Saturday, June 11, 2011

Holiday Cookies

These basic sugar cookies are perfect for any special occasion. I made them to celebrate summer and used a special whale-shaped cookie cutter.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Red Pepper Pasta

I don't think this belongs in the appetizer section of the book. It would be easy to turn this fettuccini dish into a light weeknight meal. It’s quick to prepare and features savory morsels of sundried tomatoes and (homemade) roasted red peppers. Pictured here served with pork Szechuan.

Pork Szechuan

Pork Szechuan. Now you’ve got me going all kinds of directions, Fiddlehead. Chinese food? I don’t have much prior experience. I sure don’t have many of the spices and pastes required. Hot bean paste, for example. Now I know why there’s a mail-order section of the book. No grocery in Juneau has this ingredient. Seriously, I stopped looking at store number five. They all have these crazy other ingredients in their Asian sections like spicy squid bits, organic ramen (oxymoron?!) and coconut jam. They also have things that came really close to being what I thought I needed like curry paste, chili paste, and tamarind paste. A Google search later proved I could probably have used chili paste—or maybe even miso which I have on hand (and just used in German Mushroom Soup). Who knows, I’m not the expert on Chinese cooking. So after spending a longer time grocery gathering than I was entirely enthused about, I settled on “prepared red beans” (photo included above) and just made paste out of them (this quest seemed all the more frivolous as the pre-made Szechuan sauce stared back at me from the shelf at all the stores I visited—oh, for going it from scratch…).

Setting about the actual cooking was so much simpler.

Make the Szechuan sauce.

Marinate the sliced pork.

Chop all the veggies.

Cook the veggies.

Sear the pork.

Add in this rice wine/mirin (another ingredient new to my cupboards) mixture to make a thickening sauce.

And voila! Chinese food at home. Delicious stuff, with a delightfully complex sweet-spicy-gingery-garlicy flavor. Very healthy too. And using pork tenderloin meant extra tender meat.

After it was all said and done, I’m glad the Fiddlehead forced me to branch out a bit. I’ll be totally set the next time I’m invited to a Chinese potluck. Hopefully I’ll be motivated to use the Asian cuisine cupboard inventory again soon.

Pork Szechuan served with Red Pepper Pasta and a cabbage salad

Roasted Red Peppers

Once upon a time, there were three red peppers.

They basked under the broiler for awhile.

And turned into blackened roasted peppers!

Roasted peppers remind me of strolling through a Sunday market, seeing someone hand-turning a black iron mesh cylinder full of peppers above licking flames. Walking away with fresh roasted peppers was such a novelty when I lived in Colorado. Living in Juneau, the standard is peppers from a jar. It was fun with this recipe to try roasting peppers at home under the broiler. And they turned out great! It’s super easy to do—keep your eye on them and rotate them regularly until all the sides are blackened. Once they’re cool, peel them and use them in any Fiddlehead recipe you please (guliano sandwich, red pepper pasta).

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