Entries tagged with “cook’s illustrated”.


This delicious noodle dish from Cook’s Illustrated features ground pork, a spicy sauce, ginger, garlic and a delicious boost from ground Sichuan peppercorns.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use tamari instead of soy sauce and check the white pepper, hot pepper flakes and Sichuan peppercorns for colour or anti-caking agents. I have never been able to find additive-free oyster sauce, so I make my own; the recipe is below. Use all-natural sesame paste or peanut butter and sesame oil. I use Marukan rice vinegar and Imagine Organic brand stock.

Marinate ground pork

Make sauce

Toast and grind peppercorns

Combine ginger, garlic and hot pepper flakes

Brown pork, then add ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes

Add sauce and simmer

Spicy Sichuan Noodles

Ingredients:

8 ounces (226 g) ground pork

3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce

2 tablespoons (30 ml) Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry

Ground white pepper

2 tablespoons (30 ml) oyster sauce (see recipe below)

4 tablespoons (60 ml) Asian sesame paste or peanut butter

1 tablespoon (15 ml) rice vinegar

1  cup (250 ml) chicken stock 1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 inch (2.5 cm) piece fresh ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon/15 ml)

6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons/30 ml)

¾ (3 ml) teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon (15 ml) toasted sesame oil

12 ounces (340 g) dried Asian noodles or 1 pound (454 g) fresh Asian noodles (width between linguine and fettuccine) or 12 ounces (340 g) linguine

3 medium scallions, sliced thin (about 1/3 cup/75 ml)

2 cups (500 ml) bean sprouts (about 6 ounces/170 g) (optional)

1 tablespoon (15 ml) Sichuan peppercorns toasted in small dry skillet until fragrant, then ground

Oyster sauce

1 ½ tbsp. Tamari soy sauce

1 tbsp. sugar

1 ½ tsp cornstarch

Preparation:

Combine pork, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) soy sauce, sherry, and pinch white pepper in small bowl; stir well with fork and set aside while preparing other ingredients. Whisk together oyster-flavoured sauce, remaining soy sauce, peanut butter or sesame paste, vinegar, and pinch white pepper in medium bowl. Whisk in chicken stock and set aside.

Bring 4 quarts (1 L) water to boil in large stockpot over high heat.

Meanwhile, heat 12-inch (30 cm) skillet over high heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add peanut oil and swirl to coat pan bottom. Add pork and cook, scraping along pan bottom and breaking up pork into small pieces with wide metal or wooden spatula, until pork is in small well-browned bits, about 5 minutes. Stir in ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add peanut butter/chicken stock mixture; bring to boil, whisking to combine, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to blend flavors, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Stir in sesame oil.

While sauce simmers, add noodles to boiling water and cook until tender (refer to package directions, but use them only as a guideline and be sure to taste for doneness). Drain noodles; divide noodles among individual bowls, ladle a portion of sauce over noodles, sprinkle with scallions, bean sprouts, and ground Sichuan peppercorns, if using; serve immediately. Serves 4.

From Cook’s Illustrated

Barbecuing weather is here and this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated is a terrific way to kick off the season. Brine chicken drumsticks in salted water for 30 to 60 minutes, coat them in a spice rub and then grill them over indirect heat for about 55 minutes. Grilling over indirect heat keeps the meat tender, the fat renders and there are no flare-ups! To finish the chicken, crisp the drumsticks up over direct heat for about five minutes before serving.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check your spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Prepare spice rub and put it on a plate

Dip brined drumsticks in spice rub to evenly coat them

Grill over indirect heat for about 25 minutes

Rearrange drumsticks so the other side is closer to the heat and grill for another 20 to 30 minutes

Grilled spice-rubbed chicken drumsticks

Ingredients:

Brine

½ cup (125 ml) salt

5 pounds (2.26. kg) chicken drumsticks

Spice rub

3 tablespoons (45 ml) packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon (15 ml) paprika

1 tablespoon (15 ml) chili powder

2 teaspoons (10 ml) garlic powder

¾ teaspoon (3.75 ml) salt

¾ teaspoon (3.75 ml) pepper

¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) cayenne pepper

Preparation:

Dissolve salt in 2 quarts (1.89 L) cold water in large container. Submerge drumsticks in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Place spice rub on plate. Remove drumsticks from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Holding 1 drumstick by bone end, press lightly into rub on all sides. Pat gently to remove excess rub. Repeat with remaining drumsticks.

FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent halfway. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s). Adjust primary burner or, if using three-burner grill, primary burner and second burner. as needed to maintain grill temperature between 325 and 350 degrees F (163 and 177 degrees C).

Clean and oil cooking grate. Place drumsticks, skin side down, on cooler side of grill. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Rearrange pieces so that drumsticks that were closest to edge are now closer to heat source and vice versa. Cover and cook until drumsticks register 185 to 190 degrees F (85 to 87 degrees C), 20 to 30 minutes. For an accurate reading, insert a probe into the thickest part of the drumstick until it hits the bone and then pull back about ¼ inch (0.63 cm).

