Sunday, April 22, 2007

Chocolate Banana Bread

I love banana bread so was excited to see a recipe for Chocolate Banana Bread in Tyler's Ultimate cookbook. And I thought it would be a perfect entry for this month's Waiter, There's Something in My . . . Bread hosted by Andrew at Spitoon Extra. I just had to sit around for a week waiting for the bananas to ripen enough to use for the recipe.

Chocolate Banana Bread

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 large eggs
3 very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Mix together th flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt ina large bowl. IN another bowl, cream the butter until lightened, then beat in the chocolate, eggs, bananas, and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients just until combined; do not overbeat.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick stuck into the center of the bread comes out almost clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mongolian Beef

I've never had Mongolian Beef with ground beef before, but that is exactly what Kylie Kwong suggests in her recipe for it in her Simply Chinese Cooking cookbook. I would prefer to learn a recipe using flank steak or something similar to what I get when I order Chinese takeout, but I agree with Kylie, the ground beef gives this dish a light texture and it hold the flavor really well. I don't think it tasted the same as it does when I order takeout, but I liked it anyways.

This is a dish I think everyone will love. It's kind of like tacos. Just good flavor with ground beef. In fact, I used the leftovers for some breakfast tacos. So I crossed cuisines from asian stir-fry over to tex-mex. It seems like you can put anything in breakfast tacos, so I thought "why not"? I scrambled a few eggs and then mixed in the leftovers while reheating and then wrapped them up in a flour tortilla. It was really good. Look for a roundup of this month's Leftover Tuesdays at ceres & bacchus next week.

Mongolian Beef
(serves 4)

1 lb. 4 oz. quality ground beef
5 cups finely shredded Chinese cabbage
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons shao hsing wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon malt vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 small carrot, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 medium-sized red pepper, finely sliced
3/4 cup finely sliced scallions

2 tablespoons shao hsing wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon finely diced ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine ground beef with marinade ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place cabbage and salt in a large bowl, mixing together well with your hands to combine. Stand for 15 minutes then rinse under cold water and drain. Use your hands to squeeze out any excess liquid.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add half the marinated beef and stir-fry for 30 seconds, breaking up any lumps with a wok spoon. Remove from the wok with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add remaining oil to hot wok, stir in remaining beef and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Return reserved beef mixture to the wok with wine or sherry, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar and sesame oil and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Toss in reserved cabbage, carrot and pepper and stir-fry for a further minute. Stir through scallions, reserving just a little to garnish, and remove from heat.

Spoon beef into a serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining scallions and serve.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fat Noodles with Crab, Buttered Artichokes, and Mint

I found a recipe that is not "the ultimate" in Tyler's Ultimate. The Fat Noodles with Crab, Buttered Artichokes, and Mint. The name is promising but I found it to be a little be bland. It was good, but not great and not ultimate. I usually like really strong flavors with my pasta. I could see this being a nice pasta to be served as part of a buffet because I can see alot of people liking it and it also tastes okay at room temperature. But when I spend the money to cook with crab I really want to taste it and I didn't get that with this recipe.

The one problem I had was I could not find pappardelle at my grocery store. So I went with fettuccine which were the widest noodles that I could find.

Fat Noodles with Crab, Buttered Artichokes, and Mint
(serves 4)

Kosher salt
1 pound pappardelle

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 can (about 16 ounces) artichokes, drained, rinsed and halved
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 pint (8 ounces) lump crabmeat
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pappardelle, stir to separate, and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain and dump the pasta into a serving bowl. (You'll need to use 1 cup of the pasta cooking water for the sauce.)

While the pasta is cooking, combine the butter and olive oil in a medium skillet and put it over medium heat. Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, add it to the skillet, and reduce the whole thing for 5 minutes to thicken. Then add the artichoke halves, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, crabmeat, and salt and pepper and toss to warm everything through. Add that to the bowl with the cooked drained pasta. Add the mint and Parmigiano and season with salt and lots of black pepper. Toss and serve with extra Parmigiano.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ming's Mom's 3-2-1 Shrimp

I've been really into Simply Ming lately. I started recording it everyday and then having a Simply Ming marathon on weekends. I love the format of the show. He prepares on "master recipe", which is usually some type of sauce, and then he prepares three recipes using that sauce. In addition, he asks one guest chef to prepare one of their own meals using that sauce. Everyone from Rick Bayless to Sara Moulton to the Two Hot Tamales have appeared on his show.

I decided to make Ming's 3-2-1 Saute Sauce and his Mom's 3-2-1 Shrimp. On the same episode he also used the sauce to make Seared Monkfish with Sweet Onions and Peppers and Crispy Chicken Livers and Scallions. Emeril Lagasse was the guest chef and he made Sauteed Shrimp and Udon Noodles.

The sauce is so yummy! It took a while to prepare because you have to reduce it. But it is super easy to prepare and would be good with any stir-fry. I hope I have to time to try out one of the other recipes or do something else with the leftover sauce.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Duck Steaks with Roasted Peaches and Cold Sesame Noodles

Okay, I'll fess up. I've never really watched Tyler's Ultimate on Food Network. I've had it on in the background, but I never really watched him. All I know about Tyler Florence is that he is super-cute. And I HATE the How to Boil Water show that he does but that might be because of his dingy co-host. But I realized that I have never given him a chance when I watched his Chefography a few weeks ago. So I decided to order his latest book Tyler's Ultimate: Brilliant Simple Food to Make Any Time.

Now, I find it a bit presumptuous to call something "THE ULTIMATE". It's okay to be a specialist is something. For example, I'd be okay if he had "Tyler's Ultimate Fried Chicken" or something like that. But a whole book for of ULTIMATE recipes? I was very hesitant. But flipping through the recipes I quickly realized that he has quite a few really, really good meals. The first one I decided to try was his Duck Steaks with Roasted Peaches and Cold Sesame Noodles. This is partly because I have made really good sesame noodles before (soba noodles with a spicy peanut sauce) and I knew I could compare his to the one I already knew I liked. The second is because I am trying to cook with things I have not worked with before and duck was on that list. And how can anyone not want to try roasted peaches?

It took me a little over an hour to prepare this entire meal and I don't think that is bad at all considering how elegant it is. I couldn't find any peaches at the grocery store so I bought a jar of natural peach slices which I think have been boiled or something. I just laid them on the baking sheet and roasted them anyways. Peaches roasted in olive oil with salt sprinkled on . . . yum! The peanut sauce for the soba noodles is really amazing. I love the complex flavors. It is nice and creamy with a bit of heat from the peppers but it is still smooth and has a great consistency to go over the noodles. And as for the duck, I got really lucky. It ended up just perfect!

Duck Steaks with Roasted Peaches
(serves 4)

2 ripe peaches, halved and pitted
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

2 duck breasts (about 1 1/4 pound total)
Toasted sesame oil
Cold Sesame Noodles (recipe follows)
Watercress, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the peaches all over with salt and pepper. Put them cut sides up on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Throw them in the oven and roast until the peaches are very tender when you stick a knife in them, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the duck breasts on a cutting board skin side up and score all over in a tiny crosshatch pattern so that as much of the fat as possible will render and the skin will crisp. Season all over with salt and pepper and drizzle with sesame oil. Film the bottom of a large saute pan with olive oil and put the pan over medium heat. Add the breasts, skin side down, and cook slowly for about 10 minutes, until the fat is rendered and the skin is browned and crispy. Occasionally dump the fat out into a bowl. Turn the breasts and cook on the other side for 1 or 2 more minutes for medium-rare. Take the breasts out of the pan and put them on a platter to rest.

Cold Sesame Noodles
(serves 4)

Kosher salt
1/2 pound dried buckwheat (soba) noodles
9 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves
1 fresh red Thai chile or 1 jalapeno chile, minced, seeds and all
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
6 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon chile sauce or 1 teaspoon sambal
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Cook the soba noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook until barely tender and still firm, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water to cool. Drain the noodles really well, transfer to a wide serving bowl, and toss immediately with 3 tablespoons of the sesame oil.

Peel the ginger and garlic cloves and smack with the back of a knife. In a saucepan, heat 4 tablespoons of the sesame oil over medium-low heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and chile. Cook, stirring for a minute until the vegetables are soft and fragrant. Dump that into a blender along with the brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, hot water, chile sauce, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil; puree and refrigerate until cold.

Toss the noodles with the peanut sauce. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and scallions.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Roasted Beet Soup with Coriander

I was watching a cooking show that used beets the other day. I realized that there are a lot of root vegetables I have never worked with before. I found this recipe for Roasted Beet Soup with Coriander in Kathy Casey's Northwest Table (which is nominated for a James Beard Award). Kathy writes "this brilliant pink soup - made with beets slow-roasted to brin out their sweetness - will turn the most resistant beet-eater into a beet-lover". I don't know about that because most of the beet haters I know will put up quite a fight, but it was really a fun soup to make. It matches my pink kitchen!

