All posts by sarahandrachel13

Dinner: An Asian Feast

For our last feast, we decided to whip up some delicious Asian Cuisine. We lacked appetizers, but made up for it in sheer quantity of our main meal. For our two main dishes we had tofu stir fry and chicken pad thai (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/recipe-chicken-pad-thai/) (although we had to be very creative for the pad thai to come out successfully). We also made vegetable moo-shu with moo-shu pancakes (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/recipe-moo-shu/). Finally, we concluded the meal with coconut milk sticky rice and a store bought green tea moshi.

Our Reaction:

The first plate to be made was the moo shu. It was quite a simple recipe, mostly just finely sliced cabbage and bean sprouts. However, flavored with the hoisin, it tasted quite authentic, and paired well with the other flavors at the table. The moo shu itself may have been easy to make, just a bit of stir frying, but the pancakes were another story. To make them so thin, they needed to be rolled out in pairs, one o top of the other. After they were cooked i a pan for just about a minute on each side, the too pancakes were supposed to be able to be peeled right apart. However, something went wrong because ours ended up a bit raggedy. As we peeled them apart, most of them broke a bit, forming pancakes which our parents so kindly called amoebas. Luckily, the pancakes tasted fine, and there appearance didn’t stop them from being enjoyed by all.

mooshu1          mooshu2

Our second dish was a tofu stir fry. We tried to keep this as authentic as possible, using sesame oil to fry, and soy sauce, ginger, and garlic to flavor. The colorful vegetables added depth the the dish, and made it look eve tastier. The only real room for improvement lay in the tofu. It came out fine in the end, but because we had not pressed out the water well, we ended up having to cook the tofu for a bit longer so that it would brown.

stirfry1               stirfry2

Pad Thai finished off our main courses, and we were quite excited to make this dish. Amazed by the strange looking noodles, we were interested to see how it would all come together. Unfortunately, the recipe we were using never gave us that feeling of accomplishment: the translucent noodles, white chicken, and pale bean sprouts looked bare with no real sauce to garnish them. So, we improvised. Since peanut sauce is another large part of thai cuisine, we threw in about a half cup of peanut butter and some more soy sauce. The end result was not that pretty (I guess plating isn’t our fortay since we seem to have this problem a lot), but well received by our families.

padthai

We closed our meal with dessert of course. We opted for one prepared dessert, mochi, and one home made dessert, sticky rice. To make the sticky rice, we first had to cook the rice. This may sound simple, but it turns out that sticky rice does not cook like white, or brown, or basmati, or any other rice we could think of. Sticky rice must be steamed. Technically we were supposed to use a steaming cone, but since we didn’t have one on hand, and had no idea where to buy one, we improvised. We made a double boiler of sorts, putting the rice in a fine wire mesh strainer, balanced a top a pot of boiling water and fitted with a lid.  The rest of the sticky rice process was easy, and the general consensus was that it tasted yummy. However, the mochi, which we bought on a whim, did not go over so well. Our families did not like the texture to the dough which surrounds the ice cream, and so most of it went uneaten.

stickyrice

Despite the issues with presentation, our final feast was well received, and the general sentiment of the evening was that our meals would be missed.

Recipe: Moo Shu

Ingredients

  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 12-ounce bag shredded mixed vegetables, such as “rainbow salad” or “broccoli slaw”
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced, divided
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

Preparation

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add eggs; cook, stirring gently, until set, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  2. Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, 1 minute. Add shredded vegetables, bean sprouts, half the sliced scallions, soy sauce and vinegar. Stir to combine. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are just tender, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved eggs and hoisin; cook, uncovered, stirring and breaking up the scrambled eggs, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining scallions and remove from the heat.

From: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/moo_shu_vegetables.html

 

For Moo-shu Pancakes:

Ingredients:

  • 3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Asian toasted-sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil

Make pancake dough:
In large bowl, stir together flour and 1 cup boiling water until water is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup cold water and knead until smooth dough forms. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rest 1 hour.

Cook pancakes:
On lightly floured work surface, roll dough into long, even cylinder 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Using sharp knife, cut cylinder crosswise into about 30 (3/4- to 1-inch) slices. Using rolling pin, roll each slice out to 3 1/2-inch-diameter circle (about 1/8 inch thick). Brush 1 circle with sesame oil and top with 2nd circle. Repeat with remaining circles to form 15 “sandwiches.” Roll each “sandwich” out to 6-inch diameter. (Pancakes can be made ahead up to this point and frozen, layered between parchment or waxed paper, up to 1 month.)

