Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Oh this soup! This beautiful, bright, clean, fresh, spicy-hot, sour soup. Tom yum soup, or simply translated, hot and sour soup. When winter arrives - and mark my words, it's coming - this is the soup I turn to all the time. I first tasted this soup when I was living in Delhi, and a date took me to this place called Turquoise Cottage. I was fresh off the first-time-out-of-home boat, and the flavours of Thailand were a revelation to me. I was pretty addicted to Thai food from the get go, and  when I had the opportunity to backpack around South East Asia, my first stop was Thailand and it's fabulous street markets.

While this soup might seem pretty ubiquitous, with a version in every Thai place, for me this is the ultimate comfort food. And it's certainly addictive with its clear spicy soup broth and is also a great vehicle for a lot of proteins. The most popular version of this soup is tom yum goong, or with shrimp, but a lot of places serve it with other meats as well. When my brief from the Turkey Farmers of Canada arrived for this month, with it's request for soup, I knew immediately that this was the soup I was going to make, especially with the leaves floating down from the trees, that characteristic nip in the air and the birds flying south (take me with you, birds...)

The recipe for tom yum soup varies from family to family, and this is my version of it. The Thais are all about balancing flavours, and this soup is certainly a prime example. I start with a chicken or turkey stock, preferably unsalted. I then add the classic aromatics of Thai food, lemongrass, hot red bird's eye chillies, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, kaffir lime zest, lime juice and fish sauce. I let the aromatics infuse, after which I poached the turkey straight in the broth, to maximise its flavour. Once the turkey is cooked, and the broth strained, I add freshly shredded lime leaves, lemongrass hearts and shimeji mushrooms (my favourite kind, though you can substitute these with pretty much any other variety of mushrooms) and then it's all about balancing the soup the way you like it. You can stir in the chilli sauce for added heat and spice, and a pinch of palm sugar calms everything down beautifully.

The ingredients may feel like they are difficult to source, but any Asian grocery will have them, and I have also seen them in larger Superstores. A lot of these ingredients can be bought fresh, then frozen. The strained broth can also be frozen, just thaw, season and add your fresh ingredients for the perfect easy supper.

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to the Tasty Turkey website to download your recipe now.

Click for the recipe - Turkey Tom Yum Soup (Thai Hot and Sour Soup)

And as usual, if you have any questions, mosey on back and I'll be more than happy to answer them for you :) Enjoy!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

 I hereby decree October as month-of-the-soup. Or at least, tear-my-hair-out-at-all-the -produce-landing-on-my-doorstep-and-winter-is-coming month. Okay, soup month it is. With the leaves turning and falling off, and the first frost already here, I've been airing out my sweaters and winter coat, and trying hard to find a hat to fit my large head. It's sad to see Kay's garden being bedded down for the winter, and to know that soon, the vibrant green lawn is going to covered under a blanket of that fluffy stuff. So in many ways, I've been frantically trying to hold on to the last few days of autumn and the waning daylight hours.

I've found that one of the best ways to preserve our harvest bounty is to soup it up. I've made jars and jars of salsa, tomato sauce, pickles, jams and preserves. So much so, that I've run out of jars and cupboard space, so my eyes fell on the freezer. I freeze a fair bit, mainly beets for soups later on, and butternut squashes, but this time round I decided that soup was where it was at.  

So I am all souped up. A delicious leek, fennel and potato soup,  sunchoke soup, lots of beet soup, my favourite curried butternut squash soup, and this yummy Moroccan spiced carrot soup - which means that my freezer is pretty full of these warming comfort foods to keep us going through winter. Let's just hope it's not a long one like last year!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Image Credit: Dove Canada and Sandy Nicholson
If you are following me on Facebook, you might have seen this article in the Edmonton Journal and the photo that I posted about the Dove Beautiful Age campaign I was involved in this summer.

The campaign launched on the 9th of September, and my photo was released today, on my birthday, and I am turning thirty five. As the only representative from Alberta, I got a fair amount of attention when the campaign launched. The comments were interesting - quite a few messages of support and congratulations, but also many negative ones (which, to be honest, is to be expected.) I decided to write a post on my involvement on my blog, even though it's not directly related to food, not because I need to explain my involvement, but because I want to share this with my readers and friends and this was a quite a significant event in my life.

The thing about writing for this website is, a lot of the time I tend to focus on the positive. I never show the anxieties that lie in my every day life, and I certainly don't write about all the difficult parts of life. In many ways, The Tiffin Box has taken a life of it's own, and while I am the voice behind it, I worry a lot about if it's hitting the right notes or not. A while ago, around the time of the redesign of the site, I decided to stop worrying all the time, and take the time to enjoy what I've created here. I love this space. It's my happy place and I hope that when readers come here, they go away feeling great too.
The Moser's Dinner Bus
When we first decided to move to Alberta, I wasn't sure what to expect. My only previous visit to the prairies had been that time when Kay and I took the Via Rail all the way across from Toronto through to Jasper - I think it may have been on my second visit to Canada. It certainly brought to me the vastness of this country I now call home.

When we moved to Edmonton, Kay came up ahead. I remember a conversation with him, in which he told me that the first thing I would notice about the prairies was the big sky. I honestly couldn't understand what he meant by that until I stood under the said big sky one summer afternoon... all the way out in the Albertan prairies.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Canadian Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and with it, turkey season (even though, as I've proved this year, any season can be turkey season) I am always on the look out for unusual appetizers and I love easy, make ahead canapes with my own spicy little twist added to it.

I love these little bites. The warmly spiced ground turkey, with its hints of Moroccan spice, works perfectly with filo pastry to make for the perfect snacks. Both the filo shells and the turkey filling can be made in advance, plus you can also fill these an hour or so before your guests (or family) arrive. These are incredibly addictive. When mom and I were testing this recipe, I had to swat off mom, because she just wouldn't stop eating them.

I made the shells by flipping a mini muffin tray upside down and cutting out squares of pastry, buttering them and placing them on the upside down molds. I find that it works better than tucking them into the muffin holes, but it does look prettier if you so it that way too. Just make sure to have dry hands while doing it that way, so you can tuck the pastry in without tearing it. These shells are pretty delicate, but you can very easily make a whole bunch and store them in an air tight container. I've also made mini meat pies with this filling and they're absolutely gorgeous as well.