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 Beef Pho
Servings
Servings
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Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Jamaican Jerk Chicken

I’ll admit I was skeptical about this recipe. But after one bite, I wasn’t skeptical at all. It was deliciously flavorful and less labor intensive than we thought it would be. Warning: it’s pretty filling.

Ingredients:
1 tb Ground allspice
1 tb Dried thyme
1 1/2 ts Cayenne pepper
1 1/2 ts Black Pepper freshly ground
1 1/2 ts Ground sage
3/4 ts Ground nutmeg
3/4 ts Ground cinnamon
2 tb Salt
2 tb Garlic powder
1 tb Sugar
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c Soy sauce
3/4 c White vinegar
1/2 c Orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
1 Scotch bonnet pepper, Seeded and finely chopped (if you can’t find this, feel free to use a habanero)
1 c white onion Chopped
3 Green onions finely chopped
4 6-oz Chicken breasts Trimmed of fat, up to 8-oz each

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the allspice, thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, garlic powder and sugar. With a wire whisk, slowly add olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice and lime  juice. Add the Scotch bonnet pepper (we used habaneros since we couldn’t find Scotch Bonnet), onion and green onions and mix well. Reserve about a cup or so of the marinade to use later. Add the chicken breasts, cover and marinate for at least an hour, but the longer the better! Remove the breasts from the marinade and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. If you prefer a sear, turn on the broiler and broil each side first for a few minutes and then bake. Or if you prefer, fire up the grill and cook for 6 minutes on each side or until fully cooked. While grilling or baking, baste with the left over marinade. Heat the rest of the leftover marinade and serve on the side for dipping (we just did this on the stove). If you prefer more intense flavors, feel free to double the spices.

My opinion:
Even without doubling the spices, this was plenty hot. It was the right combination of sweet and spicy and the chicken was very moist. We will try this on the grill next time! The rice and slaw will be in another post. I”m having trouble locating the original recipes to link back to at the moment.

Carnegie Deli Matzo Ball Soup (and chicken stock!) Recipe

Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

My mom makes the best matzo ball soup. Ever. Part of the reason it’s probably the best is because she only makes it once a year at Passover. I think the recipe is a combination of one from Cooking Light and several family recipes from friends. It’s amazing. Since the first Passover J attended, he’s tried to recreate my mom’s recipe. We use the same ingredients and follow her directions, but it never turns out the same. After our trip to New York this summer, J decided to find the Carnegie Deli recipe. He finally succeeded with a few modifications of this recipe.

Stock Ingredients:
1 pound chicken necks, backs, and wings (we just used wings since that’s what we had in the freezer)
1/2 ounce chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 small white onion, quartered
Salt and pepper, to taste

For matzo balls :
8 large eggs
1 cup liquid shortening or olive oil plus more for rolling matzo balls ( I think my mom uses vegetable oil)
about 1 cup water
4 cups matzo meal
1/4 teaspoon Maggi Seasoning
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Optional: top with fresh dill.

Directions:
Make stock : Combine first four ingredients with 6 cups water. Add Maggi seasoning (we found it in the Asian isle, it’s made by Nestle) and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for at least an 1 hour.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, oil, water, matzo meal, Maggi, salt, and pepper until just incorporated. Oil hands, then, working as gently as possible, form round balls about the size of a golf ball (but try to keep them loose or the middles won’t cook). Boil matzo balls in stock until cooked through and soft, at least 45 minutes. Divide matzo balls evenly between four bowls, allotting two matzo balls and two cups stock per serving. Sprinkle with fresh dill and enjoy.

My opinion:
It’s really close. The only part that wasn’t was J rolled the matzo balls too tight, so the middles didn’t cook quite through.

Tomatillo Salsa

Every year for Christmas, J and I invite our families to a Christmas Eve Mexican inspired feast. The tradition sprung out of our time in San Antonio where tamales are often given as gifts. Our favorite salsa is the wonderful green Tomatillo Salsa and we finally found a recipe that rivals the homemade ones we had in Texas. Now if only we could master the tamales in time for the holiday…

Ingredients:
2 pound tomatillos husked (most of the ones we found in our local grocer were mostly husked already. Be ware: they are sticky!)
2 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered
8 Garlic cloves
4  jalapenos
4  teaspoons Ground cumin
2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced

Directions:
On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky. Transfer all but 1 cup of your tomatillo salsa to a serving dish or bowl for later, leaving that last 1 cup in the food processor.

My opinion:
If I’m not careful when we make this, I end up eating half of it with tortilla chips before I can add it to any dish. So good!