Sunday, April 24, 2011

From the Wing-It School: Ginger Beef

I don't recall if I've mentioned this, but I'm taking Project Management classes online. It takes up a great deal of my time and a lot of focus. I haven't created anything new in the kitchen for a while.

Today, during the break between classes (next one starts in June), I had a chance to do so. My sweetie was born in Tokyo, and I wanted to make something appropriately Asian. He said his mom would enjoy today's results, which pleased me to no end.

I did go hunting for recipes. I'd had in mind to make ginger pork or beef, but all the recipes I found had sugar or honey, which I am told is nowhere near authentic. One had balsamic vinegar. I didn't get that at all. I love balsamic, but if I'm going to incorporate it into meat, it's counter-intuitive to me to combine it with soy sauce, never mind sugar.

The following serves two, but can be easily expanded:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar (make sure you get one with no sugar or sodium added)
red pepper to taste
2 T sesame oil, divided
5 green onions, cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces
3/4 lb beef shoulder steak cut into 1/2" slices
(1 cup of mushrooms, which I was out of, but will incorporate next time)
1/4 cup ginger cut into matchsticks (you could go up to 1/3 cup if you have serious ginger fans in the house. Also--get as young a piece of ginger as possible, it's more fragrant, tastier and easier to cut)
sesame seeds for garnish
2 cups cooked rice (I like brown, Ken prefers white. What we had in the house was leftovers from take-out)

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar and several grinds of red pepper.

Heat 1 T of the sesame oil in a wok or deep pan on medium heat. A saute pan will work nicely. I have a pan with deep curved sides that also does the job. Add the ginger and stir for about five minutes (this is when I cut up the green onions). Add 1 T of the sauce and stir frequently for another three minutes.

If I'd had mushrooms, this is where I would add them, with a couple of T of the sauce, stirring for about a minute.

Add the other tablespoon of oil. Chase sweetie out of the kitchen (the smell of cooking sesame oil makes both of our mouths water), then add the meat. Stir in the other T of oil, adding more sauce as the liquid gets absorbed into the meat and vegetables. When you only see a little bit of red left in the meat, throw in the green onion and stir.

Put rice onto plates. When the onions are bright green, but not wilted, your meal is done. Spoon over rice, add a bit more sauce, red pepper to taste (or, if you have access to Shichimi Togarashi, a Japanese red pepper blend, go for it). Top with sesame seeds, enjoy!

I think I'll try this with pork in a few weeks. Stay tuned!

Next week:  an unusual sweet

Questions? Comments? Death threats? Let's hear them!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In which Kate wishes she had a tagine or for the weather to clear up already

I love food from the Middle East. Falafel, couscous, stews in a tagine, lots of lamb, really strong coffee, pita, cucumbers, I could go on. There used to be (and for all I know still is) a great restaurant in Salt Lake City called Cedars of Lebanon where I had some fantastic food. There was also Robert's Deli, where I first ate sharwama, but that's gone now.

I came across this week's recipe while searching for a Moroccan chicken dish, all the better to use my preserved lemons. One link led to another, one reason I love the internet, and I found the Chrysalis Voyage site.

Most of the ingredients I had in my kitchen, but I had to look up za'atar. Sumac I had heard of but never tried. Penzey's had both, if I needed, but I tried locally first and lucked out. Fairway Market had both. While I have objection to mixing up my own spice blends, I was in kind of a hurry. It was Friday night, I wanted to relax. 

Being a mistress of making my own life difficult, I went all the way through the market to the cashier only to discover I'd left my wallet at home. Fortunately, I live close enough that they hadn't put the items in my cart away before I went home and back.