Roasted Beet Soup with Coriander
(makes 6 to 8 appetizer or 4 entree servings)

1 1/2 pounds beets (without leaves), top trimmed to 2 inches

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

2 teaspoons coriander seed, lightly toasted and ground or crushed

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Sour cream thinned with a little water

Chopped fresh cilantro

Lime wedges

Wash the beets, leaving the roots untrimmed. Put the beets in a baking pan, cover with foil, and poke 6 holes in the foil. Roast the beets in a 375 degree oven until very tender, allowing about 2 hours or more.

When the beets are thoroughly tender, remove from the oven, and as soon as they are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off and cut beets into large chunks. (You can do this part the day before, if necessary.)

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter over medium-high heat and saute the onion for about 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic, coriander seed, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the broth and beets and cook until beets are heated through.

Working in small batches, puree the soup with the sour cream in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return the pureed soup to the pan and heat until hot, but do not boil. Right before serving, whisk in the lime juice and cilantro and season with salt to taste.

For a fun garnish, swizzle the top of the soup with a little thinned-out sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro. Pass the lime wedges for squeezing into the soup.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

African Inspired Egg Sandwich

Another great recipe from Marcus Samuelsson's The Soul of a New Cuisine cookbook. I spent yesterday getting caught up on episodes of his show, Inner Chef, which I had recorded on Tivo. Marcus Samuelsson is a genius with seasonings.

An egg sandwich probably isn't the most glamorous recipe to make, but I really wanted to try this one just because it is Marcus Samuelsson's version. And also because I liked his story about egg sandwiches being breakfast street food in Africa. I made them for lunch, not breakfast.

I rarely make sandwiches. I firmly believe that I can get a much better sandwich at Quizno's than I can make. However this egg sandwich with all the fixing's, including the chili mayo that I made from scratch, was pretty impressive!
Egg Sandwiches
(4 servings)

2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 small red onion, sliced
1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch diced
6 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons Chili Mayonnaise
1 baguette, split lengthwise and cut into quarters

Combine the tomatoes, lettuce, and sliced onion in a bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the eggs, diced onion, milk, chili powder, and salt together in a separate bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add half the egg mixture and stir until the eggs are set, then flip and cook on the other side until golden brown. Transfer to a warmed plate and repeat with the remaining eggs.

Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the cut sides of the baguette. Divide the eggs in half, and put on the bottom halves of the bread. Top with the tomato, lettuce and onion and serve

Chili Mayonnaise

Who would have ever thought that I would make my own mayonnaise. Isn't it all very Martha Stewart of me? However, it was called for as a condiment for the egg sandwiches and it sounded good so I really wanted to try it. And it was much easier than I ever thought it would be.
Chili Mayonnaise
(makes 3 cups)

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon roughly chopped blanched almonds
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 serrano chilies, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
3/4 cup canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small saute pan over high heat. Add the almonds and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat, and the chilies and chili powder, and cook just until the chilies begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Transfer the chili mixture to a blender, add the egg yolks, and blend well. Add the lime juice and vinegar and blend well. With the blender running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream and blend until well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love chocolate chip cookies. But I'm not a big baker so I have not made them in years. For a while I got into those cookie dough packs that have the cookie all prepared and all you have to do is heat it up. But they are just not the same. And I usually end up eating more of the dough than making cookies.

The April 2007 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine has a recipe for Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies that I just had to try. Mostly because they looked good in the picture, but also because I bought a pack of Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips! Those made the cookies even extra special.

I found it funny to back up a batch of cookies and there being only 12 cookies total. When my mom makes them it seems like she gets 50 cookies or something like that. But I find a big cookie satisfying - it's like Mrs. Fields. But I was nice and didn't hoard them all. I kept 4 for myself and brought the rest to work. Everyone raved about them.

Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies
(makes one dozen cookies)

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the granulated and brown sugars until just combines and sandy (do not cream). Mix in the egg until just combined, about 3 seconds. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips.

On a large ungreased cookie sheet, drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough a few inches apart. Bake until just golden around the edges, about 20 minutes. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chicken with Caramelized Shallots and Honey

I finally got to crack open Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey & Lebanon. It has been sitting at the bottom of my cookbook stack for a while. It's so pretty I've wanted to play with some of the recipes in there, but I have been working on other cuisines. I pulled it out to find a recipe for Monthly Mingle #9: Arabian Nights hosted by Meeta at What's For Lunch Honey? I didn't get very far flipping through recipes before I decided to try Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey which is on page 85.

