Saturday, September 24, 2011

BBQ Pork (Chinese Style) (Char Siu)

So I really, really, really miss this hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant back home. Their best, most delicious bit of food was bbq spare ribs. We just call it, "SWEET PORK!" So I googled it and, because I didn't know the cut of meat, I found this recipe. When I brought the ingredients home my husband told me I bought the wrong stuff. Well, nothing is "wrong" in a recipe, only an opportunity to make something else!

I've edited the recipe to how I did it, but click here for the original ingredients and here for the cooking directions!

BBQ Pork Recipe (Char Siu/Char Siew/蜜汁叉烧)
4 lb pork butt (cut into slightly larger than bite size pieces)
6 tablespoons cooking oil
Char Siu (Char Siew) Sauce:
6 tablespoons maltose (barley malt, malt sugar---syrup form)
6 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Add all ingredients in the char siu sauce in a sauce pan, heat it up and stir-well until all blended and become slightly thickened and sticky. Transfer out and let cool. Pour 2/3rds of the sauce into a large plastic bag and marinate overnight. 
Add the 6 tbs of oil to the remaining sauce and store in an airtight jar.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Add a rack to a roasting pan and fill the pan with water to come just below the rack. Wipe any excess marinade from the pork with a spoon and line the pieces up neatly in the roasting pan.
Place the pan in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and roast for another 30-40 minutes, turning and basting frequently with the remaining marinade or with peanut or sesame oil. Serve on rice!
Use the sauce you had from before (mixed with oil, not off the raw meat) to top the rice. Excess marinade that touched raw meat is dangerous and needs to be cooked before you can use it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Spicy Chicken in Peanut Sauce

Foods like this is why I love the weekends. During the weekend I can cook up a storm and that's usually Saturday. Sunday is my slow-cooker day. It's a lot for only two of us, but thankfully we have lots of poor college student friends that seem to meander over when the cooker is on!

I got this from Pillsbury but changed it a little based on what we have and what we like.


1 TBS olive oil or vegetable oil
3 lbs chicken strips
1 packet onion soup mix
2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes with green chilies (like Rotel), undrained
1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, plus a little more

2 cups cooked couscous, hot


1. Heat oil and cook chicken 4 minutes, turning once until brown.

2. In a 4-5 quart slow cooker, mix onion, tomatoes, honey, ginger, celery salt, cinnamon, and peanut butter. Add chicken. Mix until thoroughly coated.

3. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours. 

4. Stir in a little more peanut butter until melted and well blended. Serve over couscous.

For a little less spice you can do 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, and one can of diced tomatoes with chilies.

We were supposed to use cumin instead of the ginger and celery salt, but I got ready to cook and didn't actually have it! I thought it was definitely in my spice rack. I looked up what flavors go well with cumin and found this really helpful guide! I chose ginger and celery because I wanted to keep the pungent flavor that we're going for. Hopefully this guide will help other people too. It will definitely be bookmarked on my computer!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Macaroni Chili

This recipe is my go-to staple. I love this. But before making this for the first time about a year ago, I had never used cumin and didn't know what it was for. Subsequently, I discovered it is used to give that smokey flavor in chili. When I started writing this post, I looked up "uses for cumin". 

Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma, popular in NepaleseIndianPakistaniNorth AfricanMiddle EasternSri LankanCuban, northern Mexican cuisines, central Asian Uzbek cuisine, and the western Chinese cuisines of Sichuan and Xinjiang. Cumin can be found in some Dutch cheeses, such as Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France. It is commonly used in traditional Brazilian cuisine. Cumin can be an ingredient in chili powder (often Texan or Mexican-style), and is found in achiote blends, adobossofritogaram masalacurry powder, and bahaaratCumin can be used ground or as whole seeds. Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine.

Wow! I had no idea it was used in so many different cultures and in so many un-chili types of food. Anyway, to the chili:

12oz. ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (8oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (8oz.) can stewed tomatoes (with juices), chopped
3/4 cup macaroni
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese.... or more if you're like me ;)

In large pot, brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic (I like to throw in a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce here). Drain fat.
Stir in beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes (with juices), macaroni, water, chili powder and cumin.
Bring to boil, reduce heat.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir well, then cover and simmer for 10 more minutes, or until macaroni is tender but firm (sometimes, when I'm feeling crazy, I like to throw in a can of drained corn). Sprinkle with cheese, then cover and let it melt over low heat. 

Sweet Potato Swirls

I didn't know what Marjoram was... so I decided to find out. It is a milder form of Oregano, and can be used interchangeably with Thyme or Savory.

