Archive for November, 2010

This is the first recipe I made from my first issue of Cook’s Illustrated, which I began reading in September 2002. It has been a favourite ever since. Juicy shrimp are stir fried with peanuts and whole chiles and then combined with garlic, ginger and a delicious sauce. It is great on its own, or served over steamed rice.

Kung Pao Shrimp

While the ingredient list might seem long, once you have everything assembled this dish cooks in less than 10 minutes. Make sure your pan is very hot, so that the ingredients brown instead of steam. Cook’s Illustrated recommends using a 12-inch, non-stick skillet for stir fries, which works very well.

Brown the shrimp, peanuts and chiles in a very hot pan

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, you will need to make hoisin sauce and oyster sauce from scratch. I’ve included my recipes for these two sauces below. Also make sure the chicken broth, rice vinegar, sesame oil and shrimp are additive-free.

The ingredients are coated in a delicious spicy sauce


1 pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon dry sherry or rice wine 2 teaspoons soy sauce

3 medium cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced (about 1 tablespoon)

½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 teaspoons)

3 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil

½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts or cashews

6 small whole dried red chiles (each about 1 ¾ to 2 inches long), 3 chiles roughly crumbled, or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons black rice vinegar or plain rice vinegar

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon oyster sauce (see below for additive-free version)

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (see below for additive-free version)

1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch dice

3 medium scallions, sliced thin

Hoisin Sauce

4 tbsp. Tamari soy sauce

2 tbsp. all-natural peanut butter

1 tbsp. honey or unsulphured molasses

2 tsp. white vinegar

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. sesame seed oil

1 tsp. Tabasco sauce

1/8 tsp. pepper

Oyster Sauce

1 ½ tbsp. Tamari soy sauce

1 tbsp. sugar

1 ½ tsp cornstarch


Toss shrimp with sherry and soy sauce in medium bowl; marinate until shrimp have absorbed flavors, about 10 minutes. Mix garlic, ginger, and 1 tablespoon oil in small bowl; set aside. Combine peanuts and chiles in small bowl; set aside. Mix chicken broth, vinegar, sesame oil, oyster-flavored sauce, hoisin sauce, and cornstarch in small bowl or measuring cup; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add shrimp and cook, stirring about once every 10 seconds, until barely opaque, 30 to 40 seconds; add peanuts and chiles, stir into shrimp, and continue cooking until shrimp are almost completely opaque and peanuts have darkened slightly, 30 to 40 seconds longer.

Transfer shrimp, peanuts, and chiles to bowl; set aside. Return skillet to burner and reheat briefly, 15 to 30 seconds. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, swirl to coat pan, and add red bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 45 seconds. Clear center of pan, add garlic-ginger mixture, mash into pan with spoon or spatula, and cook until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds; stir into peppers until combined. Stir broth mixture to recombine, then add to skillet along with reserved shrimp, peanuts, and chiles; cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan, until sauce has thickened to syrupy consistency, about 45 seconds. Stir in scallions; transfer to serving plate and serve immediately. Serves 4.

From the September 2002 issue of Cook’s Illustrated

Pork tenderloin always makes a tasty weeknight meal, and this recipe from the December 1997 issue of Bon Appetit makes it a quick one as well. The pork tenderloin is sliced and then pounded into thin medallions.

Slice the pork thinly and then pound it into medallions

The medallions cook very quickly in the pan; make sure your pan is hot and don’t overcrowd it. Otherwise, the medallions will steam instead of browning.

The medallions cook quickly and stay tender

Once the pork is cooked, remove it to a plate. Then use the delicious fond on the bottom of the pan to make a quick mustard caper-sauce. Return the pork to the sauce to heat through and you have supper on the table in about 15 minutes.

The medallions are served with a tasty mustard-caper sauce

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use butter that does not contain colour, all-natural chicken stock and capers and mustard that are additive-free.


