Aug 072013
 

Guest post by Diana Chan.

Chinese Seal MINI

This evening I had dinner by myself and made a dish the way my grandmother would have done – simple, nourishing and delicious.

We are Cantonese, from the south of China.  After living many years in Europe I have observed that the Cantonese and Italians share a common approach to good food – take the best quality, freshest ingredients and do as little to them as possible. This time I made stir fried breast of duck with onion.

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Stir frying is easy – the 3 things to get right are cutting, seasoning and timing.

And you don’t need a wok – unless, of course, you happen to already have one or want a reason to get one.

First, cutting.  Duck and chicken breast, skinned and boned, and pork fillet are the easiest to cut into even-sized pieces for stir frying because they come in relatively neat blocks that you can just slice across.

  • Slice your meat into large bite-sized pieces.

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Second, seasoning.  To make a delicious marinade for the sliced duck (or chicken, pork, etc.) you need only add 3 ingredients to the duck and mix everything together well:  two swirls of soy sauce, a little sugar and some corn flour.

  • For those who prefer more precision, I suggest you use for each 150 grams of duck 2 teaspoons soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, and a half teaspoon of corn flour.  Let the duck marinate for 10 to 15 minutes while you are busy with another part of the meal – but if you are really in a hurry, then marinate for as long as the time you have.

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Soy sauce, sugar and corn flour make the perfect foundation for stir fried meat. I always use Kikkoman soy sauce – it tastes good, is naturally brewed and is widely available.  Cantonese cooks add a little sugar to enhance the flavour of savoury dishes, while other cuisines could achieve a similar effect with the sweetness of chopped onions cooked with the main ingredients.  Corn flour absorbs some of the meat juices and clings to the meat, making it feel more succulent to the bite.

Third, timing.  A meat stir fry needs the addition of a vegetable or something else to become interesting, and an onion is the best companion.  In the context of timing, an onion is the perfect stir fry vegetable:  it cooks quickly, but even for someone without any sense of timing it is difficult to really overcook.

  • While the duck is marinating, cook a sliced onion in a frying pan over medium heat with a little oil and some salt until it is translucent or becomes as coloured as you like, then put it onto a serving dish.  By this time the frying pan has become nice and hot.

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  • Add a bit of oil, then the sliced duck, and immediately toss and turn the duck about in the pan until most of it has lost the raw appearance.  Use for this task a spatula, wooden spoon or any tool you are most comfortable with – for me, it is a pair of bamboo chopsticks.
  • Then return the onion to the pan and stir around the mixture over medium heat until the duck is cooked to your liking.

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That’s it – done!

  • Put the mixture onto the serving dish, including any tasty bits sticking to the pan, and garnish as you like – scatter over a few sprigs of coriander, chopped parsley, or some crushed chilli flakes.

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To garnish my dinner – since we had been away for a long weekend and there was nothing much in the fridge – while the onion was cooking I microwaved some frozen spinach, plopped it onto a plate and placed the duck in the middle.  I thought adding the spinach would make a better photograph, although I would have been perfectly content eating just duck and onion with some steamed rice.

A stir fry is best made with not more than about 300 grams of meat, enough to serve two people with some vegetables and rice.  Once you have mastered the basics of this stir fry with soy sauce, sugar and corn flour, you could use other vegetables and add all sorts of aromatics at various stages of cooking and other seasonings as well.  The combinations are endless.

 

With thanks to Diana Chan for her first guest post. Please leave a comment to welcome her to the world of blogging!

 

Scroll down for Easy Caramelised Onion Potato & Dauphinoise Recipe and Competition.

 

Review: Oxo Mandoline Slicer & Angled Measuring Jug

I was recently invited to review some products from The Oxo Good Grips range.

I’ve used and purchased some of the kitchen utensils before, and really like the well-designed handles, which are both easy to grip and ergonomically comfortable to hold.

One tool I’ve never used before is a mandoline slicer. I love the idea of slicing fruit and vegetables quickly and evenly but I’ve always been scared of the sharp blades, and the thought of slicing my fingers right along with the fruit and veg. Given how easy and safe I’ve found their other tools, I decided that if I was going to give a mandoline a chance, the Oxo Good Grips one would be a good one to try.