It has a sweet, mild flavor. So I decided to pair it with a sweet potato swirl recipe that I already had from the BH&G cookbook. The carmelized onions and the marjoram are my adds, otherwise the recipe is as is from the book, minus the blending in the blender....they use a hand mixer. But I used a blender to hide the onions from my children : )

Prep: 40 min
Bake: 15 min
Oven Temp: 350
Makes: 8 Servings

4 medium sweet potatoes, or yams (about 2 pounds) peeled and quartered
1/4 cup butter
1 to 2 tablespoons of milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of butter melted
1/8 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 or 2 tsp of Marjoram

1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook potatoes until tender (25-30 min). While those are boiling carmelize the chopped onion in some butter, and set aside.

2. Let the potatoes cool for 10 minutes, put in a blender. Add 1/4 cup butter, season to taste with salt (and pepper if you desire). Beat in milk and eggs until combined. Add carmelized onion and puree till smooth. Add Marjoram at the end, so no blending, just use a spatula to stir it in.

3. Using a pastry bag with a large star tip, pipe potatoes into 8 mounds on a greased cookie sheet. Or spoon into 8 mounds with a spoon (I did the latter).

4. Drizzle mounds with the 2 tbsp of melted butter,and bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes until the tops are golden.

The whole family loved them, especially my 8 month old boy... he scarfed down 3.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rosemary Bread, for you, Rach!

And for Rachel, who apparently really loves rosemary.

We love this recipe, adapted only slightly from here. Like one of the ladies said in comments, this is just like the Macaroni Grill bread!

Rosemary Bread (for bread machine)

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. yeast
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
2 1/2 c. flour

Put all ingredients in your bread machine according to its instructions. Eat it. Die. Go to heaven. Eat it again.

Caldo Verde, and the Bay Leaf.

I'm not about to defend the bay leaf, because I'm not 100% sold on it yet.

My mom used to have a small bottle of bay leaves in her pantry. I never saw her use them once. Maybe she did and I didn't notice, or maybe she bought them for one recipe and then never used them again (sounds like something I would do). I never used bay leaves in my own cooking until I served an 18-month mission for the LDS Church in Portugal. The Portuguese love them some bay leaves. All my native companions kept bay leaves in the house and they put them in almost all their dishes: soups, lasagna, beans, and so on. Every time we ate with people in their homes, they started every meal by warning, "Look out for the bay leaf!" I never ate one, but apparently they're pretty bitter. If the bay leaf made a difference in our food, I didn't notice. Maybe my pallet isn't as refined as it could be. When I smelled the leaves in their packet, they smelled herby, if that makes sense. I've never seen them sold fresh, only dried. Our community garden buddy gave us a huge branch of fresh bay, which we hung in our closet to dry.

Anyway. Here's one of my favorite Portuguese soups, and it is seasoned with bay leaves. And it's to die for, just so you know.

Caldo Verde

olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 or 5 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 lb. sausage, sliced (the Portuguese use chourico, a seasoned smoke sausage; we have successfully made this soup with fresh sausage, too)
1 lb. collard greens or kale, cut in very thin strips (the type greens that the Portuguese use isn't grown in the USA, but these are good substitutes)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

1. Coat the bottom of large pot generously with olive oil. Heat it over medium heat, then saute the onions and the garlic until they are clear.
2. Add potatoes and enough water to cover, plus 1 inch or so. Bring to a boil until potatoes are cooked, but not mushy.
3. Blend all the contents of the pot in a blender or food processor, or blend in the pot with a hand mixer (the Portuguese love this tool and call it a "magic wand"!). If it seems really thick, thin with a little water.
4. Return the liquid to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the sausage and the bay leaves. When the sausage is cooked through, add the greens. The greens will only need a few minutes to cook through. If you use collards, you might want to cook them a bit longer, since they can be bitter.
5. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top. Serve with a nice, crusty bread, and don't let anyone eat the bay leaf!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


For a wedding gift, I was given a spice rack with already filled spice jars. About 20 little jars. I have ever opened maybe five. I have savory, crushed mint, mustard seeds and dill, among others, and have never known what to do with these spices. Four years later, I was sitting there looking at my bottle of caraway seeds wondering "What the heck do I do with THIS?" It struck me that others out there actually DO know what it's used for. Let's put together a great list of recipes using all those odd spices that we have never used, and even those that we use all the time (that one would be rosemary for me. sigh. I long ago used up all my little bottle of rosemary but happened to live next door to a house with a HUGE rosemary plant growing conveniently right down the middle of our two properties. I would sneak out at night and snip off big stems for myself. I felt like the father in Rapunzel)
Tag/label your post with the spices used in it so that we can just click on the spice, and have bunches of recipes right there for us!