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Bird's Nest Soup

1-3/4 ounces cleaned bird's nest (see note below)
2 cups water
2 slices fresh ginger, each the size of a 25-cent piece
4 cups Chinese chicken Soup Stock (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
salt
2 eggs, beaten
ham, cut julienne, very fine, for garnish

Soak the bird's nest overnight in fresh water. Using a fine mesh
strainer drain and rinse the nest. Place in a saucepan and add 2
cups of water and the ginger slices. Simmer for 5 minutes and
drain in the strainer, discarding the ginger. Pick out any impurities
and add to the soup stock and simmer for 1/2 hour.

Stir in the cornstarch mixed with water and cook to thicken. Add
salt to taste and pour the beaten eggs in a thin stream over the
top of the soup. Count to ten and gently stir the eggs into the
soup. The shredded-ham garnish will go nicely on the top of this
very delicately flavored soup.

A good Chinese market should have nests available (or perhaps they
will order for you), but they are very expensive. The cost for
enough nest to make two batches of this soup will be somewhere
between $30 and $40.


Chinese Chicken Soup Stock

5 pounds chicken backs and necks
2 slices fresh ginger, each the size of a 25-cent piece
2 Chinese dried turnip balls (preserved turnip or preserved radish)
coarsely chopped and
rinsed with fresh water

Place the bones in a 12-quart stockpot and cover with water. On
high heat bring the bones barely to a simmer. We do not want to
cook the soup yet so do not let it do more than just simmer. Foam
and scum will form on the top of the pot. You do not want this to
boil. Drain the bones, discarding the water, and rinse well with
cold water. Add 1 quart of fresh water for each pound of bones,
along with the ginger and rinsed dried turnip. Bring to a simmer
and cook 1 hour, uncovered.

Strain the soup stock and discard the solids. Remove the fat by
using a plastic tube or simply chill the stock overnight and remove
the fat when it has congealed.

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Edible flowers can be used to garnished many soups and entrees. Just like an Avas Flowers bouquet, edible flowers can beautify a simple dish and add a touch of elegance to a meal. While it is important to remember that not all of Avas Flowers are edible, many familiar types of flowers, such as Marigolds and Carnations, are safe to ingest.

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