I heart film. - A little over a year ago I bought a Canon Ae-1 and last week I found the first roll of film I shot on it and finally had it processed (Its been a crazy year ...
Monday, May 30, 2011
Probably the number one thing I miss from the US, food wise, is Chinese food. Cheap, fast, totally Americanized, Chinese take-out. I love it - and there is absolutely nothing comparable in Germany. My favorite Chinese food ever comes from Hunan Garden in Kingwood, Texas (if you live in the Houston area, you should go) (And don't let anyone tell you Hin's Garden is better, its a filthy lie). But honestly, I miss it so bad that Orange Chicken from Panda Express is sounding pretty freaking amazing right about now.
Not that I should be eating it anyway - seeing as I am trying to lose that pregnancy weight and Chinese take-out is notoriously bad for you. The thing is, I am realizing that its super easy to make and it doesn't have to be battered, fried and greasy (not that it is at Hunan Garden. Go there!). It can be made with low-fat chicken breast, full of vitamin-rich green vegetables, and when cooked in a good wok requires hardly any oil.
This is a recipe I have perfected over nearly a year of making it probably once a week. That would be because it is both my husbands and I's favorite meal. I seriously look forward to it all week (I would eat it multiple times a week, no problem). Its incredibly easy to make - the prep only takes a few minutes and once it all goes in the wok its just another few minutes until its done. The key is to prep everything and have it all ready to go next to your wok - then just throw each ingredient when its time and its a piece of cake. Get yourself a rice cooker and you have a super easy, very light and healthy weeknight meal.
2 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, diced (could sub firm tofu, turkey breast, or steak and it would probably be good too)
2 Tbs dark soy sauce
1 tsp + 2 Tbs corn starch (seperated)
Juice of one orange (about 1 cup juice)
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
2 Tbs (or to taste) Sriracha
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp powdered)
2 Tbs honey
1 cup sliced/chopped Scallion (reserve some of the green tops for garnish)
zest from one orange
Fresh sturdy green vegetable, such as Bok Choy, Broccoli, or Asparagus, chopped
few Tbs Sesame Seeds
1 or 2 Tbs vegetable oil (not olive)
Take diced Chicken Breast and combine in a bowl with soy sauce and 1 tsp corn starch. Mix up so chicken is all well coated. Set aside.
Whisk together Hoisin, Sriracha, Orange juice, ginger and honey in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk together 2 Tbs cornstarch and 3 Tbs water and set aside.
If using bok choy, heat some oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add in bok choy and cook until its starting wilt just a tad. Add a bit of soy sauce and stir while cooking another 30 seconds more. Remove from wok and set aside. (If using a different green veg you can pre-steam if you want, until its not-just-quite finished or you can just skip to next step, I find that it will often be fine if I add it to the pan raw).
Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. When oil just begins to smoke, toss in the chicken. After about a minute throw in the scallions and half the orange zest and toss with tongs. Continue to cook, stirring continuously, for a couple minutes or until chicken is browning. When its starting to brown, toss in the green veg and cook/steam until chicken is cooked all the way through and vegetable is just starting to soften (the idea is for the veg to be lightly cooked with still a bit of crunch to it, and its still going to boil some more, so don't overdo it). The timing will vary - it will be super fast if you are cooking over a gas flame, but if you are cooking on an electric like mine it might not get as hot and will take a bit longer.
Add the orange sauce and let it come to a boil. Add the cornstarch/water mixture and stir well. Cook until sauce is starting to thicken, tossing with tongs to coat all the chicken. Add cooked Bok Choy, if using, and combine. Add sesame seeds and remaining orange zest and toss until everything is well coated and sauce is nice and thick.
Serve immediately over steamed white or brown rice (I just stick in the rice cooker before I start on everything else and its ready by the time the chicken is done). You can also garnish with some of the chopped green scallion tops.
If the chicken breasts are large, this can probably feed up to four. It normally feeds me and my husband and one of us for lunch the next day as well :)
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I have been completely obsessed with making pasta the past few weeks. Its been almost two years since I went to Rome and I have been finding myself daydreaming about pasta, gelato, and granita. I loved Rome and for two years have been trying to plan another trip to Italy. It hasn't worked out so far (even though its just a very short plane ride away *sob*).
So I have been attempting to bring Italy to me by learning to make delicious pasta dishes. Bon Appetit magazine must have read my mind too, because their entire May issue was dedicated to Italy - with an awesome tutorial on how to make perfect pasta. The cover recipe? Bucatini Pomodoro. I immediately tried it - and I kid you not we have eaten this for dinner once a week since (not really so great for the diet, but whatchagonnado).
Pasta really is such an affordable meal though, and when you figure out how to do it right, even simple spaghetti with tomato sauce seems like an indulgent gourmet meal. I spend just a little extra buying some fantastic pasta imported from Italy (though that is cheaper here in Europe than I would imagine it is in say, the US) and also slightly-better-than-cheapest canned tomatoes. I see a huge difference in quality (the pasta itself and the tomatoes are truly everything in this recipe) for just a few extra cents that, to me, its worth it. However, even with the cheapest stuff this is just damned good. Enjoy with a favorite bottle of wine and it turns 'spaghetti night' into something extra special.
from this recipe from the May issue of Bon Appetit
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
pinch Red Pepper Flakes
a few glugs dry Red Wine (I use the Chianti we drink with the meal)
2 cans whole tomatoes, pureed in food processor
a few basil sprigs
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
12 oz bucatini or spegetti (I really recommend the bucatini!)
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the Garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute or two. Raise heat to medim and pour in the wine and allow to simmer down for a minute or so (this was my addition and I really think it made a BIG difference in the flavor/richness of the sauce but feel free to leave it out). Add the pureed tomatoes and cook for around 20 minutes, or until sauce thickens and flavors combine. Remove from heat, stir in the basil, and set aside (this can be done waaay ahead too).
Cook your pasta in salted boiling water until a few minutes shy of al dente (follow times on the package to help you cook it just right). Reserve 1/2 cup (I always set aside a whole cup just in case) of the starchy cooking water and drain.
Remove the basil from the sauce and return to the heat (on high). Add 1/2 cup pasta water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and toss to coat - allow to cook until pasta is al dente (should be just a minute or two). Remove from heat and add the butter and parmesan, tossing to combine until its all melted. Serve warm!
Monday, May 9, 2011
I think one of my favorite smells ever is strawberry and rhubarb together. How come you never see that in a scented candle? No matter, cause it filled my kitchen yesterday when I was making this incredibly easy dessert. I have been seeing long stalks of rhubarb at the market for weeks now, it has been beguiling me with its pretty hues of light pink and green (and super cheap price tag). I never quite know what to do with rhubarb though - this isn't something I grew up with. In fact, I think it may have only been in the past couple of years that I had ever even tasted it.
And how weird is that? I find food like this all the time - stuff everyone seems to know about and have grown up with (or at at least tasted!) that I barely even knew existed. I really have no idea why that is, either. I was not a sheltered child by any means, but clearly when it comes to food - my family didn't get out much. Maybe thats why I love it so much now? It all seems so new - not only the fruit itself but the very existence of a pie thats not a pie. And really, with its adorable rustic-ness and lack of pan to clean afterward - there is something so much better about a Crostata (or Gallete....or whatever you want to call it in possibly an English word as well) than a traditional pie or tart.
Especially with this crust. I saw this recipe in this months Bon Appetit magazine (though it was raspberry and not strawberry), and it sounded so simple and had so few ingredients that weren't already in my pantry (I only needed to buy the fruit) - I decided it would be my first Mothers Day dessert. The thing that always deters me from making more crusted pastries is that I don't want to make the crust. I don't want to cut the butter into cubes (freeze it for like 20 minutes and it doesn't get all melty when you are trying to cut it), I don't want to sit and mess with the dough until it becomes 'crumb' like...it just isn't that fun to me. This one though, made entirely in the food processor, took literally only a few minutes to make. The whole wheat flour makes the dough rich and crumbly...and it literally became my new favorite pastry crust. The filling is tart and sweet (but not too sweet) and is the perfect combination with the nutty and flaky crust. With how easy and delicious this is, I wish I could get my hands on rhubarb for more than a just a few weeks each spring - I'll just have to find some other seasonal options (I'm thinking this crust is destined for peaches this summer, and maybe plums this fall!).
Strawberry Rhubarb Crostata
from Karen DeMasco in May 2011 Bon Appetit
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (172g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 cups rhubarb, in about 1/2 inch thick slices
6 ounces strawberries, diced
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
Combine flours, sugar, and salt in a food processor and blend for 5 seconds. Add the butter; pulse until butter is in pea-size pieces. Whisk egg and milk together in a small bowl; add to the processor and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 1/2 hours. Can be made a couple days ahead (I made mine the night before) - keep in the refrigerator.