Monthly Archives: March 2010

Yam Stir-fry

Kitchen update: I should know by now that construction always takes longer than I think it’s going to. By three times, at least. The countertops are in and the plumbing is complete but the tile and flooring are dragging out the length of the project considerably. Cooking in a swirl of dust is not ideal so I’m writing instead about a stir-fry we made last week. I hope to get back to baking soon, but here is a picture of the progress to tide you over (the new tile and flooring are laid out but not yet attached)!

I love stir-fry. Simple, delicious, and a great way to use up the vegetable tidbits floating around the fridge. Cabbage in a stir-fry? That was new to me, but I decided to give it a shot and was pleasantly surprised! It adds a little spicy crunch to the dish and loads of color in contrast with the orange yams and fresh green cilantro. In fact, the beauty of this stir-fry alone is enough to make it a regular on my dinner menu.

This recipe came from Epicurious, though I’ve excluded chicken in my version (it’s great either way, so feel free to experiment). Hoisin can be found in Asian markets and specialty stores. If you’re having trouble finding it in your area, I recommend ordering a bottle from Soy Vay.

Yam stir-fry with Red Cabbage and Hoisin (4 servings)

2 tbs Asian sesame oil, divided
2 yams (red-skinned sweet potatoes – about 1 pound), peeled, cut crosswise into 1/3 inch-thick rounds, then cut into 1/3 inch-wide strips
1 medium red onion, cut lengthwise into 1/3 inch slices
1 tbs fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups red cabbage (about 1/4 medium head), sliced into 1/3 inch-thick strips
3 tbs hoisin sauce
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Heat 1 tbs sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add yams and onion, cooking until yams are just tender. Adjust heat if yams are browning too quickly and add water by the tablespoons if mixture is dry, about 12 minutes.

Add remaining 1 tbs oil, ginger and garlic to skillet. Stir-fry 1 minute. Toss in cabbage and cook until wilted but still slightly crunchy, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in hoisin sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in 1/2 cup cilantro.

Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Enjoy!

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Filed under A, Dinner

Kitchen Makeover

It’s finally here! Our new kitchen countertops go in today. Having been under various stages of construction since last November, I am ready to have my kitchen to myself.

It’s on rainy days like this that I want to start a pot of spaghetti, bake some bread, and leaf through cookbooks over a steaming mug of tea. Instead I will hole up in my office and peek around the corner occasionally to see the progress in what will surely be my new favorite room in the house. Until then, help us choose our first meal/dessert!

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Filed under A, Other

Marshmallows

I don’t remember the first time I had marshmallows. It was probably during a family camping trip to Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Tetons. I imagine my dad spearing a marshmallow with a whittled stick and helping me hold it over the campfire until it had turned to a soft golden brown. Oh so sweet and sticky – I can only guess how large a mess I made as I consumed one after another.

Homemade marshmallows? That’s a more recent and far more memorable discovery. During a vacation to Maui, Hawaii, in 2006, we stumbled upon a small restaurant overlooking the ocean in Lahina. After devouring a mahi mahi and avocado burger (one of many consumed over the next week) we ordered homemade marshmallows with chocolate fondue. I was in heaven, to say the least.

I’ve never thought about making marshmallows at home before. I didn’t even realize it was possible – I’m slow sometimes, what can I say. I don’t know what changed exactly but I was finally ready to give it a go. This recipe is adapted from Cooking for Engineers. I chose to start with an eggless recipe, but there are many other variations out there.

Marshmallows (approx. 40 large pieces)

3 tbs (21 g) gelatin
3/4 cups (180 mL) cold water, divided
2 cups (400 g) sugar (I use vanilla sugar for extra flavor)
2/3 cups (160 mL) corn syrup (I use light corn syrup)
1/4 tsp (1.5 g) salt
1 tbs (15 mL) vanilla extract
Powdered sugar

Grease a 9×13 pan and dust with powdered sugar. Set aide. Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in mixer bowl. Let bloom for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add 2 cups sugar, 2/3 cups corn syrup, and remaining 1/4 cup water in a pot. Bring mixture to a boil and, using a candy thermometer, allow the temperature to pass 250 °F (120°C).

Note: A stand mixer is far superior for this next part, though a handheld mixer will do. If you are using a handheld mixer, be sure to have a dish towel handy to control splattering.

Run mixer on lowest setting and slowly incorporate boiling sugar syrup. Add 1/4 tsp salt after the syrup and gelatin have fully mixed together. Increase the mixer speed being careful not to splatter yourself. The mixture will begin to whiten and fluff after a few minutes time. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and adjust the mixer speed to high. This is where I ran into trouble. As you can imagine, marshmallow goo is rather sticky. And it loves to crawl up the beaters. I kept picturing it enveloping the mixer, overtaking my arms, and finally encasing me in a cocoon of sorts. So I exaggerate… but I did manage to cover my counter tops, apron, and hair in marshmallow splatter. Lesson learned.

When the marshmallow has stopped increasing in size (it’s more of an “eye-balling” thing, as my mother would say – but expect 8-12 minutes of mixing), add 1 tbs vanilla extract. Once incorporated, stop the mixer and pour into the previously prepared pan. Smooth with a spatula (easier said than done) and set aside for at least 3 hours to cool.

Cover a cutting board or clean surface with powdered sugar and ease the marshmallow upside down out of the pan. Using a pizza cutter, slice marshmallows one row and then piece at a time, rolling each in powdered sugar until they are no longer sticky.

These marshmallows have been a big hit at my house. So far they’ve appeared in hot chocolate, s’mores, and bowls of ice cream. I have some more experimenting to do (flavors and coloring), but I’ve overcome my fear of making marshmallows!

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Filed under A, Dessert