Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My Mom's Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry


This is one of the original recipes in the cookbook that I made for my mom's Christmas gift 8 years ago.  I would've shared it earlier, except I thought I'd shared it already!  It's a classic dish to order from a Chinese restaurant--velvety strips of marinated beef stir fried with tender crisp broccoli in a flavorful brown sauce--and perfect served over steamed white rice.

To keep the beef tender and not chewy, it's important to slice the strips against the grain.  The addition of cornstarch in the marinade further helps improve the texture of the beef.  Since the broccoli takes a lot longer to cook than the beef, it is cooked separately while the beef is marinating and then added back in at the end.  You'll want to use a large pan with a lid so that you can steam the broccoli after a quick stir fry.


My favorite part about this recipe is the marinade which ends up becoming the sauce upon stir frying with the beef.  It is already quite fragrant due to the soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil, but my mom adds a secret ingredient that really brings it over the top:  cinnamon!  Only a tiny amount is added that you can't really taste it, but the aromatic spice somehow boosts all the other flavors in the sauce in a way you wouldn't expect.


My Mom's Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
serves 4

1 lb. flank or sirloin steak, sliced thinly against the grain
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
6 cups broccoli florets
Salt, to taste
1 cup water, divided

Whisk together the soy sauce, cornstarch, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, minced garlic, and cinnamon.  Toss with the sliced steak and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

In a large wok, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on high and add the broccoli florets.  Season with salt and stir fry until bright green.  Add 1/2 cup water and cover.  Steam until the broccoli is done.  Transfer the broccoli to a bowl, and wipe down the wok.

Add another 2 tablespoons of oil and heat on high again.  Add the steak and marinade to the wok.  Rinse out the container you used to hold the beef with 1/2 cup of water and add to the wok.  Stir fry until the beef is just done and no longer red.  Add the broccoli back into the wok and continue to stir fry for another minute or two to combine.  Serve hot.


Next:  Zucchini Pizza
Previously:  How to Make an American Flag Cake
Two Years Ago:  Cleveland Cassata Cake (Bonus:  In a Jar!)
Three Years Ago:  Backyard Mint Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Freckles
Six Years Ago:  Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce
Seven Years Ago:  Curried Carrot Soup

Sunday, July 3, 2016

How to Make an American Flag Cake


I've been wanting to make an American flag cake for the 4th of July and had pinned several possible versions including this one from Food52 and this ice cream cake version from the Food Network.  But the problem with those round layer cakes though is that I only had one round cake pan and no way to transport the finished product.  I wasn't too keen on having to pull out my piping bag to make Ina Garten's (or as Brit + Co called it, Taylor Swift's) version either, so when I came across Smitten Kitchen's version from four years ago, I was truly smitten.  Not only was it a single layer rectangular cake, but all you needed was some powdered sugar to make the "stars" and stripes!


In her post, she includes a recipe for the cake and frosting, but I cheated by making the cake with a box mix and using store bought frosting.  After baking the cake, allow it to cool completely before frosting.  If it's domed on top, you can level it with a serrated knife or just do as I did and "spackle" in the sides with frosting so the top is level.


While the cake is baking, wash and dry the berries.  While the cake is cooling, you can start arranging the berries to make sure you have enough.  I used a piece of paper towel that was the same size as the cake to plot out the berries on.  The blue part takes up about half the short side of the flag and extends about a third of the way across.  There are 13 stripes (one for each of the original colonies; yay AP American History!) but you probably won't be able to fit that many on the cake.  If you can, try to make an odd number of stripes so that the top and bottom stripe will be red.


After frosting the cake, start putting the berries that you want to appear white on the cake, leaving room for the other berries.


Dust these with powdered sugar, then arrange the rest of the berries into the spaces left for them. 


In reality, it took a lot longer to make than I thought.  The first batch of raspberries I bought were overripe and broke apart when I was washing them, so I had to go back to the store to buy another pint.  Then I made the mistake of not completely drying the raspberries before decorating the cake, so the powdered sugar started to melt before I could even take any pictures.  But if you learn from my mistakes, it's actually not that hard to make and totally worth it!  Not only is it super impressive to bring to a party, the fresh fruit on top of the cake is really, really delicious!

Fun fact:  if you can someone figure out how to make the starburst design, you can also use this template to make the Taiwanese (or more accurately, the R.O.C.) flag!

Next:  My Mom's Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
Previously:  Maine Blueberry Gateau
Last Year:  Pasta con le Sarde
Two Years Ago:  Papaya Milk and Papaya Milk Popsicles
Three Years Ago:  Bubble Tea Popsicles
Six Years Ago:  Coconut Lime Sorbet