Palace Dumpling Spicy Noodles

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I’m sure many prospective students zip in and out of Poughkeepsie, leaving, thinking that the city doesn’t have much to offer. I also know students here that don’t get off campus nearly enough, or ever.

Both situations are a shame.

Poughkeepsie, and the surrounding towns, has a surprising food scene. Well, not too surprising, since the Culinary Institute is close by. CIA grads have open restaurants ranging from casual to upscale, but they are not the only ones we depend upon for good grub.

The best hole in the wall I have gone to so far nearby is most definitely Palace Dumpling in Wappingers Falls. You don’t go here for your typical chinese take out. There is no beef and broccoli on the menu. The place is so unassuming, it’s in a shopping mall after all, but they serve the best dumplings, noodles, and simple salads. Choose from pork, beef, vegetable, seafood, even lamb and egg dumplings–and then concoct your own dipping sauce from a mixture of soy, sweet and chili sauces. For a side stick to cucumbers dressed with a horseradish vinaigrette, or go with the more adventurous agadir vegetables, a type of mushroom, that my friend affectionately calls condom mushrooms. Call it how it is.

I write this mid-slurp of another hidden gem on the menu. The spicy noodles, a thick soup of noodles served with bok choy and bits of spicy pork. It contains tons of Sichuan peppercorns so it is spicy, but it’s really best the next day when the noodles have the chance to absorb all of the sauce.

I wouldn’t be compelled to write this right now if it wasn’t worth the hype.

Grilled Cravings: Spinach and Artichoke topped Steak

Who knew that dentist chat could be the opposite of awkward with a mouth full of metallic dental supplies?

I have been going to the same dentist my entire life, but we have never really talked about anything beyond school or holidays. We were talking about my summer and traveling and he said that so many of his patients went to Maine this summer, so much so that he booked a trip for the weekend because he was craving lobster rolls. Then he went on to talk about his cravings for chocolate chip cookies. If anyone knows me they know I have major food cravings, so bad that I always need to figure them out ASAP, so when my dentist was talking about his food cravings all I could do was smile and be like, “You have no clue how much I understand you right now.”

Why do I bring this silly story up? Well, this recipe is one of those craving meals. I mean, it has cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in it–and what could be more comforting than a spinach and artichoke dip? When it came down to serving the dip, I was not feeling the normal tortilla chip or carrot stick options. I was craving something else, and that was steak.

This dish is not an everyday sort of thing, it is incredibly rich, but you will love it. Eat up, and brush your teeth afterwards!

Spinach and Artichoke topped Steak 

[dip recipe only slightly modified from Closet Cooking]

  • 4 medium sized steaks, strip or even filet mignon works really well here
  • 1/2 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 close garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Sprinkle of paprika
  1. In a medium sized baking dish, combine all of the ingredients except for the steaks (duh!) and paprika.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Top the dip with a sprinkle of paprika and pop in the oven for twenty to thirty minutes until the cheese is melty.
  3. Preheat the grill or a grill pan until searing hot. Grill the steaks until they are cooked to your liking, for my taste, medium is perfect.
  4. When ready to serve scoop a heaping portion of the dip onto the steaks and eat up.

Try Something New: Spicy Carnitas with Corn Masa Cakes

I might not be back to school quite yet, but I am definitely getting into the fall mood. There is nothing more comforting than roasted meat once the weather starts to chill off a bit.

You heard me, M-E-A-T.

So naturally I wanted to try something different, something I have never attempted before. Carnitas it was.

You start with a huge hunk of boneless pork shoulder or pork butt. Seems intimidating at first, seems like too much, but it cooks down and is easy to cut into chunks yourself. This is something you will have to ask the butcher for, but they know what they are doing and can even cut down the meat for you if it seems like too much work.

The meat sizzles on its own, so there is no need to stir at all until all of the liquid completely evaporates. It’s that easy. And you should end up with meat that is crispy, but tender. This would be great on it’s own, but I just could not help myself and added some spicy BBQ sauce. Either way–this is good stuff.

I would have no problem if you stopped here and just ate this straight out of the pot in your pajamas.

But I wanted to take this a step further. All of this meat was begging to be put into a corn cake. So corn cakes it was. While I’m at school I flip over the pulled pork arepas made at a local restaurant, but I’m going to be away this semester, so improvise I must. Instead of arepas made from cornmeal, I tried my hand at corn cakes made with Masa flour, a corn flour. These went well with the pork, and are so simple to mix up. You have to fry them like a pancake, but be careful of the heat. You want corn cakes, not popcorn cakes.

The dough comes together quite easily, I was surprised how smooth the masa harina is. For this batch I used some scallion and corn, but feel free to add jalapenos or even beans to the mixture. The more flavors and textures, the better.

