Monday, November 22, 2010

Delicious Thai-Inspired Stir-Fry

I don't know what to call this one. It's really just a good stir-fry, based on one they made on America's Test Kitchen. You can use any meat, really, and any vegetables, so it's hard to pin down. Here's how I made this batch. I used chicken thighs, but the original recipe was for beef (something lean, like top round).

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (~2 lbs.)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper

2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
1 red pepper
1 red onion or 3-4 shallots
3 hot chilies
3 cloves garlic

3 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 c. chicken broth (or water)
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Chili Garlic Sauce
1 Tbsp. corn starch

Begin by boiling a pot of water for blanching the broccoli. Meanwhile, slice the meat into small pieces and then toss them with the coriander, white pepper, salt, brown sugar, and fish sauce. When the water boils, blanch the broccoli for 1 minute, then cool immediately with cold water and drain.

Slice the peppers and onions into bite-sized pieces, and mince the garlic and hot chilis. Mix together the remaining ingredients to form a sauce, and taste to check flavor. Adjust as necessary (should be pretty salty since it will be diluted by the remaining ingredients).

STIR-FRYING WORKS BEST IF YOU ARE CAREFUL AND METHODICAL AND DO NOT CROWD THE PAN.

Begin by heating some oil in your stir fry pan over high until it is almost smoking. Add half of the garlic and hot peppers. They will begin to brown almost immediately. Add 1/3 of the meat and cook until the edges are crisp and brown, but cook it quickly so that the inside part isn't fully cooked. Cook in batches, replenishing oil as needed, until all the meat is cooked. Set aside in a bowl.

Add more oil and the remaining garlic and chilies. Making sure the pan is very hot again, add the onion and stir. Then add the red peppers. The edges should get some browning but the vegetables should remain crisp.

Add the cooked broccoli and the meat, including the meat juice from the bowl. Reduce the heat to medium and toss ingredients to combine. Add the sauce, which should immediately begin to thicken, and stir to coat. Check flavors and add salt or sugar as needed.

Serve piping hot with fresh jasmine rice.

Obviously you can make this with any ingredients you like. Make sure to blanch anything large and chunky like broccoli.

Blueberry Walnut Bars

Or, as I like to call them, Blueblerry Blars! This recipe is based on one from the Lunds & Byerly's free magazine, Real Food. These make a great breakfast or post-gym snack. Soon I will work on some other fillings, like apple or cherry.


~2.5 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen (or a whole 12 oz. bag)
1/4 c.white sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon zest

1 c. walnuts, whole or in pieces
1.5 c. AP flour
1 heaping cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 c. white sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. melted, unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Trust me--this recipe will be a lot easier if you use the paper.

Place the walnuts on the baking pan and put them in the oven to toast for 5-10 minutes. They will become fragrant and make squealing noises. Make sure they don't start to burn. Remove from the oven to cool when they are done. Chop coarsely.

(TIP: I melted the butter at this point by placing it in a metal bowl in the oven while the nuts were roasting).

Combine the 1/4 c. white sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan and stir in the blueberries and lemon zest. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently and mashing the berries a bit, until the sauce thickens (~5 minutes). Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, 1/3 c. white sugar, 1/3c. brown sugar, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and walnuts. Stir in the melted butter and combine well.

Press two thirds of the oat mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the parchment-lined pan. Spread the blueberry mixture over it. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture on top.

Bake at 350° until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Allow the dessert to cool completely in the pan. Pull the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper and place on a cutting board. Cut into 2" squares.

Oriental Style Rice Pudding

A bit thick, but very, very yummy :)

This is an aromatic stovetop-simmered style (like kheer), instead of the baked, eggy Occidental style. I made this using cooked rice. You can certainly start with uncooked rice (look up a recipe online), but be prepared to spend a lot of time stirring. The recipe is flexible: you can adjust the liquid amount for the desired consistency, add different flavorings, additions such as raisins or nuts, and even different sources of liquids. I recommend using whole milk and adding cream or evaporated milk. The recipe can be served warm or cold.

3-4 c. cooked basmati or jasmine rice
2 c. whole milk
1 can evaporated milk
~1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. rose water
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 pinch salt
1 Tbsp. butter (optional)
crushed pistachios for garnish

Heat the whole milk and evaporated milk (or whatever types of milk you are using). Add the rice, sugar, salt, and cardamom. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently for 25 minutes. You can add a pat of unsalted butter to keep a skin from forming.

Add the boiling water if the pudding becomes too thick, and continue to stir to break down the rice grains. Continue to cook and add liquid until pudding reaches desired consistency (it will thicken as it cools). Turn off the heat and stir in the rose water. Garnish with crushed nuts, more ground cardamom, or any other lovely things. Serve warm or cold. If you chill the pudding, put a layer of plastic wrap directly on top.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eye of Round Roast

If you are confused, those are pink potatoes on the right.

It may not be the most sophisticated cut of beef, but it's cheap, easy to find, and if you follow my directions, delicious. This makes a lean, slice-able roast. I made a 5-lb. roast, but you can make this with a 3- or 4-pounder, just adjust the cooking time. Allow some time to let the roast season before you roast it.

Preheat oven to 325.

1 5-lb. eye of round roast
4 Tbsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. ground coriander

roasting vegetables (optional)
oil

Combine the spices. Pat the roast dry and rub the spices into it. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let sit for 1-2 hrs or more.

Heat some oil for frying in the bottom of a roasting pan. Brown the roast on all sides. Place in the oven to roast. Add more oil to the pan if it starts to scorch.

I found that my roast cooked faster than most recipes said, probably because I was shooting for medium-ish instead of well-done. My 5-lb. roast got to 140 degrees in about 1.5 hrs. I'd say allow 20 minutes per pound. After it reaches 140, remove it from the oven and tent it loosely with foil, and it will rise by another 5 degrees.

Add your roasting vegetables accordingly--about 45 minutes before completion. I nestled them around my roast, tossing them in the oil, and then roasted them 10 minutes longer while the roast rested. Alternately, you could use the drippings to make gravy.

Just slice thinly across the grain, and dinner is served!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Enchiladas Verdes

Well, we can't have a red enchilada recipe without a green enchilada recipe! Heck, we even have a half-assed mole enchilada recipe. I took it upon myself to make these from scratch, since it seems like there are always tomatillos for sale around here, and my food processor is working again. You can use canned sauce instead, if you like.

Salsa Verde

1.5 lbs (6-7) tomatillos
1 large onion
2-4 chiles verdes
3 cloves garlic
1 lime, juiced
1 small handful cilantro
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tsp. sugar, or to taste
1 c. chicken broth, with extra chicken boullion added

Remove tomatillo husks and cut onion in half. Place tomatillos, onion, and chiles underneath the broiler (or on the grill) to roast, turning a few times as needed. When they have lots of brown, roasty edges, remove them and let cool. Remove the roasted skin from the chiles.

Feed all sauce ingredients into food processor and process until you have a chunky-smooth sauce. You will probably have sauce left over, and it's great on chips, tacos, etc...

Enchilada Filling

This can be whatever you want, even just plain chicken. I'm posting what I used most recently.

3 c. cooked chicken, pulled apart
1 c. cooked chorizo
3 green onions, diced
3/4 lb. melty white cheese, shredded + 1/4 c. for topping
1/2 c. sour cream
chicken broth to make the filling moist and mixable, if needed
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Combine filling ingredients. Heat 15-18 corn tortillas in a small amount of oil until they soften. Grease a large, flat baking pan, and then spread a layer of salsa verde on the bottom. Place a reasonable amount of filling on a tortilla, roll it up (don't bother tucking the ends in), and place it seam-down in the pan. Pack the tortillas into the pan (this recipe made enough enchiladas to fill my pan, which holds 15 tortillas, plus some extra). Smother with salsa verde and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes until they are heated through and the cheese is bubbly and browned.

Note: I don't bother with the tortilla-dipping step for this recipe--since this is a moist filling, I don't think it needs it. If you are using only plain meat or meat+onions for the filling, you will want to dip the tortillas before rolling them up.

Serve with more salsa verde, because it's so damn good!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

These are delicious and a nice break from flour-based pancakes. I have noticed a nice assortment of organic and high-quality brands of cottage cheese at the coop, and had sort of forgotten about keeping it on hand. A couple spoonfuls are a great pick-me-up in the afternoon or before dinner is ready.

This recipe was found on the internet, with a few adjustments, but this is how I did it:

1 cup oatmeal*
1 cup cottage cheese
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

*I ran the oatmeal through the food processor first to break it down a little - if you have the quick-cooking variety you shouldn't have to do this first.

Put all ingredients into food processor, blast a few times, and set aside. It will get thicker from standing.

On a medium hot non-stick or lightly oiled griddle, make silver dollar-size pancakes; turn when slightly bubbly. Cook a little longer on side two.

Serve with your favorite topping. I used cooked apples (baked ahead of time with a wee bit of sugar and cinnamon). They are a lot more filling than they look!