Pho at Home! Woo-hoo!

While walking the soup aisle of Superstore (if you haven’t visited one in Canada, it’s a no-frills, basic grocery store), my heart was in my mouth when I looked to my right and saw that Campbell’s now makes Pho broth for home! I could have done a jig and clicked my heels with delight.  I loaded up with a couple tetra paks and headed straight to the veg area for green onion, bean sprouts, basil, cilantro and lime.

Now, I will put this disclaimer out there — if you have travelled to Vietnam and enjoyed pho made fresh and piping hot in the early morning, you will be disappointed.   I spent a very short four days there and enjoyed beautiful food.   I’ve only found a couple restaurants in Vancouver that can compare with the real thing; however, if you want something quick that takes care of a pho craving and maybe have kids who want a simple meal to make, this is a fun dish for home.

Campbell’s also does you a favour and puts a recipe on the side for those who need the basics of the ingredients and assembly of this dish.  I like to wing it and vary the quantities each time I make it – no two phos are the same.  A plus to this packaged broth is that it’s pretty low sodium so you can amp up the salt if you need to.  Another tip, don’t just squirt the Hoisin or Sriracha on without sampling the broth first, see how you like the flavour before adding the condiments.

So, here’s what you need for a fun, quick and tasty “home” pho (no 12 plus hours of simmering the marrow out of bones ~ don’t get me wrong, I’m determined to try making the both from scratch..some day, when I have 12 hours put together that I can devote to my kitchen).

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Shopping list:

1 – 900 ml box Campbell’s Pho Broth
1/2 pound of flank steak, cut thinly, crossgrain, seasoned with 1/2-1 tsp salt and lightly tossed in canola oil (maybe a 1 tbsp)
1 cup bean sprouts (love them, so I like to have lots)
1/2 pound dry rice noodles
1/2 small yellow onion, very thinly sliced
3 green onions, chopped
1 lime (cut in half)
2-3 tbsp cilantro and basil leaves, roughly chopped
1-2 tsp fish sauce (optional)

I’m a big rice noodle fan so I like a lot in my pho.  Cook rice noodles according to package, rinse with cold water and place to the side.  Toss seasoned flank steak with canola oil and over medium heat cook the steak 1-2 min each side and place to side while broth is heating up. I like my meat to be somewhat rare in the centre because the broth is so hot, it cooks the meat once the soup is put together.   Heat broth over medium heat until it is simmering – check to see if you want to add salt, remembering the meat is salted and onions and herbs will add flavour.  If you want to, add 1-2 tsp of fish sauce – season to taste.

Divide noodles between serving bowls (I get 4 good size servings per box of broth), add sprouts, both types of onion, cilantro and basil and steak pieces.  Pour broth over the noodles and veggies and using one of the lime halves, squeeze a spritz of juice over each bowl. Cut the other lime half into wedges for garnish. Taste the broth.  If you want a kick, add a squirt of Sriracha sauce, or for a sweeter, smokier flavour, Hoisin sauce.  Serve immediately while broth is hot!  With chopsticks and soup spoon in hand … enjoy!

 

 

 

The Chili – A Crafter’s Weekend Saviour

While the focus of this blog is primarily yarn related, a girl’s gotta eat!  This chili has sustained me through many a project, saving me from the hassles of cooking when I’m engrossed in far more interesting endeavours.

A few notes, suggestions, thoughts before getting started …..

I like to add the spices to the veggie/meat mixture and let it all simmer for a few minutes.  I think it enhances the flavours.  Please don’t ask why I add the corn at the end, it’s something my mother does with her chili and I’ve never really questioned it.  I just know it works and the corn is always sweet and crunchy.

Also, around the 1 hour cooking mark, I like to have a taste to see if I’ve made it spicy enough, does it need more salt, etc.  Check throughout the cooking to make sure it has the right amount of kick that you’re looking for.  I’ve found some days I want an extra tbsp of chili powder, some days I think another dash of cayenne is in order.  Chili is one of those fabulous dishes that you can easily adjust to suit your personal tastes.

Chili freezes beautifully when stored in proper freezer friendly containers.  I like to divide it up in meal size portions pulling on out the morning of the day that I’ll need it.

The Chili

3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium/large onions, small dice
small head of celery (remove leaves), small/medium dice
1 green bell pepper, small/medium dice
1 red bell pepper, small/medium dice

700 g (approx. 1 1/2 pounds) extra-lean ground beef

5 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp fresh ground kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

*combine these dry spices in a small bowl and set aside.

2 squirts of ketchup (approximately 2 tbsp)
1 ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 cup red wine (merlot, malbec)

1 – 796 ml (28 oz) can of whole, peeled tomatoes, with juices
1 – 796 ml (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes, with juices
2 – 540 ml (19 oz) cans red kidney beans, drained
1 – 540 ml (19 oz) can chickpeas, drained
1 – 540 ml (19 oz) can tomato juice
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 – 341 ml (12 oz) can Niblets corn

In a large dutch oven (this is where I bring out my bad ass Le Creuset cast iron pot – I cook everything in it).  Saute the onion and garlic in 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat until onion has softened.  Add celery and bell peppers and cook over medium heat until the veggies are softened but still on the firm side.  Add ground beef and cook until meat is browned.  Add spices and mix well to coat the meat and veggies.   Add the ketchup, Worcestershire, Tabasco and red wine.  Mix thoroughly.

Add the whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, red kidney beans, chickpeas, tomato juice and tomato paste.  Stir to mix thoroughly and increase heat to bring the contents to a boil.  Once the chili is bubbling, reduce to simmer and partially cover the pot.  Let cook for 2 – 2 1/2 hours stirring every 20 minutes or so.  Add the corn with your last stir of the pot and continue to cook until the corn is heated.

Serve with grated cheddar cheese, sliced green onion and a dollop of sour cream (full fat of course!) or just eat it as is from the pot.  If I’m feeling a carb-craving coming on, I make some garlic toast to serve on the side.

Enjoy!!!