Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Steak Kue

My parents owned Gee's Restaurant in Houston, Texas for over 35 years. Opened in 1955, the menu featured dishes that were truly the epitome of Cantonese cuisine: Chicken Chow Mein, Egg Foo Young, Sweet & Sour Pork, Moo Goo Guy Pan, and War Shew Duck. I often wax nostalgic about the restaurant and these dishes, and make my own versions as often as I can. One of the classics on the menu was #66 - Steak Kue. At the restaurant, it called for searing one of our "Club Steaks" (boneless ribeye) on the flat top grill, which was on the "American" side of the kitchen, then carried over to the "Chinese" side of the kitchen. There it where would be cubed and added to a wok full of vegetables, and finished with a quick sauce that included "a Touch of Oyster Sauce."

For my version, I wanted a wok-friendly way to cook the steak, so I simply gave the cubed ribeye a quick flash stir-fry, then cooked all the vegetables, adding the steak back in at the end. The assortment of vegetables can be anything you wish, but the key to this dish is truly that "Touch of Oyster Sauce."

I hope you enjoy this retro recipe as much as I did!

Steak Kue
by Gary Gee
Serves 4

2 pounds boneless beef tenderloin or ribeye, cut into approximate 1" x 2" cubes
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 cups coarsely chopped bok choy
1 large carrot, sliced into coins
1 cup sliced celery
4 stalks asparagus, chopped
4 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 oz water chestnuts, sliced
4 green onions, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
1 Tablespoon cooking sherry or white wine
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, mixed with
1 teaspoon warm water
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper. Add oil to wok, and swirl to coat. When oil begins to smoke, add beef in a single layer. Cook for 30 seconds or until beef begins to release from wok. Turn and cook another 30 seconds, until well-browned. Remove beef from wok, keeping warm on a platter. Leave behind only about 1 tablespoon of oil (add more if needed). Add ginger, garlic, and next 7 ingredients. Toss to combine. Add light soy sauce and sherry, stir, and cover for 1 minute to steam. Return beef and any accumulated juices to the wok, then add dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, and cornstarch slurry. Stir to combine, and cook until sauce forms and thickens, about 1 minute more. Drizzle with sesame oil, remove to a serving platter, garnish with green onions, and serve immediately with steamed white rice.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas

I’m not sure how “retro” a recipe is from 1986 but I ran into a problem finding my mother’s old recipe books. We recently packed up her house and they are all in a box in storage! So, I rummaged through my own collection and found my old “Southern Living 1986 Annual Recipes” book. It’s full of recipes that call for canned this or jarred that. I picked out a couple of recipes to try and landed on a chicken enchilada recipe. I thought I could surely make it super yummy without using canned cream of chicken soup! I added spinach to the recipe (my 13 year old son protested but I won). I also made a béchamel sauce using chicken stock and heavy cream to substitute for the canned condensed soup. It was a winner winner chicken dinner! Served it with doctored up canned black beans (yes, I did use canned beans). You can take the girl out of the 80’s but you can’t take the 80’s out of the girl!

Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas
by Maryjo
Adapted from the Easy Chicken Enchiladas recipe from Southern Living 1986 Annual Recipes

3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock (or broth)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup sour cream
2 cups packed fresh spinach
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
12 fresh corn tortillas
Vegetable oil
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium saucepan, make a roux by melting the butter over medium high heat. When melted, add the flour, stir around until the flour is coated and continue to stir for about 3 minutes on medium high heat so that the flour taste will be cooked out of the sauce. Add the chicken stock and whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic powder, stir, and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, add the chopped cooked chicken, sour cream, spinach, Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, green chiles, chopped onion, salt, pepper, ground cumin, and the roux. Mix well.

Heat about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet and fry each corn tortilla for 5 seconds on each side (to soften them up). Add a little more oil if it runs low. Place the tortillas on a paper towel to drain.

Spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch casserole dish with non-stick spray. Put about 1/3 cup of the chicken and spinach filling onto each tortilla, rolling them up and placing each tortilla seam side down in the casserole dish. Note: I had filling left over, which I put into a zip top bag and threw into the freezer for another quick meal another day.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and add the remaining ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Change the oven from bake to broil and turn up the heat to 450ºF. Bake uncovered for an additional 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream, or pico de gallo, or sliced avocados, or black beans, or all of the above. Olé! 1986 Style!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Herbed Chicken Casserole

In the early 1980's, a friend of mine gave me this recipe. Over the years, this has proven to be my favorite dish for entertaining during the week. The casserole may be made the day ahead, refrigerated and then baked the day it is to be served.

Herbed Chicken Casserole
by Tamela K.

