Sunday, December 3, 2017

DIY Baking Powder

A reprise of a favorite post that shows you how to make your own baking powder just in time for cookie season.

Holiday baking season is here.  Your heirloom recipes don't deserve stale baking powder.  Happily, it's easy to make your own with pure ingredients you probably already have in the kitchen.

Baking powder that's been on the shelf too long may not provide the expected leavening and I find it can impart a bitter taste to baked goods. 

On top of the opportunity to degrade over time, baking powder comes in sizes that are hard to use up within the recommended six-nine months if you are not a frequent baker.  When you make baking powder  yourself, you can make smaller batches and get the benefits of cooking from scratch with really fresh ingredients.  

The recipe is simple:
2 parts baking soda
1 part cream of tartar
1 part corn starch

Mix well and store in an airtight container.  I like to use a small sifter or strainer to really mix the ingredients together. For my baking needs, I might use these quantities to yield enough for the season:

Holiday Quantity Baking Powder
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoons corn starch

When I mix baking powder into flour, I sift it through a small strainer to keep any clumping at bay.

Happy baking!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Homestyle Orange Beef with Broccoli



You can do this with easily obtained ingredients.  Improvise if you don't have everything but you will need a fresh orange and Mirin, the slightly sweet cooking wine that replaces the sugar found in most home recipes and keeps this dish from being to sweet. 

Marinating the beef takes only 15 minutes and the baking soda will turn the cheapest cuts into tender strips.  Don't skip the lemon juice rinse.  It neutralizes the baking soda and brightens up the beefy flavors.  

This is a one-pan recipe (plus cooked rice).  Take a few minutes to prep your ingredients.  Line it all up in easy reach and have fun.  Recipe can be doubled but you will want to work in batches or use a larger skillet.

Orange Beef with Broccoli
Serves 3-4

1 pound beef, sliced very thin against the grain
1 teaspoon baking soda
juice of 1/2 lemon mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 cups broccoli florets, steamed

1 orange—peel removed and juiced  (pick a juicy one like Minneola or Valencia)
1 tablespoon Mirin (sweet rice wine, available at most grocery stores)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
1/3 cup peanuts
Optional: 6-7 small red chili peppers
Garnish: sliced scallions or sesame seeds

  1. Marinate thinly sliced steak in 1 teaspoon baking soda for 15 minutes.  Rinse in cool water.  
  2. Next cover steak with lemon juice and water for 1-2 minutes.  Use just enough water to cover steak.  Rinse and dry meat.
  3. Toss meat with cornstarch.  Shake off excess.
  4. While meat marinates, cut orange peel away from orange.  Scrape away any pith. 
  5. In a small bowl, mix together juice of the orange (about 2 oz), Mirin, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce.
  6. Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet.  Fry orange peels until beginning to crisp. Remove to a plate to cool.  
  7. Next add peanuts and fry and chili peppers.  These three ingredients flavor your oil.
  8. Move peppers and peanuts to side and add the meat.  Add a little more oil if needed.  Fry the meat turning as needed.  Remove to plate with orange peels.
  9. When meat is almost done, add ½ teaspoon cornstarch to orange sauce and pour into hot pan. Cook on low until thickened.  Add a little water if it thickens too quickly.
  10. Add meat, orange peel and broccoli to pan.  Stir to coat.  
Serve over rice.  Garnish with sliced scallions or shame seeds.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Scallops in Orange Beurre Blanc

Seared sea scallops with an easy and pure orange beurre blanc sauce brighten up January.  The sauce sets up in the time it takes to sear your scallops.   Steamed shrimp, mild white fish and even chicken breasts also like this sauce.  For chicken, try a variation with sliced green olives.

Scallops in Orange Beurre Blanc
Serves 2, recipe can be doubled

For scallops:
10-12  sea scallops
Salt, pepper, paprika or red pepper, flour for dusting scallops
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 

For sauce:
zest of half on orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup COLD unsalted butter (1 stick)
salt and pepper


  1. Prepare scallops by seasoning with salt, pepper, paprika and/or red pepper.  Dust lightly with flour.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat a wide skillet with a heavy bottom to sear scallops.
  3. While skillet heats, place zest, orange juice and wine in small pot and simmer until liquid is reduced to 1/3 original quantity.
  4. When skillet is hot, add oil.  Allow 30 seconds for oil to heat then add scallops.  Do not move scallops for at least 2 minutes.
  5. Cut butter into large chunks and drop into pot with reduced juice mixture.  With pot on lowest heat, stir cold butter into liquid.  Keep stirring to create a thick sauce.  Set aside (off heat).
  6. Turn scallops when they are seared well enough to come off skillet easily.  Cook another 2 minutes on the flip side.  Scallops will have a golden brown color on each side and be opaque through centers.
  7. Drain scallops on paper towel then serve with sauce.  

Happy January!