While the recipe calls for an entire chicken, I decided to use about 8 chicken thighs because those are my favorite part. I purchased the thighs that still have the bones and skin on them so that I would get all of the true flavors from the chicken.

This recipe takes a while to prepare. Preparing the ingredients and cooking the chicken takes about an hour. Caramelizing the onions at the end took way longer than I expected. I think I had to boil them at least a half hour before the water cooked off. But my house smelled wonderful the entire time . . . onions, saffron ginger and cinnamon - yum! And it gave me time to prepare the rice which I forgot to make.

Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey
Djaj Bil Assal

(servers 4)

1 pound shallots or baby onions
1 onion, chopped
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
good pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 chicken, cut up in 6 or 8 pieces
salt and black pepper
1 to 1/2 tablespoons clear honey

To garnish:
1/2 cup blanched almonds or a handful of sesame seeds (optional)

To peel the shallots or baby onions, blanch them in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and when cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and trim the root ends.

Saute the chopped onion until softened in the oil over a medium heat in a pan or casserole large enough to hold the chicken pieces in one layer. Stir in the saffron, ginger, and cinnamon, then put in the chicken pieces. Season with salt and pepper, and turn to brown them lightly all over.

Add about 1 cup water and cook, covered, over a low heat, turning the pieces over for 15 minutes, or until the chicken breasts are done. Lift out the breasts and put them to one side. Add the shallots or baby onions and continue to cook, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until the remaining chicken pieces are very tender. During the cooking, turn the chicken pieces and stir the onions occasionally; add a little water, if necessary.

Lift out the chicken pieces and set to one side. Stir the honey into the pan, check the seasoning. You need quite a bit of pepper to mitigate the sweetness. Cook, uncovered, until all the water has evaporated, and the onions are brown, caramelized, and so soft that you could crush them, as they say in Morocco, "with your tongue."

Return the chicken pieces to the pan, spoon the onions on top of them, and heat through. A few minutes should be enough. Serve, if you wish, sprinkled either with blanched almonds fried in a drop of oil until they are lightly golden, or with toasted sesame seeds.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Nuevo Laredo Tlalpeño Soup

I brought my newest cookbook, Cowgirl Cuisine, up to Chicago for my Easter visit so I could read through it on the plane. I also thought I might find a side dish to make for Easter dinner. However we went to my aunt's for Easter Brunch and didn't feel hungry enough to make dinner before I had to catch the flight back to Tampa.

There looks to be a lot of good recipes in Cowgirl Cuisine and I decided to start with Nuevo Laredo Tlalpeño Soup. The cookbook focuses on Tex-Mex ranch style food. I went down to Laredo, TX a couple of years ago when visiting my sister in San Antonio. One of her friends has a real ranch down there where the boys go hunting. We did a little shopping in Laredo and got some really neat iron pieces. This recipe reminded me of this trip just because of its name.

Overall this recipe is for a pretty standard chicken soup. I realize that I have never made chicken soup from scratch before. I followed the recipe and made my own stock and all. I made the stock one evening and the soup the next day. My house smelled so awesome. It rained today and was a bit cool so that yummy chicken soup was so awesome.

What makes this recipe a bit different are the garnishes. Fresh avocado, fresh squeezed lime and chipotle peppers really gave it an awesome twist. It was fresh and spicy and comforting all at the same time.
Nuevo Laredo Tlalpeño Soup
(Serves 8)

chicken stock (makes about 10 cups)
1 whole young chicken (about 4 to 4 1/2 pounds)
1 onion, quartered
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
6 peppercorns
2 to 3 cloves
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
10 cups chicken stock
2 15-ounce chicken cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups shredded chicken breast (about 1 whole breast)
freshly ground black pepper

for garnish
lime wedges
chopped avocado
chopped cilantro
chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Rinse the chicken, place in a large pot or Dutch oven, and add water to cover (about 10 cups). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and skim any fat the rises to the top. Add the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves and salt. Reduce the heat and gently simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. If serving immediately, remove the chicken and skim and strain the stock. If not, refrigerate the chicken overnight, then skim the fat the next day (it will be easier to remove) and strain.

Remove the chicken meat from the carcass. Use a fork to shred the breast meat for the soup and reserve the dark meat for another use.

