May 30, 2006

Fried Vermicelli with XO

Fried Vermicelli with XO Sauce

150g vermicelli
1/3 medium-sized onion
7 pieces Chinese mushroom
150g fresh pork

4 TBSP XO sauce
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 TBSP water

Blanch vermicelli in boiling water. Rinse with cold water and set aside. Cut pork, mushroom, and onion into strips. Saute pork in 1 TBSP oil until fragrant. Add onion and mushroom and stir fry until soft. Add vermicelli and sauce mix and continue stir fry until the sauce dries up.

Notes: This was only my second time using XO sauce and this was a recipe with a much more pronounced flavor. I quite enjoyed the spicy kick. Next time I make this, I think I will odd the onions earlier, probably the same time as the pork. They were just a bit too crunchy for me.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
May 18, 2006

Siam Country Steak

Siam Country Steak
adapted from Steak Lovers Cookbook

8 oz. sirloin
1 tsp spice mix*
1 TBSP oyster sauce
1 TBSP fish sauce
1 TBSP lime juice
1 tsp garlic, minced

*equal parts: coriander, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder

Pat steak dry and place in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the seasoning on the steaks and rub into both sides. Drizzle the oyster sauce over the meat and rub it into the surface of both sides. Cover and refrigerate (the book recommends 24 hours, but I only had about 8).

Allow steaks to come to room temperature while preparing grill. Combine the fish sauce and lime juice in a small bowl and set aside. Grill the steaks until seared and nicely browned. About 4 minutes per side. Transfer steak to cutting board, tent, and let rest for 5 minutes, then carve into slices. Drizzle fish-lime mixture over the meat, garnish with the garlic, and serve.

Notes: When I read this I was pretty dubious -- raw fish sauce? uncooked garlic? It seemed as if it would be far too overpowering. But the flavors meld really well and it was quite tasty. And easy to make too.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
May 17, 2006

Portobella Mushrooms with Sausage and Gorgonzola Dressing

Portobella Mushrooms with Sausage and Gorgonzola Dressing
a Jennifer original

1 TBSP olive oil
4 portabella mushrooms
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, loose
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, diced
1/4 cup gorgonzola
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp marjoram
1 egg
gorgonzola cream sauce (see below)
1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted

Saute sausage in olive oil, until brown. Add shallot, cook 3 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Remove and pulse processs with cheese, bread crumbs, and marjoram. Remove and add egg to bind. Divide mixture evenly on mushrooms. Cook in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Top with gorgonzola cream sauce and toasted pine nuts.

For sauce:
4 TBSP gorgonzola
2 1/2 TBSP milk
1 1/2 TBSP butter
1/4 cup whipping cream

Heat gorgonzola, milk, and butter over low heat until cheese dissolves. Just before serving, add cream over medium-low heat until reduced.

Notes: This came out exactly as I wanted; a nice balance of flavors. I had the leftovers for lunch today, and they don't reheat quite as well. I suspect keeping the sauce separate and adding it after reheating the mushroom with the dressing will work better.

Served with Angelini 2003 Pinot Grigio. A soft, well balanced and dry white wine with flavors of citrus and a clear, fresh finish. It made out better in the glass prior to the meal; the wine was a little over-powered by the strong flavor of the cheese. In the future, this dish might be better paired with a Zin.

Posted by Jennifer at 7:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
May 16, 2006

On behalf of Joe and Linda at

Below is the email we've sent to our family and friends about "Hot Rock for Autism" charity project. As people associated with the world of hot & spicy food, we are asking for your help. Please try to spread the word about this event. If you have a blog, please post it and let everyone know about it. Forward this email to everyone you know who might be interested. The Autism Society of America will be giving it some PR on their website, but the more we have from people like you...the better chance we have of this project being a huge success and raising lots of money to donate to such a worthwhile cause.


- Joe & Linda


Hello again,

We'd like to draw your attention to a fundraiser we are beginning today on our hot-n-spicy website, The Hot Zone Online, Blog: If you're not interested in the auctions, which we're pretty sure most of you will not be, please visit our First Giving site and consider donating to a good cause:

Some of you may or may not know that on February 22 of this year, Ari was diagnosed with Autism. If you would like you can read more about that whole process here:

We think that many people have an outdated idea of what autism is, but it's important to note that autism is a spectrum disorder that affects each person differently and to different degrees. Ari has autism and we love him for his strengths and weaknesses. Like any other child, we strive to maximize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we fail. We're human. No matter what, though, we love him very much and hope to see him live a very full life.

Again, please consider a contribution.

