The Early Show teams with specialty home furnishings retailer Williams-Sonoma as it brings you the "Five-Minute Cooking School" series. Segments originate at Williams-Sonoma's flagship store at Columbus Circle in New York City.
Ritchie is a San Francisco-based food writer and cooking teacher, and host of the long-running "Ultimate Kitchens" on the Food Network. Her latest cookbook is "Party Appetizers: Small Bites, Big Flavors" (Chronicle Books, Fall 2004).
For her tips on making good stir-fry,
Stir-Fried Shrimp with Snow Peas and Mushrooms
Fresh shiitake mushrooms bring a rich taste to this hearty stir-fry. They also have better texture than the canned straw mushrooms usually found in similar dishes. Peanut oil is typically used in Chinese cooking. Try to buy one of the brands sold in Asian markets. Those brands have a particularly nutty aroma. Without the shrimp, this stir-fry makes a good vegetarian dish. Serve over brown rice.
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. dry sherry
2 tsp. water
4 tsp. peanut oil
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbs. peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
16 snow peas, trimmed and strings removed
1/2 lb. fresh shiitake mushrooms, brushed clean, stems removed and caps cut into
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch, sherry and water. Set aside.
Preheat a wok or deep, heavy fry pan over high heat. Add 2 tsp. of the peanut oil and carefully tilt and rotate the pan to distribute the oil. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and stir-fry until they are bright pink but not yet cooked through, about 3 minutes. Do not overcook them. Transfer to a plate.
Return the pan to high heat. Drizzle in the remaining 2 tsp. peanut oil, tilting the pan to coat the bottom and sides with the oil. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the snow peas and mushrooms and return the shrimp to the pan. Stir-fry until the snow peas are bright green, 30 to 60 seconds. Pour in the stock and cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Briefly stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine, then pour it into the pan. Stir-fry until the sauce thickens and turns clear, about 2 minutes. Add the sesame oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).
Spicy Chicken and Basil Stir-Fry
Aromatic basil, sometimes called Italian basil, is fundamental to Mediterranean cooking. But on the other side of the world, in Thailand, another basil variety is equally essential. For a more authentic version of this dish, seek out Thai basil, which has smaller, narrower leaves than the common Italian variety, a reddish purple cast, and a more pronounced anise flavor. Look for it in Southeast Asian stores or at farmers' markets, or plant seeds outdoors in pots or beds for easy harvests.
6 Tbs. chicken stock
2 Tbs. Asian fish sauce
2 tsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 or 2 Thai or jalapeño chilies, cut into very thin rounds
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips
3/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai basil
3 green onions, cut into 3-inch pieces
Cooked jasmine rice for serving
In a bowl, whisk together the stock, fish sauce and brown sugar. Add the cornstarch and whisk until the cornstarch and sugar are dissolved. Set aside.
In a large wok or fry pan over high heat, warm the oil. Add the bell pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add chilies to taste and the garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink, about 2 1/2 minutes. Stir in the basil and green onions and stir-fry until the onions are barely wilted, about 1 minute.
Whisk the sauce mixture and pour into the pan. Cook just until the liquid comes to a boil. Spoon the rice onto individual plates and top with the stir-fry and sauce. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series,Chicken,by Rick Rodgers (Simon & Schuster, 2001).