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When my mother came up with the name of her first cookbook the term "All-American" only seemed fit. After all, she was 1st generation Chinese married to an American, Irish, Norwegian man living in Nebraska where traditional Chinese ingredients were not made readily available. It isn't until now that I truly understand the meaning of the All-American... (read more)

Archive for January, 2009

23

Jan

2009

2009: Year Of The Ox

“Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality. Those born in ox years tend to be painters, engineers, and architects. They are stable, fearless, obstinate, hard-working and friendly.” – infoplease.com

Chinese New Year is one of the longest and most important celebrations in the Chinese calendar. January 26, 2009 is quickly approaching and with it comes delicious Chinese food. I just adore the way the Chinese celebrate their holidays with food. Need a quick tutorial on Chinese New Year history and tradition? Visit here. And If the traditional New Year foods consisting of taro root and turnip cakes doesn’t tantalize your taste buds, Chef Lucy has an All-American feast she’s preparing this week so be sure to stay tuned!

Here’s a peek at her menu…

Fried Wontons with Sweet & Sour Sauce

Pan Fried Gyoza Dumplings (aka Potstickers)

Boiled Soy Sauce Eggs

Chicken Hot & Sour Soup

Mongolian Beef

Baked Soy Sauce Chicken

Oven Baked Pork Ribs

Chicken Chow Mein

Stir-fry Spinach with Garlic

Crunch Tea Cookies

Banana Delight


23

Jan

2009

Banana Delight

Many Chinese restaurants serve deep-fried bananas covered in syrup and dipped into ice water to make them crunchy. I have found that serving the bananas with a warm, sugary syrup and sesame seeds is even more delightful.

4 medium size ripe but firm bananas
3 cups canola or vegetable oil for deep-frying

Batter:

1 egg
¼ cup water
½ cup all-purpose flour

Syrup:
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preparation:
Peel bananas and slice each diagonally 4 times into 1 inch thick pieces. In a medium sized bowl, wisk the egg together with water and then add flour. Stir constantly until a fairly smooth batter is formed. Add bananas into bowl. Coat each piece thoroughly with the batter and set aside.

To Cook:
Heat oil in wok or a deep fryer over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, dissolve the sugar into the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-low  heat and boil for approximately 5 minutes until the mixture becomes a light syrup. Stir in sesame seeds and turn off heat. When the oil is hot, use a pair of chopsticks or tongs to drop the batter coated banana, one piece at the time, into the hot oil. Deep-fry 10 pieces together until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Remove fried bananas onto a large serving plate. Repeat and deep-fry 10 more banana pieces. After deep-frying all of the bananas, reheat the syrup for a few seconds. Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately spoon the hot sesame syrup evenly over the fried bananas. Serve warm.

Makes 20 pieces
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: total about 18 minutes


23

Jan

2009

Crunchy Tea Cookies

A light, nutty and crunchy cookie great with tea. What makes these cookies so unique: the Cashew nut!

1 large egg
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup roasted and salted cashews nuts (5 oz.)
¼ cup creamy peanut butter (Skippy brand)
¾ cups all-purpose flour
Powder sugar

Preparation:
In a large bowl, beat the egg and brown sugar together until smooth. Use a food processor to finely ground the cashews into a powder. Add the finely grounded cashews and peanut butter to the egg and sugar mixture. Mix until smooth. Add flour to bowl. Knead into a soft, workable dough. Place the dough on a floured board and divide into four equal parts. Roll each piece into a long rope. Divide each rope in half and then into quarters, totaling 32 pieces. Using the palms of your hands, roll each piece into a ball. Use a rolling pin to gently flatten each piece into a 1/8 inch thick, 3 inch round circle. The edge of the cookies will be slightly jagged.

To Cook:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cookies on 2 large ungreased cookie sheets. Bake the cookies in the center of the oven for 6 to 7 minutes, until light golden brown. Be careful not to burn. Remove cookies from oven. Cool until the cookies become crisp. Dust with powder sugar.

Makes 32 cookies
Preparation time: 20 to 25 minutes
Cooking time: 6 to 7 minutes


23

Jan

2009

Stir-fry Spinach with Garlic

This simple and easy stir-fry dish is a part of a Chinese family regular dinner menu. It’s always great to add a little tasty green to my family’s dinner menu.

1 pound fresh spinach
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (for cooking in a non-stick wok or a fry pan)
1 teaspoon pure sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Preparation:
Wash the spinach thoroughly. Remove the stems if any and excess water. Crush, peel and finely chop the garlic.

