Month: October 2010


Menu: China

At a restaurant, once I find an item on the menu that I like, I almost never order anything different again. It’s terribly lazy and non Adventurous.,. but also comforting after a long, terrible, grumpy kind of day. While I’ve had my fair share of Chinese food, I broke out of my comfort zone this week and put together a menu of dishes I’ve never tried, although you will recognize the names. Have you ever had any of these dishes? Mu Shoo Pork [Recipe] From northern China, Mu Shoo Pork is a traditional stir-fry. Our version includes wood-ear mushrooms, chinese cabbage, bamboo shoots, and green onion. Mu Shoo Pork is commonly wrapped in Chinese Pancakes. Chinese Pancakes with Green Onion [Recipe] Chinese pancakes are made with dough, not batter. This recipe will show you how to cook two pancakes at once, separated by a bit of sesame oil and green onion. Sichwan Chinese Hot and Sour Soup [Recipe] Sichuan cuisine, from western China, is known for spicy, bold flavor. This soup, made with tofu, chicken, …

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About the Food of China

China is giant, offering up 24 classical regional cuisines within six time zones. To my highly untrained eye, the widest part of China looks to be about the width of North Africa. That’s some serious diversity. Overall, Chinese value the spiritual and physical beauty of food as much as the nutritive qualities. Harmony is important – many dishes are designed to balance salty, bitter, sweet, and sour elements, not to mention crunchy versus soft textures. Additionally, hours can be spent preparing trimmings – carving vegetables and fruit, for example. Typical seasonings and aromatics include ginger, bean paste, soy sauce, oyster sauce, green onion, sesame and peanut oil. The four most “talked about” cuisines are Peking (from north Beijing), Szechuan/Sichuan (from south central/western China), Cantonese (in the south),  and Shanghai (to the east). Peking Peking, home of the Peking duck, is in northeast China where it is too cold to grow rice. As a result, wheat is the primary crop.   The area is known for hearty meat dishes, braises, and barbecue. They also like roasts …

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Monday Meal Review: Chile

Sugar on chicken casserole. Lard in yeast-risen rolls. Cookies that don’t taste like cookies. Ice cream without an ice cream maker. This week’s Chilean Global Table was a fascinating learning experience. And rich. So very, very rich. Without further ado, here’s my review. Now, please excuse me while I …ahem… change into my elastic pants. Chicken Pastel del Choclo [Recipe] What I liked most about this: This is hearty Chilean comfort food. The corn releases sweet juices over the savory chicken blend, making the entire casserole moist. Although the sugary corn and raisins are an unlikely contrast to the briney olives and egg, the mixture works. The spices are mild, but the blend of cumin, cinnamon, and paprika pulls the entire dish together. What I liked least about this dish: I think I’d skip browning the casserole under the broiler next time, unless I can be more vigilant. The sugar turns deep brown super quickly and, although this is tasty, my version looked almost burnt and I would be hesitant to serve a casserole like …

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South American Chicken Casserole | Pastel del Choclo

Serves 2-4 Sweet, savory, briney, …. the flavors in Pastel de Choclo are varied and incredible. Special thanks to Linda Bladholm for sharing this authentic Chilean recipe with me. I adapted the version that can be found in Linda’s book, Latin & Caribbean Grocery Stores Demystified. Ingredients: 2 lb rotisserie chicken, taken off the bone 2 onions, chopped 1 tsp paprika 1/4 tsp cumin pinch of cinnamon 5 olives with pimentos, quartered 1/4 cup raisins 2 hardboiled eggs, chopped 3 cups corn kernels 1/2 cup milk a few pinches of sugar for topping Method: Preheat the oven to 350F. Assemble your spices… … and shred up the chicken. Then, saute the chopped onion over medium heat until translucent and soft. Add chicken, raisins (I only had currants), and green olives. Green olives have a special, briney place in my heart. Then add chopped egg and spices. Stir to combine and warm everything through. Spread into a medium casserole. Easy! Next step is easy too… In a blender, puree corn with a little milk Mmm. Spread the corn …

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Chilean Rolls | Pan Amasado

Serves 8 A cross between a yeast roll and a biscuit, pan amasado has a crispy exterior and slightly doughy interior. Ingredients: 2 tsp yeast 1 Tbsp sugar 3/4 cup warm water 3 ½ cups all purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoon salt ½ Cup shortening, softened Method: Mix yeast, sugar and water together. Set aside. Add flour, salt, and shortening to the bowl of an electric mixer. Lard gives the dough rich fatty flavor, but shortening is okay too. Salt makes the flavor pop. Knead together until the shortening breaks up into pea-sized pieces. Add in the frothy, yeasty mixture. Knead with dough hook until the sides scrape clean. If you need a little more water or flour, adjust as necessary. Let rise for about 3 hours, covered and in a draft-free spot. Here’s what it looks like after the rise: Knead it as smooth as you can. I didn’t do a great job at this, so my biscuits are a bit shaggy looking.  Spend some time on this step and you can have really …

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Chilean Alfajores

Serves 4 While Alfajores (cookie and dulce de leche “sandwiches”) are made throughout South America, the Chilean version is unusual both in technique and presentation. They use an egg-based dough (in other countries shortbread is favored). In addition, Chileans only roll one side of the dough, which results in a curled leaf effect on the dough as it bakes. Ingredients 5 Egg yolks 1 cup sifted all purpose flour 1/4 cup cornstarch, plus 1/4 cup as needed ½ tspn. baking powder 1/4 tsp orange zest 2 Tbsp Orange juice Dulce De Leche (recipe) Method: Preheat oven to 400ºF. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and cornstarch. Add in some orange zest if you have it. Orange zest adds lovely fresh citrus flavor to the cookies. Beat egg yolks until pale yellow. Add the dry ingredients to egg yolks in three parts, mixing in the orange juice in between. I used OJ with extra pulp, for extra goodness. If the dough seems sticky, add extra cornstarch one tablespoon at a time, until the dough …

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Dulce de Leche

Makes 14 oz Ingredients: 1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk Method: Remove label from can of sweetened condensed milk and pierce with two holes on the top. Note that my label is still on the can. This becomes a mess later and I wouldn’t recommend it. Place can in a small pot and fill with water. Bring to a gentle simmer and maintain water level about 1″ below top of the can at all times. Simmer for about 3 hours. Let cool before handling, eating, or touching. Here is a light dulce de leche (I had my heat very, very low – otherwise the can rattles around in the pot. The longer you cook it, the thicker and darker it becomes): Here’s a thicker, darker dulce de leche. Cooked for the same amount of time, but the heat was up slightly higher. NOTE: This picture is from Argentina…. wow, our photography has improved! Shout out to Keith 🙂 P.S. To make it thick enough to spread on Alfajores, simmer for about 5 hours. Serve with ice …

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Good Vibes to Chile (with poll)

The Chilean Miners Please join me in sending a basket of good vibes over to the 33 Chilean miners who’ve been trapped underground since August 5th. They could be freed anytime between next week and November. It just depends on how long the digging machines take to finish their jobs. Each miner will take three hours to lift out of the mine, in a very narrow, bullet looking contraption. Three hours, lifted through rock, a half mile tall, but nearly touching both shoulders. Just the thought makes my chest feel tight. Here’s a complete story from a few weeks ago. Chilean meal times: Lunchtime is celebrated in Chile. Often a leisurely affair, complete with appetizer, main course, and light dessert, lunch falls in the middle of the afternoon – usually between 1 and 3 pm. About the time my family eats dinner (5-7 pm), Chileans are eating “Onces.” They’ll usually put on a pot of tea or coffee and eat some bread, rolls, pastries, or even sandwiches. I’m already in my pajamas when Chileans eat dinner. They …

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