Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chinese New Year Feast

Don't worry if you missed the first night of Chinese New Year's. (I know it was keeping you up at night.) The wise Chinese, along with other Asians, will continue to celebrate for two glorious weeks. Oh how I love a prolonged party! One little box on a calendar just doesn't suffice. Plus once you make a little Chinese food, you'll want to eat it much more often, like almost every day for two weeks. (But you'll have to take a break for Super Bowl Sunday, since Chinese food and football just sound wrong together.) Our "Year of the Ox" dinner included steamed white rice, stir fried noodles, a sweet and sour sauced orange and sesame chicken, and honey soy broccoli, topped off with brown sugar-almond cookies with tangerines for dessert. I think you're really going to love this menu, but most particularly this chicken. I mean weak-at-the-knees love it. Our dinner guests were smitten, and the usually cryptic Mr. Quiet Man even got a little verbose (for him), and I also found myself scraping the pan for the last of that syrupy- vinegary sauce. Good heavens, I'm always a little ashamed of myself when I scrape the pan. I'll just have to make it again. (And my little boy requested it for dinner again tonight. Yep. I think we must.) We've got almost two more weeks of Chinese good wishes. What a way to start a New Year! Money Saving tips: Sesame Oil is pricey but a little goes a long way. Try using it to drizzle on finished dishes for the most bang for your buck. (Use cheaper oils for the actual cooking.) The orange chicken is based on a knock off recipe from Panda Express (I know, I know, unauthentic), only this one is ten times better and will cost you considerably less, especially if you got your chicken on sale. Plus you can control the amount of oil that goes into this recipe, which normally consists of deep fried batter coated chicken. I've used plain old pasta noodles in my recipe below also, since that's going to be your cheapest option. Check out your produce section and compare prices for the cheapest broccoli: loose or bagged. For the cookies, you can swap out any nut you might have on hand, or leave them out all together and swap in a bit of almond extract.

Orange Sesame Chicken
Estimated Cost: $5.00 for six servings
Notes: The preparation on this one is a bit messy, so try to have everything ready ahead of time. I never do, of course, but then I always make a tremendous mess. Just trying to save my wise readers a little clean up.
Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken pieces, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 egg
about 1/4 cup oil (for light frying), plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 cup cornstarch PLUS 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 dash crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup orange juice, plus zest of one orange
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons vinegar (I use rice, white, or even cider)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Directions:
Place chicken pieces in bowl. Stir in egg, and about 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper , and mix well. In a separate bowl, stir 1/2 cup cornstarch and flour together. Add chicken pieces, stirring to coat. Heat oil for frying in wok or large skillet. Add chicken pieces, small batch at a time, and fry 3 to 4 minutes or until golden and crisp. (Do not overcook or chicken will be tough.) Remove chicken from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside. Clean wok with paper towel and heat 15 seconds over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add and stir-fry crushed chilies and green onions. Add soy sauce, orange juice and zest, sugar, and vinegar to the wok; bring to a boil. Add cooked chicken, stirring until well mixed. Stir about 1/4 cup water into remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch until smooth. Add to chicken and heat until sauce is thickened. Stir in 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Serve at once.
Year-Long Noodles
Traditionally, long life noodles are served at Chinese New Year's Feasts to represent best wishes for a lengthy life. I call mine Year Long noodles, since I can't think that far ahead. I'm just hoping for a good long year.
Estimated Cost: $3.00
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup matchstick cut carrots
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 bunch green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 lb. noodles, cooked according to package directions, and drained well
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Heat oil in large pot over high heat. Add carrots and cook for 2 minutes, until tender crisp. Add cabbage, garlic, and green onions. Cook for 1 minute. Add noodles and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add soy sauce and drizzle with a bit more sesame oil.
Honey and Soy Broccoli and Mushrooms
Notes: I should have made a double batch of these vegetables, since they were the first thing devoured from our feast.
Estimated Cost: $3.00
1 teaspoon oil
4 ounces sliced mushrooms (Use whatever you can get on sale)
2 cups chopped broccoli florettes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
pinch of red pepper flakes
In a small skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for two minutes. Add broccoli and stir fry for 3 minutes, or until tender crisp. Stir in soy, honey and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute more. (You can thicken this sauce with cornstarch if desired, but I leave it a little bit thin to go over rice.)
Almond Brown Sugar Cookies
Notes: These cookies could be made without nuts, or with any nut at all. I made them with almonds to bring back memories of those giant almond flavored cookies from Chinese restaurants of my youth. Serve them with tangerine or orange wedges and a nice cup of herbal tea.
(Thanks to Amber for catching my temp error. Fixed it-350 is correct!)
Estimated Cost: $3.00
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar, plus more for tops
2 teaspoons vanilla
about 1 and 1/2 cup flour, plus more if needed
about 1 cup chopped sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Stir in flour lightly until dough forms a "play dough" type consistency. It shouldn't be too sticky, but you should be able to form a ball of dough without having it crumble. Stir in almonds. Form dough into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Place about 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Take a drinking glass and wet the bottom. Press the glass into the sugar, then press onto the cookie to flatten out. Repeat process with all cookies. Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes or until crisp and browned on edges. Makes about 2 dozen.