To prepare the soup, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and leek, stir to coat with oil, and then cover and allow them to steam for about 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add the celery and carrot and cook, stirring, for a few more minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chickpeas and chicken and simmer another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, ladle the soup into large, wide bowls and garnish with lime wedges, chopped avocado, cilantro and chopped chipotle peppers in adobo.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Dong'an Chicken

Fuchsia Dunlap, author of Revolutionary Chinese Cooking, states that Dong'an Chicken is one of Hunan's most famous dishes and may date back as far as the 8th century, during the Tang Dynasty. According to legend, it was invented by three old ladies who ran a restaurant.

One evening, so the story goes, some merchants called and demanded dinner at a time when the women had sold out of almost everything, so they had to slaughter a couple of chickens and rustle up a new dish on the spot. The resulting recipe was so extraordinarily delicious that the merchants spread the word far and wide, and the dish entered the canon of classic Hunan delicacies.

Unfortunately, this did not turn out as well as many of the other recipes I have tried from Revolutionary Chinese Cooking. But that is my own fault. The recipe clearly lists a free-range or corn-fed chicken. I couldn't find one so I just bought a regular chicken. To me it tasted like plain boiled chicken, which is kind of boring. I wanted there to be a bunch more sauce. I was surprised since all the other recipes in this book have been so amazing, but then I realized that if I would have used a free-range chicken it would have made all the difference. This dish uses such simple seasonings that the taste of the chicken itself is really the highlight. I can't wait to try it again, this time with a fresh chicken!

Dong'an Chicken
dong an zi ji

About 4 qt. water or chicken stock
1 free-range or corn-fed chicken, about 2 3/4 lbs.
1 3/4-inch piece fresh ginger, unpeeled
3 scallions
1 fresh red chili
3 dried chilies (optional)
2 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine
2 Tbsp. clear rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. Sichuan pepper oil or 1/2 tsp. whole Sichuan pepper
Salt to taste
1 tsp. sesame oil
4 Tbsp. lard or peanut oil for cooking

Bring the water or stock to boil in a large saucepan over a high flame. Add the chicken and return the liquid to a boil, skimming the surface as necessary. Crush half the ginger and one scallion with the flat side of a cleaver or heavy object, then add to the pan with the chicken. Reduce the heat and poach the chicken for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the cooking liquid and allow it to cool; reserve the cooking liquid. The chicken should be about three-quarters cooked.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the flesh from the carcass and cut as far as possible into bite-size strips, along the grain of the meat.

Cut the fresh chili in half lengthwise and discard the seeds and pithy part, then cut into very fin slivers about 1 1/2 inches long. Peel the remaining ginger and cut it into slices and then slivers similar to the chili. Cut the green parts off the remaining 2 scallions into slivers of a similar length; set aside.

Heat the wok over a high flame until smoke rises, then add the lard or peanut oil and swirl around. When the oil is warming up but before it is smoking hot, add the fresh chilies and ginger, along with the dried chilies and Sichuan pepper, if using, and stir-fry until fragrant, taking care that the seasonings do not take color or burn.

Add the chicken and continue to stir-fry. Splash the Shaoxing wine around the edges of the chicken. Add the vinegar, Sichuan pepper oil, if using, and salt to taste. Add up to 1/2 cup of the chicken poaching liquid (if the chicken is very juicy no additional liquid will be necessary), bring to a boil and then turn the heat down a little and simmer briefly to allow the flavors to penetrate the chicken, spooning the liquid over.

Add the potato flour mixture to the liquid and stir as the sauce thickens. Throw in the scallion greens and stir a few times. Remove from heat and stir in the sesame oil. Serve.

Pineapple-Cashew Salad

This recipe for Pineapple-Cashew Salad is a dessert, not a light meal. Soaking it in the wine actually ends up quite a strong alcohol taste, almost like one of those chocolate candies filled with rum. I don't usually like that in my desserts, but for the people who do, this is really a unique dessert that would be fabulous to serve at a dinner party.
Pineapple-Cashew Salad
(4 servings)

1/2 cup sweet white wine, such as Riesling or ice wine

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 golden pineapple, peeled, cored and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup roasted cashews

4 mint leaves, finely shredded

Pour the wine into a medium bowl and add the sugar, stirring until it is dissolved. Add the pineapple cubes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

To serve, stir the cashews into the pineapple. Divide among serving bowls and sprinkle with the mint.