Thursday, March 19, 2009

Century Egg & Pork Congee

Century Egg & Pork Congee
(makes 4 servings)
printable recipe

1/2 pound boneless pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips
4 century eggs*, chopped into bite sized pieces
3 quarter sized slices of fresh ginger (or more if you like ginger)
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice*
2 - 14 oz cans of low sodium chicken broth (Swanson’s Natural Goodness is my favorite)
7 - 9 cups of water
2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon of MSG* (optional)

Chopped scallions
Thin slivers of fresh ginger
Cilantro sprigs
“Yu Tiao”/Chinese donut*

Sprinkle pork strips with 1 tsp salt and mix well. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Wash and drain rice. Combine rice, 1 tsp salt, vegetable oil and sesame oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Stir to coat grains well with oil. Let rice marinate with oil and salt for 10 minutes.

Turn on burner to medium-high heat. Add stock, 7 cups of water, ginger slices, and MSG (if using) to rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, stirring occasionally (rice tends to stick to bottom of pot). The rice should break down completely. Adjust consistency with an additional 1 - 2 cups of water if necessary (should be as thick as porridge, but some people prefer their congee thinner, like a soup).

In the last 15 minutes of cooking, stir in chopped century egg and pork strips.

Before serving, taste for seasoning and add salt and/or a couple drops of sesame oil if necessary.

Garnish with chopped scallions, ginger slivers, cilantro and Chinese donut pieces.



Jasmine Rice: You can use any kind of uncooked white rice to make congee – I prefer jasmine rice because it adds such a nice fragrance to the dish.

Century Egg: Available at your local Asian food market (on the shelves, not refrigerated). They usually come in a 4 or 6 pack, sometimes labeled “pei dan” or “pedan”. I prefer the “lead free” kind made in Taiwan.

MSG(Accent): I always wondered why restaurant congee tasted so good. The secret ingredient is MSG! You don’t have to add it if you have a problem with MSG, some people claim it gives them a headache (if that’s you, I highly recommend reading Jeffrey Steingarten’s essay on MSG,“Why Doesn’t Everybody in China Have a Heachache?” from his book “It Must've Been Something I Ate”). I don’t normally cook with MSG, but I find 1/2 teaspoon of Accent makes my congee really addictive.

Yu Tiao” or Chinese Donut: I purchase mine pre-made. Look in the refrigerated section at your local Asian food market. I cut them into bite size pieces and toast them in the oven for a few minutes (like croutons).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Irene Sullivan's Irish Soda Bread Recipe

The winning recipe from my IRISH SODA BREAD SHOWDOWN.
It's not traditional but I bet you'll LOVE it...

Irene Sullivan's Irish Soda Bread
printable recipe

4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup raisins or currants (or less if you want)
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
a "drop" of oil (approx 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil to make it cake-like)

Irene's recipe simply says:
"Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour."

But some of us novice bakers need a little more direction than that
so this is how I prepared it:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl
Gently form into a round loaf
Place in a greased 9" round cake pan (alternatively, you could bake it on a sheet pan or cast iron skillet)
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 350 degrees
(check doneness by inserting a wooden skewer - it should come out clean)

Thanks to Irene Sullivan for sharing this great recipe!



Grandma Murphy's Irish Soda Bread

Another great recipe from my IRISH SODA BREAD SHOWDOWN, courtesy of Dan Murphy. This soda bread has a lovely texture with a hint of sweetness. It's also the only soda bread recipe I've come across that uses margarine!

Grandma Murphy's "Soon to be Famous" Irish Soda Bread

3 cups white flour
1 Tablespoon of salt (you may want to add less salt if your margarine is salted)
1 1/2 level teaspoons of baking soda
1 1/2 level teaspoons of baking powder
pinch of cream of tartar (helps raise the bread)
2 Tablespoons sugar
Whip 1-2 eggs with 1 cup buttermilk
1 full cup raisins
3/4 stick melted margarine

Grandma Murphy's recipe says:

"Mix all and adjust for consistency"
"Cook for 45 minutes in a 375 degree preheated oven"

I mixed all the ingredients in a large bowl but I didn't have to adjust the quantities. My baking time was 45 minutes @ 375 degrees (a wooden skewer should come out clean when inserted in the middle).

"Enjoy with Irishmen, Irish tea, whiskey and Guiness!"
Thanks to Dan Murphy for sharing his grandma's secret recipe!



Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cheater's Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme Recipe

This is my go-to gourmet fake-out dessert recipe. Super easy and affordable with most of the ingredients coming from your pantry. Also lighter than traditional pot de creme because this recipe doesn't rely on heavy cream or egg yolks to make it rich. Rachael Ray made these on Oprah a few years ago and I've been making them for Kris (my hubby) ever since. I've tweaked the original recipe a bit and it's so foolproof that I usually just eyeball the ingredients rather than measuring them exactly.

Cheater's Pot de Creme au Chocolat

printable recipe

Servings: 2 large or 4 small servings
Preparation time: 2 hr 15 minutes
(15 minutes active time, 2 hours to chill)
Special equipment: blender or food processor

2/3 cup whole milk (substitute 1% or 2% milk for a lighter version)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch salt
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur or substitute your favorite liqueur (Amaretto, Kahlua, Grand Marnier, Godiva chocolate liqueur, Chambord, Cassis etc)
fresh whipped cream or Cool Whip to garnish (optional)

Heat milk in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil (watch closely, milk scalds or boils over easily!) In blender or food processor combine egg, sugar, salt, chocolate chips and liqueur. While running blender or processor on low setting, pour the boiling milk in a slow stream. The hot milk will cook the egg and melt the chocolate. Blend for 1 minute, until smooth. Pour mixture into ramekins, demi-tasse cups, or short glasses (whatever looks pretty) and chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge. When ready to serve, top with a dollop of whipped cream or Cool Whip. Garnish with a mint sprig or sprinkle with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings if you want to get fancy.