Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Barbara's Stir Fry

Pork fried rice is one of our favorite things to order in a Chinese restaurant. With just a little prep work, this wonderful stir fry can be made in less than 15 minutes. 

Loaded with veggies, this delicious and easy recipe was inspired by my friend, Barbara, at Moveable Feasts.  Although Barbara doesn't actively blog any longer, you can still find her on Instagram where she shares the wonderful archive of recipes from her website.  Recently, she shared this stir-fry recipe, which she learned from a Chinese women during her family's Air Force years in the 50's.

I adapted the recipe slightly and used frozen peas and fresh pea shoots.  I also added diced, slow-roasted pork shoulder (a great recipe which lends itself perfectly to stir fry recipes). Recipe below.

Chinese New Year is coming soon (The Year of the Dog) and begins on February 16!

Barbara's Stir Fry

3 cups cooked brown rice (or any rice you have left over) 
2 or 3 eggs 
2 tablespoon canola or peanut oil, divided
1 large shallot, chopped, or regular onion - about 1/4 cup
2 cloves garlic, diced or minced
6 scallions, sliced very thinly  
1/2 cup shredded carrots (I use a box grater)
1/2 cup diced water chestnuts (optional)
1 cup peas, (defrosted if frozen) or ready-to-eat edamame 
1 cup diced, previously roasted pork shoulder (you may also use diced shrimp or chicken) 
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Garnish with Fresh Pea shoots, if available, or, with thinly sliced green onion tops

Note:  Diced bok choy or small broccoli florets would also be great vegetable choices in the stir fry.  Add when adding the shredded carrot.  

Heat a saute pan or wok large enough to hold all the above ingredients over medium-high heat and add a little neutral flavored oil. When the oil is heated, add the eggs and scramble them briefly, breaking into small pieces. Remove the cooked eggs from the pan and set aside. 

Reheat the pan until hot. Add a little more oil, then add the shallots, scallion whites, carrots and garlic. Cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the cooked meat and rice and continue to stir for another few minutes until the rice and meat are hot and begin to brown slightly. 

Add the soy sauce, water chestnuts, scallion greens and peas or edamame, salt and pepper to taste and fry together for another minute or two. 

Garnish with some fresh pea shoots, scallion greens or other micro greens, if available. 

Pass additional soy sauce at the table when serving.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Brown Sugar

SERVES: 10-12

1 3-1/2 to 5 pound pork shoulder (butt) roast
2 whole garlic cloves, sliced or minced (optional)
1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano
1 cup unsweetened apple juice (I didn't have juice so I used 2 fresh apples, peeled and diced) 
1/2 teaspoon salt, and 
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or to taste

Make small slits all over the roast then insert a slice of garlic into each slit. Alternately, you can mince the garlic and rub it over the meat). Place the roast in a Dutch oven with lid.  I used my enameled cast iron Dutch oven.

Sprinkle the roast on all sides with Worcestershire sauce. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

At the end of the hour, spoon any Worcestershire sauce that has accumulated on the bottom of the pot back over the meat. Mix together the brown sugar, black pepper and thyme or oregano and press the brown sugar mixture firmly onto the top and sides of the meat. Pour the apple juice into the bottom of the pot and cover tightly.

Place the roast in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 225 F.

Roast for about 4 to 4-1/2 hours or until the meat is fall-apart tender (cooking time will vary depending on the size of the roast).

Remove the meat to a platter, tent with foil and set aside.  Stir the salt into the pan juices and taste test. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Strain juices and reserve. 

Slice meat as desired and pour strained juices over the top of the meat.  

Note:  This can easily be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated.  Juices can be easily defatted after chilling by scraping congealed fat off the top.  When ready to serve, warm meat in a 350F oven in a covered pot for about 30 minutes, adding the reserved juices.  

Adapted from Genius Kitchen 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Pecan Shortbread for Your Sweetheart or for YOU ♥

Yes, a simple cookie can be romantic! Nothing fancy, but so delightful. Yes, I do dream about flaky, tender, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread.  I lover you, shortbread! You make me smile.

To pay homage to my delicious shortbread,  I used the most romantic, Valentine-hued piece of art in our home as a backdrop.  I think I see a woman with red hair walking out of a bakery carrying an armful of shortbread...am I right?

The piece was painted by Wisconsin Artist, the late Lester O. Schwartz, of Green Lake, Wisconsin. Purchased in the 1990's when he was still alive. I love you, Lester Schwartz! You make me smile.

If you love shortbread as much as I do, and you want to do something nice for your sweetheart, your family, or yourself, you will love this recipe.

Whatever makes you smile, whether it's a simple cookie,  make it for Valentine's Day!

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Printable Recipe

Note:  Buy the best butter you can afford.  Organic Valley, Cabot or Vermont Creamery are good choices.

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature (or use salted butter and add less salt below)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted before measuring
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

Sanding sugar, or ground pecans, if desired for decoration.

Preheat oven to 350F. Place whole pecans on a small baking pan and toast in the oven for approximately 6-7 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Place pecans in a food process along with 1 tablespoon flour and pulse until finely ground.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed until it is smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and salt and continue to mix until smooth but not fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the pecans and mix together briefly. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in 2 egg yolks, one at a time, mixing until well blended.

Turn off the mixer and add the flour. Cover the mixer with a towel and pulse slowly about 5 times so that the flour doesn't fly out. Remove the towel and mix for about 30 seconds more, or until the flour is just blended in and the dough looks uniformly moist. Use a spatula to work in any flour remaining on the bottom of the bowl. Work the dough as little as possible. You want a soft, moist, clumpy dough.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Gather it into a ball and cut it in half.  Roll each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long, adding just enough flour to keep it from sticking to the work surface.  Wrap the logs well with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.  Overnight will yield the best results.

When ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat 350F degrees. Line two baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Place one log of chilled dough on a work surface or piece of waxed paper and sprinkle the roll in sanding sugar (or ground pecans), pressing in all around. Trim the ends of the roll if they are uneven and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet at least an inch apart and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes (depending on your oven), rotating the baking sheet halfway through. The cookies should be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Let the cookies rest about five minutes before removing from the baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining log of dough on the second baking sheet, or, if using the same baking sheet allow it to cool completely.

The dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking, from My Home to Yours.