Pork Dumplings – 猪肉饺子 – Zhūròu Jiǎozi

Steamed Pork Dumplings

Ingredients:

50 Dumpling or Wonton Wrappers
1 Nappa Cabbage (if steaming)
Safflower or Vegetable Oil (if frying)

Filling
1 lb ground Pork
2 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 red Chili Peppers, de-seeded and minced (include white ribs for more heat) or Jalapeño
3 Scallions, the white portion chopped (use the green portion in the sauce)
3 Tbsp Water Chestnuts, minced
1 tsp Sichuan Peppercorns, coarsely ground (optional)
1 tsp Soy Sauce

Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1 tsp-1 Tbsp Hot Chili Oil
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Honey
1 tsp fresh Ginger, minced
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
Scallion Greens, chopped

Directions:

  • Prepare the Filling – Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl by hand. Let rest for 1 to 3 hours.
  • Fill the Dumplings – Line a baking sheet or table with parchment paper for Dumplings to sit on before they are steamed. Fill a bowl with cold water. Use a pastry brush or rolled paper towel to coat wrspper edges of a Wraper. Take a bite-size portion of the filling and put it in the center of the wrapper. Fold* the wrapper sealing along the wet edges, set on parchment, and repeat.
  • A. Steam the Dumplings – In preparation, put the steam basket in the pan or pot you are going to use. Add just enough water to be brlow the base of the basket. Remove the basket and line with leaves of Cabbage, not closing off all the holes. Place the dumplings on top of the cabbage, leaving space so they do not touch each other or the sides. Bring the water to a boil. Carefully set the basket in the water and cover. Cook for about 12 minutes. Remove and repeat. You can cover the cooked dumplings to retain moisture before serving. They should ideally be eaten immediately, while additional batches cook.
  • B. Fry the Dumplings – Heat a wok or large frying pan on medium heat. Add a little oil. Carefully add some dumplings, and cook, lightly tossing, until the side touching the pan is a dark golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined rack to drain excess oil.
  • Prepare the Dipping Sauce – In a small bowl, mix all the liquid ingredients of the Sauce together with a fork or whisk. Adjust the taste to your liking between salty, sweet, hot, and bitter. Stir in the Dry ingredients.
  • Serve with dipping sauce on the side as soon as the Dumplings are done, especially if steaming. If you are serving later, frying is recommended over steaming.

* Folding. There are many ways tonfold dumplings, some requiring practice and skill. Round wrappers are either folded in half and crymped along the folded edge making a slight crescent shale, or the edge bunched up to the center making a tear drop.

If using square shaped or wonton wrappers, the easiest is to fold diagonally, then pull the opposing side corners together and press against the mound of stuffing–think of a person folding their arms. Another way is to pull the corners rogether resembling a hobo sack. As you work with dumplings, play with folds that you find online and feel comfortable with. The key thing is to not tear the wrapper and to make sure the insides are sealed.

Notes: These are a Chinese version known as Jiaozi 餃子 and are either boiled (水餃 water dumpling), steamed (蒸餃 steamed dumpling), or fried (煎餃 dry-fried dumpling or 鍋貼 pan-stick). They are traditionally circular wrappers folded in half and crymped along the edge to make a crescent shape.

When cooking, I do recommend using cooking chopsticks or tongs…this helps with transfering dumplings in and out of the cooking vessels…the fillings are damn hot if you try to use your fingers…so I’m told…

I should note thst dumpling dough is different than wonton dough, though you can use the more readily available wonton wrappers. Wontons are thinner whereas dumoling dough is more like ravioli pasta. The ingredients are different…maybe I will play with dough recipes, but for now, I will stick with store bought wrappers.

Stuffed dumplings are served all around the world with various fillings–perogies, empañadas, samosas, and ravioli are just a few examples that are not East Asian.

You can play with spices and fillings to suit your palate and needs. I’ve seen some with various ground meats and seafood, or all vegetables, with bean pastes, and even fusion hybrids such as stuffed with meatloaf! Often left over fillings make great snacks fried in patties or balls.


The limits are your imagination. I hope to add a few different fillings and dipping sauces as I experiment.

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Braised Rabbit with Dijon Sauce

Dedicated to Tim Mathis, who loved the Dijon Sauce

Ingredients:
1 Rabbit, cut in 6 pieces
1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
2 Tbsp Butter, divided
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Shallots, diced
3 cups Table Mushrooms (small is best)
4 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Dijon Sauce
1/2 cup Stock from Rabbit
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Honey
1/4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

Directions:

