I’m On the Sauce: (Asian Kiwi Mango Sauce!)

Kiwis and a Lime on the Cutting Board

This winter, I’ve been cooking like crazy.

I have been stir frying a lot, making tacos, crepes, you name it. I’m also on a big pork kick–I bet I’ve eaten more pork in the last 3Pork Taco with Sweet Kiwi Mango Sauce

months than I have in the last 3 years. And ever since we visited my sister in Chicago a few years ago, my brother and I have been

making interesting tacos (it took going to Chicago for us to encounter real Mexicans making real Mexican food, which spurred us to start experimenting).

I’ll go into better detail about our zany tacos in another post, but here is a not-very-good picture of one I made a few days ago. It’s a soft corn tortilla, pork (which I ground from a pork loin roast and spiced up), Napa cabbage, a cucumber and cilantro salsa, sweet kiwi mango sauce, and sour cream.

For years now I’ve been making salsas of all kinds, but rarely have I tried my hand at more exotic sauces. I’ve always watched Bobby Flay make these great sauces that everybody raves about on his shows, and lately I’ve been watching a lot of Chopped–those chefs whip up amazing sauces with weird ingredients all the time. I saw a guy recently make a cranberry sauce everyone

Asian Kiwi Mango Sauce and Cilantro Sauce
Asian Kiwi Mango Sauce and Cilantro Sauce

loved, and I finally decided to turn my attention to creating something new of my own.

So I have been. I can’t say that every one has turned out, but I’ve only had one absolute failure so far (which was an Asian cranberry-cilantro creation that tasted strange).

I’ve made a couple different cilantro sauces–they both turned out, although I think they need a bit more work before I start handing out recipes.

By far the best sauce I’ve made so far is my Asian Kiwi Mango. It’s tangy, sweet, savory, and tart. And it’s so damn easy that I’m not going to give you an exact recipe. Just use a bit of each of the following ingredients, and blend them up until you have a sauce:

Asian Kiwi Mango Sauce:

Kiwis and a Lime on the Cutting Board
Kiwis and a Lime on the Cutting Board

2 Kiwis

1 Mango

1/2 cup raw Onion

1 tsp Fish Sauce

1 tbsp Soy Sauce

couple pinches of Salt (maybe more to taste)

1 tbsp Brown Sugar

1 tbsp minced Garlic (from a jar)

splash Rice Vinegar

Asian Kiwi Mango Sauce
Asian Kiwi Mango Sauce

juice from half a Lime

1 tbsp Olive Oil

I don’t keep track of ingredient amounts when I make up stuff–I just go to it and work until I’ve either made something tasty or

not. With this sauce, I recorded all the ingredients, but not the exact amount I used. I probably used more salt than that, but I think you should just add things to taste and see where you get. If your kiwis or mango are getting overripe, you might get a slimy sauce, and it’ll probably be sweeter. I also used garlic from a jar because it’s mild but still adds flavor.

After making this sauce, I also made a Sweet Kiwi Mango Sauce that tastes great on tacos (it’s basically just the same sauce as above without the savory

Sweet Kiwi Mango Sauce
Sweet Kiwi Mango Sauce

ingredients). When I made this batch, the kiwis were a bit more ripe than I liked, so they made it a tad bit slippery. If you eat it alone, it’s a little slick, but when put in a taco, it adds a lot of interesting flavor, especially if you’re not used to sweetness in your tacos.

 

I’ll share some more sauce recipes with you soon. What about you guys? Do you have some great ones in your arsenal? And if you make this recipe and modify it, please post your changes/improvements here. Please share them!

Georgia Cornbread: A Simple,Tasty Treat.

Georgia Cornbread

A few weeks ago, my brother and I went to visit our friend Hank. He’s a very generous older gentleman who is trying to get rid of things, not accumulate more. So in an effort to do something nice for him, we decided to bring him something to eat when we came over. It took me a while to figure out what would be the best thing to bring, especially since I wasn’t too sure about what he would like and I didn’t want to make him feel like he was ordering up something (if I asked him what we should bring).

