Sour and spicy ramen soup

Today’s post is more of an idea rather than a recipe, but I’ll try my best to give instructions for those that are interested. It came about based on what I had in my fridge combined with what I was craving. Three of the ingredients were gifts from folks who are part of this neighborhood swap group: the cornish hens, the mushrooms, and the basil. I love Bull City Swap!


First, I made some broth using two cornish hens that a friend raised and gave to me. The hens were older, so I stewed them for a long time with onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and herbs. Some people discard the meat after making stock, but I like to use it for salads, soups, tacos, etc.

To make the ramen, I took 5 cups of the stock and some of the torn up meat and reheated it in a medium pot. I added 1/4 cup dried wood ear mushrooms, 1/2 cup pickled mustard greens (you could use any kind of greens, including fresh or frozen), 1 Hawaiian chili pepper (very spicy! you can use other hot peppers or pepper paste as you like), and the juice of 1/2 lime. As the broth heats, taste it and adjust to your liking. I ended up adding a tablespoon of white miso for some more salt and umami.

When the broth is boiling, add the noodles and cook for a few minutes less than what the packaging calls for. The noodles will finish cooking as you are serving it up. Divide the soup into two bowls and top with basil, chives, and/or cilantro. You may also want to garnish with some toasted sesame oil, roasted seaweed, or fried shallots. Folks may want to add more lime or hot sauce to their individual bowl for more sour or spice.


Gluten Free Fresh Flour Tortillas

I was having a cozy, lazy day with a friend recently who cannot have any gluten at all. I asked them what types of foods they really miss or just can’t find gf. They described this restaurant from their youth in Texas that had fresh-made flour tortillas and how they wished they could have that experience again, the soft floury-ness, the smell, the warmth against their skin. It was quite a description, and I immediately set out to recreate that in my kitchen.

Lucky for me, and my friend, there are so many folks avoiding gluten these days, and a good number of them with cooking blogs. I read through several recipes, pulling tips and ingredients, until I settled on my own method to try.

When the first one came off the griddle, my friend held it to their face and just sighed. We slathered on some orange-ancho-honey butter I had made, and I even made a cheddar quesadilla. Plain was probably the best though.

Gluten Free Flour Tortilla Quesadilla

1 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour, plus more for sprinkling (I used Bob’s)

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

5 tablespoons coconut oil (could use another vegetable shortening)

3/4 cup warm water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and then mix in the coconut oil, rubbing it into the flour with your fingertips until it’s evenly distributed (resembling the texture of corn meal). Add the warm water and mix into a thick dough. Press into a ball and cover with plastic wrap to rest for about 30 minutes. Heat a flat cast iron griddle or pan over medium heat and begin to roll out your tortillas. I made small ones, but it’s up to you. Pinch off a ball of dough, roll to smooth in your hands and then roll out with a rolling pin on a gf floured counter.

Lay the rolled tortilla on the griddle until dark spots begin to appear on the underside (about 45 seconds). Flip and continue to cook until spots appear on that side as well. If the first one tastes too “doughy,” try cooking the next one a bit longer. These are definitely best right off the griddle, but they reheat fine as well.

Chicken Bone Broth with Galangal, Ginger and Turmeric

This cooking adventure was prompted by a dear friend needing recipes for foods that are nutritious and easy on the stomach. I immediately thought of bone broth and set to work. It couldn’t be easier to make, and I am putting some general instructions below, but feel free to modify based on your preferences and what’s on hand.

