02/25/16

Qingjiao Rou Si

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Qingjiao Rou Si

(recipe from Effortless Bento)

200 g thinly sliced beef

salt and pepper

2 poblano peppers

200 g canned bamboo shoots, drained

1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp mirin

1 tsp oyster sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp potato starch

2 tsp water

Directions

  • Dust the beef with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the stems and seeds from the poblanos, and then slice the peppers into matchsticks.
  • Slice the bamboo shoots into matchsticks as well.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, oyster sauce, and sugar to make the sauce.

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  • Now that everything is prepared and in it’s place; put your wok over high heat, add the oil, and wait for it to warm up.
  • Stir fry the beef until it is browned.
  • Add in the poblano pepper and bamboo shoots, continue to stir fry. They don’t need long because they are cut so thin.

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  • Pour the sauce over the beef and vegetables, stirring to coat.
  • Dissolve the potato starch into the water and add it to the wok, letting it simmer until the sauce thickens.
  • Serve hot!

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So tasty! I made this to pack into some bento lunches to take to work, but ended up eating it with rice at supper too. It’s a fairly pared down stir fry, so one could add in whatever extra veg or starch their heart desires, but there’s something to be said for the clarity of flavours and textures you get from sticking to just a couple of ingredients.

The recipe called for green bell peppers, but the green ones are my least liked of the bell peppers, so I substituted for poblano peppers instead. I don’t regret the decision at all, but if you want to use green bell peppers you certainly can!

 

01/7/14

Turning a New Leaf

It’s a new year! I hope 2014 is treating you well.

My resolution this year is to write more often. At least once a week. Scratch that. My GOAL is to write at least once a week.

As a goal rather than a resolution it won’t get tangled up in the eagerness of January only to be lost as the newness of the year fades, right?

Right!

Writing is one of those odd things. When I write often, writing is easy and there are lots of things to write about. But if I haven’t written in a while, here or otherwise, writing is difficult and it feels like there isn’t much to write about.

Here’s to a year of easy writing!

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Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

(recipe adapted from Steamy Kitchen)

3 oz cellophane noodles

1 pound carrots

1 small onion

2 cloves of garlic

12 oz ground pork

8 oz ground chicken

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp salt

2 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp fish sauce

wrappers

Directions

  • Break up the cellophane noodles into short lengths into a large bowl. Cover the short noodle pieces with hot water from a recently boiled kettle, giving them a few minutes to sit in their bath until they relax.
  • Strain the noodles and set aside to cool.
  • Finely grate all of the carrots as well as the onion and garlic. If you have a food processor with a grater attachment this would be an excellent time to make use of it.
  • To create the cha gio filling, mix well together the cellophane noodles, ground pork, ground chicken, grated carrots, onion, and garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and fish sauce until uniform.
  • Set out a wrapper (I used the 4 inch square wrappers, you could use the 6 inch square wrappers if you would like your spring rolls to be larger), and brush the edges with water to help the wrapper stick securely once rolled up.
  • Use a scant tablespoon of filling for each spring roll (more if you are using the larger wrappers), and place it just below the diagonal of the wrapper. A piping bag makes an easy job of this!
  • Bring the short end of the wrapper up over the filling, fold in the corners, and then roll up the spring roll to make a cigar shape.
  • Repeat this process with a new wrapper until you run out of filling.
  • If you’re going to eat your spring rolls right away: shallow fry or deep fry until golden, blistered, and cooked through to the middle.
  • If you are planning to wait a while before eating your spring rolls: set the spring rolls our on cookie sheets, with space between them so that they do not stick together, and freeze. Once frozen, you can put them all into a resealable container for the freezer until you are ready to cook them.
  • Enjoy with nuoc cham or plum sauce for dipping!

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So delicious! Just like at my favorite Vietnamese noodle house!

My friend Kim, who used to cook for a living, has been heard to say a number of times, “I don’t trust food with more than one kind of animal in it.” A lot of the time I agree with her. In this case I think she is flat out wrong.

 

My cha gio are a little bit deceiving. They are flavored quite simply; sugar, salt, pepper, onion and garlic are all pretty ordinary. They are in just about everything. Depending on your geographical location, or your predilections for eating Asian cuisine, fish sauce is pretty ordinary too. It is the balance struck here that is special. These basic flavor building blocks added to a whack ton of carrot, some chicken and some pork is alchemical. There’s no secret, exotic ingredient that really makes it all sing. These ingredients add up to flavor greater than what you would estimate. Delicious.

