Sunday, June 7, 2020

Dan Dan Noodles

I can't even begin to tell you how flavorful and amazing this dish is.  I have never had it before.  I stumbled across this dish in my internet searches and after watching Mark Weins and all his amazing food travel videos.  I totally binge watched his videos during the whole COVID 19 thing.  I couldnt get enough.  And sadly thinking, will anyone ever travel again.  Well, of course they will.... right?
Are you familiar with Sichuan peppercorns?  I really wasn't.  I mean I knew of their existence but didn't really know their effect until recently.  I was watching Mark Weins on You Tube (at 31:41 you will see the peppercorns) and he was eating fresh Sichuan peppercorns and his tongue was going numb.  Wait.  What?  Why?  So because I am so curious about food and ethnic food in particular, I had to research.  Well, after watching lots of videos and wand reading countless Chinese cookbooks and acquiring two new cookbooks (Fuschia Dunlop, Every Grain of Rice and The Food of Sichuan), I now know more. And really I was like why would someone want there tongue to go numb.  I am not really sure but I can tell you it is a pleasureful experience.  And mixed with these crazy delicious flavors, you simply cant go wrong.  You will be addicted to the Sichuan "numbing" experience.



DAN DAN NOODLES
If you are not a fan of spicy food, keep moving.  This has serious kick.  Certainly you can increase or decrease to your liking- the chili oil and the Sichuan peppercorns.

topping:
1 pound pork, ground
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn
1 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons preserved mustard greens

sauce:
1 tablespoon black vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame paste*
1 tablespoon chili oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon chicken flavoring
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1 teaspoon ginger, fresh, grated

Noodles

Greens, ie. bok choy, broccoli rabe, swiss chard

garnish:
chopped peanuts
sliced scallions

This is a multi step process.  Nothing difficult, just time consuming.  But good things come to you when you put forth the effort.  You will not be disappointed.

1. Rinse preserved mustard greens. Drain. Set aside. Chop peanuts. Set aside.  Slice green onions. Set aside.

2.  Make sauce. Combine black vinegar, sesame paste,  chili oil, sugar, light soy sauce, chicken flavoring, Chinese cooking wine and ginger. Spoon into bowls. This will be the bottom layer of the noodle dish.

3. Cook noodles, timing so that they get done a little before pork.

4. Cook pork, breaking it up as it cooks.  You want small pieces. Let it get a little golden.  Then add garlic.  Cook one minute.  Add Chinese cooking wine, Sichuan peppercorn,  dark soy sauce and ginger. Combine quickly and let cook 1 minute all the while stirring it around.  Remove from heat and add mustard greens.

5. Cook green seperately in salted boiling water.

6. Place noodles on top of sauce in bowls.  Place pork topping on bowls, dividing evenly.  Then sprinkle peanuts and scallions over top. Place greens on side.  Serve immediately and have people stir their noodles quickly as you dont want the noodles sticking together.  Enjoy!

*I did use tahini but Chinese sesame paste is different.  I have also seen many people use peanut butter instead so feel free to choose.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Beer Battered Onion Rings

Onion rings!  Haven't made these in like, F-O-R-E-V-E-R.  Hands down the beer batter are the best.  And, yah know, they fry up really fast so it does not use too much grease.  So, not bad for a once in a while thing.
One of my favorite things is sausage or a hot dog with sauerkraut.  Divine. Together these were great.  Some sweet whole grain mustard! OMG. 

Beer Battered Onion Rings

2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) pale ale beer
2 large yellow onions, slice into 1/4 in rings
Vegetable oil, for frying

Mix together flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Add in beer.  Stir.  I place a bunch of the rings into the batter then pulled each one out with a chopstick, letting it drip a little and then placing it into the cauldron of hot bubbling oil.  Aka oil should be around 360° .  You could stick that same wooden chop stick in and see if little bubbles form around it. And word to the wise, keep monitoring the heat.  

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Chicken and Dumplings



Can I tell you, I feel so decadent posting all this meat.  We were never really major meat eaters.  Well, at least I wasnt,.  And then we were Vegan for a year, well mostly.  More vegetarian for half the year.  And then even when we started eating meat again it was maybe one to four times per month.  Now with this whole COVID thing, we bought meat.  Was it primal, I dont know.  But suddenly we were buying meat and eating meat a few times per week... maybe five times per week.  I feel kind of bad about it.  I need to stop.  Tonight, as I write this we had stir fry with tofu and really it felt good.  Not heavy.  All those vegetables with tofu.  It was delicious. I have to say though you could easily turn this meal into a vegan or vegetarian one.  Have you ever tried that chicken base that is meat free.  Its pretty amazing.  And I bet TVP or chicken seitan would be equally delicious.

This recipe for me, is a two day affair.  The second day being pretty easy peasy.  So it is nice if you can roast on the weekend and do on Monday or Tuesday for dinner.

CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

6 tablespoons butter, or chicken fat reserved from broth or oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup diced celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 ounces cream cheese (I was using it as a substitute and really liked it )
32 oz (1 quart) chicken stock
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper (or to taste)
salt, to taste

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon, baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
3/4 cup (6 oz) whole milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Long verbose version
Place four leg quarters in a baking dish. Place in oven, no cover and bake at 350°F.  Roast until the kin is golden.  Remove from oven and set aside until it is cool enough to handle. Take all the meat off the bone and place in refrigerator until you are ready to make your chicken and dumplings.  Take bones and skin and place in stock pot.  Place 3-4 celery ribs in pot, along with 2-4 cloves of garlic; a large onion, quartered with skin on, 2 bay leaves and parsley, if you have it.  Sprinkle in a generous dose of pepper and a teaspoon of Kosher salt. Pour in water, enough to cover. Bring to a boil, and gently simmer for at least 2 hours.  The longer the better.  Four hours if you can.  Just make sure the simmer is slow. Strain the broth out and also place in fridge.

Next day. Skim the fat of your beautiful bone broth.  Keep the fat, as it is delicious to use for cooking.  We also shared with dog, about a tablespoon on her dog food in the morning was met with much appreciation.

Saute onion, celery and carrots in chicken fat or the butter.  Or oil, whatever you prefer, until translucent.  Add in garlic and flour.  Saute until flour is turning golden.  Add in stock and cream cheese, along with pepper and thyme. Add salt to taste.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  While that is cooking, it is time to mix up your dough for your yum-plings.  Okay, dumplings.  And take my advice, if you have kids dont use the thyme in the biscuits cause it probably wont go over well.  Just leave it out.  But if it you and your significant other, by all means use the thyme.  And it will pair well with a nice glass of white wine if you so desire.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, pepper, salt and thyme. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the milk and butter into the center of it.  Using a wooden spoon (or rubber spatula), stir together until dough ball forms. If your dough seems too dry, you can add an extra tablespoon of milk.

Using a large sized ice cream scoop, scoop dough and drop directly into the simmering soup. Place them around the pot, not all in the same place. Now, put the lid on and turn down heat on low, the spot you know where it will gently simmer.  And do not open the lid for 20 minutes.  Those dumplings are gently tucked away, simmering in happiness steam bath.  And when the time is done, you will rewarded with some fluffy, puffy dumplings. Scrumptious!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Kenyan Beef and Potato Pilau


With all of this COVID 19 pause, I have done enough cooking and baking to open a restaurant.  Its not like I wasnt cooking before but now, I have bene going the extra mile, doing mroe, making it more special.  Maybe because it feels like the only 'spice' of life at the moment.  I mean, its not like we can go out and hang out with people.  Cant go out to dinner, relax and kick back in a different atmosphere.  So I have created, at least tried to create something special here at home.  We really enjoyed this meal and I have a feeling it will appear on our table again.  Stay well everyone!


Kenyan Beef and Potato Pilau

2 cups basmati rice or any other rice you may have
2 cups of potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
1 tablespoon pilau spice mix (see below)
4 cups chicken or beef broth
¼ cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped
1 lb ground beef 
3 Roma tomatoes diced
2 Bay leaves
2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
Salt to taste

Pilau spice mix

1 Tsp cloves
2 tbsp dumin seeds
1 Stick cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp black peppercorn seeds
12 pods cardamon

Heat a Dutch oven or a stockpot on medium-high heat. Saute onions in oil and fry for 10-15 minutes or till the onions starts to turn golden brown (be careful not to burn it). Add the ground beef and salt. Saute until beef is browned. Add the garlic, ginger, bay leaves, serrano pepper, Cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the tomatoes have released their liquid. Stir in the potatoes and the broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the rice, and cover tightly. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Once rice is cooked, fluff with a fork to ensure the seasonings are well distributed all around the rice.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Digestive Biscuits

This ‘cookie’ is kind of like a sweet cracker. Crunchy but with a little chew. It begs to be eaten with tea.   It’s not that sweet.  It’s a great way to end a meal.


Digestive Biscuits

8 ounces or 2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt\
3 ounces confectioners sugar
4 ounces butter, cold
2 ounces or a 1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°  Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment or grease.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and confectioners sugar. Work in cold butter with a pastry blender, fork or your fingers until dough starts to come together. If it seems to dry add a teaspoon more of milk. Knead briefly. Roll out with floured rolling pin on a floured surface. Cut into rounds and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Poke wholes if you like in biscuit if you like. I did with some of mine.   Bake fo 15 to 18 minutes. They will harden more as they dry.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Rye Soda Bread

This is quick and easy bread.  It is a bit dense and very satisfying with a dab of butter, along side a bowl of soup.  This is the the kind of things that Autumn is made of, at least for me!


Rye Soda Bread

2 1/3 cups (9.75 ounces) rye flour
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 cups (475 mL) buttermilk
1 tablespoon pretzel salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

In a bowl combine flours, salt and baking soda.  All at once add buttermilk, mix and knead for about a minute, till it all comes together.
Press the dough into a flat disk. Sprinkle the top of the dough disk with about 1 tablespoons of pretzel salt. 
Make 4 deep cuts into the dough, about two-thirds of the way through. Be careful not to cut all the way through.

Bake for 30 minutes, and then move the dough to the top rack of the oven. Bake for another 20 minutes to crisp up the surface.

Let cool on a wire rack completely before serving with salted butter. Okay, I know you want to have a slice warm with butter oozingly, melting all over the top.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are dah blueberry BOMB.  So good.  They did a disappearing act here in my kitchen.  I literally had 1 muffin. Presto, poofo! Gone.


Blueberry Muffins

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups blueberries

topping:
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
3 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon.  Mix together with fork and pastry blender until a bit like sand with little clumps.  This will be your topping, set aside.

Combine 3 cups flour, add 4 teaspoon baking powder and sugar, stir together. In a separate bowl combine eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry.  Then, finally, add the frozen blueberries. Scoop into muffin cup holders, 2/3 full.

Bake at 400° F for 20 to 25 minutes.