Sausage Paella

Get ready:

  • 1lb sweet Italian sausage, sliced into chunks
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tsp dried Oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 cup medium grain rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper

Now Let’s Play:

Heat up 2 Tbsp olive oil in a 12 inch cast iron skillet. Brown sausage chunks on all sides in batches. Set aside. Add onion slices. minced garlic, and pepper slices into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes over medium high heat. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil, the rest of the seasoning and rice (plus 1 tsp of salt). Saute for a minute or two while stirring continuously. Add chicken stock and bring to broil. Tuck sausage chunks back into the mixture evenly throughout the pan.  Turn down the heat and simmer till all the liquid has been absorbed. Serve immediately (about 4-6 people).

After-play thoughts:

I like to think this is a adopted American version of the classic Spanish dish. It uses ingredients that are very easy to find, even though couple of challenges still exist. First, the dishes has to be seasoned before it’s done cooking. Seasoning after cooking is completed will destroy the presentation and also the ingredients would not absorb the flavor intended. I always season when ingredients are in raw stage due to the latter reason, but if you are the opposite of me, practice is the only solution. Second,  the amount of liquid used is not always the same. Depending on where you live, what’s the whether like, how much heat is retained in the skillet, and etc., liquid amount needed varies. Solution? Have 1 more cup chicken stock standing by. Two most common situations where require extra liquid are if there is too much of crust forming at bottom or if rice is not quite cooked through yet. However, in the case of the first situation , in addition to adding a bit more liquid in that area, you may want to consider turning down the heat, or even removing the pan from the heat.

Sichuan-style Hot n’ Spicy Tofu

Get ready:

  • 12oz ground beef
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Korean red pepper paste
  • 1 tsp whole pink peppercorn
  • 1/2 tsp ground black peppercorn
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese hot board bean sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese light soy sauce
  • 1 19oz container of tofu, drained and cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Now let’s play:

Heat up a 12 inch nonstick skillet.  Season ground beef with salt and pepper. Add beef into the pan and use a spoon to break up the beef. Cook through, and then set aside. Infuse the fat left in the pan with minced garlic, Korean red pepper paste, pink peppercorn, and black peppercorn for two minutes at medium heat. Add Chinese hot board bean sauce, cooking wine, light soy sauce, and tofu. Cook for another two minutes. Add cooked ground beef back to the pan, and cook till everything looks coming together. Serve immediately with white rice (about 4 servings).

After-play thoughts:

The easiest way of cubing tofu is first, poke a hole at a corner of the container top; second, pour the water out through the hole; third, remove the container top entirely; finally, insert a small paring knife and slice/cube tofu when the tofu block resting in the container.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

Get ready:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup raisins soaked in hot water

Now let’s play:

Preheat oven at 375F. Cream butter and sugar by using a stand mixer at medium speed. Add milk and eggs. Mix till smooth. Mix together flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add 1/3 of the dry mix into wet mix,  and mix at low speed till smooth. Repeat twice. Drain the raisins. Add to the batter with oatmeal. Mix to combine. Use a small cookie scoop dropping cookie dough onto cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes (about 5 dozens).

After-play thoughts:

If using medium cookie scoop, add 2 minutes to the total baking time.

Pot Roast with Gravy

Get ready:

  • 1 4-5lb boneless beef chuck roast
  • 4 Tsp olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 yellow onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 2 cups Burgundy
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 6 cup beef stock (more if needed)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt and black pepper

Now let’s play:

Heat up oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat while season the roast with salt and pepper. Sear all sides of the roast till golden brown. Set aside. Saute chopped onion with a pinch of salt for 2 minutes. Add minced garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaves, dried oregano, and dried rosemary; saute for two minutes. Add tomato paste, and pour in Burgundy to deglaze the pot. Add the roast back into the pot, and pour in beef stock to cover the roast by one inch. Bring to boil. Then cover, turn town the heat to low, and let it simmer till the roast is tender but not falling apart. When it’s done, take the roast out of the pot. Let it rest on a carving board for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add heavy cream to the braising liquid. Bland the liquid into gravy with a immerse blander. Then cook the gravy to the right consistency and adjust the seasoning if necessary. When ready to serve, slice the roast horizontally against the grain at 1/2 inch thickness, and serve with gravy along the side.

After-play thoughts:

When there’s leftovers needed to be reheated, I find it better reheating the meat in the oven, with adequate amount of gravy spread on top and covered with foil.

