February 8, 2014
As a Good Southern Boy, for pretty much every New Years I’ve had black-eyed peas and greens in some form or another for good luck and prosperity in the coming year… I departed a bit from that format this year (and you’ll see one of the New Years Day dishes in an upcoming post), so when Chinese New Year rolled around I figured it sure couldn’t hurt to try some of the traditional Good Luck foodstuffs associated with that holiday…
Over at steamy kitchen the Culinary Goddess Jaden Hair put up a fun post titled “Chinese New Year 2014: What to eat if you want a raise!” enumerating many of the foods eaten during the new year celebration and what type of good fortune they symbolize. Since currently getting a raise is off the table for yours truly, I thought I’d make an old favorite recipe containing long strands of noodles which represent longevity, and that recipe is (as you probably have figured out already) Drunken Noodles.
Despite the name, Drunken Noodles doesn’t contain a drop of booze (unless you happen to be drinking while you’re cooking and spill some in the wok), but the name reputedly comes from how much you have to drink to tame the heat in this pepper-filled dish!
I’ll buy that story, but I could also see it as coming from this being a great “Drunk Food” to be eaten after a long night out on the town – I’m visualizing a Chinese version of Waffle House at 3 AM on a weekend filled with those that may have over-indulged that night trying to soak up the extra alcohol with copious amounts of Asian pasta. I could also believe that this would be a good “Morning After” food with the heat and noodles soothing the pounding head of someone regretting the delayed effects of too much alcohol… whatever the real origin of this dishes’ moniker, it’s one of my favorite spicy recipes!
So now, as always, let’s get into the kitchen and Let’s Cook!
Okay, before we actually get into the kitchen you may need to make a trip to the Asian market (or your favorite virtual equivalent thereof) as a couple of the ingredients below you probably won’t find in your local market, but nothing is too expensive, and I think worth the trip just for this dish alone.
1 14 oz Package 1/4″ Wide Flat Rice Noodles (from the Asian Market, you can use most any other noodle/pasta you have on hand if you really must)
1/4 cup Canola or Peanut Oil
6 – 8 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
2 Tbl (or more if you dare) Chopped Fresh Thai Chilies (about 8-10 Chilies)
3/4 Lb Ground Chicken (or Turkey)
3 Tbl Fish Sauce (from the Asian market, or at most big supermarkets)
3 Tbl Black Soy Sauce (a thick, sweetened soy, yeah, from the Asian Market too…)
3 Tbl Golden Mountain Sauce (a seasoned soy sauce, you probably know by now where to find this…)
2 Tsp Sugar
3 Plum Tomatoes, each cut into 6 or 8 wedges
1/2 – 3/4 Lb Anaheim Chilies, cut into strips (or use any other fairly mild fresh peppers – this time I used a combo of Cubanelle and Hungarian Wax – you can also use bell peppers, but as these are added just at the end of cooking, I prefer as thin-walled pepper as you can find)
1/3 – 1/2 Cup Fresh Thai Basil Leaves (or regular Basil, torn or chopped into pieces if the leaves are large)
Be sure you have all your veg chopped and ready to go. Then stir the fish, black soy and Golden Mountain sauces together in a bowl and add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.
Next prepare your noodles – put the rice noodles into a big bowl and cover with boiling water.
You’ll want them just barely tender but firm when bitten as they will cook a bit more when added to the sauce – stir around a couple of times while soaking and start checking them after 7-8 minutes, they may take 10 or more. Drain them when done. If using any other type of pasta, prep appropriately until fairly firm (or whatever the Chinese equivalent of al dente is…).
While the noodles are soaking, heat the oil in a wok or other large pot over med-high.
Add the garlic and Thai chilies and stir-fry about 30 seconds, be careful to keep them moving and don’t burn the garlic.
Add the ground meat and stir around a bit until the meat is broken up into pieces and starting to cook, maybe another minute or so.
Add the sauce ingredients and continue to stir and cook until the meat is done, another 2 or 3 minutes should do.
Add the drained noodles, tomatoes and peppers and mix well.
The noodles will absorb much of the sauce and the peppers will lightly cook as you mix everything together. Transfer to a large serving platter or bowl and sprinkle all over with the basil (if you’re cutting/tearing the basil into smaller pieces, wait until the last second to do this or they can look bruised and turn brown in places, like some in the picture… consider this a lesson to you…).
There are plenty of variations of this dish you can find on the Interwebs, but honestly I like this so much I’ve never tried any others! This is based on a recipe that originally was published in the September 2005 edition of Bon Appetit magazine.
