Marvelous Mongolian Pork

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, my idea of Chinese food is hot and sweet. I will walk away from sweet and sour. I don’t get the concept I guess. I found this recipe at Feast Asia, but I must confess I changed it a bit, and added a few things.

I always add veggies to things like General Tso’s or Kung Pao chicken, so I did the same here. And I did alter a couple of things.

For one thing, it seems in most Asian cooking you marinate the meat in some soy sauce concoction to which you add cornstarch. Now I see the value of cornstarch of course, and do use it, but I find that if I add it to the marinade it just gums up the pan terribly and I usually have veggies to stir-fry afterward, so it’s a mess. So I no longer add the cornstarch to the marinade, just use it in the sauce that needs to thicken at the end.

This recipe has its own syrupy sauce and it was just great. In fact we loved the dish and I will be making it very soon again.

INGREDIENTS:

For the Marinade:

  • 1 lb of pork loins, cut up into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 3 TBSP hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame seed oil, (hot if you have it)

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/2 c dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 c rice wine (I regular white wine)
  • 1 Serrano chili pepper, minced (use whatever heat chili you desire)
  • 1 c sugar

For the Stir-fry:

  • 4-6 cups of any variety of veggies you like, boy choy, carrots, sprouts, sliced onions, broccoli, celery, cabbage, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Make the marinade and place the pork in it, mix and refrigerate for a good 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Saute the ginger and garlic in the oil until fragrant, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer and reduce until it has reached a syrupy consistency. Set aside.
  3. Stir-fry the pork in some oil until done. Remove to a serving bowl.
  4. Saute the veggies until tender crisp. Remove to the serving bowl.
  5. Pour the sauce over the meat and veggies.
  6. Serve over rice.

Serves: 4

Notes: This is wonderful served with some Crab Rangoon and an egg roll. Those recipes will be coming along in a couple of weeks.

 

 

Breaded Pork Chops with Milk Gravy

Oh this is an old family favorite that I haven’t made in ages. I’m so glad that I did. It was even better than I had recalled.

My aunt Lona used to make breaded pork chops and that’s when I learned to love them. My mother always stuck them on top of a casserole of scalloped potatoes and they were dry and awful I thought. But aunt Lona’s pork chops were succulent wonders.

I came rather late to milk gravy but have learned that it is a lovely accompaniment to this dish.

So do give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • a good half sleeve of regular soda crackers
  • 1/4 c of bacon grease (if you save it) or butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 1/2 c of milk
  • salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pat dry the pork chops and salt and pepper them on both sides
  2. Dip in the lightly beaten egg to coat. If you wish to add chopped oregano, rosemary or thyme to the egg, that would be great too. fresh or dried. About a tsp. dried, or a tbsp fresh
  3. Then place in the crackers which you have ground to a rough crumb (I put them in a ziplock bag and use a rolling pin. You can also use a food processor (or horror of horrors pay a company to do it for you and buy them already done)
  4. Press the chop down lightly, turn and press harder, heaping up the crackers over the top until nicely coated. When all 4 are done, place in a skillet with bacon grease and fry until browned well, on medium high heat. Turn and brown the other side. Remove to a baking sheet with a cooling rack on top. Place in a 400° oven for about 30 minutes to finish cooking through.
  5. Meanwhile, scrape up the bits from he bottom of the skillet, add the flour and stir until flour is incorporated and let it cook for a minute or two. Then add the milk (you can warm it a bit in the microwave if you wish). Whisk until it starts to boil and thickens. (you can also add chopped parsley to this if you wish, or finely chopped scallions. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve as a gravy along with the pork chops.

Serves: 4

Notes: Vary the herbs as to your liking or omit if you want to the “old-fashioned” recipe. This serves nicely with mashed potatoes or boiled, and a side of corn or green beans.

 

 

Pizza Monkey Bread

Oh Lordy, I made this one Sunday not too long ago, and before the day as out, we had eaten  half of it.

It is the perfect finger food to snack on while watching football or soccer, or just lounging around where everyone just wants to graze–like on New Year’s Day when I typically make a bunch of dips and appetizer type foods and just sit them out to snack on at will.

