Weekly Winner: Keep the Keema Koming!

KeemaGround meat on rice is not new.  I probably have a dozen or more recipes that call for putting some version of ground meat on rice, along with some veggies and a sauce.  This recipe for  Korean Keema shouldn’t be any different and honestly, it shouldn’t be this tasty, but it is. It is amazing!  Spicy, salty, savory, and most importantly…. super simple!

I think its the combination of the four simple ingredients in the sauce that totally make this dish special.  I usually find ground turkey or chicken to be bland, but that is exactly what you want here.  It needs to be a bland sponge to soak up all the flavors from the sauce and distribute it evenly over the rice.  The peas in the meat mix make for a nice sweet pop to counteract the kick of spice from the gochujang.  The recipe comes from Nigella Lawson and was recently featured on her website.

Korean Keema

Serves 2

Ingredients:

3/4 cup basmati rice

8 ounces ground turkey

6 thin or 3 fat scallions, chopped

1 cup frozen peas

1 tsp vegetable oil

2 Tbsp Chinese rice wine

1-2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (or parsley in my case!)

For the sauce:

2 Tbsp gochujang

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine

2 Tbsp soy sauce

Procedure:

  1. Cook the rice according to package instructions. Set frozen peas out to defrost slightly.
  2. Whisk together the sauce ingredients, and stir in the ground turkey.  Set aside for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Heat a wok or heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the oil and then the chopped scallions and frozen peas. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes
  4. Add the turkey and its sauce, and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, until cooked through.
  5. Add the 2 tablespoons rice with with 4 tablespoons of water and rinse out the residue of the sauce from the meat mixture and scrape that into the pan.  Stir-fry for about 30 seconds until heated through.
  6. Serve over rice and top with cilantro or parsley.

Weekly Winner: Summer – Time for Corn & Carbs (and bacon!)

Corn FettuciniWhen summer hits, I need corn.  Corn on the cob? Check.  Corn in salads and salsas? You bet. Corn in stir-fries? Absolutely!  But I never really thought about corn and pasta.  Now, that’s all I can think about, thanks to Corn & Bacon Fettuccine from Southern Living Magazine.  Although, honestly, the bacon may have something to do with it too!

This is a seriously creamy, dreamy, decadent pasta that somehow seems summery thanks to the fresh herbs and fresh corn.  Of course, nobody saying you can’t make this in the dead of winter with some good frozen corn; but man, with super-sweet, farmer’s market fresh, midwestern corn…. this is hard to beat!  And… did I mention, there’s bacon?

Corn-and-Bacon Fettuccine

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 oz uncooked fettuccine

4 ears, fresh corn, shucked

4 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots

1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided

2-1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

3 cups whole milk, divided

1/2 tsp black pepper

1-1/4 oz Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

Procedure:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and set aside
  2. Meanwhile, cut kernels from corn cobs; set aside. Using small holes of a box grater, scrape milky liquid from cobs into a small bowl; set aside
  3. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high, stirring often, until crispy, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in corn kernels, shallots, thyme, 2 tablespoons of the basil and one teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often, until mixture softens, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Whisk together flour and 1/2 cup of the milk in a small bowl until smooth  Stir together reserved corn cob liquid and remaining 2-1/2 cups milk in a saucepan, bring to a simmer over high.  Add flour mixture.  Cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened and slightly reduced, 5 to 6 minutes/  Stir in pepper and remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.
  5. Return bacon mixture to medium-high heat.  Add cooked pasta and thickened sauce; toss to coat. Cook, tossing occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer, about 2 minutes.  Divide pasta among 4 shallow bowls; sprinkle with Parmesan and remaining basil.

 

Weekly Winner: Seriously Simple but Seemingly Sophisticated Stir-fry

pork asparagus stir fryNot sure I could have gotten any more “S’s” into that title!  Pork And Asparagus Stir-Fry definitely tastes more complex than its ingredient list would have you believe.  Nine ingredients, all of which are incredibly common, but the result is pure magic.

I made this recipe using white rice but now think that it could possibly be even more elegant using brown.  The secret, as is quite often the case, is the sauce.  The combination of soy sauce, sesame oil and sherry (I didn’t have Chinese rice wine) is fantastic.

The recipe comes from Bon Appetit and is perfect for this time of year when asparagus abundant and you might just be looking for something different to do with it.  Try this!  It couldn’t be easier or tastier!

