AM Musings - Recipes
 
I've updated this recipe - all ingredients can be obtained from Trader Joe's
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Ingredients


6 cups old fashioned rolled oats**
2/3 c coconut flakes***
3 cups total pecans, walnuts, cashews, almonds or other seeds and nuts****
3 tsp or more cinnamon (optional)
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3  c coconut oil (heat to liquify)
1/3  c maple syrup

**One Trader Joe's container of oats is about 6 cups
*** one TJ's pkg unsweetened   coconut flakes
**** or 1 pkg TJ's raw mixed nuts

Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl.  Pour coconut oil and maple syrup into a cup and drizzle over the oat mixture while stirring.  Mix thoroughly.  Toast on a cookie sheet at 275 degrees F (oven) for about 1 to  1-1/2 hours, stirring every 20 - 30 minutes until toasted to your liking.  Cool and put into an airtight container.  Dried fruits are optional.  I use 1/3 cup of granola with fresh blueberries, strawberries, and almond milk when I prepare my breakfast.

 
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Chili sesame oil
Hot, spicy and with a distinctly different flavor from any we’ve had, the secret is not just the ingredients, but also the technique.  Pan roasting and pounding in a mortar is a key technique.  Seeping the chili mixture in hot oil draws out the flavors.  
Ingredients:
            Whole Red Chili peppers (one part chili to 4 parts sesame seeds)
            Whole roasted sesame seeds (from Asian Markets)
            Neutral tasting oil (we use grape seed oil)
            Kosher salt
Technique
 Cut the stems off the chili and cut into rough pieces.  Toast the chili in a wok or cast iron pan until you can smell the aroma – stir occasionally.  Pound the chili with a mortar and pestle.  In a heat resistant container, add the pounded chili, a little salt (adjust later) and the toasted sesame seeds. 

Heat the oil until hot and carefully pour over the chili sesame seed mixture generously covering the chili sesame mixture.  The mixture should bubble.  Mix and let cool.  Adjust salt.  Store chili oil in covered glass jars.  When using, scoop out some of the ground chili sesame mixture with the oil.  Good on everything!

Note:  Be careful touching the chili and wash the wok or pan thoroughly.

*  Hardworking gregarious Tony Lu (Lu Wei) our tour guide in China is a native of Xi’an, Shaanxi province.  Xi’an -- west and south of Beijing -- was the center of ancient China.  Tony made friends everywhere and they became his “cousins” meaning someone who he could go to for help and advice.   After he gave Chris his family’s recipe for chili Oil, we decided to call it, “Cousin Tony’s Hot Chili Oil”. 

 
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10 minute steamed eggs
A recent Cooks Magazine article discussed a new technique for making soft and hard boiled eggs.  Instead of boiling the eggs in a pot of water, you put 1/2" of water in the pot and when it comes to a boil you add the eggs, cover and "steam"  6-1/2 minutes for soft boiled eggs.  It tried it and it works.    When I added the eggs to the pot, a couple of the shells cracked so I wondered how I could prevent the cracking. 

Since the eggs cook by steaming rather than boilding, I though I could try steaming them in a double boiler with an steaming basket so the eggs don't touch the water at all.  The logic behind the steaming method is that adding eggs to boiling water changes the temperature of the water and makes the timing more difficult.  With steam, regardless of the number of eggs you add, the water temperature should stay stable and the steam should be constant and therefore the timing can be more consistent.

Katie wanted hard boiled eggs so we tried steaming it for 10 minutes and this is the result.  After 10 minutes, put the eggs into a bowl of cold water and crack the shells all over to let the cold water seep inside.  After an hour or so when the eggs have cooled, they should peel fairly easily.  If you are making deviled eggs, you may want to increase the steaming time to 12 minutes so that you have right consistency to mash the egg yolks.
 
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Dried Mushrooms - gogi berries - jujube dates - dried tangerine peel - winter melon
Winter Melon Soup is healthy and satisfying. Good for what ails you, it is easy to make and a staple for Chinese cooks.
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Winter Melon
INGREDIENTS






About 3/4 lb of pork butt or similar cut or pork bones
3 Chicken carcasses or chicken backs, necks, feet or a combination
1/4 of a medium sized winter melon - traditional chunks or cubed
3 medium pieces dried tangerine peel
6 dried jujube dates
6-8 dried shitake mushrooms
salt to taste

Optional
1 tablespoon dried goji berries
1 small piece virginia ham

Technique
Cover the pork, bones and other meat products with water and bring to a high boil.  Boil for 1 minute to bring the scum to the surface.  Drain and wash the pot out to remove all scum.  Rinse and drain the meat and bones about 3 times until all the minute little piece are rinsed away.  Using the cleaned pot, add the meat and cover with water.  

Scrub the exterior of the winter melon to remove the white powdery coating and remove the inner seeds and membrane.  The homestyle way to cooking the winter melon is to cut it into large square or triangular chunks about 3" across and add to the water and meat.

Rinse the dried tangerine peel, shitake mushrooms, jujube dates and gay gee and add to the soup mixture.  Bring to a simmer and simmer covered for at least 2 hours.  

