Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shrimp Stir Fry

Cook's Illustrated magazine has a tip to "throw out your wok." They arhue that a cast iron Dutch oven works better for home stir frying because most home cooktops do not have the BTU output necessary to stir fry. That certainly has been my experience, but I never tossed the wok I bought some 20 years ago. The electric stove that we used to have never had the output and "stir frying" was something that never really happened. We also did not have a hood, so when I tried, our smoke alarm went off.

Now, however, we're cooking with gas, and 18,000BTUs to boot!

Marinade peeled shrimp in olive oil and sriracha sauce. I add pepper flakes as well. Saute briskly in a hot non-stick pan for 1-2 minutes/side and set aside.

In the same pan, add cooked rice and heat thoroughly, absorbing all the leftover juices from the shrimp. You could serve the rice separately, but I had leftover rice so this worked out nicely.

For the stir fry I cut pea pods, red pepper, and green onions, about a cup each, into a small/medium dice. heat the wok until very hot, about 8 minutes. Add a little oil then toss in the pea pods, followed by the peppers. Keep tossing those for about five minutes, then add the onions and continue to cook until tender, a couple minutes more. Taste for doneness.

Add the rice and shrimp and toss.

Serve with soy sauce.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spaghetti & Meatballs

I adapted this recipe from Cook's Illustrated's book, Italian Recipes. Their recipe calls for 3:1 ground chuck to ground pork, but I did 2:1, for no good reason. I made 100 meatballs out of 3lb meat. They make their meatballs about twice the size I do.

Soak two slices of white bread, sans crusts, in buttermilk. Stir to form a paste. Add salt & pepper, a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley, 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (I used BelGioso our standard cooking Parmesan), a minced clove of garlic, and some red pepper flakes. Mix in 2/3lb ground chuck and 1/3lb ground pork. Form into balls, being careful to not pack them very tight. You should have about 30.

Refirgerate for a couple of hours, then brown in hot oil on all sides.

Dump out the oil. To the same pot, add some oilve oil and garlic, sauteeing for about 30 seconds. Add 28oz of crushed tomatoes, scraping up the fond from the pan. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the meatballs for the last five. Stir in a chiffonade of basil leaves.

Serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pork Tenderloin with Broccoli and Bean Thread Noodles

Once again, pork tenderloin is a meal we cook frequently. Rub the meat with oil and sprinkle with a rub. I used 'Tosa City Blend from The Spice House for today's entree. Brown it well (Rule #2) on all sides over medium high heat, then put it a 425F oven until the internal an internal temperature of 155F. Let rest for 10 minutes. We made a light gravy with the fond and chicken stock (Rule #3).

The broccoli is just steamed until tender.

We like these Chinese bean thread noodles. Soak in cold water for about ten minutes then add to boiling water for around four more.

We usually get the Pearl River soy sauce shown in the photo.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Crawfish Etouffee

I hadn’t made Crawfish Etouffee in a long time so I looked at several recipes. This is a simple dish: sauté some aromatics simmer in stock, add crawfish, and you’re done.

Still, I found myself a little confused since the recipes were all over the place as far as the base was concerned. Namely, do you start with a roux or not? Most of the recipes said not, some called for a “light” roux, others for a standard roux. The aromatics were also inconsistent. Some called for the “Cajun Trinity” of bell pepper, onions, and celery, others just for green onions.

In the end I decided to go with what I thought best, a roux and the Trinity.

Melt a stick or so butter in a black iron pot. Slowly add about ¾ cup offlour, whisking constantly to ensure that it doesn’t burn. This process takes about 20 – 30 minutes at least.

Add chopped onions, bell pepper, and celery (1:1:2/3) and sauté about 10 minutes.

Add 3 cups shrimp stock, paprika, salt, pepper, and Cajun spices to taste. and simmer to blend, about 15 minutes. Add 2lb crawfish tails, adjust liquid as necessary, and heat through, another 10 minutes.

Serve with white rice. I use Basmati.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pizza at Tessa's

We went to this new pizza place on 50th & Vliet. The pizza was pretty good, although I thought that the crust could be a little crispier and we all thought that they were a bit stingy on the green olives. Why skimp on green olives?

That didn't bother me too much. I love green olives on pizza, much better than black, but they cause me digestive issues.

The deep fried eggplant was excellent, but the mozzarella stick that Laurie and I split had no cheese in it. It reminded me of those sand tubes caused by lightning strikes. What are those things called?

There were four of us (we went with Amy & Sara), so we ordered 2, 14" round pizzas.

I have mentioned my pizza rule of thumb before: you need to order 50 - 75 square inches of pizza per person. People regularly argue with me about that ("what about toppings?" "what about deep dish?" Get your own stinking rule, then!) but it works pretty well.

A 14" pizza is about 150 sq. in. so we knew we'd have leftovers. A 14" & a 12" would have been perfect.

Be sure to ask if the pizzas are round or rectangular in order to calculate accurately.