Move all drumsticks to hotter side of grill and cook, turning occasionally, until skin is nicely charred, about 5 minutes. Transfer to platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Serves 6.

From Cook’s Illustrated

This beef stir-fry from Cook’s Illustrated includes some great tips to make sure the beef is tender. Soak the meat briefly in a mild baking soda solution and add cornstarch to the marinade, then sear over high heat. It is important not to crowd the pan; otherwise the beef will steam, not sear.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use tamari instead of soy sauce and a preservative-free rice vinegar, such as Marukan. Check the label on the sesame oil to make sure it is free of additives. I cannot find oyster sauce made without preservatives, so I make my own; the recipe is below.

Marinate the beef

Sear the beef and set aside

Stir fry the peppers and set aside

Stir fry the garlic, ginger and scallion whites

Add peppers and beef back to the pan

Beef Stir-Fry with Bell Peppers and Black Pepper Sauce

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon (15 ml) plus ¼ cup (60 ml) water

¼ teaspoon (1 ml) baking soda

1 pound (500 g) flank steak, trimmed, cut into 2- to 2 ½-inch (5-6.4 cm) strips with grain, each strip cut crosswise against grain into ¼-inch-thick (0.64 cm) slices

3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce

3 tablespoons (45 ml) dry sherry or Chinese rice wine

3 teaspoons (15 ml) cornstarch

2 ½ teaspoons (12 ml) packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon (15 ml) oyster sauce (see recipe below)

2 teaspoons (10 ml) rice vinegar

1 ½ (7 ml) teaspoons toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons (10 ml) coarsely ground pepper

3 tablespoons (45 ml) plus 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vegetable oil

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch-wide (0.64 cm) strips

1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch-wide (0.64 cm) strips

6 scallions, white parts sliced thin on bias, green parts cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon (15 ml) grated fresh ginger

Oyster Sauce

1 ½ tablespoons (25 ml) soy sauce

1 tablespoon (15 ml) sugar

1 ½ teaspoons (7 ml) cornstarch

Preparation:

The vegetables and aromatics can be prepared while the beef is marinating. Serve with steamed white rice.

Combine 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water and baking soda in medium bowl. Add beef and toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.

Whisk 1 tablespoon (15 ml) soy sauce, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sherry, 1½ teaspoons (7 ml) cornstarch, and ½ teaspoon (2 ml) sugar together in small bowl. Add soy sauce mixture to beef, stir to coat, and let sit at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes.

Whisk remaining ¼ cup (60 mo) water, remaining 2 tablespoons (30 mo) soy sauce, remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) sherry, remaining 1½ teaspoons (7 ml) cornstarch, remaining 2 teaspoons (10 ml) sugar, oyster sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and pepper together in second bowl.

Heat 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vegetable oil in 12-inch (30 cm) nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of beef in single layer. Cook without stirring for 1 minute. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown on both sides, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to bowl. Repeat with remaining beef and 2 teaspoons vegetable oil.

Return skillet to high heat, add 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vegetable oil, and heat until beginning to smoke. Add bell peppers and scallion greens and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are spotty brown and crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer vegetables to bowl with beef.

Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat and add remaining 4 teaspoons (20 ml) vegetable oil, scallion whites, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Return beef and vegetables to skillet and stir to combine.

Whisk sauce to recombine. Add to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

From Cook’s Illustrated

While I enjoyed the holiday turkey and prime rib, I wanted to start off the early days of 2016 with some lighter fare. This spicy pasta dish from Cook’s Illustrated fit the bill perfectly. The pepperoncini (pickled hot peppers), tomato paste, red pepper flakes, anchovies and cheese add depth of flavour to pureed canned tomatoes. The sauce takes about 30 minutes to make and can be prepared in advance and refrigerated. Cook’s Note: Anchovies are salty, so consider omitting the added salt.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Unico tomatoes and anchovies are additive-free. I used President’s Choice pickled jalapenos. Check the spices for colour and anti-caking agents and make sure the cheese does not contain colour.

Saute spices, tomato paste, anchovies and peppers

Simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes

Penne Arrabbiata

Ingredients:

1 28-ounce (796 ml) can whole peeled tomatoes

¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup (60 ml) stemmed, patted dry, and minced pepperoncini

2 tablespoons (30 ml) tomato paste

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon (5 ml) red pepper flakes

4 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced to paste

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) paprika

Salt and pepper

¼ cup (60 ml) grated Pecorino Romano, plus extra for serving

1 pound (454 g) penne

Preparation:

Pulse tomatoes and their juice in food processor until finely chopped, about 10 pulses.

Heat oil, pepperoncini, tomato paste, garlic, pepper flakes, anchovies, paprika, ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt, and ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) pepper in medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until deep red in color, 7 to 8 minutes.

