Saturday, December 1, 2007
At first glance, Julie & Julia has a pretty simple premise. The author set out to cook every recipe in Julia Child's famous tome Mastering the Art of French Cooking. If that's all the book was about, it would still be worth reading. Powell is an engaging writer, and yhe book reads a lot like the blog it began as. Powell has a way with descriptions that draw the reader into the kitchen as she prepares Child's dishes. The sheer effort involved in many of the complex recipes make for funny reading. Powell's description of the attempts to remove marrow from bones is both grotesque and hilarious (let's just say it involves a hacksaw).
Beyond the simple cooking story, the deeper tale here is of a woman finding herself. Powell begins as a disgruntled secretary who is a temp just because she can't commit to a permanent position. Taking on cooking ever recipe in Mastering pushes her to a commitment that is both unexpectedly stressful and ultimately exactly what she needs. Her journey is funny and inspiring.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
It's turned cold in Chicago and I've been making a lot of soups. This one is a favorite. It's hot, garlicky, and cheesy. It's perfect when you're feeling under the weather.
Tortellini and Spinach Soup
2 Tbs. butter
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 box chicken broth
6-8 oz. cheese tortellini (dried or fresh)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 bag baby spinach
10-12 basil leaves, roughly chopped
Melt butter in large pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant--1-2 minutes. Add chicken broth and raise heat to bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook for 1/2 of the cooking time listed on the package (about 5-6 minutes for the dried). Add the tomatoes with their juice. Reduce to a simmer and cook until pasta is just tender. Stir in the spinach and basil and cook until wilted. Serve topped with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
This recipe is adapted from my favorite ever Cooking Light issue (November 2001).
Sunday, November 4, 2007
1760 W. Sunnyside
I've always loved wood-fired oven pizzas. One of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta was Fritti, which creates delicious wood oven pizzas. Chicago, of course, is known for its own Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Sorry, but I'm not a big fan. It's too much. Too much crust. Too much sauce. Way too much cheese.
Recently, I read in Chicago Magazine about a new wood-oven place called Coalfire. We decided to go there for our anniversary. However, when, the day arrived we had second thoughts about taking half the day to go downtown. After doing some research, we discovered a place called Spacca Napoli, which actually got better reviews than Coalfire and which was more conveniently located in Ravenswood--and promised easy street parking!
We were highly pleased with our choice. Spacca Napoli was divine. We started with the house salad, a lovely mix of fresh greens with cherry tomatoes and pit-in olives. It was drizzled with a nicely sweet/tart balsamic vinaigrette and served with flavorful bread.
For the pizza, I chose the classic margherita and Jon chose the Funghi e Salsiccia. Both came out perfectly crisp with blackened spots around the edges and a slightly wet center. Perfect for this type of pizza.
Because it's such a simple combination, the ingredients for a margherita--cheese, sauce, basil--must be top notch. These clearly were. If there's any criticism, it's that it could have used a bit more basil. There was nothing to criticize about Jon's sausage and mushroom pie. The sausage was amazing--tender and perfectly seasoned. This was some of the best pizza I've ever had and we will surely return often.
Three Bean Chili
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef (I like ground sirloin)
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbs. dried oregano
1/2 Tbs. salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
3 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed (You can used diced, but I like being able to control the quality)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. chili powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small bag frozen whole kernel corn
Brown the ground beef and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the vegetables (including the canned peppers) and stir in, cumin, oregano, and salt.
Add the tomatoes, chili powder and pepper. Stir in the all the beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, add the cooked beef and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in the corn, and continue cooking 5 minutes before serving.
This recipe adapted from "The Best Vegetarian Chili in the World" from allrecipes.com.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Hopefully, at this point, maybe you trust me a little? This dish is delicious--sweet, salty and spicy. Really good. And it's versatile--I've made it with both chicken and shrimp. The downside? While cooking, it stinks. Blame it on the fish sauce, an Asian staple of liquefied anchovies and water. Fish sauce can be found in the Asian food aisle of most supermarkets. It smells like, well, feet, but it's also great because it adds a depth of earthy saltiness to Asian dishes. So there's the full disclosure. Now just trust me and try it.
Spicy Caramelized Chicken (adopted from Quick and Easy Vietnamese--serves 2)
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks (You want to keep it large so it doesn't overcook.)
