Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tangerine Peel Beef

Why have one Asian-flavor beef recipe when you can have two?

This recipe comes from Martin Yan's book "Culinary Journey through China." In his intro text, he deftly bobs and weaves around the idea of any sort of authenticity of the recipe. But it tastes good!

2 pieces (each about 1 1/2 inches square) dried tangerine peel

2 T soy sauce
1 T cornstarch

3/4 lb flank steak, thinly sliced

1/3 c orange juice
2 T rice wine or dry sherry
1 T soy sauce
1/2 t chile garlic sauce
2 t sugar
1 1/2 t cornstarch

2 1/2 T cooking oil
6 small dried red chiles
1 small onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

0. To make dried tangerine peel if you can't get it in a Chinese market: Peel the fruit. Cut the peel into pieces. Lay them out flat and cut or scrape away as much of the white pith from the inside of the peel as possible. Let the pieces of peel sun- or air-dry for a few days until they're firm but still flexible. Store them in an airtight jar.

1. Soak tangerine peel in warm water to cover until softened, about 15 minutes; drain. Thinly slice. Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl.

2. Add beef and stir to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl; set aside.

3. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add 2 T oil, swirling to coat sides. Add chiles and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add beef and stir-fry until barely pink, about 2 minutes. remove the beef and the chiles from the wok.

4. Add the remaining 1/2 T oil to wok, swirling to coat sides. Add the tangerine peel and onion; stir-fry for 1 minute. Add sauce and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens.

5. Return beef and chiles to wok and cook until heated through. Garnish with orange slices if you want.

Black pepper beef

Another recipe from Marc Matsumoto on the PBS "Fresh Tastes" blog. Black pepper is a flavor I enjoy. As is beef.

2 t whole black peppercorns
500 g (18 oz) beef filet or other tender cut, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 T oyster sauce
2 T Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
2 t potato starch
2 t sesame oil
1 1/2 T vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1/2" squares
1 onion, cut into 1/2" squares

1. Put the peppercorns in a mortar and use a pestle to crush the pepper into large pieces. You don't want any whole peppercorns, but it should be very coarse.

2. Put the beef into a bowl and add 3/4 of the black pepper and the oyster sauce, sherry (or substitute), potato starch, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix thoroughly and let this marinate for at least 15 minutes.

3. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the oil, and then immediately add the beef, leaving any marinade in the bowl for later. Fry one side until browned, then stir-fry until the outside of the beef is cooked and browned. Add the garlic, bell peppers, and onions, and continue stir-frying. Add the remaining marinade and stir-fry until the onions are cooked. Garnish with the remaining black pepper.

Spicy Miso-glazed potatoes

This yummy recipe comes from Marc Matsumoto on the PBS "Fresh Tastes" blog, dated Oct. 22 2013. I like miso and I liked this, which I approximately doubled for E's birthday dinner.

520 g small new potatoes
2 T miso (I used red)
1 T sake (I used rice vinegar)
1 T water
2 t brown sugar
1/2 t doubanjiang or your favorite Asian chile paste or sauce
1 clove garlic, grated (I chopped)
2 T butter
1 scallion, finely sliced

1. Clean potatoes. Cover with 2 inches of water in a pot, add 2 T salt, boil. Turn down heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are easily pierced with a toothpick.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the miso, sake, water, brown sugar, chile sauce, and garlic.

3. When the potatoes are tender, drain them and let them air dry in the strainer until the skins become papery (I accelerated this in a warming oven).

4. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat until hot. Add butter and melt.

5. Add the potatoes and fry, allowing them to brown on one side, before gently flipping them over and browning the other side.

6. Add the sauce and continue frying, rolling the potatoes around to coat them with the sauce. It's done when there is no liquid left and the sauce has caramelized on the outside of the potatoes.

7. Garnish with scallions.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

NYTimes Hasselback Gratin

These potatoes, from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, got a lot of love and attention when they were published in the NYTimes food section in September 2015. They're the sort of NYTimes recipe that has this kind of comments section, showing the diversity of even the liberal-leaning NYTimes readership:

-- "Oh my goodness, are you trying to kill people with all that fat and starch? This is unconscionable and irresponsible of your publication in 2016!"
-- "If you don't like it, don't make it. Simple. Live and let live."
-- "I'm gluten and dairy free. What can I substitute to make this dairy free? Thoughts?"
-- "This dish is full of dairy. If you don't eat dairy, just make a different dish. Don't ruin this one with substitutions."

