Friday, July 25, 2008

perfect potstickers

i'm in love with alton brown. along with guy fieri, he's one of my favorite chefs. i absolutely love his show "good eats" and i always learn a lot. so after watching an episode called "wanton ways", i was inspired to make potstickers for the first time ever.

i gotta say, they were a lot of work. probably took me about two hours...mainly because i doubled the recipe, but also because my pan would only fit 5-6 at a time. however, it was totally worth it. they were delicious! they had great flavor that had slightly spicy undertones and a really nice texture. they were, in my opinion, way better than chinese takeout because they weren't oily or greasy but instead they were fresh, flavorful and crispy. this one's definitely making it to the recipe box.

i subbed ground beef for the pork and went without the bell peppers. quite spicy enough without them :]

perfect potstickers
[from food network]

1/2 pound ground pork

1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons ketchup
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
35 to 40 small wonton wrappers
Water, for sealing wontons
3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/3 cups chicken stock, divided

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Combine the first 11 ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl (pork through cayenne). Set aside.

To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush 2 of the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Place 1/2 rounded teaspoon of the pork mixture in the center of the wrapper. Fold over, seal edges, and shape as desired. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all of the filling is gone.

Heat a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil once hot. Add 8 to 10 potstickers at a time to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, without touching. Once the 2 minutes are up, gently add 1/3 cup chicken stock to the pan, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove wontons to a heatproof platter and place in the warm oven. Clean the pan in between batches by pouring in water and allowing the pan to deglaze. Repeat until all the wontons are cooked. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

fancy pants

so fancy that my mom decided to pair it with her best wine [cooler]. you can use brussels sprouts for this, but i'm not a huge fan so i went with broccoli.

quinoa with hazelnut parsley pesto
[from have cake, will travel]

the pesto:
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1 big or 2 smaller clove(s) garlic, pressed
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
generous pinch coarse sea salt
1 bunch curly parsley, stemmed = about 1 1/2 cup, super packed
2 T extra virgin olive oil

in a food processor, combine hazelnuts, garlic, and lemon juice. pulse several times to grind the nuts.

add salt and parsley, process for a minute. drizzle EVOO and process until well combined, scraping the sides with a rubber spatula to make sure all’s well mixed.

set aside.

the quinoa:
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
2 cups pure water

bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. add quinoa and cook on medium heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes. drain quinoa, spread on a cookie sheet to let cool.

combine pesto with quinoa in a large bowl.

the broccoli:

1 broccoli crown, rinses and chopped
pinch coarse sea salt
1 T olive oil
1/4 cup chopped white onion
juice of half a lemon

in same medium saucepan used to cook the quinoa, heat oil and onion, cook until translucent, on medium heat.

add broccoli, lemon juice, and salt, cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
add a squirt of water if the broccoli stick a bit, to deglaze.

stir into quinoa pesto. serve warm, or at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker

[needing a "thank you" gift for my hairdresser] + [wanting to try out my freshly bought cookie scoop] = oatmeal butterscotch cookies!

i love math :]

very tasty [even though i'm not the biggest fan of butterscotch] and super easy to make. i did reduce the cooking time from the original recipe because my first batch got a little too crispy. the cookie scoop worked wonderfully and gave me 54 pretty uniform cookies. they were just the right size, too, which is great considering i'm typically pretty heavy-handed when it comes to drop cookies [as you can tell from my mrs. field's cookies].

oatmeal-butterscotch cookies
[from baking bites]

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Blend in eggs and vanilla until mixture is smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir into butter mixture, then mix in the oats and butterscotch chips.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls (large balls) of cookie down onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie to allow for spread.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.

Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"c" is for cookies...they're good enough for me

the vegan shortbread recipe i wanted to try sounded kinda boring, so i wanted to try putting some stuff in the middle of each cookie [a la knott's berry farm shortbread cookies]. i tried out peanut butter on the chocolate cookies and knott's boysenberry preserves on the regular ones.

before hitting the oven

they turned out okay. i liked the toppings, but they didn't spread out as much as i had hoped for and, considering how flat i made the cookies, it didn't quite work. i think i'll have to use a thumbprint cookie recipe if i wanna do that again. at least they taste good.

and after

shortbread cookies
[from la kitchen]

¾ cups margarine
¾ cups powdered sugar
1 ½ cups flour
1/8 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla, divided

Preheat oven to: 325°F.

In a bowl beat together powdered sugar with margarine. Add flour divide in half, add cocoa to one half and split the vanilla between the two bowls.

Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.

Roll dough between two pieces of parchment or wax paper into quarter inch thickness and cut into rounds. Bake for ten minutes and let sit for another ten before eating.

Friday, July 18, 2008

they call me "the carb queen"

when i came home from college during winter break, i was looking forward to eating stuff that i can't get in delaware [jamba juice, in-n-out, coco's, etc]. as dumb as this sounds, i was really craving some food from this place in the food court called cajun grill. i was devastated when i found out that they closed while i was away and i've missed it ever since.

so i did some googling and ended up tracking down the recipe for their bourbon chicken [one of my favorites!]. i was very excited to try this one :] i served it over brown rice with some onion roasted potatoes and popovers. yes, rice, potatoes and bread in one meal. some days you just need to eat a crapload of carbs.

the chicken had a familiar taste, but no, it wasn't right on the money. it would be a lot better had i never had cajun grill before but because i have, i had high expectations. however, i didn't have the ground ginger that the recipe called for so that may have something to do with it. also, i used chicken breasts rather than thighs/dark meat. next time, i'll stick with the breasts, but cut them into smaller pieces and brown them a bit more.

kelly’s cajun grill bourbon chicken

1 1/2 lbs. of Thigh Meat or Dark Meat (cut in bite size chunks)
2 Tbsp. Teriyaki Sauce
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt
1/2 tsp. Ginger Powder
3 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
1 C. White Grape Juice
1/2 C. Bourbon
1/4 C. water

Mix teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, ginger, brown sugar 1/2 cup white grape juice and bourbon. Stir until thoroughly blended.

Pour 1/3 sauce on chicken pieces and mix. Refrigerate for 3 hours or best overnight. Save remainder sauce and refrigerate.

Braise chicken with marinate on medium low heat until cooked and brown. Remove from frying pan. In a 2 quart sauce pan heat remainder of bourbon sauce and add 1/2 cup of white grape juice and 1 Tbsp. of sugar with 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add chicken to sauce and stir until chicken are well coated.

Note: I actually liked these better the next day. I heated some leftover chicken in about a cup of sauce in a small frying pan until the sauce pretty much evaporated. This made this chicken take on a nice brown color and it became a lot more flavorful.

plain popovers
[from baking bites]

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
melted butter, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Grease a 6-cup muffin tin (or the middle 6 cups of a 12-cup tin) well with the melted butter and place in preheated oven for 1-2 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and salt. Sift flour over mixtre and whisk until smooth.

Remove heated muffin tin from oven and divide the batter evenly into the buttered muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes at 425F, then rotate the pan (to ensure even cooking) and reduce oven heat to 350F. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. Makes 6 popovers.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

life's little instructions

there's a framed poster my mom put up in our bathroom called "life's little instructions." it's got all these cliches like "treat everyone like you want to be treated" and "be forgiving of yourself and others." my favorite, though, is the 5th one on there: "never refuse homemade brownies." i couldn't agree with this one more.

i'm currently attempting to try a bunch of recipes to pick out my favorites [favorite chocolate chip recipe, favorite favorite brownie recipe, etc]. i recently stumbled upon this recipe for "new classic brownies"...perfect! that is exactly what i am trying to find/create/realize. so of course, i gave it a shot.

this recipe is a bit different than ones i've tried in the past because instead of using cocoa powder, you use melted making chocolate. also, as soon as you take the brownies out of the oven, you put them in a ice cold waterbath to stop them from cooking any further. interesting concept...seems like it would keep them really fudgy in the middle.

after baking them for the recommended 20 minutes, they looked perfectly done, so i stuck them in the bath i had prepared. and after waiting for them to completely cool [which was superhard because they smelled delicious], they were still really mushy inside and hard to cut. my sister and i tried a little and decided they needed to go back in for a bit longer. underdoneness aside, let's get on to the more important success factor: the taste.

oh my god. amazing. i almost didn't want to put them back in the oven because i didn't want to part with them. but i did, if not for the doneness then for the sake of them holding up well enough to take pictures of them.

after taking them out the second time, they were perfect. i already wrote down the recipe and put it in my keepers box :]

i did, however, make some minor changes to the original recipe. here's my adapted version:

new classic brownies

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts or pecans (optional).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line an 8-inch-square metal baking pan with foil. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir often, and remove from heat when a few lumps remain. Stir until smooth.

Stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir in eggs one at a time, followed by flour. Stir until very smooth, about 1 minute, until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl. Add nuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 22-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a water bath: Pour ice water into a large roasting pan or kitchen sink to a depth of about 1 inch. Remove pan from oven and place in water bath, being careful not to splash water on brownies. Let cool completely, then lift out and cut into 1-inch squares or wrap in foil.

mrs. field day

i have a problem. i keep collecting recipes with the full intention of trying them out...and then i never follow through. i just make the same stuff over and over and never try anything new.

that is about to change.

i've finally organized my recipes into two categories: the tried and true go on my recipe box and the to-try recipes go into a three ring binder. that way, it's easy to flip through, pick out something new, try it out and toss it if it turns out to be crap. or, copy it onto a recipe card and file it. i'm really pulling for the latter.

the first two i decided to try were top secret mrs. field's cookie recipes [let's just say i know people who know some people who know some things]. and needless to say, i expected these to be pretty good. i mean, c'mon, she makes money off these cookies...they gotta be pretty good right?

i made three different kinds: peanut butter [bottom left], white chocolate chip [bottom right], and my own variation, peanut butter with crushed pb puffins [top center]. they came out really really big. like really big. and flat. each recipe said it yeilded 12 cookies (rounded tablespoonfuls worth of batter). um, no. i did huge, heaping, tableglobfuls and still had about 18 cookies for each batch. ok so the size was kinda my fault but i always remembered mrs. field's for having ginormous cookies so you know...when in rome.

but i really didn't like how flat they came out. i like my cookies a little more cakey and a little less chewy. to be honest, i really wasn't blown away with the flavor. i mean, they tasted all right, but i wanna be better than just all right.

the whole crushed puffins thing was pretty much because we had over half a box left and no one was eating them. they actually turned out pretty good. not as crunchy as i expected, but they definitely gave some substance to the otherwise kinda blah pb cookie. i'd do it again. but as for the mrs. field's recipes...i'm gunna keep on looking.

oh well, on to the next experiment.