Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Daring Cooks' Challenge July 2010: Nut Butters

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

When I read this months challenge I was really excited because the first recipe that came to my mind was a Kung Pao Sauce. I love anything Kung Pao, but my favorite has to be the Kung Pao Spaghetti from California Pizza Kitchen; I looked up the recipe, made a few changes and of course added my homemade nut butter! The hubby and my sister-in-law loved the Kung Pao Spaghetti, I thought it was pretty good too and the homemade nut butter really added a wonderful taste to the sauce.

  The process for making various types of nut butters is essentially the same. Pour nuts into bowl of food processor. Grind the nuts in the processor until they form a paste or butter. The nuts first turn into powdery or grainy bits, then start to clump and pull away from the side of the bowl, and finally form a paste or butter. The total time required depends on the fat and moisture content of the nuts; grinding time will vary from roughly 1 to 4 minutes (assuming a starting volume of 1 to 2 cups nuts). Processing times for a variety of nuts are described below. You may add oil as desired during grinding to make the nut butter smoother and creamier or to facilitate grinding. Add oil in small increments, by the teaspoon for oily nuts like cashews or by the tablespoon for dryer/harder nuts like almonds. You may use the corresponding nut oil or a neutral vegetable oil like canola.
Kung Pao Spaghetti

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock 
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch 
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce 
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry 
  • 3 tablespoons pea-nut butter
  • 1 tablespoons minced garlic 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 
  • 1 tablespoon chili oil
Egg Coating:
  • 2 egg whites 
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb spaghetti 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts 
  • 10-15 whole Chinese dried red chili peppers 
  • 1/2 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts 
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic 
  • 3 cups coarsely-chopped scallions
Kung Pao Sauce:
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the chicken stock and cornstarch until the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Stir in all the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
Egg Coating:
In a mixing bowl, use a whisk to stir together the egg whites, cornstarch, and salt until thoroughly blended; be careful not to beat them into a froth. Set aside.
Preparing Pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat, heat the olive oil for about 1 minute. Add the chicken pieces to the Egg Mixture and toss to coat them. Taking care to avoid splattering, add the coated chicken to the pan and cook like a solid pancake until the egg mixture sets; then, using a large spatula, carefully flip the chicken pieces over together and, with a wooden spoon, gently separate the pieces.
Gently stir the Chinese peppers and roasted peanuts into the pan. As soon as they darken in color, after no more than 1 minute, stir in the garlic and scallions. Once the garlic begins to brown, after no more than 30 seconds, add the Kung Pao Sauce and toss and stir to coat the ingredients. When the pasta is ready, drain it well and, in a large mixing or serving bowl, toss it thoroughly with the sauce.



Audax said...

WOW that last photo is stunning and I love this clever quote from Adam Hoffman about your recipe. "Imagine eating Chinese food with American music playing in the background." which describes Kung Pao Spaghetti to a "T". Wonderful effort and delicious results. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

shelley c. said...

Can I first just tell you that I love the look of the site? And the photos of JD along the sidebar - what a handsome little man you've got there.
Ahem. The challenge - YUM - that looks and sounds absolutely delicious.I especially love the photo of everything in the wok - it looks so fresh and delicious. Awesome work on the challenge.

Unknown said...

Wow that a great way to use the peanut butter you made! This looks and sounds great :D I will definitely give your kung pao recipe a try.

Anonymous said...

Great job on the challenge. This recipe looks really interesting, and definitely one I will be bookmarking to try sometime!

Jenn said...

What a great idea!!! This looks so good and so creative!

Jenni said...

Great job! It looks absolutely scrumptious! :)

Ruth H. said...

Great creativity, great photos! I love the idea for this... I might have to "vegetarianize" this one for our family...! Love your beautiful boy, too!

Adriana said...

Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments! @Audax, I think this recipe describes California cuisine to a "T" too, everything is fusion here! @Shelley, you're so sweet, thank you!

cuppy said...

CPK is such a fun place! That certainly looks like restaurant quality food to me. ;) Well done!

David and Stacy said...

Totally unrelated to this challenge, but we also 'borrowed' a recipe from California Pizza Kitchen that doesn't involve pizza. Ours tasted ok, but wasn't nearly as photogenic as yours.

Well done!


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