About Mastering and Enjoying Home Cooking. Drink, Cook, and Live Well!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Kae’s Chinese Snow Peas and String Beans

This is mom’s recipe. Very Chinese!

1 cup Fresh Chinese string beans (Cut to six inches)
2 cup of peanut Oil

Heat oil until very hot. Deep fry beans until wrinkled. Remove Beans.
Pour off all oil except about 1 1/2 tablespoons.

1 medium onion, sliced Chinese style.
1 small heart of celery with leaves, diamond diagonal slice
2 cups Chinese snow peas. Stemmed and stringed.

Prepare a sauce by adding two teaspoon of corn starch
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons soy
2 teaspoons  sugar
2 tablespoons Shaohsing wine

Stir fry onion then string beans. Remove vegetables leaving oil. Stir fry celery then peas for 1 additional minute. Add liquid. Cover wok. Cook 3-4 minutes. Can add fried walnuts or 2-3 chicken livers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Honey Walnut Prawns

This delicious dish combines cornstarch battered fried shrimp with candied walnuts in a sweet mayonnaise-lemon sauce. Typically, this dish is served for special occasions.

1 Pound shrimp or prawns
1 Teaspoon white pepper
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon orange honey
1/2 Tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
1 Teaspoon lemon juice or rice wine vinegar
1 Egg white
1 Cup cornstarch for coating the prawn
Peanut Oil for frying

For the walnuts
1/2 Cup walnut halves
1/2 Cup turbinado sugar
1/2 Cup water

Shell, deveined and pat dry shrimp. Lightly beat the egg white and mix with the shrimp. Add a tablespoon of cornstarch and toss the shrimp. Now dredge shrimp through cornstarch, then knock of excess. Place in a shallow bowl in advance of frying

In a bowl, mix to combine the mayonnaise, honey, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice (or vinegar). Retain for later use.

Rinse the walnut halves with water, drain, and set aside. Combine the water and sugar in a frying pan over medium heat. Keep stirring until the caramel thickens and turns a golden color. Add the walnuts. Cook walnuts for 2 minutes. Strain off excess caramel and separate walnuts onto a large piece of parchment paper to cool. Don’t let them touch or they will stick together.

Heat the oil in a steep walled pan over high heat to 350 F.
Coat the shrimp with a thick layer of corn starch and then and then fry in the hot oil until golden brown. Drain cooked shrimps on paper towels.

Toss shrimp with the mayonnaise sauce. Transfer to a warm serving plate and garnish the candied walnuts. Serve immediately.

Cici’s Cantonese Char Siu

This is quick and simple recipe to easily make Char Siu at home. It is a popular way to flavor and prepare barbecued pork in Cantonese cuisine. See YouTube link:

1 pound of pork butt4, sliced into thick “steaks” and perforated3
4 tablespoons of honey water made from equal portions of honey and water


2 Pieces of Chinese fermented red bean curd2
1 Tablespoon of oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon of soy sauce
1 Tablespoon of dark soy sauce
1 Tablespoon of Shaoxing wine
2 Tablespoons of honey
4 Tablespoons of sugar
A pinch of five-spice powder1
A pinch of white pepper
1 Clove of minced garlic

In a bowl, add 2 pieces of Chinese fermented red bean curd, 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine, 2 tablespoons of honey, 4 tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of five-spice powder, a pinch of white pepper, 1 clove of minced garlic. Mix well.

In a big zip lock bag, add 1 pound of pork butt and the sauce. Marinate 12 hours turning once after 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour the marinade sauce into a bowl. Place the pork on a wire rack over a drip pan and bake for 25 minutes. Then remove from oven, brush the remaining sauce over both sides. Place it back into the oven and bake for another 25 minutes. Take the pork slices out and brush honey water on it and bake for another 10 minutes.

Slice the char siu, on the bias, into bite size pieces.

Stay in touch with CiCi:

1.      These are commonly a mixture of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds, but five-spice powder can also include anise seeds, ginger root, nutmeg, turmeric, Amomum villous pods, cardamom pods, licorice, orange peel, or galangal.

