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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

[Ogorkowa] Polish pickle soup - Perfectly hearty for a chilly supper

I hadn't been a soup kid and I had thought that I would never favour soup.
But, people change, in many ways, but especially in their taste.
Since a few years, I love soup gradually and a lot.

Remi and Pablo have always liked the soup.
Mr. D has developed a taste for soup since a yfew ears back and now he loves soup as much as I do.
Therefore we are a happy soup family. :)
Soup is a wonderful meal that can be either light or heavy,
also can be very nutritious.
The most wonderful thing about soup is that it's easy to make, in most cases anyway.

When I get to buy very sour kosher pickles, I feel sudden urges  to make Ogorkowa, polish pickle soup.

I bought a jar of really really sour kosher pickles last week,  and I made pickle soup almost automatically.

The recipe is from my polish friend.
Her recipe doesn't use flour, but I made some roux to have a thicker texture.

Here goes the recipe for Zupa ogórkowa (Pickle soup)

2-3 carrots
1 Cup chopped parsley
1 celery stalk
1 leek
2-3 potatoes
 2 onions
pickles, grated (as much or as little as you want)
1 + 1/2 Cup of milk
 4 tablespoons butter
 2-3 tablespoons flour
 1 teaspoon nutmeg
 Salt and pepper
10 Cup water
1 pork spareribs
2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoon butter
Sour cream  and dill (optional)

How to make:

1. In a large saucepan or soup pot with cover, combine water and pork ribs cut short.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook covered, about 15 minutes.

2. Chop carrots, celery stalk, potato, onion and leek in small pieces.

3. Melt butter in heated skillet and saute chopped leek and onion until tender.

 4. Add all the vegetables and sauteed leek & onion to the broth and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, melt butter in hot skillet and add flour and nutmeg.
Stir until the the flour and nutmeg is incorporated and the color is golden brown.

Add milk and mix well so that the liquid is thickened. Then the roux, i.e. thickening agent, is ready.

6. Remove the pot from the heat and add the roux to the soup and mix it well.

 Add grated pickles to the soup and combine well.

7.  If it's still very liquid, don't worry, it gets thicker as it is to be cooked to be another 5-10 minutes.
Return pot to the stove and heat through without boiling. Season with salt and pepper.

Get 2-3 ribs  in  a soup bowl before you pour soup.
If there is a pork rib loving crowd to feed, you may want to spare 2-3 ribs per person
You don't want to fight over a rib, or a bone, do you?

Garnish with sour cream and or dill (if you wish)

It's a hearty soup to make you warm in a cold winter evening.


 Hearty Pickle Soup with pork ribs

Sunday, November 27, 2011

[Apple Pie] Very classic cinnamoni-licious apple pie + perfect pie crust

I can bake something everyday.
I love baking. Also do I love eating the results of the baking. But, I love baking activity itself.
Pie is one of my favorite items to bake.

I had struggled with pie crust for the first couple of years.
But, once I experienced a so-called "light bulb moment" about making pie crust,
pie became something I make often and easily.
I make all kinds of fruit pies as I find any fruit is pretty much great for pie filling.
Of course I do make pecan pie and sugar pie as well, but still I've made apple pie most often.

I've used Martha Stewart's pie crust recipe since a few years.
It works best for me. Any reasonable pie crust recipe should work fine.

The key to make a flaky crispy recipe is to make it quick at low temperature.
as far as you make pie crust
"quick at low temperature"
your crust is to be fine.

Here goes the easiest pie crust & traditional apple pie recipes:

First, recipe for pie crust~ 
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

How to make an easy pie crust:

1. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar; pulse to combine.

2. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

3. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup more water, 1 tablespoon at a time).
Don't overprocess.

4. Transfer half of dough crumble onto a piece of plastic wrap.
Form dough into a disk 3/4 inch thick;

wrap tightly in plastic.
Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days).
I usually make a night before.

Repeat with remaining dough. Makes 2 disks.

Now you are ready to make a classic apple pie:
(adapted & modified from
2 pie crusts
6-7 firm, tart apples
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Fine sanding sugar

How to make an apple pie:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one piece of pie crsut dough into large round,

about 1/8 inch thick. 

Roll dough around rolling pin, and place over a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate.

Line plate with dough, pressing it into the corners.
Trim dough to within 1 inch of the pie plate.
Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate.

2. Peel and core apples.

Slice the apples into 1/4-inch-thick. Place slices in a large bowl;

sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon; toss with apple slices.

 3. Roll out remaining piece of dough into an 9-inch round.

Transfer round to a baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

4. Remove remaining dough from refrigerator;
place apple mixture into prepared pie plate, mounding it in a tall pile.

Dot filling with butter.

