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Monday, November 30, 2009

Sweet & Spicy Asian Chicken Wings

Paddy & I recently had over our good friends Reba & Andy for dinner. They love Asian cuisine and Andy makes fried dumplings that are out of this world! I need to get that recipe... Anyway, I went a little overboard with the food and made a ridiculous spread of Asian delights. I tried this recipe for sweet and spicy chicken and it was delicious. You can use either small drumsticks or chicken wings and this dish makes a great appetizer or part of a dinner buffet. Also good with full sized drumsticks.

2 cups orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp orange zest
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced ginger
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1 cup sugar
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 dozen small chicken wings or drumsticks
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cilantro

1. Place the first 11 ingredients (through the red pepper) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Bring down to medium and stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved and liquid has reduced to a thick syrup (about 20 minutes).

2. Take the marinade off the heat and let cool almost completely.

3. Put the chicken in a large ziplock bag. Sprinkle with salt and pour all but about 1/4 cup of the cooled marinade into the bag with the chicken. Let the chicken marinate at least an hour but no more than a day. Put the unused marinade aside or in the fridge if you're not going to use it for more than an hour or so...you'll need it later.

4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Pull the chicken out of the bag with tongs and place the wings on the baking sheet. Discard the rest of the marinade from the bag.

5. Bake about 40-45 minutes or until the chicken is done. When done, remove from oven and drizzle the chicken lightly with the marinade that you had set aside earlier (not the marinade that was in the bag with the chicken!).

6. Sprinkle the chicken with the chopped cilantro and sesame seeds if you have them.

Pumpkin Spice Tea Cake

I love the holidays, mostly because everything sweet is made with pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin spices...just opening the jar of nutmeg conjures elaborate images of pumpkin custard pies, turkeys, potatoes. My mom passed along this recipe for pumpkin cake and I make it at least 5-6 times a year - for myself, my colleagues, as Christmas gifts, thank you's, you name it. Everyone loves it and it's one of my favorites.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 can pumpkin
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, and eggs. Add pumpkin and mix well.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (sift to avoid lumps).

4. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the water until the batter is well mixed.

5. Pour into a lightly buttered loaf pan and bake about an hour or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cornmeal Crusted Catfish with Bacon & Cheddar Grits

As you may have noticed, I'm slowly working my way into southern cuisine. I used to be afraid of it...the okra, the tons of butter, the grits (what are those?). But I've developed a few favorites. I'd never actually bought or cooked catfish until a couple of weeks ago. It's very cheap and tasty and great with this rich side. My cousin and his girlfriend were visiting a few weeks ago and we went to a new restaurant. They had a catfish and grits special and it was great...here it is with a little bit of my own flare...

2-3 strips of bacon
1 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt (if you have it)
1/4 cup panko (if you have it)
2 eggs, beaten
2 medium catfish fillets
4 tbsp butter
2 1/3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup old fashion grits (not quick-cooking)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese


1. In a large pan, fry the bacon on medium high heat until crispy.

2. While bacon is cooking, beat the eggs in a bowl and pour the cornmeal and panko onto a large plate.

3. One at a time, dip the fillets into the egg and then dredge in the cornmeal/panko mixture until well coated. Set the fillets aside.

4. Put the chicken broth in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil.

5. Add the grits to the broth and reduce heat to low. Add salt and cover. Stir occasionally.

6. When bacon is done, pull out of the pan and lay on a paper towel until cool.

7. Take a paper towel and soak up about 1/2 of the bacon fat in the pan - leave enough so that a thick layer remains.

8. Add a little olive oil if you need to.

9. Add the catfish to the pan. While the fish is frying, chop the bacon into small bits and add to the grits.

10. Fry the fishuntil browned on both sides and then remove from heat.

11. When grits have absorbed all of the broth and are creamy, add the shredded cheese and stir until melted.

*Serve the fish over the grits. Great with a side of steamed broccoli!!

Seafood & Butternut Squash Risotto

The leaves are changing and I wanna eat butternut squash. Shrimp and scallops make it so much better, especially with creamy risotto. Risotto really doesn't take that much effort to cook...this is restaurant quality in your own kitchen!

1 cup Arborio rice
3 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sage
6 sea scallops, cut in half or quarters
4-5 medium sized shrimp, tails off and cut in half
1 handful of mushrooms, chopped into chunks
1/2 butternut squash in 1/4-1/2 inch cubes

1. Pour the broth into a saucepan and heat at medium high.

2. In a different medium sized saucepan, saute the onion in a little olive oil. Add garlic once the onion starts to get soft. Add the sage and mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms get softer.

