Tags: cooking, flank steak, Ginger, grilled flank steak, Hoisin Sauce, marinated flank steak, Recipe, Sake, Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Sriracha Sauce, Wine
Happy New Year! I always like to start the New Year with a BANG, and if you call the flu..make that the death of me flu, a BANG, then I guess I did. Remember that ear infection I was talking about Christmas Eve? That was a precursor to almost two weeks now of misery. I am one hot mama, and I’m not speaking in a aesthetic sense. I’m speaking in 102 Fahrenheit sense.
SO, my holiday consisted of bed rest and lots of fluids. Writing this post is not easy. I write a paragraph..take a break, lather, rinse, repeat.
Tags: Chicken Breasts, Chicken Fingers, Chile Garlic Sauce, Cilantro, coconut, cooking, Dessicated Coconut, garlic, Ginger, Greek Yogurt, Lime, Panko, Soy Sauce
For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog, Edesia’s Notebook (love the name) authored and photographed by Lesa. For the first time since I joined, I didn’t have the urge to grab some gorgeous dessert, which Lesa has plenty of, and play with it. Instead, the same thought kept going through my head.
You don’t often see posts where I just make dinner, nothing fancy, nothing outrageous, nothing you would only make for a special occasion. It’s not that I don’t have a decent amount of simple recipes, but I just felt the need to cook dinner and blog it. I chose her Crunchy Lemon Chicken.
Of course, I ended up futzing with it, because I truly believe it’s nearly impossible for me not to futz with recipes. I cut each breast into strips, used limes instead of lemons, and added soy sauce and garlic to the marinade. I also added dessicated coconut to the panko bread crumbs and beat the eggs with coconut water for the breading station. Add to that a few other minor alterations, like the baking time and temperature, and there you have it.
Otherwise, it’s just dinner, and it was delicious. I think these are the crunchiest, most delicious chicken fingers I’ve ever had. Kids would go berserk over these. Just my completely unbiased opinion.
Even though they were flavorful enough as is, I decided to made a dip to go with them – what I call a garbage dip, where you rummage through your fridge and cabinets and just throw something together. It was interesting and tasty, (it looks kind of gross in the photos..like Thousand Island dressing that sat out too long, doesn’t it?), but, again, the chicken fingers had so much flavor, it really wasn’t needed.
Now to Bad Boy First Love Part 9. If you’re reading this for the first time, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, and Part 8 is HERE.
Between the kissing, hugging, talking and staring into each other’s eyes ( I didn’t laugh or look away once, for the first time in my life. His eyes were so blue and clear in the dark, I can still picture it perfectly to this day), for hours, it was absolutely, unequivocally, the best.night.of.my.life.
Soon the sky started to lighten a bit, and I was exhausted. So much raw emotion had been released in less than 24 hours, so many highs and lows.. the wine and beer certainly playing a part in that. I couldn’t prevent the constant yawning, no matter how hard I tried . BUT, I wanted this night to last forever. I wanted to fall asleep in his arms, right there..even if we were to wake up to harsh sunlight, screaming kids, the smell of suntan lotion and beach balls landing on us. He held me for a while as I started to fade, then gently kissed me awake, stroking my hair.
“I think we better get you home, sweetheart – you’re starting to crash” he said sweetly.
“Huh? No..I’m awake.. just resting my eyes”
The above is my usual line when someone wakes me up, whether in person or by phone. No idea why I always say that, and still do to this day, as if it’s a bad thing to admit I’m falling asleep or that they woke me up from a deep sleep. I’m strange that way.
On our drive back to my luxurious penthouse, he suddenly pulled over. I was so busy staring at his beautiful profile that I hadn’t even noticed the scuffle going on between 4 guys, one of them apparently being ganged up on by the other three in a somewhat dark, out-of-the-way area near the beach.
One of the three was holding what looked to be a baseball bat, but he was leaning on it. Maybe they were fighting over a late night-early morning baseball game that just ended? Of course I said that to him, feeling like a total idiot once the words left my lips.
He looked at me calmly and said, “I’ll be right back”, like he was going to get me a soda or something..not like he was about to play vigilante. I was terrified. I reached over and touched his arm..
“No, don’t..please, let’s just go”
He smiled and kissed my cheek, “I’ll be right back”
OK, he meant business.