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Rice Casserole

Get ready:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2lb broccoli florets, blanched
  • 2 Tsp butter
  • 2 Tsp flour
  • 3 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tsp butter, cubed
  • salt and black pepper

Now let’s play:

Bring 4 cups of chicken stock to broil. Pour in the rice, stir, and simmer for 20 minutes. Then use a fork to fluff the rice up. Set aside. Heat up olive oil in a saute pan. Add cubed chicken breasts with garlic. Season with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Cook through, and then set aside. In a sauce pan, melt 2 Tsp of butter, and then whisk in flour till there is no lump. Pour in milk. Add Cheddar and Parmesan when milk is warm (should never not be broiled).  Whisk till the sauce runs smooth. Season up with salt and pepper to taste. Combine cooked rice, chicken, broccoli, and sauce in a large bowl. Pour into a 9*13 baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs and cubed butter on the top. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes or till the top is golden brown. Let the casserole for 15 minutes on the countertop before serving (about 8 servings).

After-play thoughts:

I prefer using white pepper here, as it’s more aesthetically appealing and has a more blend-in peppery flavor.

Potato Salad

Get ready:

  • 4 lb red potatoes, quartered
  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 Tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 Tsp dried dill
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Now let’s play:

Put quartered potatoes and eggs in a large sauce pan. Cover with salted water by one inch. Bring to broil and then let simmer for 5 minutes or till potatoes and eggs are cooked through. Drain the water, take out the eggs, transfer potatoes to a large vessel, and stir in minced onion immediately. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Shell, chop, and stir in the eggs when cooled. Serve room temperature or chilled (about 8 servings).

After-play thoughts:

Stirring in the onion immediately into hot potatoes is to cook onion a little, so the taste of onion is more well-blended into the salad.

Grown-up Chicken Pot Pie

Get ready:

  • 1 Tsp olive oil
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 4 Tsp butter
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 Tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed

Now let’s play:

Cut the sheet of puff pastry into quarters, and bake in a 400F oven for 15-20 minutes or till it’s all puffed up. Meanwhile, heat up olive oil in a saute pan while seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper. Saute chicken till juice runs clear. Take out chicken and set aside. Melt butter in the same pan. Saute diced carrots with parsley, oregano, and a pinch of salt for 5 minutes. Dust in flour and whisk till it’s fully combined with the carrots. Pour in chicken stock and whisk vigorously till there is no lump. Stir in the peas and milk. Bring it to boil. Then turn off the heat. Stir in chopped onion.  Wait for 5 minutes. Season to taste. Place one square of puffed pastry on a plate, slit the top open, serve the chicken mix in and out the pastry as the pastry is a serving device (about 4 servings).

After-play thoughts:

Chicken pot pie always brings the cozy feeling as it’s one of the home-cooking classics. This recipe puts an elegant twist on the classic dish, and fool-prove.

Pepperoni Fried Rice

Get ready:

  • 5 Tsp canola oil
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb bok choy, sliced 1/4 inch thin
  • 1 pepperoni link, 8oz, quartered and and sliced 1/4 inch thin
  • salt and pepper

Now let’s play:

Heat up 2 Tsp canola oil in a 3qt or bigger sauce pan. Saute diced onion with a pinch of salt until it’s translucent. Add garlic, dried oregano, and two types of rice. Stir for one minute. Add Chicken stock, bring to broil, and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Heat up 2 Tsp oil in a large heated wok. Add thinly sliced bok choy and a pinch of salt. Stir till all the leaves are slightly welted.  Add pepperoni and stir for one minute. Add cooked rice and sprinkle the last 1 Tsp oil over the rice mix. Stir fry till it all come together. Turn off heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

After-play thoughts:

This is a fusion version of a traditional Shanghaiese smoked sweet sausage fried rice. However, it tastes distinguishingly different as pepperoni has, rather a sweet taste, a strong salty flavor.

Almond and Cranberry Biscotti

Get ready:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries

Now let’s play:

Cream butter in a stand mixer at medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Add sugar, and mix till sugar is well cut into butter. Add eggs, and mix till well incorporated. Shift together flour, baking powder and salt. Pour 1/3 of the mix into the mixer bowl. Mix at low speed till there is no flour lump visible. Repeat with the rest. Stir in the almonds and dried cranberries. Divide the dough onto two half sheet pans, and shape them into logs. Bake at 350F for 40 min. Then take pans out of the oven and let them cool slightly. Cut the logs into 1-inch wide wedges. Place the the wedges on the pans with cut side facing down. Bake for another 15 min.

After-play thoughts: