Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WW: Chinese Cuban Fried Rice

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

This one was  l o v e d  by all!

Andy & I had it as a side to our grilled chicken, and thought it was delicious! Yes, there was even some leftover. Unbelievable, but one must pace themselves.

Our daughter was coming over the next morning for breakfast, some shopping, and an afternoon bike ride. We had a fun, fun, day! My plan was to send the leftovers home for her and her boyfriend. However, after a bike ride, we are usually pretty hungry. I mentioned she could have some of the rice. Well, she liked it so much, and the fact she was famished, she ate it all in one sitting. Sorry, Jake - she did ask for the recipe. :)

My sister, who recently bought a wok and SFTSE, made this as well (with regular soy sauce), and thought it was fabulous! Her son, whom is a somewhat finicky, OK, is a finicky eater, enjoyed it as well.

For fried rice, you need to plan a little bit ahead. The secret to successful fried rice is using day old cold rice; also, when you make your rice, you want to rinse it (before cooking) until the water runs clear (three to four rinses) to remove the starch.

If you are like me, and want to make this on the spot, and do not have any leftover rice in the refrigerator, you can do as I did. I made my rice, spread the cooked rice out onto a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment (makes it easy to pick up and funnel it into a bowl), and placed it in the freezer for about ten minutes. I then placed it in a bowl, and into the fridge until I was ready to start my stir-fry. Worked like a charm!

 You want to fluff the rice after cooling, using a fork, to separate the grains of rice.

While I was waiting for my husband to get home to start cooking, I placed the bean sprouts and shrimp in the refrigerator until needed. I did not realize until I tossed them into the wok, that the shrimp had released a lot of water (they were partially frozen). So-not-good for stir-frying! I removed the wok from the flame, and as quick as I could, took a large wad of paper towels, and using tongs to hold the towels, soaked up the liquid. This seemed to do the trick - all was well in the end.

You can't get much simpler than this recipe; just a few ingredients, with minimum of prep, and maybe, five minutes cook-time. 

Mise in place.

Bowl 1: Onion

Bowl 2: Bean sprouts, bay shrimp

Bowl 3: Cold rice

Bowl 4: Dark soy sauce

Bowl 5: Scallions

Bowl 6: Salt

Amazing that so few ingredients, can taste so good.

It was a good meal..

We are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 264 of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed. 

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

TWD: Chocolate-Mascarpone Cheesecake

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: David Ogonowski

Chocolate-Mascarpone Cheesecake. Sound and look decadent? It is.

Made with cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, sour cream and chocolate. Good thing I was able to ride a couple of extra days this week!

Every time I make a cheesecake (not all that often, but when I do..) I am always nervous as to when to take it out. The baked cake is supposed to be somewhat "jiggly" when pulled from the oven, and firms up as it cools, but just how jiggly? I usually trust my "scent-o-meter" when it comes to baking. And my nose was telling me it was done, though it was like really jiggly at the time specified (50 - 60 minutes) in the recipe. A quick Google search told me most cheesecakes take up to one hour fifteen, to an hour and a half. Mine baked for about an hour twenty before I felt confident in taking it out.

Oh, David.. your recipe needs a little tweeking:
One: The cookie crumb bottom. Seriously? You want me to invert the cake onto a cutting board (after baking, obviously) and press the crumbs into the bottom of the cake, then upright it? Why? So much easier to make your typical cheesecake crust and pour the filling over it (this is what I did). And wouldn't inverting the cake maybe damage the top? (I'm interested to see what route the other bakers in our group took.)

Two: Speaking of the top. You say to bake the cake until the top is dry and a little blistery. And you want it to be served this way? No embellishments on top to hide the unattractive, dull looking top? No wonder there was no picture of the cake in the book.
I took the initiative to adorn the cake with a chocolate ganache, not only was it way more attractive, it was delicious, as I'm sure it would be without it; but, we do feast with our eyes first, do we not?

I saved a slice for my husband and me, and sent the rest with my sister for her to take into work. She texted me this message the next day:

David, David, David. What were you thinking? You want me to serve this decadent sounding dessert looking like this? Undressed? Maybe you were thinking that looks can be deceiving - and wanting to prove a point. Well, I was not about to go that route - I have a reputation to uphold (especially when it comes to chocolate desserts).
What to do, what to do...

 Oooh, a marbled cheesecake would have been pretty!

I decided on a dark chocolate ganache glaze for the top; I also felt there needed to be something on the side of the cake. I was thinking little lace hearts would be perfect! However, the mini lace hearts were not working out for me (I only gave it one try - just was not into it when the time came to get it done). I did make a few larger hearts and ended up using one of those on top of the cake. If I had known that I would not have had any garnishment on the side of the cake, I would have let the glaze drip down the side - that would have been pretty too - even a chocolate lace border.. oh well, another day.

 Amazing how different the lighting is when you move from the corner of the room to the center.

This picture best reflects the true color of the cheesecake.

This is a fairly quick cheesecake to make, but it does require an overnight chill - so plan on making this a day before you want to serve it.

The finished cake can be stored up to four days in the refrigerator - so nice to finally have a recipe from this book that lasts longer than a day!

I read a fellow baker had success with a gluten-free version, check out the post over at Oven Chaos.

This post participates in Tuesdays with Dorie. Click here for the links of all the talented bakers of our group, to see how they fared with this recipe.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

TWD: Onion Bialys

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Lauren Groveman

The bialy (pronounced bee-ah-lee), is similar, yet different than the bagel, and originated in Bialystok, Poland. The bialy does not have the hole in the center like a bagel, but is stretched very thin in the middle with the edges rising above to leave an indentation to hold an onion and poppy seed mixture; whereas bagels are boiled before baking, the bialy is not, it goes straight to the oven.

When I pulled them out of the oven I was disappointed at first, at how brown they were. I knew I should have pulled them out when my olfactory (sense of smell) alarm went off (my sister comes up with the best words :)). I thought they were going to be rock hard. But once I cut into one, and had that first bite, all was well.

They may have been a shade darker than I liked, but they were so wonderfully soft and delicious, not as hard and chewy as bagels.

You can put sautéed onions on anything, and I would probably eat it. I only wish there was more surface room for the onions - well, there was quite a bit, but after baking, the indentation shrunk. A lot.

The dough itself also has sautéed onions mixed in, however they were not very discernible. I would add more next time, along with extra on the outside.
These were fun to make; I can see myself making them again (with extra onions of course). It took only about four hours from start to finish. Not bad for a yeast bread! Some can take a full day or two. They really are best the day they are baked - like most baked goods are. The next day they had a staleness to them. However, once toasted they had a new and deliciously different life.

The only issue with slicing them in half to toast, is the filling falls out. Once removed from the toaster, I replaced the onion mixture that fell out - spread it out over the entire surface, then topped it with a poached egg. Yumm!

I still have six more balls of dough in the freezer. I used all of the onion mixture (I love sautéed onions..) on the first batch. So when I make the rest, I'm going to not only fill the middle with the onions, but press some onto the edges as well.

You don't want to brown the onions too much - they will brown more when baked.

Mmm, can't wait..

Oops. No more onion filling for the rest of the rolls. I couldn't imagine using less.

Where did the indentation go? 
I stretched the center really thin, and pricked the hell out of it. I'm not familiar with bialys - maybe this is how they are supposed to be?

Do make sure to check out my fellow (and amazing) cohorts results. You can find there links over at the TWD website, look for the link LYL: Onion Bialys.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

WW: Sichuan Pork with Peppers and Peanuts

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

I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to my Wok Wednesdays' posts.. but what can I say? Grace's recipes are fabulous! Even when errors and substitutions are made.

Get the book already, and a wok!

This recipe was delicious, even with my substitution and error - as for the substitution, the recipe calls for chili bean sauce - I have too many open jars of "hot" sauces in my refrigerator, so I refused to buy yet another, as tempting as it was; I subbed hunan red chili sauce (a favorite of mine) and added some fermented black beans (about one tablespoon) - some I mashed, and some I left whole.

As for the error.. the recipe calls for one tablespoon egg white (to tenderize the meat); I inadvertently used one whole egg white, so I had a bit of scrambled egg added to my dish. Being I have not had this dish before, I have nothing to compare it to - and I have to say, it still turned out perfect in by book.

