Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Cooking Without Borders special event

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 will be the first EAT WITH ME-Cooking Without Borders special event. In what I hope to be a regular feature of EAT WITH ME, a full shopping list will be laid out about a week before the day upon which all who want, will make the suggested meal. The first meal requested was the Cashew Chicken originally posted on May 9.

The “rules of engagement” are such:

-Buy your groceries prior to May 17, or on May 17 if you are procrastinating like me.
-Evening of May 17--prepare the recipe
-Hopefully enjoy your meal
-Following the meal, submit feedback to the EAT WITH ME blog and if you have the ability, send a digital photo of the presented plate.

The feedback will be the most important part of the event.
Where are you located?
Did you follow the recipe as written?
Did you change the order or ingredients?
Would you have liked to try something different?
Overall, how did you enjoy the meal?

Once a critical mass of comments have been posted, I’ll compile and add my own feedback into a new EAT WITH ME blog entry for easy reference. If I receive photos, I’ll post those as well…if I can figure out how. If I am unable to load photos directly to the blog, I’ll upload them to Snapfish and provide the link in the entry.

So, here is your first shopping list:

*1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, you can also get the ‘tenders’ to save time preparing later
*1-2 carrots or a 1 lb. bag of baby carrots
*1 green bell pepper
*1 jalapeno pepper
*1 small/medium head of garlic
*fresh ginger root (note 1)
*sesame oil (note 2)
*sherry or red wine vinegar
*hoisin sauce
*red pepper flakes
*whole cashews, unsalted preferred
*rice, your favorite

NOTE 1: When buying fresh ginger root, you’ll notice it is all wild and crazy is shape and size. For a recipe like this, calling for “one inch,” I’ll get two inches, once it’s peeled the dried ends removed, I’ll have the one inch piece called for in the recipe. The other big question is “which piece?” or “they are all a different diameter.” I eye ball it and get something close in diameter to my thumb, three quarters to one inch. Ultimately I think you want about 1 rounded tablespoon of grated/minced ginger in the end. Also, don’t worry about breaking the ginger root up when you buy it at the store, more often than not, the ginger root is one giant mangled mass in a little basket. Snap off what you need.

NOTE 2: If I remember correctly, sesame oil comes either “light” or “dark.” To start, I’d buy the light until you know your feelings for the taste. The dark will be much richer and smokier, but also might come off as very pungent. Try the light and make your way up to dark.

For our veggie friends out there, skip the chicken-obviously. You could easily go with shrimp or a medley of veg or tofu. As I’m not veggie, please let me know what you might do with this dish to make it veggie friendly.

If you are buying all these items for the first time, your shopping bill might be around $15 to $20, but once you’ve stocked your home shelves with the sesame oil, vinegar, hoisin, red pepper flakes, you’ll be good to go in the future. I’d add cashews to that list, but once they are in my house, I eat them. The jalapeno and ginger root might cost you 50 cents! Garlic, maybe a dollar, depending on your store. The rest can range from $1 for the bell pepper to $3 or 4 for an organic green bell pepper. Chicken, that market is up and down with the tide it seems. When we get chicken at Eastern Market, it is almost always $2.99 a pound. But the Safeway and Giant can go upwards of $5 or $6 a pound. Whole Foods, maybe even more.

When I first moved to Washington, I was doing my shopping at Whole Foods and the chicken was $12.99 for a pound of boneless/skinless breast, then I realized it was a special type of chicken I was unfamiliar with at the time. Free Range wasn’t a concept my little Wisconsin mind was familiar with yet, as my parents and I raised our own chickens, we always had free range…we just didn’t call it that…we had ”yard hens!”

Go forth! Shop! Eat!

More updates and tips as we get closer to May 17.



Lady Brandenburg said...

Because I have rehearsal every Tuesday night of my life, I will have to make these recipes before Tuesdays. So getting the shopping list early is perfect!

We have chicken defrosting in the fridge right now - maybe Josh and I can make it tonight!

ScottE. said...

Not all Cooking Without Borders events will be on Tuesdays. Let us know how it goes!

Dancer in DC said...

Special note from the Chinese Specialist - DON'T subsitute powdered ginger for fresh. They are very different, and you won't get the same flavor. I've found that powdered is really only worthwhile for desserts, as when you pair it with cinnamon & nutmeg. And as Scott said, it's very inexpensive to buy fresh. Also, you can peel it with a regular vegetable peeler, and grate on a generic cheese grater if you don't have a microplane.

Lady Brandenburg said...

I can't believe we ate the WHOLE thing!!!

We are stuffed! But damn was that good. I wouldn't change a thing about the recipe. Here are some comments:

1) We used dry sherry instead of red wine vinegar. It said sherry or the vinegar, but we didn't know whether to use sweet or dry. In the end, I don't think it make a huge taste difference. I think it's just there to help the chicken soak up the sesame oil.

2) It doesn't say in the recipe when to add the jalepeno pepper - so we added it when we added the chicken. It was a good amount of spice. We like spicy, so we added quite a bit of red pepper flakes. YUM!

3) We assumed that once you add the spices and oil to the chicken you were to "shloop" it together, so that's what I did. After I put my hands in the raw chicken to coat it, I realized I could have saved the salmonella risk and used a wooden spoon or spatula. Duh. It would have accomplished the same thing.

4) We let the chicken "marinate" for a good ten minutes or so. I think I used more than an inch of ginger (we LOVE ginger) and the chicken really absorbed all the flavor.

All in all, a great recipe and a great success. With our new knives I was able to slice regular chicken breast into tenderloin-size pieces. I would not have wanted to attempt that with our old dull knives (our old knives just tore meat apart rather than chopping it). Buying the chicken already sliced up is a good suggestion.

We ate ALL of it - but we were piggys. It really does make enough for about three very large servings. We shouldn't have split the last big pile - it was just SO damn good! Definitely a recipe I would make for company.

By the way, we used jasmine rice, which is my favorite. I think the brand is Mahatma. I think the extra flavor in jasmine rice really adds to any dish, and it's nice and sticky, which I like.

Thanks Scott! It was a GREAT dinner!!!!

Lady Brandenburg said...

By the way, our sesame oil doesn't say "light" or "dark" it just says "blended." It was very good.

Lady Brandenburg said...

Sorry - one more thing! They didn't have unsalted cahews at the Safeway I went to, so I got salted ones and just sort of rinsed them in the sink and let them dry on paper towels. That worked out just fine.

Terri L. said...

YUMMMM!!! But when do I add the jalapeno? I added it with the chicken in the wok. I also LOVE chunks of onion in a spicy Chinese dish, so I added half a medium onion, right after the chicken, but before the bell pepper so that the onion wasn't too limp, but not to strong. And instead of rice, I prefer rice sticks. If you immerse the rice sticks in hot water for half the time the package directions suggest, they will absorb some of the liquid from the chix mix making everything that much more tasty. :) An excellent dinner. I think I barely have enough left overs for tomorrow's dinner! Talk about being a PIG!!
After kitchen clean up (well, not the non-dishwasher dishes), I treated myself to fortune cookies. Here's my favorite fortune (if you tell someone, does a fortune come true?? awe, who cares?! I wanna share, besides, it seems to be more of a statement than a fortune): Beauty is in your heart, let it out, let it beat, give yourself a treat. HA! I choose syrah for now, and carrot cake later, for my treat!