Friday, September 30, 2016

Flashback Friday - Pear and Fig Turnovers with Bourbon Caramel

Sometimes a good restaurant meal inspires good home-cooking. Perhaps not replicating the entire meal, but just one course. Or borrowing the flavors from the appetizer or dessert to create a completely different dish, as in these crisp turnovers filled with a combination of pears and figs and jazzed up with bourbon caramel sauce.


This post was originally published on January 17, 2012.
Pear and Fig Turnovers with Bourbon Caramel

We spent a couple of the last remaining hours of 2011 having a lovely dinner at B&O American Brasserie. Among the five courses we consumed were two that really inspired me to try a variation at home, one of which was a brown butter pear cake paired with figs and bacon.

The cake itself was just a rather plain yellow cake; the pear actually appeared to be within the jam-like accompaniment of caramelized dried figs sprinkled with bits of bacon. I thought the fig/pear/caramel combination was delicious and made a mental note to try it at home, with or without the bacon.

After a bit of thinking, I decided figsnpears would work nicely as a filling for tartlets, hand pies, or turnovers. Because I was already making a fairly complicated dinner the same night, I decided to forego the bacon, although it would have been a tasty addition.

Commercial puff pastry is always a breeze to use - just thaw, fill, and bake. The puffy little pies were terrific hot out of the oven and drizzled with a bit of the caramel sauce, but equally as good at room temperature with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream and more caramel.

Pear and Fig Turnovers with Bourbon Caramel

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
8 dried figs, quartered, stems removed
1 cup water
2 medium pears, skinned and diced
1 tablespoon butter
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
1 egg, beaten

In a small saucepan, bring figs and water to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes, or until figs are tender, adding more water as necessary. Remove from heat and drain figs. Set aside.

Melt butter in a medium sauté pan. Add pears and cook over medium heat until tender. Add 2 tablespoons of the bourbon caramel sauce, stir in reserved figs, and cook an additional five minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Unfold one puff pastry sheet and use a rolling pin to flatten the seams and stretch the dough out a bit. Cut dough into six squares. Place a tablespoon of fig and pear filling in the center of each square (if some of the squares are rectangles, stretch the dough accordingly). Fold dough to form a triangle and seal edges with the tines of a fork. Place pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush each with the beaten egg. Repeat with second pastry sheet.

Bake for 18 minutes. Serve with little ramekins of caramel sauce for dipping.

Bourbon Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon

Place sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved. Turn heat to high and bring sugar mixture to a boil. Cook without stirring until the syrup turns a medium amber and starts to smoke (but is not burning!). Remove pan from heat and add butter and cream. Stir in bourbon and vanilla. Pour into a clean glass pint jar and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator.

Reheat caramel by placing a couple of spoonfuls into a microwave-safe ramekin and microwaving for 5-second increments until caramel is hot and bubbly. Remove carefully, as it will be very hot.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Vietnamese Noodles and Pork

I mentioned the blog The Woks of Life a few weeks ago. I am so in love with their food photography - it makes everything look absolutely mouth-watering. So of course I want to try every recipe. The latest one I tried was for a Vietnamese noodle salad with pork, bún thịt nướng. I've eaten this dish in Vietnamese restaurants, and what was most striking to me about it was that the pork had a lovely caramelized sweetness to it. The Woks' recipe didn't include sugar in the pork marinade, so I added some. It really makes a difference.

Nuoc cham doesn't always involve garlic, and the three cloves indicated in the original recipe seemed excessive, so I put it in the meat marinade instead. Which actually makes more sense. And it gets cooked eventually, so that makes for less garlic-breath.

Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Pork (adapted from The Woks of Life)

For the nuoc cham:
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Sriracha
½ cup cold water

For the pork chops:
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon cornstarch
4 boneless pork chops
Vegetable oil

To serve:
6 oz. dried rice vermicelli noodles, prepared according to package directions
1 small cucumber, julienned
1 medium carrot, julienned
A large handful of snow peas, blanched and cut into lengthwise strips
½ cup cilantro, mint, and thai basil leaves, roughly torn

To make nuoc cham: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

To make pork chops: In a zip top bag, make the pork chop marinade by adding the soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, cornstarch, and wine. Marinate the pork chops for at least 20 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Sear the pork chops on both sides until cooked through. Set the pork chops aside to rest.

