My, how fun

I was born with what I believe is a legitimate congenital defect.

The technical, Latin nomenclature for this is (or should be), Lingua Infans, or “Baby Tongue”.

Regardless of appetites or desires, the ingestion of fiery, spicy foods results in pain and distress.  As a result, I can eat almost no Indian food, and Jamaican food scares the pants off me.  Even a heavy-handed use of black pepper can overwhelm.

Many people make fun of this flaw, and inform me that it’s a matter of will; that if I want to be a grown-up and eat spicy foods, I should just put on my big girl panties, and do it.  Not true.  I’d love to be able to tuck into a plate of tikka masala, or some spicy nachos, but I am physically unable to do it.

But what I also don’t do is make a big deal out of it.  It’s my habañero-covered cross to bear, no one else’s.  So when eating out I’ve become very good at avoiding suspect menu items.

I think that’s one reason why I love Chinese food so much.  While there are dishes with enough heat to really hurt me, they don’t comprise the bulk of the menu.  Other Asian cuisine; most notably Thai, are not so safe.

This week’s recipe is my home version of Chicken Mei Fun (pronounced, “my fun”).  It’s very similar to fried rice, but instead of rice grains, angel hair pasta made from rice is used (Find it in Asian markets and some grocery stores).

Chicken Mei Fun

8 ounces rice vermicelli

Lay into a pot of very hot water, and soak for 20 minutes.  After soaking, pour into a colander in which you’ve placed the spinach.  This will wilt the spinach and get it ready to toss into the stir fry.

Protein:

protien

3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

3 eggs, well beaten

2 tablespoons chives, chopped

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Make an omelet with the eggs and chives.  Cut into 1/2-inch strips and set aside for assembly.

Vegetables:

veggies

2 carrots, julienned

1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly

8 ounces mushrooms

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

 Aromatics:

aro

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons grated ginger

1 large shallot, diced

 Sauce:

sauce

Whisk together

3/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Sherry

 Finishing:

finish

2 cups raw spinach

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

 *Stir frying goes crazy fast once it gets started, so get all of your prep done before turning on the burner.

To cook:

If you don’t have a wok, get a very large, very heavy pot almost smoking hot.  Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan.  Put in the carrots and mushrooms.  Cook for a couple of minutes, and when all the liquid has released and cooked out, add onions.  Cook for 30 seconds.

Stir in aromatics then immediately add the proteins.  Pour in sauce and toss.

When coated, pour in noodles, spinach, and thawed peas.  Gently mix to coat.

mei fun

Serves 6-8.

I’ve eaten this from a few Chinese restaurants.  But the more popular recipe is called Singapore Mei Fun.  It’s a reflection of the Indian population living in Singapore, and this version has curry.  As you can guess, because of my affliction, I do not have a good relationship with curry.

But if you would like, you are welcome to Singapore up this recipe with the addition of 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder and 3 dried bird’s eye chilis.

Bon Appetite, intrepid soul.

Thanks for your time.

A spicy tale

Boy, I raised one thoughtful spawn.

Very close, very old friends of The Kid just had a baby (not quite one of those new year babies—they missed it by about 36 hours).

But since it’s not possible to wrap up sleep and deliver it all tied up with a pretty bow, my child did the next best thing; the gift of time was chosen.

Homemade wild rice chicken chowder and a lentil stew were made, along with something sweet with which to nibble.  The chowder and stew were prepared and are in the chill chest in freezer bags.  But because of The Kid’s work commitments, I volunteered to bake and pack up the cookies.

When the couple was asked for their confectionary preference, a ginger molasses cookie was requested.  Since this particular type is not in our family’s repertoire, an internet search was made.

I found a recipe that I felt hit most of the notes, and started with that.  Then I fleshed it out by altering flavor and techniques.

I used a vanilla bean and vanilla extract.  The caviar I added to the butter.  I tossed the empty pod into my sugar canister.  The original recipe, for some reason, never called for nutmeg.  I added it.  I also added nutmeg to the rolling sugar.I used a cookie scoop to portion the dough, instead of just a spoon.  Using one is quicker, easier, and makes all the cookies the same size, which means they all cook at the same time.

I leave you with one crucially important piece of advice.

Do not crowd the cookies in the pan while baking.  And for the love of all that is holy, do not rush them into the oven by cutting short the dough refrigeration time.  They will spread out all over the sheet, and not set up correctly.  I did this, and had to throw away the first batch of nine (See, I crowded the sheet pan).  They tasted really good, but were too thin and gooey to live.

Chewy ginger molasses cookies

ginger cookies 2

1 vanilla bean

1½ cups butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar + more for rolling

½ cup molasses

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 ½ teaspoons salt

 DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Split the vanilla bean, scrape caviar onto butter.  Set aside at room temp to soften.

Whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside.

With electric mixer, beat together softened butter and 2 cups sugar on medium for 1 minute until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs, molasses, vanilla extract, and beat on medium-low until combined.

Gradually add in dry ingredient mixture and beat until fully incorporated.

Using a medium (about 2 tablespoon capacity) cookie scoop, portion out all the dough.

Refrigerate scoops for 1 hour then remove and them roll into balls.  Return to fridge and let chill another 30-45 minutes.

Fill a small bowl with about 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of nutmeg, and roll four balls in one at a time until they’re completely coated. Place on parchment-covered cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes, spin the pan 180 degrees then bake for 5 more until they begin to slightly crack on top (They’ll crack more while cooling.).  Remove from the oven and transfer cookies, still on parchment to wire racks to cool. Bake off the next four.  Store in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

Makes about 2 ½ dozen.

I’ve never been a ginger snap, molasses cookie kind of girl.  But I have to admit, when I tasted one of the rejects, I was really surprised.  Yes, they are very spicy.  But extremely tasty, too.  These are more of a grown-up cookie for somebody who wants less sweet and more sassy to their desserts.  They would also be really, really good cookies with which to make ice cream sandwiches, say with some butter pecan, or peach ice cream.

And again, do not rush these into the oven.  They must be very cold and hard before hitting the heat or you will have delicious manhole covers.

This is bad.  You do not want this.

Thanks for your time.