Friday, October 5, 2012

Soy Brasied Chicken

One of my ultimate comfort foods is this little dish here. Actually, it's a variation of this dish, which can be done in a few different ways. I mostly make it with ground pork, but the same main ingredients for the braise. When my mom and aunt visited us in August, Ma made this dish, and Auntie suggested the tiniest addition of star anise that adds an extra depth to the flavor. Even Ma was pleasantly surprised. This particular batch had boneless, skinless chicken thighs, skinless chicken legs, braised tofu, shitake mushrooms, and hard boiled eggs.

Okay, let's make this!

Ingredients (sorry, I have no measurements)
-sesame oil
-ginger, peeled and sliced 
-garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
-mirin or some other form of Asian cooking wine
-chicken legs and thighs
-soy sauce
-rice wine vinegar (scant)
-rock sugar
-star anise, about 2 "legs" of one star
-dried shitake mushrooms
-braised tofu

In a pot, heat your sesame oil and add the ginger and garlic. Gently cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cooking wine, reduce liquid to almost dry. Add the chicken, soy sauce and water (about 1:1 soy to water, maybe a little more water, as needed). Add a splash of the vinegar, about an ounce of rock sugar, and the star anise. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer until chicken is cooked and tender. Adjust the flavor with any extra vinegar, water, sugar, etc., to your liking.

In the meantime, soak the dried mushrooms in boiling hot water and cover.

Cook the eggs: Place the whole eggs into a pot large enough to hold however many eggs you wish to use. Cover with enough cold water and bring to a boil. Once the eggs have come to a boil, turn off the burner and cover the pot with a lid, and set a timer for 9 minutes. This should cook your eggs to about medium. After 9 minutes, submerge the eggs into an ice bath and allow them to cool completely. Once cooled, peel the shells off the eggs, rinse off any excess shells, and set aside.

*A note about these flavored eggs. It's easy to let them over cook, as this is a braise. You know your eggs are over if there's a greenish color around the yolk when you cut into the egg. I never thought much about this as a kid, when Ma would make all her eggs like this. Nowadays, I know better. A greenish yolk just isn't tasty. Sorry, Ma! Even my 5 1/2 year old could tell the difference when he had his grandma's eggs last month. He has a more sophisticated palate than I did at his age.

When your mushrooms have softened, add them, along with its water, to the chicken braise. This is also a good time to add the tofu. Your dish is pretty much done at this point, but I like to let it gently simmer for about 1-2 hours (sometimes even longer). The eggs are the very last thing I add, so as not to let them overcook. You can turn the fire off, add the eggs and just let them mellow in the pot until it's time to serve. I had the time, so I put the eggs in a separate bowl, covered with hot braising liquid, set a plate over the bowl, and added the eggs and liquid back into the pot at service.

Eat this over some rice with a side of veggies!! Yum and comfort.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mango Sticky Rice

Recently, we ordered mango sticky rice at a nearby Thai restaurant. I apparently only said "sticky rice," and when we got home, that's just what we got. Since then, I've been craving it. I've especially been craving it because I've actually been buying Ataulfo mangos (aka Champagne mangos), from Costco lately. I craved the rice part with the sweetened coconut milk. I found a recipe from She Simmers, and tried it out, with a tiny adjustment. 

Her recipe called for 1/2 cup of rice. I was greedy and wanted to make sure we all get plenty to eat, so I doubled the recipe. But, when it came to adding the sugar, the idea of a whole cup of sugar gave me shivers. So, I opted not to double the sugar, but I seriously think it could have been even less. This was one sweet dish. I can't imagine how it would have been in the original recipe!

Anyway, here it is, in my words...And, a photo!

1 cup Raw Sticky Rice
1 cup Coconut Milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Ataulfo mangos, peeled and sliced thinly
Sesame Seeds, optional, as garnish

Soak the rice for about 10 minutes, then rinse to remove excess starch.

Put the rice in a large, heat-proof bowl, and steam in a rice cooker until done, about 20 minutes.

Heat the coconut milk, sugar and salt together to dissolve the sugar and salt.

Leaving the rice still in the cooker, pour the coconut mixture into the cooked rice and stir. The rice will pretty much be drowning in the coconut milk. With the rice cooker setting on warm, cover with the lid and let it sit for another 30 minutes.

Serve with the mangos, and sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Eat.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Beef Salad, Beets, Polenta Cake

Last night's polenta revisited us tonight. I had put the leftover into a small pan, lined with parchment paper, pressed it down and around to form a nice rectangular shape, and chilled it. For dinner, I cut it into individual servings and reheated the pieces in a pan on the stove with olive oil over medium heat. I was really hoping to get a nice golden crisp to it, but it never really happened. Maybe I needed to cook it hotter. I even tried a knob of butter, but that didn't really help. Oh well, it was certainly still tasty.

The beef is grilled flat iron. I'm looking at this picture now, and seeing how I didn't quite slice the steak against the grain. For shame. I'll blame it on the way the meat was cut in the first place. Yeah, that's it. The steak was seasoned with a fancy French herb salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

The salad was baby greens with cranberries, roasted pecans, and blue cheese, with extra-virgin olive oil and an aged balsamic vinegar. I also tossed in the anchovy bread crumbs  from last night. David thought it was a nice touch, but I didn't care for it. There are also shallots and chives in there, of course. The beets were tossed separately with shallots and chives, salt, pepper, lemon vinaigrette, and just a touch of orange oil. I opted to tuck my beets into my salad.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Polenta, Pan-roasted Asparagus with Anchovy Breadcrumbs, Fried Eggs, and Fennel Carrot Slaw

Tonight's dinner was comes from Melissa Clark's, In The Kitchen with a Good Appetite. I've only just recently heard of her. I guess she writes a column for the New York Times called, "A Good Appetite," or something like that. 

Anyway, I picked up her cookbook at the library last week, and have been deciding on what I want to make out of it. I have a tendency to browse through many cookbooks, love many of the recipes, but don't end up making them. Mostly because of how rich so many of the recipes I like seem to be. And, I have to be sure that my kiddos will eat it, too. They pretty much will try most of what I make, but it doesn't mean they'll like it, or get in a decent meal that evening. So, I'm picky.

Tonight's meal was a home run hit! I had originally typed, "grand slam," but had to change it. I would have been a grand slam, but we did have to make Vincent finish his asparagus. He had only eaten half of it, and we insisted he could fit the rest. Seriously, it's so healthy, and it was only 3 half stalks (the bottoms, of course). He did finish his entire plate in record time, which is rare. This was Vincent's plate:
I cooked the kids' eggs fully and gave them raw carrot sticks instead of the slaw. Their asparagus also didn't have the anchovy breadcrumbs, but they both asked to try it and liked it! Here's what the asparagus plate looked like:
So, I took two recipes from Clark's book, and made one meal. The first was "Buttery Polenta with Parmesan and Olive Oil-fried Eggs and Swiss Chard." The second, "Pan-roasted Asparagus with Fried Eggs and Anchovy Bread Crumbs." And, I had previously sliced fennel bulb and julienned carrots hanging around, so I made the slaw. Oh, man! I forgot to stir  the butter into my polenta! Oh well, here are the recipes:

Buttery Polenta with Parmesan & Olive Oil-fried Eggs (inspired by Melissa Clark)

4 1/2 cups water 
1 1/2 cups polenta (not quick cooking), coarse cornmeal, or corn grits
3/4 t salt
2-4 T unsalted butter
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper, plus additional
1-oz chunk Parmesan cheese (or 1/4 cup grated)
Eggs (however many you desire)

1. In a large pot, bring water and salt to a simmer. Sprinkle in the polenta while stirring. Lower the heat and simmer the polenta, stirring every few minutes or so. Cook until thickened, and not too gritty, approximately 10-20 minutes. Stir in the butter and pepper and cover the pot to keep warm.

2. Using a vegetable peeler, slice the cheese into slivers, or grate the cheese. 

3. Fry your eggs! I like using a bit of canola oil with olive oil to raise the smoke point. I should also mention that you want your eggs runny still, unlike my kid's in the above photo. 

Pan-roasted Asparagus with Fried Eggs and Anchovy Bread Crumbs (Melissa Clark, again, as you already know)

2T extra-virgin olive oil
3T unseasoned bread crumbs
1 anchovy fillet, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt to taste
1/2 t freshly grated lemon zest
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat 1T of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and anchovy and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread crumbs are browned and toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and a large pinch of salt and saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes longer. Add the lemon zest, then transfer to a small bowl.

2. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and return it to the heat. Add another tablespoon of the oil and then add the asparagus and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring and shaking the pan occasionally, until the asparagus is tender, 5-6 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a serving plate and sprinkle with the bread crumbs mixture.

Melissa's recipe actually has a 3rd tablespoon for olive oil to fry 2 eggs in, using the same pan. She serves the eggs on top of the asparagus. I also want to add that the amount of bread crumbs in this recipe is actually quite a bit. I sprinkled what I thought was sufficient, and put the bowl out on the table to add as desired. There was still another tablespoon or more leftover, so I saved it, to toss it into a salad or something in the next day or so. Oh, and I added chopped parsley to my crumbs.

As for the fennel carrot slaw, only made about 1.5 cups worth. Probably 1/2 cup of thinly sliced fennel bulb, 1/2 cup of julienned carrots, and 1/2 cup of thinly sliced sweet onions. I mixed with a lemon vinaigrette and a little champagne vinegar, salt and pepper. Oh, and chives! I heart chives.

So, put it all together! Polenta sprinkled with Parmesan, asparagus, fried egg, and a side of slaw. Yes, please!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Chicken Pho

I made a quick version of chicken pho for dinner tonight. I thought it turned out pretty well. I used 2 boxes of organic chicken stock, 5 chicken legs, one packet the above pho spice, a few slivers of fresh ginger, garlic, and fish sauce. I scrounged up whatever vegetables I had on hand to garnish.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chili Night

Mild chili with garbanzo beans over roasted Yukon gold potatoes, sautéed zucchini, and baby greens with Mt. Townsend Creamery's truffled formage blanc and lime vinaigrette.

The main thing you should take away from this recipe is the roasted potatoes. See what a lovely golden crisp I have around my potato's edge? My oven has a convection feature that I never use. I turned that on today. Perfection. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. While the oven preheats, put a sheet try large enough for all your potatoes in to heat up. Cut the potatoes into uniform-sized pieces. Toss in a bowl with oil, salt, and pepper. Carefully pour your potatoes on to the hot sheet pan, spreading them out so they are in a single layer. Pop those babies into the hot oven, and roast for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pull the pan out and flip the potatoes a bit with a spatula, and return to the oven for another 3-5 minutes. 

Voila! Delicious. This works really well with fingerling potatoes, sliced lengthwise, and also sweet potatoes.