Category Archives: Sides

Garlic and Bacon Smashed Potatoes

garlic and bacon smashed potatoesMashed potatoes are great, but, in my opinion, smashed potatoes are even better. My son might disagree; he likes his potatoes buttery, smooth and creamy – no skins, no hearty chunks, no bacon bits, no chopped green stuff. Well, he was out of town this week, so I took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some decadent smashed potatoes. These are super easy (easier than mashed potatoes), and you can really experiment with the mix-ins. I used redskin potatoes, but you can use small white potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, or fingerlings. Don’t use Idaho, russetts, or baking potatoes because the skins are too thick.  For mix-ins I used garlic, bacon, sour cream and chives. You can skip the bacon for a vegetarian version, or use chicken cracklings for a Kosher version (omit the dairy). You can substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream for a more tangy taste, or use a bit of buttermilk for a Southern flavor. Try different herbs like rosemary or mint, or even mix in some sauteed greens like kale or arugula. I used chives which work as an herb but add an onion flavor; green onions are another one of my favorite mix-ins. So, you get the picture… mix-in what you like, or what you have available. These are a great accompaniment for almost anything: steak, pork chops or loin, ribs, chicken, burgers, grilled sandwiches, or even with eggs for breakfast.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 Lbs. Potatoes (your favorite thin skinned variety) – scrubbed clean
  • 4-5 Slices of Bacon (thick cut if available)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Sour Cream
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic – minced
  • 3-4 TBS. Fresh Chives – chopped
  • Salt and Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels and, when cool enough to handle, crumble. Reserve bacon drippings/fat. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender (6-10 minutes depending on size of potatoes). Drain potatoes and return to pot. Add minced garlic, crumbled bacon, and chives. Use a potato masher and smash potatoes, mixing in the other ingredients. Add bacon drippings and mix-in. Add sour cream – adjusting the amount until the desired creaminess is achieved. Season with salt and pepper.

 

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Deviled Eggs

Deviled EggsI am often asked to bring deviled eggs to gatherings. This kind of bums me out because I love the challenge of a new and different appetizer, but, apparently, my friends and family really like my deviled eggs. There are a couple of different schools of thought when it comes to “proper” deviled eggs; the main point of contention is whether they should be flavored with sweet pickle relish (or the juice of). I vehemently say: “No!” and refuse to participate in either the fabrication or consumption of such. As my “deviled egg friend” agrees – Dijon mustard is the key secret ingredient. There are also a variety of ways to garnish deviled eggs; I usually go with two different garnishes per platter – one of which is usually an herb sprig (or, in this case, a sprinkling of dried herbs) and the other is capers (I love the added salty, sour bite they add). Of course you can always use a sprinkling of paprika, but that’s so commonplace.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 7 Eggs – Hard Boiled, peeled and cut in half
  • 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. Dried Mustard (powder)
  • 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Celery Salt
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
  • 12 Capers

Remove yolks from eggs and put in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients (start with 1/4 Cup mayonnaise and add more if desired) and combine until mixture is smooth. Mix IngredientsSpoon prepared yolk mixture into 12 egg whites (I always boil an extra egg in case one tears during the peeling process, plus I like extra filling).If you prefer, you can add the yolk mixture to a small ziploc bag and cut off the tip – pipe the filling into the egg whites. If you want to get really fancy (as pictured) use a star tip in a pastry/piping bag (or substitute a ziploc) and pipe the filling into the whites. Garnish as desired.