1 8- to 10-ounce pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup sliced shallots
1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon coarse-grained Dijon mustard


Using meat mallet or rolling pin, flatten pork rounds slightly to scant 1/2-inch thickness. This is easier to do if you cover the pork with plastic wrap first. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper.
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork to skillet and saute until brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer pork to plate. Add shallots to skillet and stir 1 minute. Add chicken broth and cream. Boil until sauce is thick enough to coat spoon, stirring up browned bits, about 3 minutes. Mix in capers and mustard. Return pork to sauce. Simmer mixture until pork is heated through, about 1 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

From the December 1997 issue of Bon Appetit

My assignment is finished, so I am back to cooking (and posting). When I arrived home, after several weeks of take-out and restaurant meals, all I wanted to eat was a nice steak from our local butcher, Don, and a green salad. This recipe from Ad Hoc at Home feeds a crowd and the crowning touch is the herb and shallot butter brushed over the steak during the final stages of grilling.

Porterhouse steak on the grill

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use butter with no colour added and fresh lemon juice.

Herb and shallot butter is brushed on the steak

Porterhouse Steak


Three 1½ -inch-thick porterhouse steaks (about 1.5 lbs each)

Canola oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grey salt or coarse sea salt


Trim the excess fat from the steak. Let steaks stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Just before grilling, coat the steaks with canola oil and season both sides generously with salt and pepper.

Prepare charcoal or gas grill for two-temperature cooking with one area for medium-high heat and the other for medium heat. Grill the steaks over medium-high heat, without moving for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are well marked. For a nice crust and to prevent sticking, do not move steaks too early. Rotate the steaks 90 degrees to make crosshatch pattern, and grill for 2-3 minutes. Flip the steaks over, move to medium heat, and grill, without moving them, for 3 minutes. . Rotate the steaks 90 degrees and cook for another 8-12 minutes (timing can vary greatly, depending on heat level), brushing steak 2 or 3 times with the herb butter, until the center of the meat registers 125-128 degrees. Transfer the steaks to a carving board, brush with herb butter, and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes for medium-rare. Slice the meat away from the bones and cut against the grain into ½-inch slices. Arrange the meat around the bones on a serving platter and sprinkle with gray salt. Serves 6.

Herb and Shallot Butter


2/3 cup minced shallots

6 oz. plus 1 tsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

¾ tsp kosher salt

¾ tsp paprika


Combine shallots and 1 tsp butter in small saucepan and cook over very low heat until the shallots are tender but have not browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Put the remaining butter in a small bowl, add the parsley, lemon juice, salt and paprika and stir to incorporate. Stir in the shallots. Shape into a log, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, put in a resealable bag, and refrigerate until ready to use, or freeze for up to 1 week. Makes a generous cup.

From Ad Hoc at Home

One of our favourite fall and winter meals is roast chicken. Believe it or not, it is possible to have great-tasting roast chicken, from the grill, in 45 minutes to an hour. The secret is butterflying the bird. A butterflied chicken cooks through quickly and evenly in less time. This is also a good recipe if you are trying to reduce your fat intake, as the chicken fat renders on the grill, leaving a lovely, crispy skin.

To butterfly the chicken, place it breast-side down on a cutting board. Cut along each side of the backbone with kitchen scissors or a sharp knife and remove it. Then press down firmly on the chicken to flatten it. While the grill is preheating, sprinkle the chicken with your favourite rub. I usually use a mixture of paprika, tarragon, rosemary basil, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, coarse salt and pepper.

A dry rub is applied to the butterflied chicken before grilling


1 chicken, 3-4 lbs., butterflied

Dry rub (ready-made rubs are available in stores, or make up your own)


Preheat grill to medium (about 400 degrees). Butterfly chicken (see directions above) and sprinkle with rub. When grill is ready, place the chicken, skin side up, on grill. Close grill and cook for about 45 minutes. The chicken is done when juices run clear and leg joint is loose; the internal temperature should be about 180 degrees. Serves 4.

Many people say they don’t like Brussels sprouts. But I’ve been able to turn some of them around with this recipe. Instead of boiling, steaming or microwaving the sprouts, you roast them. They develop a nice brown caramelization and don’t become mushy. Try them; you just might change your mind too!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


1 lb. Brussels sprouts

2 tbsp oil

½ tsp coarse salt

¼ tsp hot pepper flakes


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut each sprout in half, trim the end and remove the loose outer leaves. Toss with the oil, salt and pepper flakes in a bowl. Place sprouts, cut-side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once, until tender and brown in places. Serves 2.