What did you cook today?

Share your culinary creations, recipes, food knowledge, restaurant recommendations, etc.
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by Bob Z »

Lol Ronnie the knife looks like what i got from Japanese Woodworker few years ago. Meal looks awesome though!
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by Chappychap »

Cabbage is such a great way to balance heavy meat. I really enjoy it finely shredded, crisped up by storing in ice water, as you would if serving tonkatsu. Besides, the shredded cabbage gives opportunities for knife photo shoots :lol:. On that, I’m glad the mystery santoku is serving you well too!

Tonight’s task was a small dish cooked in a confined space. At lunch we tried a new Japanese handmade udon place near us. They opened their doors in March last year, which must have been possibly the most nervewracking time for a new restaurant possible, as that was just when the pandemic was taking shape near us, and complete lockdowns were in place. The meal was pretty solid, and their otafuku yaki-udon filled me up so much that I didn’t really need a full dinner. My wife had a craving for Impossible burgers but that felt like it’d be way overkill for me, given my heavy lunch and absolute lack of appetite. So I suggested she enjoy her burgers, and I would just cook myself something small, mainly so I won’t get too hungry in the night.

After browsing through ‘The Breath of the Wok’ by Grace Young, I saw an opportunity for getting RID of some carrots and cabbages, with the somewhat mysterious sounding ‘Sweet and Sour Cabbage’. Firstly, why would one choose to have sweet and sour — cabbage —? Second of all, with small amount of soy sauce, ginger, chiankiang vinegar, a strangely small amount of sugar, and shaoxing, it seemed like an unusual take on the sauce to me. But i thought I’d give it a go. I’d spent about four hours yesterday stripping the flailing seasoning of my old wok before heating it until blue and re-seasoning it. I have to wait 2-3 weeks minimum for my new Newquist wok — and I had already begun to frankly feel naked without a working wok in the kitchen. So yesterday was quite the project day, I even took some fine grit sandpaper to it, to really smooth out the inside, before heating and then re-seasoning with ginger and scallions. I almost don’t want to give this thing away now.
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The only hitch in tonight’s cooking plan was that Mrs. Chappy’s air fryer and dehydrator (latter for dog treats), meant I had next to no space and had to prep in front of the coffee machine. My Anryu B#2 165 nakiri absolutely shined in this situation, with a great profile for the job, and no tip to accidentally ding!

It was also my first run at cooking with the wok closer to the flame using my terra cotta hack. Probably should have started cooler for the ginger, which I think I burner slightly because I wasn't used to the temperature being this high. Overall, the dish came out well though. At first I didn’t like it but it was strangely ‘more-ish’. I think the carrot bridged the gap in sweetness from there not being much sugar. Not sure I’d do it again, but it was a great way to get RID of some ingredients, cram some more vegetables into the day, and make me feel like the 4 hours of restoring an old wok yeterday had some pay off :lol:
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By the way, how is that brand of katsuobushi? I just got this one today, will report back if it’s any good...
Last edited by Chappychap on Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: What did you cook today?

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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by ronnie_suburban »

