Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Peaches, Pork, Pancakes

After a week+ of celebrating birthdays, the end of the school year, second-years advancing to Ph.D. candidacy, and friends from out of town - Alex and I have been eating out a lot which results in a sparse kitchen and a serious yearning to cook something awesome. Here's what we came up with out of some left over pancakes, the only fruit we had in the fridge (1 small peach and 1 small aprium), and the pork chops that have been calling out to us from the freezer.

The Cornmeal Pancakes 
(modified from the Joy of Cooking)
3/4 cup AP Flour
3/4 cup Cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 cups Whole Milk
3 Tbsp Butter
2 Eggs
pinch salt

Combine the dry things in one bowl and the wet things in another bowl. Then add the wet things to the dry things and mix together until smooth. Then make pancakes! These last for quite a while (especially in the fridge) and are great re-warmed in the toaster.

The Pork
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Liquid Aminos
~1 Tbsp Molasses
~ 1/2 Tbsp Fennel (dried and ground)
couple dashes Cinnamon
pinch Applewood Smoked Salt

Alex seared the pork, sauteed a chopped onion and some garlic in the pan after the pork was removed, and then mixed this all together with the above ingredients in a baking dish covered with foil. This all cooked in the oven for over an hour at 375F.

While the pork was cooking, I sliced our lonely peach and aprium and then went spelunking in our spice "shrine" (as a friend recently called it).

The Stone Fruit
1 Peach
1 Aprium
Red Pepper Flakes
White Pepper

I just sprinkled spices on the fruit until it looked right. I used harissa and fennel the most with slightly less of all the other spices. Then I melted some salted butter on the stove...

...When the butter was good and hot (just about to start turning brown), I threw in the spiced peaches and fried them until they were brown.

I finished by deglazing the pan with a bit of water and letting it evaporate off to make it kinda saucy. 

Lastly, we sauteed up a few carrots, potatoes and a medley of braising greens. Here's the finished product with cornmeal pancakes topped with sliced pork chop, topped with spiced stone fruit, with a side of sauteed veggies. Super delicious! I'm stoked that stone fruits are coming into season so I can continue to play with them in a savory way!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Orange Chicken

Last night I waltzed into the kitchen with the idea that I was just going to whip up a quick veggie stir fry, rice, and orange chicken. While the techniques are simple, it's not exactly what I'd call a "quick dinner" in the end...

First I put some brown rice on to cook while I did everything else (1 cup rice : 2 cups water/stock).

Then I started working on the chicken. I had two chicken breasts that were left over from roast chicken dinner the night before, so I just cut these into bite-sized chunks and then breaded them using a modified Standard Breading Procedure:

1. Coat with flour, shake off excess.
2. Coat with egg (3-4 eggs), allow excess to drain off.
3. Coat with corn starch.

I also add salt an pepper to the flour and cornstarch before using it to coat the chicken. While I breaded the chicken, I had a pot of canola oil warming up on the stove, so that as soon as my chicken bits were breaded, I could immediately fry them in the oil.

When the chicken was just barely beginning to brown, I pulled them out of the oil and placed them on a paper-towel-covered-plate to soak up any excess oil. The fried chicken sat in a warm oven while I made the sauce.

Orange Sauce
1 cup Water
1 Lemon, juiced
1 Orange, juiced and zested
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Rice Vinegar
3 Tbsp Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
Sprinkle Cayenne
3 Tbsp Corn Starch + 3 Tbsp Water

Bring everything above the dotted line to a boil. Dissolve the corn starch in the 3 Tbsp water. When the water-juice-sugar-etc. is at a rolling boil, add the corn starch solution while stirring. Continue to stir over heat until thickened (this should happen fairly quickly). Garlic and/or ginger would also be awesome in this sauce.

When the sauce is thick, pour it over the fried chicken to coat them.