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 Tbs. minced garlic
3 Tbs. minced fresh ginger (I have substituted ginger powder. It works, but it's not as fresh tasting.)
2 Tbs. finely chopped shallots or onion
3 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (This makes it spicy. Use less if you prefer.)
1/4 cup water
Heat oil over med-high heat until hot. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Push chicken to sides of pan. Add garlic, shallots, and ginger to center and stir fry 1 minute. Stir in with chicken. Add sugar, fish sauce, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Stir in and bring to boil. Add water, stir, and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the sauce is thick and coats the chicken (approx. 10 minutes), stirring frequently. Serve over rice.
Shrimp Variation (in picture):
Begin with the garlic, shallots, and ginger and continue to cook the sauce until it is almost thick (7-8 minutes). Add a pound of shrimp and stir into sauce until cooked through.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
I've loved Barbara Kingsolver since I read the The Bean Trees in college. Couple that with the fact that her latest work is about food, plus the fact that it takes place where I'm originally from, and, well, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life was irresistible.
Animal is part journal, part lesson, part cookbook. I enjoyed all three parts.
As the title suggests, the book traces a year of growing food. Kingsolver and her family committed to a year living on only in-season food that they produced themselves or that they buy from local resources. Kingsolver shares both funny (squash takes over the house at one point) and somber (rooster harvest day) of home food production. The author's husband, Steven Hopp, an environmental studies professor at the college I attended, inserts brief lessons on mass food production pitfalls and problems. Daughter Camille adds personal anecdotes and recipes. (Daughter Lily is too young to participate but is a source of amusement in several places.)
Kingsolver strongly, and perhaps somewhat unfairly, condemns all industrial agriculture. While she doesn't suggest that everyone commit to the same regime with which her family experimented (indeed, she occasionally looks forward to the possibility of buying out-of-season foods), she does argue for the consumption of organic produce and free-range meats. She dismissively fails to deal in a real way with the fact that organic and free-range foods are often not financially (or geographically) accessible.
Despite these shortcomings, I highly recommend Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. First, because it is a delightful and informative read. And second, because, even if we don't adopt Kingsolver's food beliefs, we should be more aware of what and how we eat.
Check out the book here: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Friday, September 28, 2007
Sometimes the appetizers are the best part of the meal. So why not make them the meal?
Note: The amounts in this recipe make double what you will need to fill a package of wonton ton wrappers if you make both kinds of filling. Both freeze well.
1/2 package of wonton wrappers
1 package cream cheese
1/2 package imitation crab, coarsely chopped (honestly, I'm still weirded out by imitation crab, but I can't justify real crab in this cheesy fried recipe.
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 scallions, finely chopped
ground black pepper to taste
oil to deep fry
Mix all ingredients well. Heat oil in deep pan. To fill the wonton wrappers, I like to make a sort of assemble line. Spread the wonton wrappers on a clean, DRY cutting board or counter. Place a tiny (1/2 to 3/4 tsp.) amount of filling in the center of each wrapper. From a small bowl, dampen a fingertip and use it to wet the edges of the wrapper. Close the wrapper to form a triangle. Dampen the two corners and fold in to form a envelope shape. Once all the rangoon are made and the oil is hot, fry in batches and drain on paper towels.
I've tried several recipes and my favorite is from Alton Brown:
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons ketchup
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
35 to 40 small wonton wrappers (I use half this when I'm also making the crab rangoon.)
Water, for sealing wontons 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/3 cups chicken stock, divided
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Combine the first 11 ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl (pork through cayenne). Set aside. To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush 2 of the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Place 1/2 rounded teaspoon of the pork mixture in the center of the wrapper. Fold over, seal edges, and shape as desired. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all (or half if applicable) of the filling is gone.
Note: I don't bother with covering anything with a damp towel and I haven't had a problem with drying out. As with the rangoons, I fill a batch of wrappers, then dampen and seal them all as this seems faster. To shape them, I fold into a triangle, then crimp in the middle of the triangle sides.
Heat a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil once hot. Add 8 to 10 potstickers at a time to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, without touching. Once the 2 minutes are up, gently add 1/3 cup chicken stock to the pan, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove wontons to a heatproof platter and place in the warm oven. Clean the pan in between batches by pouring in water and allowing the pan to deglaze. Repeat until all the wontons are cooked. Serve immediately.
The recipe can be found here: Alton Brown's Perfect Potstickers.
