Garlic Scallion Chicken Stir Fry – December Kosher Link Up

KOSHERCONNECTION5

This month’s Kosher Connection Linkup’s theme is Chinese Food, and pretty much any dish you get in a chinese restaurant is a stir fry. A stir fry, is my go to for a really quick weeknight supper. It comes together really quick, and can literally be on the table in like 10 minutes, provided you do some preparation work, and have everything ready to go (ie – mise en place). Now don’t get me wrong, I am the most unprepared cook in the history of preparedness, however, when it comes to throwing down a stir fry, you need to have it all ready, because it comes together quick.

DSC_4399

Here’s what makes a stir fry a stir fry. First thing first, like we said, everything comes together really quickly, which is why it’s crucial you have a good pan. Whether you use a wok (which might not be the best option, depending on what type of wok you have, and whether it’s suitable for your stove), or you have a heavy bottomed cast iron skillet (which is what I use), or a tri-ply type of skillet (a “metal” type of pan, that has a layer of copper sandwiched between 2 layers of aluminum, to ensure even cooking; these pans are usually very expensive [eg – all-clad]), you need to heat the bejessus out of it, to make sure it’s super duper hot. This will ensure everything cooks quickly. Second, you want uniform sized pieces, so whatever you decide to put into the stir fry, should all be about the same size.

DSC_4391

Now onto the food. There’s really three components. The protein, the vegetables, and the sauce. As for the protein, whether it’s chicken, beef, tofu, or whatever, the principles are the same. You want to cook them, really quickly, and with high heat, so you can develop maximum browning, but without overcooking. So you have to wait for the pan/oil to be really hot, and not overcrowd the pan (or you’ll end up steaming the meat, and not sautéing it). I usually cook the protein first, and when it’s ready I take it out of the pan, and let it sit on the side, and then add it back at the last second to mix together with everything else. (This is when a spider (that mesh looking device below) is really helpful)

DSC_4392

For the vegetables, I like to keep it simple, and not overwhelm the dish with too many different vegetables. 1 or 2 different vegetables would be the maximum. Now in regards to cooking the vegetable, it has be done with order also. First rule – garlic and ginger always gets added at the last second, and is only sautéed for like 20 seconds. This prevents the garlic and ginger from burning, which they can do pretty easily. Other wise, the other vegetables, will cook much the same way the chicken is cooked, fast, over high heat (again, to maximize browning, while retaining their crispy-ness).

For the garlic, there are those who are against garlic presses, saying garlic presses mush the garlic too fine, and can cause the flavor of the final product to be too harsh, and instead they make a garlic paste on their cutting board. Now, I’m not one of those people, but sometimes I’m too lazy to clean the garlic press, so I make the paste instead. It’s not that hard once you get the hang of it. You take your knife and using the sides, you just keep on smushing it, until a paste forms. Some people will add salt, saying it will help (the salt abrades against the garlic), but I never do that.

DSC_3656

For the sauce, this is really where you can just make anything up. Usually, the sauce will have soy sauce, and a vinegar in it, and a spicy component, but that’s not a hard fast rule. And you add the sauce once the vegetables is done. Since your pan is super hot, the sauce will immediately start to sizzle. You let it cook for 20 seconds or so, and then another classical addition is corn starch, to thicken the sauce.

Starch thickens sauces by absorbing water, but they only do that at a certain temperature, so typically, you take 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch and dissolve it in 1-2 teaspoons of water, and then add that to the sauce as the finishing touch. The reason you can’t just add corn starch straight to the sauce (without dissolving it first), is because the second the starch hits the hot sauce it starts absorbing water, and if you add it straight it would clump up.

So for our dish, we went with chicken (deboned thighs) as our protein, which we “marinated” in egg whites and corn starch (it’s not really a marinade, in that it doesn’t effect the chicken’s tenderness, but we did let it soak in it for a little while…the egg whites and corn starch coat the chicken, and form somewhat of a barrier, and are a kind of insurance to prevent over cooking), quick cooking scallions and garlic, and for the sauce, it was composed of – ketchup, white vinegar, white wine, sugar, and soy sauce, served over rice.

