Lunar New Year Recipes—Bonus Post

smiling sesame ballsWe are delighted to high­light Asian cooking in cel­e­bra­tion of the Lunar New Year. Here is a list of recipes and staff picks we have been col­lecting to inspire your New Years feasting!

Stir Fried Let­tuce with Garlic Chili from our What’s for Dinner Wednesday blog
Classic Chicken Chow Mein from our What’s for Dinner Wednesday blogPho Dinner in Less Than 20 Min­utes from our What’s for Dinner Wednesday blog

And from around the web:
Chicken Sautéed with Garlic Chives from The Japanese Food Report
Ori­ental Pork with Noo­dles and Stir-​​Fried Aro­matic Veg­gies from Jaime Oliver
Red Cooked Lamb (紅燒羊肉) from The Red Cook—Includes wine paring
Shiitake-​​and-​​Swiss-​​Chard Soup with Hand-​​Cut Noo­dles by David Chang
Can­tonese Style Braised Beef Stew 炆牛腩 from Yi Reser­va­tion
Smiling Sesame Balls (笑口棗) from The Red Cook
Szechuan Sweet & Sour Prawns by Jaime Oliver
Tibetan Butter Tea from Yowangdu
Chi­nese New Year Dumpling Recipe from the New York Times
Bok Choy with Black Mush­rooms from Saveur

Chicken Chow Mein

Chicken Chow Mein Gam’s Hey Fat Choi
Lately, I’ve had Chi­nese food on the brain. The reason is obvious—it hap­pens every year at the start of Chi­nese New Year.

In honor of the Year of The Ram, and because my family likes it, I have been cooking more meals with an Asian flavor. I’ve never been that good an Asian cook, but I think I’m get­ting better. I made a Bok Choy Stir Fry the other night and man­aged to not burn the garlic.

My grand­mother, a.k.a. Gam, was my Chi­nese Food Ambas­sador when I was a kid. She loved Chi­nese food but she rarely ordered take out. She usu­ally made it her­self. She had a col­lec­tion of Chi­nese Cook­books and old pages from Chi­nese cooking classes that she had taken over the years. When she passed away, I inher­ited them. (Okay. inher­ited might be a strong word. I packed them in a box with her wok, clay pot, bamboo steamer and chop sticks and got them to my house before my sister fig­ured out what was hap­pening. She got the purple water gob­lets. We’re even.)

I have clear mem­o­ries from my child­hood of Gam, and her wok, and her super-​​long chop­sticks that she always used—whether she was cooking Chi­nese or not. Because Gam taught my sister and me to cook with her chop­sticks, I can eat at a Chi­nese restau­rant without fear of looking like a fool…or worse, asking for a fork. (Gasp!)

In honor of the New Year and Gam’s love of the cui­sine, I give you Gam’s recipe for Chicken Chow Mein from her cook­book called Chop­sticks, Cleaver and Wok by Jennie Low. You can make this recipe with pan fried noo­dles (Hong Kong Style) or fresh cooked Chow Mein noo­dles. The crispy ver­sion is listed here but it’s easy to swap for the softer ver­sion. (Just don’t pan fry the noo­dles.) I have also listed Gam’s notes from the pages so you can see her interpretation.

Chicken Chow Mein (Gai Chow Mein)
From Chop­sticks, Cleaver and Wok by Jennie Low
Serves 6 Read more…

Julie & Julia’s Bruschetta

Bruschetta Big Night
I love movies; always have. I espe­cially love a matinee by myself, alone, in the theater.

Because I love movies, I have always loved the Oscars. Growing up my mother and I would watch every minute. We would cri­tique the dresses, cheer for the actors we wanted to win, and jeer the ones who won when they shouldn’t have. It was a big deal, and everyone knew not to bug us while the Oscars were on. (Who could pos­sibly be calling now?)

Now that I have my own family, I am sad to report that I am the only one who cares. This is what hap­pens when you live with a bunch of jocks. I thought I had a partner in my glitter-​​loving daughter but, alas, it appears that I am des­tined to be alone on this red-​​carpeted island. My boys just stare at me blankly. My hus­band gives me the “You have got to be kid­ding me” look.

For this reason I never really get to go crazy and make themed din­ners to eat while watching the show. Instead I am forced to come up with some­thing easy for them to serve them­selves while I am oth­er­wise occupied.

A girl can dream, and if I was going to put an Oscar menu together I would pull together a few recipes my very long list of favorite—Oscar nom­i­nated or not.

Here are some recipes from that list:

Vodka Mar­tini Shaken, Not Stirred: Any Bond movie. (I love them all.)
A nice Chi­anti: The Silence of The Lambs (1991)

Tomato Buschetta, see recipe below: Julie & Julia (2009)
Fried Green Toma­toes: Fried Green Toma­toes (1991)

Main Dish
Chicken Tagine: Sab­rina (1995)
Hot Dogs: Bull Durham (1988)
We rec­om­mend the Miller Dogs from the Meat Counter

Reine De Saba Cake: Choco­late (2000)
Minny’s Choco­late Pie: The Help  (2011)

Julie & Julia’s Bruschetta
(adapted from recipe by food stylist Susan Spungen)
Read more…

Spicy Mushroom Tamales

Tamales Hot Tamale
We are a pretty non-​​traditional family when it comes to many things, but most espe­cially when it comes to Valentine’s Day cel­e­bra­tions. We’ve done the giant choco­late chip cookie heart, and of course the heart-​​shaped pep­peroni pizza. Most years, we have the mother of all Make Your Own Ice Cream Sundae Bars so that we can over indulge in creamy iced good­ness. This year, my family has gone rogue, again, and it’s weird.

I have been asked to make a Valentine’s Day Thanks­giving. Yup, you read that cor­rectly. The fore­cast is for the upper 70s this weekend, and I will be roasting a turkey. In all fair­ness, I did promise back in early December that I would do a Thanks­giving in the new year, because we all agreed that we just didn’t get enough in November. Silly me, I fig­ured we would still be having winter weather in Feb­ruary. It was also before we made our plans for Spring Break. Now I have mar­gar­itas, beaches and tacos on the brain.

So, as head chef, I am going to pull rank. We can do the turkey on Sunday and they can just like it. For Valentine’s Day I want a mar­garita or five, and some­thing hot and spicy (besides the husband…nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and choco­late. Let’s not forget the chocolate.

Tamales are tra­di­tion­ally made and eaten at cel­e­bra­tions, and I think these would be per­fect for this weekend. Time con­suming, yes, but oh so worth it. Serve them with some tasty beans and a salad and we have our own Fiesta del Amour!

¡Arriba! (I know, just go with it.)

Spicy Mush­room Tamales
From Rick Bayless’s Mex­ican Kitchen by Rick Bay­less
Makes 6 medium-​​size tamales
Read more…