Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sweet and Sour Chicken

One of my favorite Chinese dishes has always been takeout Sweet and Sour Chicken, with its thick,sweet sauce and breading that always appeals to the sugar/carb lover that I am. Unfortunately, due to a gluten sensitivity I don't have a chance to indulge my culinary addiction as often as I used to which is why I jumped at the chance to make this slightly healthier, gluten free version of it. Overall, this is a somewhat labor intensive dish primarily because of the number of components that needed to be measured out but  once that was out of the way, the rest of the dish came together in about 15 minutes. As a personal preference, I did substitute chicken for pork as well as using ginger paste instead of chopped ginger but the overall flavors still blended together well. The recipe is definitely a modified version of traditional sweet and sour Chinese food but as long as I can have my sweet and sour chicken again, I can happily live with that. At least I will once I get over the number of dishes I have to wash now. 

Overall grade: A

Sweet and Sour Chicken
from: Quick & Easy Chinese by Nancie McDermott

2 tbsp dry sherry 
1 tbsp gluten free soy sauce
1 tsp salt

Sweet and Sour Sauce
2 tbsp water
2 tsp cornstarch 
1/4 cup chicken stock 
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp ketchup 
1 tbsp pineapple juice 

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic
2/3 cup chopped peppers (sweet red, orange and yellow)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup pineapple chunks
8 oz sliced chicken
3 tbsp chopped green onion

Combine soy sauce, sherry and salt and stir until blended well. 

To make the sweet and sour sauce, combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside. Combine chicken stock, vinegar, sugar, ketchup and pineapple juice in small sauce pan. Whisk until blended well and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook for one minute. Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook until sauce becomes shiny and thick. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm. 

Heat large, deep skillet over high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat pan. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add bell peppers and onions. Cook, tossing often, until fragrant and beginning to wilt. Add pineapple and cook for one minute longer. Remove mixture from pan and set aside. 

Add chicken to the pan, spreading it out in a single layer and cook undisturbed until edges change color, about 30 seconds. Toss well and cook, repeating this often, until most of pork is no longer pink. 

Add sherry soy mixture and toss well. Return bell pepper mixture to pan and mix well. Add sweet and sour sauce and cook, tossing often, until all ingredients are evenly seasoned and coated. Add green onions and toss again. Serve immediately. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pennsylvania Dutch Corn Fritters with Maple Mustard Sauce

It's been a long time since I've been able to get into the kitchen and do cooking of any kind. And by that, I mean I've just been too lazy and unmotivated to do cooking of any kind between classes and work. But there comes a time in all of our lives when we realize that we just cannot cope with takeout food of any kind one more time without suffering the consequences. I had been intending to make ice cream over the weekend but came across "A Reader's Cookbook" in the bargain bin at my local Jewel and spend the next 15 minutes reading through the recipe and zipping around the store to find the ingredients while simultaneously annoying the living daylights out of everyone else who was trying to complete their last minute panicked Easter dinner shopping as well. 

Overall this was a fairly simple recipe to pull together. I substituted gluten free flour for this due to food sensitivities and omitted the cayenne pepper as well as the lemon juice(none in the house). I also halved the recipe and still ended up with plenty of fritters but kept the ratio of the sauce as was because there can never be too much maple mustard sauce in my opinion. Frying foods are never one of my favorite things but apart from a minor oil splatter that hit my hand I survived with my sanity and health intact. While I liked the overall recipe, I would probably make a few more changes to it in the future such as adding a bit more maple syrup (the quantity of mustard overpowered the syrup) and add more onion as well as salt to the fritters themselves. Grade B+. 

Pennsylvania Dutch Corn Fritters with Maple-Mustard Sauce
slightly adapted from "A Readers Cookbook" by Judith Choate 

2 1/2 cups thawed frozen corn kernels
2 large eggs separated
1/4 cup scallion greens
2 TBSP & 2 TSP  all purpose flour
1/2 tbsp sugar
Salt to taste
1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp lemon juice

Place egg whites in a mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, beat until stiff peaks form. 

Mix together scallion greens, flour, sugar, salt and corn together. Add egg yolks when blended. Fold in beaten egg whites until just blended. 

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is very hot, drop corn batter into oil by  heaping tablespoons. Fry, turning once, for about 5 minutes or until fritters are crisp and golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove fritters and place on paper towel to drain. Serve warm or at room temperature with honey mustard sauce.