Up Next:
Twice Baked Potato Appetizers for Super Bowl Sunday

47 comments:

MorenaTejana said...

Do you have any pictures of the chicken dish?

MK and Co. said...

Wow! I love Chinese food so I am happy to adopt any of their holidays if my outcome looks half as delicious as yours. That sauce on the chicken sounds so good. I can't wait to have this one! Happy Chinese New Year to you!

P.S, Couldn't they have picked a smaller animal for the new year? I really don't love thinking about an ox while I consume huge amounts of chinese food!

Nickki said...

What a great chinese feast! We are going through a chinese food obsession atm, and I've been looking for new ideas. Thank you for the inspiration :)

Prudy said...

Morena Tejana:
Hi! The top picture is the chicken dish. I'll put another one in closer to the recipe. I didn't get any pictures at the table this time. I felt like my hands were so full making all these dishes at once. And I confess that my kitchen was a veritable disaster zone when I finished. But the food was wonderful!

VeggieGirl said...

Happy belated Chinese New Year!! Such a wonderful feast you made - I'm partial to those cookies :-D

jenjen said...

Prudy -- what a feast! It all looks so delicious! Happy Chinese New Year!

Jen

Allie said...

Happy Chinese New Year!! It all looks so amazing and it's making me hungry right now!

Prudy said...

MK:
This is that same chicken that we made at my house a couple of years ago. Remember when you got stuck at the frying pan when I left for a meaning....and when I came back you were still frying!

Amy said...

gasp.... Pruddy.... this are amazing recipes!! O my goodness... how delish!!!!

Marjie said...

I'm in for any of this, but I really like the sound of those almond cookies! I love almond anything!

Patsyk said...

What a fantastic feast! I love trying to make Chinese food at home... we have a lot of fun with it when we do as my Husband will generally join in and help.

HoneyB said...

Looks delish Prudy! I was just asking my boss (who is Chinese!) when he was inviting us over for dinner because I was smelling his leftovers he was warming in the mircowave...yumm!

The Blonde Duck said...

Those look delicious! You're so creative!

I caught myself licking a plate of bbq sauce the other day. The evidence was dripping off my chin. Luckily, Ben didn't notice.

cindy said...

Looks yummy as usual!

I left an award on my blog for you-go check it out!

Amber said...

All this food looks amazing! We're big Chinese food fans around here. I'll have to give it all a try. I'm thinking about making these cookies this afternoon, but I've never seen a cookie recipe bake at 250, is that the right temperature?

Suzie said...

Kung Hay Fatt Choy! (Traditional Chinese New Year Greeting). Hope that the Year of the Ox is good for you. We have yet to have our Chinese New Year feast on account of chicken pox!

Mary Ann said...

What a great menu and now that I know there are still many days to celebrate, I just might have another Chinese New Year celebration.
Everything looks super delicious, Prudy!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Sure you didn't go to the Chinese take out and just plated the food? Just kidding Prudy, it all looks delicious! Love the cookies!

Prudy said...

-Yikes Amber! Thanks for catching my error! That's what I get for waking up at four AM to write a post. Making the correction right now. I hope you're not eating raw cookie dough somewhere right now. But then again, there are no eggs in the batter so you'll be all right! Thanks again!

Prudy said...

Clumbsy:
You're giving me a good idea for tonight! That's tempting, considering the gigantic mess I had in my kitchen from this Chinese feast! Wish you could be here so that we could go out for chinese together!

Chrissy said...

That all looks sooooo amazing, I now want Chinese for dinner, but unfortunately for that to happen I will have to stop by the Panda!

Anonymous said...

Seriously, your photos feel like torture because I'm not eating this right NOW!
I really prefer homemade chinese food, and I will certainly be making this as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, I will endure my torture and dream of chinese food on high. :)

Sophie said...

Sadly, I discovered I'm allergic to sesame seeds this year! This is why I never go out for Chinese, this is why I like coming across the recipes online, so I can switch out the oil ;). Those cookies look like they're ready to be dipped in tea, yum!

Tanji said...

Oh Yummy!! I love Chinese food and sadly, the offerings here in NC are G-R-O-S-S! I always thought coastal states had good ethnic food, but NC changed my mind. The South has it's own "ethnic" cuisine, I guess. :) We did find a delicious Indian place though.

Michal said...

are you kidding me? that looks amazing. i can't wait. i don't often make chinese at home because i want a good recipe i can trust to start off with--situation solved! we will definitely be having this this week.

MK and Co. said...

Dearest Prudy,
I really could not wait to make this meal! I headed off to the market after looking at your beautiful recipes and made them for my group this afernoon. Everything, and I mean everything was delicious! My husband gets home late tonight and I'm already thinking about round two of this fabulous meal. Thanks again! We all loved it here!

jessbcuz said...

Orange Chicken, noodles and broccoli... this could very well be my kids favorite dinner! I'm going to have to try this menu-- they both love love love (!) all those foods. Thanks for this one!

Emily said...

Oh goodness, am I ever jealous of your Chinese feast! Everything looks spectacular.

Katherine Aucoin said...

Everything looks so good. You really did a fantastic job.

wosnes said...

That all sounds so good! I will differ with you on Chinese/Asian food for the Super Bowl. Prior to reading this I had decided to do Asian for the Super Bowl. I'm going to do drummettes with some kind of Asian sauce, homemade egg rolls, and probably a slaw with an Asian dressing. Yum! I can hardly wait.

Sally

Prudy said...

Sally:
YOu're winning me over with that menu of yours! I stand corrected. Welcome!

Marie said...

Your oriental buffet looks fabulous Erin! I am drooling over that chicken!

Laura said...

What a feast! Wish I'd remembered that it was Chinese New Year :-( I will definitely try that orange chicken dish - think the kids will really like that one as well.

Maria said...

What a feast! Everything looks divine! I love that we both posted similar meals...we will for sure try yours out!! You should come to a class at Viking sometime! They have one on everything!! Have a great weekend!

JJ said...

STOP! I was doing so good on the diet I started this morning until right now ;) Guess I am off to the store to get ingredients!

Aggie said...

I've been on a chinese food kick lately, my mouth is watering right now!!!

Emily said...

Prudy you made me want to celebrate chinese new year! I am loving your recipes! Chinese food is so addictive! I could eat it everday I swear! Are you a superbowl follower? If so enjoy the game! If not have a wonderful weekend anyway!

Nickki said...

I have to tell you I made this chicken dish last night and it went down a storm with everyone. A great success...thank you for the inspiration Prudy! :)

Di said...

Everything looks and sounds delicious! I especially want to try the broccoli and mushroom dish.

Catherine said...

I'm so glad the Chinese New Year is 2 weeks, becuase I can't wait to make all this delicious chinese food! It looks so good!

Adrienne said...

I made this tonight and it was incredible! The vegetables were so simple and delish, and my husband couldn't stop eating the chicken. Fabulous! And I had both dishes ready within 30 minutes using pre-sliced mushrooms/broccoli, and I thew all the sauce stuff together in a small bowl, mixed it up and boiled it at once. Also, an easy way to clean the wok is to use a wadded up paper towel held by tongs.

Queen B. said...

gosh, looks amazing Prudy ! I have 4 kids to feed, and the hubs, so I need fantastic, AFFORDABLE recipes, as my grocery bill is killing my wallet !

Prudy said...

Adrienne,
Great trip for cleaning the wok! I'll use it tomorrow since my little boy wants the chicken yet again for his birthday dinner. I'm so glad you liked it too!

Kara said...

We love Chinese food and these all look delish. Can't wait to try the orange chicken, that is one of our very favorites!!

Janna said...

My stomach is grumbling just looking at this. Sounds awesome and I have everything for this at home. Hmmmmm....

About us said...

I LOVE you for posting this....I have been looking for good (made at home) Chinese! All of these are my fams Fav!!!! Thank You Thank You... No more Panda

Dawn said...

Oh those noodles! I know I'm so late in posting, but I had to say I just love these noodles.