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Larger than I expected, it’s a sturdy device; once the non-slip legs are folded into place it feels reassuringly robust, with no worrying wobbles. A handle at one side makes it easy to hold too, though actually, I found it didn’t have any tendency to move during operation anyway. There are curvy and straight blades for slicing as well as julienne blades for cutting sticks; the blades are easy to insert (and remove) and you can adjust how thick you would like your slices. The food holder does a good job of holding fruit and vegetables securely and keeping your hands well away from the blades. To my delight, I found it really easy to use, not at all scary as I’d imagined, and quick to dismantle and wash too. (The blades need to be hand washed but the main body of the slicer, and the food holder are both dishwasher safe). As it’s quite bulky, it will take up a fair bit of space in storage, even with the legs folded flat, but it’s definitely earned its place for the moment.

Oxo’s website lists it at £61.30 but you’ll easily be able to find it for £50 or less.

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image from Oxo website

The other item I chose was an angled measuring jug. Mine holds 1 litre but they are also available in smaller sizes from 1 cup to half a litre. The plastic jug has a comfortable, soft, non-slip handle and is dishwasher safe. But the clever bit is the angled measuring units. Usually I find myself setting a measuring jug onto the work surface and then bending down low to read the units on the side, as I carefully pour in the contents. The angled measurement units let me pour contents in whilst being able to easily read the volume from above. No more bending is definitely better for my back.

 

Easy Caramelised Onion & Potato Dauphinoise Recipe

When I shared the Waitrose cookery school’s recipe for Easy Potato Dauphinoise a number of people suggested variations including the addition of onions.

More recently, I came across an Alex Mackay adaptation of tartiflette, incorporating caramelised onion alongside potatoes and bacon. His recipe includes instructions on caramelising onions. That’s not a complicated task, by any means, though it does take time and patience.

But I’ve had a jar of Asda Extra Special Caramelised Onion Chutney in the larder (from a goodie bag given to me at an Asda Leith’s blogger event) and knew it would be the perfect shortcut.

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Ingredients
3-4 tablespoons sweet and sticky well-caramelised onions (or Asda’s ES caramelised onion chutney)
500-600 grams peeled large waxy potato such as Desiree
200 ml double cream
200 ml full fat milk
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Method

  • In a large sauce pan place the double cream, milk, garlic, salt and pepper on a gentle heat.

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  • Peel and slice the potatoes, about 3mm thick. I used the mandoline slicer this time, but sliced by hand previously.
  • Preheat the oven to 170 C.
  • Add the potato slices into the cream and milk and simmer for 15 minutes, until the potato slices have softened a little.

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  • Use a slatted spoon to transfer about a third of the potatoes into an oven dish, arranging them so they’re reasonably flat. You don’t need to be too neat.

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  • Spread the caramelised onions evenly across the potatoes.

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  • Cover with the remaining slices of potatoes. Pour or spoon the remainder of the thickened cream and milk over the potatoes.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  • Check if done by inserting a knife into the dish; the potatoes should feel soft all the way through.

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  • The dish will stay hot for several minutes before serving, if you need time to finish other elements of the fish.

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COMPETITION

Oxo Good Grips are generously offering both the above products as prizes for a Kavey Eats competition.

  • The first prize is the Oxo Good Grips Mandoline Slicer.
  • The second prize is an Oxo Good Grips 1 litre Angled Measuring Jug.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 2 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, answering the following question:
What’s your favourite recipe featuring sliced fruits or vegetables?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @KaveyF on twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter!
Then tweet the (exact) sentence below:
I’d love to win Oxo Good Grips prizes from Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/NM5FI #KaveyEatsOxoGoodGrips

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 28th September 2012.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The first prize is an Oxo Good Grips Mandoline Slicer. The second prize is an Oxo Good Grips 1 litre Angled Measuring Jug. Both prizes include delivery to a UK address. Prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and to be provided directly by Oxo Good Grips.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You do not have to enter both ways for your entries to be valid.
  • For twitter entries, winners must be following @KaveyF at the time of notification, as this will be sent by Direct Message.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email or twitter (for twitter entries). If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

 

This competition is now closed. First prize winner = Esther Lewis (entry via blog). Second prize winner = @novasilence (entry via twitter).

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