DSC_4400

Obviously the ingredients are listed below, but feel free to tinker around.

Don’t forget to check out the other blogs that participated, by clicking on the funny looking frog thingy below.



Garlic Scallion Chicken Stiry Fry

adapted from Joy of cooking (pg 594)

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1-2 boneless, skinless thighs, cut into roughly 1/2” cubes
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1/4” pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch, dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Mix egg whites, cornstarch, salt, and chicken pieces, and let sit 20-30 minutes
  2. Cut scallions and garlic, and set aside. Mix together sauce, and set aside, and mix together cornstarch and water and also set aside (the cornstarch will settle, and will need one last stir right before adding)
  3. Heat your skillet/wok over high heat for at least 5-10 minutes, so that it’s really pre-heated. You can test this, by taking a drop of water, and it should sizzle the second it hits the pan.
  4. Add 3 tablespoons of your oil, and once it’s shimmering, add chicken, ensuring not to overcrowd your pan, you might have to do it in batches if your pan isn’t big enough.
  5. Once the chicken is ready, remove it from the pan, and set it aside.
  6. Allow the pan to heat up again, and when hot again (don’t do the “water test” since there’s oil in the pan, and it will just spurt hot oil all over the place…not fun) add the garlic and scallions, and allow to cook for literally 20 seconds (once you start to smell it, it’s done)
  7. Working quickly, add the sauce, it should start to sizzle, and allow to cook for 15-20 seconds, and then slowly add the cornstarch mixture (don’t forget to stir the cornstarch before adding to make sure it’s dissolved), and it should start to thicken right away.
  8. Add your chicken back (along with any liquid that is with it) and mix around to incorporate everything, and you’re done

Chipotle Garlic Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise it’s hot in here…ammiright? Yeah, I’m funny like that. Yeesh, tough crowd.

DSC_2730

Anyway, mayonnaise that kind of disgusting thing we all are so fond of. That falls into that realm of mysterious kitchen product, which you probably don’t want to know how it’s made, kind of like shortening, and hot dogs. Yet, you can’t deny it’s all powerful presence in the kitchen. It’s delicious, and it makes other food delicious. So I think it’s high time we understand this delicious gloopy weirdness.

So it turns out mayonnaise hails from Spain, and was popularized by the French, and is just another run-of-the-mill emulsion. When it comes to making emulsions there are a few things that need to happen. We know that water and oil don’t really like each other, so we need “something” that on one side of this “thing” it likes oil, and on the other side of this “thing” it likes water. This thing can then hold on to water and to oil, and will stabilize the oil and water mixture. This “thing” is called an emulsifier. One of the best emulsifiers are lecithin, which is found in egg yolks, which molecular speaking has one side that likes water and one side that likes oil. Another good stabilizer is mustard, for a somewhat different reason (basically, to make mustard, you grind up little mustard seeds, and those seeds have a lot of “mucilage” which helps coat oil, and allows it then coexist in water..).

DSC_2723

Another thing an emulsion needs is to add the oil slowly. Basically like we said earlier you need to disperse the oil into a bazillion tiny little droplets which get interspersed throughout the water, and in order to do that properly, you need to add the oil slowly.

DSC_2725

Traditionally, mayonnaise is a pain in the butt to make, because you need to whisk constantly with one hand, while slowly adding the oil, which means somehow stabilizing your bowl (a towel curled up around it helps), and whisking some more, and then some more, and yeah, it’s annoying. Then came along the food processor, and things got much easier, especially if you use it properly (utilizing that piece on top that has a tiny little hole that allows the oil to stream in slowly), but it’s still hard if you want to make small batches. But now I bring you an even easier way, and all you need is a stick blender, and thin-ish cup.

