Cooking Nigella Lawson’s Vietnamese Pork Noodle Soup

While flipping through Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson I was absolutely drawn to her Vietnamese Pork Noodle Soup recipe (page 82). So far under the spell was I that I ignored two very basic facts: 1) our two-year-old doesn’t do so well with soup and 2) it was just starting to get crazy hot when I made it. Ah well, it turned out to be super good, so who cares? I’d rather sweat through making a really great dish that I can use again later down the line than make one that’s not so good any day.

Like a lot of the dishes I’ve made out of Stir-Frying To The Sky’s Edge, there’s a lot of prep work involved here. You cut the pork tenderloin up and then mix it with lime, soy sauce, paprika and fish sauce. While that marinates for about 15 minutes, you can cut up the bok choy, start the pasta water and get the other ingredients ready. I couldn’t find the sprouts and skipped the chiles, so there were a few things I didn’t have to deal with.

Then you’re off to the cooking races. The chicken broth goes in its own pot while you start cooking scallions and then the pork. I used a regular pan this time, but think I’ll go with the wok next time just to see how the process differs. Anyway, there’s more cooking and then transferring of ingredients until you wind up with a pot of noodle-y, porky, boy choy-y soup just begging to be eaten.

If you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed this dish. The tenderloin took on great flavor even with such a short marinade and the broth had that great saltiness to it that actually made me excited to eat leftovers the next few days. I will definitely make this dish again, but most likely when it’s a bit cooler outside.

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 17

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The latest episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast deals primarily with Lu’s first and so far only day at daycare as well as some new discoveries about the Old School Sesame Street DVDs and a brief description of why my dad is rad.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 17

If you’re curious about the work I did while Lu was at daycare, check out the interviews here and here.

Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval Winner: Sesame Street: Old School – Volume One (1969-1974)

Read more of me on UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com and on Twitter @PoppaDietsch.

Cooking Ingrid Hoffmann’s Crackling Fish Tacos With Chipotle Tartar Sauce

I know a lot of people like to stick with a particular recipe when they realize how much they like it. I’m not of that school. Yes, I’ll take note of that particular recipe, but I’m always looking for new and different ways to prepare food. That can be a little disappointing when you’ve found a really solid way of making a dish and then only seem to come across lesser ones. I went into Ingrid Hoffman’s Food Network recipe for Crackling Fish Tacos with Chipotle Tartar Sauce which was fairly similar to the delightful Baja Fish Tacos I’ve made and enjoyed several times. And while I didn’t like this new recipe better than the old one, it was still a good dish that would have been all the better had I remembered to pick up a few tomatoes and cheese to serve along with the other sides.

Aside from those gaffs, I followed the recipe pretty closely. I forget what kind of white fish I used, but I want to say tilapia. As you can see I got the chipotle tartar sauce together first and then worked on cutting, dredging and frying the fish chunks. While the actual prep for cooking the fish wasn’t all that different between the two recipes, I’d say the garnishes were. I really like that this one uses cucumbers which have a really nice crunch, but also bring in some moisture. However, my wife and I both found the chipotle tartar sauce to be way too hot. It’s those canned chipotles in adobo sauce that always get me. I’ve got to come up with a good alterative for those guys because they’re way too hot.

Overall, this was a good recipe, but it didn’t knock the Baja Fish Tacos out of the top spot, but it did bring a few new add-ons into play that I think will work well in the future. One of the great things about trying all these different recipes and them turning out pretty well is that it’s creating a kind of knowledge repository in my brain (greatly aided by this blog which is essentially me external hard drive for food) that allows me to mix and match elements from different dishes. Heck, maybe I’ll be coming up with my own before too long!

Cooking Good Housekeeping’s Thai Chicken & Noodles

A recent issue of Good Housekeeping had a feature where they ran down a series of slow cooker recipes based on cuts of meat that did better being cooked slow and low. One whole section was about chicken thighs, a protein I usually skip over for reasons I can’t quite remember. I read part of the article, though, and it talked about how flavorful they can be, so I figured I’d give them a shot in the form of Thai Chicken & Noodles.

