Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Banh Mi, and Thit Nuong

Banh Mi
Banh Mi is the Vietnamese fast food staple. Americans have fast food burgers, this is the Vietnamese version. Banh Mi is really simple. Using the thit nuong recipe with sliced pork, you've got your meat filling. There are way too many fillings that go in a Banh Mi, that I haven't tried yet. The ones I like happen to have pate, grilled pork or chicken and veggies in them. Vietnamese sandwich shops have the best demi baguettes. The rolls have a thin crisp crust and sweet and tender crumb. The rolls are sliced halfway through, mayo is spread on the bread, the meat is placed along with pickled daikon, and carrots, matchstick cucumbers, thin slivers of onion, cilantro, and jalapenos. I know there has to be more in them, but I never pay too much attention to what as I'm too busy stuffing my face. When I first started eating them, I would buy 5 and get one free, and they were only $1! Gee, that was 10 years ago. Now they go for as low as $2.50 upwards to $4 depending on where you are. Oh and you will need breath mints when you are done eating.
I haven't found any decent Vietnamese bakeries close to me, so I'm stuck with sub par baguettes from my local Kroger or Publix. One of my next projects will be to make demi baguettes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pot Stickers

soy & vinegar
I grew up making these from scratch. Even the wrappers. Well, I didn't mix up the flour to make the wrappers, but I certainly helped my mom wrap these suckers. My brother's task was to flatten each round and then come back when they were cooked to eat. He was a bit overweight until puberty. Lucky for me, a noodle shop opened in Chinatown, and they made fresh wonton, and pot sticker wrappers besides twenty different kinds of noodles. I miss the convenience of a decent Chinatown, but I still make my pot stickers. You can make these using ground pork, chicken or turkey. Just be aware that if using chicken or turkey, you must get the ground dark meat, as you need some fat in the meat. If you are really lucky, even with fresh dungeness crab. (I don't remember those, what a shame) I usually make them with pork, well, because, I like my pig.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Vietnamese dinner

Bo la lot & Bun Thit Nuong with pickled vegetables
I totally have a craving for Vietnamese food. Now this is a shameful story to tell you. I grew up eating Cantonese, and plain American fare. Typical American fare would be spaghetti, pizza, lasagna, and hamburgers. I branched out when I got married and worked on my french bistro, Tuscan, and Northern Italian dishes. I have enjoyed Indian food, but alas curry is not something my husband likes. In the past 6 years we've expanded our palate to Thai, and Vietnamese food. The shame of it all is that I didn't experiment with these cuisines until I was in my 30's, and now I find living in the suburbs of Atlanta, there isn't a large variety of Asian cuisine. (The ubiquitous brown or white sauced entrees were never in my Mom's repertoire.) Oh and by the way, what the heck is the big deal about the white sauce at the hibachi restaurants out here?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

La Fhéile Phadraig Sona Duit!  In honor of St. Patty's Day my daughter's kindergarden class is having a small party with treats.  Sadly (for me) the class went with a decorate-your-own cookie activity.  As I was eager to test out some decorating ideas from the book I just bought Hello Cupcake I offered to bring in treats for the pre-K class as well.  That is the best way to test any decorating technique--because even if you totally mess up, as long as it tastes good the kids are happy.  I made green iced shamrocks and round leprechaun decorated cookies.
(note to self: next time allocate more than an hour to decorating 60 cookies, the beards were rather rushed and didn't come out as good as they could have)
Left: cookies drying. I used colored fondant for the faces, spearmint gummies for the hats, orange gummy slices for the beards and decorator's gel icing for the details.  
Right: Treat/activity bags packed and ready to go.  Each bag contains two undecorated shamrock cookies, a bag each of green icing and a mix of colored (two different greens, yellow, black, white) sprinkles, Smarties, and chocolate kisses

Tonight's dinner is a very Irish meal of Dublin Coddle and Soda bread.  I will post the results later.  

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Marinade Part II: Fall Off the Bone Spareribs

Jo and I got talking about marinades the other day after her post.  My usual marinade is different (I'll get around to posting it one of these days) and after comparing she got me in the mood for some ribs.  BabyBella and I absolutely love, love ribs.  However, to make them truly fall-off-the-bone that takes time and preplanning (two things I'm horrible at finding and doing).  But, the stars aligned and for once I did both.  Yesterday I swung by the meat department and picked up 1 3/4 lbs of spareribs--I know that's too much for the both of us but I'm planning on having them for lunch during the week--and checked my work calendar and voila! had the time to step away from my desk for a few minutes in the middle of the day.  Happy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shortcut Japanese: Miso and Rolls

Disclaimer: What I'm about to do is probably ten kinds of incorrect.  There are correct ways of making sushi rolls but I don't know them.  Yet it works and if you're fiending for a bit of yummy goodness without a trip to a restaurant then read on....

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Marinade

sweet & spicy marinade

This one of my go to marinades for chicken and pork. In fact it's absolutely wonderful used on the grilled items. I've adjusted the spice factor several times for the tastes of guests. It requires a specific ingredient which you should be able to find in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store.

chili garlic sauce

I always buy this brand and no, I haven't a clue how to pronounce the name of the company, I just call it Rooster brand. This is not the same thing as the Chili sauce with the dispensing spout. This sauce has actual red chili seeds in it. It's thicker, more like a paste. Now on with the recipe....

1c brown sugar
1/4c ketchup
1/4c soy sauce
1/4c rum
1/2c chili sauce (I've used as little as 2 Tbs)
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 tsp dry mustard
dash of black pepper

I use a 2c pyrex measuring cup for all the liquid ingredients first then dump them into a bowl and then add the remaining ingredients. Once this is mixed well, place 3lbs mixed bone in chicken parts in a ziptop bag, pour half of the marinade into bag, close bag and massage to cover each piece of chicken in marinade. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour. Simmer remaining marinade in a small pot on low heat until thickened to preferred consistency, and let cool off heat.

Preheat oven to 425*
Empty bag of chicken and marinade into a 9 x 11 baking pan, arrange chicken in one layer skin side up. Bake for 25 min. Remove from oven and baste chicken with marinade in pan, return to oven for another 20-25 min. Remove from oven and let rest 5-10 min. Serve chicken with cooked marinade alongside.

Yes you have to cook the marinade down as it's really not a good dipping sauce otherwise. You can also cook the sauce down and use it as a wing sauce too.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Five Minute Chocolate Ricotta Pears

Thankfully Jo has been a busy tasty bee and has kept you entertained because I haven't cooked worth mentioning in over a week.  I swear I have a good reason!  Really!  OK, maybe I don't and it's kind of embarrassing, but I'll tell you about it anyway.  Here we were last week, BabyBella and I, playing around, she's in my arms being carried and I'm leaning in one direction, when suddenly she flings herself in the other direction then starts slipping out of my arms (she's a big girl!), so I quickly swing back around toward her and RRRRIIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPP! something gives out in my back.  Holy moly, Jiminey Crickets, wowza and crikey, that hurt.  Whatever it was I did, the pain radiated from my knees to my shoulders and literally made my vision swim for hours. Thankfully, Jo gave me some excellent advice what to do to help manage it so I was able to grit my teeth and kept going.  Since I still had to work and take care of kiddo, I cut myself a break by keeping dinners easy this week.  We even *gasp* ordered pizza one night.

In other words, it was the perfect week to make a homemade dessert that barely takes longer than scooping out some icecream--chocolate ricotta pears.
(Recipe after the break)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese

No photos, but a bit of a rant. We went to the store today, as I had no clue what to make for dinner. As the three of us walked through the store, we scratched our heads and Stinky saw something. He wanted Kraft macaroni and cheese. Excuse me? You want noodles with orange food coloring? Not happening. Now I don't make mac n cheese very often. Usually when I make it, it's the baked kind with the four to six different cheeses, milk and eggs, and baked. But since he was craving it, we headed over to the cheeses and grabbed a chunk of mild cheddar and monterey jack.

Macaroni and cheese is a really simple dish, why do people buy Kraft? I don't understand it. From start to finish it takes about 20 min to make it from scratch and it's comparable timing to the boxed fake stuff. Boil macaroni, while the noodles are cooking grab another small pan and heat 1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk with 8 oz of shredded cheese of your choice over medium low heat. When the cheese is melted, the noodles should be ready, drain then put the noodles back in the pot and pour the melted cheese over the noodles and stir to mix. Gee how hard can that be? Yea there are two pots to wash instead of one, but it's so much better this way.

Stinky was happy. Oh what did we have for dinner? Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. It was easy and didn't take a lot of thought.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookie

Momofuku compost cookie

Amateur Gourmet posted about Momofuku Milk Bar's Compost Cookie. Seems the recipe was posted on the Regis and Kelly site. Wohoo! I have yet to run across a terrible recipe from David Chang and his crew of insanely genius chefs. The first time I made one of his recipes was Thanksgiving 2008. My SIL brought the recipe for his roasted brussel sprouts with Japanese marinade. I now love brussel sprouts and in fact will only roast them or cabbage now.

Lately my son has been asking for cookies and well I get lazy, and I worry that he will eat 6 dozen cookies in one day. Hey, it's happened between my son and husband depending on which cookie is made. I like to make a batch, scoop and freeze, so we can maintain some semblance of portion control when it comes to sweets. The same goes for cookies I like too.

Now this cookie is insane. A chocolate chip cookie with pretzels and POTATO CHIPS! I told Bella and she thought that was insane. It is insane, but I can't imagine life without it. I did skip the potato chips, but used pretzels, mini chocolate chips, and crushed heath toffee bars. This cookie requires a Kitchenaid. The mixing time is quite long.

momofuku compsot cookie dough

Because of the long mixing time, the dough is really light. I don't make big cookies. I like little ones, you get to eat more for the same amount of calories. I use a 1oz cookie scoop and froze most of the cookies. So I froze the cookies instead of putting them in the fridge for 30 min. It worked just fine. These cookies are out of this world! Next time I make them I'm putting more stuff in them. These cover just about every craving a girl may have.