DSC_2726 

All you need to do is add the yolk, lemon juice (or vinegar), mustard, spices, and whatever else you’re planning on putting in except for the oil (in our case it was chipotle and garlic), and then pour all of the oil on top of it, stick your blender in, and turn it on. As it starts off, the blender slowly starts pulling in the oil little by little, which is perfect for mayo, until the whole kit and caboodle thickens up like mayonnaise. (You’re going to want a thin vessel so the bulk of the oil remains on top of everything, and is slowly brought down into the yolk mixture)

DSC_2727

There’s a lot of different opinions as to how much oil you should use per yolk, but as Harold McGee says, what maters isn’t the amount of yolk, but the amount of water, which is in the form of lemon juice/vinegar, some of the yolk, mustard, and also plain water, and as he says the water part should be 1/3 of the amount of oil, so if you’re going to use a cup of oil, you should have 1/3 cup of yolk, lemon juice/vinegar, mustard, and water.

For this recipe, I used dried chipotle (you can use the canned ones if you’d like), which I had rehydrated with hot water (and let it sit for 5 minutes…that top picture), added some minced garlic (and yes, I know that “garlic mayonnaise” is called aioli, it was just too much to say chipotle aioli), and then poured the oil on top, and voila!

Since you’re still reading I’ll let you in something cool. One of the amazing things about mayonnaise is that it’s a oil-in-water emulsion. You see most emulsions are oil in water emulsions (the exceptions that I know are – butter and a vinaigrette, both of which have more oil than water), however the cool thing about mayonnaise is that the ratio of water to oil is 1 part water to 3-4 parts oil, that means that there’s roughly 3-4 times more oil than water, and yet we consider the water as the main part, and the oil is the part that gets dispersed among it. This kind of shows you the power of the egg yolk, and it’s ability to emulsify oil and water. Who needs molecular gastronomy when you have regular cooking??

Chipotle Garlic Mayonnaise

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 small dried chipotle
  • hot water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice/vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil

Directions:

  1. Cut up chipotle peppers, and pour enough hot water over them, and allow them to sit to re-hydrate, about 5 minutes
  2. Drain the peppers and reserve 1 tablespoon of the water
  3. To the chilis and water, add the yolk, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and salt and pepper, and blend them
  4. Then add your oil, all at once on top of the other stuff, and stick your stick blender in, and turn it on, and watch as mayonnaise magic happens right in front of your very eyes

Potato Kugel – Kosher Link up

KOSHERCONNECTION5

So I’ll go out on a limb here, and let you all know, that I’m pretty much a pro at potato kugel. I know that’s a pretty brash statement right there, but I’ve been making potato kugel since I was about 13 years old. It was really the first step into my decent of food madness. However, it’s been 2 plus years on this here blog, and not one mention of potato kugel? No recipe? Nothing!? Well for some reason, my potato kugel is very hard to give over. I never had a recipe, and kind of am at the point where I make the kugel by feel. So why the change of heart? Why am I all of a sudden writing up a post on potato kugel? Well to be honest, this month’s kosher LinkUp theme is root vegetables, and I’ve been super busy lately, and really haven’t had the time to take pictures and write up a post, so I figured, I’d be making the potato kugel anyway for Shabbos, so like everything else in my life, I’d be able to kill two birds with one stone, and half ass it, awesome! I can already hear you in the background rolling your eyes, but fear not, I’ll be back with some quality posts once I can get my life in order…so in like 15 years give or take.

One of the nice things about not being consistent when making kugel, is that every week is a surprise as to how it will come out. Will it be too salty? Too garlicky? (which as my Hungarian compadres will know, is not really a thing) Too peppery? You get the gist. And another thing is, over the years I’ve tried different things. Different ingredients, different techniques, etc, but one thing that hasn’t changed – I grate the potatoes by hand. Yeah, call me old fashioned, but I can tell the difference between a potato kugel made by hand, and one made by machine. Now that’s not to say if it’s made by machine it won’t be good, but here at casa del Fogel we like our potato kugel to be just slightly chunky, not like a puree, and there’s no way you can get that with a machine.

