Savor The Earth

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Tangy Texas Tangerine Chicken November 19, 2009

Texas Tangerine, she is all they claim...

We lucky Austinites can purchase Orange Blossom Farms fragrant organic tangerines at both the Austin Farmers Market and Sunset Valley Farmers Market.  Texas citrus season is NOW (although my own mandarin tree, laden in its fourth year with at least 50 fruits, is still transforming green globes into the orange of winter’s gold) and I’m sure you’ve already been enjoying Texas ruby red grapefruit (Rio Star) and the Lone Star state’s sweet juicing oranges.  Grab yourself a $5 bag of Texas tangerines and a pack of chicken legs from one of our local and sustainable operations and whip up some Chinese-style comfort food.

TANGY TEXAS TANGERINE CHICKEN serves several

  • about 1½ pounds chicken leg quarters, separated, or thighs, from local producers at our farmers markets
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral flavored high smoke point oil.  I like Spectrum‘s organic peanut oil available at Whole Foods.
  • 1 large local green onion, finely chopped, white and light green parts separated from the dark green parts.  Hairston Creek Farm has been selling lovely long-leafed scallions.
  • 3 strips of organic Texas tangerine peel, about 3″ long, white pith removed (use a sharp paring knife held parallel to the counter), minced
  • 3 or more dried red Chinese chile peppers
  • ½ teaspoon ground, roasted Szechuan peppercorns.  You can buy these, whole and untoasted, in bulk at Central Market.  Substitute fresh cracked black pepper if necessary.
  • ¼ teaspoon ground dried ginger
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed organic Texas tangerine juice
  • ½ cup broth, preferably homemade unsalted.  See Stock Tips.
  • ¼ cup bitter (Seville) orange marmalade
  • 2 Tablespoons organic white wine vinegar.  I use Spectrum.
  • 1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons organic soy sauce.  I like Eden or San-J.
  • 1 teaspoon organic toasted sesame oil (Spectrum again) or a generous teaspoon of best-quality butter–Organic Valley or Lucky Layla (from Texas)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon cold broth

Heat up a large heavy skillet over highest heat.  When it’s good and pipin’ hot, add your oil, swirl it around and lay in your chicken pieces, skin side down.  Brown well on both sides, then remove chicken to a plate and set aside.  Pour off all but a Tablespoon or so of the fat in the pan (reserve this flavorful grease for stir-frying tofu or veggies) and put the pan back on the stove at medium-high heat.  Bloom your aromatics—scallion whites, tangerine peel and chiles—in the hot fat for a minute then stir in the powdered spices.  Add the next six ingredients (through the soy sauce), bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add back the chicken, skin side down, cover and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, turning the chicken pieces over once, until the meat tests done.  Remove chicken from the sauce and raise the heat to medium-high.  Stir up a slurry of the cornstarch and cold broth and stir it and the scallion greens into the simmering sauce.  It will thicken right away.  Stir in the sesame oil or butter.

Serve the chicken and sauce with hot Lowell Farms jasmine rice.  You can either set a chicken piece atop a mound of rice and nap it with the sauce or, as is my family’s preference, debone the chicken and mix it into the sauce, to be ladled over the rice.  Don’t forget to save the skin and bones for the stock pot!

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Belated Bun Bonus October 23, 2009

Filed under: bread,Chinese,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 5:49 pm
steamy blooms

steamy blooms

savory bouquet

savory bouquet

I was starting to feel guilty for not having posted the bonus recipe from my Steamed Goat Buns entry.  So I went back and checked and it’s only been six weeks!  What with the weather change (finally!) and all this mommying I thought I’d steamed my buns months ago.  I guess I’m not that late after all.  I’ll just pretend I timed this post to coincide  with my mention of South River‘s wonderful organic miso in the last recipe.  Plus I happen to already have the requisite photos on my desktop and with our camera on the blink (get well soon, Mr. Olympus), I can post-with-images, like a respectable blogger!

STEAMED BUNS BONUS:  Savory Flower Rolls yield varies

  • South River organic white miso, or your favorite brand and style.  I bought mine at Whole Foods.
  • toasted sesame oil.  Spectrum bottles an organic version.

I made these flower rolls with excess steamed bun dough for which I had no more filling.  Mix together your miso and some sesame oil to taste.  You want a spreadable yummy blend.  Maybe four parts miso to one part oil.  Just taste as you go.  The amount required will depend on how much dough you have to fill.  You can make an entire batch of flower rolls if you want.  Any leftover miso filling can be stirred into stir-fries, rice or noodles, so don’t worry about mixing up too much.

Roll out your dough into a rectangle about ¼” to 1/3″ thick.  Spread the miso paste all over the surface (I use a small offset spatula, but the back of a  spoon will work.  I’m sure you’ll  find an adequate implement.)  Roll up the dough to enclose the filling, jelly roll style, starting with a longer edge.  Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into about 1″ segments.  Stack two segments on top of each other, cut sides facing you (and, obviously, the other cut sides facing away from you).  Place an oiled bamboo skewer on top, perpendicular to yourself, and press down to squash out the roll fore and aft.  Slip out your stick.  Pick up the roll and pull the left and right sides down to meet each other on the underside of the bun.  Pinch these ends together.  This kind of fans out the floral layers on the top.   There’s more than one way to flower a bun, but I like the bloom this technique (from the irreplaceable Barbara Tropp‘s indispensable reference, The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking) delivers.

Btw,  I’ve seen Chinese Flower Rolls blogged-up recently.  For a striking wasabi-fllled roll (using a more traditional dough recipe and a different forming method), check out the “Bread Baking Babes”  Lucullian Delights and Bake My Day.

From here on out, the process is just like making other buns.  So I’m simply copying much of the relevant info here from my goat buns post.  You’re going to form the rolls, let them rise and then steam them.  Easy peasy.

Cut out 20 approximately 2″ X 2″ squares of silicone-coated parchment paper.  I use If You Care brand unbleached parchment, available at Central Market and Whole Foods.

Set each formed flower atop an individual square of parchment paper and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

When you’ve rolled all your rolls, cover them loosely with a piece of plastic wrap (or green alternative, such as a large aluminum roasting pan), and let them rise until springy to the touch, about 30 to 60 minutes.  The timing will depend on the usual doughy factors such as ambient temperature and humidity.

Towards the end of risin’ time, get a 10″ diameter (to match your steamer basket) pot of water boiling.  Use plenty of water ’cause you’ll be steaming your buns for 15 minutes.  Place each bun, still on its parchment square, into the steamer baskets, leaving about 1 ½” between them, to allow for their expansion.  Stack your steamer atop your boiling pot—be sure to place the lid on the steamer—and steam for 15 minutes.  Remove the entire contraption from the heat and WAIT for 5 minutes before slowly opening the lid away from yourself (so’s not to get a face full of hot steam).

Your buns are hot and ready now!  Store leftovers in the fridge and reheat them by steaming for another 15 minutes.



 

Dai Due—Steamy Goat Buns September 13, 2009

Filed under: bread,Chinese,meat — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 10:08 am
nice buns!

nice buns!

eat these buns

eat these buns

Another goat meat recipe—a harbinger of goat things to come, thanks to Dai Due‘s upcoming “Goat Head-to-Tail” dinner at Hotel Saint Cecilia.

Out of all my bread and baking cookbooks, and I have too many, I can’t think of a one that gives a recipe for Chinese steamed buns.  Bread books may shed light on such boules as pancakes and crumpets—cooked on the griddle, waffles—baked between hot metal plates, and even dumplings—simmered atop stew or fruit.  And of course you’ll find that American classic, steamed brown bread.  To get instructions for Chinese-style steamed breads, however, we must consult our Chinese cookbooks.  Or the internet.  That erudite expert on culinary sinology, Barabara Tropp offers generously detailed, friendly guidance on bun-making in her excellent reference, The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking. Here’s my version of steamed buns, goated.

You can prepare the goat meat filling a couple days in advance of forming the buns.  Plan on making the dough at least the night before you intend to steam ’em up. The dough should also hold for a couple days, refrigerated, to await a convenient time.  You will need a large diameter (10″) tiered steamer.  I prefer the inexpensive bamboo models.  Mine came from the thrift store but you can easily find one at an Asian grocery store.

CURRIED GOAT FILLING

  • 1/2 pound eggplant.  Lots of eggplants at the markets right now.  I love the little lovelies from Ringger Family Farm.
  • 1/2 pound ground goat meat.  Premium Lamb markets their meat at Sunset Valley and downtown.
  • 1 large scallion, finely chopped.  Or substitute whatever allium you have on hand
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce.  Eden organic is delicious.
  • 1 Tablespoon peanut oil or other high smoke-point oil.  Whole Foods now carries Spectrum organic peanut oil.
  • 1 plus 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, preferably Chinese-style.  Barbara Tropp’s China Moon version is excellent.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch—Rumford packages a non-GMO cornstarch.
  • some chopped garlic chives, optional.  They’re easy to grow year-round here and add a welcome nuance when scallions are unavailable.

Cut up your eggplant into bite-sized pieces.  “Bite-sized” is open to interpretation.  Toss the eggplant pieces with the 1/2 teaspoon curry powder and a pinch of kosher salt (I use Diamond brand.)   Combine the goat meat with the remaining ingredients and mix together until well amalgamated.

Heat up a non-stick or well- seasoned pan or wok on medium-high heat.  Add the oil and then the eggplant.  Stir fry until eggplant is browning, then add the goat mixture.  Continue to cook until the meat is done, showing no pink.  Remove from heat and drain off the excess fat in a fine-meshed sieve set over a bowl.  For this and other straining tasks I often use a re-purposed splatter screen–found frequently and inexpensively at thrift stores.  I like the wide surface area.  I also like to re-purpose the flavorful oil that drips out of the filling.  It’s fine and tasty for brushing onto tortillas for quesadillas or just adding to the quinoa pot.

Cool your goat off, then either refrigerate it or get ready to roll!


TOTALLY UNORTHODOX CHINESE STEAMED BUN DOUGH makes enough dough for 20 buns

  • 1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons warm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast—NOT rapid-rise, instant, or “bread machine”
  • 224 grams (about 1 ¾ cups plus 1 ½ Tablespoons) organic all-purpose flour.  I’m finding the best flour prices at Whole Foods lately.
  • 224 grams (about 1 ¾ cups) organic white whole wheat flour.  Ditto.
  • rounded 1/8 teaspoon salt, optional.  Omit if using baking powder.
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.  Spectrum bottles an organic version.
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, optional

Stir the sugar into the water and sprinkle the yeast on top.  Let sit about 10 minutes, while you get the rest of the recipe together.

I use a stand mixer to knead this dough.  You can also use a food processor (much faster) or your own hands (much greener, probably more therapeutic, too).  For the mixer, put the flours into the bowl, add the liquid and use the dough hook to work the mass until springy and well-kneaded.  If using salt, add it after the ingredients come together.  You’re going for a firm dough here.  If necessary, add drops of water or spoonfuls of flour (all-purpose) until the dough masses together obligingly.

For the food processor, put the flour into the work bowl, turn the machine on and pour the liquid in through the feed chute.  Run the machine until the dough comes together, adding water or flour as necessary to achieve cohesion.  Run for another 1/2 minute to work the dough.  Remove the dough from the work bowl (add the salt now, if using) and knead it by hand for about 3 minutes, until the it’s firm and springy.

If you’re making this dough entirely by hand, first of all, bless you.  That’s green and good exercise, to boot.  I know from my firstborn that as soon as I get my hands into some dough the baby will be pooping on the carpet or diving face-first onto the floor.  So I use a machine.  At any rate, put the flour into a bowl, make a well in the center and pour in your liquid.  Stir with your fingers until a dough starts to form, adding water or flour as needed to develop a cohesive mass.  Turn it out onto a lightly floured board or countertop—actually a silpat is the ideal surface for most dough deeds.  Work that mound, kneading vigorously for 10 minutes or more, to achieve a smooth, firm dough.

