A CookBook Recipes & Other Stuff or How to Keep the Kids from Developing Beriberi After They've Moved Away From Home

Friday, July 10, 2015

Old-Fashioned Chicken Chow Mein

Chow mein like we used to eat in East Meadow in the 50s - from

Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups celery thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 1/8″ thick)
2 cups thinly sliced onions (about 1/8″ thick) Made mine thicker
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken meat, cut into pieces about 1/2″ wide or 1/2 pound shrimp or pork or a mix
2 firmly packed cups shredded Napa cabbage (pieces about 1/2″ wide)
1 1/2 cups fresh mung bean sprouts (or canned)
I added a few water chestnuts and cooked mushrooms too, but these are optional
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup chicken stock
about 5 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups cooked white rice
1 cup chow mein noodles (crispy room-temperature ones)

1. Place a very large wok over high heat, and let it sit for a minute (you don't need a wok - I used a dutch oven).
Add the oil, spilling it around the sides of the wok. When it’s smoking (just hot), toss in the celery and the onions. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar over them, and stir well. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then push the celery-onion mixture to the side of the wok, leaving the center empty.

2. Season the chicken well with salt. If the empty space in the wok is dry, add a little more vegetable oil. Add the chicken to the center of the wok and stir-fry until the chicken browns slightly, and loses its pink-red color (about 2-3 minutes). Toss with celery and onions, bringing the mass into the center of the wok. I added cooked shrimp after everything else was done ...

3. Add the cabbage and bean sprouts to the wok, tossing with the other ingredients already in the wok. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and toss again. Turn heat down to medium-high, and let mixture cook for 5 minutes; the vegetables should start losing their distinctness, merging together.
4. Add the soy sauce and toss. Add the stock and toss.
 When the stock starts to boil, mix the cornstarch in a small bowl with a little water until a milky liquid is formed. Making sure the chow mein is boiling, add most of that liquid to the wok, stirring immediately. If you’d like the chow mein to be a little thicker, add more cornstarch mixture. Remove chow mein from heat.

5. Divide the rice among 4 plates or bowls, spreading rice out across the bottoms of the plates or bowls. Top each plate or bowl with 1/4 of the chow mein mixture, then divide chow mein noodles over the tops of the 4 plates or bowls. Serve immediately.(I hate when recipes say this - it is just fine reheated in the microwave!

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Dry Rub Oven Ribs

From Smitten Kitchen a really good recipe for ribs we had on the 4th - I know it's good cause 3 generations liked it, which is like a miracle in this picky family ...

I cooked 2 racks of ribs, but didn't double the recipe and it came out just right

For 1 5-pound rack spare ribs; we estimate about a pound of ribs per person. We tripled this recipe for our first ribs party this summer, doubled it for our second. Makes about 1 cup rub per rack. (This is a thick coating and we prefer it this way.)

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons paprika (sweet, hot or smoked, whichever variety you prefer)(I used smoked)

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon onion powder (Forgot to add this)

2 tablespoons kosher salt (Diamond brand, which is very lightweight; for most others, use 1 1/4 tablespoons; more about why here) (I used 1 tablespoon regular salt)

Chipotle powder (used just a shake) or ground red pepper (cayenne) to taste

As many cranks of freshly ground black pepper as your arm is in for (Few shakes of ground pepper)

1 3 to 5 pound rack spare ribs

To finish: 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Tools: If you can find it, a wide roll of heavy-duty foil (used extra heavy duty) makes the racks much easier to wrap up.

You’ll also want a large rack (cooking cooling sheets, so long as they’re metal and thus ovensafe, are just fine) and a large baking sheet per rack of ribs. (Used oven rack with a cookie sheet on the oven rack below)

Heat oven to 200°F.*

 In a medium bowl, combine all of the spices and seasonings.

I cleaned up the ribs a bit before cooking them - scored that silvery skin on the bottom of the ribs and removed that hunk of meat that's on the bottom.

On a piece of foil large enough to wrap around your ribs, place rack of ribs, meatier side up. Sprinkle half of spice rub over rack, patting it on generously, including the sides. Carefully — it can help have a second person hold the foil down while you lift the rack — flip the rack of ribs back onto the foil so that they’re now meatier side down. Pat on remaining rub. Tightly fold the foil to seal packets.

Set a metal rack (a cookie cooling sheet works well here) over a baking sheet and place foil-wrapped ribs on top. Bake for 4 hours, then reduce temperature to 175°F for 2 more hours, or until a fork easily penetrates the meat.

Open packet of ribs very carefully and pour accumulated juices into a saucepan. I find this easiest with one person lifting/tilting ribs packet and the other one snipping a corner and making sure the juices only go where you want them to. Bring the saucepan to a full boil and reduce the mixture until it becomes thicker, syrupy and will coat a spoon — usually by at least half. Stir in vinegar. This is the “barbecue sauce” for those that like it on their ribs; it will be fairly salty and I always warn people to use it judiciously. (didn't do this - it seemed too fiddly- just used HEB Bourbon barbecue sauce)

Meanwhile, cut the ribs apart and spread them on a serving tray. For extra caramelization, you can spread them back on their baking sheet (sans rack) and run them under the broiler for a couple minutes.

Serve ribs with sauce on the side.

Let’s talk about timing: These cooking times and temperatures, laid out by the great Harold McGee, require 6 hours. But, real life ensures that I always start them late, and while “low and slow” is the barbecue bible for a reason — you’re always going to get the best meat from the longest gentlest cooking times — you’d be pretty amazed by the results of even 3-hour ribs. Long cooking times are not an exact science. As with humans, heh, some ribs are meatier than others and will take longer. Regardless, if you’re looking for guidelines, here are some other time and temperature combinations that have worked for us in the past:

2 1/2 to 3 hours at 300°F.
3 1/2 to 4 hours at 250°F.
4 hours at 225°F

We’ve also fiddled with combinations, such as a higher temperature at the beginning, and then, upon realizing they’d be ready sooner than we’d need them, turning them down to 175°F for the remaining time. And vice-versa, starting with the low temperatures in the original recipe, and realizing at the 4 hour mark, they were coming along too slowly and finishing them at 300°F. I hope these extra options make it easier, and not more confusing, to make yours at home.

These freeze well - I nuked 2 ribs still frozen and then warmed them in the oven for about 10 minutes