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Dorothy Ng's blog

What's Cooking?: A Well-Seasoned Cast Iron

 

Quite a few of my colleagues and friends have approached me about cast iron cookware.  My own cast iron collection includes 3 skillets of varying sizes, one flattop, a griddle skillet, and a Dutch oven.  All are manufactured by Wagner.  It is well used every day in my home, more than any other cookware I own.  As you can see, I’m a big fan of cast iron and I prefer it over some of the more expensive cookware.  It is inexpensive and very durable.  Another benefit is the natural source of iron it provides to the food.  I value this versatile cookware that has great heat retention and can bake, stir fry, braise, stew, pan fry and deep fry to perfection any food you cook on it. 

What's Cooking?: Braising

 

Braising is a cooking technique that can transform a mundane piece of meat into a dish that will satisfy the most discriminating palate.  It is similar to stewing in that it uses relatively low temperatures while simmering.  However, braising uses less liquid resulting in a rich concentrated sauce.  It also uses large pieces of meat.  More important, the meat is first seared.  This essential step ensures the meat will retain its juices, keeping it succulent and moist.

What's Cooking?: Peking Duck

After recuperating from the nonstop holiday festivities, I took some time to reflect on the coming New Year.  Aside from the post-holiday detox after the recent overindulgences, I decided to direct my approach toward choices I will be make this year guided by the adages “simpler is better” and “less is more.”  Next, I thought I should be a little more adventurous and expand my culinary repertoire.  This may suggest something difficult and time consuming which may contradict my first New Year’s resolution – keep it simple.  Nevertheless, I met this challenge when I chose to make Peking duck.  My husband loves duck but I never roasted one because I thought it very fatty.  When I mentioned it to my best friend, she advised me, “Order the Peking duck at a restaurant.  You’re unbelievable! (diplomatic meaning for 'you're crazy').“ 

What's Cooking?: A Season of Giving

With all the amazing dishes, mouth-watering baked goods and dazzling decorations that inspire our creative senses, one of the best things I love about this holiday season is the time of giving.  I appreciate the thought and care people take in choosing their gifts.  Homemade culinary gifts offer a more personal and satisfying touch to gift giving.   Friends and family who are food lovers like me value the effort.  The expression of delight and joy when they take a bite of something that is scrumptious makes all the difference.

What's Cooking?: Autumn Harvest

pie

As I survey the colorful array of apples, pears, grapes, winter squash, persimmons, and pomegranates, they remind me of autumn jewels waiting for me to spirit them away to my kitchen.  For me, it is the season to open the ovens, and bake those pies and tarts!  I excitingly gloss over new recipes and retrieve the time-tested favorites.  The first apple pie of the season is sort of a celebration in our house.  With great anticipation, we can’t wait to have a flaky crust embrace these luscious slices in the hot oven.  The apple pie I make is filled with the combination of what I name as the “3Gs” - Granny, Gala, and Golden Delicious apples and then it is covered with a rich brown sugar crumb topping.  So good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on that crunchy topping!

What's Cooking?: Papers, and Pencils, and Books! Oh, My!

It’s school time again!  Summer is still reluctant to let go of its lingering heat.  Nevertheless, it signals the advent of autumn with its brisk air driving the warmth away.  I love the fall season as parents get their kids ready for school and summer fun is winding down.  With the pressure of getting it altogether, there is no better time than now to find ways to put those meals on the table amidst the back-to-school pandemonium.

What's Cooking?: The Versatile Dumpling

One of my favorite things to eat all year round is dumplings.  Not the cooked balls of dough made from flour, potato, or matzo meal (I love those too) but the ones that are filled with luscious bits of meat, shrimp, vegetables, and cheese.  There are so many kinds of dumplings made from various regions of the world.  It is a global fare that includes the samosa and karchori from India, Korean mandu, Japanese fried gyoza, Chinese wonton and potsticker, the Russian piroshki, Ukrainian vareniki, Poland’s pierogi, Turkish manti, and kreplach from the Eastern European Jews.  Let’s not forget our favorite, ravioli !

What's Cooking?: Tips from the Kitchen

Books from the cooking collection provide more than recipes.   They give you a tour around the world, evoke memories during holiday seasons, how-tos for building gingerbread houses or brewing beer in a bathtub.  What I appreciate most are the tips, shortcuts, substitutions, and repairs in the kitchen that are generously shared by experienced cooks.

What's Cooking: Taking It Easy

grill

Summer is just around the corner signaling the wonderful season of outdoor cooking.  Who wants to cook in the hot weather?   It screams out for simply made dishes that don’t take much preparation where the freshness of the foods alone will delight the palate.  Just thinking about the jewelled green salads, luscious fruits and vegetables in season, and refreshingly cool desserts stirs the senses. A word about salads, try not to limit salads to just greens.  Broaden your selection to include beans, pasta, noodles, bread, meats, seafood and grains like rice and wheatberry, to make a scrumptious main dish.

What's Cooking?: Healing Foods

As I was preparing the Chicken Wine Soup for my daughter-in-law after she gave birth, I realize we often overlook the restorative and healing powers of food.  This Chicken Wine Soup is traditional in the Chinese culture and prepared for new mothers in their recovery from childbirth. This soup contains an abundance of ginger and glutinous rice wine in the soup to help rejuvenate and warm the body. The dried lily buds and wood ears are believed to have anticoagulant properties. The dried Chinese mushrooms revitalize the body and improve its immune system.  Of course, everyone is familiar with the healing quality of chicken soup. There are some who await a new birth with anticipation just to be able to partake of this soup along with a small bowl of pickled pigs’ knuckles with hard-boiled eggs cooked in sweetened black vinegar and ginger.  You may think this latter dish is unappetizing but it is often requested unabashedly.  Although I think the taste is unique and delicious, the true focus is on the restorative value of its ingredients.

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