To serve: Add the noodles, cucumber, carrot, and snow peas to a bowl. Top with the pork chops and herbs, and serve with the nuoc cham.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Flashback Friday - Kitchen of India

Kitchen of India has pretty good food. The service, however, has always been casual at best. Haven't been in a while, so perhaps that has improved?


This post was originally published on October 19, 2011.
Kitchen of India

Most Indian restaurants in the area serve extremely rich, cream-laden food that we find ourselves craving only once or twice a year. After a disappointing meal with abysmal service at India Palace in Cockeysville, and a worse one at Café Spice when it was still in Towson, we pretty much swore off dining in Indian restaurants altogether. For a few years, we got our Indian fix via delivery from the little joint just south of Northern Parkway that started out as Yeti, morphed into B'More and is now Mikie's. But this week we ventured out to try Kitchen of India, at my brother's suggestion.

Located on Joppa Road near Perring Parkway, Kitchen of India is in the space once occupied by the Nepali/Indian Mount Everest. The new restaurant features pretty much all of the typical dishes, but also has a few Bangladeshi offerings. And goat, which I can't say I've seen on any menus here in Baltimore before. It seemed like a good choice for a rainy Wednesday night dinner.

After perusing the menu, we decided we wanted to sample their tandoori dishes, and rather than ordering the "mixed tandoori platter" appetizer, I requested the "tandoori mixed grill" entrée which offered chicken tikka, shrimp, fish, seekh kabab, & tandoori chicken. I even made sure to order it by number in case the waitress didn't understand. Unfortunately, I also said, "we'd like it served first, as an appetizer." Apparently all she heard was "tandoori appetizer" and that's what we got - a meagre selection of dry chicken pieces, a few chunks of nicely spiced seekh kabab, and a few dry shrimp among a plethora of lightly cooked green bell pepper and onion. Feh.

My brother went for his usual chicken tikka masala, his gauge for restaurant quality much like Mr Minx's usual kung pao chicken order in a Chinese restaurant. In other words - if they like this particular dish, they're likely to enjoy others, should they venture to try something completely different.

That's a pretty good way to describe Kitchen of India's tikka masala - completely different. Used to a rich tomato-tinged cream sauce, we were all pleasantly surprised to receive a dish of chicken chunks sauced in what tasted, to me, suspiciously of pumpkin. Regardless of what comprised the sauce, the flavors were quite nice, with a bit of heat.

Mr Minx tried the goat curry and received a dish of tender chunks of goat meat bathed in a sauce redolent of cloves.

I'm a big okra fan so couldn't pass up the bhindi masala, a dry fry of okra with browned onions. It had a rich, buttery flavor and was smashing with basmati rice.

With our meal we had cups of tea - what must have been the world's strongest chai. It was practically espresso. The black tea flavor was much more prominent than were the spices, and while rich with cream, the drink needed several sugars to cut the tannin. When we were finished eating, the waitress removed Mr Minx's half-full cup by mistake, leaving my brother's empty one behind. I suggested he ask for a fresh cup, but he demurred. I secretly think he was relieved he didn't have to finish the first one.

So...Kitchen of India is a mixed bag. The goat, okra, and chicken entrées were all quite good, as was the accompanying basmati rice and the naan we ordered. The service was a little shaky though. Not only did the order get mixed up and the tea removed early, but also the check was placed on the table while my brother was still eating. But...what we ate was interesting enough that we'd go back for more.

Kitchen of India
1842 E Joppa Rd
Parkville, MD 21234
(410) 663-6880

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Chocolate Melt®

For the entire month of March, I gave up dairy, wheat, and sugar. It wasn't as difficult as I expected, but I did have to make some substitutions for things. Since I couldn't have butter, I relied more heavily on olive and coconut oil. Neither quite satisfied my "butter tooth," though.

A few months later, I was approached by a rep for Melt® Organic, asking if I would be interested in trying their products and/or visiting their booth at the Fancy Food Show. I can never guarantee if I'll make a visit to a booth at the show, because there is so much to see, but I was curious about Melt®. In a few days I received a package of buttery sticks, Melt® Organic Probiotic Spread, and their new Chocolate Melt®.

Chocolate butter! Well, not really butter. But chocolate!

Melt® contains what the company calls a "Perfect Blend" of beneficial oils - primarily virgin coconut oil blended with flaxseed, hi-oleic sunflower, palm fruit, and canola oils. It's got a mildly coconutty flavor that is great if you like coconut. The stuff that comes in tubs is spreadable right out of the fridge, like whipped butter, and is perfect for toast, bagels, and the like.

The Chocolate Melt® is Perfect Blend + organic cocoa and wildflower honey (but not really enough to make it obviously sweet). I thought it tasted pretty good on toast, especially with a sprinkling of unsweetened coconut flakes. No, it will not ever be a substitute for your favorite chocolate hazelnut spread because it doesn't have a ton of sugar (only 1 gram per serving), but it does feel a bit indulgent.

One of the true tests of any butter substitute is in how it bakes. I whipped up a batch of brownies using a recipe from the Fat Witch cookbook, with Chocolate Melt® in place of butter. I honestly couldn't tell the difference. The coconut flavor disappeared in all the chocolate goodness, and the brownies had the same fudgelike texture that just about all Fat Witch brownies have (as opposed to being gooey or cakey). You'd better believe that they got scarfed up pretty quickly in our house!

Double Chocolate Melt Brownies (adapted from Fat Witch)

1/2 cup Chocolate Melt®
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Large pinch salt
3 large eggs
¾ cup flour

Grease a 9-inch square pan and preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the Chocolate Melt® and all but 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic and place in microwave. Cook in 30-second bursts, stirring between each, until chocolate is melted, 1 - 1 1/2 minutes. Remove bowl and stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then beat in the eggs. Stir in the flour until no traces of it remain, then stir in the reserved chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs on it. Allow to cool before cutting into 12 pieces.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Crispy Glazed Tofu Bibimbap

Yes, yes, another recipe using that yummy Makrut lime leaf-infused maple syrup from Runamok. I can't help it - it's good stuff, and it gives a balancing sweetness to foods without adding any processed sugar. We've been trying to cut back on the white stuff this month, and maple syrup has really come in handy to curb our sugar cravings.

And it's also another crispy tofu recipe. It's getting so I don't even want to eat soft tofu anymore, because the crispy stuff is just so. damn. good. Seriously. (I know you don't believe me. Just try it.)

Crispy Glazed Tofu Bibimbap

1 14-oz box firm or extra firm tofu
Corn starch
Vegetable oil for frying
1 teaspoon gochujang
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Runamok Maple Makrut Lime leaf-infused maple syrup
Steamed rice
Slivered carrots
Cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut into half moons
Sugar snap peas or snow peas, steamed
Soft-boiled eggs (optional, see recipe below)
Sesame oil
Chopped scallions

Remove the tofu from its carton and pat dry. Wrap in a double thickness of paper towels and place on a plate. Put another plate upside-down on top, then weight with a jar or can. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, changing the towels once or twice.

After the tofu has been pressed for several hours, remove the last application of wet towels and pat the tofu dry. Cut the block in thirds widthwise to make three approximately 5" square x 1/2" high slices. Cut each square in half to make 6 rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally to form 12 triangles.

Put several tablespoons of corn starch in a plastic zip top bag and add a big pinch of salt. Shake to combine. Add tofu pieces, one at a time, and coat with cornstarch. Pat off excess cornstarch and place each triangle on a dry plate.
Pour two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet and heat until a drop of water hisses and spits. Add the tofu in one layer. Cook until lightly browned on bottom, 3-4 minutes. Using tongs, turn the pieces (some will want to stick together - turn them together if that's the case, you can separate them later). Cook another 3-4 minutes. Flip again to get bottoms browner, then repeat. At the end of 15 or so minutes, your tofu should be nicely browned on both sides. Remove pieces to a paper towel-liked plate to drain.

In a small bowl, combine the gochujang, soy, and maple syrup. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze over one side of the tofu pieces, making sure to coat them thoroughly.

To serve: Place some steamed rice in a bowl. Top with pieces of tofu, carrots, cucumbers, peas, and halved eggs (if using). Drizzle with a bit of sesame oil, garnish with chopped scallion, and serve.

Soft-Boiled Eggs

2 large eggs

Put enough water in a saucepot to cover eggs plus a little more. (But don't add the eggs yet!) Bring the water to a rolling boil, then gently add the eggs using a slotted spoon or spider. Set your timer for 7 minutes.

While eggs are cooking, put cold water and some ice cubes in a bowl. When time is up, immediately remove the eggs from the pot of boiling water to the ice bath. Leave the eggs in the ice bath for several minutes, until well chilled.