Coat a large (3-quart or so) bowl with the sesame oil.  Ball up your dough into a round and wipe it around the inside of the bowl to grease it up.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate it overnight.  In the morning, punch the dough down and commence to bunnin’ your goat or return the dough to the fridge to rest coolly until you’re ready to roll.

When it’s time to make the buns, watch this video clip.  I won’t say that that’s how I do it, or that it’s even how Barbara Tropp explained the process.  But I think you’ll get the idea, and frankly, if you’re not selling your buns at a dim sum joint or entertaining Chinese dignataries, you can get away with non-traditional, best-effort technique.  As long as you don’t overstuff the buns (VERY important) and you seal them well, you’ll turn out a terrific snack.

Cut out 20 approximately 2″ X 2″ squares of silicone-coated parchment paper.  I use If You Care brand unbleached parchment, available at Central Market and Whole Foods.  Remove your ingredients from the refrigerator and punch down your dough to remove accumulated air.  Now I get out my silpat again.  A lighty floured counter or board will suffice, but if you do much dough work, you’ll really appreciate that slippy yet grippy surface. If using baking powder (a la Tropp), press it through a fine-meshed sieve onto the dough and knead it in by hand.  I usually forget to add the baking powder, and my buns are always fine.

Divide the dough into two halves and return one half to the bowl and the refrigerator.  Roll your working dough piece into a log (for more accurate eyeballing) and divide it into two halves.  Cut each half into 5 pieces.  I use the back of a knife to first score the dough, for better guestimating.  Then I commit to my cuts.

Working with one piece (1/20th) of dough, first form a ball.  Flatten it into a round pressing the heel of your hand around the perimeter.  You’re aiming for a 4 ½” circle that’s slightly thicker in the middle, with evenly thinner edges.  See the video.  Tropp recommends a 1″ thick dowel rolling pin.  I feel more adept at the primal hands-only method.  Go at it however you feel most comfortable.  Place 2 Tablespoons (cooled!) filling in the center of the dough round. DO NOT OVERSTUFF! Notice in the video that the bun maker removes the excess portion of the filling.

Pick up the bun, cradle it in your palm, and begin pleating the edges together, over the top of the filling.  Tropp instructs in great detail the interplay of your various digits in plaiting the pleats.  The video illustrates yet another method nearly impossible to explain with mere words.  How do you describe the digital do-si-do?  I work the bun intuitively, reliving my childhood Play-doh days.  Do the best you can. You’ll get better and faster as you go.  When you’ve completed the pleating, pinch all the pleats together and twist the bun shut.  Set the finished bun on top of a parchment square and place it on a baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.  If you have extra filling, eat it with rice or feed it to the baby.  If you have extra dough, let it rest, covered air-tight in the fridge, and I’ll give you a bonus recipe.

When you’ve rolled all your rolls, cover them loosely with a piece of plastic wrap (or green alternative, such as a large aluminum roasting pan), and let them rise until springy to the touch, about 30 to 60 minutes.  The timing will depend on the usual doughy factors such as ambient temperature and humidity.  I may even turn the ceiling fan on to slow ’em down to my own speed.  And unless the kitchen is cold (how long has that been?), I keep the dough I’m not presently handling in the fridge.  That way I can keep up, even if we have a baby emergency–which we certainly will!

Towards the end of risin’ time, get a 10″ diameter (to match your steamer basket) pot of water boiling.  Use plenty of water ’cause you’ll be steaming your buns for 15 minutes.  Place each bun, still on its parchment square, into the steamer baskets, leaving about 1 ½” between them, to allow for their expansion.  Stack your steamer atop your boiling pot—be sure to place the lid on the steamer—and steam for 15 minutes.  Remove the entire contraption from the heat and WAIT for 5 minutes before slowly opening the lid away from yourself (so’s not to get a face full of hot steam).

Your buns are hot and ready now!  Store leftovers in the fridge and reheat them by steaming for another 15 minutes.