This is simple to make. It’s a yeast bread, similar to my pizza dough but not as sticky. The rest is just the usual things you put on a pizza. Pop it in the oven and then pop it from the pan and tear off in chunks.

So do give it a try. I can assure you it will be a hit.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil for the pan
  • 2 tsp of yeast or one packet
  • 1 c water, tepid
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 c of flour (as much as you need to get a nice firm dough)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg of pepperoni (you will probably not use it all–freeze the rest for the next time)
  • 1 lb of mozzarella, shredded
  • cooked sliced onions, mushrooms, green peppers, etc. (you can just microwave them to cook them if you wish)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In the bowl of your mixer, put the yeast, water and sugar, and whisk together. Add two cups of the flour and mix until combined. Cover the bowl of the mixer with a towel and leave for 20 minutes to let the gluten form.
  2. Add another cup of flour, mix and continue adding until the dough pulls away from the sides and the dough is workable by hand (meaning not too sticky). Turn the machine on high and let it knead for 5 minutes with the dough hook.
  3. Turn the dough out into a greased bowl, cover and let it sit in a warm place for a good hour.  Check at that point, turn the dough over on itself by scooping around the sides four turns. Cover and leave for another 30 minutes.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently roll it into a rectangle about 12 x 18 or so. Then cut into one inch strips and then cut the strips into one inch pieces.
  5. Oil a bundt pan or an angel food cake pan or frankly anything deep enough for two layers. Layer the bottom with 1/3 of the dough pieces. Place a layer of pepperoni, then any veggies you are using, and then half the mozzarella.
  6. Repeat with another layer of the dough, and then the pepperoni, the rest of the veggies, and the rest of the cheese.
  7. Cover with a final layer of dough.
  8. Place in a preheated 400° oven for 30-40 minutes or until knocking on the top sounds fairly hollow.
  9. Remove to a cooling rack and then invert onto a plate after about 20 minutes.

Serves: Well, once again it depends on how big a pig you are. It could serve about 8 with other sides. It could serve maybe 4 as the main dish.

NOTE: You can serve with a dipping sauce (marinara would be the choice, homemade preferred).

 

 

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

This is a truly wonderful fall-type dessert. Have this with coffee or better yet, some hard cider. While we don’t have anything you could really call fall here in Las Cruces, I can almost hear the crunch of the leaves underfoot and the smell of the wood smoke as the stove is cranked up for the first time when I take a bite.

Simple to make, they are easy to transport too, so they make a nice treat to take when visiting.

There are several recipes for this and they are all pretty much the same. I got this one from  Cookies and Cups.

 

INGREDIENTS:

The Crust

  • 1 c flour
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c butter, softened

The Cream Cheese Filling

  • 1 8oz pkg. cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced or sliced
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice

The Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1/2 c or more, caramel sauce (bottled Smuckers)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  2. Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with foil.
  3. Mix the crust ingredients with a fork or cutter until blended and then press into the baking pan.
  4. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, vanilla, egg, and the sugar. Beat until smooth.
  6. Prepare the apples, and sprinkle with a tbsp of sugar and the pumpkin spice.
  7. Make the streusel topping by combining all the ingredients and cutting with fork or cutter until crumbly.
  8. When crust is done, cool it, placing in fridge for a few minutes.
  9. Then spread the cream cheese mixture on top followed by the apples.
  10. Then spread the streusel topping.
  11. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the topping is just lightly browned.
  12. Remove and cool. Drizzle with as much or little caramel sauce as you desire. Place in fridge to chill for 2 hours.

Serves: 12

I see no reason why you couldn’t substitute other fruit. Especially pears. But I can see blueberries or raspberries as well. Perhaps you might want to alter the sauce to butterscotch or chocolate for some fruits. It’s versatile!

 

Kung Pao Chicken

There are no really good Chinese restaurants in Las Cruces. At least none that I have come upon so far.

This has lead to me sharpening up my Chinese cooking skills. It have tried to find good substitutes for my favorites, and frankly,  I’ve been pretty successful. In succeeding weeks you shall get a few more that I’ve made and declared as good as good restaurant fare.

