Saturday, December 31, 2016

more than enough

A few Whole30s ago, I mistakenly made a reservation at Jon + Vinny's for lunch. What on earth was I going to eat? I think I finally figured that I was going to have to cheat just a bit, and order the Red Wine-Marinated Ribeye. Yes, alcohol is out on Whole30, and apparently, as documented in this recipe, there was sugar in the marinade as well, but it was basically the best I could do.

The small bit of guilt I had for cheating dissipated with every bite. This steak tasted like Christmas. I guess the more accurate description for this slightly sweet, warmly spiced beef would be that it's slightly Moroccan-influenced, but I think you know what I mean either way. I had never had anything like it before, and I was quite pleased.

Since we have so much going on right now, we stayed in for New Year's Eve, so I thought this would be the perfect special occasion to bring it back. I loved being able to share it with Matty for the first time. He loved it. I recalled it being much more spiced at the restaurant (and that may have been due to the fact that I fell asleep on the couch watching some terrible college football bowl game and only managed to marinate it for 6 hours starting this morning instead of the 24 suggested by the recipe), but Matty liked it as-is, and thought any longer would have been too overwhelming, so it all worked out.

And yes, for you folks quick of eye, that is indeed the Broccoli Polenta from just last night underneath that hunk of meat. I was originally going to make some pommes aligot, but then I figured a) texturally, it would be pretty similar to the polenta, and b) I have so much leftover polenta that I couldn't quite justify making the potatoes.

Red Wine-Marinated Ribeye
as served at Jon + Vinny's via Tasting Table
serves 2

1 1/2 c. red wine
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. grated orange zest
8 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
one 16-oz. bone-in ribeye steak
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a small saucepan, bring the red wine to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the sugar, orange zest, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Cook until the liquid has reduced to 1 c., about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely, then strain.

2. In a plastic bag, combine the steak with the cooled marinade and seal. Refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours, and a maximum of 24 hours.

3. The next day, remove the steak from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. In a medium cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper on both sides and add to the pan. Cook, flipping once, until golden brown and an internal temperature of 125° has been reached, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 2 minutes, then slice and serve.

Friday, December 30, 2016

you deserve it

When I first read this recipe, I had two thoughts:

1) Not being allowed runny yolks is the single biggest bummer about pregnancy.
2) This serves 4 people, and has two entire cups of grated cheese in it? My heavens.

Luckily, #1 was easily addressed, and the leftover polenta can continually be addressed because polenta takes kindly to any protein, prepared in any way. For tonight's dinner, I seared some beautiful sea scallops from our local fish market for a slightly more exciting twist on shrimp + grits. I can also see this being a lovely breakfast with scrambled eggs, a slightly less exciting version of the original recipe, but still a good hearty breakfast, as I learned when I ordered it at Ledlow a couple mornings ago.

Re: #2, I just gave in. I started with a half cup of each kind of cheese, but after tasting, I agreed that the full amount was necessary. The good thing is that I think this easily serves 6-8 people, not just the 4 indicated in the original recipe, so I didn't feel too bad about it. You deserve the extra richness, especially at this time of year.

And the richness is nicely balanced by the full mouthful of broccoli you get with each bite. You almost, almost feel like you're doing a good thing.

Broccoli Polenta
slightly adapted from Shutterbean
serves 6-8

1 c. cornmeal
12 oz. broccoli florets
3 T. butter
3/4 c. milk
1 c. grated Pecorino
1 c. grated Parmesan

1. Boil 4 c. water in a medium saucepan. Add the broccoli florets in the boiling water, reduce heat to low and cook covered with the lid for 4 minutes, or until broccoli is cooked and just tender. Scoop out the broccoli, and let it rest on a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, chop the broccoli into small pieces and set aside.

2. Return the broccoli water to a boil, and stir in the cornmeal in a slow steady stream. Reduce the heat to medium and cook polenta for 15 minutes, stirring constantly so the polenta doesn’t stick to the bottom. Stir in the butter and milk and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Stir in the chopped broccoli and both the grated Pecorino and Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

spice up your life

I've got a bit of a late start to my Christmas cookie baking. Matty's been requesting that we bake some together, but between our schedules, it's just not happened. We may or may not have bought Lofthouse gingerbread men and (non-holiday) frosted cookies at Ralph's yesterday out of sheer desperation for some festivity.