You can certainly play with this as you like: more or less hot fresh chile, add something like Sriracha on individual servings for extra heat, add extra veggies if you like (thin sliced broccoli, bok choy, snow peas, etc.), and yes you can make this a veggie-only dish if you’d like… you can coarsely chop up some mushrooms and cook those in place of the ground meat for a “meaty” texture to the dish…
I really love this recipe – I have to be careful not to stuff myself and make myself sick from eating so much! I hope you give it a try and let everyone know what you think!
Now that I’ve got the long life taken care of with this dish, I guess I better cook up something for some prosperity to get me thru those many upcoming years, so it’s back to the kitchen!
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
January 2, 2014
One of the popular new dishes served at the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival was at the South Korea booth – the Kimchi Dog – a hotdog topped with spicy, crunchy, pickled cabbage turned out to be a hit, and when you think about it this combo is a delish no-brainer (think sauerkraut with a kick)!
We first encountered this at the Food & Wine Festival Preview Dinner back in the summer, and Bonnie and I scarfed so many down that we could hardly eat all the rest of the goodies offered that evening!
Afterwards I recalled that I had seen a recipe by big-time chef Jean-George Vongerichten for a kimchi-topped wiener in the Kimchi Chronicles book, so I pulled that tome off the shelf and headed to the kitchen (for more on the Kimchi Chronicles, check out the post “Let’s Cook! Korean Seafood and Scallion Pancakes”).
So once again let’s not tarry – let’s cook!
1/2 cup thinly sliced Kimchi (you can find kimchi in the produce section of many groceries, but if you have an Asian market handy, head there for sure and get the traditional Napa cabbage kimchi)
2 tsp Honey
2 tsp Rice Vinegar
4 Hot Dogs (your favorite type/brand – I usually go for a good Kosher-type, but I think this would work with a weenie-sized sausage or even, gasp, a veggie-dog if you must)
4 Hot Dog Buns (again, your favorite – I’m partial to Martin’s Potato buns)
4 Tbl Mustard (your choice or a combo: a hot Chinese-style mustard is good, or brown deli-style is good too, even Dijon… maybe try a bit of hot on one side of the bun and another type on the other…)
Slice the kimchi (you may want to wear gloves, if not be sure to wash your hands well afterwards if you handle the spicy goodness).
Mix in the honey and vinegar.
Cook your dogs with your preferred method… of course grilling is good…
Toast/grill your buns… the hot dog buns that is…
Spread the grilled buns with about a tablespoon of your choice of mustard(s), lay in a weenie and top each with one-quarter of the kimchi mixture… then eat up!
Now this isn’t the same recipe as served at Food & Wine, but was met with unanimous raves by my test subjects… and yeah, Jean-Georges does kinda know his stuff…
If you’ve never tried kimchi, don’t be afraid – this is a good “gateway” recipe to try it out, and you just might get hooked!
The kimchi mixture is dead simple to make, and should keep well, so go ahead and make a bigger batch! It’s good on more that just hot dogs.
Hope you try this one, and as always, please leave your comments if you do!
Back to the kitchen – see you soon!
November 23, 2013
Dedicated Readers will know that I’m not one to eschew a nice, juicy Rib-Eye or turn my nose up at some lovely pork belly, but yes, I will occasionally dip my toe in the vegetarian (and even sometimes vegan) pool to test the waters…
All kidding aside, I know that cutting back even a bit on my meat consumption is good for me, and the planet as well…
So here’s a vegetarian recipe I’ve made more than once (so yes, it’s a good one), and it’s one of those that’s easy enough for a weeknight (like Meatless Monday), and versatile… you can add extra veggies to it, adjust the quantities a bit depending on what you have on hand and it will still turn out well!
I first came across this recipe on the Adored Home blog as one of her Meatless Monday recipes, and the original recipe comes from the Yummy Morsel blog (ain’t the interconnection of the interwebs great?). I was also inspired to write this one up for you after I was given several samples of vegan “cheese alternative” products called Vegan Gourmet Shreds from Follow Your Heart (the Vegenaise® people…). You can certainly use “real” cheese, but this casserole is an application where “not-real” cheese actually works pretty well.
Okay, let’s get on with it – Let’s Cook!
