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Salt

Brining foods in a saltwater mixture before you cook them adds flavor, tenderness, and reduces cooking times.  It is a process that is pretty simple by itself and could be very helpful if you deal with a piece of meat that is less tender than expected, like the meat I get here all the time.

Adding water to the meats

So brining my meat here is a welcome process.  The end result is a very tender piece of meat, full of a very nice salty taste to it.  In this particular recipe, I used beef and pork.

A bit more salt is added

Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host, with Daring Kitchen.

Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!

After about 2 hours of soaking, drain the meats from the salted water

Posting Date: November 14th, 2012

Download the printable .pdf file HERE

Note: Important Information – brining must be done in the refrigerator the salt water will not stop the growth of germs and bacteria. Also brine cannot be reused always discard it after first use. Make sure that the brine goes into the cavity of large chickens and turkeys when brining.

So for my own recipe, after I had brined the meats and drained it well, I used pretty colorful vegetables and drop everything in a pot, on the top of the stove.

Add any veggies you might have on hands, I usually go for the colors

Using a pre-mix kind of Malaysian envelop, I cooked it for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes were tenders.

Meats and veggies cooking together

Here is the mix I used.  Basically, it is one cup of coconut milk, about 1/4 cup of any curry sauce you can buy in a grocery or make your own by using 3 teaspoons of curry powder or more if you like it ‘hot’, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 cup of water mixed all together. One tablespoon of  ‘fish sauce’ is added at the end, just before serving.  The fish sauce could be replaced by ‘soya sauce’.

Drop the milk in the pan, bring it to a rolling boil, add the meats and veggies, mix well.  Add the curry mix and let it cooks until all the veggies are done to your taste.

You could use any kind or make your own with what you have handy.  The process of the brining stay the same.

An ordinary Malaysian curry mix was used in my recipe

Ready to have dinner, just after about 3 hours, from start to finish

Brining is the perfect way to go when dealing with harder meats on hand.  The salty water will soften the meat and the ingredients added to the meats after, seem to taste better.  A sure way to serve meats if you are on a budget!

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Paella

Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika. Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella!

Posting Date: SEPTEMBER 14, 2012

Download the printable .pdf file HERE

Paella with chicken

Cooking the paella

The rice

The meat for the paella

Adding rice to the meat mix for the paella

Paella made with only chicken and using sweet paprika spice for the red color

 

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A sign of Springs season on the step

China is a country that not too many outsiders know well.  Everybody has something to say about China but not too many outsiders have actually been here.

Oh, there are those that just came, saw and went back with a book full of adventure and pictures and there are those that, like me, have stayed and live here.

To me, China is amazing.  A country  full of good people, great culture and traditions.

Both my parents have passed away.  They are very present as positive energy in every daily task in my life.  We have a tendency to pay attention to negativity more than happiness.  We need to smile more and those pictures below will make my parents smile:

Snow here, plums trees there

No. 1: The diversity of the season, from the north of the country to the south.  China is very big, with snow and bitter cold during the winter months from one end to plums trees, ginger trees to the other end.

Picking Peeking duck in Beijing

No. 2: The roast duck at the Dadong restaurant in Beijing… The headless ducks hang from black hooks, ready for the brick ovens. Eleven Chinese cooks in dark pinstriped pants handle them with long poles, with a grouping of little porcelain ducklings looking on. The dining room of this restaurant is rowdy, as Chinese restaurants are supposed to be, and the braised eggplant is sweet and good. The skin of the lean bird is crisp, and its meat — wrapped in a thin pancake with spring onions and a sweet dark sauce — washes down nicely with red wine or beer.

May day Family day in China

No. 3: The history, the story to tell, the tradition to pass from parents to children.

Ladies playing musical instruments in ZhongShan Park, Shenyang, China

No. 4: The diversity of food sold at every street corners.  Such abundance and availability are new here.

Strawberries picking with Easter bunny

No 5: Shopping, a never-ending story here in China.  Anything is available and I really mean Anything!

Saturday morning street market in Shenyang, China

Taylor market

No. 6: The spices here, so different in flavors and in diversity, it is an adventure to cook with these.

Spices and little IKA glass jars

No. 7 : Tai Chi reduce stress and offer other health benefits  In Shenyang, we see the locals people in the park every single day, weather permitted of course.

Tai Chi in the park this morning

No. 8 : The gathering of senior people, sharing stories, traditional games and music.

