Sunday, March 29, 2009
Berley's approach is along the lines of Almost Meatless; he gives instructions for making the dish with either flank steak or soft tofu. It's positioned more as a "please everybody" approach than an environmental or health-oriented one, but the idea is the same: a little less meat and a lot more veggies. We bought the flank steak, which Berley suggested, at Food Emporium. (Not sure I liked the store; while Fork thought their meat department was great, I found other areas lacking. But that's another post!) Turns out, the steak was the part of the dish we liked least. I don't think it has much to to do with Food Emporium; rather, flank steak is such a tough cut that marinating it would've gone a long way towards making it more tender. Instead, Berley has you slice the steak into thin strips and cook it in the broth. The broth, made from soy, mirin, rice vinegar and fresh ginger, was terrific, deeply flavored and smooth. But cooking the steak in it, even for just two minutes, resulted in a grey-ish meat that frankly was just kind of "eh."
Aside from the meat, though, this soup was really great. With udon noodles, snow peas (I used green beans because Food Emporium--ahem--didn't have them), mushrooms, radishes, carrots and scallions, plus a dab of hot sauce, it was well-rounded and filling. I'll definitely return to this soup, building on what I know now. And hopefully once I find a good butcher, I'll try it again, with a strip steak, or even just a sirloin. Like our new 'hood, this one's got lots of possibilities.--S
Asian Noodles in Broth with Vegetables and Tofu/Steak
serves 4 (2 servings tofu; 2 servings steak)
1 8-ounce package udon noodles
½ cup soy sauce
1/3 cup mirin
3 T rice vinegar
1 T finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 c snow peas, strings removed and halved crosswise on the diagonal
1 c thinly sliced mushrooms
6 oz flank steak, sliced against the grain into short thin strips
8 oz soft tofu, cubed
1 romaine lettuce heart, finely shredded
½ c thinly sliced red radishes or daikon matchsticks
½ c carrot matchsticks
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
Toasted sesame oil, for serving (optional)
Hot sauce, for serving (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and divide among four large soup bowls.
2. In each of two small saucepans, combine 1 ½ c water with half of the soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, and ginger and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add half the snow peas and half the mushrooms to each pan, then add the steak to one pan and the tofu to the other. Simmer until the snow peas are crisp-tender, the meat is cooked, and the tofu is heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Divide the vegetable garnishes among the bowls and ladle the hot soup over the noodles. Drizzle each serving with a few drops of sesame oil and hot sauce, if desired. Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of The Flexitarian Table
Monday, March 23, 2009
And then, the epiphany: a family recipe. Something I knew how to make by heart; that I'd never screwed up; that was hearty, homey and good; and that we didn't eat all the time but that we always enjoyed. It was Pork Chops and Vinegar Peppers, and it was just the thing.
I grew up loving this dish, with its acidic peppers smoothed out just a bit by chicken stock and pork, with spaghetti on the side. I loved it so much that in third grade, when we were going around the classroom naming our favorite dinners, I proudly said, "Pork chops and vinegar peppers" when everybody else was saying meatloaf and pizza, and got a chorus of ewwws. But I didn't care.
This is a quick meal to put together; the hardest thing might be finding the vinegar peppers, depending on where you live. B&G Foods makes them; the company started in Manhattan in 1889 and apparently has not achieved world domination yet. I guess other peppers would work, but the dish won't really be the same. The peppers in vinegar are tangy and add such a nice punch to the pork. Other than that, things are straightforward: brown chops, saute peppers, add juices, cook until pork is done, serve over spaghetti mixed in with all the juices and lots of parsley.
Hoping this is the beginning of many more delicious, happy meals.--S
Pork Chops and Vinegar Peppers over Spaghetti
4 center-cut pork chops on the bone
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large jar red bell peppers in vinegar
2-4 T fresh parsley, minced plus more for garnish
1/2 c chicken stock
1/2 lb spaghetti
1. Warm 2-3 t olive oil in a large nonstick fry pan. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Brown chops in pan 1-2 minutes per side on medium high heat. Remove chops from pan.
2. Slice peppers and reserve the vinegar from the jar. Add 2-3 t olive oil to the pan and saute peppers for 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 1 minute. Add stock and 1/4 c reserved vinegar.
3. Return the chops to the pan along with parsley. Cover and simmer on low flame 5-7 minutes, until pork registers 155 degrees or is slightly pink inside. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente.
4. Place chops and pepper son a serving platter. Toss pasta with liquid from pork chop pan. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with grated parmesan cheese.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
On the "let's finish this up" list were about four skinless chicken thighs, on the bone; buttermilk; herbs; mushrooms; cheddar cheese; and a big bag of all-purpose flour. I have to say, the challenge of figuring out what to make with odds-and-ends ingredients like that is a lot easier if you use the Internet. A search on Epicurious led me to Turkey Potpie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust, which I quickly determined could be easily adapted to my ingredients. The recipe actually was meant to use up leftover turkey after Thanksgiving, and I'm sure that's a terrific use for the meat. But I'll also say that roasting chicken in a 400-degree oven for 40 minutes and then pulling it off the bone, shredding it to chunks, works just fine as well. The other sub I made was dill in the place of thyme. Other than that, I followed the recipe.
You cook onion, celery, chopped parsnip and herbs until tender, and then toss in some chopped mushrooms, stirring them until they're soft. You thicken the veggies with a sprinkle of flour, and then pour in a fair amount of chicken stock. Once your soup is nice and thick, you stir in the meat and a box of frozen peas, and season the entire thing with salt and pepper. And this is where things get interesting. While the veggies were cooking, you had already whipped up a quick biscuit dough made with buttermilk, butter, Parmigiano and grated sharp cheddar. So you take that batter, which is quite lumpy, and drop dollops of it on top of the thickened soup/meat mixture. And then you slide the rather bizarre-looking creation into a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes.
This was one of those dishes which, when cooking, your mouth is watering so much that it takes everything in your power not to tear the dish from the oven and dig in right there. The smell of buttermilk biscuits, savory vegetables and roasted chicken have to be some of the most appetizing I know, and taken together? Hold me back. Of course, we had to wait another nearly interminable 10 minutes for the dish to cool before we could spoon it out, but eventually that time came, and let me tell you, it was sweet. Amazing, actually. The biscuit was thick and fluffy; the flavors of the meat and vegetables underneath had melded together into a warm and comfy stew. It was heaven, seriously.
And with that, I'm off to our new kitchen!--S
Carcass and skin from a 12- to 14-pound roast turkey
10 cups water
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 large parsnip (peeled), cored and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 t chopped thyme
3 T unsalted butter
1/2 lb mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1/4 c all-purpose flour
4 c roast turkey [or chicken] meat, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 (10-oz) package frozen baby peas, thawed
[3 1/2 c chicken stock]
For biscuit crust:
2 c all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1 c coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1/4 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 1/4 c well-shaken buttermilk
Separate parts of carcass and put, along with skin, in an 8-quart pot. Cover bones with water and simmer until liquid is reduced by one third, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Set aside 3 1/2 cups stock (reserve remainder for another use).
Cook onion, carrots, celery, parsnip, and thyme in butter with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a 12-inch-wide shallow pot (3- to 4-quart), covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are almost tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, uncovered, stirring, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in stock (3 1/2 cups), scraping up any brown bits, and bring to a boil, stirring, then simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in turkey, peas, and salt and pepper to taste. Reheat over low heat just before topping with biscuit crust.
Make biscuit crust and bake pie:
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl. Add cheeses and toss to coat. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir just until a dough forms. Drop biscuit dough onto filling in 8 large mounds, leaving spaces between biscuits.
Bake until biscuits are puffed and golden brown and filling is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
· If using carcass and meat from a brined turkey, filling may need little or no salt.
· You can substitute another turkey stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth for the stock in this recipe. You can also make stock using leftover cooked chicken in place of turkey.
1. Separate parts of carcass and put, along with skin, in an 8-quart pot. Cover bones with water and simmer until liquid is reduced by one third, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Set aside 3 1/2 cups stock (reserve remainder for another use). [Skip this step if you're using pre-cooked chicken.]
2. Cook onion, carrots, celery, parsnip, and thyme in butter with 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper in a 12-inch-wide shallow pot (3- to 4-quart), covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are almost tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, uncovered, stirring, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in stock (3 1/2 c), scraping up any brown bits, and bring to a boil, stirring, then simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in turkey, peas, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.
5. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl. Add cheeses and toss to coat. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir just until a dough forms. Drop biscuit dough onto filling in 8 large mounds, leaving spaces between biscuits.
6. Bake until biscuits are puffed and golden brown and filling is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Friday, March 06, 2009
It's just a variation on whole grain breakfast cereal, and it barely needs a recipe. Bulgur with Coconut, Ginger and Almonds is pretty self-explanatory. I stirred in a bit of milk to bind everything together, and plain yogurt would work well, too. Bulgur, which is apparently akin to cracked wheat, has a nutty flavor and chewy texture (for everything you ever wanted to know about bulgur, check out this article). And it cooks quickly: you bring it to a boil in a pot of water, then turn off the heat, put a lid on the pot, and let it sit for 25 minutes--just long enough to hop in the shower and get dressed. When you're ready, so is your bulgur.--S
Bulgur with Coconut, Ginger and Almonds
2/3 c bulgur
1 1/3 c water
2 T chopped crystallized ginger
Handful of chopped almonds
Handful of sweetened coconut, shredded
1. Put the bulgur and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, turn it off, and leave for 25 minutes while you take a shower and get dressed.
2. Stir in ginger, almonds and coconut; add a splash of milk.
* The variations here are endless: spices dried fruits, seeds... go nuts!
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Most of the time, I have all the ingredients I need for this recipe in my kitchen already, save for the cod. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program recommends you use Pacific cod; if you can't find it, you could use red snapper or sea bass. But it's worth it to splurge on a nice piece of fish, because the flavors and preparation are so simple that the fish really is the star here. You whisk rice vinegar, soy sauce and grated fresh ginger in a large skillet, lay your salted and peppered cod fillets onto the liquid, and then bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and let it cook for six minutes or so, a little longer if your fish fillets are thicker. Then, when the fish has about two minutes to go until it's opaque throughout, you lay the green parts of a handful of scallions over the fish, and let them wilt while the fish finishes cooking. That's it!
The cod flakes away in such beautiful pieces, and it's gently infused with soy and ginger. (In the picture above, you can see the cod actually broke apart as I was taking it out of the skillet--not that that bothered me.) The scallions are a little al dente, and eating a forkful of cod and scallion together gives you a great variety of textures. With some rice and veggies, you've got a simple and extremely tasty supper. Sorry it took me so long to share this one with you!--S
Steamed Cod with Ginger and Scallions
4 skinless cod fillets (6 to 8 ounces each)
3 T rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce
2 T finely grated, peeled fresh ginger
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 scallions, green parts cut into 3-inch lengths
1. In a large skillet, combine rice vinegar, soy sauce and ginger.
2. Season both sides of cod fillets with salt and pepper; place in skillet with vinegar mixture.
3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cover; cook until fish is almost opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, thinly slice scallions lengthwise. Scatter over fish; cook (covered) until fish is opaque throughout and scallions are just wilted, about 2 minutes more.
Recipe courtesy of Everyday Food