Scottish Meat Pie

This recipe has been a McCoy family tradition for a couple of generations now. I’m not sure whether these are really eaten in Scotland, but they used to sell them from a roadside stand back in the 1940s, in the part of Harmarville, PA which now hosts a fast-food strip. This is infinitely better and more comforting than fast food, and if you use store-bought pie crusts (because, let’s face it, it’s December and you are busy) it’s really easy, too. This is good hot, but it’s far better if you eat it cold after letting it sit for a day. It also works beautifully with gluten-free pie crusts. And kids love it– or at least I did when I was a kid, and I was really picky. Click below for the recipe according to my mom. Read the rest of this entry »

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Giwa: Satisfying Korean Food for Winter Days

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When we lived in New York City, I went to school and worked at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School and University Center, more commonly known as CUNY Grad. One of the nice things about working there, which offset the constant annoyance of tourists (the Grad Center is on the opposite corner of The Empire State Building), was that the area is filled with really good Korean restaurants. They vary in price from cheap to very expensive. Our favorite was Mandoo Bar, which served up wonderful dumplings and noodles. I hadn’t really had great Korean since we moved to Philly– until Giwa opened up down the street from where I work.

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Poached Chilean Sea Bass Over Couscous with Mango Avocado Salsa; Steamed French Beans with Parmesan and Prosciutto; Chocolate Souffles

Sarah and I had guests Friday night, so I picked up some really beautiful Chilean sea bass steaks. First, I seared the bass in some olive oil for about a minute and a half on each side and removed it to a plate. I poured out the oil and put the pan back on the heat. I deglazed the pan with some chicken stock and stirred in a teaspoon of saffron. I added some sliced onion, rosemary and sage stalks and salt and pepper. I put the bass back in the pan, covered it and put it into a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes.

I made some couscous with almonds and piled it in the center of the plate. I put a piece of bass on top of the couscous and topped it with the following salsa:

Two mangoes, chopped

Two shallots, sliced

One avocado, chopped

Fifteen red and yellow grape tomatoes, quartered

Juice of one lemon

Olive oil

Walnut oil

Balsamic vinegar

Handful of baby spinach in a chiffonade

Handful of cilantro, chopped finely

Four stalks of tarragon, coarsely chopped

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate an hour or so.

For presentation, I made some roasted cornmeal corn cakes, broke them in half and propped them into the salsa to give the dish height. I served a few corn cakes on the side as well.

I also steamed some French beans for ten minutes or so. I still wanted them crispy. I tossed them with salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, pieces of parmegiano-reggiano and prosciutto. These were served on the side as well.

This recipe serves four, by the way.

For dessert, I made some Grand Marnier Chocolate Souffles. I can’t take credit for this recipe. This is from Emeril Lagasse of Food Network fame. The only variation that I made was that I topped it with some fresh whipped cream with Grand Marnier mixed in. A lot of people find Emeril to be a bit cheesy. I do as well, but when you cut through all of the fluff, he is a really great chef. I use his recipes a lot and and I am always very satisfied.

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Siu Mai (Steamed Shrimp and Pork Dumplings)

OK, I’ve done a second Chinese recipe, and I have to tell you, this is fun.  Maybe it’s just because it’s a novelty for me, but I’m really enjoying using techniques like stir-frying and shaping dumplings.  It’s just a good time in the kitchen for me. 

Last night we made siu mai (or shu mai), a steamed dumpling that’s become quite popular in the US.  You can get it at most Japanese restaurants (it’s not as common in American Chinese restaurants, though its origins are Chinese) or frozen at Trader Joe’s.  This is another recipe from the Eileen Yin-Fei Lo book.

Well, I say last night, but it was a two-day process.  It’s not difficult, but the meat needs to marinate overnight.  For the meat mixture, you are mixing diced shrimp (peeled and deveined, please!), ground pork and diced shiitake mushroom caps.  The marinade is a mixture of peanut butter, dark mushroom soy sauce (Best! Condiment! Ever!), sesame oil, Chinese cooking wine, rice wine vinegar, sugar, pepper, salt, and cornstarch.  It’s supposed to have an even consistency, but mine was pretty lumpy so I took it for a quick spin in the Cuisinart.  I put it in a covered bowl and let it sit overnight in the fridge.

The next day is the fun part: shaping the dumplings.  Lo gives instructions for the dough, but she also advocates buying fresh dumpling wrappers if available, so I picked some up at the Chinese supermarket.  I suspect that the wrappers I bought may be a bit bigger than what she was going for, though, since the recipe says it makes 36 dumplings and I got 16.  My siu mai looked exactly like the pictures in the book, only bigger.  Eh, what are you gonna do? 

So, shaping the dumplings.  The dumpling wrapper is a thin, circular piece of dough.  Take that into your left hand, and with the right scoop out a good bit of meat filling– three or four tablespoons, I’d say.  Smooth it onto the wrapper, and then use your fingers to fold and shape it.  You’re creating a little basket shape that’s open on top, and you want to flatten the filling on top so it all cooks evenly.  I used a cookie sheet to hold them while I was making them, and tapped the bottom on the cookie sheet so it was flat and stood up on its own.

Next, steaming time!  The recipe calls for 7 minutes in the steamer, but since they were big we did 10 minutes.  We steamed four at a time and they came out perfectly done and fragrant.  We put some dark mushroom soy sauce on them and oh my god, were they delicious.  The mushroom flavor was dominant, but shrimp and sesame were prominent too.   When they start to cool down, the dough starts to toughen a bit, so these are best eaten piping hot.

The great thing about these is that they freeze really well.  Once we’d eaten our fill, we let them cool and then froze them for about two hours on a cookie sheet, just enough to let them solidify.  Then we wrapped them up, put them in a ziploc bag and put them in the freezer for a rainy day!  Lo says they’ll last for about two months, and to heat them up you just need to steam them for 3-5 minutes. 

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