Saturday, February 25, 2012

Grilled Chicken with Hoisin-Maple Glaze

This is another Fine Cooking adaptation. The original, from Bruce Adelis, has fennel and Five Spice powder, which taste too much like licorice, so forget it. But I know I'm in the minority, here. There are fennel lovers everywhere. So you may want to try Fine Cooking's version instead. This one got Pootie's seal of approval, though, so it worked just fine.

Mix a dry rub together of 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 Tbs. sweet paprika, 2 Tbs. brown sugar, 2 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. dry mustard, 1 tsp. dry ginger, and about 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Then mix the sauce up - 1/4 cup hoisin sauce (I have four bottles of this stuff in my pantry - I've obviously had frequent brain-shorts at the grocery) 2 Tbs. of maple syrup, 1 Tbs. soy sauce and 2 tsp. of Asian Sesame oil.

Preheat the grill - I put mine on about 400 or 450. You can use the oven, of course. Line a shallow roasting pan with foil and top with parchment and put a cut up chicken on the pan. I like a whole, cut up chicken with skin on. You can use boneless, but I just don't think the flavor is quite as good. 

Rub the chicken all over with the dry spice rub. You can refrigerate it for a couple of hours, or you can do like I do and just let it sit at room temperature while you're cooking the rest of dinner and hope the flavors soak in enough. I would advise being better prepared than I am and doing the former. You'll get better flavor.

I served this with rice, which our good neighbor Morgan (holla!) brought us back from South Carolina. I love that girl.

This stuff was GOOD.
When you're ready to put the chicken on the grill, brush it lightly with the hoisin/maple mixture. It needs to cook on the grill about 20 minutes, maybe longer, depending on how little your chicken is. Mine was pretty small and it actually only took about 15 minutes. About halfway through the cooking process, brush generously with more of the glaze.

Serve immediately.

If you'd like to try my version, here's the .pdf, or you can use the licorice-laced link above for the original at Fine Cooking.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Pork Patties

I got a new toy for taking food photos! A light kit! I'm all grown-up! Now I have no more excuses for bad blog photos except my own lack of skill. Which is breathtaking in its expansiveness. This may not bode well for you people as I fall back on stolen pictures from the internets to patch up my shortcomings.

Gotta admit, it's way more awesome than a picture of pork patties.
I got it all set up in the kitchen last night, and honestly, I probably could have picked a better starting dish for this, given my inability to style food. There's lots of light brown in this dish, which doesn't make for a very compelling photo. But it's still a delicious dinner, so let's plow on ahead, shall we?

We've had warm weather lately, and the heavy roasted stuff is starting to drag me down. The other day I was messing around on Pinterest and decided to start a board of my favorite Fine Cooking recipes. Turns out, it was a good idea, because I rediscovered a lot of dishes I'd forgotten about, this one included. This is a great light but filling dinner with flavors that are not standard winter-roasted-meat-and-potatoes fare. This is an adaptation of their recipe. Yes, theirs is probably better, but parts of it were a little too fussy and I didn't have all the ingredients (again).

Pull out some soba noodles and put a pot of salted water on to boil. Then make the dipping sauce (Nuoc Cham). I didn't have any peppers, so I used Sriracha sauce, because that stuff is the bomb. I sweated three minced garlic cloves in a little olive oil (because y'all know I can't stand that stuff raw), mixed it with a teaspoon of Sriracha, 1/4 cup of fish sauce, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of water. I mooshed the garlic up a little in a mortar and pestle a little, then whisked all that together and set it aside.

Next were the pork patties. Mix a pound of ground pork with 5 small green onions, thinly sliced, a teaspoon and a half of fish sauce, (that stuff stinks to high heaven, but it tastes great), 2 tsp. of sugar and a generous pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Form that into patties about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inches thick.

While I was fussing with all this, Pootie was keeping me company. He's started P90X2, and this was Recovery and Mobility day, so he was using the foam roller to work out some kinks. Dinky decided since he was on the floor, he must be down there for snuggles, so he "helped out".

It degenerated into full on floor love pretty fast. He's hard to resist.
While they were wallowing around, I boiled the noodles and preheated the grill to medium-high, then assembled the salad. I tossed together some shredded romained lettuce, about a cup of chopped fresh mint, a cup of chopped fresh cilantro, and 1/2 cup of thinly sliced carrot.

Then I stopped and watched more wallowing.

By then, the noodles were ready. Just a note - when you drain these guys, toss them with a little olive oil before you set them aside, otherwise you'll just wind up with a big solid blob of starch. I ran outside and flipped over the pork patties, then came back in to this.

They don't like each other one little bit.
I'm really not sure how effective Pootie's roller massage was.

The patties were done in about 6 minutes. I stuck them in the dipping sauce to soak for about five minutes, then assembled the rest of the dish. Put the noodles in the middle, then top with the pork patties, and drizzle with the rest of the dipping sauce. You may not need all of it, depending on how much you want your salad dressed.

At this point, I got my husband up off the floor, asked him to dust off the dog hair- prefereably not over the platter - and dinner was served!

If you'd like to give this one a try while your spouse wallows on the floor with your pet, here is the .pdf.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


This past week, I went to Toronto for work. I had a wonderful time. We got in Monday evening, and Tuesday we had a little time to kill, so Karen and Israel were kind enough to let me tag along on their planned Toronto adventure, and even gracious enough to let me insert my own agenda, which was to kick over to the St. Lawrence Market.