Gently peel eggs. Cut in half and use as garnish. The whites should be solid, and the yolks runny.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Back in the day, we had an ice cream maker, one of those Donvier things, and once in a while I'd whip up some simple, no-cook, dull flavor of ice cream. But turning the crank was a bore, and we had to wait to eat the stuff because it was always too soft to consume immediately. Now we have a fancier electric Cuisinart ice cream maker that requires no effort on my part except to plug it in and push a button, so I want to make ice cream all the time. And I find myself creating more interesting and intricate flavors to go with the less-basic equipment.

I get a regular email from an outfit called Book Bub that offers cheap e-books. Really cheap, like $1.99. Recently, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home was on offer, and I couldn't pass up adding it to my growing library of ice cream cookbooks. Jeni's is a pricey super-duper-premium brand one can find in specialty supermarkets; it owes its creamy texture not to the usual eggs, but to a cornstarch and cream cheese combo. I flipped through and decided that I didn't want to use any of the flavors presented therein (at least not right now), but would make one of my own, using Jeni's technique: key lime pie.

Key lime pie is crazy simple. Basically, it's sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and eggs in a crust. Seemed like an ice cream would be equally easy. I borrowed the base from Jeni's lemon ice cream and substituted sweetened condensed milk for half the regular milk and lime for lemon. I also toasted some graham cracker crumbs (crushed Teddy Grahams) to mimic the crust.

The original lemon ice cream required a lemon syrup that was added to the cooled base while it was in the machine, I assume to prevent any curdling. So I made a separate lime syrup as well, but found that the sweetened condensed milk had thickened the base considerably. Rather than trickle the syrup into the base as it churned, I dumped it all in and gave it a good stir. That seemed to work fine. The end result was amazing - the texture was perfect, creamy and rich, with a nice lime flavor and crispy bits of crust. It tasted exactly like key lime pie. Do try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

2-4 limes
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons softened cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Zest from 3 limes
4 ounces graham crackers, crushed
3 tablespoons melted butter

With a microplane, zest three of the limes and reserve. Halve the limes and squeeze enough juice to make 1/2 cup. (We had enormous limes and only needed two.) Combine juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cold.

Mix 2 tablespoons of the whole milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt together until smooth. Prepare a shallow ice bath: in a large bowl or baking pan, place an inch or two of cold water and several ice cubes. Set aside.

Cook the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and zest in a large saucepan until it comes to a rolling boil, Bring for 4 minutes, watching carefully so it doesn't boil over (stir when it starts to expand), remove from heat, and slowly whisk in the slurry. Bring back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Blend a few tablespoons of hot milk mixture into the cream cheese to loosen it, then pour the cream cheese mixture into the pan of milk. Whisk well until smooth. Pour into a container with a tight-fitting lid and place the container into the ice bath until cool, ensuring that the water level doesn't come up as far as the lid. When the mixture seems somewhat cool, refrigerate until completely cold.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine the crushed graham crackers and melted butter so all the crumbs are coated. It will seem a little dry. Pour onto a foil-lined baking sheet and pat out into one thin layer. Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and toasty-smelling. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Stir lime syrup into chilled ice cream base - base will be very thick. Freeze ice cream according to manufacturers instructions. Once ice cream is done, scoop some into a lidded storage container. Layer on some of the crust crumbs. Continue to add ice cream and crumbs to container until both are used up. Press a piece of wax paper onto the surface of the ice cream. Seal container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

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Flashback Friday - Fumetto #7 - Paula's Beast Dishes

Another fumetto for your enjoyment. Or not. :)


This post was originally published on October 12, 2010.
Fumetto #7 - Paula's Beast Dishes

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Cosima Revisited

When we were given a preview of Cosima restaurant in December of last year, we knew we would be back to try their Sicilian-style cuisine as soon as it opened. Of course, life got in the way and we couldn't seem to find the right time to return. By August, when my brother-in-law asked me where I wanted to eat for my birthday dinner, I knew this was the perfect opportunity.

We were lucky enough to go on a evening when the weather was mild and the outdoor patio was open. It's certainly a scenic view, surrounded by the old mill architecture with the light rail trains trundling nearby and the Jones Falls burbling below. The four of us decided to start our meal with the gnocchi di ricotta al forno and polpette, or mamma's meatballs.

We had sampled the meatballs during the media preview so we knew we had a winner there. They were tender and flavorful in a marinara sauce topped with a healthy dollop of ricotta. The gnocchi were fluffy pillows of softness blanketed by a rich blend of Italian cheeses.