I decided to double the marinade recipe, because I was going to be serving four or five people, but I'll put Kim's measurements here:

I use Rock Cornish Hens because I find ½ a hen a nice individual portion, but feel free to use whatever you prefer. Boneless chicken breasts work just as well.
3-4 Rock Cornish Hens or equivalent of your fave chicken pieces
Juice of 2 lemons
¾ C Olive oil
2-4 cloves crushed garlic-to your taste
Very generous pinch of each: cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric
Salt and Pepper— to your taste
1 T Za’atar
1 T Sumac
1 onion thinly sliced
3-4 T pine nuts

Set aside. In a bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt/pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, za’atar, and sumac. Pour in a large Ziploc bag and add hens or chicken pieces marinating in fridge for 6-8 hours, turning the bag over occasionally. Remove hens/chicken pieces from marinade and heat marinade in a separate serving bowl to boiling in the microwave (my sweetie was a little edgy about cooking something in the marinade until I reassured him it was heated to the boiling point first). Set aside marinade. Roast hens in a tagine or oven for about an hour at 350, or until cooked through. Or, you can grill the chicken on the barbeque—also delicious.
The original plan was to descend on Austin the former landlord in a small celebration of the anniversary of my sweetie and I getting our own place. Austin loves grilling and dangit, it's April, even in New England it should feel somewhat like spring. It poured rain all day, so no grill. We ended up roasting the chicken in the oven and they came out very well, but I do want a tagine, like the one at the left.
When hens/chicken is about finished, saute sliced onions and pine nuts in 2-3 T of hen marinade. Put cooked chicken on a large serving platter and scatter onion/pine nuts on top. Sprinkle with a little more sumac and drizzle with a little more marinade, passing the rest at the table.  Recipe serves 6 approximately. (1/2 a Cornish hen for each person)
I toasted the pine nuts first, I find that ends a little bit of flavor, and it only takes a few minutes. The onions and the nuts topped off an already special dish and brought it to a higher level. Eight small chicken breasts served four of us. Next time, though, we grill!
Questions? Comments? Death threats? I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, April 8, 2011

In which Kate learns take better inventory of her wine

This week's entry should have been a resounding success, if it weren't for one thing: I grabbed the wrong bottle of wine. Let me begin at the beginning:

A while back, I found this recipe. Olive Oil Cured Swordfish. I loved it on sight. First off, I really enjoy the flavor and texture of swordfish. Second of all, a lot of the recipes I've seen for swordfish are heavy on the citrus, almost too much so. This one used it as an appetizer, and the orange and coriander made it very different from what I've seen. And it was pretty easy--my biggest challenge was finding a vessel big enough to lay out the fish slices:


6 oz fresh swordfish
1/4 cup dry white wine. Dry. Note that, it's very important. 
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 t salt
1 orange
Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper.

What happened with the wine was this, I took inventory, found the wine I wanted to use (we only had two whites in the house), made a mental note and prepared my shopping list. When I grabbed the wine to make the marinade (see below), it was a sweet wine, not a dry one.  If I'd had more lemon juice to counter it, things might have turned out better.

As it was, I sliced the swordfish thinly, the hint in the recipe to lead with the heel of the knife was very useful. I ended up with pretty uniform slices. 

in a small bowl, whisk together the white wine, lemon juice and salt to combine. Pour this mixture over the raw fish slices and allow to rest for 1 hour at room temperature. I would recommend a little more than an hour if you have the time. My thicker slices didn't get "cooked" in the full hour.
Meanwhile, zest the orange, then segment (supreme) it, slicing the segments again in half lengthwise. Reserve both. Toast, then grind the whole coriander in a mortar & pestle. Here is a place where I need a lot of practice, my knife work is not, shall we say, supreme. Fortunately, my sweetie goes through satsumas in the winter the way I go through chocolate when I have PMS.  
Remove the fish slices from the marinade and set them atop a large piece of paper towel set on a plate. Top with another piece of paper towel to cover and gently press to dry.
Transfer the fish slices to a serving platter, arranging them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil to just cover. Scatter the orange segments, zest and ground coriander over them and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
I decided to serve this over an arugula salad as a main dish. It worked reasonably well, but it wasn't perfect. A day later, the marinade had done its job completely and the results was delicious. I plan to make this again, and when I have the money, serve it on a block of Himalayan salt like the one below

Happy eating everyone! As always, comments are encouraged.

Next week: something with sumac, and I don't mean the poison kind.