a simple man's love for food, life & star wars

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chicken Tonkatsu with Stir Fry & Rice....mmm...just like I used to have in Japan!

This is one of my favorite dishes I used to have when I lived in Japan. I was this picky young military brat who didn’t like any of the fancy Japanese food! My mom then introduced my to Katsu, which is basically breaded pork or chicken, fried crispy and with this Asian gravy on it that is to die for! Anyways, my wife and I were at the Asian market and I came across some Katsu sauce made by Kikkoman and decided it was time to make me some Katsu! So here it is!

Chicken Tankatsu with Stir Fry & Rice

To begin with, I suggest getting the rice cooked and then letting it sit while you cook the rest of the meal. Start off with 2 cups of rice and 4 cups of water. The rule of thumb is typically to do 1 part rice to 2 parts water whenever you make rice. You bring it to a quick simmer and then lower the heat to a low simmer for about 30 minutes. Some hints If you like flavorful rice is to use chicken stock instead of water or to add a bay leaf to the water.

Stir Fry
1 Package of dried Egg Noodles (from they Asian store, not country egg noodles. They look like Udon noodles)
½ cup of soy sauce
1 Tsp of sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 tsp onion powder
12oz of stir fry veggies (I buy the frozen kind in a bag)

The Katsu only takes 10 minutes so I made this before hand as well. You just boil up the amount of noodles you want for about 5 minutes. Then strain. In a hot skillet add the 1 tsp of sesame oil and then add the chopped garlic. Fry for about a minute, then add the noodles and veggies and ½ cup of soy sauce. Saute up for about 5 minutes and then cover.

Chicken Katsu
2   1lb chicken breasts cut into thin pieces length wise. You should be able to get 3 pieces per breast, about ¼ thick
3 cups of Panko Breading (spread out to bread the chicken). You can use crumbled up saltines mixed with regular breading if finding the Panko breading is too fancy for you!
4 eggs whisked and mixed with ½ of soy sauce in a shallow bowl for dipping the chicken in
Salt & Pepper
3 cups of oil

Turn the pan on and get the oil hot in the pan. About med high. Salt and Pepper the chicken cutlets and then dip in the egg soy sauce wash. Let them soak for 10-15 seconds and then properly lay them in the Panko mixture and get them nice and coated with the breading. Take the breaded pieces and set them on a cutting board. Do this to the rest of the pieces. By the time you are done, the oil should be nice and hot. Lay the breasts in the oil and fry about 3 minutes per side. When done, lay them out on some paper towels to soak up the residual grease. Once cool enough to touch, slice them babies up and then pour the Katsu sauce over the sliced pieces. Careful to use too much of the Katsu sauce!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Exotic Asian Fruit Salad with a twist.....yummers!

This is my mom's fruit salad which I grew up on. What's great about this salad, aside from it's sweet unusual flavors, is it's mixtures of consistencies. You have crisp fruits that pop when you bite them, like grapes, mandarin oranges and apples, but then you have baby sugar palms which are like natures jelly bellies.  Throw in some walnuts for crunch and jack fruit for a nice firm texture...and you get an explosion of textures in your mouth that tastes sinfully sweet.

I was a slacker and did not bring my camera, so I have put up a stock photo of what this fruit salad sort of looks like.

Disclaimer: If you do not have an Asian Market near you..you can't make this salad!

Recipe is for 5-6 people...generally 3-4 people will eat this because everyone always has 2 servings!
1 Tbsp Sweetened Condesnsed Milk
1 Jar / 12 oz Macapunos' Sweet Coconut Strings
2 Bunches of Green Grapes
1 10-12 oz Jar of Mandarin Oranges
1 Can of Lychee Fruit in Syrup
1 Jar / 120-12 oz of Kaong's Sugar Palm Fruit
Cool Whip, 1 tub
1/2 Finely Chopped  Walnuts,

3 Red Apples cut small sqaures
4 Bananas, sliced

Keep all fruit in the fridge for a few hours at the minimum before making this salad. It's meant to be served nice and cold.  Combine all the fruit and then strain for 4-5 minutes to assure all excess sweet juices are gone. Mix in a large bowl with 1 tub of Lite Cool Whip and 1 Tbsp of condensed milk. Then add the crushed / chopped walnuts and place in fridge for 30 minutes before serving,

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Filo Wrapped Baked Brie n Apples

This is a great party dish. It takes 10 minutes to make, 20 minutes to cook..and feeds 6-12 people depending on the size of the Brie wheel you buy. So without further ado..here it is!

