Food

GENERAL TSO’S CHICKEN WINGS

These sticky sweet and spicy General Tso’s chicken wings are inspired by the classic Chinese-American General Tso’s Chicken. Seriously addictive! (Jump directly to the recipe.)

Years ago I read a book called The Fortune Cookie Chronicles which explores Chinese-American cuisine. I was fascinated by the stories about how Chinese-American cuisine that you get at a restaurant isn’t really Chinese food. I knew that, since growing up my mom never made anything that resembled the food I would see or eat out. There was no Egg Foo Young, no Mongolian Beef and certainly no General Tso’s Chicken. But that didn’t mean I didn’t love all those foods, especially General Tso’s signature dish. So when I decided to do another Chicken Wings Week here on Eat the Love, I knew I wanted to make an ode to my childhood favorite, no matter how inauthentic is was. All I can say is that these General Tso’s Chicken Wings are insanely addictive and perfect for anyone who loves Chinese-American food.
There’s actually a whole chapter about General Tso’s chicken in The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, and the author Jennifer 8 Lee has actually done a TED talk about it. She actually goes to General Tso’s hometown and pokes around there, trying to track down the origin of the recipe. Spoiler alert, no one there has ever heard of the chicken! But that doesn’t mean the spicy sweet savory chicken isn’t pretty wonderfully tasty. Even as a kid, I used to beg my parents to go to the Chinese restaurant so I could order the stuff. They sneered at the stuff but they would occasionally break down and take the family anyway. It was magical to me.

These highly addictive wings are inspired by the classic Chinese-American General Tso’s Chicken dish. The wings are first marinated then coated and fried, then tossed in a spicy sweet and savory sauce. Don’t be scared by the ingredients because it does come together pretty fast. Toss the wings in the sauce at the last minute before serving to keep them crisp, or thin the sauce with a 1/2 cup extra chicken stock and serve the sauce on the side for dipping!
Ingredients :

Marinade
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, broken into flats and drumettes (save the tips for stock or discard)
Coating
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Sauce
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1/4 cup Chinese rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chopped scallions
  • 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 12 dried chili pepper (Arbol or Thai)
vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped scallion for garnish
Directions :
1. Add the egg whites, soy sauce, wine or sherry and vodka in a medium bowl and beat until combined. Pour about 1/3 cup of the liquid out into a separate small bowl and set aside. To the large amount, add the baking soda and cornstarch. Stir to mix in.

2. Place the chicken wings in large bowl and pour the larger amount of cornstarch marinade over it. Toss the wings with a large spatula or wooden spoon until coated then cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

3. Make the coating by placing the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and stirring them vigorously with a balloon whisk. Drizzle the 1/3 cup reserve marinade liquid over the dry ingredients and toss together with a fork until some of the coatings start to clump up a bit into small bits.

4. Make the sauce by combining the soy sauce, wine or sherry, chicken stock, sugar, sesame oil and cornstarch together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Stir to dissolve the sugar and starch. Set aside.

5. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the garlic, ginger, scallion, chile flakes and whole dried chilies. Cook over medium high heat until the garlic and ginger have softened and smell fragrant. Whisk the liquid to stir up any starch that settled to the bottom and pour into the pan with the garlic and ginger. Cook until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens in the pan, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

6. Pour the oil for frying into a large Dutch oven or work until it’s about 1-inch deep. Bring the oil to 350ºF. Once the heat is reached, take one piece of chicken wing out of the marinade and dip it in the coating, making sure to coat the wing on all sides. Repeat with a few more of the wing pieces until you have enough to fry without crowding the pan you are using. Gently lower the coated chicken into the oil (don’t drop it in, it’ll splatter the oil!) and adjust the heat so it stays at about 350ºF. Flip the wing every now and then and move the pieces around with tongs to make sure they evenly cook for about 4 or 5 minutes or until they look golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

7. Once the chicken is done frying, heat the sauce up again (it might have cooled a bit and gelled) and add the fried chicken wings to the pan. Toss and coat the chicken wings completely then move to a serving platter. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped scallions and serve immediately.

LANZHOU BEEF NOODLE SOUP

It’s obvious that China has no shortage of noodle dishes and Chinese noodle soup recipes. More than you’ve probably ever heard or dreamt of. The variety is as expansive as China’s geography, and EVERYTHING is delicious. But among the many noodle dishes (and noodle soups in particular), one stands out, Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup.

This fact has been confirmed by a quick search on China’s Google, baidu.com. Translating to Lanzhou Hand-Pulled Noodle Soup, this bowl of hot, spicy delight is deceptively simple and has spawned noodle chains across Beijing. In fact, we have a Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup place right downstairs, about 100 yards from our Beijing apartment. My niece Kim came to visit us in Beijing this summer, and after many fancy restaurants and lavish meals, she declared this bowl of noodle soup to be the best thing she had in China. And it only costs $3! We made sure to feed her an extra bowl before leaving for the airport.

If you’ve been on The Woks of Life for a while, you’ve probably learned a thing or two about me from my recipes. I’m not a fussy person, and I love keeping things simple. This recipe is adapted from many conversations with the cooks and staff at our local noodle shop, and after much thought and experimentation, I’ve simplified things for the home cook. We’re not going to make noodles from scratch, so don’t worry. You can’t compromise flavor on the authentic Lanzhou beef noodle soup broth however, which is what brings the dish together.
Rinse the soup bones and pat dry. Roast them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the beef shank and the chicken (or chicken carcass) to the pot. Bring everything to a boil again. Once boiling, remove the shank and the chicken, discard the water, and clean the pot. This process gets rid of any impurities, and will give your broth a cleaner flavor.

Put the beef shank and chicken back into the pot along with the roasted bones, 10 more cups of water, and 4 cups chicken stock. Make the spice mix by combining all ingredients and tying them tightly in cheese cloth with a bit of kitchen string. Add this to the pot as well and season with salt. Bring everything to a boil.

Once boiling, turn down the heat to low and let everything simmer for about 2 hours. After 2 hours have elapsed, remove the beef shank and set aside. Add the sliced radish and continue simmering for another hour. After that, use tongs to pick out and discard the spice pouch, chicken, and soup bones. Taste the broth for salt and adjust the seasoning if needed. The soup base is ready.

While all that is happening, you can take the time to make your chili oil. In a small pot, add the oil, star anise, cinnamon, and Sichuan peppercorns.
Ingredients :
You'll need:
  • 4 lbs beef or pork soup bones
  • 2¼ lbs (1 kg) beef shank
  • ½ of a whole roasting chicken (or a leftover roasted chicken carcass)
  • 10 cups water
  • 4 cups (about 1 liter) chicken stock
  • Spice mix (see recipe below)
  • Salt, to taste (I added about a tablespoon)
  • ½ of a small Chinese radish, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 lb fresh or dried white noodles (they can really be any thickness, as long as they are wheat-based noodles rather than rice noodles, and have a nice chew when cooked)
  • Hot chili oil, to taste (see recipe below)
  • chopped scallion
  • chopped cilantro
  • For the spice mix:
  • 7 star anise
  • 12 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 6 large slices of sand ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1½ teaspoons white peppercorns
  • 5 licorice root slices (optional but very much recommended)
  • 3 pieces dried orange peel
  • 1 black cardamom
  • For the hot chili oil:
  • ¾ cup oil
  • 2 star anise
  • ½ of a small cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes (just the regular kind you'd sprinkle on your pizza)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
Instructions :
  1. Rinse the soup bones and pat dry. Roast them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the beef shank and the chicken (or chicken carcass) to the pot. Bring everything to a boil again. Once boiling, remove the shank and the chicken, discard the water, and clean the pot. This process gets rid of any impurities, and will give your broth a cleaner flavor.
  2. Put the beef shank and chicken back into the pot along with the roasted bones, 10 more cups of water, and 4 cups chicken stock. Make the spice mix by combining all ingredients and tying them tightly in cheese cloth with a bit of kitchen string. Add this to the pot as well and season with salt. Bring everything to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, turn down the heat to low and let everything simmer for about 2 hours. After 2 hours have elapsed, remove the beef shank and set aside. Add the sliced radish and continue simmering for another hour. After that, use tongs to pick out and discard the spice pouch, chicken, and soup bones. Taste the broth for salt and adjust the seasoning if needed. The soup base is ready.
  4. While all that is happening, you can take the time to make your chili oil. In a small pot, add the oil, star anise, cinnamon, and Sichuan peppercorns. Place the pot over very low heat and let everything toast together slowly for 15 minutes. Take care not to burn the spices. Use a slotted spoon to remove the spices, and turn off the heat. Let the oil cool for about 5 minutes, and then add the chili flakes. Slowly toast these in the hot oil until very fragrant (it should almost smell like popcorn), and very red. Stir in the salt and sugar.
  5. Once the broth and chili oil are done, cook the noodles in a separate pot according to the package instructions. Divide the noodles among 6 bowls. Slice the cooled beef shank into thin slices, and fan them out over the noodles. To finish, add a big ladle of broth and radishes, a spoonful of hot chili oil, and a handful each (don't be shy) of chopped scallion and cilantro.

Lemon Creme Brulee

This post and recipe was created for #EasterSweetsWeek!  I did receive samples by some of the sponsor companies but opinions are 100% mine.
Just in time for Easter is this Lemon Creme Brulee (or for that matter Mother’s Day, birthdays or any celebration).  Just one bite of this heavenly lemony treat, will have you and your guests asking for more (and the recipe!)  While it looks all fancy smancy like you slaved all day, it really couldn’t be simpler to make.  So when those compliments come your way, just smile and say thanks!

There are just a couple days until Easter and if you are a lemon lover like me, you might also be interested in making a couple other of my favorite desserts.  These mini lemon bundt cakes would also impress on your dessert table and lemon hand pies would be a good idea too.  I’m also participating in this year’s Easter Sweets Week.  You will see below some other recipes to try and a giveaway.  One of this year’s sponsors was Microplane and they sent me a zester and a citrus reamer.  Dixie Crystals provided the sugar that I used on top and torched to get that crunchy topping.