I like my Chinese food in a certain way. I like it spicy and anything with hot peppers is gonna catch my eye. I love Kung Pao chicken for this reason, and I like chicken dishes.

I don’t like sweet and sour, since I find the ying yang thing all wrong when it comes to food. I got this recipe from Appetite for China.

I have changed a few things, one of which I will share. Almost all Chinese recipes that require a marinade of the meat include cornstarch in the marinade. This is fine until you drop it in sizzling oil, where it always gets all gummy and coats the bottom of the pan or wok with a gluey hard gunk that I don’t like. So  I don’t include the cornstarch in the marinade. I include it at the end to thicken the sauce.

I also add lots of vegetables to the dish, and you can use whatever you  have on hand. I’ll include what I typically use, but as I said, it has more to do with what’s on hand. With that, do read on.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast or thigh, cut into bite-size bits.
  • 2 tbsp oil (I always use canola)
  • 8-10 dried red chiles
  • 5 scallions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 c unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

MARINADE:

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice wine or dry sherry

SAUCE:

  • 1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar or balsamic
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
  • 2-4 cups of assorted veggies, cleaned and suitably cut up into bite-size pieces. (carrots, cabbage, celery, bok choy, bean sprouts, broccoli)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Marinate the chicken in the marinade for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Prepare the sauce leaving out the cornstarch, placing it in just before you are ready to pop it into the pan to coat the food.
  3. Take your chiles and make slits in them so some of the dried seeds can escape and become part of the dish. Don’t do this if you don’t like heat. Add the oil to the pan and saute the chiles until they start to darken. On high heat, add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink. This doesn’t take long– 2-3 minutes is usually enough.
  4. Remove the chicken and add your veggies, starting with the longest cooking until they are all in and crunchy but done. Remove to the chicken.
  5. Add the scallions, garlic and ginger, stir fry for a minute or so. Add the sauce (having added the cornstarch now, stirring until it thickens. Pour in the chicken and veggies and stir to coat. Add the peanuts and stir. Place on a serving dish and sprinkle additional scallions and peanuts on top.
  6. Serve over rice.

Serves: 2-4

Notes: You can serve over rice noodles or other suitable noodles such as cellophane. As I said, feel free to alter the vegetables as you desire. If you are using 4 cups of veggies to serve like 4 servings, I would double the sauce ingredients so that you have enough to coat it nicely. And do avoid eating any of the chiles. They are rather on the hot side!

Cheeky Cheesy Chile Rellenos

Oh lordy, if you love New Mexican cuisine, then don’t miss this recipe. It is so incredibly good that it is sinful.

It’s also a bit of mess to make.

But it’s so worth it.

If you can get hatch chiles, so much the better, but if you can’t use Anaheim. You will probably want a milder rather than hotter one. Hatch chiles vary rather dramatically because they are not all the same variety, so the Anaheim’s may be safer for those of you who don’t live in the Land of Enchantment.

But do give it a try.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 Hatch or Anaheim chile peppers
  • Pepper jack, Monterrey Jack, or a good Mexican melting cheese (8 oz) I used a Mexican melting cheese for the stuffing and a Monterrey Jack for the shredding topping.
  • 4 eggs, divided, yolks from whites
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 c flour
  • Prepared chile sauce of your choice or make mine, Salsa Green Chile
  • Shredded jack
  • Oil for frying

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Roast chiles on a gas stove top or under the broiler until charred on all sides. Remove to a plastic bag, closed up for at least 15 minutes or until cool enough to work with. Remove and scrape off the skins, carefully slit from the stem end down to the bottom (leaving the stem attached) are carefully remove the seeds and membranes (unless you like it really hot)
  2. Stuff with the cheese but not so full that you can’t bring the cut sides together again.
  3. Beat the egg whites until they reach a “soft peak” stage
  4. Whisk the yolks a bit and then add the egg whites, folding them in gently so that all the air isn’t deflated. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat a large skillet with a good half-inch of oil. You want the temp to be around 375°.
  6. Carefully take each chile and roll in the flour, holding it closed so the cheese doesn’t fall out.
  7. Then dip it into the eggs, spooning the egg over the chile, covering it well. Holding with the stem and the end of the chile, lift carefully and place in the hot oil. (I just did two at a time). Fry until browned and then with tongs gently turn over until the other side is also browned. Remove to a cooling rack lined underneath with paper towelling to catch the drips.
  8. When all are done, place them lined up in a 9 x 13 pan. Layer with the salsa of your choice (red or green, with or without tomatillos). Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
  9. Bake in a 375° oven for about 15-20 minutes, until cheese is nicely melted.
  10. Serve with sour cream, additional salsa, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, black olives– whatever you like!

