Monday, October 31, 2016

i wanna try something

I don't care if it makes basic to make pumpkin-shaped pasta on Halloween. I actually tried to fight it - I saw it as I was cruising the pasta aisle, giggled a little, and then gave in and put them in my basket on the second loop around.

And I don't regret it one bit. I kept the preparation simple to maximize any pumpkin flavor that might be in that cuteness. There's not much, but the pasta is thick and hearty, and a cheese and butter sauce never hurt anyone.

The pork was an afterthought - while I could quite easily have polished off half of the pasta yield and called it dinner, but I'm trying to be slightly more balanced, and I figured some protein couldn't hurt. Simple, breaded pork chops were the perfect answer.

Pork Milanese
serves 2-4

1/2 c. flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c. panko
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, beaten egg, and panko in three separate bowls. 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. Place the pan 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.

Pumpkin Pasta Cacio e Pepe
serves 4

14 oz. bag of Trader Joe's Fall Zucchette Pasta
2 T. butter
2 c. shredded rainbow chard
3/4 c. grated Parmesan
pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until 2 minutes shy of the package instructions. Drain, reserving 3/4 c. pasta cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 c. reserved pasta water and chard to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the pasta, and stir in Parmesan, tossing until melted. Add a generous amount of pepper. Add more pasta water if the mixture seems dry. Serve immediately.

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.