Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Now, I'll have to say I'm a pretty open-minded food eater. I practically eat and try to cook anything really. One thing that I haven't been able to properly do, or properly make taste well, is lamb. Yes, many say it's an acquired taste, and many just have a problem with eating a cute little baby lamb, but you know... it's the circle of life, just because it's cute, doesn't mean you can't eat it.
Anywho, I have finally had the huge burden of improperly cooking lamb taken off of my back. I've grilled lamb chops, I've roasted a rack, roasted a loin, and it just hasn't lost the "gameyness" of it. And who knows, maybe it's "supposed" to taste like that, but my tastebuds just seem to reject it. And then the final way I have never cooked lamb, braising, saved my life. I was almost about to give up on cooking lamb, and was quite hesitant on doing this as well (especially since lamb isn't the cheapest of proteins, and well... ruining meal after meal can be a little damaging to the pocket), but I'm glad I did. I felt a subtle "gameyness"... it was just right. The braising liquid entered the meat and flavored it so well that I couldn't help but smile after this meal. I had conquered something... it may not have been the world, but it was lamb. I can now check that off the list of things to accomplish in my lifetime.
2 bone-in lamb shanks
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
5 parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
4 cups red wine
4 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons thyme
2 cups brussel sprouts, quartered
juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Season the lamb shanks with the rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Heat a skillet under medium high heat, add about 1 tablespoon olive oil, and brown shanks, about 5 minutes per side.
Set your crockpot to the high setting. Add in lamb shanks. Cover with red wine and beef stock. Add in carrots, parsnips, and onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cook for about 5-8 hours. (I had mine on the high setting for the first hour and then switched it to low while I was at work).
About 30-45 minutes before serving, add in mushrooms and brussel sprouts.
Serve lamb shanks on mixed vegetables that braised along with it in the crock pot.
This was great! I can't say it enough! The meat was tender, fall of the bone, and absolutely delicious. The vegetables were juicy and really delicious all on their own. Enjoy!
What foods have you all found challenging? Foods that you almost gave up on, and a miracle recipe saved you? I want to hear it!
Monday, March 29, 2010
I'm baaaaaaack! Vacation was pretty awesome. It was exactly what I needed. Until I got back to work again. It's funny how having to come back to the real world really bites. I wish I could just live one of those glorious lives where I could travel the globe and not lift a finger. But I guess maybe even that would become habitual and boring in time. Nonetheless... I'm back and ready to cook! I thought this sushi was pretty excellent, and if it wasn't so convenient to have others make this for me, I think I would do this myself all the time. I definitely recommend sushi-making at home, at least once, just for the experience... because it's definitely not as hard as you think!
Basmati or some other kind of "sticky" rice
Seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 lb. lobster meat (or imitation)
1 package nori
1/2 cucumber, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
oil for frying
Alright, first cook your rice. I had two different types so that I could compare the two. First, I bought a prepackaged "steam for 1 minute in the microwave" kind of rice. Then I cooked about 1 cup of basmati rice, adding a little bit more water than recommended to kind of get the rice at that "sticky" texture. Separate each rice and add your desired amount of rice vinegar to each pile. Mix well.
Go ahead and heat up your frying oil. Kind of cut the lobster meat into chunks and dip them into the tempura batter. Let sit for 3 minutes and then coat a second time with the batter and allow to sit for a few more minutes.
Fry the batter lobster chunks until you get a nice golden brown color, maybe about 5-7 minutes.
Lay out your bamboo sushi mat and place a piece of plastic wrap over it to cover. For a normal roll (nori on the outside, rice on the inside), place nori sheet on top of sushi mat. Cover nori with rice and add desired fillings. I added in lobster, carrots, and cucumber... but that's what's great about sushi, it's versatile... you can practically put anything you want in there!
For an alternative roll, an inside out roll (where the rice is on the outside and nori on the inside), just place the rice on the plastic wrap to cover top with nori. Then add fillings.
Ok, once you've got your filling and roll planned out, gently pick up mat from end closest to you and roll. Tighten mat to tighten roll. Sometimes explaining this isn't as good as a visual aid. So check out this site for a more detailed description... How To Roll Sushi.