And so on.

Sister T. made this to use up some ingredients in her fridge, and, predictably, it was delicious. And it looked cute too.

3 oz finely grated Gruyere or comte cheese
2 oz finey grated Parm-Reg
2 c heavy cream
2 med cloves garlic, minced.
1 T fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
salt, pepper
4 -4 1/12 lb russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline
    buy extra just in case; depending on potato shape, it may take more or less to fill the dish.
2 T butter

Turn oven to 400 F. Combine cheeses. Transfer 1/3 of cheese mix to separate bowl, set aside. Add cream, garlic and thyme to main cheese mixture. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add potato slices; toss with your hands until every slice is coated with cream mixture, making sure to separate any slices that are sticking together to get the cream mixture in between them.

Grease a 2 quart casserole with butter. Pick up a handful of potatoes, organizing them into a neat stack, and lay them in the casserole dish with their edges aligned vertically. Continue in this manner, working around the perimeter and into the center until all the potatoes have been added. They should be very tightly packed. If necessary, slice an additional potato, coat with cream mixture, and add to casserole. Pour the excess cream/cheese mixture evenly over the potatoes until the mixture comes halfway up the sides of the casserole. You may not need all the excess liquid and in fact T. didn't; she served the rest heated into a thick gravy on the side and it was scrumptious. (The first time she made it she used all the liquid and it didn't turn out as well).

Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the top is pale golden brown, about 30 more minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and return to oven. Bake until deep golden brown and crisp on top, about 30 more minutes. Remove from oven, rest for a few minutes, and serve.

Monday, July 18, 2016

French Boiled Pastry

I continue to be a wimp about pastry, so when I wanted to make a tart a few months ago (a Pepper Pie, actually), I used this recipe I found on David Lebovitz's site. He makes it clear that it is NOT HIS RECIPE and is a bit of a grump about it in the comments section ("I have no idea how it works, I can't troubleshoot it for you, it's not my recipe.") He learned it from a woman named Paule Caillat in France of the Promenades Gourmandes. Visit the website instead of just taking it from me: I'm just recording it here because I use this as my personal recipe box.

The crust was specifically complimented at the event I brought the tart to.

David advises using the crust with things like chocolate ganache or pastry cream, but not with thin, custardy fillings. I agree. There do tend to be small cracks in the dough.

French Pastry Dough for a 9 inch tart shell

85g (3 oz) unsalted butter, cut in pieces
   **they say American butter works just fine. I THINK I used European butter, but don't remember,
1 T oil
3 T water
1 T sugar
1/8 t salt
160 g (5.5 oz) all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 410 F.

In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl (such as Pyrex), combine butter, oil, water, sugar, salt. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.

Remove bowl from the oven (be careful! It might sputter!), dump in the flour (keep being careful!) and stir it quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to your 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom and spread it out a bit with a spatula. When cook enough to handle, pat it into the shell with your hands, pressing it to the sides. Reserve a small piece to patch cracks.

Prick the dough all over with the tines of the fork. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from the oven. If there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to patch.


Other Founders Day Festives

Along with the jambalaya (see below), I served fried okra with a Scandinavian-inspired dipping sauce and a sour cream-cucumber salad.

I'm still no fan of okra, but frying it helped. (Mix up roughly equal parts flour and corn meal; salt it generously and put in some cajun or creole spice or cayenne powder. Beat up some eggs and salt them lightly. Thaw sliced okra and get all the ice chunks off. Dip first in the flour mix, then in the egg, then back in the flour, and fry in shallow oil). I DID like the dipping sauce for them.

The salad was very creamy and I thought it was a great counterpoint for the jambalaya. Mash-up success.

