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Cranberry Crab Rangoon

INGREDIENTS

Grapeseed or canola oil for cooking
2 red onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons minced lemongrass, white part only
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups dried cranberries
½ cup sugar
2 cups rice vinegar
3 pounds picked, fresh crab meat
3/4 pound cream cheese, softened
½ cup chopped chives, 2 tablespoons reserved for garnish
1 package thin square wonton skins, defrosted (at least 60-count)
2 eggs mixed with 1/4 cup water

PROCEDURE

In a sauté pan coated lightly with oil over high heat, sauté onions and lemongrass until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and check for flavor. Add cranberries and sugar and deglaze with rice vinegar. Reduce by 75 percent or until liquid is absorbed. Check again for seasoning. (When cool, you can transfer to a container and store in fridge for up to two weeks.) In a large bowl, mix crab, cream cheese, cooled cranberry mixture and chives. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and check for flavor. Lay out 4 to 6 skins, lightly brush the edges with egg wash and place a small mound of the mix in the middle. Top with second skin and press firmly to seal. This is very important so the rangoons do not burst and leak. Repeat until filling is gone. Preheat a large sauté pan coated with 1/4-inch of oil over medium-high heat. Add as many rangoons as pan can hold in one layer. Shallow fry until golden brown, flip and fry other side until golden brown. Transfer rangoons to plate lined with paper towels. Arrange on platter and garnish with dollops of cranberry-mixture and reserved chives.

Ginger Shrimp, Sugar Snap Peas and Corn Stir-Fry

Makes: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

1 pound shrimp, raw, peeled, deveined
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed
1 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from about 2 ears)
½ cup red pepper, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 teaspoons black or tan sesame seeds (optional)

PROCEDURE

Mix shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 ½ teaspoons ginger, half of garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and crushed red pepper in medium bowl. Let stand 30 minutes. Heat wok or large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add shrimp mixture; sauté until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil to wok, and then add snap peas, corn, red bell pepper, green onions, 1 ½ teaspoon ginger and remaining garlic. Stir-fry until vegetables are crisp, yet tender, about 3 minutes. Return shrimp and any accumulated juices from bowl to wok; stir-fry 1 minute longer. Season with sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with jasmine rice.

Beef with Spinach, Black Pepper and Garlic

Makes: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

10 medium garlic cloves
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 pound beef tenderloin (or chicken or pork), sliced
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
10 oz. fresh spinach, cleaned

Accompaniment Ideas…
Steamed jasmine rice
Stir-fried noodles

PROCEDURE

Grind the garlic and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle until mixture forms a rough paste. Over medium-high heat, heat the oil in a wok or sauté pan and add the garlic mixture. Sauté 30 seconds. Add the meat and toss until browned. Add the soy, sugar and fish sauce and toss 30 seconds. Add the spinach and toss until wilted. Serve at once with rice or noodles.

Coconut Custard

Makes: 6 Servings

INGREDIENTS

Caramel:
¼ cup water
1 cup sugar

Custard:
2 cups half and half
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
2-inch piece of vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
Pinch of finely ground sea salt

PROCEDURE

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Caramel: Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to cook until the syrup caramelizes to a deep amber color. Carefully pour into individual ramekins or a 1 ½-2 quart baking dish. Allow to cool while you prepare the custard. Place the half and half, coconut and vanilla bean scrapings into a saucepan and heat gently until steaming slightly. Set aside to steep for 10-15 minutes. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar and salt. Gradually add the cream, whisking constantly. Pour the custard into the caramel prepared dishes which have been set in a deep baking pan. Add hot water to the baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake, in 350 degree oven, until just set, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and chill (2 hours). Unmold by running a table knife around the edges of the custard and inverting onto a plate.

Thai Salad Rolls

Makes: 12 rolls
 
INGREDIENTS

4 oz. rice stick noodles
12 rice paper wrappers
½ cup julienne cucumber (skin on)
½ cup peeled, shredded carrots
½ cup julienne (cut on the bias) scallions
1 cup fresh herbs … cilantro, mint, basil, chives … use your imagination … use one or a combination of fresh herbs
 
Optional: cooked shrimp (sliced lengthwise) … poached salmon pieces … cooked, shredded chicken … poached lobster pieces … 
 
PROCEDURE

Place rice noodles in heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water. Let stand for 10 minutes, or until softened. Drain and set aside.
 
In a separate heatproof bowl, pour more boiling water into bowl. Dip one rice paper wrapper into hot water to soften. Remove and place between two damp towels to soften for one minute. Lay a small amount of each ingredient on the wrapper; fold the ends in and wrap. Slice into serving pieces. Serve with sweet chili dipping sauce or your favorite Asian condiments. 

 

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

INGREDIENTS
 
Marinade:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips 20 wooden skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes
Vegetable oil, for grilling
Butter lettuce leaves
Fresh cilantro leaves
Peanut sauce, recipe follows
 
PROCEDURE
 
Combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, and curry powder in a shallow mixing bowl, stir to combine. Place the chicken strips in the yogurt marinade and gently toss until well coated. Cover and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at up to 2 hours. Thread the chicken pieces onto the soaked skewers working the skewer in and out of the meat, down the middle of the piece, so that it stays in place during grilling. Place a grill pan over medium heat and brush it with oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Grill the chicken satays for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until nicely seared and cooked through. Serve the satays on a platter lined with lettuce leaves and cilantro; accompanied by a small bowl of peanut sauce on the side.
 
Peanut Sauce:
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons red chili paste, such as sambal
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, for garnish
 
Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, red chili paste, brown sugar, and lime juice in a food processor or blender. Puree to combine. While the motor is running, drizzle in the hot water to thin out the sauce, you may not need all of it. Pour the sauce into a nice serving bowl and garnish with the chopped peanuts. Serve with chicken satay.

 

Pad Thai with Shrimp and Tofu

Makes: 6 Servings
 
INGREDIENTS
 
8 ounces dried rice noodles (“rice stick”)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons roasted chile paste
3 tablespoons each fish sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 dozen raw, deveined, peeled shrimp
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 ounces firm tofu, crumbled or cut into ½” cubes
1 cup bean sprouts
½ cup peanuts, finely chopped
½ cup cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, shredded red cabbage for garnish
 
PROCEDURE
 
In a large bowl, soak the noodles in cold water for 1 hour or warm water for 30 minutes. Drain.
 
In a small bowl, combine the chile paste, fish sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, tamarind paste and sugar.  Mix well.
 
In a large skillet, heat grapeseed oil and sauté the garlic and shallot until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the liquid mixture and stir. Add shrimp and sauté. Toss in noodles and mix well. Add the eggs and stir fry until set. Add the tofu and heat through, stirring gently. Add half the bean sprouts, half the peanuts and half the cilantro. Toss well and transfer to a platter. Garnish with the remaining bean sprouts, peanuts and cilantro and add lime wedges and shredded red cabbage, if desired.


First… Some Piz’za History

Piz’za (n) – A baked pie of Italian origin consisting of a shallow bread-like crust covered with seasoned tomato sauce, cheese, and often other toppings, such as sausage or olives.

The Origins of Pizza
Considered a peasant’s meal in Italy for centuries, modern pizza attributes itself to baker Raffaele Esposito of Napoli (Naples), who in 1889 created a special pizza for the visiting Italian King Umberto and Queen Margherita. The pizza, named after the queen, was patriotic in its resemblance to the Italian flag; red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella cheese), and green (basil). It received rave reviews, setting the standard by which today’s pizza evolved.

The idea of using bread as a plate came from the Greeks, who ate flat round bread (plankuntos) baked with an assortment of toppings. The tomato came to Italy from Mexico and Peru through Spain in the 16th century as an ornamental plant first thought to be poisonous. True mozzarella is made from the milk of the water buffalo imported from India to Campania in the 7th century. So, the Neopolitan baker, as the saying goes, put it all together. Also, in 1830 the world’s first true pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria Port’ Alba in Naples, opened and is still in business today!

Pizza migrated to America with the Italians. Gennaro Lombardi opened the first U.S. pizzeria in 1895 in New York City at 53 1/3 Spring Street, but it wasn’t until after World War II when returning GI’s created a nationwide demand for the pizza they had eaten and loved in Italy that pizza went public. In the late 1950’s, Shakey’s and various other mass production pizza parlors appeared and further popularized pizza.

Pizza in this day and age is not limited to the flat round type. It’s also deep-dish pizza, stuffed pizza, pizza pockets, pizza turnovers, rolled pizza, pizza-on-a-stick, pizza strudel, etc., all with combinations of sauce, cheese, and toppings limited only by one’s inventiveness. However, the best pizza still comes from the individual pizzaiolo, a pizza baker, who prepares his yeast dough and ingredients daily and heats his oven for hours before baking the first pizza.

Chef Cali’s Pizza Sauce

Makes: 3 cups

INGREDIENTS
1 can (28-ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, in juice
2 tablespoons olive oil, to sauté
1 small white or sweet onion, finely diced and minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
3 to 4 fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch sea salt
Pinch fresh ground black pepper
Pinch sugar, optional

PROCEDURE
Empty the contents of the tomato can in a mixing bowl and coarsely crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands, leaving them just a little chunky.

In a heavy bottom 2-quart saucepot, add the olive oil, over a medium high flame and heat a little. Add the onions and sauté until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and sauté about a minute until golden. Quickly add the crushed tomatoes to the mix. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add the fresh basil and oregano.

You can add a touch of sugar if desired or if tomatoes are tart. Simmer on a low flame, stirring often for at least 15 minutes.

If not using right away, cool down and store in airtight container in the refrigerator, up to 1 week.

Chef Cali’s Pizza Dough

Makes:  2, 14” pizzas

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope active (not instant or rapid rise) dry yeast (about 2 ¼ teaspoons, a 4 oz. jar of yeast = 14 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ cups cold water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling the baking sheet

PROCEDURE
In a bowl, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir to combine.

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.

Add the yeast mixture, cold water, and oil. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for several minutes until dough is smooth. Allow dough to rest for 2 to 3 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl and allow to rise at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Punch dough down, let rise another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place cookie sheets in oven (inverted). Form a 10 to 14-inch pizza crust and place on a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with yellow cornmeal. Place topping on the crust and place the pizza, with the parchment paper, in the oven on hot inverted cookie sheet. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes.

ABOUT YEAST … Yeast is a living, microscopic, single-cell organism that, as it grows, converts its food (through a process known as fermentation) carbon dioxide. This trait is what endears yeast to breadbakers. The art of breadmaking needs the carbon dioxide produced by yeast in order for certain doughs to rise. To multiply and grow, all yeast needs is the right environment, which includes moisture, food (in the form of sugar or starch) and a warm, nurturing temperature (70° to 85°F is best).

The breakdown of the yeast causes effervescence, the giving off of gasses which get trapped in the dough, and the lump of dough expands. As the bread is usually in a tin, the only way it can expand is upwards. A lump of dough not in a tin will expand sideways as well as upwards.

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