This recipe (so far), I think is Andy's favorite - he really liked it a lot. He even said, "We can have this again - oh wait, I am going to have this again - leftovers tomorrow for lunch!" :)

I served this delicious stir-fry along with brown rice made with vegetable broth, and roasted Brussels sprouts - drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar just before serving.

The recipe calls for lean pork shoulder or butt. As you can see, I had a whole lotta fat to cut off - not so lean. Good thing I just sharpened my knife - made for an easy task.

I asked my butcher for pork butt or shoulder - I was given boneless ribs - he assured me they were the same.

I got to thinking, well, my ribs are in between my butt and shoulder, so I did get either? Hmmm.. Time for a Google search! I found this information on Chow:

Q: "Are Country style ribs the same as pork shoulder, or what are they?"

A: "The North American Meat Processors Association says that country style ribs "shall be prepared from the blade end of a bone-in pork loin, and shall include not less the three ribs, and no more than some additional technical cutting jargon....These are "true" CS ribs.....
Also, you will see another "Country Style Rib" in your grocer’s meat case. These are cut from the shoulder...specifically the butt portion....Obviously they are not "ribs" at all...they are just pork butt sliced/cut into strips...Once long ago in my area these "ribs" were labeled as "Western Style Ribs" to differentiate from true "Country Style"...Some/a few small independent retailers (in my area) still use the Western Style Rib labeling on those "ribs" from the shoulder/butt
Truth in Labeling suggest that somewhere on the package the exact location of where the meat comes from should be stated...In this case....Pork Shoulder, Butt or Loin....Often times this appears in small print, or in bold print as part of the labeling...PORK LOIN COUNTRY STYLE RIBS, Or COUNTRY STYLE small print somewhere else on the label...Pork shoulder....Then again not all retailers comply...."

I am not hip on the different cuts of meat - all I can do is trust my butcher.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Red onion, garlic

Bowl 2: Pork in marinade

Bowl 3: Hunan Red Chili Sauce with added fermented beans (Recipe calls for chili bean sauce.)

Bowl 4: Red bell pepper

Bowl 5: Salt & pepper (Recipe calls for white pepper.)

Bowl 6: Soy sauce, vinegar, dry sherry

Bowl 7: Roasted, unsalted peanuts

We are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 95 of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed. 

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!


Monday, February 3, 2014

Book 110: Blue Ginger | Beef and Shiitake Stew with Garlic Mashers

by Ming Tsai

I became familiar with Ming Tsai, from watching the Food Network station which I watched on a daily basis, until they went rogue on me.

Now a days, it seems they are either traveling from restaurant to restaurant, having showdowns, food wars, or crazy competitions. Not my thing. I prefer to watch and learn from the cooks working their magic in their kitchens, like Ming's show, East Meets West, which unfortunately no longer airs. I cannot remember the last time I tuned into the FN. I used to love that show.

I had Ming's book on my counter for a week or so, several pages bookmarked from long ago. I finally decided on this recipe for it simplicity, and the fact I actually had the hard to find ingredients (fermented black beans and dark soy sauce  - not available at your local Safeway) on hand, thanks to being a member of the Wok Wednesdays cooking group, where we are stir-frying our way through Grace Young's book, Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.

Another plus to making this recipe, I was able to use up the heavy cream I had, being I forgot to add it to this recipe.

This was an easy dinner to throw together - and perfect timing. We have been having beautiful spring-like weather this winter (in a midst of a drought, unfortunately) until this weekend. The temps have dropped considerably - we actually had snow on our local mountain, which is only 3800+ ft. in elevation.

Ming even notes in the book that this is "hearty cold-weather fare". 

The recipe calls for hanger or skirt steak. I had flank steak in the freezer and used that. Flank steak does not have as much fat as skirt steak. This, I am sure is why my meat had a bit of a "chew" to it. I wouldn't go as far as to say it was tough, just chewier than I expected it to be. I also added about a third of a red bell pepper I had sitting in the fridge.


After browning the meat, and sautéing the vegetables you add enough water to cover, and cook for about two hours, until the meat is tender. Next time I would add less water, I like my stews to be more gravy-like, this was a tad on the watery side.


This does make for great cold-weather comfort food, and was just as tasty, if not more so, the next day when I had it for lunch. 

You will find the recipe on page 156 of Blue Ginger, or click here to be directed to the Food Network site.