Tag Archives: Oil

Wickled Cuban Sandwich

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As a poor graduate student, I don’t get eat out much, so one of the traditions my mom and I have is that once a week we go out to eat.  One of our favorite restaurants is actually Panera.  The first time I ever went to Panera, it was still the St Louis Bread Company, and my mom and I had made a trip to St Louis to see the Nutcracker.  No judging, I was young.

It was one of our favorite places to eat every time we went to St Louis for years, usually for breakfast, and I was thrilled when a Panera opened in our city.  We went there once a week for breakfast for several weeks before I got tired of it.  It was quite a while before we went to Panera for anything other than breakfast, but eventually, we did try some of their entrees.  My favorite, hands down, is the Cuban Sandwich.

I could almost have an affair with this sandwich, if one could have an affair with food.  While I know it’s no gourmet food, and I’m probably getting snickers from the audience in larger cities, I really do love this sandwich.   It’s one of the few things I can honestly say I could eat for more than three days in a row.  And believe me, that’s saying quite a bit.

Today the Wickles steal the show from the Cuban though.  This sandwich is all about the Wickles.  I’m not one to preferentially use one brand over another, but I have not as of yet found another brand of pickles that can quite replicate these for flavor.  They are like the Girl Scout cookies of pickles, one of a kind, but thankfully available all year round.  Substitute the Wickless at your own risk.

Enjoy

Ingredients

Focaccia Bread

2 chicken breasts

8 ham slices

WICKLES

8 slices Swiss cheese

½ cup Sun dried tomatoes

½ cup Southwest Spicy Mustard

¼ cup miracle whip

¼ cup sour cream

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground chipotle

Oil for frying

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(You can substitute Red Chili Powder if you don’t have ground chipotle but you will sacrifice flavor for heat.  You can also grind your own chipotle chilies, but be careful since the smoke can make your throat and eyes sting.)

As you can see from the picture, I didn’t use focaccia bread.  Really you can use any crusty bread for this dish, but it will change the taste of the final sandwich, and try not to use anything that is too puffy.

Trim off any fat that is on the chicken breast, and then cut it open, so it’s half as thick which will make it cook faster.  Lightly salt and pepper each side of the 4 pieces of chicken.

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Heat enough oil in a medium sized skillet to just cover the bottom of the pan over medium heat.  Place the chicken breast pieces in the skillet so that they don’t touch.  Cook, turning occasionally, until both sides are golden brown and can be easily pierced with a fork at its thickest part.  This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, drain the sun dried tomatoes and combine with the mustard s in a blender and puree.  You can substitute other mustards for the southwest, but you’ll probably need to add more mustard than tomatoes in order to balance the flavor.

In a bowl mix together the miracle whip, sour cream, oregano, and chipotle in a bowl.  If you don’t have powdered chipotle, you can substitute red pepper, but it will have a hotter taste without being as flavorful.

After the chicken is done, turn off the skillet and reserve the chicken to a plate and let it cool slightly.

To build the sandwich, cut your bread in half.  On one half spread liberally with the miracle whip mixture, and on the other half spread lightly with the mustard mixture.  Be carefully, the mustard mixture will pack a punch.

Pick one half of the bread, and build on that one, don’t try to build on both.  Stack:  Chicken (cutting to fit the bread), two slices of ham, Wickless to cover, and two slices of Swiss cheese, cover with other half of bread.Image

Heat a sandwich press and press the stacked sandwich between the two plates until the cheese melts.

If you do not have a sandwich press, you can improvise by re heating the skillet you cooked the chicken in and placing the stacked sandwich in the medium of the skillet with a weight on it, such as a bacon press or another skillet, to hold it down.  When you notice the cheese starting to melt, remove the weight, flip the sandwich, and replace the press.  Cook for an additional minute or two to brown both sides of bread and you’re done.

Recipe makes 4 sandwiches, though you’ll probably have a little of both the miracle whip and mustard mixture left over, and takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

Enjoy

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Sweet and Sour Chicken

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I know I just made a post about how I generally avoid recipes that have a page worth of ingredients, but it doesn’t count if half the ingredients are things I keep in my house.  Right?  Yah, that sounds like an excuse to me too.

Anywho, I really like Asian food, I mean what’s not to like.  It’s hot, spicy (not always the same thing), it’s always served with either rice or noodles, and generally not the worst thing you could eat health wise.   But notice I do say generally.  This is because a lot of times really good Chinese food is fried.  I do so love my fried foods.