I was drawn to this recipe because it reminded me of Smitten Kitchen’s Cold Rice Noodles With Peanut-Lime Chicken with its peanut, lime and chicken flavors. While this recipe takes some time to get together, it’s pretty hands-off and easy to make. You’ve got to marinate the chicken over night, but then you throw it into the slow cooker with everything else — including coconut milk! — and let it cook for five hours or so. As good as the dish wound up tasting on its own, you’ve definitely got to have some peanuts and limes on hand. They bring the whole thing together. This wound up being a great night-of recipe, but also served us well in leftovers for a few days after that. Can’t ask for much more than that!

Cooking Carbonara With Frisee & Lemon

Have I talked about my Big Blue Binder before? That’s where I keep all the recipes I find in various magazines that I want to try. I’ve got that mystery subscription to Good Housekeeping that I’m considering renewing as I type. I also get the free mag Hannaford gives out called Fresh. I go through those, rip out pages, shove them into clear sleeves and get to them when I get to them. At some point I must have gone through one of my wife’s issues of Martha Stewart Living and came across a page with four different pasta recipes including one for Fusilli Carbonara With Frisee & Lemon.

The whole recipe for this dish fits on a quarter of a sheet, so it’s pretty simple. Get your water going, cook the bacon, mix the eggs and parmesan cheese, clean the frisee and juice the lemons. The greens go in a bowl, the bacon cools and de-greases on some paper towels until you can break it up. Once the pasta’s done, drop that into another bowl and mix with the egg and cheese mixture. Once that’s together stir in the lemon juice, mix again and combine with the bacon and greens.

I actually remember the very first person who ever made carbonara for me: my friend Geof’s dad. They lived around the corner from us and Geof and I became friends after they moved to the neighborhood in third or fourth grade. We spent countless summer days hanging out together along with his older sister and younger brother and I had the pleasure of spending many a wonderful dinner at their house. One of those meals was carbonara, a traditional Italian dish of pasta, bacon and eggs where the eggs are poured over the pasta right after its done, cooking them upon contact.

This version of carbonara has a few more bells and whistles — and isn’t nearly as good as Geof’s dad’s if memory serves — but it made for a really nice dinner. Our two-year-old daughter has developed a real taste for macaroni and cheese (or “macos and cheese” as she calls it) so anything with pasta and cheese ranks pretty high on her list of favorite foods. You add in bacon, another favorite, and this turned out to be a real hit with everyone.

Bonus Food Pic: Mayor McCheese Omelet From Fiddlestix

20130618-153611.jpg I hope all my fellow dads out there had a good Father’s Day. I got booze, breakfast and smoked pork, plus time with my family, so I’ve got no complaints. For breakfast we went over to our favorite local place Fiddlestix and got yet another wonderful meal. As usual, I went with one of the specials, this one called the Mayor McCheese, which is an omelet with ground beef, caramelized onions and tomatoes topped with melted cheese sauce. Considering everything I just wrote ranks pretty high on my favorite foods, you can reasonably bet that I had a wonderful time filling my face with a cheesy, beefy concocion held together with eggs. As an added bonus, I got to dip my toast in cheese!

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 16

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 16 runs the gamut from parental visits and Father’s Day fun to Lu’s upcoming first trip to daycare.

If you want to read the first entry in my recurring “Ultimate Spider-Man” interview series, click this link.

The official Stormville Flea Market website.

Above you can see the three books I mentioned in the podcast: If I Ran The Circus, The Disney Junior Encyclopedia Of Animated Characters and The Amazing Spider-Man Look and Find. Follow those links to Amazon if they sound like something you’d like to check out.

The Adventure Time Blu-ray review I mentioned can be seen here. If you want to buy them for yourself, click the following links:

And here’s the short piece I wrote for Spinoff Online about Girl Meets World getting officially picked up by Disney.

