Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Classy Egg and Cheese on a Bagel

Egg and cheese sandwiches are probably the most popular breakfast food on the go. I decided to take this classic and move it up the class scale to get a new take on the old standard. I used 1 egg and about the same amount of pure egg whites and scrambled them into the size and shape of my bagel. The cheese is Brillat-Savarin (brie would be an easy sub). I toasted a whole wheat bagel, hit it with a little creme fraische and topped the whole thing with some tomato, fresh marjoram and arugula. From ordinary to extraordinary in the same amount of time as the ordinary. Yum breakfast!

Published with Blogger-droid v1.4.9

Monday, August 30, 2010

Seafood Thai Green Curry

Thai green curry is a flavor packed meal, thats becuase there are so many ingredients to work with. For beginners, I recommend buying the green curry paste and then graduating to making that paste when you have the other parts of the dish down.

Green Curry Paste
1/2 cup basil (thai if you can find it)
1/2 cup cilantro
6 green chilis (thai if you find)
1 tablespoon ground ginger (galingol)
1 tablespoon ground garlic
1 shallot or 1/4 red onion
3 green onions chopped
1 piece of lemon grass
juice from 1/2 a lime
1 bay leaf
cumin, coriander, salt and pepper

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. I used finger hot, Anaheim, habanero and jalapeño chillies because they didn't have Thai chilis.

Once you have the green curry paste you can begin making the rest of the dish. The curry paste will last about a week in the fridge if you want to make extra to save.

Seafood Vegetable Thai Green Curry

1 pound peeled deveined shrimp (u24 is a good size)
1/2 pound bay scallops
8oz jumbo lump crab meat (any crab meat will suffice)

1 thai eggplant, chopped large
1 cup broccoli and cauliflower mix
1/2 cup carrots, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 can of bamboo shoots, julienned

1 cup of Thai green curry paste
2 cans lite coconut milk

1 handful of unsalted cashews (I had salted so I rinsed them in cold water)
1/2 cup of basil
1/2 cup cilantro

Sliced Avocado
Green onions
Lime wedges

Start a large cooking vessel or wok on medium high heat. Add vegetable oil to coat the bottom and add you vegetables, cover. After 5 minutes remove the veggies and add your seafood. Stir to cook evenly, after 5 minutes remove and set aside, they will cook through in the curry. Add green curry paste to the pot and let it cook for 1 minute, do worry they will bring out all of the flavor. Add the coconut milk and mix it through, let it cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and add the veggies and the seafood. Let cook for twenty minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cashews, cilantro and basil.

I also boiled up some nice jasmine rice and added a little coconut oil and salt. The lump crab meat made the dish so rich and coated all of the other items in the mix. We had our friends Sean & Dana over for dinner. They both know their Thai food well and we all cleaned our plates so I was happy with my first try at Thai Curry from scratch.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shrimp and Vegetable Risotto

Risotto is my favorite dish to make when I have a lot of company but don't want to spend too much money. I had 7 people to feed and a bag of Arborio rice in my pantry. I picked up a pound and a half of peeled and deveined shrimp (u30) for $9, so it would be a big meal for under $20 out of pocket. I also bought a box of Kitchen Basics brand vegetable stock (way better than canned stuff), a red bell pepper, parsley, a vidallia onion, a leek, baby carrots and a loaf of Italian bread.

When cooking risotto you have to dedicate yourself to the kitchen. It is not possible to multi task and cook a good risotto, so don't even try. Next you need to have all your food chopped and cookware in place. Start by getting these things ready; a large Cast Iron pot (LeCruset)or high sided frying pan for cooking the risotto, a large stock pot (6 or 8 qt), a medium sauté pan, a heat proof spatula or wooden spoon and a ladle. Then chop all of the vegetables to a fine dice and season the shrimp with salt pepper and olive oil. Get out 3/4 of a stick of butter, 1 cup of white wine and 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

Start by pouring the box of stock into the large stock pot and adding 6 cups of water, put the pot on medium low heat. Start the large pot for risotto on medium low heat (4 of 10) and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Add the chopped onion and leek and stir, let cook until the onion is translucent. Now add the bag of risotto, about 3 cups. Stir the rice until it begins to toast a bit, about 4 minutes. Turn the heat down to low (2 of 10) then add the wine and stir, let all of the wine cook off. Then add three ladles of warmed stock. Stir the rice well until all of the liquid is almost all absorbed. Add three more ladles of stock and stir it in again. Stir the pot every 2 minutes or so, don't walk away. Keep adding the three ladles of stock every time the liquid is almost gone. It should take about 30 to 40 minutes for the rice to stop absorbing the liquid rapidly and begin to get tender. Once the rice is tender but still has some firmness it is ready for the next step. Turn off the heat and add the butter and Parmesan cheese. Fold it in and start the medium sauté pan on medium high. Quickly sauté the remaining vegetables in olive oil for about 3 minutes then add the shrimp. Cook for about 3 more minutes or until the shrimp are light pink, DO NOT over cook the shrimp, they will cook through in the rice. Now add the cooked shrimp and veggies to the risotto and fold it all together, being gentle not to beat up the rice in the risotto. Finish it off with some parsley, fresh Parmesan cheese and hot garlic bread.

