The recipes on this blog are a combination of things I've learned over the years and meals inherited through generations of adoration for good food. They are a cherished property, so please be good to them.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Crossing the Bridge" Noodles

This dish is a tradition in western China and is also known as guò qiáo mĭxiàn. The dish got its name from a story of a woman whose husband was studying for the imperial examinations and would deliver his lunch to him every day. She had to cross a bridge to get it too him, so she made the broth really hot to be sure it would still be warm for him.
The famous local dish features super hot broth topped with a thin layer of duck fat in which you quickly add slivers of meat, fish, egg and vegetables while at your table, but I chose to change this recipe up to suit my dinner needs. For starters, no duck fat. The fat is used to create a layer to preserve heat, but since I was serving this immediately, I chose to omit it. (I also can't bring myself to obtain or use duck fat.) Additionally, I used from scratch egg noodles, par boiled before adding to the broth. You can certainly use store prepared egg noodles for this dish. If you don't make your own noodles, this could certainly be an easy, mid-week dinner!

1 1/4 c all purpose flour

1tsp salt
3 small eggs

To prepare the noodles, sift the flour and salt onto a work surface and create a well in the center. Break the eggs into the center of the well. Using your fingers, slowly work the eggs into the flour to make a soft dough. Lightly dust your work surface and place the dough on it. Knead until dough is smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Cover the the dough with a piece of oiled plastic wrap and let rest for about 20 minutes.

6 oz boneless chicken breasts, sliced into small thin pieces
1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp , plus one tbsp soy sauce (to top each bowl of soup)
6 c chicken stock
salt and ground white pepper to taste
3 spring onions, including tender green tops sliced thin, keeping white and green parts separate
1/4 c chopped cilantro

To begin preparing the soup:
Place the chicken in a dish and add the rice wine, ginger and 1 tsp soy sauce. Mix well and let marinate in fridge for about 30 minutes or while you prepare the noodles.

(Using a hand cranked pasta machine)
On the same floured work surface, lightly kneed the dough again for about 3 minutes, until it feels elastic. Divide into 2 equal parts. Working with 1 piece at a time, flatten your piece and set the machine to the widest setting. Lightly dust the flattened dough and pass through the roller. Reset the rollers a width narrower, fold the dough into thirds, dust if needed with flour and pass through the rollers again. Repeat decreasing the setting each time until you have a wide, thin strip of dough (setting 2 on most machines). Roll up the dough lightly into a cylinder and using a sharp knife, cut crosswise into noodles about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
Toss the noodles lightly with flour and hang to rest until soup is ready. Repeat process with remaining dough.

To continue making the soup, pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring slowly to a boil over medium heat. While the stock is heating, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the noodles and cook until just tender about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under hot water. (This should be done only with fresh noodles, to remove any starch or flour) Divide the noodles evenly into each bowl.

To finish the soup, add the chicken to the simmering stock, season with 1 tbsp soy sauce , the salt and pepper and add the white parts of the scallions. Simmer until chicken is cooked through about 1 minutes. Ladle the hot soup over the noodles, and top with green parts of scallions and chopped cilantro.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blueberry Power Smoothie

Trader Joe's has reasonably priced frozen fruit and I just love using frozen fruit during the winter/early spring months when fruit is not in season, and the impostor fruit at the grocery stores taste like cardboard.

My mother has been ill and is recovering from a serious surgery along with facing many months of chemotherapy treatment. When someone is faced with a disease like cancer, nutrition is a huge part of the recovery. With a jeopardized immune system, whey protein powder is a great way of adding proteins, which causes an increase in antioxidants.

With all of this information I created a power smoothie for my mom, that not only tastes great, but is easy to ingest under these conditions.

**You can omit the whey protein powder and flax seed oil to just enjoy an antioxidant jam-packed smoothie! This is a really great smoothie to drink first thing in the morning or after a hefty workout!

1 c ice
1/2 non fat yogurt
1 c frozen blueberries
1 scoop (about 2 tbsp) whey protein powder**
1/4 cup cranwater ( This is 4 oz cranberry to 20 oz water; make it and save it in a bottle)
1 tbsp flax seed oil **

Mix all ingredients together in a blender and blend for about 2 minutes.
Serve immediately.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Beer Batter Fish with Chips

I love fish and chips, but they have to be made really well and with perfectly plump white fish, preferably cod. Having been to London and Ireland, I know a good fish fryer when I see one and chips can't be anything other than skin-on sliced potato wedges, fried in the same oil as the fish. Again, these are all my preferences, but trying it any other way just doesn't seem authentic.

Beer batter is quite possibly the easiest concept ever, but frying the fish perfectly is the hardest part of the task. You have to slowly drop the batter covered fish into your oil and wait for a crust to start to form, before releasing the rest of the fish into the oil. With long enough tongs, it shouldn't take you too long to master the fry.

Beer Batter:
12 oz beer (I used a dark ale)
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

1 lb fresh cod, sliced into 1 inch wide strips
3-4 Idaho potatoes, sliced into wedges, about 8 per potato

In a Dutch oven, (if you own a fryer, go ahead and use it) heat oil to 375 degrees F.

Fry potatoes until golden brown, roughly 10 minutes removing with a slotted spoon or spider.
Place in a low oven to keep warm while cooking the fish.

Pat fish dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper and coat the fish in the beer batter.
Fry fish, turning over frequently, until deep golden and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Fry remaining fish in batches, returning oil to 375 degrees F between batches.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Meyer Lemon Penne with Shrimp and Basil

The Meyer lemon is a citrus fruit, originating from China. The fruit is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. The flavor is not as tart as a true lemon and its a wonderful compliment for this dish. You can substitute true lemon as well in this dish.

2/3 c good quality olive oil
2/3 c grated Parmesan
1/2 c fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp Meyer lemon zest
1/3 c chopped fresh basil leaves
1 lb whole wheat penne
1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm, about 10 minutes.

In a fry pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add shrimp, in a single layer, cooking until just pink, about 3-5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend. Drain the penne, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the penne with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Add shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.