3. Add the rice to the onions and mushroom mixture and stir until it turns a light brown.

4. Add the wine to the rice and simmer until reduced by half.

5. Using a ladle, add about 1/2 cup of the hot broth to the rice and stir. Simmer and still frequently until the broth is almost absorbed. Then add another ladle of broth and repeat the process until all of the broth has been used and the rice starts to soften.

*Be careful not to let too much liquid evaporate in between the addition of broth...it'll make the rice sticky and pastey instead of creamy.

6. When you're down to about 2 ladles of broth left, add the squash. The squash should soften up by the time the risotto is done.

7. When about half of the final ladle of broth has been absorbed, add the scallops and shrimp. Stir gently until the liquid is absorbed and the risotto is creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Coffee Rubbed Cheeseburgers w/ Texas BBQ Sauce

Don't be scared! I know it sounds weird... Burgers are good as they are. But this spice rub and BBQ sauce gives them an extra kick and lots of extra flavor. You can use the BBQ sauce for lots of other stuff too!

For the burgers:
1 tbsp ground coffee
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb ground beef
4 slices of cheddar or smoked gouda
4 hamburger buns
Lettuce
Tomato

Texas BBQ Sauce:
1 tbs butter
1 clove of minced garlic
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 worcester sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 chipotle chile, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne


1. Start the BBQ sauce first...In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in ketchup and all remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until reduced to 1 1/3 cups. Season with salt and pepper and let cool.

2. Mix all of the coffee rub ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.

3. Divide your beef and make patties according to the size and thickness you like.

4. Rub both sides of each patty thoroughly with the rub and let sit until the beef is close to room temperature and ready for grilling.

5. Grill the burgers according to taste and add the cheese!

6. When the burgers are done, load them onto the buns with a little BBQ sauce, lettuce and tomato.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Salmon Burgers

I like salmon, kind of. It's not my favorite fish, I find it a bit strong in taste. But if it has enough marinade or other flavors, I love it. I had a large chunk of salmon in the freezer and didn't feel like another filet so I mashed it up into these burgers and they were great! This recipe isn't exact - it's another attempt to replicate an item from Zola's menu, the restaurant where I worked in Ann Arbor. So if you're craving a burger but you're guilted into a healthy protein, try this!! It's great served with rice and veggies, a cold noodle salad or just on it's own...

1/2 lb fresh salmon (or less - depends on # of people and how big you want your burgers!)
(this should give you 2-3 large burgers)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg beaten
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp of chili garlic paste if you've got it
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
3-4 tbsp canola oil
Burger buns
Mayonnaise & more chili garlic paste to spread on the bun
Lettuce

1. Put the salmon in a food processor for a few pulses or chop the salmon finely and then mash a bit with a fork (this is how I do it). You don't want it pastey, be sure to see it a little chunky but mashed enough that it will stick together.

2. Put the salmon in a bowl and mix in the next 6 ingredients. If a little runny, add more breadcrumbs.

3. In a large skillet (cast iron works well but any pan will do), heat the oil on medium high. There should be enough oil in the pan to cover the bottom and a little more.

4. As the oil heats up, with your hands, make your patties and set aside. Be sure to make them like discs, not balls - you want them to cook evenly and all the way through without getting tough on the outside. As far as size - aim for the size of your buns!

5. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook a couple of minutes on each side and then flip. BE CAREFUL flipping - these things are fragile and will fall apart. You need to use your hands & spatula.

6. Dress your bun with mayonnaise and a little chili garlic paste or hot sauce if you've got it. Throw on a little lettuce.

7. Once the outside of the patties are golden brown on each side (flip only once!), remove from heat and place in your buns.

Singapore (Curry) Noodles

Paddy gave me a noodle cookbook for my bday (perhaps more of a present to himself than vice versa?!) so it's been noodles all the time... Be prepared to see oodles more noodles in the next few months as I make my way through the book. This one I love - incredibly easy and very tasty! I prefer to use very thin egg noodles but you're supposed to use rice noodles. It's up to you...

8oz thin egg noodles, rice vermicelli, or angel hair pasta (only if you have to!)
1/2 lb shrimp, or cubed or shredded chicken or pork
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion cut into thin wedges or rough chunks
1/2 cup peas
Handful of snow peas if you've got 'em, mushrooms also nice to add
2 tsp curry powder (or more depending on taste)
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
1/4 cup cilantro
Salt & pepper

1. Boil a pot of water and cook the noodles until tender but firm. Once done, take them out and rinse in cold water.

2. In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil and cook the shrimp, chicken or pork.

3. When done, remove and set aside.

4. In same pan, add onion. Once tender, add the peas and any other vegetable you decide to use.

5. Add the noodles and the curry powder. Toss well until all noodles are yellow (you may decide to add more curry - I like mine fairly potent!). Add the shrimp/chicken/pork and stir with the noodles (tongs are handy for this).

