Monday, December 28, 2015

Chinese Noodle Soup with Pork Balls and Napa Cabbage

Prepared December, 2015. Pork, beef, and fish balls are popular to serve as appetizers or to add to soups. They are sold frozen in specialty Chinese food outlets, and make it easy to add flavor and protein to a dish. 
1 qt (1 L) water
4 oz (115 g) frozen stuffed pork balls
1 t (5 ml) fish sauce
1 T (15 ml) soy sauce
1 t (5 ml) sugar
1/2 t (2.5 ml) salt
1 t (5 ml) sesame oil
1 t (5 ml) grated fresh ginger root
6 oz (175 g) Napa cabbage, cut into 1 inch pieces
3-1/2 oz (100 g) dry Chinese wheat noodles
Bring water, frozen pork balls, and seasonings to a slow boil in a 3-quart saucepan. Cover, adjust heat to a fast simmer, and cook 10 minutes. Remove the pork balls to a plate to cool briefly. Cut each ball into thick slices, return to the pot, along with the cabbage, and return to a fast simmer. Cook 10 minutes with occasional stirring, and add the dry noodles. Cook five minutes more. Serves four as a first course in a Chinese meal, or two for a hearty meal. Variations: Omit meat balls. Substitute fish balls for the pork balls. Use bok choy rather than Napa cabbage.

Hint: Fewer Crumbs When Making Bread Stuffing

DrDaddy's usual method for making bread stuffing for poultry is to arrange the bread slices on a sheet pan, and to toast the bread in a  hot oven (425 degrees F, 220 C) until the top is browned, and then to invert each slice, and return the pan to the oven to brown the other side. When cool, to stack a few slices, cut off the crusts, and then dice the remainder. This method produces copious bread crumbs that are often discarded, which wastes food.

An alternative method that minimizes waste is to trim and dice the bread when it is fresh. Then, place the cubes in a shallow roasting pan, and brown them in a hot oven for five minutes, tossing with tongs or a spoon, and returning to oven to complete baking.

French Dip Beef Sandwiches

Recorded December, 2015. Prepared many times over the years. A Family Favorite. Easy, fast, and satisfying. Trimming the bread leaves more room for filling and reduces calories from carbohydrates.
6 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 t minced garlic
2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
Jus (see Recipe)
1 lb loaf artisanal French bread
12 oz thinly-sliced deli roast beef, rewarmed in the jus 
Sauté the mushrooms in olive oil until they are browned, stir in the garlic and salt, and cook a few minutes more. Re-heat the beef slices in the warm jus. Crisp the loaf in moist 350 degree F (180 C) oven for six minutes. Slice the loaf into four sections, and then each section lengthwise. Remove V-shaped pieces from top and bottom and set aside for another purpose. Spoon a quarter of the sauteed mushrooms into the bottom half, pile on a quarter of the warm beef, and top the sandwich. Press down and slice in half on the diagonal. Plate with a bowl of jus for dipping. Variation: Substitute sauteed onions for the mushrooms.

Jus for French Dip Beef Sandwiches

Developed December, 2015. Beef, tomato paste, and mushroom powder all contribute beefy flavor to this jus. A robust sandwich piled high with deli roast beef on crusty French bread makes a quick, satisfying economical meal.
1 oz deli roast beef, finely minced
2 t vegetable oil
1 T tomato paste
1/2 c dry red wine
1/2 t minced garlic

2 c hot water
3 T beef base (Better Than Bouillon™ Reduced Sodium is good)
1 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1 T porcini mushroom powder (purchased online or prepared from dry porcini)

2 T tapioca or corn starch dispersed in 2 T of water
In a two-quart saucepan, heat the oil to a shimmer and add the minced beef. Sauté until well browned. Stir in the tomato paste, and after a minute, add the garlic, and 30 seconds later, stir in the wine. Boil until half the liquid is lost. Stir in the hot water, beef base, sugar, salt and porcini powder. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, with occasional stirring. Stir in the starch suspension, and stir until thickened. Rewarm the beef slices in the hot jus before loading the sandwiches. Serves 4. 
Suggested sides: cabbage salad or freshly pickled onion-cucumber salad.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Recorded Fall, 2015. Family recipe used for decades. Baking in the skin rather than boiling keeps out water and concentrates the flavor and sugars, and is more easily controlled.
3 large sweet potatoes
3 T (50 g) butter
1/4 c (50 ml)  brown sugar
1/4 c (50 ml) water
2 t (10 ml) lemon juice
1 t (5 ml) ground cinnamon
salt and pepper
1/2 c (125 ml) walnut pieces
Choose sweet potatoes that are straight and uniform in width. Prick potatoes all over with a fork to release steam and microwave on high (@1250 W) until just soft, about 12 minutes, but do it in steps since they cook quickly toward the end. They will emit steam and juice when done, but don’t overcook. Texture should be soft but not mushy. Alternatively, bake the potatoes directly on the rack at 325 degrees F (165 C). When cool, peel off the skins, slice lengthwise and then into 3/4 inch thick (~2 cm) half-rounds. Heat the butter, sugar, and water in a medium non-stick skillet, stirring to form a syrup. Arrange the potato slices in the hot syrup, add the cinnamon, nuts and lemon juice and cook slowly uncovered, until tender, about 30 minutes, replacing water as it’s lost. Cover and keep warm until serving. Serves 6 to 8.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Marinade for Turkey Burritos