Caprese Pasta Salad

capreses pasta saladThis is one of my favorite pasta salads – it combines two of my favorite dishes: caprese salad and pasta. What’s not good about that? I have served this at several concert in the park picnics, and have taken it to many barbeques gatherings. As you can imagine, this is a super easy pasta salad to assemble, and, if you use store-bought pesto, it’s even easier. You can buy mozzarella that comes in small balls, or you can use fresh mozzarella cut into bite sized pieces. I like to use cherry or grape tomatoes – I slice them in half so that they absorb more of the dressing. In addition to using pesto, fresh basil is a key ingredient in this salad. As with all salads, and particularly pasta salad, adjust the ingredients and seasonings (dressing, herbs etc.) to your liking.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Lb. Shaped Pasta (Rotini, Ziti, Cavatapa, or whatever you like or have on hand)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Mozzarella balls – cut in half (or mozzarella cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Cherry or Grape Tomatoes – cut in half
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil – chopped
  • 1/4 -1/3 Cup Pesto
  • 6-8 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar (use white balsamic if available)
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese- shredded
  • Salt -to taste (it will take a generous amount)
  • Pepper- to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook pasta according to directions, but only until al dente. Run pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process and drain. Pour pasta into a large serving bowl, add pesto to pasta and mix until pasta is coated to your liking. Mix in tomatoes,  mozzarella,Parmesan and basil (adjust amounts as desired). Add olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Pasta with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce

pasta withwildmushroom creamsauce and pork 2This is another example of a recipe that was a result of what was in the fridge. I had some leftover wild mushrooms and some heavy cream (I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been on an ice cream making kick lately). This is a really simple cream sauce, but delicious and even a little decadent. Also pictured is some sliced boneless pork- you guessed it… because I had that around too. It would be equally good with a few slices of tender chicken breast. My measurements are not quite exact, but the good news is that sauces of these type are very forgiving and can be manipulated easily (why I claim to be a better cook than a baker). I only made this to serve 2, but I’ve adapted the recipe to Serve 4.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2-3/4 Lb. Pasta (Fettucini, Linguine, or your favorite shape- I used a combination of smallershaped noodles)
  • 6TBS. Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Package(6-8 Oz.) Mushrooms (I used a combination of wild mushrooms – shitake, cremini, trumpets- but you can use regular white or button mushrooms)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 4 TBS. Chopped Fresh Herbs (Parsley, Basil, Thyme, Oregano)- or substitute 2 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese – grated
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • Optional: Sliced Cooked Pork Loin, Chicken Breast, or other meat.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Prepare pasta according to directions. While pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt butter in a large saute pan (large enough to hold pasta and sauce). Add mushrooms and saute until tender. Add heavy cream, herbs, and salt and pepper (keep in mind that Parmesan will add a little more salt). Cook over medium until cream is reduced by about 1/2. Add Parmesan cheese and taste for seasoning (add more salt if necessary). Add creamand herbsAdd cooked pasta to saute pan with sauce and toss until well coated. Add pastaServe immediately – with slice pork (if using) on side.

Roasted Corn Risotto

Grilled Corn RisottoIt’s summertime and we eat fresh corn whenever possible. A week or so ago I posted instructions (it’s not really a recipe) for roasted corn on the grill.  As I mentioned in the post, I always have leftover roasted corn which is great because it has so many uses, but this is one of my favorites. You could certainly add other ingredients to this risotto – sauteed or roasted red peppers, scallions or leeks, and/or bacon (Yum!). Essentially, I cook the risotto until almost ready and then stir in roasted corn since it is already fully cooked. I really don’t know why risotto is so intimidating; granted, it requires constant attention, but it’s not difficult. We enjoyed this with Barbequed Chicken and it just tasted like summer!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 1- 1.5 Cup Roasted Corn (can substitute regular corn)- cut off the cob
  • 3-4 Cups Chicken Broth (hot)
  • 1 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper (to taste)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat chicken broth over medium heat and keep hot. Add olive oil to a medium saucepan and heat over medium; add rice to saucepan, saute for a few minutes and then add about 3/4 cup hot chicken broth, stirring constantly. risotto in brothCook until most of chicken broth is absorbed and then add another 3/4 cup hot broth, stirring constantly. When rice is approaching the ad dente (firm to the bite) phase, add corn. Add corn to risotto mixContinue cooking (adding more stock as necessary) until rice is tender but still al dente. Add parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Grilled (Roasted) Corn

