Thursday, November 29, 2012

WW: Stir-Fried Mussels with Ginger and Scallions

Wok Wednesdays wokking thru Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

Plate styling: Andy Hagin (I just threw it on the plate..)

The last time I had mussels was probably about thirty years ago; I cannot even remember if I liked them or not.

I was going to pass on this recipe for I did not feel comfortable for a couple of reasons. One being I was worried about the safety of consuming the mussels; toss any that are open before cooking or ones that remain closed after cooking (completely or just a crack?). The other reason was on the humane side. Does the mussel feel pain when you rip the beard off - my research did not answer this for me. This is why I have not cooked lobster or crab; I cannot bring myself to throw a live creature into boiling water.

The great thing about being in a cooking club is it makes you step out of your comfort zone. If it was not for Wok Wednesdays I would not have attempted this recipe; that and my husband said we should give it a try. He likes it when we have something different from the norm, as do I.

As I was standing in front of the seafood case waiting my turn, inspecting the mussels I could not see the beard. I had done an internet search about removing the beard and it was not what I had envisioned. It looks more stringy than bushy.

I asked the fish monger about removing the beards and he informed me they had already been removed. It was my understanding that the mussel dies immediately after removing the beard. He explained to me they do it in a way that is more humane and does not kill the mussel; does this answer the question as to the pain a mussel feels if any? Yes they have no brain - but do we really know?

He instructed me to place the mussels in a colander and cover it with a paper towel and place them in the refrigerator. He also said not to submerge them in water for they do not do well in fresh water; just give them a quick rinse in cold water before cooking. So not only did I not need to remove the beards, I did not scrub them either. The quicker the better!

When I grabbed them from the refrigerator almost all the mussels were open! Do I need to throw them all out? As I shook the colander and moved them around they started to close - phew! I removed about seven mussels that did not close up all the way and one that the shell was cracked.

I am glad I stepped out of the box on this one. The mussels were fresh, moist, and tender with wonderful flavor. Once again Grace has given us a delicious, quick and tasty stir-fry.

Success meter (1-3): 3

Wok shot.

Did not eat this one. Is it considered closed or open?

You will not find the recipe here on my blog or within the Wok Wednesdays community. We encourage readers to go and purchase this book at their local independent bookstore or on-line.

Make sure to visit my co-wokkers to see their results on this stir-fry.
Look for the LYL link on the Wok Wednesdays page.

Visit Wok Wednesdays on Facebook!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Citrus Collards with Raisins

Recipe from

I have my friend Dorothy to thank for this easy and tasty recipe. She served hers alongside quinoa and baked yams. This would be a great side dish to any meal. Me, I had this all on its own for my dinner.

The recipe calls for collard greens but I had kale that needed to be used up. I'm sure this would be tasty with your favorite greens, being collards, kale, or chard. My raisins also needed to be eaten soon and were not as plump as when they were purchased, so I soaked them in the orange juice called for in the recipe; they were back to their soft, fat little selves.

The ingredients paired beautifully. The slight bitterness of the kale against the sweet raisins and the burst of citrus was delightful. I easily could have eaten more - if there was any.

Success meter (1-3): 3

I also added a bit of orange zest to the recipe.

If using a wok you may want to blanch the kale or whatever green you use, first, then dry it in a salad spinner. As good as this dish was, I would have liked the kale to be a bit more tender than it was.

You can find this wonderful recipe by clicking here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkeyless Thanksgiving

This year I had Thanksgiving off. Spent the whole, and I mean whole day, hiking. It was one of the most beautiful hikes we have done. I just have to share the beauty with you all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TWD: Best~Ever Brownies (hmmm...)

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing baker: Rick Katz

These are good as far as brownies go - just not "best~ever" in my not-so-humble opinion. I prefer the recipe I make every year for my cookie tins - which freeze beautifully!

Not sure what Rick, the contributing baker means by "these can be frozen, but they never freeze solid, so you may want to think about using them as a mix-in for ice cream." Does this mean they don't hold there shape? Do they fall apart or turn to moosh? I won't know for I am dusting them with powdered sugar and sending them to work with the husband for the boys - they'll eat anything and not one is named Mikey.

The recipe calls for a nine-inch square cake pan; of course I have an 8 and a 10-inch. I went with a 9x13-inch pan and baked them for 30 minutes and they came out fine. If I was not distracted I would have baked these five minutes less for I like my brownies on the under-baked side.

It was hard, but I refrained from adding espresso powder as I do to the brownies I make at Christmas. I followed the recipe to a T other than using a different pan size as mentioned above and did not have any issues with the batter being runny as some of the other bakers had. The bake time must be incorrect in the book. I haved always baked brownies in a larger pan for the time allotted in the recipe.

The brownies are cake-like as opposed to gooey and chewy (how I like mine) with a slight crisp top. They are soft and light due to the whipping of the eggs. I would have liked the chocolate to be a bit more pronounced - maybe add a little cocoa powder (and espresso!).

All in all these are OK for everyday brownies.

Success meter (1-3): 2

Chocolate & butter.

Melt the chocolate and butter..

Add sugar..

Fold in the whipped eggs.

Add dry ingredients.

Place in unbuttered pan and bake away.
(I line the pan with parchment paper
for easy removal and slicing.)

If this post has intrigued you to make these yourself, you can find the recipe over at Monica's blog A Beautiful Mess, our host for the week.

One of the joys of cooking with a group is reading about all the different variations on the recipes. Do be sure to wander over to the Tuesdays with Dorie LYL link to see what the other bakers have come up with and to salivate over beautiful photos.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Loaded Twice~Baked Potatoes

Recipe from Eating Well 

This is going to be quick - just like the recipe.

I was looking for something quick and comforting for dinner; this fit the bill. Serve alongside a green salad and you have a complete meal.

Omit the meat and you have a great vegetarian dish. Maybe even better!

Success meter (1-3): 3

I wanted to use ground turkey, or even chicken in the filling. Unfortunately Safeway does not sell
small increments of ground meat (I only needed four ounces) other than ground beef which is
called for in the recipe, so that is what I went with.

I substituted non-fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream and added cayenne pepper for a little heat.

You can find the recipe here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Ninety-One: Graham Kerr's Best

by Graham Kerr

Graham Kerr. Yep. The Galloping Gourmet. I recall my mother watching this show when I was growing up. His TV career began back in 1959 with Eggs with Flight Lieutenant Kerr and he is still active in bringing a healthy lifestyle to people today.

Vegetable Papoose. How can one pass up a recipe with a name like that? Not only the name of the dish, but the ingredients were calling out to me as well: Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, chard, nutmeg and horseradish. Yummm!

The vegetable papoose is served alongside a wedge of steamed cabbage and tomato. I have never steamed tomatoes before. I've baked and grilled them, but never steamed one. They hold their shape, yet they are soft, juicy and warm.

The tomatoes I have to say were the best part of this dish unfortunately, that and the warm buttered bread fresh from the oven. The papoose was less than flavorful as was the cabbage. It wasn't bad - just - boring. I did pick this recipe from the 10% Calories from Fat section of the book; not intentionally, it was the name that drew me in.

If you don't have health issues where you need to watch your dietary intake I think this could be tweaked to become what I was hoping it to be - delicious.

Success meter (1-3): Unrated

I have come to the conclusion that the vegetables we get in the supermarket must be larger than the vegetables available to the professionals, or their perception of large (small or medium) is very different than mine. I purchased the amount listed in the recipe and as you can see I have two half-sheet pans (I chose to roast, rather than steam them) of chopped vegetables. This would easily make eight to ten papooses. The recipe states this will serve four. This could be why it wasn't as tasty as I had hoped. The ratios being way off. Yes I did up the flavorings - apparently not enough though.

After cutting the stalks from the chard you steam the leaves until tender. Just soft enough so that you can roll them up without breaking.

You need to remove the center vein in order to roll the leaf. The veins are minced and added to the filling.

I am not a fan of dill so I substituted thyme.

Can't get much healthier!

Minimax: Nutrition information if made according to the recipe.
(Source: The book)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WW: Stir-Fried Garlic Eggplant with Pork

Wok Wednesdays wokking thru Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

I get such a kick out of going to the meat market and asking for only two ounces of pork. The last time, the butcher joked that he felt we were conducting a drug deal with the package being so small. This time when I asked for two ounces, the gentleman repeated my order "two pounds ground pork". "No, two ounces." "Ounces?" "Yes please. I know it's not much.." "No problem, we will give you any amount you need."

I should probably just buy a pound of pork and freeze it in two ounce increments; but then I would miss out on the butcher's reactions to my order.

It was a good thing we went to the Farmer's Market on Sunday for my grocery did not have the Asian eggplant. I thought I only needed two eggplants, the recipe calls for three, so I was one short but the dish turned out perfect anyway.

I have never been a fan of eggplant. I would avoid recipes that called for it and was going to pass on this recipe as well. What made me decide to just go for it, is I have loved just about every recipe we have made so far from this book - and boy am I glad I did. This is fabulous!!

Success Meter (1-3): 3!!!

Partially cooked pork.

This is so good I'm thinking I can cut the eggplant smaller
or even purée it and serve it à la bruschetta style!

My husband & I both agree the eggplant dish
was far better than the steak!

You will not find the recipe here on my blog or within the Wok Wednesdays community. We encourage readers to go and purchase this book at their local independent bookstore or on-line.

Make sure to visit my co-wokkers to see their results on this stir-fry.
Look for the LYL link on the Wok Wednesdays page.

Visit Wok Wednesdays on Facebook!