Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
This weeks Menu:
Sesame Shrimp Toasts found on page 50;
Thai Noodle Stir-fry found on page 200; and
Sweet and Sour Chicken found on page 303. With permission retrieved by Monica of the blog SweetBites (creator of the Gutsy Cook's Club), I will be posting the recipes below.
Before I continue with posting the recipes, I would like to add that I actually followed each recipe down to the tablespoons and only altered ingredients when adding more soy sauce and fish sauce. I am notorious for playing with recipes and changing them to my own tastes but this time I wanted to see if the recipes chosen pulled their own weight in flavor. To my surprise, we enjoyed each one immensely. My intent is not to sound negative about Victoria's cookbook but some recipes in the past seem to be bashful in the seasoning/flavor department.
Our menu starts with an Appetizer, the Sesame Shrimp Toasts.
9 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 scallions, roughly chopped
one 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and shredded (I used fresh ginger puree)
1 t. soy sauce (I used 1 T.)
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 t. Asian sesame oil (I used 1 1/2 t.)
1 large egg white, beaten
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper (I was pepper happy and used about 1 t.)
3 large slices firm white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed (I used 4 slices)
2 T. sesame seeds (I used toasted sesame seeds)
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
fresh cilantro, to garnish
Prepare ahead: The toasts can be prepared to the end of step 2 up to 4 hours in advance, ready to be fried just before serving.
1) Combine the shrimp and scallions, white and green parts in a food processor and process until they form a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the ginger, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil. and enough egg white to bind the mixture together. Season with the pepper.
2) Spread the bread thickly with the shrimp paste. Cut each slice into four triangles. Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly over the top.
3) Pour enough oil into a deep-fryer or skillet to come halfway up the sides, and heat to 350 degrees F (180 C). In batches, add the toasts, shrimp sides down, and deep-fry for 2 minutes, until the shrimp paste is puffed. Carefully turn them over and deep-fry until the toasts are crisp and golden brown.
4) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the toasts to paper towels and drain briefly. Serve hot, garnished with coriander.
Note: Good with sweet chili sauce and chilled sake or a cold beer.
Next, Thai Noodle Stir-fry:
6 oz. cellophane (mung bean) noodles
3 T. peanut or vegetable oil
3 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 onion, sliced
4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 lemongrass stalk, peeled and bottom part minced (I used ground, dried lemon stalk)
1 t. peeled and finely grated fresh ginger (I used pureed ginger)
1 fresh hot Thai red chile, seeded and minced
1 head of bok choy, shredded
2 T. soy sauce (I used 3 T.)
1 T. Asian fish sauce (I used 1 1/2 T.)
1 t. sweet chili sauce (I used 1 T.)
1) Soak the noodles in a bowl of very hot water about 10 minutes, until softened. Drain well and rinse under cold running water. Cut into manageable lengths with kitchen scissors.
2) Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a wok over high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry about 3 minutes. or until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate.
3) Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 Tablespoon oil. Add the onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, lemongrass, ginger, and chili, and stir-fry about 2 minutes, or until the bell pepper softens.
4) Add the bok choy and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until wilted. Return the chicken to the pan and add the noodles. Pour in the soy sauce, fish sauce, and sweet chili sauce, and toss everything together over the heat for 2-3 minutes, or until piping hot. Serve hot.
Last, Sweet and Sour Chicken:
For the Batter:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
1 cup lager beer
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 T. soy sauce
3 T. rice vinegar
2 T. ketchup
1 T. honey
one 3/4" piece fresh ginger, peeled and shredded (I used fresh ginger puree)
1 t. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. cold water (I used 2 t. cornstarch in 2 T. cold water)
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 T. unsalted cashew nuts or whole blanched almonds
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
8 scallions, cut into 1 inch lengths
1/2 cup cubed fresh or drained canned pineapple
Prepare ahead: Steps 1 and 2 can be completed several hours in advance.
1) To make the batter, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add 1/2 cup of the beer, and whisk, gradually adding the remaining beer. Let stand for 30 minutes.
2) To make the sauce, stir the stock, soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, honey, and ginger in a small saucepan over low heat until the honey is melted. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until just thickened. Set aside.
3) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (95 C). Fill a wok halfway with oil. Heat to 350 degrees F. (180 C.). Place the flour in a bowl. In batches, toss the chicken in the flour, then coat in the batter and add to the hot oil. Deep-fry about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with paper towels and keep warm in the oven.
4) Pour all but 2 T. oil from the wok and return to high heat. Add the cashews and sit-fry for 30 seconds. Transfer to the baking sheet. Add the red pepper to the oil and stir-fry 2 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add scallions and pineapple and stir-fry for 1 minute.
5) Pour the sauce into the wok, add the chicken and stir until coated. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with cashews, and serve hot.
Check out the rest of the Gutsy Cook's Club members dishes by clicking here.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
I have such fond memories of Sunday dinners growing up. My Mom is an amazing cook/baker and an inspiration. Granted, I think we compete on who has the most cookbooks BUT I have her beat, hands-down,on printed out recipes organized and put into binders for when I have no idea what to make for dinner, dessert, side dishes, breakfasts, etc. I am dying to go to Arizona just so I can mark up a few of her cookbooks, which Mom would probably not mind as long as we were making food together.
I get to host the Gutsy Cooks Club for the whole month of March and this week's menu (menu 24) was picked with Sundays in mind. The recipes are chosen from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible by Victoria Blashford-Snell. I chose Ficelles (long and skinny baguettes), Irish stew and a French Apple tart.
The Irish stew was modified by adding more herbs (sweet basil, 4 branches of fresh thyme, and a little rosemary) along with using pork tenderloin instead of lamb shoulder (I forgot to buy the lamb). Monica over at Sweetbites created the Gutsy Cooks Club and has the recipes posted for the Irish stew and the Ficelles on her blog. I will post the French Apple Tart recipe below.
I have never made a layered stew before and after making this one, I am excited to try different variations because we really enjoyed how well the stew turned out. The Ficelles fresh out of the oven had a wonderful aroma and were perfect still warm with butter slathered on, served with dinner.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
CEiMB is Aromatic Beef Stew with Butternut Squash over whole wheat coucous. Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table is the host and a wonderful blogging friend! Kayte, I have never been a squash person and this stew changed my whole outlook on the vegetable. Squash is a vegetable isn't it?
I couldn't find just whole wheat couscous but there is a brand called Far East putting out a product called whole wheat couscous with roasted garlic and olive oil. The couscous package took all of 10 minutes from start-to-finish to assemble.
A definite repeat recipe! Go to Kayte's blog and give her a high five for picking out this recipe (Ellie Krieger too since this is her recipe from the cookbook So Easy) then get into your kitchen and try it for yourself! I bet you absolutely LOVE IT! The recipe can be found here.
Check out the rest of the CEiMB bloggers for each and every variation along with phenomenal photos.
Monday, March 7, 2011
If pictures say a thousand words then this blog better start talking. I spent 3 days doing this cake in sections so I could fit it in and TAH DAHHHH . . . Here it is! Heavenly Cake Bakers has baked yet another fabulous concoctions, of light and airy chocolate cake, cocoa syrup, raspberry puree, and a chocolate/raspberry ganache. Boy, are there a kitchen sink FULL of dishes.
Further down the post is Tuesdays with Dorie - Corniest Corn Muffins chosen by this week's host (drum roll please) Jill of My Next Life.
Since I am in a hurry, the pictures will have to do the talking.
Below we have eggs whipped into a frenzy, filled full of air.
I was worried when I added the chocolate ganache to the whipped eggs but the process worked; never have I made a cake with all of 4 ingredients and had this fluffy result.
The raspberry/chocolate ganache has both dark and white chocolate grated to fine chunks.
Heavy cream and raspberry puree with the raspberry syrup previously cooked down from 1/2 cup to 2 Tablespoons is heated to a boil.
The syrup is poured onto the chocolate chunks while the processor whizzes along, making this delectable ganache.
The raspberry/chocolate ganache is chilled to thicken and cocoa syrup is coated on to layers that have been previously split into two, creating a 4 layer cake.
The result is a light, airy, moist chocolate/raspberry flavored cake. I did not find the raspberry as dominate a flavor as I was expecting. Still, a delicious and VERY charming cake to present and eat. Next week, we have another chocolate cake to present for the HCB'ers.
Now on to our host Jill and the TWD group. Corniest corn muffins!
I added fresh chopped thyme and sweet basil to the dry ingredients and lots of corn overall. More like 1 1/2 cups instead of the 1 cup called for. The muffins were served with a beef/butternut squash stew. Results: Absolutely Delicious and a Winner!
Thank you Jill for hosting and check out the other TWD'ers muffins to see all the variations one recipe can present!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Sweet Melissa Sunday and The Gutsy Cooks Group are sharing a post this morning. Leslie with Lethally Delicious picked an amazing Chocolate Pudding for SMS. I have the dessert posted further down =).
I get the pleasure of hosting for the month of March at the Gutsy Cooks Club and my choice for this weekend is homemade English Muffins and Eggs Benedict. I have made English muffins before and already know the muffins are pretty easy to make. My husband is usually the one to make eggs Benedict in our kitchen, so he helped with the poached eggs. We cheat a little with the eggs and I am going to share what we do.
I enjoy making English Muffins. In fact, the first time surprised the beegeebees out of me because I had no idea English Muffins were cooked on a griddle. You can bake the muffins in the oven but the griddle is much more fun.
1 1/4 cup tepid water
Make a well in the center and pour in the water and butter. Stir to make a slightly sticky dough.
Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. (I change out the paddle for the dough hook attachment and let the mixer knead for 10 minutes.) Shape into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 1 hour in a warm place until doubled.
Line a baking sheet with a kitchen towel and sprinkle with most of the semolina. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead. Divide into 10 balls. Place the balls on the towel and press into thick disks. (I roll the dough into 1/4" thickness and use 3" rounds to cut my dough.) Sprinkle with the rest of the semolina. Cover with another towel. Leave for 20-30 minutes, until risen.
Heat a frying pan with a lid. (I use a griddle at 325 degrees. I cook 2 minutes per side, then turn the heat down to 300 degrees and bake for another 6 minutes per side, watching to make sure the muffins do not get overly brown.)
In batches, place the muffins in the pan and cover. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes, until they puff up. Flip and cook for 3-4 minutes, until golden.
Now for the Eggs Benedict:
I use a fast blender method for Hollandaise Sauce. The recipe is from Julia Child's very first French cookbook (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, pg. 81) and has "never" failed me. The sauce takes all of 10 minutes, tops, to put together.
According to Julia, this very quick method for making hollandaise cannot fail when you add your butter in a small stream of droplets.
(Makes about 3/4 cup of sauce.)
3 egg yolks
2 T. lemon juice
1/4 t. salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
Put all the ingredients, EXCEPT the butter in the jar of the blender. Put the butter in a small saucepan and heat it to foaming hot.
Start blending your egg yolk mixture at top speed for 2 seconds. Cover, and still blending at top speed, immediately start pouring on the hot butter in a thin stream of droplets. (You may need to protect yourself with a towel during this operation.) By the time two thirds of the butter has gone in, the sauce will be a thick cream. Omit the milky residue at the bottom of the butter pan. Taste the sauce, and blend in more seasoning if necessary.
Victoria's recipe for Eggs Benedict is as follows:
8 large eggs
2 T. distilled white vinegar
4 English muffins
butter, for spreading
1 cup warm hollandaise sauce
Fill a large frying pan with water to a depth of 2-inches. Add the vinegar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. When tiny bubbles appear at the bottom of the pan, carefully crack 4 eggs, one by one, into each pan.
Cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand for exactly 6 minutes. Remove the eggs using a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, split each muffin in half and toast. Butter each muffin half and place 2 on each serving plate. Top each half with a poached egg and spoon the hollandaise over the top. Good with ham or crisp grilled bacon on the side.
Now, our version:
My husband, Larry, makes the eggs Benedict in our kitchen. He cooks very little but for some reason, he has always been drawn to perfecting this breakfast dish. Who the heck am I to complain about amazing and perfect eggs Benedict? My job is to make the hollandaise sauce and English muffins if I have the extra time.
We use either thin ham slices, crab meat, or shredded chunks of moist, smoked salmon.
Here is our secret weapon for perfect poached eggs. A $10 egg poacher pan we bought at Wal-Mart several years ago. You put about 1 inch of water in the pan and bring to a boil. Larry sprays PAM in each egg cup then adds the egg. The eggs poach with the lid on for 3 minutes.
He then takes a toothpick and runs it around the edges of the cup so the eggs pop right out.
Sorry for the dark picture but you can see our steps. TOAST the muffin halves first, a little sauce next, then the poached egg.
Put the salmon over the egg, then more sauce, and finally a little chopped parsley. AMAZING crispy, creamy, lightly lemony, slight salty with the smoked salmon. The egg yolks ooze out over the sauce, making a thick and creamy gravy. This has to be my all time favorite breakfast dish!
I had so much fun hosting and taking photos this week! Thank you Gutsy Cooks!!!!!
NOW on to Sweet Melissa Sunday if you made it down this far! Leslie, I really enjoyed how easy the recipe was to put together. Thank you for hosting and the delicious choice!
Heating up heavy cream with half the sugar was a snap. Pour half of the cream over the chocolate chunks, let sit 5 minutes, stir till smooth, add the rest of the heavy cream, and stir. Now add this slowly to your egg yolks with the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Strain mixture into a pouring cup.
Fill your ramekins, add boiling water to fill half way up the ramekins, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes.
My pudding is pretty thick and I am waiting to see if everyone else's pudding was as thick. Loved the deep chocolate flavor! Add homemade whipped cream with vanilla sugar. A great dessert to an Eggs Benedict breakfast. Thank you Leslie and please check out the rest of the SMS bakers for all the variations of this recipe. YUM!