chinese new year dinner

i haven’t really celebrated chinese new year since i’ve been in hawaii, but i’ve been cooking a lot of chinese food the past few months, so this year i decided to cook a nice chinese dinner to celebrate the year of the rabbit 🙂

mostly, i’ve been trying a lot of good recipes from fuschia dunlop’s two books, land of plenty and revolutionary chinese cookbook:
land of plentyrevolutionary chinese cookbook

land of plenty has recipes from her travels and time at a famous cooking school in sichuan. revolutionary chinese cookbook focuses on hunanese food. i really like her recipes… they’re detailed, well-written, and have delicious results. she also writes a lot of interesting side notes and stories about her experiences.

here’s the meal:

marci and craig brought the chinese chicken salad and dessert 🙂

蔥 姜 鸡 cold ginger chicken:
ginger chicken

香干肉丝 chicken with pressed tofu, bamboo, and chives
chicken tofu

鱼香茄子 fish-fragrant pork slivers with black ear fungus and bamboo

彭家豆腐 peng’s home-style bean curd w/ black beans and pork

土豆煨牛肉 slow-braised beef with potatoes (spicy)

渔家炒虾球 fisherman’s shrimp with chinese chives and hot peppers

菜心 choi sum with garlic. cooked in the pot after the shrimp.

芥兰 steamed chinese broccoli (gai lan)

干煸四季豆 dry-fried green beans with ground pork and tianjin preserved vegetable.

overall, all the dishes went pretty well. it seems like i can only buy gai lan in chinatown. gai lan’s my favorite though, so it can’t be helped. i found one place with some frozen pressed tofu, but this brand isn’t that good. next time i gotta find a better brand. it seems like the favorites were the shrimp, beef and potatoes, and the green beans. this is the first large dinner i’ve cooked since starting culinary school. i think the planning and execution went way better. hooray! no disaster! happy chinese new year!

intermediate cookery: saute, sandwich/appetizer, grill stations

behind as usual… this class ended a while ago, but i figure i’d post these pictures before i forget what we cooked in this class.

for saute, we took care of the chicken, calamari steak, vegetables, sauces, and plating for most of the entrees.

under there somewhere, is chicken and polenta (tomato cream vodka sauce)…

calamari steak was quite good, served with a ginger beurre blanc sauce and roasted garlic kale yukon gold mashed potatoes

under there somewhere is sirloin steak with wild mushrooms demi glaze and roasted garlic kale yukon gold mashed potatoes

grilled salmon with a miso butter sauce served with okinawan sweet potato mash, sauteed snap peas, and a sesame honey ginger slaw. never had an okinawan mash before. it is quite good and goes well with the salmon.

for grill, we handled the salmon, lamb chops, steak for entree, steak for the steak sandwich, and chicken for the chicken sandwich.

the lamb was my 2nd favorite dish (1st was the snapper). never heard of poha berries before, but the poha berry chutney was delicious.

for sandwich, there’s the assembly of the steak sandwich, maple bourbon chicken sandwich, turkey club, and burger. appetizers were the mussels casino and barbecue chicken quesadilla (forgot to take pictures).

steak sandwich was very good. this one and the veg panini were my favorites. the steak goes nicely with that watercress salad on the grilled bun.
steak sandwich

chicken sandwich has a sweet and spicy apple chutney and those fried onions. nice textures in this sandwich. gotta make sure the onions don’t clump when you fry them.
chicken sandwich

a pretty good traditional club.

the patty we made for this was interesting; it had some cajun spice, garlic, and basil. a lot of people like this burger. i just like ground chuck with salt and pepper though, so not my favorite.

anyway, intermediate was a very fun class. we got to work at all the different stations, make good food, and learn. i’m glad i decided to take it 🙂

food resolutions from 2010

reflecting on last year’s resolutions:

1. bake our own bread – my brother and lena have both been telling me how simple it is to make good bread and how yummy it is. also, cameron got me a “real” pizza stone and this book for christmas. so we’re not buying any more sandwich bread or bakery bread!
i think this one i succeeded in. i didn’t buy any sandwich bread this year! i had some trouble with the 5-minute bread, so i started making loaf bread, which has been good for sandwiches. maybe i’ll try making the 5-minute bread again this year, and try some other types of bread too.

2. read on food and cooking by harold mcgee – this is the year i’m going to read this whole book. it is about 800 pages, so that’s about 2-3 pages per day, ~15 pages per week. dangit! i’m behind already…
i didn’t finish harold mcgee yet, so still working on this. i was doing pretty well until school started. i’ll try to finish the rest of it in 2011. the other day i found out my piano teacher’s husband was best friends with harold mcgee at caltech! how interesting.