Roasted Corn - editedGrilled corn is a summertime favorite – a staple in our household. Years ago when I lived on a horse farm in New Hampshire, we would have a huge pig roast – almost as popular as the roasted pig was the roasted corn. We would soak the corn in the husks in a big bucket of water and then throw the corn on the grill. The corn essentially steamed in the husk, and it was tender and delicious, but it didn’t have that “roasted” flavor and it was inconvenient for guests to have to husk their own corn. Now when I grill corn, I simply brush it generously with olive oil and season it well with salt (Kosher or coarse sea salt works best) and pepper. On occasion I’ll add some cayenne or a cajun rub, but, mostly, I’m a traditionalist. When selecting corn, I’m of the school of thought that you should NOT peel back the husks to inspect the corn. My mother taught me that the minute the kernels are exposed, their sugars start reacting and the corn’s freshness is sacrificed. The trick is to just take your chances and, most importantly, just buy extra corn in case you come across one or two less than perfect ears. As fate would have it, I usually end up with all perfect ears which means I have extra for leftovers. Leftover grilled corn is great for roasted corn salsa, roasted corn risotto, or roasted corn mayonnaise for steak sandwiches. I’ve also used it in pasta salad, soups, and savory scones.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat a grill to about 300 Degrees. Shuck the corn and generously coat with olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper or your favorite spicy seasoning mix. You can also sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs if you’d like – so many options! Place the corn on the grill (not directly over the flames/coals). photo (6)Roast for a couple of minutes (until the kernels start to brown) and then turn. Continue until roasted on all sides and tender to the bite.

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta SaladMy little city (I like to call it “Mayberry”) has free concerts in the park every Tuesday night in the summer. We often take a picnic dinner – I like to keep it simple; usually a gourmet sandwich and a side salad (often pasta salad). I can’t remember which sandwich I paired with this pasta salad, but I do remember that the pasta salad was a big success. Because this side salad includes meat and cheese, it’s particularly filling and would pair well with a light sandwich. I purchased the provolone and salami from the deli at the grocery store and just asked them for the whole piece unsliced – then cut it into bite sized chunks. Cut into cubesSalami and ProvoloneIt’s super easy to make and is even better if made a day in advance.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Lb. Tri-colored Fusili or other dried Pasta
  • 1/2 Lb. Hard Salami – cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 Lb. Provolone – cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 Cup Cherry/Grape Tomatoes – cut into 1/2s or 1/4s
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion – roughly chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Black Olives (I like Kalmata) pitted and cut in half
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Sweet Basil – roughly chopped
  • 2-3 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Pinot Grigio Vinegar (can substitute red wine vinegar)
  • 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – minced
  • Salt and Pepper to tasteChopped ingredients

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook pasta until al dente (firm to the bite), drain, and run under cold water until completely cooled. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper until well combined. Pour vinagrette over cooled pasta, add remaining ingredients and toss until well-combined. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste (the salami and provolone are quite salty).

Ready for transport

 