Here is what I used:
– 1 whole free-range chicken (since you will be extracting so much nutrition from the bird during the cooking process, it is best, especially for this recipe, to use the most high quality, well-raised animal. It will taste better too!)
– 1 large onion, rough chop
– 2 large carrots
– 2 thumb size pieces of ginger, peeled, sliced
– 2 thumb size pieces of turmeric, peeled, sliced
– 2 thumb size pieces of galangal, peeled sliced
– 4-5 cloves garlic, left whole is fine

Place all your ingredients into a slow cooker or large stock pot. Add filtered water to at least cover all the ingredients, cover with a lid and let simmer overnight.
Raw ingredients for bone broth in the slow cooker
Add more water to keep ingredients covered. At this point, you may begin to use the broth. Just replace any broth you take out with more filtered water, and keep at a low temperature. I like to season the broth as I use it with a little salt. Since so much water evaporates during the cooking process, if you add salt in the beginning, it may become too salty.
Cooked chicken bone broth

You can also strain the whole pot, season the broth and store/use as needed. I pulled the meat from the chicken and added it to soup, but you could use it for salads or stir frys as well. I made a Mexican inspired soup with homemade fermented jalapenos, lime juice and cilantro.
Chicken bone broth soup

The Best Waffles Ever (aka gluten-free, vegan, multigrain waffles)

I want to state for the record, that I do, for real, love these waffles more than any other waffles that I’ve made. No joke. Some people might be turned off by the gluten-free, vegan, multi-grain part (while others are scrambling to copy down the recipe), so I want to be clear that these are super delicious waffles no matter your dietary habits.
My partner and I are doing 6 weeks of no alcohol, no desserts and no gluten, as a sort of new year recalibration of eating habits. We do something like this every year, and it seems to help us better remember to eat normally after an indulgent holiday season. Although, my friend K made the good point that January is possibly the worst month to go without alcohol. Being so cold and dark and damp, you kind of need a glass of whisky sometimes.

Well, at least we don’t need to give up these waffles! They are great even without syrup or jam, if you’re avoiding sweets like us. They’ll have a crunchy, crumbly texture, similar to cornbread. You can make them vegan by using ground flax seed, or just go ahead and use eggs if that’s not a concern. I just appreciate being able to make waffles even if there are no eggs or milk in the house. You might need to cook these a little longer than normal waffles, as they’re pretty dense. Or, do what I do: cook in the waffle iron till golden, then place on a rack in the oven at 170 F to keep warm and continue cooking till the rest of the waffles are made.

Waffle Mix
– 3 cup coarse, whole grain cornmeal
– 3 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (I use Bob’s)
– 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats (not all oats are gf due to contamination!)
– 2 cups “other stuff” (I used what I had on hand: ½ cup chia seeds, ½ cup amaranth, ½ cup hemp hearts, ½ cup shredded coconut)
– ¾ cup palm sugar (or regular sugar)
– ¼ cup baking powder
– 5 teaspoons salt (or to your liking)
– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix all these ingredients together really well and store in a glass jar. This is your waffle mix, and it can sit around at the ready for quite a while. When you’re ready for waffles:

Whisk 1 large egg or 1 flax “egg” (1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons water, let sit 5 min) with ¾ cup milk (I prefer coconut milk, but you can use other plant based milks or cow/goat milk), ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, and 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or butter. Stir in 1.5 cups of your pre-made waffle mix and set aside for 10 minutes. You can also fold in chopped nuts, blueberries, or chocolate chips at this point.

Cook in a pre-heated waffle iron until golden brown and crispy.

Conceptual Bacon

I had two lovely friends over for dinner last week to cook for them (I mean really cook) for the first time. Of course I wanted to set the bar high: 4 courses and dessert, plus farmer’s market cocktails.*(See menu list below, lots of “favorites” from the past)* A minor challenge, one friend is pescetarian. I got this idea in my head for grilled shrimp with peach bbq sauce (waiting from last summer’s peaches), and the perfect garnish seemed to be brown sugar glazed bacon.

A pet peeve of mine is a vegetarian (or pescetarian in this case) dish that is made by just “leaving out the meat.” It seems so thoughtless – unless everyone is eating it that way. So, I set out to make conceptual vegetarian bacon. I am not a big fan of meatless bacon products, though they will do in some scenarios. They are definitely visually unappealing, with their processed, speckled, weirdly colored meat impersonation – no good for a garnish meant to add flourish and decoration (as well as tasting good).

