Monday, April 18, 2016

Near Misses #2: Cheeseburger Ramen

My kids are often the driver for food ideas. Sometimes, I am trying to think of something that they will love and other times, it is me trying to make their idea into a reality. It is when I am stretching for something that I can learn something new and make something incredible or it can fall flat.

Here is a flat recipe inspired by seeing a recipe for cheeseburger soup and wondering if ramen would make a good switch up.

The recipe as made was:

Cheeseburger Ramen

1 slice of ham steak
1 lb frozen italian meatballs
2 sliced green onions
1 cup frozen corn

3 rafts (?) instant ramen noodles
4 cups ham broth
2 cups water
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp mustard

Cheese to top

Fry ham and then add liquid. Bring liquid to a boil. Add condiments. Add meatballs and warm through. Add ramen and corn cook until done. The pkg I had said three minutes. Then add onions and pour into bowls. Top with cheese. 

What worked: Overall the flavours and concept were sound. It tasted just a little bit like a cheeseburger. It was good that the corn was there to provide some juicyness.

What didn't: Lack of concentrated beef flavour. Should have used beef stock and swapped the ham out for bacon. The original idea was a bacon cheeseburger but I got lazy on the bacon. 

The condiments were a nice add but needed a stronger foil of some type of spice or robust flavour. The broth was the thing that the kids actively disliked. 

Should have broken the meatballs down into smaller pieces. This was the kids favourite part but once they were gone, there was not much else to hold the soup together. 

What to do different: 

Use beef stock. Add some spices. Use bacon or eliminate ham altogether. Break down the meatballs.

Now, will I make it again? The kids were lacklustre about the whole affair. My eldest did not finish the broth and my youngest only ate half his bowl. They bowl were not sure that they would want another attempt. Unless I am hit by inspiration, I will give it a pass. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Easter Leftovers: Ideas

It is a Sunday morning that is barely holding on in the last days of a season that is barely holding on. Forget the end of hockey or the beginning of baseball because I am seeing the last of the Easter season. A few bones of ham and turkey are simmering for stock to go into the freezer for the return of fall or winter.

I guess it is apt that finding ways to squeeze as much out of leftovers is a good post for a time when winter seems to be squeezing out its last from us. I am not a lover of the big-huge-gigantic-enormous-gut-wrenching-and-busting meals of family holidays. Well, I like to eat them but it is always within a certain range of enjoyment. There are few surprises in the meal and more in the conversations. I prefer the conversational surprises more. This year, however, the ancillary meals, the ones that tide you over between big meals and the ones that happened after made me a little more happy.

I want to share some of the recipes and ideas because I am obviously self absorbed and feel that may take on food is so important...or, maybe I wish that a few of these will help bored eaters everywhere on what to do with those meals that you kinda hafta have.

We used to have a fresh ham and have it all done up with mustard, brown sugar and cloves but nowadays we have a prepared smoked spiral ham. Given the compressed schedule, this was served on store bought croissants with swiss cheese and mustard, or ketchup for the pre-teen crowd. It was a good break from the last few years but we had a whole bunch of croissants and a ham bone leftover.

So, with Easter chocolate in hand, we unwrapped the eggs onto the croissants and placed them in the microwave for a little while and had an instant dessert that we repeated a few times.

Leftover turkey and Christmas' turkey got made into a ramen. This was really good. Very little adjustments had to be made for the turkey. A little of the same herbs and spices that were used in stuffing were added to bump it up and corn for some crunch.

Ham stock was used in an attempt at cheeseburger ramen but I will leave that for another post. It was a partial failure and worth an examination on its own. 

I wrote this post about leftovers and other ways to look at the holiday meals but I realize that in some ways, this attitude stretches the holidays in terms of memories and flavours. It is rare to get together with extended family. Those times are often compressed and stressed with very little time spent talking and reconnecting. Some of these ideas get at a way to do less and get more during the holidays and some of these ideas stretch those holiday feelings. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lentil Corn Bean Chili

Making something for an unknown crowd can be nerve wracking. You wonder about spicing and whether the kids will eat it. You always hope that yours is not the only one leftover and a myriad of things that are not any reflection of your cooking and what you choose to make. You want it quick, cheap and flavourful.

This is a mild chili that you can bump up. It takes faintly of cumin but has no real overpowering spices. A lentil soup texture broken up with corn and beans seems like a good dish for a chilly day.

So, here is a vegan recipe made for the 2016 Bowmore "Make It!" Fair...

1 stalk celery, chopped  (reserve celery leaves , no biggie if you don't have any)
2 large carrots, chopped
1 large white onion, diced
tbsp of oil

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp chili powder
4 cloves of garlic

3 cups red lentils
2x 540 ml (19 oz) cans black beans
2x 398 ml (14oz) cans cream corn
1 1/2 cup of frozen corn
1.8L of vegetable stock
2 bay leaf
reserved celery leaves (chopped)

1. Take the celery, onion and carrots and soften them over medium heat in a dutch oven or pan that will hold about 4-6 L. Add salt.
2. Add the spice mixture and garlic until it starts to smell. Between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and then down to a simmer. On my stove this is High and then 2 or Low but appliances will vary. Simmer until lentils are soft (25-30 minutes).

This recipe can be dressed up or dressed down with green onions or sour cream added at the last. Add more spices or whole chile peppers. Hot sauce in your bag which I would do. I do think that cooking is one of those DIY and hacks that anyone can get into.

The fair runs today from 11 am - 3 pm. Come see us with your bowl and spoon.