Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pork Fried Rice


2 large eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded Napa cabbage
1 cup roast pork, diced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 green onions, finely chopped
5 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil for stir-frying, or as needed
4 cups cold cooked rice

Lightly beat the eggs with a small amount of salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat a wok or heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil, swirling it around the pan or wok so that the entire surface is covered. Add the egg, rotating the pan so that the beaten egg covers all of the pan. Cook until firm, remove from the pan and cut into thin strips.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the pan on medium-high to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the shredded cabbage and the diced pork. Stir-fry briefly, seasoning with salt if desired. Remove from the pan.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the rice. Fry the rice, stirring continually to separate the grains. Add the pork and the cabbage back into the pan with the fried rice. Stir in the soy sauce and oyster sauce. Stir in the green onion.

Remove the pork fried rice from the pan. Lay the cooked strips of egg on top and serve.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Celery and Sage Dressing

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Drying the bread before making the stuffing is crucial for texture and flavor. If you plan ahead, you can simply leave the bread cubes out on the counter for a few days to become stale. Otherwise, spread them out on baking sheets and dry in a 300-degree oven for 30 to 60 minutes.

Serves 8

6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), plus extra for baking dish
2 medium ribs celery , chopped fine
1 medium onions , minced
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves or 2 teapoons dried
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1 1/2 pounds high-quality sandwich bread (white), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and dried (see note)
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
2 large eggs , beaten lightly
1 teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoons ground black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the celery and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, sage, thyme, and marjoram and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a very large mixing bowl.

2. Add the dried, cooled bread, stock or broth, eggs, salt, and pepper to the vegetables and toss gently to distribute dry and wet ingredients evenly. Turn mixture into 9 " round buttered baking dish or a 13 by 9-inch casserole dish.

3. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until golden, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

To Make Ahead:
The stuffing can be assembled in the baking dish, then wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking. To bake, let the stuffing stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and proceed to bake as directed in step 3.

Barbara Gerhardt's Sugar Pumpkin Purée

Cut sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, place on a rack over water in a roasting pan, cover with foil, and roast at 350º until soft, about 90 minutes. Scoop out flesh and purée in a food-processor until smooth. Use in place of canned pumpkin purée. One 2-1/2 pound sugar pumpkin will yield about 16 ounces of purée. Can be frozen for future use.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

From Cooks Illustrated

I made this for Thanksgiving as an alternative to making a pumpkin pie. It was fabulous and everyone asked for the recipe. I think I am going to make this every year instead of a pie.

Depending on the oven and the temperature of the ingredients, the cheesecake may bake about 15 minutes faster or slower than the instructions indicate; it is therefore best to check the cake 1 1/4 hours into baking. Although the cheesecake can be made up to three days in advance, the crust will begin to lose its crispness after only one day. To make slicing the cheesecake easy and neat, use a knife with a narrow blade, such as a carving knife; between cuts, dip the blade into a pitcher of hot water and wipe it clean with paper towels. The cheesecake is good on its own, but the Brown Sugar and Bourbon Cream (recipe follows) is a grand addition.

Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 12 to 16

5 ounces graham crackers (9 whole crackers), broken into large pieces
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (10 1/3 ounces)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese , cut into 1-inch chunks and left to soften at room temperature, about 30 minutes
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
5 large eggs , left at room temperature, about 30 minutes
1 cup heavy cream

1. FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse crackers, sugar, and spices in food processor until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and, using hand, spread crumbs into even layer. Using flat-bottomed ramekin or drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use a soup spoon to press and smooth crumbs into edges of pan. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

2. FOR THE FILLING: Bring about 4 quarts water to simmer in stockpot. Whisk sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside. To dry pumpkin (see illustrations below): Line baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels. Spread pumpkin on paper towels in roughly even layer. Cover pumpkin with second triple layer of paper towels and press firmly until paper towels are saturated. Peel back top layer of towels and discard. Grasp bottom towels and fold pumpkin in half; peel back towels. Repeat and flip pumpkin onto baking sheet; discard towel.

3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula. Add about one third of sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping bowl after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give final stir by hand.

