Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Chinese Peruvian Stir-Fried Filet Mignon ~ Lomo Saltado

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

Matt Lardie and Grace Young, our incredible, amazing leaders, picked a special celebration stir-fry to mark the third year anniversary of stir-frying through this wondrous book!

I can't believe it has been three years already, and our 70th recipe (if I counted correctly) to date! It seems like we just begun.

This recipe is a bit more indulgent then past recipes we have made, and takes a bit more preparation time. But, oh so worth it!

There was one elusive ingredient for this recipe. The ají amarillo pepper. It's a sweet, hot yellow pepper, favored in Peruvian dishes.

You may be thinking what does a popular Peruvian recipe have to do with a Chinese stir-fry? Lomo Saltado was actually created by the Chinese who immigrated to Peru.

I did an online search and found a store a few cities over from me that said they carried them. However, when I arrived, they only had dried peppers or paste, and so that is what I purchased - originally.

A few days later when I was reading the recipe again, Grace mentions that Luis, the chef who showed her how to make this recipe, uses frozen peppers from a local Mexican market. She also mentioned he lived in a city that was just a hop, skip, and a jump away from me! Once again, I was on a mission.

I found a store just five minutes away from me that carried the frozen peppers! Score!

Bowl 1: Filet mignon
Bowl 2: Garlic
Bowl 3: Salt, pepper
Bowl 4: Tomatoes, red onion
Bowl 5: Soy sauce, red wine vinegar
Bowl 6: Sugar
Bowl 7: Ají amarillo peppers
Bowl 8: Cilantro
Bowl 9: Potatoes (the recipe calls for russet - I used yukon gold - I also did not peel them.)

This is a most delicious stir-fry, made with filet mignon and French fries. Yes, you read that right. Fries. It really works. Trust me. I only wish I had more fries at the end, to soak up what little sauce that was left at the bottom of the bowl. This dish is often served with rice - I thought that would be a bit much with the French fries. This on it's own was plenty.

In past recipes, we have marinated the proteins; but since we used filet mignon, it being such a tender cut of beef, there was no need to marinate it, and it came out tender and delicious.  The flavor of this stir-fry was amazing.

Thank you, Grace and Matt, for picking such a wonderful recipe to celebrate our 3rd anniversary with.

 Happy wokiversary to Matt, Grace, and to everyone in the WW family!

(I saw this beauty, swaying in the breeze outside my kitchen window, as I was waiting for my beef to sear.)

The one drawback of the frozen peppers, is that they come in a one pound bag - this recipe only called for up to a tablespoon of sliced pepper.

I did a search and found these recipes that I thought sounded quite good, where you can use up those extra peppers, if you are so inclined:

Lomo Saltado Tacos

Ají de Gallina (calls for 4 peppers!)

Papa a la Huancaína (calls for 6 peppers!)

And if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, here is a list of Peruvian ingredients, and where you can find them (if only I saw this beforehand):

Pisco Trail

We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 92, 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, May 12, 2015

TWD | Baking Chez Moi | Nutella Buttons

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking Chez Moi
by Dorie Greenspan

Nutella buttons. Mini Nutella filled cupcakes. 

I know, we just made filled cupcakes last month. However, these were chosen by popular vote.

These are made with a white cake batter (which Dorie has an interesting way of making, and too much work in my opinion), where a small amount is placed in the depressions of a mini muffin tin, then a dollop of Nutella is added, then topped with the remaining cake batter.

I swear I had mini tins...  no where to be found. I had to place the liners in a regular size muffin tin. Of course the batter stretched the cups outward and they appear to be full size cupcakes. Not nearly as cute - or bite size.

I chose to fill half with Nutella, and the other half with lemon curd.

According to the recipe, these can be served as is, or dipped in chocolate. I chose to make chocolate ganache and have a little piping fun. I even dipped one of the cakes in the melted ganache before piping more on top.

For the lemon curd filled cupcakes, I made a white chocolate ganache, which I over-heated; so suffice it to say, they did not turn out as expected; hence no photos.