And while I have nothing against Lofthouse (how are those cookies so FLUFFY?), I didn't want to bring store-bought cookies to my grandparents' dinner tonight. Enter these Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Since I obsessively weigh everything now, I can tell you that I made 3 dozen cookies out of half of this dough, about a 24-oz. batch. They were cute and petite, and were the perfect size to close out a meal where I knew we would all have too much to eat. If you're just making these for your cookie plate, however, I would recommend rolling out 1-oz. balls (as I've written below).

The cookies are addicting, the same kind of addicting your favorite chocolate chip cookies are, but with that extra spiciness you come to expect from a holiday batch of baked goods. I've got the other half of this dough in the freezer for (spoiler alert!) when Matty can partake.

Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies
slightly adapted from The Kitchn
makes 4 dozen

3 1/3 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. baking soda
3/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. Chinese five-spice powder
12 T. butter, at room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 T. molasses
2 t. vanilla extract
3 T. grated fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece, about 2 oz.)
1 c. chocolate chips

1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pepper, salt, and five-spice together in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until fully incorporated and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing at medium speed after each addition, for about 15 seconds, until completely incorporated. Add the molasses, vanilla, and ginger, and mix at medium speed until completely incorporated, about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and under the blade as needed.

3. Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed, stopping the machine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Mix in the chocolate chips until just combined.

4. Evenly divide the dough into 2 portions. Place each portion on a sheet of plastic wrap, press into a disc, and then wrap completely in the plastic. Refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours or up to 1 day.

5. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 350 degrees.

6. Unwrap one portion of dough (keep the second in the refrigerator). Measure out about 1 oz. of dough, and roll into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Place the balls about 1 inch apart on the lined baking sheets.

7. Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets between racks and from front to back. Bake until the cookies have risen, are just barely set, and are golden-brown with deeper brown edges, another 4-5 minutes. The cookies will still be soft - use a flat spatula to transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

smells so nice

Roast chicken. It's a roller-coaster relationship we have. Sometimes, I think I will surely poison all of us because it seems it will never evenly come to temperature, and other times, I think I'm a domestic goddess whose roast chicken could medal.

This was a little somewhere in between - I left it in a little too long, but the payoff was an incredibly fragrant kitchen filled with sesame, ginger and garlic. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the aromatics infused the chicken itself with much flavor. It's how I feel about popcorn - smells great, but really nothing when it gets to your mouth. I think I would have been better off putting some of the flavorings under the skin rather than just brushing the skin and filling the chicken, a la this Ginger-Lemongrass Roast Chicken

Luckily, it was all balanced by a particularly aggressive side - some curry-roasted cauliflower punched up even more with additional turmeric, and then crunched up with pistachios, and mellowed out with sweet golden raisins. 

Mirin Roast Chicken
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 4-6

1 5-lb. whole chicken
2 t. sesame oil
1/3 c. mirin
1 1/2 T. salt
2 t. ground black pepper
4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
4-in. piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and smashed

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, combine the sesame oil and mirin. Set aside. Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl.

3. Place the chicken on roasting rack on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle 1/3 of the salt and pepper mixture in the cavity of the chicken. Then stuff the chicken cavity with layers of the scallions, ginger, and garlic. Sprinkle the remainder of the salt and pepper all over the outside of the chicken. Brush the chicken liberally with the mirin-sesame oil mixture. After the chicken is liberally brushed with the mirin, take what is remaining and pour it in the cavity of the chicken.

4. Roast for approximately 60-75 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Roasted Curry Cauliflower with Turmeric, Pistachios + Raisins
slightly adapted from White on Rice Couple
serves 4

4 T. olive oil
1 t. sesame oil
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. rice vinegar
2 t. curry powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 head cauliflower (about 2 lbs.), cut into florets
1/4 c. pistachios
1/4 c. golden raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, curry powder and turmeric. Whisk well. Gently add the cauliflower to the bowl and coat with the marinade.

3. Arrange the cauliflower on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, tossing once, until cauliflower is golden. Serve with pistachios and raisins.

Friday, December 16, 2016

let it rain

You guys! It rained ALL night last night. And it sort of rained this morning. So I'm making soup.

Let's be honest. I get regular cravings for pho in the summer, so it doesn't take much to convince me that soup, much less a noodle soup, is a good idea. The weather is merely a convenient way of convincing the people I cook for that it's also a good idea.

My only complaint - the udon I got was fairly thin, and I had my heart set on a more substantial noodle. I feel like it would have really stood up to the spicy, funky kimchi broth, and next time, I might even throw the noodles in with the broth to pick up a little more of the flavor. There might be some rain in the forecast next week!