6. Season with salt and pepper and serve once the noodles are nice and hot.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Potato Salad

Not much to say about potato salad other than...summer!

3-4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 celery rib, chopped fine
2 tbsp minced red onion
3 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 tsp dry mustard
2 large hard boiled eggs, cut into small pieces
salt and pepper

1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan with water so that potatoes are covered by an inch. Bring to a boil, add salt and cook until potatoes are tender (fork easily inserted).

2. Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Add vinegar and toss gently to combine. Let the potatoes sit for about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together celery, onion, relish, mayo, mustard, and salt and pepper. Gently fold in the eggs.

4. Fold the mixture into the bowl with potatoes, cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hr.

Soy Citrus Scallops with Noodles & Veggies

Scallops have become my favorite seafood in the past few years. They are usually a dinner-out-only food for me and if they're on the menu, chances are, they'll be on my plate. But once and a while I make them for myself and I prefer them with asian sauces...this one is similar to the sea scallops served at East Coast Grill in Cambridge - one of my favorite restaurants.

3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (or regular)
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 rounded tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 lb sea scallops

1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup snow peas
1 cup button or shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 tsp oyster sauce (optional)

Handful of noodles - egg or udon work well.

1. In a small bowl, mix the first 7 ingredients together until the brown sugar has dissolved.

2. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish and add the scallops. Marinate for 4-5 minutes on each side.

3. While scallops are marinating, bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the noodles and cook until al dente. When done, drain and rinse with cold water. Mix in a little veg oil to keep the noodles from sticking.

4. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat (cast iron works well, on medium) and add a little oil to coat.

5. Place the scallops carefully in the pan and cook about 1 minute on each side or until just done. Reserve the marinade.

6. When the scallops are done, remove from pan and set aside on a plate.

7. Pour the vegetables into the pan and add the rest of the marinade (you can add a little oyster sauce here if you want). Cook on medium for a few minutes until the vegetables are cooked but crunchy and the marinade should reduce a bit as well.

8. When the vegetables are cooked, add the noodles back to the pan with them and mix well with the marinade. (add the scallops back in the pan for a quick few seconds to heat back up if they need it, but don't overcook them - they'll get rubbery fast!).

9. Serve the noodles and veggies on a plate with the scallops on top.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Rolls

This is straight from a restaurant in Malden that we went to last weekend with a couple of friends. I've been planning to put up my recipe for these but just got this in my Daily Candy email and figured theirs is probably better!

1 package of twelve-inch round rice papers
12 large cooked and peeled shrimp, cut in half lengthwise
10 mint leaves
10 basil leaves
½ head of lettuce, shredded
½ package of thin rice noodles

1. Line up two sheets of rice paper, layering them one on top of the other.

2. Quickly dip them into a bowl of warm water.

3. Spread the moist rice paper onto a clean cutting board and flatten.

4. In the middle of the rice paper, layer two pieces of shrimp and top with one basil leaf and one mint leaf.

5. Add 1/6 of the lettuce and 1/6 of the rice noodles.

6. Tuck in top and bottom, then fold left and rights sides over the filling (like a burrito) and seal using a drop of water on your fingertip.


All Seasons’s Dipping Sauce

Ingredients
8 tbsp. hoisin sauce
4 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)
1 tsp. chili flakes (optional)

1. In a small bowl, mix hoisin sauce, vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil.

2. Top with roasted peanuts and chili flakes (optional).

3. Accept compliments gracefully; that’s just the way you roll.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cod in Tomato Stew with Chorizo

I've recently started to love cod - I'm not sure why I never used to eat it. I prefer it in stews and other dishes rather than on its own since it holds well to other flavors. I keep a couple of large fillets in the freezer and 1lb of cod is perfect for this stew and feeds 2 people. Although this is hot, it's a good summer stew - fresh tasting with the tomatoes and cod and a little spicy and salty with the chorizo. Substitute the potatoes for a good crusty warm bread for dipping!!

1 medium to large leek, chopped
2 small (or 1 large) chorizo links, cut lengthwise and then into 1/4 inch pieces
4 medium red or yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28oz (large) can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted is good!)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
1 lb cod fillet, cut into thirds or in half, or large cubes if you prefer

1. Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil until just soft and drain.

2. In a large pan with high sides or a dutch oven, heat the oil on medium heat.

3. Add the leeks and chorizo and saute until leeks are soft, stir occasionally.

4. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

5. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the wine, water, salt and pepper. Bring to boil on high heat. Add the potatoes then partially cover the pot, reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes.

6. Season the cod with salt and pepper and lay on top of the stew. Spoon some of the tomatoes on top of the fish to help it cook. It should take about 5 minutes. Flip gently if you need to.

