Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Dinner: prime rib, mushroom risotto, and stuffed mushrooms

For Christmas this year, we spent it in Los Angeles (horray! no painful east coast weather for me!), so we had our cousin and her family over for dinner.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous prior to the dinner because I was afraid that:
1) The food will come out horrible and they will never want to eat anything I cook ever again.
2) I would not be a very good person to work with in the kitchen  (I usually work solo in the kitchen, so I have no idea how to share a kitchen with someone).

To avoid #1, I looked for recipes on the internet and printed them out and followed them step-by-step (SO not my style!) to ensure nothing went wrong.... and if it did, I could blame the recipe (teehee).
For #2, I was not sure how to be a good team player!  But it seemed like everything worked out just fine anyways so I had nothing to worry about.

I was very happy with the recipes for the prime rib, risotto and the stuffed mushrooms, so I'm sharing the recipe here.
We also enjoyed a vegetable side dish consisting of roasted asparagus and Italian squash  (olive oil, salt, pepper, into the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes), which I really liked.  For drinks, I served some hot pear cider (from trader joes!) and spiced it with some cinnamon sticks, star anise, and orange slices.
Sadly, I did not get a picture of the meal on my camera, since I dove right into the food.

For the prime rib recipe, I think the only thing I would change is to mince the garlic into even smaller pieces, and double the garlic-oil mixture.

For the mushroom risotto recipe, I actually did not follow all the directions.  I left out the truffle oil (what am I, rich?) and the chives.  I doubled the mascarpone cheese, and quadrupled the parmigiano cheese (no such thing as too much cheese!). Also, there was way too many mushrooms -- we ended up using about 3/4 of the 2 pounds of mushrooms this recipe called for. 

For the stuffed mushrooms, I would probably use a little less cream cheese next time, but that's about it.

Garlic Prime Rib
    1 (10 pound) prime rib roast
    10 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 teaspoons salt
    2 teaspoons ground black pepper
    2 teaspoons dried thyme

Place the roast in a roasting pan with the fatty side up.
In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.
Spread the mixture over the fatty layer of the roast, and let the roast sit out until it is at room temperature, no longer than 1 hour.
Set the roast on a roasting rack, over a drip pan.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).
Bake the roast for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F and continue roasting for an additional 60 to 75 minutes.
The internal temperature of the roast should be at 145 degrees F for medium rare.
Allow the roast to rest for 10 or 15 minutes before carving so the meat can retain its juices.

Mushroom Risotto:
10 cups Chicken Stock
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Diced shallots
3 cups Arborio rice
1.5 cups White wine
1 pound Shitake mushrooms sliced 
1 pound Oyster mushrooms sliced
¼ cups Mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons Parmigiano cheese
1 tablespoon White truffle Oil
3 tablespoons Chopped Chives 
Salt & Pepper 

Bring chicken stock to a boil.
In a 6 quart sauce pan add in olive oil.
Next add diced shallots and let them cook for a minute or until they turn translucent.
Add in the rice and make sure to stir so that all the rice kernels are coated with oil. Make sure rice kernels are warm before adding in the wine.
After the wine has been added reduce the liquid by 60 %, now the hot chicken stock can be added too. Just cover the rice with liquid and when the rice is beginning to stick to the bottom it is time to add in more liquid.
On the last stage of adding in the stock add in the mushrooms too.
Finish cooking for about 5-8 minutes.
When the risotto is Al dente, turn off the heat and finish with the mascarpone and parmigiano cheese, this is when you really want to stir the risotto feverishly, finally add in the truffle oil and chives. 

Stuffed Mushrooms
    24 whole fresh mushrooms
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel.
Carefully break off stems. Chop stems extremely fine, discarding tough end of stems.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add garlic and chopped mushroom stems to the skillet. Fry until any moisture has disappeared, taking care not to burn garlic. Set aside to cool.
When garlic and mushroom mixture is no longer hot, stir in cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Mixture should be very thick.
Using a little spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of stuffing. Arrange the mushroom caps on prepared cookie sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the mushrooms are piping hot and liquid starts to form under caps.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

10 types of foodies? Now I have an idea what the heck a "foodie" is.

I was never entirely sure what a "foodie" was, and never wanted to call myself (or anyone) that.  In fact, I think some people actually get offended if you call them a "foodie".

If I were to describe myself, I would simply say "I really like food", or "I cook a lot", or "I really like eating", and leave it at that.

This latest post from Huffington Post finally help shed a little light on what the heck a "foodie" is.
Apparently, there are 10 types of them:
  1. Made It Myself!
  2. The Organivore
  3. The Europhile
  4. The One Upper  (I hate these folks)
  5. The Snob
  6. The Anti-Snob
  7. The Avoider
  8. The Blogging Food Pornographer
  9. The Bacon Lover
  10. The DIYer

As I read through them, I can definitely think of people I know that falls into one of the 10 types.
I think if I were to pick one that I fall under, I would probably fall into the 1st type (but I'm not as crazy as they describe Type #1 to be =D)

Is everyone enjoying entertaining for the holidays?
How does one entertain for all 10 types of "foodies"??  
Beats me =O

Monday, December 12, 2011

Turkey leftovers: make turkey meat floss (Rou song (肉鬆))

I'm not a fan of the typical options for turkey leftovers:  turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, turkey wraps, turkey burritos, turkey pasta... I can go on all day.  These all seem so monotonous and not any different than just eating the plain ol turkey.  (And if that's the case, then why not just eat the plain ol turkey on its own? It will help get rid of the turkey faster than "hiding" it in a sandwich or burrito.)

