Monday, 6 April 2009

Wolfgang Puck's Kung Pao Chicken and a Product Review

Do you ever just catch sight of someone's dinner and keep thinking about it until you have no choice but to cook it up and eat it yourself?
Please tell me it's not just me.
Ever since seeing the Kung Pao Chicken on Cinnamon, Spice & Everything Nice, I couldn't get it out of my head.
I found a version by Wolfgang Puck on the Food Network website and printed out both his and Reeni's versions and went to work.

Kung Pao Chicken
Wolfgang Puck, Food Network

Ingredients
Marinade:
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced

Directions
In a non-reactive bowl, prepare the marinade. Combine the rice wine, peanut oil, soy sauce, salt and cornstarch. Stir in the chicken pieces and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
Sauce:
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons peanut oil
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4 dried red chiles remove stems and cut in halves
1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, smashed
1 garlic, smashed
1 green onion, cut the white part into 1/2 -inch pieces, julienne the green parts
1/4 cup deep-fried peanuts
2 tablespoons chicken stock plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed together to make slurry

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
Over high heat, in a wok, bring the peanut oil to almost smoking temperature. Stir-fry the chilies, ginger, garlic and white part of the green onions for 30 to 40 seconds, or until the chilies turn dark. Add the chicken and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden in color.
Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Add the peanuts. Thicken with the slurry and continue to cook until glossy. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with julienne green onions.

My changes:
I doubled the recipe, and increased the garlic and ginger (of course!) I added Sichuan peppercorns and just used roasted, salted peanuts in the sauce.
This was SO GOOD. With doubling the recipe, I got 4 meals out of it.. from two chicken breasts! A great value, to be sure. I just have to try to make myself wait until lunch time to finish the rest.. yeah, wish me luck.
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I served it over Chinese style rice, which I learned from Beth Hensperger. 3/4 long grain white rice, 1/4 short or medium grain white rice and a shot of sesame oil while steaming.
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Beside it I have an Asian style slaw, just some julienned Napa cabbage and carrot, tossed with sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, Tribal Pepper Salt, and toasted sesame seeds.
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Tribal Pepper Salt - adapted from Beyond the Great Wall — Recipes and Travels in the Other China.
Sichuan Peppercorns, dried chillies, coarse sea salt. Whiz up the amounts you want of each together in a mini food processor. Store in a clean, dry jar. A little goes a long way!
It is easy to make your own flavoured sea salts - and fun!
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Product Review - Cleaning Products for the Girl Who Hates to Clean
Now, it may seem counter productive to keep sending cleaning products to someone who so openly hates to clean, but there may be some method to Procter & Gamble's madness.
My dislike for cleaning does not mean that my place is a mess, I am tidy.. there just might be a layer of dust over my tidiness. I do feel like dusting is a losing battle, and I gear up for battle less and less as time goes by. Plus, I have a lot of stuff in a small space, that makes dusting a pain, to say the least.
Enter my new toy - the Swiffer 360 duster. Ok, this I did like. The little dust-catchy-things (technical term, try to keep up) are all around the arm so it is dusting top and bottom - nice! I so dislike dusting that I usually spread it over two days, upstairs on one day, downstairs the next. I got so carried away with my new duster that I cleaned both up and down in one day. That is saying a lot - for me.
I did really like the duster, it did a great job of picking up dust and trapping it within itself without loosing capacity to pick up more dust. It is gentle enough for electronics and can easily go from one surface to another.
The only drawback? The dusting strips are disposable. I would like to see a washable version of the same item.
My next new toy to play with - the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser with Febreze Fresh Scent. For some reason hubby was already really excited about this one. If I was smart I would have wrapped it up and given it to him for Easter! He is more the scrubber in the family than I - but really, shouldn't it be men's work?
I tried this out on a variety of surfaces - my stove - did a great job removing stove-like crud. My wall of shame - splatter zone around the stove - not so great, but I think I might just need to sand it all away and repaint one day! And painted surfaces in busy, high-traffic areas - did a great job! I thought some were wear marks and would need repainting, but the magic eraser cleaned them up beautifully.
Drawbacks? After a little while the sponge started to shred a little bit... and they are eventually disposable.
And last but not least today... the Swiffer Dust & Shine. I loved the scent of this product, it made my rooms smell nice for the rest of the day. That being said - you wouldn't want to do your dinner table with it too close to when you were going to eat!
This product would be used wherever you would use a Pledge type product - but it has no wax so you don't get that build-up on your furniture.. and the finger painting in it that my kids sometimes like to do in said wax build-up.. and no, they are not young. Sigh.
This is my favourite of the three, a definite permanent addition to the cleaning repertoire.