Nothing rattled this guy. I heard the trunk open and close. I watched in the rear view mirror as he pulled something out. Upon further inspection, it looked like a tire iron. He walked toward this scuffle like it was no big deal – such confidence, completely void of fear, I thought. Now I was really scared, but in a strange way, it turned me on. West Side Story was about to come to life, minus the singing and dancing, and I was slightly turned on..what the hell was wrong with me?
Oh, I remember, I liked bad boys, and this was most certainly bad boy behavior, but he was a good bad boy, he was going to protect someone. Then the thought of him getting really hurt brought back the fear. I opened the window and called out to him meekly. He didn’t hear me, but I couldn’t hear me either since my voice was shaking a little and I think I squeaked.
I watched intently as he walked up to them and stood in front of the victim, protecting him from harm, He still looked calm, but so damn tough.
I was excited again.
I couldn’t hear what they were saying outside of my now even sexier guy commanding them to ”‘Keep walking” when the bullies started to back off after trying to get tough with him and apparently not succeeding. Tire iron > baseball bat.
Then they came forward again and I couldn’t take it anymore…he was going to get hurt! I do have to admit I liked how he didn’t back up, not even one inch, when they came toward him.
Just as I was about to open the car door so I could run over and fling myself in front of him, he pushed one of them in the chest. I was shocked to see the guy stumble back quite a ways and fall when it seemed like such a light push, with one hand, no less. They took off. Wow, that was too easy. I guess they realized that if he could push that lightly and send the guy back that far and on his ass, one swing of the tire iron could be pretty fierce. Then again, I didn’t hear what was said, so that probably played a part too. It didn’t matter, there was no way he was going to let three guys beat up on one and that made me want him even more. I actually trembled, in a good way, when I realized that nothing scared him.
He came walking back to the car with the victim. Turns out, after an introduction, the kid, who couldn’t have been more than 16 (well..a little younger than me..shhhh) worked in one of the booths on the pier and he knew him well. The kid got into the car and couldn’t stop thanking Dreamboat. I was in awe of how cool, calm and collected Dreamboat remained, as if he simply bought the kid a slice of pizza and there was no need to make anything of it.
Apparently, this kid owed a little money to one of the guys and that guy brought along his two friends and a bat to collect, when this kid couldn’t have weighed more than 120 lbs soaking wet.
“No problem. I don’t care what you owe him, if he can’t collect on his own, he’s weak. Let me know if they ever give you a hard time again, okay?” Dreamboat said, again, calmly. How did he continue to remain so cool after that? I thought, as I stared at him adoringly.
The guy was an ‘effin chickensh*t according to Dreamboat. Damn, he grew sexier by the minute! If I didn’t marry this guy one day, they may as well move me in with a horde of cats because no one would ever compare to him - no one.
We dropped the kid off. Now that we were alone again, I couldn’t keep my hands off of him..I hugged and kissed him as he drove. I was even more crazy about him than before, and frankly, I didn’t think that was possible. I thought I had already reached the apex of love, longing, lust – or whatever you want to call it – with him, but, apparently, that wasn’t the case and it was only going to get better.
When he pulled up to my mini ‘party central’ apartment complex (there were parties still going on and the place was hopping..at 5:30 am), after about a 20 minute goodbye (our goodbyes would become legendary, to us, that is) I reached to pick up a little purse I had brought with me and left on the passenger seat floor.
Cut to 6 months prior..during my sad junior year of high school. My friend bought me one of those white button pins with an I HEART Dreamboat on it – aka I LOVE plus his real name, when we were at the mall one night. I always kept it in my purse, for no reason other than I did HEART him and being a little superstitious, felt that maybe it might bring us back together again (like the cup holder!).
I bet you can guess what happened next.
I forgot that I had opened the purse before getting out of the car to walk, well, trip over my own feet, to the beach, to grab a few orange and cinnamon tic-tacs. The button came flying out of my open purse and landed right on his lap.
I wanted to die.
He picked it up and looked at it, not saying anything for about a minute. Why, why, why? Now he would think I was some obsessive, stalker child! Why would a supposed 18-year old be carrying something like that around?
Maybe there was a slight chance he was illiterate? I had never wished someone to be illiterate that desperately, at that moment. I could teach him to read, kissing him every time he read a word correctly!
I braced myself, my face was burning. I desperately wished I could to turn back the clock two minutes and do it over again, gently picking up the purse. Maybe I could say it was another Dreamboat! Yeah..I could hear myself now..trying to act all cool..