  • Sprinkle the Rabbit pieces with Salt and Pepper on all sides.
  • Melt 1 Tbsp Butter and the Olive Oil in a Dutch Oven on medium heat.
  • Brown all the Rabbit pieces and set to the side. Do not over-crowd the Dutch Oven–you can do it in batches.
  • Carefully add the Wine, Garlic, and Shallots, and scrape the sides of the Dutch Oven with a balloon whisk.
  • Add the Chicken Stock, Herbes de Provence, and remaining Tbsp of Butter.
  • Add the Rabbit pieces and Mushrooms. The liquid should mostly cover the Rabbit, if not add more Chicken Stock, Wine, or Water.
  • Bring to a Boil on Medium-High heat.
  • When Boiling, lower heat and bring to a simmer. Cover for 45-60 minutes.
  • Remove Rabbit pieces, and then strain the liquid. Reserve the Mushrooms, Shallots, and Garlic for the side. Reserve 1/2 cup of the Broth for the Sauce.
  • In the empty Dutch Oven, combine the Reserved Broth, Heavy Cream, Honey, and Dijon Mustard, mixing well with a balloon whisk.
  • On medium heat bring to a boil and let roll for 3-5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Take the Rabbit pieces and coat them in the sauce, and then plate.
  • Remaining Sauce can be put in a Gravy Boat or bowl. Serve the Mushrooms and Shallots as a side

Makes 3-4 servings.

NOTES: Rabbit cooked this way is very mild, almost like chicken. You should get the Rabbit cut up by your butcher, though it is not hard to do yourself, but if your butcher sells it, then they can cut it. If you have a squeamish friend who fears the Bunny…the same Dijon sauce can be used on grilled or rotisserie chicken. Most folks, honestly would not know they’re eating rabbit unless you told them…just sayin’.  The broth can be saved and used with Pasta or Rice for a nice Soup as well.  You can also add lemon and bring to a boil and add whisked eggs–amazing.

Herb-Crusted Tuna Steak with a Balsamic Dijon Sauce

Herb-Crusted Tuna Steak with Balsamic Dijon Sauce
And Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients:
2 8-10oz Tuna Steaks
1/4 cup Herbes de Provence
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Honey

Directions:

  • Pat the Tuna Steaks with a paper towel and remove excess moisture on the outside. Salt and Pepper both sides.
  • Sprinkle the Herbes de Provence on both sides of the Tuna, and press lightly.
  • Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a skillet until hot.
  • Carefully place the Tuna steaks in the skillet.
  • Cook for 5-7 minutes, depending on how done you want your Tuna. Do not move them while they are cooking.
  • Using tongs or a spatula, carefully flip the Tuna and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove and let rest.
  • Add the Dijon, Butter, and Vinegars to the skillet, and mix well.
  • Lastly add the Honey, and reduce for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Drizzle the sauce over the Tuna, or serve on the side.

Makes 2 Tuna Steaks

NOTES: This is a very quick and flavorful way of making Tuna–and not the overused Miso-Wasabi variations people seem to be leaning on as of late. The herbs crust onto the tuna infusing the flavors into the meat. The sauce has a rich sweet and savory silkiness that complements the herbs and tuna.

Chipotle Mesquite Salmon

Ingredients
1 lb Salmon filet, boneless, skinn-on, cut into 2 to 4 pieces
1/4 tsp ground Pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp ground dried Chipotle Pepper
1/4 cup BBQ flavored Potato Chips
1/4 cup Honey
Olive Oil for drizzling
Avocado for Garnish

  • Preheat Oven to 400°F.
  • Pat the Salmon dry, and remove any bones.
  • In a bowl, combine the Spices and Potato Chips.
  • Sprinkle liberally over the Salmon fillets, and press. Do not worry as much about the sides, and disregard the skin-side altogether.
  • Place aluminum foil on a baking sheet, and lightly drizzle the olive oil.
  • Place the Salmon fillets skin down onto the baking sheet.
  • Drizzle the Honey over the fillets.
  • Bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on how done you want the Salmon.
  • While cooking, slice the Avocado in half, remove the pit, and then carefully peal the skin. Set aside until Salmon is done.
  • Plate the Salmon. Slice the Avocado length-wise and thinly. Place a half of Avocado on each Salmon piece.

Makes 2-4 Servings.

NOTES: So this may be a flashback recipe from my poorer youth–but seriously the barbecue chips really add to the recipe. You can choose to use panco breadcrumbs instead, but you’ll want to add some mesquite seasonings, and really unless you have a pre-made mix, it is a pain in the butt.

Mustard and Sage Rainbow Carrots

Ingredients:
8-12 Carrots, various colors
2 Tbsp dried Sage, crushed
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Butter, room temperature
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • Cut a 1 1/2″ long piece of Aluminum Foil.
  • Clean the carrots, removing tips, greens, and dirt. No need to skin them, but if there is a knick cut it out. If the carrots are longer than 8 inches, cut them in half.
  • Place them on the center of the Aluminum foil, length-wise.
  • In a bowl, combine the Butter, Honey, Mustard, and Sage
  • Brush the sauce over the Carrots evenly.
  • Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Pull the ends of the Aluminum Foil together and form a pocket. Fold the edges in so that the Carrots are sealed into the packet.
  • Place on a cookie sheet, folded edges up, and bake for 20 minutes.

Makes 4 Servings.

