onions if you can’t find Texas sweet 1015 onions. Vidalia onions are a pretty good substitute.
3 cups cooked rice (we used long grain white)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of cayenne (just about 1/4 teaspoon. The heat int he dish comes from the chipotles in adobo)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or a bit more, we often err on the side of more garlic)
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, diced (the original recipe calls for one or two. One just doesn’t seem to get properly dispersed through the dish. We like every bite to have some chipotle chile flavor)
2 cups sour cream
2 cups shredded Gruyere (8 ounces), divided
Salt to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional, but so worth it if you have it)

Directions:
In a large skillet (the original recipe called for cast iron, sadly, ours is a bit too small, so we use the largest skillet we have and then a casserole pan) on low heat melt the butter. Add the chopped onion and while occasionally stirring cook for 10 minutes until soft. Don’t try to caramelize. Stir together the cooked rice, cumin, allspice, cayenne, garlic, chipotle chile, sour cream and 1/2 cup of the Gruyere cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings (we usually add more), then add salt to taste. Original recipe says to add the rice mixture to the skillet and stir until onions are mixed well with the rice, but since our skillet isn’t big enough we combine everything in the casserole dish. Top with the rest of the Gruyere cheese and bake for 30 minutes uncovered or until brown and bubbling. Serve topped with cilantro, it’s worth it.

My opinion:
It’s no secret I don’t love sour cream. It’s a mouth feel thing. But in this dish, it combines wonderfully with the chipotle chiles and cheese. Plus, this dish freezes well and is perfect for a night when neither J or I want to cook.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls


Perfect for a hot summer night’s dinner. Not to mention, these weren’t as hard as I always thought they were!

Ingredients:
2 ounces rice vermicelli
package small shrimp; cooked – peeled, deveined
1 cup fresh bean sprouts (or canned if you can’t find fresh)
6 green onions (green parts)
3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves; chopped chiffonade style
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro; chopped chiffonade style
2 leaves lettuce; chopped
8.5 inch rice wrappers

Hoison Peanut sauce:
1 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves; crushed
1 Thai chili; minced, or more for desired spiciness (we just used Sriracha sauce)

Directions:
Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Boil rice vermicelli according to the package directions (or 3 to 5 minutes until al dente) and drain. While waiting for vermicelli to cook, combine the onions mint and cilantro into a bowl. Fill a large bowl with warm water (warm, not boiling and not steaming). Dip one wrapper into the hot water for 1 second to soften (you may have to swish it around a bit). Lay wrapper flat (you may have to pull it apart if it sticks to itself). In a row across the center, place 2 shrimp halves, a handful of vermicelli, lettuce and the herb mixture, leaving about 2 inches uncovered on each side. Fold uncovered sides inward, then tightly roll the wrapper, beginning at the end with the lettuce (like a burrito). Repeat with remaining ingredients.

In a small bowl, mix the hoisin sauce ingredients to taste and top with chopped peanuts if desired.

My Opinion:
This recipe makes more than enough for three hungry people to have four very stuffed spring rolls.

Thai Chicken Fried Rice with Basil


If you can’t already tell, I love Asian cuisine. Since we’ve been eating at home more often, J has tried to recreate my favorite dishes at home. He finally got my favorite Thai dish down. I won’t say it’s as good as my favorite Thai restaurant in town, because it might be better!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil (or peanut or sesame, whatever you have on hand)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh Thai red chili pepper chopped (or if you can’t find fresh, rehydrate dry, or just use your favorite rooster sauce)
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces and velveted (again this is the secret!)
2 cups cooked rice cold (cooked and cold, really cold. Like from the refrigerator cold. Also, use Jasmine, You’ll thank me.)
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Fish sauce
1 tablespoon Soy sauce (if you want to be adventurous try golden soy sauce if you can find it)
2 tablespoons shallots chopped
1/3 cup Thai holy basil (regular basil or Thai purple is also delicious)
1 tablespoon Fresh Cilantro, chopped (we’ve occasionally accidentally left this out, opps!)

Directions:
First velvet the chicken by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Stir the chicken to separate and stir again. Simmer for about 2 minutes until the chicken turns white. Drain the chicken. In a wok or large skillet, stir-fry garlic in oil until golden; then add chilies and chicken and stir-fry until chicken is cooked. Add rice, sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce, and stir-fry, mixing gently. When well mixed, add shallots, basil leaves and cilantro; cook another minute or so, and serve. If you desire, serve with lime wedges, chile sauce, fish sauce, or soy sauce at the table.

My opinion:
Could I really say more than I said above? I. love. this. dish. LOVE.