“Well, during our time apart I just so happened to meet a guy named Dreamboat, what a coincidence, huh? I thought I was never going to see you again, so I thought I loved him, but I didn’t, and I forgot it was still in this purse .I rarely use this purse!” *confident flick of my hair*
He interrupted my momentary lapse of reasonable thinking..
“You shouldn’t have one of these unless you mean it” he said, a serious look in his eyes.
I DO MEAN IT! I’m madly in love with you!
Instead…I told him the truth, without confessing my love for him.
“I know, D bought it for me, and I kept it in my purse hoping it would bring me luck and I’d see you again.”
Woah, that was easy, why was I so freaked out about it?
He pulled me to him and hugged me tight, then whispered in my ear..
“I guess it worked then, like the cup holder.” hello, goosebumps.
I smiled, a wave of relief washing over me. I decided I’d drop the age bomb the next night.
Part 10 coming soon. I’m sorry I left you all with the same cliffhanger as last time, but I started this post before everything happened, and couldn’t finish it, which would have included that story, due to the current circumstances. I didn’t want to give you all something half-assed. I promise Part 10 soon, and the whole thing will be wrapped up in Part 11.
Crunchy Coconut Lime Chicken Strips or Bites
Adapted from and Inspired by Lesa from Edesia’s Notebook
Yields about 4 servings
2 limes, zested and juiced
1/4 cup light olive oil
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped finely
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 chicken breasts (About 1 lb) cut into 1-inch wide strips. Cut each strip in half to make ‘nuggets’.
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2/3 cup dessicated coconut shreds
3/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to season flour
2 eggs, beaten with 4 tablespoons of coconut water (you can use coconut milk if you can’t find coconut water)
Oil spray, doesn’t matter what kind
1. In a bowl, stir together lime juice, zest, light olive oil, ginger, light soy sauce, garlic and salt. Add the chicken strips and stir until they’re completely coated with the marinade. You can also pour the marinade with the chicken strips, into a ziplock bag, which is what I did. Marinate for 4 to 5 hours at the most..stirring the strips in the bowl of marinade or squeezing around the bag every hour to an hour and a half to insure even marinating.
2. Line a large baking sheet with foil sprayed lightly with oil. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in one bowl, the beaten eggs and coconut water in a second bowl, and the panko and dessicated coconut in a third bowl. Remove the chicken strips from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
3. Lift up each chicken strip and shake off some of the marinade so it isn’t overly-saturated (I just ran two impeccably clean fingers down each strip, sliding off the extra marinade). Coat each chicken strip in flour, knocking off the excess, then dip and coat well in the egg mixture and then dredge it in the panko - dessicated coconut mixture, pressing it onto each strip. Place each chicken strip on the oiled baking sheet and continue until all chicken has been coated.
4. Lightly spray some oil on the breaded chicken strips, then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. IMPORTANT – Do not let them sit on the baking sheet once out of the oven. Transfer them to a rack if not eating within a few minutes, or the bottoms will get soggy.
Spicy Yogurt Dip
1 cup greek yogurt
2 to 3 tablespoons Asian chile-garlic sauce
1 small handful cilantro leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. Mix all the ingredients together, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors blend.
If you get a chance, please click on the blue frog below to see all the amazing dishes recreated by Group A of The Secret Recipe Club. Also, click on over to Edesia’s Notebook for some fantastic sweet and savory recipes!
Tags: #citruslove, Chicken, cooking, Ginger, Lacquered Orange Chicken, Orange, Orange Chicken, Parsley, Recipe, Roast Chicken, Rosemary, Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Thyme
First I want to clarify (although I know 99.9% of you know this), the following Orange Lacquered Chicken does not contain real lacquer, or any stain or shellac. Nor does it contain any substance you might find at Home Depot. I wanted to roast a chicken with orange flavor, and after many bastings with orange goo, the skin tuned a beautiful burnished color, and I think lacquered is a great way to describe it.
I couldn’t find my big platter, so I stuffed everything onto this medium dish. It really wasn’t served this way…a lot more carrots and potatoes behind where this photo was taken.
The first thought that came to mind, was a chicken dish by Rick Bayless, basted with his red mole and agave syrup, that looks similar after being roasted. He calls it Lacquered Chicken because it looks well, lacquered – not unlike a door, floor, or piece of furniture you all probably have at least one of in your homes.
Great, I’m comparing chicken to lacquered wood. I bet that’s really juicing up your appetite!
Thing is, there are people who actually do use not food safe lacquer, stains and all kinds of liquid substances that will probably poison you. These people are professional food stylists. Ever see those pictures of perfectly, deep, golden brown turkey’s on a beautiful platter with lots of fixings, smack in the middle of a Thanksgiving table, not a burnt spot or flaw to be found? Ever wonder why that look is almost impossible to achieve ? Because, although it’s real fowl, you cannot eat it.
I usually truss before buttering or oiling, but I wanted to show the butter in every nook and cranny. So, the wings got cut off in the buttering photo – and this was the only collage I liked. Oh, well. Just truss and reach in and underneath where the wings are folded and tied down, to distribute the butter.
I always found that to be a waste, especially with all the starving people in the world. Take a perfectly edible turkey, roast it until it’s nice and brown, then slather it with wood stain and Minwax super gloss clear finishing lacquer to give it that lovely, burnished, flawless appearance. YUM, pass the compound and sandpaper, please!
I guess they throw these turkeys and chickens in the garbage once they get the photo they need. Change that ‘I guess’ to ‘I hope’.
As mentioned in the first paragraph, my chicken contains none of the above, and look at the lovely deep, glossy skin I got. No, it’s not perfect, and you won’t see it on one of Norman Rockwell’s holiday tables, but it’s completely edible and delicious!
For this month’s love bloghop, the theme is citrus. I had sweets on the brain, orange sticky buns, individual lemon charlottes, orange chocolate chunk cookies of some sort, etc. After picking up an organic chicken a few nights ago my plans changed. I was craving roast chicken, so why not an orange roast chicken? I still had sweets on the brain, so the cookies were made, and the finished brioche dough for sticky buns is resting in the fridge as I type this. I will be posting both, but once this chicken came out of the oven, it got the job – I knew this was going to be my #citruslove.
To start, I made an orange compound butter to massage into the chicken, on top and underneath the skin…mostly the breast because thighs and legs don’t take kindly to their skin being pulled away and stuffed. They tear in protest if you go to deep..no matter how gently, so I usually do the best I can. This means the fat part of each drumstick ends up with a glob of butter, herbs or whatever, smack in the middle, which has to be massaged on the outside of the skin to cover as much of the meat as you can.
SCREEEECH! Hold on!…Time to segue. As I type this, feeling no flow whatsoever, completely disjointed, discombobulated - I’m realizing how boring all of the above is. Last week I received an email from a reader…
“Why aren’t you as funny anymore? You used to crack me up. Are you ok?”
There’s too many answers to that question, and that was part of my response to her. The rest “I promise it’ll return, just not in a great place, or flowing at the moment”, with a huge smiley emoticon at the end –> :)
Maybe I should just post my food photos with poetry, or songs? I’ve heard some of the best of both have come during ‘down times’. How about a Haiku?
Oh lacquered chicken
How beautiful thy skin is
I want your drumstick
OK, maybe not.
It’s really tough to get a good photo when everyone is begging to eat.
Back to the
boring writing chicken. I wanted to infuse a good amount of orange flavor into it since I’ve had plenty of orange roast chicken where you could barely taste the orange, so I layered – I layered like I do to my skin when I get out of the shower – body oil of scent I plan to wear, powder of scent I plan to wear, then the scent. Orange compound butter inside out, oranges stuffed in the cavity, orange lacquer (I really love calling it that) – a few herbs, seasonings, and other stuff to contrast and enhance, and the orange flavor popped, but not in an overpowering way. Not to mention, this chicken was juicier than Violet Beauregarde, pre – dejuicing room.
As I mentioned above…January is #citruslove month! Please join in on the #citruslove fun by linking up any citrus recipe from the month of January 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to stop by the #citruslove (the hashtag) event on Twitter!
A shout out and thank you to my co-hosts for #citruslove;
A Little Bit of Everything, Astig Vegan, Baker Street, BigFatBaker, CafeTerraBlog, Cake Duchess, Cakeballs Cookies and More, Easily Good Eats, Elephant Eats, Food Wanderings, Georgiecakes, Hobby and More, Mike’s Baking, Mis Pensamientos, No One Likes Crumbley Cookies, Oh Cake,, Peaches and Donuts, Savoring Every Bite, Simply Reem, Smart Food and Fit, Soni’s Food for Thought, Teaspoon of Spice, That Skinny Chick Can Bake!!!, The Art of Cooking Real Food, The More Than Occasional Baker, The Spicy RD, The Wimpy Vegetarian, Vegan Yack Attack, Vegetarian Mamma, You Made That?
