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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spicy Eggy Fried Rice

Not sure if this is an egg dish or a rice dish, but it's YUMMY. This is adapted from a Food and Wine recipe called "Breakfast Fried Rice" - unless I was in Asia, not sure I'd have this for breakfast, but it makes a perfect lunch or dinner. I made this last week one night for a cheap and easy dinner and we'll probably have this a lot more in the future.

2 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1 cup or so of leftover rice (use as much as you want to balance it out, make the meal bigger)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 cups chopped kale
3 eggs, beaten
Salt & pepper
Sriracha or hot sauce

1. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and garlic. When hot, add the kale and saute until just wilted. Push to one side of the pan.

2. Add the rice, vinegar and soy sauce and heat through. Push to the side with the kale.

3. Add the remaining oil and green onions. Then add the eggs and scramble. When eggs are cooked, mix in the kale and rice until well combined. Serve with Sriracha.

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas

Mmmm...harissa. My new favorite flavorizer. You can get a tube of harissa paste in nicer grocery store or spice shop - it's a nice, hot pepper/paprika flavor that warms up anything. I tried out this Bon Appetit recipe a couple of nights ago and it was really easy and so full of flavor. A great one pan meal.

3-4 bone-in, skin on, chicken thighs (only as many as you can fit in a pan with some space)
1 small onion, halved, sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can of chickpeas, drained
3 tbsp harissa paste
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup parsley
1/2 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Heat a bit of olive oil in an oven proof pan (cast iron works well for this) on medium high. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to pan, skin down. Cook until browned on each side, about 5 mins. per side. Transfer to a plate.

3. Pour off all but about 1 tbsp of fat from pan. Add onions and garlic and stir often until softened. Add tomato paste and continue to stir until mixed with onion and a little browned. Add the chickpeas and harissa. Continue to stir. Add the broth and scrape up brown bits from the pan. Bring to a simmer.

4. Nestle the chicken back into the pan and put in the oven for about 25 minutes or until cooked through. Sprinkle with parley and give it a squeeze of lemon to finish it off.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


We're on a bit of an appetizer kick here...yesterday was Valentine's Day and I went the extra mile on Paddy's favorite meal of Pasta Bolognese by adding a few small bites to get us started. Bruschetta is so simple and delicious and can really be an app, a snack, lunch, whatever. I always make a little extra tomato topping and save till the next day to have on top of chicken, or fish, a salad, etc.

1 baguette
1 container of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 bunch of basil
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, grated
2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

1. Warm the olive oil on medium low heat in a saucepan with the garlic. Let the garlic infuse the oil but be careful not to let it burn.

2. Add the tomatoes to a bowl and pour the oil over them. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper.

3. Slice the baguette into thin slices and arrange on a baking sheet. Broil until lightly toasted, turn over and toast the other side.

4. Add the basil to the tomato mixture and mix well. Pile on top of the toasts and away you go!

Fried Calamari

Calamari is one of the most over priced menu items out there in restaurants. Did you know that? It's so cheap they should be giving it away for free. And in fact, Siobhan - the owner of our favorite North End restaurant, Pomodoro, does. When you least expect it, she comes by with a big plate of fried calamari to wet your appetite. For years we thought it was because we were regulars, or because Paddy's Irish (and so is she), or maybe we were just special? But no, it's because it's so stinkin cheap - what better way to butter up your customers? Genius. And when I say cheap, I mean enough for two will run you about $2.00 at the seafood counter in your local grocery store. Cheap enough that my dad uses it for bait.

But there is a small it so cheap because it's not calamari? Not calamari you say? What else would it be? Well...check out this episode of This American Life (Episode 484: Dopplegangers) featuring my friend Seth who I studied with in Mali. Just beware of the fake stuff, friends. (And if you don't regularly listen to This American Life - you really need to start now.)