Developed November, 2015. Another way to use leftover roast turkey is to make turkey burritos. This marinade adds both moistness and ethnic flavor to the turkey meat. 
1 c water
1 t chicken base (Better Than Bouillon™ Reduced Sodium Chicken Base is good)
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t cumin
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t chili powder
Heat ingredients to a fast simmer in a small saucepan for a few minutes with stirring. Cover and cool until just warm. Add up to 10 ounces (300 g) sliced or shredded roast turkey meat to marinate for 15 minutes. Drain and use for burritos. After use, the meat-flavored marinade can be thickened with corn starch for use as a gravy, e.g., over rice or potatoes. Variation: Subsitute roast chicken breast meat.

Hint: Shock the Grounds to Make Better Coffee

Chemex Brewer (Public Domain)
Recorded December 9, 2015. About 50 years ago, DrDaddy and MrsDaddy brewed their morning coffee using a Chemex brewer. This brewer joins a filter holder and a flask into a single piece of Pyrex, with a collar of maple lashed at the neck with a genuine rawhide lace. Both 'green' and cool. Took paper filters, like in the lab. The recipe that was advocated for this manual drip system was to first 'shock' the dry grounds with very hot water and then, after a delay, continue to add hot water to the funnel as the brew passed through the bed of coffee grounds. The method produced a very good product, especially using whole beans purchased at the newly-opened roaster, across the street from the Pike Place Market. We were among the very first customers at Starbucks and we had our own blend. The method is easy to apply using an automatic drip coffeemaker and a microwave.
33 oz (1 L) spring water
6 T ground coffee, drip grind
Measure the water into the carafe. Pour about 6 ounces (ca 1.5 dl) of that into a microwave-safe vessel, such as a plastic measuring cup, and heat to boiling. Transfer the remaining water to the coffeemaker, and after 30 seconds, start the brewing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ranch Dressing

Recorded December 8, 2015. This recipe represents the simple one first used at a dude ranch outside Santa Barbara, California. Guests loved it. In time, the operators made it available commercially.
1/2 c (125 g) buttermilk
1/2 c (125 g) mayonnaise
1/4 t (2 ml) ground black pepper
1/4 t (2 ml) celery seed
1/4 t (2 ml) salt
1/8 t (1 ml) granulated garlic
1/8 t (1 ml) onion powder
fat pinch of dry thyme
Add the first two ingredients by weight or volume into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Add the others, by volume. Mix well. Hold for an hour before using to let flavors mature. Yields one cup. Easily doubled. Store cold.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chinese Lion's Head Soup

Developed November, 2015 from an online recipe. Simple, fast, cheap, and so satisfying on a chilly night. Plump, flavorsome meat balls simmer in a light cabbage stock along with rice noodle squares. A one-pot supper ready in about 45 minutes.

1 lb (450 g) ground pork
1 large egg
2 T (30 ml) cornstarch
2 t (10 ml) dark sesame oil
1 T (15 ml) finely-minced fresh ginger root
1 t (5 ml) finely-minced garlic
1 t (5 ml) fish sauce
2 t (10 ml) salt
1 green onion, finely chopped
3 T (50 ml) vegetable oil
1-1/2 lb (700 g) napa cabbage
2 t (5 ml) ground mustard
4 T (60 ml) low-salt chicken concentrate (Better Than Bouillon™ is good) 
6 c (1.5 L) hot water
1 T (15 ml) soy sauce
4 oz (115 g) rice noodle squares, soaked in hot water until softened
2 t (10 ml) dark sesame oil
2 green onions, sliced across
Mix the meatball ingredients in a bowl using a wooden spoon in one direction until smooth and sticky. Chill for 30 minutes to firm up the meat mixture. Separate the cabbage into leaves, trim off tough bottoms, cut in half lengthwise and then across yielding eight pieces. Place noodles in a bowl, cover with hot tap water, and drain after 15 minutes. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy six-quart saucepan on medium-high. When the oil shimmers, add the cabbage, stirring frequently, until cabbage is softened but not browned, about five minutes.  Add the hot water, the chicken concentrate, mustard powder, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a fast simmer. Using a spoon and wet hands gently form 1 inch balls and drop them into the boiling soup, one by one. After adding the last ball, cover and simmer for five minutes. Stir in the drained rice noodles, replace cover and continue gentle cooking for another five minutes. Add salt according to taste, garnish with green onion, and drizzle on a little sesame oil. Serves four generously.