NOTES: I had not really tried rainbow carrots in the past, opting for the more common orange variety, but there they sat at the local market staring at me and telling me that they would be the best new thing of the fall for me to eat. I will admit, that though I am not a fan of cooked carrots, these are actually pretty tasty. There indeed is a slight difference in taste between the purple, red, orange, and yellow carrots. The Mustard and Sage add a nice autumn flavor to the mix, and the honey retains the sweetness. If you cannot find rainbow carrots, the orange kind work just as well.

Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 10:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sesame-Crusted Chicken with an Apricot Ginger Sauce

Sesame-Crusted Chicken with an Apricot Ginger Sauce

Ingredients:
2 skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts, butterfly-cut
1-2 cups All-Purpose Flour (for dredging)
1 Egg, beaten (for dredging)
1 Tbsp Water (for dredging)
1 Tbsp Honey (for dredging)
1 cup Sesame Seeds (for dredging)
Salt and Pepper for seasoning the Chicken
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Sauce:
1 cup dried Apricots, diced fine
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, julienne cut
1 cup Peach Schnapps
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Salt
Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Soak the Apricots in the Peach Schnapps for 1/2 an hour.
  • Set up dredging stations: 1 tray with Flour; 1 tray with Egg, Water, and Honey; and one tray for Sesame Seeds. Do not put all the Sesame Seeds in the tray, as you can always add more, but after you’ve dredged, can’t use the left overs.
  • Pat the Chicken breasts dry with a paper towel, and season with Salt and Pepper.
  • Dredge the Chicken in the Flour on both sides; then the Egg mixture on both sides; and finally the Sesame Seeds. Set to the side.
  • Turn the Oven on to 200F, and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack over the pan. Set to the side.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet, and brown the Chicken on both sides. Place the Chicken breasts on the cooling rack, and then in the Oven to keep warm.
  • In a Sauce Pan, melt 6 Tbsp of Butter.
  • Add the Garlic and Spices, and let cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the Schnapps-soaked Peaches (liquid and all) to the Pot, and stir well. Heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Plate the Chicken and cover in the Apricot Ginger Sauce.

Makes 4 Servings.

NOTES: This is a recipe I came up with to appease Michael–he loves Apricots. I’m not really a big fan, though from time to time I will eat one. It has a sort of Asian feel to it, though I personally see it as more of a Middle-Eastern flavor. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Ingredients:
1 bunch Asparagus, cleaned
1 Red Onion, cut in rings
1 Red Bell Pepper, slice each side off
4 oz Halloumi Cheese χαλούμι
1-2 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced
1 Avocado, diced
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Honey
1-2 tsp Sesame Seeds

Directions:

  • Using a brush, lightly cover the grilling grates, Asparagus, Bell Pepper, Onion, and Halloumi.
  • Prepare the Grill or Broiler as directed by manufacturer–you want medium high heat.
  • Place the Asparagus, Bell Pepper, and Halloumi on the grates and cover with the Onions and sprinkle with the Salt and Pepper. I suggest using an oven-safe cooling rack and placing it on top of the grate. If you use the cooling rack, it is easier to pick everything up in the end.
  • Close and grill for 5-7 minutes or until the onions and Halloumi begin to get a nice golden brown on the outside.
  • Remove and combine with the rest of the Vegetables in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Honey, and Dijon Mustard.
  • Drizzle over the Vegetables, sprinkle with Sesame Seeds, and Toss.

Makes about 6-8 servings.

NOTES: This is an ideal summer salad–full of fresh ingredients, tons of grilled flavor, and yet light, sweet, and citrusy. You can substitute Zucchini or Broccoli or just add them to the lot. I do not recommend grilling the Tomatoes, as they tend to fall apart Halloumi is a Cypriot/Middle Eastern cheese that is very dense, mildly salty, and can be GRILLED! It is a great addition to this dish, and complements the Asparagus and Sesame Seeds amazingly.

Céleri Rémoulade – Celeriac Salad

Céleri Rémoulade

Ingredients:
1 Celeriac Bulb, cleaned
1 Carrot, cleaned
1 small Cucumber, seeded and Julianne cut.
3 Shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 – 1 cup Walnuts, crushed
1 cup Greek-Style Yoghurt
1 Tbsp Honey
3 Tbsp Almond Oil
2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp fresh Mint, minced
1 Tbsp fresh Dill, minced
2 tsp ground Ginger
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

Directions:

  • Clean the Celeriac root by removing any scraggly roots and outer surface. Cut into pieces small enough to be easy to grate. I prefer to use my Food Processor’s food grater, so I make the pieces big enough to fit through the feeder. If you shred by hand, you may want them a good size for holding. Do the same thing with the Carrot.
  • Shred both the Celeriac and Carrot.
  • In a large bowl, combine the Celeriac, Carrot, Shallots, Cucumber, and Walnuts, and toss with your hands to mix well.
  • In a separate bowl combine all remaining ingredients and whisk together into a dressing.
  • Pour the dressing over the dry ingredients and mix well.