The fritto misto di pesce was a pleasant mix of seafood deep fried in a light batter. While the calamari and shrimp were of course familiar, the smelts were a new sensation. I enjoyed the crisp texture and strong seafood flavor.

A pizza from their wood-fired oven was also a must for us, so we ordered the pizza cape sante di pancetta: smoked baby scallops, smoked mozzarella, basil, caramelized bacon, and tiny whole onions. This was probably my favorite dish of the whole evening! The crust was crisp yet chewy, the baby scallops were tender, and the overall smoky quality brought a welcome depth of flavor.

Being the typical oinkers that we are, we also order three entrees to share. (Had we realized how large the entrees are at Cosima, we might have ordered only two or even one, especially after all those apps.) The polpettone, or meatloaf, was essentially a giant meatball with a hardboiled egg hidden inside, or an Italian-style Scotch egg without the outer crust, if you like. We also ordered the pesce alla griglia, a whole grilled bronzino with a kale salad, and the ragu di maiale brasato, slow-cooked pork ribs with fennel sausage and pancetta in tomato sauce over polenta. The Minx thought the polpettone might be overkill since we already had meatballs, but the texture of the meat was firmer and seasoned differently. The only issue was that it was slightly underdone in the middle. We took that portion home so I could crisp it up in a pan and add it to marinara sauce for spaghetti. (Leftovers rule!)

The bronzino had light, flaky flesh and the kale salad was a refreshing companion. I was also able to take the fish carcass home and use it to make the stock for a pho-style soup later in the week.  Of the three, I especially enjoyed the slow-cooked pork ribs. The tender meat swimming in the rich, hearty sauce and the polenta made for several unctuous mouthfuls before I decided I was stuffed and called for a large doggie bag.

I was always sure that the food would be terrific at Cosima and I was not disappointed, but I was also pleased with the friendly service we experienced. Even executive chef and co-owner Donna Crivello came out and greeted each table to make sure everyone was satisfied with their meals. Between the lovely setting, the great food, and the warm atmosphere, this is a place I hope to get back to again soon.

Cosima Mill No. 1
3000 Falls Road, Mill No. 1
Baltimore, MD 21211

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Friday, September 09, 2016

Flashback Friday - Meat Hangover

It's my brother's birthday, so I thought it would be appropriate to post this memory of one of our favorite Meatopias, Greenfield Churrascaria. It's closed now, but we still have fond memories.


This post was originally published on March 11, 2007.
Meat Hangover

I've heard about meat hangovers, but never experienced one for myself until this morning. Last night, DH, DB, and I went to Greenfield Churrascaria in Rockville. DB had a gift certificate that he had received for Christmas and wanted to use before he had the opportunity to lose it, and DH and I were happy to assist him.

The restaurant is huge, seating many hundreds of people, I am sure. There is a large salad bar featuring everything from arugula and watercress to marinated mushrooms to pasta salad. There are soups including a nice seafood bisque full of squid tentacles, and a selection of Brazilian favorites like yuca and feijoada. That's all well and good...actually not that good. The salad bar selections are mediocre at best, but hey, the real reason to go there is the MEAT. Lots and lots and lots of meat.

Last night, we indulged in cholesterol-laden goodness. We had sausage, turkey wrapped in bacon, pork, lamb, and several different cuts of beef. My favorite was the short ribs, something we had never seen there before in all our many previous trips. It came around last, after DH had already declared himself "done for" and I was close to bursting (but was considering one last trip to the salad bar for some deep fried bananas, as "dessert") and could well have been the straw that broke the camel's back. But it was damned good, tender and flavorful. As was all the meat. Well, not all was tender - the flank steak was a bit chewy, and the pork was a little tough - but all had tremendous flavor. Everything was a tad on the salty side this trip too, as I couldn't stop drinking water, and had to chugalug a big glass of it when I got home.

Drinking so much definitely had its drawbacks. It's unfortunate that a restaurant so large would provide a mere two toilets in the ladies' room. It is also unfortunate that a large birthday party in our section would have small children running around. On my trip to the bathroom, I found that two little girls from that party were busily stuffing seat protectors into one toilet and emerged from the stall with "don't go in that one - it's flooded." The other stall contained what seemed like a small army of children but proved to be one extremely overweight child and her equally porky mother taking turns stinking up the place. As I waited, several other people, children in tow, entered the bathroom, so I left in a huff to use the bathroom in a nearby McDonald's. (Like I needed more reasons to dislike children....)

Anyway...I awoke in the middle of the night with a raging headache. Three ibuprofins and a couple of aspirin later, I still have it.

Meat hangover. It's not quite as bad as some alcohol-induced hangovers I've experienced in the distant past: I can hold my head up, and light isn't bothering me too much. But it's quite unpleasant and highly not recommended. I'm still trying to decide if it was worth it. Maybe tomorrow my overindulgence will seem a better idea.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Homemade Chicken Egg Foo Yung

I recently found a blog I really enjoy - The Woks of Life. It's written by a family of four Chinese Americans who clearly love food. The vast majority of their recipes are for Asian goodies, particularly Chinese, but there are also things like corn muffins, pancakes, chocolate cake, and fusion-y things like Buffalo chicken potstickers. The writing is chatty, and the photography is downright beautiful. I'm not big on blog posts that have a lot of photos, but I give these guys a pass.

What really struck me, besides the photos, is that the recipes were all accessible. Of course it helps that we have so many of the required Asian ingredients on hand already, but nothing seems un-do-able, even the recipes with multiple steps.

This recipe for egg foo yung is one of those multiple step dishes. I really needed to read the recipe twice before starting. The original calls for deep frying the egg patties, but pan frying is more my jam. Much less oil is needed, and a skillet does just as good a job as a wok, IMHO. The patties might not be as crisp or fluffy as those produced by deep frying, but honestly, I've only ever eaten egg foo yung that was drowning in gravy, so never realized it was supposed to be fluffy or crisp!

The only real issue I had with this dish was the seasoning. It needed more salt. The recipe calls for low sodium chicken stock in the gravy, along with an admonishment to not overseason it. But I found the patties to be fairly bland. There is no seasoning in them other than the soy sauce used in the chicken marinade, so I doubled that amount to 2 teaspoons. I also used regular chicken stock for the gravy and found that I needed to add a pinch more salt because it, too, was bland to my taste.

Also, my local grocery store did not have bean sprouts, so I substituted broccoli slaw. While not as tender as bean sprouts, the slaw did not detract from the dish in the least.

Leftover patties, btw, make for terrific breakfast sandwiches. Just warm one up, slap it between two pieces of lightly toasted bread with a bit of butter or mayo and voila! Instant omelette sandwich.

Chicken Egg Foo Yung, adapted from The Woks of Life

For the patties:
10 ounces boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
Vegetable oil for frying
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
2 cups mung bean sprouts or shredded cabbage or broccoli slaw
6 large eggs
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
1 scallion, chopped
Sesame seeds (optional)

For the gravy (this makes a ton of gravy, so you could cut it by half):
1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon paprika
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon onion powder
3 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Fresh ground white pepper
¼ cup cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup chicken stock
Salt, to taste

To make the patties: Mix the cubed chicken with the soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch until well combined, and set aside while you make the gravy.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick pan and add the marinated chicken. Sear for 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer back to the marinating bowl, and set aside to cool. Once cooled, add the onion and bean sprouts (or cabbage or broccoli slaw), the sesame oil, and second teaspoon of cornstarch. Stir to combine. Break the six eggs into the bowl with the chicken and fold the mixture together until everything is coated in egg, but the egg still looks somewhat un-homogenized.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan you used to cook the chicken. Using a ladle, scoop three large dollops of the egg and chicken mixture into the hot oil, making sure they don't touch (if they do spread, use a wooden spoon to gently nudge errant egg back into place). If your pan isn't large enough for three, making two is fine - you'll just need to make three batches instead of two. Cover pan and cook over medium-high heat until the bottoms of the foo yung patties are nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Flip patties and brown the other side. Once cooked, remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain off some of the grease. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

To make the gravy: In a medium pot or saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of flour to make a roux, and cook for 15-20 seconds. Stir in the turmeric, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Let fry for 15 seconds, and whisk in the chicken stock.

Bring the mixture to a boil and add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and freshly ground white pepper to taste. Mix the cornstarch with the ¼ cup of chicken stock until the cornstarch is completely dissolved, and whisk it a little at a time into the gravy. Add as much of the cornstarch slurry as needed to make the gravy thick enough to coat a spoon. (I used all of it.) Taste for seasoning and add more soy sauce or salt to taste. Turn off the heat and cover pot until ready to serve. (I didn't have to rewarm the gravy, but if you wait to make your foo yung, you might have to.)

To serve: Place a foo yung patty on a plate and douse with gravy. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve with plenty of white rice.

Serves 4-6

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