Monday, August 31, 2009

Mongolian Beef

I tried this recipe for the first time yesterday, and it tastes just like PF Chang's. I used green onions and white onion.

Mongolian Beef

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
Vegetable oil, for frying (about 1 cup)
1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large green onions

Make the sauce by heating 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat. Don't get the oil too hot. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches.

Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, and then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4" thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.

As the beef sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok (you may also use a skillet for this step as long as the beef will be mostly covered with oil). Heat the oil over medium heat until it's nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and sauté for just two minutes, or until the beef just begins to darken on the edges. You don't need a thorough cooking here since the beef is going to go back on the heat later. Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly.

After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels, and then pour the oil out of the wok or skillet. Put the pan back over the heat, dump the meat back into it and simmer for one minute. Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring, then add all the green onions. Cook for one more minute, and then remove the beef and onions with tongs or a slotted spoon to a serving plate. Leave the excess sauce behind in the pan.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies. What else can I say? They are the most classic cookie there is. However, there are a MILLION recipes for chocolate chip cookies. How can you tell if one is good? You won't be able to unless you try them yourself, and there are just too many recipes to do that! I have had quite a few different kinds, though, and let me tell you, I always end up back at this recipe. It is the best there is. They aren't crunchy and they aren't bland. They are delicious.

Cream together:
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. shortening
½ c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix, then add:
1 ¾ c. flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ c. chocolate chips

Bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes.

Barbecue Meatballs

I always struggle coming up with something new to do with meatballs. I have a different meatball recipe that I use when I use them in Italian food that I will post next time I make them, but this meatball recipe is great with barbecue sauce and sweet and sour sauce.

Barbecue Meatballs
1½ lbs. ground beef
1/3 c. minced onion
2/3 c. crackers crumbs
1 egg
1½ tsp. salt
¼ c. milk
Mix together. Roll into balls and place sides touching on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes, or cook in hot oil in a large skillet. (I have cooked them both ways, and I like the oven best I think)

Barbecue Sauce:
1 (12 ounce) bottle Chile sauce
1 1/4 cups grape jelly
3 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
In a medium saucepan, mix the Chile sauce, mustard, and grape jelly over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until jelly is melted.

I have also done this in the crockpot. Just mix the sauce, and add cooked meatballs. The jelly won't melt right away, but that's okay. Just stir it up about halfway through.

Teriyaki Chicken

I have searched for a very long time for a teriyaki sauce recipe that comes close to a Japanese restaurant. I finally found one, and it is really good! I do have to put a disclaimer in here, though. I double the sauce when I make it for chicken, and add just a little less soy sauce than it calls for. It is a little too salty if you use the full two cups. Also, I put some of the sauce aside before I thicken it when I want to marinade and meat. Then I thicken the remaining sauce. Yum!

Teriyaki Sauce
2/3 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
1 cup soy sauce
4 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup white sugar
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 dash red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water
Bring mirin to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour in soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. Season with garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and black pepper; simmer an additional 5 minutes. Add cornstarch and water to thicken. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

White Chocolate Mousse in Chocolate Dessert Cups

Chocolate Dessert Cups
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. shortening
In microwave or double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and shortening, stirring often to make sure it doesn’t burn. Brush evenly onto the inside of 8 paper muffin cup liners. Chill until hardened (about 30 minutes). Remove liners. Fill with desired dessert.

White Chocolate Mousse
1 C. white chocolate ¼ c. whipping cream
1 Tbsp. Raspberry sauce
1 ½ c. whipping cream, whipped
Combine chocolate and cream in heavy saucepan. Heat until chocolate melts, stirring constantly. Cool. Stir in raspberry sauce, then fold in whipped cream. Raspberry Sauce: 1 10 oz. pkg. frozen raspberries, thawed 2 Tbsp. sugar Blend raspberries until pureed. Strain to remove seeds. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. To serve: Pipe or spoon into serving dish or molded chocolate. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce. Garnishes: Mint leaves, fresh raspberries.

Here is a step by step picture how-to on the chocolate dessert cups.

Now this is a double boiler. This is something I did not learn how to do until I was out of my parents' house. You take a saucepan and fill it with some water. Bring to a boil and place a glass or metal bowl on top. The steam and heat will evenly melt your chocolate.

There are two different ways that I have made the chocolate dessert cups. The first way is cutting waxed paper into circles. Put the waxed paper circles on the backs of a muffin pan.

I am not a huge fan of the way these look. They aren't as clean cut as the other way, and it's hard to get the wax paper to go around the muffin cups to form enough of a cup to fill. The second way I have made these is on the insides of paper muffin cups. This way is kind of tricky. I will give you a few pointers.

If the chocolate is not thick enough, they WILL break apart when you take the paper off of them.

I put a large spoonful of melted chocolate in the bottom of the paper muffin cup. Then, using a basting brush, brush chocolate up the sides of the paper cup, leaving a little bit of space at the top for peeling off the paper.

I found that the best way to brush the chocolate up the side is to first "push" the chocolate up from the spoonful . Then go back over the sides pulling additional chocolate up to coat the first layer. Then let the chocolate set in the freezer.
You have to be very cautious in handling the chocolate once it sets. The best way to remove the papers is to not touch the chocolate AT ALL. This is why it is best to leave a little space at the top. I just handled the papers at the top, not holding the sides. It is a little difficult to manage the cups gently enough.
Fill the chocolate cups with White Chocolate Mousse and drizzle with raspberry sauce. You can either do this with a piping bag or a baggie with a small whole cut into a corner.

It sure makes them look pretty!

Garnish with fresh raspberries (or when in a pinch, thawed frozen raspberries!) and mint leaves.

What a great looking finished product!