Do the best you can. You’ll get better and faster as you go.  pleat perfection


 

Coconut Meatballs September 2, 2009

Filed under: Chinese,easy,meat — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 5:22 pm

Carnivores around here can only go so long without chewing a chunk of animal.  So the cook had to quit figgin’ around and get to cookin’ some Richardson Farms ground pork.  I’ve got just enough time today for meatballs.  Here’s our right now Texas version of Lion’s Head Meatballs.

COCONUT MEATBALLS makes 10 meatballs and plenty of sauce

  • 1 pound ground pork, preferably local pastured pigs.
  • 3/4 cup minced alliums—whatever you have on hand.  Scallions and shallots are perfect, but I’m not finding locally grown right now.  Leeks or any color onions are fine.  Be seasonal, it’s reasonable!
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.  I’m still buying local garlic from Hairston Creek Farm and Morning Glory Farm at Sunset Valley Farmers Market.
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch.  Rumford brand makes a non-GMO version.  I’ve found it at Central Market.
  • 1 Tablespoon organic whole wheat pastry flour.  I usually buy Arrowhead Mills from Whole Foods.
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil.  Spectrum bottles an organic one.
  • 1 Tablespoon minced or microplaned fresh gingerroot.  I buy organic (domestic) whenever I can.
  • 1 teaspoon ground roasted Szechuan peppercorns.  You can find these in bulk at CM.  I roast this spice along with a little Diamond kosher salt in a small skillet on the stove top.  You want the mixture to smoke a little.  Then you know it’s done.  Let it cool, then grind up the blend in your spice grinder.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper.  Freshly ground is best.  I use white pepper occasionally and keep a pepper-grinder filled with white peppercorns on hand for such recipes.
  • 1 medium or half a large Texas pear, peeled and finely shredded.  This ingredient is a “right now” option to help sneak produce into the meat-eater.
  • 3 cups coconut milk.  You can use light or regular or a blend.  I buy WF 365 organic.
  • scant 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons curry powder.  I make my own.  For this recipe, I use a Chinese-style blend created by the late, great Barbara Tropp, as found in her China Moon cookbook.  A vivacious, delicious read, this book is filled with Tropp’s irreplaceably tasty recipes and irrepressibly lively musings on food and the food life.  I saw her walk through Central Market once, preparing to teach a cooking class there.  How I wish I’d been her student.
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil.  WF 365 organic is the best buy.
  • fresh basil (very in-season here right now or cilantro, not available yet from local sources.
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon or lime zest.  Can substitute lots of fresh lemon verbena, slivered.  Grown your own!

Combine pork and the next 10 (9 if not using the pear) ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix together to the point of cohesiveness using either a stand mixer (my preference) or your hands.  You can form the meatballs, 10 of them, right away, or let the mixture rest in the refrigerator as long as overnight.  I use a spring-loaded scooper to form the balls.

Whisk together the coconut milk, curry powder and soy sauce.  I mix them in the same measuring cup I use to measure the milk.  Saves washing another bowl.

In a wide (12″ is good) and deep (at least 3″) cooking pan—you can use a Dutch oven or very large skillet—heat the oil on medium heat.  Place the meatballs in the pan and brown them on all sides.  Take about 8 minutes or so to complete this process, adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent overbrowning.  If you’ve included the pear in your mixture, the balls will be tenderly delicate, and won’t remain spherical.  They may end up with 3 or 4 flattened sides. Lucky for us, meat pyramids taste just as good as meat balls.

Remove the browned balls, or whatever shape you’ve shaped, and place them on a paper towel (or cloth napkin) lined plate.  Pour the coconut milk mixture into the pan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Put the meatballs back into the pan, put a lid on it, and lower the heat to LOW.  Simmer the balls for 8 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the zest or verbena.

Now all you need is some Lowell Farms organic jasmine rice—the greenest choice, or Asian rice noodles or long pasta.  Seasonal veggie accompaniments right now could be summer squash, onions, and eggplant.  There’s enough savory sauce here to douse a complete meal.  Dig in.