We made the “Cook’s Illustrated” recipes for Sweet, Sour and Spicy Stir-fried Chicken and Broccoli with Cashews and fresh Spring Rolls for dinner tonight. The spring rolls won’t be making another appearance at our table, but the chicken (which, for the sake of ease, we shall call Tangy Orange Chicken) was outstanding. It’s a little time-consuming, and it requires your full attention to make. Just be sure to have all of your parts ready and within reach before you start the actual stir-frying. Oh, and my apologies for the blurry photo. I was so eager to try it, I could hardly hold still.
Tangy Orange Chicken
To make the chicken easier to slice, freeze it for 20 minutes until it is firm, but not frozen.
Serves four as a main dish with rice
Chicken for Stir-Fry
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest from one orange
Combine soy sauce, sherry, and water in medium bowl; add chicken and stir to break up clumps. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Mix sesame oil, cornstarch, flour, and orange zest in medium bowl until smooth. Drain chicken in strainer; press out excess liquid. Toss chicken in cornstarch/flour mixture until evenly coated.
Whisk chicken broth, orange juice, vinegar, soy, hoisin, cornstarch, sugar, and pepper flakes in small bowl; set aside. Combine ginger, garlic, and 1 tablespoon peanut oil in small bowl; set aside.
Heat 2 teaspoons peanut oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking; add half of chicken to skillet in flat, even layer. Cook, without stirring, but gently separating pieces, until golden brown on first side, about 1 minute; turn chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on second side, about 30 seconds. Transfer chicken to clean bowl. Repeat with additional 2 teaspoons peanut oil and remaining chicken.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet; heat until just smoking. Add broccoli and cook 30 seconds; add 1/4 cup water, cover pan, and lower heat to medium-low. Cook broccoli until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes, then transfer broccoli to paper towel-lined plate. Add garlic/ginger mixture to skillet, increase heat to medium-high and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, sticky, and golden brown, 30 to 45 seconds, Return chicken to skillet and toss to combine. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 1 minute. Off heat, add broccoi and cashews and stir to combine. Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with scallions, and serve.
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 cup roasted unsalted cashews , toasted in dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown, about 6 minutes
1 1/2 pounds broccoli , florets cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 1/2-inches tall and 1-inch wide), stems trimmed, peeled, and cut on bias into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 medium scallions , sliced 1/4-inch thick on bias
Because even the failed effort yielded such tasty results, I gave the cream-filled cupcake recipe another try. But this time, I switched to cake format. Giant cupcake, you win the people’s ovation and fame forever. Also, Rockford made Chicken in Cherry Marsala Sauce for lunch today. It was tangy and tasty and, according to Rockford, easy to make.
The Hostess cupcake is one of life’s great high-fructosed delights. But I hear that such pre-packaged goodness is bad for the soul, so I started my search for a homemade version. I found one at the FoodTV Web site; it sounded promising.
Somewhere between the mixing bowl and the cooling rack, though, something went horribly awry. I think it might have been the pan. I used a Pampered Chef stoneware muffin pan, and the little fellas wouldn’t come out of it. Next time (oh, there will be a next time) I’ll use a metal muffin tin, a little Baker’s Joy and maybe even some parchment paper.
As for the sad little cupcake stalactites, I crumbled them and made Cups o’ Cake (cupcake crumbs layered with vanilla cream filling).
Here’s the Fauxtess Cupcake recipe:
Cream-Filled Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Nonstick vegetable spray for coating muffin tin
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (recommended: Dutch-processed)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coffee, brewed strong and hot
Vanilla cream filling, recipe follows
Ganache frosting, recipe follows
Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Generously coat a 12-slot muffin tin with nonstick vegetable spray.
Into a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together three times. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at high speed for 15 seconds, until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes more. With the mixer on its lowest setting, beat in a third of the flour mixture. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla, then another third of the flour. Beat in the coffee and then the remaining flour. Fill the cups of the muffin tin two-thirds full and bake for 15 minutes, or until the centers spring back when lightly pressed and a cake tester comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack to cool. With a small knife, carefully carve a 1-inch-round by 1-inch-deep plug out of the bottoms of the cupcakes-you’re going to need the plug to refill the hole, so don’t chuck it out. Fill with vanilla cream. Cut a 1/4-inch disk off the cake plug and cover the exposed cream. Dunk the cupcakes into the frosting to coat, then place on a rack, frosted side up. Transfer to the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set before serving.
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
Put the chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring the cream just to the simmering point. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and, working from the center out, gently stir with a whisk to melt the chocolate and blend until smooth.
Vanilla Cream Filling
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup light corn syrup
With an electric mixer, beat together the vegetable shortening and butter until blended. Turn the mixer down to its lowest setting and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Turn the mixer back up and beat a high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. At a drizzle, gradually beat in the vanilla and corn syrup until the filling is the consistency of mayonnaise, about 2 minutes more. Scrape the vanilla cream frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip.
Recipe from Wayne Harley Brachman, “Retro Desserts,” Harper Collins Publishers, 2000