April 20, 2016
Good to be blogging again! The Little Dictator is almost 6 months old and while I’ve been back in the kitchen for awhile now, I really haven’t found the time to write down and take pictures of the hodge-podge dinners I’ve been making…
This sucker took me almost an hour. Mainly because I had to make everything in batches with my tiny skillet and tiny bullet blender in my tiny kitchen. (OK, huge by New York standards but I’m still a Texan by heart and by habit.)
Adapted from this wonderful recipe on cookieandkate. And by adapted, I mean mostly copied. It’s good stuff! Didn’t need changes.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
- 2 pound butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small ½-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
- Sea salt and/or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups vegetable/chicken broth (I used a little less)
- 12 ounces whole grain linguine or fettuccine
- OPTIONAL: shaved Parmesan, BACON…side of spinach…
- Heat oil in 12 inch skillet or large dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the sage and toss to coat. Let the sage get crispy before transferring it to a small bowl. Sprinkle it lightly with sea salt and set the bowl aside.
- Add squash, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes to skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
- Once the squash mixture is done cooking, remove it from heat and let it cool slightly. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender. Reserve the skillet. Purée the mixture until smooth (beware of hot steam escaping from the top of the blender), then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine pasta, squash purée and ¼ cup cooking liquid in reserved skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Serve pasta topped with fried sage, more black pepper and shaved Parmesan/Pecorino and/or smoked salt, (BACON?) if desired.
- In hindsight, spinach linguini makes for some ugly presentation. For some reason I still think spinach pasta is healthier. Probably not true.
- Save a few whole leaves of sage and fry it up for a nice garnish
- Add chopped fried bacon after blending! (I like bacon. Can you tell?)
- Onion and garlic can be chopped roughly. You’re blending it, so doesn’t matter. Squash is chopped evenly to promote even cooking.
- Set aside broth/liquid before blending so you can tweak the final consistency of the sauce. I liked my sauce thicker. Didn’t add pasta water, didn’t even use all 2 cups of broth.
Unfortunately, after all this work, I forgot to savor my meal and wolfed it down in five minutes. As most parents, I now have a habit of eating as fast as I can, even when the small human is asleep for the night. Le Sigh.
More pictures! Curtesy of RChang while I cleaned up the mess I made in the kitchen. He kept calling over to me “I don’t know… still looks like Jabba the Hutt to me..”
So I added some embellishments.
October 20, 2015
Very easy and surprisingly fast weeknight dinner! Feel free to mix and match herbs/seasonings and veggies to your preference. This is great for when you crave roasted chicken but don’t have enough people to feed to justify a full bird. I used 3 pieces of leg and 3 thighs. Dark meat is tastier. My baking pan also fits 6 pieces perfectly. Extra veggies can be spread on a second pan and placed on the top rack. Proportions don’t matter that much for this recipe.
This technique is HIGH HEAT AND FAST, not low and slow. Results in a crisp skin. Another reason why I prefer dark meat for roasting. Juicier. Doesn’t dry out.
- chicken pieces (I prefer legs and thighs only)
- assorted veggies, chopped into chunks
- onions, sliced
- garlic cloves, halved
- fresh rosemary
- garlic salt
- olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425F
- Take chicken out of fridge to bring to room temp
- Rub chicken generously all over with garlic salt, sprinkle with paprika. Set aside.
- Chop veggies. Carrots take longer to get soft than sweet potatoes, so cut them smaller. Toss, with onion slices and garlic, in plenty of olive oil and garlic salt. Pour in aluminum lined baking pan.
- Scatter rosemary sprigs, breaking them up if needed.
- Place chicken over veggies, spacing them out evenly. Skin side up. (I lined up some extra rosemary sprigs directly under the chicken pieces). The edges of my pans tend to heat up more than the center, so I put thighs in the middle (thinner) and legs on the outside.
- Top chicken with a chunk of butter, about 1cm cubed, right in the middle of the skin.
- Place chicken on bottom rack (my oven heats from the bottom), and a pan of any extra veggies on the top rack. Roast 30 min or until veggies blacken on the edges and chicken skin begins to brown. Internal temp of chicken should be about 160F – make sure when you take the temperature the probe isn’t up against a bone, this will result in an artificially high temp. Just insert to center-most part of the meat. Juices will run clear when you remove the probe.
- Turn on broiler at the end to REALLY crisp up and brown the skin. It’ll blister and blacken a little. This is good. It only takes 5 min or so, so stay and keep watch. You may need to remove and plate the thighs first as the legs tend to take a bit longer.
- Mix veggies together (’cause the ones in the chicken pan will be yummier from the juices and butter), top with chicken and serve.
October 6, 2015
Here’s my version/attempt at a favorite Thai dish of mine. Honestly, mine comes out tasting like Chinese food. Maybe ’cause I added sesame oil in the end. Don’t add sesame oil. Otherwise very tasty and simple stir fry that’s very “下飯“ or “makes you down a lot of rice”. My picture isn’t as pretty ’cause it’s missing the bright red chilis. Baby does not like spicy so we had to do without.
- 1 lb ground pork/chicken/turkey/beef, whatever. I prefer pork.
- 0.5 lb green beans (hericots are more tender) chopped into 1/2 cm length pieces
- 2-3 large shallots, minced (about 0.5 cup)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (about 1.5 tbs)
- 3 tbs fish sauce
- 1.5 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1-2 tsp lime juice
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 2 pinches kaffir/makrut lime leaves, dried. 2 fresh leaves if you can find it
- 5-7 thai chilies, sliced
- handful of asian basil leaves
- optional: sliced cucumbers
- optional: fried egg
- Heat large wok/frying pan over med high heat until you can’t hold your hand over it for over 5 sec.
- Add 1-2 tbs high smoke point cooking oil (peanut, avocado, etc), when oil is just shimmering, add minced shallots, garlic, salt and stir until fragrant, ~1-2 min. Do not burn the garlic. Bad.
- Add ground meat and break it up with the spatula. Add all seasonings except basil. Mix well. When meat is juuuust barely cooked through, remove and set aside. Pour remaining meat juice back into the pan.
- Add chopped green beans, cover and let steam in meat juice (mmmm) 3-4 min or so or until just tender. Add meat back in and mix well. Scoop a little hole in the middle of the pan and add a bit of oil, fry basil, then mix everything together. Season to taste with soy sauce and lime juice if needed.
- Plate with sliced cucumbers, serve with rice.
- Optional: Top with fried egg
May 9, 2015
Oh man. Four months since my last recipe.
I have a good excuse. Really.
Try three months of god awful morning sickness.
See y’all when this nightmare ends.
(yea yea yea.. it’ll all be worth it in the end.)
January 8, 2015
- 2 lb ground pork
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1-2 green onions, minced
- 1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
- 4 tbs minced water chestnuts (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 2 – 3 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp sesame oil
Optional: 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 4-5 cups napa cabbage, chopped
- 3 tbs soy sauce
- 3 slices of ginger
- 3 cans chicken soup
- 1/4 cup Chinese rice wine
- In a large mixing bowl, mix all meatball ingredients. Do not over mix or you’ll end up with tough meatballs. Roll into large, softball size meatballs.
- Add corn starch in a large bowl. Roll meatball in bowl to lightly coat.
- Heat frying pan over medium high heat. Add plenty of oil to coat bottom of pan. Once oil is shimmering hot, add meatballs one or two at a time with tongs. Avoid crowding. Remove once evenly browned on all sides. Reduce heat to medium if they start to blacken too quickly.
- In a large dutch oven or pot, add chicken soup, rice wine, remaining slices of ginger, leftover mushrooms, stem portions of the cabbage, soy sauce. Bring to a boil then add cabbage leaves. Stir and add salt to taste.
- Place meatballs over cabbage. Spoon over soup and cover. Simmer on low for 1 hour, adding the cabbage leaves at the half way point.
- Serve over a bowl of rice.
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.