COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • FEBRUARY 2019 Happy new year, my sweet Valentine!
So many reasons to celebrate with food in February
Food-wise, there are a couple of significant dates in February
we can observe with special meals, and one can be stretched out to last for a couple of weeks.
Jude’s Kitchen JUDIE STEEVES
I love both eating and cooking Chinese food, so it’s not difficult to celebrate the lunar-based Chinese New Year, which tops the calendar for that
culture with a celebration that begins February 5 this year. It’s also called the Spring Festival, even though spring does not officially begin until March 20. Chinese New Year lasts until the 15th day of the first lunar calendar month and it’s celebrated in many Asian countries, beginning on New Year’s Eve with the most important meal of the year. For long life, uncut noodles are usually part of the meal, and little red envelopes with money in them are given to the children. Apparently, lettuce wraps are a popular food because the words for lettuce and fortune are the same, and spring rolls because they look like gold bars. This year is the beginning of the Year of the Pig on the 12-
year cycle of the Chinese zodiac; and it symbolizes fortune. With the often-cold weather that is a feature of February in
this part of the world, soups seem to me to be the order of the day, so I’m sharing a couple of my favourite recipes for Asian soups: wonton and hot-and-sour. The other date to note is Valentine’s day on February 14,
when we are encouraged to please our loved ones with delectable edibles such as these Ambrosia apple bites wrapped in bacon, a recipe shared by the Ambrosia growers of BC. Since it’s one of my favourite varieties of BC apples, and I love the flavour of smoky bacon, I’m an enthusiast about this one with which to tempt your sweetie. Plus, it’s easy, and if your loved one is on a paleo diet, this qualifies! February is also apple month, so a great opportunity to try
Ambrosia apples, or one of the many other varieties grown in Okanagan orchards. Look for the BC Tree Fruits leaf brand, or other BC brands.
EMILY’S WON TON SOUP
The square won ton skins can usually be found in the produce section with other Asian specialty items or in the freezer section. This is a delicious, flavourful and filling soup, to which you may add more vegetables. It’s suitable to serve as a whole meal. You could add some raw, peeled prawns to this for more flavour, and you could also add snow peas and sliced mushrooms to the broth.
Filling for purchased won ton skins: 1/2 lb. (250 g) ground meat 2 tsp. (10 ml) minced fresh ginger 1 clove garlic
4 green onions
2 tsp. (10 ml) cornstarch 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt 6 drops sesame oil
Broth: 8 c. (2 l) broth
2 drops sesame oil salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. (5 ml) rice wine or sherry 1 tbsp. (15 ml) soy sauce dash of pepper
2 tbsp. (30 ml) soy sauce 2-3 stalks bok choy
chopped green onion, to garnish
• To form the won tons, thoroughly combine ground beef, pork or chicken meat, grated ginger and garlic, minced white part of green onions, cornstarch, sherry, salt, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper in a bowl.
• Lay out wonton skins and wet two sides with a finger dipped in water, in an ‘L’ shape.
• Drop a teaspoon-sized ball of the meat mixture into the middle of the wonton skin. Fold one corner of the wonton skin diagonally to the corner in the middle of the 'L' and press together. (The wet sides should stick them together.) Wet each pointed end, grab the flappy end from the top and flip upward. Push the two wetted ends together.
• Combine a mixture of beef and chicken broth or just chicken broth, with soy sauce and sesame oil. Let simmer over low heat until won tons are ready, then bring to bubbling.
• Drop won tons into broth and add strips of bok choy. Let simmer for 8-10 or minutes.
• Garnish with the green part of the green onions, cut diagonally, when serving.
Celebrate Chinese New Year with Emily’s Won Ton Soup. JUDIE STEEVES PHOTO HOT AND SOUR SOUP
These flavours are quite unusual to the Western palate, but this soup certainly warms your insides and wakes up your taste buds. You can vary the hotness and sourness of it to your taste.
4 c. (1 l) chicken broth
1 small can bamboo shoots 1 clove garlic
2 tbsp. (30 ml) cornstarch 1 egg
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
1 tbsp. (15 ml) soy sauce 1/4 c. (60 ml) peas (opt.)
garnish with chopped green onion
• Put the chicken stock in a medium-sized pot and warm through over medium heat. • Soak the dried mushrooms in a half-cup or so of warm water for about half an hour. Then remove and slice the cap into shreds, tossing out the water and the stems. • Drain the sliced bamboo shoots; and mince the ginger and garlic. • Cut the firm tofu (bean curd) into dice of about a half-inch (3 cm) and set aside. • Mix the cornstarch and water together in a little bowl. Beat the egg in another little bowl and set aside.
• Thinly slice boneless chicken or pork into short shreds. • To the bubbling chicken stock, add the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, ginger, garlic and meat. • Simmer on low, covered, for three or four minutes. • Add the bean curd dice, salt, pepper, soy sauce, vinegar and fresh or frozen peas, if desired.
BACON-WRAPPED AMBROSIA APPLE BITES
Simple and quick to make, these appies can be savoury with the addition of chipotle flavours or sweeter with a sprinkle of cinnamon. You could even top a kale salad with them. This is a delicious combination of sweet, smoky, spicy and salty flavours.
2 Ambrosia apples 2 tsp. (10 ml) dry chipotle spice 7-8 strips of bacon
• Pre-heat oven to 400° F. • Cut bacon strips in half width-wise. • Core and cut apples into 14-16 one-inch chunks, leaving the skins on. • Sprinkle chipotle spice over the apples and toss until they are evenly coated with spice. (you could substitute cinnamon or a spice of your choice).
• Wrap a half-strip of bacon around each apple piece and secure each with a toothpick. • Arrange on a parchment paper or silicone mat-topped baking sheet, seam-side down. Using a sheet pan with low sides will prevent the bacon fat from dripping into your oven. • Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the bacon is as crispy as you like it. • Let cool slightly before serving, so you don’t burn your mouth on them. • Makes 14-16.
4 dried Shiitake mushrooms 1 tbsp. (15 ml) fresh ginger
1 pkg. (350 g) firm bean curd (tofu) 2 tbsp. (30 ml) cold water
1/4 lb. (200 g) boneless chicken or pork 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) white pepper
2 tbsp. (30 ml) white wine vinegar 1 tsp. (5 ml) sesame oil (opt.)
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