Guest Recipe: John’s Kung Pao Chicken

Mmmm.  Delicious.  If you’re averse to spice you can cut down on the peppers, but if you like it hot, then this one’s for you!



What you need:

1 & 1/2 boneless & skinless chicken breasts

3 tablespoons roasted peanuts

8-12 dried red chilies, deseeded and cut into halves (it was quite hot with 9 chilies, so you can experiment with the number that’s right for you)

3 tablespoons cooking oil

5 thin slices peeled fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 stalk scallion

For the marinade:

1 tablespoon corn starch

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or other rice wine)

1 teaspoon oil

For the sauce:

1 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon black vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon corn starch

What you do:

1. Cut the chicken into small cubes, combine marinade ingredients and let the chicken marinate in it for about 30 minutes.

2. Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Heat the wok or large frying pan with one tablespoon cooking oil and stir-fry the marinated chicken until it is 70% cooked. Remove chicken and set aside.

4.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to wok and heat until it smokes.

5. Add in the ginger and garlic slices and stir quickly before adding the dried red chilies.

6. Stir fry the dried red chilies until aromatic, then stir in the partially cooked chicken.

7. Add the roasted peanuts and continue to stir a few times.

8. Add the sauce and stir continuously until the chicken meat is nicely coated with the sauce.

9. Stir in the scallions, then dish out and serve hot with steamed rice.

This recipe serves three to four people with some side dishes.  We had steamed baby bok choy with a drizzle of oyster sauce.

All of these ingredients were found in Vancouver’s China Town.

My Best Bran Muffins

These taste great, and they’ve got lots of fibre-rich bran.  I usually add raisins and pecans, but this time I substituted pumpkin seeds.  Dried cranberries are a great alternative to the raisins.

I mixed the dry ingredients the night before, so when I got up I just had to turn the oven on, add the liquids, and place the mix in muffin tins.  Fresh hot muffins in 20 minutes!

Makes one dozen, and freezes well.

You need:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 & 1/2 cups bran

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 eggs

1 cup milk (soy is good too)

2 Tablespoons molasses

1/4 cup butter

What you do:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400F.

2.  Stir dry ingredients (flour to pecans) in a large bowl.  (If you are making it ahead for tomorrow, this is all you need to do for now.)

3.  Melt butter, then mix in the milk slowly, so the butter doesn’t harden when you add cold milk.  Add molasses.  Pour the liquids, along with the slightly beaten eggs, into the dry ingredients.  Mix only until the ingredients are combined; if you mix more you’ll get tough little muffins.

4.  Place mixture in muffin tins lined with paper baking cups.

5.  Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.  Take muffins out of tins and cool on a rack for a few minutes before eating.

6.  If you freeze them, make sure they’re completely cool.

Enjoying a muffin in the mountains!

Un-Deepfried Zucchini

This one is for those times when you’re craving something that’s bad for you.  This is a much healthier version of deep-fried zucchini – but oven-baked.  I can’t stop eating them, and neither can anyone I’ve made them for.

Yum.

It’s simple, you just need:

1 zucchini

1/2 ish cup of bread crumbs (whole wheat, if you really want to be healthy)

salt & pepper

1 egg

Now just:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400C.

2.  Slightly beat the egg in a bowl with a fork.

3.  Put bread crumbs, salt & pepper in another bowl and mix.

4.  Cut the zucchini into 2cm thick rounds.

5.  Dip each zucchini slice into the egg, then the bread crumbs.  It helps to press the crumbs on a bit.

6.  Place the slices on a baking sheet.  I don’t grease mine and they come off fine. 

7.  Bake for 12 minutes on each side.

I eat them just like that, but you could make a ranch dressing with yogurt to keep it healthy.

 

My Best Biscotti – even Oma loves them

This is one of my alltime most popular recipes, and I am honoured that even my Oma adores them, as I have adored so much of her baking.

These biscotti don’t need to be dunked, as they are crispy and easy to bite on their own.  You can dunk them if you want to, or enjoy the flavour on it’s own.

You need:

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon anise liquor OR 1 teaspoon anise extract

2 cups + 2 tablespoons white flour

1  1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate

1 tablespoon anise seeds, toasted

What to do:

1. Toast anise seeds in a frying pan, then crush with a mortar and pestle.  If you choose not to do this, then add ground anise or fennel seeds.

2. Toast almond slivers in a frying pan until slightly browned and allow to cool.  They are easy to burn, so watch carefully – I usually keep them on low while I start making the cookie dough.

3. Cream the butter, then add sugar, then eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy.  Beat in vanilla and anise liquor.

4. Combine dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until just incorporated.  Add chocolate and nuts and stir until just combined.

5. Divide the dough into two pieces.  With floured hands form into two logs on a baking sheet.  Bake at 325F for 25-30 minutes.

6. Slice the baked rolls diagonally and place on a baking sheet.  Lower the oven to 300F and bake for 10-15 minutes, until slightly browned.  Turn over and bake for another 10-15, until that side is also slightly browned.

7. Place on cooling racks, then package and give to people you love or are trying to impress.   They keep for quite a long time – which is why they were invented in the first place.  Of course, they are the best right off the cooing rack, so don’t forget to enjoy one.  Or two.

The Perfect Cup of Tea

Tea tastes best in a real china tea cup. I am lucky to have a few hand-me-downs from Omas and Tantes, but I have found a few treasures at thrift stores as well.

How to make the perfect cup of tea, according to me

you need:

a tea pot

strainer with lots of room for the tea leaves to expand

fresh water

loose leaf tea

tea cups

teaspoons

sugar – I’m using organic demerrera now

Here’s what you do:

1. heat the teapot with hot water from the tap

2. put tea leaves in the strainer, 1 teaspoon per cup

3. heat the water and as soon as it begins to boil, pour it over the tea leaves into the empty teapot

4. put a little of the boiling water into each cup to pre-heat so your tea stays hot for as long as possible

5. let the tea steep for a few minutes – some people like it dark, some like it light.  I like it medium, so I leave the leaves in for about 3 minutes. 

6. take the strainer with the leaves out of the pot – this is important because it will turn bitter if you leave it on for too long

7. pour tea into the tea cups and stir in a little sugar if you like

8. let the first sip remind you of all the times you’ve enjoyed a cup of tea with a good friend or in a moment of peace.  May this be another one of those times.