It’s a shame I don’t have the metabolism of a high schooler any more and can’t just eat fried foods all day.  Plus they tell me it’s bad for me, something about clogged arteries and heart attacks.  To bad.

I’ve wanted to try to make homemade Chinese takeout for awhile, but the way of getting crispy chicken without deep frying it was eluding me.  It all comes down to how you coat or bread the chicken.  I got this idea for coating the chicken from here http://stuffcynloves.com/2013/05/03/best-general-tao-chicken-recipe/.   It works really well as a pho-fried food breading.

Enjoy

Ingredients

1 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons flour

2 eggs

1 cup panko

Chicken thighs or breasts

4 Tablespoons peanut butter

6 tablespoons soy sauce

1 Green pepper (sorry forgot to include in the picture)

1 package mushrooms, about ½ pound

2 sticks celery

4 green onions

2 heads brocoli

1 can crushed pineapple

6 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Oil for frying

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If you’re working with chicken thighs, deskin and debone, and try to cut off any large chunks of fat.  For either chicken thighs or breasts, cut into approximately 1 inch pieces.

Set up a line of three bowls.  In the first bowl, pour 1 cup of cornstarch.   In the next bowl mix together the 2 eggs, salt, baking powder, and flour which will make a thick goo. In the last bowl pour the 1 cup of panko.  You can use breadcrumbs instead of panko, but the chicken won’t be quite as cruncy.

Dip each piece of chicken into first the cornstarch, then the egg mix, and finally the panko.  Try to shake off any extra cornstarch before coating your pieces with the egg mixture.

Put just enough oil in a deep skillet to cover the bottom and heat under medium to high heat.  After the oil is hot, put in the chicken pieces, evenly spaced and so they don’t quite touch.

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Cook until panko starts to brown and then turn and cook on the other side.  Make sure the chicken is cooked through and remove it from the pan, takes about 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking finely chop all your veggies and put in a big bowl, it’s a lot of veggies.

In a small mixing bowl add the peanut butter and 4 tablespoons of soy sauce.  Mix a little, until the peanut butter is not a blob in a sea of soy sauce but it’s not going to make a smooth mixture.  Pour the mixture onto the veggies and mix well.

Pour the veggie mix into the skillet and cook on medium to high heat stirring often until the veggies soften.  Takes about 10 minutes.

While cooking the veggies mix in a suacpan the pineapple, sugar, apple cider vinegar, remaining soy cauce, cornstarch, and garlic powder.  Mix in each ingredient one at a time beginning with the pineapple and mix well after every addition.  Cook under low heat until everything is well incorporated, you’re difficult ingredient here will be the cornstarch.  This really only takes 5 minutes or so.

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After the veggies are soft turn heat down to low and add back in the chicken.  Stir once or twice until the chicken is evenly mixed.  Add the pineapple sauce to the skillet and mix well.  Cook for another 5 minutes or so and you’re done.

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Serve with either rice or butter noodles.   If you’re a fan of broth with your rice, double the sauce mixture.

Really this is a pretty easy recipe, but it does take some time.  Around 45 minutes to an hour start to finish.

Enjoy.

Fried Milk

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April 20th was the biggest event all year for the student association I’m involved with, Taste of Asia.  It went really well, lots of good food and some good entertainment from the Malaysian Martial Arts group.  But it was a lot of work.

My day started really early since I was there at 11 to start setting up for the event at 2, and it’s a really good thing because we just got done in time.  At 2 o’clock everything was ready; the servers were lined up and ready, as well as there being a considerable amount of people in line, including me.  But the line wasn’t moving.  About ten minutes of rather impatient waiting later, I was hungry; I finally walked over to the president and asked what we were waiting for.  The answer was easy, we needed someone to announce for the event to begin, emphasis on me.

Well, I’m not going to say I didn’t want to be MC and I’m not afraid of the stage, so I took a deep breath and said, in not quite my loudest voice, ‘Welcome To The 9th Annual Taste of Asia Celebration!’ and a lot of other stuff, ending with, ‘let’s serve the food!’  Lots of cheers to that one, I wasn’t the only one who was hungry.

At this point I figured I could sneak back in line and get some of food, but alas, instead I was handed a microphone.   I realized, though, that being MC had its advantages.   While I went around interviewing the chefs, asking what country they were from, what they had cooked today, etc., they kept giving me samples of their food.  Try this, try this.  I got to have all the food I could have wanted, without having to wait in line.

