Friday, May 30, 2014

Egg Rolls

Egg Rolls…o.m.g. (oodness) I absolutely love them, and the first time I ever had homemade Egg Rolls was at my father’s Christmas party decades ago. He had used pork, I think, and maybe shrimp in them, too. But it wasn’t until years later that I actually thought of making Egg Rolls myself. Now, y’all probably know that I *love* Egg Rolls from certain Chinese restaurants, but I have to say, I love my own homemade Egg Rolls too, and at times I actually crave them. Not trying to boast; just being honest. At times I crave the Egg Rolls made by certain restaurants too. My most favorite ones EVER were made by the Hong Kong Restaurant in Plainville MA, but they closed many moons ago. And I live in Virginia now. ;)

So here is the recipe I have made for years now, a combination of what I tasted in both restaurant Egg Rolls and the homemade that my father made. I usually use just some left over chicken in mine, but I have made them with pork or shrimp, and of course you can choose to make them with any combination of meat or seafood you choose. I hope you like it, and if I had to pick one thing I would like to improve on in my Egg Rolls, it would be how “tightly” they are rolled.

So, let’s get cooking!

For the cabbage, quarter it and slice off the core and discard.

Now slice that quarter of a cabbage in thin slices, and afterwards chop them into small pieces.

Dice the Vidalia onion, carrot, and celery in small pieces, almost mincing them. Peel and mince the garlic cloves, or use a garlic press at the appropriate time.

Mince the chicken or whatever meat or seafood you’ve chosen.

Place all those vegetables in a medium bowl with the minced meat and the bean sprouts.

Mix in the soy sauce well.

For assembly: Pour water into a ramekin at the ready, and lay an egg roll wrapper down in front of you with points so it forms a diamond. In the middle, place about  1/3 c of the veggie/meat mixture.

Fold the bottom point of the diamond up and over the pile of veggie/meat mixture. Dip fingertip in the ramekin of water and brush along the top side edges of the left and right  of the egg roll wrapper.

Fold the left point of egg roll wrapper to the middle, then the right side.

Now roll the egg roll towards the top point tightly, to seal, being careful not to rip the wrapper.

While assembling the Egg Rolls, start heating the oil in a large sauce pan or a very deep skillet. You want at least four inches of oil. Test it for readiness by dropping in a tiny scrap of cabbage, carrot, or whatever, and if it sizzles immediately and dances around, the oil is ready to cook the Egg Rolls.

Gently place 4-5 Egg Rolls in the hot oil and cook until golden brown on each side. It usually takes about 2 minutes or so, and I use a metal slotted spoon to roll each Egg Roll over to cook on the other side.

Place the cooked Egg Rolls on a sheet pan lined with one or two layers of paper towels to absorb the grease, and continue until all are cooked.

Serve and enjoy! ~TMMF

Here's my lovely daughter Caitlin assembling Egg Rolls. <3
Egg Rolls

1 package Egg Roll wrappers
¼ head large cabbage
1 can or 1 c fresh bean sprouts
½ md Vidalia onion
1 lg stalk celery
1 lg carrot
3 huge cloves garlic
2 c chicken
1 ½ Tbl soy sauce

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pork and Mushrooms

This is a dish I’ve had at two different Chinese restaurants, and I loved it the first time I ever tried it. One reason is that it uses pork instead of the more popular beef or chicken, and I love the spicy effects of the garlic and hot red pepper in the savory sauce. But when looking for a recipe for it, I came up with nothing after much searching. So I decided to wing it and make it up myself, based on what I know I‘m tasting in it at the restaurants. This is the result. Everyone in the family loved it, and I hope you will too.

So, let’s get cooking!

Wash and slice the mushrooms, celery stalk, and scallions. Peel and mince the garlic and ginger root. Open the cans of water chestnuts and bamboo shoots, then drain and rinse each well with fresh water.

Slice the pork loin into ¼” thick strips, removing fat as needed.

In a skillet, with 1 Tbl of the oil, sauté the mushrooms about 7-8 minutes, until tender. Set aside with the liquid.

Now in the skillet over medium heat, sauté the pork in the other 1 Tbl of the oil, about 5-6 minutes, until just cooked on both sides. Set aside, with any liquid included.

And in the same skillet, this time with the toasted sesame oil, sauté the celery, scallions, minced garlic, and minced ginger root for about 2 minutes.

Add the beef stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, and the red pepper flakes, plus any liquid from both the mushrooms and pork, bringing to a simmer.

In a small bowl, scoop out about 2 Tbl of the liquid from the skillet. Mix in the corn starch.

Add to the liquid in the skillet, whisking until thickened, about 3-4 minutes or so.

Add the previously cooked mushrooms and pork, heating through for about 2 minutes. Serve over rice if desired. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Chinese Pork with Mushrooms

1 lb pork loin
1 lb mushrooms
5 scallions
1 lg stalk celery
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbl minced ginger root
1 sm can sliced water chestnuts
1 sm can bamboo shoots
2 Tbl oil, divided
1 Tbl toasted sesame oil
1 to 1 ½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 c beef stock
1/3 c soy sauce
1 ½ Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl corn starch

Friday, May 23, 2014

Chinese Green Beans

Chinese Green Beans…you know you’ve seen them at just about every Chinese restaurant and buffet. For years I never even tried them, and then one day when the kids and I were visiting friends in New York and we had gone to their favorite Chinese buffet, I decided to. They were crispy and delicious and I wondered why I had never given them a second glance before then. ;)

This recipe is so easy and quick, I’m almost ashamed to include it in this series on favorite Chinese dishes; I feel like I should be sharing something more involved and complicated. Well, I have more like that coming up, but for today we’ll wrap up the week with this extremely simple one.

This is a great dish to serve in addition to other Chinese recipes exactly because it’s so easy, and it’s the one you’ll do just about at the end of the others since it works up so quickly. And it’s all veggies!

First, wash the green beans and snap off the end where the beans were attached to the plant. I always like to call this the belly button. ;)

Peel and mince the garlic, or have it at the ready with a handy dandy garlic press, like I do.

In a skillet on medium heat, sauté the green beans in the toasted sesame oil for only about 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently. If you want to amp up the flavor, use hot chili toasted sesame oil; it's great!

Add the minced garlic and soy sauce and sauté for 1-2 more minutes, stirring continually.

Serve and enjoy! ~TMMF

Chinese Green Beans

1 lb green beans
2 Tbl toasted sesame oil
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbl soy sauce

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pork Lo Mein

Ah, Pork Lo Mein…the first Chinese food I ever had as an adult that turned me from a hater to a lover. The noodles, the veggies, the sauce…delicioso! Oh wait, that’s Spanish. ;) At any rate, this recipe is by Linda’s Busy Kitchen, and it certainly is delicious. And I only tweaked it a little. ;) I think you’ll really love it as much as my family did. Oh, and you know you can always change the meat to chicken, shrimp, beef, or omit it altogether.

So, let’s get cooking!

The first step is to prepare the meat so you can marinate it while you’re taking care of the other ingredients. Cut the pork into thin strips, removing fat as desired. I used some center cut pork loin I had in the freezer.

Mix together the corn starch, sugar, soy sauce and rice vinegar in a smallish bowl and add the pork, coating thoroughly. Set aside while you prepare everything else.

Now to tend to the veggie-licious vegetables. Julienne the carrot to 1 ½“ lengths, slice the celery into very thin strips the same length, slice the scallions and the mushrooms, and cut the onion into small wedges. Peel and mince the garlic and fresh ginger.

For this recipe, you’re going to have two sauces: one for the vegetables and meat, and the other for the noodles. For the first one, for the veggies/meat, mix together in a small bowl the chicken broth, oyster sauce, oil, minced garlic, sugar, and corn starch. Set aside.

Okay, this is where you need to make a decision about the noodles. You can either make them now, drain and set aside, then when ready to serve, dunk them into a pot of boiling water to heat, or you can do what I did, which was to have the boiling water ready and cook them more towards the end, when you mix the cooked meat and vegetables together. Your choice; I’m used to cooking several things at once and being able to handle it. If you’d like to prepare them ahead and then dunk when ready, do that now.

Either way, prepare the sauce for the noodles and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and the rice vinegar.

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbl of the toasted sesame oil and stir fry the vegetables for 2-3 minutes: the carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms, and minced ginger. Stir every few seconds as you’re sautéing. When done, set aside in a bowl.

Using the same skillet, heat the other 1 Tbl toasted sesame oil and sauté the pork strips until just done, stirring.

Add the sauce you prepared for the vegetables and cook until thickened, stirring continually.

If you’ve decided to cook the linguine noodles towards the end, throw them into the boiling water now, stirring for a minute to make sure they won’t stick. Cook until al dente.

Add the vegetables to the meat and thickened sauce in the skillet and mix together well.

Drain the noodles and place them back into the pot they were cooked in. Add the sauce you prepared for the noodles and stir until coated well.

Serve the meat/vegetable mixture over the noodles. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Pork Lo Mein

8 oz pork
1 lb linguine noodles
3 Tbl toasted sesame oil
1 huge carrot
2 big stalks celery
1 Vidalia onion
8 oz mushrooms
4-5 scallions
1 heaping Tbl fresh ginger
2 lg cloves garlic

Marinade for the Meat:

1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

Sauce for the Vegetables/Meat:

1 c chicken broth
2 Tbl oyster sauce
3 Tbl oil
1 tsp sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
(and the garlic that you’ve minced)

Sauce for the Noodles:

2 Tbl oil
1 Tbl oyster sauce
1 ½ Tbl soy sauce
1 ½ Tbl rice vinegar

Monday, May 19, 2014

Beef Teriyaki

Beef Teriyaki…one of my most favorite of Chinese foods. This recipe is so simple, and the taste is out of this world delicious! The best cut of beef to use for this is, of course, sirloin strips, but I have used other cuts if I had to. Sirloin strips are so tender, but so expensive too, so what I have done for years is buy a boatload when they’re on sale, portion out for meals, and freeze. Beef Teriyaki on the grill is just astronomically scrumptious, but using the broiler in the oven is okay too. When I made this, I did it under the broiler, but I do prefer it done on the grill.

Anyhoo…let’s get cooking!

Remove fat from beef if you’d like. Sometimes I like a little bit on it. ;) For the sirloin, if it’s steaks, cut into strips. If it’s another cut of beef, do the same. Peel and mince the garlic.

In a smallish bowl, place the sugar, and add the boiling water, stirring to dissolve completely. If it doesn’t dissolve good enough, I put it in the microwave for a minute and stir again, to help it along.

Add the soy sauce, minced garlic, and ground ginger, mixing well.

Place the meat in a gallon size Ziploc bag and add the marinade, and seal the bag. Squoosh it all around to coat the beef, and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours, squooshing again and turning the bag over a few times during this. Yes, you can make this in the morning and use it that night, but it’s not as flavorful. You want that teriyaki flavor to really soak in.

                         This is after 24 hours...a rich deep brown. :)

Here's my lovely helper and daughter, Megan, posing with the bag of meat and marinade. :)

When you are ready to cook the meat, push onto skewers. If using the wood skewers, soak them for half an hour beforehand. Place on a sheet pan and broil for about 2 or 3 minutes on each side, a little more if thicker, and according to your tastes. I like mine rare.

Serve and enjoy! ~TMMF

Beef Teriyaki

2 lb sirloin strips
   (or other cut of beef)
1 c sugar
2/3 c boiling water
1 c soy sauce
4-5 cloves garlic
2-3 tsp ground ginger

Friday, May 16, 2014

Crab Rangoon

Crab Rangoon, sometimes called Cheese Wontons, have been one of my favorite Chinese foods for years. Some restaurants make them in a triangle shape, while others pull the four corners up to make what looks like a pouch. I myself prefer making them triangular, as it has a better seal for the delectable contents inside. Figuring out what is inside the wonton wrappers wasn’t hard; it’s basically four ingredients that one of my sisters came up with, and having eaten them at restaurants myself, I agreed. ;)

I want to tell you that I’ve cooked these two different ways, and neither is necessarily better than the other. I have deep fried them and I’ve fried them in a very much smaller amount of oil in a skillet. Either way, they are heaven wrapped in a little wonton. Here, though, I am showing them deep fried.

So, let’s get cooking!

First, thinly slice the scallions, and use both the white and the green. Chop the imitation crab meat finely. It definitely does not have to be minced, as you’d do with garlic or ginger root, but you do want the pieces fairly small because, after all, the filling is going into wonton wrappers.

Cream the cream cheese…doesn’t that sound redundant? ;) You do want it to be nicely smooth to work with. I started adding a little milk to it to make it more smooth and creamy when the Crab Rangoon are done. Just add the milk and beat it on in there.

Now add the scallions and crab meat to the cream cheese mixture, along with the black pepper, and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. The filling is now ready.