Oh, and when it is real and you're smart enough to make it at home, it couldn't be easier:

For 2 people:
4-5 Calamari bodies, sliced into 1/2 or 3/4 inch strips
1 cup of flour
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil - enough to submerge the calamari when frying

1. Heat the oil to 350 degrees.
2. Rinse and gently pat the calamari dry/ish
3. Dredge the calamari in the flour and shake free the extra
4. Drop in the oil and fry for about 1 minute or until golden brown.
5. Remove from oil with a spider or slotted spoon and drain on a plate with paper towel. Serve immediately with tomato sauce.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Spicy Turkey Burgers

I don't know about you, but when I think of turkey burgers I think of hockey pucks. Or sawdust? Let's just say I usually go for the juicy, grease-dripping beef version. Until now. This turkey burger recipe is out of this world (actually out of Joanne Chang's Flour Too cookbook). I can't get enough of her...or these burgers. This makes 4 - double it and put half in the freezer and have the others during the week over a salad. You won't be disappointed. The tomato-onion jam by the way, is optional but highly recommended. You'll use all of it, but even if you didn't, there's a million things you could do with it. Also - do not substitute the fresh breadcrumbs for that store bought stuff...remember how I mentioned saw dust...?

Tomato Onion Jam
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, in 1/2-inch slices
1 lb plum tomatoes, halved, pulp and seeds removed, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Generous amount of salt and pepper

Turkey Burgers
3 slices of white break (I used a bun and a half from the buns I bought for this)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground turkey
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 minced chipotle chile (I keep these in a jar in my fridge - you open the can, use one and then what? Add them to soups, use to marinate chicken, in chili...etc)
1 egg
3 tbsp chopped basil
2 tbsp chopped parsley
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350.
1. To make the jam, heat oil in a saucepan, add the onion and tomatoes and cook for 30-40 mins, stirring occasionally until it's thickened. Add salt, pepper, pepper flakes and stir until mixed. Let cool.

2. In a food processor (or with your hands), process the bread until it turns to crumbs.

3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium. Add onion and cook until softened, add the garlic and cook for another 2 mins.

4. In a large bowl, add the turkey, cooked onions and garlic, the mustard through the salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix until well incorporated. Form the burgers - make them as thin as possible without breaking them (and so that you can get them into the pan).

5. Heat your skillet and add some olive oil. Cook the burgers about 3 minutes per side - only turning once, when they're browned a bit. Transfer to a baking sheet and pop in the oven for about 20 minutes (depending on thickness) - internal temp should be at least 165.

Serve on a roll with the tomato jam.

Spicy Pork with Asparagus

Have I mentioned that we have a Thai restaurant around the corner from our house? It's like a ski lodge in the way that it pumps out delicious smells from its fan in the back - luring in people off the street who weren't even hungry in the first place. It blows directly at our house. On summer nights while we sit on the balcony having a beer, our mouths water and inevitably conversation turns to spring rolls and pad thai. In the winter, if the wind's blowing the right direction, I catch a whiff just before I turn the key in the door. But we don't order in too often, and usually because making it at home is more delicious, much cheaper...and we know what's in it (healthier and less scary). This is not a Thai recipe but the next time you get a hankering for Chinese take-out or something of the sort, make this instead. Your taste buds (and bowels) will thank you.

3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
2 tsp cornstarch
~12 oz ground pork (you can use varied amounts, this week I happened to have 1/2 lb in the freezer which worked just fine)
3 tsp sesame oil
1 handful of asparagus (whatever is rubberbanded together at the store), trimmed and cut on diagonal into 1/2 pieces
1 jalapeno, minced with seeds (if you're afraid of spicy, go easy on the seeds)
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp honey
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Soft boiled or poached eggs (optional)

1. Whisk 1 tbsp soy, rice wine, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add pork, toss to blend.

2. Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok or large/deep skillet over high heat (yes - HIGH. Don't be shy, this is why they call it stir fry. If you go for less, you'll end up with smushy veggies and pork without the brown caramel bits). Add asparagus, jalapeno and ginger. Toss until crisp-tender (about 3 mins). Boil water and add your eggs. Cook for 6-7 mins.

3. Remove the asparagus and place in a bowl, leaving the oil/ginger in the pan. Add the remaining oil and add the pork. Stir fry until browned and cooked through, breaking up the chunks.

4. Return the asparagus to the pan, add the remaining soy, oyster sauce, honey and green onions and stir until well combined.

Serve over white jasmine rice. I happened to have some leftover white rice in the fridge which I just threw in at the end and mixed with everything else.