NOTES: Celeriac is one of those under-used vegetables in my opinion. Honestly, I don’t know why–its not too difficult to prepare, and you can eat it raw or cooked in any way imaginable that most root vegetables are cooked. Now regarding the Rémoulade itself. Traditionally, this would be made with Mayonnaise, and would not have Ginger and maybe a different set of spices. I found that a little bland and had to add some kick to it, but not overpower the fresh-taste of the Celeriac itself. The Rémoulade can be served as a side dish, or in a similar fashion to Cole Slaw–though it is not as strong. Many folks serve it as a side to fish. I prefer to eat it by itself as a side salad.

Mango-Glazed Chicken

Mango-Glazed Chicken

Ingredients:
3 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, butterfly cut
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Onion powder
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp ground Coriander
2 tsp fresh Ginger, minced
1 Mango, diced
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Mango Puree
1 tsp Allspice
1 tsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Scallion, diced

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • Place the Chicken cutlets on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and dust with the Crushed Red Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Coriander, and Salt. Drizzle with Olive Oil
  • Place in the oven for 15 minutes, turning after 7 minutes.
  • While the Chicken is cooking, in a non-stick sauce pan, add the Mango, Ginger, Honey, Mango Puree, Allspice and Butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and let it reduce to a jelly consistency, about 7 minutes.
  • After the Chicken has cooked for 15 minutes, remove, and cover with the Mango glaze.
  • Return the Chicken to the Oven and increase to 400°F and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Plate and garnish with the Scallion.

Makes 3 servings.

NOTES: My Michael loves Chicken, so I am always trying to get some new ideas on what to do with Chicken. This one came to me this afternoon, and he loved it! Thus, I thought I’d share it with everyone else.

Ginger Citrus Glazed Salmon

Ginger Citrus Glazed Salmon and Roast Broccoli

Ingredients:
2 Salmon Filets (6-8 oz each)
Juice of 2 Oranges (medium size)
Juice of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1 Lime
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 Tbsp Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 400°F.
  • Combine the Juice, Butter, Ginger, Garlic, Crushed Red Pepper, and Honey in a Sauce Pot on medium heat. Reduce in half.
  • Place the Salmon filets on a greased baking sheet, and sprinkle with Salt and Pepper to taste. Bake for 7 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cover with Glaze.
  • Return to the Oven and cook for an additional 7 minutes, or until desired done-ness.

Makes: 2 Servings.

Notes: This is a simple and flavorful way to do Salmon. You can even toss it up by adding some mango or Pineapple juice to the mix.

Peanut Butter with Honey

Ingredients:
2 cups Peanuts, shelled and roasted
1 tsp Honey
1 tsp Peanut Oil (optional)
dash of Salt

Directions:

  • Place the Peanuts and Salt in a food processor, and process for 30 seconds.
  • Add half the Honey
  • Process for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Add the remaining Honey and the Peanut Oil.
  • Process for an additional 30 seconds to a minute (to desired consistency).  Add more Honey if needed.

Makes 2 cups.

NOTES: Peanut Butter is a true American food. The earliest accounts come from the Aztecs who ground peanuts into a paste. The first US Patent for Peanut Butter was from a Canadian named Marcellus Gilmore Edson for use in peanut candies. The addition of Honey is something I highly recommend, as it adds some sweetness and spread-ability to the paste. Adding Peanut Oil is optional, but it does help make the paste smoother like many store-bought versions. Making your own peanut butter is a way to guarantee you’re getting something all natural–look at the ingredients of some of the name-brands and see what I mean. Plus making all-natural yourself is much cheaper than some of the prices sold in the stores as well.

You can also play with the recipe and use other types of nuts. Look at the price of Almond butter in the store, and you’ll soon see its much cheaper to make your own! You can also add some flavors to the nut butters you make. I like to add chocolate chips and roasted coconut–don’t judge till you’ve tasted it.

Published in: on March 20, 2011 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sesame-Crusted Chicken with Bok Choy Salad

Sesame-Crusted Chicken with Bok Choy Salad</span>

Ingredients
2 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless, cut in strips
1-2 cups All-Purpose Flour (for dredging)
1 Egg, beaten (for dredging)
1 Tbsp Water (for dredging)
1 Tbsp Honey (for dredging)
1 cup Sesame Seeds (for dredging)
Salt and Pepper for seasoning the Chicken
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 cups Baby Spinach
2 cups Bok Choy 白菜, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Red Onion, diced
1 cup Broccoli, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 cup Snow Peas
1 Asian  Nashi Pear ナシ, diced
Water for steaming
1/2-1 cup Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Directions:

  • Prepare pot of water and steamer for steaming/
  • Steam the Broccoli for 2 minutes, just until the color of the Broccoli turns bright green. You do not want to cook it, just steam it to make it tender and colorful. Remove and run through cold water, set to the side.
  • Set up dredging stations: 1 tray with Flour; 1 tray with Egg, Water, and Honey; and one tray for Sesame Seeds. Do not put all the Sesame Seeds in the tray, as you can always add more, but after you’ve dredged, can’t use the left overs.
  • Pat the chicken slices dry with a paper towel, and season with Salt and Pepper.
  • Dredge the Chicken in the Flour on both sides; then the Egg mixture on both sides; and finally the Sesame Seeds. Set to the side.
  • Turn the Oven on to 200F, and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack over the pan. Set to the side.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet, and brown the Chicken pieces on both sides. Place the Chicken pieces on the cooling rack, and then in the Oven to keep warm.
  • Build the Salad (make the dressing now if you have not yet done so as well). You can do this as one big bowl, or in individual bowls–it is up to you.
  • Start with a bed of Spinach.
  • Top with the all the ingredients. You may choose to do this artistically–I like to use the Snow Peas as a frame around the side of the dish. It is completely up to you.
  • Remove the Chicken from the Oven, and slice into 1″ pieces across the strips of Chicken. Place on the top of the Salad.
  • The Salad is ready to serve. You may dress it now, or leave it on the side.

Makes about 4 servings.

NOTES: This salad can serve as a side dish, but also as a main course salad. Though it has “East Asian” flare to it, I would not necessarily call it an Asian salad… maybe East Asian inspired salad with the Bok Choy (白菜), with the Sesame Ginger Dressing are the most Asian aspect of the salad. Some folks may want to add Ramen-style noodles on top. Not a fan of them, I just can’t bring myself to add them to the recipe. So if you do that, please don’t tell me. Thanks.

Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Sesame Oil
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2 Tbsp minced Ginger
1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
1/2 cup Soy Sauce

Directions:

  • Whisk together all ingredients.

Makes a little over 1 cup

NOTES: If not served immediately, the dressing will separate. Just whisk together when ready to serve. To add an extra kick, you may choose to add some Wasabi to it…just be careful.

Brussels Sprouts in Pomegranate Butter Sauce

Ingredients
2 cups Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and quartered vertically.
1 Shallot, minced
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Honey
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1/4 tsp Corn Starch
1/2 cup Pomegranate Seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  • Melt the Butter in a medium skillet on a medium flame.
  • Saute the Shallots in the Butter, until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Toss in the Brussels Sprouts, and coat with the Butter and Shallots.
  • Drizzle in the Honey, and mix well.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the Chicken Stock and Corn Starch.
  • Add to the skillet, and bring to a simmer, stirring well.
  • Remove to a bowl, and toss in the Pomegranate seeds.
  • Season to taste.

Makes about 4 servings.

NOTES: So this was an experiment that went over well. The tender buttery Brussels Sprouts are a great contrast to the crisp sweet Pomegranate. The colors also are very pleasing–and Christmasy for those who want a little extra festive bunch of Sprouts! Though, I certainly will not be waiting till the Yuletide to eat mine. They’d be great as a side at any Valentine’s day dinner.

Roasted Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sausage

Roasted Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sausage

Ingredients:
12 fresh Figs
8 Breakfast Sausage Links
12 Walnuts
12 tsp Chèvre Goat Cheese
1 tsp Rosemary, minced
1 tsp Mint, minced
2-4 tsp Honey
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Water (for sausages)

Directions

  • Preheat the Oven to 400°F.
  • Add the Water to a skillet, and cook the Sausage Links on medium heat. The water will evaporate as the Sausages cook, allowing them to not burn, yet cook all the way through.
  • Remove the stem of the Figs, and slice an x 1/3 of the way deep with the crux where the stem would have been. This allows for the Fig to be partially divided so that you may stuff it. Dipping a paper towel in Olive Oil, rub the Fig with it and set to the side.
  • Stuff with one walnut to each fig, and then 1 tsp of Chèvre on top.
  • Place on a non-stick baking sheet and put in the oven for 10-12 minutes. You can do this while the Sausage is cooking.
  • When the Sausage is cooked through, remove from the skillet, and pat with paper towels to remove excess grease.
  • Slice each Sausage into thirds. I recommend doing this at an angle for aesthetic value. Set to the side.
  • Remove the Figs from the oven. The Chèvre will have a slight crust, but should not have browned.
  • Plate the Figs and sprinkle the Herbs on top.
  • Drizzle the honey on the figs, and top with a piece of the Sausage.

NOTES: This makes an excellent nibble food for a Brunch or Tea. I recommend using a Maple-flavored Sausage link if you can find them. Do not use a dark strong honey, but rather an orange blossom or wild flower honey. As far as figs go, you can use any ripe fig variety.

Applesauce

Ingredients:
8 Apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup Apple Juice
2 Tbsp Honey
5 strips Lemon peel (just the zest)
1-2 Tbsp Cinnamon, ground (depending on taste)
1 tsp Cloves, ground

Directions:

  • Add all Ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the Lemon Peel.
  • Use a Potato Masher to mash the Apple mixture to your desired chunkiness.
  • Serve hot or cold.

Makes about 6-8 servings (less if you’re like me and want a big serving!)

NOTES: Who doesn’t like applesauce? This is like the best thing Eve could have made Adam–and it is so simple, yet folks still insist on buying it in the store with preservative and HFCs in it. Stop the insanity and make your own!

When picking your apples, think of sweeter varieties, rather than tangier ones like Granny Smith. You can mix up the varieties as well, and get a fuller flavor of apples. I often substitute a natural Apple Cider for the Apple Juice to make it even richer. If you taste the prepared Applesauce and it is too bitter, just add a little more honey or a tsp of Brown Sugar.

Apple Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1 tsp Nutmeg, ground
1 tsp Cloves, ground
1 tsp Ginger, ground
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
4 Eggs, beaten
1 cup Applesauce
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 cups Zucchini, shredded
1 cup Apples (Red Delicious), skinned, seeded, diced or shreaded
1 1/2 cups Pecans, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, sift together all Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt, and Spices. Set to the side
  • Combine the Eggs, all Sugar, Honey, Maple Syrup, Vanilla, and Apple Sauce in another bowl, and mix well.
  • Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing well. You may use a mixer for this, as the batter will be fairly thick.
  • Fold in the Apples, Zucchini, and Pecans.
  • Divide the batter into greased loaf pans (9×5).
  • Bake for 55 minutes to an hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Please let them cool for 10 minutes before removing them to wire racks to cool further.

NOTES: The first time I had zucchini bread, I was very skeptical. I mean the majority of my zucchini was sauteed with garlic, so the idea of it serving as a sweet stumped me. Still after trying it, this then 8 year old was pleasantly surprised. Zucchini bread can be used as a side item at an Autumn or Winter dinner, or with brunch or tea. I still think it is a great side for Thanksgiving, served warm with dinner, with fresh butter.

Zucchini bread apparently had its hay-day in the 1960s in the US when the idea of using Butter was on the decline, with folks instead wanting to use Oil. I, however think the use of Apple Sauce (something that seemed to happen in the 90s to replace the oil) instead of Vegetable Oil is a better fix. Apple Zucchini Bread is a quick bread, and can easily be modified into muffins, as a result.

Smoky Baked Beans

Ingredients:
2 cups Haricot/Navy Beans
6-8 cups Water for Soaking
1/2 lb thick-cut Bacon, diced
1 Yellow Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1/3 cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
3 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp dried Chipotle Pepper, minced
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, soak the Beans in the Water overnight.
  • Drain the Beans, reserving the liquid.
  • Preheat the Oven to 325F
  • In a large Pot brown the Bacon.
  • Add the Onion and Garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add 1 cup of the Reserved Water, and all other ingredients EXCEPT the beans, and heat for 5 minutes, until bubbly.
  • Mix with the Beans and place in a Dutch Oven.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, covered.
  • Stir well and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes uncovered.

NOTES: I was a Boy Scout in my younger days. On camp outs I took joy in being on the kitchen patrol and cooking. Then we’d cook them in a cast-iron Dutch Oven over the campfire. Over time my Baked Beans became a request of the troop, though back then I didn’t get to use Jack Daniel’s.

So with regards to Baked Beans, there are a variety of “styles”. In Boston Style, Beans and Salt Pork are stewed with tomato paste and molasses. Southern Style incorporates Mustard and Bacon into the mix. In Vermont north through Quebec the sweetener is Maple Syrup. Cowboy Beans incorporate BBQ Sauce and Ground Beef. My beans are sort of a hybrid of baked beans with a very smoky flavor that is reminiscent of a campfire stove.

General Tso’s Chicken – 左宗棠雞

Ingredients:
3 lb Chicken Thighs, boneless, skinless, cut in bite-size chunks
1 cup & 2 Tbsp Corn Starch, divided
1-3 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Shaoxing Rice Wine 绍兴酒
1/2 cup and 1 tsp Soy Sauce, divided
1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
3 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
4 cloves Garlic, slivered
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced
8-12 Dried Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers 天津辣椒
2 Scallions, cut in pieces
4 cups Broccoli, cut in bite size pieces
2 cloves Garlic, minced
Juice of 1 Lemon

1 1/2-2 cups Brown Rice
3-4 cups Water (or more)

Directions:

  • Cook the Brown Rice according to the directions on the bag and set aside
  • In a seal-able plastic bag, combine 1 cup Corn Starch and the Cayenne Pepper, mixing well.
  • Pat the Chicken pieces dry with a paper towel, and add to the bag. Seal and shake, coating the chicken in the powder.
  • Bring a wok to high heat and add 1/2 of the Vegetable Oil.
  • Remove the chicken from the bag and saute in the oil until browned on all sides.
  • Drain the chicken on paper towels.
  • Blanch or Steam the Broccoli spears and set to the side.
  • In a glass, whisk together the Rice Wine and remaining Cornstarch.
  • Heat the wok again, and add the Rice Wine/Corn Starch mixture, 1/2 cup of Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, the Honey, Chicken Broth, Ginger, slivered Garlic, and Crushed Red Pepper, mixing well.
  • Heat until the mixture begins to bubble.
  • Add the Scallions, Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers, and Chicken and coat well.
  • Pour the Mixture into a serving dish.
  • In another sealed bag, combine the remaining Soy Sauce, minced Garlic, and Lemon Juice.
  • add the Broccoli Spears and mix well.
  • Garnish the Chicken with the Broccoli or serve in a separate dish.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: So I was inspired to make this dish because of a very awful version that I ordered in from the local take-away. This version should be more flavorful, slightly spicier, and not as unhealthy as the heavy batter, deep-fried kind.

