Monday, January 26, 2009

Aunt Marylyn's Brownies

These brownies are near and dear to my heart, and the hearts of many in my family...they are a recipe passed to us by my Great Aunt Marylyn who is an amazing lady, she was gracious enough to share with us all. Now, fair warning, if you are diabetic, turn away now...not only is this totally tempting but it might put you into a sugar induced coma just reading the ingredients! These are a great frosted brownie but are delish without the frosting too.

Aunt Marylyn's Brownies

2 Cups White Sugar
1 Cup Butter, melted
3 Tbsp Cocoa, stirred into the sugar
3 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Chopped Nuts (optional)
1 Cup Chocolate Chips (optional)
1 bag small marshmallows

1. Mix sugar/cocoa mixture, sugar and eggs together. Slowly add flour and baking powder to the mix. After all has been combined, add vanilla and desired add-ins (chopped nuts or chocolate chips). 2. Turn onto a 13X9 floured and greased pan and bake in a 350 degree (preheated) oven for 30 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and add marshmallows over the top and return to oven and bake for 5 minutes, or until melted.
4. Cool slightly and add icing.

3 Tbsp Margarine
4 Tbsp Cream
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 Cup Cocoa
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Salt
Mix margarine, cream, powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla and salt together until smooth. Spread over brownies once they are slightly cool.

Quick and Easy Chicken Tacos

Lately I feel like I'm running a spiel on the best of Cooking Light (no, I don't have an endorsement from them! but how great would that be?)....tonight is an old favorite from the May 2008 issue, Chicken and Mushroom Tacos. I have modified mine (which unfortunately makes it less healthy, but the original can be found here), it's a great Monday night dinner, easy and quick, very little prep and very little clean up. This time around I used some chicken that was in the fridge (cooked) but I have used roasted chicken and even the frozen, pre-cooked is my version:

Cooking spray
1 3/4 cups thinly vertically sliced onion
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1/4 cup Madeira wine or dry sherry
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup light sour cream

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add jalapeño; sauté 2 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over onion mixture; sauté 1 minute. Remove onion mixture from pan.
2. Return pan to heat; recoat with cooking spray. Add mushrooms and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add Madeira to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Uncover; cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently. Stir in onion mixture and chicken; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. I added salt, pepper, and a little bit of crushed red pepper at this point.
3. Warm tortillas according to package instructions. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture onto each tortilla. Top each tortilla with 2 tablespoons cheese; fold in half. Serve with sour cream.

The tortilla in the photo is one of the coolest things I can find at the grocery store (yes I'm very easy to please when it comes to new and cool things) buy them in a 'raw' form and then put them on a griddle and they cook. Just like fresh tortillas from a restaurant or home, but so much easier!

Now, since this was relatively healthy (all except the flour tortillas), I did have to eat one of the deliciously gooey brownies I made yesterday....yesterday was a great meal as well, I did ribs, sweet potato fries and roasted green beans, unfortunately the photos were disastrous so I won't be posting this one until I can re-do it. However, the brownies I will post shortly!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Veggie Pakoras on a chilly January night

Today Jackie (my sister) and I spent much of our day shopping at the Domain, one of Austin's high end retail centers, it's beautiful but because it's all outdoors with lots of walking it was pretty chilly today at 44 degrees! After our shopping excursion, we hit the grocery store and came home, what to make, how about a warm veggie fritter (ala Cooking Light) and some frozen Coconut Shrimp (not so healthy but very tasty). We put away the groceries and I got started on the veggie pakoras, which I have been wanting to try since I saw them in the December 08 issue of Cooking Light (another fabulous find in the same vein as my earlier 'light' fried fish post).

Vegetable Pakoras

3 oz all-purpose flour (appx 2/3 cup)
2 tsp Madras curry powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup (1/4 inch) diced peeled sweet potato
1 cup (1/4 inch) diced cauliflower
1/2 cup finely diced onions
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (somehow I managed to not have this so I subbed 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
3 tbsp peanut oil
mango chutney - as a dipping sauce

1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, curry powder, cumin and salt, stirring with a whisk. *If you sub something for the jalapeno that is dry (i.e. pepper flakes), add them with the dry ingredients. Combine 1/3 cup water and egg, stirring with whisk. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; stir until smooth. Cover; let stand 10 minutes.

2. Place sweet potato in a small saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and cool to room temperature. Add sweet potato, cauliflower, onion, cilantro, garlic and jalapeno to flour mixture; stir until well combined (batter will be very thick).

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 tbsp oil to pan, swirling to coat. Drop 2 tbsp batter into pan, and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Repeat procedure to make 6 pakoras. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan; drain on paper towels. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and batter. Serve with chutney.
My recommendation for the chutney (and what I used) is something Dee-licious my mom made around the holidays, Spiced Mango Chutney, it was excellent with both the pakoras and the shrimp. The beauty of this dinner was that my sister, who isn't really apt to walk into an Indian restaurant with me, loved the pakoras....curry and all! They were easy, filling and good for you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaguration Celebration

Whether or not you voted for Barack Obama, today was a huge moment for America, and hopefully a turning point for the state of our country (ok, so that might be interpreted as political, but I don't mean it as such). I work at a small high-tech start up here in Austin and we celebrate all the little things (and the big ones), today was no exception, we ordered Rudy's BBQ (one of my favorites), used Slingbox to project the whole she-bang on the wall and myself (and one of my co-workers) brought in desserts. I brought in red,white and blue sugar cookie stars. The cookies were festive, patriotic and quite the hit, every single one was gone before 5PM!

I used Martha Stewart's Sugar Cookie Recipe for the cookies:

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cup sugar
2 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, and vanilla; mix until incorporated.
2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. 5. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

After I finished that (around 10:30 last night) I realized it was too late to frost them, so I needed a 'patriotic' alternative....I turned to glaze!

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cream
*I used icing gel coloring to tint 1/2 of the batch red and the other 1/2 blue

Mix all of the ingredients together and paint on to cookies.

After so much cooking last night I wasn't really up for a difficult dinner tonight, plus I've been dying to try the Scintillating Sausage Stuffed Squash Reeni had on her blog Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice, I was certainly not disappointed! Yet another delish recipe I found on her website!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Busy Monday Evening

Tonight's dinner really wasn't a week night dinner, home-made bread, a shrimp stew of sorts and all of it from scratch after 6PM, I must really have lost my mind when I came up with this idea! It all started because I've been ogling the Shrimp and Fingerlings in Tomato Broth recipe from the February issue of Bon Appetit --it looks like San Francisco....what on earth does that mean, no I'm not on drugs, what it means is that when I see fresh seafood in a yummy broth served with crusty bread it reminds me of food I had back in November in San good stuff! So after a few days of reading the recipe I finally broke down and made it tonight, never mind that it's easily got forty minutes of cooking time (maybe a little more) and a bit of prep time too (peeling fresh shrimp...finely chopping two cups of onion!), it was well worth the time commitment.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
1 14.5-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes in juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
3 cups water
8 oz fingerling potatoes or baby Yukon Gold potatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 pound peeled deveined uncooked medium American shrimp

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until very tender and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 18 minutes. Add garlic and paprika; stir 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with juice and cook until very thick, stirring frequently, about 30 minutes. Stir in rosemary and crushed red pepper. Add wine and cook until liquid evaporates completely, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Stir in clam juice, then 3 cups water. Broth can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and chill.
Bring broth to boil. Add potatoes; simmer until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp; simmer until just cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.

So the second part of my meal was something else I've been dying to try, the infamous No-Knead Bread. Something I was quite skeptical of, I'm not much of a baker but this stuff is supposed to be easy, so I decided to test it out, what's the worst that could happen? Miracle of miracles, I didn't screw it up - it actually tasted quite good! Not sure it was supposed to be as flat as it turned out, but I'll absolutely try it again.

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Slow Roasted Sunday

Today I am trying something I have not done ever, roasting a whole chicken...yes I think this is a pretty basic thing that probably everyone else on the planet knows how to do but I've avoided it, why do it at home when for $7 you can get a great rotisserie chicken at most grocery stores? So middle of last week I decided maybe I should try this and see what happens....worst case I find out it's not so easy and I go back to buying the store made stuff, best case, well no more store bought for me!

I started off with a 5.14 lb fresh young roaster chicken and began hunting for a recipe. I looked through cookbooks I have, websites and blogs and finally after weighing both what sounded good to me and what the people who will be sharing the fruits of my labor like I decided on a permutation of a recipe from Martha Stewart's Cooking School (Roasted Chicken 101)and an Herb Roasted Chicken Recipe by Anne Burrell from Food Network.

Lauren's Roasted Chicken -- that's right, I'm naming after myself

5 sprigs rosemary, picked and finely chopped, about 2 tablespoons
10 sage leaves, picked and finely chopped, about 2 tablespoons
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 whole chicken (5 lbs)
Kosher salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 a medium onions roughly chopped
1 bag baby carrots
6 ribs celery, chopped
3 large leeks, chopped
4 cups rich chicken stock
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 large lemon

To make the chicken:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. To assure even cooking, remove chicken from the refrigerator, and let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour. After rinsing the chicken inside and out with cold running water, dry it with paper towels. Tuck the tips of the wings under the bottom to keep them from burning.

