Ginger Chicken with Peppers

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1 whole chicken breast (2 halves) Chop in bite size pieces.
2 small red peppers (julienne, which means cut into thin strips)
1 small onion (julienne)
1 bunch green onion chopped
1 tablespoon garlic
1/4 cup (yes, I really mean this:) of chopped ginger
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (available at Asian markets)
2 tablespoons fish sauce (available at Asian markets)
2 tablespoons oil

Heat oil. Saute chicken until close to being cooked. Remove from heat.
If wok or pan needs more oil, add a tiny bit more. Take chicken out of the pan and put in another dish. Saute garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes until they release their aroma. Then add the peppers, onion and green onions. After a few stirs, add the fish sauce and the oyster sauce. Add salt and pepper until veggies begin to sweat. Then add the chicken back in to complete cooking. Serve with rice or Asian noodles. This dish is heavily influenced by the ginger, and has a sweet and tangy component to it.

Chinese Beef Soup

Nourishing and delicious.

Nourishing and delicious.

This soup needs some preparation, but is well worth it. It is my original recipe, and based on some great Chinese cooking techniques.
Ingredients:
–4 cups beef broth (use homemade if you have it. If you buy it, try to use a high quality brand such as Knorr or Swanson.
–I bunch green onions (or scallions)
–8 ounce fresh sliced mushrooms. I love baby bellas (portabellas)
–8 ounce chuck steak (or another tender beef, sliced in small pieces)
–1 pack of extra firm tofu (fry in oil until they golden brown and put aside).
–2 tsp. black pepper
–Chinese cooking wine
–Sesame oil (you can use the hot version or the regular version)
–One star anise
–one bunch of small Udon noodles. Par cook, and put aside.

The broth is the star of this show. Prepare the above ingredients as described, and I put them on separate plates. Sauté mushrooms in a small bit of oil. Add the beef, and sauté. Add the cooking wine. Add the broth, and flavor the broth with the star anise, pepper, salt. Simmer for a few minutes, and add the green onions, prepared tofu and taste broth. Add the par cooked noodles. Adjust seasonings, and add 1-2 teaspoons of sesame oil. I have the hot version, as well as the regular. If you use plain sesame oil, and want a little heat, add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce.
Bon appétit!

Galumpkis (Stuffed Cabbage)

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There are a lot of components to this that all fit together nicely.  It is good to have all ingredients prepped before you build the cabbage rolls.

First off, make a sweet and sour tomato sauce. Sauté a rounded teaspoon of garlic in a small pan.  Add 6 cups of diced tomatoes.  Use fresh or canned tomatoes, depending on the time of year.  Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, cracked black pepper and salt to taste.

I like barley in my stuffed cabbage, but rice can be used as well.  It does need to be cooked though. I use 2/3rd cup of barley, and cook it in 3 cups of water until it is done. Set aside.

Sauté a chopped Vidalia onion  along with a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Add a splash of red wine, ½ cup of the sweet and sour tomato sauce, at least 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon thyme, and other fresh herbs such as marjoram, chervil in small quantity if you have them.

In large bowl, place 1 ½ pounds of hamburger, 1 egg, the cooked barley, and the above mixture of onions, garlic, tomato paste, wine, sauce and herbs. Mix together well.

In large pot, prepare the cabbage leaves. I use Savoy cabbage, as it rolls up SO well. Pull off the outer leaves.  If they don’t look good, toss them out, and go to the next layer.  I cut the middle tough stem out in a V shape with a sharp knife. In any of the cole crops (collard greens, Swiss chard, cabbage, etc) the inner stem can make the dish very tough and bitter. Anyway, heat a large pot of water to poach the leaves in.  I get them to a very bright green, and remove from heat.  Put into colander and cool down with cold water.  Let them cool.

Then the fun begins.  Assemble. Lay one leaf (with V cut out) and pull the leaf parts together.  Put ½ cup of meat mixture on leaf.  Lay this the opposite of the V, so it will roll up without having the meat fall out. I do the top, the roll the sides, and then the bottom.  It look rather like a little sleeping bag.  Place these in a casserole with the seam downwards.  Then sprinkle the sauce over them.  I cover mine so keep them moist.  They cook for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

Turkey Soup

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This is a basic turkey soup. I got a package of large turkey wings, and simmered them for a few hours.  I took the wings out, got all the meat off the bones, strained the stock, cleaned the pot and reduced the stock by about half. 