You can decorate the rolls as you please, I just chose to drizzle some Sriracha and top with tempura flakes and black sesame seeds. Serve with soy sauce and eat with chop sticks!
This was just great! Not only was it visually stunning, it was just as delicious as it looked! Two large rolls and we were both full and happy. I definitely think the "sticky" packaged rice was easier to roll with. The basmati kind of fell apart a little (I used that one for the inside out roll, you can kind of tell it was coming apart there in the picture, but delicious nonetheless!) Enjoy!
Friday, March 19, 2010
The last post about lasagna I had was "Momma's Lasagna"... very straight forward, all the normal things you'd want in and think would be in a lasagna. Well... this is somewhat different. It's got your elemental lasagna ingredients, but with an addition of a few things, which is my opinion, make it one of the best lasagnas I've ever had.
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
28 oz. can crushed San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
2 sweet potatoes, sliced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1-2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
1 box lasagna noodles
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a dutch oven, heat olive oil under medium high heat and add bacon. Stir in cinnamon and cook until bacon is crispy and golden, about 3-5 minutes.
Add in onion, garlic, carrots, rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are starting to soften.
Stir in ground beef and cook until browned, about another 5 minutes or so.
Mix in mushrooms, tomatoes, beef stock, and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bake in oven for at least 1 hour. This allows the flavors to have enough time to meld with eachother.
While you're waiting, take your sweet potato slices and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and slightly browned. Set aside to cool.
Also, prepare your lasagna noodles according to package directions, adding some olive oil to the water so the noodles do not stick. Drain noodles and set aside on parchment paper.
About 10 minutes or so before the sauce is done baking, you can start on your "bechamel" of sorts. Heat 3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup cold whipping cream with the cornstarch until it is dissolved. When the cream in the saucepan has come to a boil, low heat slightly and stir in cold cream. The mixture should start to thicken and then you'll want to add in about 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese. Keep adding cheese until you get your desired consistency. I added about 1 full cup and was satisfied. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Take your sauce out of the oven and mix well. Everything should smell pretty fantastic right now.
Preheat your oven to 400F.
In a large baking dish, spoon a little bit of the sauce on the bottom of the pan so the noodles don't stick. Then add a layer of noodles. Ladle a good bit of sauce on top of the noodles. Add a layer of sweet potatoes (they don't have to be touching eachother, just sporatically). Top with about 1/2 ladle full of the cream sauce and a handful of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Continue layering like this until you've run out of noodles. I think I had 3 different layers (only enough sweet potatoes for the bottom 2 layers though). Spoon on the remaining sauce and remainder of cream sauce and top with mozzarella and parmesan.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until top is nice and golden. Serve piping hot and enjoy!
I've never had a lasagna that included sweet potatoes or making my own sauce from scratch. It really was the perfect definition for "comfort food." I even brought it into work the next day and everyone that tried it liked it!
So well, today is Friday, and we leave for Savannah, Georgia on Sunday morning, so I'm not sure if I'll be posting any next week or not, but if not, enjoy the week... because I know I'll be enjoying a MUCH needed vacation away from everything! Enjoy!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Today was a big battle. One last big Organic Chemistry test before Spring Break week and one more paper to write, due tomorrow, and I'm home free. I have wanted to just relax since the semester began, and I've got 2 more days of work and I'll get to do just that. I guess it could be worse, but you know, that homestretch before a vacation... is just plain brutal.
1/2 lb. fettucini
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. can clams, chopped (juice reserved, optional)
3/4 cup chardonnay
juice from 1/2 lemon
small handful parsley, chopped
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the fettucini to al dente. Drain.
While waiting for pasta to boil, heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet until medium high heat. Add clams and garlic and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
Add in wine and cook for another 3-5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits from pan. Add remaining tablespoon of butter and stir until melted.
Lower heat and add in lemon juice. Stir in parsley and whipping cream. Then add in 3/4 cup parmesan cheese. Stir until all incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste. If you want more clam flavor, add in small portion of reserved clam juice until it's just perfect for your tastes.
Drain pasta and toss pasta in sauce until well incorporated. Serve on hot plates and with remaining parmesan cheese for garnish if you'd like!
This was absolutely great. Andy and I went out to eat last Friday and we went to a Louisville "chain" of sorts - the Bristol. And nothing against the Bristol or anything, but their entrees always just seems so... well... blah. And this Friday was no surprise. The special was a shrimp scampi with linguine and it sounded amazing, the way they described it. And the plate came out, it smelled wonderful, it looked wonderful, but just tasted... well... BORING. There was no flavor... at all. So I made it my mission to make a pasta dish this week that had FLAVOR... and this did just that. So maybe Bristol could learn a thing or two... Enjoy!
Monday, March 15, 2010
Afrin has been my best friend today. I spent all last night and this morning, stuffed up as all get out, and was on the verge of having my head explode. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't talk right. And I couldn't be normal. Until I decided to purchase that God-send of a nosespray... Afrin. So thank you, Afrin. I can now breathe, and I no longer have to fight for air.
Adapted from Food & Wine's March 2010 Issue - 'Cornish Hen Stew w/ Lemongrass & Chiles'
2 Cornish hens
salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8-10 dried red chiles
2 shallots, smashed and peeled
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
4 cups water
2 turnips, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 scallions, sliced
juice from 1 lime
You want to start by breaking down both of the hens. Remove the wing tips and backbone. Separate the legs into drumsticks and thighs. Then remove the rib bones from the breasts.
Season the hen pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a dutch oven under medium high heat. Add the cornish hen pieces (I did 2 batches) and brown on both sides, about 4-6 minutes. Once browned, transfer the pieces to a plate.
Add the dried chiles, shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and tumeric to the pot and stir until fragrant. This will be a whole lot of aromatics that will just smell AWESOME!
Add in the water and turnips. Return the hen pieces to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes, until breasts are cooked through. Remove the breasts and cover with foil. Cook the remaining hen pieces for another 10 minutes.
Return the breasts pieces and stir in fish sauce, scallions, and lime juice. Adjust seasoning to taste and then ladle into soup bowls!
I served this with some basmati rice and mixed it into the stew and it was marvelous. You can decrease the amount of chili peppers if you want it less spicy, but I thought this was a great balance of spice. Enjoy!
Friday, March 12, 2010
I've got a throbbing headache. Hopefully, as I write this post, the Ibuprofen will do its job and it will throb less as I keep typing. Key word = hopefully. This week has just been full of great weather... until today, of course. It rained like it's never rained before (or at least so far this year). and I'm pretty sure it will continue to rain all weekend, which is a shame because I would really like to get out there and play tennis again. So here's hoping the weatherman is wrong, and don't forget to set your clocks FORWARD on Sunday!
Adapted from Food & Wine's March 2010 issue: 'Stir Fried Red Rice w/ Sliced Sirloin Steak & Peas'
1/2 cup red rice (I found this at Whole Foods)
1 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. sirloin steak, sliced thinly
salt and white pepper, to taste
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 cups each of chopped kale and swiss chard
1 cup thawed frozen peas
3 tablespoons soy sauce
small handful chopped cilantro
juice from 1 lime
In a small pot, cover the rice with water and bring to a boil. Cover and turn down to low for about 25-30 minutes, when most of the water has been taken up by the rice. You could definitely use white rice if you wanted to for this, but I think the red rice gives it a somewhat sweet aspect. Not sugary sweet, but just sweeter than your normal rice I suppose.
When rice is finished, spread onto a baking sheet to cool.
In a large skillet, heat up 1 tablespoon of the oil under medium high heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Be careful not to let the garlic burn, so stir constantly.
Season the sirloin strips with salt and add to the skillet with the garlic. Brown each side, about 1-2 minutes per side (depending on how thick you cut your slices) and then transfer to a plate.
Heat remaining oil in skillet and add the onion and ginger. Cook until onion is soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the kale and swiss chard and cook until wilted, about 1 or 2 more minutes. Then stir in the red rice, peas, and soy sauce. Add back in the sirloin strips, as well. Mix well and heat through. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Stir in some of the cilantro and squeeze the lime juice over mixture. Mix well again. Serve while its hot!
This was great because it was like having everything incorporated into one. The sirloin was evenly distributed among all of the vegetables and there was a good ratio of rice. The red rice was really interesting, not too different from normal white rice, but it had a subtle sweetness to it, I thought. And if the meal wasn't delicious enough, it was just beautiful! Enjoy!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I absolutely LOVE to say this word... Bi-Bim-pap! It's so fun when you say it so fast! And it makes me truly feel Asian because everybody around me doesn't know what the hell I'm talking about. It's AWESOME!
Ok... you can tell I'm just in a great, giddy mood. I am for 2 reasons: #1) I'm off of work today. I haven't have a Wednesday off in... well... a long time. Albeit I have to go to class at 5:30, but still, I have a beautiful day that I can just do whatever I want with. But Wednesdays, most importantly, is lunch day with my pharmacist friends! Which we have not gone to lunch in, well... a LONG time, so it's great! And #2) I got a B + on my Organic Chemistry lab exam... BEFORE a curve... so hopefully, WITH a curve, it turns into an A. And here's the kicker... I only studied for an hour. That, my friends, deserves a pat on the back. Go me.
1 cup basmati rice, cooked
2 eggs, fried any way you like them (I did some over-easy and sunny-side up)
1 cup roughly shredded/chopped chicken (I used the leftover wing meat from monday's recipe)
2 carrots, sliced and blanched
1 English cucumber, sliced
20 or so brussels sprouts, quartered and blanched
2 tablespoons Asian sesame dressing
This is pretty much a prep and put together kind of meal. I heated up a teaspoon of olive oil and lightly sauteed the shredded chicken. Since it was already seasoned from the previous day's wing recipe, it took on this smoky flavor after cooking it in the pan. It was quite delicious.
After blanching the vegetables, I separately sauteed each in the same pan for about 1-2 minutes each, just to kind of get a semi-browning on them.
This is supposed to go in a large bowl, but I thought it would look better on a large plate, so just place each vegetable, chicken, and rice, along the edge of the plate, kind of in a circular fashion (you can see why I was supposed to use a bowl) and place the fried egg in the middle. Top the rice with a little bit of Asian sesame dressing and dig in!
I love bibimpap because it's really one of those meals where you can eat it any way you want to. You can eat each piece individually or mix the whole thing together like a stir fry. And it's so versatile! You can really use any protein, any vegetables, and place an egg in the middle and you got bibimpap! And plus, it's just so fun to say! Bibimpap, bibimpap, bibimpap! Ok... I'll stop now. Enjoy!
Monday, March 8, 2010
Okay, today was an extremely long day. It's only 8 pm, but it feels like it's 2 in the morning. It was a beautiful weekend so Andy and I went out with a couple of friends and played tennis... FOR 3 HOURS. Needless to say, my body is punishing me today for that. I've been sore and I wore these blasted flats today so now my feet hurt too. BUT! I'm not whining, just venting... so don't call me a baby. And we won't even discuss how the tennis games turned out. That's for another day... when I demolish them all on the courts... until then, I'll leave you guessing.
Then the computers were down for A WHOLE HOUR at work today. Now I don't know about you all, but where I work... it's kind of essential to have computers functioning. Especially when you have people that want their drugs. Not a pretty sight, but thankful that no one got ugly.
Anyway, these chicken wings are awesome... next time I think I'll fry them and sauce them. But if you're still in a health kick, by all means bake them. They just didn't get that "crispyness" that both of us wanted, but they were still finger lickin' good.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoon soy sauce, divided
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1/8 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
about 20 whole chicken wings
1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
In a large bowl (big enough to fit all those wings) combine vegetable oil, rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, garlic, and pepper flakes. Toss the wings in the marinade and set in fridge for at least an hour. I left it in there for a good 8 hours while I was at work and had Andy kind of move them around a couple of times in between so get the wings evenly done.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake the wings for about 45 minutes (or until chicken is done all throughout and skin is darkened, flipping after 20 minutes or so.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sriracha, and sweet chili sauce. Toss the wings in the sauce and serve!
All I can say is the sauce on these wings is what makes them! Make sure you have plenty of napkins! Enjoy!