7. When the fish is done, it's ready to serve!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Summer Pasta

I love pasta, but red sauce is sometimes a little too much in the hot summer. This is a nice and light pasta dish with lots of room for fresh veggies. I prefer to use asparagus and love to add swish chard if I have it - it's a great alternative to spinach - you get the good vitamins and it holds up a little more in the hotness of the food. I like to use penne or rotini or some kind of pasta that can catch the ricotta.

Pasta - whatever kind you like, penne or rotini are good with this
2 tbsp olive oil
2 spicy chicken sausages
Handful of asparagus
2-3 shallots, chopped
4-5 baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cups swiss chard or kale, chopped, and if you have it
Salt and pepper

1. Start the pasta.

2. In a large pan (use one with deep sides if you have one), heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the sausage - cook until done.

3. When the sausage is done, remove from the pan and set aside. Add the asparagus to the pan and cook until just tender. When done, remove from heat and set aside with the sausage.

4. Add the shallots and garlic and mushrooms and cook until just soft. Don't burn the garlic.

5. Turn heat to medium high and add the wine and broth, scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the bits up. Simmer until reduced to half.

6. While liquid is simmering, chop the sausage into small pieces and chop the asparagus into bit sized pieces.

7. Add the swiss chard to the pan and stir until soft. Add the sausage and asparagus.

8. When pasta is done, set aside about a cup of pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the pan and mix with the sausage and vegetables.There should be enough juice so that everything is well coated but you don't really want juice at the bottom of the pan. If it seems a little dry, add some of the water from the pasta.

8. Add the ricotta and mix until everything has a little ricotta on it. Again, you might want to add a little pasta water to help the ricotta mix in with the rest of the ingredients but be careful not to make it watery. If it is, just simmer until the water evaporates.

9. Add the basil, mix well again and it's ready to eat!

*good with a little grated romano on top.

Chicken Teriyaki with Basil

I'm not a big fan of bottled sauces because they tend to be thick and salty and not so fresh tasting. So whenever I can make my own version, I try to. This is a good teriyaki recipe that doesn't take long, and doesn't require a lot of ingredients - it's also a good summer dinner. I like to use a combination of snow peas, baby bok choy and mushrooms but you could also add or substitute carrots, baby corn, or broccoli. I also like mine on the sweet side so you could do either the honey or the brown sugar instead of both.

2 chicken breasts - cut into 1/4 inch cubes (bite size)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp canola oil
Handful of snow peas
2 baby bok choys
5-6 dried shitake mushrooms (soaked in bowl of boiling water until soft, ~5 minutes)
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger
1/4 cup mirin
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

* Serve over rice

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Add the cornstarch to the chicken broth and mix well. Set aside.

3. Heat a medium sized pan to medium high and add the oil. When hot, add the snow peas and bok choy and cook until slightly browned. You want the pan pretty hot, the vegetables won't take long at all so stir frequently! When done, remove from pan and set aside in a bowl.

4. Add a little more oil to the pan and turn down to medium. Add the chicken and stir frequently until cooked. (Don't over cook! The chicken will cook through fast, avoid it getting too dry). When done, add into the bowl of cooked vegetables.

5. Add a little more oil to the pan if you need to. At medium heat, add the garlic, shallots, and ginger until it smells good. Then add the mirin, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, sugar and the cornstarch mixture. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any pieces from the pan and stir until sauce is thickened and bubbly. While sauce is thickening (this will only take a couple of minutes) chop the softened mushrooms into very small pieces and add to the bowl of chicken and vegetables.

6. When sauce is thickened, add the bowl of chicken and veggies and stir well so that it's all coated. If sauce is too watery, add a little more cornstarch to a little more water in a cup and pour in. If sauce is too thick - add some of the water that the mushrooms were soaking in.

7. Add basil and mix well.

Serve over jasmine rice.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Not a whole lot to say about these except that they're really good, and VERY quick and easy!!

2 chicken breasts (or more if for more people) - pounded out to 1/4 inch thick or buy as cutlets (as long as they're as wide as a normal breast - you don't want the narrow cut ones.
2 slices of deli ham
2 slices of cheddar cheese - provolone or fontina would also be good
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs - found in Asian section or with other breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup regular breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Toothpicks


Preheat the oven to 375

1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup!

2. Beat the eggs and water in a bowl or wide dish (big enough to dip the chicken into later)

2. Put the flour on a plate

3. Combine the panko, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese and put on a plate

4. Lay the chicken breast on a flat surface, place a piece of cheese and then a piece of ham on top - try to keep most of it towards the middle of the chicken.

5. Roll the chicken tightly around the cheese and ham and toothpick the end so it stays rolled up. Repeat for all of the chicken.

6. Dredge the rolled chicken in flour, then dip in the egg mixture. Dredge the chicken in the panko/breadcrumbs so that it's well coated with a crispy layer on the outside - don't forget the edges! Repeat for each piece of chicken, placing each on the cookie sheet when ready.

