My favorite breakfast :)

I try not to have this more than once a week or two, but my favorite breakfast is this version of corned beef hash. It’s really a shredded potato patty, with bits of fresh corned beef folded in, accompanied by an egg, easy over, sprinkled with cheese. It’s that perfect combination of salt and starch and fat in the morning 🙂 When I grew up, my father used to make the potato pancakes, so for me, this is that taste of nostalgia, the remembrance of a happy time when growing up. Fattening, but everything in moderation, right? 🙂

What’s cooking…

I’ve been so busy lately that even regular home cooking has dropped off. Work days are 10 hrs so by the time I get home I’m ready to have a half dinner and then relax.

Today I had a day off, so I decided to go Thai (yes, no surprise, lol) and make a couple favorites, plus something new.

The usual dishes, Som Tum Talay … my usual papaya salad with squid and shrimp, and Pad Kaprow Moo (the spicy basil pork) … and something new to me.

Instead of a large starch we made a Thai dish that’s apparently not often seen here. The dish is quite simple, and the elegance lies in clean execution. Cooked sticky rice is mixed with raw pork, some thinly shredded vegetables and sesame seed. It’s lightly seasoned with just a little white pepper and salt, rolled, dipped in egg and then fried.

The result is a ball that’s soft and sticky inside and crispy and crunchy outside. It’s the perfect complement to anything with a sauce, as you can pinch and dip with the sticky rice.

I found the recipe at one of my favorite sites, importfood.com. I didn’t vary it by enough to justify writing my own recipe, so it’s better to ask you to get it directly from their site.

All in all, it was a delicious dinner and the family was pretty happy with it 🙂

How to make Shu Mai (Siu Mai), one type of Chinese dim sum

Beautiful delicious steamed bundles of goodness… I love dim sum, and especially siu mai. They’re pretty simple to make and your effort will be rewarded.

There are many kinds of siu mai. The way I’m making it here is Cantonese and has a pork and mushroom filling. Fillings will vary and there’s no ‘one way’ to do it. Feel free to vary your ingredients to your own preferences.

Today, I started with ginger, shallots and garlic, finely chopped. This can be done with knife or a food processor, it’s up to you.

The photo illustrates how finely to chop it. I prefer not to chop too fine, as I like to be able to still make out the individual flavors in the finished product. For this recipe, I used two types of mushrooms. Dried straw mushrooms and dried cloud ear mushrooms.

Chop the mushrooms to medium fine (about 1/16″ to 1/8″ size). The straw mushrooms are pictured above, the cloud mushrooms should look like this.

Once they’re chopped, the proportions should look like what you see above. Add chopped green onion, (rehydrated) dried scallops – chopped finely, and chopped water chestnuts

Proportions look like this:

Using Siu Mai wrappers, take a spoon at a time and form, then place on a pan.

To form the siu mai, simply gather the edges and fold the ‘fins’ in the same direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise).

Steam some for immediate consumption or bag and freeze for another day. 1 pack of wrappers makes plenty for a few breakfasts. Pictured, some siu mais and wonton frozen.

Pork and Mushroom Shu Mai (Siu Mai)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Siu mai with pork and two kinds of mushrooms.
Ingredients
  • 1-2 shallots
  • 4-6 pieces water chestnut
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 dried wood ear mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1.5 lb. ground pork (coarse ground, if available)
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (opt.)
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1-2 Tbs. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Shaoxing cooking wine
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 package siu mai wrappers
Instructions
  1. Chop shallots, water chestnuts, mushrooms, garlic, and green onion.
  2. Season pork with the cornstarch, sesame oil, wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, salt and pepper.
  3. Mix in chopped ingredients
  4. * at this point you can let the mixture rest so the flavors can properly marry. I like to let it rest overnight in the refrigerator, when convenient.
  5. Fill wrappings, gathering and pinching the sides. It may be helpful to give it a thump when finished to flatten out the bottom.
  6. Steam for 10 minutes, serve.
  7. They can be frozen and steamed later, if desired.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Sourdough Bread Baked in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven

I tried out my new Lodge Double Dutch Oven and just LOVE it! My first dish in the pot was to bake a nice round of sourdough. I set my dough to rise on parchment in a round cake pan to give it shape and make it easy to transfer. In the meantime, I pre-heated the oven with a scant quarter cup of water in it. Once ready, I simply transferred the bread into the pot, covered it and set it to bake. It took a little longer to bake than when I make baguettes, but it came out wonderfully, and the pot really helped to make perfect crust.

