Chef Juje

A messy adventure in learning to cook

Archive for the category “Recipe”

Easy-but-Fancy Stir Fry

Welcome to Fancy Fridays! Today’s recipe is easy enough but is delicious enough to be passed off as fancy.

I’ve become a little obsessed with Rouxbe, an online cooking school I’ve found. It’s through Rouxbe that I came across this fantastic stir-fry recipe.

The recipe itself called for broccoli, which is not a favorite in our house, so I used red and green peppers, snow peas and celery instead. Truly, you can use whatever veggies you find delicious, just be sure that crispier vegetables are cooked first.

The recipe is really “just” a stir fry — stir fry the chicken, stir fry the vegetables, stir fry everything together. The difference here is that you will “velvet” the chicken to give it a smooth, velvety texture. You then use a couple of clutch special ingredients (oyster sauce, red chili paste, sherry) to mix with the vegetables to give it that maybe-I-secretly-ordered-Chinese-take-out kind of flavor.

That’s really it. I struggled a lot with the actual stir-frying of the chicken because of my impatience with my baby stainless-steel pan, but that only has to do with my being a novice in the kitchen. The hardest part is forking (heh) over a little cash up front for the special ingredients. Once you do that, though, the dish becomes pretty inexpensive.

1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp + 3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp + 3 tbsp dry sherry (I used the kind found in the baking section)
2 tbsp + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp chili paste (sambal oelek preferred, though I just used the chili paste I could find; found in Asian section of grocery)
1.5 tbsp oyster sauce (found in Asian section of grocery)
1 garlic clove, smashed (NOT minced)
1 slice ginger
1/3 cup almonds
veggies of choice, cut and prepared for stir fry


1.) “Velvet” the chicken – Place bite-sized pieces of chicken in medium bowl. Mix the cornstarch, soy sauce, sherry and oil in small bowl. Pour over the chicken and stir to evenly coat. Set it aside, while you make the sauce.

2.) Make the sauce – Combine the chili paste/sambal, oyster sauce, soy sauce and sherry in a small bowl.

3.) Infuse oil with ginger and garlic – Heat pan/wok. Once hot, add oil and then ginger and garlic. Remove ginger and garlic after a few seconds.

4.) Stir fry the chicken. You will generally need to do two batches of chicken, as you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. Separate pieces that are stuck together and let sit for a bit before tossing. Cook until golden and just done.

5.) Stir fry veggies – put veggies in the pan/wok and cook. Cooking time depends on the type of veggies you choose. Carrots = longer. Add the sauce from step 2, then cook until vegetables are done. Add chicken and almonds. Finally, add the green onion and toss. Cook until everything is heated through.

Source: Rouxbe

Helpful Hints: A properly heated pan or wok is essential for this and is something that I’m still working on! I use a stainless steel skillet for now (we have an electric range and woks are designed for gas ranges), so my temperature is going to be a little lower. I’ve heard chef pans work well, too, for electric stove tops. Also, let the chicken sit a bit in the wok/pan before tossing. The chicken needs time to develop a crust.


Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito

I take new year’s resolutions very seriously – especially when they’re fun and really only benefit me.  Ha!  This year I “resolved” to go on one adventure  each week that I’ve never done before here in Columbus, like visit all the metro parks,  see Rocky Horror Picture Show at Studio 35 and try Somali food.

This week  I visited the Clintonville Winter Farmer’s Market.  Maybe it’s the old beautiful houses or the Olentangy trail or the general strange-but-wonderful-ness of the area, but I simply LOVE Clintonville.  It’s January and Ohio so there wasn’t a ton of produce available, but I did leave with a giant loaf of ciabatta bread, a basket of red potatoes and two giant sweet potatoes.

I’ve eaten a lot of sweet potato fries as of late so I tried this new dish from an old cookbook.  You basically take a bunch of 6-inch tortillas, spread a black bean mixture on the bottom of each, then add a layer of sweet potato puree and finish with some shredded Monterrey Jack. This is the follow-the-recipe-exactly-because-I’m-still-learning variety, but I’ve come up with some ways I’d like to spice it up in the future.  Maybe additional spices (paprika? red pepper flakes?) for the sweet potatoes or black beans. I might also roll the burritos Chipotle-style, or cut them into smaller pieces and serve as an appetizer. Ideas welcome!

Oh! One last thing. I think you can microwave the sweet potatoes instead of baking them in the oven. But see previous posts about how I like to make things as complicated as possible.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito


2 sweet potatoes, about 10 ounces each
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
One 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup water (you can use vegetable stock instead)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Eight 6-inch flour tortillas
2 to 3 scallions, white part only thinly sliced
1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese
Shredded romaine, sour cream, and chopped pickled jalapeños for garnish


Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prick the potatoes with a knife in several places and bake in a small baking pan until very tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

Stir in the cumin and chili powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and vegetable stock, cover, and cook until the beans are very soft and the flavors have blended, about 5 minutes.

Use a fork to coarsely mash the beans. Season with salt and pepper. You should have about 1 1/2 cups.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and cool. (Keep the oven at the same temperature.) When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, halve and scoop out the flesh. Place the flesh in a small bowl and use a fork to mash coarsely. Discard the skins. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. You should have 1 1/2 to 2 cups.

Spread the tortillas with roughly equal amounts of the bean mixture. Top with equal amounts of the potato puree.

Sprinkle on equal amounts of scallions and cheese.

Roll the tortillas into cylinders and arrange, seam side down, in a baking pan large enough to hold the burritos in one layer. For a soft burrito, cover with foil and bake until warmed through, about 20 minutes. Bake uncovered for a crisper burrito.

Arrange the garnishes attractively in bowls and let diners garnish their own burritos.

Helpful Hint:  Save some counter space for the arrangement of the tortillas.

Source:  Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, 2007

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