To Cook:
Heat oil in a non-stick wok or a large fry pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown garlic for a few seconds. Add spinach to wok, stir turning the spinach for about 2 minutes. When the spinach is cooked down and soft, add sesame oil, salt and sugar. Cook and stir for 30 seconds longer. Transfer the spinach onto a plate and pour off any excess liquid. Careful not over cook the spinach. Serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 2 to 3 minutes


23

Jan

2009

Chicken Chow Mein

Growing up in California we barbecued all the time. Rather than serving the traditional macaroni or potato salad,  Mom served Chicken Chow Mein as a side dish – A delicious and popular stir-fry noodle dish.


½ package thin spaghetti (8 oz.)
6 cups water and 1-teaspoon salt for boiling the spaghetti
½ pound boneless and skinless chicken breast (about half breast)
½ can sliced bamboo shoots (2.5 oz.) drained
6 shittake dried black mushrooms (soak in warm water for 10 minutes or longer until soft)
1 carrot
½ small yellow onion
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (for cooking in a non-stick wok or a fry pan)
3 tablespoons soy sauce (Kikkoman brand)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt

Preparation:
Slice the half chicken breast lengthwise in half. Crosswise cut into ¼ inch thin pieces and then cut into strips. Drain the water from mushrooms, cut off the stems if any. Slice into ¼ inch thin strips. Peel and slice carrot diagonally into ¼ inch thin pieces and then cut  into strips. Slice the onion in-half lengthwise and then cut into ¼ inch thin strips.

To Cook:
In a medium-sized pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Break the spaghetti in half and put into the boiling water. Add salt and stir well. Boil uncovered for approximately 6 minutes while stirring occasionally. Drain the cooked spaghetti through a colander. Heat oil in a non-stick wok or a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown onions for a few seconds. Add chicken, cook and stir for 2 minutes until the chicken strips are almost cooked through. Add bamboo shoots, black mushrooms, carrots and mix together. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, salt and then immediately return the cooked spaghetti into the wok. Stir-fry for approximately 2 minutes until the noodles absorb all the seasoning. Serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes


23

Jan

2009

Asian Oven Baked Pork Ribs

An easy way to make Chinese restaurant style ribs at home. This recipe is also ideal for your outdoor BBQ grill. Use the sauce as a marinade brushing generously as the ribs cook.

1 slab pork loin backribs (2-1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Sauce:
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce (Kikkoman brand)
2 tablespoons rice wine or cooking sherry wine
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure sesame oil
1 teaspoon dried crushed red chili peppers

Preparation:
Wash and rinse the ribs with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix salt and pepper together. Rub the salt and pepper mixture evenly over the ribs. Crush, peel and finely chop the garlic. In a small bowl, mix sauce ingredients together thoroughly and set aside.

To Cook:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large pan with tinfoil, place the ribs in pan and bake for 1 hour. Remove the ribs from oven and brush half the sauce over the ribs. Return ribs to the oven for 20 minutes. Again remove and brush the remaining sauce over ribs. Bake for 20 more minutes until tender. Cut into four even portions to serve.

Makes 2 to 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 40 minutes


21

Jan

2009

Baked Soy Sauce Chicken

In Cantonese style restaurants a whole chicken is boiled with soy sauce and spices. I have always thought that the chicken skin was too fatty. At home, baking the chicken in the oven makes for a crispy skin with the same great flavor.

1 whole chicken (approximately 4 pounds)
4 cloves garlic
2 scallions, including the green top
1 oz. fresh ginger root
Canola oil or Pam cooking spray

Sauce:
½ cup soy sauce (Kikkoman brand)
½ cup water
¼ cup rice wine or cooking sherry
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons red hot chili oil

Preparation:
Trim excess fat from chicken. Rinse with cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Crush, peel the garlic. Wash and trim the green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces. Peel and thinly slice the ginger root. In a small bowl mix soy sauce, water, wine, sugar, sesame oil, chili oil and set aside. Stuff the chicken cavity with the crushed garlic, onions and ginger root.

To Cook:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For easy clean up, spray cooking spray onto a 9×12 baking dish. Place the stuffed chicken breast side down. Pour sauce mixture over chicken. Bake uncovered, breast side down for 40 minutes. Turn the chicken over, breast side up, and continue to bake for another 40 minutes until the chicken is in golden brown color. Using a large spoon or a brush, baste the chicken with the sauce from the pan a few times while baking. Remove chicken from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before cutting the chicken into pieces. Remove any excess fat floating on the surface from sauce in pan. Pour the sauce over chicken pieces to serve. The sauce will enhance the flavor.

Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes


20

Jan

2009

Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef is a classic Northern Chinese style, spicy dish.

1 pound flank steak
1 medium size yellow onion (8 oz.)
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (for cooking in a non-stick wok or a fry pan)
1 teaspoon dried crushed red chili peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Marinade:
2 tablespoons soy sauce (Kikkoman brand)
2 tablespoons rice or cooking sherry wine
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon pure sesame oil

Preparation:,
Cut flank steak along the grain into 1-½ inch wide strips. Angle the knife away from you at a 45-degree angle against the grain and slice the beef into ¼ inch thick pieces. Peel and finely grate the ginger root. In a bowl, combine the beef with the marinade ingredients. Mix together thoroughly and set aside. Peel the onion and cut off ends. Cut the onion in half lengthwise and then into quarters. Crosswise cut the onion into ¼ inch thick pieces.

To Cook:
Heat oil in a non-stick wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the dried crushed red chili peppers for a few seconds. Add the marinated beef and stir-fry for approximately 2 minutes. Add onions, salt and black pepper. Cook and stir until the beef is cooked and the onions are tender for approximately 2 more minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes


20

Jan

2009

Chicken Hot & Sour Soup

Most restaurant style hot and sour soups use pork strips and beef stock (for that darker color). My mother created a lighter version using chicken breasts which also makes a great hot and sour soup. And…it happens to be one of my father’s favorites.

6 oz. boneless and skinless chicken breast
½ can sliced bamboo shoots (2.5 oz.) drained
½ package firm tofu (8 oz.)
1 scallion, including the green top
1 egg
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (for cooking in a non-stick pot)
¼ cup cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup water
2 cans chicken broth (14 oz. each)
1 cup water
1/3 cup white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce  (kikkoman brand)
1-½ teaspoons white pepper

Marinade:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure sesame oil
½ teaspoon sugar

Preparation:
Cut chicken breast into ¼ inch small cubes. In a small bowl, combine the chicken cubes with the marinade ingredients. Mix together thoroughly and set aside. Cut the sliced bamboo shoots into thin strips crosswise. Cut tofu into ½ inch cubes. Wash and trim the green onion, finely chop. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg lightly and set aside. In another small bowl, dissolve ¼ cup cornstarch with ½ cup of water together and set aside.

To Cook:
Heat oil in a medium sized pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown onions for a few seconds. Add chicken cubes, cook and stir for 1 minute. Add bamboo shoots and tofu. Cook and stir for a few seconds. Add chicken broth, 1 cup water, white vinegar, soy sauce and white pepper. Cook and stir for 5 to 6 minutes until the soup comes to a full boil. Stir the dissolved cornstarch again and add into to soup. Stir until the soup becomes slightly thickened. Beat the egg again and slowly pour into the hot soup. Cook and stir for a few seconds longer. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes


15

Jan

2009

Fried Wontons

An American favorite Chinese appetizers! Makes an impressive hors d’oeuvre for parties.

1 package of wonton wrappers (12 oz. or 14 oz., You will find the wonton wrappers in the produce section of most supermarkets)
½ pound lean ground pork
½ cup water for sealing  the wontons
3 cups canola or vegetable oil for deep-frying

Marinade:
1 tablespoon soy sauce (Kikkoman brand)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 scallion, including the green top
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon pure sesame oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar

Preparation:
Wash and trim the green onion, finely chop.  Peel and finely grate the ginger root.  In a bowl, combine the ground pork with the marinade ingredients. Mix them together thoroughly and set aside.

To Cook:
Heat a non-stick wok or a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the marinaded ground pork to wok. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, until the pork is cooked through. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

To Assemble:
In a small bowl, fill 1/2 cup water for assembling the wontons. Place a wonton wrapper on the palm of your hand. Place 1 full teaspoon of the cooked filling in center of the wrapper and moisten all sides of the wrapper around the filling with water. Lift the lower right corner and flip it over to the middle of the left side. Seal it. Turn the wonton over and use both hands to overlap the two end corners together. Moisten a corner and pinch the ends firmly together. The result: The wonton filling is in the center with 4 corners of the wrapper point outward. As each wonton is complete, place them on a plate, cover with a dry towel and set aside.

To Fry:
Heat 3 cups of oil in wok or deep fryer over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, drop one wonton at a time into the hot oil and deep-fry 10 to 12 wontons at one time until light golden brown. It will take approximately 1 minute to fry each batch. (Be careful not to over cook the wontons as they will burn quickly). Drain oil from fried wontons on paper towels. Serve warm. Dip with Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Makes approximately 48 wontons
Preparation time: 30 to 40 minutes
Cooking time: 2 to 3 minutes
Deep-frying time: 5 to 6 minutes

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