Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lunch with Lucy at Kirby-Hill House

I’m guilty. I have heard about about this “treasure of the Big Thicket waiting to be discovered,” and I have not discovered it myself. I have met people who represent the Kountze spread and they are persuasive. One of them gave me “The Kirby-Hill House”cookbook, one of those spirals where the community shares their favorites. There’s a lot of soup offerings under the Lunch with Lucy section, and I think the lemon soup sounds like a great summer offering, It actually is written to add three teaspoons of rice. That seems miniscule, so I assume it’s a thickener. The other one I’m sharing is Love Soup. It sounds more like fall fare, but I just liked the name.

Lemon Soup
4 12-ounce cans chicken broth
3 teaspoons uncooked rice
3 eggs, beaten
3 teaspoons lemon juice
Cook the broth and rice until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Beat the eggs until light and gradually add lemon juice, beating until blended. Pour part of the hot soup slowly into the egg mixture, then return to the remainder of the soup. Do not heat further and if it should begin to curdle, beat with a rotary beater. Serve at once with lemon zest and curl on top. Serves six.

Love Soup
One third cup beef bouillon granules
One fourth cup dried minced onion
One half cup dried split peas
One half cup macaroni
One fourth cup barley
One half cup lentils
One third cup long grain white rice
1 cup tri-colored spiral pasta
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
Place all the ingredients except the pasta in a large soup pot. Add 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add pasta and simmer 15 minutes more. Put cooked pasta into a bowl and add soup.

No. 23
For months I’ve kept No. 23 in my head for the date I return to Pho Ha on Nederland Avenue. Some one took me to lunch there and I saw two other culinary thrill seekers on my way in the door for the first time. They told me I’d love No. 23, but it was a Friday in Lent and I was going meatless. I enjoyed the meal I did have, but vowed to return for a bowl of vermicelli noodles topped with char-grilled meat, crispy bits, chopped nuts and fresh vegetables.
That day came and I also had the pleasure of introducing my mom to this aspect of Vietnamese food. She also succumbed to the No. 23 and, since she had phoned a friend for advice, asked for a side of spicy chicken sauce to go with it. While my husband enjoyed his lemon chicken over rice, he also kept his eyes on our No. 23 orders.
Our waiter must get asked how to pronounce the restaurant’s name daily. I’m still working on the concept that “pho,” the soup, is pronounced something like “fuh,” as in “fuhget about it.” The “Ha” comes from the owner’s wife’s name, he said.

Nuts about it
Taking my cue from Asian restaurants I have loved, I often use peanuts and other nuts as “croutons” on my salads. Nuts are good fats, the only problem is many of us can’t eat just a few. If you’re taking a salad to work, measure out a portion and that’s all you get. Add them at the last minute, after your simple-yet-complex vinegar and oil dressing you’ve created. Now you salad is healthy, classy and different from the usual fare.

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