2. In a small bowl combine the chopped rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Using your fingertips carefully work your way under the skin of the chickens to separate the skin from the breast to develop a pocket. Use all of the paste and try to distribute evenly. Rub outside of chicken with olive oil, add salt and pepper. Slice lemon into rounds, place in the cavity of the chicken.

3. Use a 9 by 13-inch roasting pan. Add 2 cups of chicken stock and season generously with salt. Arrange the chickens on top of the veggies in the roasting pan and place in the preheated oven.

4. Check the chickens about 15 minutes into the cooking process, the skin should be starting to turn a lovely brown. Lower the heat to 375 degrees F and continue roasting. After another 15 minutes, remove the chickens from the oven and turn over. At this point check the level of liquid in the roasting pan. If most of the liquid has evaporated, add another cup of stock and return the chickens to the oven. When the chicken has browned on the bottom, about 15 minutes, remove them from the oven and turn them back over. Return the chicken to the oven for the final 15 minutes of cooking. During this time the skin on the chicken should be very brown and crispy.

5. Remove the chicken from the oven and take the temperature in the crease between the thigh and the breast. (When doing this be sure not to have the thermometer probe touch a bone or you will get an inaccurate reading.) The thermometer should read between 160 and 170 degrees F. If the thermometer reads less than 160 degrees F return the chicken to the oven for an additional 10 minutes and then re-check the temperature.

To make the gravy:
1. After the chickens have been removed from the roasting pan, skim off the excess fat from the surface of the liquid. The easiest way to do this is to prop up 1 end of the pan and allow the fat to run to the other end of the pan.

2. Pour the liquid into a sauce pan, add the wine, bring to a medium heat and reduce by half. Add the remaining chicken stock and taste. Add salt if needed- you probably will need salt.

3. At this point I added a bit of corn starch to thicken the gravy, I like a thicker gravy, but the flavor is great so you don't really have to add much anything else if you don't want to. When the sauce has reached the desired consistency and flavor remove from the heat and pour into desired serving vessel.

Verdict was that the chicken was well worth it - moist, juicy and flavorful. I'll definitely do this again!!

Kitchen Rant: Puffy Pancakes and the Batter Blaster

In the days before Christmas I was out with my father and we stumbled across something strange (and wonderful) at Sam's Club...the Batter Blaster! We were hungry, it was getting close to dinner time and we were plied by the power of the sample. A nice lady was blasting away with batter at an electric griddle and passing out sample pancakes as well as some pre-cooked bacon (not the best representation of bacon, but we didn't buy it so that's ok), the pancakes were lightly, slightly sweeter than a usual mix and very tasty. Magically a three-pack (it is Sam's, you don't get individual servings there) of Batter Blasters appeared in our massive shopping cart and away we went.

The funny aerosol cans of pancake batter came home with us and were put in the fridge, only to resurface on Christmas Day (and a few times since). We used them two was on Christmas Day, one, to make mini-Silver Dollar sized pancakes on my favorite flat cast iron griddle/skillet and two, with a puffy-pancake pan to make cute little puffy pancakes (as seen in the photos). The puffy pancakes were the biggest hit and have since been recreated over and over. Batter Blasters are here to stay with us and I highly recommend them to anyone else....besides, they are fun! How could you not enjoy squirting pancake batter out of an aerosol can? Yes, I'm aware of how strange/twisted that sounds, guess that gives you a little more insight into my personality.

When we make them as puffy pancakes, we eat them the way I first had them in Holland (where some people call them Dutch Babies), with melted butter and a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top. No need for syrup then, but do as you wish with them.

For anyone who is interested in stuffed pancakes (something I have yet to try), this can thing would make it soooo much easier (and cleaner)!

Anyway, long story short, I love my Batter Blaster and think everyone should try it!

**This post could have, should have gone up on Christmas Day or right after but since I've made these a few times since (and Christmas was well...busy and Christmas), I felt that I could go ahead and recycle some of the never posted photos today.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Light" and Fried Fish, Really?

So as much as I love my subscription to Cooking Light, I'm not always completely sure if things they have recipes for are 'light' - I know, that's the whole point of the magazine but hey, sometimes it's hard to believe. I'm a few months behind in my magazine reading but tonight I pulled a recipe from the December 2008 Cooking Light (which by the way has some fabulous stuff on the cover, hot chocolate fudge cakes...maybe add a raspberry sauce and it can be a Valentines thing?) -- Pan-Fried Halibut with Remoulade....the original recipe can be found on the Cooking Light website, but mine has a few modifications and is listed here:

1 TBSP Chopped Fresh Parsley
2 TBSP Reduced-Fat Mayo
1 Tsp Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 Tsp Worcheshire Sauce
2 Tsp Whole-Grain Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tsp Minced Fresh Garlic
1/2 Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Panko
1 Lg Egg White, Lightly Beaten
2 (6-oz) skinless Cod Fillets
1 Tbsp Canola Oil
2 Lemon Wedges
1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp White Pepper

1. To make sauce, combine all ingredients listed under Remoulade, chill until needed.
2. Place flour in shallow dish. Place panko in a shallow dish and egg white in another shallow dish.
3. Sprinkle fish evenly with salt, garlic powder and white pepper. Working with 1 fillet at a time, dredge fish in flour, shaking off excess. Dip fish into egg white, allowing excess to drip off. Coat fish completely with panko, pressing lightly. Set aside. Repeat process with remaining fish.
***My suggestion is to use one hand for flour-ing the fish and the other for the egg/panko portion, so that things aren't all lumpy in the flour.
4. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add fish to pan; reduce heat to medium and cook 4 minutes per side (or until browned and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork). Serve with sauce and lemon wedges.

Tonight this was dinner for my sister and I, she is home still as the lucky college girl doesn't start back until 1/20 -- wow do I miss those days! Needless to say, the fish was a hit and will remain in my regular rotation. Alongside the fish, I served a family favorite, baked sweet potatoes with garlic and chile pequins. Strangely my sis and I were always the kids who were not interested in the baked sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, you know the ones, they have marshmallows all over the tops. To this day I'm not a fan (I know that's probably going to put me on a hit list somewhere), but about ten years ago my mom started experimenting with varieties of savory sweet potato dishes, first at Thanksgiving and then once we moved back to Texas and had chile pequins in our yard, on a more regular basis. This variety is one of our favorites and is a go-to easy meal all by itself for me after a long day at work.

For one potato:
1 Sweet Potato
1 Clove Garlic, slivered
4 Chile Pequins
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

1. Heat the oven to 425.
2. Wash potato, dry but leave a little bit of moisture (enough so that some salt and pepper will stick to it).
3.Using a steak knife, put slits in the potato (all around the potato), large enough to slide the garlic and chiles into.
4. Depending on how much garlic and spicy you like, insert your garlic and peppers into the slits.
5. Salt and pepper your potato and wrap in foil. Bake until it's sufficiently squishy (yea, I know, not the most appetizing word but it's the most accurate for this). Typically 30-45 minutes.

For those of you who aren't enlightened or just want to know more on Chile Pequins, here is a great briefing on the pepper...a few things to know:

1. It's pretty darn hot.
2. It's really really hot - don't touch your eyes after touching them....yea that sounds like a 'duh' statement but my sister, myself and I'm pretty sure my mom have all experienced the eye business hours after touching the peppers.
3. Pequin pepper (or "Piquin") is a hot chile pepper, also known as "bird pepper."
4. Birds love eating these peppers, hence the nickname.
5. The pequin is so small, the largest are scarcely the size of an apple seed.
6. It takes its name, in fact, from Spanish word 'pequeño,' which means small or tiny.

**So I would've actually had better photos to post of the food but we were so hungry that I forgot to take them until it was a little too I had to improvise with the photos you see here...a side fish photo, a some chile pequin photos. Sorry!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

German food, the Fiesta Bowl and apparently I'm going to have to make some New Years resolutions...

I got called out to make some New Years resolutions and post them on my blog, thanks mom, so now I actually need to come up with here goes:
1. I will make it to the gym twice a day at least two times a week (that's going to be rough!)
2. I will take the programming classes I've wanted to take for a while (personal and professional betterment here)
3. I will visit my parents more...with them living in Mexico I don't get to see them in their home environment all that much!
4. I will do my best to avoid wasting resources (money, food, etc.).

I think most of these are do-able....let's find out.

Now that that is out of the way, big big stuff in my world - UT WINS THE FIESTA BOWL! No, it wasn't the game we should've played in but it's won so life is good! The evening the Fiesta Bowl was played I had some help in the kitchen (the guy I'm dating is a pretty good cook himself), and decided to do some German of my favorites, spatzle was included in that list. We got all the stuff together and grilled some steaks, made spatzle and some braised red cabbage (recipe courtesy of Wolfgang Puck), all of which was delish! Here are the recipes for the Spatzle and the Red Cabbage...both come very highly recommended:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
4 eggs
1 cup milk

1. Combine flour, salt and nutmeg. Add eggs and mix.
2. Pour milk into the dough little by little, until a smooth batter forms, slightly thinner than brownie batter. Let rest at least 5 minutes.
3. Bring 2 quarts of water with 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy, 4 - 5 quart saucepan. Plan on boiling at least 2 batches from this recipe.
4. Set a large colander (one with large holes) over the saucepan and press the dough, a few spoonfuls at a time, through the holes directly into the water. OR if you're lucky enough to have a Spatzle Hobel (funny looking tool in the photo), use it instead. Boil for 5-8 minutes until the noodles are tender to the bite. Remove noodles with a slotted spoon and drain further in a sieve.

I serve my spatzle the way my mom does, with brown butter, some sauteed mushrooms and fresh green onions sprinkled over the top. No matter what, this is one great comfort food!

Braised Red Cabbage
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 cup brown sugar
2 Granny Smith apples, sliced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups red wine
2 cups orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
3 teaspoons ginger powder
Salt and pepper
4 pounds red cabbage, cut into julienne

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Heat a heavy casserole. Add olive oil. Saute red onion until translucent. Sprinkle in brown sugar and cook for a few minutes until it starts to caramelize.
3. Add sliced apples and deglaze with the red wine vinegar. Bring to a boil. Add red wine and orange juice, cinnamon stick, ginger powder and salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Add red cabbage and continue to cook for about 10 minutes on top of the stove.
5. Cover cabbage with foil and cook in 350 degrees F. oven for about 45 minutes. Remove. Taste, and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Tasty Freezer Finds...

I know, the title is kind of scary, tasty things in the freezer - if your freezer is anything like mine, you can't tell what is what - how old it is or why you should be keeping it (ok, I'm not that bad, but there are definitely some unidentified items back there!). Tonight instead of doing massive cooking, I went searching the freezer for some dim sum-esque components...first on the list is some edamame, a staple in my, some gyoza chicken dumplings from my local asian grocery store, last, homemade crab wontons.

My mother and I made these wontons sometime last year (I can still say that without it sounding bad since last year was just a few days ago!) and really enjoyed them. They were easy to make and very tasty - coming out of the freezer they are still great. Here is the recipe for them (fresh) and my freezer + reheating instructions.

2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 carrot, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 pound lump crabmeat (Dungeness, if you can get it), picked through for shells
1 (12-ounce) package square wonton wrappers
1 egg white, for brushing
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crab Filling Preparation
1. Soften cream cheese to room temperature
2. In a bowl, combine cilantro, scallions, ginger, lemon juice, carrot with softened cream cheese.
3. Add crab mixture and lightly mix (be careful not to completely break up crab) with other ingredients.

Wonton Wrapper Preparation
1. Using wonton wrappers approximately 4 inches square will work to make smaller dumplings for appetizers. However, if a larger dumpling is preferred, a 4 x 6 inch rectangular wrapper can be made from spring roll dough sheets.
2. Lay wonton wrappers on a flat surface and add a teaspoon of crab filling in the center of the wrapper or adjust amount depending on size of the wrapper. Lightly and evenly spread the filling into a coin-shaped portion making sure to keep it well away from the outer edges.
3. Dampen the edge of each wrapper with water and fold in half.
4. Dampen the edge of each wrapper with water or a lightly beaten egg and press the edges together so they seal the contents.
5. Moisten the edges again if necessary so they adhere better. Fold each end in toward the center of the wrap, allowing half of the end to remain in a vertical position while the other half is folded over on top of and overlaps the opposite side end piece, like the end corners of an envelope. Press the ends together that overlap, so they adequately seal.
6. Keep the filled wontons covered with a damp cloth to retain the moisture in the dough while others are being filled.
7. When ready to cook, place the filled wontons on a baking sheet layered with parchment paper. 8. Pour cooking oil in a skillet and heat on medium high to 350ºF
9. Fry wontons in small batches for 3 to 4 minutes each until they are light golden brown.
10. Remove and place on paper toweling to absorb any excess grease.

Sesame Soy Dipping Sauce

3/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1. Stir together components and serve dipping sauce.

These are addictive fresh from the stove but it makes so many wontons that unless you are entertaining you can't eat them all! So, after they have cooled and drained (on paper towels), place them in a freezer safe bag and freeze them. To reheat, preheat oven at 450ºF, once oven is hot, put wontons in the oven for ten minutes and flip half way through. They are just as good out of the freezer as they are from the stove!