My computer is being quite silly, and won’t let me upload more pictures. But I think you get the idea. Using an ice cream scoop, portion the dough into golfball shapes, and squish into a disk with the palm of your (clean!) hand. Fry and enjoy.

My only mistake? Not making some virgin margaritas to wash it all down. But I bet you can make it happen.

Spicy Carnitas with Corn Masa Cakes

BBQ Carnitas [Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, cooking times adjusted]

  • 3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 a jar of your favorite spicy BBQ sauce, my choice was Stubb’s!

Corn Masa Cakes [Adapted from Mark Bittman]

  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 corn cob worth of kernels, cut from the cob
  • 1/4 cup scallion, chopped
  • Oil for frying

Extras

  • 1/4 cup crumbled Queso Fresco
  • Quick Apple Slaw (2 apples cut into strips, 1/2 of a shredded carrot, 1/2 of a lemon worth of juice, and 1 tablespoon olive oil–toss together to combine, easy!)
  1. Place the pork in a large heavy pot. Add the orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, and salt. Add enough water to the pot to just cover the meat. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until you hear the meat start to sizzle, and the liquid is cooked off. Do not touch the meat until all of the liquid is cooked off.
  2. Meanwhile work on the corn masa cake dough. Combine the masa harina and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a small saucepan heat the milk until steam rises on medium-low, add the butter and stir until it is melted.
  4. Remove from heat and stir the milk and butter mixture into the masa harina and salt until a thick batter is formed. Fold in the corn kernels, scallion, and anything else you are using for flavor and texture. Let this batter sit for at least fifteen minutes.
  5. To form the cakes, scoop golfball sized portions onto a baking tray. With the palm of your hand, squish the balls into 1/2-inch-thick disks.
  6. Heat oil in a large skillet, making sure that the pan is not screaming hot. Work in batches frying the cakes so they are a golden brown on either side, around five minutes on one side and another three on the other. Keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.
  7. Check your meat, once all of the liquid has cooked off, keep a close eye on it, stirring to prevent burning. At this point keep turning the meat until each piece is golden brown on all sides. At this point use a fork or the back of a spoon to break the meat into smaller pieces, resembling pulled pork. You can eat it as is, or add your BBQ to warm it up and stir to combine.
  8. Prepare any extras for assembly, I used queso fresco and made a quick apple slaw, but any kind of slaw would be great, or avocado slices, salsa, and different kinds of cheese.
  9. To assemble, cut on corn cake in half. Place some meat on the bottom half, top with any extras you have on hand, and finish it off by placing the second half on top of everything. Repeat with all of the corn cakes, and enjoy!

Summer Fare: The Best Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich

It’s a three day weekend for most of you, so that means no workplace lunch, bodegas, cafeterias, or chipotle (if that’s your scene) for a day. Instead of sacrificing what you really want for lunch because of long lines or the price tag, treat yourself to a sandwich with all the fixings in your own home.

With a layer of fresh mozzarella and tomato, a swipe of basil pesto and a sprinkling of caramelized onions–this is a simple, but winning combination. All of the ingredients I used came from either the farmers market or our farm share, so when we purchased turnips for dinner I used the greens instead of lettuce to finish off the sandwich. Served on a hearty grain bread, this sandwich will quickly become  your at home, go-to sandwich. Ditch the peanut butter and jelly and ham and cheese. Time for something oh so familiar, but made with undeniably fresh ingredients.

The Best Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich

(Makes 3 sandwiches!)

  • 6 pieces of multi-grain bread
  • 1/4 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 a large white onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Greens, anything will do here like mixed greens, iceberg, beet, or turnip greens
  • Pesto, use this recipe for classic pesto
  • olive oil, salt, and pepper
  1. In  a small saucepan on low heat, sauté the onions with olive oil, salt, pepper and brown sugar until soft and darkened in color.
  2. Prepare the pesto and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Brush olive oil on either side of each piece of bread. Place each piece on a baking sheet to toast the bread. Keep your eye on the bread, making sure to flip and not burn it.
  4. To assemble, spread some pesto onto the bottom of a piece of bread. Add a portion of tomato, mozzarella, greens, and then onion. Top with another piece of bread. Repeat two more times for three awesome sammies.

Savoring Summer Eats: Herbed Lemon Shrimp with Cucumber Stone Fruit Salsa

If you’ve been following along with my blog, it is no surprise that I am obsessed with shrimp and homemade salsa. I am a sucker for the savory and fruit combination, and with weekly deliveries of all sorts of fruit and vegetables, I certainly have enough produce to chop and put to work. Here is yet another example of fresh shrimp, but with a salsa of cucumbers, plums, and nectarines. Who knew they went so well together!

It’s about time I write a salsa how to post, huh? It’s not rocket science, but with a little encouragement, I could make it happen.