Linda & Joe

Joe & Linda Levinson
The Hot Zone Online Blog

Posted by Jennifer at 11:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
May 14, 2006

Beef and Snow Peas with XO Sauce

Beef and Snow Peas with XO Sauce
from Gourmet (March 2004)

1 lb sirloin steak, sliced 1/4 inch thick against the grain, visible fat trimmed and discarded
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or medium-dry Sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 lb snow peas, trimmed and strings discarded
2 TBSP XO sauce

Toss beef with rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, and pepper in a bowl until well coated, then marinate 15 minutes.

Heat wok over high heat until smoking, then add 1/2 tablespoon oil, swirling to coat, and heat until smoking. Add half of beef and cook, turning over once, until browned, about 1 minute total, then transfer to a clean bowl. Add another 1/2 tablespoon oil and repeat with remaining beef.

Pat snow peas dry if necessary. Wipe wok clean and heat until hot but not smoking, then add remaining tablespoon oil, swirling to coat. Add snow peas carefully (oil may splatter) and stir-fry until bright green, about 1 minute. Add XO sauce and stir-fry until snow peas are coated. If mixture seems dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water. Cover wok and cook snow peas until crisp-tender, about 1 minute.

Add beef with any juices accumulated in bowl and stir-fry until beef is heated through and sauce is thickened, about 1 minute.

Makes 6 main-course servings.

Notes: I actually cheated on this one.... the original recipe has the measurements for making XO sauce from scratch but I had received a jar as a gift, so I simply had to guess how much the recipe would reduce to. I might have been a little on the shy side, but this still came out pretty well.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
May 5, 2006

Spicy Salmon with Tomatoes and Star Anise

Spicy Salmon with Tomatoes and Star Anise
from Bon Appetit (January 2006)

Get the freshest ground star anise by making your own. It's as easy as grinding a few star anise pods in a spice mill or a coffee grinder.

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (such as Asian)
4 6-ounce wild salmon fillets with skin

1 cup chopped red onion
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground star anise
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
4 plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add salmon, skin side down; cook 2 minutes. Cover pan; cook salmon 2 minutes longer. Transfer salmon, skin side down, to baking sheet. Place in oven; cook until just opaque in center, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat same skillet over medium heat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients; saute until onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, soy sauce, and sugar. Increase heat to medium-high and cook mixture until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.

Divide salmon among 4 plates and top with tomato sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Notes: This is the first time I used my spice grinder instead of the mortar and pestle. My only regret is how long it takes. Fresh ground sure gave this a lovely taste. Also, I used my cedar plank to roast the salmon rather than a cookie sheet and the smokiness it adds was a nice contrast with the spices. And, I only used 1/4 tsp of the crushed red pepper and think more would throw the flavors off-balance.

Served with Torresella Pinot Grigio 2003. The Torresella Winery is located in Italy’s eastern Veneto region, an area of gentle hills and broad plains along the Adriatic Sea, about midway between Venice and Trieste. Torresella was founded in 1935 by Count Gaetano Marzotto, who created a 4,000 acre cooperative surrounding the winery, ceding the land to tenant farmers from whom he bought the best grapes for his wines. Shows a light straw color, crisp on the palate, mellow citrus aromas, a lemony finish.

Posted by Jennifer at 6:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
May 2, 2006

Pork with Two Vinegars

Pork with Two Vinegars
original recipe

2 boneless pork chops
1 TBSP butter
3 TBSP olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 green apple, peeled, cored and diced

Sprinkle the pork chops with fresh ground pepper and dredge in flour. Melt 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute pork chops, about 3 minutes per side. Remove pork chops to a 250 degree oven.

Add 2 TBSP olive oil and shallots. Saute for 7-8 minutes. Add vinegars and deglaze. Add chicken stock. Cook until liquid is almost evaporated. Add apple, cook 10 minutes. Serve over pork chops.

Notes: Sauteed the shallots too long up front. Probably would reduce that to 3-4 minutes. Evenso, I rather liked how this one came out.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:59 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
May 1, 2006

Forecasting: April 2006

Marie Simmons with culinary retailer Sur La Table's INGREDIENTS AND IMPLEMENTS: Recipes from Around the World and Demystifying the Tools Used to Cook Them, for publication in spring 2008; and Cindy Mushet with Sur La Table's THE SUR LA TABLE BAKING BOOK, for publication in fall 2008, to Andrews McMeel

West Coast chef and restaurateur Isabel Cruz's untitled Latin Cookbook, healthy Latin-inspired recipes inspired by her Cantina Panaderia and Seaside Cantina in San Diego, Coffee Cup in La Jolla, and Dragonfly in Ashland, to Clarkson Potter

Cheese Primer author Steve Jenkins' THE FAIRWAY MARKET COOKBOOK, to Ecco

Posted by Jennifer at 9:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack