Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hunkering Down

Somehow there is a lot to report, but not much that has gone on of late. We're still waiting for baby to introduce himself to the world. Not yet at the due date, but close enough to keep a close vigil for signs of the little man with an apron.

In the meantime, I'm cooking as usual. I guess I should have already mixed the bread dough if I was planning on putting it in the fridge overnight tonight, but I always like to think there is tomorrow for these things. It is officially exam season in law school, so while I tend to have very little time to mess around in the kitchen, I do get the benefit of not having to be in class during the day. Sometimes that results in a little extra time here and there.

This weekend, the Mrs. and I went to the Christmas tree lighting in Montclair, New Jersey, where we live. Afterward, we went to our new favorite pizza spot, Leone's. I swear it had a website not long ago, but I can't seem to find it now. You'd be surprised to find out that even though we live in an area that is choc full of Italian-Americans, it can still be challenging to get a truly good pizza. Too many places serve some doughy pizza-like substance. Not to mention, we're surrounded by Papa John's and Dominos. "Better Ingredients" my ass. The Papa delivers up MSG and partially-hydrogenated oil in his garlic dipping sauce and dressings.

So, imagine my delight when we discovered that a restaurant sitting on our list of those to check out in our fair city turned out to have awesome pizza. No kidding. Really awesome pizza. So, after the tree lighting, we went to Leone's for a pizza and some calamari. Their calamari was surprisingly good too. I prefer my calamari with spicy asian sauce, but they have a garlic-bomb marinara that while difficult to digest, was an absolute joy to consume.

On the home front, I've been toying around with a few ideas, and I might as well share a recipe for one of them. It's not perfect, but it was tasty.

Remember the roast pork I wrote about in my first post? I had lots of fun coming up with all sorts of ways to eat the leftovers. But, like any resourceful person, I also froze some for a rainy day (or in this case, rainy/snow).

So, while in mood for some of that delicious pork, I used the last of it for this Pork and Beans dish that I dreamed up. It came to me as many good things do, while flipping through the pages of Fuchsia Dunlop's Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook. If I could only bring one book to a desert island, and that desert island was well stocked with chickens, pigs, chili peppers and shao tsing wine, then this would be my one book.

Not to say that this recipe is in the book. It's not. But I just sort of flip through and close my eyes and get my imagination working. I look really silly when I do it. Also, the pictures have navy beans in the dish in addition to kidney beans. They were tasty too, but they didn't hold up to the stirring quite as well, so I didn't include it in the recipe. You could use black beans or any other beans you want for that matter.

Pork and Beans Noodle

2 cups of cooked roast pork, preferably leftovers, cut into bite size pieces
1 can of kidney beans
1/4 cup of shao tsing wine
1/4 soy sauce
2 cups of water or stock
2 Tbsp of Garlic Chili Sauce
1/2 cup of chopped leaks
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tsbp fresh ginger, minced
2 Tsbp fresh Basil, course chopped
1/2 lb. Shandong Ramen noodles
1/4 cup peanut oil

Boil water in a large pot first. When water is close to a boil, warm up a large wok or skillet on high heat. Add peanut oil and swirl to cover inside of wok. Add pork after the pan is warmed up a bit but before the pan gets extremely hot. Stir in the pan to coat pork with oil. Gently stir in beans, taking care not to crush or misshape too many of the beans. Put noodles in boiling water. Add garlic, ginger, leaks, and chili sauce. Stir gently. Add wine and soy sauce. Stir gently to coat all ingredients with wine and soy sauce. Don't let the mixture sit in the wok too long for any given time, be sure to stir often. After 8 minutes boiling ramen, strain the ramen noodles. Add the noodles, the water or stock, and the basil to the wok. Stir gently so that all of the indregients are mixed together, and the water in the wok is boiling hard. Turn off heat, continue to stir for another 2 minutes. Serve hot.

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