So after thinking about it for a while, it finally hit me that this Montana guy could make a batch of Georgia Cornbread. While it’s not much to look at, it’s simple to make and tastes great–my mom has been making it the last few years as a quick dessert for family gatherings. The recipe she pointed me toward is from a lady named Barb Gertz from over at Food.com, and from her short bio there, she knows her stuff.

Georgia Cornbread
Georgia Cornbread

I think it’s a really weird thing to call what is basically pecan pie in cake form. It doesn’t include any corn at all but since it’s un-frosted, it looks similar to a pan of cornbread.

Instead of using my fancypants [amazon asin=B0002Y5X9W&text=KitchenAide Professional 600] mixer, I used my new [amazon

asin=B005GYRXA0&text=Ninja Kitchen System Pulse] blender, just to see how it would work as a quick, self-contained mixer.

Later I’ll do a more general , in-depth review of the Ninja Pulse, but at this point, I’m glad my wife got it for me for my birthday. It

Ninja Kitchen System Pulse
My Ninja Kitchen System Pulse

is a great multi-purpose blender and smoothie maker. It’s really powerful and I’m impressed that its so well-built. I expected something called the “ninja” to be total junk, but the thing isn’t just made of standard cheapie plastic–it’s very durable and I think it’ll last a long time.

All that being said, I should have used the Kitchenaid for mixing  and the Ninja to chop up the pecans. The Ninja had a hard time mixing the cornbread batter (the batter is extremely thick, especially once you add the pecans). It worked, but a few days after making this, I made another batch using the Kitchenaid.

They call it a mixer for a reason–it worked perfectly.

My Kitchenaid is their beastly model–I use it to knead bread dough and to make meringues more than anything. I don’t make a lot of stuff like this Georgia Cornbread, but I tell you what. If you don’t have a Kitchenaid mixer, get one. You might not need the gigantic one I have, but they make good stuff. If you plan on using a mixer to knead bread, you should seriously consider the Pro

KitchenAid Professional 600 Mixer
KitchenAid Professional 600 Mixer

model since it has a re-settable fuse inside that temporarily blows if the thing gets bogged down and overheats–which mine did once while kneading a heavy-duty wheat bread. It’s not a big deal since you just let it cool off for a bit (then it works again). Cheaper models don’t generally have safety measures like that and will just burn up (I don’t know if this is the case with the Kitchenaid Artisan or the Heavy Duty models, which are both smaller and cheaper than the Pro 600).

So all in all, try out the Georgia Cornbread–you can certainly mix it by hand, but the batter is so thick that you’ll have a dead hand pretty quickly. You can also modify the recipe pretty easily–I made a batch with a handful of peanuts and some coconut in it. That turned out too.

I’m curious if any of you have had something similar to this stuff. Did you have it growing up? Is it a Southern thing, like I have read?

Sharpening Your Knives the Easy Way

Kitchen Knives and Gatco Sharpener

Sharpening knives can be tricky, especially if you don’t do it very often (which most people don’t).

Gatco Knife Sharpener
Gatco Knife Sharpener

I’ve watched YouTube videos on sharpening, and I’ve tried all the classic sharpening methods over the years. My knives have always been pretty sharp, but I always knew they could be sharper. I think it’s because I don’t do it often enough to develop some level of knife sharpening skill.

Recently, an extremely generous friend gave my brother and I a number of quality kitchen knives. Some are American, some German, but the best are Japanese. I have had my Cutco chef’s knife for maybe 5 years and use it all the time, so it takes  a beating–I use my ceramic hone on it fairly regularly, and as of last year, I started sharpening it with my brother’s [amazon asin=B003774RF2&text=Gatco knife sharpener].

