Okay folks, I admit, I’ve been a little distracted by the glorious Pacific Northwest summer, traipsing about in the mountains. Between that, work, and other personal projects, feeding the Internet Blog Machine has gotten a little backlogged. So without further ado, here’s one more..
Quite some time ago, I went to school in the other Washington -the District of Columbia. While there, I was exposed to the experience of an even more humid climate than my native Midwest summer. Wandering the concrete jungle blocks from my job at a nonprofit and nerd-exciting statistics classes, I was exposed to my first taste of Korean food ever. It was ironically a vegan Korean shop, and my favorite dish was tofu japchae. In retrospect it was an easy gateway crossover from my beloved childhood Cantonese restaurant dish of beef chow fun (see fellow pun lovers’ recipe at Woks of Life, and really, anything noodle. That first taste opened me up to a whole other cuisine full of spicier, more vegetable-filled and bbq-beef-laden meals like dolsot bibimbap and tofu soup!
Fast forward to years later on a warm Seattle summer day, living with some one who eats low carb, and here is my experiment in turning Japchae paleo friendly.
Is it Fall? Is it windy with a risk of power outage in the Pacific Northwest? Are the daylight hours narrowing into a tiny sliver of hope/despair? Did I just go to Facing East and have stewed pork after a 7 mile hike a few weekends ago?
Time for some long-stewing braised pork! Check out the new gif below.
Below is a combo of my old friend Jenny’s roast pork recipe plus another recipe she sent me (photo from a book). You can generally find five-spice powder at your local Asian grocery store, or online if you don’t want to make it yourself. I’ve known Jenny longer than I haven’t, and she’s been a long-time co-conspirator for cooking tons of food to overfeed people. I’ve learned a lot from her, in cooking and life. Even though we grew up together, she’s one of my favorite role models for living courageously. Thanks a bunch for this recipe, Jenny!
3.74 lb. pork (pork shoulder or butt, bone in)
2 cups water
1 cups soy sauce (for gluten-free, use tamari sauce)
1 cup wine (sherry)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons five-spice powder*
1 large onion, diced
7 slices of ginger
1 green onion, sliced lengthwise
Optional (see steps 3-5):
your starch staple choice of brown rice, quinoa, white rice, etc.
3 carrots, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled Continue Reading
As a child growing up in the Midwest with home-cooked Chinese food for dinner, microwave dinners were some kind of marvelous space food I’d get to eat on special occasions (see: babysitter). Among those dinners, the best option often seemed to be the chicken pot pie, which could be easily popped in the toaster oven for a satisfying belly-sticking meal in a tin pan. Years later I picked up a recipe magazine based purely on the delectable-looking chicken pot pie on the front. I think it was a Reader’s Digest. Anyway, it seemed like such a novel and miraculous opportunity to learn to make pot pie, it has found an honored place in my recipe Dropbox files, usually only brought out to make something even better out of Thanksgiving turkey leftovers.
Fast forward to Labor Day weekend, and some old friends are in town and have made a special request for chicken pot pie. When good friends you haven’t seen in a years ask for pot pie, then you make pot pie.
Good thing I ended up with three great sous chefs to keep things rolling that Sunday..
Chicken Pot Pie
Based originally on ..a Reader’s Digest recipe
Serves 4 Prep time: 50 min Total time: ~.5 hrs prep + 1.5 hr + chilling (approx. 35 min chilling 2x)
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1 medium onion, cut into medium dice
2-3 large carrots, cut into medium dice
1/2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface (whole wheat flour works fine too)
coarse salt & pepper
4 c low-sodium chicken broth (or veggie stock)
3 c cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces (1 lb total)
1 c frozen peas
1.5 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves (or .75 tsp dried thyme)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg yolk
Optional: garlic powder, random italian seasonings
1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium. Add onion and carrot and cook until onion softens, about 6 minutes. Add flour and 1/2 tsp salt; cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden, has a slightly nutty aroma, and is the texture of cooked oatmeal, about 5 minutes.
2. Whisking constantly, add broth. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas and thyme; season with salt and pepper (optional: garlic powder and italian seasoning). Divide mixture among four 12-ounce baking dishes; refrigerate until room temperature, about 20 minutes. Try to fill the dishes as full as possible to help support the dough on time so it gets a chance to rise. In the case of this last time I made pot pie, the baking dishes with filling were put in a cooler with ice and transported for the ~30 minutes to a friend’s house before continuing to the next step.
2.5 Optional step: get to your friend’s house and realize you forgot the puff pastry, half the group heads to the store to buy some more. :p
3. Preheat oven to 375 F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll pastry to an 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 4 equal squares, 1 inch larger than dishes; with the tip of a sharp knife, cut vents into pastry. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolk with 1 tsp water; top potpies with pastry and brush with egg wash.
4. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
5. Bake until pastry is deep golden and juices are bubbling, about 35-45 minutes. It can be useful to put a wide dish underneath to catch any accidental overflow.
6. When serving, be sure to warn people the pot pie is very hot.
7. Take a food coma nap.
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating: Novelty Rating: 1.5 of 5 stars.
As mentioned, I usually only make this about once a year after Thanksgiving, so on that note, it’s a bit novel. Likelihood of Repeat: 100%
It’s quite a bit of work, which is partly why I use pre-made puff pastry instead of dough from scratch. However, all that care and attention only makes it more worth eating.
Lesson Learned: You will never have leftovers from this, unless you keep the filling separate from the dough and don’t bake it. Also, you can make whatever design you want when cutting slits in the top of the dough. Exercising the patience for full refrigeration time is pretty key to making sure the crust doesn’t get soggy and collapse, and having moderately shallow baking dishes gives you a good crust-to-filling ratio. Don’t be afraid to use more vegetables.
A variant to try later: putting crust underneath the filling too, per my friend S____________’s requests. Comment here if you’ve done this!
April can be a dreary time of year in the Pacific Northwest, when the reason behind the existence of a cozy coffee shop on every other street corner becomes apparent. This Sunday afternoon’s anticipation of spring warmth was salved with trying out this lamb stew recipe, with a side of netflix marathon. I don’t think I’ve ever tried cooking lamb at home, but starting with it in cubed stewed form seemed a good way to start. Got a chance to break in a recently acquired dutch oven (ostensibly bought for car camping cake purposes).
Lamb Stew with Butternut Squash & Carrots
Altered a minuscule degree from: Food 52’s Lamb Stew
Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pound lamb shoulder, in 1-inch cubes
1medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped carrots (added more, I lurve stewed carrots) 2 4 cloves garlic, chopped (anything with 2 cloves of garlic, is worth making with 4!)
28 ounces chopped tomatoes (I cheated with canned. In the winter they seem to have more flavor than fresh tomatoes..)
2 cups beef stock 2 sprigs thyme 2 tsp dried thyme 1 sprig rosemary 1 tsp dried rosemary
2 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch)
1/2 tsp butter
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a Dutch oven or saucepan with a lid heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the lamb with salt, and when the oil is hot, brown half of the cubes on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove lamb to a plate with a slotted spoon and add more oil if necessary. Brown the rest of the lamb and then set aside.
2. On medium low, add butter, the onions, carrots and garlic to pot. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
3. Add the tomatoes, stock, herbs and the browned lamb, along with any juices that have accumulated. Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to get up all the brown tasty bits from the bottom of the pot.
4. When the stew comes to a boil, cover the pot and put in the oven. Cook until the lamb is just tender, 2 to 3 hours. Optional: in the mean time, cook some brown rice, and/or butter some naan and add garlic powder and bake. It took me about 2 hours for the lamb to start falling apart.
5. Stir the butternut squash into the stew, re-cover it and return the pot to the oven until the squash is tender, another 20 to 25 minutes. Optional: serve with rice or naan.
This was a nice way to try out the new cast iron dutch oven I got. Now all I have to do is lift some weights so it isn’t so heavy any more. It was pretty difficult to put away left overs without being able to lift it with one arm. I also cheated a bit, using dried herbs, and snagging a box of pre-cut butternut squash from Whole Foods rather than sawing through my own whole squash. Looking forward to being set for a main dish for the next day or two..or three or four. Three other ways I thought of eating this in leftover form, in case you have a skewed mouth-to-portions-available situation like I did:
add chickpeas, roll in naan bread toasted with butter and garlic,
pour on top of pasta and top with parmesan cheese,
saute some thickly-sliced zucchini and onions and mix it in (the tomato cuts some bitterness of the zucchini),
freeze in single portions for a day when you have time to defrost but none to cook and want a hearty meal
stuff some puff pastry with the stew and bake until golden.
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Looks so familiar, but everything is slightly different! Orange you glad I tried it, just so I could make that pun? Likelihood of Repeat: 70%
Mmm, nothing quite like filling your house with the smell of savory stew on a lazy Sunday. This is relatively low maintenance with darn high benefit/yield, so I definitely would like to make it again. Lesson Learned: “2 to 3 hours” + “20-25” + prep = 3-5 hours of total process time?! Better get a full season of tv watching ready, or maybe a good book.
