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.


Tacos de burro (aka: donkey tacos)


As I mentioned in a previous post, I was lucky enough to be gifted some different kinds of meats, including donkey shank. I decided to braise it and make tacos. It was my first donkey, and I am definitely a fan.


Heat some oil in a large pot and brown the shank on all sides. Add in a couple of carrots, celery and an onion chopped rough, a head of garlic sliced in half, a few bay leaves, and a half teaspoon each of coriander seeds, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili flakes. Cover the shank with water and add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar.

Bring to a simmer, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Add 2 tablespoons salt. Cover the pot and place in a 275 F oven for 4-5 hours until the meat is falling off of the bone and the tendons are tender. Roughly chop the meat and finely chop the tendons.

Strain the aromatics out of the broth and reduce the broth to a thick gravy. Mix the chopped meat back in and adjust the seasoning as needed. This would be great with some gnocchi or mashed potatoes – and it was amazing in the tacos!



Pickled mustard greens

One of my favorite Szechuan dishes is a spicy stew of fermented mustard greens and fish. I have tried to recreate it at home using homemade sauerkraut and chilis, and it was good – but not the same.

Fresh local mustard greens inspired me to ferment my own, and I can’t wait to eventually try making the stew again (in maybe a month? I like my greens real sour).


  • 3 quarts water
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3-4 star anise pods
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled, sliced thin
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 bird chilis or other hot chili to taste
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1.5 lbs fresh mustard greens, well washed (lots of grit!)

Boil all ingredients except mustard greens and cool brine back to room temperature. Pack glass canning jars with greens and fill with brine to cover greens. Evenly distribute the aromatics among the jars. Make sure all greens are below the brine level and set in a dark place to ferment for at least a week. Loosen the jar lid periodically to let gas escape. You can place in the fridge and let slow ferment for months- just be sure to keep releasing the pressure.


Pineapple-gochujang bbq sauce

What a foodie week I’ve had! I was lucky enough to be gifted some hunted and farmed meats from a friend of a friend and now I’m cooking with venison, game hens and … donkey! (that’s for another post though) Today, I made lunch for my mom, including roasted game hens glazed in a pineapple-gochujang bbq sauce.


  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can pineapple chunks (yes I used canned)
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (often contains wheat, so if you are gluten-free, look for specific brands that don’t contain wheat)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in a couple tablespoons of oil until starting to brown. Add the pineapple with its juices, and the remaining ingredients, simmering until thick and glossy. Adjust seasoning adding more sugar, vinegar, or salt as needed. Puree until slightly chunky in a blender or using an immersion blender.

For the hens, I spatchcocked them and seasoned with salt and sugar, letting the skins dry out overnight in the fridge.


I rubbed skins with butter and roasted at 450 F for 20 minutes, lowered the temp to 350 F for 20 minutes more and then glazed with bbq sauce, placing them under the broiler for a final 5 minutes. I added green beans to the pan for the last 15 minutes of cooking to make use of all the yummy juices.



Ugly-delicious: cod with sauerkraut and Szechuan pepper

I didn’t take the time to figure out how to make this meal look appealing, but I promise that, in person, the smell and taste more than made up for it. That said, I figured I should just call it like it is and name the dish ugly-delicious.

img-3046.jpgSzechuan-inspired cod with sauerkraut

  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil (or other light-tasting oil)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sauerkraut
  • 2 tablespoons fermented black beans
  • 1-3 tablespoons chili paste or fresh chopped jalapenos or serranos
  • 1 tablespoon ground Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 lb cod, cut into large chunks

Sautee the onion, celery and garlic in the oil over medium-high until they begin to brown. Add the sauerkraut, beans, chili and peppercorns and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more salt, heat or sour (by adding sauerkraut juice or vinegar). Add the fish and cook until just opaque, turning very gently so as to not break up the filet.

I served the fish with basmati rice cooked with amaranth and some shredded greens.


Apricot-Salted Caramel Ice Cream

This lightly tropical ice cream is so luscious you wouldn’t know that it’s dairy free! I used coconut milk and eggs to add richness, and the pureed apricots add a velvety texture and perfume. You could go all the way vegan with this recipe by thickening with cornstarch instead of eggs.



  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 3 large eggs (for vegan ice cream: omit eggs and dissolve 1/4 cup cornstarch in 1 can of coconut milk and add to the blender before the apricots)
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup toasted cashews

Melt sugar in medium saucepan over medium heat and continue to heat until it turns a deep brown and smells a bit like burnt marshmallows. Swirl the pan as the sugar browns to even it out. If you don’t let it go long enough at this stage, you won’t get much caramel flavor. I always think of it like this – if I go too far and it burns (has a bitter smell/taste), I can always start over – it’s just sugar.

