Thursday, February 3, 2011

Asian Inspired Meatballs = HEAVEN

No camera, but believe me, these taste OUT OF THIS WORLD!

Sesame-Soy Meatballs

You can use the chile paste or garlic-chile sauce to mix with some rice, or like I decided, egg noodles. This is an evil idea if you are on Atkins. Sorry Dad!

1/3 cup minced green onions
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp Chile paste (or that cool chile-garlic sauce that has the rooster as the icon)
¼ tsp salt
6 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 pound ground sirloin
cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Add beef; mix gently to combine. With moist hands, shape beef mixture into 20 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs.

3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs to pan; cook 4 minutes, turning to brown meatballs on all sides. Arrange browned meatballs in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining meatballs. Bake meatballs at 400 degrees for 7 minutes or until done. Yeild: 4 servings.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup (and the butternut squash recipe)

I read an article on NPR about this small province in China that has food that hasn't really made it to American restaurants. One simple recipe looked so comforting, I had to try it for Sunday dinner. I wasn't disappointed, it was yummy and comforting and awesome. It doesn't have chicken, but it is definitely the Chinese version of chicken noodle soup.

Xi Shi Tofu Soup

Xi Shi is one of the four beauties of ancient China who lived near Hangzhou in Zhuji. Legend has it that Hangzhou's spectacular West Lake is the incarnation of this belle. Like many seemingly "vegetarian" dishes in China, this soup is flavored with a bit of meat — shrimp and pork — used as a condiment. To make Chinese stock, boil chicken with ginger, green onion, white pepper and even country ham, for extra flavor. Feel free to improvise with the vegetables, but don't substitute firm for velvety soft tofu. This recipe is adapted from Hangzhou TV chef Chen Leilei.

Makes 4 servings

6 ounces boneless country-style pork rib (or piece of pork shoulder)
1/3 pound peeled, deveined raw shrimp
4 tablespoons Shaoxing* (Chinese rice wine), divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste at end
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch, diluted with two teaspoons water, separated
1/2 cup chopped green beans or peas
1 cup fresh corn kernels (sliced off the cob)
1 cup slivered shitake mushrooms
1 cup diced carrots
One 14-ounce package soft tofu, drained and cubed
4 scallions chopped, white ends and green stalks separated
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 teaspoons minced ginger, divided
4 cups chicken stock (or up to 6 cups if you want a more brothy soup)
4 ounces bamboo shoots, drained (half a can)
Sesame oil
White pepper
*Available at Asian markets. Buy the cheap kind for cooking. Substitute dry sherry if it's not available.

Chop the pork and shrimp into half-inch pieces and put in separate bowls. Add 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger and half the cornstarch solution to each bowl and stir to combine. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Dice all of the vegetables and tofu into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
Fire up a wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil, and when glistening, add a teaspoon of minced ginger and the chopped white ends of the scallions (about 1 tablespoon) and stir-fry until fragrant, about a minute. Add chopped pork and saute until mostly cooked, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and saute until just pink, about 1 minute. Remove meat mixture from wok and set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of canola oil in the wok. Add the second teaspoon of minced ginger. Add the beans and carrots and saute 1 minute, then add the corn, shitake mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of chopped green onion, stir-frying 2 to 3 minutes, until coated with oil and starting to get tender. Splash on remaining 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine to deglaze the pan.

Add chicken stock and bamboo shoots; cover and bring soup to a boil. Boil about a minute and then turn heat down, simmering a few minutes until the vegetables are done. Return cooked pork and shrimp to the pan. Add the cubed soft tofu and the remaining chopped green parts of the scallions (measuring about 1/3 cup), gently stirring once or twice to combine. Taste broth and add salt, if necessary.

Ladle into bowls. Garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil, a pinch of white pepper and more chopped scallions, if desired.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Rosemary, and Garlic Lasagne

yield: Makes 6 main-course or 12 side-dish servings

• 3 pounds butternut squash, quartered, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 9 1/2 cups)
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 4 cups milk
• 2 tablespoons dried rosemary, crumbled
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
• 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• nine 7- by 3 1/2-inch sheets dry no-boil lasagne pasta
• 1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan (about 5 ounces)
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• Garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs

Preheat oven to 450°F. and oil 2 large shallow baking pans.

In a large bowl toss squash with oil until coated well and spread in one layer in pans. Roast squash in oven 10 minutes and season with salt. Stir squash and roast 10 to 15 minutes more, or until tender and beginning to turn golden.