One of the foods I got to try was Fried Milk, and I’m a little ashamed to say I had 3 pieces of it.  It went really quick, partially because of my loud speaker endorsement of it.  One of my favorite dishes that day, I was able to get a hold of the chef after the event and get the recipe from her.  Thank you Singing Yvonne Li, for sharing this recipe with me and allowing me to post it here.  All credit for the recipe goes to her.

Enjoy.

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Ingredients

Filling:

2 cups milk

½ cup sugar

¾ cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon butter

Batter

½ cup milk

1 egg

2/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Oil for frying

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In a saucepan over medium heat mix all the ingredients of the filling:  milk, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and butter.  Stir continuously until the mixture solidifies.  Should take somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes.  When mixture solidifies it’ll be a little gluey and very thick.

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Spread mixture evenly into a square or rectangular container, a little like rice crispy treats.  The container does not have to be buttered or oiled.  The filling will try to pull away from the sides and stick to itself, so press it down firmly with your hands or a spoon.

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It’ll be really hard to get it to be smooth on the top, don’t worry, you don’t have to.

Cover and cool in the refrigerator overnight, or a minimum of 4 hours.

After the filling has cooled completely, I left it in my refrigerator overnight, take it out and cut it into approximately 1 inch squares.

To make the batter, in one bowl mix the milk and egg white.  In a second bowl mix the flour, salt, and egg yolk.

In my opinion the simplest way to separate the yolk from the egg white is to carefully crack the egg and pull it apart vertically so that the egg remains in one piece of the shell.  Now pass the egg yolk from one shell half to the other, letting any of the yellowish ooze, which is the egg white, drip down into your bowl.  Pass the egg yolk three or four times from one shell half to the other until all you’re left with is the yellow center.  If a little of the yellowish ooze remains attached to the center, the yolk, that’s okay.

Heat approximately 2-3 inches of oil in a deep saucepan to high heat, around 400OF.  Make sure you have everything ready before you heat the oil, because it will heat very quickly.  Also, make sure you wait until your oil is hot enough before you start frying the pieces.

Dip each piece of filling into first the milk mixture, and then into the flour mixture.   Carefully drop the filling into the oil and fry until golden brown.  These are very heavy so they will not float the surface but stay at the bottom, which is why you don’t want as much oil.

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Pieces fry in about 5 minutes.  You’re going to want to have some kind of spoon to turn the pieces around every now and then since it’s hard to see when they get done.  Also, the oil is going to get really cloudy since a percentage of the flour on each piece is going to flake off.

Drain off any excess oil and serve hot or cold.  Also very good with chocolate sauce, but that may just be because I love chocolate.  Makes about 30 pieces.

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Enjoy

Green Curry Puffs Or Thai Samosas

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Vegetarian Green Curry Puffs

Or Thai Samosas

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I always give my boyfriend a hard time about his eating habits because he loves sweet things so much.  Since I love to bake, this is a bad habit that I find myself enabling a lot, but who can say no to someone who loves to eat your food?  But I myself also have a horrible food habit, I love fried foods.

I don’t mean I love fried foods like McDonalds or KFC, I love samosas, egg rolls, and these sesame balls filled with red bean paste I get at IG.  All so yummy.

While I know that fried foods will never be good for me, I feel that if I at least make them myself, and thus can limit the amount of salt and other preservatives (read as poison) that gets added to a lot of frozen foods they are not so bad.

Another thing making my own food allows me to control is that I’ve made these vegetarian.  I have a lot of vegetarian friends and when we get together, I prefer to cook foods that everyone can eat.  The original recipe (which can be found in Thai & South-East Asian Cooking & Far Eastern Classics) called for Fish sauce, which believe it or not, is actually made from fish.  I know in America we’re used to ketchup not really being made from tomatoes and orange juice generally coming from concentrate so you probably wouldn’t think that fish sauce was made from fish but it is.  Actually some varieties of fish sauce are the Asian equivalent of hot dogs, it’s the mystery fish.  By the way soy sauce is made from soy.  Who would have thunk it?

Ingredients

24ish wonton wrapper

As an alternative you can buy egg roll wrappers which are much bigger and about the same price and cut them into 4 equally sized pieces

1 potato

3 tablespoons peas

3 tablespoons corn

A few springs fresh cilantro (coriander)

About 1-2 tablespoons when chopped

1 fresh chili

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon green curry paste

1 teaspoon sesame seed oil

Oil for deep frying

Water

Boil the potato in slightly salted water until a fork easily pieces the potato in the thickest part.  You do not need to peel the potato before boiling it; it is much easier to peel after it has been boiled.  In fact, you don’t need to peel the potatoes at all as long as you wash the skin very well before you boil them; the peel actually has fiber and nutrients that are good for you.  One caution to this is to not eat the skin if the potato is under-ripe or has a green tinge.

If you are using frozen peas and corn, as I did, take them out of the freezer and defrost them while the potato is boiling which will take 15-45 minutes depending on the thickness of the potato.  If you want to use fresh ingredients you will need to cook them.  I suggest boiling them until they are just tender.

Drain the potatoes and let them cool to make them easier to handle.  Once you can handle them easily mash them, peeled or not, with either a potato masher or by hand.

If you are using frozen peas and corn measure them out together into a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave 1-2 minutes, stir and then microwave again for 1 minute.  This is to ‘cook’ them, but also to try to melt any residual ice and to evaporate a little of the water.  If the microwaved mixture is very wet drain it before adding it to the mashed potatoes.

Finely chop the cilantro (coriander) and the chili.  As a note, since you are using chopped chili it is difficult to evenly distribute a little bit of diced chili into a proportionally large amount of potatoes.  This leads to some of the puffs being very spicy, and others having a slightly sweet taste.  If you would like a more even incorporation use ground pepper, preferably dried pepper that has went through a food processer.  The amount used would depend on the level of spiciness you would like.

Add the cilantro, chili, lime juice, soy sauce, green curry paste, and sesame seed oil to the mashed potatoes.  Mix well.

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The next part is a little messy.  I suggest filling the wrappers on a cutting board, I used a wooden one.

Get some water in a bowl or cup that it is easy to dip your fingers into.  You’re probably going to want around ½ cup of water.  Place a wonton wrapper on a flat surface, such as a cutting board.  Dip your fingers into the water and brush the wonton wrapper so that the entire surface is moist, but not wet.

Take about 1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon of the mashed potato mixture and place in the center of the wrapper.

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Fold in half to form a triangle and press the edges down well.  It’s okay if the edges don’t come together exactly; the important part is that you make a good seal.  If some of the mixture comes out, brush it away with your fingers and re-seal the edges.

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Repeat until all of the potato mixture is used.  Depending on how full you stuff your puffs, this may make more than 24, the last time I made these I was really conservative with my filling and I got about 30.  Stuffing the puffs takes about 45 minutes.

After you’ve made all your puffs heat your oil over medium heat.  Don’t try to heat the oil earlier, it takes much less time to heat the oil than it does to stuff the curry puffs.  You can use pretty much any kind of oil you want.  Peanut oil is the best for deep frying, but it’s also the unhealthiest.  I generally use vegetable or canola oil since they are so much cheaper and are not as unhealthy.

You want to use enough oil that the puffs will be completely covered when they are dropped in.  This will mean that you probably want at an absolute minimum 3 inches of oil in the bottom of your pot; I used something between 6 and 7 inches of oil.  If this sounds like a huge amount, don’t worry, you can filter the oil and save it to use it again.

To filter the oil, after it’s cooled, take a paper towel and a funnel.  Fold the paper towel into quarters, or more if necessary, and put it in your funnel.  Put the funnel into an empty container and pour the used oil into the funnel.  The paper towel will act as a filter and remove any food particles that are left in the oil after cooking, and then you’ve got the vast majority of the oil back for use at a later date.  Generally oil can be used at least 4 times, but if it turns black or starts to smell bad it has gone bad and should be pitched.

Heat the oil until it’s about 400OF or until a small piece of onion cooks when dropped in.  Do not get impatient and try to cook the puffs before the oil is hot, they won’t cook and will taste like oil.  If your oil is so hot that when you drop in the onion or puff in it sputters up in your face like a small volcano, back away, turn the stove down and try again in a few minutes.

Drop your puffs in one at a time.  Depending on the size of your pot, you’ll probably be able to cook multiple puffs at one time, but don’t over crowd your pot.  I cooked 5 at a time.

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The puffs will cook in about 5 minutes.  When you first drop them into the oil they will sink to the bottom but as they cook they will rise and puff up from air trapped inside.  They have a tendency to want to float on one side, so you might have to turn them a few times to get them evenly cooked on both sides.  Cook until the body of the puff is a golden brown, the edges will probably be a red brown before the body is golden.

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Serve hot.  The puffs will gradually deflate as they cool.  If they need to be reheated re-fry them for 30-45 seconds.  If they are reheated in an oven or a microwave they will get rubbery.

Serve with sweet chili or tamarind sauce.

Entire cooking time 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours.