Friday, April 1, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Chinese Style Cashew Chicken

I love Chinese food but only really good, quality Chinese food made with quality ingredients and good meats, which is quite hard to come by, to say the least. Recently, I received a package of all kinds of delicious nuts from ShopRite, everything from cashews to almonds to a variety of mixed nuts. I made a great salad that incorporated some of the cashews, but decided to save the rest to make a Chinese style sesame chicken. A good sauce for most Chinese dishes, will include some amount of hoisin sauce in the mixture. I came up with my own recipe for the cashew chicken sauce here which was relatively easy, and tasted authentic and delicious. This dish was a huge winner with my husband and is one that we will surely make again and again.

Sasha's Chinese Style Cashew Chicken
1 package chicken breasts (I used Empire Kosher, my favorite type of chicken)
2 T canola oil
3 cloves of garlic, diced
7 scallions, diced
2 T rice vinegar
4 T hoisin sauce
2/3 cup of cashews
1 T soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tsp honey (I used delicious homemade honey from a family friend in Danville, PA, Jan, who make his own honey from his own bees!)

Chop up the chicken breasts into small pieces. Coat with the cornstarch and saute in the canola oil until the chicken is about two thirds complete. Add the scallions, cashews and the garlic next. While the chicken is cooking, mix the hoisin sauce, water, rice vinegar, honey and soy sauce, and add the mixture to the chicken. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens a bit (the water will evaporate) and the chicken is fully cooked. Serve with rice and either steamed snow peas or sugar snap peas.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Vanilla-Dark Chocolate Cupcakes and Dr Seuss Cupcakes

More cute cupcakes? But of course! A couple of weeks ago, I visited Brooklyn's Mast Brothers Chocolate factory and tasting room where they make delicious, vegan bean to bar craft dark chocolate.  I bought some dark chocolate chips (really pellets) for use in making vanilla dark chocolate chip cupcakes because I liked the chocolate there so much. You can read my post about my visit and tour of Mast Brothers here.

At any rate, I was initially intending on making a series of Dr Seuss cupcakes with these but my vision on creating the designs I wanted wasn't well thought out enough. I am sure I will get back to doing that series one of these days soon. I did do one Cat In The Hat cupcake design which is featured below, before simply making some pretty and delicious teal cupcakes with the vanilla and dark chocolate flavors. I still plan on doing Thing One and Thing Two and a better cat in the hat, as well as green eggs and ham for a future cupcake series that is all-Seuss.

Sasha's Vanilla Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus 1 tsp
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 stick butter
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk
2/3 of a cup Mast Brothers' chocolate chips, chopped in a nut chopper

1 1/2 stick of butter
4 oz lowfat cream cheese
1 small box (about four cups) confectioner's sugar
drop of teal colored gel food coloring
Fondant and red gel food coloring (if you wish to make Dr Seuss hats)

To make the cupcakes, beat together the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes at high speed in a stand mixer until smooth. Then, beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients (minus the extra teaspoon of flour) in a bowl and then add the dry ingredients to the mixer, alternating with the mix, and mix until combined and smooth. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full (this makes about 15-16 cupcakes). Chop the chocolate in a nut chopper and mix with the tsp of flour to coat. The flour keeps them suspended and from all sinking to the bottom of the cupcakes. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean (the cupcakes should not brown or the bottoms will be burnt).

Beat the ingredients for the frosting in a stand mixer until smooth. Add a drop of teal food coloring and beat until combined and fluffy. Pipe with a frosting bag.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: New Orleans Style Eggs Sardou

I am a big fan of cooking classes at Williamsburg's The Brooklyn Kitchen. Its a great place to learn new recipes, cooking skills and a great environment to cook with others. About a week ago, I took the New Orleans Brunch cooking class with Emily Casey and learned and helped make a bunch of fun New Orleans recipes, including beignets, shrimp remoulade, eggs sardou, creole grillades and grits, Commander's Palace bread pudding souffle and creole blood mary's. It was a great time and after the class, I couldn't wait to try out some (well most) of these recipes on my husband. So this past weekend, I made a nice brunch for Brad with some of these recipes. My eggs sardou came out pretty good as I practiced one of the skills I learned in the class - egg poaching. I still need to work to poach a bit more gently, but I am getting the hang of it. I have included the whole recipe below, although I only made six poached eggs for the two of us yesterday. Also, since I don't eat ham, I left that out both of the recipe below and my own version.

Eggs Sardou (recipe adapted from the Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine by John Folse)
8 poached eggs (see below for instructions on poaching)
1 T white vinegar
8 cooked or canned artichoke bottoms
1 T butter
1 T flour
1 cup milk
4 cups cleaned, fresh spinach leaves
salt, pepper and tabasco sauce to taste
1 cup hollandaise sauce

Hollandaise Sauce
3 egg yolks
1 T lemon juice
 1 stick butter
1/2 tsp salt1/8 tsp cayenne, or a few drops of tabasco

Rince the artichoke bottoms (mine were canned). Cover with lightly salted water in a saucepan and simmer five to ten minutes until tender but not overcooked.

Add butter to a pot and melt, incorporating with the flour. Whisk in the milk and let come to a boil, then reducing to a simmer. Let simmer for five minutes, and then add the salt, pepper and tabasco to taste. Sir in the spinach into this b├ęchamel sauce, one cup at a time, allowing each cup to wilt before adding the next.

When ready to serve, poach the eggs into a pot of boiling water with a tablespoon of white vinegar added. Gently break the eggs apart and release into the poaching solution. Gently fold over the whites and when they are done after a few minutes remove with a slotted spoon.

To make the hollandaise, melt the butter slowly in a sauce pan. Put cayenne, egg yolks, lemon juice and salt in the blender. Blend at medium to high speed about 20-30 seconds until it lightens in color. Then, lowering the blender speed to low, slowly add the melted butter while the blender is going. The resulting sauce should be buttery, lemony and just a tad salty.

To assemble, top each artichoke bottom with creamed spinach, a poached egg, and drizzle with hollandaise, and sprinkle with a bit of cayenne. My husband loved this - it's the perfect springtime brunch entree!

Below, I have included some pictures from the NOLA Brunch cooking class at the Brooklyn Kitchen as well.

Cafe du Monde's chickery coffee, used to make a NOLA style Cafe Au Lait. 

Creole bloody mary and a delicious beignet! Yum!

Shrimp remoulade

A whole bunch of yummy eggs sardou 

Creole grillades and grits (veal chops)

Commander's Palace bread pudding souffle with a whiskey sauce - a real NOLA treat using the recipe from the famous Garden District restaurant!

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