2.      Red bean curd is used in Chinese cooking as a condiment. It is a type of preserved bean curd (also called fermented bean curd), that consists of cubes of soybean curd that have been preserved in rice wine, fermented red rice, and other seasonings. In addition to the red, there are several varieties of preserved bean curd, from white (which is basically plain fermented bean curd) to stinky, which is fermented over six months, to Chiang bean curd that is soaked in miso. Sometimes called "Chinese cheese," fermented bean curd has a similar mouth feel to certain dairy products. The fermentation breaks down the proteins giving the bean curd a texture like a smooth paste. Because the soybean curd is very mild on its own, it takes on the flavors that are used during the fermentation—or brining—process. The result is mellow and sweet but will also often have a strong smell and taste of alcohol.

3.      Needle Meat tenderizer or tines of a fork are used to help the marinade penetrate the meat.

Pork belly - produces juicy and fatter char siu. Pork butt is shoulder and is also referred to as Boston Butt.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Grilled Pastrami Sandwich on Rye with Munster

 Need a great quick deli sandwich meal? Try this, so basic, yet fall-off-the-chair-easy at home.

Pastrami, cut thin
Mustard and Best food mayonnaise mixed to taste.
Munster cheese
Good fresh rye bread
Sweet butter, softened, so it’s spreadable on the bread.
Drain red cabbage, if serving it with cabbage, else have handy some Cole slaw as a side.

Preheat grill to 350 F.

Place a quantity of Mustard-Mayo mix on each slice of bread; add a slice of Munster cheese, and several slices of pastrami. Add top slice of bread to each sandwich. Butter these on the tops. Place sandwiches butter side down on grill to begin grilling. Butter the tops so they’re ready to grill when the bottom sides are toasted. Turn over at toast until just brown.

Serve with red cabbage or slaw.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Manicotti al Forno - Stuffed Shells Roman Style


Manicotti are very similar to cannelloni and could be prepared with both a white and red sauce, but in Rome, it is usually just a red sauce. I like both ways.

Preheat the oven to 350 F...

1 Tablespoons of olive oil for sauteeing onion
1 Finely diced small red onion or several shallots
1 Pound very fresh ricotta cheese
1 Bunch fresh spinach triple washed and stemmed, wilted, chopped
½ Cup heavy cream
1 Beaten large egg
¼ Cup bread crumbs made from stale Italian Bread or Ritz crackers (stabilizer)
½ Cup graded Romano or parmesan cheese
¼  Teaspoon grated nutmeg
Salt and white pepper to taste
Large manicotti shells or jumbo pasta shells, cooked in boiling salted water until they to the point of being flexible but still al dente.

Wilt the stemmed spinach, drain, put the spinach in a kitchen towel and wring the towel to force water from spinach then chopped well. Sauté the shallots or onions in olive oil until translu­cent. In a large bowl, beat the egg until pale yellow. Mix in all the other ingredients but add in hot shallots (onions) last. Optionally, add 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil. Season mix with nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Load mixture into a pastry bag with a half inch nozzle.

Very lightly brush the 13 by 9 baking dish with olive oil. Make a thin layer of red sauce in bottom of dish.

Fill shells and place slit side up if using jumbo pasta shells. Cover with red sauce. Repeat for next shell filling the pan with stuffed shells. With all shells covered with red sauce, following with an alfredo sauce, sprinkle with additional grated Romano cheese. Optionally, drizzle over a hint of olive oil.

5 F for about 45-60 minutes or until

Monday, September 3, 2018

Red Grape Varieties

Monday, August 27, 2018

Braised Beef Short Ribs over Wide Egg Noodles

This dish is not unlike luxurious beef bourguignon, or beef Burgundy but is better as the meat is better.

 Dried porcini are available in many supermarkets, but don’t worry if you can’t find them. Many recipes use tomato paste in lieu of tomatoes. Gordon Ramsey tops his version with cremini mushrooms sautéed with wonderful crispy pancetta which is splendid idea. Julia Child and the French use baby pearl onions in the stew which further enhances the appearance of the final product. Go ahead, and try it, just do not use frozen onions as that have the wrong character producing the wrong mouth feel. The only laborious thing about this dish is that it requires time and attention but anyone with patience can pull off a fabulous result worthy of the finest French restaurant.

