noodles with meat sauce

we saw my piano teacher a while ago and mentioned that we didn’t have a good chinese cookbook, so she gave us mrs. chiang’s szechwan cookbook as part of our wedding present. all the recipes we’ve tried have been really good. we need to get a wok though…

noodles

noodles with meat sauce (shao zi mian 紹子麵)
from mrs. chiang’s szechwan cookbook

4 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, cut into match head size pieces
3/4 lb. ground pork
1 lb. chinese noodles or fettucine
3.5 tbsp peanut oil
1/2 tsp ground roasted szechwan peppercorns (optional)
1 tbsp hot pepper paste
5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

1. add 1 tbsp of the chopped scallions to the pork, along with 2 tbsp soy sauce, sesame oil, and szechwan peppercorns. mix thoroughly and set aside.

2. prepare the noodles according to the directions on the package. while it boils, cook the meat sauce.

3. heat wok or pan on high flame for about 15 seconds, then add the oil. when it begins to smoke, add the chopped garlic, 1 tsp of the scallions, and the hot pepper paste. stir-fry for about 5 seconds.

4. add the meat mixture to the pan and continue to stir-fry for about 1 minute. try to break the meat up into small pieces.

5. throw in the rest of the scallions and continue to stir-fry for another 30 seconds.

6. add in 3 tbsp of soy sauce, salt to taste. reduce the heat and let the meat sauce simmer for 1 minute more.

meat-sauce

7. to serve, put noodles on individual plates and ladle meat sauce on top.

comments: this recipe tastes great and is quick and easy to make, so it’s become one of the regulars in our recipe rotation. i like to cook up a side of vegetables with it, like choi sum or bok choy, etc. the soy sauce we use is pretty salty, so in step 6, we only add 1 more tbsp of soy sauce and no salt. also, we tried using less oil, and it still tasted good. we use about 2 tbsp of canola oil. for the noodles, we used some dry wheat noodles. we can’t find szechwan peppercorns though… but it already is kinda spicy.

food resolutions for 2010

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:

ArtisanBreadinFiveMinutesaD_3

so we’re not buying any more sandwich bread or bakery bread!

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…

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.

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.

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. :)

food resolutions from 2009

so here were my resolutions in 2009:

1. cook more – right now we usually only cook twice a week. after march, we’ll have to cook more anyway, so that’s good.
hey, we did this one! we try to cook 4-5 nights a week, partly to save money, partly to eat healthier, partly because it usually tastes good :)

2. learn how to use our new babies – my brother and jen gave us two early wedding presents – 12″ all clad fry pan and 7.25 qt. le creuset (kiwi). they are so beautiful.
yay, we use the all clad one probably 2-3 times a week. we should try to use the le creuset more though.

3. learn about wine – i still have notes from tom mannion’s wine class… something to start after march.
hmm, haven’t made that much progress on this one, although recently i had a glass of red wine i really liked… that’s a first!

4. learn more of mom’s recipes – mom’s food is still my favorite.
well, i think i’ve got the pork chop recipe down now. need to get a little better at nomai fan and niangao. still lots to learn :)

5. learn how to bake a good batch of chocolate chip cookies – mine always don’t turn out right.
YES!!!!! finally succeeded! also made some really good oatmeal raisin cookies this year.

6. cook more mushrooms and fish – i am getting over my mushroom phobia, and cameron is trying to let cooked fish back into his life. he said he was traumatized as a child when his parents tricked him into eating fish by claiming it was chicken. anyway, we are both making progress!
hmm we haven’t been cooking these that much, but we both have been eating them more at least. i think we’ve made some good progress this year.

7. blog more – hopefully after march.
ha, totally failed at this one.

hmm, i still need to think of some resolutions for 2010. haha i am late as usual.

oatmeal raisin cookies

one time i ate a whole bunch of pepperidge farms chocolate mac nut cookies right before i got sick, so for a while after that, i felt nauseous when eating any kind of cookie. i persevered though and got over my traumatic cookie experience (julie, it’s worth it!!) :) i still don’t like chocolate chip cookies as much as i used to though. was it my favorite before? i can’t remember. anyway, this oatmeal raisin cookie is currently my favorite cookie.

oatmeal raisin cookies
from the america’s test kitchen family baking book

oatmeal_cookies_gogo
this nice picture taken by my brother with his fancy camera

1.5 cups (7.5 oz) AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed (7 oz) light brown sugar
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups (9 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
1.5 cups (7.5 oz) raisins

1. adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl.

2. in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes. beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.

3. reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. mix in the oats and raisins until just incorporated.

4. working with about 3 tbsp of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls and lay them on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 2 inches apart. flatten the cookies to a 3/4-inch thickness using your palm.

5. bake the cookies until the edges are set and beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 22-25 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking.

6. let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

comments: yum, gotta say it again, these are my favorite cookies right now. they are easy to make, have great texture – nice and soft on the inside, and have a good ratio of oats and raisins. i ate six in one day the first time i made them.

the first time i made these, i was in a rush, so i didn’t mix the oats and raisins in well enough. i ended up with some extra oaty cookies and some not very oaty ones. they still tasted pretty good. sometimes it’s hard to tell if the oats are mixed in since it’s kinda sticky. there might be a pocket of un-oaty dough at the bottom. the second time i let the dough mix a little more and they came out better.

i made the second batch at my brother’s house so i used golden raisins + some dried cherries and no nutmeg… still yummy!

quick coffee cake

i really like coffee cake. i have fond memories of eating the entemann kind when i was a kid. the crumbly top is irresistible. some people don’t know there’s no coffee in the cake itself…

“i’m making coffee cake. do you know what that is?”
“no, i don’t like coffee cake.”

then when it was done, “you’re not going to try it? i think you’ll like it. there no coffee in the cake, you know…”
“oh… there’s no coffee? … mmm this is good!”
“ha, i knew you didn’t know what it was!”

quick coffee cake
from the america’s test kitchen family baking book

coffee_cake_slice

topping
1/3 cup packed (2 1/3 oz) light brown sugar
1/3 cup (2 1/3 oz) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1 2/3 oz) ap flour
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup (4 oz) pecans or walnuts, chopped coarse

cake
3 cups (15 oz) ap flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sour cream
1 cup packed (7 oz) light brown sugar
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
7 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. grease two 9-inch round cake pans. (note: atk says not to put the batter into one large cake pan).

2. for the topping: using your fingers, mix the sugars, flour, butter, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl until the mixture resembles wet sand. stir in the pecans and set aside.

3. for the cake: whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. in a medium bowl, whisk the sour cream sugars, eggs, and melted butter together until smooth. gently fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture until smooth (do not overmix).

4. scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the tops. sprinkle the topping evenly over the top of both cakes.

coffee_cake

5. bake until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.

coffee_cake_baked

comments: yum, i really like this recipe! the crumble topping is sweet and crunchy, and the cake has a nice cinnamon-y flavor and stays nice and moist.

i don’t have two 9″ round pans, so i think i used two 6″ round pans (took those out of the oven earlier) and an 8″x8″ square pan. that’s 18π+64 ≈ 120 sq. inches, which is pretty close to two 9″ round pans (81π/2 ≈ 127 sq. inches. this recipe makes kind of a lot of cake though, so last time i just made a half recipe.