Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More Shea 50th

Also made Fried spring rolls

For spring rolls
  • 7 1/2 oz very thin bean thread noodles
  • 2 oz dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups grated carrots (4 to 5 carrots)
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce (preferably from Phu Quoc)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lb shrimp in shell, peeled and deveined
  • 25 (8-inch) square frozen spring roll pastry wrappers made with wheat flour, thawed
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • About 6 cups vegetable oil

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Make dipping sauce:
Stir together sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients, then chill, covered, at least 2 hours.

Prepare filling:
Put noodles in a large bowl and cover with hot water by several inches. Soak, pulling noodles apart and stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Drain noodles and cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces (you should have about 3 cups), then transfer to another large bowl.

Put mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water by several inches. Soak 15 minutes. Drain and rinse mushrooms thoroughly, then drain again. Trim off and discard any hard parts from mushrooms. Finely chop mushrooms. (You should have about 2 cups.) Add to noodles.

Pulse shallot and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped, then add to noodles along with carrots, chicken, fish sauce, sugar, pepper, and salt. Pulse shrimp in processor until coarsely ground. (Do not overprocess or it will become pasty.) Add shrimp to noodle mixture. Mix with your hands until well combined. Chill filling, covered with plastic wrap, until cold.

Assemble rolls:
Line 2 trays with wax paper.

Transfer one fourth of filling to a small bowl and keep remainder chilled, covered. Place 1 wrapper on a work surface, keeping remaining wrappers covered with a clean kitchen towel (to prevent them from drying out). Cut wrapper diagonally in half to form 2 triangles. With long side of 1 triangle nearest you, put 2 tablespoons filling along middle of long edge of triangle, and shape filling into a thin 5-inch log. Fold left and right corners of wrapper over filling, overlapping slightly and aligning bottom edges. (Wrapper will resemble an open envelope.) Dab top corner with yolk, then roll up wrapper away from you into a long thin roll, making sure ends stay tucked inside. Place on a tray, seam side down. Repeat with remaining triangle. Make more rolls in same manner with remaining wrappers and filling, keeping trays of rolls chilled, loosely covered, until ready to fry.

Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a 5- to 6-quart pot over moderately high heat until it registers 365°F on thermometer. Fry rolls in batches of 5 or 6, keeping rolls apart during first minute of frying to prevent sticking, until golden brown and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. (Return oil to 365°F between batches.) Transfer as fried to a colander lined with paper towels and drain rolls upright 2 to 3 minutes. To eat, wrap hot or warm rolls in lettuce leaves and tuck in mint and cilantro leaves. Serve with dipping sauce.

Shea's 50th Birthday

Hard to believe that Shea is 50 !!!!! Especially since most people think I look like her dad these days ....

So she wanted a classy 50th Bday party with our close friends and family. One of her friends Moira lives on this amazing CSA farm in Lincoln, Linden Tree Farms - Luckily, Ari and Moira allowed us to use their barn for the party.

Shea was hot to trot to have Vietnamese finger food at the party and I wasn't sure I was up to cook for a large group.

So I decided to take a field trip to Dorchester, Ma and do a test off between the top Vietnamese places and see if they might cater the party. Off I went to Pho So 1 Boston and Pho Hoa Restaurant to get take out . I brought home Fried Spring rolls , Fresh Summer rolls and Chicken Pho soup.

After tasting both restaurants food, we were disappointed since the food was just ok and not cheap at all if we wanted it catered. So I offered to cook it all with Natasha's help. I don;t think I have ever cooked Vietnamese food but I am always up for a challenge.

With Nicole Routhier's Foods of Vietnam book in hand , I ventured back to Dorchester to Truong Thinh II Super Market.

I wish I had a translator since all the signs and labels were in Vietnamese. Luckily I found a younger man who spoke perfect english with a dorchester accent. he guided me through the aisles , told me which were the best brands and even suggested a great dipping sauce. The prices are amazing . I got lemon grass for 2.99 a lb which sells for 10 bucks at whole foods.

I managed to buy all the materials for the party, except for meat and seafood for under $130. Amazingly cheap. Then I got shrimp, pork and beef at Whole foods.

The Menu included:

Fresh Spring rolls with Chicken, shrimp, noodles.etc

4 ounces thin rice vermicelli
16 raw medium shrimp, shelled and de-veined (optional)
2 large carrots, shredded
2 teaspoons sugar
16 rounds of rice paper (banh trang), each 8 1/2 inches in diameter
8 large red leaf or Boston lettuce leaves, thick stem ends removed and cut in half
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 cup mint leaves, washed and drained
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, washed and drained

2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 small chili pepper, sliced
1 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
¼ cup water

1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 cup hoisin sauce


Combine garlic, sugar, lime juice, water, vinegar, and fish sauce. Stir to blend. Add chili rounds (to taste). Keep at room temperature for ½ hour before serving.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic, chili and tomato paste and fry about 30 seconds until the garlic is golden brown. Add the water, sugar, peanut butter and hoisin sauce and whisk to dissolve. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve at room temperature.

Combine the carrot with the sugar and let stand for 10 minutes to soften.

In a medium saucepan, bring several cups of water to boil. Add vermicelli and cook until just softened, 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Boil the shrimp for 3 minutes, then refresh in cold water. Cut lengthwise in half, then set aside.

Lay out the spring roll ingredients before beginning to assemble the rolls.

Fill a shallow 9 or 10-inch cake or pie pan with very warm water. Working with 2 sheets of rice paper at a time, immerse the sheets and quickly remove. Spread out flat on a dry towel. The rice paper will become pliable within seconds (too long and they become soggy and tear when rolling).

Lay one piece of lettuce over the bottom of the rice paper. Add 1 tablespoon of noodles, 1 tablespoon carrot, bean sprouts and several mint leaves. Roll the paper halfway. Fold both sides of the paper over the filling. Lay 2 shrimp halves, cut side down, along the crease. Place several cilantro leaves above the shrimp. Keep rolling the paper into a cylinder to seal. Place the rolls, seam side down, on a plate and cover with a damp towel so they will stay moist. Slice each roll in half on a bias.

Serve rolls with the dipping sauces, preferably in individual dipping bowls. The rolls are dipped into the sauce and eaten out of hand.

the Ultimate Chicken Pot Pie

Sautee some chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces in butter till half done. Remove and let cool.

Add chopped onion, leek, carrots, celery, parsnips to pan and let cook till onions are translucent. Remove veggies from pan, add a little more butter, a couple of tablespoons of flour and make a roux. After several minutes, add warm chicken stock and let it come to a simmer. It will get thicker.

Add all the veggies, chicken, frozen peas, or any other veggie, and mix together

Place the chicken veggie mix in a casserole and lay on top puff pastry . Brush egg wash on top of puff pastry and bake at 375 till the pastry is golden.

Fall comfort food , roast lamb with Baby Artichokes and polenta

Sorry to have been MIA but I have no real excuse other than avoidance....

For the lamb, Pound out a leg of lamb till its 3/4" thick, Lay on mint leaves, Grate some garlic, really cold goat cheese and salt and pepper and roll it up and tie it.

Sautee on all sides and roast in a 400 degree oven till the internal temp is 140 (medium).

Baby Artichokes-

Clean the artichokes and cut them in 1/4s. let them soak in lemon water so they don't turn brown.

Sautee an onion in olive oil. when slightly brown, add the chokes and sautee for another 7-10 min. Add some chicken stock , fresh herbs and cover for 15 min on low/medium. Remove cover near end and raise the heat to thicken the sauce.

Polenta -

Cook polenta as you normally would with chicken stock, add a little milk or cream at the end and add 1 cup of grated cheese .