Monthly Archives: March 2009

Toasted ravioli with “Jeb”inara sauce

What can make ravioli better? Frying it.

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I saw Rachael Ray fry up ravioli one time to serve with a tomato-red pepper dipping sauce. I’ve always wanted to try it, and some frozen spinach ravioli from Costco soon entered the cooking oil in my house.

The result was really good, I must say. After preparing the ravioli, we spooned over some warmed marinara sauce that our friend Jeb made and, of course, grated Parmesan cheese.

To make:

Whisk one egg with a splash of water in a bowl. Set aside. Pour a cup of bread crumbs in another bowl (it won’t matter what kind, Italian, plain, etc.).

Heat enough canola oil in a nonstick skillet to coat the bottom. You could also use olive oil, but keep the heat no higher than medium, so it won’t burn.

Dip thawed store-bought ravioli in the egg, then the bread crumbs and place in the pan, when the oil is nice and hot. Continue for however many ravioli you want. Turn the ravioli when one side is browned. The edges should be golden and the center will puff as the cheese and filling melts.

Serve yourself some ravioli and top with your favorite marinara sauce (I wouldn’t recommend a pesto or oil-based sauce for this) and Parm cheese. The ravioli are at once crispy and creamy from the filling – very good combination.

Enjoy with roasted garlic and buttered bread and a fine glass of red wine. Thanks, Jeb!

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Chicken, green onion and glass noodles stir-fry

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My second year of college, I moved off campus and started cooking for the first time. To encourage me, my mom bought me a cookbook that she knew I would love. It was, and is, called Simply Thai Cooking and has all these authentic Thai dishes full of exotic ingredients you can never find (at least not in Small Town, USA)! But it’s easy to get around any ingredients you can’t find.

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A recipe I randomly tried three years after receiving the book has become my go-to dish if I ever have any green onions left over from something, and glass noodles in the cupboard (these are my favorite noodle in the whole world! I put them in soups and stir-frys).

This recipe is simple and comes together in less than 15 mintues (after you’ve prepped all the ingredients). In fact, it’s so quick that I think I made it during my lunch break one time. And all the seasonings are probably in your cupboard already if you’ve ever made Asian food.

I’ve adjusted the recipe a bit.

Ingredients:

8 oz. glass noodles (I can never find this at Safeway, so I went to Newport Market. I think I had trouble getting it at Ray’s, too. FYI). I got the Thai Kitchen brand – look for the thinnest noodles you can find.

2 chicken breasts, sliced into bite-size pieces

2 cloves of minced garlic

2 eggs

3 green onions, chopped

Red pepper flakes

1 T oyster sauce

2 T soy sauce

1 tsp dark soy sauce (tamari)

1 T sugar

7 T water

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp sesame oil

half a white onion, chopped

6 T canola oil

Sriracha red pepper sauce and toasted sesame seeds to garnish.

Boil a pasta pot with water and add the noodles. Turn off the heat and let them soak until just al dente, about 3 minutes (it goes quick!) drain and reserve.

Meanwhile, heat 3 T oil in your wok or skillet over high. When hot, add the garlic, a dash of red pepper flakes and the chicken. Stir-fry until browned, reduce the heat to medium and cook the chicken through (if the garlic starts to turn brown, lower that heat!). Remove to a plate.

Mix the soy sauces, oyster sauce, pepper, water and sugar (add a squirt of fish sauce, too, if you have any). Set aside.

Add the rest of the oil to the skillet and crack the two eggs into the oil when it’s hot. Lightly scramble them, then add the noodles, chicken and the soy sauce mixture. Toss to combine and add in the green and white onions. After 2 more minutes of stir-frying, add the sesame oil and mix for another couple minutes.

To serve, pile on a plate or bowl and top with Sriracha sauce and toasted sesame seeds. Of course, you don’t have to add the hot sauce if you don’t want to.

This makes plenty for leftovers – in fact, I’ll probably eat more at around the midnight hour…

Drool…

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Falafel pita pocket with yogurt cucumber sauce

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This ain’t no Pita Pit. This is the result of me trying to do something I’ve always wanted to do and sort-of succeeding. I enjoyed my imperfect creation, but my boyfriend loved it and went back for seconds! Not a bad vegetarian dish for a couple of major carnivores.

I wanted to make my own falafel – fried cakes of chickpeas seasoned with cumin, herbs and garlic. I love falafel and hummus, but hate chickpeas in their whole form. Weird?

I searched for a falafel recipe that was quick and easy, and came up with pretty much nothing that didn’t require soaking dried chickpeas for two hours. So I invented my own recipe, based loosely on what I “think” is in these things. In all honesty, they didn’t hold up like I had hoped (fell apart when frying), but the taste was good and not overly greasy or hard (like some I’ve had). I’ve written the recipe with a few adjustments that I thought would be better. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Whole wheat pita pockets

1 tomato, sliced

4 pieces of lettus

A few slices of red onion

One small package of crumbled feta cheese

1 can chickpeas, drained

1 handful of parsley, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped (don’t waste your money on the seedless, or English, variety)

1 T chopped cilantro (or mint!)

1 c. plain yogurt

Juice of half a lemon

Olive oil

Method:

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, a dash of EVOO and salt and pepper to taste. Process into coarsely ground and you can form it into balls. You can mix in a little flour, if that help it come together. (Like I said, mine never really came together, but whatever). Adjust the seasonings however you like – more cumin? More salt? Experiment. Refrigerate while you prepare the other ingredients.

For the sauce, mix the yogurt with cilantro, lemon and cucumber and maybe a little onion or cumin.  Chill while you cook the falafel.

Now, heat EVOO in a nonstick skillet over medium, until hot. Form the chickpea mixture into little flattened patties about 1-2 inches across and place in the oil. Fry them without touching them until they turn brown, then gently flip them and brown the other side.

To assemble: Split the pita pocket and spread the yogurt sauce on the bottom, followed by the vegetables and feta cheese. Add the falafel and a few splashes of hot sauce, if you dare. Fold it up tight and bite in.

Pork, apples and ‘nanna bread

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Thanksgiving stuffing has taught us that apples and onions go well with meat and gravy.

Tonight I served up a Rachael Ray pork dish with a sautee of apples and onions and a nice cider gravy on top. Yum-O, as Miss Rachael would say.

Ingredients:

1 gala apple, sliced thin

1 small yellow onion, sliced thin

1 tsp. EVOO

salt

pepper

1 T unsalted butter

1-inch pork chops (I actually used three boneless pork tenderloins -discount meat bin-, which are more fatty..just make sure the inch count is the same for cooking time.)

3 sprigs thyme (or 1 tsp dried), chopped

1/2 c. apple cider

1/2 c. chicken stock

1/2 lemon

1 T flour

Mmmkay. Preheat your trusty skillet over medium heat with 1/2 tsp. olive oil until nice and hot. Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides and place in the pan for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. While they cook, loosely tent foil over the pan to help them cook through.

When both sides are done, remove the pork to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

Back to the skillet, add another splash of olive oil and then the onions and apple. Add S&P and thyme. Cook until softened. Squeeze half a lemon over them and pour over the pork.

Add butter to the skillet. When melted, sprinkle in 1 T flour and whisk for one minute. Whisk in cider and stock, season to taste and pour the gravy over the pork and fixings.

We had ours with some toasted Great Harvest bread, but mashed potatoes would be good, too.

Don’t be afraid the microwave the pork if it isn’t cooked enough – it should just be slightly pink on the inside.

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For dessert, we had banana bread that I made earlier in the day to use up some too-ripe bananas. The Cook’s Illustrated recipe was kind of long and annoying, so I don’t feel like posting it, but you can find it here.

I actually think the Cooking Light recipe is just as good, although I give Cook’s Illustrated props for using yogurt in there. I like it warm for breakfast!

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The Don Draper Special, with green peppercorn sauce and rosemary mashed potatoes

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My two favorite things: Cook’s Illustrated and Safeway’s discount meat bin. I have them to thank for tonight’s tasty meal.

A couple weeks ago I picked up some filet mignon, 1.5 inches thick, and froze them for later use. I had no idea how to cook them. In my house, steaks are usually the “man’s work” because I don’t care to set up the grill and haven’t perfected the art of cooking steak perfectly. So for this meal, I turned to my other boyfriend, Best Recipes.

With the help of a couple recipes and instruction from Best Recipes, here’s what happened:

Ingredients: steak, olive oil, salt and pepper, green peppercorns, beef stock, shallot, red wine, parsley.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking pan on the bottom-middle rack.

Heat a 10-inch skillet over high heat until really hot (not nonstick). Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry, drizzle with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.

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When the pan is hot, sear the steaks, 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer the steaks to the pan in the oven and bake for around 6 minutes for medium rare. When done, put them on a plate and tent with foil. While the steaks are cooking, prepare the sauce…

Put the same skillet on medium heat and toss in one shallot, chopped fine. Sautee for a couple minutes, just until soft (you may need to add a little oil to help it work). Add one can of beef stock or chicken stock and whisk. Add in about 1/2 c. red wine and 1 tablespoon of cracked green peppercorns.

Keep it simmering until it’s reduced to about half, then stir in 1 tbsp. of chopped parsley.  Add in any juices that have leaked onto the resting steak plate and whisk.

For the potatoes, chop up two to three peeled baking potatoes (three was more than enough for two people). Boil them until soft and start mashing with 2 T butter, 1/3 c. sour cream and one sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped. Add salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste (or make them however you like!).

To serve, spoon some taters on a plate, add the steak and top with the sauce. Now, drink the rest of that bottle of red wine!

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Gnocci with sage/butter/cider sauce

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This recipe is easy, takes a long time to prepare, but always impresses. My boyfriend printed off Mario Battali’s recipe for gnocci a couple years ago with virtually no experience in this method of cooking, and it turned out perfect. If he can do it, I feel confident that anyone can (aside from me, because I’m totally intimidated by gnocci). I suppose gnocci is up there with all baked goods, which just generally scare me.

He made the gnocci with four baked potatoes, egg, flour, fresh nutmeg, parmesan and rosemary. Then he cut them into fat pieces and put a pot of water on to boil.

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While the gnocci cooked, I prepared the sauce, which I cut out of The Bulletin a few years ago. Melt 1/4 c. unsalted butter and add 1/2 c. apple cider. Stir in 5 shredded sage leaves and 1/2 tsp. S&P. Reduce by half, around 10 minutes.

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When the gnocci is cooked (floats to the top), strain the sauce and drizzle over the gnocci. Top with toasted pine nuts, more sage and parmesan cheese. Sooooo good!

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Jamaican chicken chili

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This recipe is an old standard from when I first started learning to cook in college. It’s a Cooking Light recipe that has almost no salt or added fat. In fact, I found myself sprinkling some salt over the top, but it really doesn’t need it.

This dish is spicy and deeelish. And, you know, it’s healthy, so that’s good.

Ingredients:

white rice

chicken

red wine

capers

diced tomatoes

black beans

onion

garlic

curry powder

cayenne pepper

black pepper

dried thyme

allspice

First, put a pot of white rice on to cook. While that’s working, sautee 1 c. chopped yellow onion and 2 cloves of garlic in a splash of olive oil.

While that renders, cut 1 lb. of raw chicken into bite-sized pieces. Toss the chicken with 1 tsp. curry powder, 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1/2 tsp. allspice, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper and 1/2 tsp. black pepper.

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Add the chicken to the cooking onion/garlic and sautee for 4 min. Stir in 2 tbsp. capers, 1/4 c. red wine, one can drained black beans and one can of diced tomatoes, with juice. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

To serve, spoon some rice in a bowl and top with the chili. Garnish with cilantro. Finish with a glass of red wine!

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Chicken piccata – variations on a theme

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Sometimes, I just have to give myself a culinary pat on the back. And sometimes, I totally eff up a recipe. Tonight, I wanted chicken piccata – that tangy, garlicy goodness. What can’t be good about fried chicken with a lemon-caper sauce? Plus, I had a lemon that I zested a few weeks ago and was saving in the fridge.

I’ve made the Giada recipe before, but the butter always burned. This recipe from Simply Recipes looks fabulous, and has a good how-to guide.

So this time, I did my own version. Classically, chicken piccata is made with white wine and capers. But I forgot to put the capers in and I didn’t have any white wine. Still, somehow, it was yum.

It makes me really happy, because I was fully prepared for this to suck.

Here’s what I did:

1. Butterfly two chicken breasts and preheat your oven to 350.

2. Dredge the breasts in a flour mixture that contains paprika, salt and pepper. Shake off all the excess. Next, dip them in a mixture of one egg and water. Finally, coat them in bread crumbs (Italian style is good, but I just had plain).

3. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a skillet and brown the chicken on both sides. Remove to a baking sheet.

4. Put the chicken in the oven to cook the rest of the way through (keep an eye on them). Take them out when cooked through.

5. While the chicken bakes, start the sauce: wipe out the skillet and on medium heat, melt 2 tbsp of butter and add one shallot and 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic. Saute the shallot and garlic until they start to foam. Then, wisk in about one cup of chicken stock. Eyeball it to a sauce-like thickness.

Next, I sprinkle in 1 tbsp of flour and wisk to thicken. After a couple minutes of simmering and more wisking (by the way, I “wisked” with a wooden spoon just because I was too lazy to get out my wire wisk. Whatevs.), stir in the juice from one lemon, a handful of chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Take off the heat.

6. To serve: Drop a couple spoonfulls of mashed potatoes on your plate (Cook diced peeled potatoes while you prepare the chicken, mash them with cream, butter, s&p, or however you like it!). Place the chicken on top and spoon the sauce over it.

Wine and capers are two of my favorite ingredients of all time. And I didn’t add them. Sad. If you have them, just stir them into the sauce as you’re cooking it. Add them before you add the lemon and parsley – you want those to cook the least.

Still, the lightly fried chicken was tender and juicy and that lemony sauce was perfection – somehow.  The only reason I used the shallot was because I was going to rot in my fridge if I didn’t. Don’t you love using up old ingredients in your fridge?

Enjoy!

Green chicken enchiladas

Don't use store-bought green sauce!

Don't use store-bought green sauce!

So…we eat a lot of Mexican food. And I couldn’t be happier.

Few things are more delicious than my boyfriend’s green chicken enchiladas. He makes the sauce from scratch:

Roast 25 tomatillos, 4 serrano chilies and one head of garlic, cloves separated. Then, process these together with salt and pepper to taste, and cilantro. Add lime juice, if you prefer.

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Toss a little of the sauce with shredded rotisserie chicken and sauteed onion. Add green chilies if you want even more heat.

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In a softened corn tortilla, wrap up the chicken mixture with a sprinkle of cheese and place in your baking dish. Top the enchiladas with the remaining sauce and cover completely with more cheese.

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Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until all the cheese is melted and bubbly.

I don’t have any pictures of the finished, cooked product because we gobbled it up too fast!