I use this dipping sauce from allrecipes.com for both appetizers:
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbs. ketchup
2 Tbs. cornstarch (I use 1 Tbs, because I like it a little thinner.)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil stirring until it begins to thicken.
I like a little heat, so after the sauce it boiled, I add a little Chinese Hot Mustard.
The recipe can be found here: Sweet and Sour Sauce.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Before moving to Chicago to go to law school, I lived for two years in Atlanta. Among the many things I loved about Atlanta, the food scene was top of the list.
My favorite restaurant is Surin of Thailand. A small, sparsely elegant restaurant in the Virginia-Highlands section, Surin dazzles with its clean, bright Asian flavors. It's impossible to choose between the Fresh Basil Rolls and Surin Baskets appetizers. The Basil Rolls perfectly blend the flavors of tender pork and shrimp with the crunch of bean sprouts and the freshness of sweet basil. The Surin baskets are a lovely crunch filled with shrimp, ground chicken and sweet corn. Order both.
I don't think I ever tried a dish at Surin that I didn't love. The chicken curry is a balanced mix of earth and sweet and the Spicy Basil Leaves is the perfect level of spice.
My other favorite Atlanta restaurant is The Flying Biscuit Cafe. The Flying Biscuit has opened additional restaurants, but the original location is in Candler Park. It's tiny space with an adorable sunflower mural in one room. The menu is full of fresh, unique dishes. The Flying Biscuit improves on classic Southern fried green tomatoes with a sweet and spicy cashew and jalapeno relish. And of course, if a restaurant is going to calling itself The Flying Biscuit, the biscuits better be outstanding. They are. Light, fluffy, and just a touch sweet, they're divine.
My favorite dish is the somewhat cutesy named Love Cakes. They are earthy and spicy and complimented by the tang of the Green Salsa and feta cheese. The Flying Biscuit is generous to share the recipe on its website (click here) but I've pasted it below (and noted substitutions) for convenience:
2 (15 ounce) cans cooked black beans
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup masa de harina (This is a fine corn meal, usually found in the Latin foods section)
1/2 cup Green Salsa (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup slivered red onions
Rinse and drain black beans in a sieve.
In a small sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, cumin, and salt until onions are translucent. Place drained beans and onion mixture in a bowl and mash with a potato masher until well combined.
Gradually add masa, allowing mixture to absorb it before adding more. Test dough by rolling it in the palm of your hand. Keep adding masa until dough doesn't stick to your hand and holds the shape of a ball.
Divide dough into 16 small balls and flatten into cakes. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Saute cakes until lightly browned on each side, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.
Top with Green Salsa, feta cheese, and slivered red onions.
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 serrano peppers, stemmed and seeded (I substitute 1 jalapeno is serrano peppers aren't available)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (I use black pepper)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Peel the husks off the tomatillos. Place them in a roasting pan with the onion, garlic, and Serrano peppers. Roast for 25 to 35 minutes. The tomatillos will break down and become juicy. Remove form oven and cool.
Place the roasted ingredients in a food processor and puree. Season with salt, white pepper, and cilantro. Chill until ready to serve.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Of the many Food Network shows that seem only less about cooking and more about the personality of the celebrity chef, Throwdown with Bobby Flay is one of the most enjoyable. I was a little...eh..about Flay for a long time. On Boy Meets Grill, he comes off too swaggering and cocky (without the humor of an Anthony Bourdain). So I was surprised and curious when I learned the premise of Throwdown. Flay, known for his southwestern-inspired cuisine, "challenges" a local expert and competes with a version of the local's dish.
Flay, with all his swagger, is really set up to fail. There's no real chance, for example, that he's going to beat a professional wedding cake baker. Yet, he throws himself into each challenge and often comes up with dishes that may not be the best (especially given that the judges seem to expect the classic taste), but are quite inventive. So here's to Bobby Flay.
Last night's Throwdown featured the muffaletta. The muffaletta is a New Orleans classic sandwich. It's essentially an Italian sub with a delicious olive salad topping. If you don't like olives, this isn't for you. If you do, it's simply divine. I wanted one. Since the Food Network site didn't provide a recipe, I made mine.
1 round bread loaf (I like sourdough)
3/4 lb. assorted deli meat (I use 1/4 lb. each ham, genoa salame, proscuitto)
1/4 lb. mild cheese (I use provolone)
Slice the bread loaf in half horizontally and scoop out a bit of the middle to make room for the tasty fillings. Layer the meats on the bottom half and top with the cheese.
1/2 cup Spanish olives
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
Half a stalk of celery, minced.
1 shallot, minced
1 1/2 Tbs. carrots, minced
1 1/2 Tbs. cauliflower, minced (I've omitted this with little notice)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients and mix well.
Pile the olive salad in the inside of top of the bread loaf. Carefully close the sandwich. Place in 350 degree oven to heat the meat and melt the cheese.
Note: This recipe was originally inspired by Emeril Lagasse's Muffaletta Sandwich on Sourdough Bread. However, I've made a number of changes based on recipe about the classic muffaletta.
Note2: I apologize for the weird font. I've tried numerous fixes without luck.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
We were finally seated in the "lower level" (i.e. the basement), which was sparsely decorated but comfortable. As to the rest of the restaurant, my impression was of masses of people. I couldn't even begin to describe the decor.
The food was good. The tamales were tender. The mole was bold. The ceviche was outstanding. Service was decent, but not what I would have expected from a renowned restaurant. Refills were slow and there was not much follow up.
Overall, I'm glad that I experienced Frontera Grill but I'm not sure I'd return. While I enjoyed the food, I'm not convinced it was worth the fairly pricey bill (Around $50 a person including dessert and excluding alcohol) and I am convinced that it wasn't worth the wait and the crowd.
So if you want to experience the taste of Frontera Grill but aren't near Chicago or just don't want a 2 hour wait for a table, check out the line of Frontera Grill products. Pictured above is the Sausage and Roasted Pepper selection of the Stone Fired Pizza line. The stone-fired crust is crisp. The organic chicken chorizo sausage is delicately spicy and perfectly complements the earthiness of the roasted green peppers and red onions. It's terrific.
Also delicious is the Frontera Classic Salsas. I favor the Chipotle Salsa with its smoky heat and hint of roasted garlic.
Information on both Frontera Grill the restaurant and the products can be found here.
I love this dish. It's warm and soothing and comforting. The original recipe is courtesy of the Food Network's Sarah Moulton back when she had an engaging show called Cooking Live, rather than the tragic exercise in boredom she currently hosts.
You're first reaction is going to be "What? Browned broccoli? That'll taste burnt." Trust me--it won't. It will taste earthy, garlicky, spicy and delicious.
Spicy Broccoli Pasta
1 bunch of broccoli, trimmed into bite-sized pieces
4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped (adjust to taste)
1 box of chicken stock
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 box angel hair pasta, cooked (note: I like to drain the pasta just before it is al dente because it will cook as the dish finishes)
3 Tbs. Parmesan cheese
In a large pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium high heat until it is ready to smoke but is not smoking. Add the broccoli and toss to coat in oil then leave it alone. Allow to cook 1-2 mins. until it is golden brown on the bottom. Stir, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and continue to cook until the broccoli is done to the tender-crisp doneness of your liking, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is beginning to golden, approx 1 minute (do not overcook). Add the chicken stock, raise heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and finish cooking until it is al dente. Stir in the cheese.
Modifications: The above recipe is the best, but if I'm in a hurry or don't have fresh broccoli on hand, I'll make the dish by sauteing the garlic and pepper flakes, adding the stock, cooking the pasta in the stock and throwing in some frozen broccoli at the end.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
We had our first dinner guest in our new apartment a couple of weeks ago to obsess over...er, I mean discuss...the final Harry Potter book.
We met after work so I wanted to put together a mean that was fast but impressive. Roasted chicken is my go-to meal when I want impressive. This recipe from an old Fine Cooking is the best I've found. The best part is that it's also the easiest.
The night or morning before you plan to cook the bird, combine the salt, thyme and pepper. Prepare the chicken by removing the giblets and washing and patting drying. Place chicken in a roasting rack. Rub the salt/thyme/pepper mixture all over the chicken. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, until ready to cook.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While it preheats, stuff the bird with the reserved thyme stems, lemon and garlic gloves.
Bake the chicken until a thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 170 degrees. Every 15 mins. while cooking, baste the chicken. At first you will have to use the butter but soon the chicken will create juice and you can baste with that.
Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 mins. before carving so that the juices stay with the meat.
I served the chicken with roasted asparagus and these potatoes. They were delicious and I'm not even a big potato lover. The only substitution I made was to use any red potatoes. I wanted a bit of cover.