3 chicken breasts, cut in half
1/2 cup butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups rice, slightly under cooked and drained
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup sauterne or white wine
1 5-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 3-ounce can mushroom slices with liquid
1/2 teaspoon thyme

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Brown chicken breasts in melted butter on stove top in pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Place cooked rice in casserole dish with browned chicken on top. Saute the onions until soft in the pan which the chicken was browned. Add soup to the onions and stir until smooth. Slowly add sauterne or wine to onion mixture, stirring well. Add water chestnuts, mushrooms and thyme to the sauce pan.
Pour the mixture over chicken and rice. Cover and bake for an hour, or until tender.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cheese Fondue

When this challenge was posted, my husband and I started talking about what "retro" recipes meant to each of us. For me, I think of Jello salads, bologna, and other American dishes that I am happy to never encounter again. For him, it's all about the classics...sauces, pâté, stuffed meats and veggies, and delectable desserts.

Francoise Bernard is a classic French cookbook author that my husband's Mamie would cook from all the time. We have her oldest copy of Les Recettes Faciles (Easy Recipes) from 1965 that is packed with his Mamie's newspaper and magazine clippings. I pulled this book from our shelf and flipped through it to see what classical French fare was. This book is filled with drool worthy recipes. Although, I did not choose a recipe from this book, it did give me an idea of what to make. Cheese fondue. My husband has perfected his recipe through the years and we always look forward to the weather getting cooler so he can make it. This is a recipe that he typically eyeballs amounts, which means that it turns out a little differently each time, but this time I followed him around for measurements!

Cheese Fondue
by Franck and Tonda
Serves 6

1 pound 12 month aged Gruyere cheese
1 pound Jarlsberg cheese
1 pound Comté cheese
6 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 to 3/4 bottle dry white wine such as Apremont from Savoie or Entre Deux Mers (Dry White Bordeaux)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Kirsh
Dash of paprika
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Juice from 1/8 of a large lemon

Cut the cheese into 1/4 to 1/2-inch cubes. Do not shred the cheese. It will turn into a ball when melting it. Cut one clove of garlic in half and rub it on the inside of the cooking pot and fondue pot. Slice one clove of garlic in very thin and place it into the fondue pot. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter, add four cloves of chopped garlic and sauté. Remove half of the garlic and add approximately 1/4 cup of wine to deglaze the pot. Add about 4 handfuls of cheese. It is important to stir the cheese in an 8 pattern until it melts. Otherwise, it will turn into a big ball in the pan. Alternate adding more wine (approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time) and cheese (3 to 4 handfuls) and continue until all of the cheese is melted to the consistency that you prefer. Make sure to continuously stir in the 8 pattern. You will use 1/2 to 3/4 bottle of wine. Add 1 1/2 Tablespoons Kirsh and a dash of paprika and stir. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon white pepper along with 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Finally, stir in the juice from 1/8 of a large lemon. Transfer to the fondue pot.

Enjoy with cubes of baguette. An old French rule is whomever loses their baguette while dipping in the caquelon of cheese has to run around the block naked! Thankfully, it has not been enforced in my years of enjoying this meal.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Beef and Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli is one of the classic American Chinese dishes. It was invented in the 1800's, where immigrants from southern China would often adapt recipes from home and make use of local ingredients in North America. I remember eating this dish when my parents would take our family out for dinner at the local Chinese restaurant. The flavours and textures remain ingrained to memory and it was one of the first few dishes I had to make when I learned to cook Chinese food. I also have a memory of watching this dish being made on the show "Yan Can Cook", as a kid.

Having gained quite a bit of cooking experience since then, I've decided to create a spin on the recipe by applying some modern techniques and ideas to the dish. The idea for preparing the broccoli was inspired by the roasted broccoli at local hipster restaurants, and cooking the steak sous vide seemed like a natural fit. Although it diverges from the original version, it is just as delicious and enjoyable.

Note: We will be using the sous vide method to cook the steaks. Therefore, you will require a zip-top freezer bag, an immersion circulator and a container that is high enough to hold water, such as a medium-sized pot.

Beef and Broccoli
by Douglas

1 pound flank steak
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup tahini
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 head broccoli
Vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon butter
Parmesan cheese
Chili oil

If you have a large piece of flank steak, cut it along the grain so that you have pieces as wide as your palm. Start by seasoning the steak generously with salt and pepper, then place steaks into a zip-top freezer bag. Fill the medium-sized pot 3/4 full of water and dip the bag into the water, going no further than the top of the bag. This will push the air out of the bag and maximize the surface area between the meat and the water (also known as the water displacement method). Put the immersion circulator into the water and set the temperature for 125°F (i.e. cooked to rare, and you can increase to 135°F for medium-rare). Let it run for a minimum 45 minutes, or a maximum of 4 hours.

