I have a bloody cold again. I think it’s my body trying to keep me from the gym. First my back started to act up due to a lack of exercise (I have what I like to call an ‘old lady back’, which causes me every so often to shuffle slowly and be unable to bend over or sit down or stand for any length of time. It’s pretty much all in my head, tho), and now that Jon & I joined a gym last week and I’ve been going every other day since we joined in spite of my back (which is what makes me say that it’s all in my head because it’s totally feeling better), I have a cold which normally would make me stay home. But I’m stubbornly refusing to give in and hoping a little sweat will get rid of it faster.
I started to feel a sore throat coming on last week after my first workout and by Sunday, I was in the mood for some comfort food. I had a roast in the freezer and besides soup, there are few things I love to eat more than roast beef with potatoes, gravy and Yorkshire pudding. And no leftovers I love more than roast beef sandwiches.
And here is tangent #1: unfortunately, I have no pictures of this meal because as I started cooking, I started setting off the smoke detector. A LOT. What is it with those things and their ability to sense the scantest amount of burning oil? And is it REALLY necessary to have them situated right outside the kitchen? (OK, I get that it is probably necessary, and ours is also in front of our door to outside, so yes, fine, if there is a fire, I would want to know that it’s near my front door so I don’t go that way to get out.) Anyway, what I’m really asking is if they couldn’t possibly have a higher tolerance than they do, ‘cuz a little oil for someone who knows their way around the kitchen for the most part does NOT necessitate going off every 10 seconds and driving me to snap at my husband when he annoyingly asks, “Why is that happening?” Not to mention leading the others in our building to think I can’t cook.
Like I said, I didn’t take any pictures of this dinner, so these photos are from the first time I tried this recipe for Yorkshire pudding from our family cookbook Home Grown: A Family Recipe Book, submitted by my aunt who has had it in her family for a number of years, I believe. It’s worked perfectly for me every time I’ve made it (except for that one time when my sister & I tried to stretch the 6 puddings into 12 and ended up with what resembled hockey pucks, just like the ones we teased my poor mother about when she’d tried to make them for us years ago before we knew what they were supposed to look like. Sorry again, Mom!)
On Monday, after staying in bed until 11 a.m., I discovered that the bread I was going to make a beloved roast beef sandwich with was moldy. Yay me.
By Tuesday, I was full-on sick and actually did bail on the gym. I also decided I needed some soup to sooth my poor swollen glands, and since French Fridays with Dorie this week is calling for Michael Rostang’s Double Chocolate Mousse Cake, which I made for my birthday last month, I opted for another recipe I missed when it came up before I joined FFWD : Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup.
I made a list of all the ingredients I needed to pick up, packed up Jon’s gym stuff and met him at the gym so he could work out, and then headed over to the grocery store. It took me a while to find everything and I had to make a few concessions on things like star anise and coriander seeds, but I finally headed home to make the soup.
The first thing I discovered was that I was out of onions and hadn’t realized when I was at the grocery store. So no onions in my soup. Jon would be happy, but I was frustrated. Then I realized that I did not have fish sauce either because tangent #2: when the packers came to pack everything up for our move from Calgary last summer, there was almost an entire cupboard full of vinegars, oils and other condiments that were slightly used but that they refused to pack up because of the potential for breakage or leakage and ruining other stuff. So I had to leave it all behind and re-buy all of that stuff once we got out here (if I could remember what was left behind, of course). Apparently, my fish sauce was on that list (as was a huge bottle of Dominican Republic vanilla I bought while we were there for my sister’s wedding in 2009. HMPH) and luckily I had needed soy sauce for something else a few weeks ago and had some on hand to substitute, otherwise I would have started throwing things.
Meanwhile, I was letting the ingredients come to a boil while I quickly washed up some dishes and of course over-boiled the soup. Any idea what coconut milk and chicken broth smell like on a hot burner? GROSS is what they smell like. Luckily I opened the window and hit the overhead fan before the stupid smoke detector could go off again.
People, it was ALL WORTH IT. That soup is delicious, even lacking the extra depth of onions, actual star anise (I used a sprinkle of anise seed instead), no coriander seed (I saw ground coriander at the store but thought I had some at home. I did not, of course), and subbing soy sauce for fish sauce. I made sure to pick up some hoisin sauce & hot pepper oil to sprinkle over, plus bean sprouts to drop on top, which really perfected the soup. Jon loved it so much, being a huge fan of spicy, hoisin and bean sprouts, but the flavour of the broth was his favourite.
The best part, of course, is when I decided to make tea after dinner and put the kettle on the same burner which the soup had over-boiled. Good one. I had an actual fire – an ACTUAL FIRE – in my kitchen. And guess what?
The f’n smoke detector didn’t make a PEEP. Awesome.
But here’s the no-fail Yorkshire pudding recipe and here’s hoping you don’t start your house on fire, too.
YORKSHIRE PUDDING – from Home Grown: A Family Recipe Book, recipe submitted by Jill Germain
Order of operation is very important. Makes 6 Yorkshire puddings.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- canola oil
- Put flour in a blender. Add milk and salt and begin to mix.
- Add eggs one at a time to flour-milk mixture. Stop mixing to scrape down sides of the blender and mix again so everything is well-combined.
- Refrigerate batter in blender for at least 2 hours.
- 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, heat oven to 450°F. Oil Yorkshire pudding tin (or muffin tin) with 1/2 tsp or less of canola oil in each muffin cup. Brush the entire tin including the top to make sure the Yorkshire puddings do not stick. Place tin in oven
- Blend batter once more. When oil in the tin is very hot, pour batter into tin, dividing it evenly.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven, leaving the puddings in the cooling oven until you are ready to eat. They should be tall, crispy and hollow. Serve with gravy.