Oxtail Pho, Ken style.

oxtail pho 02

I had an urge for oxtail pho, so I looked up a couple recipes to find the seasons to use for the broth. Taking that and a few things I had tried before for beef pho, I played with it and tweaked it until I ended up with a rich, hearty broth full of spice and season.

From what I understand, there’s thin light pho which is more of a light broth and there’s heavy bold pho. The second one is the one I favor, and although technically a clear soup, it’s darker and the flavors are more in your face.

First, I started a broiling an onion, some pork bones and oxtails until they were partially cooked and I had brought out the flavor and oils. Then pork bones and oxtail went into a large pot of water, simmering there for a few hours. When the oxtail was cooked but not yet falling off the bones, I pulled them and immediately put them into an ice bath, then stored the in the refrigerator once cooled.

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Ground Beef Wellington


My daughter was having a friend come over. We were all set to do something simple and then she said it. “My friend heard how yummy your cooking is, so don’t let her down.” She was joking – really! she was just joking, but the gauntlet had already been thrown down. I decided to try something new and different. Because I had a pound and a half of ground beef in the refrigerator, I went with that as my main ingredient. What to do, I wondered? Then I thought about it. Wrap it in pastry! So I searched the web and found a couple recipes for “Ground Beef Wellington”.

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I think this is where purists will exit, stage left.

So yes… in my mind, mini meatloaf wrapped in a pastry. Sounds good! I read through a couple recipes, got a sense of the overall techniques they used and found a couple useful tips. The most important one was to put the seams on the bottom so that any excess juices would be absorbed.

I was ready to go. Although the idea was to use what was in the house, unless I was going to cook something like a Chinese meat and veggie dish there was no way I could stretch a pound and a half of meat to feed seven people. Off to the supermarket!

I ended up using about 4 lbs of beef to make 7 Wellingtons. I’ll adjust downwards in the future.

To make it was fairly simple. I seasoned the meat for my mini meatloaf, then rolled it into balls and put it in a jumbo muffin tin. Baked it until it was almost completely done, then let it cool. After taking each one out and allowing them to drain in a plate, I removed the remaining excess juice from the bottom by just dabbing the bottom on a folded paper towel.

I then turned it upside-down, placed the ball of meat on a sized piece of crust and carefully folded the edges over. I sealed the seams by pinching and made sure that any air bubbles were allowed to collapse before sealing (this really was not an issue, the dough clings pretty well to the meat). I then placed them in a rectangular baking pan, brushed the top with egg yolk, then put them in the oven.

That’s it!

The photo you see, I’ll pick on. It was the largest and it was one that didn’t fit in the rectangular  pan so it was on the bottom of the stove getting a little less heat. It was also 20% larger than the rest. So, you see pink. It was cooked, but I the others were evenly colored inside and were still moist and juicy. Also because of the one that I plated for the photo being on the bottom and getting a little less heat, the crust is just a bit less done than the others.

In the future, what I would do is instead of making round balls, I’d make double width hamburger sized loafs and make them relatively flat on top and bottom. This will allow the wrapping to come together easier. It’ll also make them about a third smaller, which would be a better serving size. These came out just a little over half a pound each! Most of us ate half and saved half.

Ground Beef Wellington
Recipe type: Main Course Dinner
Cuisine: Comfort Food
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
A delicious and filling combination of seasoned ground beef and a flaky pastry crust.
  • 3 lb Ground Beef
  • 12 oz mushrooms sliced or chopped
  • 1 package Pie Crust
  • 1-2 egg yolk (you can thin with a teaspoon of cold water if needed)
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 medium brown onion
  • dash salt
  • dash pepper
  • 2 TBS butter
  • dash of Worcestershire
  • dash of maggi
  1. Saute the mushrooms, onion, and garlic in the butter, then allow to cool
  2. Mix the ground beef with salt, pepper, and add Worcestershire sauce and Maggi to taste.
  3. When the mushroom, garlic, onion mixture is cool, mix into the meat.
  4. Add any other season you want at this point. (cheese, herbs, etc...)
  5. Allow the meat to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. Form the meat into 1" thick patties about 4" across.
  7. Bake in a deep (to make sure juices don't spill) pan @ 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature of the beef is about 150 degrees.
  8. Remove from heat and allow to cool enough to handle.
  9. Meanwhile, divide each piece (there should be two per pack) of the pie crust into four pieces and roll them into a ball.
  10. Roll a ball out into a rough circle to a point where it's thin, but won't break on the meat.
  11. You should have timed this so the meat is cool enough to handle.
  12. Take a meat loaf patty and place it in the center of your dough.
  13. Fold the edges in and seal the seams by pinching. You can use a wet finger dipped in water if it helps, I did not find that it was necessary.
  14. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until the Wellingtons are golden brown all over.
  15. Remove from oven and allow to rest for a few minutes
  16. Serve and enjoy!

