Category Archives: food pictures

How Asian Food Turns Me On

I love the flavors associated with Asian cuisine.  When I was a child my mother would take me to many restaurants to sample the fare, but at home until I was almost grown she shied away from cooking with these flavors.

One day when I was around twenty I went into the cabinet and the refrigerator and pulled out every Asian sounding ingredient I could find.  By now my mother was stocking besides the teriyaki sauce, and soy sauce most American’s kept in their fridges – rice wine vinegars, wasabi powder, garlic-chili sauce, etcetera – but I had never seen her create something with them.

I went to town not keeping track of how much of anything I was placing into a bowl.  Like the first trip to a sundae bar by yourself as a child, I attempted to put one of everything on my plate.  In the end the chicken I was making turned out overly salty and the sauce was too runny from lack of cornstarch and way to many vegetables – but I was excited, turned on.

From them on I was hooked.

Creating a new dish is a high for me.  For someone other than me to actually enjoy it just puts me over the edge.  I take pleasure in playing with salty-sweet combos and pushing edges on what people think they like, forcing them to try new things against their will.  I have found that in many instances people are like my uncle who insists he detests the flavor of onion – but who loves everything made for him with onion that he cannot detect with his eyes. 

To be truthful I know nothing about the proper way to cook Asian food.  I don’t have a book on it, I haven’t watched a program on it – nonetheless I continue to report back to the flavors and play around like in a sandbox, unabashedly and full of joy.

Such a playtime romp went on today as I prepared Beef with Plum and Black Bean Garlic Sauce.  I simply decided on a protein and then went and looked for Asian flavors I enjoy and asked them to come over and play in my sandbox.

The following is what came about;

 

Beef and Soba Noodles with Plum and Black Bean Garlic Sauce

Ingredients

1&1/2 lb of Thin Sirloin Tip Steak (thinly sliced into approximately 2 inch strips)

2 Packages Chuka Soba Noodles (angel hair pasta could be substituted)

3 Cloves of Minced Garlic

1 Inch of Minced Ginger (more or less depending on your fondness of ginger)

1 Yellow Pepper Cubed

2 Cups Broccoli Florets

1 Medium Sweet Onion

6 Scallions (more or less to taste)

1 Can Water Chestnuts

1 Can Baby Corn

¼ Tsp Red Pepper Flakes

1 Tbsp Black Bean Garlic Sauce

2 Tbsps Plum Sauce

1 Cup Chicken Stock (you could use beef but I enjoy the lightness the chicken adds)

1&1/2 Tbsp Cornstarch

¼ Tsp Hot Oil

½ Tsp Sesame Oil

2 Tbsp All Purpose Flour

Salt and Pepper to Taste

3-6 Tbsps Vegetable Oil

Directions

I started off by blanching my broccoli both for color and to start the cooking process.

Salt and pepper beef strips and then lightly coat in flour, shake off excess.

Preheat a large skillet with half the vegetable oil (use the other half for the second frying if needed) in it over medium high heat.  Add the beef in two batches.  Brown the meat and reserve to plate for later use.

At the same time put on a pot to boil for the noodles, follow the package directions for times.  Mine took three minutes to cook.

Reduce heat to medium and add the sweet onions, yellow peppers, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for approximately 4 minutes (depends on doneness of vegetables you prefer).

 

While the vegetables are cooking in a mix together the plum sauce, black bean garlic sauce, hot oil, sesame oil, and chicken stock.  After making sure all the ingredients are incorporated whisk in the cornstarch and set to the side.

 

 

Add the broccoli, water chestnuts, baby corn, and scallions – let them cook for about one minute. 

Return the beef to the pan 

and pour in the sauce.

Mix and make sure each item is coated.  Turn heat to low and cook another three minutes.

Turn the heat off, add the noodles, and toss to coat.

Plate and enjoy.

 

 

I enjoy the mild flavors in the dish.  There is nothing to salty, or to acidic as some recipes insist on using vinegars and prepared sauces that are vinegar based.

I hope you try it and I hope you enjoy it, and don’t tell me you can’t find any of the products I listed in here.  I checked the local Wal-Mart and if a Wal-Mart in the middle of New Hampshire is carrying all of these products – even soba noodles than I hope everyone can find them.

Trust me they are worth the investment.

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Happy Blonde Brownie Day!

Happy Blonde Brownie Day!

Blonde brownie up close

Did you know that there was a blonde brownie day?

 

Neither did I, but there it is and it happens to fall on today – January 22.

 

I found this tid bit of info out while surfing around the web looking for random food intell.  While it is not a national holiday I thought celebration of the brownie in either form to be wonderful inspiration for a morning of baking and a chance to learn some food history. 

 

“Blondies” are thought to have been baked and enjoyed before the brownies full of chocolate flavor we love today.  Food historians believe this based on cookbooks.  I bet you have never considered your collection of cookbooks to be a contemporary historical of the gastronomical enjoyments of our time – but it truly is. 

 

These aged cookbooks show the major ingredients of “blondies” were butter, and brown sugar – like the components of butterscotch candies which were well enjoyed in the mid nineteenth century.  There were cookbooks whose directions showed a mixture of butterscotch candy ingredients mixed with flour and a leavening agent.

 

Historians seem to agree that chocolate flavored brownies came into popularity in the twentieth century’s start when mass production of cocoa and chocolate became widely available and much more affordable. 

 

Knowing all of this I sat down this morning and wrote a recipe for Blonde Brownies that I really like.  The smell was delicious in the house and the taste was fantastic. 

Blonde brownie1

Blonde Brownie Day Brownies 

Ingredients

6 Tbsps of Unsalted Butter

2 Tbsps of Mascarpone Cheese

1 Tbsp of Milk (I used Skim)

1 Cup of Light Brown Sugar

1 Egg Beaten

1 Cup of Sifted Flour + 1 Tbsp (I used All Purpose)

½ Tsp Baking Powder

2 Tsps of Vanilla

½ Cup of Finely Chopped Walnuts

1/8 Tsp Salt

4 Tbsps Chopped Hershey’s Chocolate Bar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

 

Butter and flour (I use the Crisco + flour spray) an 8×8 cake pan and set aside.

 

Combine the butter, mascarpone, and milk in a sauce pan over low heat (I use a heat diffuser to ensure that the dairy products won’t scorch) till butter and mascarpone melts.  Once this happens remove from heat.

 

Add the light brown sugar (you can use dark but I enjoy the light color maintained by the light color of the sugar), beaten egg, and vanilla until combined thoroughly. 

 

Combine the flour (minus the one extra tablespoon), baking powder, and salt into the now wet sugar mixture.

 

Take the extra tablespoon of flour and toss with the walnuts (I picked this up from Ina Garten that this will help suspend the nuts or chocolate evenly throughout).  Now incorporate the nuts and flour into the mixture.  Stir well.

 

Pour into the 8×8. 

 

In half of my brownies I placed the chopped chocolate on the top of the brownie for my friend who enjoys chocolate mixed into her “blondies” as many people do.  I wanted mine “pure”.

 

Bake for 25-29 minutes based on your oven – of course check for a clean toothpick or knife.

 

Let the pan cool and then slice into bars or 2x2s.

Blonde brownie 2

So make brownies blonde or otherwise and enjoy – after all it is a holiday.

 

Thanks to http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodfaq.html#blondies – for the history facts.