Thursday, October 20, 2016

all the way up

This is a delicious variation on my "genius" chicken technique - the one that lightly replicates the idea of fried chicken with it's perfectly crispy skin, but without the fussiness of breading and deep-frying.

It's all in the aromatics here. After the chicken skin has rendered its fat, you saute woodsy shiitake mushrooms, spicy ginger and pungent garlic to form a bed on which to pan-roast the chicken until it's all the way done. You get all of that flavor straight up into the chicken itself, and then those bits of caramelized goodness get served on top of the chicken.

This paired well with broiled cauliflower steaks dressed in a funky, garlicky fish sauce marinade, and then further enlivened with a sprinkle of rice wine vinegar at the end. I always love a cauliflower side because it's a low-carb side that doesn't feel that way. I never feel like I'm missing rice or potatoes when I have cauliflower.

Bonus: It's also good enough that Matty inquired about adding it to our Thanksgiving menu!

Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Shiitake, Ginger + Garlic
slightly adapted from Nom Nom Paleo
serves 2-4

3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
salt and pepper, to taste
3.5 oz. shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/2 c.)
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into thin coins
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fish sauce

1. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Generously salt and pepper the chicken thighs on both sides, then snuggle them, skin side-down in the skillet. Cook for 30 minutes until the skin is golden-brown. Rotate the pan occasionally to ensure even browning.

2. Remove the chicken to a large plate, and add the mushrooms, shallots, ginger and garlic to the pan. Saute for 2 minutes, until the shallots are translucent.

3. Add the chicken back to the skillet, on top of the vegetables, flesh side-down, and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Serve with vegetables on top.

Broiled Cauliflower Steaks
slightly adapted from Lady + Pups
serves 2

5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 T. fish sauce
1 large head cauliflower
2 T. olive oil
salt, pepper, and red chili flakes, to taste
rice wine vinegar to garnish, if desired

1. Brine the garlic cloves in fish sauce for 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, slice the cauliflower into 3/4-inch pieces. Some of them will be larger, like steaks, while the others will be more like florets - it's just important to have at least one flat surface.

3. Spread 1 T. olive oil on a sheet pan large enough to hold all of the cauliflower in one layer. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the steaks. Drizzle the fish sauce over the cauliflower as well, tucking in the garlic cloves among the florets. Season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste.

4. Place the sheet pan about 4 inches from the broiler heat source, and broil for 5 minutes, or until charred in spots. Flip and repeat.

5. Sprinkle the cauliflower with a few drops of rice wine vinegar, and serve immediately.

Monday, October 3, 2016

build my whole world around you

I created this menu based on the roasted turmeric potatoes. I don't usually build dinner off of a side, but I couldn't get these off of my mind.

I had actually sworn off of turmeric at one point. It was such a "thing," and kind of still is - golden milk, turmeric lattes, etc. My binge on it came initially from learning that it was an anti-inflammatory, right around the time I got my wisdom teeth out. Desperate for anything to help, I may have gotten a little carried away.

But the self-imposed ban has now allowed me to crave it again. I originally found a recipe that was a bit like a turmeric potato gratin, but without the cheese. The more I read the recipe, the less I was convinced it would carry through the flavor I was looking for. Upon further search, I found this dream dish - four times the turmeric-to-potato ratio of the original recipe, and crispy bits rather than gentle mush. And just so I don't end this paragraph on the word "mush," we can also talk about how beautifully the other warming flavors of the seasoning work with the turmeric, namely the spicy ginger, and the rich coconut oil.

The kebabs were really an after-thought. Lots of herbs involved here, all of which stood up nicely against the potatoes. The original recipe has a delightful-sounding yogurt sauce, but I couldn't find dried mint, and Matty doesn't really like yogurt, so I skipped it. In hindsight, though, a nice, cool dip would have been great for both the kebabs and potatoes.

Roasted Turmeric Potatoes
slightly adapted from Food Loves Writing
serves 2-4

1 lb. Dutch baby potatoes
2 T. coconut oil, melted
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 t. turmeric powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

2. Slice the potatoes into wedges, and toss them in a bowl with the coconut oil, garlic, ginger, parsley, turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper.

3. Spread this mixture on a baking sheet large enough to hold the potatoes in one layer, and bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crispy, tossing potatoes with a spatula once halfway through. Serve immediately.

Ribeye Kebabs
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 2

1 lb. ribeye steak
1 t. ground cumin
2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. dried rosemary
1/2 t. dried oregano
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. cayenne
salt, to taste
5 to 6 skewers, to grill

1. Cut the ribeye into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cumin, garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, oregano, olive oil, cayenne, and salt to taste. Add the cubed steak, and toss well to coat. Thread the chunks of steak through the skewers, leaving a half inch gap between pieces.

3. Preheat the grill, and when it comes to temperature, grill for 10-15 minutes to your desired doneness, turning occasionally to get a good char on each side. Move the skewers around in case of flare ups to prevent them from burning. Let the kebabs rest 5 minutes, covered in aluminum foil, before serving.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

fresh, exciting

I honestly don't do pork chops enough - it's such an easy preparation, and can be as simple as a marinade and sear, or dressed up a little as with this herb crust. The thin cuts are quick to cook, but the return on investment is so high. Immensely satisfying dinner, especially paired with a fresh take on broccoli salad - sweet golden raisins, savory Marcona almonds (go extra savory with Trader Joe's truffled version), and rich, cool burrata.

Herb-Crusted Pork Chops
slightly adapted from Food52

1/2 c. flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. panko
2 T. finely chopped thyme
2 T. finely chopped rosemary
1 T. finely chopped sage
4 pork chops (about 1 lb. total)
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil, for pan-frying

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Prepare a breading station by placing the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in three separate bowls. Season the bread crumbs with the fresh herbs. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Dip each pork chop into the flour. Shake to remove excess. Then dip into the egg, and then generously coat with bread crumbs. Set aside.

3. In a large cast-iron pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. When the oil is very hot, place the pork chops in and pan fry until golden brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes each side. Transfer the pork chops to a cookie sheet. Place the pork chops in the oven and bake until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest briefly before serving.

Broccoli Salad with Burrata
slightly adapted from Food52

1 large head of broccoli
2 T. olive oil
2/3 c. golden raisins
8 oz. of burrata
1/3 c. Marcona almonds
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Trim all the leaves off the stems of the broccoli. Cut off the florets. Run the peeler along the stalks and thinly shave. 

2. Place the shavings and florets in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, raisins, and almonds. Toss gently. Season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter, and tear the burrata over the salad. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

the good stuff

All you need to know about this dish is the walnut pesto. Yep, walnuts, garlic, and herbs (no cheese, no oil) whirl together to create a luscious, flavorful paste that is absolutely perfect with the salmon. You can probably stuff it into chicken before grilling/baking as well, and I'm sure if you did want to thin it out with a little liquid or oil, you could make a great sauce for steak.

Was it fun to wrap the pesto-stuffed salmon into grape leaves and grill it? Sure, but to be honest, I'm not sure exactly what the grape leaves did to it. It certainly didn't impart any distinguishable additional flavor. You could keep the salmon moist enough just with any pan sear, grill or bake method, in my opinion, because it never takes that long to cook salmon anyway.

I'm not complaining. This was all delicious. But if you're stuck on time, and it's not convenient for you to track down grape leaves, you're not missing out.

Walnut Pesto-Stuffed Salmon Grilled In Grape Leaves
slightly adapted from Another Pint Please
serves 2

8 to 16 grape leaves packed in brine, drained
2 salmon fillets (about 6-8 oz. each)
1/2 c. shelled walnuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
2 T. chopped fresh parsley

1. Place the fillets on a cutting board and cut a slit down the long side of the fillet. Make the slit about an inch from each end and be careful not to cut all of the way through. Season the fillets with salt and pepper.

2. Combine the walnuts garlic, cilantro, and parsley in a food processor and process to a thick paste. Spoon the stuffing into the pockets.

3. Arrange enough grape leaves on your work surface so that the leaves overlap and form a rectangle large enough to wrap up one fillet. Place the filet on top of the grape leaves, flip the grape leaves over the salmon filet to form a packet. Repeat with more grape leaves for the remaining fillet.

4. Preheat your grill to high. Once the grill is ready, oil your grates. Grill each side for approximately 4-5 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 145 degrees.

5. Place a packet on each serving plate, and let everyone unwrap their own. Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

a few of my favorite things

I'm not sure if I've ever waxed poetic about one of my favorite neighborhood spots - the Eagle Rock Italian Bakery. It deserves all the praise in the world. The bread, the cookies, the frozen pasta and sauce that makes life easier and better when even I can't be bothered to cook after work.

But the bread. It is everything. Bolillo rolls every day your heart desires - rolls that local restaurants call home-made (yeah, just not your home). Semolina bread on Fridays. Focaccia on Saturdays. The best focaccia I've ever had.