I wanted the sweet-salty combo that I’d be getting with the candied bacon, so I took a mixture of shredded Irish cheddar, grana padano, brown sugar, and smoked paprika, spread it on a silpat and baked it in a 350 oven for about 5 minutes. The result was a lacy, crispy, sweet-salty-smokey addictive garnish for my pescetarian diner! I cut the doily into wide strips and leaned them up against each other on the plate over the shrimp. Although the bacon-eaters loved their meat, I would dare to say that they were jealous as well! I think that this could be used in any dish that would be garnished with crispy bacon – as long as it does not get wet, it will stay crispy, so tossing it on right before serving is important. It was actually amazing just dipped into the peach bbq sauce – a very fancy version of chips and dip for a cocktail party perhaps?

Blackberry-Proseco cocktails
Chard “Coleslaw” with Herb-Buttermilk dressing and Marinated Tomatoes
Asparagus-Pea-Ricotta “Pesto” Pizzette
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Brown-Butter and Chestnuts
Grilled Shrimp with Peach BBQ Sauce and Candied Bacon (or “Facon”)
Zucchini-Dill-Feta Pancakes with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Pistachio Meringue – Rhubarb-Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Blue Cheese Mac (or not) and Cheese with Mushrooms and Garlic Bread-Crumb-Topping

This recipe goes out to some of my family back home, Becky and Mike, and their two adorable kids. I made this for them based on a dish they had at a little beach-side café in Lahaina. I hope we can make it a tradition!

Blue Cheese Mac and Cheese with Mushrooms and Garlic-Bread-Crumb Crust

  • 1 lb short pasta (I think we used penne, not macaroni)
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk (you could use lower-fat milk, or add cream if you want it richer)
  • 3 cups grated cheddar cheese (I like to use white, but either is fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced thin (it would be great to use a variety of mushrooms, the restaurant used some special ones grown on the Big Island, but we just had buttons)
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (or more if you like a lot of crunchy topping)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper

*Note: if you are not a fan of mushrooms, leave them out. You could add other cooked veggies, like broccoli, peas, or spinach, or some kind of protein, like chicken, shrimp, or seitan.

Saute the mushrooms and onion in a little olive oil, letting them brown before stirring. Add in some salt, pepper and 1 clove of minced garlic. Cook until tender and most of liquid is cooked away. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large sauce pan and add the flour. Stir until smooth and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until it becomes golden and bubbly. Add in the milk, whisking continuously to get out all the lumps. Keep whisking and bring the mixture to almost a boil. It should get pretty thick.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions, drain, and return to its pot.

Take the cream sauce off the heat, and add in the grated cheddar, mixing until smooth. Add in the cooked mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Gently fold in the blue cheese (I like to keep some chunks in there). Taste and add salt and pepper as needed (we also added red chili flakes for some kick). Pour the cheese over the cooked and drained pasta and fold to combine.

Pour the pasta into a baking dish. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and add 2 cloves minced garlic along with some salt and pepper. Mix in panko to coat. Sprinkle mixture over the pasta and put into the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes until bubbling and topping is golden brown. If you are in a rush, increase the oven temp and watch closely to get the topping brown.

The Magic of Compound Butter

Compound butter is like pixie dust, transforming any mediocre piece of toast, fillet of fish, or pile of veggies into something magical.

The basics are quite easy – just take room temperature, unsalted butter and mash it up with various flavors, herbs, spices, cheeses, etc. I often put the butter in the microwave for 4 or 5 seconds (do not melt the butter, it will ruin the texture) to get it soft, then mash with a fork. If I am making a big batch, I can use the food processor, but if you are not making enough, the butter will just stick to the sides of the processor and not get mixed in.

