Saturday, February 26, 2011

Miso Sesame Marinade

Whenever I buy miso, I wonder if I could do anything with it other than making soup, especially since it often comes in absurdly large packages. Mysteriously, the package of miso I has some tantalizing tips about its use as a marinade, but no recipe. I poked around online, and the recipes range from crazy complex to just lame sounding, so I made my own version. I used it to marinate chicken prior to BBQing, but I think it'd probably be good with pork or even fish if you're into that sort of thing. It was really delicious, and I highly recommend it.

The ingredients are given in approximate proportions, but you should mix it to taste before putting it on the meat. This made about enough to marinate an entire cut chicken.

2 Tbsp miso (the kind you use will change the flavor of course)
1/3 c. warm water (enough to dissolve the miso)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce

I didn't add any salt, as the miso was pretty salty as it is.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spinach with Chickpeas

This is another recipe from Chef Ramzi's cookbook. Very easy to make, good on rice or with pita bread. Had a bit of protein from the chickpeas, which makes it a nice satisfying side dish (or main dish for skinny vegetarians.)

2 10oz packets of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, or 2 pounds fresh spinach, blanched
1 onion, cut into thin strips
2 tsp garlic crushed with salt
1 can chickpeas, boiled for 5 minutes or nuked for 2
2 small, or 1 medium lemon (about 1/2 c. juice)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or equivalent Arabic spice mix)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt


Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until starting to brown, then add chickpeas and cook until slightly browed. Add spinach and spices, cook for a few minutes, then add lemon juice and cook for another couple minutes until the lemon no longer dominates the flavor. If it is too dry (i.e. sticking to the bottom of the pan), add a bit of water. You can serve it with fried onions and lemon slices if you like.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chicken Parmigiana Revisited

Call it chicken parmesan, parmigiana, or parm, most of the time this winds up being a soggy, insipid dish. BUT--never fear, dear readers, I have improved it! The trick is to put the chicken (or veal) cutlets on top of the sauce, which keeps the breading from getting soft. I keep the cutlets small so that they have more crispy surface area and I use noodles instead of spaghetti, so it serves like a casserole. Overall, it helps to use high-quality ingredients for maximum flavor--the ones listed below are ideal, but you can use block mozarella, canned sauce, etc...

1.5 lb. chicken breasts
1.5 c. flour
3 eggs, beaten
1.5 c. panko crumbs
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

1 large can plum tomatoes
1 large can diced tomatoes
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves + 2 cloves garlic
1/4 c. red wine
1 Tbsp. oregano
2 tsp. dried basil or a handful of fresh
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste + more black pepper

Noodle Base and Topping
3/4 lb. bow-tie or ziti pasta
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 c. ground Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 lb. fresh mozarella
3 Tbsp. ground Pecorino Romano
1 c. blanched and chopped spinach (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter a 7"x11" baking dish.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sweat the onions with the red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt until the onions start to brown slightly, then add the 3 cloves garlic and stir until it becomes fragrant. Add the oregano, black pepper, and dried basil. Stir in the tomato paste to coat. Add the wine and use it to deglaze the pan. Puree the plum tomatoes, and add them to the pan, along with the can of diced tomatoes and the bay leaves. Simmer the sauce until it becomes thick, reduces in volume by about 40%, and loses its watery look--about 45 minutes. Crush the remaining garlic and thinly slice the fresh basil, and add to the sauce to simmer 2 more minutes. Add more black pepper and adjust the salt.

To make the cutlets, slice the chicken into pieces about the size of the palm of your hand. Pound to flatten. Sprinkle the pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Toss them in flour to coat. Heat up enough oil to pan-fry them. Dip the floured pieces in the egg and then dredge them in the panko crumbs. Fry the cutlets until golden brown, taking care not to crowd the pan. You can drain them now for use later, or place them directly on the noodles and sauce (see below).
Assembly instructions.

Boil the noodles in well-salted water until cooled al dente. Drain them and toss with olive oil, chopped spinach, and black pepper. Place the noodles in the baking dish and sprinkle with some of the Parmigiano and Pecorino. Ladle the sauce over the noodles, then arrange the cutlets over the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top, then slice the mozarella and place it over the cutlets.

Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese starts to brown slightly at the edges. Enjoy!

Finished product!

Kadhai Paneer

I synthesized this from a couple of recipes. It turned out pretty well, and we could use some more Indian recipes on the blog.

1/2 pound paneer or tofu
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1.5-2" squares

1.5 Tbsp coriander seeds
2 dried red chilies
4-6 cloves garlic, minced

4-6 medium tomatoes (depending on desired sauciness), peeled by immersing in hot water
1/4" slice of fresh ginger, skinned

1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp chopped fenugreek or celery leaves

Fry coriander seeds and chili peppers in about 2 Tbsp oil until the seeds start to brown slightly, then add garlic and cook until golden brown, taking care not to burn the coriander seeds.

Combine the stuff in the pan, the tomatoes, and the ginger in a food processor or blender. Puree well.

Fry the paneer in oil until browned. In the same pan, fry the bell pepper, taking care not to overcook them since they'll be cooked more later. Drain on a paper towel.

In the same pan, if necessary add a little oil, and then add the cumin seeds. When they start popping, add the tomato puree, turmeric and celery/fenugreek leaves. Let cook for about 5 minutes, or until reduced. Check for spiciness - you can add some cayenne pepper here, but it might be hot enough already - and then add salt to taste. Add a small quantity of water if necessary, then add the paneer and bell peppers.

I don't have a picture of the dish, but here's a picture of Manjula's version, which is one of the recipes I used (her version calls for fewer tomatoes so is less saucy)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Middle Eastern Veggie Ragout

I got this recipe from a cookbook by Chef Ramzi, which contains a nice mix of Middle Eastern and international recipes. I have no idea if it's an "authentic" Middle Eastern recipe, but it uses ingredients and techniques from that region. It's also really easy, uses simple ingredients and is quite tasty.

1 small onion, cut into thin strips
3-6 cloves crushed garlic (traditionally pounded in a mortar and pestle with salt)
2 zucchini, cut into circles
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 medium tomatoes, cubed
1 c. water
1/2 tsp cumin (or to taste)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

In a heavy bottomed, wide sauce pan or dutch oven, saute the onion and garlic together on medium-high in about 3 Tbsp of olive oil until transparent, then add the eggplant and cook until it starts to get soft around the edges. Add zucchini and cook for another couple of minutes until they start to soften a little bit. Add the tomatoes and the spices, and cook until the juice is starting to leave the tomatoes. Add the water, and cover, cooking on medium until everything is reasonably smooshy. Serve with pita bread, or on vermicelli rice.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I don't know if this is a true chimichurri: if you want a discussion of what that means, read here. What it is is a zingy green-ish sauce that's good on meat and fish. It's very intense when you first make it, but it will mellow in the fridge. I used the herbs I had on hand--you can certainly alter these if you like. I actually left out the oil last time, since I wanted to use it as an extra-zingy topping. If you are going to use it as a marinade, add the oil, which will help with heat transfer when you cook with it, and will protect the herbs from scorching.

1/2 c. mild olive oil or grapeseed oil (optional--see note above)
1/2 c. onion
3 garlic cloves
1 c. chopped tomatoes
1 small medium-spicy chili
1 bundle cilantro
1/2 bundle parsley
2 limes, juiced
1/4 c. red or white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. dried mint, or several branches of fresh
1 Tbsp. thyme
1 Tbsp. marjoram
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. salt or to taste
2 bay leaves

Grind the onions, garlic, peppers, tomato, and fresh herbs in a blender or food processor. Add the lime juice, vinegar, and dried herbs and spices. Adjust the salt and sugar to taste. Add more vinegar if you want it to be more liquid. Add the bay leaves and let the sauce mellow at least 30 minutes before eating, though it can be used for weeks.

Use the sauce as a marinade, and/or spoon it over grilled, pan-fried, or roasted meat or fish. Hell, just eat it with a spoon!

Clever readers may notice this is similar to two other recipes: Spiedies, and Cilantro Chutney. This differs from Spiedies by the addition of cumin, tomato, chili, and the fact that oil is optional. This differs from Cilantro Chutney by the possibility of using oil, the use of citrus juice, and the wider variety of herbs and spices. All are delicious!