March Food Bytes

Pan-fried noodles with beef and Chinese broccoli

A few food highlights from this past month…

If I had to rank carbs it would look something like this: bread>rice>noodles/pasta. Although I’m Asian I’m not a huge fan of noodles but if I have to eat noodles I prefer to have them either stir-fried (e.g. chow fun) or pan-fried like the noodles above.

I LOVE pan-fried noodles! The contrast between the crispy egg noodles and the savory veg/meat sauce is divine. You can use any combination of meat, tofu and/or vegetables but most recently I chose sliced beef and Chinese broccoli.

The recipe isn’t that hard.

Marinate some sliced beef with 1 tsp of corn starch, 1 tsp of soy, 1 tsp of oil and a dash of pepper. Partially cook the beef in a hot skillet with 1-2 tsp of oil. Remove from pan and set aside. The meat should still be a little bit pink. We’ll finish cooking the beef in the sauce later on.

Blanch the vegetables in salted boiling water until tender crisp. Drain and set aside.

Look for fresh “Hong Kong-style” noodles at your Asian store. To prepare the noodles, simply blanch them in boiling water and then drain them well. Alternatively, you can steam the noodles. Either way you want to cook the noodles first. Portion out the cooked noodles. One bag of noodles can usually be divided into 4 individual servings.

Next, in a hot skillet heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add 1 serving of the drained noodles to the hot skillet. Arrange the noodles so they’re in a flat, even layer. Cook the noodles until they’re golden brown and crispy on one side then flip the noodles over with a spatula and brown the other side. Remove from pan and set on a plate. Repeat 3 more times with the remaining noodles/portions. You should end up with 4 plates/servings of crispy noodles.

The sauce is really simple. Sautee a 3-4 cloves of chopped garlic in oil. Add 1-2 Tbs each of soy sauce and oyster sauce plus 1 cup of water and a pinch of sugar. Thicken the sauce with a slurry of 1 Tb corn starch and 2 Tb water and bring to a boil. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add sliced beef and vegetables and cook a few minutes until the beef is done. Spoon out some sauce/beef/veg on top of each plate of noodles. (If you prefer more sauce, double the sauce recipe.)

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I love pizza but wanted to try something different from the norm so I tried Cook’s Country’s recipe for St. Louis-Style Pizza. What differentiates this pizza from others is it’s thin, crispy, unleavened (yeast-free) crust.

This was undoubtedly the fastest and easiest pizza recipe I’ve ever used because there’s no need to wait for the dough to rise.

St. Louis-Style Pizza

I chose to top my pizza with tomato sauce, pineapples, basil, pepperoni, jalapeno, sausage and mushrooms. I couldn’t get my hands on Provel cheese and was totally out of every other cheese except mozzarella so that’s what I ended up using.

St. Louis-Style Pizza

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My favorite recipe for garlic bread is still Cooks Illustrated’s. It comes out perfect every time and I never have to worry about biting into a piece of undercooked garlic as is the case with some other recipes. It’s foolproof!

Classic American Garlic Bread

Classic American Garlic Bread

Why this recipe works:
For our best garlic bread recipe, we toasted a generous amount of whole garlic cloves to mellow the harshness and highlight the rich, sweet, nutty flavor. We used butter sparingly to give the bread ample richness without marring its texture with overwhelming greasiness. And we added a sparing amount of cheese for depth and complexity without interfering with the garlic flavor. (less)
Serves 6 to 8

Garlic bread is best served piping hot, so time it to arrive at the table last, once all the other dishes are finished and ready to serve.

Ingredients

9 – 10 medium cloves garlic (about the size of a plump cashew nut), skins left on
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 loaf Italian bread (high-quality); about 1 pound, football-shaped), halved lengthwise
Ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Meanwhile, toast garlic cloves in small skillet over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant and color of cloves deepens slightly, about 8 minutes. When cool enough to handle, skin and mince cloves (you should have about 3 tablespoons). Using dinner fork, mash garlic, butter, cheese, and salt in small bowl until thoroughly combined.

2. Spread cut sides of loaf evenly with garlic butter mixture; season to taste with pepper. Transfer loaf halves, buttered side up, onto baking sheet; bake, reversing position of baking sheet in oven from front to back halfway through baking time, until surface of bread is golden brown and toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Cut each half into 2-inch slices; serve immediately.

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Apple Hand Pies

I made apple hand pies using the recipe here. The filling came out great and the crust was delightfully flaky but next time I’m going to add a tablespoon or two of sugar to the dough; I thought the crust was a little bland and needed a bit more sweetness.

My pies ended up looking a little misshapen because I didn’t have enough patience. I was supposed to let the dough chill in the fridge but, silly me, I wanted to save some time by sticking the dough in the freezer. Good idea except I forgot about the dough and it froze slightly and then I didn’t want to wait for it to thaw out again, so my pie crusts ended up splitting/cracking when I was shaping them. Oh, well, live and learn.

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My second Graze subscription box arrived! The first one I got free for signing up but I paid for this one.

The snacks I received this time around were way better than the ones I got last time.

Graze box

marvellous macaroon
amaretti drops, almond slices, coconut flakes and white chocolate buttons

apple and cinnamon flapjack
rustic rolled oat flapjack with apple and cinnamon

bonnie wee oatbakes
red onion marmalade with cheese and chive oatbakes

super fruity tangtastic
blackcurrants, green mango and cherry infused raisins

The marvellous macaroon was tasty but nothing mind blowing.

The apple and cinnamon flapjacks were my favorite by far. I would describe them as soft, chewy granola bars sweetened with apples and cinnamon. If you’ve ever eaten those Quaker chewy granola bars the Graze flapjacks blow those out of the water. They are so, so good and not overly sweet like the Quaker bars. I could honestly eat them by the bagful.

I also really enjoyed the green mangoes in the fruit mix. They had a delicious sweet and sourness to them without that rubbery quality that the dried mangoes in my first Graze box had. Perfect tartness and texture.

The most surprising item would have to be the onion marmalade. I didn’t think I would like it but it’s not bad at all. I’d describe it as a sweet and sour sauce with a little bit of heat to it that’s full of onion flavor. It’s quite sweet so a little dab is all you need on a cheesy cracker.

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