Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chinese New Year Whole Steamed Fish

Chinese New Year (Gung Hay Fat Choy) ends winter and marks the start of a prosperous spring. The New Year's dinner is very large and sumptuous and traditionally includes dishes of meat, pork, chicken) and fish. When I worked in Silicon Valley I would organize am outing at Chinese restaurant to celebrate the event. Due to the ethnicity, most of my Chinese and Asian friend would attend. Twenty of us or so would gather around the circular tables and the lazy Susan center at each table would allow us to easily share the bounty. Each person orders their favorite dish to share. Despite the abundance of the dishes, the bill per person was usually under $25 each unless abalone or lobster was ordered. What a feast.

2 Tablespoons fermented black beans1
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2 Teaspoons minced ginger
1 Teaspoons salt
1 Teaspoons sugar
¼ Cup peanut oil
2 Teaspoons soy sauce or Tamari
1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1¼ Pound sole (cleaned and gutted, triple washed, with head and tail intact)
2 Green onions (white and green parts), cut lengthwise to 2 inches long


Soak black beans in warm water for 15 minutes. Rinse beans with cold water. Mash bean with the tines of a fork. Add garlic, ginger, salt, peanut oil, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil to beans and stir to combine. Rinse fish and dry with paper towels. Place fish on an oiled heatproof plate that will fit in your steamer. Make 3 shallow slashes on each side where the flesh is thickest to promote cooking. Spread the fish inside and out with bean mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate for an hour. Fill steamer with boiling water. Place plate in steamer, cover and steam until the fish is done, about 12 minutes. Add more boiling water as needed. Garnish with green onions.

  1. These are called dou chi in Mandarin, dul see in Cantonese, dau/tau xi in Vietnamese: To be found in Chinese and Southeast Asian markets. There are about a dollar for a ½ pound package. The flavor of black beans are pungent; for a milder flavor, use less of them. This flavor also works well with Mirin, a sweet cooking rice wine or even sherry.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Baked Tomatoes or Onions

Want to add another vegetable to the menu with no fuss? Bake some medium or large yellow or red onions with that other dish that you’re roasting. I put the whole onions in an oiled dish without peeling them and let them cook at 350 F, which usually works out to an hour in the oven or a shorter amount of time, if the oven is hotter. The onions steams in there own moisture and their natural sweetness make them appealing. To serve, cut them in half and lightly season.

While your at it, slice some large tomatoes in half, oil there tops with olive oil, and roast these as well for half and hour or longer until they look done. Season to serve.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pineapple Empanadas

1 Pie crust
1 8-Ounce can Dole crushed pineapple in heavy syrup
1/2 Cup Smuckers apricot preserves
1/2 Cup course white bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon lime juice
3 Tablespoons softened butter
Tiny pich of salt
Pinch of white pepper
1 Egg, beaten with 1 t water
3 Tablespoons sugar
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Roll out dough on a large floured surface and cut circles about 3 ½ inches in diameter (roughly 12 circles).
Cook pineapple, apricot preserves, bread crumbs, lime juice, butter, and half the syrup from the pineapples in a frying pan until thickened. Correct the seasoning. Let cool.
Making one at a time, spread a heaping teaspoon of cool pineapple filling across the center of each round, leaving a border. Fold the round in half, then pinch the edges of the Empanadas to seal and crimp it decoratively. Repeat.

Place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and brush each empanadas with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with sugar (you can use large crystal sugar.) . Make a small vent hole at the highest point at the center of each pastry to prevent ruptures. Bake until golden brown at 350 F

Pozole Rojo

This is a traditional Mexican thick stew from the coast of Jalisco made with pork, field corn, red chile pods, onion, garlic, and broth.
2 Cups chile colorado sauce (see recipe)
8 Cloves minced garlic
1 Quart pork stock from broiled pork neck bones, strained, defatted
4 Pounds boston butt pork roast into bite size pieces
1 Teaspoon ground Mexican oregano
1 Large white onion, chopped
Two 30-ounce cans white hominy
8 Corn tortillas, cut into strips
Corn oil for frying tortillas strips
Salt and pepper


Shredded lettuce, slices of Hass avocado, shredded cabbage, cilantro, radishes, chopped sweet onion, sliced tomatoes, crisp fried tortillas strips and fresh limes

Rinse and drain hominy and reserve. Wash pork, cut into pieces, plunge into boiling water for two minutes, rinse in warm water twice then place in large pot. Cover with  pork stock. Simmer of low for 1 ½ hour until pork is tender. Add to pot chile colorado sauce, onion, hominy. Simmer pozole 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut tortilla into strips ½ inch wide and fry in batches in a frying pan with hot corn oil. Drain on paper towels.

Prepare garnishments of shredded iceburg lettuce, slices of Hass avocado, shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro, radishes, chopped sweet onion, and fresh limes

Correct seasonings. Serve large bowls of pozole with tortilla strips and bowls of garnisments.

Chile Colorado Sauce

2 Dried Pasilla chilies (dried form of the Chilaca chile), stemmed, de-ribbed, seeded
2 Dried Ancho (dried poblano pepper) chilies, stemmed, de-ribbed, seeded
Optional smoky dried chipotle peppers
4 Cups chicken broth
2 Cloves garlic
1 White onion, minced
1 Tablespoon lard or rendered fatback
1 Teaspoon vinegar
Optional 1 or more teaspoons of sugar - (see text)

Wash then toast damp chilies on a dry hot griddle until just fragrant making sure they don’t burn and become bitter (30~40 seconds). Cover with hot water, soak an hour. Drain and discard water. Use a blender, add softened chilies, garlic and chicken broth and blend very smooth. Sieve through a fine strainer. Mince onion and sauté in lard until soft. Add chiles and cook until thickened. Cooking removes grainy texture. Correct seasoning. Add a small touch of sugar if any bit­terness is detected.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Favorite Quotes

Some favorite quotes on dinning or cooking are fun to share. I have many throughout my cookbook.
Additional motivation came to me after having read “Ma Gastronomie” about the cooking of world class chef Fernand Point written by his wife quite a while after he died. The book is outstanding but sadly is missing many of the fabulous dishes we had at his five star “La Pyramide” in Vienne, France. Fernand Point was a recognized genius in France who won the world’s heart with his cuisine. 

The great chef Fernand Point wrote: “Cookbooks are as alike as brothers. The best
one is the one you write yourself.”

Cooks who do not love their patrons should not be allowed in the kitchen.

There is no excuse possible for bad soup.

A quick sign of more bad cusine to follow is poor bread. 

I always taste the vegetables first, if these are perfect one can look forward to a great meal.

Dinning is about great food and great company. 

Best cooks are those cooking with passion!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Peaches in a Crust (Single Servings)

In the search for mango alternatives, I discovered that peaches have a similar texture. I made successful chutney using frozen peaches. My exuberance left the freezer with several pounds of frozen peaches that were begging to grace the dessert menu. Why not make a simple pie in an individual serving size. Prior experience suggested that a small pie bakes in 25 minutes.

2~3 tablespoons butter
2~3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 pound frozen peaches
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
1 piecrust, rolled out (frozen pie crust is fine)
2 Teaspoon Demerara sugar

Melt butter in a frying pan, add sugars. When well heated, add peaches. Cook mixture and toss a few minutes. Add spices and a pinch of salt. Taste peaches. If not tart enough, add a bit of lemon juice. Split peaches into two oven safe Pyrex bowls. Cover top of peaches with a pie crust. Cut a slit in the middle of the pies to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle crust with Demerara sugar crystals.

Bake at 400 F for 25 minutes until golden brown. Serve very warm. Good with whipped cream.