November 5, 2014
I love this sweet and saucy dish. Great for wraps. Think of it as a Chinese taco. Make a bunch of dishes, then pass out thin, flour “tortillas” and make your own wrap. Paired with bright and crisp curlicues of green onion, this enticing dish can easily enter anyone’s repertoire. (Do I sound like a commercial yet?) The sauce is called Tian Mian Jang and it’s the base for Peking Duck sauce. Not the same as hoisen, oyster, chili bean sauce, or any other sauce. Sweet Bean Sauce is what you’re looking for. Next experiment with this stuff: zha jiang mian.
Please don’t buy pre-cut stir fry beef at the super market. You will invariably get tough, chewy, totally inedible rubber bands. I really don’t know what cut of beef is usually used for stir fry, and I suspect there IS no one cut used for stir fry. I wandered into the grocery store with nothing specific in mind. The top round roast looked pretty promising. So that’s what I bought. Turned out perfectly tender.
On cutting stir fry strips (beef or pork)
- FREEZE your beef for a few hours before cutting. This will make your life easier as the meat will be stiff and not slide around the cutting board/against your knife. Do not freeze overnight or it’ll be a solid block of meat ice.
- Cut on the diagonal and you wont ever have to worry about what is with/against the grain.
- While cutting on the diagonal, slice your chunk of meat into thin, round slices. Then stack said slices and cut again to form strips.
- 3 scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
- 0.5 lb beef, top round, cut in strips
- 2 tbs tian mian jang/sweet bean paste
- 1 tsp rice wine (michiu)
- 1 tbs water
- 0.5 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tsp rice wine
- 1/2 tsp corn starch
- Place sliced green onion in a large bowl of ice and water. Set aside. (Can do this the day before). This will create nice plump and curly green onions. It’ll also cut some of the bite. Drain and gently pat dry. Pile on serving plate and set aside.
- Marinate beef for 30+ minutes. Dissolve corn starch in liquid, then add meat.
- Heat skillet over medium high heat until smoking hot. Add 1 tbs oil, swish to coat pan until it just starts to shimmer, then add beef. Cold pan = meat sticking to pan. Toss and stir fry until juuuust barely pink. Remove and set aside.
- Mix sauce and pour into hot pan. Let it bubble and thicken. Stir for 1-2 minutes or so. Add meat back in and toss to coat, 2-3 minutes.
- Pour beef over green onions. Serve with rice or chinese “tortilla” wraps.
September 30, 2014
Very versatile breakfast food. This will work with chorizo, spinach or kale, beans instead of lentils, etc etc. I’m sure you can make the whole thing in a cast iron skillet, but I made such a big batch it wouldn’t fit…
I prefer green lentils over red as they tend to hold their shape better. Not a fan of smooshy lentils.
Oh, and I also like to eat this with lots of sriracha. But any hot sauce will do (:
- 1 lb lamb sausage, casings removed
- 2 cups green lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 small tomatoes, or 1 can 15 oz crushed tomatoes
- 1 15oz can beef broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp parsley
- Heat a 3 qt or so dutch oven over medium high heat. (Or if you’re making half a serving, it should all fit in a cast iron skillet) Add 1 tbs cooking oil and heat until shimmering. Add lamb sausage and break it up as it browns. Remove from pot and set aside.
- In remaining oil, add onions, bell pepper, paprika, parsley, and cumin. Salt generously. Sauté until just soft. 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, continue to sauté until fragrant. 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and simmer, scraping up anything stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add bay leaves, lentils, lamb, and beef broth. Stir and bring to a low boil. Add more water if needed to just submerge lentils (should not look soupy, lentil’s don’t absorb much).
- Cover and reduced heat to medium low, or a low simmer. 20-30 minutes or until lentils are just tender.
- Crack 4 or so eggs over the top, don’t stir. Cover to steam eggs, still on low heat, 3 minutes or until whites are fully cooked and yolk is still runny. (Or if making it directly in a cast iron skillet, remove from the stove and broil in the oven uncovered until eggs cook.) Scoop into bowls and serve, careful not to break the yolk.
I cook the eggs 2 at a time and reserve the rest of the lentils for the next day’s breakfast. These lentils will last you a few mornings. Just scoop lentils into a oven safe skillet (cast iron is your friend), mix to heat through over medium high heat on the stove, crack an egg or two over the top, then broil in the oven until eggs are cooked to the consistency of your liking.
August 16, 2014
Who says weeknight chicken dinners have to be boring?
- 4 chicken thighs or breasts
- 3 tbs lime juice
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/8 tsp or 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and sliced
- ~1 tsp salt
- 2 tbs oil
Combine in a ziplock bag and marinate overnight. Skin off is healthier, but skin on is yummmier. I am partial to skin off chicken thighs. So much more flavor than blah breast meat. Really not that much more unhealthy, especially sans skin. I keep several packs of it in my freezer at all times.
- 1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
- 1/2 large bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups quinoa
- 3 tbs tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 cans 15 oz chicken broth*
- 1 tsp dried parsley or fresh cilantro, minced
- fresh tomatoes on the vine, rinsed and patted dry
Ratio for quinoa:water is 1:2. Add less at first because you can always add more. Difficult to remove liquid from a soupy mess.
- QUINOA: In a dutch oven or 3qt pot, heat over medium high heat, ~5 min. Add 1 tbs cooking oil and heat until shimmering, 1 min. Add onions and bell pepper. Sauté until just soft and translucent: 3 minutes. Salt generously.
- Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 min. (You never want to burn garlic. So I add it later on. Burnt garlic is bitter.)
- Add quinoa, tomato paste, bay leaf, and parsley/cilantro. Slowly add chicken broth and stir to incorporate tomato paste evenly. Add the rest of the broth and <1 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 30 minutes or until quinoa is soft and fluffy. Add more water and stir if it appears to be drying out. Cover and set aside.
- TOMATOES: Over an aluminum foil lined hot grill (of course I use my handy dandy cast iron stovetop grill), drizzle plenty of cooking oil. Rub oil over tomatoes. Place tomatoes directly on the grill. Flip tomatoes after 10 minutes or so if they’re super big, and let it grill another 5 minutes. If they are small vine tomatoes, keep them on the vine! No need to flip or rotate. Just let them sit on the grill for 10 minutes, vine and all.
- CHICKEN: With tongs, lay chicken out evenly over the unused portion of the grill, don’t crowd. (if you have skin, cook skin side down first.) Grill 3 minutes or until the opaque/cooked line rises about half way up the thickness of the meat. Rotate 45 degrees and cook another minute or two. Flip and repeat. Juices from the center should not be pink. Meat thermometer should read 185F when done. **timing all depends on the thickness of the meat! Watch it carefully. You know what cooked chicken looks like.
- Remove and rest meat.
- Slice on the diagonal, against the grain of the meat.
Voila! Plate quinoa, tomato, and lay chicken on top. Sprinkle with some parsley or cilantro.
I actually ate the grilled tomato with some leftover mozzarella in the fridge. Didn’t add it to the recipe ’cause I don’t think it really goes togehter, but I just wanted some cheese. Can you blame me?
Notes on CARNE:
- When grilling/cooking other meats, I usually let it sit at room temperature so that I do not over cook the outside and undercook the inside. But chicken is thin. And covered in salmonella. So skip that step and leave it in the fridge ’til you need it. I DO, however, let meat rest AFTER I remove it from the grill/pan. Internal heat is still redistributing and so are the juices. It’s still cookin’! Let it rest. 5 minutes. I’m sure there’s plenty to clean up while you wait.
- I use the “line of opaque cooked meat” for fish too. Flip fish when the line is 2/3 up the thickness of the meat. Why 2/3rds? ‘Cause with the other side, you simply let it “kiss” the pan. Aka: You do not spend the same amount of time cooking the other side.
- Presentation side down first. Always. That means skin if it’s got it.
- As with fish, flipping too early results in tearing/sticking of the meat. Be patient. Watch that opaque line!
- Meat thermometer is your friend. Especially when just learning to cook and it’s too difficult to eyeball when the meat is done.
- Pork end point: 135F, chicken: 185F
- Brining and marinating is your friend. I never spontaneously cook pork or chicken. It always takes some prep the day before. That being said, prepping a brine or marinade only takes 5-10 minutes. And I also always keep the ziplock bag of meat juice in a deep bowl or dish. Too many experiences with leaky meat bags getting all over my fridge and contaminating everything.