7. Put in the oven for about 24-30 minutes (depending on the thickness of the chicken) or until the chicken is done.

*I like to serve this with mashed potatoes and broccoli. MMmmmmmm.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shrimp Scampi - in 15 minutes!

This is as easy as it gets. An Italian restaurant in your own kitchen. So go out and buy 1 lb of shrimp at the grocery store and make yourself a very easy meal.

4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp red pepper flakes (less if you don't want the spice)
1 lb shrimp (tails on or off)
1/2 cup dry white wine (or whatever you have in the fridge)
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup parsley
salt and pepper to taste
pasta - spaghetti or rotini or whatever you like.

*Pasta will take about 8-10 minutes or more, so start this before the shrimp.

1. In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat.

2. Add shallots and red pepper.

3. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and drop in skillet. Cook until pink (be careful not to overcook!!). Remove shrimp from heat.

4. Add wine and lemon juice to skillet and bring to boil.

5. Add 2 tbsp butter and olive oil.

6. When butter's melted, return shrimp to pan with parsley.

7. Drain pasta. Serve with shrimp and sauce.

Sausage Stuffed Cabbage

I know, I know. The last thing you all think you want to eat is stuffed cabbage. Is it just me or does it conjure images of the little boys slopping goo in their mouths in "A Christmas Story"? Wait, don't go to another recipe! This is one you really want to try. The cabbage is just a casing for a very tasty sausage filling and if you combine it with my red sauce - it's sure to please. Really, try it. Never bought cabbage before? Neither had I. Stick with savoy cabbage, it's a little lighter and thinner.

2 cups water (or amount of water in tabouli box directions)
1/2 cup mushrooms - finely chopped
1 1/4 cups bulger or tabouli (can be found in a box in Mediterranean section of grocery store)
2 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
2/3 cup finely chopped carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground italian sausage (or sausage links removed from casings)
12 savoy cabbage leaves

* Heat tomato sauce in a large pot or Dutch oven. (Use tomato sauce recipe in my blog!)

1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stir in bulger/tabouli (if you buy tabouli in a box, follow directions on box). Let stand for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

2. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, garlic. Saute until soft and lightly browned.

3. Add sauteed veggies to bulgar/tabouli mixture and cool slightly. Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add uncooked sausage (removed from casings) to mixture and mix well.

5. Add water to a large pot or Dutch oven. If you have a vegetable steamer, drop the cabbage leaves in and let steam for 5-7 minutes. If you don't have a steamer, bring water to a boil, turn off heat, drop cabbage in water and leave in until soft.

6. Working with one piece of cabbage at a time, place 1/2 cup of bulgar/tabouli and sausage mixture in the center of the leaf. Fold the edges in and roll up like a burrito. Repeat for the rest of the cabbage and sausage mixture.

7. Either place the cabbage packages back in the steamer, covered, with water boiling, for about 30 minutes. OR, pour an inch or two of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a Dutch oven and place the cabbage packages in one layer and cook for 20-30 minutes.

8. Serve with lots of tomato sauce.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Grilled Noodle Bowls

Paddy and I went to lunch at this great Vietnamese restaurant in Harvard Square not too long ago. We had fresh spring rolls that had small pieces of BBQed pork and they were delicious. We also had two very large bowls of Pho, which I think is one of the most comforting soups there is. It has lots and lots of noodles. I usually order it with chicken. But when I recreated it at home a couple of weeks ago, I grilled a pork tenderloin and used that in the soup instead. It was unreal. The great thing about this soup is that you can add lots of fresh ingredients, and make it really spicy. You can make it with chicken, shrimp, pork, or no meat. If you use chicken, small pieces pulled from a roast chicken work best (good use of leftovers), if you use shrimp pop them right into the soup at the end and let them cook in the broth. If you use pork, this really is worth it...you can use the other half of the tenderloin a couple days later in something else.

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
~ 1 - 1.5 lb pork tenderloin
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 qts chicken broth
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup bok choy, sliced into 1/4 pieces (1 medium with greens included)
1/4 onion sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 handful of thin, round chinese egg noodles (you can also use angel hair pasta...if you have to!)
* eye the amount according to how much broth you have and the noodle ratio that you prefer
1 cup bean sprouts
1 large bunch of basil, roughly chopped
1 tbsp chili paste - at least

1. In a small bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients and mix well to dissolve the brown sugar a bit.

2. Place the tenderloin in a large plastic bag an pour in the marinade. Marinate the meat for 15-20 minutes.

3. Grill the tenderloin for 8 minutes, flip it and do the other side for another 8 minutes. When it's finished, take it off the grill and let it sit.

