Melonoat Update

Hello melonoat readers!

Sorry for the extremely long delay in posts, but it was for a good cause. Between all my traveling for work, Tao and I had to plan for our wedding which took place a few weeks ago on 1/21/12! I promise now that all that is done, the cooking and posts shall resume shortly!

Thanks so much for your patience!

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Chocolate covered strawberries

Here is a recipe for chocolate covered strawberries- something so easy yet elegant looking where you can bring to a friend’s house or prepare for guests coming to your house. You will be amazed at how easy these really are to make. And, seriously, who can resist these beautiful chocolate covered strawberries? You will be the hit of the party!

Ingredients:
Large strawberries (1lb =~20 strawberries)
Large chocolate discs for melting – white chocolate and dark chocolate (see picture below)
2 microwave safe bowls or 2 sauce pans and 2 heat proof bowls (for double boil method)
1 small sandwich bags
1 pair of scissors

1. Wash and gently pat dry strawberries with paper towel

2. Line a cookie sheet tray with parchment paper or wax paper to lay the dipped strawberries on.

3. Melt dark chocolate first. You can use one of two methods. I used the microwave method and they turned out just fine. The better the quality of chocolates, the smoother it will melt and the easier it will be to coat your strawberries.

Using the double bowl method: Add the chocolates into a heatproof medium bowl. Then, fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once boiling, turn off the heat and set the bowl with chocolate over the water to melt. Continue to stir until smooth and there are no clumps. I’d do the dark chocolate first and then while it is cooling, heat the white chocolate.

Using the microwave method: Add chocolates to a microwave-safe bow. Set microwave at half power, for 1 minute, stir and then heat for another minute or until melted.

4. Next, take a dry strawberry (if it is wet, the chocolate will not stick, so make sure you dried them off completely in step 1. Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip the strawberry into the chocolate, lift and twist slightly, letting any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.

5. Once the strawberry is coated, place it on the parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries. Once done, put the strawberries into the refrigerator to harden a little.

6. Now, melt the white chocolate using the same method you did in Step 3 for the dark chocolate.

7. While you melt the while chocolate, take the sandwich bag and flip and tuck the edges out.

8. Once the white chocolate is melted, carefully pour into the sandwich bag.

9. Now cut a tiny snip into the corner of the bag.

10. By now, the strawberries dipped in chocolate from the refrigerator should be hardened. Take out.

11. Using the sandwich bag, squeeze white chocolate in a left right motion over the chocolate strawberries to decorate!

12. Set the strawberries aside until the white chocolate cools and hardens, about 20 minutes. Then enjoy your works of art!

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Butternut Squash Risotto

If you didn’t already know, I have a love for all things butternut squash and pumpkin related. Any time I see either of those words on a menu- I’m sold. It was to my happiness that I found a butternut squash risotto recipe in the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook!. You can also find the recipe here.

Ingredients
2lb butternut squash, cubed to 1/4 inch size (reserve seeds and fibers)
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp gr black pepper
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 small onions, minced (~1.5 cups)
4 tbs (1/2 stick butter)
1 cup water
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 cups Arborio rice (i found this in the bulk bins at Berkeley Bowl)
1.5 cups dry white wine
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp minced sage leaves (I didn’t have any so I used cilantro- still good!)
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg (I just used the off the rack spice)

1. Dice the butternut squash into small cubes (1/4 inch) for sauteing. Reserve the seeds and fibers from the inside.

2. Add oil to skillet on medium heat until oil is shimmering and then add in butternut squash in an even layer. Do not stir. Let sit for 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occassionally until squash is tender and can be pierced by a fork (another 5 minutes). Take squash out and set aside in bowl.

3. Return skillet to med heat and add in the reserved seeds and fibers. Cook to break up fibers until slightly browned (~3-5 min). Transfer to a saucepan (or small pot) and add the chicken broth and water. Cover until boiling over high heat- then turn down to med-low and simmer.
insides

4. Add 3 tbsp of butter into the empty skillet and melt over med heat. Add in diced onions and garlic and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Cook ~5 minutes until onions are soft.

5. Strain the fibers and seeds from the broth. Make sure to get as much liquid out from the fibers. Discard the seeds and fibers and return broth back to pot. Cover and keep simmering.

6. Add in the rice and cook ~5 minutes until grains become translucent. Add wine and keep stirring (careful not to spill rice out) until liquid is absorbed.

7. Once wine is absorbed pour in 3 cups of the hot broth and 1/2 of the reserved squash cubes into the rice. Stir every 3-4 minutes until liquid is absorbed- total of 12-15 minutes. The bottom of the skillet should be dry.

8. Add in 1/2 of broth while stirring- and continue to repeat until the rice is cooked through and slightly al dente. The rice should be a little firm in the center. Once off the heat, stir in the remaining 1 tbsp butter, parmesan, sage (or cilantro), and nutmeg. Also fold in the remaining squash. If the rice is too dry, add in a little more broth.

9. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Behind in posting..

Sorry for the lag in posting entries folks! I’ve been busy working in NY and have not had much time in the kitchen. I have some recipes backlogged that were made previously that I will be posting soon. So wait no more!

Many of you have told me that you’ve made a few of the recipes. Please remember to take a picture of your final product and email to us so that we can share your success!!

Thanks for being patient!

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Chinese “gnocchi” and stew: 貓耳朵

I first had this dish when my grandma came one year from Taiwan to visit … The literal translation for 貓耳朵  (pinyin: mao1 er3 duo1) is “cat ear”.. but don’t worry no cats are harmed in the making of this dish.  The rolled flour dumplings look like cat ears, which is what the name of this dish references! or.. just think of them as the Chinese “gnocchi.”

Ingredients
Stew Ingredients
1 lb chicken, diced (see marinade below) OR 1 lb beef for stew, cubed
2 leeks, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 inch size ginger
water
1/2 cup cooking wine
1 cup soy sauce
stewed beef pouch (滷味包), optional

Chicken marinade Ingredients- (See earlier post here)
2 tbs light soy sauce
3 tbs chinese cooking wine
1 tsp sugar
2-3 tsp cornstarch and mix well.

Cat ears Ingredients-
1 egg
1.5 cups flour
1/2 cup room temperature water
1 tsp salt

1. Chop onion, carrots, leeks, celery. Feel free to add turnips, or anything else you please. Chop off some of the ginger skin, and smash with the side of your knife (this allows the flavor to get into the stew).

2. In the meantime, marinate the meat, if chicken. Using the same pot you will be cooking the stew in, add some oil and cook the chicken until lightly browned ~5-7 min.

If you are using beef, make sure the pieces are cubed and roughly the same size. If using beef, boil water, add the beef to the boiling water for ~5 min to clean the meat. Dump water out and rinse. Add clean meat back to pot.

3. Add water to the pot with the meat. Add until meat is just covered. Add ginger. Add soy sauce, cooking wine, and beef stew flavor pouch (if using). Heat until boiling and then simmer on low heat for ~1 hour.

4. Add vegetables into the stew (carrots, celery, leek, onion, turnip…) and cook on low heat for another 20 minutes.

5. In the meantime, prepare the dough for the noodles. In a separate mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, water, egg.  Mix until a dough-like consistency.  If it is too gooey, add some more flour to get it drier. If you want, you can make this earlier and let sit in the bowl (cover with plastic wrap or wet paper towel to prevent dough from drying).

6. Knead the dough and roll out into one piece. Using a knife, cut the rolled dough into strips and then cut small squares (~.5 inch). We were lazy and just rolled the dough into long logs and ripped little pieces off.

7. Now to make the “cat ears”. Take a piece of the cut dough, and using the side of your thumb, in a rolling motion (down to up), roll the dough square into a piece that looks like a “cat ear”

8. In another pot, boil some water with some salt. Once boiling, add in the pasta in small batches and continue to gently stir the water to prevent the pasta from sticking to one another or to the pot. Boil pasta for about 5-7 min until al dente. Once this is done, the vegetables should have cooked for ~20 minutes by now. So you can use a slotted spoon to move the pasta directly into the stew mixture.

9. Cook the pasta in the stew for another 20 minutes so that the stew flavor has been infused into the pasta.

10. Scoop and serve. Enjoy deliciousness. You can always refrigerate leftovers and eat the rest of the week! If the stew gets a little dry, add more water before reheating.

