Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) Starter Recipe (more so guideline)

>> Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In a previous post, I briefly mentioned how little I actually measure out ingredients when cooking savoury dishes. This makes it hard for me to share some recipes that I grew up eating or cook often at home. Although recently I had a friend ask me for my pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) recipe and I had to stop for a moment to think of what actually goes in to the broth. It’s become second nature in a way and sometimes I don’t even really think about what needs to go in to the broth let alone the quantities. My response to them was that I will post a recipe close to what I use at home but the taste of the broth will be something that they will need to taste and to test.

Recently I read a blog post from David Lebovitz where he states that the French does the exact same thing! They only cook to taste. Everyone adjusts flavours of the dishes a little differently and with a certain preference, which is why they don’t believe in recipes. Cooking is a form of art and depending on the artist and paintbrush (cook and ingredients in this case), the results can be quite different.

So here I’ve provided a guideline more so than a recipe on how to make your own pho broth. Hopefully you can take with it what you need and adjust it to fit your own tastes. This is a pretty basic recipe, feel free to add in some chicken bones to enhance the flavours, throw in some tendon or brisket if you enjoy them. Play around a bit, you never know what surprises you might end up developing.

Pho - Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Broth Ingredients:

Beef bones
Daikon (radish), cut in to 1 inch sections
1 Onion, halfed
2-3 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 cup Fish Sauce
Rock Sugar

Broth Preparation:

Place the beef bones in a stock pot (preferably 5L or larger) and bring to a boil.

Add in the daikon, onion and cinnamon sticks. Turn the heat down until the water is only simmering. Allow the broth to cook for 4-5 hours or more if you have time. I usually let me simmer for close to 6 hours or even a bit more if I’m prepping it on the weekends.

Once ready, add in the fish sauce, 2 2 inch sized chunks of rock sugar and allow it to dissolve.

Flavour the broth with salt until it is to your liking.

Pho Ingredients:

Rice Noodles
Beef, thinly sliced
Green Onions, chopped
Onions, thinly sliced
Thai Basil (optional)
Mint (optional)
Bean Sprouts (optional)

Pho Preparation:

In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and cook the rice noodles as per instructions.

Remove the noodles and place in a large soup bowl.

Cover the noodles with a thin layer of the raw beef.

Slowly ladle the broth over top the beef until it changes color (from red to brown).

Add green onions, mint, sliced onions and bean sprouts if using and enjoy!


Savoury and Sweet at Manuel Latruwe

>> Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Growing up I never had much of a sweet tooth. If you asked me about whether I preferred candy or chips, I would almost always go for the latter. Ever since I met my husband however, his sweet tooth seems to have slowly transferred over to me. Now we don’t usually have a meal without something sweet at the end. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing since now we balance each other out.

My husband never feels satisfied unless we start with something savoury so he ordered a Croque Madame and I had the Focaccia Baguette. I like that we can enjoy brunch dishes without having to fuss with the brunch crowds. His croque madame, which is made with toast, ham, a ton of melted gooey cheese and topped with a runny poached egg, was amazing melt in your mouth delicious. My baguette had slices of prosciutto, olives, roasted red peppers and bocconcini cheese served in their house made bread. I was surprised it wasn’t on a focaccia bun, but I guess that was just the name of the sandwich. I liked the taste combination but did the find the filling a bit sparse. However that is how it’s normally served in Europe where the bread is truly the star.

There are actually several different types of waffles and the ones we’re used to eating is the American waffle, where the texture is similar to a pancake. Over in Belgium, the two most popular forms are the Brussels or Liege waffles made from yeast leavened batter. The waffles served at Manuel Latruwe are Brussels waffles. Made with a lighter batter compared to the liege version, they exhibit a larger rectangular form with deep square pockets, a crispy outer layer and are quite thin overall. I could easily eat 3 or 4 of these waffles because of how light they taste. They were perfect with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, or in my case, some sweetened strawberries with a side of whipped cream.

Although we’re normally there for the waffles, we never leave without ordering additional goodies. You can’t go wrong with a Croissant or a Pain au Chocolat here. If you’re not shocked by how big they are, you can immediately see the layers upon layers of crispy pastry even before you take a bite. I am amazed at how crisp the outer layer of the pastry is without losing the chewiness on the inside. One of my all time favourites is the Hazelnut Twist. Just think crispy pastry layers with a delicious nutty filling throughout. I really like that it was nicely balanced and not overly sweet. I enjoy lighter desserts and found that this was perfect for me.