4. Heat the oil on medium or a little under in a large pot. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger and let their flavors infuse into the oil - you don't want them to burn.

5. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

6. Turn the heat down to medium high and add the mushrooms, bok choy, and onion and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms start to get tender.

7. Add the noodles straight to the soup. Bring the broth back to a simmer so that the noodles cook in the broth.

8. Cut the tenderloin in half (you won't need all of it). It may be very slightly pink in the middle, that's ok, it will finish cooking in the soup. Cut the meat so that you have 1/4 x 3 inch strips.

9. When the noodles are soft, add the meat to the soup and turn the heat down to medium.

10. Just before serving, add the beansprouts and basil (the more basil the better). Serve with chili paste on the side - again, the more the better!

Meatballs

I worked at a restaurant in Ann Arbor that had a creative and pricey menu. It always sort of made me laugh that among a bunch of other fairly fancy dishes they offered spaghetti and meatballs...and it was one of their most popular meals. Considering the price I couldn't understand why anyone would actually order it. Until I tried the meatballs. They were incredible. I've tried several times to make meatballs as good as theirs and I've never come close. BUT, I made these the other night - and they might be my new favorite. The key - a gooey smoked mozzarella middle. You can make them without the cheese of course, or with reguular mozzarella but they're pretty good the way they are. The other best part about them is that they only take 15 minutes and they're BAKED, so no messy pans to clean up after.

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
* you could also third the beef and pork and do a 1/3 ground veal to make them even better
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (use fresh if you can - soooo much better than the other stuff)
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 egg
2 tbsp ketchup
3 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 oz smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (no larger!)


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the parsley, parmesan, bread crumbs, herbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.

3. Add the beef and pork. Use your hands to mix it all together gently.

4. Form the meat into balls a tiny bit larger than the size of a golf ball and place on the cookie sheet about an inch apart. You should end up with 15-17ish.

5. Poke your finger into the top of each but be careful not to go all the way through. Put a cube of cheese in each and then close the meatball over them. Make sure the cheese is well covered to avoid a gooey mess.

6. Place the meatballs in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through. The cheese may bubble on a few, but they'll stay in tact.

* When they're finished, I like to add the ones I'm going to eat that night right into the sauce on the stove to make them extra moist and to give the sauce a little extra flavor. I let the rest cool a bit and then put them in a plastic bag in the freezer.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chicken with Artichokes

I first made this a long time ago. It's very easy and very flavorful - perfect for using up the rest of a bottle of white wine. I prefer to use boneless chicken thighs because I think they have the most flavor, but you could substitute bone-in breasts, boneless breasts and/or drumsticks. This is best served over rice.

3-4 boneless chicken thighs (or any other cuts of chicken)
1/4 cup flour
4 cloves garlic, slivered
2 shallots
1 tbsp fresh basil
1 tbsp fresh tarragon
1 tbsp chervil
(the above herbs can be substituted with dried herbs - but if you do, only use 1 tsp of each. If you only have basil, that's ok! A touch of oregano is nice too.)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
3 roma tomatoes or 1/2 can diced tomatoes
1 can artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley


1. Salt and pepper the chicken and then lightly coat both sides in flour.

2. In a deep pan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium high and brown the chicken on both sides. Remove chicken and set aside.

3. Reduce heat to medium and pour all but ~2 tbsp of the remaining fat from the pan. Add garlic and shallots and cook until soft. Then add the mustard and herbs. Mix well. (There should be brown bits on the bottom of the pan but be careful not to burn the garlic!)

4. Return heat to medium high and add the wine and chicken stock. Scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan.

5. Return the chicken to the pan and add the tomatoes. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through (about 15-20 min). Depending on how much chicken you used, you may want to simmer longer to reduce the sauce a bit.

6. Add the artichoke hearts and parsley.

*Serve over rice.

Paprika Roasted Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes & Garbanzos

This is a very easy and quick chicken recipe that I love. It has a bit of a Moroccan feel to it because of the cumin and paprika. The greek yogurt sauce adds great creaminess without the cream!!

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or more for a little more spice)
1/2 plain Greek yogurt
4 chicken breasts pounded to 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans/chickpeas
1 12 oz container of cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Mix first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.

3. Pour 1 tbsp of the mixture into a small bowl and combine with the yogurt. Set aside.

4. Place chicken in a large baking dish and generously brush with the oil mixture on all sides.

5. Add the beans, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of the cilantro to the remaining oil mixture and toss to coat.

6. Pour the mixture into the baking dish around the chicken. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

7. Roast the chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the breasts.

8. When done, sprinkle with remaining cilantro and serve with the yogurt sauce on the side.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Guinness Cupcakes

What could possibly make a cupcake any better? A cupcake with beer. And not any beer, GUINNESS. Given that Reba and I spent the better part of the last few years at the Druid, it was only appropriate to have her and Andy's engagement party there. And as if we weren't getting enough Guinness from the bar, these cupcakes really topped it off. The cream cheese frosting even makes them look like mini pints of Guinness.