The semolina bread makes even your most ordinary sandwich bliss. It makes the best garlic bread to go with the aforementioned frozen pasta + sauce combo. It elevates your French toast. I'm not really a sweet breakfast kind of person, but when Matty requested French toast for breakfast, I had no qualms using that bread, a leftover can of coconut milk from last week's curry, and frying up 4 slices of sweet, custard-y happiness.

Of course, use your favorite bread. I hope you have favorite bread.

Coconut French Toast
serves 2

4 slices of your favorite bread
3/4 c. coconut milk
3 eggs
1 T. sweetened coconut flakes
1-2 T. coconut oil
fruit and maple syrup for garnish

1. In a small measuring cup, whisk together the coconut milk and eggs. Pour the custard into a shallow dish or pan large enough to fit all of the bread, and lay the slices flat in the pan. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then flip, and let it sit for another 5 minutes.

2. Melt 1 T. coconut oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Transfer the bread slices to the skillet, and cook until golden brown on the bottom.

3. Divide the coconut flakes on the top of each slice, pressing down with a spatula to mostly adhere. Flip the bread, and continue cooking until that side is also golden brown. Be careful that the coconut flakes do not burn. Add more coconut oil if necessary to prevent sticking.

4. Serve immediately with maple syrup and fruit to garnish, if desired.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

count it up

I must take issue with the way some folks write recipes in measurements that are not practical for average humans. I try to use weight as much as possible, although I understand not everyone has a scale. Where that's not practical, I'll use volume measurements. Because have you seen how big onions are these days? Easily dice into 2 cups per bulb, and that can really ruin your life when you're not trying to be that onion-y. What's

So we go to the original recipe for Mussels Dijonnaise. How does a human request mussels from their fishmonger or fish counter in quarts? Never in my life have I heard of this? How about weight, or even better, number of mussels? How would I even have been looked at requesting shellfish in quarts?

Honestly. I skipped all measurement here, and just figured that if I were to fill myself up on just mussels for a meal, I'd want a dozen. Adjust to your own stomach capacity. This is absolutely delightful, and the leftover "soup" is warm and filling, in case the mussels weren't enough, or you have bread so good that you have to continue sopping. Enjoy!

Mussels Dijonnaise
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 2

1 T. butter
1/4 c. finely chopped yellow onions
1 t. finely chopped garlic
2 dozen mussels, cleaned and scrubbed
salt and pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3/4 c. whole milk
2 T. Dijon mustard

1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan until melted. Add the onions, shallots and garlic, and cook briefly, until wilted. Do not brown.

2. Add the mussels, salt, pepper, bay leaf, thyme, and milk. Cover closely and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, shaking to redistribute the mussels. Cook until all the mussels are opened.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to two serving bowls. Keep warm.

4. Continue cooking the sauce for a minute. Remove the bay leaf and the thyme. Whisk in the mustard while heating, but do not boil. Season sauce to taste with salt if necessary, then spoon equal portions of it over the mussels, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

all different flavors

Everything about this dish is full of richness and umami, hearty, but still with a delicate balance. The miso sauce in the soba brings out the earthiness of the mushrooms, although I would suggest going with sturdy mushrooms to make sure they don't get lost among the noodles. I picked up a "chef's mix" of mushrooms at Whole Foods (trumpet royale, white beech, shimeji, and velvet pioppini) and supplemented it with some enoki mushrooms, and I felt the enoki disappeared right into the strands of pasta.

The lobster was decadent with all of that Sriracha butter slathered in the broiling process (and extra to dunk in at serving), but the texture was still light, and complemented the noodles perfectly.

Sriracha Lobster Tail with Miso-Mushroom Soba
from Fifteen Spatulas and Steamy Kitchen
serves 2-4

For the lobster
4 4-oz. lobster tails
2 T. butter, melted
1 T. Sriracha

For the soba:
1 9.3-oz. package soba noodles
2 T. butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 stalk green onion, chopped
12 oz. mixed mushrooms
1 T. miso paste
1 T. Maggi sauce

1. Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Butterfly the lobster tails by cutting lengthwise through the centers of the hard top shells and about half-way through the top of the meat with a kitchen shears. With your fingers, press shell halves of tails apart. In a small bowl, stir melted butter and Sriracha until well combined.

3. Preheat the broiler. Brush the tails with the prepared Sriracha butter, and broil for 10 minutes, brushing the tails with more butter about halfway through.

4. While the lobster is broiling, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the butter, garlic and green onion. Cook for 1 minute or until very fragrant. Add in the mushrooms, and cook for 2 minutes. Add in the miso and Maggi Sauce, and stir. Add in the cooked pasta and toss well.

5. Divide the soba noodles between serving plates, and top with a broiled lobster tail. Serve immediately.