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San Tung Fried Chicken Wings and Sauce

San Tung (山东小馆) is a restaurant in San Francisco that serves chicken wings that are just delicious. Ever since my first visit, I have been curious how they are made. After eating many orders, talking to insiders and reading a few books, I have uncovered their secret; the wings are actually a fusion of Chinese and Korean cooking styles. Here’s how to make it yourself:

Equipment:
Dutch oven, deep fryer, or pot; something to fry in
Thermometer, such as a candy thermometer; one that you are positive can handle 350°F
Wire rack(s)
Oven

Ingredients:

3 quarts vegetable oil
2 cups cornstarch
1.5 cups water
salt
pepper
3-4 lbs chicken wings and/or drummettes

and for the sauce:
2-3 scallions, finely chopped
10-15 cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped or ripped
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar and/or honey
1/4 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce and/or dried red chili peppers

Directions:

1. Start heating the oil over medium-low heat.
2. Wash your wings. If your wings are whole and have the tips and drummettes still attached, you should trim off the tips and then decide whether you want to separate the wings and drummettes. Cook time doesn’t change either way, so it’s just a matter of preference. I’ve made this recipe with both whole and separated wings. In this particular case, my wings are pre-separated:

3. Pat the wings dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

4. Place 1/2 cup corn starch in a container and coat the wings with dry cornstarch.
5. In a separate container, mix the remaining 1.5 cups cornstarch with 1.5 cups of water.  This batter settles quickly so you will need to thoroughly stir it up for each batch of dipping. It can get dense at the bottom and will take some muscle to mix well.

6. Check the temperature of the oil and adjust the heat to medium-high. We want 350°F.
7. Set up your wire rack station.
8. Heat the oven to 200°F.

9. When the oil reaches 350°F, stir your batter up (get the dense glob that settled on the bottom), then dip each wing in the batter before placing it into the hot oil. A few seconds after placing a wing in the oil, you should move it a little just to make sure it does not stick to the bottom or to any other wings.

10. Put 6-8 wings in the oil at a time, fry them for 5 minutes and then let them rest on the wire racks for 5 minutes. You may need to adjust the heat to maintain the temperature of the oil.

11. While the first batch of wings are resting, fry the second batch in the oil. Don’t forget that you need to thoroughly mix the batter before dipping the next batch wings.

12. Fry the first batch of wings again for 5 minutes (yes, each wing is fried two times). No additional batter is used in this step.

13. Place the twice-fried wings on the wire racks for a few minutes and then on a tray in the warm oven. Continue frying and re-frying the wings in small batches, collecting them in the oven, until you are done frying and are ready to sauce and serve.

Ingredients for sauce:
2-3 scallions, finely chopped
10-15 cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped or ripped
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar and/or honey
1/4 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce and/or dried red chili peppers

Pictured are two slightly different variations of sweet and spicy agents I have tried.

Directions for sauce:

1. Chop the scallions, garlic and cilantro. Set aside half of the scallions and the cilantro for later. Mix everything else together.

2. Pour the mixed ingredients into a pan and simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened.

3. Toss or cover the wings with the thickened sauce and garnish with the cilantro and green onions you set aside earlier.

Enjoy!

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Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays everyone!
Sorry for the lack of updates.. I’ve been traveling a lot and haven’t had much time in the kitchen.

But fear not happy readers, I will be traveling to Taiwan for a few weeks and will bring you recipes directly from the source…

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Foodbuzz Festival 11.05.10: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

The 2nd Annual Foodbuzz Festival was held the weekend of 11/5/10 in San Francisco, CA. Tao and I were very excited to be attending our first time as featured publishers. The attendees were asked to bring a gift basket on Friday to be swapped with another Foodbuzz attendee. So since I love everything and anything that has pumpkin listed as an ingredient and now that it is the holiday season, it provided the perfect excuse to make something pumpkin related. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I put together a basket with cookies, a can of pumpkin puree, and a printout of this post.. of course all tastefully organized thanks to a quick pit stop at Michaels.

Here is a picture of us and our new friend Elizabeth. Check out her blog all about Boston called Free Food Boston!

These cookies come out moist and delicious. Try it!

Also, you’ll see that I use the Silpat cookie sheet liner which I got from Williams Sonoma. You scoop the cookies right on top and makes clean up a cinch. Alternatively, you can also use parchment paper.

Ingredients
(makes about 2 dozen cookies)

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (You can replace part or all of the oil with natural apple sauce as well)
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 mixing bowls
1 cookie sheet tray

Directions
1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg.

2. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in.

3. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.

4. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts (optional).

5. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10-11 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

batter

cookies

6. And.. let cookies rest on cooling rack (or you can eat them hot!)

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