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Archive for October, 2016

TIP OF THE DAY: Quick Homemade Ramen Soup

Ramen Bowl With Boiled Egg

Different Ramen Soups

Tofu Ramen Soup

Tonkatsu Ramen

Nona Lim Pho

[1] This comfort food is ready in just 10 minutes with this recipe (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF). [2] Three ramen options at Kabuki Japanese Restaurants: [3] Ramen soup with yuba, called “tofu skin” in English; a by-product of soy milk production (photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog. [4] Tonkatsu ramen soup, with sliced roast pork. Here’s the recipe from Williams-Sonoma. [5] Buy ready-made soup base, like this pho from Nona Lim.


America’s favorite soup is chicken noodle. Is that why so many people love ramen soup, Japanese noodle version? (Ramen is the name of the Chinese-style wheat noodles in the soup.) Both versions are comfort food and hearty main courses.

Instant ramen soup is helpful in a pinch, but it’s laden with so much salt. There’s much more much salt in the little silver seasoning packets than is good for you.

One label we checked had 1434mg of sodium which is 60% of your Daily Value of salt; and if you eat the whole package (two servings), you’ve exceeded your Daily Value.

So here’s an easy solution: Make your own ramen soup. It’s easy, and you can make as large a batch as you like. It’s also a great catch-all for leftover pasta, meats and veggies. Just follow this recipe template: Choose Your Base Buy beef, chicken or vegetable broth or stock, preferably low sodium. If you like to make your own stock, by all means, use it. If you find yourself with pork bones, make pork stock.

Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • 12 ounces Nona Lim pho broth, spicy Szechuan broth, or miso ramen broth
  • 5 ounces ramen noodles (one packet)
  • 1 head bok choy or ½ head chard or kale, sliced into ½” ribbons
  • 3 scallions, green and white parts chopped roughly
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped roughly (substitute basil, chervil, mint, parsley)
    Optional Toppings

    This recipe specifies green onions and soft boiled eggs, but you can switch them out or add other toppings. Look in the fridge, look in the cupboards.

  • Asian vegetables: baby corn, bean sprouts, water chestnuts
  • Frozen, canned or leftover cooked vegetables
  • Leftover proteins: beef, fish/seafood, poultry, pork, tofu (shred and toss into the bowl)
  • Seasonings: nori chips (the dried seaweed used to make sushi rolls, now a popular snack) other seaweed seaweed, sesame seeds or, Japanese 7-spice (shichimi togarashi)*

    1. HEAT the broth, adding 1 cup water to dilute slightly. When it boils, add the noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the greens and scallions and simmer for another 3-5 minutes, until greens are bright and tender but still have texture.

    2. BOIL a small pot of water, then add the eggs and simmer for 7 minutes and 20 seconds. Remove from the water and place in an ice bath; peel when cold.

    3. LADLE out bowls of noodles and broth. Halve the eggs and add two halves to each bowl. Top with a handful of fresh herbs and serve.

  • Homemade Ramen Soup
  • Homemade Pork Ramen Soup
  • Modern Ramen Toppings

    We were heartbroken when our beloved pho soup starters—beer, chicken and vegetable—were discontinued by Pacific Natural Foods.

    Thank goodness Nona Lim stepped in to create fine Asian broths (and soup cups, too).

    Beyond fabulous flavor, Nona, a former professional athlete who ate whole, clean foods to gain a competitive advantage; I discovered the power of food as functional medicine. I observed how inflammatory foods would hurt my performance: my body and brain would only function at peak performance or recover faster when fueled with whole, clean foods.

    She developed the line as a healing, nutrient-dense, non-inflammatory meal program made with fresh, plant-rich, whole food ingredients and clean preparations made from scratch. We’re happy to be eating food that is all of these things; and even happier that the flavors are fabulous.

    Check out the website and find the retailer nearest to you.


    Although we think of it as Japanese, ramen soup is a dish of Chinese wheat noodles in meat broth—chicken or pork—with toppings that originated in China. It is believed that “ramen” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word “lamian,” meaning “hand-pulled noodles” (as opposed to noodles that are sliced with a knife).

    It differs from native Japanese noodle soup dishes, in that until ramen appeared, Japanese broth was based on either vegetables or seafood (and these broths continue to be used as a base for ramen soup).

    While some ramen dishes began to appear in Japan in the late 1600s, they didn’t become widespread until the Meiji Era (1868 through 1912), when Japan moved from being an isolated feudal society to a modern nation.

