Over the past few years, I’ve cooked a fair amount of Chinese food, focusing mainly on my favorite dim sum dishes (yum bean curd rolls!). But beyond the basic stirfries and fried rice, I haven’t attempted much from the more Americanized style, like General Tso’s chicken for instance. But last week, feeling frisky, I decided to expand my repertoire and I had the perfect recipe to try out: this one created by Grace Parisi.
While General Tso’s Chicken may have a slightly murky history, the reason it’s remained so popular is easy to understand. It’s spicy, sweet, salty and fried — basically the epitome of great take-out Chinese food. And it appeals to the masses, from hungover college students to stay-at-home moms. With all of those different elements, it seemed like the perfect thing to try making at home.
And to be honest this review of the recipe really encouraged me to go for it — such an awesome experiment!
Anyways, Parisi’s recipe manages to combine all of the expected goodness of General Tso’s in a slightly less fatty (and certainly less processed!) way. I was a bit hesitant about the frying part since normally I try to eat a little healthier, but I felt it was only fair to try the recipe as written. Well…for the most part anyways — I did sub out the chicken thighs for boneless breasts only because I had them on hand.
On the subject of frying, the first thing that stood out about this recipe was the batter for the chicken. I loved that it wasn’t a basic tempura-style of batter; instead it has components added in — soy, sesame oil — giving the final dish another layer of flavor. The breading is also incredibly light. It ends up barely clinging to the meat (in a good way!), making the chicken seem merely very crispy instead of greasy and deep fried.
Chicken slices in the batter
Fried chicken pieces
Butter Bean Salad w. Pickled Peppers
Last Saturday I was clueless as to what to make for dinner. My husband was at work and had taken the car, so I could only use what I had in my kitchen. Normally that isn’t an issue but since we returned from vacation a few weeks ago, we haven’t done a big grocery excursion. The fridge was
pretty sparse a barren wasteland. I had brought home some chicken breasts the day before and that was as far as I had gotten in menu planning.
As dinner time approached, I went on the hunt for a side dish, any side dish, but I kept striking out. No potatoes, no rice, and the only noodles I could find were for lasagna.
Then I remembered the butter beans that I had bought after making this salad a few months ago. I loved the dish so much I immediately added a few cans of the mild and creamy beans to my pantry in case I wanted to make it again. Since I didn’t have any of the ingredients for the original salad (of course), I knew I’d have to utilize what I did have.
A thorough fridge sweep and here’s what I came up with: garlic, celery, 1/8 of an onion (seriously?), green onions (yay!), pickled peppers (double yay!), a tiny wedge of Manchego cheese, a bit of Bibb lettuce and a lemon. Hm, I thought, this might actually work…
My friend DB recently gave me some of his amazing strawberry plants since the starters I bought three years ago never produced a single berry. I was hopeful that his would be more successful and they are definitely off to a great start!
One strawberry is already starting to ripen!
I’m so excited!
There was a recipe, pulled from an issue of Saveur, that I’d been wanting to try out since December. It was the name that got to me: Dolores’s Brokenhearted Chicken, so-called “because it tastes so good it makes you hungry even if you’re heartbroken.”
It sounded like a dish that could cure any life woes — the very essence of comfort food. The chicken is cooked somewhere inbetween being roasted and braised in a sauce made of stock, sherry and butter. It’s topped with parsley to brighten the flavors and served with crusty bread. And while the chicken is good (very good in fact), it’s the luxurious sauce that is the true winner. It soaks into the bread making it almost like a custard — full of flavor and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
In other words, this was the perfect meal for me to make before I left on vacation a few weeks ago. I had been running around so much that I was mentally and physically exhausted. In fact, I was so rushed that I ended up making this after I ate a dinner of ramen, so that my husband could have dinner ready when he came home.
See, the thing with being married to a chef and having a day job means we are often like ships passing in the night. I’m asleep when he gets home, he’s asleep when I leave for work. I try to make his late nights a little better by having a plate of food waiting for him when he gets home. Having cooked professionally for years, I know the last thing you want to do at the end of the night is eat anything you’ve cooked yourself. It’s just so much better when someone makes it for you.
So while this chicken is supposed to be made to comfort the lovelorn, I like to think it better expresses my attempts at being a good wife. (In return, since marriage is a two-way street and all, my husband makes sure my kegerator is never empty. That’s love.)