Filo Wrapped Baked Brie n Apples:

1 Large Bri (Ours is 34oz / 2lbs 2oz / about 12" diameter)
2 Large Apples
1 Stick of Butter (melted)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup of your favorite jam ( this is an alternate addition to add)
1 cup chopped Walnuts or Pecans

     Pre heat oven to 350. Get out your sheet pan and butter it then trim off the wax / crust from the entire Brie. Trim the top of the Brie  to make sure it is flat. Flip the Brie over...now this flattened top will now be the bottom.

     Place 4 layers of  filo  on your buttered sheet pan. Brush some of the melted butter on, in between each sheet. Then place the Brie on the layers of Brie. If you choose to use your favorite jam, take 1 cup of it and spread it over the top of the Brie. Take the 4 bottom layers of Brie and fold it up the sides of the Brie. Then lay 4 more layers, each with melted butter on it, on top of the Brie. Fold the sides down.

     Slice your apples into this slices and layer it in a circle on the top of the Brie pastry, then sprinkle the brown sugar of the top. If you have any pecans or walnuts, sprinkle these over the top as the last ingredient. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until filo is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes  (in our case, we set it outside in the freezing cold for 10 minutes!) and then slice and serve with water crackers.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Proscuitto & Asparagus Benedict with Cheesy Grits cakes

So Eggs Benedict is one of my wife's favorite foods..and proscuitto is also one of her favorites..so I thought, why not?

For those of you who have not ever made an Eggs benedict, it is kind of intimidating to start. The Hollandaise sauce is a bit tricky to make and poaching an egg the right way usually scares people off as well. There are usually 2 big worries when making this sauce. 1) You do not want to under cook it and have it be too runny. 2.) You do not want to over cook it or it will over thicken and possibly break (separate). Another rule of thumb when making sauces is this...go the extra mile and buy clarified butter( which is stupid expensive) or make your own! This entire recipe is a bit tricky...in addition to making the sauce and poaching the eggs, you have to cook the asparagus and toast the english muffins while you are doing things to assure that it's all done and hot at the same time. Ok..so here we go!

Prosciutto & Asparagus Benedict:
8 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
4 English muffins
4 whole eggs
1 Ripe Medium Tomato
8 Small Asparagus spears
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 stick of butter
1 Tbs lemon juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese for the grits

Before your pre prep, you have to make some grits. Just follow the recipe on whatever kind you get. These grits need to be made several hours prior so they have time to cool and get thick. Once they are thick, you can then make them into a patty shape, about 3 inches diameter and 3/4 " thick.

First off..here is your pre cooking prep:
1.) Get your asparagus ready. Lay out the 8 spears on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. 
2.) Now go put your English Muffins in the Toaster oven, ready for toasting
3.) Pre heat your oven to 450 degrees
4.) get a small sauce pan with 2 inches of water in it and get it to a slow simmer
5.) Get a medium sauce pan filled with water and heat to a boil, have a thermometer ready to put in the water
6.) Set out a fryer pan and have it ready for the proscuitto

Making Your Clarified Butter:
In a heavy-based saucepan, melt your butter. Simmer it rapidly for at least 10 min.; the water will evaporate and the milk solids will coagulate on the bottom and sides of the pan. Let the melted butter sit for a few minutes so the solids will fall to the bottom. Skim off the foam on top and then either decant the golden liquid, leaving the solids behind, or pour the melted butter through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. What you have now..is your new magical butter! Set it aside to cool while you goto the next step

Put in your asparagus in the oven now to cook for 5-7 minutes. You want the tips to crisp and darken, then you know it's ready to pull out

Hollandaise Sauce:
 3 egg yolks
1/2 stick of butter
3 Tbs of water
2 Tbs lemon juice
Salt & Pepper to taste

Start a small sauce pan filled with water, just a few inches and get the water to a slow simmer. Next you need a metal bowl (I have used glass as well) that can fit on the sauce pan as a lid. You want the bottom of the bowl to be just above the water. You then put the 3 egg yolks and whisk it vigorously for 30 seconds and then add the water and whisk for another seconds. This whisking prevents the eggs from cooking and whips the air into it to get the fluffiness going. Take the bowl off the heat and slowly add and whisk in the clarified butter, then lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too think or begins to curdle you can add a little of the simmering water to it to thin it out some. Set the sauce to the side and poach your eggs.

Check your asparagus!!! Start toasting your English Muffins. Put your fryer pan on med high heat.

Poached Eggs:
The trick with poaching eggs is to put a bit of salt and vinegar in the water. Keep a thermometer in the water and get it to 200 degrees. Crack you eggs and put them in a small bowl and pour them form the bowl, into the simmering water. Some people suggest stirring the water and making a little whirlpool and to pour the eggs in the center of the whirlpool. Cook your eggs for about 2 minutes, until they are fairly firm. Scoop em out and let em rest while you toast the english muffins..

Asparagus should definitely be done by now if it was not done before this step!!

Now take your grits cakes and fry them up in butter. Spirnkle heavily some shredded cheese on the side before you lay it on th pan to fry. This will crisp up and stick to the grits to make a nice firm patty. Repeat to the other side as well. Afterwards, you then need your  slices of prosciutto and fry them up..about 30 seconds per side, just enough to crisp it up so there is a nice texture contrast on the benedict.

Now you are ready to piece it all together...hopefully it should look something like this! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon....very hectic!!

      Ok so I always wanted to do a Beef Burgendy, so I thought, what the heck...why not do Julia Child's classic recipe. As a disclaimer I should mention that I changed the recipe just a tad...She calls for actual cuts of bacon that you can cut into pieces..not pre cut bacon, like we are used to having with breakfast. I couldn't find any at the grocery store and was too lazy to goto the butcher, so I just used regular thick cut bacon and improvised. 
      Secondly, her dish calls for 3 lbs of beef, which is  ALOT for our small family of 3, so I have cut the entire recipe in half to do enough for 4 people.
      Lastly, this is typically served with potatoes...while it is not in the ingredient list, I would recommend making some rosemary potatoes...the flavors will go well with this dish. Just cut up some medium potatoes and heat a large skillet up. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil. when the potatoes unstick form the pan, they are ready to be turned and stuck and browned again. Do this till all sides are browned ...add  a pinch of rosemary, some garlic powder and salt and pepper...then spread over a sheet pan and drizzle some olive oil over it all and then shove it in the oven for the last 20-30 minutes of the beef cooking at 325.

So without further ado...here is the recipe, with my notes poked in for good measure.

Beef Bourguignon

·  4-ounce of  bacon (pre cut into strips 1" long)
·  2  tablespoons olive oil
·  1.5 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes (I got chuck eye steak)
·  1 carrot, sliced (the Mrs and I both thought it needed way more carrots..and I am not even a carrot fan..I will do 3 carrots next time)
·  12-14 small onions (I got little white pearl onions..be sure to peel them first and not when you are already cooking)
·  Salt and pepper
·  1 tablespoons flour
·  1.5 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
·   2 -3 cups brown beef stock
·  1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
·  1 cloves mashed garlic
·  1/4 teaspoon thyme
·  A crumbled bay leaf
·  1/4  white onion sliced
·  2 tablespoons butter
·  Herb bouquet (2 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
·  1/2 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered
·  Cooking Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
(This first 45 minutes of cooking is very hectic..be sure you have all your ingredients separated and ready..as well as plates laid out to put stuff in) Sauté bacon in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.(I had no excess fat to pour out)
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).
Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees. (I found it terribly difficult to remember that the pan handles were SCORTCHING hot from being in the oven and grabbed it several times while it was on the stove. I suggest keeping a cloth on the handle to remind you)
Stir in wine and 1 to 2 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.
Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.(Not together though...you do the onions first...I put the onions and mushrooms in this first part...oops!)
Heat 1  tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.
Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, stirring  them so they will brown as evenly as possible. For whole small oinions, be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.
Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.
Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.(I ended up simmering it for only 30 minutes and the onions were very soft and cooked through..perhaps I simmered too high)
Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.
Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole through a strainer set over a saucepan.
Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.
Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.
Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.
Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My first smoked pork butt & Hasselbeck potatoes

First Pork Butt Smoke:
For those of you who do not know, KC is the BBQ capital of the world. So when you say you smoke or make your own BBQ, those are very serious words. Luckily for me, I have had a lot of experience at work being around smokers and good BBQ. So without further ado....here is my first go at it!

The Brine:
·         1.5 Cups of Salt
·         1 gallon of water
·         1/5 gallon apple cider
·         ¼ cup of paprika
·         ¼ chili powder
·         4  whole cloves of garlic

        A brine works like a marinade, but seems to penetrate deeper into the meat. By preparing the brine the night before, the flavors of the spices have all night to stick to the salt, and the salt will carry these flavors deep into the meat. It’s important to have some sugar in your brine as this will caramelize. If you do not want to use apple cider, some sugar or brown sugar in it’s place would do well. 
        A pork butt will reach it's most tender stage as it's internal temperature reaches at or above 190, some say as high as 205. The risk with bringing the internal temperature to above 200 is drying out the pork. This is where the brine really comes into play. The brine, in theory, will allow the pork butt to retain more moisture, which then allows you to raise the internal temperature without drying out the meat.....leading to the most tender of pulled porks! boiled ½ gallon of water with the dry ingredients  and then added the rest of the liquids to the mix. After that, I take my pork butt and cover it in this brine and refrigerate for 12-14 hours.

The Rub:
        Since this is my first time, I thought I would stick with the basics. You r rub is your secret that you keep from everyone...every great BBQ'er has one...just like every Jedi has a light saber. I put together my normal  seasoning, which we call “ the love”(the love, is what we keep at work, on hand, to sprinkle on anything we cook if you need to add some zest) . This rub gets coated on the  pork butt VERY heavily, but sure to save some for your baste!

·         ¼ Peppercorn Pepper
·         ¼ Parpika
·         ¼ cup brown sugar
·         2 tblsp of salt
·         2 tblsp of garlic
The Wood:
        Wood is also another great influence on how your meat will taste. The wood is "the force" behind any great smoke. I plan on using wood charcoal (as opposed to regular charcoal which may have it's own distinct flavor) to start the fire, the I am using  Red Oak (75%) & Pecan (25%): I chose Red Oak because it tends to burn the longest and I wanted to do a long smoke…about 70 minutes per pound. Pecan sparked my curiosity because it adds a nice sweetness to the pork which should complement the spicier rub. I pre soaked all of the wood to prevent it from burning off too quick. Pre soak wood chunks for 30 minutes.
Edit: I ended up using 20% Cherry , 80% Mesquite because I was a slacker and that is  best mixture I could  find in such short notice.  Some believe that mesquite is too strong for pork, but I tend to disagree...the pork was amazing! I will use this combination again.
The Smoking:       
       The rule of thumb, is to smoke pork for 60-70 minutes per pound. My Pork Butt is about 9 lbs which means I would have to smoke it for WAY too long. So what I did was smoke it until it was 2/3 of the way to  the internal temp of 190, basically 130. Once the internal temp reached 130, I cut the butt in half. This allowed me to be done at 4:30pm for a total of 8 hours of smoking.  I could have also opted to smoke it until it reached an internal temp of 140 and then pulled it and finished it in the oven to reach 190. In theory, the bulk of the smoke flavor comes during the process before reaching the 140 internal temp. By finishing off any meat in the over, after reaching 140, you can still get a nice smoke flavor and save a lot of time.