Some ideas for add-ins:
– garlic (of course), shallots, chives
– bleu cheese, parmesan, gruyere
– basil, tarragon, thyme, lemon zest, orange zest, grated ginger, candied ginger
– reductions: red or white wine, balsamic vinegar
– honey, maple syrup, molasses, rum, cognac, vanilla extract, crushed macadamia, pine, walnuts, pecans
– cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, curry powder, pepper

Be sure to add in some salt as well. When the mixture tastes delish to you, make sure it is evenly mixed and scrape the whole mess onto a sheet of parchment paper. Using the paper, roll the mixture into a log shape, wrap up tight, and stick into a zip top bag. You can keep it in the fridge if you’ll be using all of it soon, or stick it in the freezer for a few months. I have half log of shallot-bleu cheese butter in my freezer. It was amazing on some rosemary Irish soda bread that I served with a creamy white bean soup to some friends a few weeks ago. The bleu cheese melts just slightly slower than the butter, making it totally spread-able and lovely.

Compound butters make instant meals when you can’t/won’t/don’t want to cook:
– Place a piece of fish or pile of shrimp or scallops on a bed of green beans, place a pat of compound butter on top and wrap into a parchment paper pouch – bake 20 minutes and voila!
– A pat on top of grilled beef, chicken, lamb or fish = instant sauce.
– Any side dish of veggies, potatoes, pasta, rice or bread would welcome a dab.
– Sweet versions on biscuits, pancakes, waffles, or just plain toast in the morning. (Honey-cinnamon butter on toast with sliced bananas or apples on top? Yum.)

Cranberry-Ginger Biscotti with Chocolate Chunks

This recipe was requested by a dear friend. I started making these based off of a recipe from bon appetite, but changed it of course. I am using the basic instructions from that original recipe, but incorporating my “improvements.” Biscotti are such an easy cookie to make, once you understand the technique – they are great gifts and you can add pretty much anything you have on hand – they are good with nothing in them except some spices- but I do like them best with lots of nuts and dried fruit.

I always make a double batch – they freeze really well for gifts or unexpected guests.

Cranberry Ginger Biscotti with Chocolate Chunks

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder (you could add any spices you like- cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, chili powder – I almost always just throw in a mix based on my whim of the moment)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dried cranberries (you could use dried cherries, raisins, chopped apricots, figs, or other fruit)
1 cup sliced almonds (could use walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, etc)
½ cup thinly sliced candied ginger
8 oz or 1 cup chopped chocolate (bittersweet or other type if you like that better)
(other add-ins: toasted coconut, toffee bits, sesame seeds, flavor extracts, whatever you fancy)
Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Sift first 5 ingredients into large bowl. Whisk eggs and vanilla in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and melted butter into dry ingredients. Stir in cranberries, nuts, ginger and chocolate.
Turn dough out onto floured surface. Using floured hands, divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each into a long, thin log (about 3-4 inches wide, depending on how long you want each cookie to be). Place each log on a baking sheet.
Bake logs 12 minutes. Reverse position of baking sheets. Bake logs until firm and dry to touch, about 12 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Transfer logs to work surface. Using serrated knife (or other very sharp knife), cut hot logs diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. This is definitely the trickiest part – if you are not careful, you will destroy the slices. It can be especially hard if you’ve left the nuts or fruits in large pieces – they can snag on the knife and tear through the delicate cakey part. My advice is to go slow, let the loaves cool a bit if necessary, and try several different knives. I have had the best luck using a long carving knife that is super super sharp and slice right through anything. Also, you may have to make thicker slices in order to get clean looking cookies – play around a bit, and don’t worry- you can always eat the “mistakes.”
Place slices, cut side down, on same baking sheets. Bake biscotti until dry and slightly darker, about 10 minutes. Make sure they get crispy, but not burnt. Transfer to racks to cool. I like to put a few into a cellophane bag and tie with a ribbon for holiday gifts.