Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Fujianese-Style Stir-Fried Fish with Peppers

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



This stir-fry consists of fish that has been oil blanched before stir-frying. Grace herself is not a fan of this type of preparation, but included it in her book because it is so popular with Chinese restaurant chefs, and for us to experience what it is like. She even states this method is not practical (using and discarding two cups of oil) or healthy for the home cook.

I took a cue from Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories, and placed the oil blanched fish on a plate lined with paper towels, and dabbed the top of the fish with another paper towel to help soak up some of the oil before proceeding with the recipe.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Codfish, egg white, salt
Bowl 2: Garlic, ginger
Bowl 3: Bell pepper
Bowl 4: Scallion
Bowl 5: Chicken broth, dry sherry, cornstarch, sugar, salt
 

The recipe calls for fish with the skin on; this is to help keep the fish from falling apart when (ever-so-gently) stir-frying. However, the cod from the fish market was skinned, hence the broken pieces of fish.


I always seem to mutilate my fish when I remove the pin bones. Maybe using pliers instead of tweezers might help. I was able to get out all of the bones! And that is a good thing.


This would be a great stir-fry for those with a tame palate. Me, I prefer more bold flavors - I'm thinking a bit of soy sauce added to the broth mixture and some Thai red pepper would be a tasty addition to this dish.

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 176, 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.



 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Bean Sprouts with Chili Bean Sauce

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



This is a very simple and tasty side-dish. Andy said it would make a complete meal if I just tossed in some diced chicken or beef - and that it would.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Garlic
Bowl 2: Bean sprouts, carrots
Bowl 3: Scallions
Bowl 4: Salt
Bowl 5: Dry sherry, bean sauce, sambal oelek, soy sauce

The recipe calls for chili bean sauce which I did not have - so I mixed equal parts of ground bean sauce and sambal oelek. Next time I will reduce the salt by a quarter teaspoon, for I felt it was just a tad salty.


Prep of this stir-fry is pretty minimal and cook time is almost non-existent, maybe two minutes - if that. Just a quick rinse and spin-dry of the sprouts, julienning of the carrots and scallions - which is a snap if you have a kinpira peeler and a negi cutter (shown below), mincing a couple teaspoons of garlic, and mixing up of the sauce.

The garlic gets a quick stir in the wok before adding the vegetables, which get cooked for only a minute or so, just until the sprouts start to wilt. The scallions and salt are added along with the sauce and stir-fried for less than a minute more - and your done! You have yourself a delicious stir-fry.



Kinpira peeler on the left - negi cutter on the right.


Not only is this a healthy stir-fry (well, they all have been healthy), but Grace mentions, "when the weather's hot, it's important to eat more yin, or cooling vegetables like bean sprouts to restore balance to your body."

I read that cooling vegetables cool and calm the blood, and help remove toxins as well. For a list of other cooling (and warming [yang]) foods, head over to Ping Ming Health's website. I found it to be quite interesting, you may as well.

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 200, 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.



 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club | June Recipes

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



My choices for June are:

Quick Couscous Salad with Peppers and Feta 
Macaroni Peas 

To see the complete list of recipes offered for June - click here



Quick Couscous Salad with Peppers and Feta


Oops! I made the wrong recipe - as I was at the store, I realized I had not written down the ingredients on my shopping list - I ran home, threw the other groceries in the garage, grabbed the book, and went back. Unfortunately, (or fortunately for me) I read the ingredients for the main recipe; this salad was already in the line-up back in August of last year. This month's recipe was a variation on that one, using fresh tomatoes and olives.

The salad I made, uses jarred roasted red peppers (I used sweet cherry peppers - so good), cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, parsley, and of course, couscous. I added some spring onion from my CSA box, in addition to the red onion; and to the leftovers a couple days later, I stirred in some fresh corn kernels from the leftover corn on the cob we had the night before - it was really tasty with the added corn.



I ended up using pearl couscous, which is a lot larger than your regular couscous. I remember when I first came across a recipe calling for the pearl, I could not find it. Now, when I wanted regular couscous, all my local store had, was the pearl couscous. Go figure. I actually ended up liking it with the pearl couscous, which I will use again the next time I make this - and there will be a next time.

The salad has a very light dressing made up of just olive oil and lemon juice, which is tossed with the warm couscous - I'm thinking this is Hugh's favorite.. he uses it often. However, I felt it could have used a little more dressing.

I may have made the incorrect recipe, but this was darn tasty - so light and refreshing; and it tastes just as good days later. This would make for great lunchbox fare (Ash!). 




Speaking of corn....  I received in my CSA box, corn on the cob, that the tops were lopped off! A third to half of the cob! Am I wrong to be disturbed by this? The company I received my box from, commented (on their FB page) that they cut just the tops off (ah, more than just the tops!) because they were unsightly looking. "Unsightly looking" to me, construes that maybe the corn isn't as fresh as I thought. It did still taste good, and that is what counts, but I felt this was just plain wrong.  Sorry to digress - had to vent a little. (Update: Received a phone call from my CSA - the reason for the tops being cut off, is due to WORM problems. The corn had worm holes... yeah, that would be unsightly.)



Macaroni Peas


Time was not on my side this month. I only completed two of the five recipes I committed to making. I almost did not get this one made - for I knew I would not be going to the farmer's market, and really did not want to make this recipe with frozen peas.


I got lucky - there was a whole bin of fresh peas at my grocery store. So I grabbed a bunch with hopes I would be able to get around to making the recipe - and I did!


This was a simple recipe, though it does require quite a few dishes to prepare - three pots and a blender. In the old days, it never, ever, crossed my mind as to how many dishes a recipe would use - and I used to prepare meals that would take a good four hours or so to complete! I guess I'm getting lazy in my increasing years...


The sauce for this dish is made up of fresh peas, garlic infused butter, and cheese; all is whirled together and then tossed with the noodles, along with additional (cooked) fresh peas, salt, and pepper. Just before serving it is topped with grated cheese and shreds of basil. The more cheese you use, the tastier the dish will be.

I found this to be pretty bland, even though I used three garlic cloves, to Hugh's one. I thought the sauce tasted pretty good on its own, and was looking forward to dinner, but the flavor was lost once it was tossed with the noodles. The bites with the most cheese tasted best, but I was trying to keep this on the healthy side, so I refrained from adding more.


To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the the CCC website and look for the May 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!





 




Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Taiwanese-Style Stir-Fried Scallops and Shrimp with Yellow Chives

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




Wow. Wow. Wow. On cloud nine...


Bowl 1: Ginger
Bowl 2: Scallops, shrimp, dry sherry, ginger, salt, pepper
Bowl 3: Ginger
Bowl 4: Ground bean sauce, sambal oelek
Bowl 5: Yellow chives
Bowl 6: Dry sherry
Bowl 7: Salt

I have never really cared for scallops. No - let me rephrase that. Before this recipe, I have not cared for scallops.


Once again, I am amazed that with so few ingredients, you come away with a dish that has such amazing flavor.

The seafood is marinated for half an hour in a simple mixture of dry sherry (or Japanese sake if you have it), ginger, salt, and pepper (white pepper is used in this dish, but I used black pepper by mistake).

The scallops and shrimp are stir-fried in a garlic infused oil (oil is heated in the wok along with some smashed garlic) just long enough for the seafood to obtain some color, then it is removed from the wok, and fresh oil and garlic are added and heated again, before returning the seafood back into the wok along with the bean sauce, chives, dry sherry (or Japanese sake), and some salt, and stir-fried just until the seafood is cooked through.

I had issues with some of my scallops breaking apart while stir-frying, as well as my friend Karen, of Karen's Kitchen Stories, and she mentioned this on the WW FB page; another member stated that she lets them sear on one side, then turns them over, and just kinda shakes the wok when they are done - great tip! Thanks Peng!


This recipe alone is worth the purchase of Grace's book, not to mention the rest of the recipes!

I can't stress it enough - GO GET THE BOOK ALREADY!!! Seriously. You'll be happy you did.




Yellow chives (aka golden chives, gau wong, albino chives), have a delicate garlic flavor, with a warm gentle "bite" to them. They are also a lot larger than your typical western chives.


photo credit: specialty produce




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 178, 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!





golden chives, Gau wong and albino chives
golden chives, Gau wong and albino chives
golden chives, Gau wong and albino chiveshave a delicate garlic flavor, with a gentle "bite" that you get from garlic

Friday, June 12, 2015

TWD | Baking Chez Moi | Chocolate-Cherry Brownies

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking Chez Moi
by Dorie Greenspan




Hello, deliciousness...


This is a pretty basic brownie recipe, aside from the addition of a little black pepper, extra chopped chocolate to stir in at the end, and dried cherries that have been reconstituted in simmering water and port (or another sweet wine), which I did not have either of, so I used a dark crème de cassis.

There was a lot of chatter about the recipe taking far longer to cook than the twenty-seven to twenty-nine minutes in a 325°F oven as instructed - so I set my oven at 350°F and they were done in twenty-five minutes, and were perfect.

These brownies turned out deliciously gooey, full of chocolate flavor, with a slight tartness from the cherries. They also were pretty sweet. I'm thinking next time I'll cut back on some of the sugar.

These were really, really good. I made sure hubby took them to work the next day so I wouldn't pig out on them - which I definitely would have.

Well, I went into work two days later, and there were still some left over?!! How can that be? So of course I had to try another one (or two, maybe three... um yeah..) to see how they fared two days later. They were not as gooey, a bit more dense, fudge like - so very good still! I don't think the guys cared for the cherries... oh well, their loss, my gain - literally, unfortunately.


We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blogs. You can find the recipe on page 322 of Baking Chez Moi.

You can check out my fellow baker's results, by clicking here for a list of their links.



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Hong Kong-Style Broccoli

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



This is the second recipe we have made that calls for Chinese broccoli. It truly has become a favorite of mine. If you have never had this wonderful vegetable, you really need to seek it out, and while you're at it, you'll want to get Grace's book, Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, so you can make the most delicious stir-fries. Ever.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Ginger
Bowl 2: Chinese bacon
Bowl 3: Chinese broccoli (aka gai lan in Cantonese)
Bowl 4: Soy sauce, dry sherry
Bowl 5: Sugar, salt


Such a simple and tasty side dish to prepare. A quick sauté of the ginger until it is fragrant, toss in the bacon and stir until it releases its fat, add the broccoli - stems first - for about a minute or so, then the leaves, and stir-fry until just wilted. The soy sauce mixture, salt, and sugar are added, and tossed together for a short time until the broccoli is crisp tender. 

Voilà! A most delicious side to any meal; and the sauce that accumulated at the bottom of the serving bowl... tasted fabulous poured over my grilled salmon.  


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 190, 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!




Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club | May Recipes

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




My choices for May are:
(not cooked in order listed)

Grilled Aspargus Spears with Lemon Dressing
 Spicy Merguez Oven Fries with Yogurt Dip
Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad
Cambodian Wedding Day Dip
Pearled Barley Broth 



Pearled Barley Broth


From the title of this recipe, I wasn't expecting such a substantial soup.


This wonderful creamy soup (without any added cream!) is made from onions, bay leaf, thyme, celery, carrot, parsnip, pearl barley, vegetable stock, and parsley; with added spices of coriander, nutmeg, and cayenne (the recipe calls for mace as well, which I thought I had...).


There were three topping alternatives to adorn this lovely soup: croutons, sautéed mushrooms, or simply drizzled with some cream, and sprinkled with a bit of parsley.

I chose the mushrooms. An excellent call, if I may say so myself. Not only visually, but flavor-wise as well.

The soup thickens up considerably as it cools, so it needs to be served soon after preparing. We had leftovers the next day, and I had to add quite a bit more broth to get it to the consistency I liked, which of course dilutes the flavor somewhat.

I also had extra sautéed mushrooms that I stirred into the leftovers. This added an extra delicious dimension to the soup. Next time, I would definitely add mushrooms to the broth in addition to the topping.


Spicy Merguez Oven Fries with Yogurt Dip


These tasty fries are made by cutting potatoes (I used yukon gold) into thick batons, and parboiled for about a minute (personally, I don't think this step is all that necessary), then drained.

The drained potatoes are then tossed in a spice mixture made of cumin seed, fennel seed, coriander seed, caraway seed, peppercorns, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt. The seeds and peppercorns were to be crushed using a mortar and pestle. However, if you have ever tried crushing caraway seeds, you know it is an almost impossible task. You will want to use a spice grinder (I use my coffee grinder) if using them.


The seasoned potatoes are tossed in warm oil (which was heated on the baking sheet itself in the oven while prepping the potatoes) and baked until tender, golden, and crisp. The recipe called for one-third cup of oil, which I found to be too much. Next time, I would just drizzle oil over the potatoes and toss - even skipping the warming of the oil.

The accompanying dip consists of yogurt that is mixed with some of the spice mixture mentioned above, and some crushed garlic. Just before serving, the dip is sprinkled with a little cayenne pepper.

The fries were not as spicy as I was expecting; next round, I will add extra cayenne.

These made a great side, along with the asparagus below, to our grilled market steak.


Grilled Asparagus Spears with Lemon Dressing


This is one of those easy, peasy recipes, that looks so elegant when served. Don't you love those? All you do is grab some asparagus, toss it in a little oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill until tender.

Grilled asparagus is a common side-dish here. We love it. I also make a roasted version. The difference with this recipe is, Hugh drizzles over a lemon vinaigrette, which adds a nice bright touch to the asparagus.

The vinaigrette is made from olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper. Shreds of mint is also added, however, I did not want to buy any for only a few leaves (I don't really ever use mint), so I omitted that ingredient (only to find out it is also called for in the noodle salad recipe.. oh well.)

The grilled asparagus is plated, drizzled with the dressing, and sprinkled with a little salt and Parmesan. Delish.


Cambodian Wedding Day Dip


I had my doubts about this one. As I was preparing the dip, thoughts of "this is a total fail" "I'm so not going to like this" were running through my head.


I couldn't believe that this soupy looking mixture would turn into the chunky dip shown below.  It seemed like it took a very long time to go from liquid to solid (longer than the thirty minutes stated in the recipe), and I was even tempted to stop at one point and just pour it over some rice - but I pressed on. 


The dip is made up of cremini mushrooms, oil, hot fresh red chile (I used an ají amarillo pepper), garlic, curry powder, crunchy peanut butter (I only had creamy, so I added some chopped peanuts), coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce, and cilantro.

The mushrooms are diced and cooked until they have released their liquid, and all has evaporated - at which time the chile and garlic are added and cooked for about a minute. The curry powder and peanut butter are stirred into the mixture, then the coconut milk. The recipe states to let it bubble rapidly, stirring occasionally. I let it simmer, rather than boil rapidly, otherwise I would be scraping splashes of it off the ceiling (this may be why it took longer to reduce down). Once the liquid is reduced and thickened, the lime and soy sauce is stirred in. The dip is transferred to a serving bowl, and topped with extra chiles and cilantro if desired.

Hugh mentions that this would also make a great meal, serving it warm over some rice, alongside some steamed vegetables.

I'm glad I persevered. This turned out pretty darn tasty!! I would make this one again.

Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad


This recipe came just at the right time. Our lovely daughter had just challenged me to get five servings of fruit and vegetables everyday for a week; and this one was chock-full of vegetables.

Eating five servings of fruit and vegetables was not as easy as I thought. I love fruit and vegetables, and thought I ate a fair amount. However, keeping a food diary showed me that I was not eating as much as I thought I was.

Sorry to digress, back to this lovely salad with an Asian flair.

As I mentioned, this one was full of vegetables. I added plenty of hericot verts, cucumber, snow peas, scallions and cilantro (mint is also used in this salad, but I omitted it). The recipe calls for fine egg noodles or vermicelli; I used whole wheat thin spaghetti, which I thought was great.

The cooked noodles are rinsed in cold water, then tossed in a bowl with the dressing, which is made of rice vinegar, zest and juice of a lime, fresh red chile, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce. This is allowed to rest while the vegetables are prepared.

Everything gets tossed together, and the salad is topped with a scattering of unsalted peanuts. Hugh suggests rinsing off the salt and drying the peanuts if you only have salted nuts on hand - which is what I had, but I did not bother with rinsing them.

It was a successful month! Enjoyed each and every one of these recipes.


To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the the CCC website and look for the May 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!




 


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!