Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hot and Sour Soup!

A while back, I made some hot and sour soup from Williams Sonoma's Soup.  It was "meh."  Kind of bland.  It seemed like it was trying to capture the flavor of hot and sour soup without authentic ingredients.  The broth was very thin, and the "hot" and "sour" aspects were very, very faint.

Then, I tried Ken Hom's recipe.  This is an entirely different animal.  The broth has the right consistency.  The flavors are punchy, the mushrooms provide a great texture, and the egg is done right.  This soup tastes like what I've eaten at my favorite Chinese restaurants.  It doesn't take very long to make.

I was so happy that this looked like the real thing!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Persian Sweet and Sour Stuffed Chicken

I've been dying to try so many of the chicken recipes in Food of Life, my Persian cookbook.  So many of them call for an entire chicken, and I don't know how well stuffed chicken leftovers would work the next day.  But, when I saw the recipe for sweet and sour stuffed chicken that could also be done with a Cornish game hen, I was stoked.  Before this dish, I'd never eaten Cornish game hen.  My mom told me that back in the 70s and 80s, they were a Big Thing for people to cook when they entertained friends.  Wikipedia tells me that they're basically small chickens, and it tasted exactly that way.  It wasn't gamey at all.

This was my first time roasting an entire bird.  I've never hosted Thanksgiving or Christmas, so I've never done turkey, and I've never had the guts to roast a whole chicken when I have guests for dinner. It's generally a bad idea to experiment on friends.  I was a little intimidated, at first.  I was nervous that the meat would be dry and nasty, but this dish turned out *amazing.* The meat was moist and the skin was tangy from the lime juice in the basting liquid.  The stuffing was sweet, but not cloyingly so, and the onion and spices made it very hearty.  I would definitely make this for my friends for a special dinner.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Quick Side Dish: Zucchini with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts

I'm trying to find more quick, easy vegetable side dishes to serve at meals.  Right now, I don't have many in my regular rotation.   I think this zucchini dish will make it onto my list.  It's from Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food.  I served it with some baked falafel.  The combination of pine nuts and raisins is, according to the book, something that the Arabs brought all the way to Spain and Sicily.  The sweetness of the raisins and the nuttiness of the pine nuts go well together. I used a little extra of both.  Normally, I think more lemon juice is the proper solution to any cooking problem.  But, in this case, I think that there could have been less.  I used about 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and next time I'd use maybe half that.  This side dish took less than 15 minutes to make, including prep time! 


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