Heat wok or heavy large sauté pan over moderate heat. Brush pan lightly with peanut oil and cook pancake “sandwiches” in batches until lightly golden, about 3 minutes per side, brushing pan with oil between each batch. Transfer each “sandwich” as done to large plate and immediately peel apart 2 halves. Cover with moist towel while cooking remaining pancakes. Keep warm until ready to serve.

From: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Moo-Shu-Pork-243065

Recipe: Chicken Pad Thai

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) package rice noodles

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 3 tablespoons white sugar

  • 1/8 tablespoon crushed red pepper

  • 2 cups bean sprouts

  • 1/4 cup crushed peanuts

  • 3 green onions, chopped

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions

  1. Soak rice noodles in cold water 30 to 50 minutes, or until soft. Drain, and set aside.
  2. Heat butter in a wok or large heavy skillet. Saute chicken until browned. Remove, and set aside. Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into hot oil, and cook until firm. Stir in chicken, and cook for 5 minutes. Add softened noodles, and vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and red pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Mix while cooking, until noodles are tender. Add bean sprouts, and mix for 3 minutes.

From: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pad-thai-2/detail.aspx

Recipe: Coconut Milk Sticky Rice with Mangoes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sticky rice, soaked overnight in water or thin coconut milk and drained
  • 2 cups canned or fresh coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup palm sugar, or substitute brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ripe mangoes, or substitute sliced ripe peaches or papayas
  • Optional Mint or Asian basil sprigs for garnish

From:

Steam the sticky rice until tender.

Meanwhile, place the coconut milk in a heavy pot and heat over medium heat until hot. Do not boil. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve completely.

When the sticky rice is tender, turn it out into a bowl and pour 1 cup of the hot coconut milk over; reserve the rest. Stir to mix the liquid into the rice, then let stand for 20 minutes to an hour to allow the flavors to blend.

Meanwhile, peel the mangoes. The mango pit is flat and you want to slice the mango flesh off the pit as cleanly as possible. One at a time, lay the mangoes on a narrow side on a cutting board and slice lengthwise about 1/2 inch from the center — your knife should cut just along the flat side of the pit; if it strikes the pit, shift over a fraction of an inch more until you can slice downward. Repeat on the other side of the pit, giving you two hemispherical pieces of mango. (The cook gets to snack on the stray bits of mango still clinging to the pit.) Lay each mango half flat and slice thinly crosswise.

To serve individually, place an oval mound of sticky rice on each dessert plate and place a sliced half-mango decoratively beside it. Top with a sprig of mint or basil if you wish. Or, place the mango slices on a platter and pass it around, together with a serving bowl containing the rice, allowing guests to serve themselves. Stir the remaining sweetened coconut milk thoroughly, transfer to a small serving bowl or cruet, and pass it separately, with a spoon, so guests can spoon on extra as they wish.

Notes:
You can substitute black Thai sticky rice for half the white rice. Soak the two rices together; the white rice will turn a beautiful purple as it takes on color from the black rice. Cooking will take 10 minutes longer.

Unlike plain sticky rice, Coconut Milk Sticky Rice has enough moisture and oils in it that it keeps well for 24 hours, in a covered container in the refrigerator, without drying out. Rewarm it the next day by steaming or in a microwave.

From: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Coconut-Milk-Sticky-Rice-with-Mangoes-233842

 

Our Method to Steam Rice:

Soak the rice overnight. Place a fine strainer over a pot of boiling water, and fit with a lid. Place the rice in the strainer to cook for about 25 minutes, mixing the rice half way through.

Idea From: http://shesimmers.com/2012/08/how-to-cook-sticky-rice-the-easy-way-and-without-a-steamer.html

 

Shopping: H-mart

This week we decided to take a trip to H-mart, a store that we knew held many different ingredients used in Asian cooking, but we had no idea what to actually expect. Inside we discovered aisle after aisle of various foods labeled in multiple languages, and a gigantic section dedicated to produce. We were able to find everything we needed and more. The people in the store were also really helpful, assisting us in distinguishing sticky rice from the many varieties available.

Hmart 3

Hmart 2        Hmart 1

Shopping List:

  • broccoli
  • bean sprouts
  • cabbage
  • snow peas
  • baby bok choy
  • sweet sticky rice
  • pad thai noodles
  • green tea mochi

On the way out we also discovered that within the store there’s a section to purchase prepared foods and bakery goods, as well as drinks. At the drink stand we even picked up a delicious strawberry bubble tea!

hmart 4

Without knowing what to expect, the shopping trip was a huge success!

