Cinco de Mayo will be here in 2 hours or earlier for East Coasters. Here are a few recipes you can use for your Celebrations tomorrow.
We will start with Appetizers including Salsas and conclude with Rice, Empanadas and Lemonade.
Mango Salsa which makes use of fresh Mangoes, Limes, Red Bell Peppers and Jalapenos if you wish.
Nachos – start with good quality chips, Cheese Sauce with Jalapenos (if desired) and serve with Salsa and Guacamole.
Salsa Cruda – incorporates diced fresh Tomatoes, Jalapenos or Serranos, Cilantro, Lime Juice and a little Salt.
Beef Empanadas are more traditionally an Argentine Dish but they can also be found in Mexican Cooking. The Empanada can be filled with whatever you please – diced Steak or Chicken or Ground Beef along with Tomatoes, Onions, Cheese and maybe some Chilies.
Sparkling Lemonade – we first had this in Acapulco and I have been making Lemonade this way every since. It is delicious, refreshing and a great accompaniment to any meal.
Categories: Beverages, Condiments, Cooking for Kids, Dinner Ideas, Family Fun, Food Festivals, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Holiday Tidbits, Main, Mexican, Tropical, Tropical Food Tags: Appetizers, Avocadoes, Chlies, Cinco de Mayo, family dinner, holiday recipes, kids cooking, Limes, Mexican, National Food Days, Rice, Tomatoes
Here we are again talking about Breakfasts. Since September is ‘National Breakfast Month’ this is a good format to use – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – simply because you are breaking a long fast between the last meal of the day before and the first meal of the current day. Your body, like your car, needs fuel to run on and your brain especially needs that fuel to keep you thinking straight. In the last blog I talked about Western Style Breakfasts – that is the Breakfast as we know it in American and also in parts of Europe.
Pictured above is Pineapple and Pork Fried Rice – this would make a good and healthy breakfast for any culture so try having an Asian Style Breakfast sometime if you have leftovers.
Today I am going to be talking about Asian Breakfasts. People in Asia, for the most part, do not have special foods that they eat for Breakfast. Usually it is food left over from the day before. However, in China, Congee, a porridge made from Rice is the preferred Breakfast. Usually leftovers of vegetables, fruit or meat are added to the Congee. Interestingly, the last time we were in Thailand our Hotel served a Breakfast Buffet every morning. Since a considerable number of Chinese people visit Thailand, along with Westerners, the Hotel served a Chinese Breakfast. Congee with a large number of different items that could be added to it. They also served a Western Breakfast. I always have a habit of observing what other people are eating and I noticed that the Chinese guests were eating the Western Style Breakfast. I who always eat a Western Style Breakfast at home was eating the Congee or the Chinese Breakfast. I guess people all over the world do like a little variety in their food.
Japanese people usually eat whatever is left over from the night before as do the people of Thailand. Even though Breakfast Foods per se are not common among the Thai people there are plenty of restaurants in Thailand that do serve a Western Style Breakfast. That being said, if you are Thai you probably have Rice along with perhaps some Pork or whatever happens to be available. When my Sons and Daughter- in – Law were here visiting, my Thai Daughter – in – Law fell in love with Breakfast Jacks. She also loves to make a Thai Omelet which isn’t necessarily eaten for Breakfast. A Thai Omelet is similar to Egg Foo Young but is still different. It is quite delicious and can be eaten for any meal of the day.
More Fried Rice Photos just to the left. The top one is Chicken-Fried Rice – a good way to use up leftover Chicken and the one on the bottom is Fried Rice I made when we were in Kauai. There is a strong Asian influence in modern Hawaiian Food and Rice is frequently eaten for any meal.
For Western Breakfast Ideas please see the previous post ‘Breakfast’ in this Blog.
February 6th is ‘National Chopsticks Day’. It may seem odd that we have a ‘National Chopsticks Day’ but if you take into account all of the Asian people living here and who have lived here for more than a hundred years, it doesn’t seem odd at all. And take into account all the Western People who have adapted to Chopsticks, at least when eating in Asian Restaurants.
Chopsticks have been in use in certain Asian for thousands of years. The Asian Countries that traditionally use Chopsticks are China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Of course, in addition to chopsticks, all these countries do use spoons to drink soup with. Much to my surprise, Chopsticks were used to replace forks in China.
Chopsticks which were originally devised as cooking implements go back to the Chang Dynasty which was more than a millennium before our modern day calendar came into use. The Cooking Chopsticks shown below are fastened at the top with a tie which makes it easier to use as a cooking implement. The Chopsticks are made from a hardwood that will not splinter into the food.
During the Han Dynasty, Chopsticks began to be used as eating utensils and during the Ming Dynasty they were used both for cooking and eating.
The Green Chopsticks below are fashioned after the ‘Hello Kittie’ Craze in Japan and if you look closely you will a ‘Hello Cookie’ face at the top of each one. These two are made from a hardwood; it seems like the color has been incorporated into the wooden material rather than having been painted on.
In Thailand, even though the fork and spoon are traditionally used for eating (the fork to push the food onto the spoon) chopsticks are also frequently used, especially by the numerous Chinese Thai. According to Wikipedia, almost all Thai citizens do know how to use chopsticks, even though they don’t use them on an everyday basis. Having been to Thailand, I don’t know if I agree with them as all I have ever seen Thai people eat with is the fork and spoon. The Chinese restaurants in Thailand do set the table with Chopsticks but also with fork and spoon as a rule.
Chopsticks can be made from wood (usually less expensive Chinese Restaurants will provide a somewhat inferior chopstick. The more exclusive the restaurant, the better the quality of the chopsticks provided.
Chopsticks have also been made from ivory (that practice has probably been stopped as the use of ivory in most countries has been prohibited), gold, bamboo and more recently plastic.
Chopsticks make it easier to eat Asian food as most, especially Chinese food, is cut up into small pieces.
If you have ever eaten rice and tried to pick the grains up with your chopsticks and find yourself failing at it, that is because chopsticks are not meant to pick up grains of rice. If you pay attention to how rice is indivually served, in small bowls, you are supposed to pick up the bowl and sort of push the rice into your mouth from the bowl.
If you don’t know how to eat with chopsticks, you can find directions on many websites. Just type into your browser, ‘How to eat with Chopsticks’/
Happy ‘National Chopsticks Day’. Go out or go home and enjoy an Asian meal; my favorite type of cuisines is Asian. Asian food is tasty and you don’t get stuffy full when you eat it, therefore you can have a variety of dishes at one meal and not be stuffed. And your taste buds will be totally satisfied!
MY CULINARY DIARY
MONGOLIAN BEEF FOR DINNER
On Tuesday, June 5th, in order to fulfill an urge for a very tasty, beefy meal, I decided to make Mongolian Beef for dinner. Mongolian Beef is usually made with Flank Steak which at times can be a little on the chewy side. In order to fully enjoy the meal and not have to cook the meat for more than a minute or two, I decided to make it with Beef Tenderloin. It may be somewhat more expensive but when you are only cooking for two, it hardly matters as compared to the enjoyment of the meal.
Mongolian Beef is usually found on the menu in Chinese Restaurants and as the name implies, its roots stem back to the Mongols. The Mongolians invaded and put forth their influence in many of the Asian countries. Traditional Mongolian Beef is served with Mai Fun Noodles which are a rice noodle, which when cooked in hot oil, will puff up instantly and provides a nice contrast to the beef which can be a bit spicy, if prepared with an ample amount of chilies as the recipe calls for. In our household, we do not like our food to be ultra spicy, so I always use a moderate amount of chilies, however we still like the dish with puffed rice noodles which also provide a nice texture contrast.