I wrote this piece about how Superman changed my life and this one  about Man of Steel.

Read more of me on UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com and on Twitter @PoppaDietsch.

Cooking Smitten Kitchen’s Japanese Vegetable Pancakes

Every time I see a new meal recipe pop up on Smitten Kitchen, I get excited. When I saw her post about Japanese Vegetable Pancakes, I got jazzed and added it to that week’s menu because it looked new and different yet I could tell that I’d be able to find most of the ingredients at the grocery store.

You’ll need cabbage, kale, carrots and a few other things and you basically just slice them up into strips. Throw all that in a bowl with some flour and six eggs and start forming patties. After my failed attempt at making veggie burgers recently (which turned into a successful veggie has), I was worried that my pancakes wouldn’t come out, but luckily everything stuck together. I broke out two different pans to make the process go a bit faster and flipped/took them off the heat when they got a good shade of blackish brown.

The other key element to this dish is the Tangy Sauce which was FAN-tastic. I’ll probably get to a post about the Sesame Chicken Breasts I made around the same time. There was a similar, spicy ketchup based sauce with that, but it turned out a lot spicier than we like. Smitten’s, though, was fantastic. Tangy, sweet, salty, all the good things in one. The only problem? We ran out of sauce well before we ran out of pancakes.

My wife and I both really fell for this dish. To frame it properly, I would go to the fridge and eat these as snacks right out of the bowl, dipping in the sauce when we still had some. That’s how much I was into this recipe. It’s definitely going in the regular rotation, such as it is.

Bonus Food Pic: King’s Pommes Frites’ Cheese Burger & Fries

king's palm frites burger

If you live in the Cornwall/New Windsor/Vail’s Gate area and like to check out local food places, you were probably a fan of Woody’s, an all natural burger place in a yellow house in Cornwall. They had a solid staple of offerings, but would also branch out into limited-time specials based on whatever was good and fresh at that time. Well, Woody’s closed down in the past year and we’ve been left wanting for places to get a good burger that doesn’t come from a clown’s mouth.

Thankfully, my wife and I didn’t have to look around too long before realizing that King’s Pommes Frites — also in Cornwall — is killing it with their burgers. In fact, as far as I’m concerned their burgers are actually better than Woody’s were. They’re big and juicy and perfectly cooked, plus they come with King’s always-fresh fries and their signature variety of sauces.

As far as I’m concerned, King’s is doing it right. They started off with a simple idea: the fries with sauces, plus a special or two every week or so. Now they’ve expanded to a full menu PLUS unique offerings every week that you can keep tabs on by way of their Facebook page (linked above). From what I hear, they’ve also got shakes now, which is wonderful because no one else seems to be doing that in the ‘Wall.

This picture’s actually from a month or so ago and we haven’t been back in that span, but writing this post and looking at that picture make me want to head there right now. Now that I think about it, I was planning on running to Cornwall around lunch time…

Forgotten Food: Chicken Tacos With Tomatillos

Unfortunatley, I not only don’t remember how this recipe turned out — though I don’t remember it being bad — I also can’t seem to figure out where I got the recipe from! It looks like I cooked the chicken in some olive oil in one pan while grilling the tomatillos and chili in a cast iron grill skillet. From looking at the pictures, I think that red bell pepper was in there on accident.

Anyway, once the tomatillos and pepper were done being grilled it looks like they were boiled in a little bit of water. They then went into a food processor with some onion, garlic, honey and lime. That mixture was then cooked with the shredded chicken and that was the main thrust of the dish from the looks of it. I also shredded some cheddar cheese, cut some lime wedges, opened the sour cream and toasted a few tortillas on the oven. I want to say the results were good, but I really can’t remember. Luckily, I’ve made things like this enough that I think I could probably recreate it from the pictures!

*UPDATE* I think I found the recipe! Pretty sure it’s FoodNetwork.com’s Grilled Chicken Tostadas al Carbon With Grilled Tomatillos.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 15

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A busy week packed with a family trip down to New York City and a parent-only journey to Long Island for a wedding makes for a travel-packed episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast.