Pork and Asparagus Stir-Fry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 tsp peanut oil, divided

2 lbs asparagus, trimmed, cut on a diagonal into 1″-2″ pieces

8 oz ground pork

6 scallions, white and pale green parts only, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 2″ piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or medium-dry sherry

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Cooked white rice for serving

Procedure:

  • Heat 1 tsp peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Once pan is hot (oil will be lightly smoking), add half of the asparagus and a couple of pinches of salt and cook, tossing only once or twice so the pieces have a chance to blister, until crisp-tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a plate.  Add 1 tsp peanut oil to skillet (no need to wipe out) and repeat process with remaining asparagus.
  • Reduce heat to medium-high; add remaining 1 tsp peanut oil to skillet, then add pork, spreading out into an even layer.  Season with a couple pinches of salt and cook, undisturbed, until meat begins to brown underneath, about 2 minutes. Break up meat with a wooden spoon and add scallions, garlic and ginger.  Cook, stirring until pork is crisp and mixture is very fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add sherry and soy sauce and return asparagus to skillet.  Cook, turning to coat with pork mixture, until heated through, about 1 minute.
  • Transfer stir-fry to a platter or large shallow bowl and drizzle with sesame oil.  Serve with rice.

 

 

Weekly Winner: My New Go-To Side Dish

cold miso noodle saladDang, it’s been hot!  These are the kind of days you simply dread heating up the kitchen and you definitely don’t feel like eating anything hot!

That’s where the recipe for Cold Miso Noodles comes in — the only heat required is to boil some water for the noodles.  There’s no dairy either, so it would make a fabulous side dish for a cookout or get-together — if we’re ever allowed to do those things again!!  I found this recipe in Cuisine at Home.

Cold Miso Noodles

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp red miso

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp peanut butter

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce

1 Tbsp sesame oil

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp grated fresh garlic

8 oz ramen noodles

1/2 cup each seeded and sliced cucumber, sliced red cabbage, julienned carrots, bias-sliced sugar snap peas, and thinly sliced watermelon radishes

Sliced scallion greens

Dry roasted  peanuts

Procedure:

  • Whisk together miso, lime juice, peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, ginger and garlic for the dressing; whisk in warm water to thin dressing to desired consistency.
  • Meanwhile, cook noodles in a pot of boiling salted water according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water
  • Toss noodles with 1/2 cup dressing.
  • Add cucumber, cabbage, carrots, sugar snap peas, and radishes to noodles; toss with remaining 1/2 cup dressing. Top servings with scallion greens and peanuts.

 

Weekly Winner: Beef Bolognese’s Elegant Blonde Sister

chicken bologneseBeef Bolognese is wonderful.  Hearty, meaty, slow-cooked goodness tossed with pasta… what’s not to like?  The thing is, it’s serious…weighty. It’s like that one guy at the party that’s just… well… a bit much.  Nice enough guy, well dressed and probably super smart, but just kind of weighs you down.  That’s why I’m so happy that Good Housekeeping Magazine introduced me to Beef Bolognese’s lighter, brighter, more elegant sister Chicken Bolognese.  The best part, unlike her slow-cooked brother, Chicken Bolognese is dressed and ready for the party in under 30 minutes!

Chicken Bolognese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

12 oz mezzi rigatoni

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground chicken

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 Tbsp grated lemon zest

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp tarragon, chopped

1/4 cup chives, snipped

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Procedure:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain and return to pot
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet on medium.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, until starting to sizzle, about 1 minute.
  3. Add chicken, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until almost cooked, about 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until nearly evaporated.
  4. Add broth and toss to combine, then bring to a simmer.  Fold in lemon zest, cheese, and herbs.  Off heat, stir in butter to melt.
  5. Toss with rigatoni and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, adding, more if pasta seems dry.  Top with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Weekly Winner: Conquering Quinoa – and Banishing the Bland

Quinoa and Zucchini. What do these two things have in common (besides being incredibly awesome Scrabble words)? They are good-for-you ingredients that, while I don’t mind, I’m not overly enamored with either. What little taste they do have does not offend me, but I’d just as soon eat something that has more inherent flavor. Enter: Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Almonds and Mint.

I think this recipe caught my eye and interest because, cunningly, the title has absolutely no mention of zucchini. Turns out, however that it is an integral part of the dish. The recipe comes from Milk Street Magazine so you know it is going to work have loads of flavor.

I have to admit, when I read that the quinoa gets cooked with cinnamon I thought that odd. I was afraid the quinoa would come out smelling and tasting more like a dessert. It doesn’t. You can smell the cinnamon but it’s subtle and you barely notice the taste at all. The important trick with this recipe is to make sure the avocados and zucchini sit in the marinade for a while (the amount of time it takes to cook the quinoa is fine). This ensures non-boring zucchini bites. The almonds, raisins and mint add hidden little surprises throughout the salad.

Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Almonds and Mint

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced

1 medium zucchini (about 8 oz), halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped fresh mint

1/2 cup salted roasted almonds, chopped

Procedure:

  • In a large saucepan over medium-high, stir together the quinoa, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1-1/4 cups water. bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low until the quinoa absorbs the liquid, 13-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the avocados and zucchini with the vinegar, oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  • When the quinoa is done ,remove the pan from heat. Scatter the raisins over the quinoa, then drape a kitchen towel across the pan and re-cover. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Using a fork, fluff the quinoa. Transfer to the bowl with the avocados and zucchini, then gently fold to evenly distribute. Gently stir in the mint and almonds, then taste and season with salt and pepper

Weekly Winner: Quarantine Cooking Continued – Snobs Need Not Apply

Spam Stir FryCall it fate, call it serendipity, call it the need for quarantine comfort food, but this week’s Weekly Winner has a strange coincidence to it.  Since this whole “stay at home” thing began, I have seriously tried to limit the shopping I do for us and my clients to once a week.  That one shopping trip is quite monumental.  I also try to at least have a vague idea of what I’m cooking for me and hubby so that I know what to get and avoid the last minute race to the store for one or two ingredients.

This week while planning out a rough outline of our meals, I new one thing was a definite. Spam Fried Rice.  Yeah, I know…. “Ew! Canned meat”.  Fine, judge me if you want but it’s awesome when prepared properly and I, for one, am not above canned meat.  I had planned to use up any leftover bits of veggies that collected during the week for said fried rice, but wanted to make sure it had broccoli in it.  So, broccoli was the only item I had to purchase for this dinner. Yes, I actually had the Spam in my pantry — that stuff keeps for years!

After the massive shopping trip and putting everything away after sanitizing, I sat down and checked my email.  In my inbox is my daily Epicurious recipe and what is it for? Broccoli and Spam Stir-Fry!!  I kid you not!!  It was meant to be!! The cooking gods were telling me that, while I was on the right track with my Spam fried rice…. perhaps I could up my game!  I had to try it.  I may never make plain, old Spam fried rice again!  The only change I made to the dish was the addition of those super-sweet baby peppers because I had planned to use them and didn’t want them to go to waste.

So, haters are gonna hate, but if you’re not a food snob and want a tasty, (dare I say somewhat exotic) bowl of comfort, then be brave and give this dish a whirl!

Broccoli and Spam Stir-Fry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the vinaigrette:

1 garlic clove, finely grated

3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

3 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar

1 Tbsp finely chopped mint

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the stir-fry:

1 large or 2 small heads of broccoli (about 1 lb), 1/2″ trimmed from stem

1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1 Tbsp finely grated ginger

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp peanut oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise, rings separated

Kosher salt

1 (12-oz) can Spam classic, sliced into 1/4″-thick planks, planks halved lengthwise

1-1/2 cups cooked farro or brown rice (I opted for brown rice)

Preparation:

  • For the vinaigrette: whisk garlic, oil, vinegar, and mint in a small bowl to combine; season with salt and pepper.  Set aside
  • Hold broccoli so crown is resting against the cutting board and stem is pointing up and slice through stem all the way down through the crown to create 1/4″-thick planks. Working one at a time, lay planks flat against the board and slice lengthwise through stems to create 1/4″-thick strips with florets attached on top.
  • Mix tamari, ginger, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 2 Tbsp water in a bowl to combine. Set aside
  • Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain and immediately season with salt.
  • Set skillet with oi back over medium-high and cook Spam in a single layer, turning halfway through, until golden brown and crisp, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • Cook broccoli in same skillet, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Mix in rice or farro and reserved tamari sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Mix in Spam and transfer to a platter or bowls.  Drizzle reserved vinaigrette over and top with crispy shallots.

 

Finally, a “Proper” Dinner!

red thai curry peanut chickenI automatically started to type “Weekly Winner” here for this post when I realized it’s been over a month since I posted!  So much for that thought.  So here’s the thing:  at the beginning of this whole “stay at home order” “self-quarantine” or whatever you want to call it, I had grand visions.  I would bake bread.  I would create lavish meals.  I would deep clean my entire house.  I would double my exercise time and lose weight.  Yeah, yeah, yeah…. Not. So. Much.

Brownies and cookies replaced artisan bread. Leftovers and comfort food eaten on the couch replaced lavish meals. I am managing to keep the house relatively clean but no serious deep-cleaning has happened.  As for the rest of that, well…. we won’t discuss exercise and weight.

Finally, last night I craved a “proper dinner”.  Protein, vegetable and side. Nothing leftover from clients’ dinners, but something that sounded good to ME.  But I didn’t want to go crazy either – days have been busy cooking for others so I didn’t want to get involved with a complicated meal.  What I put on the table was Chicken Breasts with Red Thai Curry Peanut Sauce which I paired with simple coconut rice and roasted asparagus.  It was awesome, and was just what the doctor ordered to restore some semblance of order and civility to my life.

The recipe comes from Fine Cooking and was a breeze to put together.  No special ingredients – everything was either sitting in my fridge or my pantry ready to go.  It was quick and most importantly, delicious.