Serves: 6

Notes: This recipe is from Juanita’s Cocina via Griffin’s Grub where she guest posted it. It turned out perfectly, and although as I said, it’s a bit messy to make, the taste is to die for. We ate every bit of it. You can halve this recipe easily.

 

Monkey Bread UnBound!

Okay, there is the easy way to do this. But we aren’t gonna do that, because it entails buying that pop-open canned biscuit dough and that is not nearly good enough. What we are going to do is soo much better, but still easier than Cinnabuns.

Okay, so think “tastes a lot like Cinnabuns, but way easier.”

It omits the nuts and the powdered sugar/milk/butter frosting. It’s just buttery and yeasty and cinnamony and sugary and delightful to eat for breakfast if you a sweet-lovin’ kinda gal like me.

And yes, it’s a yeast bread, and no don’t you dare run. I said it was easy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pk or 2 tsp of dry yeast
  • 1/4 c tepid water
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1/3 c butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • about 4 cups of flour

Filling:

  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place the yeast in your mixer and add the water, mix with whisk until dissolved.
  2. In a microwave safe dish, melt the butter. Add the milk to that and mix, making sure it is no more than tepid before adding to the yeast.
  3. Mix and then add the egg, and whisk until incorporated.
  4. Add the sugar and the vanilla and whisk in as well.
  5. Add about 2 c of flour and mix slowly with the dough hook. Once it’s completely mixed, cover with a towel and let sit for about 20 minutes to let the gluten form.
  6. Start by adding another cup of the flour and continue mixing. Add as much more flour as you need until the dough is still a bit sticky but you are able to handle it. Once you are there, turn on the machine high and knead for 5 minutes.
  7. Turn into a greased bowl, cover with saran wrap and some towels and leave in a warmish place until dough has doubled. (a good hour, maybe more, depending on how warm your place is)
  8. Turn risen dough out onto a floured space and leave in a lump, covered with a towel while you make the filling.
  9. Melt the butter and let it cool a bit, and mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a separate bowl.
  10. Then roll out your dough, into a nice rectangle, probably about 12 x 18 or so. Don’t press down hard as you roll, try to keep it as light and fluffy as possible. No reason to destroy all those air bubbles if you can avoid it.
  11. Once you have it rolled out. Pour and brush the butter around all over the top. Then add the sugar mixture shaking it out as evenly as possible.
  12. With a sharp knife, ( or use a pizza cutter) cut five rows on the long side, to make long strips. Once done. Pick up one and place it on the next until you have one big stack of strips. Then slice them into about 6 slices across, so you have six strips deep by six.
  13. Take a bundt cake (greased please) (you can use any pan really) and take a stake and turn them on their side and just load them in the bottom. Then put another layer on top. Refer to the picture above. They don’t have to be particularly neat.
  14. Cover the pan and let the dough rise again (about 30 minutes or so).
  15. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375°.
  16. Place in oven and bake until bread is done–about 25-30 minutes should do it.
  17. Invert onto a plate after it has cooled for 20 minutes or so.
  18. Eat IT!

Serves: 8-10 servings I would think.

Notes: You can of course add chopped nuts to this when you roll out the dough, but some will fall out with all the cutting. You can drizzle some struesel over the top when you have unpanned it if you desire as well. The pieces tend to pull apart fairly easily. You can get way inventive of course and add chopped dried fruit. See, it couldn’t be easier. An idea from PioneerWoman is to spread some orange marmalade or blueberry/raspberry jam on the dough and maybe some dried fruit. Just a few ideas.