Please visit their blogs to see all the delicious #citruslove they created! OH, and of course - the linky! I’ve been rather involved with the linky’s lately, huh? Well, it’s just one click below to citrus porn!
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Orange Lacquered Roast Chicken
1 5 lb organic chicken
Orange Butter (recipe follows)
2 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
Cut up oranges (use the ones you squeezed for the juice, plenty of orange flavor left in them)
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Orange Lacquer (recipe follows)
1 stick (4oz) unsalted, room temperature butter
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 6 to 8 navel or navel sized oranges. Save the squeezed orange halves to stuff into cavity of chicken)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 scant tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 large clove garlic, chopped very finely – almost paste consistency
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (regular sesame oil is fine)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Grate all the zest you will need in this recipe from your oranges, then split them in half and keep squeezing until you get 1 cup of juice. Set aside zest and juice.
2. In a medium bowl..stir together the butter and one tablespoon of orange zest until creamy and uniform. Set aside.
3. Remove giblets and neck from chicken, then rinse under cold water inside out. Dry thoroughly.
4. Rub some of the orange butter all around the inside of the cavity, then salt and pepper it liberally. Stuff with all the herbs and as many orange halves as you can fit into the cavity. Truss the chicken. THIS is the method I use..quick and easy. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
5. Rub the rest of the orange compound butter all over the chicken, inside and out, lifting the skin where you can without tearing, and sliding some in – placing the skin back down and pushing it around on top of the skin until it covers most of the meat. Throw any leftover compound butter into the cavity (the hole is still big enough to get it in even though it’s trussed). Salt and pepper the outside of the chicken, liberally.
6. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour a little chicken stock or water on the bottom of the pan, if you like. Easier clean up, and gravy, if desired, although this chicken doesn’t need it.
7. Place roasting pan with chicken in the preheated oven. Roast for 1 hour. Check every 20 minutes to make sure it isn’t burning in spots.
8. While chicken is roasting, make orange lacquer. Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan, except the sesame oil. Cook over medium heat until the brown sugar is disssolved, then bring to a boil, stirring. Let it reduce to almost half of what it was. It won’t be super thick when done, more syrupy. Stir in sesame oil.
9. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Paint the lacquer all over the chicken, getting into every nook and cranny with the brush. Roast for 15 minutes. Do this every 10-15 minutes for a total of 35-40 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F. If desired, cook/boil down (reduce) remaining orange lacquer for a sauce, making a slurry of cornstarch and water to thicken it, if need be.
9. Remove from oven and let rest for 15-20 minutes (this is when you should take photos if you’re a food blogger lol ). Carve and enjoy! I served mine with glazed carrots and smoked paprika roasted potatoes.
Tags: BBQ pork buns, Char Siu Bao, Char Siu Pork, Dough, Green Onions, Hoisin Sauce, Pork, Roast Pork, Soy Sauce
I’m in love with pork buns especially the baked kind. I’ve been known to go out of my way just to stop at Asian bakeries to pick up varieties of their soft lovely buns..and there’s always at least two pork buns in the bag when I leave. There’s one in my town now, and I have to steer clear or else I’ll be buying bags of buns several times a week.
Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles ! Sara chose awesome Cha Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Cha Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!
Hmmm..Cha Sui? I suppose that’s just another term for it? I always thought it was Char Siu, and Char Siu pork and I go way back – well. way back two years ago. I was actually going to recycle that photo of my Char Siu pork into this post, but once I made it again, I decided to get at least one shot to show I actually did make it again. It’s a beautiful thing. Ever pick the pieces of it out of your fried rice to eat individually?
So, I’ve made Char Siu pork before, and Char Siu Bao before – steamed and baked – with great success. I knew this was a challenge I couldn’t miss, not only because I’ve had great success with it, but because pork buns have gone up $1.25 since I last walked out of the local Asian bakery mentioned above.
On a whim, I decided to do something a little different with them this time. I gussied them up a bit with some Chinese characters for Love, Strength, Peace and Harmony. I mixed matcha powder with a little egg yolk, painted on the characters, let them dry, then egg washed and baked after rising. After one bun, I nixed LOVE.
The Chinese character for LOVE has too many lines and details for such a small area. It looked like scribble scrabble, so I let it fly solo. The LOVE is in the buns, baby.
As I painted each character on top of the buns…a memory was tip-toeing - with high-heels – through my brain.
A few years ago, I decided to completely redo the breakfast nook at my parent’s house. Every time I was over there, I could hear the strains of 80′s synthesizers when we sat in that room. It was far past out-of-date – it was Boy George in long braided, mu mu drag, Go Go’s chic, George Michael doing the jitterbug in day-glo, fingerless gloves, out-of-date.
I pulled up every tile of the black and white checkerboard floor, stripped as much of the bright blue paint off the walls (I know, sounds tacky, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t tacky in the 80′s), then sanded off the rest, – sealing cracks and holes with compounds and puttys, (add more sanding) and finally rolling and brushing on two coats of an Arabian sand color I thought was perfect.
I took down two doors, sanding off the burnished, worn stain, then sanding again, staining and a shellac - finishing them off with shiny, bright new doorknobs. It was tough work for one
girl , umm..person..and I still have no idea how I managed it, but within a month, it was completed. I bought a pot rack, hung their pots and pans between the nook and the kitchen, then stood back and admired what I’d done. Trading Spaces? Pffft. Eat your heart out.
Hmmm…it needed art, a few paintings. Maybe one by me to sort of ‘sign’ my work on the room, if you know what I mean.
I found a bunch of old acrylic paints and brushes in their basement (Yes, I used to draw and paint a bit – well, a lot), but no canvas, and it was too late to go out and get one. I walked around the house looking for something – anything..I needed to paint at that moment. I needed to put my final seal on the room before reveal day.
Out of the corner of my eye, there it sat, one of those vertical, ’three in a row’ mallard prints that nobody, outside of He-Man hunter living in a log cabin, puts up on display (or so I thought). I pried open the wires holding everything together since I planned on using the back of this canvas for my painting. I was confused as to why there were so many layers to get to the canvas, and why was this cheap print numbered and signed? Is someone proud of painted mallards on a canvas set in ugly dark green cardboard frames?
I finally got to the back of the canvas, pulled it out, and started painting a kaleidoscope of colors to fit in, but ‘pop’ in the room. I had already decided I was going to paint the black chinese characters for Love, Health and Happiness on top of these colors, because they’re so beautiful. After hiding it to dry for several hours, I came back and painstakingly painted on each character – using some computer print-outs as a reference. It turned out beautiful, and once it was fully dry, I put it back into the frame, minus the dark green cardboard cut-outs.
I hung it in the perfect place and beamed at my resourcefulness. Turning a cheap, factory made mallard painting into something beautiful! I couldn’t wait for them to see!
They loved it – I was thrilled. They also loved my painting. After several compliments, my father asked..
“Where did you get the frame for it? I was given a numbered, signed painting by (insert name of famous mallard artist who’s name escapes me at this moment – Update: I know who it is now but absolutely refuse to name him in fear he will see this post via Google and read how I completely annihilated his work thinking it was cheap, worthless and ugly) a few weeks ago as a gift for the holidays, in a frame very similar to that..it’s very expensive.”
I felt faint.
He saw my eyes, his face changed.
“You didn’t take that painting out of the frame, did you? If you did, show me where everything is so we can put it all back together, we’ll get another nice frame for your painting, ok?”
Now I’m going to throw up.
He saw my face turn a light shade of green. He knew.
I’m not going to get into details outside of some yelling and “Do you have any idea how much that painting is worth now and will be worth in several years??” “Do you have any idea how rare it is? Only 5 exist!” type of stuff.
To this day, my painting sits in a box in my parent’s basement, never hung again. He didn’t need to be reminded of it during his morning coffee, for the rest of his life. I totally agree.
OK..back to the pork buns! This was a good recipe, the dough was wonderful to work with. However, I made a few small changes. When I saw the recipe for the pork filling, I didn’t think there would be enough sauce to really moisten the pork, so I doubled it. Turns out I was right, as some mentioned the pork filling being dry after it was baked and/or steamed.
