Sunday, April 15, 2012

Baked Egg Puffs

I had heard of Jessica Seinfeld's book Deceptively Delicious— a cookbook that concentrates on family recipes that use vegetable purees to hide vegetables in children's meals. 

I scoffed at that. Kids should just learn to eat their vegetables– make it yum, let it stay green and they will eat it. Simple. We ate our vegetables growing up, and except for bitter gourd and eggplant, I pretty much eat and love every vegetable out there! 

Then at my baby shower my friend Mumtaz gifted me the book. The recipes looked delicious, which made me disregard the 'deceptive' part and concentrate on the 'delicious' (and healthy and easy). 

I still advocate giving your kids vegetables as they are, these recipes are for the bonus serving of veggies!

Below is my slightly revised recipe.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

Nonstick cooking spray
2 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup yellow squash or butternut squash puree
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Coat 4 (1/2-cup) ramekins or coffee cups with cooking spray and set on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites, squash puree, cheese, flour, baking powder and salt until well combined. 

Divide the mixture among the ramekins or cups and bake until the tops are puffed up and the eggs are no longer runny in the center when pierced with the tip of a knife, 13 to 15 minutes. 
Serve immediately. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Kung Po (Inspired) Chicken

I absolutely love Ching-He Huang's recipes. Her recipes are easy, quick and simply delicious! And this one is quite healthy. Tonight we were craving something spicy and Asian so Kung Po Chicken felt like the obvious decision. The reason this is 'inspired' is because I didn't add the cashews and swopped the red peppers for shiitake mushrooms and bok choy. However, the sauce is exactly as she wrote in the recipe. Read below for the improvised recipe. 

Quoting Ching-He Huang from her book Ching's Everyday Easy ChineseThis is a classic dish from Sichuan. It is named after Ding Baochen (1820–86), a governor of Sichuan; "Gong Bao" or "Kung Po" means "Palatial Guardian", in reference to his official title. I love this spicy-sweet dish, but can't stand versions of it made with oyster sauce or cabbage. In my view, it should be numbingly spicy, sweet and tangy. There are many variations of the dish and this is my home-style Western version. The tang comes from the Chinkiang black rice vinegar. 

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook in: 10 minutes
Serves: 2–4 to share


For the sauce
7 tbsp cold vegetable stock
1 tbsp of light soy sauce
1 tbsp of tomato ketchup
1 tbsp of Chinkiang black rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp of hoisin sauce
1 tsp of chili sauce
1 tbsp of cornstarch

For the chicken

2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch slices
Salt and white ground pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch or potato flour

1 tbsp of peanut oil
2 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorns
4 dried red chilies
1 tbsp of Shaoshing rice wine or dry sherry
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4–5 baby bok choy, sliced
2 scallions, chopped into 1-inch lengths
Handful of dry-roasted cashews 

Add all the ingredients of the sauce to a medium bowl and stir to combine.

Place the chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. 
Add the cornstarch and mix well to coat the chicken pieces. 

Heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke and then add the peanut oil. 
Add the Sichuan peppercorns and dried chilies and fry for a few seconds, then add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 2 minutes. 
As the chicken begins to turn opaque, add the rice wine or dry sherry. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour in the sauce, bring to a boil.
Add the vegetables, and cook in the sauce with the chicken for another 2 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and the sauce has thickened and become slightly sticky in consistency. 

Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute.
Toss in the cashews, then transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Perfect Poach

I could never poach an egg. A carton of wasted eggs later, I gave up and bought a poacher. It worked great and got me poached eggs on my plate. And all I wanted when I was pregnant were poached eggs sandwiches with cucumber slices! So when Bon Appetit did an article on The Perfect Poach I figured I needed to give it another try. And it worked! 

To quote from Bon Appetit:
Crack an egg, drop it into boiling water, and you'll get a poached egg, right? If it were that simple, there wouldn't be a million egg- poaching gadgets on the market. For clarity, we consulted the perfectionists at Thomas Keller's Per Se in New York, where chef de cuisine Eli Kaimeh gave us his number-one piece of advice: Start with a fresh egg. As an egg ages, the white deteriorates, which is why some poached eggs go floppy, surrounded by jellyfish-like tendrils of whites. At Per Se they put the raw egg in vinegar before cooking, which tightens the white so it's less likely to spread out. Instead of dropping the egg into simmering water, they stir the boiling liquid until it forms a whirlpool. The egg is placed in the vortex, creating the compact shape you see at restaurants that can be hard to achieve at home. Then they simmer it for exactly two minutes. That's the magic number to yield a cooked-through yet tender white and a thickened but runny yolk. You want "a lava-like flow of the yolk," says Kaimeh. And lots of buttered toast to go with it.

Here is a step by step guide on how to do it, with images.
Pour 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar into each of 2 small bowls. Crack 1 large egg into each bowl, taking care not to break the yolk; let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. 

Using a whisk, vigorously swirl water until a vortex forms in the center.

Slip one egg with vinegar into vortex and continue to swirl water with whisk around edges of pan until it returns to a boil. The egg white should wrap tightly around the yolk, forming an oval shape.

As soon as water returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium and gently simmer egg, frequently swirling water, for 2 minutes. 

Using a slotted spoon, lift egg from water and use kitchen shears to trim any stray pieces of egg white. Place egg on paper towels and gently blot; transfer egg to a bowl or plate.

Repeat with remaining egg.

If poaching more than 2 eggs, repeat using fresh water. 
Season with coarse sea salt (such as Maldon) and freshly ground black pepper.

Do ahead. Can be made 1 day ahead. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Cover, chill. Rewarm in a saucepan of simmering water for one minute.