Then I put the chicken back in the warm oven while I whipped up a few sauteed veggies...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Edible Embellishments

It's finals week, and I'm taking a break from microbial genetics to write a post of pretty tasty things. So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things:

1. Airbrush

image from here

Same idea as a normal paint airbrush, except this one uses edible paints! Check out these stunningly delicious chocolates from the chocolate shop near my house:

2. Sugar Pearls (a.k.a. Dragees or Fancy Sprinkles)

image from here

Sugar pearls are the cornerstone of daintyness

image from here

3. Gold Leaf

I'm jumping from dainty to down right gaudy. 

image from here

...it can't be good to ingest this much gold... 

image from here

4. Disco Dust

Saved my favorite for last! Disco dust is just edible glitter that looks fabulous on everything!

image from here

Perfect for bedazzling icing...

image from here

...or for making home-made Peeps shimmer! (I seriously need to make myself some Peeps!)

Image and Recipe from Buttercream Blondie

But the best part about Disco Dust is that it doesn't dissolve. Meaning you can use it to add some pizzazz to any beverage!

 image from here

In the end, sparkles and shiny things should probably be consumed in moderation...

image from HERE.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Braised Fennel, Poached Egg, and Cornmeal Pancake

Cornmeal Pancakes (modified from Dad's recipe)
1 cup AP Flour
1 cup Cornmeal
2 tsp Baking Powder
4 Eggs
2 cups Milk
drizzle molasses

Combine the dry things.

Combine the wet things.

Whip the egg whites.

Add the wet things to the dry things.

Then fold in the egg whites.

Make pancakes in a hot buttered pan!

Braised Fennel
Fennel bulb(s)
Stock (or wine)

Let simmer for 15-30min until tender


Poached Egg
SmittenKitchen has a great description of how to poach an egg.

I use a splash of vinegar in a a couple inches of water heated to just below simmering.

Then I make a whirlpool, drop the egg in the center of the whirlpool and let it cook for a few minutes. I test the doneness by jiggling and gentle poking. Poached eggs are easiest to make one at a time, but if you're making more than one, the first one will get cold while the second one cooks.  I pull my poached eggs out a tiny bit early, then when all my eggs are poached, I put them back in the warm water to warm them all up together.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Baked Polenta

Polenta is a classic, simple, cornmeal porridge of Italian origin. The traditional method involves a good 30-40 minutes of love and elbow-grease to stand at the stove constantly stirring this thick porridge. Though a few days ago I found myself craving polenta and I stumbled on a recipe for baked polenta in the Joy of Cooking. It almost feels like cheating, but this method makes a darn good polenta!

- Dice half an onion

- Grate some cheese
The original recipe says to use a mixture of 4oz. Gruyere, 4oz. Mozzarella, and 1/2 cup Parmasan. I used maybe 8oz. White Cheddar, though I'm suspicious cheese is not neccessary for this recipe -- make it as cheesey, or not-cheesey, as you like!

- Preheat the oven to 350F

- Butter a 2qt. (9" x 9" -ish) baking dish

Making the Polenta
- Saute the diced onion in some butter in a deep pan.

- Pour 5 cups of liquid over the onions and bring to a boil.
"liquid" could be water, stock, cream/milk, or any combination or 2 or more. I used 4 cups water + 1/2 cup chicken demi-glace + 1/2 cup cream

- Once the liquid is at a rolling boil, slowly pour 1-1/2 cups Yellow Cornmeal into the boiling liquid while stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon.

- Continue to stir for a minute or so until it thickens.

- Throw in a dash of salt (herbs and spices could also be added at this point!)

- Pour the polenta into the pre-buttered pan.
     It can either be poured in all at once, or in two parts, adding cheese after the first part to create a layer of cheese in the middle of the polenta.

- Cover the polenta with cheese, and pour 1/2 cup Milk or Cream on top.

- Put it in the oven for 30-60 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.

- Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Leftover polenta can also be sliced and fried the next day to make savory polenta cakes!

Soft Polenta with Pesto and Sauteed Mushrooms & Broccoli

Basil-Cilantro Pesto, Beef, and Strawberries

Beef and strawberries, and strawberries and herbs, and beef and herbs, and strawberries and beef and herbs are all magical combinations.

I made some pesto with a bunch of cilantro, two bunches of basil, and enough olive oil to make it saucy:

Then I sauteed ground beef, onions, garlic, and zucchini.

I turned off the heat and added asparagus...

In a seperate pan, I warmed the pesto, then combined it with the beef saute.

Pesto beef & veggies with brown rice and strawberries