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Tonight's Dinner: Linguine con Pesto di Pomodori Secchi
Jeff's Rating: 3.5 Yums Left Over Rating: 3.5 Yums
Things You need that aren't standard: A food processor (A blender would be a fine sub)

I haven't updated in forever, and I can't remember a ton about making this, other than it turned out fine. It wasn't incredible, it wasn't bad. I think there are some variations that I could made with the quality of my ingredients that would have made a world of difference.

Recipe:

1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (I recommend using high quality cheese whenever possible, it'll run you about $17, I was cheap and I think it suffered due to that)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (Mine weren't in olive oil, they were just sun-dried, I think that was another mistake)
1 garlic clove, coarsley chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces fresh or dried linguine (Fresh pasta over dried any day, but yeah right like any of us have the time for that)
ground black pepper
coarsley shaved Parmesan cheese, to serve
basil leaves, to garnish

1. Put the pine nuts in small non-stick frying pan and toss them over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes or until they are lightly toasted and golden.

2. Put the nuts in the food processor. Add the Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, with pepper to your taste. Process until finely chopped.

3. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil through the feeder tube (or dangerously through your uncovered blender) until it has all been incorporated evenly and the ingredients have formed a smooth-looking paste.

4. Cook the linguine according the directions on the package. Drain well, reserving a bit of the cooking water. Turn the pasta into a warmed bowl, add the pesto and few spoonfuls of the hot water and toss well. Serve immediately, garnish with the basil leaves. You can pass the cheese shavings seperately or use them as garnish too.

I remember being a bit dissapointed with this; like I said before it was overall pretty good but nothing super special. Impressive to serve nonetheless, I think I'm just being overly picky about this particular dish.


Pictures here:
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Tonight's Dinner: Lemon Chicken
Jeff's Rating: 4.0 Yums Left Over Rating: 3.5 Yums
Things You need that aren't standard: A gas mask if you heat the oil too hot! Perhaps a fire extinguisher...definitely a lid for your wok. A candy/deep fry thermometer would be really nice but I didn't have one until after this lesson in how not to cook.

This was my second time deep frying in the wok, and I am still learning about how to properly control the temperature of the oil. I had it way too hot at first and it was splattering and seeming like a grease fire was inevitable, and I even got the joys of a little flare up but I threw the wok lid on and kept it under control after that point. Despite all of that, everything turned out fine.

Recipe:

1lb 10oz chicken breast or thigh fillets, trimmed. (I used a 3 pack boneless skinless chicken breast)
1 egg, lightly beaten
cornflour, to coat
oil, for deep frying (I used a blend of vegetable and canola oil, a big bottle, almost the whole thing)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour, extra
sliced spring onions, to garnish
lemon, to garnish (I had one but I forgot to use it, good thing it's just for garnish!)

1. Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Coat with the egg, then the cornflour, shaking off any excess.

2. Fill the wok one-third full of oil and heat to 350 degrees. Add the chicken in batches (1 breast at time) and cook for 6 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels.

3. Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan, and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 1-2 minutes. Combine the extra cornflour with 1/4 cup of water, add to the pan and mix well. Cook for 1 minute, or until the sauce boils and thickens.

4. To Serve, slice the chicken, spoon on the sauce and garnish with the spring onion and lemon. Serve with rice. (or something else if you prefer)

This was decent, the sauce was a bit sweet for my taste and in the leftovers it really showed. The chicken was exceptionally tender so that was really nice and I was pretty excited about how it turned out after the initial troubles with the deep frying. Obviously this is pretty unhealthy, but it didn't seem that awful, all things considered.

Pictures here:
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Current Location: Bed (it's late!)

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Tonight's Dinner: Shrimp and Scallops with Wine and Vegetables
Jeff's Rating: 4.5 Yums Left Over Ratings: Edit: 4.5 Yums, and I ate them cold!
Things you need that aren't food: Standard kitchen stuff

This was pricey in terms of cost of the seafood, about $17 bucks of seafood, but when you consider it's going to be four meals...the price is worth it.

Recipe:
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp in shells
2 tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable oil) (use olive oil, trust me)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 medium green onions, sliced (about 2 tablespoons, or not more than 3)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 pound sea scallops, cut in half
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth (I used a really cheap bottle of Sutter Home 2006 Sauvignon Blanc $5 great for cooking; we drank it with the meal too and it was ok, not awesome or even really good, just ok)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (I was lazy and used the bottled stuff not fresh)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Peel the shrimp. Devein them if you need too. Cover and refrigerate.

2. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic, onions, carrots, and parsley about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are crisp-tender.

3. Stir in the shrimp, scallops and remaining ingredients. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are pink and firm and the scallops are white.

This was really tasty! I would have given it 5 yums but my shrimp were not of the best quality, and I think the dish suffered because of it. I would have really liked to garnish this dish quite a bit more than I did, I used dried parsley instead of fresh and I think that was a mistake, not from a flavour standpoint, but because of the garnishment capabilities of fresh herbs. I think another really nice touch would have been to roast strips of red pepper in olive oil at 300 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, then place these over top of the dish. Roasted red pepper has an amazing taste that pairs really well with seafood, especially cream and wine based sauces. I was going to open a bottle of Trefethen Chardonnay but I figured the Sauvignon Blanc would be alright, and it was. At the store they had a little section where you could buy small bottles of white and red "cooking wine" which might have been a good idea, but I prefer to use the real deal for one reason or another.

I took some pictures:

Pictures of the Food!Collapse )

I hope you enjoyed tonight's entry and I look forward to posting much more. If you have any requests or recipes for me to try out, please let me know. I love to try new things and all sorts of cooking styles.

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Tonight's Dinner: Sweet and Sour Chicken
Jeff's Rating:  (1 to 5 Yums) : 4 Yums Left Over Ratings: 1 Yum
Things you need that aren't food: A wok (or two!) and a ton of bowls and things to hold stuff

This took me over two hours to make, and was pretty crazy. It tasted quite good when I made it, but the left overs were pretty pathetic.  I'd serve it to company, but I would also try to get rid of it all that night.

Recipe:

Chicken:
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
3 teaspoons Chinese rice wine
pinch of white pepper
1lb of chicken, cut into cubes (5/8th of inch or so)
1/2 cup of plain flour
1/2 cup of cornflour (you can find it the Mexican food section of the local grocery stores)
1 teaspoon baking soda (Bicarbonate of Soda as the original recipe calls it)
oil, for deep frying.  I blended 60% peanut oil, 40% vegetable oil.

Sauce:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon very finely chopped ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1 small carrot, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 small green pepper, cut into thin strips about two inches long
1/2 cup of canned pineapple chunks well drained; reserve 1/3 cup of the juice
1/4 cup sliced bamboo shoots (in the Asian section of the grocery store)
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar (in the Asian section as well)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornflour combined with 1/2 cup of water

1. Combine the soy sauce, rice wine, and white pepper in a non-metal bowl, add the chicken and marinate for 30 minutes.

2. Combine the plain flour, cornflour, and baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt, then gradually add mix in 5 fluid ounces of cold water.  This will form a very sticky, thick batter.  (I used two additional ounces of water)  Add the chicken cubes and mix well with your hands.

3. Fill a wok one-third full of the oil and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celsius) or until a cube of bread browns in 15 seconds. Make small balls of chicken and dough and drop them into the oil.  Cook in small batches (4 or 5 at a time) for 1 1/2 minutes or until golden.  You may need to loosen the chicken from the bottom of the wok after about 1 minute of cooking, then they should float to the top. (Mine didn't really do this)  Drain the pieces well on a layer of crumpled paper towels and allow to cool to room temperature.  Remove the wok from the heat but reserve the oil.

4. To make the sauce heat a second wok (or a saucepan like me) until very hot, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the ginger, garlic, and onion and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the carrot and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add then add the green pepper and cook for 1 minute or until the vegetables are tender but still a bit crunchy.  Add the pineapple chunks and the bamboo shoots, toss well and cook for 1 minute or until heated through.  Remove from the wok.

5. Combined the tomato sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, cornflour mixture, and the reserved pineapple juice and pour it into the wok.  Cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce boils and thickens, then return the vegetables to the wok.  Stir well and then remove from the heat.

6. Re-heat the deep-frying oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Re-fry the chicken in two batches for 1-2 minutes or until crisp, golden and heated through. Drain on paper towels, then quickly combine with the sauce.  Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Wow...this was a killer cooking experience.  It my first time deep frying in the wok so that was pretty crazy.  Gathering all the ingredients up took up all my preparation bowls and technically the recipe calls for pork not chicken, but I didn't want pork.  It turned out really well despite the fact that for the sauce I used rice wine on accident (in place of rice vinegar) so who knows what if it would have been much better without that mistake.  I probably won't make this too often or even in the near future, only because of how the bad the leftovers were. If you have the right company over, and plenty of prep time, this could be a really impressive dish to serve.
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Tonight's Dinner: Malloreddus (Sardinian Sausage and Pasta)
Jeff's Rating: (1 to 5 Yums): 5 Yums Left Over Ratings: 4.5 Yums
Things you need that aren't food: Mad Shopping Skills and an Italian Market
See the variants section below the recipe for a much easier shopping trip

Recipe:

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves
7 ounces Italian pure pork sausage, diced small
2 small handfuls of fresh basil leaves
1 can (14 ounces) chopped Italian plum tomatoes
water, fill the emptied tomato can
a good pinch of saffron threads
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 cups malloreddus (gnocchi sardi)
1 cup freshly grated pecorino sardo cheese
salt (1 teaspoon) and ground black pepper

1 Heat the oil in a sauce pan or medium skillet. Add the garlic, sausage, and half of the basil leaves.  Fry, stirring like a madman (woman) until the sausage is browned all over.  Remove and discard of the garlic. Add the tomatoes.  Fill the empty can with water and pour it in the pan.  Then stir in the saffron, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to your taste.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a big ol' pot of boiling water and salt. According the directions on the package.

3. Drain the pasta and turn it into a warmed bowl. Pour sauce the over the pasta and toss well.  Add one third of the cheese and and the remaining basil and toss well to mix again.  Serve immediately with the remaining cheese sprinkled on top.

Variants because some of the stuff was hard to find:
I couldn't find malloreddus so I used Gemelli pasta... I know this completely changes the dynamic of the dish since it is named after the pasta that it calls for but it still tasted quite good. If I make it the right way one day I will post it again and let everyone know how it went.

Saffron threads I didn't even put in... I got angry at the store because I couldn't find any Saffron at all so I just did without...it tasted wonderful, I'm sure the addition would have been really nice as well.

Pecorino Sardo cheese was another that I couldn't find at Kroger, I didn't expect it to be there, but maybe I would get lucky?  I was lazy and disgraced fancy chefs everywhere by using Kraft Parmesan and Romano blend instead of true freshly grated cheese.

Italian Sausage... as a side note in this recipe it tells you that in Sardinia a special type of sausage is used. The sausage is flavoured with anise and black pepper and called sartizzu sardo.  Now comes the awesome part....a good alternative would be the piquant salsiccia piccante or luganega! (If you can find them!!) I used Kroger Brand Sweet Italian Sausage.

This was really really good. I would have really enjoyed a more authentic interpretation of this dish, but I wasn't in the mood to hunt down the ingredients. Carfagna's (in Columbus) would probably have all of the speciality items required. An Asian or Indian market would probably have the saffron.  It was pretty easy to make as well, so I really recommend that you try this out.  It will definitely impress anyone you cook this for.

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This is the first post in the "Dinner Journal" so I will post what we had for dinner awhile back, but I wrote it down with the intent of putting it in this journal. I cook for two each night, and then we have the left overs the next day for lunch. I will rate what I think of the dish and the next days left overs, because sometimes things just don't keep well.

So without further ado,

Tonight's Dinner: Chinese Beef and Asparagus with Oyster Sauce
Jeff's Rating: (1 to 5 Yums) : 4 Yums   Left Over's Rating: 4 Yums
Things you need that aren't food: Wok, Kitchen Scale (if you're picky about weights of stuff)

Recipe:
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1lb lean beef fillet, thinly sliced across the grain
2 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
6.5oz fresh thin asparagus, cut into thirds on the diagonal
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons julienned fresh ginger
1/4 cup chicken stock
2-3 tablespoons of oyster sauce

1. Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil and 2 teaspoons of the rice wine in a large non-metal bowl. Add the beef, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

2. Heat the wok over high, add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the asparagus and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Remove it from the wok.

3. Add another tablespoon of the vegetable oil and heat, add the beef in two batches, stir-frying each for 1-2 minutes or cooked through. Remove the beef from the wok and add it to the asparagus.

4. Add the remaining oil to wok, 1/2 tablespoon. Add the garlic and ginger the wok before the oil gets too hot.  Stir-fry for 1 minute or until it fragrant.  Pour the chicken stock, oyster sauce, and the remaining rice wine into the wok.  Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce is slightly reduced.  Add the beef and aspargus back to the wok and stir-fry for another minute or until everything is heated through and well-coated with the sauce.  Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Oyster Sauce sounds awful to me, but it was really very tasty.  I've found with most of the Asian style cooking I've done that things that really kind of gross me out usually make very complex flavours that are typically quite good. If the name or the ingredients are scaring you, they shouldn't until you've tried it.

I used a beef round top cut for this and it worked really well. It was already very thinly cut, and the marbling on the cut was really nice. It was pretty cheap too, and very lean.  51 calories and 1.39 grams of fat per ounce, so that is quite nice.

I guess I could have taken a picture or two of this dish and I think that is what I will do in the future, but like I said the first few posts will be about things I made about a week ago, but for future entrées I'll be sure to have some photos.

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Current Location: Computer Room

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