Monday, February 11, 2008

Chinese New Year

I had my first planned dinner party on Saturday. Now I have had people over for dinner before, but I wouldnt call it a dinner party per se. It was usually like, oh I am making dinner-wanna come over? We had this date on the calendar for awhile, but I was having a really tough time coming up with a theme. I was thinking- winter warming? gourmet? But nothing seemed to pull together, it felt like a mish mash of recipes I had used before. So when I received a Food Network email saying "Recipes to Celebrate the Chinese New Year" I thought-thats what I am going with. I think I got this email on Monday :)
Needless to say, I spent some time gathering ideas, recipes, and the menu. I think it came together wonderfully.
Up first was sushi-ok I know this is really Japanese, but I wanted to make it! I had never made sushi and needed a reason. I wasn't about to do the serious raw fish with my guests, so I did california rolls & philadelphia rolls. YUM! Success!! First, I bought nori and sushi rice at a local chinese market. Second, I finally used my Cuisnart Rice Cooker. Let me tell you, that thing is amazing! I completely suck at making rice so this is a godsend.

It wasnt too hard. Once the rice was finished, I made the vinegar you mix into it to keep it sticky and fresh. I dont have the recipe on hand, but I want to say it was a little rice vinegar and some sugar. Just fold in, do not stir and let cool to room temp before you start on your rolls.
Next, you get some plastic wrap and place it over your bamboo mat-yes I already had one- then place your nori sheet on that. Add some rice and spread it out over the nori. Then add you mix-ins. So for my california roll I added crabmeat & avocado. For phildelphia I added cream cheese, smoked salmon and cucumber. Just make sure you cut everything into sticks, they lay better in the sushi.

Then roll them up & slice with a sharp sharp knife. I even picked up some pickled ginger & wasabi. These were great and I will make them again.

I also made pot stickers & vegetable dumplings. Dumplings or "jiaozi" symbolize wealth and prosperity.
Then we had lettuce wraps and my version of Kona Island Rice. Lettuce or "sang choi," symbolizes prosperity because its name sounds like the word meaning "to bring about wealth and riches."

Island Rice
I need to mess with this recipe a bit more, it wasn't quite sweet enough. I also didnt take a picture :(
3 cups prepared sushi rice, cooled
1/2- 3/4 cup pineapple chunks with a little juice
about 1 cup smoked or Andouille Sausage
salad shrimp
2-3 eggs
Soy Sauce
In a pan, heat the oil so it "dances" across the pan. Add the rice and fry for a few minutes. Move the rice to the side and add the eggs, let them sizzle up and fry. Add the rest of the ingrediants and mix well. Add soy until it tastes good to you.

For the "main" meal I made beef and broccoli and Spicy Orange Chicken Noodles. Chinese noodles symbolize longevity. Leave them whole — an old superstition says it is bad luck to cut them. There wasnt really a recipe for beef and broccoli. Just some sirloin steaks, sliced thinly, stir-fried, then I added pre-mised soy sauce and cornstarch. Then I added the fresh broccoli florets and let it steam for awhile to get the broccoli a little soft.

I attempted to make fortune cookies, but that was a bit ambitious. Dont let the recipe fool you! Its freakin' hard! So I bought those.

And finally using our "twinkie cookbook" (yes Twinkie lovers, there is a cookbook and everything it is made with a twinkie) I made twinkie sushi. Its so easy, just get a green fruit rollup, a twinkie and some swedish fish. Wrap the twinkie with the fruit roll-up, slice them into 1" slices and top with swedish fish.

Here is the table all ready to go:

I made place cards with everyone's names in Chinese and we had a handout of which Chinese sign we were and what 2008 had in store for us.

It was a great time! Can't wait to throw the next one!!


Nemmie said...

Everything looks awesome! You are like mini-Martha (without the mean personality). You missed your calling as a party planner :)

Definitely will have to try the sushi and the island rice wraps. Thanks so much for the recipes! And again great job!!!

Leslie said...

Wow - so professional! When am I coming over to try?! :)

Justin & Shonna said...

You pretty much rock! I'm so impressed, sista!!!