Start heating the oil in a large saucepan or a deep skillet. It can heat while you’re putting the Rangoon together. Don’t set the heat under the oil higher than medium after it gets hot enough. Also, prepare a sheet pan with a couple layers of paper towels to set the cooked Crab Rangoon on.

To assemble the Rangoon, you’ll need a small bowl or ramekin with water, and a teaspoon for the filling. Lay one wonton wrapper down so it looks more like a diamond. Place a spoonful of  the filling in the middle; about a tablespoon’s worth.

The second step is to dip your fingertip in the water and wet the upper left and right sides of the wonton wrapper, then fold the bottom half over, matching sides up, to form a triangle. Press the two sides down to seal.

Lay them on a platter, but I don’t recommend stacking them on top of each other, as sometimes they might stick and then they may rip a little when you try to separate them. But how would I know anything about that? ;)

While I’ve made these alone a few times, I usually have someone help me with this, as it is SO much easier when it comes time to cook them. I usually help with assembling the Rangoon for a bit, then switch over to do the frying while my daughter Caitlin keeps working on assembling. Once you start the cooking process, it moves very quickly.

When the oil is ready, tested by dropping a tiny bit of something in (scallion, tiny piece of crab), gently drop in four to six of the Crab Rangoon. They usually take less than a minute on each side. You want them to be a golden brown.

IMPORTANT: This is a very fast cooking food; you cannot step away from these at all when cooking. That’s why having two people make these is preferred. Get your kids involved--you both will love cooking together and be glad you did!

Place the finished Rangoon on the sheet pan with the paper towels to absorb extra oil. I’m usually making these with other Chinese dishes, so I also turn the oven on to the lowest setting (150°?) and place the sheet pan in it to keep them warm while I finish up the other recipes.

And there you are, delicious Crab Rangoon. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Crab Rangoon

1 package wonton wrappers
2 ½ 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
¼ c milk
1 lb. imitation crabmeat
5 whole scallions
½ tsp black pepper
About 4” of oil to fry

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cashew Chicken

Here we are with another Chinese favorite: Cashew Chicken. This heavenly recipe comes from my friend Brenda Emmet, and it is so stinking good! It’s not hard to make at all; I think the hardest thing was coating the pieces of chicken with the cornstarch mixture, and that was due to the nature of cornstarch. And the fact that I had never done it before and wasn’t aware of cornstarch’s somewhat ornery nature. ;) I had cornstarch *everywhere* in the kitchen that night! At any rate, this is an awesome recipe and I’m sure you will love it.

So, let’s get cooking!

Prepare your veggies by slicing the celery and dicing the carrots. Oh, by the way, carrots weren’t in the original recipe. I added them because, well, you know I throw extra veggies into everything! ;) They are great in this, and boost the nutrition.

Peel and mince the garlic and gingerroot. I just *love* working with fresh ginger; it’s so juicy and fragrant, and makes foods so delicious.

In a smallish bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, minced garlic and ginger, and red pepper flakes. This sounds like a strange combination of ingredients, but trust me, it works out to be a most delicious sauce for your Cashew Chicken.

Now for the chicken. Remove any extra fat and cut into small cubes, about ½ to ¾ inch in size.

In a gallon size freezer bag, mix together the cornstarch and pepper. Use the bag to coat the chicken pieces as if you were making Shake ‘n Bake. “It’s Shake ‘n Bake, and I helped!” Remember that old commercial from the 1970s? No? Okay, um, never mind. ;)

In a large skillet or saucepan, heat 1 Tbl of the oil. Sauté the chicken about 2 minutes on each side, until just done. You may have to do this in 2 or 3 batches, adding more oil as needed. Set aside in a bowl.

Heat the last tablespoon of oil in the same skillet or saucepan, and sauté the diced carrots for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the celery and cook for another minute, stirring every few seconds.

Add the cooked chicken and the sauce mixture. Simmer for 30 minutes. The sauce will thicken while cooking due to the cornstarch coating on the chicken.

While that is cooking for the half hour, make the rice, if you want it for this dish. Plenty of people eat Cashew Chicken without rice.

When both are done, add the cashews to the chicken and sauce and stir thoroughly. Serve over a portion of rice. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Cashew Chicken

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2/3 c cornstarch
1 tsp. black pepper
3 Tbl olive oil
1/2 c soy sauce
¼ c rice vinegar
¼ c ketchup
¼ c brown sugar
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp gingerroot
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3-4 stalks celery
2-3 carrots
1/2 c cashews (more if you'd like)