March 4, 2014
With it being slap in the middle of Mardi Gras season (it’s actually Fat Tuesday as I write this), I thought it the proper time to share a Cajun-influenced dish I stirred up a bit ago – chicken pieces cooked in and smothered with a rich sauce filled with the “trinity” of peppers, celery and onions – in other words (and perhaps more familiarly) a chicken étouffée. Since there’s beads to get and Hurricanes to drink, let’s not waste any time – Let’s Cook!
Smothered Chicken Thighs – Louisiana Style (Chicken Etouffée)
4 Chicken Thighs (bone in, skin on – you can remove skin if you must)
Salt & Black Pepper for the chicken
2 Tbl Canola Oil (or other veggie oil)
4 Tbl (1/4 Cup) Butter
2 Tbl Flour (all-purpose, or whole wheat AP, etc.)
1/2 Red Onion, finely chopped
1 large Celery Stalk (or 2 smaller ones), finely chopped
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 large Jalapeno Pepper, (you guessed it) finely chopped (seed if you want for less heat, gloves would be nice for you while chopping this fella…)
1 1/2 – 2 Cups Broth (chicken or vegetable, I’m thinking subbing up to 1/2 cup of dry white wine for part of the broth wouldn’t suck if you want to try)
2 – 3 nice size Plum Tomatoes, diced (seed if you want, I didn’t)
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tsp Dried Thyme (if you happen to have fresh thyme in the house, cut the dried back to 1/2 tsp and throw in a few sprigs of fresh too)
1/4 Tsp (or more if you like) Cayenne Pepper
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
Heat the oil in a dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium to med-high heat. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces on both sides and add to the pot.
Brown the chicken well on both sides, maybe 8 – 10 minutes total. Remove the thighs to a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium – med-low and add the butter. When it melts stir in the flour and mix well.
Stir constantly, adjusting your heat if needed, so the mixture doesn’t scorch. Keep stirring and cooking until it’s a nice medium-brown color – yes kids, we’re making a roux… this should only take a couple of minutes.
Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and jalapeno to the pot. Cook and stir constantly until the veggies begin to soften – two or three minutes or so.
Add about half the broth and stir well all around the bottom to deglaze the browned goodies from the pot.
Add most of the remaining broth (hold back about 1/2 cup in case you want to thin the sauce down a bit later) along with the tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and both peppers. Stir it all up well and bring up to a good simmer.
Add the thighs back into the pot…
and adjust heat as needed to maintain a simmer. Pop on the lid and cook for 45 minutes. Stir every so often and turn the thighs over when you feel like it…
Uncover the pot and continue to cook another 15 minutes or so until thickened to your liking (if too thick, thin with the remaining broth). Check for seasoning and add S & P if needed (if you used any fresh thyme, pluck out the sprigs before serving).
Traditionally you’d serve this with a big pile of rice, but it would be killer with mashed spuds too!
Serve with a simple veggie (like the roasted Brussels sprouts shown here) and if you want more heat, some hot sauce or fresh hot pepper as well (yes, that’s a habanero on my plate…).
This is so good, if I do say so myself! But I can’t really take a lot of credit for it, as I based the recipe on one from the good Dr. BBQ, aka Ray Lampe. Ray’s new “Pork Chop” cookbook has a recipe for Pork Chop Etouffée (which is killer in it’s own right), so I subbed in the thighs for the pork, and made a few other minor adjustments for my tastes, and I think it turned out really well. While on the subject, I’ve made four or five recipes from the “Pork Chop” book (one of which I plan to share with you soon), and all have been right on the money! It’s a book worth picking up for any porcine fan.
Trust me, dear Dedicated Readers, this is damn good! Make it… now! Post your results in the comments! Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Back to the kitchen! See you soon!
February 18, 2014
When I get a new cookbook I tend to read my way through it and use little sticky-notes to mark the recipes that look most interesting and ones that I want to come back to…
About a year ago I got a copy of “Vietnamese Home Cooking” by Charles Phan of San Francisco’s Slanted Door restaurant and it turned out to be one of those cookbooks that in addition to having great-sounding recipes, it also is a “good-reading” cookbook with lots of stories and information. And yes, there were a lot of sticky-notes stuck in this book…
As it turned out, one of the simplest recipes from this book has inspired my version you’ll see here, and it’s a recipe both Bonnie and I come back to over and over, and when you try it I think you may do the same!
So dear Dedicated Readers, let’s head into the kitchen and Let’s Cook!
Bok Choy and Mushrooms
3 Tbl Canola Oil
2 Tsp Minced Garlic
1/2-3/4 Lb Fresh Mushrooms of your choice (I usually use Oyster Mushrooms when I can, and the original recipe calls for baby Shiitake, but I’ve made with Cremeni/Bella with good results as well, so most any type, or a mix, will work)
3/4-1 Lb Baby Bok Choy (or regular size if that’s what you can get your hands on)
2 Tbl Rice Wine (from the Asian market, or Dry Sherry from the grocery/liqueur store works really well too)
2 Tbl Fish Sauce (from the Asian market, or you can find now at many bigger groceries)
1 Tbl Chicken Broth (or veggie broth or water)
First prep your veggies: slice the mushroom caps into two or three pieces depending on the size of the cap – you want nice bite-size pieces. If using a button-type ‘shroom, slice into 1/4″ or so thick pieces.
Separate the baby bok choy into leaves (you can leave the smaller core section whole except for trimming the root end as needed). Cut the the larger outer leaves into a couple of pieces or more – again you want a good bite-size piece. If using regular bok choy cut into pieces one to two inches in length.
Wash the bok choy well to get rid of any dirt/grit, especially at the root end. The pieces don’t have to be perfectly dry as a little bit of water on them will help them to steam when cooking.
Heat your wok over med-high to high heat and add the oil. When its shimmers add the garlic and stir for just a few seconds, then add the mushrooms.
Stir-fry for about a minute until the mushrooms start to get soft.
Add the bok choy and the wine and mix together well.
Add the fish sauce and broth and continue to stir-fry for another couple of minutes until the bok choy is just tender. If not as tender as you’d like, put a lid on the wok and let steam for a bit until done to your liking.
Remover from the heat an put into a serving bowl.
This is perfect with sticky rice to soak up the sauce (I like this a bit “saucy”, and this is a fairly thin sauce, if you want it thicker you can add a bit of cornstarch/water slurry to thicken it up). It makes a really nice side to a simple chicken or fish entree, and I’ve even had it by itself just with rice – all the mushrooms give it a meaty texture (the original recipe calls for a much smaller proportion of mushrooms to bok choy).
Just a few simple ingredients combined in just a few minutes to make a really great dish! I think you’ll like this one!
Back to the kitchen!
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!