I didn't care for these. The cake was too dense and dry. Even with the ganache, they were not worth the fat and calories. I ended up tossing them out. :(

We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blogs. You can find the recipe on page 188 of Baking Chez Moi.

Do check out my fellow bakers results, by clicking here for a list of their links.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Peppery Vegetarian Rice

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young.

Spicily delectable!

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Egg
Bowl 2: Ginger, red pepper flakes
Bowl 3: Carrots, mushrooms
Bowl 4: Vegetable broth
Bowl 5: Rice, scallions
Bowl 6: Pepitas (recipe called for pine nuts)
Bowl 7: Soy sauce
Bowl 8: Salt, white pepper

This recipe is actually made with brown rice, not white, which lends a nice earthy flavor, and the red pepper flakes gives it that spicy warm feeling. The recipe called for a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes to give it that peppery taste - I used a heaping quarter teaspoon, and thought it was the perfect amount. I also cooked my rice in vegetable broth rather than water, and subbed out the pine nuts for pepitas (I had them on hand). I was not shopping at the store that carries pine nuts in bulk, and did not want to buy more than I needed. The pepitas added a chewy texture, as did the brown rice.

My fried rice looks to be on the moist side. That would be because I did not read the recipe first. I'm so bad, I never really read a recipe until I'm starting to cook.

I quickly glanced at the ingredient list and saw that it called for one cup of rice. So when I was ready to make this, I went about making rice according to the package directions - not Grace's. She uses half cup less liquid, which would make for a drier rice, resulting in the grains being separated more.

I couldn't start over, for the secret to great fried rice, is using cold rice that was made the day before (though I always end up not making it till that morning... like I said, I'm so bad).

Did I say, this is delicious?!!! Hubby enjoyed this as well, and excited he was able to eat rice with chopsticks - a benefit from the stickier rice. :)
We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 256, 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.  

The recipe is also available on Grace's friend's website, Sara Moulton dot com

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, April 28, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club | April Recipes

The CCC cooking through River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall

My selections for April:

Pasta with New Potatoes, Green Beans, and Pesto
Red Cabbage, Parsnip, Orange, and Dates
Chiles Stuffed with Beans
Upside-Down Onion Tart
Celery Gratin
Click here to see the complete list of recipes offered for April.

Pasta with New Potatoes, Green Beans, and Pesto

This is a quick and easy dish to toss together any night of the week. Made even easier if you use your favorite store bought pesto as I did, rather than make your own as the recipe instructs.

I just wasn't in the mood to make my own pesto - though it's relatively easy - and maybe I should have - it may have given this dish a brighter flavor. Along with the pesto, we have green beans, new potatoes, and green olives. At serving, the pasta gets a dusting of Parmesan cheese, and if you like, drizzled with a little olive oil to finish it off.

This wasn't a favorite of mine, though it was enjoyed by Andy.  (I did not care for the pesto; I used a different brand than I normally buy.)

Red Cabbage, Parsnip, Orange, and Dates

This is one of those dishes that grows on you. You take a bite, and think, ehh, Its OK. Then after a few more bites.. you're thinking it's pretty good.

It certainly is a pretty salad.

Super simple to make too. Shred some cabbage, grate or julienne a parsnip (I used a kinpira peeler), toss with olive oil, orange juice, salt, and pepper. Top with chopped dates, supremed* (sectioned) oranges, and a sprinkling of fresh thyme. 

I preferred my second helping over the first, where I put less thyme and added some cayenne. I think the cayenne definitely brought this up a notch.

*Supreme - learned a new word today! ;)

Chiles Stuffed with Beans

These peppers are stuffed with a mixture made up of shallots, garlic, grated fresh tomato (I used petite diced canned tomatoes), canned borlotti beans, cilantro (I grabbed parsley in error, used that, plus a teaspoon of ground coriander), cumin, hot smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. I added some grated cheddar cheese to the mix, and added a bit more cheese after the peppers were stuffed.

The recipe calls for six large peppers (I swear I placed six peppers in the bag). I had two small peppers, and three medium-to-large peppers, and I barely had enough stuffing to fill the last one.

The peppers are broiled until blackened and blistering.

The peppers are peeled and seeded (the skins slip off pretty easily - for stubborn spots, take a parring knife and gently scrape off). The tops are cut off, leaving a bit of flesh to form a "lid". I find that gently running the peppers under the faucet, helps remove the seeds easily. As you can see, one of my peppers split completely open - no worries.

Stuffed and ready for the oven.

The peppers are baked for about twenty minutes, just until heated through.

The split pepper I mentioned earlier, I stuffed and left open-faced (the way I normally make stuffed peppers). I placed another pepper snuggly against it to keep it from spreading out flat.


Certainly not as attractive as the red poblanos shown in the book - however, taste trumps appearance.

I really enjoyed these. My husband thought they were a bit on the spicy side, and they were, more so the following day I thought. Maybe I should have served it with the garlicky yogurt as suggested in the book, to help cool things down a bit.

I have made a similar recipe stuffed with chicken and rice (shown above), where you leave the pepper whole, and split it down the middle to remove the seeds, and to stuff it. If you are using green peppers, I would recommend serving them open-faced for a prettier appearance, should red peppers not be available.

Upside-Down Onion Tart

Oh man. This is good. Out of the ballpark good.

Caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, puff pastry... how could it not be?

Whole onions are sliced into six or eight wedges, depending on the size of the onion, root left intact - I cut more off the root end than I probably should have. The wedges are placed in a decorative pattern over melted butter and oil, in an oven-proof pan. The onions are sprinkled with some salt and pepper (I also added a little bit of thyme), and cooked until they begin to caramelize.

The onions are then carefully turned over; not an easy task. My onions kept wanting to separate as I flipped them. This is where I knew I cut off too much of the stem end; but I really didn't want the hard stem end attached - it seems it would be unpleasant to bite into.

After all the onions have been turned over, they are allowed to caramelize on the other side, then some balsamic vinegar is drizzled over the top, and cooked just long enough for it to reduce slightly.


A round of puff pastry is placed over the cooked onions and baked until puffed and golden, then inverted onto a serving platter.

My most delicious tart looks a little misshapen. For some reason my puff pastry kept wanting to shrink down to more of a rectangular shape. So after placing it on top of the onions, I filled in two spots with extra dough. It does not quite work like pie dough, where you can piece it together. The extra dough pieces cooked up and stayed separate. No biggie. As I said earlier, taste trumps appearances. I still thought it was pretty.

Definitely company worthy!

Celery Gratin

Finally, a recipe that calls for more than a stalk or two (or less) of celery! I hate it when a recipe calls for like, two tablespoons of diced celery (a soup recipe, that I make often). I always end up tossing out a whole lot of celery.

I know, I can slice up the extra, slather it with peanut butter, or cream cheese, and send it with the hubby for a work-week snack, and I always think that I will, but never do. By the time I'm done with dinner and clean-up, I'm too tired to do anything else.

Here we use the whole bunch of celery! I will never need to toss out any unused celery again. So very exited to have this recipe.

You take the bunch of celery, trim it of its leaves (they will burn - save them for stock, if you make your own), place it in a shallow pan, add some water, fresh thyme, a bay leaf, salt, pepper, and dot with a bit of butter, cover with foil, and cook until the celery is tender.

The scent of this while baking, was so enticing. 

Once the celery is cooked, the thyme branches and bay leaf are removed, and the liquid that has accumulated in the pan is mixed with some heavy cream, and some additional salt and pepper if needed. I also added a bit of nutmeg, and some extra grated Gruyère cheese to the mix (unfortunately the cheese just clumped together), this is then poured over the celery.

A mixture of fresh bread crumbs and grated cheese (again, I used Gruyère) is sprinkled over the celery, and baked until the crumbs are golden brown and crispy. A grind of fresh black pepper is sprinkled over the top, just before serving.

This was amazing! I only wish I had gotten a better picture.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the the CCC website and look for the April LYL post for a list of their links - or click here to be directed automatically.

We have been asked not to publish the recipes here on our blogs. We encourage you to go out and purchase the book and join us on this fun and healthy adventure!


TWD | Baking Chez Moi | Coconut Tapioca

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking Chez Moi
by Dorie Greenspan

I knew tapioca as a type of pudding, which I have never had before this, but beyond that I knew nothing about it.

Just what is tapioca exactly? Well, it's a starchy tuberous root of all things, also known as cassava. It is one of the purest forms of starch food. Tapioca is also used as a thickening agent. Many refugees in Southeast Asia actually survived on tapioca during World War ll.

Did you know you can actually make your own tapioca pearls if you can not find them? A quick internet search will show you how.

Like I said, I never had tapioca pudding before. I was expecting it to be pudding like - smooth and creamy (aside from the little balls of tapioca). Which it was, until I refrigerated it. Then it turned gelatinous, Jell-O like, but firmer. So firm, that you would be able to cut it with a knife, and serve little squares of it - which could be fun. Maybe.

My sister was coming to dinner the following evening, and I asked it she ever had tapioca. Yes, she had, and she loves it! Couldn't wait to try mine. The consensus was, it had good flavor, but it is supposed to be soft and creamy, not firm.

Hmm. Maybe I overcooked it? I cooked it until it was the texture of (non-Greek) yogurt, as instructed. I have some tapioca pearls leftover, I'll give it another try, cooking it for a shorter time.

We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blogs. You can find the recipe on page 382 of Baking Chez Moi, as well as on Google Books.

Do check out my fellow bakers results, by clicking here for a list of their links.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Book 119 | Great Chefs of the Caribbean | Parmesan Basket with Polenta and Roasted Vegetables

Edited by Julia M. Pitkin

This was fun to make, and it was tasty too!

I have seen a few recipes for making Parmesan baskets, and have been wanting to do this for some time. 

And it is super easy! All you do is, take some grated cheese, place it on a baking sheet in a circular shape and bake until the cheese has fused itself together. Then take the melted cheese and place it over a bowl or cup to shape it. Instead of transferring the melted cheese by way of spatula to the bowl, I just cut the parchment paper between the cheese rounds, and placed the bowl on top of the cheese and flipped it over. Much easier. Not to mention, these babies are greasy, and the parchment paper keeps your hands grease-free while shaping them around the bowl.

I wanted a bit more color to the bowls, but I was afraid if I let them cook longer, they might have disintegrated.

This is supposed to be tomato sauce, to be placed in a squeeze bottle to drizzle on the plate. I ended up transferring it to the food processor and adding some vegetable broth and water (and a bit of cayenne to spice things up) to thin it out. As for the pesto oil, that turned out quite thick as well, more like pesto, then oil - also to be used for drizzling. 

Is there anyone who doesn't like roasted vegetables? You really can't go wrong with roasted veggies. I did not roast the tomatoes, I added them after, and placed the vegetables back in the turned-off oven, just to warm them up.

I love polenta, and felt it should have a decent amount underneath all those vegetables. Apparently the amount I thought was perfect, was more than the recipe called for. I halved the recipe, which should serve two, and I used almost all of the polenta for this one bowl. Their round of polenta must have been pretty thin. Good thing I was dining solo this evening!

This made for a tasty light dinner; it would even be good sans the basket, if you don't want to go to the trouble of making them. Speaking of the basket, it was a bit on the chewy side - I was expecting it to be crisp. I did read that if too much cheese is used, the baskets can turn out chewy - so there you go.

I'm confused as to where the Caribbean influence is in this dish. Must be the polenta. When I think Caribbean food, I think of rum, mango, coconut, rice, and foods with a spicy kick. Not that it really matters much, I enjoyed this just the same.