I’m not going to go all cuckoo over the Gatco, but the thing works very well. It’s hard to describe how it works, so I’ll just show you in this little video clip I took of my brother using it on my [amazon asin=B005FNPY7G&text=Cutco chef’s knife]:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2rSGKPXpaw&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

Basically, you clamp your knife into the holder, then figure out what angle your edge is. You just select one of the sharpening rods

Gatco Sharpener In Action
Gatco Sharpener In Action

and guess at the angle your knife was ground at. So far 22 degrees has been most common. But you can easily tell the angle of your edge without using the sharpening system–if you have the right one, go for it. If not, put the rod in other positions until you get the right one. From there you just run the sharpening rod along the blade edge, letting the system do all the work for you.

My brother’s kit includes coarse, medium, and fine stones, as well as one designed for serrated knives. The thing works well.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to spend $90 on a sharpening set like this to do a good job. I AM saying that something like the Gatco is an excellent way to sharpen your expensive knives, especially if, like me, you don’t have the skills to use traditional sharpeners.

Feeling Bad For Telling Baby “No.”

Gianna Sad Face

Last night I made a nice Jasmine Rice Pudding for dessert. Gianna loved it (recipe to follow).

After giving her about 15 or 20 bites, I figured she had eaten enough. I mean, this was just dessert and she’s only 11-months-old. She doesn’t need dessert at all, and she certainly doesn’t need too much. Well, she didn’t agree.  She pointed at the bowl and gave a soft grunt, which is her caveman-babyspeak for “gimme.”

When I didn’t give her any more and told her she had already eaten enough, she threw her hands in the air and screeched. Again, I told her no. Then she wrinkled up her nose, leaned down closer to the bowl, and sort of growled. Yep, Gianna growled–she lives her life among dogs, after all.

When I said “no” and didn’t move to give her any more, she snapped back up and sort of swiped both hands at my face (as if that would get her any more pudding, right?). I could see that she was on the edge of a sudden outburst, which is a new thing for her (she’s just starting to explore asserting herself).

At this point, I’d had enough, so I gave her a very firm “no,” and drew her away. She reached for the bowl with such a desperate expression that I immediately felt terrible. Still, I pulled her back, deepened my voice, and told her she had eaten enough. Her face crumpled up, turned red, and she started to cry. For a second I wondered if she would try to actually hit my face (she considered it, I think).

You know what? I felt just about as bad about it as she did. I didn’t want to deny her something that would make her feel good. And here I was being the Big Meany who for no obvious reason (to her) insisted on preventing her from getting more tasty rice and raisins (and sugar). I wanted her to have more, to feel good, to make happy sounds.

This was a first for me, really.

For a second, I considered giving her more since it would make her happy, but reason and good parenting won out and I instantly knew she was done for the night. She didn’t need more, and I wasn’t going to tolerate her micro-tantrum by giving in. She didn’t cry long (about a minute) since I diverted her attention, and pretty quickly, the world was good again.

The moral of the story: I had to tell Gianna “no” and let her feel bad so she’ll become a better kid. She needs to learn that tantrums get her nowhere. And if that requires me to feel bad for her, well, so be it. As a parent it’s my job to do what’s right for her development, whether I like it or not.

What about you? How do you handle tantrums? Did I screw up? Did I do the right thing? What do you think?

Jasmine Rice Pudding:

This is so easy you don’t even need a recipe, really.
1 cup Jasmine Rice (you could use whole grain or Minute Rice, but Jasmine becomes creamy when you cook it).
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Skim Milk (approximately 1/2 cup)
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/2-1 cup Raisins
Optional: add a bit of half and half to thicken it. I did tonight, but I don’t think it needs it.
It’s simple: just cook the rice until it’s tender (about 15 minutes), then add the other ingredients and cook on low heat for a few minutes (until the mixture thickens). It makes about 4 servings.
My grandma used to make “raisins and rice” all the time. It was good, but the Jasmine Rice makes this a lot better. It’s creamier and smells good, so that’s all I use for this and stir fry, which I have been making a lot lately).