Happy Monday!

 

 

 

Herbed Lemon Shrimp with Cucumber Stone Fruit Salsa

For the Cucumber Stone Fruit Salsa:

  • 3 small yellow plums, diced
  • 1 white nectarine, diced
  • 2 small cucumbers, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped red onion with greens (I had a small red onion with the greens attached on hand, if you do not have this use 1/4 of a red onion, diced with a chopped green onion)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white balsamic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper

For the Herbed Lemon Shrimp:

  • 1.5 lbs uncooked shrimp, peeled, devained and cleaned
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon packed basil leaves
  • sprinkle of white pepper
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juice
  1. Combine plum, nectarine, cucumber, and red and green onions in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Combine rice vinegar, olive oil, white balsamic, dried basil, dried oregano, sugar, and salt and pepper. Toss in with the fruits and vegetables, and let sit.
  3. In another bowl combine the shrimp with dill weed, dried thyme, basil leaves, white pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice.
  4. Heat a pan with some olive oil on medium-high. Add the shrimp to the pan, cooking until the shrimp are pink in color throughout. You can also grill the shrimp if that floats your boat.
  5. Serve the shrimp with the salsa on top or on the side, and enjoy my favorite dish of the summer.

A Different Kind of Summer Scoop: Tomatillo Salsa Two Ways

For as much as I like salsa it is surprising I don’t even kind of like the jarred stuff. Not even in that, it’s alright once in awhile sort of way. It kind of tastes like ketchup to me, but even worse.

Whenever salsa is in question the best is homemade. Chunky and smooth, either works. Last week we received a couple handfuls of tomatillos and knew salsa was in order. Rather than one, I made two for the same meal. Both of these recipes use very similar ingredients, so you can make both of them or leave the tough decision of choosing which one to go with for the last second. We ate these two salsas together in taco form with chicken, guac, and cheese on top, but there is no reason not to go with seafood or  vegetarian options. Grilled portobello and leeks anyone?

 

 

Roasted Tomatillo and Peach Salsa

[Adapted from http://www.toigoorchards.com/40.html]

  • 1 jalapeño, chopped in half, seeds removed
  • 1/3 small red onion, diced
  • 1 peach, pit removed
  • 10 small tomatillos, remove outer skin, chop in half if too large, and wash
  • 1/2 lime, juice
  • salt
  • olive oil
  1. Toss the jalapeño, red onion, peach and tomatillos with salt and olive oil in a foil lined baking dish.
  2. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
  3. Remove from the oven, let cool for five minutes.
  4. Pour the roasted fruit and vegetables into a food processor, and blend until smooth.
  5. Add the lime juice, and serve.

Summer Tomatillo and Peach Salsa

[Adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chunky-Tomatillo-Salsa-105317#ixzz23kAXlhC3]

  • 3 tablespoon pepper, diced (I used a small pepper from the Farmers market, go with what you have and like)
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 3 small/medium tomatillos, remove outer skin, wash, and dice
  • 3 tablespoon red onion, diced
  • 1/2 large red tomato, diced
  • 1 peach, diced
  • 1 tablesppon basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  1. Combine pepper, jalapeño, tomatillos, red onion, tomato, and peach.
  2. Toss in basil, lime juice, sugar, and olive oil.
  3. Stir up to combine, and enjoy.

Just Peachy: Betty’s Fresh Peach Cobbler

Oh, the peach. As you can see I have been a fan for quite a while.

Some things never change. My favorite fruit is the peach, and always has been. While I settle for its juice in the winter, there is nothing like a perfectly ripe peach with its sweetness rolling down my arms in the summer. Yellow, white, or doughnut, doesn’t matter.

But when life gives you almost too ripe, and too many peaches you make peach cobbler. This recipe is my one and only, and will never be replaced. It is from my grandmother’s friend Betty, an avid baker, whose recipe lives in my mom’s giant binder of recipes. Most of the recipes in there are not handwritten like this one is, so this recipe, splattered with peach juices, is kept snug in plastic.

This recipe is delicious, but its incredibly resourceful as well. You can make the cobbler out of any fruit: Apples, pears, stone fruits, berries, whatever. You can use what you have on hand and you can even use fruit that is slightly overripe. The recipe proportions are perfect as well, like using one egg and just a half of a stick of butter, you most likely will have everything already on hand to get started. Below is the original recipe (now in electronic form, yikes!), but with pictures from my most recent version of the cobbler. This time I used four small yellow peaches, 2 larger white peaches, and a handful of blueberries. Feel free to make up your own combinations, and make new family favorites to be shared for years to come.

