Monday, May 12, 2014

Beef and Broccoli

This is another favorite dish of mine at the Chinese restaurants. Well it used to be anyway. Then it seemed that most places replaced their delicious sauces with something not so great. I had a friend give me his recipe for Beef with Broccoli and with a couple of personal tweaks, I found a new recipe!

I gathered my ingredients, I had fresh broccoli on hand, but you can also use frozen if that is what you have. I prefer it when I make it with the fresh because I like the crunch, but it is still pretty delicious.

After mixing the sauce, it is pretty important to let the meat marinate for at least 30 minutes.

I love cooking with garlic and ginger.

By using fresh broccoli, I can retain some of the crispness which I really like.

Since the meat is cut into small pieces, it cooks in just a few minutes. After it is cooked, the broccoli goes back in the pan to be tossed with the beef and the sauce.

Add some rice and dinner is served!

Beef and Broccoli

2/3 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2/3 cup cooking sherry
2 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 lb round steak cut into thin strips
2-3 tablespoons of oil
1 teaspoon fresh, minced ginger
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 lb broccoli cut into florets

Whisk together the oyster sauce, sesame oil. sherry, tamari,sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add meat to the mixture, make sure all pieces are coated and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and stir in the garlic and ginger. Let them cook for just about a minute, then add the broccoli florets. Toss and stir until the broccoli is bright green and starts to get tender. Remove the broccoli.

Add a little more oil to the pan if needed and add the beef and the liquid it has been marinated in, cook until meat is no longer pink and the sauce is starting to thicken. Return the broccoli to the pan and mix with the beef and the sauce, cook only until broccoli is heated. 

Serve with rice.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Future Food

I have had so much fun getting ready for gardening season. Starting with looking at all the seed catalogs, deciding what to plant and ordering seeds. As soon as they arrived, I started many of the seeds so I would have healthy seedlings to plant. Then I built my two new raised beds and a new flower bed. Babying all those little seeds as they became seedlings made waiting for warmer weather a little more bearable. Finally the time came to transfer all those little seedlings and to plant the things that grow from seed.

I decided to expand my planting this year. In addition to the extra space, I am growing many things that I have never grown before. In the past I have grown mostly tomatoes, some herbs, cucumbers, carrots, peas and beans. 

This year's planting also included corn:

Melons, pumpkins, squash, zucchini, and a wider variety of herbs.

I bought the greenhouse a couple of months ago. So far it is still standing! It really gave me a lot more room to work with all the seed starters.

I order most all of my seeds from the following places:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hot and Sour Soup

I love a good bowl of Hot and Sour Soup. I used to work at a place beside a Chinese restaurant that had the best soups. At least 2-3 times a week I would go there and eat soup for lunch. Then they changed owners and the soup was never the same. I still ordered it at other restaurants but it was either bland or so hot that all could could taste was the pepper. All that pepper would do was mask the other flavors in the soup and make my nose start running.

I have been looking for a recipe that I like for quite a while. I attempted a bunch of different recipes that I found online and they were all pretty much good, but not what I was looking for to recreate my favorite version of it. After many, many pots of soup, I finally came up with this recipe that I really like a lot.  

Hot and Sour Soup

8 cups of chicken broth (or veggie broth)

1/3 cup  soy sauce

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

2-3 tablespoons garlic chili sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper(start with the 1/2 tsp, but for extra heat add 1/4 tsp at a time--I will usually wait until the end of cooking before adding more)

1/2-3/4 cup white vinegar (again to taste)

1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots, julienned

 1/2 block of tofu, cut into 1/4 inch dice

4 tablespoons cornstarch and 4 tablespoons cold water

eggs, beaten

green onion stalks, diced (including tops)

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan.

. Add soy sauce, mushrooms and garlic red chili paste, simmer 5 minutes

 Add white pepper, white vinegar, bamboo shoots, tofu, simmer 5 minutes

 Combine two tablespoons of cornstarch with two tablespoons of cold water in a cup. Stir until mixture is smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to soup and stir well.

 Simmer for five minutes until soup is thickened.

 Beat egg in a cup until yolk and white are combined. Pour beaten egg slowly, in a fine stream into soup. Stir soup several times.

 Wait 30 seconds.

 Add green onions and sesame oil to soup. Stir well. Remove from heat.

***This makes a pretty good size pot of soup, but it can easily be halved. I like the extras for our lunches.

(If you want to add some shredded chicken or pork, add the cooked meat at the same time as the tofu. I prefer it without the meat)


Monday, May 5, 2014

This Week's Bountiful Basket

Saturday was my Bountiful Basket pick up day. I missed the last one due to being out of town so I was even more excited to see this week's basket. As always, I was happy with my selection of produce. 

Here is what I will do with each item in my basket:

Lettuce: salads and on sandwiches
Asparagus: One bunch will be steamed and eaten as a side dish and the other will be in a stir fry
Bananas, watermelon, and grapefruit: will be eaten as is
Mangoes: will probably go in smoothies or I might attempt a sorbet
Zucchini: will go in a stir fry
Corn: will be grilled, which is my favorite way to eat corn on the cob
Green onions: will go in a pot of hot and sour soup and in the stir fry
Purple Potatoes: will be roasted with a little olive oil and sea salt
Endive: Not sure on this yet, several people at the pick up site mentioned roasting this as well, I might give that a go
Radishes: I am not a huge fan or radishes, but I saw someone on one of the cooking shows that had pickled radishes; I think I will attempt to do that

Friday, May 2, 2014

Veggie Stir Fry

I try to do meatless meals at least a couple of times a week. Toward the end of the week, before going to the grocery store again, I usually have a little of this and a little of that left in the fridge. I will pull out all the leftover veggies and cut them in bite size pieces and toss them in my large skillet. There is usually some type of cooked rice or pasta in there too, and I will toss that in at the end. It is a perfect way for me to use all the leftovers and not waste anything. I also love that using the leftovers this way takes care of the leftovers, but feels like a new meal.

This particular version was onion, carrots, snow peas, asparagus, zucchini, and mushrooms along with some bow tie pasta. I had a little balsamic vinaigrette left over and added that to the mix too.