While squash is roasting, in a saucepan bring milk to a simmer with rosemary. Heat milk mixture over low heat 10 minutes and pour through a sieve into a large pitcher or measuring cup.

In a large heavy saucepan cook garlic in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Stir in flour and cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk mixture in a stream until smooth. Return pan to heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until thick. Stir in squash and salt and pepper to taste. Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.

Reduce temperature to 375°F. and butter a baking dish, 13 by 9 by 2 inches.
Pour 1 cup sauce into baking dish (sauce will not cover bottom completely) and cover with 3 lasagne sheets, making sure they do not touch each other. Spread half of remaining sauce over pasta and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Make 1 more layer in same manner, beginning and ending with pasta.

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat cream with salt until it holds soft peaks and spread evenly over top pasta layer, making sure pasta is completely covered. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan over cream. Cover dish tightly with foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top layer, and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagne 10 minutes more, or until top is bubbling and golden. Let lasagne stand 5 minutes.

Garnish each serving with rosemary.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Overwhelmed by New Tastes!

Tried a new recipe and really hit the jackpot this time. I'm not sure if this recipe is Vietnamese, Thai, or some American concoction "inspired" by the tastes of these cuisines. Either way, I'm blown away.

As you will see in the recipe, it requires some ingredients you may not have. These are the ones I had to get, which is why I thought it had some thai influence.

So this recipe required me to slice things. I used the mandolin. The mandolin won, I lost.

But the ginger and onion smelled wonderful sauteing with the spices, despite my injuries.

Try this really cool recipe for an amazing treat!

Vietnamese Beef-Noodle Soup with Asian Greens
From Cooking Light
Serves 4

1 (8-ounce) sirloin steak

4 ounces uncooked wide rice stick noodles

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion

3 whole cloves

2 cardamom pods

2 garlic cloves, halved

1 (3-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced

1 star anise

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth

2 cups water

1 tablespoon less-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

4 cups baby bok choy leaves

1 cup snow peas, trimmed

1 small fresh Thai chile, thinly sliced into rings

1 cup fresh bean sprouts

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

4 lime wedges

1. Freeze beef for 10 minutes; cut across grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain.

3. Place onion and next 5 ingredients (through star anise) in a large saucepan; cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Strain broth mixture though a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Return broth to pan. Add soy sauce, sugar, and fish sauce; bring to a boil. Add bok choy and snow peas; simmer 4 minutes or until peas are crisp-tender and bok choy wilts.

4. Arrange 1/2 cup noodles into each of 4 large bowls. Divide raw beef and chile slices evenly among bowls. Ladle about 1 2/3 cups hot soup over each serving (broth will cook beef). Top each serving with 1/4 cup bean sprouts, 1 tablespoon basil, and 1 tablespoon mint. Serve with lime wedges.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Healthy Start to the Week

There's a certain co-worker who spent the day planning her new diet. As I listened and gave advice, I realized there were some improvements I could make with my own diet. Namely, stop adding butter to everything and stop the fast food breakfast. But in the interest of the blog, and my creative vein, I whipped up something for dinner that will work with anyone's new diet plan. Oh, and it's fast, easy and yummy to boot!

PS: I did not have the couscous as the recipe recommends, so I made it with instant rice. I kept everything else. It worked out perfectly!

Sauteed Zucchini with Lemon-Thyme Chicken

Servings: 4

1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 lb chicken cutlets
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup uncooked couscous
3/4 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 lb yellow summer squach (ditto to the zucchini)
1/4 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
Chopped fresh thyme, for garnish

1. Place the lemon zest and thyme in a small bowl; toss. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle half of the lemon-and-thyme mixture evenly onto one side of each cutlet. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook the chicken, herb side down, turning after 2 minutes. When the chicken is golden and cooked through (about 4 minutes), transfer to a cutting board. Cover chicken, and keep warm.

2. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; gradually stir in the couscous (or just cook rice as normal). Remove pan from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Cover couscous, and keep warm.

3. Saute the zucchini and squash (in the same skillet used for the chicken) over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and tender (about 4 minutes). Stir in the remaining lemon-and-thyme mixture, chicken broth, and couscous (or rice).

4. Spoon the couscous mixture evenly among 4 plates; top each with a chicken cutlet. Garnish with thyme.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dinner Last Night

I finally did the most suggested idea for what to do with an eggplant: make eggplant Parmesan. I went to a trusted source for basic recipes: Joy of Cooking. The weird thing about the newest edition of this cookbook is that it has so many basic recipes, that it often references other recipes in the recipe you're making. I'll just try to put it all together here, with my comments on what I had to change.

