Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ma Po Tofu

This recipe comes from my Sister-in-Law, AC. (Thanks AC!) It's a fast favorite around our house and hers for adults and children alike!

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1 box soft silken tofu, chopped
1 lb. ground pork
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2" ginger, chopped
1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons seasame oil
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 cup petite green peas (optional)
3-4 scallions, chopped
vegetable oil

Mix ground meat with some soy sauce, sesame oil, and corn starch. Set aside.

Cut the tofu into chunks. Heat a bit of vegetable oil in pan. Toss in the garlic and ginger and sautee until fragrant. Put in the ground meat and brown, breaking it up as it cooks.

When the meat is mostly done, toss in the tofu and peas (if you're using them - they are not in the photo above). Stir.

Add 2 tablespoons of water and cover to heat the tofu and defrost the peas.

When it's just about done, add the scallions and salt to taste. Serve over steamed rice. Delicious and fast!!

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tarte Tatin

I recently picked up an Emile Henry Tarte Tatin pan at an outlet that I'd been watching for what seems like years. YUM!! The directions that came with it were simply blah.

I decided to use a pastry crust recipe that I'd had for a while and it's WONDERFUL!
For the filling portion, I found the recipe for Molly's Apple Tarte Tatin over at the Smitten Kitchen to be a wonderful match with the pastry crust.

Pastry Crust
1 3/4 cups flour
16 Tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2-3/4 cup water
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix flour with 4 Tablespoons of the butter, salt and 1/2 -3/4 cup of water. Roll into a thick disc and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Mix the remaining 12 Tablespoons (1.5 Sticks) of butter with the powdered sugar.

Pull out 1st dough ball from refridgerator. Roll out until thin and place butter/powdered sugar mixture in a lump in the middle. Fold dough over butter sugar into a square package. Roll out until thin again. Fold into a square again and refrigerate while you prep the tart filling.

7 medium apples (Use your favorite, but make sure they are very firm, fresh and flavorful.)
1 stick (4 ounces) salted butter
1 cup sugar

Flour the top of the dough and use rolling pin to quickly press and roll the dough out into a 10 to 11-inch circle. Keep turning the dough as you do this to make sure it doesn’t stick to the rolling surface. Throw more flour underneath the dough if necessary. Check the crust to make sure it’s just big enough to cover the top of your tarte tatin pan. Move the crust onto a piece of parchment paper or onto a floured rimless baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prepare filling:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Peel and quarter the apples. Don’t cut them into smaller pieces than quarters. These quarters shrink considerably during cooking. You can squeeze a bit of lemon on them, but it’s not necessary.

Over low heat in a heavy, ovenproof skillet (or tarte tatin pan as I used) measuring 7 to 8 inches across the bottom and 10 to 11 inches across the top, melt the stick of butter. Remove from heat, add the sugar and stir until blended. Shake/tap the pan so the butter-sugar mixture distributes evenly across the bottom.

Arrange apple quarters in pan, first making a circle inside the edge of the pan. Place them on their sides and overlap them so you can fit as many as possible. Then fill the center of the pan; you may have some apple left over. Keep at least one extra apple quarter on hand–when you turn the apples over, they may have shrunk to the extent that you’ll need to cheat and fill in the space with an extra piece. This one piece won’t get quite as caramelized as the other pieces, but don’t worry–it will still cook through and no one will notice.

Return your pan to the stovetop on high heat. Let boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until the juices in the pan turn from golden in color to dark amber. Remove from heat. With the tip of a sharp knife, turn apple slices over, keeping them in their original places. If necessary, add an extra slice of apple to keep your arrangement intact. Return to the stovetop on high heat once more. Let cook another 5 minutes and then remove from heat.

Place the crust on top of the apples and brush off excess flour. Tuck edges under slightly, along the inside of the pan, being careful not to burn fingers. You can use your knife. Bake in oven until the top of the crust is golden-brown in color, about 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack about 30 minutes. Run a sharp knife along the inside edge of the pan. Place a plate or other serving dish on top of the pan and quickly flip over the pan so the Tarte Tatin drops down onto the plate. The pan will still be hot, so use potholders and be careful! Peek under the edge of the pan to see if the Tarte came out. You may need to bop the bottom of the pan with your potholder-encased fist for this to happen. If there are any pieces of apple left behind in the pan or otherwise out of place, carefully put them back where they are supposed to be.

This keeps well for about a day at room temperature; if you have to refrigerate it, warm it up slightly before serving.

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