Archive for August, 2014

August 16, 2014

Paprika Lime Chicken + Grilled Tomatos and Quinoa

Who says weeknight chicken dinners have to be boring? 

chicken tomato2

MARINADE: 

  • 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. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 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 
  • salt
  • 2 cans 15 oz chicken broth*
  • water
  • 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. 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 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. 
  2. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 min. (You never want to burn garlic. So I add it later on. Burnt garlic is bitter.) 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 
  6. Remove and rest meat. 
  7. 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? 

chicken tomato

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. 
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August 5, 2014

Thai Beef Salad

This is a rather versatile recipe. Feel free to add/adapt as you see fit! Speaking of fit, this counts as healthy food, right?

thai beef salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • ~1.5 lb flank steak
  • 1 tbs thai red curry paste
  • Marinade:
    • 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

Vinaigrette

  • 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

beefsalad3

Mmm… all prepped?

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Marinate steak, uncut, in a ziplock bag for 4-8 hours. Remove and rub with a thin coat of red curry paste.
  2. 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!
  3. Let meat REST for 3-5 minutes. Slice on the diagonal (against the grain) in thin slices.
  4. Combine veggies and toss with vinaigrette. Top with sliced meat, then sesame seeds, peanuts, shallots, or whatever toppings you please.

beefsalad2

August 5, 2014

Grilled Eggplant

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.

eggplant

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

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • 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.