Kimchi Egg Drop Udon Soup
slightly adapted from Nyssa's Kitchen
serves 2, generously

8 oz. udon noodles
1 T. coconut oil
1 c. kimchi, roughly chopped
4 c. chicken broth
2 eggs, beaten
10 medium leaves rainbow chard, sliced into 1/2-inch ribbons
lime wedges, cilantro leaves, and diced green onion for garnish
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and divide between two bowls.

2. Meanwhile, combine the coconut oil, kimchi, and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer.

3. Season the beaten eggs with a little salt and pepper. Using a fork, slowly drizzle the eggs into barely simmering broth, and stir with a fork as you go so the egg doesn't all stick together. Once all the egg has been added to the soup, add the rainbow chard, and cook until just barely wilted.

4. Serve the soup over the noodles, and garnish with a squeeze of lime, cilantro and diced green onion. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

get off the couch

Tonight was tree-decorating night. Except that I got a huge case of the lazies, and starting thumbing through Postmates while Matty started putting the lights on the tree (which, really, is a one-person job anyway).

Then, I got a bigger case of the guilts, so I hung up my Dallas Cowboys candy cane ornaments, and pulled out the pork tenderloin I had started marinating this morning.

Getting off the couch turned out to be a rewarding decision, both decor- and dinner-wise. The pork was so hands-off - an easy marinade you can put together before work, and then a quick 5-minute sear before leaving it to the oven to roast to perfection.

I adapted the sauce a bit as I had already used the blender this morning, and my leftover lazies could not be motivated to clean it again. I basically didn't emulsify the olive oil into the sauce, and instead of blending the cilantro leaves into the sauce, I used them to garnish the plate. It's a much thinner sauce, but if you have the right sauce-catcher underneath the pork (I used mashed cauliflower; Matty used white rice), it's not an issue.

Green Curry Pork Tenderloin
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit
serves 4

For the pork:
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 T. fresh orange juice
1 T. maple syrup
1 T. sesame oil
1 1 1/2-lb. pork tenderloin
salt and pepper, to taste
1 T. coconut oil

For the sauce:
2 T. coconut oil
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c. prepared green curry paste
1 t. finely grated lime zest
1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 T. fresh lime juice
cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. Combine the soy sauce, orange juice, maple syrup, and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the tenderloin, and close the bag, pressing out the air. Marinate in the refrigerator for 4-12 hours.

2. When you're ready to cook, remove the tenderloin from the marinade, pat dry, and season with salt. Discard the marinade.

3. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Heat 1 T. coconut oil in a cast-iron pan over medium-high. Cook the tenderloin, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven, and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of tenderloin registers 130 degrees, about 20–25 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, and let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

4. While the pork is roasting, heat the remaining 1T. coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the shallot and garlic, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the curry paste and lime zest, and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste is slightly darkened in color and very fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the coconut milk, bring to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half, 20–25 minutes.

5. Plate your favorite carb of choice, pile on the sliced pork, and top with the green curry sauce.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Beige food. Is there anything more comforting?

Sure, I could have upped the visual appeal by chopping up some parsley to sprinkle on top, but I didn't want parsley. All I wanted was a little Parmesan and a lot of pepper, and it's all this beautiful bowl of pasta, chicken, mushrooms and a wonderful cream sauce needed to become a security blanket for my stomach.

I took a lot of liberties with Thomas Keller's recipe:
- I had a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs still in the fridge because I forgot to put it in a paella last week, so I used that as my protein rather than the beautiful braised short ribs called for in his original recipe. That's going to be something to try again for later.
- I completely read the recipe wrong, and only bought 1 lb. total of mushrooms rather than 1 lb. each for the sauce and pasta. I didn't think the sauce needed more, but a couple more of bites of golden seared cremini in the pasta wouldn't have hurt.
- The sauce, in all its mushroomy, creamy glory, called for another 1/3 c. of creme fraiche in the original recipe. I would have likely slipped into a food coma after the first bite of that, so I opted to skip. Don't worry - it's still plenty rich!

The dish is just so familiar and good. It's your childhood, it's happy memories, it's simple, it's delicious.

Chicken Stroganoff
adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc At Home
serves 4-6

For the sauce:
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 T. butter
2/3 c. chopped onion
3 c. heavy cream
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

For the pasta:
2 T. butter
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced (more, if desired)
1 lb. farfalle
salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan, for garnish

1. Make the sauce: Melt 1 T. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the 8 oz. chopped mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

2. Pour in the cream, add the bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to keep the cream at a simmer, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the cream is reduced by about one-third.

3. Meanwhile, melt another T. of butter in a large saute pan. Add the chicken and cook without disturbing for 3 minutes, until golden brown. Flip and continue cooking until done. Remove the chicken to a large plate. Add any remaining juices into the cream sauce pan.

4. Melt the remaining T. of butter in the now-empty pan. Add the remaining sliced mushrooms and cook without disturbing for 2 minutes, until golden brown. Toss and continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the mushrooms to the plate of chicken.

5. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the farfalle to al dente. Drain and set aside.

6. When the cream sauce has reduced, discard the bay leaves, and pour the sauce into a blender. Blend until smooth.

7. Combine the pasta, chicken and mushrooms in the saucepan, and add enough sauce to thoroughly coat (you'll have extra - I did). Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

can i have some of your flavor

It's Matty's dad's last night in town, and we're celebrating a month-long DIY bathroom renovation, and sort of the holidays since I won't be traveling back East for the Christmas this year.

A Christmas tradition at their house - lobster tails. These lovely ones were split in half, smothered with a buttery herb mixture, and roasted alongside miso maple-butter sweet potatoes and served with a leftover Brussels sprouts salad woken up with a drizzle of sesame oil.

The lobster comes together so quickly - just a bit of chopping involved for the herbs, and then a simple 15-minute roast in high heat makes a fail-proof dinner.

The sweet potatoes were a Thanksgiving contender, but I didn't feel like the extra flavors did much to elevate what would normally already be delicious roasted sweet potatoes, so while it was fun for tonight, I'll keep looking for next Thankgiving.

Roasted Lobster with Butter-Herb Dressing
slightly adapted from Charles Phan's The Slanted Door
serves 4

4 lobster tails, about 10 oz. each
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed to tender parts only, minced
1/3 c. finely chopped parsley
1/3 c. minced garlic
1/3 c. ghee
2 t. salt

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

2. Mix together the lemongrass, parsley, garlic, ghee and salt. Set aside.

3. Cut each lobster tail in half lengthwise, and set meat side up on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Spread the herb mixture evenly over each tail. Roast for 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees. Serve warm.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Miso Butter + Maple
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
serves 2-4

1 lb. sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 T. butter
2 T. maple syrup
2 T. hacho miso
1 t. white wine vinegar
1 t. grated fresh ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a small saucepan, combine butter, maple syrup, and miso and cook over medium heat, stirring, until butter is melted and sauce is smooth. Stir in vinegar and ginger and remove from heat.

3. Pour miso butter over sweet potatoes and toss to coat.

4. Roast potatoes, stirring occasionally, until tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

perfection is perfected

This might be my ideal fall meal. Who can argue with fried chicken and mustardy Brussels sprouts? I fall at your feet.

You've probably heard me say more than once that life is too short for white meat chicken, but I'm not even mad at these cutlets - they're pounded so thin, requiring such a short cooking time, that there's no time to make them horrible and dry. The ratio of chicken to crust is also perfect - there's so much added flavor from the Parmesan in the batter (and I tossed in a bit of parsley I over-chopped for the salad).

You don't need anything else with these cutlets other than some nice solid greens. 'Tis the season for Brussels sprouts, so I shredded them up, tossed them in a bright, mustard-y dressing, and topped them off with everyone's favorite snack, Trader Joe's rosemary-truffle Marcona almonds. You could cook the Brussels sprouts, or saute up some other greens, but I found the raw sprouts to be the best complement.

Parmesan-Parsley Chicken Cutlets
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
serves 4

1/2 c. flour
2 large eggs
1/2 c. panko
1/2 oz. grated Parmesan
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 2-oz. cutlets
salt and pepper to taste
ghee, for frying

1. Prepare your dredging station: place the flour onto a plate, and beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Mix the panko, Parmesan and parsley on another plate.

2. Season the chicken cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper. Working with one at a time, dredge a cutlet in flour with your left hand, shaking off excess. Transfer to the egg bowl, and coat both sides, then lift and allow excess egg to drain off. Transfer to the bread crumb mixture, and coat both sides evenly. Transfer the cutlet to a clean plate, and repeat with remaining cutlets.

3. Fill a large cast iron skillet with 1/4 inch of ghee. Heat cooking fat over high heat until shimmering.

4. Using tongs or your fingers, gently lower cutlets into the hot fat, laying them down away from you to prevent hot fat from splashing toward you. Fry, gently swirling pan and rotating cutlets for even browning, and adjusting heat as necessary for a steady, vigorous bubble, until bottom side is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip cutlets and fry until other side is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt right away. Repeat with remaining cutlets. Serve immediately.

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Almonds + Mustard Dressing
slightly adapted from the Malibu Farm Cookbook
serves 4-6

2 T. spicy brown mustard
2 T. lemon juice
4 T. olive oil
1/2 T. minced garlic
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/2 c. Marcona almonds

1. In a small mason jar, combine the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Shake vigorously to combine. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, toss together the Brussels sprouts and parsley. Add as much dressing as you like. Serve with almonds on top.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

just as good

Let's be clear - cauliflower rice is never going to trick anyone into thinking it's rice. But as I feel about spaghetti squash, when you stop pretending it's something else, and just enjoy it for what it is - a fresher, lighter alternative to a generally flavorless vehicle to move other flavors into your mouth - you're good.

This cauliflower paella is really just a really substantial salad when you look at it that way. You're fully focused on the delicately flavored shrimp and scallops (and chicken, if you don't forget to add it like I did), punctuated with some aggressive pops of spice from the sausage (I used a jalapeno-pork one I found at Whole Foods, but you can use andouille or chorizo).

Cauliflower Paella
slightly adapted from Living Chirpy
serves 4-6

1 T. olive oil
1/2 lb. jalapeno pork sausage
1/3 c. diced onion
1/3 c. diced red bell pepper
1/3 c. diced celery
1 lb. cauliflower rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. turmeric
1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp
1/2 lb. scallops, cut into bite-sized cubes
salt and pepper, to taste
parsley, for garnish

1. Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Cook the sausage until done.

2. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and sauté until soft, about 3-5 minutes.

3. Add the cauliflower, garlic, and saffron, and heat through. Add the shrimp, and cook until pink and just opaque, about 3 minutes. Add the scallops, and cook for a minute until opaque. Season to taste, and serve immediately, garnished with parsley.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

i'm so inspired by you

This post is inspired by my otherwise very healthy friend, who walked into the office the other day carrying a bag from Panda Express. "It looked good," was his only explanation.

Well, frankly, I don't blame him. In my younger, and higher-metabolism, days, a two-item combo with orange chicken and BBQ pork with a combo of fried rice and chow mein, of course, was the dream. It was only when I thought I should be slightly healthy and include a vegetable would I ever consider adding a third item - beef with broccoli.

When I first saw this recipe, I was intrigued by the soy and butter combo, but I thought the beef and mushrooms could be livened up a little with something brighter and with more texture - beef, mushrooms and steamed rice seemed a little boring to the tooth. The Panda Express inspiration the other day drove me to the store for a couple crowns of broccoli, and thus, dinner was born.

Beef with Broccoli + Mushrooms
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
serves 4

1 lb. flank steak, sliced into 1/8-x2-inch pieces
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1 t. rice vinegar
5 t. soy sauce, divided
2 t. sesame oil
1 t. cornstarch
1 lb. mixed mushrooms, sliced
12 oz. broccoli florets
5 T. ghee
4 garlic cloves, minced
steamed rice, for serving

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the salt, sugar, pepper, rice vinegar, 1 t. soy sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch. Add the beef, toss to coat, and let marinate for 30 minutes.

2. Melt 1 T. ghee in a large skillet. Add the beef, spreading it out evenly, and cook without moving until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Cook for another minute, stirring regular. Transfer to a bowl, and set aside.

3. Melt 2 more T. ghee in the skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Add the broccoli, and continue to cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender. Add the remaining 4 t. soy sauce. Stir and add in the remaining 2 T. ghee and the garlic. Toss until fragrant, about 1 minute, then return the beef to the wok. Cook, stirring, until beef is cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a serving platter immediately and serve over rice.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

sweet dreams are made of cheese

I had another dinner plan for tonight, but Matty reminded me that it was focaccia day at our Italian deli, and requested that dinner be built around that.

That focaccia could be dinner in itself - massive, towering, topped with melted tomatoes, and buttery as all get-out. The only responsible thing to do would have been to make a massive salad to balance it out, but I got to thinking about pasta, and then couldn't let the idea go.

I couldn't quite go full spaghetti or anything, but when I combed through my Pins and dug this Ricotta + Spinach Gnudi back up, I thought to myself, "That's just a bit of flour, and all cheese! What could go better with focaccia than cheese?!"

Well, turns out, nothing. I added a little sausage for protein since I could hear my doctor in the back of my brain telling me that everything I ate should involve protein, and the dish turned out to be the most decadent little scoop of heaven I could ask for. The gnudi was somehow ethereal, but where they browned against that butter, they were crisp nuggets of cheesiness.

This easily serves 4. If you try to be a hero and go back for seconds, I hope you have a nice comfy spot picked out for your food coma.

Ricotta + Spinach Gnudi with Italian Sausage
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 4

1 c. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 c. ricotta
1 c. grated Parmesan
3 egg yolks
salt and pepper, to taste
3/4-1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 lb. hot Italian sausage links, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 T. butter

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

2. Add in flour, 1/4 c. at a time, until you have a sticky, but workable dough. Roll handfuls of the dough into 3/4-inch ropes, and then cut each rope into 3/4-inch pieces. Transfer them to a floured baking sheet as they are finished.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Drop the gnudi into the pot and cook until they float. Once they float, cook for a further 2 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a plate.

4. In a large cast-iron skillet, brown the Italian sausage. Once cooked through, transfer the sausage to a plate.

5. Add the butter to the skillet, and allow to melt. Add the gnudi, and cook undisturbed until golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip to allow the other side to brown. Add the sausage and toss lightly to combine. Serve immediately.

pretty on the outside

I've not chosen a sweet breakfast over a savory one in a long time. Sure, I find it difficult to turn down waffles, but I rarely want a Danish, or even a muffin, over eggs in the myriad of beautiful ways in which they come.

However, I was incredibly intrigued by these Carrot-Tahini Muffins, and used the opportunity of having a house guest to make a dozen that could potentially be polished off much faster than if it was just me and Matty.

How impressive are they? Incredibly high-domed and golden, they certainly make for a beautiful display. Unfortunately, I felt they were a little bland to stand on their own. Sure, with nice brown sugar glaze or at least a huge smear of (salted) butter, they're certainly passable, but otherwise, they're no more interesting than a dinner roll (not that there's anything wrong with dinner rolls).

If we were going full breakfast with these, I'd add a little more brown sugar (and I never say that about anything), and maybe even some warm spices like cinnamon or ginger to give them a bit more personality.

Carrot-Tahini Muffins
from Smitten Kitchen
makes 12 muffins

1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. well-stirred tahini
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 c. milk of your choice (I used half whole milk and half coconut milk)
1 t. vanilla extract
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 c. all-purpose flour
9 oz. carrots, finely grated

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, tahini and brown sugar. Whisk in the eggs, then add the milk and vanilla. Whisk in the baking powder, baking soda and salt, then switch to a wooden spoon to stir in the flour and carrots, mixing just until combined.

3. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with a nonstick spray. Divide the batter among the 12 cups. Bake the muffins for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of each comes out clean. Let them cool in pan for 5 minutes on a rack before transferring them to the cooling rack to cool completely.

Friday, December 2, 2016

turned on its head

This salmon and noodle dish ended up very differently than its original inspiration recipe.

The original was a beautiful, chilled salmon dish, impeccably garnished with mini sprouts, grated daikon, and sesame seeds.

I knew I wasn't going to get away with calling that dinner to the two grown men who had been working on our bathroom remodel all day. Instead, I turned it into a warm noodle dish with the very interesting almost-instant ramen packets I bought on a whim at a local grocery store.

And for how quickly it came together, it certainly didn't taste instant. The salmon was cooked just right, the noodles were flavorful and tender, and both were a perfect vehicle for a dressing that was equally fresh and spicy from the ginger, and just the right amount of sweet and savory.

Ginger-Poached Salmon with Jade Pearl + Forbidden Rice Ramen
inspired by No Recipes
serves 4

1 T. grated fresh ginger
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
4 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 lb. salmon fillets
12 oz. of your favorite pasta (I used 2 packets Lotus Foods Jade Pearl Rice Ramen and 2 packets Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen)
20 medium rainbow chard leaves, cut into 1-inch ribbons

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and salt. Set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. If using Lotus Foods packs, season the water with the two seasoning packets that come with the Jade Pearl Rice Ramen. Add all 4 ramen cakes, and cook for 4 minutes, until tender. Add the chard with a minute left in the cooking. Drain and set aside.

3. Bring another large pot of water to boil. Remove the skin and any bones from the salmon and cut into bite-sized pieces. When the water comes to a boil, add the salmon all at once and then give it a quick stir. Boil for 20 seconds and then turn off the heat. Let the salmon poach for about 2 minutes or until it flakes easily.

4. Transfer the salmon with a slotted spoon to the bowl with the dressing, and gently toss to coat. Add the drained ramen, and gently toss again to thoroughly coat. Serve immediately.