Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Beef and Broccoli

This is a quintessential Chinese dish, found at every Chinese restaurant in America.  I've tried several different recipes for Beef and Broccoli over the years, and stopped looking when I found this one.  It came from my good friend Ie Li, who once told me that she spent a good portion of her growing up years playing under the table at Chinese restaurants.  That's all the qualification I needed to trust her Asian faire.

Beef and Broccoli
Recipe by Ie Li Zachrison

1 lb flank steak, sliced across the grain into strips 2 inches long and 1/4 inch thick
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs chicken broth
2 Tbs oyster sauce
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs cornstarch
6 cloves garlic, mined
1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 lb broccoli florets
1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
3 medium scallions (green onions), cut on the diagonal into 1/2" pieces

Combine the beef and soy sauce in a medium bowl; cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.  Meanwhile, whisk chicken broth, oyster sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Combine the garlic, ginger, and 1 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil in a separate small bowl.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a nonstick 12-inch skillet over high heat until smoking.  Drain the beef and discard the liquid.  Add the beef to the skillet and break up the clumps.  Cook without stirring for 1 minute, then stir and cook until the beef is brown around the edges, about 30 seconds.  Remove the beef to a serving bowl.

Add 1 tsp oil to the empty skillet and heat until smoking.  Add broccoli and stir-fry until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes.  Transfer into the bowl with the beef.

Add the remaining oil to the empty skillet and heat until smoking.  Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Clear the center of the skillet and add the garlic and ginger mixture, mashing with a spoon until fragrant, about 15-20 seconds.  Stir the mixture into the peppers, then return the beef and broccoli to the pan, stirring to combine.  Pour the sauce over everything and stir and cook until the sauce is thickened, about 30 seconds.  Transfer to the serving bowl, sprinkle with scallions, and serve over steamed rice.

Serves 4.

Furry Chicken

There are a million recipes out there for breaded chicken breasts.  I have at least three on the blog, and many more in the cookbooks that line my shelves.  But this is one of my favorites, because the flavor is unique and extra delicious.  Give it a try--it makes a great quick dinner.

You can also make the chicken ahead of time and freeze it until you're ready to use it.  Just bake at 425F for 20 minutes instead of following the baking instructions below.

Furry Chicken
Recipe by Ruth Beal

4 Boneless-skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally to create 8 thinner chicken breasts
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, or 1 Tbs dried parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F and lightly grease a large baking pan or cookie sheet.
In a medium bowl combine melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and garlic.  In a shallow dish (such as a pie pan) combine bread crumbs, parsley, and parmesan cheese.  Dip the chicken first into the butter mixture, then into the bread crumb mixture, patting the crumb mixture on to coat.  Place coated chicken onto baking pan.  Bake at 375F for 15-25 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Serves 8.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cinnamon Buns

I have a million different recipes for cinnamon buns, because everyone makes the dough a little different, and everyone does the filling a little different. This one is by Peter Reinhart, who is widely considered the authority on bread-making in the United States.

I love the dough in this recipe because it's so light and fluffy, and because it has an amazing flavor to it. The filling is just plain cinnamon-sugar, which is nice, but I prefer add a little butter to my filling.  So feel free to make that change if you'd like--I know I will be.

As a note, the glaze, while good, can quickly mask the nuanced flavor of the roll itself, so go easy on it. That picture, by the way, has waaaay too much icing.  Drizzle, not pour, is the key to getting the right amount to heighten the sweetness without killing the flavor.

Cinnamon Buns
Recipe by Peter Reinhart

6 1/2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
5 Tbs unsalted butter (you can use salted, just cut the salt measurement in half) or shortening
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp lemon extract (NOT lemon juice) or lemon zest
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp yeast
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (7 Tbs sugar plus 2 Tbs cinnamon)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs milk
1/4 tsp lemon extract or vanilla extract

In a mixer, cream together sugar, salt, and butter or shortening on medium-high with the paddle attachment.  Whip in egg and lemon until smooth, then add flour, yeast, and buttermilk.  Mix on low speed until dough forms a ball.  Switch to the dough hook and increase speed to medium.  Machine knead for approximately 10 minutes or knead by hand for about 15 minutes, until dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky.  You may need to add a little extra flour to achieve the right texture, but don't add more than 1/2 cup.

Place kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl.  Spray the top with oil and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Punch the dough down. Spray the countertop with cooking spray and transfer the dough to the counter.  Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until you have a rectangle about 2/3" thick and 14" wide by 12" long.  Don't roll too thin or the rolls will be tough instead of tender.

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough all the way to the edges.  Roll up the dough, beginning with the long side, into a long roll.  Using a sharp knife, bench scraper, or some dental floss, cut the long into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 3/4 inches thick.  Place each roll, cut-side down, 1/2" apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Mist the dough with cooking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Let rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until large and puffy and touching.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  Let cool for 10 minutes while you prepare the icing.

In a small pan combine powdered sugar, lemon or vanilla, and 1 Tbs milk. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk, a teaspoon at a time, until a thick but pourable glaze is created.  While the buns are still warm, drizzle the icing on top.

Makes 8 large buns.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Glazed Carrots

My mom discovered this recipe a few years back and now it makes it onto her table fairly frequently.  It's great for holidays, because it does that great trick of making a vegetable taste like a dessert.  Even my cousin, who hates vegetables, has seconds with this one.

Glazed Carrots

2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/8"-thick "pennies"
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbs water
4 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup butter

Boil the carrots in a saucepan of slightly salted water until just tender, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F. Combine brown sugar, cornstarch, water, lemon juice, and butter in a small saucepan and cook until translucent and thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

When carrots are tender, drain and place in an 8x8" or casserole dish. Pour glaze over carrots and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes. Serve warm.
Makes about 6 servings.

Steakhouse Pizza

I saw this recipe on The Pioneer Woman Cooks website. I knew immediately I had to try it.  I was not disappointed.

This pizza is delicious and unique, and is definitely a must for steak-lovers.  My husband, who usually does not like "gourmet" pizza (or at least prefers a standard one over a gourmet one) ate half the pizza in one sitting.  He couldn't get enough of it. 

The key to the deliciousness is the mixture of the flavors--the acid from the balsamic vinegar, the sweetness from the caramelized onions, the tang from the Worchestershire sauce and steak sauce, and of course the creamy, salty mozzarella and the rich and juicy steak.  A.Maz.Ing.  Seriously.

I used a homemade whole wheat crust, but you can make your own or buy a premade dough if you'd like.  Either way, it's sooo good.

Steakhouse Pizza
Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Pizza dough, enough to make a 10" crust
Skirt steak or flank steak, or a sirloin roast steak (I used the last one)
Salt and pepper
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs butter
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup marinara sauce
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/8"-thick slices
1/4 cup Your Favorite Steak Sauce (I used A1)

Preheat oven to 475F degrees. 

Grill the steak over high heat, flipping every three minutes, until medium rare, approximately 12 minutes total.  Set aside to rest.

Saute red onions in butter and half of the balsamic vinegar over medium heat until dark and caramelized, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine marinara sauce with the Worcestershire sauce and remaining balsamic vinegar. 

Roll out pizza dough until thin and about 10" in diameter.  Spread marinara sauce on the crust and top with red onions and then mozzarella cheese.  Bake pizza for 10-12 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly but not burned.

While pizza is cooking, slice steak into very thin slices.  When pizza is done, remove from oven and drape slices of steak to cover pizza.  Drizzle steak sauce on top of the steak, and serve immediately.