Betty’s Fresh Peach Cobbler

  • 1 cup flour, stir to aerate before measuring
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar (scant cup)
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Approx. 3 cups sliced fresh peaches–you can add blueberries and replace peaches a little.
  1. Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  2. Cut in the butter until combined.
  3. Beat egg till thick, then beat in milk and vanilla.
  4. Add to flour mixture and stir until smooth.
  5. Arrange peaches in buttered 1 1/2 quart glass cake dish (I use a 8×8 or 9×9 dish)
  6. Spread batter evenly over peaches, and bake in a 375 degree oven 35-40 minutes.

Summer Harvest: Roasted Fennel, Carrot, and Radish Salad

I’m sitting here watching Paula’s Home Cooking, and I am craving salad. She just made a batch of orange brownies, and jokingly referred to the mint on top as her “vegetables”. It is kind of funny, but it made me realize that just like how Paula inspires people to cook comfort food, she can as easily inspire people in the opposite direction.

So today I am sharing a recipe for a summer harvest salad, one that bridges tastes of both the spring and the fall. We received fennel, carrot, and radishes in our CSA shipment a couple weeks back and I needed a creative idea to put them all to use. Here is the result. I think it works the best as a side dish, but with some simple roasted fish or grilled shrimp it can be a simple lunch made.

Roasted Fennel, Carrot, and Radish Salad

[Inspiration from http://blog.freepeople.com/2012/02/kitchen-confidential-charred-fennel-and-carrot-salad/ as well]

  • 4 radishes, diced
  • 4 carrots, chopped on an angle
  • 1/2 lemon, juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried fennel seed
  • splash rice vinegar
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 cups arugula, washed and dried
  • Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the diced radishes and carrots with lemon juice, garlic, dried basil, olive oil, dried fennel seed, and splash of rice vinegar. Place in an ovenproof dish and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until tender when poked with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile heat a sauté pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the fennel until it softens and darkens in color.
  4. To assemble salad, combine the roasted vegetables with the fennel and arugula. Dress the salad to your taste with a combination of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and pepper. Serve, and nom.

It’s That Time of Year: Cherry Clafoutis

Nothing is more summer than cherries. If you’re eating them any other time of the year (and not in either dried or chocolate form) you’re doing something wrong. Summer is when cherries are plentiful, and their best. It was about time to make a dessert with cherries.

Here we have a cherry clafoutis, a custard of sorts with tons of pitted cherries. You can make this with any fruit really, I love cherries, but change it up for the seasons. Pear for the winter? Apples for the fall? Blueberries in spring? Go for it.

Cherry Clafoutis

[only slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen]

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon rum
  • 2 cup cherries, pited
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar with a whisk. Add the butter slowly to incorporate. Add the flour whisking quickly to mix. While mixing, pour the milk in a little bit at a time. Finish by incorporating the vanilla and rum into the mixture. Keep whisking to prevent lumps.
  3. In a buttered glass pie dish, place the pitted fruit. Pour the batter over the fruit and bake in a pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes. Bake until slightly browned and completely set in the center.
  4. Let sit for fifteen minutes before serving, eat warm to room temperature.

Happy 1st Birthday: Chocolate Birthday Whoopie Pies

If you told me a year ago that I would still be posting, fairly regularly for a college student on my blog, I would not believe you.

About a year ago I went out on a limb and started the first version of this website. Bored with the summer, the only logical step was to immerse myself in something. Anything, actually. But it’s a good thing that I chose to blog. I’m now happy to say that this weekend marks the first birthday of the website.

See the thing is, the only way I know how to celebrate birthdays is to eat cake. But then again, I don’t like to follow recipes necessarily. Something needs to be different, even if it is the simplest or tiniest bit of a recipe. So naturally I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I wanted something that resembled cake and I have been meaning to make my own whoopie pies. Chocolate birthday whoopie pies. Simple, but exactly just what I wanted to make “whoopie” of the big day. Enjoy these to celebrate anything: a birthday, a holiday, even a Tuesday. Does not matter, just don’t keep them around longer than a day or two. But I doubt I needed to ask you to do that…

Chocolate Birthday Whoopie Pies

[via dulcedough.com with a Birthday touch]

For the Cakes:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For the Filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

To make it special:

  • multi-colored nonpareils
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cover a sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy with electric beaters. Add egg and vanilla, beat until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. (this step will make all the difference, trust me!)
  4. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Using a small ice cream scoop, place the batter onto the sheet pan with space between each whoopie pie half.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the top of the cakes spring back when touched.
  7. Allow cakes to cool for five minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely before filling.
  8. To make filling, cream together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla; sift in the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
  9. To assemble whoopie pies, use a spoon to scoop the filling on one cake and then top with another cake. Repeat with all of the cakes.
  10. To make the whoopie pies even more special, gently pick up the pie, turn to the side, and while turning the pie coat with the nonpareils.