3. salads – i like salad a lot, but we don’t make that many types. i’d like to find some new recipes, and have it for lunch or dinner sometimes instead of just as a side.
hmm guess we failed on this one. kind of forgot about it. carry it over to 2011 🙂

4. asian food – cameron suggested this one. we’ve started cooking more chinese food recently because we got a nice cookbook for that (haven’t had time to post anything though). so i think we’ll continue with that, and then maybe also find some thai, korean, vietnamese, japanese recipes.
i think we definitely made some progress on this one. we now have like five chinese cookbooks that we are using regularly. some of the dishes are starting to taste pretty good. i should post some of those recipes… cameron just gave me a nice japanese cookbook for christmas this year, so we’ll have to try some of those this year too.

5. have people over more often – normally our apartment is pretty messy, but our non-food resolution is to clean every week, so maybe this year we will have people over for dinner more. 🙂
haha, well we had people over a few times. it seems like there was some kind of kitchen disaster every time! one time the sinks clogged up, one time the power went out, and one time something in the oven started smoking, filled the apartment with smoke, and set off the fire alarm. i think it’ll be easier to invite people over once we move. it will be nice having a big kitchen. hopefully there aren’t more disasters either.

intermediate cookery: dessert station

the dessert station covers desserts, dishes, and stewarding duties. no one likes washing dishes, but someone’s gotta do it, right? all the desserts had hand-whipped coconut whipped cream (not pictured though). we took turns going in the freezer to whip the cream. brrrrrrrr!

1. Mascarpone Cheesecake with Pecan Crust served with fresh tropical fruits compote – your basic cheesecake with a mango and orange fruits compote.

2. Crepes Suzette thin French pancakes smothered with Grand Marnier orange sauce with strawberries dolloped with Coconut Whipped Cream

3. Vanbanna Swiss Vanilla Almond ice cream served with banana pudding on a ritz cracker crumb crust drizzled with warm caramel sauce and garnished with apple banana and coconut whipped cream – this one is Chef Eddie’s invention, quite delicious and very filling.

4. Pecan Pumpkin Crunch with Cream cheese topping – apparently this is a big thing in hawaii. it tastes kinda like pumpkin pie with a buttery crunchy crust. i guess i forgot to take a picture. the interesting thing is you bake the cake upside-down, so the crust is actually on the top while it’s in the oven.

5. Apple Clafouti Pie with Dried Apricots & Cranberries (a rustic French dessert with a custardy slightly puffed crust, marinated apricots and cranberries in apple liqueur baked and served with vanilla ice cream and coconut whipped cream) – this is something i’ve never had before. it’s a custardy apple pie. quite good served warm with the ice cream. this recipe got revised a few times, so i forgot to take a picture of the final one. i think i’ll try making it sometime though, so maybe later i’ll have a picture.

6. Chocolate Mochi Cake served warm with Chocolate Ganache, haupia cream anglaise and fresh fruits – this is my favorite! i really like the texture of this cake, and it tastes great with the sauces and fruits. the mochi cake recipe is below. hmm the presentation in this picture doesn’t do it justice… next time i’ll put up a nicer picture.

Chocolate Mochi Cake Recipe
(yield two 9×5 loaves, 8×4 is okay too)
from Chef Eddie Fernandez

Mochiko flour 4 ½ cups
Sugar 4 ½ cups
Cocoa powder 5 tbsp.
Baking soda 1 tbsp.
Coconut milk 1 – 13.5 oz. can
Evaporated milk 1 cup
Eggs, beaten 5 ea.
Vanilla extract 1 tbsp.
Unsalted butter, melted 1 stick

1. preheat the oven to 350F. grease the two loaf pans and set aside.
2. combine the mochiko flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Mix well with a whisk.
3. in a separate bowl, combine coconut milk, evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and butter. Mix well with a whisk.
4. add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with the whisk until the batter is smooth.
5. pour evenly into the loaf pans. bake 60-65 minutes until center is firm and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
6. let cool in the loaf pan. when the pans are cool enough to touch, flip the loaves out and let them finish cooling on a cooling rack if you have one.
7. each loaf can be cut into 10 pieces. to store, wrap in plastic wrap or put in a ziploc bag and refrigerate. you can heat the pieces back up individually in the microwave for 1 minute when ready to serve.