August 5, 2014
This is a rather versatile recipe. Feel free to add/adapt as you see fit! Speaking of fit, this counts as healthy food, right?
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
- ~1.5 lb flank steak
- 1 tbs thai red curry paste
- 1/4 cup (4 tbs) soy sauce
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 2 tbs oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, sliced
- 4 basil leaves, julienned (stack and roll, then rock the knife to create thin strips)
- green onion, julienned (cut thinly on the diagonal with a SHARP chef’s knife)
- 1/2 large carrot, julienned
- 1/2 cucumber, julienned
- 1/4 red onion, sliced
- handful or two of cherry tomatoes
- 10 oz fresh spring salad mix
- crushed peanuts
- sesame seeds
- fried shallots
- 3 parts soy sauce
- 1 part fish sauce
- 1 part sesame oil
- 1 part thai sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy is my brand of preference)
- optional if you like sweeter: honey to taste
- dash of lime juice
Mmm… all prepped?
- Marinate steak, uncut, in a ziplock bag for 4-8 hours. Remove and rub with a thin coat of red curry paste.
- On an aluminum foil lined grill (or cast iron griddle with grill lines), bring heat up to high. Drizzle aluminum with oil and grill meat 4-5 minutes per side (depending on thickness). Better to undercook than overcook!
- Let meat REST for 3-5 minutes. Slice on the diagonal (against the grain) in thin slices.
- Combine veggies and toss with vinaigrette. Top with sliced meat, then sesame seeds, peanuts, shallots, or whatever toppings you please.
August 5, 2014
Inspired by a cute, non-assuming little Japanese restaurant in Sunnyside Queens called Takesushi. I may have Chinese-ified it a bit…I’m going to venture to say that smaller eggplants, and especially asian eggplants are more tender. The big behemoth ones are a bit tougher. And they take longer to cook.
Word of advice for folks who don’t own a grill nor the space for it: cast iron stove top griddles! Grill away.
INGREDIENTS: (serves 4 as appetizer)
- 1 large eggplant or 2 medium
- 1/4 cup hoisen sauce
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs rice wine
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- 2 green onions, chopped
- Heat grill. (I use an indoor cast iron stove top grill). To make things easier to clean, I lined my grill with aluminum foil, then generously brushed it with oil. Heat until you cannot hold your hand 5 inches from it for over 5 seconds. If it’s on your stove, medium high heat for a good 5+ minutes.
- Rinse and halve eggplant. Slice off a small sliver from the rounded back of each half, so that it can sit flat on the grill.
- Brush all sides of eggplant with oil. Score top side of eggplant, criss cross pattern. Cut about half way into the flesh. This allows better sauce/flavor distribution as well as even cooking, but any deeper and it might fall apart on the grill.
- Place flat/presentation side down. Combine and brush with next three ingredients: hoisen, soy sauce, rice wine over the tops. Grill ~3-5 minutes. Rotate <90 degrees (to create grill mark) and grill another 3-5 minutes. Flip and continue to grill ~3-5 minutes, brush with plenty of hoisen mixture. Rotate <90 degrees again. Continue to brush with sauce if it dries. Eggplant should be deflating a bit. The flesh will be soft and pull away easily. Sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions over the top. Serve.
July 18, 2014
Who needs weekends for brunch? Even though my schedule has cleared up significantly, I’m still working every Saturday and Sunday. I miss weekends. No, I miss brunch. Having week days off is not all that different than having weekends off. I still get to sleep in, run errands (with less of a crowd), meet up with other friends that have weird schedules such as mine… but most restaurants don’t serve brunch on weekdays. I can’t remember the last time I had brunch. So this morning I thought I’d make my own.
Surprisingly easy to put together. I’d say 15 minutes start to finish. 20 if multitasking isn’t your forte.
- 2 egg yolks
- 1.5 tbs lemon juice
- 1/4 cup (half a stick) butter
Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave until bubbly and hot. In a magic bullet blender, pulse yolks and lemon juice until frothy. Add 1/4 of the butter to the mixture, close, then pulse until well blended. Continue adding more hot butter, slowly, and blend until homogenous. Add 1 tsp salt and pulse to incorporate. Add 1-2 tsp of water if you like runnier hollandaise.
SMOKED SALMON EGGS BENEDICT (serves 2, 2 eggs each)
- 4 oz smoked salmon
- 4 english muffins (2, if you want to cut carbs. just serve on 1/2 the bread)
- baby arugula
- 4 eggs
- vinegar (white wine or any other clear vinegar)
- optional: chives, chopped finely (or dill. salmon likes dill.)
- Halve and toast muffins. Set aside
- While toasting, prepare SOFT POACHED EGGS:
- Bring wide mouth pot of water to a boil. Add 1-2 tbs vinegar.
- Turn off heat. Crack eggs slowly and gently into the water. Cover the pot and leave heat off for 4 minutes. Drain and remove.
- Arrange muffins on a plate, top with a small fistful of arugula, then a layer of salmon, then eggs, then hollandaise. Sprinkle w paprika and chives
- Sprinkle paprika on top of the hollandaise at the end of set up. This adds a nice splash of color. I was dumb and blended the paprika in with the rest of the sauce. Has the flavor, not the aesthetics.
- Arugula adds a nice peppery kick. Spinach is a good mild/boring alternative.
- Thomas’ Light Multigrain english muffins are the bomb. 100 calories, develops a nice crunch on the outside when toasted, but still chewy/doughy on the inside. Love them.
- Toss your leftover hollandaise.
Oh. and Anthony Bourdain says never order hollandaise at brunch. “No one makes hollandaise to order.” That stuff is sitting in their kitchen all day. Gross. And now that you know it’s essentially raw eggs and butter, skip it on the menu and make it yourself at home. You wont miss it.
July 14, 2014
Tip on salting ground meat: 1 tsp kosher salt per pound.
Works out pretty well. Seeing as you can’t taste as you go…
Other random notes on meatballs:
- Eggs are for binding
- Bread crumbs (and I am partial to panko) are for added tenderness. Crumbled unsalted saltine crackers work in a bind. In fact I prefer this when making meatloaf. Just make sure you get unsalted.
- Never over-mix meatballs and always use your hands, not a stand mixer. Over working meat makes it tough.
- Always serve with something green! A shock of green always looks pretty next to a simmering red bowl of meaty goodness. Plus it makes me feel better to have something light and healthy while eating a pound of carne.
- 2 lb 85% lean ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1.5 cup ricotta cheese
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1.5 tbs dried parsley (or 1/2 packed cup of fresh chopped)
- 1.5 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1.5 tsp ground fennel seeds
- 3 tsp kosher salt
- 32 oz jar of tomato sauce
- optional for serving: parmesan cheese, fresh greens, roasted carrots, roasted beets, sautéed mushrooms, or a large toasted roll with fresh greens and slices of cheese
- Mix all ingredients (except tomato sauce) in a large mixing bowl with your hands. Do NOT over mix as this results in a tough, crumbly meatball.
- Preheat oven to 450F
- Line a large rectangular baking pan with aluminum foil and drizzle with oil. Spread oil evenly with a finger.
- Roll mixture with your hands into 1.5 inch diameter meatballs. Golfball size. Line meatballs up evenly on the baking pan, so that they are touching.
- Bake 20 minutes.
- While baking, heat up tomato sauce (or make from scratch if you’ve got the time) over medium low heat in a 3-5qt pot, covered, until heated through.
- Remove meatballs (it’ll be a greasy mess) one by one with tongs so as to not pick up the excess fat. Place in pot. Mix to coat in sauce. Cover and continue to heat through over low heat, 15-20 minutes. Mix meatballs periodically, gently, so you don’t break them up.
- Roast your veggies at this time while the oven is hot. Reduce oven heat to 425F, roast 20 minutes (works for carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, what have you).
- Serve over fresh greens and roasted veggies, or on a toasted hoagie with sliced cheese
July 4, 2014
Happy Independence Day, y’all.
I’ve reaaallly been craving fajitas. Unfortunately, I don’t trust the yankees here in NY to make this TexMex favorite of mine. Or any TexMex, for that matter. The perfect opportunity to try it out myself arose this weekend, for R’s/America’s birthday shindig. Between the chaos in the kitchen and entertaining guests, I totally forgot to take pictures. I even made roasted corn!
And what’s more ‘merican than Mexican corn and fajitas?!? Yea, ok. To balance it out, I served grilled peaches and ice cream for dessert. That sounds pretty American, doesn’t it?
- Err on the side of undercook! You can always slap it back on the grill. You can’t UN cook a tough piece of meat, though.
- I do not have a grill. I used a cast iron griddle. The kind that spans two stove tops, with grill marks. This thing is the bomb. 30 bucks off Amazon.
- Skirt steak is fattier than hanger steak. Makes for juicier fajitas.
- Don’t use soap to wash cast iron. Use hot water and scrub scrub scrub… Learned this the hard way five years ago. Also, never leave cast iron in the sink… dry it off when you’re done by sticking it in the oven or over the stove for a few minutes.
- 2 lb skirt steak (or chicken)
- 1 cup lime juice (make life easier for yourself. buy a bottle instead of squeezing limes)
- 4 tbs olive oil
- 8 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 4 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2/3 cups water
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced thinly
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- Marinate steak and veggies 4 hours – overnight.
- Heat skillet over medium high heat until smoking hot.
- Grill meat, 2-3 minutes per side. (I like to fold up the thinner sides a bit early so they don’t overcook)
- Remove and let meat rest for a few minutes while you start the next batch. This is essential as it allows the juices to redistribute into the meat. The meat also continues to cook while it rests.
- Slice on the diagonal, against the grain of the meat.
- Toss the veggies on to the grill. Cook until soft and onions become translucent.
- Ripe peaches, halved and pitted
- olive oil
- brown sugar
- vanilla/bourbon/whatever ice cream
- Brush flat side of peach half with oil.
- On a clean HOT grill/griddle, place peach, flat side down. 2-3 minutes. It should develop nice dark grill marks.
- Rotate 90 degrees, continue to grill 2-3 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix a pinch of cinnamon with a few tsps of brown sugar (remember, cinnamon is sstrooonng. a little goes a long way.)
- Flip peach over and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Cover with a heat resistant bowl. A metal mixing bowl that has no plastic/rubber on it will work. Or if you have a real grill, just close the lid. 10 minutes or until soft.
- Remove and place in serving bowl, drizzle with honey, then serve with ice cream.
June 28, 2014
Anyone else excited about Blue Bottle’s New Orleans Style ice coffee?
My first thought: what do a bunch of Californians know about New Orleans coffee…
“Blue Bottle’s New Orleans Iced Coffee is cold brewed for 18 hours with organic roasted chicory, sweetened with organic cane sugar and cut with organic whole milk.”
Well hot damn that sounds good. While New Orleans doesn’t exactly conjure up images of bucolic bliss and organic farms, I’m a shameless yuppie these days. So I’m sold.
And look at this packaging!
“…Pearlfisher created a new design for the brand that stays true to the heart of Blue Bottle Coffee and the Founder, James Freeman’s original vision, at once challenging coffee category cues while remaining modest and utilitarian. The carton cues dairy and evokes nostalgia, helping Blue Bottle’s offer stand apart from competitors.”
Evokes nastalgia, indeed… Only I drank milk out of a clear plastic pouch growing up (anyone else go to a carton-less school?). But still, I can’t wait to try this stuff.
June 21, 2014
Trial and error fish sticks. This is what happens when I ask R what he wants for dinner. He even called after me as I was heading towards the kitchen with: “make ‘em taste just like those frozen ones I had when I was little!” Aaaarrre you kidding me?
- 4 large fillets of white flaky fish, cut in even long strips (like cod or pollock)
- 2 eggs, beaten until frothy
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ~2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- olive oil
Preheat oven to 450F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and generously oil/butter. Place AP flour and salt in one bowl, eggs in another, and panko, parsley, and parmesan cheese in another. Pat fish dry. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess, then eggs, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, and finally the panko mixture, pressing it into the fish. Space fish evenly on baking sheet. Drizzle with oil. Bake 15-20 min or until golden brown and cooked through (test by cutting the largest piece in half. It should flake easily.)
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 dash white wine vinegar
- 2-3 slices of dill pickle, minced
- 1-2 tsp dried tarragon
Combine in a small bowl. Adjust to taste.
R likes them with ketchup. Another blasphemy. (I tried it later. It’s actually pretty tasty.) I’d like to think this is the improved version of frozen fish sticks. Fresh, tender fish, light and crispy panko breading. Took 30 minutes to make! Including bake time!