Meanwhile, add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add water if the mixture still looks like a paste, until it has the texture of a smooth dressing. Load the dressing into a plastic squeeze bottle.

Wash broccoli and cut until you have a bunch of florets. Save the stems for another recipe. Place a medium-sized pot filled with water on the stove and set to high heat. Prepare a large bowl of ice and cold water and place next to the pot. Once the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt and a 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Drop the broccoli into the boiling water and let it cook for 60-90 seconds. Using a strainer, take the broccoli out of the boiling water and into the bowl of ice water. Once the broccoli has cooled, take them out of the bowl and on to a plate.

Place an aluminum or carbon steel pan on the stove and set to high heat. When the pan is very hot (carbon steel pans will start smoking), add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the broccoli and stir briefly. Let it sit for about 30-60 seconds so that the broccoli develops char marks. Remove broccoli from pan and set aside. Wipe pan with a paper towel to remove any broccoli bits.

Once the steaks have cooked for the desired time, take the bags out of the water and shut off the immersion circulator. Remove steaks and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the pan used to cook the broccoli back on the stove on high heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and place the steaks on the pan. This will create the crust on the outside of the steak. After 1-2 minutes, flip the steaks once, then remove after searing for another 1-2 minutes. Let the steaks rest on a plate and set aside.

Mix soy sauce, oyster sauce together and 1/8 cup of water in a mixing cup and mix together. Using the same pan that was used to cook the steaks, add butter. Once the butter has melted, add the soy sauce mixture to the pan to deglaze. Scrape any bits from the pan and then reduce to the desired consistency.

To plate the dish, place charred broccoli on to one side of a medium sized dish. Drizzle tahini sauce on top using the plastic squeeze bottle. Grate Parmesan cheese on top of broccoli using a micro-plane. Using as spoon, drizzle chili oil on top of the broccoli. Take the steaks to a cutting board and slice steak into thin slices. Place steak on to the plate and fan them out so that you can see the pink center. With a spoon, drizzle the soy/oyster sauce reduction on to the steak.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Chicken with Dressing

I just couldn't make up my mind on what retro dish I wanted to redo. To be honest, I never had this back in the 1960's-1980's, so I'm not really sure how it was made. I suspect that maybe there was canned soup and canned chicken involved.

Whenever I make something, I have to ask myself, will Mark eat this? I don't want to waste time or money on something he won't eat for dinner. He is pretty much a meat and potatoes guy, which is somewhat limiting! I was mulling over options in my head, and Chicken and Dressing came to mind. 
For about a year, we had a local woman who had a storefront. She sold oh so good, down home comfort food in single and family portions. She had so many wonderful options. To my dismay, there was a landlord dispute, and she was gone. One of my favorites was her Chicken and Dressing. I never thought she put in enough chicken, but I loved it anyway.

Growing up, my mom always used Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Cubed Stuffing when she cooked our Thanksgiving meal. To this day, I also use it as my base when I make dressing. Mark prefers cornbread dressing, so that’s what I used here. We both loved this. I commented that it was a quick Thanksgiving knock-off meal. When Mark saw the chopped parsley on the top, he said, “Do I have to eat the leaves?” Seriously? 

Mark LOVES gravy, like it’s the sixth food group. I had some chicken gravy in the fridge from another dinner, so that made this just perfect. I'm making a double batch next time. We mowed through this like I was feeding an army.

Chicken with Dressing
by Sharyl W.

4 pounds chicken tenders
8 Tablespoons of butter, divided
4 Tablespoons of olive oil 
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 14-ounce bag of Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3 cups of chicken broth, divided
Black pepper
3 Tablespoons fresh chopped, flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Salt and pepper the chicken tenders. Heat 4 tablespoons of the butter, and olive oil, in a skillet, over medium high heat. When the oil/butter is hot, cook the chicken tenders until brown, and then turn over to cook the other side. They don't need to be cooked 100%, since they will finish cooking in the oven. Cook the chicken in several batches, so that the chicken isn't overcrowded. 

After all the chicken is cooked, add the chopped onions, and sauté until translucent. 

In a large bowl, add the package of Cornbread Stuffing Mix, poultry seasoning, 4 tablespoons of melted butter, 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth and the sautéed onions. Mix to combine. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to the dressing mix and combine. 

Brush the bottom and sides of a casserole dish, with melted butter. Spoon the chicken/dressing mix into the casserole dish. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth over the casserole. 

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until it’s hot. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Top individual servings with gravy, for an even moister dressing.

When reheating for leftovers, add more chicken broth to keep the casserole moist.