Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wok Wednesdays: Spicy Orange Chicken

Citrus and chicken. I mean how can you go wrong? I can't resist Duck a l'Orange or roasted chicken with oranges, so stir-fried Spicy Orange Chicken seemed like a logical choice for a stir-fry.  The recipe is from the wonderful  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young.

"Smells delicious, sounds dangerous."  That was my husband's first comment. This time I had the wok hot enough for a loud sizzle. The recipe was delicious and once again, I got to shop at my favorite local Asian food market to find the white peppercorns and chili bean sauce.  I also used some homemade chicken broth that I had in my freezer.  That in itself is a rare occurrence. I usually don't freeze left-over soup; I just make my family eat again later in the week.

I didn't use the Szechuan peppercorns. Somewhere in my house is a rather large bag, but I couldn't find it. Oy. Instead I used just about double the amount of the white peppercorn. We missed that light tingle, but the dish did have a kick to it. Next time, I would be tempted to add more orange zest. Maybe the orange was too small or not quite in season?  I really like a pronounced citrus flavor.

I still have a ways to go in the technique department. I still feel like I'm running a race once the stir-frying begins. In this particular case, I think I had too much liquid and the dish was soupy, although the chicken was still tender and tasty.  

  A group of us are stir-frying together and we're open to any and all who want to join. You can check out Wok Wednesdays or the Facebook page.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wok Wednesdays: Stir-Fried Eggs with Tomatoes

Years ago, when I was just developing an interest in cooking, I bought a wok along with a beginners' Chinese cookbook.  I marveled at the recipes presented in order of difficulty. I don't know why, but I never, ever made any of the dishes from that book.  Instead, I used the wok to make vegetable tempura and omelets. What possessed me? Who knows? As I recall, the omelets came out quite well.  These days I'm happy that I now include stir-fries in my repertoire.

This week's recipe is Stir-Fried Eggs with Tomatoes. I was really pleased that I had most of the items on hand from the ingredient list.  I substituted fresh basil for the cilantro; we're not big cilantro fans and my basil plant is still producing.  I also used onions instead of shallots because I had them on hand.

I decided that in case we didn't like the recipe, I should make a second dish.  I made mu shu vegetables using tortillas as the pancakes. The recipe was adapted from Millie Chan's Kosher Chinese Cookbook.    I spent about 30 minutes, laying out all the ingredients for both recipes and then started stir-frying.  Everything went great. The only point I started to worry was when I put the eggs into the wok and they just sat there. No fabulous sizzle. No hot bubbling eggs.  I stood there for a moment and then started mixing from the bottom of the pan up. In the end, it all came together.  The garlic and onion gave the eggs a nice crunch and the basil and sesame added flavor.

This recipe is from Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge  by Grace Young, a book well worth adding to your cookbook library. To find out how others enjoyed this recipe, check out the Wok Wednesdays  site.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

TWD & BWJ: Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaf

Well it's been a while since I've baked and blogged. I unexpectedly found a new career as a teaching assistant at a pre-school. Eventhough I work part time, I arrive home exhausted from running around after 10 two-year-olds.  Once a week, I cook with three and four year olds.  That is really fun.

Now that I'm used to my new schedule, I'm back with Tuesdays with Dorie.  This time:
Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaf. Our host is Rebecca.  The recipe will be posted on her blog.
I have to confess to being a bit intimidated by this recipe. There is a very long set of instructions and the recipe calls for two rise times, an overnight in the fridge and  a six hour rest (okay, actually a 3 to 4 hour rest, but there was a small misunderstanding between the instructions and me.)  I then looked at the small 5.5" x  3.5" pans and thought, "All that time.... and that's what we end up with?"  I ended up having enough dough for four small loaves.

Because not everyone in my family likes raisins, I left them out and increased the amount of cranberries to one cup. As it turns out, the same someone who doesn't like raisins, also doesn't like cranberries or pumpkin. Yikes. 

I'm not sure I will make this bread again. It has a lovely texture, but the pumpkin flavor is very subtle and the frozen cranberries I used were too tart. Maybe I was just expecting something sweeter.  Given the time commitment to make this bread, I might perfer to make a cinnamon raisin loaf or a challah.  Come to think of it, a friend of mine has a recipe for pumpkin challah bread ...