Smoked Cornish Hen with Five-spice Powder

中文:五香熏鸡

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Since the day we got the new smoker earlier this year,  we've become obsessed trying different recipes smoking a variety kinds of meat O(∩_∩)O~ I did a smoked Cornish hen this time with a little bit of Asian twist in it.  It turns out gorgeous and quite tasty.  It might just  be our new favorite!

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Ingredients:

1 Cornish hen
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons rice cooking wine
1 to 2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 to 2 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups of water
salt to taste

 

Directions:

Add ground white pepper, rice cooking wine, sugar, soy sauce and salt to a medium bowl.  Whisk while slowly adding water to the bowl. 

Add Cornish hen.  Massage for a few seconds.  Cover with plastic wrap.

 Refrigerate overnight.  Flip the hen once or twice in between to marinate more evenly.

Preheat the smoker to 225 F/107 C

Add Cornish hen.  Smoke for about 3 hours or until it is golden brown.

I have to tell you this is one of most beautiful smoked chickens I have ever seen O(∩_∩)O~

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A duck has been smoked before adding the Cornish hen to smoker.   Here is how to smoke a duck with sea salt and Sichuan peppercorns.

Asian Peanut Butter and Brown Sugar Bread

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This is another one of my comfort foods.  Whenever I am under the weather or exhausted, I crave for these little bread rolls loaded with deliciousness and calories.  Or sometimes I just want them, no excuses needed O(∩_∩)O~

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

 

Directions:

Microwave the milk on high for 20 to 30 seconds.

Add warm milk, along with flour, oil and salt to the bread machine.  Sprinkle yeast on top.

Choose dough cycle and start the bread machine.

In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and peanut butter together

Try to mix as smoothly as possible

Allow the dough to proof for 20 minutes

Transfer the dough to a large well-dusted wooden board

With a large rolling pin, roll the dough into a large flat sheet , 1/4 inch in height

Roll it up

Roll from one end towards the other into a big lollipop of dough.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes

Roll the dough flat and thin again with the rolling pin

Roll it up again

Cut into 1.5 or 2 inches long pieces

Shape each piece into a ball

Gently roll them flat a little bit.  Transfer them to a cookie pan lined up with silicone baking mat

Cover with plastic wrap and allow them to proof for another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F / 204C

Bake in the oven for 14 to 16 minutes

The whole house smells so good when the bread is baked in the oven.

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Smoked Duck with Sea Salt and Sichuan Peppercorns

中文食谱: 椒盐熏鸭

We recently bought an electric smoker which, after a few uses, has proven to be a great toy for foodies like my husband and me.   

We have been smoking ribs, brisket, chicken wings, chicken, duck and a lot of more since the day it was delivered to our house.  One of the best and tastiest is smoked duck with sea salt and Sichuan peppercorns.

This is our new favorite.  Most electric smokers are dark colors.  I am very pleased to find this bright red one.  Isn’t it a beauty?

We were struggling between the models with and without glass front door.  A few of my husband’s friends who have serious hobby of BBQ smoking told him it wouldn’t matter after a while because the smoke will taint the glass anyway.  That helped and we ordered this one.  

We were looking for small size, 30 inches.  You might want bigger size if you have larger family than two. 

Ingredients for smoked duck:

1 frozen duck, about 5 lbs
1 to 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 to 3 fine sea salt, or use more or less according to personal taste

Directions:

Most ducks we can get from grocery stores are frozen.  Defrost it for a couple days in the refrigerator.  And rinse well inside and out under running water. 

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Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add sea salt and Sichuan peppercorns.

Sautee until the salt slightly changes its color.  At this point, you should be able to smell an intense flavor from Sichuan peppercorns too.

Rub the sea salt and Sichuan peppercorns immediately evenly inside and out.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple days.

Add smoke chips to designated smoker box.  Preheat the smoker to 225 F/107 C

Place the duck on top rack.  I use the middle rack for ribs

Close the door, sit back and relax!

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When the duck is being smoked, I prepare some chicken wings coated with paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, ground black pepper, ground cumin and salt.

Two hours later, add the wings to the bottom rack

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The duck and ribs are looking good.

Check smoker box every couple hours.  Refill it when chips are gone.

About 5 to 6 hours’ smoking time produce a beautiful smoked duck

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ribs

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And good looking wings too

Hot off smoke racks

With a sharp clever knife, chop the duck into small pieces

Smoky and tasty

A cold beer makes it perfect  O(∩_∩)O~

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Interlochen camping & boating

Usually Labor Day marks the end of summer in Michigan.  A lot camping sites gradually shut down for the season after Labor Day.  However, it looks like we are having a longer summer in 2017.  A couple heat waves have brought over ninety degree hot days even weeks upon us. 

So we take advantage of that and go on camping. 

The leaves are starting to change colors even though it is still very hot.

Set up our tent

Prepare to build a campfire

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I plan to grill beef short ribs

ingredients:

2 lbs beef short ribs
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 to 2 tablespoons rice cooking wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix the beef short ribs and seasonings together.  Refrigerate overnight.  Pack in Ziploc bag and store it in cooler.

When the firewood is half burned, it is time to grill!

Heat a cast iron rack nearby fireside.  When it gets hot, add beef short ribs.  There is usually high amount of fat in short ribs which will prevent from sticking to the cooking rack.

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Looking good

Ready to eat  O(∩_∩)O~

BBQ and cold beers go hand in hand

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This is the view we have when having dinner

Isn’t it gorgeous?

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The second batch of short ribs is ready.  The trick is to perfect campfire grilling is patience.

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Bacon wrapped scallops and shrimps are next.

Sprinkle the scallops and shrimps with sea salt and freshly ground black peppers. 

Wrap each scallop with a slice of bacon.  Secure with bamboo sticks. 

Skew the shrimps with bamboo sticks too.

The firewood is turning to charcoal.  It is perfect for grilling.

Add bacon wrapped scallops and shrimps to the grill

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Be patient.  Drink some beer and relax

Bacon wrapped scallops will take some time to be cooked to perfection

Shrimps cook faster than scallops

Dessert is cinnamon rolls I bought from nearby grocery store

Heat up a cast iron skillet.  Grease it with oil and add cinnamon rolls

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Flip them over when half cooked.  

To be honest, they are as good as I expected.

So we decide to drove to monomers for dessert

I have chocolate + pistachio flavor.  My husband has chocolate + rocky road

The chocolate coated waffle cone is good.  But chocolate is too thick to chew.

After dessert, we go hiking in the park for a while before it gets totally dark.

The moon hasn’t risen yet.  When we look up, we can see the amazing star night sky.  The sparkling stars are so bright and beautiful.

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We walk to the lakeshore to get a better view.

We have been living in Michigan for years.  But we haven’t seen such beautiful stars before. 

We can even see the Milky Way very clear right upon us in the sky

I wake up early the next morning; sneak out the tent to watch the sun rise.

The sun isn’t up yet.  The sky is turning color from gray to blue to purple to rose to deep pink

Here comes the sun!

My husband is up too.

We start another campfire for breakfast.

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Heat a cast iron by the fireside.  Add chopped bacon.

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Add bacon wrapped scallops to the grill

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Add diced cooked potatoes.  I bought the mini potatoes from local farmer’s market.  It is one of my favorites. 

Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

When the potatoes is golden brown, add chopped green onion and rosemary

I enjoy campfire cooking even more than I realize

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Alright, time to eat!

Make good use of the fire and grill some sweet corns

Grilled corns are sweet and light smoky; very tasty.

Lets cook and pose like an iron chef! O(∩_∩)O~

You think the breakfast is over?

Of course not!

Let there be smore! O(∩_∩)O~

I add a couple dark chocolate with caramel filling to cookies and briefly heat them up by the fireside too; just warm enough to melt the chocolate.

And toast the mashmarrows

Add the mashmarrowson top of chocolate

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Now we have perfectly cooked S'Mores

Ok, now it is time to dissemble the tent and pack.

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Moomers ice creams again

We drive to Traverse City downtown and rent a double kayak for 4 hours

I have my camera and keys locked on shore and take just my phone with me.

Traverse City downtown rive doesn’t look pleasant this time.  So we turn around back into the lake.

The water near old mission peninsular is very clear and beautiful

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4 hours later, we get back to the shore and ready to go home.

Another perfect camping trip accomplished! O(∩_∩)O~

Mooncakes with Lotus Seeds and Salted Egg Yolks

中文食谱:莲蓉蛋黄月饼

Mid-autumn Day is a very important festival day for Chinese people.  It is kind of like thanks giving day.  It is a tradition for families and friends to get together on this day.  One of the traditional designated foods is mooncakes.  Their round shape represents happiness and life fulfillment.  

I make mooncakes every year.  Nowadays mooncakes come in many shapes and with tons of different fillings.  My personal favorite is lotus seeds filling with salted duck egg yolks.  It is old fashion and I just love it.  The combination sounds exotic?  Trust me; it is really tasty and amazing! O(∩_∩)O~

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I posted detailed instructions last year

Spray the duck egg yolks with a couple teaspoons rice cooking wine and roast them in preheated oven 375F/190C for 8 minutes.  

Salted duck egg yolks can be bought from Asian grocery store.  I love to buy fresh duck eggs from our local farmers market and make them myself.  Here is how to make them at home.

After 8 minutes, the yolks are done

Divide the lotus seed fillings into 25g/each.  Gently press down, wrap around egg yolks, and shape each of them into a little ball between palms

When the mooncakes are molded, transfer them to cookie pans lined with baking mats .

Preheat the oven to 350F/176C.

Bake for 5 minutes.  Take them out and gently brush them with egg wash.

Send them back to oven to bake for another 15 minutes or until they all get gold brown.

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Wrap them in individual little pastry boxes

Gift packaged them in pastry boxes and share with my friends O(∩_∩)O~

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