One thing I *am* a fan of, is Rou song (肉鬆), or as some other people call it "meat floss".  This is most commonly made using pork (second most common is fish).  However, why not use turkey?
One of the toughest part of making rou song is getting the meat dried.  And hey... turkey is already a dry meat to begin with!  You're already halfway there!

I made Rou Song out of fish a few times as a kid, and I still remember it like it was yesterday.  The process is very similar with turkey, except that turkey is much easier since fish is so wet!

Here are the simple, but very time consuming, steps to make turkey Rou Song:

1. Cook The Turkey.
The easiest way to do this is to follow my World's Simplest Roasted Turkey recipe!

2.  De-bone the Turkey
When turkey is cooked and has rested for at least 10 minutes, carve the turkey and save the bones for later (you can make soup with the bones).

3. Feed Hungry Husband

4. Shred The Leftover Turkey
When said husband is no longer hungry, take the leftover turkey meat and shred it into tiny pieces.  Use both hands for this job!
This took me about 3 hours.
My pregnant self cannot sit in one place for 3 hours so said husband came and lent a helping hand (well, 2 hands if you want to be exact).

5. OPTIONAL: Fuzzy up the meat the meat
Get a ceramic bowl and press it against the meat in a "twisting" motion to make the meat appear more fuzzy and fluffy.
This was very time consuming, and I would totally omit this next time.
I don't need to spend an hour twisting my meat to make it look fuzzy.  As long as it tastes good, that's all I care about.

6. Dry The Meat on the Stove Top
Using the largest wok or pan that you have, cook the turkey on medium-low heat, stirring every 3 minutes to ensure that the meat on the bottom does not burn. 

 7. Keep Stirring
Stir for about 1 hour 45 mins, or until the meat looks dried.  It will take on a golden-brownish color.

8.  Season Up the Dried Turkey
All you need is white sugar and soy sauce.
I like mine extra sweet, so I probably used about 1 cup of white sugar and maybe about 1/2 cup of soy sauce.
Just add them in slowly and keep tasting until you like it.  =)

9. Stir Until Blended.
Keep stirring the turkey until everything is equally seasoned. Do this for maybe another 15 minutes, to let the soy sauce soak up into the meat, making the total cook time 2 hours!

The Finished Product!

 It looks a lot like the pork Rou Song sold at the Asian super markets.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

World's simplest (and world's best) roasted turkey

Up until Nov 29th of this year (several days after Thanksgiving), I thought I hated turkey.
I pick at it and push it around my plate at Thanksgiving dinners.
I avoid it at pot lucks.
The closest I ever came to eating turkey is eating Oscar Mayer turkey deli meat, and that doesn't even taste like meat (more like sodium and ambiguous meat paste mashed together into a thin disk).

After I learned that you can make turkey meat floss out of  leftover turkey meat (more about that in the next post), I decided to go out and buy a frozen turkey on clearance.
Ralphs came through and had turkeys on sale at 44 cents per pound.  I grabbed the last 14 pound turkey (the rest were all 20+ pounds).

I quickly scanned the web to see the easiest, simplest way to roast a turkey.  All that I cared for was a fully cooked turkey that I could shred and make into dried turkey meat floss.  I came across this recipe on the Food Network website:

This recipe looked very simple, straight forward, and had plenty of postive reviews.  I was very surprised by the number of positive reviews considering that this recipe did not require any brining (which seems to be every one's "trick" to making a "juicy" thanksgiving turkey.  I would like to know their definition of juicy...).  The recipe appeared to be just like roasted chicken recipe.   

I made a some minor alterations to the recipe and did the following steps:
  1. Rinse and dry the turkey with paper towels.  Remove the giblets
  2. Cut up 1 onion and placed it in the cavity
  3. Salt & Pepper the interior and exterior of the bird
  4. Drizzle olive oil on the breast.
  5. Place the bird on a roasting rack and tent the bird with foil.  (I admit, I had no idea what to do with the wings.  I just let them all hang out ... lol).
  6. Place the bird into a preheated oven for 2.5 hours at 325 degrees.
  7. Remove the foil, and bake for another hour at 425 degrees.  (Notice that I did not baste!  Did you know that basting does not really help a turkey stay moist, and it actually dries it out?)
The bird came out beautiful.
As I was de-boning the turkey (and saved the bones to make turkey soup later), I tasted a piece of the turkey, and HOLY COW, it was delicious.
It did not have that awful turkey after taste, the meat was not hard and stringy, and the meat was oh-so moist.  It melted like butter in my mouth.
I called Jeff over to try some, and he agreed, that it was some damn good turkey.

We both agreed that this turkey is better than other turkeys that we have had, and I now have to retract my statement (that I hate turkey).
Here is my new statement:  I like eating turkey when it is done well.

Not only was this turkey moist and tasty, but it was REALLY EASY to make.
I did not prep and brine the day before.
I did not slave over the oven all day long, watching the bird and basting.

(the funny thing is, I actually did not hear the timer go off, so the turkey roasted for longer than intended.  yet it still came out good! imagine how much better it would have been if I actually heard the kitchen timer?)

In the end, I decided to save some meat turkey for eating, before making the leftovers into turkey meat floss. 

I know that there are lot of people that are stuck in their own ways and think that their turkey recipe is the "tried and true" method.  But the next time you see people drown your turkey in gravy, maybe it's time to try something different and see how that turns out.
Won't know 'til you try!