This fed 8 people all having seconds and I ate the rest for lunch today. You can do thousand of variations of ingredients which is why risotto is an important dish to learn how to cook. Once you get the skill you can literally have a different risotto every day if you don't die of heart disease first. Boun Appetito

Monday, August 23, 2010

Slow Cooked Polenta with Leek Ragu

This is a vegetarian dish that could be made vegan as well. Polenta can be cooked many ways and today I wanted to experiment. I started a medium pot on medium heat with 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup milk, 2 cups vegetable stock and 2 cups water until it began to steam. I slowly poured in 1.5 cups of polenta (corn grits) into the pot while stirring constantly. It is kinda like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time, so go slow. Once all of the polenta has been added, stir the mixture for 3 minutes. The turn the heat to very low and stir every 3 to 5 minutes for 1 hour or until polenta is soft. To finish, add 2 tbsp of butter, a handful of Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. It is very important to stir, stir, stir the polenta. Setting a timer really helps, I just do it every time the song changes on Pandora.

For the leek ragu I chopped leeks, onions, red bell pepper, tomato and garlic at put them in a medium saute pan on medium high. I cooked them until tender then added a teaspoon of tomato paste and let that cook for 2 minutes. Then I added a shot of marsala wine and splash of balsamic vinegar. I let that cook for five minutes until the liquids were absorbed. It was finished with fresh parsley, salt and pepper.

I spooned the polenta into the bowl, cut an opening in the center and poured in the ragu. This polenta is a simple and filling Italian style dish. This is probably not the healthiest way to cook it but it was the best tasting polenta I have ever made.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.4.9

Chicken Tikka, Cucumber Raita, Basmati and Naan

Here goes another attempt at getting serious about Indian food. Chicken Tikka, which is similar to Tandoori chicken, is made many different ways and there are hundreds of recipes on the internet. I looked at many of these and decided on taking different aspects of the best ones and added my own style. I don't have a tandoor oven, which is the traditional way of cooking this dish so I used my indoor grill.

Start by making the spice mix by combining 1 part coriander, cumin, salt and garam masala with 2 parts turmeric, cayenne, and paprika. Then puree the onions, ginger, garlic, hot peppers and lemon juice in a food processor and blend it with the spice mix, this mixture is known as Tandoori Masala. Combine the Tandoori Masala and the yogurt together to make the marinade for the chicken.

Chop boneless chicken breast (or thigh) into medium chunks, about 4 pieces per breast. Lay out the chicken in a single layer in a shallow baking dish and pour in the marinade. Poke the chicken with a fork to tenderize and then refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24. Turn every 4 or 6 hours for the best results. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shake of the excess and put them on a hot grill. Turn as necessary to cook through and get a nice color.

FOOL PROOF RICE: This is the easiest and most fool proof method to making any rice. It works every time. Just do not touch it. It works for any amount of rice in any size cooking pot.

Put the rice in the pot and cover with cool water. Mix it around with your hand a few times and then drain by slowly tilting pot. Refill with cool water. The perfect water level is when the water is one thumbnail above the rice (half and inch). Put your thumb in the water and check to see the level. Add salt or oil if desired at this point. FROM THIS POINT ON DO NOT STIR THE RICE - AT ALL. Put the pot over med-high(7 of 10) until the the water boils off and the top of the rice is almost at the water level. Turn the heat to low (1 of 10) and cover the pot tightly by using a piece of aluminum foil over the pot then putting the lid on. Let the rice cook undisturbed for 12 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE LID. Take it off of the heat and let it rest for at least 5 minutes but it can sit for up to a half hour. Remove the lid and the aluminum foil and fluff with a fork. You will have perfect rice every time, no measuring and no sticky mess.

Cucumber Raita: Puree a clove of garlic, same amount of ginger, a handful of cilantro and a handful of mint with 1 whole peeled seedless cucumber in a food processor. Mix it with 2 cups of yogurt and the juice from half of a lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate at least half an hour.

