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.