General Tso’s Chicken is believed to have been created in New York City in the 1970s as an attempt to introduce the spicier Hunan cuisine to what was generally Cantonese cuisine in the city. There are two chefs who are attributed as possible inventors of this dish, Chef Peng Jia of Peng’s Restaurant formerly of E 44th St and Chef T. T. Wong of the Shun Lee Palace restaurants. I have also found claims of invention by a chef in Taiwan about the same time. As far as I can tell, the Peng Jia seems to be the most widely accepted, though no one seems to know for sure.

General Tso’s Chicken is named after Zuo Zongtang (左宗棠, 1812–1885), a Qing Dynasty general from Hunan Provence. I cannot find any reason or rational as to why the dish is named after him. Another source suggests that the name is really a mis-translation. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo states in her book The Chinese Kitchen that the dish originates from a simple Hunan chicken dish, and that the reference to “Zongtang” in “Zuo Zongtang chicken” was not a reference to Zuo Zongtang’s given name, but rather a reference to the homonym zōngtáng 宗堂, meaning “ancestral meeting hall”. As one who is completely ignorant to Chinese languages, I’ll have to take her word for it. Also regionally, in the US, there are various spellings of used…Gua, Tsao, Tsa, Cua, Zuo, etc… reflecting how poorly we Americans transliterate Chinese.

Dijon Mustard

Dijon Mustard

Ingredients:
1/4 cup whole Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Dry Mustard
1-2 cloves Garlic
1 Shallot
1 Tbsp Capers, minced
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp Honey
2 Tbsp Sauvignon Blanc
2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Bordeaux
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt

Directions:

  • Grate the Garlic and Shallot into a bowl, and press out the liquid and drain.
  • Using a Mortar and Pestle, crush the Mustard Seed. You do not have to pulverize the seeds, just crushing some will release the oils.
  • Combine the Mustard Seed, and Herbes, Spices and Seasonings with the Garlic and Shallots. Slowly add the Wines, Vinegars, Oil, and Honey.
  • Cover and refrigerate over night.
  • Pour into a food processor and blend until desired consistency.

NOTES: Dijon Mustard was created by Jean Naigeon of Dijon in 1856, and utilized a wine made from un-riped grapes often called Verjuice, which has a high acidity. Most modern recipes have substituted it with a combination of White Wine, Red Wine, White Wine Vinegar, and Red Wine Vinegar–you can find varying portions of each depending on a recipe. Regardless, the wines should be dry, and of a high quality worth drinking.

You have control over the coarseness of the mustard when you grind it in the food processor. I prefer a coarser grind. You can also utilize various colors of Mustard Seeds, as available to give it some extra color.

Wheat Pizza Crust

Wheat Pizza with Pepperoni and Mushrooms

Ingredients:
1 cup Warm Water
1 dash Granulated Sugar
1 packet Active Dry Yeast
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp dried Oregano
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Honey
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2-1 cup Cornmeal
Directions:

  • In a large bowl pour the Dry Yeast onto the Warm Water with the Sugar and let sit for 10 minutes. It should be frothy, and if it is not frothy, then your Yeast is too old-start over.
  • Using your hands, add the remaining ingredients except the Cornmeal, mixing well. You can use a bread hook with a stand mixer if you prefer. To prevent sticking to your hands, dip them occasionally in ice cold water while you mix.
  • Knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes until it is stretchy.
  • Let stand, covered with a moist cloth for about 30 minutes.
  • Prepare a pan for cooking: Lightly grease and cover in corn meal. I prefer using a pizza stone, so it just needs to be dusted with Corn meal.
  • Preheat Oven to 425°F.
  • Divide the dough in two. You can either make 2 pizzas or freeze one for later.
  • Work the portioned dough into a disk with your hands, until the dough is about 8″-10″ in diameter.
  • Place on the cooking surface and stretch to the desired diameter.
  • Poke dough with a fork all over.
  • Bake at 425° F for 10 minutes.
  • Top with your favorite sauce and toppings and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Makes 2 medium pies or 1 large pie.

NOTES: Pizza is a Neapolitan dish in origin. In those dishes, olive oil and herbs were usually added to the flatbread and baked. Pizza is found all over the world with tons of variations, most using a red or white sauce with cheese and toppings. My favorite pizza toppings are a red sauce with fresh basil, mozzarella, pancetta, and pepperocini.