I wrote about my wife’s hospital stay in my Photo Diary posts last November, you can read them here, here, here, here, here and here.

If you’re in New York City and have a few hours to kill you can do a lot worse than the Central Park Zoo. And that’s coming from someone who’s not a fan of the form.

I wrote about my love of Batman Returns over on my pop culture blog UnitedMonkee.

A look back at Lu’s previous Disney-based petting zoo experience .

This week’s Pop Poppa Seal of Approval recipient, Aqueduck Faucet Extender, Aqua can be purchased through the previous link.

I write for Comic Book Resources and Spinoff Online  and also run UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com and am on Twitter @PoppaDietsch.

Cooking Mediterranean Chicken Salad

A few months back I started looking around for new recipe websites to check out for dinner ideas. One that I came across was Simply Recipes which posted a new recipe for Mediterranean Chicken Salad a few weeks back. That sounded not only like the kind of dish I’d like to make, but also one that wouldn’t heat up the house too much. Thankfully, it turned out to be both.

As usual, I don’t have cooked chicken breasts just hanging around, so one of the first things I did was get a few breasts cooking. I think I had two or three in the freezer and got them out to thaw a few days before making this dish. Aside from cooking those in salt, pepper and olive oil, the only other thing you have to do that involves heat is make some pasta which is more of a suggestion that necessary  I went that route to fortify it a bit though I would also suggest getting some pita and using that as a delivery system.

Aside from those two things you’re just soaking onion in some red wine vinegar (I had yellow on hand instead of red), chopping up some olives and getting your herbs together. Since it was still pretty early in the season I went with all dried, but I’d recommend going the fresh route if you can. I liked how the finished product came together, but there’s a different texture when you use dried over fresh herbs, kind of like you’re eating food that was out during a confetti shower.

Regardless of what ingredients you use, though, the process is the same. Shred the chicken when it’s done, drain the pasta and toss with all the other ingredients in a big ol’ bowl until well mixed. I’m a big fan of pickled type flavors, I like tart, sour things, so this was a big hit with me between the olives and capers. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that those flavors really developed between the first serving and lunch the next few days, so, if you have time, make this one in advance and let it sit. Next time, I think I’ll go with some pita, fresh herbs and maybe even a bit of feta to round things out.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 14

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The latest episode is all about movies, sleep and some of the adorable things are darling daughter has started to say.

A Talk Boy commercial to help jog your memory.

my neighbor totoro

If you like the sound of the My Neighbor Totoro (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) pick it up through this link, it helps the site! Below you can see a picture of Professor Kusakabe with his daughters Satsuki and Mae.

my neighbor totoro

Cooking Chicken Tamale Pie

I’m a big fan of Mexican food and am always looking for a new way of cooking with those flavors, especially if it means I don’t have to muck around with wrapping food in tortillas over and over and over again. So, when I saw Food Network’s Chicken Tamale Pie recipe and saw that it looked pretty easy to put together, I was all over that one.

The beauty of this recipe is, in addition to being really good, I was able to make it after buying only one or two things at the store. I had some chicken breasts in the freezer and most of the other ingredients were hanging out in my fridge and pantry. I think I just needed the black beans and was good to go from there. It was also really simple to make, so thumbs up all around.

Since I didn’t have cooked chicken on hand, the first thing I did was coat the breasts in olive oil, salt and pepper and get them in a pan. While those cooked, I did the rest of the prep measuring out the corn meal and chicken broth, draining the beans and shredding the cheese.

After you get the chicken cooked and chopped up, you’re basically working with two pans, one cooking the beans, salsa and chicken, the other mixing the corn meal and other liquid ingredients. Once the latter is done, you mix in cheese and butter, then spread over the former before tossing the whole pan — I used cast iron — into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. I highly recommend serving with sour cream or maybe something a little fancier like Avocado Crema (might try that this week now that I think about it) just to add some moisture to the proceedings.