Bob Z wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 8:51 pm Lol Ronnie the knife looks like what i got from Japanese Woodworker few years ago. Meal looks awesome though!
No matter how much I try to get my family to use some of my more durable, stainless J-knives, they've gravitated to this one. It is shorter than most of my other knives, so maybe that has something to do with it. But ironically, it's reactive, so they just don't understand that it's actually more prone to issues than some of the other knives I've suggested they try out.
Chappychap wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:33 pm Cabbage is such a great way to balance heavy meat. I really enjoy it finely shredded, crisped up by storing in ice water, as you would if serving tonkatsu. Besides, the shredded cabbage gives opportunities for knife photo shoots :lol:. On that, I’m glad the mystery santoku is serving you well too!
Yeah, around here, especially this time of year, cabbage is a good choice. When it's in season and grown nearby, it's only marginally better than the stuff that's shipped in off-season. It's innately firm and doesn't need to be picked early in order to ship without damage. And after making a number of dishes this winter in which the cabbage was incorporated, I really wanted to keep it separate today. For a number of reasons, I just wanted a lighter and meatless version with its own set of flavors this time around.
Chappychap wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:33 pm After browsing through ‘The Breath of the Wok’ by Grace Young, I saw an opportunity for getting RID of some carrots and cabbages, with the somewhat mysterious sounding ‘Sweet and Sour Cabbage’. Firstly, why would one choose to have sweet and sour — cabbage —? Second of all, with small amount of soy sauce, ginger, chiankiang vinegar, a strangely small amount of sugar, and shaoxing, it seemed like an unusual take on the sauce to me. But i thought I’d give it a go. I’d spent about four hours yesterday stripping the flailing seasoning of my old wok before heating it until blue and re-seasoning it. I have to wait 2-3 weeks minimum for my new Newquist wok — and I had already begun to frankly feel naked without a working wok in the kitchen. So yesterday was quite the project day, I even took some fine grit sandpaper to it, to really smooth out the inside, before heating and then re-seasoning with ginger and scallions. I almost don’t want to give this thing away now.
LOL, always love the RID plan. "My people" also have a sweet & sour cabbage dish that, as far as I'm concerned, could just be called sweet & horrible cabbage. I'm not a picky eater but this dish scarred my childhood! So, no. I agree that on paper, sweet & sour cabbage does not sound even remotely appetizing. But what you did seems light years better than the cloying glop of my youth.
Chappychap wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:33 pm By the way, how is that brand of katsuobushi? I just got this one today, will report back if it’s any good...
I like it fine but I'm hardly an expert on this ingredient. I first bought it a couple years back when I was learning how to make okonomiyaki. It has a fairly pronounced smokiness, which is entirely pleasant. I just don't have a broad base to compare it against. I will say that it does taste very similar to many of the versions I've had in restaurants . . . but I live in Chicago, not Tokyo! :D I'll be curious to know your thoughts on the one you purchased.
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by Chappychap »

ronnie_suburban wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 12:01 am LOL, always love the RID plan. "My people" also have a sweet & sour cabbage dish that, as far as I'm concerned, could just be called sweet & horrible cabbage. I'm not a picky eater but this dish scarred my childhood! So, no. I agree that on paper, sweet & sour cabbage does not sound even remotely appetizing. But what you did seems light years better than the cloying glop of my youth.
Hilarious. Funny how these early experiences influences us well into our lives. Whilst I was not scarred by cabbage, my equivalent was, well, pretty much anything that passed through our oven. God bless elder mother Chappy, amazing lady, but she didn’t share the same passion/energy for cooking that I have (now at least). She had a lot on too, to be fair.

What are you making tonight? Struggling with inspiration. Done Indian recently, Mexican recently, Italian recently, a ton of Japanese... all the usual suspects. Thinking about just buying a whole chicken, spatchcocking it per the post from someone on here a while back, and calling it a day. No sides :lol:
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by ronnie_suburban »

Chappychap wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:44 am What are you making tonight? Struggling with inspiration. Done Indian recently, Mexican recently, Italian recently, a ton of Japanese... all the usual suspects. Thinking about just buying a whole chicken, spatchcocking it per the post from someone on here a while back, and calling it a day. No sides :lol:
I know the feeling. Trying to keep it varied while working through what we have on hand. I think it'll probably be charcoal-grilled chicken on the Weber kettle (have some unused wings/drumsticks from when I made stock last week). I think we also have some leftover sides to get through. If not, it might be a spinach and/or mushroom something or other. :D When they talk about "this or that surprise," I know exactly what they mean. :lol:
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Re: What did you cook today?

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Well after all that head scratching, my wife turned around and decided she wanted to make pasta puttanesca tonight. I still had the cooking itch, and so decided to finish what I started with sweet and sour cabbage last night by cooking actual sweet and sour chicken :lol:. It must have ignited a craving, and I’m in love with the simplicity of School of Wok’s S&S soauce - it’s so pantry-friendly, with no debateably necessary things like orange or pineapple juice (which require me to plan ahead). It’s also the closest to my taste memories of many, many Friday nights of Chinese takeaway in London.

It is also illustrative of why I hadn’t been able to get a sweet and sour sauce ‘right’ all these years — I wasn’t allowing the sugars (both sugar and that in the ketchup) to caramelise. This time I tried to get RID of some low-grade palm sugar (that is basically normal sugar), but it didn’t go so well because it was hard to grind up the pucks to the point I could get an accurate bead on quantity. So I ended up topping up with normal sugar anyway. Served with some simple egg fried rice to get RID of some rice in the fridge.

Now, off to sharpen the beater I used tonight before my wife uses it for dinner - it skidded over these peppers like no one’s business.
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by ronnie_suburban »

Chappychap wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:18 pm Well after all that head scratching, my wife turned around and decided she wanted to make pasta puttanesca tonight. I still had the cooking itch, and so decided to finish what I started with sweet and sour cabbage last night by cooking actual sweet and sour chicken :lol:. It must have ignited a craving, and I’m in love with the simplicity of School of Wok’s S&S soauce - it’s so pantry-friendly, with no debateably necessary things like orange or pineapple juice (which require me to plan ahead). It’s also the closest to my taste memories of many, many Friday nights of Chinese takeaway in London.

It is also illustrative of why I hadn’t been able to get a sweet and sour sauce ‘right’ all these years — I wasn’t allowing the sugars (both sugar and that in the ketchup) to caramelise. This time I tried to get RID of some low-grade palm sugar (that is basically normal sugar), but it didn’t go so well because it was hard to grind up the pucks to the point I could get an accurate bead on quantity. So I ended up topping up with normal sugar anyway. Served with some simple egg fried rice to get RID of some rice in the fridge.

Now, off to sharpen the beater I used tonight before my wife uses it for dinner - it skidded over these peppers like no one’s business.
Okay, it's going to be a sweet & sour week for you! But seriously, that looks really nice. Sounds like you unlocked something important tonight, which is always a great feeling. A friend told me that seeing my cooking over the past few months reminded him of the movie Groundhog Day in that the repetition was leading me toward a level of understanding. I'm not sure about that but I will say that familiarity does create a certain amount of comfort and efficiency.

I too, was RID'ing myself of a bunch of inventory today. Unused chicken from a stock-making run last week, the end of some crumbled feta, mini tomatoes that were just sitting around not getting any better, plus spinach and cremini mushrooms that were taking up quite a bit of prime real estate in the fridge . . .

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Mise En Place & Michael Rader, 52100 gyuto, koa wood, 240mm
Crushed garlic, dried dill weed, dried oregano, salt, black pepper, onion, lemon, cooked and squeezed spinach, red wine, evoo, crumbled feta and cremini mushrooms. That was 2 pounds of spinach that netted out after cooking and squeezing at 1 pound, 2 ounces. I love this knife and just don't break it out enough. It's an excellent, graceful cutter but it's also a bit of a beast. I don't feel like I have to baby it at all. On top of all that, it's quite possibly the most comfortable handle of any of my knives.

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Assembled Casserole
At this point, it was ready to bake but before that, I sauteed the onions in evoo. Then I sauteed the mushrooms in evoo, garlic and red wine. Once those had both cooked, I mixed them with the spinach, feta, oregano, dill and juice from half the lemon. Then I baked it at 350F for about an hour, covered lightly with foil for the first 30 minutes.

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Mini Tomato Salad
Another 'use it or lose it' situation, I sliced these little guys in half and mixed them with evoo, lemon juice, balsamic, fresh basil, dried oregano, salt and black pepper.

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Charcoal Grilled Chicken
My basic everyday rub: salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and oregano. These spent about 30 minutes covered on the indirect side of a 2-stage, lump charcoal fire. They were surprisingly small pieces but there was still quite a bit leftover for upcoming lunches. I normally get chicken (thighs!) from the grocery store but this bird was from Costco, hence the drumsticks and "party" cut wing pieces. :x

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Plated Up
Charcoal-grilled chicken, spinach-mushroom-feta casserole, tomato salad and this week's edition of homemade coleslaw.

Happy Monday! :)
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Re: What did you cook today?

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Oklahoma Onion Burgers again - boneless chuck is $2.99/lb. this week so I bought one @ 2.5lbs., trimmed it up and ran it through the grinder. Shaved half a white onion and voila - I have to say this version of the smash burger is probably my favorite and to quote Mr. Food "oooh it's so good . . . "

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Served with "tater tots" of course -
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by ronnie_suburban »

My family has been clamoring for this, so baked rotini again tonight. Prep virtually identical to the last time I made it . . .

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Baked Rotini
With hot Italian sausage, three cheeses, etc.

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Plated Up
Baked rotini with leftover roasted broccoli and mixed chard.

I won't go so far as to say it's my favorite but it's a delicious and comforting dish that's really easy to make. Most of the work is in the clean-up.
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Re: What did you cook today?

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ronnie_suburban wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:05 pm
Okay, it's going to be a sweet & sour week for you! But seriously, that looks really nice. Sounds like you unlocked something important tonight, which is always a great feeling. A friend told me that seeing my cooking over the past few months reminded him of the movie Groundhog Day in that the repetition was leading me toward a level of understanding. I'm not sure about that but I will say that familiarity does create a certain amount of comfort and efficiency.
I can relate to that. I can’t remember where I read it, perhaps the book ‘Kitchen Creativity’ or the ‘Flavor Bible’, but there was a quote that was along the lines of, ‘Make a dish three times. On the fourth time, make it your own.’ I think there is a deepening of understanding that comes with repetition, not because of the repetition itself, but because of how our brains adapt and learn. Each susbeqent time you repeat a dish, or bake, I believe that your attention is free’d up just that little bit more because you are more comfortable and less overwhelmed. It enables you to focus on a deeper aspect, and then deeper, and so on. I think that process is the one that eventually leads to having enought presence of mind and mental bandwidth that creativity can begin to occur. On the fourth time I find that most of the time fresh ideas are beginning to happen. It’s a good challenge to internalise as it forces you to hold yourself accountable to active learning when cooking. And as your friend noted, over many months, it begins to add up.

And leading on from that, tonight was my fourth time making General Tzos Chicken, so I decided to mix it up a bit. I didn’t have any meat defrosted, but I did have a head of cauliflower that I needed to get RID of, so it was time for... General Tzo’s Cauliflower :lol:

I needed to soften the cauliflower before stir frying but I wasn’t in the mood for blanching, so I decided to take a chance and roast the cauliflower whilst I prepped everything. My rationale was that it’d serve the role of softening / cooking the cauliflower, but by drying the exterior it’d be more conducive to a quick sear at the end in the wok compared to semi dry blanched pieces. I guess you could say it was the veg version of the reverse sear. I like the way cauliflower goes slightly nutty when roasted too. I wanted to concentrate the flavour through roasting.

I completely dropped the ball on plating and the subsequent photo, so I can understand if you look at it and wince. But it was actually very tasty, and satisfying. Even after telling the pescetarian Mrs. Chappy that it had some chicken stock in it, she tried it — and then came back for five subsequent bites, even though she’d already eaten. So I guess it was a hit.
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I’ve started journaling at work on the advice of a mentor, and it’s proving helpful, so I’m going to start to try to end each of these posts with the same two questions that force me to refect in a productive way: ‘What went well?’ and ‘What could I have done better?’ I hope you folks don't mind coming along for the ride -- I would also welcome any feedback/suggestions where I might be learning a 'bad'' lesson when there's a better one out there!

1. What went well?
Subbing meat for nutritious veg.
Roasting hard veg before stir frying.
Having an idea and running with it.
Using saucier pan for sauce whilst I hard sear veg in the wok to stop the veg cooking in the sauce and going soft. Then tossing. Also enabled me to avoid burning the garlic sauce could start the saucier cool.

2. What done better?
Time the end of the roast to be 80% cooked, not 100%, for texture.
More saucing and creativity when plating. Getting stuck in some habits.
Try substituting sugar for Monkfruit for calorie reduction.
Have more discipline during wok preheating.

And BTW Ronnie your pasta bake looked delicious. I must try one of those. Maybe with some Impossible meat so Mrs. Chappy can eat it. I think they do sausage now, not that it’s very healthy! And that chicken cooked over charcoal...
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by ronnie_suburban »

Chappychap wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:16 pm I’ve started journaling at work on the advice of a mentor, and it’s proving helpful, so I’m going to start to try to end each of these posts with the same two questions that force me to refect in a productive way: ‘What went well?’ and ‘What could I have done better?’ Hope you folks don't mind coming along for the ride -- would also welcome any feedback/suggestions where I might be learning a 'bad'' lesson when there's a better one out there!

1. What went well?
Subbing meat for nutritious veg.
Roasting hard veg before stir frying.
Having an idea and running with it.
Using saucier pan for sauce whilst I hard sear veg in the wok to stop the veg cooking in the sauce and going soft. Then tossing.

2. What done better?
Time the end of the roast to be 80% cooked, not 100%, for texture.
More saucing and creativity when plating.
Try substituting sugar for Monkfruit for calorie reduction.
Have more discipline during wok preheating.

And BTW Ronnie your pasta bake looked delicious. I must try one of those. Maybe with some Impossible meat so Mrs. Chappy can eat it. I think they do sausage now, not that it’s very healthy!
I love the idea of keeping organized notes by way of creating a "kitchen journal" of sorts. I thought about doing this months ago and had charted it out pretty well but then got distracted and let it fall by the wayside. But if I were to ever resurrect the project, in addition to your categories, I considered including notes on the recipe source and/or inspiration, why I decided to make the dish in the first place, what (if any) specialized equipment was necessary, what (new things) I learned from cooking it, what I got out of doing the project (more intangible, existential stuff) and a final, sort of bottom line-type question: "would I make it again?"

As for General Tzo's Cauliflower, I cannot imagine such a dish wouldn't be great and it sounds like it was. It's just short leap from Manchurian Cauliflower, a delicious dish that I used to see around town a lot -- at a fairly wide variety of places -- in the 'before times.'

The pasta bake is a no-brainer and I think a Beyond or Impossible product could work very well in it. But honestly, I think it would also be totally fine without any meat or meat substitute. It contains a lot of cheese and if you can make a decent marinara sauce (and I know you can), I think it would really satisfy.
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by Chappychap »

ronnie_suburban wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:40 pm I love the idea of keeping organized notes by way of creating a "kitchen journal" of sorts. I thought about doing this months ago and had charted it out pretty well but then got distracted and let it fall by the wayside. But if I were to ever resurrect the project, in addition to your categories, I considered including notes on the recipe source and/or inspiration, why I decided to make the dish in the first place, what (if any) specialized equipment was necessary, what (new things) I learned from cooking it, what I got out of doing the project (more intangible, existential stuff) and a final, sort of bottom line-type question: "would I make it again?"

As for General Tzo's Cauliflower, I cannot imagine such a dish wouldn't be great and it sounds like it was. It's just short leap from Manchurian Cauliflower, a delicious dish that I used to see around town a lot -- at a fairly wide variety of places -- in the 'before times.'

The pasta bake is a no-brainer and I think a Beyond or Impossible product could work very well in it. But honestly, I think it would also be totally fine without any meat or meat substitute. It contains a lot of cheese and if you can make a decent marinara sauce (and I know you can), I think it would really satisfy.
I think that's a great idea to dust off. I would be curious to see any musings you'd want to share on here. I enjoy reading your posts already, and understanding what you're learning from these dishes would be fascinating to read. Would probably make me (and others) a better cook too.
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by mauichef »

Last night's Chinese meal.
Probably my favorite ethnic food to make. So much room for experimentation and creativity.

Fried Spicy Tofu With Mini Peppers and Thai Chilis
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Chicken with Young Ginger and Mushrooms
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Stir Fried Shrimp and Sweet Tomatoes
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Re: What did you cook today?

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mauichef wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 6:47 pm Last night's Chinese meal.
Probably my favorite ethnic food to make. So much room for experimentation and creativity.

Fried Spicy Tofu With Mini Peppers and Thai Chilis
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Chicken with Young Ginger and Mushrooms
Image

Stir Fried Shrimp and Sweet Tomatoes
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Looks yummy! Do you give out the recipe for Chicken with Young Ginger and Mushrooms?
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by mauichef »

It was very yummy! I adapted it from a recipe by Fuchsia Dunlop. I will get it for you.
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by ronnie_suburban »

mauichef wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:59 pm It was very yummy! I adapted it from a recipe by Fuchsia Dunlop. I will get it for you.
Those look really great, Ray. I've tweaked it a bit over the years but her mapo tofu recipe is my go-to. I think that one appeared in Land Of Plenty but it can be found via several online sources, too.
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by mauichef »

ronnie_suburban wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 8:13 pm
mauichef wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:59 pm It was very yummy! I adapted it from a recipe by Fuchsia Dunlop. I will get it for you.
Those look really great, Ray. I've tweaked it a bit over the years but her mapo tofu recipe is my go-to. I think that one appeared in Land Of Plenty but it can be found via several online sources, too.
Mahalo mate! I love her books but rarely stick to them...I like to tweak and use what I have around too.
Plus many of the ingredients are not so easy to find on Maui.
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by XexoX »

mauichef wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:02 pm
ronnie_suburban wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 8:13 pm
mauichef wrote: Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:59 pm It was very yummy! I adapted it from a recipe by Fuchsia Dunlop. I will get it for you.
Those look really great, Ray. I've tweaked it a bit over the years but her mapo tofu recipe is my go-to. I think that one appeared in Land Of Plenty but it can be found via several online sources, too.
Mahalo mate! I love her books but rarely stick to them...I like to tweak and use what I have around too.
Plus many of the ingredients are not so easy to find on Maui.
I've never looked at her books. Ordered one today, her latest, should have it next week. I have made her Kung Pao Chicken (I know I spelled that wrong!) once. Liked it very much, need to make it again. I seem to eat more veggies in stir frys, so going to find some recipes, break out the wok a couple times a week. Fingers crossed!
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Re: What did you cook today?

Post by Chappychap »

Looks like a few of us are going to be posting some Fuscia Dunlop dishes — like Xexox, I bought one today, after David recommended her. Looking forward to seeing more of her recipes recreated here. And Ray, I mut try stir frying with young ginger - I’d only used it for making sushi ginger so far.

Tonight was my third run at roasted beet salads, and I was inspired by a recipe I saw in ‘Hugh’s Three Good Things’ for beet, walnut and feta. It was a welcome change from all the wok'ing this last week.

I added a few extra things, adding parsely, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, spinach and a balsamic vinaigrette using the balsamic Ronnie got me using. Served it with sourdough, toasted with garlic rubbed into it.

What went well?
- Broke out of my presentation rut, trying a new technique with the brush. I made a quick beet puree by pounding a few pieces of beet, then emulsifying with oil and water.
- Mixing vinegars in the vinaigrette. With just the Fina balsamic it was a bit overly sweet, with a dash of a sharper balsmaic added it was just right.
- Adding parsely, both mixed inside then also using garnish.
- Dish itself was well balanced overall.

What could do better next time?
- Presentation not quite as hoped. Should be more careful with the curvature of the plate. In fact I think I just want to buy flat white plates, these bloody semi-bowls always throw me off! Kinda messed up the line of the brush today. Should have only done the brush swipe on the flat part of the plate and left it at that. Whoops.
- Make an actual puree. Test of concept was worth it. Need to figure out a way of getting a small batch as smooth as I would like. Think I might get the chinois out next time to get the bits out. Need to make that more accessible instead of being at the back of my cupboard.

Would I make it again? Yes, it's now added to our weeknight meal options list.

Made with Yoshikane 150 SKD petty.
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