In high school I traveled to Russia with other students, and our host families took us to a Sports club that boasted the best pizza in Yaroslavl–having a chef from Italy. I had realized there may be some communication differences in what the food toppings were. Everyone was ordering ‘pepperoni’ except the Russians…who looked disgusted by the idea. So I followed their lead on ordering and got “Salami” instead. Well I did the right thing. The other Americans got Pepperocini peppers, while I got Pepperoni!

Baked Acorn Squash

Dedicated to Barbi C. and Blane F.
Vegan Variation dedicated to Abigail W.

Ingredients:Vegan VariationVegetarian
1 Acorn Squash
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp Nutmeg
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
2 tsp Honey

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Prepare the Squash: Cut the Acorn Squash in half Vertically. Scoop out the Seeds and stringy tissue using your hands and a spoon. The Squash is rounded, so you may slice a flat surface out of the skin side of the Squash to give it a base, but don’t take too much out.
  • Place the Squash in a backing dish, and fill with 1/4″ water, to assist with keeping the Squash moist while baking.
  • Spread the butter along the inside of each half of the Squash
  • Sprinkle the Brown Sugar, Nutmeg and Seasonings evenly over the two Squash. The Butter will help catch it.
  • Drizzle with the Honey.
  • Place in the oven for about 1 hour, or until fork tender.

Serves 2.

NOTES: This is a purist recipe for basic Acorn Squash, and it is tasty. Acorn Squash is obviously called so because of its shape like an acorn. It is a traditional autumn squash, though many places have it year round now. Still, whenever I think about it, I think of autumn leaves.

Variations:
Ṽ›Ɣ – Substitute Margarine for the Butter, and use Maple Syrup instead of Honey. Even if you’re not doing a Vegan version, the Maple Syrup tastes wonderful with it.

Spiced Date Bread

Ingredients:Nut Alergy WarningVegetarian
16 oz Dates, chopped
2 cups Water, boiling
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 cup Honey
2/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
2 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1 tsp Ginger, ground
1/2 tsp Cloves, ground
1/2 tsp Nutmeg, ground
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 cup WalnutsDirections:

  • In a medium bowl, place the Dates and pour the Hot Water over it; let it soak for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat Oven to 350°F
  • In a large bowl, cream the Sugar, Honey, Butter, Vanilla, and Eggs.
  • Mix in the Dates and Water.
  • In a second bowl, combine the Flour, Spices, Baking Soda and Salt, and mix well.
  • Slowly incorporate the Wet Mixture into the Dry Mixture.
  • Once incorporated, add the Walnuts and mix well.
  • Pour into greased loaf pan.
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:Vegan Vegetarian Variation
5 cups Broccoli (Florets only)
1/2 cup Raisins (mixed colors if you want)
1/2 cup Bacon, cooked, crumbled
1/4 cup Red Onion, chopped
1 cup Peas (thawed frozen is ok)
1/2 cup Almond Slivers, toasted
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Dressing:
1 cup Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Honey

Directions:

  • In a small bowl combine Dressing ingredients and whisk together until all ingredients incorporated.
  • In a large bowl, combine Broccoli and Dressing. Make sure all pieces of Broccoli is covered.
  • Now add the Peas, Almonds, Onions, Raisins, and Bacon. Mix the ingredients well so that pieces of each are spread throughout the Salad.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

NOTES: Clean the florets and chop into bite size pieces (try to keep the florets intact as best you can). Some people like adding a cup of shredded Sharp Cheddar, but I don’t, as I think it weighs down the salad.

Variations:
Don’t like Mayonnaise, or want something healthier? Try Greek-Style Yogurt instead. (Variation for my friend Alia)
M›Ṽ: Instead of Bacon, either omit or use Bac-Os ® (a Soy product).
Ṽ›Ɣ: Not only use Bacos instead of Bacon, but use a vegan vinaigrette

Pfeffernüße

Pfeffernüße

Ingredients:Vegetarian
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Honey
1/4 cup Molasses, Dark
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
3 cups All purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Anise Extract
1/4 tsp grated Lemon zest
1/4 tsp ground Cloves
1/4 tsp ground Allspice
1/4 tsp ground Cardamom
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
Confectioner’s Sugar (for dusting)

Directions:
  • In a large bowl, combine Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt, and Spices. Sift mixture.
  • In a large bowl, combine Butter and Sugar. Mix until well combined. Add Molasses.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg and then combine with the Wet Ingredients.
  • Slowly add Dry Ingredients and Lemon Zest until well combined. Dough should start to pull away from the bowl. If too wet, add more flour, but very slowly and cautiously.
  • Place on a piece of plastic wrap, seal and place in Refrigerator and cool for for 2-3 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Roll dough into 1″ balls. Place parchment on cookie sheet, and place balls 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Cracking is normal.
  • Cool cookies on wire racks.
  • Roll in Confectioner’s Sugar, and let cool completely.

NOTE: Some people may add 1/2 tsp Cocoa powder, but that is not authentic. Some may also add nuts like Almonds to this, but the kind my family makes never had nuts in them.  This has always been a Holiday treat at my house, people saying they “taste like Christmas”.