Sunday, January 31, 2010

Steak Frites Sunday Dinner

One of our favorite meals is steak & pomme frites. It doesn't really matter the cut of steak we use. It's all in the cooking and sauce. Tonight it was New York strip, shallot & brandy sauce and hand cut fries. I love my steak rare. Chris always says just knock the horns off, introduce it to the flame and that's perfect for me. The rest of my family likes it medium rare. So, Chris, being the master griller that he is, manages to get it perfect for anyone and whatever their preference of temperature is. We Emertons are so much about the sauce. This one is quite simple. Saute minced shallots in olive oil until soft, add brandy and reduce by half, add beef stock and bring to a boil for a couple minutes, and then a splash of cream for good measure. Let boil and thicken. As Maggie said, I don't even have to taste it to know I like it. For the fries, I hand cut to achieve equal proportion for each fry. I do the twice fry method. First, fry them at 230 degrees until soft. Then up the oil temp to 350 and fry again. This results in a soft, cloudy center with a crispy outer shell. Sprinkle with truffle salt and it's a little bit of heaven. I can't help but have a little sauce American, otherwise known as ketchup. This might insult the cook, but alas it is me!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Dan Dan Mein for Lunch

What to do for lunch. Maggie says "Chinese!" Dan Dan Mein is usually made with a sauce containing sesame paste, ground szechuan peppercorns, sesame oil, hot chili oil, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger. What's great about the idea of these noodles is that you can really add whatever you want. For my kids who are not into very spicy food yet, I leave out the chili oil and use only a little bit of the peppercorns. These can be added back in for those who like it spicy. Consider also a splash of vinegar or substituting peanut butter if you don't have sesame paste. And what did I do with the leftover duck from Wednesday night? Shredded, it is the perfect addition. Though not traditionally the noodles used for Dan Dan Mein, I used buckwheat noodles. I think they are the perfect consistency and elasticity. So, in the bowl you have buckwheat noodles, shredded duck, julienned cucumber for some crunch and lightness, cilantro, green onions, the sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Serve cold or at room temp. Make up a little extra sauce and keep in your fridge for an easy snack or Saturday lunch!

Friday Night Pan Fried Bao Tse

As I've been contemplating my next Xiao Long Bao experiment, my mom gave me a great idea on what to do with the dozens of frozen ones I've already made. Since I have not yet achieved that perfect dough for keeping in the broth of the dumpling when steaming, she suggested cooking them in the same way I do Kuo Tien. A bit of oil on the bottom of the pan, lay the frozen Baos on top, add water, cover and boil until most of the water has evaporated. Uncover, let rest of the water cook off and allow the bottoms of the Baos to crisp and brown. I always use a non-stick pan, though if you have a well seasoned cast iron pan that you trust, that would work well too. This way of cooking them results in a slightly stronger, more taut shell.

Wednesday Night Roast Duck

On Wednesday, I took a trip to Uwajimaya to check out their Bonzai collection. No luck there, but duck was on sale. Why not have duck on Wednesday? To achieve a crispy skin, pierce the duck all over with a fork, then pour boiling water over it. This helps the skin tighten up. As you pour the water on it, you can see the skin shrinking. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees. 30 minutes breast side up, 30 minutes breast side down, then another 30 minutes breast side up. Served with turnips au gratin and sauteed pea sprouts. Yum!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Xiao Long Bao

On a recent trip to Taiwan, we went to a restaurant called Ding Tai Fong. Photo above shows the masters at work. Renowned for its dumplings and Xiao Long Baos, it delivered as promised. The steaming hot Baos arrive in a bamboo steamer sandwiched between two empty steamers to preserve the heat. Finely shredded ginger and red vinegar for dipping. Bite into one and find a delicious pork filling bathing in hot broth. I've attempted to achieve that perfect balance in the dough that is light yet seals in all the excellent broth Xiao Long Boa is known for. This is a work in progress. They are beautiful, taste great, but my broth escapes. The ground pork filling is the same that I use for won tons and kuo tiens. But the broth is the true gold in the treasure chest of the Xiao Long Bao.

These are my latest attempt. Make a bunch and freeze and use whenever you need a little something.

Kitchen Sweet Kitchen

This is where I spend 90% of my time in the house.  Even when I'm not cooking, I sit at the counter and read, knit, watch television or work on my other love, paper projects.  Maybe I should have put in a murphy bed when we remodeled a few years ago.