6 Small Corn Tortillas (of course you can use flour if you want, and cut/tear larger size tortillas to fit if that’s what you have)
1 Onion, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 or 2 Jalapenos, chopped (you can use Serranos or other pepper of choice if you like, quantity depends on your heat preference)
1 Can (about 15 oz) Black Beans, drained and rinsed (or Black Soy Beans if you have/prefer)
1 Can (11 oz) Corn Kernels
1 Cup Picante or Taco Sauce (mild, medium or hot as you prefer)
1 Cup Salsa (ditto)
1 Tsp Cumin
2 Cups (or more if you prefer… and you might) Mexican Style Cheese, shredded (in this case I used the Vegan Gourmet Fiesta for this inside and topped with their Cheddar – you can use any real or vegan cheese of your choice: Mexican blend, cheddar, jack, etc)
1 Tbl Oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium to medium high heat and saute the onions and bell pepper until getting soft.
Add the cumin and jalapenos and stir for a few seconds then add the salsa and picante sauce and stir. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the beans and corn and stir well to combine. Remove from the heat.
Spray a baking dish (I used an 8″ x 8″, 2 quart Pyrex dish) with some cooking spray and spread a third of the mixture from the skillet on the bottom of the dish.
Next top that with a layer of the tortillas – I overlapped two from side-to-side as shown above then tore a third in half to cover the rest of the mixture.
Top the tortillas with about a third of the cheese (or as as much as is needed for a nice even layer).
Add another third of the skillet mixture and spread it out. Top this with another layer of tortillas and another third of the cheese.
Spread the remaining mixture on top and cover the dish with foil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Take out of the oven and remove the foil. Top with the remaining cheese and put back in the oven until the cheese is melted, maybe 5 minutes or so…
Remove from the oven and let stand 5 or 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with a side of salsa and a dollop of sour cream (or plain yoghurt or some vegan-sour-cream-like-alternative, of which I have no idea what that would be…). A nice green salad alongside wouldn’t hurt…
Like I said above, you can adjust this recipe as you like: add more/use other veggies (chopped sauteed mushrooms would add “meatiness”), add something like Boca crumbles or Gardein beef-alternatives, etc if desired, or whatever you think might be good…
Easy, pretty quick and fairly inexpensive… and it tastes good too! I’ve even frozen this with good results. So give this one a try and let everyone know what you think in the comments section!
Thanks to the good folks at Follow Your Heart for the samples of their Vegan Gourmet Shreds (and in effort of Full Disclosure, I was given the samples free of charge). They worked well in this recipe (as well as on a flatbread I tried them on), and no it’s not the same as a dairy cheese, but if you’re vegan, have a problem with lactose, or just looking to reduce your intake of dairy/animal products these products are worth giving a try. There are (at the time of this writing at least) discount coupons available on their website.
Okay, that’s this edition of Let’s Cook… so now it’s, as always, back to the kitchen! See you again soon!
September 1, 2013
Need a last-minute Labor Day side dish? Or just an easy and great side for any time of the year?
Considering yesterday was National Bacon Day (okay, so I’m a bit late, but like National Tequila Day and National Margarita Day, pretty much every day is National Bacon Day around here!), I thought it was time to finally share Miss Bonnie’s super slaw recipe.
This is another of those great dishes that’s incredibly easy, but is totally delicious and always elicits requests for the recipe – take this along to your next cookout and see!
So now, Let’s Cook!
Miss Bonnie’s Cole Slaw
2 Bags Packaged Slaw Mix (you can use the regular type or the Angel Hair, I’m partial to the latter myself)
1 Bottle (about 12 ounces) Coleslaw Dressing (Bonnie likes Marie’s brand, usually found refrigerated in the produce section)
4 oz Crumbled Blue Cheese
12 slices Bacon (your favorite type)
Start by cooking your bacon until crispy…
Miss Bonnie likes to use the microwave, but cook however you like. Drain on paper towels if needed.
Put the slaw mix into a roomy bowl…
and pour in the dressing. Mix well.
Add the blue cheese and stir again.
Crumble in the bacon…
and give it one final stir.
Take a big bite… then smile… then thank Miss Bonnie!
The full recipe easily serves 8 – 10 people. Simply use one bag of the slaw mix and halve the other ingredients for a smaller gathering – you can pretty much just eyeball it.
The bacon quantity usually winds up being a bit less than specified – at least a slice or three winds up getting sampled for “quality control”… Bonnie likes to add the crumbled crispy pig just before serving, so if you’re taking this on the road or making ahead, you can mix everything up except the bacon (which you can pre-crumble and stick in a baggie) and then stir in the bacon right before serving… but trust me, it’s still great the next day… of course you could always add more freshly crumbled bacon to a leftover batch if you desire (and why wouldn’t you?)… but there may not even be leftovers, so that may be a moot point…
Seriously, this stuff is great, and couldn’t be easier… give it a try!
Back to the kitchen, see you soon!
If you enjoyed this recipe, please be sure to “like” and “share“!