4. Set springform pan with cooled crust on 18-inch-square doubled layer heavy-duty foil and wrap bottom and sides with foil; set wrapped springform pan in roasting pan. Pour filling into springform pan and smooth surface; set roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours (see note). Set roasting pan on wire rack and use paring knife to loosen cake from sides of pan. Cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

5. TO SERVE: Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto serving platter. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Southern Oven "Fried Chicken"

1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk
Franks Red Hot Sauce to Taste
1/2 cup cornflakes, crushed
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 pounds chicken parts, skinned
4 teaspoons canola oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Pour the buttermilk into a large shallow bowl and add hot sauce to taste. On a sheet of wax paper, combine the cornflake crumbs, flour, salt, pepper. Dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the cornflake mixture, coating completely. Place the chicken on the baking sheet; drizzle with the oil. Bake 30 minutes, then turn the chicken over. Bake until cooked through, 15-20 minutes longer.

Per serving (about 2 pieces): 229 Cal, 10g fat, 2g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 64mg chol, 295 mg sod, 11g carb, 0g Fib, 23g prot, 49mg Cal.

Point Value: 5

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Aurora Maison de Cuisine - a Grand Tasting

Roroc took me out to one of the top restaurants in Dallas, Aurora Maison de Cuisine; super chef Avner Samuel (former Mansion Executive Chef) personally prepared our dinner. The restaurant was intimate, only 12 tables or so...the lighting was dramatic, setting off the suede walls and gorgeous wood bar - it had a very art deco feeling. The front of the restaurant was curtained off, so it was a surprise when they lifted the veil and seated us - a classic Escoffier style kitchen was brightly lit with a huge vent-a-hood in black and stainless steal over the island where the chefs worked harmoniously - it was theater-style cooking! We could see the chef and he could see us. Another detail was the large round "champagne cart" on wheels - it was a Christofle cart. The waiter immediately glided the cart over to our table when we arrived, so we could pick a glass from the five open bottles. We chose a glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blanc champagne - it was very fine, and later we ordered a bottle. The cart was tall and round and had a glass top with a thin brass rail around the edge. In the middle was a large champagne bucket that held 5-6 bottles of champagne and ice simultaneously, and lined up in a circle around the bucket were simple champagne flutes. I dreamt about that champagne cart later that night - I've never seen anything quite like it. With each course, a gorgeous wooden box was brought to our table after our plates and utensils were removed, and fresh utensils appropriate for the next course were laid out. My favorite utensil was the petite caviar spoon that came with the caviar course.

We indulged and ordered the Aurora Grand Tasting, which is a fixed price menu. The courses were as follows:

Amuse Bouche - a velvety, savory custard served warm in an eggshell topped with whipped cream, smoked salmon, and caviar.
Prime Osetra Caviar - the caviar was served on top of a pillow of potato with a side of apple sorbet. You used the caviar spoon to build the potato and caviar onto a regular spoon, and then reached over to a pearl plate of sorbet with the caviar spoon and finished the build with a dash of sorbet. The texture and flavor were surprising - cold, not cold, salty, and sweet!
Risotto - creamy risotto served with thinly sliced white truffles from Italy - it was Roroc's first ever taste of truffle!
Langoustine de Breton - it was perfectly tender and sweet - I've never had better.
Porcini Mushroom - it was roasted and served with a veal demi-glace. Yum!
Cappuccino - lobster foam over pieces of lobster and foie gras - it was interesting.
Foie Gras - seared and served with a button of apple that had been roasted with port, and served with a port reduction. We had a bit of Sauterne dessert wine with this course - it was wonderful!
Sorbet - red grapefruit - not to sweet and oh so interesting, layered over mint and frozen pomegranate seeds - what do you do with the pomegranate seeds at a nice restaurant after you've enjoyed the juice?
Sea - seared sea bass served with rose radishes and fava beans.
Land - a veal filet served over truffle-mashed potatoes with drops of basil oil and fine vegetables
Sweet - a trio of a chocolate tart with caramelized banana, pumpkin ice cream with something sweet similar to a brownie, and my favorite, Meyer lemon pana cotta served with a single shaving of citrus infused dark chocolate. We had a bit of cognac with this course.
Petit Fours - we could hardly eat them, but they included a checkered cookie and something that reminded me of tiramisu.

Each plate was dramatically presented at the table with a lid. Two waiters would each lift them from our plates in unison to reveal the course - much to our delight!

It was a dining experience I will always remember, and a wonderful 1st anniversary!

Blog Archive