For those looking for something to take home, you won’t be able to miss all the amazing European styled cakes they have on display. If you call ahead you can also order specific flavours and sizes. They also offer many varieties of freshly baked bread ranging from sourdough to festive selections such as Easter or Christmas bread. I really enjoy that there are both savoury and sweet items at Manuel Latruwe for those that like a bit of both. There’s nothing better on the weekends (or even weekdays if you have the time) to visit and try some of their offerings. Since majority of the patrons are there to pick up items to go, there are plenty of tables available. Although now that I’ve let the secret out, I hope that remains the case.

Manuel Latruwe Belgian Patisserie & Bread Shop
1333 1 Street SE
Calgary, AB

Manuel Latruwe Belgian Patisserie & Bread Shop on Urbanspoon


Restaurant Review: Purple Perk Coffee Market

>> Tuesday, April 7, 2015

There are times when I visit some place so often that I forget to blog about them. I must subconsciously not want to share one of my favorite spots in town. Then again Purple Perk is no hidden secret. Not only is it a great place to stop by for some coffee and people watch, I find that I’ve gotten some of my best work done there when concentration was waning at home. So here I am finally getting around to sharing some of my favorite eats for those times you find yourself stopping in to the café.

Atmosphere: Laidback and cozy, a perfect home away from home for days when you just need some time to enjoy life (or fully concentrate).

Price Range: Mid $10s

Food & Coffee: Not only are the surroundings comfortable and relaxing, but the food and coffee are also spectacular, which is a killer combo. Since we often find ourselves wandering over to the Perk, there are few items that we have yet to try including their delicious baked goods (mmm..banana bread, so moist and flavourful). However I recommend the menu items if you’re going to be planning to stay for a while.

Our favorite go to is the Ruben Tuesday, done with layers of succulent corned beef, tons of sauerkraut, swiss cheese and thousand island dressing all on marbled pumpernickel bread. The classic flavours meld together and form one fantastic bite. If you can ever stop at just one that is, the sandwich is so moist and juicy that it doesn’t tend to last very long, served alongside some homemade chips, which are addictive all on their own. If you want some greens instead, you can also choose the house salad as a side, made from fresh vegetables drizzled with a balsamic glaze.

A great healthy option that is just as tasty is the Mango A Go Go Salad, a spinach salad topped with grilled chicken, fresh mango, almonds in a garlicky grapefruit dressing and served with a side of garlic toast. I enjoyed the sweetness combined with the tang of the vinaigrette making a refreshing salad. For those that are looking for a heartier version, there’s the Fajita Salad. Grilled steak with mixed greens, avocado, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and mozzarella in a tortilla bowl with a balsamic dressing. There’s additional salsa and guacamole on the side for those who want to dig right in to the bowl itself, which I highly recommend to get that extra texture contrast.

If you’re feeling like some afternoon pancakes, Purple Perk also whips up all day breakfast. Their Montana Flapjacks come 3 to an order with each being the size of the plate they’re served on. They also come with bacon and blueberries making for a sizeable meal. The pancakes themselves are fluffy and soft and I enjoyed them with or without maple syrup just because they were perfectly cooked.

Purple Perk wouldn’t be a café without some great coffee. My go to is their Americano which packs a nice little kick, however during the summer I highly recommend their Vietnamese Coffee. Since I enjoy mine a bit less sweet, I just ask them to lessen the amount of condensed milk added to the cup. It’s a great way to beat the summer time heat especially when sitting on their outdoor patio. Oh and don’t forget to grab some dessert while you’re there, whether it be the silky smooth oreo cheesecake or the mile high carrot cake, they are not to be missed!

My Picks: Reuben Tuesday, Oreo Cheesecake

Overall: There are plenty of reasons why we always find ourselves back at Purple Perk, whether it be the food or the atmosphere, they’ve just got a little something that I can’t quite put my finger on. No matter what that is though, they’re doing it right with great eats, a welcoming setting and good coffee. Just writing this makes me want to go back right this minute.

Purple Perk Coffee Market
2212 4 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 244-1300

Purple Perk on Urbanspoon

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