All right, so let’s start with some potatoes shall we? I like to peel them and to prevent them from browning I keep them submerged in water. If I have my act together (which if you haven’t caught on yet, is never) I would actually put it in the fridge over night, because that’s how Bobby (ie – my grandmother) did it, and it also makes sense, a colder potato takes longer to brown, and while a browned potato will still make a good potato kugel, it’s still something I try to avoid.

DSC_3788

Next thing up is the grater. Of course you can’t just use a normal box grater because that would just be too normal, you have to use one of these types of graters, which you can only buy from an old women on the side of the road somewhere in rural Hungary. This is the grater I’ve used every time (well almost, more on that in a bit) for the 16 plus years I’ve been making it.

DSC_3790

So grate your potatoes (which by the way, would be a great idiom…I’m not sure for what, but I can totally imagine someone saying: “..and by the way, don’t forget to grate your potatoes”…it has a nice ring to it…but I digress) and you really want to work fast here (so it doesn’t brown), which can be a little tricky if it’s your first attempt at using one of those graters.

DSC_3791

Look at that consistency, it’s not too mushy, not too chunky…just right

To be honest, up until recently I used garlic and onion powder, because that’s how Bobby does it, but the good food maniac (I’m trying to think of another word other than foodie, which I hate) I am, just couldn’t let it continue. So I grate an onion, and mince some fresh garlic in there, and it’s really stepped up the kugel in the past few months. However, another thing the onion might do is since it’s acidic, it prevents the potatoes from browning also, but that’s just an educated guess on my part.

DSC_3794

Now for the piece de resistance. Before I start grating, I pre-heat the oven, and put the pan in there with some oil. I let it heat up, and when I’m done with all the grating, and adding my salt and pepper, I take the scalding hot oil out of the oven, and pour it over the spices (I make sure the pepper and garlic are on top), which allows them to bloom, and it sizzles, so that’s pretty awesome. Once that’s all mixed, I add my eggs. It’s hard to tell you how many eggs because most of the time I’m not sure myself. I would tell you 1 egg per pound of potato, but that’s not a hard fast rule. Eggs will help bind everything, and keep it more solid, but it will also add to the browning of the crust (as will the oil).

DSC_3796

Anyway, I cook the potato kugel at 350 degrees until it’s ready, about 1.5-2 hours, depending on size, and type of pan you use, but you’ll know it’s ready when your house smells like Shabbos, and there’s a nice brown crust on the top. My favorite type of pan for the kugel is a glazed ceramic souffle pan, which gives a lot of interior, and makes a nice crust (because of the heat retention capabilities of the ceramic), but it is a little big for just the wife and I.

DSC_3797

That’s pretty much all I’ve got for now. Oh, one more thing – I did mention that I would mention something about using the grater every time. Well to be perfectly honest, one acceptable alternative in our family is the Braun Food processor, using the “e” blade. I’ve used it if I was making a whole lot of potato kugels (like the 6 pans that I made for Daniella’s kiddush). But to be really honest, it’s good, but it’s just not the same.

Now for all of you not convinced, I openly invite/challenge you to come by any Shabbos and taste my kugel, and tell me that you can’t taste the difference. Now that’s brash right there.

As like last time – this is all part of the Kosher Connection LinkUp, with the theme of Root vegetables, and since I know you want to check out what other slightly more normal people have to say about that topic, and since you probably want something just a little more exciting than plain ole’ potato kugel, click on that little frog mentschey (man, I cannot tell you how long I’ve wanted to use the word mentschey in a post…normally mentschey is strictly used for lego men, but we’ve extended it to this guy…it’s a pretty great day)…so go ahead click on it.