Music, story telling, games

No. 9 : The seeds, the plants, the nature, those aspects that local people are working hard to keep alive and to grow everywhere.

Seeds from trees, May 2011

No. 10: The dumplings… oh yes… the dumplings… That food is just out of this world.  I went to two culinary courses just to learn how to make those little pockets filled with meat and veggies, boiled in water and then served with a spicy soy sauce.  Just amazing.

Dumplings made at the Traders hotel

and the ever utensils to eat here…

Soup spoon and Chopsticks holder, in form of a dragon

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White pizzas

Healthy food : just go away… I do not like to have a ‘million ingredients’ to cook and to bake.  Proper food is what I need in my kitchen, come on here, just eat with passion and love this planet.

Make a pizza with your own personality, and with pleasure.

What do I like about pizza?  There is no CLASS about this food.  Oh, I can produce a very ‘flashy’ pizza for people up there and I can produce pizza for kids.  The recipe will be the same.

When you are sensitive, you cook.  Have you ever notice that?  The best recipe ever you have come up with is when you were sensitive!  Cooking is all about feeling.

So on that ‘emotion’ moment, today, yet another Friday here in Shenyang, China and I am making Pizza.  But not any kind of pizza, this one will be done entirely with ‘white’ ingredients.

I was watching Jamie Oliver the other day.  He was doing some kind of cooking using a bechamel sauce and I came up this morning with the idea of doing an entire pizza with white ingredients only.

Thin crust or thick crust is the question here.  I prefer very thick, almost like a bread, pizza and my husband prefers the thin crust.  This is what is wonderful in making homemade pizza.  It is cheap to make, you need very little ingredients,  The versatility of it is endless. Just one rule of thumb here:do not get carry away and put tons of ingredients on top (like I have a tendency to do…).

Thin or thick will result in the thickness when rolling and pulling the starting dough.  To get a thin crust, roll in very thin.  To get a thick crust, roll it very lightly or even better, do not roll it at all and use your fingers to stretch the dough.

The cheese escaping the crust

Baking: turn your oven blasting hot, to the higher degree you can obtain (no to broil here), but to the highest degree.  My oven goes up to 500F I believe or something close to that.  If you can get a pizza stone to put your pizza on to bake, your stone will get the inside of the oven temperature even hotter and the pizza will take less time to bake.

Brown crust underneath the pizza

The underneath crust will be very crusty if using a stone.  I do not have a pizza stone but what I do is I set the middle shelf of the oven, to the very bottom of the oven and bake the pizza on a piece of aluminium foil.  The aluminium will conduct the heat to a higher degree and give the underneath pizza dough a very nice crusty flavor.  The thin pizza is always bake this way here in my house.

The cut

For the thick pizza, I just bake it to the higher degree of the oven, on the middle rack  in a regular pizza pan or a cookie sheet.  Prior to putting the pizza in the baking pan, I drop some flour all over the pan and then place the pizza on top.  The flour will prevent the pizza to stick to the pan and also will give the underneath crust a nice brown color.

White pizza with cheese

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Instead of making a tons of entries with the same basic recipe, here are pictures of my salmon savory pie and my devil eggs pie, all made with the same ingredients but changing only the main ingredients : salmon.

Just by replacing salmon with another kind of meat or eggs or anything for that matter, and adjusting the herbs and spices here and there, an entire new world is opening in front, for savory pies. Let your imagination now take over and start creating a master piece of Savory pie for yourself and your loved ones.

Ingredients for Salmon pie

1 green pepper, cut up

50g of mushrooms, cut up

50g of onions, cut up

1oz of butter for frying the veggies and 1oz of butter for the sauce

14oz of salmon, cooked

Flaky pie pastry (recipe above)

1oz of flour

3 tablespoons of cream

10oz of chicken broth (one small can)

Squeeze of lemon juice

Salt and spice to taste

Preheat oven to 425F/220C, melt the butter in a frying pan, and add the pepper, mushroom and onions and fry together until onions are soft. Put aside and make the sauce. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add the flour and mix together to obtain a heavy thick sauce, add the cream, the chicken broth and let it thicken again, add the lemon juice and the salt and spice to taste. Drop the mix with the veggies, mix well together and use it for your salmon pies. Brush the top of your dough with one egg yolk, mixed with water.

Bake the pies for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden in color.

 

 

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I took a chance in making this little wonder of a pie!