Add tomatoes and Pecorino and bring to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve ½ cup (125 ml) cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot. Add sauce and toss to combine, adjusting consistency with reserved cooking water as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing extra Pecorino separately. Serves 4-6.

From Cook’s Illustrated

This lovely summer salad from Cook’s Illustrated combines cooked Israeli couscous with pickled shallots, fresh greens, herbs, peas, pistachios and feta cheese.  Israeli couscous is a toasted pasta shaped in tiny balls, about the size of small peas. You can boil it like pasta, or let it absorb water, like rice. Cook’s Note: Prepare the shallots and let them pickle while you continue with the rest of the recipe.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for a red wine vinegar without sulphites; I use Eden Organic brand. Use fresh lemon juice and check the pistachios for colour and sulphites. Select a feta cheese with all-natural ingredients such as Tre Stelle.

Pickle the shallots first

Toasting the couscous before cooking brings out its nutty flavour

Use lots of greens and mint

Frozen peas are fine if fresh are not available

Israeli couscous with lemon, mint, peas, feta and pickled shallots

Ingredients:

Couscous

2 cups (500 ml) Israeli couscous

1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 ½ cups water (625 ml)

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt

Salad

1/3 cup (75 ml) red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons (30 ml) sugar

Salt and pepper

2 shallots, sliced thin

3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons (45 ml) lemon juice

1 teaspoon (5 ml) Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) red pepper flakes

1 recipe couscous (see above), cooled

4 cups (1 L) baby arugula, roughly chopped

1 cup (250 ml) fresh mint leaves, torn

½ cup (125 ml) frozen peas, thawed

½ cup (125 ml) shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped

3 ounces (185 ml) feta cheese, crumbled

Preparation:

Couscous

Heat couscous and oil in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until about half of grains are golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add water and salt; stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until water is absorbed, 9 to 12 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and let stand, covered, for 3 minutes. Serve.

Salad

Bring vinegar, sugar, and pinch salt to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Remove pan from heat, add shallots, and stir to combine. Cover and let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Drain and discard liquid.

Whisk oil, lemon juice, mustard, pepper flakes, and 1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) salt together in large bowl. Add cooled couscous, arugula, mint, peas, 6 tablespoons (90 ml) pistachios, ½ cup (125 ml) feta, and shallots and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to serving bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup feta (60 ml) and remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) pistachios and serve. Serves 4.

From Cook’s Illustrated

When you slice pork tenderloin into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces and pound them flat, they cook in less than two minutes, so you can dinner on the table in a hurry. In this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, the pork is simmered in a sauce of fennel, garlic, orange juice, olives and parsley. Tasty!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Be sure to use fresh orange juice, a stock with no additives (I use Imagine Organic brand) and olives with no chemicals added (I use President’s Choice garlic-stuffed olives).

Cut tenderloin into slices and pound flat

Sear the pork about 80 seconds on each side

Saute the fennel

The sauce cooks quickly

Sauteed Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Fennel and Green Olives in Orange Pan Sauce

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon (5 ml) table salt

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) ground black pepper

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound/500 g), silver skin removed, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices, each pounded to ¾ inch (1.9 cm) with flat side of chef’s knife blade

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sauce

1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil

½ medium bulb fennel, sliced thin (about 1 cup/250 ml)

2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon/15 ml))

1/3 cup (75 ml) orange juice

1 teaspoon (5 ml) orange zest from 1 large orange

2/3 cup (150 ml) chicken stock or low-salt canned broth

¼ cup (50 ml) pitted green olives, sliced

2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped fresh parsley leaves

Salt and ground black pepper

Preparation:

Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of pork slices. Heat oil until shimmering in heavy-bottomed pan, at least 10 inches (25 cm) across bottom, over medium-high heat, swirling pan to distribute oil. Working in batches of no more than six slices to avoid overcrowding, sear medallions without moving them until brown on one side, about 80 seconds (oil should sizzle, but not smoke). Turn medallions with tongs to avoid scraping off the sear; sear until meat is mostly opaque at sides, firm to the touch, and well browned, about 80 seconds. Transfer pork to plate.

Heat oil in pan in which pork was cooked over medium heat, swirling to distribute. Add fennel; sauté until softened and starting to color, about 2 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute more. Add juice; boil, scraping pan bottom with wooden spatula to loosen browned bits, until liquid reduces to a glaze, about 2 ½ minutes. Increase heat to high and add stock or broth and any accumulated pork juices; boil until liquid reaches consistency of maple syrup, about 3 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium; return pork to pan with zest, olives, and parsley, turning meat to coat. Simmer to heat pork thoroughly and blend flavors, about 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste. Transfer pork to serving plate and spoon sauce over meat. Serve immediately. Serves 3-4.

From Cook’s Illustrated