Dinner: Italian Feast

Our original plan to have a quick meal of a few different types of pizza disappeared quickly; there were so many different Italian treats that we wanted to make that we kept adding on and on until we had an entire feast. We started with a few tomato-ey appetizers, bruschetta on toasted bread (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/recipe-bruschetta/) and caprese salad, and then moved onto our main course of FOUR different types of pizza (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/recipe-quick-pizza-dough/). We made a simple tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil pizza and then moved on to more complicated ones; a mixed vegetable and a pesto. Our final pizza was by far the most interesting, half tuna and half lemon– two specialty pizzas that we each learned during visits to various parts of Italy. To go along with our pizzas, we also attempted ricotta gnocchi (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/recipe-ricotta-gnocchi/) and made a large salad. Finally to top it all off we made raspberry ice cream (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/recipe-raspberry-ice-cream/)– not exactly what you call a quick meal!

Our Reaction:

Our meal started with the appetizers, or antipasto since we’re in Italian mode. Both the bruschetta and the caprese salad were very quick and easy to make and complemented each other well. We were amazed by the amount of tomato we ended up using, but the fresh flavors kept our plates feeling well balanced. We made a bit too much, but there were no complaints from our dinners. It was a nice light beginning to our meal.

bruschetta     caprese

Then, we moved onto the main meal. We started everyone off with a mixed green salad, and some fresh ricotta gnocchi. That process was not quite as simple as the antipasto. The dough was extremely wet, and no matter how much flour we added, we couldn’t get it to roll the way the original recipe asked. So, instead of scrapping the whole thing, we decided to get slightly creative and found ways to make it work. It wasn’t entirely perfect, but we all enjoyed it, especially considering it was significantly lighter than potato gnocchi. Although we struggled a bit along the way, and the resulting pasta wasn’t the prettiest, it did taste great!

gnocchi 1          gnocchi 2

The pizzas were definitely the main part of our meal. We started them off a few hours before dinner so that we could precook the crusts . All went smoothly, and we even decided to add some of our homemade pesto (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/recipe-pesto/) to incorporate a bit more flavor into the dough. The next step was placing the toppings. We made four pizzas, and decided to have a different flavor on each one. We decided that we had to include the classic tomato, mozzarella, basil pizza. Our next pizza was a roasted red peppers, onions, and mushroom pizza for the vegetable lovers among us. Next, we had to have a pesto pizza so that we could use up our leftover (and amazing tasting) pesto. Our last pizza was a bit of a mish-mosh. Both of us have been to Italy, and we each discovered unique pizza flavors while we were there–one a Sicilian tuna fish pizza, the other a Tuscan lemon white pizza. Since we had only one pizza left to top, we decided to compromise, each claiming half of the last pie for our specialty flavor. The end results were absolutely delicious. We did slightly burn the bottom of one of the pizzas, so make sure to cook them for just a few minutes, but otherwise they were scrumptious. In the end there were only five remaining slices from the four pies combined!

pizza 1     pizza 2 pizza 3     pizza 4 pizza 5 pizza 6

To end our meal, we had raspberry ice cream, which we called gelato, prepared the day before. At first we were planning on making a more authentic ice cream or gelato, but because we didn’t want to use raw egg yolks, and we didn’t have any heavy cream on hand, we went with a lighter “ice milk” recipe. Raspberries added a bit more flavor, too. We had to let the ice cream defrost a bit because it got quite solid in the freezer. The texture was not perfect, but it still tasted yummy, and our families enjoyed it.

ice cream

Our simple pizza night transformed into an extremely large, delicious Italian feast and everyone enjoyed it immensely!

Recipe: Ricotta Gnocchi

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 12 ounces whole milk Parmesan (we used it by volume)
  • 3 ounces of Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Method:

Combine the eggs, yolks, and ricotta in a large mixing bowl and whisk completely until completely smooth. Add Parmesan cheese and fold in with a spatula. Combine the flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper, than fold into egg mixture until just combined.

Put the entire mixture into a pastry bag and squeeze the mixture out into a pot of boiling water, cutting the mixture in short intervals to create small bite-sized pieces. Almost as soon as the gnocchi reach the surface of the pot they are cooked through, and fish them out using a slotted spoon.

Mix the gnocchi with olive oil, fresh spinach, and additional Parmesan cheese to serve.

 

This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe from Chef Cameron Giezendanner at the Cook Academy at the Vermont Culinary Resort in Essex.