Memorable Quotes:

"A Bearnaise sauce is simply an egg yolk, a shallot, a little tarragon vinegar and butter, but it takes years of practice for the result to be perfect." Fernand Point

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spicy Hunan Beef with Scallions and Sweet Red Peppers

Spicy Hunan Beef with Scallions and Sweet Red Peppers

1 pound round or flank steak, trimmed of fat and gristle

2 tablespoons light soy sauce
4 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon corn or peanut oil

The Sauce:
3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons hoisin sauce
¾ teaspoon of sesame oil
8 whole scallions
1 red pepper, cored , seeded and cut into thin strips
2-3 teaspoons of finely minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
2-3 teaspoons of finely minced fresh ginger
½ to ¾ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
3-4 cups of peanut oil (I don’t use this much since I am stir frying not deep frying) SEE NOTE
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar

·         Prepare beef and marinade. Holding cleaver or knife at angle, cut beef against grain into long strips about 1/8 inch thick and ½ inch wide. Cut strips crosswise into 2-inch lengths.
·         Using fork, blend marinade ingredients in large bowl until smooth.  Add beef and toss well to coat each slice. Seal and refrigerate. Remove 1 hour prior to preparation.
·         In small bowl stir to combine the sauce ingredients.
·         Trim wilted tops and root ends from scallions. Cut on sharp diagonal in thin ovals about 1 inch long.
·         Core and seed pepper. Cut lengthwise into thinnest possible strips.
·         Combine garlic and ginger and dried red pepper flakes in another small bowl.
·          See Note at end of recipe as I do not follow the directions in this next paragraph.
Heat wok or Dutch oven over high heat until hot enough to evaporate a bead of water on contact. Add oil and heat to 350 degrees on deep fat thermometer or until a slice of beef bubbles very slowly when added. While oil is heating, drain beef in a metal colander nested in side of a large bowl.
·         Stir beef once more to coat the slices, and then gently slide them into the oil. Carefully stir to separate beef slices and fry for 15 seconds, just until beef is slightly gray.
·         Using pot holders, immediately pour beef and hot oil into metal colander. Or, working very fast, you may use a Chinese mesh spoon or long handled slotted metal spoon to scoop out beef and drain on paper towels. Turn off heat and allow the oil to cool.
·         Wipe out wok, leaving a thin film of oil. Heat wok or heay skillet over high heat until a bead of water evaporates on contact. Add 2 tablespoons of the hot oil and swirl to coat pan. Add garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes and stir about 10 seconds adjusting the heat so they don’t brown.
·         Add red pepper strips and stir briskly to glaze them. Sprinkle with salt and sugar, and then toss to combine, about 10 seconds in all. Drizzle in a bit more oil, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Lower heat if peppers begin to scorch.
·         Stir the sauce mixture, and then add to the pan, stirring to combine. Raise heat slightly to bring mixture to the bubbling point. Add beef and toss briskly to coat with sauce, about 5 seconds. Add scallions and toss briskly to combine and glaze with the sauce about 5 seconds. Do not let the wilt. Serve with rice or Chinese noodles.
Note: Instead of using 3-4 cups of oil in a dutch oven, I generally use a few tablespoons of peanut oil in a wok or large non-stick frying pan. I then stir fry the beef strips over medium high heat until cooked. I then remove the beef from the skillet and place in a bowl. I then wipe clean the same pan and add a bit more oil and then add the ginger, garlic and pepper flakes and then follow the recipe as written above.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Chicken Mole Torta











Recipe from Jeff Mauro (The Sandwich King)


Chicken Mole:

  • 2 dried ancho chiles
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • One 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)

Sandwich Build:


For the chicken mole: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the stems and seeds from the ancho chiles and bake for 5 minutes. When cool, roughly chop and set aside.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, a couple pinches of salt and saute until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved ancho chiles and minced chipotle. Cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chocolate, cinnamon, cloves and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, almond butter, raisins and sesame seeds. Gently simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Place the mole into a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the mole back to the Dutch oven. Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Lay the chicken in the sauce in one layer, making sure each breast is entirely coated, and gently simmer, flipping once during cooking, until the breasts register 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside off the heat and let rest.

Using your hands, remove the skin and meat from the bones and discard. Shred the chicken into smaller chunks and place back into the mole to keep warm. Season if necessary.

For the sandwich build: Heat the refried beans in the microwave until warm. Spread on the bottom of the bolillo rolls. Place the chicken on top of the beans with a little extra mole. Place some queso fresco on top of the chicken, slather the top bun with sour cream and adhere the lettuce. Top with the pickled jalapenos and cilantro and drizzle with the Tomatillo Salsa. Close, cut sharply on the bias and serve with fresh lime wedges. Two hands, bite hard.

Tomatillo Salsa:

  • 1 pound fresh tomatillos, husk removed and rinsed well
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and halved
  • 1/2 yellow onion, cut into thirds
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Toss the tomatillos, garlic, pepper and onions with the olive oil and place evenly on a baking sheet. Bake until the tomatillos and onions are soft, 15 to 20 minutes. If necessary, remove the garlic sooner to avoid scorching. Remove the stem, ribs and seeds from the jalapeno (or keep them in if you want it hot). Add roasted vegetables, fresh cilantro and lime juice into a blender and puree until smooth. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and transfer to a bowl.

Chicken Tikka Masala

From Cooks Illustrated
Serves 4 to 6.   Published September 1, 2007.  

Why this recipe works:

Our goal was to develop a simple chicken masala recipe with readily available ingredients. To get there, we rubbed the chicken with a mixture of salt, coriander, cumin, and cayenne, then dipped it in yogurt mixed with oil, garlic, and ginger. For a year-round tikka masala recipe, we chose the broiler rather than the grill and cooked the chicken in large pieces to prevent it from drying out.
This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala. The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.


  • Chicken Tikka
  • 1/2teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1teaspoon table salt
  • 2pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat
  • 1cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above)
  • 2tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • Masala Sauce
  • 3tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above)
  • 1tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1tablespoon garam masala (see note above)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2teaspoon table salt
  • 2/3cup heavy cream
  • 1/4cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  1. 1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.
  2. 2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
  3. 3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.
  4. 4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.


Chicken Tikka Masala
1. RUB: Coat chicken in salt and spice mixture and refrigerate.
2. MAKE SAUCE: Prepare creamy tomato-masala sauce.
3. DIP: Dunk chicken in protective coating of yogurt and oil.
4. BROIL: Broil chicken, then allow to rest.
5. COMBINE: Cut chicken into chunks and add to sauce.


Key Ingredients for Chicken Tikka Masala
All of the ingredients for Chicken Tikka Masala are available at the supermarket. Here are notes on what to buy.
Crushed Tomatoes: Crushed tomatoes form the base of the masala sauce. Muir Glen was highly rated in a recent tasting.
Garam Masala: This combination of warm spices seasons the masala sauce. McCormick won a recent test kitchen tasting.
Plain Yogurt: Whole-milk yogurt forms a protective barrier on the chicken. Brown Cow is our favorite brand.
Chicken Breasts: Lean white meat pairs well with the rich tomato-cream sauce. The test kitchen prefers Bell and Evans.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon, Green Olives, and Thyme

 8-10 chicken thighs or 4 whole legs
1 tablespoon olive oil with a pat of butter
2 preserved lemons, cut into strips
6 ounces cracked green olives
1-2 teaspoons dried thy me or oregano

For the Marinade:
1 onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
Small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
Pinch of saffron threads
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the marinade. Put the chicken thighs or legs in a shallow dish and coat thyme in the marinade, rubbing it into the skin. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Heat the olive oil with the butter in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and brown them in the oil. Pour over the marinade that is left in the dish and add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the chicken pieces. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, cover with a lid, and simmer for about 45 minutes, turning the chicken from time to time.

Add the preserved lemon, olives, and half the thyme to the tagine. Cover again and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes. Check the seasoning and sprinkle the rest of the thyme over the top. Serve immediately from the tagine.