In the beginning, I thought the ingredients all laid out like this was so pretty, I had to take a picture. All of the ingredients are local (except the moz, which I could have found local if I thought of it), even the breadcrumbs, which are from challah bread maid with local eggs. Some of the tomatoes are even from my own garden.

Eggplant Parmigiana

4 to 6 servings


Fresh Tomato Sauce:
(I prepared this a couple of days before to reduce the amount of work)
6 cups
Drain in a colander for 20 minutes:
5 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
Remove to a large bowl and stir in:
1/2 cup basil, oregano, or parsley leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Salt and black pepper to taste
Let stand for at least 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

Fried Eggplant:
1. Peel and cut into 1/2-inch slices or sticks:
1 medium eggplant
Whisk together in a shallow bowl:
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
Dredge the eggplant in:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Shake off the excess, dip in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip off, and dredge in:
1 1/4 cups fresh bread crumbs
Arrange the eggplant slices on a rack and let dry for 30 minutes. Heat in a large skillet over medium-high heat:
1/4 cup olive oil
Add as many eggplant slices as will fit without crowding and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate. you may have to add more oil to fry the remaining batches. Season with:
Salt and black pepper to taste.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Coat a 17 x 12-inch rimmed baking sheet with half of the tomato sauce (I used an 8 x 8-inch pan, cause for some reason I didn't have enough tomato sauce!). Arrange the fried eggplant slices in a single layer (I could only fit three thick slices), or slightly overlapping if necessary, on the baking sheet. Top with the remaining tomato sauce and:
2 teaspoons dried oregano (I used fresh, 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine and sprinkle over the eggplant:
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (6 ounces)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
Sprinkle over the top:
2 teaspoons chopped parsley (oops, forgot that one)
Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Serve at once.

Soup For Lunch

Many of my coworkers have commented and asked about my lunch this last week and a half. I brought new soup that is very similar to others I have made in the past, but was a version supposedly "perfected" by America's Test Kitchen. I'm not sure I did everything right, but I have to say, it was as delicious as my coworkers said it smelled.

Hearty Tuscan Bean Stew

Serves 8. Published March 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.


Table salt

1 pound dried cannellini beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and picked over

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling

6 ounces pancetta , cut into 1/4-inch pieces (see note)

1 large onion , chopped medium (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 medium celery ribs , cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)

2 medium carrots , peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)

8 medium garlic cloves , peeled and crushed

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

3 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 bunch kale or collard greens (about 1 pound), stems trimmed and leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups loosely packed)

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes , drained and rinsed

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Ground black pepper

8 slices country white bread , each 1 1/4 inches thick, broiled until golden brown on both sides and rubbed with garlic clove (optional)


1. Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.

2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Heat oil and pancetta in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, 6 to 10 minutes. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 16 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, bay leaves, and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are almost tender (very center of beans will still be firm), 45 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Remove pot from oven and stir in greens and tomatoes. Return pot to oven and continue to cook until beans and greens are fully tender, 30 to 40 minutes longer.

4. Remove pot from oven and submerge rosemary sprig in stew. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves and rosemary sprig and season stew with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, use back of spoon to press some beans against side of pot to thicken stew. Serve over toasted bread, if desired, and drizzle with olive oil.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I totally made this soooo unhealthy. I used way more bacon and when I realized my pan wasn't big enough, I added some more bacon fat to the new pan.... I know! I'm horrible! But, it was the perfect dish for tonight. Mostly veggies, and all fresh and local other than the edamame, which had been kept in the freezer since I bought it on sale months ago. Adjust the recipe as you see fit. As I said, I used maybe 4-6 slices of bacon and probably 1 1/2 Tbls bacon grease, more corn, less edamame and less tomatoes. Try it. The leftovers are way worth. And this is fine as the main course, although Justin plans to accompany it with a BLT.

Edamame Succotash

1 slice center-cut bacon
1 Tbls butter
2 cups shopped sweet onion
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
2 Tbls red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
3 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsley chopped
3 Tbls torn basil

1 Cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crsip. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 tsp drippings in pan; coarsely chop bacon.

2. Increase the heat to medium-high. Melt butter in drippings in pan. Add onion; saute 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn kernels; saute for 3 minutes or until lightly charred. Add edamame, and saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar and next 5 ingredients (through bell pepper); cook 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with bacon and basil.