Sunday, November 25, 2012

Beef Scalliion Stir Fry

Even if your kids HATE onions, do not dismiss this recipe.  The green onions in it basically cook down to the nothing and your kids can easily pick them out.  Left behind in the beef, though, is the lovely buttery flavor of scallions--so not only will you get to eat something that tastes great, they'll also, slowly and without even knowing it, become acclimated to the taste of onions.  How wonderfully Machiavellian is that?

This should be served with rice, of course, so be sure to figure that into your cooking time.  If you hate cooking rice, and use this as an excuse to not make this dish, then perhaps it's time to suck it up and invest a whole $19.99 on a rice steamer.  They're so easy even a distracted monkey can do it.

This recipe comes from Helen Chen's Easy Chinese Stir Fries, an excellent book that lives up to its title.

Beef Scallion Stir Fry
1 lb. flank steak, trimmed
2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry (I use the sherry)
1 teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons canola oil
2 round slices of unpeeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 small can of slice bamboo shoots, drained
5 green onions
1 teaspoon sesame oil

  1. Cook your rice, according to instructions.  
  2. Slice the beef with the grain into 2-inch wide strips. 
  3. Slice the beef against the grain into 1/8-inch wide pieces. 
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the hoisin sauce, the soy sauce, the cornstarch, the wine, and the sugar. 
  5. Add the beef to the sauce and mix well.  Set aside.  
  6. Slice the roots off the green onions.  Then cut the bulbs off and cut them in half, lengthwise.  
  7. Cut the rest of the onions (the green stems) into 2-inch long segments. 
  8. Heat your wok over high heat.  Once it's hot, add the oil and heat until it shimmers. 
  9. Now add the ginger and garlic.  Cook for ten seconds.  Do not let them brown!
  10. Add the beef mixture and stir-fry for 1 minute. 
  11. Stir in the broth and the bamboo shoots, stirring constantly, for another minute. 
  12. Add the green onions and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until the scallions are wilted.  
  13. Turn off heat.  Drizzle sesame oil and mix.  
  14. Remove ginger slices and serve!

Family Ratings

Will, who never takes seconds but did for this dish:  10
Lucy, who's not crazy about bamboo shoots:  9
Jamie, who's still getting the hang of this numbering system:  88
Ellen, who's not a big red meat fan: 9
Paul who loooooooves onions:  10

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weekend Chicken Pot Pie

Okay, so:  A)  This dish takes a little too long to make on a weeknight; and B) It uses a pre-made crust, something that, snob that I am, I generally try to avoid.  But even so?  Dang, it's GOOD!

This comes to me from my friend Jane, who got it from a blog somewhere.  I've cut back on the boiling times, because Lucy doesn't like overdone veggies and I hate chicken that's been cooked so long it's stiff.  

Keep in mind, this dish will be great with your store bought chicken, but if you take the time to find a local meat cutter who carries local foods, you won't regret it!

Weekend Chicken Pot Pie

3 medium carrots, chopped
2 large stalks of celery, chopped
4 small red potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 quart chicken stock (I use store-bought broth; I'm just lazy that way)
6 T butter
1 yellow onion, diced
6 T flour
1.5 lbs chicken breasts
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 sheets frozen puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm is good)
1 egg, beaten

  1. Take the puff pastries out of the freezer to thaw.
  2. Peel and slice all of your veggies. 
  3. In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil and add the carrots, celery, cauliflower and potatoes.  Simmer for nine minutes, or until just tender. 
  4. Remove veggies with a slotted spoon.  Pour stock into a measuring cup for later use. 
  5. Simultaneously (or afterwards, whichever) bring a pot of water to boil.  Add the chicken breasts and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  6. Drain the chicken, allow it to cool, then cut it up into tiny bits.  
  7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  8. Melt the butter in a dutch oven.   Add onion and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  9. Add the flour and stir to make a roux.  Cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the roux starts to darken a bit and give off a toasty smell.  
  10. Slowly stream in the reserved stock and stir constantly.  Don't panic if it starts to thicken.  Just keep adding the stock steadily.  
  11. Cook for another three minutes, then turn off the heat and slowly add the cream. 
  12. Add the veggies and chicken to the sauce, along with salt and pepper.  Mix well and pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.  
  13. Layer the puff pastry over the top of the pie.  Brush with egg for shine.
  14. Cut small slices into the crust to allow steam to escape. 
  15. Bake for 10 minutes. 
  16. Cover with foil and bake for 25 more minutes.  

Family Ratings

Will, who's getting less fussy as he's becoming a teenager and starting to eat everything: 10
Jamie, who's getting more fussy as he figures out it's a way to draw attention away from his sister:  7
Lucy, who likes everything, particularly when she can help make it:  10
Ellen, who's pleased that there's no cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup in this:  10
Paul, who's been craving homemade pot pie for about a year now:  10

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Night Mac and Cheese

To understand this dish, it helps to know that I was stuck in Seattle during Hurricane Sandy.  While generally I like this city, I'd already been gone five days and I missed the kids and really wanted to get home.  When I finally got a plane back, it was diverted just as we flew into the Roanoke Valley due to wind sheer.  As a result, I finally pulled got home at 7 a.m., two-and-a-half days late, not having slept for 24 hours.

Fast forward to Friday.  I've worked all day and I have no idea what Ellen has in the house, food-wise. I'm too tired to run to the store, so I start digging through the fridge.  The results are as follow.  They may sound a little bizarre.  So be it.  You won't regret this dish.  

A note for the grown-ups in the family:  this dish pairs nicely with red wine, white wine, beer, or hard liquor.  

Friday Night Mac and Cheese

6 ounces grated Colby-Jack Cheese (grate it yourself; the pre-grated stuff lacks flavor)
2 ounces grated Gouda
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
12 ounces pasta of any kind (though I prefer penne)
1 small onion, minced beyond recognition
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 of 1 one-inch thick pepperoni stick, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 Tablespoons corn starch
2.5 cups milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Boil water for the pasta and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta until al dente
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the pan over medium heat
  4. Add the onions, garlic, and chopped pepperoni.  Cook 4-5 minutes, until onions are just soft
  5. Add the milk and the corn starch.  Stir well and bring to a boil. 
  6. Add one cup of the cheese (Gouda and Colby-Jack only).  Stir until melted. 
  7. Turn off the heat and remove the pan.  Pour the drained pasta into a 9x13 baking dish. 
  8. Pour the melted cheese sauce on top of the pasta. 
  9. Add the rest of the Colby-Jack and the Gouda, as well as the salt and pepper to the pan.  Mix well. 
  10. Top with the grated parmesan.  
  11. Place in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes
  12. Serve with baby carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes

Family Ratings

Will, who was done before I could even ask:  10
Lucy, who's idea it was to add the garlic:  10
Jamie, who's becoming increasingly fussy:  8
Ellen, who isn't one for American-style comfort food:  10
Paul, who felt rather clever (and still very sleepy):  10