Potato Kugel

We’ll assume you’re making kugel for a standar d Shabbos meal, for like 6-8 people, but you can obviously scale the recipe up/down for your needs

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes (2.5 pounds), peeled
  • 3-4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 small-medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons salt (total guess on that one)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper (also a guess, and for the love of all that’s sacred, use freshly grated black pepper, it’s really not that hard to find, and unless you like the taste of saw dust, it really makes a difference)
  • 3 eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350, and when oven’s hot, add your oil to your pan, and heat up in the oven
  2. Peel potatoes, and place in water (if you want to do this the night before, place potatoes in fridge, in water)
  3. Grate potatoes and onions. Add salt, minced garlic, and pepper (making sure the pepper and garlic are on top)
  4. Being careful not to burn yourself (my lawyers told me I had to say that), pour oil over top of the potato mixture, let it sizzle, and mix it through
  5. Once cooled, add your eggs, and mix until incorporated
  6. Add to pan (if the pan has good heat retention [like a ceramic one, and not like an aluminum one] you should start to hear the kugel sizzle as it hits the pan).
  7. Bake for about 1.5-2 hours, or until it’s nice and brown and delicious (well maybe wait a little to decide for yourself how delicious it is, because it’s probably going to be hot)

Leek Fritters

IMG_8815

I was trying to figure out a way to incorporate some of simanim into our meal for Rosh Hashanah, and got this idea from Pragmatic Attack, another kosher blog, and also a Jets fan, although I don’t know if that’s something we want to bring up nowadays…sigh…All right, back to food…at least food doesn’t lose to the Ravens, while I’m constantly surrounded by these annoying Ravens fans…but I digress.

IMG_8807

I really wanted to call this post “allium fritters” because I basically had an allium family reunion in the pot with this one, but I didn’t…good story huh? You see, when I saw the idea for leek fritters, I thought to myself, why stop at leeks? Let’s go with total allium domination. Alliums are a family of plants that include: onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, and garlic among other stuff, so I figured let’s combine it all together, and make the craziest fritter ever…and you know what I did? Just that.

First a word from out sponsor – Mr Leek. Leeks have that oniony taste, but a little more mild, but did you ever notice every recipe that you ever see with leeks calls for them to be rinsed clean? Well the reason is, as leeks grow, the farmer continuously kicks dirt over it to cover more of it (called “hilling”), so the dirt gets in between the layers.

IMG_3853

That’s also why the top half or so is greener than the bottom half, because sun produces chlorophyll, which is green and bitter for that matter, and why we discard that half of the leek, and, full circle, why mr farmer kicks dirt on the leek to cover it. Huray for science!

Anyway, start by cutting up your alliums (are you sick of that word yet? because I am), and sautee the leeks, onion, and shallots in the oil until they’re translucent and tender, about 5 minutes.

IMG_8810

Then add the minced garlic, and cook for another minute. Remove the whole shebang from the heat, and allow to cool. At the last minute, I decided the scallions would be better off raw, and not sauteed, so I combined it with the cooked onions.

IMG_8812

Then added flour, salt, black and white pepper, to taste, and added the eggs, and mixed it all together.

IMG_8814

I then heated up some oil in a skillet, and dropped in spoon fulls of the batter to cook them…kind of like latkes. I fried them for about 2 minutes per side, and allowed them to drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Until next time.

Leek (Allium) Fritters

adapted from Pragmatic Attack

Ingredients:

  • About 1 pound of mixed alliums (geez! enough) – leeks, onions, shallots, scallions, garlic
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten

Directions:

  1. Chop up your veggies, and heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, and sautee the leeks, onions, and shallots, until they become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, and sautee for another minute.
  2. Remove from fire, and add them all to a bowl, and allow to cool, and add the chopped scallions.
  3. When cool, combine flour, salt, and white and black pepper adjusting seasoning to taste, and add eggs, and mix to combine.
  4. Heat up about 1/3-2/3 cups of oil in a skillet over medium-low heat, and drop in the batter by the spoon full and fry for about 2 minutes per side.
  5. Drain on a paper towel lined plate.