I hope you have a fantastic holiday!!
INGREDIENTS :
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons sugar for topping

DIRECTIONS :
Preheat oven to 350
Place sugar and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl and work them together so that the sugar becomes fragrant.
Add in the egg yolks and use a whisk to combine and no lumps remain.
Whisk in the heavy cream, vanilla extract and fresh lemon juice.  Mix until well combined
Place 4 six ounce ramekins on a baking dish with a rim
Divide the mixture into ramekins so they are 3/4 cups full.
Boil 4 cups water and pour the water in baking dish so that it comes up half way on the ramekins
Carefully place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes
The centers should be set but have a slight jiggle to them
Remove from oven and carefully remove each ramekin onto a cooling rack.
Cool until room temperature and then chill in refrigerator
When you are ready to serve, sprinkle about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons on each ramekin
Use a kitchen torch to melt the tops and sugar turns golden brown
Serve immediately
by Deb Attinella

RECIPE NOTES :
For the step with adding the water, I place my cookie sheet on the rack in oven and carefully pour water in then bake.

Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Salsa


The calendar might not officially say it’s summer yet, but we can all agree that summer is basically here, right? I mean, it’s hot, the pools are open, and the grills are smoking – it’s summer! I’ve waxed poetic about my love of winter and how I could totally do withou summer, but I really do try to enjoy it while it’s here. After all, summer comes every year whether I like it not, so I might as well try to make the best of it!
I love grilling out, and this chicken with pineapple salsa is my new favorite recipe. It’s got so much flavor, and it really just screams “summer” – it is made for warm, lazy days. The combination of flavors in the salsa is the perfect mix of sweet and savory, and we even ate the leftovers with tortilla chips. Super delicious!

PS – in case you’re wondering why our grill looks like it has no grates, we’re using a non-stick grill mat, which makes clean up super easy, but still allows for those awesome grill marks on the food.
ingredients:
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast, but in two pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, cut into strips
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper, as needed
  • tortilla chips, if desired
instructions:
  1. Heat the grill to medium high heat. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, pepper, and cayenne pepper in a bowl.
  2. Brush the marinade over both sides of both pieces of chicken. Place on the grill and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the center is no longer pink, turning halfway through.
  3. Mix the olive oil into the remaining marinade and brush over the pineapple. Grill the pineapple for about 10 minutes, turning twice.
  4. Brush the marinade on the avocado and grill for about 3 minutes, with the cut side down. Discard any remaining marinade.
  5. When the pineapple and avocado are finished grilling, dice them and mix together with the onion and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Divide the salsa between the chicken breasts and use any extra as a dip with tortilla chips.

PROSCIUTTO GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI AND A QUIET HOSPITALITY

Friends, now that it’s February, I just love that “love is in the air”! There are so many ways to reach out to show love!

Sometimes we may feel so busy, the space in our lives for big efforts like hosting big parties and such just isn’t there. I know, I’ve been there before many times. But I still make room for simple living and hosting, which for me becomes a daily rhythm of reaching out to others. I think about others who say, “hospitality is not my gift.” I get it, but I do believe we are all called to be hospitable, in whatever way that is.

QUIET HOSPITALITY
Hospitality for me has become very quiet at times, like the other day when I hosted my 2 friends who have known me for over 30 years. One friend is 71, the other 69. I cherish and love these ladies. When we get together, it’s like a day never passed, in between the quiet months of not being in touch with one another.
PROSCIUTTO GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI
I served a healthy salad, and made a small plate of this yummy Prosciutto Goat Cheese Crostini.

It can also be as quiet as sitting with a cup of tea and reading a book (learning and growing, so you have more to give out), or calling a friend and chatting on the phone. Last week I talked with my childhood friend for an hour, and just yesterday a very good friend in Portland. I texted her after the call … 1:03 was the time on my phone. I said, “well worth the hour.” :) I love how you can bring hospitality with you where ever you go!

I long for the hours to sit and talk with friends. It’s something needed, something to be woven into the daily fabric of our lives. My mother showed me this, in the way she lived her life.
INGREDIENTS:
1 fresh baguette (cut into 12 slices)
1/8 cup olive oil
Sea salt or kosher salt
4 ounces goat cheese, plain, at room temperature
12 tablespoons marmalade (or honey)
6 slices prosciutto, each cut in half
12 fresh arugula leaves

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
Slice twelve 1/2-inch slices of bread from the baguette. Place on a baking sheet, and brush generously with the olive oil. Sprinkle a little salt on each slice.  Bake for about 10 minutes, or until crisp and slightly golden.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.
Spread some goat cheese on each crostini. Spread about a tablespoon marmalade or honey on top of the goat cheese.
Fold the half slices of prosciutto and place on top of each crostini.
Lay a fresh arugula leaf on top of each crostini. Serve!