Friday, August 26, 2011
Ina Garten is one of my favorite Food Network Chefs, besides Giada. If you follow Ina’s shows, you’ll know that she always prepare a special chicken dish for her husband when he returns home every Friday, from a week-long of work, away from home. So, I guess her husband really loves chickens and never gets bored of it. The trick is, Ina always put a new twist onto the same old chicken dish. So, each dish looks and tastes like a new and exciting one. My husband had a special dish that I always prepare on Friday too, it’s fried rice. Oh yes, you can put millions of twists on a basic fried rice and I guaranteed you’ll never get bored of it as well.
There are a few basic ingredients that always appear in the traditional fired rice recipe. The rest if the ingredient lists are really up to your imaginations. Plus, you can use up whatever ingredients you have left in your fridge. That’s what make fried rice so much fun to eat and prepare. And what a nice way to clean up the fridge, too! There are a few basic techniques and tricks you need to follow in preparing the fired rice that will yield success on your finished dish every single time.
First thing first, the basic ingredients. They are, of course, the rice (I used brown rice here, you can use white, jasmine, or what ever you have on hand), eggs, onions, mix vegetables, meat or seafood (if you’re not vegetarian), and green onions.
Special equipment needed: a wok. Or, a frying pan that is big enough to hold all the ingredients all at one. Although you cook each ingredient separately, they all join into the "pool" at the end. A big enough wok/pan will ensure easy stirring and no spilling.
Another important tips is to have all the ingredients ready and on stand-by before we start heating the wok. This is a rather fast cooking dish, like most Chinese stir fry. You won't have much time to chop up ingredients after your wok is heated.
First, cook the scrambled eggs and break them up into bit size pieces.
Next, Kielbasa (polish sausage), hahaha...I know that's not a typical Chinese cuisine ingredient. But that's what I have in the fridge, and to the wok it goes. You can definitely use Chinese sausage if you want. Brown them nicely to develop the flavor is the key.
Up next, the onions. I prefer the onions to have a little crunch in my rice. So, I don't cook them until caramelized, just brown enough so the sweet flavor is developed.
Before you put the shrimps in, make sure the wok/pan is hot enough after the onions are removed from it. If you're not sure, just heat the wok for a minute or two before putting the shrimps in. Shrimps cook extremely fast and you definitely don't want to overcook them.
Next, the mixed vegetables. You can use fresh, canned or frozen ones. If using frozen ones, defrost them ahead or they'll take a longer time to heat up.
Last but not least, the rice. The secret is to use a day old rice when you want a perfect fried rice dish that each grain of rice is separated and not stick together (well, not a secret anymore now). Same as the theory of using a day old bread to make french toast. You want less moisture in the fried rice so they won't be soggy or sticky. Now, here comes the debate of using soy sauce in the rice. I never put soy sauce in my fried rice. As the authentic fried rice shouldn't have soy sauce in it. The best way to season the rice is to use oyster sauce (my top choice), chicken bouillon granulate, or kosher salt. Maggi sauce would be a wonderful choice too, but you can serve that on the side and add as much or as little to your own taste.
When the rice is heated through, everybody is back to the pool for a final stir. Then season with white pepper and a dash of sesame oil. Turn off the heat before you stir in the chopped green onions and you're done.
It's really easy to prepare and versatile. If you follow these little tips, you'll have perfect fried rice every time.
Thank You all for all those sweet and lovely "Birthday" wishes from the previous post. I truly appreciate your supports, feedback and suggestions you provided. Since quite many of you requested to see more Asian, healthy and easy to prepare recipes, this Perfect Shrimp Fried Rice fits into all of those categories. Yes, it is considered a healthy dish because you can control the amount of oil used to cook this dish, which is much less than those from the take-out places, and no MSG is used! Who needs take outs when you can make this succulent and healthful fried rice so easily at home? Not me.
If you haven't enter the Silicone Baking Mat (Silpat) and Vanilla Powder Giveaway yet, here's the link. Good Luck.
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Melt in Your Mouth Monday
On Menu Monday
Saturday, August 20, 2011
uTry.it turns one today! Woohoo! It’s amazing looking back to the past 365 days. 365 days of happy memories because of you, every single one of you, my dear readers and food blog friends.
When I wrote my very first blog post a year ago, I’ve never expected I would gain so much from writing a food blog (besides gaining the weights from testing out recipes, hahaha…). I’ve made so many news friends and fellow bloggers. I truly cherish all of your friendship, comments, supports, feedbacks and kindness. It’s overwhelming, but in a very positive way.
Did you know, the post that received the most comments and feedbacks in the past year was The Culinary Smackdown Battle-Cookies. It was such a fun event/contest. I really love to see all those scrumptious cookie recipes that you shared on my blog. Maybe I’ll host another similar event again in the near future. What do you think?
Speaking of cookies, the French Macaron was the type of cookie that got the most recipe posts in the past year from the cookie category. Probably because it’s a plain canvas that I can create so many different flavor combinations in these little cuties. What can I say, they are absolutely addictive. If you haven’t make these cuties before, here’s the post for some basic Macaron making tips.
To extend my appreciation for your supports of my blog, I’m hosting a Giveaway on uTry.it’s Birthday. The prizes from the giveaway will help you to a step closer to making these Macarons as well. That is, if you haven’t make them before.
This Giveaway is now Closed. Thank you for everyone who participated.
Prize #1: Silpat Non-Stick Silicone Mat 11 1/2-by-16 1/2-inch. It fits perfectly on my 12 by 17-inch baking sheets. A must have for Macaron making. Of course, you can use the Silpat when you make any other cookies, breads, meringues, etc.
Product image from AmazonPrize #2: Bourbon Vanilla Powder 2.5 oz. by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. A key ingredient for Macaron making. Adding lots of flavor but not moisture, which is essential for successful Macaron making.
Product image from Amazon
Rules for the Giveaway:
This giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. 1 winner will be selected using Random.org and the winner will get both prizes. Must be a uTry.it public follower/member through Google Friends Connect to participate. (See the right hand side bar under “Follower” with the button “Join this site”). You have until Wednesday, August 31st, 12 midnight PST to enter this giveaway. Winner will be contact via email shortly after the giveaway is closed.
Leave a comment and tell me what kind/type of recipes you would like to see more on my blog. Is it desserts,entrée, or entertaining appetizers? Do you like Chinese, Asian, French, Italian or whatever you can think of?
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Sunday, August 14, 2011
It was my hubby’s birthday and I wanted to make him something special. Since he’s a chocolate lover, it’s just very natural that I made him a chocolate cake. This is no ordinary chocolate cake. I make this cake with Valrhona Chocolate, Valrhona cocoa powder, and Valrhona chocolate pearls, my choice of chocolate! (It might sounds like an advertising, but NO, Valrhona didn’t sponsor my post nor send me free chocolate to say this, although I secretly wished they did! LOL) I just love the deep and rich chocolate flavor from Valrhona products.
I originally saw the crepe layer cake from Martha’s site. I know I have to make it someday. Even though I didn't exactly use Martha’s recipe, this cake was definitely inspired by her.
I promise not to reveal my hubby’s age. But the answer is in the picture above. If you can count, his age is exactly the number of crepes I used for this cake. Cool, huh?
Since it was a surprise cake for my hubby, I made the cake when he was at work. So, how did I get the picture above? I was pouring melted chocolate with my left hand and holding my camera and shooting with my right hand. Not an easy task because my camera is quite heavy. I almost dropped the whole pot of chocolate onto the cake, I mean, the chocolate and the pot!!! hahahaha….it was kind of fun though and I’m happy I’ve captured this image.
I just love the melted chocolate drizzle down the layers of crepes that are filled with hazelnut cream. So luscious and beautiful.
After the cake was chilled in the fridge and decorated with candied hazelnut and chocolate pearls, it’s all ready for the candle and cake cutting ceremony.
It was definitely a fun cake to make, and it’s almost too beautiful to cut into, almost. For those who do not know what to expect from the inside of the cake, it will certainly come as a surprise once the cake is sliced open. I definitely love the gorgeous layers of this cake.
Although the candied hazelnut didn’t come out as I expected because the candy “tail” chipped a little when I pick them up from the parchment paper, they still tasted wonderful. I love the crunch and the toasted nutty flavor from the "candied" hazelnut.
Here’s how the inside looks like, with all the layers of crepes and cream, and love.
If you have a special birthday celebration, I strongly suggest you to make this cake. It’s a lot easier to make than it looks. Plus, you can (and you should) make this cake a day, or two, ahead of time, without having to worry that the cake will get 'dried out' when sitting inside the fridge. I’m sure the person who receives this cake will be very pleased and be very surprised!
Happy Birthday, My Love! Wish you good health, love and happiness. May all your birthday wishes come true. I look forward to celebrate many many more “layers” and birthdays with you.
Monday, August 8, 2011
If you’ve been following my blog, I’m sure you’ve heard of Kitchen PLAY. Each month Kitchen PLAY hosts a Progressive Party with six food bloggers assigned to create a course of their own. This month, I’m one of the 6 lucky bloggers chosen to create an iconic grilling recipe, sponsored by the Ad Council. This month’s Progressive Party is a bit different from the previous events on Kitchen PLAY as our focus is on “safe food handling behavior”, not just the recipe itself.
Therefore, this post will provide some useful information on how to handle food safely for grilling, which is perfect for the summer!
FACT: Did you know that one in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year alone?
Yikes….That doesn’t sound like fun at all. Let’s do it the right way and make food safer for our family, shall we?! Here are the basic 4 steps to follow:
Step #1: Clean
Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards. So, wash your hands and the utensils the right way to prevent the spreading of bacteria. Yes, there is such a thing as 'the right way' for hand washing!
Here’s how we should do it.
- Wet your hands with warm or cold running water and apply soap.
- Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Bacteria can hide out here too!
- Continue rubbing hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum “Happy Birthday” from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry.
Besides your hands, make sure the utensils and working surfaces are clean as well. Also, wash the fruits and veggies, but not meat, poultry, nor eggs! Because washing raw meat and poultry can actually help bacteria to spread when the juices from the raw meat splash onto the sink and/or countertop, which will increase your chances of cross contamination! For more details. Check out the Food Safety site here.
Step #2: Separate
Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. I love these boards because not only there are in different colors but there is also an actual picture of what each cutting board is meant for.
It is also important to keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separated from all other foods at the grocery and in the fridge.
Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping or leaking onto other foods underneath. If you’re not planning to use the foods within a few days, freeze them instead.
Step #3: Cook
FACT: Did you know that the bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest in the “Temperature Danger Zone” between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit?
Take the “guess work” out of the equation by using a food thermometer! (Yes, it is my beautiful hand again holding the food thermometer below!)
What’s the “right” temperature, you might ask. Here’s a chart for your reference. I recommend you print a copy and stick it on the fridge like I did.
Step #4: Chill
FACT: Did you know that illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them? (And if the temperature is 90 ˚F or higher during the summer, cut that time down to one hour!)
Please remember to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours. Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Last but not least, know when to discard the food. Here’s a helpful time chart to check on that.
I hope you all learned something new today. I certainly did with all the helpful information from the Food Safety Website.
Make This Recipe Safer on Facebook!
The campaign sponsors also have some handy-dandy refrigerator magnets to remind you and your family about food safety while cooking. Click here to receive your FREE magnet! Then share photos of your magnet, your personalized safety tips, and/or the dishes you've cooked safely on the Kitchen PLAY facebook page. (Be sure to tag FoodSafety.gov and Ad Council!).
Let's work together to Make Our Recipes Safer!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by the Ad Council and Kitchen PLAY. However, all opinions are 100% my own.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
If you’ve been to Cheesecake Factory, you probably know about the Brown Wheat Bread that they serve before your order arrives. They are addictive! There were times I ate so much of this bread that I couldn’t even finish 1/3 of my entrée. I’ve been searching high and low over the internet for the recipe, but with no luck. As you know, I love baking bread at home especially with the TangZhang method (湯種法). If you’re not familiar with the TangZhong method, please refer to my posts here, here and here. You’ll see why I love this method so much. Lately, I’ve been experimenting this recipe to incorporate the TangZhang method for this brown wheat bread. The result was Ah—mazing!
Product Picture from Amazon
I used this baking pan as shown from the picture above to make these baguettes. They are perfect for this recipe. The perforated pan keeps the bread baking evenly and the unique shape helps the loaves stay in their round shape. For more details about this pan, please to go the “Equipment” tab above this post or simply click here.
Just like how they'd serve it in Cheesecake Factory, a small tab of butter or margarine is all you need for this amazing brown wheat bread. Its flavor is rich and complex. You’ll taste a hint of molasses and rye in the background along with the cocoa. The texture is smooth and soft (thanks to the TangZhong method, the bread stays soft and tender for a few days) with a bit of crunch from the oaks on top. Hm…now, I can enjoy this wonderful bread anytime at home without the wait and the noise from Cheesecake Factory!