Last summer, before I went away to school for two months, I picked up a little book called QUICK & EASY CHINESE by Nancie McDermott; photography by Maren Caruso (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 182p., 2008, $19.95). I had every good intention of using the summer, where I’m cooking away from my own kitchen (and need easy recipes), to drum up some great Asian dishes. I thought I’d increase my Asian cooking skills, which are nil, and also make great use of the St. Paul, Minnesota Farmer’s Market. A little extra in the way of vegetables wouldn’t hurt us.
Well, the book came along for the ride, packed with my music books and one Ina Garten cookbook. What I didn’t know was that the courses I had chosen would take over my whole life and I would be lucky to eat at all. Ha. Of course, Dave and Emily pitched in when they saw me working night and day, but we didn’t get to the Chinese. More’s the pity. Back home came the book in August. Boohoo. Dave loves Asian food and I am so stuck in French and Italian (or other Mediterranean) meals.
Occasionally, I’d grab the book off the shelf and start to whip something up only to find I had no Black Bean Sauce or fresh ginger. You must make a commitment to Asian food in your pantry as well as in your cookware. Though, truthfully, the cookware can be fudged. Ginger can’t. A few months went by before recipes began to be chosen, the appropriate condiments purchased and stored, and we finally began to cook from the sweet little book. I should say that I shopped and Dave cooked. He is, after all, great at chopping and using a wok. Among many other things.
Meantime, this week we have taken a few days off for “spring” break. Even went out to The Summit at the Broadmoor (another blog–how wonderful). Snow just kept arriving every other day or so, despite plans for a trip to Denver, to the movies, etc. So, we just stayed home and warm…cozy up on the mesa. What a spring. Obviously time to try another great Chinese meal. All the time in the world as the snow flew and the wind and the dogs howled.
So here is the menu (this is the second or third one he’s tried) and then some pics from Dave’s Friday night foray into QUICK AND EASY CHINESE… I’ll put in one recipe at the end, with appropriate credit to Nancie McDermott. Thanks a lot…. Check out her book.
I love Chinese in the snow.
Egg Flower Soup, page 38
Green Onion Pancakes, p 39-40
Broccoli with Ginger and Garlic, p 127
Almond Chicken, p 49 (Cook’s note: We added a bunch more vegetables here because we had them.)
wine: dry riesling (German)
(Two-Dog Ktichen Above!)
Green Onion Pancakes (Taiwan street-food flatbreads)
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c water
About 1 T vegetable oil, plus 3T for frying
1/2 c thinly sliced green onion
*Med bowl: combine flour and water. stir well to mix and turn into soft dough.
*Lightly flour work area and your hands, and then scrape the dough onto the floured work surface. *Knead the dough for 5 minutes, turning and pressing to form it into a soft, smooth dough. Cover the dough with the bowl and let rest 5 min.
*Divide the dough into 3 portions, cutting it apart with a butter knife or pastry scraper. Leaving the other two portions covered while you work, place one portion on the floured work surface, and roll it out into a big, round pancake, 6-8 inches in diameter.
*Use about 1t of the oil to lightly and evely coat the surface of the pancake. Sprinkle it with 1t of the salt, and then scatter about 1/3 of the green onion over the pancake.
*Starting with the far edge and pulling it toward you, carefully roll up the pancake into a plump log. *The soft dough will need a little coaxing, and it won’t be perfectly even, but that is just fine.
*Shape the log into a fat spiral, turning the righ end toward you to make the center and curving the remaining log around it. Tuck the loose end under and gently but firmly press to flatten it into a big, thick cake. Using your rolling pin, roll it gently into a 7-in pancake. The green onion will tear the dough and poke out here and there, but that’s not a problem.
*To cook, heat a heavy, medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add about 2 t of the oil and turn to coat the bottom of the pan evenly. When a pinch of the dough and a bit of green onion sizzle at once, place the pancake in the hot pan and cook until handsomely browned and fairly evenly cooked on one side, 2-3 minutes.
*Turn and cook the other side for about 1 min., until it is nicely browned and the bread is cooked through. Use the remaining dough to roll out, season, shape, and cook two more pancakes. Use additional oil as needed. Cut into quarters, and serve hot or warm. (QUICK AND EASY CHINESE, by Nancie McDermott.)
Cook’s note: This is a bit salty in a good way…If you are watching your sodium intake, you should cut the salt accordingly. Dave cooked these 1/3-1/2″ thick and they were done and chewy like fat flatbread. If you’d like a tender, more quickly cooked pancake, roll them out thinner and cook quickly. I thought they might have been good with a soy-ginger sauce for dipping…a la Asian dumplings. These are a little time-consuming, but not much. Might be fun to take somewhere as an appetizer…They are fine at room temp and could be transported all-ready-to-go cut in a cloth-lined basket.
Also, some people call green onions “scallions,” and some call them “spring onions.”
Sing a new song; eat green onion pancakes,
Lois June Valentine
June 28, 1917-March 20, 2010
Ever ready for a new adventure, she’s now on the ultimate trip.