    Foreign relations and the introduction of meat-based American and European cuisines led to increased production of meat, and played a large role in the growing popularity of ramen.

    The growth of ramen dishes continued after World War II, but remained a special-occasion meal that required going out to a restaurant. The broth could take days of simmering, requiring time beyond what most housewives could spare.

    Restaurant ramen is considered fine cuisine; soup recipes and methods of preparation are closely-guarded secrets.

    Almost every locality or prefecture in Japan created its own variation of the dish, served at restaurants (the different types of ramen by region).


    Beyond regional variations, innovative Japanese chefs continue to push the boundaries of ramen cuisine. Innovation is the name of the game. Curry ramen, invented in the Hokkaido region, became a national favorite, as has ramen based on the Chinese dish of shrimp in chili sauce.

    Non-Japanese ingredients such as black pepper and butter have also found their way into recipes. What’s next is anyone’s guess—or what your creative thinking adds to the bowl. (BLT? Jalapeño?)

    Instant Ramen

    In 1958, instant noodles† were invented by Momofuku Ando, founder and chairman of Nissin Foods. Named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century in a Japanese poll, instant ramen allowed anyone to make this dish simply by adding boiling water.

    Of course, the instant version is a pale shadow of laboriously-made restaurant ramen soup. But exported, Ando’s ramen soup packages soon became a pop culture sensation across the globe.

    Cheap, flavorful and filling, they were salvation to people with limited funds, including college students.

    To avoid the sodium overload, toss the seasoning packet and add your own seasonings: red pepper flakes, curry, herbs, whatever.

    Instead of salt, use low sodium soy sauce.
    *Japanese 7 Spice, shichimi togarashi, is a popular seasoning for soup, rice and other dishes. It’s a blend of black and/or white sesame seeds, dried nori seaweed, hot red pepper, ginger, orange peel and other ingredients such as hemp seed, poppyseed and white pepper. You can blend your own or buy it.

    †The first instant noodles were ramen, but now include soba, udon, etc.


    Restaurant Ramen Soup

    Nissin Ramen Package

    [1] Restaurant ramen soup, simmered for many hours to get an elegant broth (photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky). [2] The ramen that captivated America: “oodles of noodles” (photo courtesy Nissin).



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    TIP OF THE DAY: Spider Bundt Cake

    Spider Halloween Bundt Cake

    Spider Halloween Bundt Cake

    Spider Bundt Cake

    Spider Bundt Cake Recipe

    [1] and [2]: Two different stylings for a spider bundt cake. [3] Set toothpicks between the folds where you’ll pipe the legs. [4] Pipe the legs, add the face candies, and that’s it (all photos courtesy King Arthur Flour).


    For working folks, today’s the last day to bake something special for Halloween.

    Every year, King Arthur Flour bloggers MJ and Gwen team up to create new novelty treats for Halloween. This year, it’s a giant spider bundt cake.

    Simply mix the batter from your favorite seasonal recipe or boxed mix, brew up the buttercream, and pipe your way to a creepy cake.

    See the play-by-play photos here.


    You can have chocolate or vanilla bundt cake any time of the year. For Halloween, go for fall flavors:

  • Apple
  • Caramel Pecan or Caramel Pear
  • Carrot or Cranberry Carrot
  • Chocolate Rum
  • Cinnamon Spice
  • Ginger Spice
  • Maple or Maple Walnut
  • Pumpkin, Pumpkin Pecan
  • Sweet Potato Pecan
    For The Frosting

    For the frosting, either chocolate or vanilla buttercream will work with any flavor. But you can get as creative as you like, as long as it looks like a spider (i.e., a tan/coffee color is OK, orange isn’t unless you want a psychedelic spider).

    Here’s King Arthur’s recipe for easy vanilla buttercream, which will frost two cakes.

    You can divide the batch in half and create two colors/flavors. For chocolate frosting, simply split the vanilla frosting in half. To the chocolate half, dd 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa plus 1/4 cup black cocoa which creates a darker color and more intense chocolate flavor. Mix well and you’ll have chocolate frosting!

    Go colorful so the face doesn’t disappear into the background color. The photos show two different styling options: the face on the front of the chocolate bundt, and on top for the the vanilla bundt.