Optional Cubed Method:
I cube the melon flesh to make it easier to eat, but I add the melon rind and remove it at the end of the cooking period. The rind seems to add additional flavor to the soup. For a more upscale presentation, when serving, slice the mushrooms into slivers and add additional slivers of cooked virginia ham to garnish the top.
 
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Kimchi fried rice ingredients
This can be done quickly and makes a satisfying snack when you are hungry. 

Ingredients  (adjust quantities as needed for the amount of rice used)
  Leftover rice
  Kimchi - roughly chopped and rinsed if desired
  1 egg
  seasame oil
  green onions - sliced
  seasame seeds

In a non-stick frying pan, saute for two minutes the chopped kimchi with seasame oil.  Wet your hands with water and crumble the leftover rice into the frying pan.  Add a little kimchi juice or water as needed to allow the leftover rice to re-steam.  Add the green onion.  When the mixture is hot, push the rice mixture to one side and break an egg into the empty spot.  When the egg starts to set, but the yolk is still runny.  Scramble the egg with a spatula and mix into the rice mixture.  Serve in a bowl with seasame seeds sprinkled on top.   Any Korean reading this will start salivating for some now.  If you don't know what "yobo" means, ask your Korean friend.
 
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The finished Kim Chi
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Kim Chi Ingredients - napa cabbage, kosher salt, garlic chives, red pepper powder, jut, ginger, and garlic
Ingredients
  1 large head of Napa Cabbage Cut into 2" x 3" pieces
  1-1/2 cups shredded daikon (optional - I didn't have any on hand for these photos)
  2 cups of garlic chives cut into 3" lengths
  Kosher salt

In a large stainless steel bowl add single layers of cut cabbage.  Sprinkle the cabbage with a generous handful of salt so that is is a light coating on the cabbage leaves.  Alternate layers of cabbage, daikon,  and salt until cabbage and daikon is used up.  
Set cabbage aside for about 3-4 hours or overnight.  Warmer temperature will require less time.  After 3 hours, rinse a piece of cabbage and taste.  The cabbage should be wilted, taste pleasantly salty and the raw taste should be gone.  You will learn the taste to look for.  If it still tastes raw, then allow to sit longer.

When it tastes right, you are ready to proceed.  At this point you can rinse the cabbage, drain, return to the pot and add the cut garlic chives  and let it sit for another hour or so.

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Kim chi seasonings in blender
Seasoning Mix
 
Ginger - 2" piece peeled and cut into rough pieces
  Garlic  - 8  cloves peeled
  Granular Red Pepper Powder - 1/3 cup
  Jut - 3/4 tsp. (optional)*
  1 cup water


In a blender add the Seasoning mix ingredients and blend for about 3-4 minutes.  The mixture should have the consistency of oatmeal.  Add water if needed.  If the pepper powder is not too old, the color of the seasoning mix should have a slight orange tinge. 

*Jut is brined shrimp sold in jars in Korean stores.  It is very salty with a strong fermented smell.  You may grow recognize and love the slight seafood undertone in kimchi made with jut. 

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Mix in the seasonings by hand
Taste the rinsed kim chi again and add a bit of salt if necessary and mix.  Pour about 3/4 of the blender ground seasoning mix over the cabbage and with your hands (use gloves if you want) mix and slightly squeeze the seasonings into the cabbage.  Taste.  Add more seasoning if needed.
In a clean 2 quart glass jar, press the kimchi into the bottom and the jar.  One cabbage head should fit into the jar.  Rinse the blender container and stainless steel bowl with a little water and add water to the jar until the water level comes up to about midway point of the jar.  Cover the jar with the lid.

When is it ready to eat? If you want to have some right away, you can season some with sesame oil, mix and serve.  If you want it to ferment quickly, let it sit on the counter.  It should be ready in about a day or two.

Best to wrap the jar in a plastic bag (to contain the smell) and let it ferment in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  It should reach its peak in about 5 days when it still has a "fresh" quality and hopefully - effervescent bubbles.  After it reaches this peak, then it will start to go "stale" and you should finish it rather quickly or use it to cook another dish like kimchi fried ric

 
 
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Pine Street Paella
Ingredients:6 Chicken Thighs
18 Large Shrimp Shell on - de-veined
18 - 24 Large manila clams or Mussels (or a combination)
2 - 4 links Chorizo 

Olive oil
3 cups medium grain rice
1 medium onion chopped
1 sweet red pepper chopped
saffron - generous pinch
chicken broth or hot water
Sliced pimentos 

capers
Kosher salt
peas
Minced garlic
chopped parsley
capers
Wedges of lemon

The quantities aren't exact and the all the ingredients aren't essential.  Paella is basically a flavored rice.  The essential flavor ingredients are sofrito, saffron and other flavorful ingredients.  This rich paella includes chorizo, clams, shrimp, and chicken.  


Advance Preparation
Several hours or the night before:
1.    Marinate the chicken by sprinkling with kosher salt and pepper, minced garlic and olive oil.  Store in refrigerator bringing it out to the counter about 1 hour before cooking to bring it up to room temperature.

2.    I essentially make a camarones al mojo de ajo with the shrimp  to make the shrimp very flavorful.  Prepare the shrimp by pulling off the legs and deveining. (Note:  I use Costco shrimp when available.  It is already deveined.)  Put the shrimp legs into a medium sauce pan and set aside for steaming the clams.  Sprinkle the shrimp with kosher salt and let sit for about 30 minutes or more.  Pat dry.  Mince 6 cloves of garlic.  Heat a saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the garlic and shrimp.  Do not crowd the pan.  Saute the shrimp until they turn pink and the shell is translucent.  Under cook the shrimp as they will finish cooking when added to the rice.  Set aside.


Begin Cooking about 1-1/2 hours before serving
3.    Slice the chorizo on a diagonal.  Set a well seasoned wok or paella pan on a medium fire and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Saute the chorizo for a few minutes.  Continue to saute until there are browned edges to the chorizo.  Put sauteed chorizo into a bowl and set aside.


4.Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.4.    In the same pan as the chorizo, saute the chicken pieces as the chorizo until browned and set aside.

5.    Set the sauce pan with the shrimp legs over high heat and bring to a boil.  Add the clams and mussels.  Turn the heat down slightly and cover for 1 minute.  After one minute check regularly.  As soon as the the clams and mussels open, take them out individual and set in another bowl.  Continue steaming until all live clams and mussels have opened.  Clams and mussel that don't open are dead and should be discarded.  Drain any liquid from the opened clams back into the broth and strain the contents to remove any sand and shrimp lets from the liquid using a fine strainer or cheesecloth into another bowl.  Add enough hot water or chicken broth make about 2 cups of hot liquid.  Add about 6 strands of saffron to the hot broth and set aside.  The broth should turn bright yellow and will color the rice.
 
6.     Prepare sofrito:  Set pan on the medium fire again and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add minced garlic, chopped onion and chopped sweet red peppers to the pan.  Saute gently until the mixture is soft and the onions are translucent.  

7.    Add the rice and stir occasionally.  Take care not to burn the rice.  Saute until the rice starts to become chalky.  

8.    At this time the pan will be very hot.  Carefully add the hot saffron broth to the rice and stir.  Liquid should cover the rice by about 1/2".  Simmer for a minute and  nestle the chicken thighs and chorizo slices into the rice in a circular pattern.  Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.  Check the mixture occasionally and add broth as needed and check the chicken.  When the last bits of pink in the center of the chick thigh are starting to fade, add the clams and mussels to the top and sprinkle with the thawed frozen peas and sliced pimentos.  Put covered paella pan or wok into the pre-heated oven and cook for another 15 minutes.until the liquid is absorbed to the top of the rice.  
  
9.    At this time the rice should be cooked, the peas still bright green, and everything should be hot.  Take note of the timing of when everything went in.  If something is not cooked to the right degree, then adjust the timing of the addition of that ingredient next time.  Uncover, sprinkle with the capers, chopped parsley and serve with wedges of lemon.

Note:  When properly made the bottom of the pan will have a crust of rice.  It should be browned, but not burnt.  When it sits at the table, it will soften slightly.  Some guests love this part and scrape the bottom to get some.

Serves 6
 
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In Cantonese we call the savory filling of a dumpling "hom" or salty ingredient.   







 Ingredients 
     1/2 pound pork butt - chopped
     1/2 head napa cabbage - shredded,   
     salted, rinsed, and squeezed dry**
     ginger - finely shredded or grated
     salt
     white pepper
 ** for a Korean version, rinse kimchee and chop finely                                                

There's something about succulent slightly fatty pork seasoned with ginger, garlic and soy sauce - just assertive enough to capture your attention and then allow you to move on to other sensations. 

Shred napa cabbage and put into a colander to drain.  Add a generous amount of salt, mix and let it sit for about 20 minutes to extract the liquid from the cabbage.  Rinse the cabbage to remove the excess salt and squeeze dry with your hands.  The amount of salted and squeezed cabbage should be about 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of chopped pork.  While salting the cabbage, chop the meat.

The texture of the meat is important. Chewy with bite, juicy and creamy all at the same time.   Hand chopping is the classic method.  I admit I take a shortcut and grind the meat by machine.  The old way is to chop the meat using two large Chinese cleavers like a drummer in a rock band.  You get a varied texture  with some hefty chunks as well as creamy paste.  When you grind it by machine, it's all uniform with no creamy texture.  

Or - try approximating the hand chopping technique by double or triple grinding a portion to give it a varied texture.  Either way, lighten the texture by beating it.  Beat the chopped meat in the same circular direction with your bare hand.  

This northern dish has  a simplicity of ingredients that I admire.  Pork, cabbage, and seasonings.  Its the technique and proportions that count.  Season with salt, white pepper, and finely grated ginger.  Cook a small portion of the seasoned meat and taste.  Correct seasonings.  The potsticker hom is ready to use.