That can all be put aside.  I did it on a separate night.  

The rest of the recipe consists of: (all veggies are chopped & all herbs are fresh)

  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 3 cups of Swiss chard (or spinach)
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjarom
  • 2 tsp. parsley
  • 2 ts[ salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 tsp. garlic

Saute carrots, garlic, onions, celery in a small bit of olive oil. Add turkey stock, herbs and stir for a few minutes. Add barley and simmer until barley is done.  Add turkey and Swiss chard.  Adjust herbs to taste.

Preparing Tomatoes

This is before all the water drains out.

This is before all the water drains out.

I have had a few people ask me how to make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes.  Actually, the best tomato for sauce is the Roma tomato.  However, I like my deep red, juicy, sweet Rutgers tomatoes.  So there is then a dilemna.  Juicy tomatoes make runny, watery sauces.

That means a bit more preparation.  I core and remove all blemishes from tomatoes, and toss into my pot of choice.  A good rule of thumb is that ugly tomatoes make wonderful sauce.  You can get rid of the ones that won’t make good slicing or salad tomatoes, and the taste is still the same.  Cover the pot with water and bring to a poach, which is just below a boil.  The tomatoes will literally split their skins. I then drain out the water and place them in the large bowl from the last post. Then I leave them alone for a night or a few hours.  When you get back to them, they will be covered in water, and the water is released liquid from the tomatoes.

At this point, if you wanted to make stewed tomatoes for freezing, you can cut them up and toss into containers.  If you want to make sauce, there are a few more steps.  You can see that this is not a quick process.  Cut the tomatoes in half and then in half again.  Each piece should have a little fold where the seeds reside.  Take a knife and slide it along so the seeds will be able to drain out.  Take tomato pieces and place in colander in your sink while the seeds are draining.  There will be a great deal more water released from the tomatoes as well.  Tomatoes are 94% water! Again, I am referring to a “real” tomato and not the hot house variety, which taste like 94% cardboard.  Again, let them alone to drain; do something else for a bit, as this is a process.

Pick out the pieces of tomato for your sauce.  Discard the seeds remaining in your colander.  You may ask, “why not use the seeds?”  For the stewed tomatoes, you can, as they don’t have a long cooking process. However for a good rich tomato sauce, it simmers for a long time, and that would bring out the bitter taste of the seeds and it would leach into the sauces. 

The next part of this is going to be how to make sauce, so stayed tuned.  However, if a few of you are following this (and I had a few people ask me about it), and were curious how to get the tomatoes prepared.  I boiled 5 gallons of tomatoes, and wound up with 1 1/2 gallons of sauce.  That 94% water is what would make the sauce runny, so preparation is important.

Enjoy!

Life in Tomato Land

Huge bowl of cooked tomatoes.

Huge bowl of cooked tomatoes.

All of the tomatoes could not fit in the picture, nor on the counter.

All of the tomatoes could not fit in the picture, nor on the counter.

Just a few of today's pick.

Just a few of today’s pick.

Chucnky fresh tomato sauce.  I need to break up the chunks and it will be ready to eat!

Chucnky fresh tomato sauce. I need to break up the chunks and it will be ready to eat!

One thing that people don’t think of or remember is that once you pick the veggies, you have to do something with essentially is a very perishable product.  A fresh homegrown tomato is on top of the perishable list.  Now a hot house tomato, there was an NPR piece last year about them bouncing out of the truck and being entirely intact.  Now MY sweet bursting with flavor Rutger tomatoes may self destruct if I pile them up in a sack to bring into the house.  Therefore, I have a project ahead of me.  It’s time to make things tomato,  Sauce, soup, gazpacho, salsa, BLT’s, tomato/fresh mozzarella salads, salads, etc.  Here are a few pictures of the tomato madness currently at my home.