Lobster Risotto

Lobster Bacon RisottoI recently entered a lobster recipe in a contest (recipe to be revealed later), and so I’ve been on a lobster kick lately. I can usually find live lobsters at my local Asian grocery store and they tend to be about $1.00-$2.00 less per pound than they are at my local grocery store. I remember back to when I lived in New England and lobsters were cheaper per pound than boneless chicken breasts; needless to say, we ate a lot of lobster. Lobster is such a delight that it’s well worth the occasional splurge. This is a risotto dish that I serve as an entree – it’s rich and filling and deserves to be the star of the meal, not a side dish. As with most risotto recipes; it’s very simple, and you can easily alter it to include other seasonal or on-hand ingredients (corn, bacon, green onions, roasted red peppers), but don’t feel that you have to add anything because simple lobster risotto is perfectly luxurious all on its own. I had some thick cut bacon from my local pork grower, so I did stir in the cooked bacon at the end. The most challenging aspect of this dish is removing the lobster meat; many gourmet grocers sell shelled lobster meat, but I still prefer to cook whole live lobsters and prepare my own stock.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Cup Fresh Lobster Meat (tail and large claw meat)- roughly chopped
  • 4-6 Cups Lobster or Seafood Stock (can substitute chicken stock)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice
  • 4 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1 TBS. Butter
  • 2 Shallots – finely chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese – grated or shredded
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley – finely chopped (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat stock in a medium saucepan and leave simmering. In a medium stockpot, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until tender. Saute ShallotsAdd rice and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes until rice is well coated and heated. Add riceAdd 2 cups of hot stock and stir constantly until most of the stock has been absorbed. Continue to add stock 1 cup at a time until rice is creamy and al dente. Add stockStir in lobster meat, cheese and any other additional ingredients. Add more stock if risotto seems to dry – it should have a creamy, moist consistency. Serve immediately.

 

Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips

 

Thru Jan 24 147I started making homemade tortilla chips when I started making Chicken Tortilla Soup. As with most things, my kids have decided that store bought tortilla chips just don’t compare to the homemade kind. While the tortilla chips are worth the effort, there is frying involved and whenever there’s frying involved, there’s a mess involved. So I don’t make these chips that often, but when I do, I make sure to make a big batch and we eat them for days.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Package Fresh Corn Tortillas (sometimes found in the refrigerated section) – cut into quarters, at room temperatureThru Jan 24 139
  • Corn Oil
  • Salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a fryer, or large stock pot, heat about 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Add 8-12 tortilla quarters (don’t overcrowd the pot or your oil temperature will drop quickly) and move around gently in oil, flipping when one side is browned.Add tortilla to oil Thru Jan 24 131Remove chips from oil, immediately sprinkle generously with salt and allow to drain on paper towels. Drain chips on paper towelRepeat process until all tortilla quarters are fried.

To store: line a zipper bag with paper towels and store chips between paper towels.

 

 

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is this Sunday, February 10, 2013 and we celebrate it with full force in our house. This upcoming year will be the Year of the Snake. For those of you who follow my blog, you may have read that my children are convinced I am really Asian, but the truth is that my Asian tendencies come from having traveled extensively throughout Asia and teaching primarily Asian students. Chinese New Year celebrations are festive and fun, and you may find that once you embrace the traditions, you will continue to do so years to come. I don’t have pictures for the food that I served last year (I started the blog last February and wasn’t in the habit of photographing my food), but I will outline some of the traditions and provide recipes for the traditional foods that I serve. Although I love homemade dumplings (and it is tradition that the family gather to make the dumplings on New Year’s Eve), I typically buy frozen dumplings – they are great and I can get a variety of types that way. I also usually buy the desert as well.

I will start with some of the traditions that are not food related and try to include the reasoning behind the traditions.

  • Clean your house thoroughly before Chinese New Year – this will help to clean out the Old Year.
  • Open all doors and windows at midnight on the start of Chinese New Year (New Year’s Eve) – this allows the Old Year to escape and the New Year to come in.
  • Pay all bills and debts (when possible) and clear up any grievances you may have with others – if you begin the New Year with outstanding bills, you will have them all year.
  • Wear red and/or gold or bright orange on Chinese New Year; avoid wearing white. Red represents happiness and good luck, gold and orange represent prosperity, while white represents death.
  • Wear a new outfit or piece of clothing on Chinese New Year to insure that you will not be wearing the same old clothes all year long.
  • Avoid the number 4 on Chinese New Year (the pronunciation of the word “Four” in Chinese is similar to the pronunciation of the word “Die” in Chinese.
  • The number 8 is lucky because the word “eight” sounds similar to the word “fortune” in Chinese.
  • Do NOT wash or cut your hair on Chinese New Year – you will wash or cut away all of your good luck.
  • Try not to cry, yell, or curse on Chinese New Year – so as not to be crying, yelling, or cursing throughout the whole New Year.
  • Do NOT clean the house or sweep any dirt out of the house on Chinese New Year – you will be sweeping away all of your good luck and fortune.
  • Try to avoid using knives and scissors on Chinese New Year – something about severing good luck.
  • If you visit the homes of others on Chinese New Year, bring them oranges/tangarines/clementines/mandarin oranges – as these are an offering of good luck and prosperity. If you are not expecting visitors, make sure you have your own supply of oranges in the house.
  • Give children red envelopes with a coin, or money – this will insure them good fortune in the new year (the more, the better – kids love that part).