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I would love to say that you can be a little bit extra health conscious and cook your cha gio in the oven. It is January, the time of resolutions, after all. I have had no success with these lovlies in the oven, even misted with a bit of oil in hopes of them crisping up or browning. My oven baked spring rolls were pale and unpalatably dry. This is really saying something too. There is almost as much veg in the filling as animal protein, it’s a filling destined to be succulent and moist. And they managed to come out dried out!

Mr says: These are way better than store bought spring rolls! Perfect for dipping!

This time last year: Greek Salad with Sugar Snaps

And the year before: Petite Poutine

And the year before that: Parmesan Chicken

12/3/13

Knit, Purl, Knit, Purl

I finished all of my Christmas knitting projects a few weeks ago which made me feel pretty pleased as punch, as any of you who craft know, Christmas knitting projects tend to get finished in a frenzy on the 23rd and 24th of December. The day has a way of sneaking up on you. At least it does on me. Not this year!

This is going to be a rather home made kind of Christmas, so I had been knitting up a storm to boot. When suddenly all of the gifts were finished, ends sewn in, I still had this magnificent momentum and energy to get more knitting done. So, I made a little something for myself!

I’m excited to show you all my Christmas knitting projects, but I can’t until the day passes. I’d love to share but I simply couldn’t risk ruining the surprise. So, you’ll have to make do with my latest project.

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I started in on Emerantha by Susanna IC using a Schoppel Crazy Zauberball (such a fun yarn to work with! It is a little bit prone to tangling if you use it as a center pull, but then it’s a surprise every time the color changes! You don’t know what is coming next!)

But then, half way through the bottom lace section, I made a pretty nasty mistake, and had worked across an entire row (all 345 stitches, for those who are counting) before realizing what I had done. So, I frogged the whole thing and started again.

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Insert frustration here. But this is what you get when you don’t watch what you are doing carefully. That, and frogging is a part of being a knitter. It was just so much work to do just to pull it apart.

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When I finished the bottom lace portion, I reached another point of confusion. I found the way that the short row instructions were set out was a little bit confusing. But after watching some videos on youtube, and learning that German short rows are my short row of choice, I managed my way through.

I couldn’t manage to get my short rows to work out so simply that the the top edge lace didn’t need some fudging to be both centered and with the right number of repeats, but where a pattern fails you (or you fail a pattern) innovation can go a long way. I also learned some good techniques that I’m sure I’ll use in the future, including placing beads in a pattern (so cute!) and the aforementioned German short rows.

To be honest, I can’t say that all of the trouble I ran into was the fault of the pattern. I do feel that there were parts that weren’t as clear as I would have liked them to be, but luckily years and years and years of knitting experience let me muddle through to having a pretty piece at the end.

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I have the shawl being blocked right now, and I really do think it turned out quite lovely! Please ignore the detritus of clutter on my dining room table.

And now, for likely what you really came here for: the food!

Spiced Pecans

(recipe from Lydia H.)

1 lb pecan halves

1 egg white

1 tsp cold water

1/2 Cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

a sprinkling of freshly ground nutmeg

Directions

  • Separate the egg putting the white into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the teaspoon of cold water to the egg white and whisk until quite frothy.
  • Add the pecans to the bowl and mix until all of the nuts are coated with a slick of frothy egg white.
  • In an different, smaller bowl, combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg stirring until they are evenly mixed.
  • Sprinkle half of the spiced sugar over the nuts, stirring to distribute it. The egg white will hold the seasoning to the nuts. Repeat the process with the remaining spiced sugar.
  • Topple the nuts onto a buttered cookie sheet, or a cookie sheet lined with a silpat, and bake them in a 225° F oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow the nuts to cool before serving them as a delgihtful snack before a holiday dinner, or packing them into hostess gifts.

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Lydia is the mother of a really good friend of mine, and she makes these nuts for Christmas. They are legendarily good. I felt so fortunate when she shared the recipe with me.

Her spiced pecans are deceptive, they really aren’t so difficult to make, and they use rather everyday ingredients, but taste like they took a good deal of toil to make and make a person think there must be a secret ingredient. I guess that’s the nutmeg?

Mr doesn’t have a review this time, as he is allergic to this tasty treat, but the first time I made these spiced pecans he came downstairs to the kitchen and asked what smelled so good, so that is something.

This time last year: Caramelized Onion and Bacon Dip

And the year before: Butter Tarts

And the year before that: Cheater Tortellini