23 January 2010

Orange Chicken

"I want to make some form of Chinese food," I thought to myself the other day, "and I have chicken in the freezer! I'll just make something with that."

Chicken with any form of sweet sauce is one of my favorite poultry applications, and this orange chicken recipe was delightful. I served it on a bed of white rice, with a side of broccoli.

Orange Chicken

2 chicken breasts (skin off, bones out)
1 cup AP flour
olive oil
1.5 cups + 2 tbsp water, divided
3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
3 tbsp soy sauce
the grated zest of an orange (roughly 1 tbsp)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp minced ginger (not dried ginger, use fresh!)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp chopped scallion + more for garnishing
3 tbsp corn starch
olive oil
black pepper

Start by making the marinade and sauce base. Combine 1.5 cups water, the fruit juices, vinegar and soy in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then add the sugar, orange zest, garlic, ginger, and scallion. Let boil for a minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Cut the chicken up into bite-sized pieces and place in a ziplock bag. Pour one cup of the sauce into the bag, seal and refrigerate for two to four hours. Keep the rest of the sauce - I put it in a Tupperware container and refrigerated.

When the chicken is done marinating, remove from the fridge. Mix the flour with a teaspoon each of the salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and stir to coat. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the chicken until brown on all sides. Remove from the heat and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Place the sauce back into the saucepan. Stir two tablespoons of water with the corn starch until no lumps remain. Add to the sauce and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat to low, add the chicken pieces and simmer for five minutes.

Like I said before, I served this over rice with oven roasted broccoli, but you can do egg noodles, just various vegetables or anything else you think would go well with orange chicken!

16 January 2010

A Year of Blogging

So here we are, one year and exactly 56 posts later (including this one). I've learned a few lessons about blogging, one being the concept of feast or famine. I posted 19 times in January of '09, and a total of 10 times between May and November. This year, I will do my best to post a little more evenly - the goal is about two posts per week (so roughly twice the rate of last year).

There will be a break in late July/early August because my parents are coming to visit for a week, and then I'm getting married!

I have a multitude of recipes and things I want to try and write about, and I can't wait to get started. Tonight, I'll be attempting some middle eastern food with some Greek food thrown in for good measure - kofta (or kafta, or kufta, depending on who you ask) baked in the oven with potatoes and tomatoes, tzatziki, pita bread (that I baked last night), hummus, and feta cheese. Looking forward to it. And tomorrow is probably going to involve both bread baking and potentially baking something sweet. We'll see, I'll be attempting some new recipes so I can post them here instead of just doing what I've done in the past. Hmm, maybe I should revisit the focaccia - I've made it twice (once very successfully, once very unsuccessfully). I am definitely on a baking spree right now, and I don't see that stopping anytime soon, especially since it's had pretty decent results as of late!

Another anniversary, by the way: I'm celebrating 5 years at work next week. Not shabby - especially since I've been promoted a few times and got to move to a new country as well!

And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

14 January 2010


Look at that picture. That's what I've been trying to achieve since I started baking bread for real, and it's all thanks to Pete Reinhart (and my parents, who got me his book). Yay! A condensed version of the recipe follows:


22 oz unbleached bread flour (about 4.5 cups)
1 3/4 tsp salt or 2 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 cups chilled water
1 tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients apart from the oil in a stand mixer bowl and run the paddle attachment for 1 minute (alternatively, in a bowl with a large spoon for one minute). Let rest 5 minutes. Add the oil, mix on medium low speed (or by hand - wet your hands first) for 1 minute. Thinly coat a bowl with oil. With wet bowl scraper or wet hands, transfer dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, rest 10 minutes.

Now stretch and fold four times: oil the work surface. Using wet hands, transfer dough to work surface. Reach under the front end of the dough and stretch it out, then fold it back onto the top of the dough. Repeat with the back, then the sides. The dough should be much firmer now. Flip over and tuck into a ball, then put back in bowl and cover.

After the fourth stretch and fold, cover the bowl tightly and place in the fridge overnight or up to 4 days.

3 hours before you're going to bake, take the bowl out into room temperature. Leave for an hour. Place parchment paper on the back of a sheet pan and dust with flour. Dust the work surface with flour. Once the dough has been out an hour, transfer it to the work surface, being careful not to deflate it too much. Dust the top of the dough with flour, then, with floured hands, coax and pat the dough into a rough square. Cut the dough in half. Gently fold each part into thirds (like folding a letter but without applying pressure). Rest, seam side down, on the parchment paper while doing the second part. Spray oil on the top, then cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel for one hour.

After an hour, with floured hands, lift and cradle each piece and, working form the underside, gently coax it to a length of 7 inches. Lay the pieces back on the parchment paper, seam side up. Spray oil, cover and leave another hour.

When there's 45 minutes left until baking, turn the oven to 550 degrees F (or as high as it will go), with your baking stone and a steam pan in there (steam pan at the bottom, baking stone in the middle). If you don't have a baking stone, you can use the actual sheet pan the dough is on right now. The steam pan could be, for example, a cast iron pan (although you wouldn't want to mess with one that is properly seasoned already).

Once the 45 minutes are up, lower the temperature to 450, put the dough (parchment paper and all) on the baking stone (both loaves) and pour 1 cup of hot water into the sheet pan.

Bake for 12 minutes, then turn and bake another 15-20 minutes, until rich brown crust and bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. The crust will be hard, but soften when cooling. Let cool on wire rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing. Try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting (difficult).

10 January 2010

Swedish Christmas Dinner

Finally! Internet is back, and so am I. Here's what I served a group of friends for Christmas dinner. I will explain what is in the picture and post the recipes below for anything that I actually made.

Starting at the "9 o'clock" position, we have:

  • Aged 2-year old English sharp cheddar cheese
  • Smoked salmon
  • Marinated herring - Abba's is the most famous Swedish maker. Available at IKEA.
  • Swedish limpa bread (recipe below)
  • Swedish meatballs (recipe has been posted previously)
  • Stewed kale (recipe below)
  • Prinskorv ("prince sausage") - found this at IKEA!
  • Jansson's Frestelse ("Jansson's Temptation") (recipe below)
  • Hard boiled egg - recipe below. Just kidding.
The dinner was served with a variety of beverages: red and white wines, glögg, and one of the more important parts of a true Swedish Christmas dinner: akvavit! Before drinking the shot, one has to sing a song in Swedish. Since I know most of my readers are not fluent in the language, here are the lyrics "in English" (basically, someone put English words to the song, to sound like it's in Swedish).

In addition, we made some Christmas-inspired cocktails, one of which is pictured above.

And now, the recipes.

Peppermint "Martini"

3 oz vodka
2 oz white creme de menthe
2 oz white creme de cacao
small candy cane

I hate calling anything that contains anything other than gin and vermouth a "martini," but I guess I have to get with the times. Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, pour into a cocktail glass, garnish with a candy cane, enjoy.

Swedish Limpa bread

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 tbsp shortening or butter
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp anise seed
1 1/2 cups hot water
4 1/2 cups AP flour
2 cups rye flour

Place 1/4 cup warm water and yeast in a bowl. Stir to combine and leave for 5 to 10 minutes, until frothy. In the meantime, combine brown sugar, molasses, shortening/butter, salt, caraway seed and anise seed in a large bowl. Pour the hot water over the ingredients in the bowl, stir and set aside until lukewarm (about 5 minutes).

Add a cup of flour to the sugar mixture and beat until smooth. Add the yeast mixture and mix well. Add the rye flour and up to 3 1/2 cups AP flour (which is what remains), but not more than required to make a soft, slightly tacky (but not sticky) dough. You can do this by hand or in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and let rest for 10 minutes. Knead until soft and tacky, then form into a ball and place in a large, oiled bowl. Turn to coat. Cover with waxed paper and a towel and let stand in a warm place until doubled (about 2 hours).

Punch the dough down, then pull the edges into the center and turn dough completely over in the bowl. Cover and let rise again until nearly doubled. Punch down again, then turn out onto a floured work surface.

Grease a baking sheet. Divide the dough into two portions and shape into balls. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Place on the baking sheet, then cover and let rise until nearly doubled. Turn the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool on wire rack before carving.

Stewed Kale

1 bunch kale
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
black pepper

Fill a large pot about halfway with water and add about 1 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil. Clean the kale and remove the leaves from the stems. Discard the stems. Blanche the kale in the water for about 1 minute. Drain and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, slice into smaller pieces.

In a medium pot, melt the butter. Add the kale and cook for about a minute. Add the cream, about a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Cook over medium heat for about three minutes, stirring regularly. Serve immediately.

Jansson's Frestelse

3-4 large potatoes
1 medium onion
200 g anchovies
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp butter

Turn the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel the potatoes and onion and cut into thin strips. Grease a 9" dish. Place a layer of potatoes in the pan, then a layer of onion, then finally anchovies. End with a layer of potatoes. Once finished, pour the liquid from the anchovies containers and the cream into the dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and bake in the oven for one hour, or until the potatoes are soft.

Hard Boiled Eggs

I said I was just kidding. All right, fine: put eggs in pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, remove from heat and cover. Leave covered for 15 minutes. Rinse in cold water, peel, eat, enjoy, yada yada yada.