Just for this week, so don’t panic. Some of you know that I do technology related work for my day job, so this week I am in sunny California at a Microsoft Conference. No cooking or eating with the family for me. As aggravating as it can be trying to get them to eat and have manners and so forth, I really miss it when I’m gone.
So, I was thinking that there would be no posts this week, as I won’t be cooking anything, but it came to me in a flash: I’ll blog about the food at Tech Ed 2009!! Surely that’s a new thing under the sun (read: nothing comes up on Google). Unfortunately it didn’t occur to me at lunch, so I didn’t get any pictures, but I got some of the Partner Expo food in the evening.
Lunch was supposed to be some kind of Asian inspired thing. Spinach salad which was ok, but nothing to get excited about, dry teriyaki grilled chicken which wasn’t horrible, uninspired chow mien, and honestly, the worst sweet and sour pork I’ve eaten EVER. I can’t imagine how you could screw it up so badly. The only positive thing I can say about it is that it wasn’t slathered in a bright red sauce. I think sweet and sour dishes can be a little tricky. Certainly many of the Chinese food restaurants I’ve been to have blown it, I’m a bit surprised that a 60 billion dollar company like Microsoft can’t get it right either. Have no fear though, I will share with you my fool proof answer to this thorny problem. (From memory, mind you – you’ve been warned).
The food at the expo was much more interesting, I thought. Here are some really good “California Spring Rolls” that had rice noodles and fresh mushrooms and basil leaves:
They had some very tasty Andouille sausage wrapped in puff pastry, some mediocre sliders, and a sadly disappointing potato bar. One cool thing they did was make a chopped chef salad on the spot and serve it in little take out boxes.
I liked the mini grilled Ruebens also. From a concept standpoint, I think my favorite thing was the dessert, which was all kinds of candy. Cotton candy, malt balls, Andes mints, Ghiradelli, smarties, it was very creative.
Spicy Sweet and Sour Pork
Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium high heat. We’re going for 350 degrees.
Mix the flour, cornstarch, egg, and salt in a medium bowl. Add water and mix until smooth. Add meat and stir to coat. Working in batches of 8 or 10 pieces, drop the coated meat into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 6 or 7 minutes. As always, don’t crowd the pan. As I’m pulling them out of the oil, I always cut one open to make sure it’s done all the way. If not, I throw them back and adjust my times.
In a medium sauce pan, combine pineapple juice, vinegar, brown sugar, soy, salt, chili garlic and carrots. Heat to boiling and then simmer until the carrots are tender. In small dish mix cornstarch and water until smooth, then add to the sauce pan while stirring constantly. This will thicken the sauce after a couple of minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and then add the pineapple and peppers and let cook for about 3 or 4 minutes.
You can mix the fried meat pieces into the sauce if you want and serve over rice, but my group likes to have everything separate.
My kids are highly picky eaters. We’ve covered this before. But for some reason, they LOVE going to chinese buffet restaurants. I, on the other hand, ABHOR all buffets. I hate the very idea of buffet. I have to get up out of my seat and move with the herd over the grazing lanes, to get food that was made heaven only knows how long ago and then pay ridiculous amounts for the privilege. When I eat at a restaurant, they should bring the food that I ordered to me. Enough said.
Anyway, even though I hate the buffet, I really like Asian food. Chinese, Japanese, Thai, I will happily eat it all. There are a couple of things that I have a compulsion to try every time I see it on a menu. Egg rolls are one of them, and dumplings (pot stickers, gyoza etc) are the other. I have attempted and failed many times at pot stickers, but I have a pretty good take on egg rolls. (Kitty is a big fan of them anyways). They aren’t very authentic, but they never last long when I make them.
In a heavy skillet or dutch oven, heat about 3 cups of oil to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients except the egg together in medium bowl. If you used small wonton wrappers, put about 1/2 tablespoon of filling in the center. If you used the large ones use about 1 tablespoon. Brush the edges of the wonton with the egg wash, then fold in the sides and brush the newly exposed sides. Then roll the ends together, pressing firmly to get the air out and seal the edges. (This part takes forever and is the reason why I don’t make these very often.)
Fry the egg rolls in the hot oil, 5 or 6 at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan too much. They need to be in there for 4 or 5 minutes on each side. I usually go by color, but I always cut the first one open to test for doneness. Take them out when they’re done and drain on paper towels.
I usually serve a sweet and sour type sauce to dip them in like this:
Sweet and Sour Sauce
Combine pineapple juice, sugar, vinegar, soy, chili garlic sauce and ginger in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 4 minutes, it should be boiling when you take it out.
In a small bowl or ramekin mix the corn starch and water until smooth, then dump it into the pineapple juice mixture. Mix well and then microwave for another minute or so, until it thickens. Let this cool a bit before serving.