Over the past couple of years I’ve really grown to love Brussels Sprouts, especially when roasted… and since they are uber-healthy little things, it all works out nicely!
Many people claim not to care for them, but I think most have only had them boiled or otherwise cooked to death and with that over-done cabbagey smell that can come out when not prepared properly (and a quick roast is the way to go).
I came across this recipe in The Leafy Greens Cookbook by Kathryn Anible (and in Full Disclosure, I was given a review copy of this book gratis) and it looked to be worth trying, so well, I did… and since the first try, I’ve already made it a couple more times, and as always, I’ve monkeyed around with it a bit, so here’s my version… now Let’s Cook!
Roasted Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan
1 Lb Brussels Sprouts
1/4 Cup, plus 1 Tbl Olive Oil
1 Tsp Dijon Mustard (I used a grainy-type, an extra bit of mustard won’t hurt anything if you like)
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees while you prep the sprouts. Trim the root ends of the Brussels sprouts and peel away the darker outer layers, if you come across any bad parts just trim away.
Cut the sprouts in half and slice very thinly (or use a mandoline if you have and prefer).
Toss the slices with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Take a baking sheet big enough to hold all the sprouts in a thin layer and spread the slices out on the sheet.
Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring half-way through, until tender and beginning to brown around the edges.
While the sprouts roast, mix the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil with the mustard and cheese in a small bowl.
When the sprouts are just about done, remove from the oven and spoon the pieces into a bit of a mound in the middle and pour the Parmesan cheese mixture over and stir in well. Spread back out into an even layer on the baking sheet.
Stick back in the oven for a couple of minutes to heat all through – take out give it a few grinds of black pepper and salt to taste (you may not need much, the parm can be a bit salty to begin with)…
give a big stir and put into a pretty serving bowl.
You could even shave a bit extra Parmesan on top if you really want to pretty it up some more, but I think it looks darn good as it is! Should serve four or more depending on what all else is on the table, and if there is any left over it re-heats in the microwave just fine. This is actually pretty simple to make (especially if you can con someone else to slicing up the sprouts) and takes very little time, so it’s a good recipe even for a weeknight meal.
This makes a great side, heck I think I could just eat this alone and be happy… if you, or someone you love (or even just like a little bit), thinks they don’t like Brussels Sprouts, please give this a try and let everyone know what you think! Get to like them ’cause I’ve got more sprout recipes to share…
Oh, and just to note, the original recipe doesn’t mix the cheese with the sprouts and puts back into the oven as I have, but dollops each serving with the mixture… try it that way too if you like, it’s good either way.
Back to the kitchen – see you soon!
June 28, 2013
Many Thursday nights I attend a party – one with cocktails, drinking games involving accents, special culinary guests and lots of fun food talk… of course I’m referring to the internet get-together known as #KitchenParty. On one show a few weeks ago, Gaby Dalkin of the What’s Gaby Cooking blog was the guest discussing (among other things) her avocado obsession, and her newly released book, Absolutely Avocados.
After watching the show, and perusing her blog and recipes, I decided I just had to have this book in my hands! Not even wanting to wait the few days for Amazon to deliver said tome, the following day I made my way to local retailers to gladly pay full price (and sales tax) for the book. On my second stop at Books-a-Million I found the book (tucked away in the Vegetarian Cooking section, even though it’s not a meatless cookbook…), handed over my semi-hard-earned cash and scurried home to drool over the recipes…
Medium story short, I’ve tried several recipes from Absolutely Avocados, and all have been winners so far, but a real star is the Goat Cheese Guacamole… In the intro to the recipe, Gaby says “…it will probably change your life”… I don’t know if it’s truly life-altering, but it’s a recipe that has certainly and quickly made it’s way into my list of go-to/sure to please dishes!
So dear Dedicated Readers, without further ado, Let’s Cook!
Goat Cheese Guacamole
3 Hass Avacados
1/3 Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Chives
1/4 Cup Chopped Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Oil
1 Tbl Fresh Lemon Juice
Coarse Salt and Fresh-ground Pepper to taste
Chips, etc. for serving
Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pits. Take the flesh from the skin and put into a bowl.
Add the cheese, chives, tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mash with a fork until desired consistency (half smooth/half creamy is what the recipe specifies).
Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Serve up with tortilla chips or your choice of flavor delivery device.
If your chives happen to be blooming (as mine have been recently), tear some apart and sprinkle them atop the guac for a nice garnish (and if you haven’t tasted chive flowers, you don’t know what you’re missing – seriously!).
Miss Bonnie & I recently made it to take to a friends 50th birthday bash, and I was met with rave reviews! Okay, I can’t promise this will actually change your life, but unless you’re totally avocado-averse, you’ll like this one! If you’re looking for something to take along to an up-coming 4th of July party, consider this…
I recommend you check out Gaby’s book – the recipes all look great (okay, I’m still not sure about the Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies…), the photos are gorgeous, and her writing and sense of humor is a bit goofy and totally fun. Click on the link to check out her visit to #KitchenParty.
Back to the kitchen (after a brief visit to the World) – see you soon!
May 28, 2013
Recently some initial details about the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival have been creeping out, and this, of course, has gotten me thinking about the up-coming event (okay, I’m pretty much always thinking about the Food & Wine Festival, this just got me thinking even more about it…).
One of the more interesting booths the past couple of years at the festival has been Singapore – the dishes from Southeast Asia served here are different from anything else being offered elsewhere around the park, and to many guests may serve as the first introduction to some unusual and delicious flavors – lemongrass, garlic, ginger, coconut and warm spices abound…
Beef Rendang, a spicy deeply-flavored stew with coconut milk has been served at the Singapore kiosk and has been popular with some of the more adventurous diners. The recipe for this version has been published in at least one (the 2011 I believe) version of the festival cookbook, but I haven’t been quite convinced to try making this dish myself until I came across a recipe in a recent issue of Saveur magazine.
In the May 2013 issue, Saveur editor-in-chief James Oseland recounts his first visit to Indonesia as a teenager, his exposure to it’s cuisine, and mostly how rendang “rocked his world”. The short piece, entitled “Worth the Wait” is worth the read, and if it doesn’t encourage you to try this recipe, nothing will… well, I can also hope this post might as well…
So, let’s head off to the Asian market and gather some supplies, and then, Let’s Cook!
5 Whole Cloves
1 Whole Nutmeg (crush slightly in a mortar and pestle, or stick in a plastic bag and smash with something hard!)
3-4 Thai Chilies, stemmed and roughly chopped (or even more if you’re like me, or other hot pepper of your choice)
6 small Shallots, peel removed and roughly chopped
5 Candlenuts (or Macadamia Nuts, which you’re more likely to find)
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 2″ long piece of fresh (or frozen) Turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped (I’ve found this at an Indian market), or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Turmeric
1 2″ long piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 2″ long piece of fresh Galangal, peeled and thinly sliced (a root that looks similar to ginger, if you can’t find at the Asian market use more ginger)
2 lbs Boneless Beef Chuck, cut into about 2″ cubes
7 fresh or frozen Kaffir Lime leaves, plus 4 very thinly sliced ones for garnish (you’re probably going to have to find these at the Asian market, if you can’t come across them some thin pieces of lime rind could substitute during the cooking, and grated rind for the garnish)
3 stalk fresh Lemongrass, trimmed and smashed with a mallet (or other heavy implement of destruction to tenderize a bit), then tied into knots (easier said than done…)
2 sticks Cinnamon
2 1/2 cups canned, unsweetened Coconut Milk
Salt to taste
Put the cloves and crushed nutmeg into your food processor and grind to a powder.
Add the chilies, shallots, nuts, garlic, turmeric, ginger and galangal and puree until it’s a paste.
Put the beef pieces into a Dutch oven or deep, heavy skillet.
Add the paste from the processor and mix thoroughly – go ahead, use your hands…
Add the 7 lime leaves, lemongrass, cinnamon sticks, coconut milk and salt (start with a healthy teaspoon or so) and stir to mix with the beef. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil – reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered, stirring frequently.
After an hour or two the sauce will have begun to reduce and color slightly. Adjust heat as needed while cooking so as not to scorch the stew and continue to stir often.
The sauce will continue to reduce…
Keep cooking and stirring until the sauce turns dark and coats the beef. Remove the lemongrass, lime leaves and cinnamon sticks. You can keep this a bit more “stewy” if you like, but this time I cooked it until almost all of the “wet” part of the sauce had evaporated and the remaining goodness clung close to the meat.
Serve with rice, and garnish with the thinly sliced lime leaves. If you want a bit more heat, you can also top with some finely chopped peppers.
Rich, herbal and earthy… this is certainly not a week-night-cook-after-work dish, but it’s worth the time and effort when you have a leisurely afternoon to spend in the kitchen. Like most other stew-type dishes, this does seem to be even better the next day…
If you’d like to check out the original recipe, you can view it here at the Saveur site.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you make this dish!
Now it’s back to thoughts of the Food & Wine Festival, and as always, back to the kitchen! See you soon!