Thursday, May 30, 2013

Honey Sesame Chicken

I always get sesame chicken at Chinese buffets, but inevitably get disappointed when I end up eating nothing but batter and no chicken. 
Added some mushroom green beans as a side

This recipe isn't hard to make (you just have to cook it small batches since it's so much tastier eaten fresh), and best of all, you actually eat real chicken. It turns out so tender and the sauce is the star - perfectly sweet. From My Kitchen Snippets.

I only wish I could have toasted the sesame seeds
3 chicken breasts - cubed
4 tbsp of light soy sauce
4 tbsp of cooking wine
2 tbsp of sesame oil
2 tsp of sugar

2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
Salt & pepper to taste

8 tbsp of sweet chili sauce
6 tbsp of tomato ketchup
6 tbsp of honey (depend on how sweet you want)
3 tbsp of oyster sauce
4 tbsp of light soy sauce
3-4 tbsp water (dilute to desired consistency)
toasted sesame seed

Marinate chicken with soy sauce, wine, sugar, sesame oil, salt and pepper and set it aside for at least an hour. Just before frying mix the 2 type of flour together and mix it into the chicken.

Prepare oil for frying. Fry chicken until golden brown, dish out and drain the oil in paper towel. Remove all the oil from the pan.

Mix all the sauce ingredients together and pour it back into the pan. Bring it up to a boil and let the sauce thicken a bit.

Add in the chicken and toss it gently until the chicken are evenly coated with the sauce. Sprinkle the sesame seeds to the chicken.
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I first had ceviche at a very fancy Latin American restaurant, so I always associate this with high class, gourmet brunches, but it's deceptively simple.

I actually had no idea ceviche is basically acidified raw fish, but you can definitely see it cook over time (nerds see below). I'm not sure how safe my fish is from the sketchy Fiesta Mart, but I haven't acquired any Streptococcus iniae from my tilapia thus far! From Simply Recipes.

3 tilapia fillets
3 limes, squeezed
2 lemons, squeezed
1 small red onion, finely diced
3 chopped fresh seeded tomatoes
2-3 serrano chilis, seeded and finely diced
Salt, pepper to taste
Ground oregano
Dash of Tabasco

In a non-reactive casserole dish (Pyrex or ceramic, not metal) place the fish, onion, tomatoes, chili, salt and pepper, Tabasco, oregano, and paprika. Cover with lime and lemon juice. Let sit covered in the refrigerator for an hour, then stir, making sure more of the fish gets exposed to the acidic lime and lemon juices.

Let sit for ~4 hours, giving time for the flavors to blend. During the marinating process the fish will change from pinkish grey and translucent, to whiter in color and opaque. Serve with chopped cilantro and slices of avocado with heated tortillas for ceviche tacos or with tortilla chips.

For the nerds: Both heat and citric acid cause denaturation, changing the proteins in the fish (unraveling the molecules and altering their chemical / physical properties). This turns the flesh firm and opaque, as if it had been cooked with heat. Ah, science! 

It's important to not use metal since it can apparently impart a metallic taste to your ceviche. How long you cook the fish varies: if using flakier fillet, like flounder, snapper, or sole, or tender shellfish like scallops may only need to marinate for about 15 minutes.  Mahi mahi, a hearty and dense fish, could take closer to 50 minutes or an hour to “cook.” It's best to eat ceviche quickly as the acid will continue to cook the fish. (Info by Chow)

Citric acid won’t kill bacteria the way that heat does, so use fresh, disease-free, and parasite-free fish (yeah, because we all like non-fresh, diseased, and parasite infested fish lol).  Anyways, I have read that freezing your fish beforehand will kill parasites.

Or you can cook it slightly beforehand...but, of couse, I like to live dangerously in the kitchen.
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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Walnut Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Glaze

The second baked item to thank the guys who helped me move.
Cinnamon rolls had always been on my bucket list (they're so pretty looking!), but I didn't want to eat a whole tray of them so this was the perfect opportunity to test it out without giving myself cardiovascular disease or diabetes (ok, med school is not conducive to baking).

Honestly, although I do like sugar and cinnamon combinations a LOT, the cinnamon rolls I pictured came from Cinnabon, Costco, or grocery bakeries - oozing with icing and sugar and butter.

Well, this homemade version from Allrecipes is ten times better. Oh my goodness, and they don't even taste unhealthy - not overly sweet and buttery at all.
After we had baked them, I felt like they needed an additional kick and tried to find glaze recipes. Well, I didn't have powdered sugar, but tested out using a blender to grind normal sugar -- and holy moly, it actually worked! The orange juice gives plenty of sweetness already, so the powdered sugar merely thickens it.

Cinnamon Rolls:
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package instant yeast
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened

Oranges or fresh orange juice
powdered sugar
vanilla extract

Cinnamon Rolls: Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in butter; stir until melted. Cool until lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well. Add water, egg and the milk mixture; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, softened butter. Roll out dough into a 12x9 inch rectangle. Spread butter/sugar mixture on dough and add walnuts. Roll up dough and pinch seam to seal. Cut your log into rolls with a sharp knife and place cut side up in a 9 x13 casserole tray. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hr (dough should expand to fill the tray).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake in the preheated oven for ~35 minutes, or until browned.

If you use muffin tins, it should take a little less time to bake. Squishing all the rolls together keeps them moist. I let mine bake a little longer til slightly crunchy. 

Glaze: Combine powered sugar, vanilla extract, and orange juice to taste - adjust the ratio so that the orange juice is just thickened. Drizzle on top of the cinnamon rolls.
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Cheddar, Sausage, Rosemary Biscuits

So I just moved to my pretty new apartment with my roommate Kim, and I needed to thank the army of guy friends I recruited co-erced to carry all my furniture and numerous belongings with what else but food. I figured what better way to christen our new kitchen.
I was looking for "manly" baked goods, and was excited to try this savory biscuit recipe from Epicurious - we substituted jalapeno sausage for bacon and rosamary for chives. Next time I would definitely add more "stuff" as well as salt and pepper since it was too bland for me. 
Judging from the guys' reactions, I'd say this is a man -approved recipe. 

diced sausage (or bacon)
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/2 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 3/4 cups milk plus 1 3/4 tablespoons white vinegar (for buttermilk)

Position rack just above center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add chilled butter cubes; blend until coarse meal forms.

Add cheddar cheese, rosemary, and sausage; toss to blend. Gradually add buttermilk, stirring to moisten evenly (batter will feel sticky).

Using lightly floured hands, drop batter for each biscuit onto prepared baking sheet. Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.

Notes: This recipe made about 24 biscuits - I used a muffin pan and a cookie tray. The cookie tray gave a nice biscuit shape, but it didn't cook as evenly (perhaps since we put the tray at the bottom of the oven). The muffin pan was placed in the center and gave a more all around even golden color. 
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Banana Quinoa Pancakes

I had never even heard of quinoa til I went to Stanford (land of healthy food), but I loved eating it in the dining halls. Luckily for my sake, it turned out to be super healthy. Then I found out you could use it for all sorts of banana pancakes!

My friend Dora was coming to visit me from California, and we decided to give this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen a try. A year before, Dora and I had tried oatmeal pancakes using no flour, which turned out to be a bust and she refused to eat it since it tasted very undercooked.

Me? Uh, I still ate it because if you add enough whipped cream, nuts, fruit, etc, everything tastes good. I blame Mom, who has been known to "fix" stale pancakes and waffles with lots and lots of toppings.

The quinoa texture makes it definitely different from normal flour pancakes, more soft and doughy rather than cakelike, and we had trouble getting it to cook evenly. This makes 10 tiny pancakes since the batter wouldn't spread out (I guess that's portion control right there). It came out certainly much better than the oat pancakes we made previously, so although I still prefer "normal pancakes" this is one step closer to my fulfilling my quest for the guilt free pancake.

1 cup cooked quinoa
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3 large egg whites (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons skim milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large very ripe bananas, pureed

In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg whites, yogurt, milk, vanilla, and brown sugar until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine. Add pureed bananas and mix until just combined.

Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with butter or cooking spray and heat over medium. Drop batter by 1/4 cup onto skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top, about 2 minutes. Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more melted butter and remaining batter.

PS. Next time, I think I would just use the whole egg to avoid the hassle of separating them. Besides, I'd just use the egg yolk in some highly unhealthy custard dish anyway, so why add the temptation :P
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Healthy Crustless Turkey, Mozzerella, and Spinach Quiche

I love quiche; it always makes me think of those cute Parisian bakeries or a fancy bed and breakfast. You can pretty much add whatever you want too - it's like the sophisticated version of meatloaf. This is a nice healthified version and super easy since there's no crust to make. Adapted from

turkey deli slices
1 large onion
1 teaspoon olive oil
mozzarella cheese, shredded
6 eggs
1/2 cup skim milk
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Chop onion and turkey. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and turkey, and stir to coat. When onion turns glossy, add spinach, and stir to mix. Heat about 5 minutes, then remove from heat to cool.

Stir together eggs, salt, pepper & milk in a medium bowl. Add in cheese, onion/spinach/turkey mixture. Stir thoroughly to mix. Butter a pie plate or quiche dish, pour mix in, and pat evenly with a fork.

Bake in oven 25-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Kung Pao Chicken

Fun fact of the day from the all knowing Wikipedia: Kung Pao chicken originated from Sichuan (not P.F. Chang's?!). The most important component of the dish is handfuls of Sichuan peppercorns, which give authentic Kung Pao chicken its distinctive numbing flavor.

Apparently, from 1968 until 2005, it was illegal to import Sichuan peppercorns into the US out of fear of being potential carriers of citrus canker, a tree disease which harm citrus crops. The ban has now been lifted thanks to new processing methods, but the 37-year ban resulted in a distinct American version of the recipe that does not incorporate Sichuan peppercorns.

Too bad I don't have any of those I guess this is the Westernized version lol. Adapted from Allrecipes

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into chunks
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch, dissolved in 1:2 tablespoons water
2 ounces hot chile paste
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon brown sugar
8 green onions, chopped 2 tablespoons
chopped garlic
chopped peanuts

To Make Marinade: Combine in a ratio of 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mixture and mix together (I used 3-4 tablespoons each). Place chicken pieces in a glass dish or bowl and add marinade. Toss to coat. Cover dish and place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

To Make Sauce: In a small bowl combine in a ratio of 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mixture, chili paste, vinegar and sugar. Mix together and add green onion, garlic, water chestnuts and peanuts.

In a medium skillet, heat sauce slowly until aromatic. Meanwhile, remove chicken from marinade and saute in a large skillet until meat is white and juices run clear. When sauce is aromatic, add sauteed chicken to it and let simmer together until sauce thickens.
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