.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Woman's Day 2006

Judith in Umbria asked me 2 months ago if I wanted to join her and Divina Cucina in cooking up a Woman's Day feast. Since I adore Judith, I jumped on the bandwagon. When I think about impressionable women, I think of my mother often. I think about all the women in the world and how they swallow up all the responsibilities of those in their lives and how much I have also personally taken on. Now that I am married and living so far away, Mom writes often with tidbits of advice. She is truly the woman I admire most in the world. What does being a woman mean to me? I will attempt to show you with food. I wanted to do a soup theme but went overboard.

Being a woman means marching to the beat of your own drummer. Who says you can't make soup in a wok? It also means never forgetting your family and your heritage. And so with this said, I offer up Chinese Hot and Sour Soup. I still remember all the weekends we used to go to my father's favorite restaurant to eat great Chinese. I'm thinking of you dad.

Women are detailed oriented, we are fastidious.

Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
(lots of ingredients but comes together fast)

1/2 C. thinly sliced pork loin-marinate with soy sauce, sesame oil and a tiny bit of cornstarch
3 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked, stem discarded and sliced thinly
10 lily buds, soaked, and sliced in half lengthwise
10 small wood ear mushrooms, soaked and shredded-remove hard or knobby bits
1/4 C. sliced bamboo shoots-rinsed
2 T. chopped cilantro and scallions
4 C. broth
1/2 C. firm tofu, diced
1 egg, beaten
3 T. cornstarch dissolved in 2 T. water
2 T. soy sauce, and red vinegar or black vinegar and sesame oil
1 t. ground white pepper
1 t. sugar

1. Heat some oil in wok, when it smokes a tiny bit, add the pork and stir fry until no longer pink.
2. Add the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, lily buds and wood ears and stir fry for about 2 mins.
3. Add the broth, sesame oil, white pepper, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and let come to a boil.
4. Add the tofu and let come to a simmer.
5. Stir the cornstarch slurry and then add to the broth, the soup will thicken. Check for seasonings. Turn the heat off and add the egg slowly to the soup, stir in a circular motion.
6. Add the cilantro and green onions and serve with a few drops of chili oil, sesame oil and dash of white pepper. ( I like my soup really sour and usually add a few more drops of vinegar into my bowl as well. Season as you prefer.)

Women are adaptable, we offer the greatest support imaginable. WE are penny pinchers and know how to get a bargain on what's fresh. With Spring on its way, I wanted to make one final hearty Italian soup. I have grown to embrace Italy more and more with each passing month and so I thought it fitting to offer this soup:

I also have to mention that my husband loves this soup.

Cabbage and White Bean Soup

1/3 C. diced pancetta
1/3 C. diced onion
1/4 C. diced carrot and celery
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 C. broth
1 can of white beans
2-3 C. shredded cabbage
1 new potato, diced
salt and pepper
2 T. toasted fennel or caraway seeds
a pinch of red pepper

1. Add some oil to a soup pot, when the oil is heated through, add the pancetta and saute until golden, then add the onions, carrots and celery. Saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Next add the red pepper, fennel or caraway seeds and garlic. Saute for 1 minute.
2. Add the broth, beans and bring to a boil. Add the potato and cook until the potato is tender.
3. Add the cabbage and let come to a boil once again. Stir and them turn the heat off to let the cabbage wilt and the flavors meld.
4. Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil.

My final soup, one that reminds me of my parents' Vietnamese upbringing and the year I spent as a child living in Bangkok with my wonderful godparents. I want my children to appreciate all the things my family worked hard to provide for me and when I think of the future, I always revisit the past.

Tom Yum Goong

4 C. broth
3 stalks of lemon grass, smashed
1 pound of shrimp, with heads on, peel and clean shrimp and save shells and heads
3 kaffir lime leaves, I used the rind of 1 lime
1 can of straw mushrooms, halved
4 large button mushrooms or 2 clusters of oyster mushrooms
chopped cilantro
Limes and lime juice
galangal slices, I used ginger slices, smashed
1-2 T. fish sauce
Thai chilis
1-2 t. sugar, palm or white or brown
chili paste (I used a mix of chili paste, crab paste and shrimp paste, just because I had them in the pantry.)

1. Add shrimp heads and shells to pot with broth, lime leaves, lemon grass, galangal, chilis, chili paste, fish sauce, and sugar and let come to a boil. Then simmer for 20 minutes. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and then strain.
2. Add mushrooms to broth, let come to a simmer, then add shrimp and cook only until pink. Turn off the heat, season with more sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and chilis.
3. Serve with chopped cilantro.

There is nothing like food to lift your mood and remind you of who you really are. Thanks Judith for giving me a chance to participate. Who says that men are better chefs?

All contents copyright 2004-2006.
All rights reserved.


At 12:11 AM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

Wow, Gia! I find out what Tom Yum is and learn how to make it all in one morning...
Thanks for sharing these. There is nothing more comforting on a day like today, when the Arctic Circle seems nearby, than soup. Hot and sour soup has been my flu and colds solution for decades. Off to find the ingredients.
Good job.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger L said...

YUM! They all look delicious, although Hot and Sour is my favorite. I have to ask - what are lily buds and where can I buy them?

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Gia-Gina said...

Ciao Linda, you can get them in Chinatown for sure probably at Uwajimaya. This is so quick to make and yummy. The lily buds are a bud of a lily plant and I think they really make the soup authentic although you could do without. They are dark yellow, long and tubular, like a small green bean, sometimes they are called golden needles too. I hope you find them. If you want me to send you a photo, just email me.

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Diva said...

Will be fun to see how many of the ingredients I can find here in Florence!

Your soups make me hungry!

At 10:25 AM, Blogger L said...

Oh yes, I'll check Uwajimaya. Thanks!


Post a Comment

<< Home