Other than that, the consensus was it was a success and tasty 🙂

What’s your favorite instant food?

We eat instant noodles when we are short on time or have no energy. We find it hits the spot on those long days where you really just want to eat and eat now!

I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping a few boiled eggs on hand at all times. The fried tofu is available, ready to eat, from the Asian market, as is the pickled mustard. A little Costco rotisserie chicken and I end up with something like this (photo below)

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M;y favorite for this kind of noodle for this is instant Laksa, and my favorite brand is this one (below) A little pricey at nearly $3.00 per package, it’s worth the price package contains a genuine laksa paste. Powder can’t quite achieve the same results.

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How do you “fancy up” your noodles?

What’s your favorite make at home, low time and effort instant food?



Korean Ox Tail Stew

My wife came up with this variation on an Ox Tail Stew. The sauce for me was very reminiscent of a “spicy Korean chicken” dish I had made before. I find that even though the name says it’s spicy, it’s more of a mild warmth in the mouth as opposed to really being spicy.

Korean Ox Tail

Still, it was very tasty and a nice change of pace from our usual go-to, classic Ox Tail Stew.

Take a look at the recipe. Like many home style dishes, measurements are very flexible, cooking times are rough, and feel free to vary everything to suit your tastes. This should be enough to get you close enough 🙂

Korean Ox Tail Stew
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Korean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
Tasty Korean inspired ox tail stew.
  • 2 - 3 lbs Ox Tail
  • Carrots
  • Your choice of other stew vegetables (celery, potatoes, turnip, etc...)
  • 2 cups beef broth made from beef powder and water
  • 1 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 TB minced garlic
  • 3 TB cooking wine
  • 3 TB sugar
  • 3 TB honey or honey powder (we substituted Agave)
  • 1 TB red pepper powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 slice of ginger, chopped and smashed
  1. Soak ox tail in water for 30 minutes to release any excess blood in the meat.
  2. Boil the ox tail for 20 minutes at a low boil in order to release elements that rise and float to the top of the water.
  3. Once done, skim the scum off the top of the water and then drain the ox tail.
  4. Mix ingredients together, except stew vegetables and coat the ox tail.
  5. Then put it in a pot with a lid and add the sauce to it.
  6. Bring to a boil, the switch to low.
  7. Braise, covered, for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until tender to your tastes.
  8. Add carrots and/or other hard vegetables the last half hour.
  9. Add potatoes and other faster cooking vegetables at about 15-20 minutes before serving.
  10. Serve with rice.


Perfect Sourdough Popovers

We tried a new recipe for popovers tonight. This one used sourdough starter, which is perfect, because I have a nice healthy batch of it here at home. We’ve been cutting back on carbs, so baking is a real treat for us. They came out puffy, light, crispy on the outside, soft and tender inside, just perfect!


If that sounds like your kind of treat, you can find the recipe here, at KingArthurFlour*

*I have no relationship with King Arthur Flour, other than as a very happy customer of their products.


We’ve been trying to part-time Paleo… yes, I know the Paleo faithful out there are cringing or screaming in their chairs right now. What it means to me, is, as much as possible, to eliminate grains from diet, with the exception meals. As someone who enjoys cooking and food, who bakes his own sourdough from scratch from time to time, who enjoys an occasional plate of pasta, it would take the flavor out of life to be too hardcore in any kind of restricted eating program or lifestyle.

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Now that being the case, we try whenever possible to skip grains and carbs. The way I think is, “Is it neccessary to have carbs in this meal to eat what I want”. Many times, the answer is no. Sometimes, the answer is yes. Zoodles (zuchinni strips simulating the shape of noodles) are fine, but if one is honest, they are not the same.