Because:

  • I cannot master the dough involved. Mine gets all soft, not very golden in color and the flaky side? What is that???
  • I cannot master the thickness of the sauce involved in this pie. I mean, how do I achieve a salmon pie cutted that will stay as a whole piece in the serving plate, with a sauce that will not stay inside the pie plate? How the heck do I do that?
  • I cannot master the right amount of spice to put in a pie like that. The right spice taste has to be strong enough with the first fork full and yet not overpowering the taste of the salmon involved.
  • I cannot master the thickness of the dough once it is rolled out. It has to be rolled out thin enough to be flaky but not too thin so I can deposit the dough on top of the meat without tearing out the nice sheet of dough that I have been working on since the last 45 years (figure of speech here…)…

So that been said, I took three days searching the internet and gathering secrets from ‘Master pie making’ and here is the final result.

Now, I have to say : ‘This is a success’, and anybody on this planet, with the following tricks and recipe, can end up with a salmon pie that they will cherish and will wanted to share with anybody, with a box of Kleenex next to it, because they will have made it to the ‘mastering of a salmon pie’, finally…

Here we go :

Ingredients for the dough:

I did not re-invent anything here, this recipe is all over the internet but the difference here is the technic to make it, and my kitchen scale that I used.

Pâte brisée (flaky pie pastry)

350g flour

4g salt

14g sugar

226g butter

60-120ml cold water

Put flour, salt, sugar and cutted up butter in a bowl. Mix with your hands until you have reach a crumb mix, do not fuss too much here.

Add a bit of water and form a nice ball of dough here, in the bowl, mixing with your hands. Once the flour and all are a happy family and are all holding together, drop the dough on a clean surface. Use the heel of your palm, to smear the flour and the butter together on the clean surface, pushing the mix away from your body, like sprayding it on the surface like painting it. Push it, gather it back in a ball and start again. This method will mix the butter better and will create little of butter inside the dough, making it flaky. Do this until you do not feel the butter in the flour anymore, about 3 minutes. Try not to add much more flour to the pile of dough, work with the greasy part of the dough to prevent it from sticky to the surface. Gather the dough in a big ball, divide it into 2 parts and put it in the fridge for about 1hour, so the butter inside the dough will get colder and will hold the dough together.

After about one hour, take one ball out of the fridge. Take one piece of parchment paper or wax paper, about the size of your pie plate, but a bit bigger. Place in on the clean surface of your working area. Place the ball on top of the paper, and take another piece of paper and place it on top of the ball. Flat it up a bit with your hand, take your rolling pin and start to roll the dough, between the two piece of papers, lifting the top paper once of twice, to prevent it from sticking too much.

Now you should have a nice piece of dough all rolled out between two pieces of paper, flat out on your working surface, right? Roll it out more to obtain the desire size for covering your actual pie container.

Once you have obtained the desired size, remove the top sheet and invert the dough in your pie place, adjust the centering and carefully remove the top sheet of paper. You should have now, a very nice pastry dough, covering your pie plate. Drop down your mix of whatever you want to put as filling and cover the pie with another pie dough or just leave it like that.

Ingredients for Salmon pie

1 green pepper, cut up

50g of mushrooms, cut up

50g of onions, cut up

1oz of butter for frying the veggies and 1oz of butter for the sauce

14oz of salmon, cooked

Flaky pie pastry (recipe above)

1oz of flour

3 tablespoons of cream

10oz of chicken broth (one small can)

Squeeze of lemon juice

Salt and spice to taste

Preheat oven to 425F/220C, melt the butter in a frying pan, add the pepper, mushroom and onions and fry together until onions are soft. Put aside and make the sauce. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add the flour and mix together to obtain a heavy thick sauce, add the cream, the chicken broth and let it thicken again, add the lemon juice and the salt and spice to taste. Drop the mix with the veggies, mix well together and use it for your salmon pies. Brush the top of your dough with one egg yolk, mixed with water.

Bake the pies for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden in color.

 

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Savory pies are the culinary equivalent of a down quilt: warm, cushy,
uncomplicated…

They are homey, smell good and are very easy to put together.

We lost electricity yesterday, for about 16 hours so this morning it was ‘do something with the content of the fridge’ operation. With the use of this pastry dough and the salmon pie I made this week, I did come up with two savory pies, made basically with bacon as the main ingredient instead of the salmon. The others ingredients did not change from the ‘salmon pie’ recipe.

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