Chocolate & Guinness Cupcakes

1 (12 oz) bottle of Guinness
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup cocoa (Ghirardelli!)
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix the Guinness, milk, oil, and vanilla.

3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the sour cream.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, sugar, and baking soda.

5. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the Guinness mixture. The batter will seem a bit soupy and you may have to use a ladle to pour the batter into the cupcake tins.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup cream (heavy or light)
~2-3 cups confectioners sugar

1. Beat the cream cheese until fluffy

2. Add the cream

3. Add the sugar. I like my cream cheese frosting tangy and cheesy, add more sugar if you like it sweet and/or to thicken the frosting a bit.

*The frosting will not be very thick, add sugar until it thickens a bit more if you need to. Otherwise, if you can, put the frosting in the fridge for a couple of hours and it'll thicken a bit. When frosting the cupcakes, put a large dallop on top and try to avoid getting too close to the edges, the frosting may run a bit and if you keep it right on top, it probably won't run off the cake.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Frosting

I baked 8 dozen of them this week trying out some new recipes to find the best for Reba and Andy's party. Needless to say, the vultures on the 7th floor of the JSI/World Ed office were very happy to add them to their breakfasts (none of us could wait until lunch).

Vanilla Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
*(if you don't have self-rising flour, subsitute 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour + 2 1/4 tsp baking powder + 1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Sift the flour(s) together in a small bowl. Do sift! It makes a difference.

3. In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth with an electric mixer. Gradually add the sugar until mixture is fluffy.

4. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each.

5. Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk and vanilla, beating after each until incorporated but don't overbeat!

6. Fill 2 dozen cupcake liners and pop into the oven for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

7. Cook cupcakes in tin for about 15 minutes and remove to finish cooling.


Rich Chocolate Frosting

3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (Ghirardelli is the best)
1/4 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/3 cup of milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Add the flour and cocoa to a medium bowl and whisk together.

2. Add the butter, milk, and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

3. Depending on how thick you like your frosting, you may have to add a little more milk to make it creamier.

Beer Braised Hoisin Short Ribs

If you haven't already figured it out, I'm not much of a meat maker. I prefer to make things that have meat in them but I don't have a lot of experience giving meat the star solo performance. But, I came across this recipe in a cookbook that I've had forever and haven't used. Don't be afraid of braising - it's probably the easiest way to cook meat. All you need is a few simple ingredients and some time. To me, this is a good Saturday or Sunday dinner because you'll need a good part of the afternoon for the braising. You can spend this time drinking the other 5 beers out of the six pack you bought for the ribs.

3 lbs of short ribs (depending on where you go, about 4 large ribs - buy lean if you can)
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
10 garlic cloves - mashed
2 tbsp ginger - minced (a 2 in. piece of fresh ginger cut into 1/4 in. slices)
1 bottle of good ale (12 oz)
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 cup hoisin sauce

*Serves 4, and best with mashed potatoes and garlicy snow peas or broccoli.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Generously salt and pepper the ribs on all sides.

3. Heat oil on medium high in a large ovenproof pot with a lid (Dutch oven or a pot with lots of surface area).

4. Brown the ribs on all sides (don't crowd the pot, you can do them in batches if needed).

5. When browned, remove the ribs and pour out all but a few tbsp of the fat in the pot.

6. Lower the heat to medium and saute the garlic and ginger for a couple minutes.

7. Add the ribs back to the pot, and add the beer and vinegar. Give it a stir, cover it, and place in the oven.

8. Bake the ribs for 2 hours. (you may smell the vinegar more than the meat for a while - don't be worried, they'll be delicious!).

9. After 2 hours, pour the hoisin sauce over the ribs and return to the oven, uncovered, for another 20-30 minutes...or until the meat is falling off the bone.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shrimp & Sausage Stew

This is very quick and easy. When I think stew, I think hours of bubbling goodness and a good bit of labor. But, this takes less than a half hour and it's very flavorful. We had it last night - good for a cold winter dinner.

3/4 lb spicy sausage (hot Italian or Andouille)
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 32 oz box of chicken broth (Whole Foods broth is my favorite)
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup canned diced tomatoes (Hunts fire-roasted works great)
6 fresh sprigs of thyme
1 lb shrimp

1. In a large pot, cook the sausage until about 3/4 cooked through. You can use sausage links, or I like to use ground sausage because the bits are incorporated throughout the stew rather than in big chunks.

2. Remove sausage from pot. Add the onions and garlic and sautee until soft in the sausage fat.

3. Add the flour, cumin and paprika and stir well until onions and garlic become dry.

4. Add the chicken broth and wine and stir until the onion/flour mixture is well incorporated.

5. Add the tomatoes and thyme. Bring stew to a boil and then simmer on medium for 30 minutes.

6. Add the sausage (3/4 cooked) and the shrimp (raw) and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
*Serve immediately - if you leave the shrimp in the stew for long, it tends to get tough.

Serves ~3 people.

Nutella Layered Pound Cake

My sister and I used to make pound cake from a box mix when we were growing up. It was our favorite dessert. I never thought that pound cake needed frosting because it's already so rich and sweet. But let's face it, Nutella makes everything better! I discovered Nutella in Europe almost 15 years ago and since then it's been a love-hate relationship...loving it when I have a jar of it, hating it when my pants are tight in the waistline a week later. The great thing about it for this dessert is that unlike regular frosting, it's thickness holds up to the dense pound cake.

*It's best to bake the pound cake the day/night before you plan to serve it - so it's completely cool before you layer it with Nutella.

Pound Cake:

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla (add another 1/2 tsp for extra vanilla-ness!)
3 eggs
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 small jar of Nutella

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, butter, and vanilla together on medium until light and fluffy.

3. Add eggs one at a time, beating mixture after each.

4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder together.

5. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture, beating after each addition. Begin and end with the flour mixture.

6. Pour batter into a loaf pan (large) and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. When finished baking, let the pound cake cool completely (overnight if possible).

Assembly:

Once cooled and removed from the loaf pan. Cut the pound cake horizontally into thirds (lengthwise). Spread about 1/4 inch of Nutella on the bottom layer and place the next section of pound cake on top. Spread more Nutella on the 2nd layer and place the top of the pound cake on top.

To serve, cut vertical pieces so that each slice has two layers of Nutella. For extra goodness, serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chicken & Vegetable Curry

I've gone through a lot of Indian curry recipes but this one is my favorite so far. Cooking Indian food is a bit intimidating, not only because of the many spices you need but also because if you haven't had a lot of it, it's tough to know what you're aiming for. My good friend Dane introduced me to Indian cuisine and the art of making a delicious Indian meal. Although most times in her kitchen I was responsible for chopping the onions, lots of them, it was always worth it in the end. I like this one, and it's actually very easy - don't be afraid!

Best served with Basmati rice and/or naan (butter and toast very lightly on a cookie sheet)

2/3 cup Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup tomato paste (1/2 small can)
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp minced ginger
1/4 tsp ground red pepper or red chili flakes
2 chicken breasts, cut into small, bite sized pieces
1 large onion
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 small zucchini (halved or quartered, then chopped)
2 cups cauliflower, chopped
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup peas
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Whisk the first 8 ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add the chopped chicken and mix well together. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

2. In a large Dutch oven, add enough vegetable to coat the bottom, the onion, zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower, cardamom and cinnamon stick. Cover and sautee over medium high heat until the onion is soft and golden. Stir often!

3. Add the chicken mixture to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the broth, paprika, and salt and stir well to incorporate all of the ingredients and to get the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

4. Cook for about 30-45 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken.

5. Add the coconut milk, peas and cilantro and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Thai Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup

When I went to Thailand with Kimberly a few years ago, I discovered Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Shimp Soup), and in a very bad way. It was our first day and we were out for lunch with Kimberly's friend's parents who don't speak English and therefore couldn't warn me about the hotness. The soup came and my first bite was a whole spoonful of what I thought were green beans. That's when I discovered the Thai chili. Everyone got a good laugh but I thought I was going to die. As traumatic as the experience was, I ate the soup at lunch and dinner almost every day for the entire two weeks we were there. I burned my mouth and the inner lining of my stomach everytime but I LOVED it. This recipe is a twist - for one, the chilis are optional. I also use coconut milk to ease the bite of the sour and because I love it. You can also make this with chicken.

1/2 lb shimp, peeled and deveined (tails on or off)
1 32oz box chicken broth
1 tbsp minced ginger
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 cloves minced garlic
2 stalks fresh lemongrass
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp chili garlic sauce (or use Thai chilis if you can find them - use sparingly!!!!)
1 cup quartered mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 tbsp lime juice

1. In a large saucepan, sautee the shrimp with a little bit of vegetable oil until about 1/2 cooked. Remove them from the pan, place in a bowl, and set aside. Leave the juices in the pan.

2. In the same pan, add broth, ginger, 1/2 cup of the cilantro, garlic, and lemongrass and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Strain the mixture over a bowl and discard the solids.

4. Return broth to the saucepan and add coconut milk, fish sauce, chili garlic sauce/Thai chilis, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Add shrimp, basil, lime juice, and 1/4 cup of cilantro and cook for another 3-5 minutes.