Kung Po Chicken

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Marinating a recipe’s protein in cornstarch and sake is a Chinese technique known as silkening. It gives food a tender, velvety texture like the awesome Orange Beef recipe.

I made this delicious recipe for Kung Po Chicken for my wife on Valentine’s Day one year (back before the days of her peanut allergy…) In addition to being incredibly tasty, it was also fast and simple – a winning combination. The sweet & savoury sauce pulls the whole dish together. While the smoky, hot Chiles and crunchy peanuts add delicious highlights and great texture. I give this one two thumbs up!
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Kung Po Chicken 

Adapted from Kylie Kwong 

Serves: 4
Ingredients:
White rice, for serving
1 pound 1/4 boneless chicken thighs, cubed
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons peanut oil
10 small dried red chiles
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preparation:
  1. Combine the chicken with the cornstarch and rice wine in a bowl. Cover, place in refrigerator and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
  2. Place oil and Chiles in a hot wok and then turn heat to low. Cook for about 60 seconds or until Chiles begin to darken slightly. Using a slotted spoon, immediately remove Chiles and drain on paper towel.
  3. Leaving Chile-infused oil in wok, turn heat up to High and stir-fry half the chicken cubes for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  4. Add extra oil if needed and stir-fry remaining chicken for 3 minutes. Return all chicken to wok, along with reserved Chiles and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  5. Add sugar and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add peanuts, soy sauce and vinegar and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Serve immediately sprinkled with salt and pepper, over rice.

Blueberry & Ricotta Muffins

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I read some really great chefs and cooks online and have come across hundreds of recipes I’d like to try at some point in time. However, when one of my favourite foodies comes out and says a recipe is ‘to die for’ – I know it’s worth the time to try out.
These muffins did not disappoint – absolutely delicious. Simple to make, not too sweet, moist and mouthwatering delicious. Check out some of the other great Ciao Florentina recipes on her site.
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Blueberry and Ricotta Muffins


Adapted from Ciao Florentina

Serves: 12

Ingredients:
Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Wet ingredients:
1/3 cup canola oil
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup fresh blueberries
Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter
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Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately then using a spatula stir the two together until incorporated. Don’t over mix.
  3. Fold in the blueberries then fill 12 muffin cups 3/4 of the way full. Top with 1 tablespoon of streusel topping then bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  4. Cool on a wire rack for 10 min. Enjoy!

The Sushi Tails: Perfect Sushi At Home

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Every tale should have a happy ending, and fortunately this one is no exception. On my latest attempt to make perfect restaurant quality sushi at home my kids declared that my journey had ended successfully. My sushi was the best sushi they had ever tasted! Now, while I know my taste-testers might be a little subjective I have to admit the sushi is pretty darned good. And… I can make it at home for about a quarter of the price that I can get it at any restaurant. This is certainly as much as I’d hoped to accomplish from the outset and more! So give it a try and let me know how yours comes out. My kids favourite was maki with salmon, avocado, carrot, cucumber, crispy bits (crushed Panko bread crumbs) and lightly spiced mayo.

Materials:

A small investment in some critical tools will make sure your sushi making experience at home goes off without a hitch. As I mentioned in my earlier post about sushi ingredients: you’re already saving a ton of money by making sushi at home. Make sure you have the right tools to make it a great experience  and the freshest ingredients so that you can become a super sushi-making home chef.

The Magic Ratios:

After a LOT of experimenting with varying amounts of water, rice and vinegar here’s what i came up with for perfect sushi rice at home.

x grams dry sushi rice
x * 1.10 ml water
x * .25 ml seasoned vinegar

For example:
500 grams dry sushi rice
550 mwater
125 ml seasoned vinegar 

Sushi Rice

Perfect Sushi at Home

Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

1000 g quality sushi  rice (such as Kokuho)
1100 ml water (the magic ratio is 10% more water in ml than rice in grams)
250 ml seasoned vinegar (the magic ratio is 25% vinegar in ml than your dry rice was in g)
20 nori sheets
1 peppers, julienned
1 English cucumber, seeded and julienned
1 carrot, julienned
3 tablespoons Japanese bread crumbs
4 oz sushi grade salmon, skinned and de-boned, cut into narrow strips
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon hot water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
4 tablespoons spicy mayo

Preparation:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the soy sauce, hot water and maple syrup. Add in the dried mushrooms and allow them to rehydrate. Once rehydrated cut them julienne.
  2. Place the rice in a large bowl and rinse with ice cold water. Swirl the rice with a paddle a few times to remove the starch. Drain the water away. Repeat this process until the water rinses clear – about five times.
  3. Put the rice and the measured amount of water into a rice cooker and set to manufacturers setting for white rice.
  4. Transfer the rice to a large, wide wooden bowl. Pour the seasoned vinegar over the rice and using a paddle mix the rice being careful to chop with the side of the paddle and then lift the rice to turn. The trick here is not to mush the rice together but rather to chop between the grains of rice, allowing the vinegar to incorporate.
  5. Once the vinegar is incorporated continue to mix and begin to fan the rice. Take care again not to press the rice together but rather to gently chop and fold. You want to cool the rice to about body temperature. Do not cool entirely to room temperature.
  6. If you are not making sushi straight away, cover the rice with a clean dampened tea towel to stop it drying out (prepared sushi rice will keep at room temperature for up to 4 hours.) Do not refrigerate!
  7. Before assembling your sushi place a small bowl of water nearby to dip your fingers in. This will keep the rice from sticking to your hands.
  8. Cover your bamboo mat with plastic wrap to prevent rice from sticking to it. Position nori sheet shiny side down on your bamboo mat. 
  9. Dip hands in the water mixture and grab a small handful of sushi rice. Cover bottom three-quarters of nori sheet with thin layer of rice, leaving the top quarter of the sheet empty.
  10. Layer a thin layer of fillings on top of rice on the bottom third of the nori sheet. Add a sprinkling of breadcrumbs or spicy mayo if desired.
  11. With a wet finger lightly moisten the exposed strip of nori at the top of the sushi roll (this will seal it together when rolled.)
  12. Begin rolling your sushi roll by pushing the mat forward until the mat is completely around the sushi roll and until the top and bottom edges of the nori meet. The mat can be used to shape your sushi but don’t press too hard.
  13. Set your first sushi roll on a plate. Make as many additional rolls as you like. To cut use a very sharp knife, slicing each roll into six equal pieces. Wet the knife in water between rolls. Enjoy!
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