Archive for January, 2007

Stir-fried rice with honey lime sauce

There is really nothing exceptional about this particular recipe. The important thing about it is how to construct your own stir fry from whatever you have around the kitchen. There are several important things to remember when creating a tasty stir fry:

  1. Make sure all the items you’ll be putting in have been cut up before you begin. Just like on the tv shows when they have everything in their little bowls.
  2. The size of each piece should be the same. This is most important within ingredient. For instance, all the pieces of carrot need to be the same size. This ensures that the pieces of an ingredient cook at the same rate.
  3. Place each ingredient in the wok/skillet according to how long each takes to cook. One ingredient doesn’t need to finish cooking before another is added, but if onions take seven minutes to cook and snow peas only take two, then the snow peas should be added about five minutes after the onions. The following list is a general guideline for the order to throw in your ingredients, starting with the first:
  • onions
  • carrots, garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • mushrooms, cabbage, firm tofu
  • peppers, summer-type squash (zucchini, yellow squash), broccoli, asparagus
  • snow pea or sugar snap pea pods, green beans (fresh), green onion, baby corn, water chestnuts
  • peas, corn kernels, tomato, spinach
  • egg
  • rice, pasta
  • sauce

You can use as many types of veggies as you have around the house. This list is by no means exhaustive. If you find something you think would taste good, just think about how long it would take you to saute it on its own and then think about where that would fit in relative to your other ingredients. You can even use leftover canned or frozen veggies. The peas I used in this recipe were leftover from another meal.

Also, leftover rice works best for stir fried dishes. It’s not as wet as freshly made rice and absorbs flavor nicely. I always make extra rice and use the leftover in my wok a couple days later.

Here’s my recipe, but ad lib at will.

Stir-fry

Cooking and prep time: one hour (Chopping takes a long time but everything cooks in about ten or twelve minutes.)

Servings: three

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots
  • half a large onion
  • one medium red bell pepper
  • half a package of mushrooms (about 4 oz.)
  • one garlic clove
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, diced
  • 1/3 cup peas
  • 2 eggs
  • vegetable oil, about 1 tbsp
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp good soy sauce, preferably low-sodium (NOT LaChoy!)
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp chili sauce such as Sriracha (or more to taste)
  1. Chop all veggies into pieces about the same size. You may need to adjust to irregularly shaped veggies. For instance, I like my mushrooms quartered, so I quartered all the small ones first. However, if I quartered the large ones, the pieces would be bigger than the other mushroom pieces. So I chopped the larger mushrooms into sixths.
  2. Heat your wok to moderately high heat. Put your hand in the pan about one and a half to two inches from the bottom. When your hand feels hot, add cooking oil. Important: you need less oil than you think because the veggies have moisture in them. Start with about one tbsp and add more later on only if you need it.
  3. Add the veggies. Onions first. They will need to cook for a minute or two before adding the carrots and garlic, so take this opportunity to crack the eggs into a bowl and scramble them with one tbsp of water. After the carrots and garlic have cooked a little over a minute throw in the ginger. After a minute, add the mushrooms. Mushrooms have a high water content, so they’ll need to cook for a couple of minutes before adding the bell peppers. While the mushrooms cook, use a small bowl to mix together the lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and chili sauce. Mix briskly to emulsify the sauce. After the bell peppers have cooked for a minute, throw in the peas.
  4. Give the peas just one turn around the pan. Then push all the veggies to the sides of the wok so that the bottom of the pan is empty. Add the scrambled eggs. Allow to sit for a minute before beginning to push them around. Try not to push too close to the edge of the pan so that the veggies don’t get coated in egg. It should only take a few minutes to cook the eggs.
  5. Add the rice and turn the heat off the wok, but leave the pan on the burner. Give the rice a few stirs until heated. Give the sauce another whisk to make sure it’s mixed well, then pour over the stir fry. Remove the pan from the burner and mix the meal thoroughly. It’s important to remove the pan from the heat once the sauce is in because the sugars can scorch.
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Giant Ginger Cookies

Sorry for taking such a long break from posting. I had finals and whatnot, then the holidays. I should be back on a somewhat regular basis until finals of spring semester at least.

These cookies were a big hit with Santa this year. The key is to chill the dough, otherwise they look like and have the texture of sugar cookies. Also, chilling the dough means the inside of the cookie takes longer to bake. You end up with a crispy outside and a chewy center, the best of all cookie worlds. I’ve already made these cookies multiple times, which is rare for me, since they don’t have chocolate. Oh, and they make the house smell wonderful, so if you plan on baking these to bring someplace, make sure to have a few extras for anyone who might catch a whiff while walking by your window when these are in the kitchen. Even a friend who doesn’t like sweets (weirdo) likes these cookies!

*This recipe is a modification of the one found in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.

Giant Ginger Cookies

Prep time: 45 minutes Chilling time: 30 minutes to overnight Baking time: 11-13 minutes per batch

Servings: 20-25 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine (I used margarine)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • extra sugar–less than 1 cup
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour through salt).
  2. In a separate, large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the shortening and margarine together on low speed for about 30 seconds. Gradually add the two cups sugar until combined with the shortening mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to make sure the mixture is combined evenly. Beat in the molasses, then the eggs. Try not to pulverize the mixture once the eggs are added. Stir in the flour mixture.
  3. Scrape any excess dough off the beater(s) and from the sides of the mixing bowl forming one large ball of dough. Any pieces that are not part of this ball may dry out while the dough is chilling, so try to make it as cohesive as possible. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, a silicone lid, or your preferred air-tight method. Chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour (30 min.) or overnight. *Note: If you need to chill the dough longer than overnight, rather than covering the bowl, tightly wrap the ball of dough itself in the plastic wrap. The dough will keep this way for up to a week. You can freeze it too, but since I haven’t done that, I cannot attest to how long its freshness will last. I’m sure at least a month though. I would add a plastic bag or container in addition to the plastic wrap.
  4. Once the dough has chilled for at least half an hour, remove it from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a spoon to “grab” the dough, roll the dough into two inch balls with your hands. Try to make the balls the same size so that the cookies bake evenly.
  5. After making the dough balls, put the extra sugar into a shallow bowl or plate with sides. I’d start with about 1/3 cup of sugar. Roll each ball in the sugar and then place on your baking sheet at least 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the cookie is cracking on top and browning at the edges. I found darker cookie sheets worked better for this cookie, rather than lighter, air bake sheets.
  6. After removing the cookies from the oven, let cool on the sheet for about two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cooling time on the sheet is important because the cookies will be too soft to handle when they are first removed from the oven. This gives them time to crisp up, but they are also still cooking while on the sheet. This is why the cookies don’t need to be as brown as you might like when you remove them from the oven–more color comes as the cookies cool.

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