The Baste
        A baste is also another secret weapon for grilling. A good baste is like having a cool Jedi outfit...sure you are a Jedi...but you are even cooler when you have a nifty outfit!
       You should not do your first baste until after the meat has cooked for half of it's total cooking time..at least 4 hours. This assures that the rub has had time to properly set up and get into the meat..Otherwise you risk washing the rub off with your baste.  After  the first baste, I will baste it about 2 hours later and then 30 minutes prior to it being done.

·         1 cup of apple cider
·         1 cup of water
·         1 btl of dark beer
·         2 tblsp of my rub
      Resting the Pork Butt
             There are 2 main reasons to let meat rest. First, it will help the meat retain its juices. During cooking, bundles of muscle cells in the meat contract, forcing out liquid from the spaces between them. As the meat cools, those cell bundles relax, reabsorbing the liquid. This prevents all the juices of the meat to run out when you cut into it..the juice is where all the flavor is!! Secondly, resting evens out the temperatures and doneness. The outside will be much hotter than the inside, this time allows this heat to distribute in a more evenly manner. 
              I rested mine for an hour, wrapped in foil, during this time, the internal temperature could raise as much as 10 degrees. Since the ideal internal temp is close to 190 - 200 degrees, I will pull the butt out at an internal temp of 190. Remember, the higher the internal temp of the pork butt, the more tender it will be. This also give me time to prep other foods and take a quick shower....because yes...you will stink like smoke after a day on the smoker.
Hasselback Potatoes

      Hasselback Potatoes Recipe:
      Hasselback Potatoes are the Swedish version of our baked potatoes. These are very simple to make, you simply cut each medium potato with a bunch of slices a little over half way through the potato. Then you drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil over each potato...be sure to drizzle the oil into each slit / slice. Then salt and pepper to taste and add whatever you generally like. I am gonna do some garlic and pepper..some people like butter and chives. Anything will taste pretty amazing this way. The uniqueness of this type of potato comes from the texture and taste. The top half of the potato will taste more like french fries, with a nice crispness to it, while the bottom half will be more like a seasoned baked potato. Bake at 425 for 75 minutes


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Leftovers Recipe: Panko Breaded Potato Croquettes

So I leftover potatoes and ham from our Xmas dinner and was looking for a creative way to do something with these 2 ingredients that wasn't a breakfast or a casserole. So I thought.."what the hell! Let's make some croquettes!"

Panko Breaded Croquettes

       In theory, croquettes are a great way to use leftover potatoes or even mashed potatoes. You simply make your favorite kind of mashed potatoes and then mold them into little egg shaped croquettes. As a tip, you should have plenty of flower around to dip your fingers in so your hands do not stick to the potatoes while you are shaping and handling them. Once you make the egg shaped croquette, you then take your finger and poke it into the center to create a little hole that you can fill with whatever stuffing mixture you decide to make. Once you have your croquettes made, you will need an egg yolk wash and then lightly dip them in whatever breading you choose. For my croquettes, I am using some Panko crumbs. After they are dipped in the breading, just flash fry for 1-2 minutes per side and then eat em up!

Here are the mixtures I made:

Ham & Cheddar Mixture
1/4 small yellow onion
6 oz cooked ham
1 small clove garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste 

Saute off your onions & garlic, then add the ham mixture and let cool. After cooled, mix with some shredded cheddar cheese.

Red Pepper & Cheese Mixture
1/2 small yellow onion finely chopped
1/2 small red pepper finally chopped
2 cloves garlic finely choppped
Pinch of Paprika

Heat small skillet on medium heat with about a pinch of oil in it and then add the diced onions & pepper and saute till onions are lightly brown then add garlic and saute another 2-3 minutes. Lightly salt and pepper to taste. After mixture is done, put in freezer to cool for 2-3 minutes. Then mix sauteed veggies with the cheeses of your choice...I am using more french and Italian cheeses.

Post meal notes:
1.) Be sure to make the croquettes thin. I made mine a bit to big and they felt more like mashed potatoes rather than croquettes. 
2.) Come up with a nice remoulade to serve with the croquettes for dipping.