Thursday, March 17, 2011

Yummy Orange Cookies and Vietnamese Sandwiches

I will post our Lavash recipe soon, but for now I’m offering a couple of other favorite recipes.
Yummy Orange Cookies: Ingredients: 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature); 1 ¾ cups sugar; 2 large eggs (room temp.); 1 orange ground peel and all in a food processor; 4 cups flour; 1 teaspoon baking soda; 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder; 1/8 teaspoon salt; 1 cup sour cream (low or full fat). Mix the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt – in a medium bowl with whisk, to blend. In a mixer or by hand, separately blend the butter and sugar, and beat in the two eggs and the ground orange. Add the flour mixture in thirds to the creamed sugar mixture, beating after each addition; then similarly add the sour cream in halves. Using about an even tablespoon for each of the cookies, scoop and place them on parchment paper or greased cookie sheet, and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, turning sheet when half baked, in order to ensure even baking. Cool on a rack and then frost. Frosting: Soften 2 tablespoons butter, mix with 3 cups confectioner sugar – the mixture will be dry at this point. Working with a spoon, add 2 teaspoons of grated orange rind to the frosting; then, working slowly especially near the end, add up to two tablespoons of orange juice (maybe even a bit more) until the icing is spreadable. Then spread it onto the cookies for a wonderfully flavorful cookie with tea or coffee.
Papa’s Vietnamese Sandwiches: An old friend from Papa’s and my college days introduced us to these delicious sandwiches at a little Vietnamese deli in Oakland about fifteen (or more!) years ago. This is truly “fusion” cooking, for two ingredients – the bread and the mayo – originate from the time the French ruled Vietnam. Here in Cleveland, the sandwiches are made mostly with pate added, which is even more French though not a favorite addition for us. I prefer the lighter fillings of California-style Vietnamese sandwiches: a fillet of chicken or fish or pork. Good quality canned tuna can be used as well.
Ingredients (serving two to four people, depending on appetite): 1 regular sized French baguette, to be cut into four portions; ½ cup mayonnaise mixed with a teaspoon of sesame oil; ½ cup grated daikon radish; ½ cup grated carrots; ½ thinly sliced cucumber; ½ cup chopped cilantro; either 4 pork chops or fillets of pork tenderloin, sautéed in olive oil with salt, pepper, and a little garlic, or 4 chicken or boned fish fillets similarly cooked. Assemble the sandwiches by cutting open each baguette portion and coating the inside of each with the mayo mixture; then divide the vegetable ingredients up in four portions each and layer them in each sandwich; add the fillet to each and close the sandwich pressing it slightly to hold it together. These make a juicy, tasty lunch or dinner. [Note: there may be some mayo mixture left over.]
Remodeling Regrets on the subject of “coulda, shoulda, didn’t:” A couple of years ago, papa and I decided to do an update on our kitchen. I planned to make my own counter tiles but remembered what a big job it was making floor tiles for our screened-in porch five years ago. We settled for the ubiquitous granite – also, no grout to clean. The very day our counters were installed, the science section of the newspaper featured an article about possible radiation risks of granite (especially the lighter colors), but I decided we had enough to worry about already (also, our granite was dark). The “coulda, shoulda” part of this note involves my sink. Practically every sink we have had in our 45 years of marriage has been stainless steel, which is still very stylish. But I wanted a porcelain sink, especially the beautiful 30” long one, divided into 9 and 21 inch segments, with the divider only 4 inches high, so that if one wanted to soak a large pan, just fill above the 4 inch mark: a cook’s dream. I love this part for washing cookie sheets, large pans, dinner party dishes. The big mistake part, however, is the white porcelain. After two years, it already looks a bit battered, with tiny cracks, etc., despite constant babying (in cleaning, I of course don’t scratch the glaze). The silly thing is that as a potter, I know about the fragility of glazes – what did I get myself into?

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