Today, for breakfast, I made a 2-3 oz steak, egg, sunny side up in a bell pepper ring, cauliflower (steamed then tossed in the pan with the oil from the steak), and a 1/3 slice of cheese on the egg. The cheese isn’t paleo (dairy) but I like the flavor so… mostly on target. Fat, protein, and the cauliflower took the place of potatoes in terms of texture and filling the belly.

What do you think? I shouldn’t even say Paleo’ish? What would you call it?

Thai Red Curry Trout (fish)

I’ve been trying to eat healthier and eat fish a couple times a week. This week I did a twist on a couple of things I know pretty well, one being making Thai curry.

I took a basic red curry, varied it for what I had on hand and gently cooked fish in it.  It came out very well and the flavors blended as well in practice as I had had imagined.


Often red curry is served with duck and a fruit, like pineapple or mango is added to the sauce to provide tartness and sweetness. For fish, I substituted grape tomatoes instead. In place of the palm sugar, I used a smaller measure of brown sugar. My kaffir lime tree has gone to the great tree heaven in the sky, so I used a little bit of lime juice, and finished with a few chopped leaves of basil.

Here’s the recipe, enjoy! 🙂

Thai Red Curry Trout (fish)
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Thai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 generous servings
An easy to make red curry sauce that works wonderfully with fish.
  • 1 lb. Trout (or outher suitable fish)
  • ½ Cup halved Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
  • Potatoes and Carrots, cut to small stew size and steam cooked seperately (optional)
  • 2 oz. Red Curry Paste (For this recipe I used MaeSri in a 4 oz can)
  • 19 oz can of Coconut Milk
  • 1 tsp. Chicken Powder
  • 2 Tbs. Fish Sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Palm or Brown Sugar (to taste, go light, then add)
  • 2 Kaffir Lime leaves stem removed, chopped OR 2-3 Tbs Lime Juice to taste
  • ¼ cup Basil leaves (preferably Royal Thai Basil)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut trout into 1" pieces, set aside
  2. In a wok or large pan, heat the solids (coconut oil) from the coconut milk over a medium-low heat. Reserve half the can for now.
  3. Add the red curry to the hot coconut oil and gently fry, allowing it to release it's fragrance.
  4. Add the remainder of the coconut milk, the chicken powder and the sugar. Stir well.
  5. Add the tomatoes and simmer gently for two or three minutes. If using Kaffir lime leaves, add now.
  6. If using potatoes and carrots, add now and stir gently.
  7. Add the fish sauce, and the fish.
  8. Cook until the fish is just done, It should only take a couple minutes.
  9. If using Lime Juice, add to mixture now.
  10. Add Basil Leaves and stir gently.
  11. Serve.
- A number of vegetables work well. We like carrots and potatoes, however grape eggplant or the small round ones work well too. You can take liberties with this.
- I find that I like Mae Ploy and Mae Sri brands for curry pastes and coconut milk.


What’s cooking? Smoked Chicken!

A bit of a funny story, as I had wanted a smoker for quite a while and had even bought an inexpensive hotplate and picked up a couple of refrigerator wire shelves to build a wooden smoker. It turns out I didn’t have to, as while I was on an epic roadtrip across the SouthWest, I stumbled into a sale at a sporting goods store that had an terrific sale on a very nice smoker. I picked up this Cajun Injector Electric Smoker and it’s been awesome.

You simply set the temperature and time and that’s it. Computer temperature contolled, no fires to worry about, no fancy pellets to feed. I preheat it to temperature, put in the meat and the wood chips and I can move on to other things, checking on it once every 20 minutes or so just to see how the meat’s internal temperature is coming along.

My system is very simple. I brine chicken breasts for 18 hours or so in a basic brine. I then rub it with a nice bbq rub. I use Gorilla BBQ rub or LaRue Rub with a bit of brown sugar and, optionally, ground hot (habanero or ghost chili) pepper for kick. I preheat the smoker to 235 Degrees and pop them in until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. I then take it out and it’ll impulse cook another 10 degrees on it’s own. Time wise, that’s roughly an hour. For wood chips, I favor hickory chips soaked overnight in water. I use a good handful and this smoker is so good at retaining smoke, I really don’t feel a need to add any more.

I highly recommend smoking meats for a nice protein treat to go with veggies or on a salad and heartily recommend the Cajun Injector as a goof proof smoker.

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