Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to Zest an Orange

Here are three methods for zesting an orange or a lemon.  The first requires nothing more than a vegetable peeler and a knife.  The second uses a $6 zester and the third (and best) involves a $16 microplane zester available at most kitchen stores.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to Peel and Chop an Onion

Many recipes call for a chopped onion, which can be a daunting task (not to mention risky, since onions are slippery little things) unless you have a good approach. This is my preferred method.

Shanghai Stir-fried Noodles with Pork

In its original form, this recipe calls for pork tenderloin.  I did not happen to have pork tenderloin on hand, but I did have some ground pork.  I made the substitution and it came out fine.  Wanting to make this dish less meat-centric, I also used tofu.  If you do not use tofu, you may want to increase the amount of pork to one pound.

Shanghai noodles are thick, soft, fresh noodles that you can find in the refrigerated section of your local Asian market.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

People sometimes think that I must be a very serious cook when I mention that I make my own vanilla extract, but the process couldn't be easier!

Westie's Deluxe Crème Brûlée

For his eleventh birthday, Westie asked for a crème brûlée torch.  I was a little concerned about giving a kid a torch, you know?  But it turned out alright.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Risotto with Mushrooms

Risotto is one of those dishes that seems like it should be difficult, but in reality is not.

For Valentine's Day dinner I made Barb's Very Excellent Chicken, grilled asparagus and this risotto with mushrooms.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How to Separate an Egg

If you've ever wondered what they mean when they say "separate an egg" in a recipe, this video is for you!

How to Peel and Mince Garlic

In this video, I'll show you my method for peeling and mincing garlic.

Surprise-- a rock is involved!

If you are new to cooking, mastering this common task will make getting dinner on the table just a little quicker.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Moroccan-Style Carrot Salad

Carrots are good for you!  This is part of my "eat more carrots" campaign.  My kids give this recipe the thumbs-up!  I served to a couple of 13-year olds (not related to me) and they liked it, too.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

This is a delightful loaf to have with tea.  It makes a great breakfast spread with butter and orange marmalade.  I don't think currants and orange zest are traditional, but Ina uses these to good effect in this recipe.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baby Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce

There was a statistic in the newspaper today that said, "Chinese is the most widely eaten restaurant cuisine, but only 45% of consumers make it at home."  Forty-five percents sounds high to me.  I'd say a lot of that forty-five percent are warming up something frozen or pre-prepared.

I don't even cook much Chinese food from scratch myself, and I am Chinese!  But, oh well, we all have to start somewhere.  It's not as hard as it's reputed to be and the ingredients are more readily available every day.  Let me get you started with a simple recipe that I like to make with bok choy.

Westie's Cream Cheese Wontons

No, cream cheese wontons are definitely not Chinese.  They are an American invention.  But, I have to admit, they are pretty good.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year

It's traditional to make sticky rice cakes for Chinese New Year.

A word of warning: this may not match with a Westerner's ideas about cake-- for one thing, it's chewy, dense and sticky.  For another, it is often made with sweet adzuki beans, otherwise known as red bean paste which may be something of an acquired taste.  I love red bean paste, but then again I've been eating it since I was a child.

If you are not sure, you can skip the beans.  Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lamb Stew for a Cold Winter Night

Here is a recipe to warm you up and get you through any snow drifts until spring. It works equally well with lamb or beef, and I suppose you could throw it in a slow cooker for 8 hours on low, if you prefer:

Lamb or Beef Stew

3 lb. lamb or beef stew meat (cut into 2 in. chunks)
1/4 C. vegetable oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
fresh black pepper
3 large onions, sliced
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 C. whole baby carrots
3 T. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 C. red wine
1 C. beef or chicken stock (check for gluten ingredients)
1 bay leaf

Heat oven to 350°. Heat oil in large dutch oven. Season meat with salt and pepper and brown in batches. Remove meat from pan and set aside. Pour off excess oil, leaving about 2 T. Add onions, carrots, garlic, tomato paste, thyme and rosemary. Stir up brown bits and cook vegetables until brown (about 10 minutes). Put meat back on top of onions and add wine, stock and bay leaf. Cover and cook in oven for 2 hours. Check periodically to add more liquid, if necessary. You can add small potatoes for the last 30 minutes. Serves 6 cold, hungry people.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ricotta Pound Cake

For my birthday, my husband gave me a copy of Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen.  Gina DePalma is the pastry chef for Mario Batali's famous NYC restaurant, Babbo, so she kinda knows her stuff.

I recognized the book immediately because I'd once borrowed it from the library.  The only recipe I remember trying and keeping was the recipe for ricotta pound cake--it was rich, moist and sinfully delicious.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mussels Mariniere

French Cooking in Ten Minutes

It is traditional in our household for the birthday person to request a homemade meal of their choosing.  I always ask for the same menu: mussels, pommes frites and artichokes.  It's a fabulous meal and really quite easy to make--especially if you buy frozen shoestring potatoes!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Westie's Ramen Plus

Westie was at home sick for a couple of days last week.  He asked me to get some ramen soup for him at the store.  I watched him doctor it up with egg and green onions.  It looked pretty good.  I tried some.  It was good!

Madeleine's Tilapia with Tomato-Shallot Topping

This is one of the few recipes that I can say is my own creation.  My kids like this dish--even my five-year old gives it the 'thumbs-up'.  It makes for a good weeknight dinner served with green beans and corn bread.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pork and Lentil Cassoulet

Here's another classic slow cooker meal based on the French cassoulet.  I use country-style pork ribs, parsnips and french lentils in this recipe.  It's a popular weeknight meal at our house and only takes 30 minutes to assemble!