  • For eyes: candy corn, peanut M&Ms, maraschino cherries.
  • For fangs: candy corn, red licorice shoe strings.
  • For toenails: candy corn, cinnamon candies or slivered almonds.
    You’ll also need toothpicks to assemble the cake, and a piping with a wide tip, such as Wilton’s 1A tip, makes the perfect size spider legs.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to the temperature specified by your recipe, and bake the cake. BUT FIRST, remove 1/4 cup of the batter and bake it in a muffin pan to create a separate cupcake. You’ll see why later. As the cake bakes and cools…


    2. MAKE the buttercream. When the cake and cupcake are cool, move it to a serving plate. Insert the cupcake into the center of the bundt and pipe the top of the cupcake with frosting, to make the body of the spider.

    3. USING the toothpicks, lay out where you intend to pipe the spider’s legs. The recipe developers left three bunt folds free for the face, and left two folds between each leg for a total of 8 legs.

    4. CREATE the legs: Remove the toothpicks one at a time before piping. Starting from the top, slowly and smoothly pipe the frosting up and down to the bottom. Tip: Twisting your arm to the side as you travel down, keeping your arm flat instead of straight up, will prevent the tip from flattening and will keep the legs nice and round. Make a blob at the bottom for the feet.

    5. ADD the face. To attach candies to the front of the cake, pipe about a teaspoon of icing in-between the fold in the center (left photo, above). Angle the eye candy (pun intended) to create the expression you’d like. MJ and Gwen decided that turning the oval M&Ms slightly gave the spider a mildly sinister looky.

    6. PRESS the candy into the soft icing and hold for a moment to let it set in. Repeat with the fangs and the toenails.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Party Cake (Actually, A Torte)

    You probably have favorite easy-to-make party recipes that save you time and energy while treating your guests.

    Today, we suggest one for dessert, from King Arthur Flour. It’s actually a torte, shorter than a layer cake. Here’s the difference between a cake and a torte.

    A tart is something different entirely, with a shortbread crust made in a fluted pan with a removable bottom. Unlike a pie, the shortbread crust enables the tart to stand on its own, without a pan, for a beautiful presentation.

    This fancy-looking recipe is from Becky Sue, the baker, photographer and recipe developer of Baking The Goods. Two layers of dense yellow cake are topped with meringue, cinnamon, and nuts; and filled with rich, pastry cream studded with fresh berries.

    It really is easy to make; even a novice baker will have no problems. There’s no frosting involved.

    Thanks to King Arthur Flour for sending us the recipe.

    It makes a nice impression at parties and dinner parties. Add candles for a birthday cake.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, bake time is 30 minutes, plus assembly (total 90 minutes). The cake makes 8 to 10 servings.

    Shortcuts: Use preserves instead of fresh fruit; substitute instant vanilla pudding for the pastry cream.

    Here are step by step photos from Baking The Goods.

    For The Cake

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks (save the whites for the topping)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon fiori di sicilia
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    For The Topping

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar* or granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Garnish: mixed berries, other fruit of choice, chocolate curls
    *Also called caster sugar and baker’s special sugar, superfine sugar is screened to the finest granulation. Popular in our home because it dissolves easily in cold drinks (iced tea, cocktails, etc.), it also dissolves easily into butter. This creates a fine crumb and a more elegant cake. YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN: Superfine sugar is simply table sugar that is ground into smaller grains. Pulse table sugar in a food processor until it’s very fine. Keep the superfine sugar in a separate sugar bowl to bring out when you’re serving iced coffee and tea or making lemonade.
    For The Filling

  • Pastry cream/crème pâtissière recipe

    Making The Torte

    Berry Blitz Torte

    Berry Torte Recipe


    [1] Making the torte. [2] Close-up (photos #1 and #2 courtesy King Arthur Flour). [3] Garnished and ready for prime time (photo courtesy [4] Fiori (or fior) di Sicilia—flower of Sicily—is used by bakers to provide an elegant floral-citrus flavor to cake and other foods. Here’s more about it (photo courtesy The Rose Table).

  • Fresh fruit of choice: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or sliced strawberries

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8″ or 9″ round cake pans. If using parchment, lightly grease the pans, line with parchment rounds, and lightly grease the parchment as well.

    2. BEAT the butter, sugar, salt, and egg yolks in a medium-sized mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in the vanilla/fiori, milk, baking powder and flour. Spread the mixture in the prepared pans (the batter will barely cover the bottom of the pans).

