Mandarin’s Sweet-and-Sour Pork


Sweet and Sour Sauce:

  • 5 tbsp (75 mL) granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL)each: white vinegar, ketchup, water
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 2 to 3 drops Worcestershire sauce

Pork:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • About 1 cup (250 mL) corn starch
  • 1 lb (450 g) boneless pork, cut in 1/2-inch (1-cm) pieces
  • 4 tbsp (60 mL) vegetable oil

Stir-Fry:

  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut in thin strips
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut in thin strips
  • 1/2 yellow/white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) drained diced pineapple canned in pineapple juice

Cooked jasmine or other white rice (optional, for serving).

For sauce, in bowl, stir together sugar, vinegar, ketchup, water, salt and Worcestershire.
For pork, place egg in bowl. Place corn starch on plate.

Dip pork in egg, letting excesses drip off. Dredge in corn starch, shaking off excess. Lay pork on large plate.

Heat large wok or heavy skillet over medium-high. When hot, add 2 tbsp (30 mL) oil, then half pork. Cook until golden outside and no longer pink inside, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel-lined plate.

Reheat pan over medium-high. Add remaining 2 tbsp (30 mL) oil, then remaining pork. Cook as above and transfer to plate with other pork. Discard oil.

For stir-fry, heat pan over medium-high. Add oil, bell peppers, onions and pineapple. Stir-fry until onions are lightly browned and peppers are just getting limp, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add sauce and reserved pork. Cook, stirring to coat pork with sauce, 1 to 2 minutes until sauce is thick and bubbly.

Serve pork over rice, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.

Source: Star-tested by Jennifer Bain

jbain@thestar.ca

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Homemade Hard Pretzel Sticks

Homemade Hard Pretzel Sticks

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
1 large whole egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Vegetable oil, for pan
Water
Pretzel salt

Directions
Combine the warm water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Place enough water into a large roasting pan to come 1/3 of the way up the sides of the pan and bring to a boil over high heat.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 1-ounce portions, approximately 36 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 14 to15-inch long stick and place on the sheet pans, 1/4-inch apart. Cover the dough not being used with a slightly damp towel to help prevent drying out.

Gently place 6 to 8 pretzels at a time into the water for 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels back to the sheet pan, brush with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until golden brown in color and hard, approximately 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Crock Pot Chicken Paprika Goulash

Chicken Paprika Goulash

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups water
4-5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken pieces
1 cup canned tomatoes
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
2 tablespoons paprika
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream

Cooking Instructions:
1. Put the water, chicken, tomatoes, green pepper, onion, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano into the crockpot.
2. Stir to blend.
3. Cover the pot and cook on low for 9 to 10 hours until chicken is tender.
4. Remove chicken pieces from the crockpot and skim fat from the remaining sauce.
5. Remove 1/4 cup liquid from the crockpot and allow to cool a bit.
6. Blend flour with the 1/4 cup cooled juices and return the flour mixture to the liquid in the crockpot.
7. Mix well and stir until thickened.
8. Blend in sour cream.
9. Return chicken to the pot and allow to heat through, but do not boil.
10. Serve by itself with Potatoes or over Cooked Rice or Noodles if desired.

Tips for Chocolate Truffles and Ganache

Chocolate Truffles and Ganache to Die For

There is a real secret to making the world’s finest truffles and ganache which I’d like all of you to learn as I vow this simple method will forever change the way you make these items. First, allow me to share why a change in your current method is warranted, especially in that the world’s cookbook authors and culinary schools are universally oblivious to the problems with ganache.
If you have worked with chocolate in the past you are probably familiar with the dreaded term “seizing”. When tiny droplets of water are mixed with chocolate the consequence is pure devastation. Your expensive Swiss-made couverture, processed from select Peruvian cocoa beans, is reduced in an instant to a tar-like glob of grainy refuse.
What happened was water molecules bonded with some of the cocoa molecules, but not all of them. Those cocoa molecules not bound to water now bind to one another, producing an instantaneous reaction guaranteed to ruin the rest of your day.
In truth, chocolate can absorb water well, but only if enough water is added to cover all cocoa molecules instead of only a few. While a few drops of water will cause your chocolate to seize, more water will yield a rich chocolate sauce completely free of lumps! I believe the ratio is at least one tablespoon of water per cup of chocolate… that is how much water must be added to avoid seizure.
Ganache (and truffles) are made by mixing cream with chocolate, and cream is mostly water. If you follow any one of the billions of recipes on the Net or the instructions of your culinary school teachers you are actually inviting seizure. The reason is that every single one of these resources ask you to heat the cream and add it to a bowl of chopped chocolate, allowing the cream’s residual heat to melt the chocolate!
That is as wrong as wrong can be! If you pour a pint of heavy cream into a pint of chocolate, the pour may take a full 2-seconds to complete. In those initial seconds or fractions of seconds you are adding too small an amount of water to insure thorough emulsification! Time and again, over and over, your ganache and truffles will have tiny lumps in them… because your method caused a brief seizure in the seconds prior to emulsification.
I beg you to please heed my counsel! No matter what you have been told to the contrary, add the chopped chocolate to the heated cream, all at once! Never the other way around! In this way all the chocolate is instantly submerged in water and seizure does not have time to occur.
Further, consider that egg yolks are used in baking to provide a velvety richness to the product? Therefore, add/temper a few egg yolks (Roughly 5 egg yolks per pound of chocolate.)to your heated cream, using a liaison to prevent curdling, before adding the chocolate. Their effect will add a velvety texture to your ganache and your truffles you never knew could be possible!
This simple adjustment will leave you with your head banging against the wall as to why no one ever shared this with you before!
A medium ganache is usually equal parts cream and chocolate, by weight. A soft ganache has a bit more cream and that is made for icing (when cooled it is whipped in a mixer with the whisk attachment until frothy and smooth). A hard ganache is used for truffles and has slightly less cream then medium ganache.

Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup

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Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup

yield: 8 SERVINGS prep time: 30 MINUTES cook time: 4 HOURS total time: 4 1/2 HOURS

Ingredients:
3-3 1/2 lbs russet potatoes,
peeled and diced into 1/2-3/4-inch pieces (7 med potatoes, 8 – 9 cups)

1 med yellow onion, fine dice (1cup)

3 (14.5 oz) cans low sodium chicken broth (approx 5 1/2 cups)

1 cup evaporated milk

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

3 slices of bacon, cooked,diced or crumbled

4 green onions, diced

Directions:
1. To a 6 or 7-quart slow cooker, add potatoes, onion, chicken broth, evaporated milk and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with lid and cook on HIGH heat for 4 hours or LOW heat for 8 hours. To check for doneness, poke a piece of potato with a knife. It if easily slides through, it is cooked.

2. Ladle out 2 cups liquid from soup mixture in crock pot into a liquid measuring cup, set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. While whisking, slowly pour 2 cups liquid in measuring cup into butter mixture. Pour butter mixture into slow cooker and stir to blend.

3.If desired, mash potatoes with a potato masher to break down into smaller pieces or use an immersion blender to puree. (High recommended. Be careful when using an immersion blender. If it splatters on you it can be quite hot).

4.Cover and cook on HIGH heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Turn heat off (or to warm), stir in sour cream.

Serve warm topped with cheddar, bacon and green onions.

CAJUN SHRIMP CHOWDER

Cajun Shrimp Chowder:
3 uncooked slices bacon [I used 6]
2 qts. Half and half
2 cups kernel corn [I used 3]
1/2 green bell pepper diced [I used 1]
1 large sweet onion diced
1 stick of butter [I used 1.5]
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning [I rounded up]
1 tbsp carribbean jerk seasoning [I rounded up]
1 lb. small cooked shelled shrimp [I used 24 oz]
2-3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes peeled and diced [I used at least 3]
3 large cloves garlic or 2 tbsp
Tsp each of salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp flour [I used a handful] [and also made up a corn starch and water to thicken it a little]
2-4 cups of water [to cook potatoes]

DIRECTIONS
In a heavy bottom pan melt butter on low.
Add onions and peppers.
Cook on low until tender.
Fry bacon in a skillet and remove. Take flour and stir/cook into bacon grease.
Add that and potatoes and enough water to cover them to onions and peppers.
When potatoes are done turn down to simmer and add half and half for 15-30 minutes.
Then add bacon, shrimp, corn and seasonings. Simmer an hour then add corn starch mixture if you desire to make it thicker.

Roasted Veggie + Bacon Mac & Cheese

Everything’s better with bacon!

Emerging Adult Eats

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I’ve always considered myself incredibly lucky to have a man who doesn’t play video games.

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Garr bought a gaming console once. It froze up the next the day & he took it as a sign from God that he wasn’t meant to play so he returned it.

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I thought that we were in the video game clear after marriage. Until he came home last week with an Xbox under his arm. He’s claimed his friend let him borrow it… Because boys always let other boys play with their toys.

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I’m not actually annoyed. I do have a pretty extensive background with the Nascar game on the first PlayStation so I’ve enjoyed the driving game. I drive around town & run people over & carjack fools. It’s nice.

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I made this for some boys while they threw grenades at each other.

Time: 40 minutes (prep + cooking) | Serves: 3

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of pasta

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