Friday, March 23, 2012

Crispy Chicken Wontons

It's blog swap time again!  For this round, I was matched with Brianna over at Oishii.  I was so excited when I opened up my blog assignment, I squealed.  Oishii is one of the first blogs I ever subscribed to!

Brianna and her husband spent a couple of years in Japan as newlyweds, and I knew the Mister would be excited about some homemade Asian fare.  We pored over her recipe index, finally deciding on Crispy Chicken Wontons.  Paired with a homemade sweet and spicy dipping sauce, these wontons were a delightful addition to our standard stir-fry dinner.  (In fact, the filling was so tasty that I wanted to eat it right out of the pan!)

A couple of notes: 
If you are anything like me, you'll be tempted to overfill these little guys.  Resist the urge.

Do fry them.  I tried my hand at a baked version, but they were no where near as crisp as the real deal.

Crispy Chicken Wontons
From Oishii

1/2 TBS. sesame oil
1/4 of a head of cabbage, shredded
1/2 lb. ground chicken
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 TBS. soy sauce or more to taste
1/4 tsp chili paste, optional
30 wonton wrappers
vegetable oil for frying
Sweet chili sauce (recipe below)

1.  Heat the sesame oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the cabbage until it softens. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add the ground chicken and stir, breaking up the pieces until done. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add the soy sauce and chili paste, and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

2.  Assemble the wontons by placing a spoonful of filling in the center of a wrapper. Dip your finger into a small dish of water and wet 2 of the sides. Fold the opposite sides over the filling and pinch together, forming a small triangle. Repeat with all the wrappers.

3.  Pour vegetable oil into a pan to a depth of 1-inch. Heat over medium high heat. When hot, fry the wontons in batches (about 1-2 minutes per side) or until crispy and brown. Makes 30 wontons.

Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce
Adapted from 

3 tablespoons hot ground chili paste
2 teaspoons minced garlic 
½ cup rice wine vinegar
23; cup water
23; cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1.  Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir well.

2.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

28 by 28: Luby's No-Bake Fluffy Cheesecake

Of all the dishes on my 28 by 28 list, the Luby's Fluffy Cheesecake (aka Cream Cheese Pie) was the one I'd been most looking forward to trying.  Growing up, there was no greater treat than a slab of this delicious graham-cracker covered goodness, and I wondered if an in-home rendition would do it justice.  I am happy to say that it did!  I found the official recipe on a Texas Monthly message board and have scaled it down for a single pie.  While the original recipe calls for a "graham cracker crust," don't make the mistake of throwing all that decadence in one of those pre-fab cardboard crusts from the grocery store.  A homemade crust, thrown together with a few common ingredients and lightly baked, is an absolute must.

I have made this pie several times now and it turns out delicious every time.  I have had a couple of questions about why my slice looks a little wilted in this picture.  When I made it that time, I sort of forgot to pre-whip the cream before adding in the other ingredients (Whoops!).  That made it much softer than usual.  If you follow the directions as written, you will end up with the same lovely texture as the slices you buy at Luby's.
Graham Cracker Crust
Adapted from Allrecipes

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp white sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

1.  Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until well-mixed. Press mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate. 

2.  Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 5 minutes. Cool before filling.

No-Bake Fluffy Cheesecake, aka Cream Cheese Pie
From the kitchen of the Kerrville, Texas Luby's, via Texas Monthly

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 pound butter (or oleo), room temperature
1.5 8-oz. packages cream cheese
1/4 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Graham cracker crust (see above)
Graham cracker crumbs for topping

Cream together first three ingredients until fluffy. Blend in lemon juice and vanilla extract. Add the whipped cream. Pour into a graham cracker crust and sprinkle top with graham cracker crumbs. Chill 3 or 4 hours.

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