    3. BEAT the egg whites until light. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the meringue is smooth, glossy, and somewhat stiff (but not stiff enough to form stand-up peaks).

    4. SPREAD the meringue atop the cake batter, and sprinkle with the almonds, cinnamon and sugar. (Note: If you’re using fiori di sicilia, omit the cinnamon.) Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, until lightly browned.

    5. REMOVE the cakes from the oven, allow them to cool for 15 minutes, then loosen the edges and gently turn them out onto a rack to cool completely. If some of the almonds fall off during this process, just sprinkle them back on top.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, on a serving plate. Spread with the pastry cream. Add a layer of fresh berries. Top with the second cake layer, meringue-side up. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving time.


    Check out our beautiful Cake Glossary, featuring all types of cake.


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    HALLOWEEN RECIPE: Spider Deviled Eggs

    What to serve with your Halloween cocktails?

    Spider Deviled Eggs are a good start, perhaps with some Bloody Eyeball Deviled Eggs.

    The recipe below was developed by Rachael Hutchings of La Fuji Mama, a cooking blog that brings world flavors to the family dinner table; and sent to us by the California Avocado Board.

    Here’s the recipe for the second photo, Bloody Eyeball Deviled Eggs.

    Ingredients For 12 Pieces

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 ripe avocados, seeded, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • Garnish: pitted black olives, largest size)

    1. COOK the eggs and place in a bowl of cool water. When cooled, peel the eggs and cut each in half.

    2. REMOVE the yolks carefully so as not to tear the whites, and mix in a food processor with the other ingredients (except garnish) until creamy.

    3. FILL the whites with deviled* mixture, creating a small mound. Slice 6 olives in half lengthwise for the “body” and place on the top of the deviled mixture.

    4. SLICE more olives in half lengthwise and then slice each into small slivers for the spider legs, 8 legs for each spider. Push 4 legs into each side of the mound. We used our kitchen tweezers to place, and tap in, each leg.

    5. PLACE on a platter and serve. We purchased an inexpensive orange rectangular tray last year, that works great.
    *Deviled is a centuries-old term that refers to hot and spicy preparations. Black pepper, chiles and/or hot sauce can be used to devil a dish.

    Savory Nibbles

  • Cheese & Pretzel Broomsticks
  • Creepy Crudités
  • Crawling Worm Sliders
  • Graveyard Pasta Bake
  • Halloween Pizza
  • Jack O’Lantern Cheese Ball
  • Magical Jello Fingers
  • Pumpkin Seed Dip for chips and crudités
  • Scary Spider Beef-Stuffed Biscuits
  • Scream Cheese: special cheeses for Halloween
    Sweet Treats

  • Caramel Corn Cookies
  • Chocolate Candy Apples
  • Gingerbread Skeletons
  • Pumpkin Seed Brittle
  • Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
  • Spider Web Brownies

    Halloween Deviled Eggs

    Halloween Deviled Eggs

    Halloween Crudites

    Halloween Cheese

    [1] Deviled eggs topped with spiders (photo courtesy California Avocado Commission). [2] Bloody eyeball deviled eggs (photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico). [3] Creepy Crudités (recipe courtesy Woman’s Day). [4] Scream Cheese (recipe courtesy Delish)



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    TIP OF THE DAY: Celebrate Diwali With Indian Food

    Tandoor Chef Chicken Tikka Masala

    Tandoor Chef Chicken Tikka Masala

    Amira Rice

    Diwali Rangoli

    You don’t know how to cook Indian cuisine to enjoy a quality dinner at home. [1] and [2] A family favorite, Tandoor Chef Chicken Tikka Masala (photos courtesy Tandoor Chef). [3] Amira rice, an authentic Indian brand (photo courtesy Amira Foods). [4] A relatively simple rangoli made by college students. Some designs are very elaborate (photo courtesy


    This coming Sunday, instead of brunch at home, we’re headed to a buffet at a neighborhood Indian restaurant. It’s Diwali.


    Diwali or Deepavali is one of the most prominent Hindu festivals of India, a five-day festival of lights that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Indians of all religions celebrate.

    The date, based on the Hindu calendar, varies in countries that use other calendars (the U.S. uses the Gregorian calendar).

    This year, Diwali begins on October 30th and continues through November 3rd. Here’s more from

    In India, families make vibrant rangolis, an art form in which patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards brightly-colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals. lighting diyas, traditional oil lamps made from clay, sharing sweets and exchanging gifts with friends and family.