Olive oil, for frying
8 Large beef short ribs
4 Cloves garlic, chopped
32 Ounces diced tomatoes
1 bottle of burgundy (Pinot Noir), Chianti, merlot or zinfandel wine
1 cup chopped salted pork
Beef stock as required
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 Vidalia onion chopped
10 bay leaves
Fresh Thyme
Fresh Oregano
Fresh rosemary, chopped
Good pinch of crushed red pepper
10 Dried porcini mushrooms
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic vinegar, to taste at the end
1 Tablespoon of sugar, to taste at the end

Thicken sauce with wonder flour a little at a time, at the end of the cooking cycle. Chopped Italian parsley and chopped scallion greens to garnish

Preheat the oven to 360 F

Heat a Dutch oven adding a 1/3 cup olive oil when hot. Brown short ribs on all sides really then remove to a plate. Pour off all but four tablespoons of the oil. Add the mirepoix (celery, carrots, and onion) and salted pork cooking on medium until onions begin to clear. Add all the spices (except Bay leaves which are added later whole), salt1 and pepper and garlic. Cook one minute while stirring. Add diced tomatoes, dried mushrooms and all of the wine. Deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits at the bottom.  Cook on low until the wine is reduced by half 10-20 minutes. Add in the meat, bone side down. Pour in beef stock so meat is covered to a depth of an inch or so but not so the meat is covered. Tuck in the bay leaves careful not to break as these will be removed at the end of cooking as inedible) Place tight fitting lid on Dutch oven making a good seal (use tin foil if necessary.)

Braise short ribs in preheated oven for 2 ½ - 3 ½ hours, basting now and then until the meat is fork tender and falling away from the bone. During the basting, check the stock level, replenish with added beef stock as indicated.

Remove and discard bay leaves. Thicken sauce a bit with flour. Correct the seasoning as required adding a bit of balsamic and sugar, salt to taste. When the short ribs are ready, gently serve over buttered wide egg noodles topped with spoonfuls of the sauce and garnished with parsley and chopped scallion greens.

  1. Initially, use less salt than you might be inclined, as the salt pork is quiet salty. At the end, you will correct, as necessary.
  2. For variations, add port, brandy, scotch, Madeira to the wine reduction stage to bolden the flavors.
  3. Additional garnish might include a sauté of wild mushrooms.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Molly’s Dog Food

Molly is an active 5-year old 50 pound boxer with a high metabolism.

7 Cups  chicken stock
4 Heaping cups rice
¼ Pound butter
¼ Cup dried parsley
1 1/2 Cup carrots, chopped
1 Cup chopped green beans
5 Pounds Chicken thighs
Chicken livers, sautéed and chopped
2 Large Sweet potato, peeled, chopped into smaller pieces
Oatmeal, 1 cup, cooked, the chopped
6 Hard boiled eggs, chopped

Cottage cheese
Mashed banana
Apple sauce
Ricotta cheese
1/2 tablespoon of fish oil (Omega 3 Fatty Acid Fish Oil)

Cook chicken in 8 cups of water on low for two hours. Remove chicken and retain. When the chicken cools, bone it with your hands, and chop it coursely.

Bring remaining stock to a boil. (Should be about 7 cups) Add butter, parsley, green beans, rice, chopped sweet potato, stir briefly. Add lid, bring to a boil, place in a 310F oven for 60 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the oatmeal in water, microwave on high for two minutes. Set aside. Sauté chicken livers in butter. Set aside. Remove rice from oven then remove the lid. In15 minutes, fluff the rice with a fork. Chop the oatmeal, chicken, chicken livers, eggs, and add into a large bowl all these ingredients and combined with the cooled rice.

Separate cooked dog food into manageable plasticware with lids. Freeze some for later.

Top individual meals with one or more of:
Cottage cheese
Mashed banana
Apple sauce

Monday, July 23, 2018

Monkfish Bisque

Pare this fine French Bisque with a Napa or California Central Coast buttery1 Chardonnay or a Viognier. This is an elegant starter for any meal especially a medley of seafood. Monkfish is called the poor man’s lobster” due to its sweet, firm white flesh. Do not infer that, somehow, that implies it’s a second class ingredient.

1 Pound Monkfish fillet cut into ½ cubes
3 Whites of leeks, washed, chopped
2 Medium Idaho baking potatoes, peeled, chopped
¾ Stick of unsalted butter
1 Teaspoon white pepper
½ Teaspoon each of tarragon and nutmeg
1 Cup heavy cream
2 Cups Free Range Chicken bone broth
Sea Salt to taste
Teaspoon of lime or lemon juice

Melt butter in a heavy sauce pan. Sauté leeks over medium until they start to clear. Add potatoes. Sauté and stir of five minutes. Add chicken stock and simmer covered until potato is done. Process to almost smooth with a post blender. Add white pepper, tarragon, and nutmeg. Add the cut up monkfish. Add cream, simmer covered for 5 minutes. Correct seasonings.  A touch of lemon brightens the flavor.

  1. These wines are put through a secondary fermentation process, called malolactic fermentation. This process softens the acidity and gives the wine the characteristic round, soft mouth feel and rich, buttery flavor
  2. Cutting the Monkfish into 1/2 inch cubes insures it cooks quickly, an important step.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Pork and Chicken Ramen

A traditional Japanese dinner or lunch, that serves the appetite and the eyes. When properly executed, ramen is proof that a chef loves his patrons.

1 Pound chicken parts (no giblets), well washed
5 Pounds pork neck bones, well washed
2 Large leeks, cut lengthwise, and well washed
2 Carrots cut into large segments
2 Bay leaves
2 Crushed garlic cloves
1 sliced piece of ginger
8 Ounces dried ramen curly noodles, boiled until al dente
3 Ounces baby spinach, blanched 2 minutes
1 Diagonally cut carrot segment, sliced vertically into equal thin slices
8 Sugar snap peas, pull string from stem ends, cut peas diagonally in half, and blanched 2 minutes
2 Large 6 minute free range soft-boiled eggs, peeled and soaked for 1 hour in equal parts light soy sauce and Marin
2 Diagonally thinly sliced scallions
2 Slices of broiled seasoned pork
Fresh tender shiitake or cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 blanched shrimp

Season hot broth to taste with:
Soy sauce
Rice wine vinegar
Fish sauce
Toasted nori pieces
Sesame seeds
Fried tofu
Bean sprouts
Kamaboko - Japanese Fish Cake
Optionally, brown sugar

Immerse chicken and pork pieces in ample boiling water for three minutes. Drain and wash with repeated rinses of cold water until water is clear.

Make a chicken and pork broth without salt by slowly simmering (low) chicken parts and pork neck bones, bay leaves, whites of leeks, garlic, carrots in cold water for five hours skimming the deep stock pot several times of scum. Use enough water to completely cover ingredients. Strain the stock and then refrigerate overnight to solidify fat. Remove all fat and pour off 90% of stock into a saucepan being careful to leave any solids in the bottom of the stockpot. If you want, clarify the broth.)

Cook the noodles al-dente in boiling water and immerse in cold water to stop further cooking. Divide the drained cooked noodles into two large portion bowls. Separately, and in turn, blanch carrots slices, spinach and snap peas.

Broil two seasoned thin pork cutlets (or use Char Sui) until just done on each side and keep in a warm oven. Sauté mushrooms in a little butter until tender.

Bring the broth to a boil and correct its seasoning with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce and Marin. Taste as you go while incrementally adding first soy, a little fish sauce, and then Marin first. Now add a bit of vinegar. Taste again. (Optionally also add a hint of brown sugar.) Ladle broth over noodles until bowl’s level just covers noodles.

To each bowl, attractively add the spinach, mushrooms, carrot slices, and snap peas each in a separate pile.
Ladle more hot broth over vegetables if they were added when cold. Drain the eggs, cut each one in half lengthwise and place in each bowl. Add a pinch of diagonally cut scallions, Kamaboko and sesame seeds. Arrange a slice of broiled pork. Serve the ramen with chopsticks and Japanese spoons. At the table, offer rice vinegar, lime wedges, soy and Shichimi Togarashi

  1. Shichimi Togarashi - Toasted sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, orange peel, white poppy seeds, Hungarian paprika, Chinese chiles, Szechwan peppercorns, ginger and toasted seaweed
  2. kamaboko - Japanese Fish cake comes decorated in many styles and colors adding a touch of elegance