Place dough round over the apples.

Tuck edge of top dough between edge of bottom dough and rim of pan.

Gently press both layers of dough along the edge to seal,
and crimp as desired, using fingers and knuckles.

 In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk with 2 tablespoons water to make a glaze.

Using a paring knife, cut several vents in top of dough.
Brush surface with egg glaze.

Cover the edges of pie crust with a pie ring or alumium foil.
Place on a baking sheet; this will catch any juices that may overflow during baking.
Bake until crust is golden, about 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.
(I forgot on that day to reduce the temperature for almost after an hour. :(
It came out okay, but still I do recommend scaling it down to 350 degrees.

Remove from oven, and let cool completely before serving.

It is easier than you think.


Classic Apple pie

Saturday, November 26, 2011

[Tennis lesson] Remi's last tennis lesson of the season

I think I wrote this before, but let me say it again.
I love tennis. :)
That is my favorite sport I can say.
I enjoy watching all kinds of sports,
but tennis is the sport I play and watch.
I follow the calendar of ATP, Association of Tennis Professionals.
I started to get excited from Australian Open, the first grand slam tournament of the year held in January in Melbourne, Austalia, to the final of ATP World tour finals in November.
The first doubles and singles semi-finals are finished.
We drive down to New York to watch US Open, or Cincinnati to watch South-western Masters 1000 series, or go to Montreal, Quebec to watch Rogers Cup, also another Masters 1000 series.
You can see a few photos of 2011 Rogers Cup by clicking here :)

Canadian Daniel Nestor and his teammate Max Mirnyi of Belarus defeated
#1 seeds Bryan brothers, to reach the final! Yay.

And Roger Federer, my favorite player for the past 9 years, beat David Ferrer, to reach his 100th tour level final.
even though I also like David Ferrer, I'm so excited for Federer("Fed" we call in our household :))
He will play either #6 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France or
#7 seed Tomas Berdych of Czech at final tomorrow.

I analyze the draws of big tournaments too.
My first draw analysis will be for the 2012 Australian Open in Junuary.

I learned to play tennis when I was 22.
I've followed ATP since my teenage though.
(I've always preferred men's tennis to womens. But, of course I watch both)
I would have become a better player than this if I had played it when I was younger.

So, naturally, I was very determined to have my kids learn tennis at early age even before i was pregnant. It sounds silly, but I really was.
Remi tried a group lesson, but not continuously, when he was five.
He started private lessons last year.
So 2011 was his second year for tennis.
As he is growing, his skills and power this year are also developing as season goes by.
We were lucky this year that it didn't snow in Ottawa until 2 weeks ago.
Remi was able to have a lesson until last weekend.

It was very warm on that day, so that I could stay out of the clubhouse which was closed already since mid-October.
As I didn't bring my camera, I took all these photos with the camera of my cellphone.
They look better than expected.

The good thing about tennis is that kids can develop a eye-hand coordination by playing tennis.
By playing tennis, Remi's eyes follows the ball till the time he hits the ball. That is the difference between most of other ball sports and tennis.

There was no other team playing tennis when Remi started the lesson.
As the weather was mild, there were a few teams filled the courts later.

I find Remi's backhand shots more solid than his forehand shots.
But, his coach says Remi's forehand is way better.

He tries to hit forehand with left hand sometimes.
And surprisingly it works sometimes.

His shots are not be as fast as ATP players'.
But, I enjoy watching his lessons as much as I do ATP top players' matches.

This seems like he is almost twisting his arms :)

He has had one hour private lesson and one semi-private lesson a week this season.
It's too bad that the seaons is ended.

 Maybe we should get a membership for indoor courts for the winter.

He practiced serves for the last 15 minutes.

As I already got to know many years ago,
serve is the most difficult part of tennis.
I think it's the same for the professional players as well, especiallly for female players.

It was a nice season-end lesson.

Remi and I had a little lunch date between only two of us.
Pablo had a skating when Remi had his tennis lesson, before he went to a classmate's birthday party at the Children's museum in Gatineau, Québec.
Remi and I couldn't join them because we had only just over an hour before Remi's chess club.
Sunday is ou super busy day.

We went to Scores, i.e. Remi's favorite "roast chicken" restaurant.

There is a nice salad & soup bar at Scores, which Remi likes more than the main meal itself.
Almost all the main menu features "chicken" as their main ingredients.
Remi had chicken nuggets with mashed potato, for the main dish.
I had a chicken leg.

It is actually nice to have a date with a kid of your own. :)
We are going out for family skating now.
It's my first skating of this winter~

Have a nice Saturday evening.

Tennis Lesson