Here’s a look of the crumb of the bread plated with dinner. Dinner was a chipotle burger with cilantro lime aoli and a simple salad.

Cast Iron Dutch Oven <3

Lately, I’ve been really loving cast iron. I have a skillet and a couple mini skillets (for puff pancakes for example). I have been waiting for a good deal on a dutch oven and today I ran across this smoking hot deal and immediately ordered one. Lodge Logic is the best and this one has a lid which doubles as a  skillet. I can’t wait to get it! I might make some bread in it right away.

Get your Lodge Double Dutch Oven here! 🙂

Awesome ravioli, and a tip.

 

 

We’re still making pasta by hand in the kitchen and we’ve pretty much got it down pat now. One thing I learned the last time I made the ravioli was that it’s actually better to make the filling ahead of time and refrigerating it. It stays cold throughout the process and is easier to handle. In fact, it stays together so nicely, that you can get fuller and much nicer looking ravioli.

Here’s the tip. Make the stuffing ahead of time and refrigerate. Then when you fill the ravioli, instead of spooning it in or throwing it in, roll them into neat balls. It’s so much neater and makes the ravioli turn out so much nicer.

As you seal the ravioli, keep one end open enough to allow air to escape. If you can keep the ravioli relatively free of air bubbles and filled uniformly, you should end up with a product which looks like this when cut.

The secret to incredible Vietnamese beef broth.

 

 

I was loosely following a recipe for Vietnamese Pho broth and it really came out fantastic. There were two things I learned as I was making this.

One, don’t skimp on the onions. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like onions, if you like the dark rich broth you’d get in a Vietnamese restaurants, you’ll need the onions. You will end up straining them all out later, so don’t worry and just go for it.

Two, and this I consider the big ‘secret’ I learned by the experience is to roast your bones. For me, I used a couple pounds of large bones and a couple pounds of beef back ribs for soup. That way I had a good portion of bones and a good portion of meat too. You could go all beef back rib, but 50% cheap stuff works too 🙂 Put it all in a pan with a couple halved onions on the bottom and roast it all. If you want, put a little water in the bottom of the pan so the onions don’t burn too much, then cook at  350 degrees for 2 hours. The difference in flavor compared to boiling is phenomenal.

What was even more impressive, is after I was all done boiling the broth for most of the night, is that the meat is still delicious and the connecting tissue rendered perfectly.

The next time I make any kind of beef soup – minestrone, beef and been, vegetable beef… I’m going to try roasting the bones first and see if the intense flavor works too (I suspect it will!)

Happy cooking! 🙂

Portabella Truffle Oil Ravioli with Hawaiian Fire Salt Prawns and Scallops

Last night I made this for dinner. I rolled my own pasta dough and made a mushroom filling for it. We didn’t use a heavy sauce for it, but the color you see on the pasta isn’t for decoration. It was bursting with flavor. The short version was this:

Scallops cooked in butter with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Prawns marinated in Hawaiian Fire Salt (sea salt with a little kick) and a touch of cornstarch cooked in butter and chopped garlic
Handmade ravioli with mushroom filling finished with a light drizzle of the scallop juices and sprinkled with a blend of celery, red bell pepper and garlic (cooked down in a little butter) Continue reading

Random thoughts while grinding beef.

 

I spent the day grinding some fresh ground beef. Here’s how I get what I want at a reasonable price….I keep an eye out for the local wholesale market to have a sale on beef (or pork for that matter).  It went on sale for $2.30 a lb. recently, which, as far as sale prices go, is a sign of the times. I should have bought a couple months ago when they were culling the herds but beef prices are up a bit now. I have a feeling that prices are going to go much higher later this year. I picked up a piece about 25lbs and headed home. I then get out the “sword” (a commercial meat carving knife, it’s long and shaped sort of like a scimitar, yarrr! You can find it here.)

Continue reading

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