Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pesto! Pasta!

Recently, I thawed out a baggie of basil pesto
to use in making Shrimp Caprese.

To use up the rest of the pesto,
I'm making Pasta Pesto.

Use a pasta that will catch the pesto sauce,
like this bow tie pasta (farfalle)
or a corkscrew pasta (rotini).

Add a big chunk of pesto.

Give it a little extra virgin olive oil lovin'.
Mix to coat thoroughly.

Slice some grape tomatoes over top.

Basil pesto is delightful.

It's fresh, clean, and bright.

A perfect pairing for pasta.
If you'd like to grate some Parmesan over top,
you have my permission.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Rosie Makes General Tso's Chicken.

 One of Middle Hawthorne's favorite dishes
is General Tso's chicken.
I turned to Fuchsia Dunlop's
(Don't you just love that name?)

 Every Grain of Rice
and adapted her recipe for Zue Zong Tang Ji
to make a Rosie version
with the ingredients I had on hand.

General Tso's chicken is supposedly
the most famous Hunanese dish in the world,
but, according to Fuchsia Dunlop,
 it is virtually unknown in the Hunan province.
When she traveled to Hunan,
Fuchsia (May I call you Fuchsia?)
learned that no one there had ever heard of it
and as her understanding of Hunanese cuisine deepened,
she realized that the local palate did not
appreciate sweet and savory together.
This begs the question,
how did General Tso's Chicken
come to epitomize Hunanese cuisine?
Who is General Tso?
Why are we eating his chicken?

General Tso (1812 - 1885)
was a formidable military general,
who was born in the Hunan province
and led many successful campaigns against various rebels,
becoming one of the best known Hunanese historical figures.
He apparently enjoyed eating chicken.

General Tso's chicken was invented
by Hunan Chef Peng Chang-kuei sometime in the 1950s,
after he'd fled to Taiwan in 1949 during the Chinese Civil War.
Peng recalls,
"General Tso's chicken did not preexist in Hunanese cuisine
but originally the flavors of the dish were typically Hunanese -
heavy, sour, hot, and salty." 
In 1973, Peng went to New York
and opened his first restaurant.
Hunanese food, at that time,
was unknown in the United States.
Peng soon attracted the attention of UN officials,
particularly of Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.
Soon, thanks to Kissinger,
who brought Hunanese food to public notice,
Peng began to make his reputation.
According to Peng,
"The original General Tso's chicken was Hunanese
in taste, and made without sugar,
but when I began cooking for non-Hunanese
people in the United States, I altered the recipe."

Peng eventually returned to his hometown,
Changsha, in the Hunan province,
and opened a restaurant that included
General Tso's chicken on the menu.
It was not well-received.
"Too sweet."

General Tso's chicken is not an "authentic"
Hunanese dish.
It is "invented tradition,"
and as such, is part of the story of Hunan cuisine.

As Fuchsia (It is OK I call you Fuchsia, right?) writes:
"[General Tso's chicken] doesn't tell the same story as the dishes eaten in remote Hunanese villages, where some cooking methods haven't changed for millennia, but is a key part of recent culinary history.  After all, it embodies a narrative of the old Chinese apprentice system and the Golden Age of Hunanese cookery; the tragedy of civil war and exile; the struggle of the Chinese diaspora to adapt to American society; and in the end the opening up of China and the reestablishment of links between Taiwan and the Mainland."

 A quick trip to the freezer downstairs
produced three chicken bosoms
I'd bought on sale for 99¢ a pound.
Typically, chicken thighs are used for this dish.

Did you know that you can hold down the ALT key
and type in 0162 and make the "cent" symbol?
For the degree symbol,
it's ALT  0176.
I love my cookbook holder and protector.
Twas a gift from dear friend and fellow blogger, 
Mar, of FoodiesUntie blogdom.

Using your thumb, slide the meat down
off that bony cartilage that runs down the breast,
then pull the rib cage out.
No knives are needed.
This is done best by hand.
Notice the meat stays intact.

Take the bones and skins and bits and freeze.
Keep adding to the freezer bag
 and wait for a rainy day to make chicken stock.

It must be a rainy day.
No other day will work.

I chopped my chicken into uniform pieces.

2 TB Tamari sauce
1 egg yolk
2 TB cornstarch
1 TB oil

(Fuchsia called for potato flour.
I subbed cornstarch.)

Then I added in another 
tablespoon of cornstarch for good measure.

Massage and refrigerate.

While the chicken was marinating,
I made a sauce.
My BFF Fuchsia called for 
a tablespoon each tomato purée and water.
I'm not opening a can of purée for one tablespoon.
Mr. Hawthorne happened to be canning 
more of his salsa ranchera so I used that.

Oh, and ALT 0233 gives you the accent ague on the e.

2 TB Salsa Ranchera
1 TB cornstarch
1 TB Tamari sauce
1 TB rice vinegar

The chicken is marinating.
The sauce is made.
Now I'm getting the rest of the ingredients ready:
bunch of scallions
2 large garlic cloves
1 large knob of ginger
 5 or so dried red chilis
Chop the garlic, ginger, chilis (seeds removed)
and slice the scallions.

Set aside.

All the stir fry ingredients are ready.

Now, I'm ready to start on the rice.

I have green peas,
tiny dices of carrot, yellow, green, and red peppers,
and red onioin.

I happen to like this picture.

Heat a little oil in the pan
and add in the vegetables.
Cook for about a minute.

Add in cooked Jasmine rice.

Add in some butter.
2 TB thereabouts.

Add in a tablespoon or two of soy sauce.

Add in a beaten egg.

Peas go in last.
Heat through.
Cover and set aside.

I heated my wok,
added peanut oil,
and heated it to about 400°.
Add the chicken in batches
so as not to lower the temperature of the oil
and fry until crisp and golden.
Remove with slotted spoon.
And keep on frying.

Heat the wok over high flame
and stir fry the chilies until fragrant
and just starting to turn color.
Do not let them burn.

Add in the ginger and garlic
and stir fry for a few more seconds
until you can smell the aromas.

Next, I added in the chicken.

And the sauce.
Stir vigorously to coat the chicken
and thicken the sauce.
Stir in 1-2 teaspoons of sesame oil.

Serve the chicken over the rice
with a sprinkling of green onions.

The Hawthornes are happy.
I'm getting good at this.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Around Rosie's Yard.

Every morning I take Beau out
and we play "Cone."

 There are no rules
and it's a stupid game.
As best as I can tell, 
I'm supposed to kick cones
and Beau blocks them.
 Beau is guarding his cones.

 Something from the wildflower package.
 Don't know what it is.
 ETA:  Once again, MyGalMar
has identified yet another little puzzler of mine.

Thanks, Mar.
And that would be my friend
and fellow blogger, Marilyn,
of Foodies Untie blogdom.

 Beau always likes to check out the pier.
There are many interesting aromas on our pier.
Bait.  Fish.  Chum.
And, of course, nutria and/or otter excrement.
Dixie used to love to roll in it.
Then she'd come to the sliding glass door,
lookin' all hang-dog,
and when I opened the door for her,
I could immediately smell it.
Once you smell it, you don't forget it.
It's unique.
Dixie would lower her head
and slink up the steps to the bathroom.
She would deliberately roll in this shit
so I would have to give her a bath.

 I love the color of these irises.

A little bug in the petals.

 It's windy.