Weekly Winner – Fried Rice with Potato Chips. What’s Not to Like?

I’ve been flying solo this week at home which basically means, I can make whatever I want.  And although I still try to be healthy, being by myself has always led to little culinary indulgences.  No one’s around to catch me and The World’s Dorkiest Cat won’t tell on me because he knows there’s a few extra treats in the deal if he keeps quiet.

My greatest junk food weakness has always been potato chips.  I usually refuse to buy them because I simply cannot control myself.  An open bag of chips is evil — it must be killed — and quickly!  But what if it’s a required ingredient in a new, and for the most part, healthy recipe I’m going to try out??  Well then I have to buy it, right?  I knew you’d understand.  And yes, it is true that the recipe only calls for a half cup of chips.  One of those small snack pack bags would have easily handled it.  I just feel you can’t be too safe.  You must be prepared.  That’s all I’m saying.  And the cat isn’t talking.

Without further ado, this week’s Weekly Winner is Turkey Fried Rice with Crushed Potato Chips from Food & Wine Magazine.  It’s definitely a keeper.

And did I mention the potato chips??

Turkey Fried Rice with Crushed Potato Chips

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced lemongrass, tender inner white bulb only

4 ounces ground turkey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups leftover (cold) cooked rice

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped mint

1/2 cup plain potato chips, lightly crushed

Asian-style hot sauce, such as Sriracha, for serving (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat a wok until very hot. Add the vegetable oil, ginger, garlic and lemongrass and stir-fry over high heat until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the ground turkey and salt and break up the meat into small clumps. Stir-fry until the turkey is just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
  2. Make a well in the center of the ground turkey. Add the eggs and stir-fry over high heat until just set into large curds, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir-fry until heated through and the grains are separated, about 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce and stir-fry until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and transfer to bowls. Stir in the scallions and mint and garnish with the potato chips. Serve with hot sauce.

Weekly Winner – Best Ever Grilled Chicken

I was able to purge quite a lot of my chicken recipes this week.  Basically, if it was a recipe for any kind of chicken on the grill, it was trashed.  Once I discovered this week’s Weekly Winner – Cornell Chicken –  there was no need for another recipe.  This is the best. Ever.  End of story.  The recipe is from Cook’s Country Magazine and it was straightforward, easy and most of all perfectly delicious.  And now I have lots of room in my chicken recipe binder for yet more experiments not done on the grill.

CORNELL CHICKEN

Serves 4 – 6

For the Chicken:

2 quarts water

3-1/2 cups cider vinegar

¼ cup Kosher salt

4 half chickens (or 2 whole chickens, spatchcocked and cut in half)

For the seasoning and sauce:

1 Tbsp poultry seasoning

Salt and pepper

½ cup cider vinegar

3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage

1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

½ cup olive oil

Instructions:

  1. For the Chicken:  Whisk water, vinegar, and salt in a large bowl until salt dissolves.  Add chicken and refrigerate, covered, for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. For the Seasoning and Sauce:  Combine poultry seasoning, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper in small bowl; set aside.  Process vinegar, mustard, sage, rosemary, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in blender until smooth, about 1 minute.  With blender running, slowly add oil until incorporated.  Transfer vinegar sauce to small bowl and reserve for basting chicken in step 4.
  3. Heat all burners on high for 15 minutes, then turn all burners to medium-low (For charcoal grill, light 75 coals; when covered with fine gray ash, spread evenly over bottom of grill.  Set cooking grate in place and heat covered, with lid vents open completely, for 5 minutes.)  Scrape and oil cooking grate.
  4. Remove chicken from brine.  Pat dry with paper towels and rub all over with poultry seasoning mixture.  Arrange chicken skin side up on grill and baste with vinegar sauce.  Grill, covered, until chicken is well browned on bottom and meat registers 120 degrees, 25-30 minutes, basting with sauce halfway through cooking.  Flip chicken skin side down and baste with sauce.  Continue to grill, covered, until skin is golden brown and crisp and thigh meat registers 170-175 degrees, 20-25 minutes longer.  Transfer chicken to platter (do not cover) and let rest 5 minutes.  Serve.

Weekly Winner – A Tie for Weirdness

It was a weird and wonderful week – food wise.  So much so that I just couldn’t pick one Weekly Winner and present my first-ever tie.

The first was a fabulous soup with two very unlikely ingredients:  tomatoes and peanut butter.  The result was a wonderful Thai-influenced soup with warm, cozy flavors and the perfect hint of heat.  For the life of me, I can’t remember where I got the recipe so cannot give credit where credit is most-assuredly due.

TOMATO-PEANUT SOUP

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

½ tsp Madras-style curry powder

½ tsp paprika

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Kosher salt

1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

1 tsp packed brown sugar

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

Freshly ground black pepper

Chopped peanuts, green onions, sour cream or crème fraiche for topping

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper and celery; cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, curry powder, paprika, cayenne and 1 tsp salt; cook, stirring, 2 more minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, brown sugar and 1 cup water to the pot, then whisk in the peanut butter until incorporated.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens slightly, about 30 minutes.  Puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender in batches.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls; top with crème fraiche or sour cream, green onions, and chopped peanuts.  Drizzle with olive oil.

The co-winner this week was a very unique, almost tangy pasta dish which should be named “tipsy pasta” or “sloshed spaghetti”.  Instead, I simply present Spaghetti Al Vino Bianco.  This recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated.    Trust me … make this dish.

 

 

SPAGHETTI AL VINO BIANCO

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 oz pancetta, cut into ¼-inch pieces

2 garlic cloves, minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine (not heavily oaked Chardonnay)

Salt and pepper

Sugar

1 pound spaghetti

5 oz baby arugula

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 oz Pecorino Romano, grated (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and pancetta in 12-inch skillet over medium high heat; cook until pancetta is browned and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel-lined plate.  Pour off and discard all but 2 Tbsp rendered fat from skillet.
  2. Return skillet to medium low heat and add garlic and pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic begins to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes.  Carefully add 1-1/2 cups wine and increase heat to medium high.  Cook until wine is reduced to ½ cup, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add ½ tsp salt.  Taste and if the wine reduction is too sharp, season to taste with up to 1 Tbsp of sugar, adding in 1 tsp increments.
  3. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot.  Add pasta and 1 Tbsp salt and cook, stirring often, until pasta is flexible but not fully cooked, about 4 minutes.  Reserve 2 cups pasta water, and then drain pasta.
  4. Transfer pasta to skillet with reduced white wine.  Place skillet over medium heat; add ½ cup unreduced wine and cook, tossing constantly until wine is fully absorbed.  Continue to add remaining wine, ½ cup at a time, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. (If wine is absorbed before spaghetti is fully cooked, add ½ cup reserved pasta water at a time to skillet and continue to cook.)
  5. Remove skillet from heat.  Place arugula on top of spaghetti, pour ¼ cup Pecorino Romano; toss until sauce lightly coats pasta and arugula is evenly distributed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to service platter and sprinkle with pancetta, remaining ¼ cup Pecorino Romano, and pine nuts.  Serve immediately, passing extra cheese separately.

A Gorgeous Day … and a Reality Check

Sometimes I make myself laugh … and not in a  good way!  This afternoon I had to go pick up a few things at the grocery store.  Said store is a very quick half mile from the house.  It is an absolutely beautiful day here today, so I decided I would walk.

As I was getting ready to leave the house, I remembered I also had to go to the bank.  The branch closest to the house is a little over a mile away, and in the same general direction as the grocery. But as soon as I remembered the bank errand, I was all set to grab my car keys and drive.  On this glorious day!

The truly crazy thing about this is that last weekend I walked a half marathon (13.1 miles for those of you who don’t know) and I had a very specific time goal  in mind.  Which, by the way, I beat.  Yay me!

However today, because I had to add an additional mile onto my errand walk, I was all set to jump in the car.  Mind you, I had no time constraints, and no additional place to be at any specific time.  It was simply habit.

I laughed at myself as I headed out on foot for a truly lovely, leisurely walk to both the bank and grocery. Mission accomplished.  It’s amazing how close things seem after walking a half marathon.  Seriously … what was I thinking??

Summer Breezes and back to the little things

This afternoon as I stood in my kitchen with the door open and a warm humid breeze blowing through the house I remembered… yes indeed, it is the little things.

I started this blog for just these moments.  Small fragments of time when you just stop and enjoy.  I’ve been posting more and more about food (yes, there is the Weekly Winner embedded in this post) but while cooking does bring me tremendous joy, perhaps I have lost touch with my other Quick Qis.  So here it is:

Summer Breeze

I realize I’m showing my age with this song.  But as I stood and enjoyed the warm, humid air wafting through the house while I prepared one of my favorite salads, I was truly happy.  I like humidity, I admit it!  I like to feel the air I’m breathing.  Now of course, I can’t get the song out of my head!

As for the salad it is a Toasted Pita Salad.  I found the recipe years ago in Cooking Light magazine and it has always been one of my favorites.

Toasted Pita Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 (6-inch) pitas, split in half horizontally

3 cups chopped tomato (about 4 medium)

1 1/2 cups chopped English cucumber

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano

2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp ground cumin

4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp honey

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Place pitas on a baking sheet; bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until crisp. Cool completely; break into small pieces.

3. Combine tomato and next 4 ingredients (through parsley) in a large bowl. Combine lime juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour juice mixture over tomato mixture; toss gently. Add pita pieces to bowl; toss gently. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.