Second change..I wanted a lot of filling per bun, like the ones I get at my local bakery, so I made 9 buns instead of 12..no 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon amount here..just what I call a ‘heap’ aka whatever I can fit onto the dough round and seal without leaking or tearing.
Third change – I let the buns rise for an hour before baking. This recipe eliminated a rise, for a thinner shell of bread. I like a little bready fluff around my pork filling. I also baked them at 350 F for 15 minutes, instead of 200 F for 15 minutes.
Finally, I sprinkled the top of the buns without the characters with a little bit of Maldon flake sea salt.
I’m also submitting these to Bread Baking Day #45, hosted by Cindy of Cindystar.
Tags: Cabbage, Carrots, Chicken, garlic, Ginger, Moo-Shu Chicken, Pancakes, Plum sauce, Plums, Soy Sauce
First let me start by saying, this is now my 4th post in two weeks. Still feels odd. I’m completely exhausted. No idea how some cook/bake, photograph, write and post every.single.day. I have a newfound respect for them – I kiss the ground they walk on.
So here’s what happened. Remember I told you all how sick I was in my last post? Well, better now, but still a bit woozy. At least I have my appetite back, though. I want to thank everyone for the ‘feel better’ wishes. SO, during the past month a lot has been going on, and even though I knew what the Daring Cooks challenge was, I hadn’t checked the thread. I was going to skip it once I got sick, but then I saw who was hosting.
The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.
There was no way I could miss their challenge. I’ve known them for some time and really like them! They’re both enthusiastic, talented, sweet gals. A lot alike in fact. Now I know why, they’re sisters, but not just sisters, twins! I had no idea..well, I think I had no idea, since my brain has been in a fog on and off the past year or so. Regardless, I found that info pretty cool. I always got kind of a ’connected’ vibe from them.
Ok, so I find out they’re hosting like 30 hours ago. I was going to pull this out no matter what, and I did. I made the pancakes immediately after I found out, the moo shu chicken yesterday afternoon, and the gorgeous plum sauce you see, last night, right before our moo shu dinner. Then, of course, photos..post processing..writing this post, which I’m doing this very moment, the 14th, at 9:35am.
Spread the sesame oil all over each flattened dough ball before you press them together - don’t just drizzle it on like you see in the photo. I was sick and rushing photos, so I actually forgot.
Phew, made it..and it was amazing – BUT, I didn’t completely make the moo shu chicken. You see, I’m still kind of weak and woozy, so I called my Dad yesterday afternoon to pick up the ingredients for the plum sauce ( I got the idea from Suz of Serenely Full..and hers is so beautiful, I had I try it) and moo shu chicken, for me. When he came by with the stuff, I was feeling lethargic and queasy again. WE decided I would chop, dice and measure everything at the table, and he would stand at the stove and cook it as I called out directions. I was the coxswain of my kitchen.
Truth is, I didn’t have to say much because he’s a really good cook and knows what to do..especially when it comes to stir-fry. Plus, the Wok I own he bought on one of our trips to Chinatown when I was a kidlet, so it was sort of kismet. This is why I don’t have stir-fry photos – I wasn’t about to ask him to carry the Wok over, mid-cooking, to my little Lowel Ego Light nook. Look at the beautiful moo shu chicken he turned out. I swear, mine never would have looked that good. Thank you, Dad!
Quick little yarn about moo shu pancakes. I learned to make these when I was in college. My roommate received a Chinese cookbook over the holidays our sophomore year, and it was the first thing I tried. I was obsessed. I think I made them twice a week for a month or so. I loved that it was a quick easy dough that you cut into pieces, then sandwich those pieces together with sesame oil and roll the two together into one big pancake. Into a hot, dry pan, and within minutes, you could pull them apart. Voila, two pancakes in one! Loved the ‘magic’ of it.
I was super annoying.
“You’re making hamburgers? Forget the buns..we’ll wrap them in moo shu pancakes!”
“Lasagna tonight? I’ll bet nobody has ever wrapped lasagna in moo shu pancakes!”
..and so on and so forth. I know everyone was happy when it finally wore off. BUT, here we are again – history may repeat itself..until this..
My first two (well, really 4) pancakes ended up like this. Then the planets aligned, and I was back on moo shu’s good side. All was right in the world again.
I halved the recipe – so in the end we had 8 pancakes. That was more than enough, so no whining today.