Dipping Sauce

~2 parts mayonnaise
~2 parts sour cream, maybe more
~1 part grainy or brown mustard
~1 part chopped capers
sprigs of dill, roughly chopped
1/2 large shallot, finely chopped
dash of apple cider vinegar

Cucumber-Sour Cream-Dill Salad

4 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, sliced into crescent moons
~3 stalks celery, chopped
big spoonful mayo
bigger spoonful sour cream, use more to taste
big handful of dill, chopped
a few T finely chopped white parts of scallions
3 T prepared horseradish (meant to add but forgot)
salt, pepper, vinegar to taste

Salt the cucumbers and put in a strainer to release liquid for 30 minutes or so. (I was so torn about whether to do this. I didn't want it to be limp, but I also didn't want it to get watery as I was serving it a few hours after making. In the end, I'm glad I did; it was still crisp and a little pickley, which I liked). Squeeze it to release all the water you can before putting it in the dressing.

Make a dressing out of the rest of the ingredients. I wanted mine to be really creamy and maybe even sort of soupy based on pictures I saw, and I wanted it to soothe the jambalaya. You might want yours drier.

Dress the cucumbers and celery. Season, adjust.

Refrigerate 30 minutes to develop flavors.

Founders Day Jambalaya

I have a post from several years ago for jambalaya-- a good one, as I recall-- but when I wanted to make jambalaya for Minnissippi Founders Day this year, I decided to up the ante.

This is an example of taking many recipes and formulating one of my own in advance, and in this case, it worked (it doesn't always). It is rather a baroque jambalaya with three meats, a roux, and some fiddliness. But it was yummy yummy to my belly.

What makes it an official Founders Day jambalaya is the inclusion of Swedish meatballs.

Minnissippi Founders Day Jambalaya

butter and/or olive oil (I used mostly butter)
2 T flour

Spice mix:
3 whole bay leaves
3/4 t cayenne
3/4 t paprika
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t white pepper
1 t dried thyme
1 t oregano
1 t camaron molido, optional
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t rubbed sage

8-12 oz andouille sausage (I used linguica), cut in half disks)
Swedish meatballs, thawed
3/4 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cut in bite size pieces

1 T pressed garlic
1 c finely chopped onion
3/4 c finely chopped green onion
1 c finely chopped celery
1 c finely chopped green bell pepper

1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped, including liquid
2 14.5 oz cans chicken broth
1 1/2 c uncooked long grain white rice

First, mise en place. Measure spices into a bowl. Cut vegetables and divide: one bowl with 1/2 of the onion, green onion, celery, and bell pepper, and ALL of the garlic. You'll use this first. The other bowl will have the other half of the onion, green onion, celery, and bell pepper. You'll add this later. Cut the sausage and the chicken. Thaw the meatballs (microwave cook ok).

Heat 3 T butter (or mix with olive oil) in a very large kettle or skillet with a heavy bottom over medium heat. Add sausage and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken and continue cooking until chicken is brown, 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove sausage and chicken from pan and add fat if needed to get back to 2 T; I added 1 T butter. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until browned. The fat will already be a little red because of the sausage; I cooked my roux for about 12 minutes, constantly smearing and swirling it and stirring, and it was about the color of a dark almond butter or natural peanut butter. Don't burn it!

Add your spice mix (bay leaves through sage) and another T of butter as needed. It should form a thickish paste; bloom it for a few minutes by squishing, turning, stirring in the pan. If the fat starts to separate, you're done.

Add another couple T butter, as needed, and add 1/2 of the onion, green onion, celery, green pepper, and all of the garlic. Cook until the vegetables start to get tender and relax, 8 minutes, stirring.

Add back chicken and sausage; add meatballs and the rest of the vegetables you set aside. Stir in tomato sauce and tomatoes. Bring to a boil (I needed all that liquid to get it wet enough to "bring to a boil", but I suppose your mileage might vary. If so, maybe only add 1/2 the tomato sauce or the tomatoes without their liquid). Stir in rice and broth. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, until rice is very nearly tender and the liquid is significantly reduced. (My assembled recipe suggested 25 minutes, but the actual process was much, much slower. But it got there).

Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, hot sauce, whatever else you think would help (think about the big taste categories. I thought it needed a touch umami so I splashed in umami. I thought it needed a touch of brightness so I splashed in some apple cider vinegar. Maybe you would think it needed some sweet, or pungency).

Continue to cook until rice is perfect. It should be thickened but still wet, a bit soupy.

I refrigerated it and re-heated it in the oven at 350 to serve.