When I was in the Ole store in Beijing last year I saw Karo Dark Corn Syrup and the first thing I thought of was one of my favorite Paul Prudhomme recipes, sweet potato pecan pie. While all of the other ingredients are reasonable, pecans in China are crazy expensive. When I came back from the U.S. this last trip I brought enough pecans for 4 pies (or some other things). To make this an authentic Chinese dish I believe I will get sweet potatos from the street vendor next time. But for this pie we used 3 large sweet potatos baked for one hour and then peeled. The pie was very good, and when matched with traditional Chantilly Cream it was extraordinary.
I am on a mission to perfect my chicken. Since I am lacking a meat thermometer at the moment its not easy to get perfection. And I need to learn my oven. Unfortunately my wife is not a big fan of chicken, but she will have to deal with it for a few weeks. I do not think she will suffer too much, she devoured at least half of one I fixed tonight. So why am I suddenly fascinated by chicken you might ask? Julia Child of course.
"You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast chicken. While it does not require years of training to produce a juicy, brown, buttery, crisp-skinned bird, it does entail such a greed for perfection that one is under the compulsion to hover over the bird, listen to it, above all see that it is continually basted, and that it is done just to the proper turn."
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
The first attempt was made using the spit roaster in our oven. The bird was stuffed with sausage, onion mixed with cornbread from my father-in-law. Then it was wrapped in bacon that had been boiled for 5 minutes and roasted for 70 minutes. Sadly I cannot control the temperature using the spit, and thus was forced to judge by eye. It was tasty, but next we try a basic, unstuffed, Poulet Roti.
I have wanted to go to Ruth Chris for a long time but have just never made it there. Now it is more of a chain restaurant and has lost some of that appeal for me. But I still wanted to try a steak prepared in that style so a few days ago I prepared an extremely nice piece of beef tenderloin for Annie and I. The beef was done very similar to how I do all of my grilled steaks. I marinade in soy sauce for about 30 minutes and then rub them down with salt, fresh pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin. Then a light olive oil is applied to completely seal the beef and this creates a paste that coats the meat. Then they sit until I get the grill heated up. Charcoal is best but since its November I grill them inside over gas for 7 minutes each side. For this dish I pulled them off and then fried them in a hot skillet with olive oil and butter.
The prawns were soaked in lime juice for about an hour and grilled for 3 min each side just prior to serving. The brussel sprouts were ran through the food processor to get a really thin slice. They were sauteed in olive oil. I had 3 types of small gourmet potatoes. Red, white and blue/purple. These were cut in small wedges and boiled in water with sea salt. I took one carrot and used a peeler to get a small bowl of super thin carrot slices. These were tossed in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes.
The key was timing everything which really wasn't that hard. Potato first on the plate, then brussel sprouts, then carrots, then steak and finally prawns. And critically of course, the Stone Brewing Levitation Ale, gold medal winner at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival. Awesome beer, awesome meal
So I tried using some more of those Beijing peaches. This was baked in a 8 cup souffle pan using my version of a Paula Deen recipe. Some of the changes I make are to cut the sugar in half, use nutmeg in the syrup and cinnamon over the top. I also add about 1/4 of a cup of rum to the batter.
Peaches are everywhere in Beijing right now, and they have these huge ones that look really nice. They are different from the peaches in the U.S., they are much firmer, almost like an apple but they still taste like peaches. Because of this texture it opens up some possibilities for trying some new things (like grilling them). I did some experimenting with a Rachel Ray dish that uses peaches, peach preserves, hot sauce and some other things to make a great chicken dish. I served this with a different version of my usual basic baked rice, instead going for a lighter rice with edamame. This was plated with grilled eggplant and zuchinni. It was very good, and I look forward to using some other fruits (mango etc) in the same way, or perhaps mixing them to develop this further. The plating wasn't that good, as always I need to work on presentation.
I am still trying to find a way to prepare a decent pot roast here in China. I think the only way to get it the way I want is to find a slow cooker (one of the few things I failed to bring to Beijing). This meal consisted of a roast I purchased at Schilling and prepared from Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen. The color was a perfect, very light pink when finished but not very tender. Almost all of the roasts I have attempted here have turned out this way. The sides were a potato salad I made using Hard Boiled Egg and Hot Pepper Dressing - from the same cookbook. This was placed along with steamed broccoli and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Not a bad meal - just not a great meal.
I decided to make some "man-food" and for that you can always count on Guy Fieri for a good recipe. I was in the Schindler's branch located inside the Lohai in Central Park and saw some nice pork ribs (i.e. baby back). I was nosing around FoodTV's site for a good bbq recipe and happen to see Guy's recipe. I made a few changes by reducing both the amount of pork ribs and italian sausage (by half), and adding additional tomato to increase the amount of sauce. All other ingredients remain the same.
Pork Ribs: (1lb - 460 grams)
Italian Sausage: (3/4 lb - 400 grams)
Peeled Tomatos: (4 1/2 cups)
This was plated over fresh pasta from my Imperia pasta maker. The side dish is grilled egg plant served with Hot Pepper Vinegar from Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.
After a couple of weeks of either eating food from restaurants or not eating at all I found myself craving some gumbo. This recipe is from Paul Prudhomme's Fork in the Road (page 54). I did not have access to flank steak in Beijing, so I used 450 grams of beef tenderloin. One of the great things about this recipe is the cooking method that gives you a great tasting dish but in a very healthy way. A one cup serving has the following when served with one cup of rice:
23% of calories from fat
The only problem with gumbo is I have never figured out a way to plate it so that it looks special. For this plate I used a measuring cup (1 cup size) to mold the rice and then spooned approximately 2 cups of gumbo. I tried putting some flat parsley on top to make it look better, but it really didnt help and the flavor of the parsley was not a good match. But an ice cold London Pride beer was a great match.
I love good salads but for the most part I will not eat them in China. If the prep includes rinsing the greens in tap water you are screwed, and I've been sick way to often to just invite a free incident. There are a few exceptions to my self-imposed salad exile and one of those places is LMPlus. I am not sure how Mass is making the dressing, but it is incredibly good. I suspect the key is a very, very good olive oil. I use quite a bit of olive oil so I will probably have to keep one for general use and one very good one for dressings. I am just not an expert on olive oil, so I need to look into how to pick something out that is suitable for dressing.
I have been trying to work with chicken to create more healthy alternatives. For this salad I grilled chicken breast and then ran it through the food chopper to get a fine grind. This went on top of a bed of greens and then I stacked chopped tomato on top so the chicken would be nice and moist. I want to create some type of chicken salad but avoid the use of mayo. Other ingredients for this include a red pepper gouda cheese, cucumbers, shredded zucchini and capers.On the side of the salad are slices of fresh zucchini bread. I had to make mine without chopped walnuts because they are very expensive here. It literally adds between $7 - $10 to the cost of making 2 loves of bread. Forget using pecans, I can only find them in the spring and summer and their cost is more then the walnuts.
We made a trip to a market just west of the Westin Hotel today and I was very impressed with how clean the market was. I picked up quite a bit of fruit, vegetables and about 2.2 lbs of beef tenderloin. All of the items in tonights dinner came from the market including the baked potatos which were awesome. The beef tenderloin was not the best for grilling. It was fine, but not as tender as I would have liked. I will return to this market over the next few days and learn more about what is available. I can see myself doing quite a bit of shopping there.