Well, seriously, did you think I'd be within a mile of an awesome food market and not stop in for a visit?

We walked through some of downtown Toronto and went to the Hockey Hall of Fame, which I probably just named wrong, but anyway, Karen loves her some hockey. I'm not much of a sports fan (an enormous understatement) but I am all about history, so I really enjoyed seeing some of the old uniforms from the early 1900s. And seeing the Stanley Cup just out in the middle of the room was pretty cool.

There's a tiny picture of Israel looking at this replica of Toronto (I think) made out of wooden blocks, which he said reminded him of Fraggle Rock, immediately confirming for me that he is my brother's age. Karen decided the hall looked like the Fortress of Solitude from Superman. Note the extremely large smile on her face.

She probably could have stayed there all day, but I dragged them out and on to the St. Lawrence Market.

Oh. My. Head.

No. Just... no. I tried this once with our first dog. I'm still traumatized.

I would have loved to have had a place to cook. Wow! Everything was so fresh and pretty! Fortunately for my wallet and my hips, we were not able to sample anything, since most of them only took Canadian cash, and we didn't have any.

Then we were off to the CN Tower. The floor has these glass windows where you can see the ground shoot away from you, so I stood kind of mashed against the back wall of the elevator and looked at the ceiling. I really didn't want to throw up in front of Karen and Israel. That would have been embarrassing. The view was spectacular, though. It was a beautiful day, and Lake Ontario was gorgeous.

Look! I can see my hotel from here!

Karen and I opted not to take the glass pod up to the top of the needle. We just told Israel to get pictures for us. I did finally get brave enough to put half my foot onto one of the glass floor panels. I had Karen hang on to a post with one hand and me with the other. Israel not only stood on the thing, but jumped up and down on it. Show off.

See how brave I am!?

We had a really nice day roaming the city. Then I got doubly lucky and on our free night, got to have dinner with family friends who live in Toronto. Dwayne's Uncles Frankenwade!

Wade was my brother's college roommate, and he and Frank have been part of our family forever now. (Because my brother is OLD.) It was so good to see them! They were nice enough to come to the hotel and pick me up and cook dinner for me. Wade fixed me a whiskey drink with cherry juice that was just what I needed after my two presentations, and Frank grilled some pork chops, made some delicious wasabi mashed potatoes, and some of the best cabbage I've ever eaten. And since this IS a food blog, I'll leave you with Frank's Curried Cabbage. I don't have exact amounts, but you can still make a pretty decent approximation.

Slice a head of green cabbage and steam it with a good pinch of kosher salt. When the cabbage is steamed, add "a little butter, a little cream, some white pepper, and some curry powder". Since I'm going to cook it myself and have to estimate, I'm figuring probably 1/4 cup cream, a tablespoon of buttah, a pinch of white pepper, and a teaspoon of curry powder. It was so good! I will be making it this week.

I'm glad to be home, but I had a great trip. Special thanks to Israel, for pointing me to Snapseed. I used my phone for pics since I didn't bring my real camera with me and that little app has made these photos a lot more interesting than they were straight out of the phone. Much gratitude to my work friends and to Frank and Wade for taking care of me and keeping me out of trouble. St. Lawrence Market, I miss you already!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Letters to Dwayne: A Blog about a Blog

I think I've told you that my younger brother and his wife are going to have a niece or a nephew for me. And a kid for them. I guess. That, of course, is secondary.

If you read The Bloggess, you'll get this. If you don't, you should. Because she is nine kinds of hilarious.
They aren't finding out the sex of the baby, so the field has been wide open for me to a.) decide it's absolutely, positively going to be a girl (I already have a nephew) and b.) name it Dwayne. Because they haven't liked any of the other names I've suggested. Let this be a lesson to you all.

To prepare the child for the real world, I've been writing her letters for the past few months. They've been getting forwarded by family members, so I thought "what the hell" and put them all up in a blog.



Yeah, I know.

Anyway, if you want to read some (mostly) non-food related stuff written by me, it's there. Although there's one letter that is all about food, because I'm an expert, after all. And apparently all about some shameless self-promotion.

They aren't sweet, goopy things. Y'all know me better than that. Some of them have actually made my brother laugh, and made my husband crack half a smile. He's a tough crowd.

Here is Dwayne's nursery, in case you didn't see it the last time I posted about it. My brother and his wife have excellent taste. And John can take beautiful pictures. And if you go over to my brother's blog and see pictures of other little kids - that's not Dwayne. This is Dwayne (you can't see her because Natalie is covering her up.) More beautiful pictures by a friend of my brother who is also a photographer.

Geez. These photography people kill me. Here's a picture I didn't take of Godzilla.

I feel better now.

Because she's decided to come into the world feet first and hit the ground running, Natalie is having a C-section. So unless Dwayne decides she just can't wait to see her Spectacular, Stupendous Aunt Andie, she'll be here February 13. I can't wait. I'm sure she'll be bringing me presents and stuff when she arrives to thank me for all the early publicity. And with her arrival, I will probably stop the letters so as not to embarrass her. But there they are for posterity. And for you, if you like.

OK, fine. Maybe it will be a boy. In which case I'm calling her Tammy.