Pour in the coconut milk (mixture will bubble and spit) and carefully stir over medium heat to re-melt the caramel. Pour mixture into a blender and, with blender running, add the eggs one at a time. Add 3/4 cup apricots, salt, and vanilla and let run until smooth.

Pour the mixture back into your saucepan and slowly heat to fully thicken, whisking constantly. Do not let boil – but, if you do, pour the mixture through a strainer before cooling to get any lumps out. Cool custard overnight and then churn in an ice cream maker. Top with thinly sliced dried apricots and toasted cashews.


Kimchi pancakes and caramelized delicata squash


Kimchi makes me so happy. So so happy. These pancakes especially with their crispy, spicy, chewy, tangy, juicy-ness, are one of my favorite ways to have kimchi. You could sub in all sorts of ingredients here, and I’ll share suggestions below. (a previous post has the salad recipe)

Kimchi pancakes

  • 1 cup kimchi sliced thin
  • 1 scallion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup bay shrimp (could sub in other proteins like drained tofu, sauteed mushrooms, scallops or leave out completely. My kimchi is vegan and gluten-free, so I can easily accommodate dietary restrictions. Many store-bought brands of kimchi contain fish sauce or oysters and may have gochujang with can be made with wheat or barley paste both of which contain gluten – check it closely to be sure)
  • 1/2 cup flour (can use gf flour blend or rice flour)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all of the ingredients together and thin with a little kimchi liquid if needed. Heat oil on medium high in a large nonstick pan. Scoop about 1/4 cup mixture into the pan and flatten so ingredients are more or less in one layer. Let the pancake cook until it is golden brown and crispy, then flip and cook to crisp the other side, about 5-7 minutes total.

These can be served with or without an easy dipping sauce of equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar with a dash of toasted sesame oil and chili paste. You can use tamari if you are trying to keep this recipe gluten-free.

Caramelized delicata squash

  • 1 delicata squash, scrubbed clean, cut in half longways, seeds scraped and then sliced (skin on) into thin half moons
  • Oil and salt/pepper

Not really a recipe, but after you have cooked the kimchi pancakes, throw the squash into the same pan and cook for about 5 minutes per side until they are dark brown and tender. Season with salt and pepper.


Tabouli with amaranth (gf)

IMG-3053I have been craving sour things lately – the aforementioned kombucha, fish with sauerkraut and fermented black beans, and this bright and crunchy tabouli. I make it gluten free using amaranth (a seed) in place of the bulgur (which is cracked wheat and thus has gluten). I happen to love the texture of amaranth anyways, but it also packs a serious nutrition punch. You can use the bulgur if you are not wheat sensitive, or try another grain or seed like quinoa, brown rice, or millet.

Tabouli with amaranth

  • 1 clove garlic, minced fine
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled amaranth (cook according to package directions – be sure to add salt to the cooking liquid)
  • 1 bunch curly parsley, de-stemmed and chopped fine
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped fine
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • juice of 2-3 lemons
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything up to the cucumbers in a large bowl to combine and then begin adding your seasonings to taste. I like it pretty sour, so I use all of the lemon juice, but start with half and add more to taste. Same with the olive oil, salt and pepper. You may need to re-season with salt once the veggies have lost some of their water. Garnish with chive blossoms if you are lucky enough to have some around!


Roast chicken with fresh veggies and cilantro-lime dressing


This dish confirmed to me that I will put toasted nuts on everything I am allowed to put toasted nuts on. These peanuts were for another dish, but I put them on this one anyways. I didn’t regret it.

This dish is a riff on the put rice/grains in a bowl and top it with whatever you have on hand, plus a yummy sauce = dinner. This one starts with white rice and is topped with fresh spinach, carrots, green onions, roasted chicken thighs and a cilantro-lime dressing. And of course the peanuts. I would also accept toasted cashews or sesame seeds as an answer.

Cilantro-lime dressing

  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • pinch of oregano
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Blend everything until it is smooth. Adjust the seasoning as desired. Put on EVERYTHING.

Cherry-ginger kombucha (aka fizzy, sweet and sour drink)

IMG_2741I have joined team kombucha. After drinking switchels for years, kombucha was easy to love – lightly fizzy, sweet and sour, interesting flavors, refreshing. As someone who doesn’t drink much alcohol, it has also been a welcome option for happy hours and potlucks. My main problem has been the price of it. At $3-$5 per 12-ounce bottle, it is often more expensive than beer.

Problem solved. My friend O gave me a “scoby” (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and some simple instructions (use black tea, plain sugar, keep it out of the light) and off I went. This is my third gallon batch, cherry-ginger flavor this time. I won’t go into instructions here, because there are so many blogs that dedicate themselves just to home-brew kombucha, but I will encourage you to give it a try. It isn’t hard at all (mostly waiting) and the flavor combinations are endless!