Traditional Chinese New Year Foods (recipes follow):

  • A cooked whole fish – cooking the whole fish ensures that your family will have plenty of food and prosperity in the New Year.
  • Long Noodles (the longer, the better) – noodles represent longevity (long life); remember when eating noodles not to cut or break them (with either a knife or your teeth) or you will be cutting short your life. This is why many Asians “slurp” their noodles.
  • Dumplings- the crescent shape resembles Chinese money, so they represent wealth and prosperity.
  • Spring/Summer/Egg Rolls symbolize wealth because they resemble gold or silver bullions (bulk gold or silver).
  • Vegetables represent purification.
  • Duck (Peking is traditional) represents fidelity.
  • Pork represents strength.
  • Pumpkin represents prosperity, abundance, illustrious children, and it draws earth’s energy to manifest gold.
  • Whole chicken (served with head facing diners) represents wholeness, prosperity and abundance.
  • Prawns (shrimp) represent liveliness and happiness.
  • Rice represents fertility, wealth, and the link between heaven and earth.
  • Eggs (tea eggs are traditional) represent fertility (avoid them if you don’t want more children).
  • Layered cakes – the sweetness represents a rich, sweet life and the layers represent rising abundance for the upcoming year.

Fruit Cakes or Sticky Rice Cakes- these are traditionally fed to the Kitchen God so that he will report good things about your family when he returns to heaven before the New Year. Another tradition suggests wiping his mouth with a bit of the sticky cake to “seal his lips” so that he may not report any negative things about your family.

More information about Chinese New Year Symbolic Foods .

Chinese New Year Menu and Recipes:

  • Assorted Steamed Dumplings (Dim Sum)
  • Egg Drop Soup
  • Asian Style Steamed Clams or Mussells
  • Spring Rolls
  • Steamed Whole Fish Wrapped in Banana Leaves
  • Beef with Broccoli
  • Pork Fried Rice
  • Shrimp Lo Mein
  • Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy with Shitake Mushrooms

Dumplings (Potstickers):

Pork Filling
1 lb. Ground Pork
4 Large Napa Cabbage Leaves – minced
3 Stalks Green Onions – minced
7 Shitake Mushrooms – minced (if dried – rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
1/2 Cup Bamboo Shoots – minced
1/4 Cup Ginger Root – minced
3 TBS. Soy Sauce
2 TBS. Sesame Oil
2 TBS. Corn starch

OR

Shrimp Filling
1/2 lb. Raw Shrimp – peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1/2 lb. Ground Pork
3 Stalks Green Onions – minced
1/4 Cup Ginger Root – minced
1 Cup Water Chestnuts -minced
1 tsp. Salt
3 TBS. Sesame Oil
2 TBS. Corn starch

Both

Use gyoza wrappers (circular) or wonton wrappers cut into circles for the wrappers.

Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Make dumplings.

To Boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To Steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of Napa cabbage leaves in a bamboo steamer basket and steam for about 6 minutes. You can also use a vegetable steamer pot lined with cabbage leaves, or grease the pot well.

To Pan Fry (potstickers)*: Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve. If using frozen dumplings, allow to thaw before frying.

To Freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

Dipping Sauce
2 Parts Soy sauce
1 Part Vinegar (red wine or black)
A Few Drops of Sesame Oil
Chili Garlic Paste (optional)
Minced Ginger (optional)
Minced Garlic (optional)
Minced Green Onion (optional)
Sugar (optional)

Egg Drop Soup

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 -2 green onions, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • A few drops of sesame oil (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a wok or saucepan, bring the 4 cups of chicken broth to a boil. Add the white pepper and salt, and the sesame oil if using. Cook for about another minute.
Very slowly pour in the eggs in a steady stream. To make shreds, stir the egg rapidly in a clockwise direction for one minute. To make thin streams or ribbons, gently stir the eggs in a clockwise direction until they form.
Garnish with green onion and serve.

*Egg Drop Soup is frequently thickened with cornstarch in restaurants. To add a cornstarch thickener, mix 2 – 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/2 cup water. Just before adding the beaten egg, stir in the cornstarch/water mixture, remove the soup from the heat, and then add the beaten egg.

Tips for making Egg Drop Soup:

  • Lightly beat the egg so that no bubbles form
  • Turn off the heat the minute you begin pouring in the egg (this produces silkier threads)
  • Pour the egg in a very slow stream (pouring it through the tines of a fork from several inches above the pot is a good way to keep the stream slow and steady)
  • Begin stirring as soon as you start pouring in the egg
  • To make shreds or threads, stir rapidly for at least 1 minute
  • Stir the beaten egg in one direction only

Asian Style Steamed Mussels or Clams

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup Dry White Wine (or Rice Wine)
  • 1 TBS. Fish Sauce
  • 2 tsp. Lime Zest
  • 2-3 lbs. Mussels or Clams
  • 1 TBS. Peanut Oil
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Ginger -grated
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – crushe
  • 3 Fresh Red Thai Chilis- seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 Cups Cilantro- loosely packed
  • 2 Stalks Lemon Grass – bruised with a mallet (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat wine in a small saucepan until hot. Add sauce and rind, remove from heat and stand, covered, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile scrub mussels and pull away the beards- and check to make sure clams or mussels are alive (discard any with broken shells or any opened – for mussels tap opened ones to make sure they move or try to close). Heat oil in large saucepan, add ginger, garlic, chilli and lemon grass. Cook, stirring until fragrant. Add wine mixture, 1 cup of cilantro, and mussels and simmer, covered for about 5 minutes or until mussels open (discard any that do not open). Add remaining cilantro. Spoon mussels and broth into large serving bowls or onto a large serving platter.

Whole Fish Steamed in Banana Leaf 

Ingredients:

  • 4 Medium Whole Fish – fully cleaned and prepped (allow about 1/3 fish per person) Suggested fish: red snapper, black sea bass or pomfret (they are smaller, so you’ll need about 1/2 fish per person)
  • 2 banana leaves (OR 2 sheets tin foil if steaming the fish) – for more on banana leaf, see below
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice
  • SAUCE FOR FISH:
  • 2 Green (spring) Onions- sliced (including the green stem)
  • 1/2 to 1 Fresh Red Chili-seeds and membrane removed – finely chopped
  • 3 Kaffir Lime Leaves (cut out the hard central stem and only include the soft leaf)- can substitute Lemon Grass – be sure to bruise it with a mallet to release flavor.
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic -minced
  • 1 TBS. Lemon or Lime Juice
  • 2 TBS. Fish Sauce
  • 1/2  Cup Fresh Basil Leaves (Thai basil if available)-loosely-packed
  • 4 TBS. Coconut Oil – OR walnut, almond, olive, or other healthy, good-tasting oil
  • optional: 1 tsp. Butter (this makes the sauce richer-tasting)
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • TO GARNISH:
  • Lemon/Lime Slices
  • Sprinkling of Fresh Basil (other toppings: spring onions cut thinly lengthwise, and fresh-cut chili)

INSTRUCTIONS:

For more on how to buy and cook with banana leaf, see: Cooking with Banana Leaf – Tips and Practical Advice.

Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Rinse the fish under cold water and inspect for any remaining scales or entails – remove any you find. Place fish in a shallow baking dish and cover with sauce (including on the inside of the fish) – place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 20-60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove fish from refrigerator and pour remaining sauce into a bowl. Lay one banana leaf on a clean work surface – top with a fish and spoon some sauce marinade over the surface. Fold one long side of the banana leaf over the fish and then fold the two sides over (trim the sides if too long). Holding the folded sides in place “roll” the fish onto the remaining long side of banana leaf – this should sufficiently cover the fish. If you like, you can use kitchen twine to tie up the “packet,” but I don’t usually find that necessary. Place the banana leaf “packet” seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat process until all fish have been wrapped. Add a little extra sauce and some water to the bottom of the baking dish (about 1/2 inch). Place in the oven and cook for 20-35 minutes depending on size and thickness of fish. Remove from oven and check for doneness – the flesh of the fish should be opaque and flaky and should easily pull away from the bones, but still be very moist. Transfer fish to a serving platter and garnish.

Spicy Orange Beef with Broccoli

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2  tsp.  Salt
  • 1  Clove Garlic -minced
  • 1/2  tsp.  Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1  lb.  Boneless Sirloin Steak -cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1/2  tsp.  Grated Orange Rind
  • 1/4  Cup  Orange Juice
  • 1  TBS.  Cornstarch
  • 2  TBS.  Low-sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1  tsp.  Sesame Oil
  • 3/4  Cup Green Onions – 1 inch slices

INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine garlic, pepper, and beef, tossing well. Combine rind, juice, cornstarch, and soy sauce, stirring with a whisk. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef mixture and onions; sauté 2 minutes. Add juice mixture; cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Add broccoli and continue cooking until broccoli is just tender. Serve beef mixture over rice.

Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy and Shitake Mushrooms

See the recipe for Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy with Sesame Sprouts and eliminate sesame sprouts and add shitake mushrooms (cut in half) for last 3-4 minutes of stir frying.

Pork Fried Rice

The following looks to be a good recipe for pork fried rice – I have made fried rice so many times that I just kind of “wing it” and have never bothered to write down the recipe, but this one looks similar to how I would make it. The trick is to use leftover cold/dry rice. If you are going to be making rice especially for this dish, spread your cooked rice in a single layer on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and place in the refrigerator. This will allow your rice to dry out and chill which is what makes for good frying – rice with too much moisture will be sticky and clumpy when fried. http://www.dinneralovestory.com/quick-and-easy-pork-fried-rice/

Shrimp Lo Mein

Similar to fried rice, lo mein is just something I usually throw together. I might add a dash of oyster sauce or some garlic chili sauce if I want a touch of spice. You can use a variety of vegetables, including red pepper, peapods, broccoli, and baby bok choy. My staples are shredded cabbage (not very much – use the extra from your steamed dumplings), carrots, peapods, and green onions. As noted in the blogged recipe below – try to find lo mein noodles. They will be in the refrigerated section of your Asian market. If you can’t find fresh lo mein noodles, use a thinner pasta like Angel Hair or Thin Spaghetti. Many recipes call for linguine – I think that is just too thick for lo mein. http://smells-like-home.com/2012/06/take-out-fake-out-shrimp-lo-mein/

I hope you enjoy Chinese New Year and that it brings you good luck, prosperity, longevity, and good fortune all around. Gong She Fa Chai!

More of my Asian Recipes:

Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup Asian Style Barbequed Chicken Wings
Braised Chicken Thighs in Teriyaki Sauce
Asian Style Chicken Skewers
Chicken Stir Fry
Vietnamese Summer Rolls