Cooking an Artichoke

Artichoke

Grooming an Artichoke!

Preparing an Artichoke is no big deal.  You just need a sharp knife, and I mean Chef sharp!  An Artichoke is a very tough budding flower from an extraordinary plant so you have to bust through the meaty exterior to get to that wholesome tender center.  Not to mention that the leaves have thorns at their tips.  So, the first thing you want to do, after you get your seasoned water boiling, is cut through the base and sever the stem, and then expose all of the pedals by cutting the leaf tips.  This Allows the seasoned boiling water to penetrate through the entire Artichoke when it’s fully submerged, thus tenderizing the heart and making the leaves eatable.  Boil for approximately 8 minutes then serve an Artichoke with melted butter and mayonnaise.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip or Spread

Artichoke Recipe Favorites

My Favorite ways to eat an Artichoke usually involves the hearts.  And, because I’m lazy, I’ll just break down and by a jar of pickled or marinated Artichoke hearts and incorporate them into my recipes.

Artichoke

Here’s a few, with links if you want to look into making a few these your selves.  Broccoli and Cheese Dip with Marinated Artichoke Hearts,  Spinach and Artichoke Dip or Spread and one I haven’t added yet is Roasted Artichoke Hearts on my Alfredo Sauce Pizza.  So that’s just a free tip!

Artichoke Ingredients:

1 Artichoke
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Add enough water to a pot to fully submerge an Artichoke while it’s boiling.

Perfect Tempura Everytime

Tempura

Tempura is Touchy!

Lets nail down the issues most people have with making Tempura, starting with buying it in a box.  For the most part, you’re just buying a box of flour with a fancy picture on the front that shows you how good it could look if you buy their product.  But does that make sense?  You’ve got flour at home in your kitchen, right?  Oh, maybe you need the directions on the back of the box.  Wait, that doesn’t make sense either because you’ve got the web at your finger tips.  You can just look it up.  So here we are, you and I, and we’re going to get through this together.

Tempura

Tempura in a Box

Soda Water or Club SodaThe truth is that no matter what the contents of that Tempura box are, flour, corn starch or whatever, the box directions are WRONG!  Sure they give you a few pointers from step 1 to 3 but they don’t talk about a few key issues you will have if you don’t mix it in the right order, if you just use regular tap water or if you don’t keep your batter ice cold.  That’s right.  If you ignore any one of these 3 things, your Tempura is not going to turn out right.

Tempura Ingredients:

1 egg yoke
1 cup Tonic or Seltzer Water, Carbanated is the key
1 cup Flour

  • Mix the ingredients in a bowl over the top of another bowl full of ice water
  • Stir the liquids first, then add the flour and don’t over mix; leave it lumpy
  • Use ice cold Tonic or Seltzer water, not Tap, to get the batter to poof up

Watch the video tutorial and follow these simple instructions and you will have perfect Tempura, every single time.

Chow Mein, Lo Mein and more Chow Mein

Lo Mein/Chow MeinSo many Choices

Do you know the difference between Lo Mein and Chow Mein?  What about the difference between Chow Mein and Chow Mein? Ah, you didn’t know there are two different kinds of Chow Mein?  If you do that’s great, but most people don’t.  I didn’t.  Well at least at the time I was ordering it from a menu and got something I thought was entirely different and not what I was expecting at all.  That experience was years ago but it was the day that I learned the difference between Eastern and Western Chow Mein.

Eastern Chow Mein is what I got when I was expecting something different.  Apparently Western Chow Mein is what I was expecting and if that’s what I wanted from a place that serves the “Eastern” version of Chow Mein, rather, I should have ordered Lo Mein and it would’ve been the same thing.  Are you confused yet?

Western Chow Mein and Lo Mein recipes are virtually the same thing; lots of oily soft noodles with minimal vegetables.  Eastern Chow Mein is practically the opposite with a few variances, but basically lots of vegetables and minimal crispy noodles.  Western Chow Mein is my favorite, though I’ve come to love the Eastern version and often crave that recipe from time to time.  Lo Mein, or rather, Western Chow Mein is what I’ll be focusing on in this recipe.

TopRamen_ChickenNoodles, Noodles, Lo Mein Noodles

Never use Spaghetti noodles unless you want to fit in with all of the other yahoo’s out there that really don’t know what they’re doing.  You may not know either, but with this Lo Mein/Chow Mein recipe, you’ll be able to wing it like the pros and no one will be able to tell the difference.  You can, however, pull this off with Angel Hair Pasta, but I’m still not recommending an Italian noodle for a Chinese dish.  If you can pick up a soft noodle, something doughy or already cooked near the Tofu and egg roll wrappers in your grocery store, then that’s as good as it’s going to get, unless you make your own.  Though today, I’m going to show you how to do this with an all time very inexpensive favorite of mine, Ramen!  Nissin Top Ramen is what I’m using, with the chicken flavored seasoning packet.  You can literally use any flavor you prefer, but most Restaurants use a chicken or vegetable stock in their kitchen.  So trust me with this one because you’re going to need the broth even after you cook your noodles.

Cook The Noodles Al Dente.  This just means that you need to slightly under cook the noodles.  The reason for this is because they need to be cooked a second time when they are tossed with the vegetables, and this will keep them from getting over cooked and sticky.  Another important tip you need to know is the oil.  I have found that Peanut oil gives a more professional taste to the flavor of the noodles.  Don’t ask me why, because Chinese Restaurants will use Canola and even Soy Bean oil for their noodles, but I just don’t think they bring out that delicious fast food street vendor style of Lo Mein we’ve all grown to love.  For all I know, peanut oil is what the street vendors use.  I can’t be certain but it sure tastes right!

Ingredients:

1 pkg Noodles
4 ounces of Broth from the Noodle bouillon
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Hoisin or Oyster Sauce
1/3 cup Peanut Oil
1 chopped Garlic Clove
1 1/2 Mixed Vegetables

Vegetables should include Cabbage, Onion and Carrot at a minimum, but can also contain Mushroom, Celery and Bean Sprouts.  Feel free to add any precooked meats like, Shrimp, Chicken or Beef.  Rob the 4 ounces of Broth from the Noodle bouillon and mix the sugar and your choice of Hoisin or Oyster to make the Secret Sauce.  Both are good but add a completely different taste so just choose your favorite.  Cook the noodles Al Dente and strain, then cook the vegetables in the peanut oil and garlic for 30 seconds, add the noodles and toss, then poor the “Secret Sauce” into the noodles and stir until the coloring is even through out the noodles.  The whole cooking process, tossing the vegetables and then combining with the noodles, shouldn’t take you more than 1 full minute to complete.  Serve the Lo Mein Family Style, on one plate, then dish out separately.