Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WW: Chinese Burmese Chili Chicken

Wok Wednesdays: Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

                      Chinese Burmese [Cayenne] Chicken

This is one recipe you will want to try for it's a keeper. I'll for sure be making this again.

The onion, garlic, ginger, and spices sizzling away was intoxicating - then it was time to add the fish sauce. Have you ever experienced the aroma of fish sauce? It certainly was not what I was expecting, a fishy smell; to me it has the smell of dry cat food. At first I was worried about using it. I never used fish sauce before and have no idea what it was supposed to smell like or not smell like if it has gone bad. My bottle not only had an expiration date way into next year, but a manufacture date as well which was just a couple of months ago, so in it went.

I immediately went to the Q&C section on the Wok Wednesdays website and asked if anyone else thought that fish sauce had a strange odor. Happy to find out that I am not alone in that the sauce does have an odd smell. As one fellow cook mentioned it adds that indistinguishable pleasant flavor to good Chinese restaurant dishes. You know the taste that you can't quite put your finger on; the earthy, nutty flavor of that savory sauce swimming on the bottom of the plate under your entree. After cooking the offensive odor is not noticeable, nor is it fishy tasting - amazing.

I made one deviation to the recipe; I substituted cayenne pepper for the chili powder as referenced in the book. I added 1/4 teaspoon to the spice mixture. This lent a wonderful soft heat to the stir-fry.

I texted my husband who was riding after work and having dinner with friends that he was a lucky man. He was going to have one damn good lunch tomorrow. The following day he agreed.

Success meter (1-3): 3+

 As you can see from the almost empty jar
of cumin, this is my all-time favorite spice.

Mise en place.
A must when stir-frying.

Wish you could smell this..

The flavors mellowed overnight, but
was still very good the next day.

In my first post for WW I mentioned too look for Cashew Chicken this week - unforseen circumstances caused a change in the recipe schedule. Not to worry, we will share this in the future I assure you.

You too can join us on our adventure of cooking through Grace Young's book, Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge. Go to Wok Wednesdays to get started!

I was chosen as host for this week so you can find the recipe by clicking on the link below.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Goat Cheese Cake

Recipe courtesy of Emily Luchetti


Our daughter graduated from college this past weekend! Woo hoo!! Way to go Ash!

To celebrate we had a family barbecue and lucked out to have the most beautiful weather.  Zucchini tart for appetizer was served along with tri-tip, portobello burgers, Mexican chopped salad and for dessert a wonderful goat cheese cake topped with fresh fruit. Emily Luchetti was kind enough to share her recipe with me - Thank you Emily!!

I have several of Ms. Luchetti's books and love her recipes for their simplicity, full flavor, and in my opinion, spectacular desserts.

Don't pass this up if you are not a fan of goat cheese. My brother-in-law thought this was good and quite surprised to find out what it was made with. He passed on the zucchini tart because it was made with goat cheese.

The cake was light, bright, and beautiful! The goat cheese along with the whipped egg whites makes for a lighter cake than your traditional cream cheese cheesecake and the addition of lemon juice and zest gives this delectable dessert a wonderful sparkle of lemon flavor.

This is one recipe you will want in your repertoire to make again and again.

Success meter (1-3): 3+++

It looks like I went a bit overboard on the fruit.
In the end it was the perfect amount once divvied
up between everyone. You can always put less
on the cake and have extra served at the table.

Awesome job Ash!

Please visit Emily Luchetti at her website and on Facebook. And if you are in the San Francisco area you can try her desserts where she is the executive pastry chef at Farallon and Waterbar Restaurants.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Eighty-Three: Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge

by Grace Young

                                        Stir-Fried Garlic Spinach

This post is a two-for-one for me. One more book I get to check off my list (though I just purchased it) and my first post of many from this book for I signed up for another on-line cooking group.

I am looking forward to cooking with the Wok Wednesdays group which is similar to the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group that I am in. We cook two recipes a month from the book and post as the name suggests, on the designated Wednesday. The host of the month posts the recipe. Look for future posts titled Wok Wednesdays.

The best part of this adventure is not only will my wok find a more permanent place on the cooktop rather than the back of the cupboard, but this is two dinners a month I don't have to worry about. That is the hardest part of cooking for me; figuring out what to make for dinner.

This is a wonderful book full of useful information; from how to season your wok to wonderful photos of ingredients and how they are prepared prior to stir-frying. I love that she uses everyday items, nothing out of the ordinary - none that I have come across anyway.

After reading about the different types of woks and their care, I am bummed that I have a stainless-steel wok rather than a carbon-steel one. The carbon-steel is lighter, has better heat conduction, and after time, develops its own non-stick surface. Oh well, c'est la vie.

There isn't much to say about the recipe itself, it has only four ingredients and cooks up in a flash! This was a fun recipe to start with. Though I did make the cashew chicken recipe first, the same day I bought the book. Look for that post in two weeks!

Success meter (1-3): 3

Four simple ingredients:
Spinach, garlic, salt and sugar.

Not sure why my garlic looks pink in this photo.

We have a multicultural dinner going on here tonight.
Good ole American beef (bbq'd of course!),
Afghan bolani and Chinese stir-fry spinach!
(I've always been on the eccentric side.)

Visit Matt's page at Green Eats Blog for the recipe.

This is going to be a fun book to cook through. Why not purchase the book yourself and join in on the fun! You can purchase it here, or better yet, look for it at your local independent bookstore if available.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Eighty-Two: 365 Great Barbecue & Grilling Recipes

by Lonnie Gandara

              Cajun Firesticks with Fire and Ice Dipping Sauce

Saturdays are reserved for "date day" with the hubby. We do a bike ride, go shopping at our upscale market for something to barbecue for dinner and finish off the evening enjoying the lovely weather on the back deck.

This Saturday however Andy had "fun day" with his rock crawling buddies and I did a solo bike ride. But the barbecue is still on! As I write this he is on his way home and the chicken is marinating, the sauce is made and the flavors are melding.

Andy's toys.

This recipe is listed under the chapter Hot Beginnings (appetizer). I chose to serve it as a main course. Instead of buying chicken breasts and cutting them up I purchased one package of chicken tenders just under a pound and this turned out to be the perfect amount for the two of us.

The Fire & Ice Dipping Sauce lives up to its name! It was really spicy, but cool at the same time. Loved it! The recipe calls for two jalapeño peppers; which I recently read about here, that the older, wrinkled ones I would pass up in the store for the "fresher" smooth skinned ones are actually hotter. I used one wrinkled jalapeño and half of a serrano pepper that I had in the fridge; this added some heat to the sauce, where the coolness came from the yogurt and mint.

This is my favorite Cajun spice blend.
It has no added salt. The others I have had
in the past were way too salty for my taste.

Spiced up and ready to marinate for a couple of hours.

The beginnings of a wonderful sauce.

I kept thinking of this as green goddess dressing though
I have never made or had it.

Ready for the grill.

Make sure to soak your wooden skewers in water
 beforehand so they do not burn.

Beautiful evening sky.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Blueberry Pie

by Fine Cooking magazine

                                       Blueberry Pie

This week I should have been making pecan sticky buns for the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group to post this coming Tuesday. However I could not bring myself to make another butter-laden recipe. The first recipe (the group bakes two recipes a month) was Hungarian Shortbread which called for one pound, yes, four sticks of butter, which I made and really did not care for. The sticky buns call for even more butter - five sticks! Don't get me wrong, I am not one to shy away from any kind of sweets; especially baked goods. Reading through the recipe the sticky buns did not appeal to me.

So I baked a blueberry pie of which I have been craving and anxious to make ever since seeing the delicious, mouth-watering picture in this month's Fine Cooking magazine.

Cravings can make you do crazy stupid things like baking a pie when it is 90° outside; but the aroma while baking made it all worthwhile.

The pie turned out beautiful! The blueberry flavor was not as pronounced as I thought it would be, but very tasty just the same. I think the only other blueberry pie I had was when I was growing up and we would get the Hostess mini pies (remember those?), the ones you buy in the snack isle of your local grocery store which not only had added "real" flavoring but a lot of other ingredients too numerous to mention let alone pronounce. Hey, at the time I thought they were the best! Years later, now that I do my own baking and cooking, I have become a bit of a food snob. Even restaurant food does not impress me much anymore - oh the pitfalls of knowing how to cook.

Image found here.

The instructions which I failed to read required a cooling time of three hours. I would be in bed by then and there was no way I was going to retire without a taste of this enticing creation sitting on my cooktop. I highly recommend that you do wait the three hours or longer. I cut into it early and the slice did not hold its shape and the filling ran out. The next day the slice of pie held its shape beautifully and even tasted better in my opinion.

Success meter (1-3): 3

My dough was too fragile to weave so I just
criss-crossed them.

As well as too fragile to roll the dough over a rolling pin
 as instructed. I just flipped the parchment over directly
into the pan. Worked like a charm!

A sea of blueberries.

Flour, sugar and lemon zest to
thicken the pie.

Flip the parchment with the lattice
onto the pie.

Homemade pie cover as found in
Fine Cooking.
Start with a 12-inch square of
heavy-duty foil.
Fold in half.

Fold in half again to make a smaller square.
(note your center point)

Fold diagonally through the center point
to create a triangle.

Fold again through the center point for
a narrower triangle.

Cut across the triangle in a slight curve
about 4 inches from the tip.

Unfold and whoala!
Edge and top cover for your pie.

Edge is beautifully golden.
Time to cover up!

Yummy goodness.

This is what happens when you
don't let it cool for three hours.

Juice oozing out.

Much better the next day!

No oozing this time.