    Another tradition is lighting crackers—rocket shaped firecrackers or sparklers.

    Here, in New York City, we eat!

    You can have a joint holiday this year: Diwali on the 30th and Halloween on the 31st. Dia de los Muertos also begins on the eve of the 31st, through November 1st.


    Cook an Indian dish, or go to an Indian restaurant.

    While we have an easy rice recipe below, those with no time to cook have lots of heat-and-eat options.

    that we always have on hand.

  • TastyBite is an inexpensive, shelf-stable brand in pouches. You can gather them all and have your own mini-buffet at home.
  • Saffron Road and Tandoor Chef, two top-quality frozen brands, have just about anything you could want. We often have the entrées and the crisp samosas.
  • Maya Kaimal makes authentic Indian simmer sauces. Add your own protein, and simmer away to a fragrant and delicious dinner.
  • Stonefire naan is a moist and flavorful flatbread we eat year-round, in original, whole grain and garlic (our current favorite). We serve it with breakfast eggs, make sandwiches with it, as well as serve it with Indian cuisine.
  • Swad coriander and tamarind chutneys are must-trys. Like hot sauces and salsas, they can be used with any grilled, fried or roasted foods, potatoes, grains and vegetables. Most Americans only know Major Grey’s chutney, a mango chutney sweetened for British palates. We like it, but the savory chutneys are dynamite.


    The reason America’s home cooks don’t prepare more Indian food from scratch, is that it takes lots of specialty ingredients.

    Unless one cook it regularly, it’s more practical to enjoy the prepared food brands or head to your favorite Indian restaurant. Otherwise, find other ways to use the spices in your regular recipes, from dips to sides to mains.

    Here’s a classic rice recipe that goes with everything, from Sharmilee Jayaprakash, a food blogger who lives in the city of Coimbatore, near the western border of the state of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Follow her cooking at

    See complete cooking photos for this recipe at



  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • Spices for pot: 1 bay leaf, 1 cardamom pod, 2 whole cloves, 1 small star anise
  • Dry-roasted spices (list below)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Rice spices (listed below)
  • 1/2 cup mixed carrots and peas
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil for jeera (cumin) powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon roasted jeera powder (roasted, ground cumin seeds—more information)
  • Fresh mint and cilantro leaves to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ghee, divided (substitute unsalted butter)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1/8 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • =

  • 10 cashews
  • Salt to taste
    To Make The Jeera

  • 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds*
    For The Dry-Roasted Spices

  • 1/4-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 small star anise
    *If you have ground cumin and don’t want to buy the seeds, you can quickly toast ground cumin in a pan (how to toast spices). It will be lesss flavorful, but it’s a hack.

    1. SOAK the rice for 15 minutes; then cook, adding the rice spices to the pot: bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and star anise. As the rice cooks…

    2. DRY ROAST (a.k.a. pan-toast) the spices for 3 minutes in a nonstick pan (how to roast spices) until the aroma wafts up. Then grind them to a semi-coarse powder with a mortar and pestle. You may not use all the powder; Shari reserved 1/2 teaspoon for another use. Set aside until Step 5.


    Indian Pilaf - Pulao

    Indian Pilaf - Pulao

    Amira Rice

    [5] Ingredients for vegetable pulao (pilaf) and [6] the finished dish, from SharmisPassions. [7] Amira, a brand of authentic Indian rices (photo courtesy Amira Foods).

    3. STRAIN any water from the cooked rice, spread the rice on a plate, fluff it up with a fork and let it cool.

    4. STEAM-cook the vegetables until they are slightly soft yet toothsome. (Or, thaw frozen carrots and peas). Set aside. Use the pan to sauté the onion.

    5. MAKE the jeera powder: Heat the oil in a small nonstick pan; add the cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle. Add the ginger garlic paste and onion and fry for a minute. Add the spice mixture along with roasted jeera powder and garam masala powder. Add salt to taste, and give the mixture a quick sauté. While the onions fry…

    6. FRY the cashews in ghee until golden brown and set aside.

    7. ADD the steamed vegetables to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the cooked rice, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Garnish with the coriander and mint leaves and mix well until the leaves slightly shrink. Finally, add the ghee and fried cashews.

    9. REMOVE from the heat, give it a quick stir and place in a serving bowl. Serve warm.


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