Along with the Mongolian Beef, I served Broccolini which is very similar to Chinese Broccoli and which does not have the same amount of buds on it as western broccoli, but is instead more leafy and has longer, more tender stems, making it taste like more of a cross between broccoli, spinach and asparagus. Broccolini, in fact, is actually a cross between Western Broccoli and Chinese Broccoli.
I started preparations about one hour before dinner by slicing the meat across the grain into ¼” thick pieces that were slightly less than ½” in diameter and about 1- 2 inches long.
The meat was then marinated in a mixture of Egg White mixed with Cornstarch and refrigerated.
Then I mixed up the ingredients for the sauce which included Soy Sauce, Bean Sauce, Garlic and Sugar.
Wash, dry and cut a bunch of Green Onions up into 2″ pieces and set aside. You will also need a Cornstarch/Water slurry to thicken the sauce.
Next I washed and trimmed the Broccolini and set it aside.
I love Cucumbers and made a marinated Cucumber Salad. Just thinly slice your cucumbers, lightly salt them and set aside. Once the Cucumbers release some of their moisture, you can then drain them and rinse if they are too salty. Next add some Seasoned Rice Vinegar, Garlic Powder and a little Peanut Oil. For a Thai variation, add about 1 Tbsp. Fish Sauce.
If you are serving Rice, begin cooking the rice and then heat about 2 inches of Oil in a wok or sauté pan.
Once the Oil is hot, add your Mai Fun Noodles (they should be broken up before cooking – the easiest way to break them up is to put them in a plastic bag that can be sealed – this avoids getting rice noodles all over the kitchen). Cook a small amount of noodles at one time – if they don’t immediately puff up to the surface the oil is not hot enough. Using your thermometer to ascertain the correct temperature which should be about 360 degrees. Remove from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack placed over a baking pan for them to drain.
Lightly sauté the Broccolini in a sauté pan, shut off the heat and cover until ready to serve.
Next, remove the meat from the refrigerator and cook a few pieces at a time in the hot oil. This will take less than a minute – you just want the coating to brown. Remove the meat as it cooks. Once all the meat is cooked, remove all but about 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the ingredients for the sauce and cook for about 2 minutes over high heat. Add the Meat, Onions and Cornstarch mixture and cook for another 2 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.
Turn the heat on under the Broccolini and heat for about 1 minute or just until the Vegetables are hot. Place the cooked Mai Fun Noodles on a serving platter and top with the meat. Serve immediately with steamed Rice, the Broccolini and Cucumber Salad. The above preparation will feed four people.
Mongolian Beef is a very tasty and satisfying dish. The amount of heat you create from the chilies will vary on how much of the chilies that you use. I used about ¼ tsp. but if you like it hotter, just use as many as your taste buds will tolerate. For the full recipe please see mongolian-beef/
Here we go again. What to make out of the leftovers. Today’s leftovers consisted of a chicken breast, miso mayonnaise, some diced pineapple, short grain rice and mozzarella cheese.
The Chicken Breast was turned into Chicken Salad:
Dice the Chicken and the Pineapple and Mince 2 ribs Celery. Combine in a medium size bowl and add leftover Miso Mayonnaise along with some additional Mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard, 2 tablespoons of pickle relish and voila, there is you Chicken Salad. My leftover chicken was from Korean BBQ Chicken that I had made for dinner two nights ago and it had plenty of seasoning. If you use poached or roasted chicken breast, you may want to add some salt and pepper to it or even some diced onion. Chopped Salted Cashews or Macadamia Nuts will go well with this salad also.
The Short Grain Rice was turned into Rice/Mozzarella Croquettes:
1 cup leftover cooked Short Grain Rice
½ cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Egg White
Additional Egg White or Yolk
Seasoned Bread Crumbs (Panko Crumbs work very well)
Combine all the ingredients except for the Additional Egg White and the Bread Crumbs.
Mix well and form into patties. Dip each patty into the additional white or yolk and then into the bread crumbs.
Heat about 1 inch of Peanut or Corn Oil in a frying pan. When the oil reaches 350 degrees gently place the patties into the hot oil and fry one side until golden brown. Carefully turn and cook on the other side until the color on that side is golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Serve while still warm. Yield: Aprox. 4 small croquettes
I also prepared some Edamame by microwaving them with a small amount of von Fass Ginger/Sesame Oil and tossed with a little gray sea salt.
Our meal this night consisted of:
Summer is just around the corner and cool salads make great entrees on hot summer evenings so try your own version of leftover chicken salad and any other side dishes to go with it. One leftover that works well with chicken salad are potatoes that can be made into potato salad or home fries or you can make pasta or fruit salad along with fresh croissants or biscuits from the corner bakery.
To clear up some of the confusion, this will be an ongoing series that deals with different types of pasta. For our first installment we will deal with the flat pastas. But before we get into the shapes of pasta, you might want to consider what pasta is made from. The best quality pasta is made from semolina (hard durum wheat) and eggs with maybe a little salt and some olive oil thrown in. There is pasta that has no eggs in it and then there is pasta made for those with gluten allergies. To avoid pasta with gluten, you can buy rice pasta usually in the Asian Isle in the market) and pasta made from corn flour. There is pasta that is made domestically and then there is the imported dried variety. There are many types of Italian Pasta, most of which are very good. It used to be very difficult to find pasta imported from Italy, but now you can find them most anywhere.
There is fresh pasta which you can usually purchase from your local Italian deli or you can make it yourself. There are many pasta machines available on the market which help to make the production of pasta at home a fairly simple task.
The best way to cook pasta is to have plenty of boiling water which has been salted. The salt not only helps to flavor the pasta, but it also increases the temperature of the water which makes the pasta cook more quickly. Dried pastas usually have a recommended cooking time on the package and it is wise to follow that at least until you have cooked the pasta at least once. Pasta should be cooked to ‘al dente’ which means “to the tooth”. You should be able to bite into it, but not have it crunch.
The flat pastas include lasagna, linguini, fettuccini and papparadelle. Dried Lasagna noodles are usually about 2-3” wide and can be purchased in boxes either uncooked or precooked. Domestic lasagna noodles are longer than the imported ones; however most of the imported ones are of a better quality. You can usually also purchase fresh pasta which can be used for lasagna from your local Italian deli. Lasagna may either be served simply with a Bolognese (meat) sauce with shredded parmesan or more traditionally as a layered casserole. The sauce for lasagna can vary from marinara (tomato) to Bolognese, mushroom, vegetarian or seafood. There will usually be a layer of pasta, a layer of ricotta cheese, a layer of sauce and a layer of mozzarella. Sometimes the pasta and cheese is layered without the sauce and the sauce is added at serving time.
The narrowest of the flat pasta is linguini; linguini is long narrow pasta (about ¼” wide) which can be served with any number of sauces. A favorite that is served with linguini are clams in either a white wine sauce or a spicy red sauce. The next size up is fettuccini which is usually served with an Alfredo sauce (cream or béchamel) made with butter, heavy cream and parmesan. It is utterly delicious, easy and simple to make and loaded with calories. Not for those who have to watch their cholesterol intake!
Other than lasagna, papparadelle are the widest at about one inch in width. Papparadelle can be served with most any kind of sauce. Papparadelle go especially with vegetables primavera as they provide a nice contrast to the vegetable and are substantive enough to provide contrasting texture and flavor to the vegetables.
All of the above pastas are also made with variations in flavor. You can find [amazon Spinach ], Tomato or Squid Ink Pasta. The Squid Ink is a little more difficult to find and will probably be in specialty shops. In addition to the manufactured dried pastas there are also gourmet pastas which are made in different colors and sometimes have a decorative edging. Choose the ones that most appeal to you, add a flavorful sauce and make a salad and voila! You have a wonderful meal! See our recipe section for Papparadelle with Mushroom Cream Sauce. http://sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/dinner/pappardelle-with-mushroom-cream-sauce/