Finally, can we talk about the amazing plum sauce you see above? Oh, how I wish I had natural light for photos that really show off how gorgeous it is. It’s absolutely delicious too! Like I mentioned above, I got the idea from Suz, but her recipe was metric..and I avoid metrics like the plague. I searched online..and found loads of recipes for it. I ended up compiling a bunch of those recipes into one, then adding my own tweaks upon cooking and tasting. You should do the same if you end up making this..in fact, I strongly recommend you do. Although I love my take on it, you never know..you may think it needs more savory than sweet, or vice versa, more spice etc. Regardless, you will get that gorgeous shade of magenta.
A friend just asked me if I used scissors on the scallions, like you do with ribbon, to make the curls in my scallion brushes. Ummmm, errr..no. Here’s how you make scallion brushes to use to brush the sauce on the pancake.
Loved this challenge, and I’m so glad I managed to knock it out in such a short time. Thanks Shelley and Ruth! To see all the other moo shu creations by many other Daring Cooks, click on the links to their blogs, HERE. To get the challenge recipes for moo shu pork, hoisin sauce, etc, click HERE.
Thin (Mandarin) Pancakes
Recipe from The Chinese Kitchen
Makes 24-30 pancakes
Preparation time: about 10 minutes plus 30 minutes’ standing time
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes
4 cups all purpose flour
About 1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Dry flour for dusting
1.Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Gently pour in the water, stirring as you pour, then stir in the oil. Knead the mixture into a soft but firm dough. If your dough is dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, to reach the right consistency. Cover with a damp towel and let stand for about 30 minutes.
2.Lightly dust the surface of a worktop with dry flour. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until smooth, then divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a long sausage and cut each sausage into 8-10 pieces. Keep the dough that you are not actively working with covered with a lightly damp dish cloth to keep it from drying out.
3.Roll each piece into a ball, then, using the palm of your hand, press each piece into a flat pancake. Dust the worktop with more dry flour. Flatten each pancake into a 6 to 8 inch (15 cm to 20 cm) circle with a rolling pin, rolling gently on both sides.
4.Place an un-greased frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat to low and place the pancakes, one at a time, in the pan. Remove when little light-brown spots appear on the underside. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve.
Alternate method for preparing the pancakes (the one I used):
Once the dough has rested and been kneaded again, divide it into an even number of small pieces, rolling each into a ball. Working with two balls of dough at a time, dip the bottom of one ball lightly into sesame oil (Lisa Note: I pushed each ball flat, and painted one side of both with sesame oil before pressing together – makes them come apart easier once cooked) and press it onto the top of the second ball. Press the double layer flat, then roll the doubled pancake layers into 6 to 8 inch circles. In a dry pan, cook on each side until dry and lightly blistered (but without browning). Separate pancakes after cooking.
Amazingly Gorgeous and Delicious Plum Sauce
1 3/4 to 2 lbs pounds plums
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
1 to 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced shallot or red onion
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili paste, or more if you like it spicy hot
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 whole star anise (optional)
1. Split the plums, pit them, then cut each half vertically down the center. Cut each side of each split half into two or three pieces, or just hold split half together and cut into two or three pieces (the most logical choice lol)
2. Place the chopped plums, plus all the rest of the ingredients, in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring. then reduce the heat and simmer until the plums are soft, stirring occasionally, about 15 -20 minutes. Taste as it cooks, add to it, play with it, until the taste is to your liking. Remove star anise, if using.
3. Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor. If the sauce is too thin for your liking, cook over low heat with a little cornstarch and water (a slurry) until thickened. Too thick, slowly add water until it reaches your desired consistency. Makes about 4 cups.
Note: I used the challenge recipe for my moo shu stir-fry, linked to the challenge recipes above, except I eliminated the wood ear mushrooms and used a mix of wild mushrooms. I also substituted chicken for the pork, and added bean sprouts and shredded carrots.
Until next time, which could be another 3 or 4 days, instead of the usual two weeks, at the rate I’m going!
Update: I just found out, via foodieblogroll, about Team Continuum’s “Team CAN Challenge” event being held October 22, 2011 in NYC. You can register and/or donate, plus find out more about the charity, HERE. Team Continuum is a non-profit organization, dedicated to helping cancer patients and their families minimize the disruptions and difficulties of life so that they can focus solely on crucial and much needed medical care. This is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart, having experienced it within my immediate family. This sponsorship is brought to you by Team Continuum who I have partnered with for this promotion