1/2 a jicama, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/6 red onion, sliced in thin strips
~1 Tbs orange juice
~1/4 tsp lime rind
~2 tsp lime juice 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
a dash of salt to taste 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)
substituted: 2 sprigs mint, stems removed and leaves cut in ribbons
Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl, and toss gently to coat. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in the mint just before serving. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.
Today’s Recipe #1 Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Never made this before, and it has quite a strong sweet flavor even without sugar. You really get to taste the jicama, which was a novelty to me. I only started buying (and identifying) jicama last year. Likelihood of Repeat: 80%
I think I have a strong bias for salads that don’t involve any leafy greens, bonus points for the use of multiple citrus items. I think I would like to re-try this with some orange slices thrown in too. Lesson Learned: 1/6 of a red onion may still be too much onion to rejoin humanity after eating this.
(2) Summer Rolls & Peanut Sauce
based on an altered recipe based on one from Chow.com
For the peanut sauce:
3/4 cup natural-style creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 1/2 medium limes)
4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons chili-garlic paste
1 medium garlic clove, mashed to a paste –okay, I cheated with pre-chopped garlic from the jar, fresh garlic is too spicy sometimes..
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
For the summer rolls: 24 medium shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined fried or firm tofu, sliced
1 hank dried rice stick noodles or rice vermicelli
5 (8-1/2-inch) round rice paper wrappers
1/8 cup mung bean sprouts**
4 sprigs fresh mint leaves
32 fresh basil
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4-by-1/4-by-2-1/2-inch sticks
3 medium scallions, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 2-1/2-inch pieces (white and light green parts only) -used chives because i had some
8 butter lettuce leaves cut in half
jicama, julienned (same portion as cukes)
a dash of rice vinegar
For the peanut sauce:
1. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.
For the summer rolls:
1. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain, try rinsing, then tossing with rice vinegar and salt; then separate in clumps for each roll lest the noodles get all stuck together during assembly.
2. Place all of the ingredients in separate piles and arrange them in the following order around a work surface: rice paper wrappers, tofu, rice noodles, bean sprouts, mint, basil, cucumber, scallions, and lettuce.
3. Place a clean, damp kitchen towel on a work surface, or lay out a damp wooden cutting board. Fill a medium frying pan or wide, shallow dish large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with warm tap water. Working with one wrapper at a time, completely submerge the wrapper until it is soft and pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on the towel/board.
4. Working quickly, lay down ingredients sparsely atop rice wrapper (see picture), adding lettuce last, and mint and chive leaves near end of roll for aesthetics.
5. Fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding the whole thing firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. Then, pressing firmly down to hold the folds in place, roll the entire wrapper horizontally up from the bottom to the top.
6. Turn the roll so that the seam faces down and the row of tofu faces up. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. Leave 3/4 inch between each summer roll on the sheet so they don’t stick together, and replace the water in the pan or dish with hot tap water as needed.
**If not serving immediately, keep the summer rolls tightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 hours, OR wrap individually in plastic wrap, then in tightly-covered tupperware to keep overnight (see below for photo). Serve with the peanut sauce for dipping. If you are worried about it drying out, another precaution is to barely coat the outside of the rolls with sesame or olive oil, then wrap. The oil helps hold in the moisture.
Tip 1: Even when I scale down the amounts for the rolls, it’s been good to do the full or at least half portion of the sauce, since that is really the flavor that adds depth to the light crisp summer roll. Tip 2: I keep my coconut flakes in an empty spice container for easy sprinkling over this, yogurts, and desserts. Tip 3: I find my wrapping is more successful when I stretch the wrapper a smidge more than I think it will take. Definitely err on the side of less ingredients when you are first practicing the rolling.
Note: I first tried making these in the height of the Seattle summer (when I didn’t want to cook anything and add heat in a brief “80-degree heat wave”), and I am still using the same bag of rice wrappers, so yes, you will have more leftover, and you can stuff it with whatever leftovers you think will go well.
Today’s Recipe #2 Rating:
Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 stars.
I’ve made it before. I think it’s tasty, but definitely getting a little stale to eat in the winter when I crave potatoes and meat dishes. ..but it tastes so…healthy..
Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
As I mentioned before, I am still using the same packet of rice wrappers from the summer, and plan on continuing to put random ingredients together for a slapdash lunch. You will note the significant difference in length of steps between the two recipes above. That alone may indicate that #1 is going to win out in repeats.. Lesson Learned: I will always, always have leftover filling after I run out of those tasty rice noodles. This, in fact, was the original reason for recipe #1, as jicama only comes in certain sizes, so you’d have to make tons of summer rolls to actually use it up.
**Stay tuned for a future blog post on sprouting mung beans! I’ll do it so you don’t have to try it.