Chicken Breasts with Red Thai Curry Peanut Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger

1 Tbs chopped garlic

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp mirin or granulated sugar

1 Tbsp red Thai curry paste

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp vegetable oil; more as needed

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Preparation:

  1. In a food processor, combine the ginger, garlic, peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin (or sugar), curry paste, and 3 Tbsp water.  Process until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  2. If the chicken breasts come with tenders, remove them and reserve them for another use.  Between two sheets of plastic wrap, lightly pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Set a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil.  When the oil is hot, add two of the chicken breasts and cook until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes.  Flip the chicken and continue to cook until its cooked through, another 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a platter.  Repeat with the remaining chicken, adding 1 to 2 Tbsp more oil if the pan is dry.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of the peanut sauce to the skillet. (Save the remaining sauce for another use). Stir to combine and heat through, about 2 minutes.  Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Weekly Winner: Big Comforting Bowl of Beige

pasta chickpea stewDesperate times call for … beige food??  Perhaps.  Even though I’m a firm believe that we “eat with our eyes first”, every so often the need for tasty, nourishing, comfort food overtakes the desire for pretty food.  I find that to be incredibly true now.

Pasta and Chickpea Stew with Rosemary-Chile Oil is definitely not a “looker”.  However what it lacks in color and visual interest it makes up for in taste and soul-satisfying comfort.

The recipe comes from Fine Cooking magazine and is an easy weeknight meal.  One note, the longer you keep this dish, the less liquid is in it and the fatter the pasta gets.  The taste is still fabulous but it does suffer from refrigerator bloat.

Pasta and Chickpea Stew with Rosemary-Chile Oil

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 15-1/2 oz cans chickpeas, undrained

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

2 ribs celery, finely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish

1-1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth

1 small hunk Parmigiano-Reg3/4giano, preferably with rind, rind removed and reserved

Kosher salt

8 oz small pasta, such as tubettini

1 medium clove garlic, smashed and peeled

1/2 tsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes; more for serving (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:

  • Drain 1 can of chickpea liquid into a blender. Add about 3/4 cup of the chickpeas.  Puree until smooth. Drain and rinse the remaining chickpeas; set aside.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the broth, chickpeas, chickpea puree, the Parmigiano rind, if using, and 1/4 tsp salt.  Raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a simmer, skimming any foam.
  • Stir in the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente, simming any foam.
  • Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 cup oil, garlic, rosemary, pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan.  Cook over low heat until small bubbles form and the mixture is fragrant , about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Strain and set aside.
  • Remove and discard the rind from the stew. Season to taste with salt. Divide among four serving bowls. Top with the celery leaves, black pepper, shaved Parmigiano, a drizzle of rosemary-chile oil, and extra pepper flakes, if you like. Serve immediately.

Weekly Winner: Simple, Stay-at-home, Salmon… with substitutions

curried couscous salmonI have no excuse for the delay in posting here … it’s not like I’ve been traveling!  Like everyone else I’ve been stuck at home and cooking like a fiend!  Truth is, my regular schedule is whacked so here I type,  trying to make amends.  My first entry during this bizarre time is a comforting, healthy, salmon dish.  I finally got to the point where I was craving something healthy – because really, I can only lay on the couch and eat pizza and mac-n-cheese (sometime in the same day) for so long.

Pan-Seared Salmon with Curried Couscous is a great “pantry” meal.  Except for the salmon (which I generally have in the freezer) its easy to pull this dish together with whatever you happen to have on hand.  I did not have spinach, but I did “panic buy” some kale (yeah, I know… I’m weird like that), so I simply swapped the kale for the spinach but frozen spinach would have worked well too.  Don’t have couscous?  You could use rice, orzo, or cauliflower rice.  No chickpeas? Try cannellini beans.  Times like these it’s all about being flexible.  But whatever you swap, do try this dish.  It’s the nice, healthy, ray of sunshine we can all use right about now.

Pan-Seared Salmon with Curried Couscous

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups chicken broth

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 tsp salt, divided

1 cup couscous

1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed

1 cup baby spinach, chopped coarse

4 (6-to 8-oz) salmon fillets

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 oz feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)

Procedure:

  1. Bring broth, oil, curry powder, and 1/2 tsp salt to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in couscous, cover, and let sit off heat for 5 minutes. Stir chickpeas and spinach into couscous.  Cover and set aside.
  2. Sprinkle salmon flesh with cayenne and remaining 1/2 tsp salt.  Arrange salmon skinned side down in 12-inch nonstick skillet.  Place skillet over medium-high heat and cook, about 7 minutes.
  3. Flip salmon and continue to cook until center is still translucent which checked with tip of pairing knife and registers 125 degrees (for medium rare), about 7 minutes longer.  Stir feta into couscous and serve with salmon

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