Friday, March 5, 2010
Now, American Idol usually isn't the kind of show that I'd watch. I don't watch that much TV period. But for some reason, the past couple of seasons, I've just been sucked into it. This season is no exception, and I just have to vent how frustrated I am with these people. I think it's going to be a no-brainer for the actual winner. There's only a couple people out of the 20 or whatever that are left that actually have talent, in my opinion. I'm a harsh critic. And what irks me the most is that girl with the red hair who totally butchered "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac the first week, and still pretty much sucked this week, IS STILL THERE! What is wrong with America.
Ok, now that my venting is done, I'll give you a recipe, haha...
4-5 cups chicken stock
1 jalapeno, halfway seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
small handful of cilantro, chopped
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I seasoned mine with cumin, chili powder, and chipotle pepper)
juice from 1 lime
avocado, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, for topping
In a dutch oven under medium high heat, add all ingredients except topping and heat for about 15 minutes. You can go longer to develop the flavor.
Ladle into bowls and top with whatever you desire!
Easy right?! This makes for a quick and delicious weeknight meal. There was subtle heat from the jalapenos which was just right, in my opinion. I found the longer I let the soup simmer, the more the spiciness melded with the other flavors and wasn't so overpowering. Enjoy!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
I know what you're thinking... Jap-what? Japchae. Kind of like a Korean version of Filipino pancit (which I'm still partial to). Andy described it as a taste he's never experienced before... good or bad, I took it as a compliment.
On a side note, another late post and I apologize. Middle of the weeks have been rough. Too many tests crammed in there, but I promise, I'm still lighting up that kitchen! Just a couple more weeks and spring break will be here and I'll be Savannah, Georgia bound... any recommendations of things to do down there for anybody that's been?
1 rib-eye steak, thinly sliced and most fat removed
1 bunch spinach
2 carrots, julienned
5 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, sliced
handful of green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 package vermicelli rice noodles
1/8 cup seasoned rice vinegar
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add rice noodles. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, then drain and place in large bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Mix well.
Wash the spinach and blanch for about 1-2 minutes. Drain well and mix in with noodles.
In a large skillet under medium high heat, add about 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil and stir-fry the carrots, onions, and garlic. Add that mixture to the noodles.
Add beef and mushrooms to same skillet and cook until beef is done. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Stir in the green onions and add mixture to noodles.
Finally, add in remaining soy sauce and sugar, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Mix well and serve!
Like I said, I'm still partial to the Filipino pancit after eating this dish. It was tasty.... different... but tasty nonetheless. Enjoy!
Monday, March 1, 2010
My brain is fried. I keep trying to catch up on homework/studying and I just feel like I'm falling farther and farther behind. Nothing is late, thank goodness, but it sure it putting me under pressure with these last minute papers and tests. I guess it's pretty much all my fault... I've become quite the procrastinator in the past months. I need to start getting in a strict regimen of things again, but I digress.
This steak was absolutely tasty, it was a perfectly refreshing meal.
Adapted from Bon Appetit's January 2010 issue 'Grass-Fed Strip Steak w/ Spicy Hoisin Sauce and Cucumber Relish
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra
2 shallots, thinly sliced
small handful fresh cilantro, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 English cucumber, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 NY strip steaks
2 onions, thickly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
To make the steak sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan under medium high heat. Add the shallows, cilantro, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the ginger, and crushed red pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes. The sauce wasn't as spicy as I'd like it to have been, so if you're wanting some spiciness, I'd suggest adding more red pepper here.
Add the chicken stock, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 more minutes. Turn heat off and stir in honey. Set sauce aside.
To make a quick relish side, mix cucumber, remaining ginger, and rice vinegar in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Place oven broiler on high.
For the steaks, simply rub both sides of steaks with olive oil. Gently brush on some of the steak sauce on both sides of the steaks as well. Broil steaks on top rack of oven for about 4-5 minutes were side for a nice medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest.
Meanwhile, brush the onion rounds with olive oil. Broil these guys for about 4-5 minutes, until they're soft and charred.
Thinly slice the steak and serve with remaining steak sauce, onion rings, and relish.
This was completely delicious. It was a simple meal, but it was so balanced. Didn't leave us feel bloated or tired. The relish really "wakes" you up in a sense. It's a great accompaniment to the steak and onions! Enjoy!