I bought the Naan bread and heated it in the oven, fluffed my basmati rice, and got the raita out of the fridge. The chicken was off the grill finally (indoor grill is no outdoor grill I assure you) so I put everything together family style because we were having friends join us for this awesome feast. Everyone was pleased with how it all turned out, I can see this dish being a staple and one I continue to work on. Namaste

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sunnyside Up with Breakfast Potatoes

The fastest and easiest of all decent breakfasts, eggs and potatoes. Sunnyside up eggs can be tricky because if they are over cooked they are like rubber and if they are undercooked they have this nasty slime on top that is really offputting. Most restaurants mess them up to one side or the other, that is why I usually make them at home with this easy method.

Sunnyside Up Eggs:
Start the oven on 350. Start a medium sautee pan, non stick is best, on mid-low (4 out of 10) and put just enough oil to coat the pan. You can use any oil or spray of your choice. Then crack the eggs by striking it on a FLAT surface like the countertop. Hitting the egg on the edge of a bowl or pan increases the chance of breaking the yolk. Crack the egg open just above the preheated pan. Cook the egg for about 4 minutes or until white starts to set up. Then place the whole pan in the oven for 5 mintues or until the top of the egg is stiff, fluffy and the white is opaque. Perfect every time.

For the breakfast potatoes I diced up a left over baked potato from last nights' dinner. I started a sautee pan on medium with oil and butter then added some chopped red onion and red hot pepper and let cook for 5 minutes. I then added the diced potatoes and let it all cook together for about 15 minutes. I finished with parsley, salt and pepper.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.4.9

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cold Lentil Salad

Its the end of the week so I don't have much food to work with. I always look at my dry storage at these times, it helps get rid of older dry goods and forces me to think outside the box. For this dish I saw that I had some lentils from.... who knows when, could be years ago, and decided to make them.

I do not have that much experience with lentils but I figured a cold lentil salad would be a nice change of pace. I also had a few little veggies I needed to use as well so here we go.

I picked through the lentils for stones and bad lentils. I then rinsed them and put them in a saucepot with cold water. I brought the pot to a boil over medium high heat and let it boil for 3 minutes. Turned it down to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes or until tender. The age and dryness of the lentiles will determine how long it takes to get tender, could be 10 min or an hour. Then I drained the lentils and cooled them off in an ice water bath and drained them again letting them sit in a strainner to drain well (overly water lentils wont make as good a salad). I then chopped my remaining carrots, green onion, red pepper and spinach. I blanched them in some boiling water for 3 mintues to get the rawness out and then added the drained veggies to the lentil mix. To finish I added a splash of extra virgin olive oil and white vinegar, a lot of salt & pepper, fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon juice. I mixed it up carefully as not to break the lentils, covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for a few hours. You can eat this a side to any meal or as a healthy main course. Bon appetit!

Published with Blogger-droid v1.4.9

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Poached Eggs over Spinach

The concept of this blog is to work with what you have. I don't have time to go shopping everyday for specific items so I buy a bunch of stuff and make up dishes based on what needs to be eaten before it spoils. This carbless breakfast was great. I sauteed some spinach then squeezed out all of the excess water. I then poached some eggs (see fool proof method below). I still had a small amount of the tomatillo hot pepper salsa, so I softened a big spoon a cream cheese in the microwave and mixed it half and half with the salsa. I topped the eggs and spinach with the sauce and sprinkled some paprika over the whole thing. Love Breakfast

Foolproof poached eggs - bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling add some salt and 2 teaspoons of white vinegar (you can use any vinegar but the less taste the better). The vinegar is crucial to success. Next crack the egg into an oiled laddle. Slowly lower the laddle into the boiling water, hold it for 10 seconds and then turn the laddel over dropping the egg into the water. Repeat dropping each egg in a different location (preferably in a circle so you know which is done first. Wait 3 to 4 minutes then take a slotted spoon and start retrieving the eggs in the order you put them in. Shake off the excess water or blot with a paper towel. Yum!

Published with Blogger-droid v1.4.9

Egg Whites and Spinach in a Tortilla

This is the last tortilla dish, because I have finally run out. This is a tasty and fast way to start the day. Sautee some spinach and onions, pour in some egg white (from the carton in the egg section) and top with some cheese and left over tomatillo hot pepper salsa.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.4.9

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chili Rubbed Chicken with Tomatillo Salsa and Radish Salad

I love Mexican food. It has fresh and clean flavors with a nice kick of heat. The dish I made tonight was chili rubbed and shredded chicken, roasted tomatillio and hot peppers salsa, a radish and cilantro salad, seasoned rice and hot corn tortillas. I served it family style so that we could make our own mix and because Mexican food is traditionally family style food.

Spice Mix:
Chipotle Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Crushed Red Chili
Chili Powder
Black Pepper
touch of garam masala (mexicans traditionaly use many of the spices in garam masala in mole sauces)
I mixed this with a mortar and pestal

Chili Rubbed Chicken:

Lightly coat 2 boneless chicken breasts with agave nectar. A spoonful should do it. Add a few scoops of the spice mix and coat the chicken breasts completely. Place them on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 15 minutes at 375. Let it rest and then shred it with a knife or fork. They should look like this.

Roasted Tomatillo and Hot Pepper Salsa:
Anaheim Pepper
Habenero Pepper
Hot Finger Pepper
Green Onion
Lime Juice
Spice Mix

Roast all of the ingredients in a 375 oven for 15 minutes. Let it cool and put it all in a blender with some of the spice mix, then add salt, fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice. Puree this until smooth in my food processor. It was definatley spicy and hot. Take out the habenero if you want to bring down the heat level.

Radish Salad:
Red Radishes
Chopped Cilantro
Agave Nectar
Lime Juice
Veg Oil
Salt & Pepper

Thinly slice the radish then add all the ingredients and mix in a small bowl.

Toast the corn tortillas in a sauté pan with a touch of oil, they are raw when you buy them. If you over cook them they will get hard like a tortilla chip.

For the rice, just add some chopped up veggies and the spice mix. I used carrots and green onions for this go around.

It was absolutely delicious, I don't always compliment my own food but this one was very deserving of my self praise.

Friday, August 6, 2010

New School Bangers and Mash

Published with Blogger-droid v1.4.9

This is my take on an old classic, plus its what I had in the kitchen/fridge. For those who do not know, bangers and mash is the famous Irish Pub combination of sausages and mashed potatoes. It goes great with a cold pint of your favorite ale, trust me.

For my version I started with Hot Italian Style Chicken Sausages. I seared them on all sides over medium heat, once browned I turned the pan to low and let them slow cook all the way through. This technique will give you good color and crispy casing on the outside and juicy tender sausage on the inside.

My mashed potatoes were a mix of sweet potatoes and purple Peruvian potatoes. I started them in cold water and then put them over high heat until fork tender. I added butter, brown sugar, lemon juice, a splash of orange juice, coriander, nutmeg, salt and pepper then mashed it all together. I have never made this before, but it is what I had for potatoes and it worked out very well with the hot sausage.

I added some sautéed spinach to the dish for color, taste, health and the fact that my big bag of spinach needed to be eaten asap. I sautéed some chopped vidallia onion in butter and olive oil over medium heat until tender. I then added the spinach, salt and pepper and tossed for about 4 minutes.

I plated it up all together and made this unique dish. My great grandmother is Irish, she probably would not approve of what I have done to this classic but thats OK, it was delicious.

Orange Apple Carrot Smoothie

Blending fruits and veggies together is a way to get good flavor and all of your needed vitamins and minerals in one glass. This blended concoction has frozen apple, pear, banana, papaya, a bit of fresh ginger, a handful of baby carrots and some orange juice. It is much tastier then it sounds and is packed with all kinds of good stuff. To your health.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.4.9

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Scrambled Egg and Turkey Sausage Two Ways

This is a quick way to feed the beast and get to eat two different styles of breakfast with minimal work. I made an omelete as I demonstrated on a previous blogpost. This one had jalepeno, red onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, green onion, swiss and basil. I used a ring mold to cut a perfect sized circle and put the egg circle on a toasted honey wheat english muffin. I chopped the leftover egg and put it into a toasted corn tortilla. I cooked off some turkey sausage patties (trying to keep it healthy where possible) and put some on the sandwich, I then chopped the remainder and added it to the totilla. I topped both with sour cream, choula sauce and fresh spinach.

It is very easy to make lunch and breakfast foods two different ways and people (me) enjoy it more as well. I will do more duos soon...stay tuned.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.4.8

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

BBQ Tostadas

This was a quick dinner made of our leftover bbq takeout from the other night. The meats were dry rub ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork and roasted chicken which I reheated by baking. I pulled the meat from the bones and chopped it all together. I then added some bbq sauce and choula pepper sauce to the meat and mixed it through.

I chopped some tomatoes, green onions, cucumber, jalepeno pepper, red onion and cilantro together and mixed it with salt and pepper. I then cooked off some corn tortillas (they are raw when you buy them and need to be cooked for a few minutes on each side).

I added the meat mix, topped with fresh veggie mix and leftover spicy bbq sauce. Serve with your favorite cold beverage, mine is in the picture, what is yours?

Published with Blogger-droid v1.4.8