A nice bottle of Riesling and some good Harry Potter conservation completed a great meal.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
A couple of weeks ago, I visited a restaurant that changed my mind. It's called Pita Inn. I visited the one in Skokie, but there are branches in Glenview and Wheeling too. I had the Vegetarian Falalel Platter. Six of the most tender, perfectly seasoned falafel patties I've ever had, accompanied by 2 fluffy, light homemade pitas and lettuce salad, hot sauce and tahini sauce. Price? $3.95. It's insane. If you're in the Chicago area, you must go. And while you're there don't try to resist the perfectly sweet and crisp bakclawa. At $0.95, why would you want to?
Martha Stewart may be the most hated of the celebrity lifestyle gurus. For me, that honor goes to Sandra Lee, queen of things semi-homemade and wholly-repulsive. I understand the Martha mockery. She's prissy and, well, is there something above Type A+? But I don't care. Martha makes great food. And frankly, if I had the time (and patience) I might even try some cute Martha crafty project.
But since I sadly have to work for a living, for now I'll stick with Martha's fabulous Caesar Salad. Honestly, it's rare--very rare--that I make recipes and don't tweak them in some way. I did try some changes, but I keep coming back to the original. Martha made it perfect. Shocking, right?
Let's talk frankly about ingredients here. This salad is a real Caesar. That means raw egg yolk and anchovies. There's some risk in raw egg, of course. But if you are healthy and the eggs are fresh, it should be minimal. I've been eating this salad for years and have never had a problem. If you are concerned, Martha says (and Martha's never wrong) that you can substitute mayo. Now about the anchovies. Lots of people hate them; few of those have ever tried them. They aren't fishy. They just add a nice background flavor. Food is about adventure--give it a try.
MARTHA STEWART CAESAR SALAD
Serves 4 to 6.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 eight-to ten ounce loaf rustic Italian bread, crusts removed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic
4 anchovy fillets
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 ten-ounce heads romaine lettuce, outer leaves discarded, inner leaves washed and dried
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, or 2 1/2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
Make the croutons: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine butter and olive oil in a large bowl. Add bread cubes, and toss until coated. Sprinkle salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper; toss until evenly coated. Spread bread in a single layer on an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet. Bake until croutons are golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside until needed.
Make the salad: Place garlic, anchovy fillets, and salt in a large wooden salad bowl. Using two dinner forks, mash garlic and anchovies into a paste.
Using one fork, whisk in pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and egg yolk
Using the fork, whisk in the olive oil.
Chop romaine leaves into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces. Add croutons, romaine, and cheese to the bowl, and toss well. If you wish, grate extra cheese over the top. Serve immediately. To make a version of this dressing that you can store, simply mince garlic and anchovies, and place with remaining ingredients in a jar. Screw the lid on the jar tightly, and shake to combine. Shake the jar before each use. Store, refrigerated, for up to 4 days.
The recipe can be found on Martha Stewart Living here.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Jon and I have been trying to curb our dining out :( So I wanted to find some Asian recipes because I love Asian food but have never cooked it. I knew that I would miss it if I couldn't find a way to duplicate it at home and our goal would go out the window with the carvings. I found lots of egg roll recipes online and combined and adopted them to our tastes and came up with this:
Large egg roll wrappers
Peanut oil for frying
1 lb. ground pork
3 cups shredded green cabbage
1-2 cups diced carrots
1 cup diced onion
2 Tbs. low sodium soy sauce
garlic powder to taste
ground ginger to taste.
Brown the pork in a bit of vegetable oil over medium heat. Remove from pan. Add a bit more oil to the pan and the carrots and onion. Saute for a couple of minutes, and then add the cabbage (the cabbage cooks faster and you want it to be more tender-crisp). Saute until tender. Add the pork back to the pan. Add the soy sauce and garlic and ginger and mix well. Set mixture aside to cool. (Note: this mixture can be made well ahead. The cooler the mixture is when you fill the rolls, the better because hot mixture will make the wrapper weak and hard to handle.)
Heat approximately 1 inch of peanut oil over medical high heat in a small, high-sided, heavy pan. (I use a very small iron skillet; a deep fryer would be perfect.) While it heats, prepare the egg rolls. I lay several wrappers on a clean DRY surface. Spoon a small portion of the filling into each wrapper in a line in the center (do not overfill--I estimate 2-3 Tbs.). Fold one long corner of the wrapper over the filling. Fold both short corners in. Use your finger to rub a little water on the remaining corner (this makes it stick). Gently roll the part with the filling over onto the long side to close and seal the egg roll. Repeat.
When the oil is hot (test by dropping a tiny piece of wrapper in--it should bubble and rise to the surface immediately), gentle place rolls into it and fry (turning if necessary) until golden brown. (This process will depend on what you are frying in. My small skillet fits 2 rolls and I have to turn them. The key is not to put in too many rolls at once because the temperature of the oil will drop and the rolls will be greasy rather than cripsy.) Drain on paper towels.
I know that this seems like a lot of steps, but it's surprisingly easy and quick.
I like to serve these with this this sweet and sour sauce I found on allrecipes.
Friday, July 13, 2007
I tossed the asparagus with extra virgin olive oil and roasted it at 450 until tender-crisp. While the asparagus roasted, I sautéed diced pancetta until golden and crisp. I combined the asparagus and pancetta and served it over rice drizzled with a little evoo and dusted the whole dish with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Dishes don’t get much simpler than this one, but there’s something delicious about the asparagus, pancetta, and cheese combination.
Mince 4-5 cloves of garlic. Combine approximately 1 clove with 6-8 medium shrimp. Sprinkle liberally with red pepper flakes. Add the juice of half a lemon and extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat.
While the shrimp are marinating, cook the pasta. We've recently switched to whole wheat pasta. I have to say that this is the first dish I didn't like it in.
When the pasta is a few minutes from done, heat some evoo in a saute pan over medium and add 3-4 anchovy fillets. Cook until they melt. (You can omit the anchovies but they give the dish great flavor and is not at all fishy). Add the rest of the garlic and more red pepper flacks and saute until garlic starts getting tender. Add the shrimp and cook until done. Do not overcook! Add the pasta and toss with a little extra lemon juice.
I really like to add some chopped fresh parsley at the eat but alas I had none.
Monday, July 9, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine warm water and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until blended. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead dough until elastic (7-8 minutes) adding remaining flour, a little at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise about 45 minutes. While dough rises, prepare topping.
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
Saute the pancetta and thyme over medium heat until pancetta is just crisp. Remove from heat and add garlic, salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 475°.
Punch dough down, re-cover and let rest it 5 minutes. Roll out dough and spread topping evenly it. Arrange the asparagus over topping; sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake at 475° for 10 minutes or until crust is golden. Top with the slivers of Parmesan.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Rosemary Pork Chops, Fried Green Tomatoes, Garlic Parmesan Spaghetti Squash
For the pork chops, I did a very simple preparation. I chopped some fresh rosemary and garlics. I rubbed that and a little EVOO on the pork and put it in the fridge.
In the meantime, I cut the ends off the squash, sliced it in two vertically, and scooped out the seeds. Then, I popped it on a sheet pan cut-side down and into a 400 oven for about 45 minutes until tender. After it cooled a bit, I shredded it into the "spaghetti."
While the squash roasted, I prepared the green tomatoes by slicing them fairly thin and tossing them in a mixture of 1 cup flour to 3/4 cup corn meal. As a southern girl, I've eaten my fair share of fried green tomatoes. I must admit that I still don't get them exactly right. It's frustrating. I tend to put too much oil in the skillet and that makes then soggy. Next time, I'll start with just enough veg oil to cover the bottom and get it quite hot before adding the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are in the pan, they should be salted and peppered heavily (very heavily on the pepper). When the bottom is a deep golden brown, flip and salt and pepper that side too.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Grilled Fish Tacos
3 tilapia filets (any mild fish would work)
Cajun or blackening seasoning
minced jalapeno (to taste)
4-6 6" tortillas
Liberally sprinkle the fish with blackening seasoning. Grill until opaque (approx. 3-4 minutes of the George Forman). Allow to cool for 5 mins and break up into bite size pieces. While fish is cooling, warm the tortillas in microave or oven. Top with remaining ingredients to taste. A squeeze of fresh lime is nice.
Black Bean Salsa
15 oz. can black beans
1 avocado, diced
1/4 red onion chopped
8 oz. corn (frozen or canned)
1/4 cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped (remove seeds and veins for less heat)
Combine all ingredients and top with dressing:
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste