Archive for the ‘Asian’ Category

Gingered Collards with Rice Noodles and Vegetables

June 11, 2018

I know what my Southern friends are thinking – Gingered Collards??  I never heard of such a thing!  For, the non-collard eating folks out there, just pretend I said lacinato kale.  It sounds fancier.  But I hope you’re all intrigued enough to read on!

I am frequently on the hunt for something to do with collards (or kale) besides cook them to death with smoked meat.  I do love them that way, but one cannot cook with ham hock alone.  Of course my new chef BFF Vivian Howard worked it out for me.  And then I threw in a bunch of other stuff and made a whole meal out of them.

Let’s start with the collards.  Forget about half of what I’ve told you about chopping collards.  Do remove the stems and stack the leaves on top of each other.  Don’t roll and slice them.  You’re going to cut them into 1-2 inch squares instead.  So we’re already in unfamiliar territory with these greens.  And then you’re going to cook them in oil and butter and ginger until they caramelize.  Now we’re fully in a foreign land.  And it’s a wonderful place!

A few tips before you start.  Mis en place is a good thing.  It’s not huge here since you don’t have to move too fast, but since I was making this up it helped to feel prepared.  So do all your chopping and measuring and putting your noodles in to soak, or your water on to boil, before you start heating any oil or butter.  You’re going to make the collards all the way through and set them aside. That way your large cast iron skillet will be free make the sauce and to do the other vegetables.

Here’s what you need:

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For the collards:

  • 1 t canola oil
  • 2 t butter
  • 1 bunch collards chopped into 1-2 inch squares
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 T brown sugar

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil and butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until the butter foams
  • Add the ginger
  • Add the collards, spread them into an even layer
  • Add the garlic and red pepper
  • Leave them be for 3 minutes (Seriously, no stirring or shaking the pan)
    • This is a LOT harder than you think.  I had to set the kitchen timer and walk away from the stove to resist the urge to stir!
  • Now you can stir!
  • Spread the collards back into an even layer and them sit another 3 minutes
  • They’ll start to brown and carmelize
  • Add the water, juice and sugar
  • Cook until the liquid cooks away
  • Remove the collards from the pan and set aside

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If the collards get as done as you want them before the liquid cooks away just remove them and leave the liquid in the pan.  It will help with the sauce.

For the noodles:

You’ve got a couple of options.  Either fill a pot with HOT tap water and soak the noodles 25-30 minutes.  Or fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil.  Cook the noodles as you would pasta. Drain, rinse, and return to the pot.  Stir in the collards and a little bit a sesame oil to make sure the noodles stay separated.

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For the sauce:

  • 2 T finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 3 T orange juice
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and then add to the cast iron skillet.  Bring to a boil and stir until it reduced and thickens.  Stay close by.  The sugar will burn if you’re not paying attention!

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Pour the finished sauce into a bowl and set aside.

For the vegetables:

  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 C matchstick carrots
  • 1-2 spring onions, sliced, whites and greens divided
  • 8 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.  Heat the oil until it shimmers.  Add the peppers, carrots and onion whites.  Saute 2-3 minutes.  Add the mushrooms.  Cook down 3-5 minutes.

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You’re almost done!  Add the vegetables to the noodles.  Stir in the sauce.  Top with the onion greens.  Enjoy!

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How’d it turn out?

I had two bowls, so that tells you something.  It’s warm and noodle-y and has a great kick to it.  I’m super pleased to have happened upon these gingered collards.  They’ll be great as a side for a pork roast.  And it’s nice to have a way to serve collards that’s not so winter-y.  This also meets my requirements for flexibility!  You could use this to clean out the vegetable drawer for sure.  Bok choy, cabbage, radishes.  No rice noodles, no problem.  Udon, soba, spaghetti, rice – whatever you want.  Chill everything and serve over lettuce and cucumbers.  Vegetarian not your thing or need some extra protein?  Double the sauce and use it to marinate a flank steak.  Serve thinly sliced beef on top of your vegetables.  Not into spicy?  You can leave out the red pepper.  The fresh ginger will give you a gentler kick in the pants.

I’ve marked this as intermediate only because it’s a fair number of components in a specific order.  Don’t let that scare you!  It’s just noodles and veggies with a yummy sauce!

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Umamen! Ramen Take 2

April 29, 2018

I spent my morning standing out in the cold and wind waiting to start an 8K.  Just one part of a very busy weekend.  Comfort food needed.  If possible, comfort food not full of fat.  I know, you’re thinking, um, ramen?  Ramen noodles have plenty of fat.  Thus, the Umamen.  These are udon noodles!  And rich miso and mushroom broth.  And lots of vegetables.  Comfort food.

This is kind of a combination of two recipes, with my own twists thrown in.  Check out the originals here and here.  The first is a vegetarian ramen recipe from umamigirl.com and the second is a buckwheat bowl from Cooking Light.  My version is partly “what I had left in the vegetable drawer” and partly “what looked good at the grocery store.”  I wanted to use bok choy, but it looked awful.  This may be the first ramen with swiss chard in it.  No idea why I picked up the leeks, but here they are.  I had a box of shiitake mushrooms and some carrots left from last week.  I had some udon noodles left from God knows when.  Throw in some green onions and soft boiled eggs and there you have it.  Vegetarian comfort food.  (A little Hardywood Gingerbread Stout added some comfort too).

Honestly, this isn’t easy.  It has a lot of parts and needs a fair amount of tending.  There’s a lot of “bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.”  The eggs are a little fragile so peeling them takes some care.  You have to pay pretty careful attention to the order in which you add things or you’ll have mushy things or under-cooked things.  Not something to make while you’re doing laundry or packing lunches or talking on the phone.  So, pour yourself a beverage and settle in when you start this.  Of course you can do your chopping ahead of time.

Here’s what you need for the broth: 

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  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 T red miso paste
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 C vegetable stock (stock, not broth – if you use broth use 8 C broth and no water)
  • 4 C water
  • 1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 2-4 eggs

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the sesame oil in a soup pot
  • Saute the onions, ginger and miso until the onions are soft
  • Add the ginger.  Saute 1-2 minutes,
  • Add stock, water dried mushrooms and soy sauce to taste
  • Bring to a boil
  • Add eggs in shell
  • Reduce broth to a simmer.  Cook 7 minutes.

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  • Remove eggs to an ice water bath.
  • Peel eggs and set aside.

Here’s what you need for the umamen: (use whatever you have or like)

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TIP:  Add vegetables in decreasing order of cooking time.  Hardest vegetables first and soft ones at the end.

  • 1 C sliced carrots
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 cups chopped swiss chard
  • 8 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 C sliced green onions
  • 2 bundles udon noodles

Here’s what you do next:

  • Bring the broth to a boil.  Add leeks and carrots.

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  • Reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer 10-12 minutes.
  • Bring the broth to a boil.  Add chard, mushroom and noodles.

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  • Reduce heat slightly.  Cook until the noodles are done.
  • Serve with a soft boiled egg and top with green onions.  Add more soy sauce to taste.

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Here’s how it turned out:

Rich and comforting.  I honestly wouldn’t have said that a vegetable stock could be this rich and creamy, but it absolutely is. The starch from the udon noodles thickens the broth just enough that this dish feels hearty and a little light all at the same time.  The miso and mushroom broth has lots of depth and complexity.  You could use a variety of vegetables here.  Bok choy or napa cabbage instead of chard.  Red bell pepper instead of, or in addition to, carrots.  Maybe a drizzle of sesame oil on the top.  Definitely more ginger.  Maybe some rice wine vinegar.

Take out the egg to make it vegan.  Add some beef or tofu or edamame to bring up the protein.  The options are endless. Umamen!

Meatless Monday – Coconut Curried Vegetables

April 9, 2018

So, it’s April.  And it’s snowy, rainy, and cold.  Boo!  This Meatless Monday called for something warm and comfort-y.  Curry in just about any variety fits the comfort food bill quite nicely for me these days.  I found this recipe several years ago and have modified it many times. It started as a Crock-Pot recipe from Stephanie O’Dea that includes chicken.  Tonight, it’s a stove top recipe with many roasted vegetables.  It’s good any way you make it.

Credit to Stephanie O’Dea for suggesting a vegetarian that includes chickpeas instead of chicken.  I haven’t been able to find this recipe online so you’ll have to check out the original in her book, 365 Slow Cooker Suppers.  What you see below is tonight’s variation.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 can Lite Coconut Milk
  • 1 1/2 T red curry paste
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 C diced roasted sweet potato
  • 2 C roasted cauliflower
  • 1 C roasted sliced carrots
  • 2 C raw spinach, stemmed

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Here’s what you do:

  • Roast all of your vegetables first until just short of done (You can do this a day or two before)
  • In a large pot combine coconut milk, curry paste, brown sugar, fish sauce, peppers, and garbanzo beans

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  •  Simmer 10 minutes
  • Stir in sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and carrots
  • Cover, simmer 10 minutes
  • Stir in spinach until just wilted
  • Salt to taste

Here’s how it turned out:

What I love about this recipe, other than that it’s yummy and super easy, is its versatility.  Use whatever vegetables you want.  This is a great way to use vegetables that are a little past their prime.  Try adding mushrooms, sugar snaps, green beans, winter squash, sauteed onions.  All good options.  Try topping it with chopped peanuts or stir in a little peanut butter. Ooh, might try that next time.  Serve it over rice if you want to bulk it up a little.  Add some hot peppers to clear those Spring sinuses.  Have fun!

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Thai Chicken Soup

March 12, 2018

We had a snowy afternoon here in Central Virginia.  The sky was dark gray all day and the snow is heavy and wet.  It’s a soup night!  Fortunately, that was already in the meal plan for the week.  This is a modified Cooking Light recipe so it’s good for you too!

This didn’t go exactly as planned.  I followed the recipe for the broth pretty closely and I never tasted it.  Rookie mistake!  I added the chicken, udon noodles,  shiitake mushrooms, green onions and cilantro.  So I was all in except for the sugar snap peas.  And then I tasted it.

FireDang y’all!  I thought my head was going to blow off!

So, that was a little depressing.  So now, instead of enjoying my soup I’m on a rescue mission.  There’s a lot of stuff in here.  And I think if I could taste the flavors behind the heat they might be really good.  I have 2 options that I can think of:  turn the soup into a noodle dish by draining off the flaming broth; or make a lot more broth to dilute what I have.  I was determined to have soup.  More broth it is.

Easy broth.  So, I drained the soup into a large bowl through a colander.  So all the noodles and vegetables are in the colander and the broth of fire is in the bowl.  In the soup pot I combine all the broth left in the carton and another can of lite coconut milk and heat it.  I pour all of the original broth in with this mild version.  Ah, much better.  But now I have twice as much broth as I need.  I knew that was coming which is why I drained it through the colander.  I poured half of the diluted broth into a small pot.  And guess what?  Now I’ve got broth for the next time I make a similar soup!  (Here’s hoping that soup broth with coconut milk in it freezes ok).

Whew.  Dinner saved. Poured the noodles and vegetables back in the broth and I’m good to go.  It’s still hot, but now it’s clear your sinuses hot, not set your hair on fire hot.  I can actually taste the flavors now and they’re darn good!  I had 2 bowls!  Now my nose is runny.

So, I’m going to adjust the recipe below so that you don’t end up with gallons of extra broth and you get the flavor right the first time.

Here’s what you need:

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  • 1 T plain oil (canola, safflower, etc)
  • 2 1 inch pieces of ginger, one minced, one whole peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine
  • 1 T green curry paste
  • 3/4-1 lb of chicken breast, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 C water
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1 package of shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 package of snow peas or sugar snap peas
  • udon noodles, cooked to al dente
  • chopped cilantro
  • salt

Tip  It would be easy to make this a vegetarian soup.  Just leave out the chicken and use vegetable broth.  You might also want to add some more vegetables. Try carrot slices and roasted broccoli.

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot
  • Add the minced ginger, garlic and jalapeno.  Cook 1 minute.
  • Stir in the curry paste

Tip Watch the splatter!  When the curry paste hits the oil it pops like popcorn!

  • Stir in the chicken. Sear on all sides.  Be careful not to cook it too long.  It will finish cooking in the broth.
  • Add the broth, coconut milk, water, lime juice, whole ginger, and some salt.  Bring to a simmer.  Simmer 5-7 minutes
  • Add the mushrooms, sugar snaps, green onions and some cilantro
  • Simmer another 5 minutes.
  • Salt to taste
  • Serve with lime wedges

Tip  If you’re using frozen sugar snaps or snow peas (which is what I did) cook them to crisp tender and add them at the end.

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Here’s how it turned out:

Once I made the corrections described above, it was good.  There are two key elements here:  the peas and the salt.  The soup desperately needs the sweetness of the peas.  It would suffer greatly without them.  And the salt.  There’s no salt in the original recipe.  That’s a huge omission.  The salt really helps bring out the other flavors.  It helps the lime juice taste like lime and not just acid.  It brings out the earthiness in the mushrooms.  Really.  It makes all the difference.

There’s still a lot of heat in this.  There’s heat from the jalapeno; a bite from the ginger; heat from the curry paste.  All different, but definitely there.  Leave out the jalapeno if you like.

This is a wonderful one pot meal for a snowy night.  Warm and spicy and slurpy.  Enjoy!

Ramen for Grownups

January 27, 2018

It’s Noodle Saturday!  Yes, normally this would happen on Friday, but I had a very long week and access to leftover pizza last night, so there you have it.  I’ve mentioned my adoration of Asian noodles.  And if you’re interested, you can read all about the disaster that was my last attempt to make them at home.  Still, I wanted to try again, but something else entirely different.  Ramen!

This is not your college ramen.  Well, it kind of is.  You do get to buy those 20 cent packets of dried noodles.  That’s where the similarity ends.  First, you throw away that salt packet they call seasoning.  And you make a really wonderful broth.  And you add a bunch of vegetables.  And it’s amazing.

So, I took a few shortcuts.  My last experience left me a little wary of buying a bunch of expensive stuff or even going very far out of my way to pick up ingredients I don’t keep in the house.  I used the dried packet of noodles instead of looking for fresh noodles.  I used rice wine vinegar with some sugar instead of going to the asian market for mirin. I skipped the miso paste entirely  And still, so, so good!  Even better it falls in the 30 minute meals category!

Here’s what you need for 2 servings:

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  • 2T sesame oil
  • 1T minced garlic
  • 1T minced ginger
  • 4-5 sliced green onions, green and white parts separated
  • 2T soy sauce
  • 1T rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2t sugar
  • 2C chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 chicken breast, sliced thin
  • matchstick carrots
  • 2C baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1C sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 package dried ramen noodles, season pkg discarded
  • 1 soft boiled egg

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the stock in a small pot, bring to a boil
  • Poach the sliced chicken 3 minutes, remove from the stock
  • Keep stock at a simmer
  • Heat the oil in a medium sized pot
  • Add ginger, garlic, onion whites
  • Simmer until onions are soft
  • Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and 1/4C of stock
  • Stir 2 minutes
  • Add carrots, bok choy, and mushrooms

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  • While the vegetables soften, bring the stock to a boil and add the noodles
  • Cook the noodles until they’re soft

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  • Add the stock and noodles to the vegetables
  • Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the egg
  • Boil 5-6 minutes
  • Place the egg in an ice bath
  • Peel and halve the egg
  • Serve half the noodles, vegetables and broth and half the egg in each of two bowls

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How was it?

So, so good!  I’ve redeemed myself in the asian noodle arena!  Next time I’ll get the special ingredients and search for fresh noodles and maybe add some Chinese pork and broccoli.  The possibilities are endless!

Noodle Friday!

January 12, 2018

8 mile run in the morning means noodles the night before!  I told you last week that you’d see a lot of carb-loading Fridays, but I’m determined that they won’t all have an Italian theme.  Tonight’s noodles are Asian, but by all accounts not from Singapore as the name would suggest.  They’re called Singapore Noodles.

I travel to London for work quite a bit.  There are a couple of Asian chains that we don’t have in my part of the world that have become my comfort spots when I’m too tired or jet lagged to adventure some place new.  It doesn’t hurt that both are within a few blocks of my regular hotel.  I order Singapore Noodles at one of them nearly every trip.  There’s also a place close to my house that has a Curried Chicken and Rice Noodles dish that’s kind of similar and I love it as well. So, I’ve been looking forward to making this dish for a long time.

Here’s the thing.  These suck.  They just don’t taste like anything except curry powder and heat.  I’ll admit that I didn’t use the pork.  Believe me when I tell you that isn’t the problem.  I also didn’t have the shaoxing wine and I didn’t have time to go to an Asian market today, but I looked carefully and used some mirin as a substitute.  Still not the problem unless someone can tell me that shaoxing wine is a flavor bomb.

And they’re a fair amount of work.  There are a lot of ingredients and a lot of chopping here, not to mention peeling and de-veining the shrimp.

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Wok cooking, as this is intended to be, requires very high heat.  I don’t have a wok at the moment so I chose the biggest pan I have.  I needed something with a broad surface area so I could leave the gas up high without having flames on the outside of the pan.  The good thing about working with heat this high is that as long as you keep everything moving you don’t need a lot of oil or liquid.  Good thing.  The splatter at this heat would really hurt.  Because you have to keep everything moving it’s super important to do all your chopping and measuring before you start.

How does it work?

In this recipe you scramble the egg first and remove it from the pan.  Then you wipe out the pan so you don’t end up with burned bits in your food in the end.  Be careful about that too.  I have a new burn mark on my arm because I didn’t pay attention to the edge of the pan.  Have a mentioned that the heat is super high?  Ouch.

Then put in the shrimp.  10 seconds.  Add onions, carrots, peppers.  30 seconds.  Keep everything moving!  Add cabbage, red pepper, curry powder.  Add the mushrooms.

Stir in softened rice noodles.

Add 1 T shaoxing wine, 1/2 T soy sauce, 1/2 T sesame oil.  Add green onions.

I should tell you that never in my life have I met with success soaking rice noodles in cold water.  Maybe I don’t start them soaking early enough, but I do follow the instructions on the package.  It doesn’t matter if it’s flat noodles for pad thai or these vermicelli sticks, I always end up putting them in a pot on the stove and heating the water until the noodles are soft enough.

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SOOOOO disappointed.  They look basically like the picture from the recipe.  I just can’t believe they’re supposed to taste (or not taste) like this.  You’ll note from the photos below that I made a LOT of this stuff.  I tried to doctor up the bowl I ate.  I met with enough success that I managed to avoid throwing them in the trash and ordering a pizza.  I’m not sure I can make it happen for the leftovers.

Here’s the recipe I used in case you want to give it a try.  And if you have success, please let me know!

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Maybe I should have realized that with all these noodles and vegetables and 1 1/2 tablespoons of Madras curry powder, 2 tablespoons total of wine, sesame oil and soy sauce wasn’t going to cut it for flavoring.  I didn’t have much mirin, so in the doctoring process I moved on to dry sherry.  And then to rice wine vinegar.  And more soy sauce.  And then more of everything.  I really tried.

It’s a good lesson.  It doesn’t work every time.  Part of being an adventurous cook is failing.  This was a failure. This may be one of those things that just falls for me on the “Buy” side of the “Make or Buy” consideration.

So, here’s the finished product that I actually ate for dinner.  It looks pretty good, right?  Sigh.

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Catfish Curry

January 2, 2018

Yep, catfish curry, Thai style.  It’s really flipping cold in Virginia this week and I wanted something warm.  I also had a drawer full a vegetables that I bought with a plan I have long since forgotten.  And also some catfish that needed a plan ASAP.  Curries are pretty flexible about what you put in them and I adore anything in coconut broth, so here we are.

You’ll need a few pantry staples if you want to be able to throw a curry together on the fly.  All of this is readily available in the Asian foods section of a standard grocery store.  Curry paste – red, green, yellow, all of the above.  Coconut milk, the canned kind, not the refrigerator kind.  Lite is fine.  I only use regular coconut milk if a recipe specifically says that Lite won’t work.  Fish sauce.  It’ll be in a bottle, not a jar.  And it’s funky, but adds a lot of depth.

Pretty much every fish curry recipe you’ll find calls for “firm, white fish.”  Something like haddock or cod or sea bass.  If you’re worked with catfish you know there’s nothing firm about it.  It dang near falls apart when you cut it in pieces.  Still, it’s what I had and mild enough that I figured it would work.  I actually started with a Chicken and Vegetable Curry recipe from my Cherry Bombe cookbook.  That’s how flexible Thai curries are.  Fish instead of chicken.  Cauliflower instead of bok choi.  No jalapeno.  Add brown sugar.

You really can kind of wing it as long as you pay attention to your substitutions and their cooking time.  It takes fish much less time to cook than chicken and cauliflower much longer than bok choi so I adjusted accordingly.

What do you need?

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2 T oil (canola, safflower, something plain)

1/2 an onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 inch peeled fresh ginger – all chopped fine

2 bell peppers, sliced

2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced or diced

1/2 small head of cauliflower, cut small and pre-roasted

2 T green curry paste

1 can lite coconut milk

1 T fish sauce

2 catfish fillets, cut into 1 inch chunks

1 diced jalapeno (optional, and not included above)

1 pinch brown sugar (optional)

How do you do it?

It looks like kind of a long list of ingredients, but it’s really easy to make.  Do all your chopping ahead of time.  Keep items that go in the pot together, together on the cutting board.  Then you can just scrape them right off the board into the pot.

I recommend dicing your own onion, garlic and ginger.  The flavor is just nicer.  But if you have to choose between ordering a pizza or using frozen diced onions and garlic and ginger from a jar, do what you have to do.  Be aware that there’s water in the pre-chopped things so when they hit that hot oil they splatter!  Be prepared!

Heat the oil in a medium stock pot or large pan.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger.  Saute 3-4 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, peppers, and cauliflower.  Saute 5 more minutes.

Stir in the curry paste.  Cook 2 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and fish sauce.  Bring to a low boil.

Add the catfish.  Make sure it’s covered by the liquid.  Reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 10-15 minutes until the fish is cooked through and the sauce thickens a little.

Stir in a pinch of brown sugar.

Serve as a soup or over rice.

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How did it turn out?

It’s ugly, but it’s good.  Not my favorite curry, but good.  I think it needs another vegetable.  I’ve got some carrots that I can roast tomorrow and add in to the leftovers.  They’ll add some sweetness and some texture.

 

Asian Chicken Noodle Bowl

April 21, 2013

Spring seems to be on hold in Central Virginia, in the temperature department if not in the pollen department.  There’s enough chill in the air to warrant making soup and I had leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge.  A match made in heaven.  The varieties of chicken soup are endless and a promising recipe popped up in the May issue of Cooking Light.  Dinner done.

Asian Noodle Bowl

I mostly followed the recipe tonight except that for a few changes made in the interest of making things as easy as possible.  In that vein I used leftover rotisserie chicken; I bought pre-sliced mushrooms; I used jarred minced ginger; I added the sauteed aromatics to the soup instead of discarding them; and I cooked the pasta in the stock rather than bothering with a separate pot.  I recommend using all the short cuts you can.  The soup doesn’t suffer at all from them.

The flavors here are pretty complex for a soup.  It’s earthy and green and hot and sweet and salty.  The recipe calls it “kid-friendly,” but I’m not sure that’s the case.  There’s enough red pepper that the heat might be a problem for a lot of kids.  And I don’t know how your kids feel about mushrooms, but I don’t recall being excited about them until I was well beyond kid-hood.

This soup has taken the edge off of the chilly evening and taken chicken noodle soup to a whole new level.  I enjoyed every slurpy bite and drank the last of the broth right out of the bowl!

Good?  Very good.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? Good for comfort, not company
Special shopping? Nope.

Asian Chicken Noodle Bowl

Ingredients

4 ounces uncooked linguine
2 C chopped cooked chicken
1 t oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 cup water
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 1/4 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup sugar snap peas, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces (about 4 ounces)
6 green onions, cut diagonally
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Heat chicken stock in a soup pot.

Heat pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon canola oil; swirl to coat. Add onion, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1 tablespoon garlic, and red pepper; cook 4 minutes. Add 1/2 C water; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add to stock pot. Bring to a boil.

Add pasta to stock and cook to nearly al dente.

While the pasta cooks heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms; cook 6 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon ginger and 1 tablespoon garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add mushroom mixture, chicken, soy sauce, and sugar to stock mixture; bring to a simmer.

Stir in sugar snap peas; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in green onions and salt.

Pork Chops with Shiitake Mushrooms

July 19, 2012

I bet you thought I’d given up cooking.  Not so!  True, my kitchen time has been a little bit limited lately, but not nearly as limited as my time for writing about cooking.  So, I’m going to start with tonight’s dinner and then work my way back.  This is the world’s quickest dinner.  It takes about 3 minutes of chopping; six minutes on the pork chops; and five more to cook the shiitakes and the side of zucchini.  That makes it 15 minutes from the time you hit the kitchen to the time you pick up your fork to eat.  Not bad at all.

I have to thank the Ault’s for the pork chop; Steve Haas for the lovely mushrooms and Victory Farms for the green onions.  I get to pat myself on the back too because the zucchini came from my garden about three minutes before it went into the pan.  Yum!  I cheated a little on the sauce.  I put a little store bought ginger and soy dressing on the mushrooms and green onions and added just a little honey.  For the zucchini I deglazed the pork chop pan with a little water, added the squash and a little plain soy sauce.  Done.  Shiitakes and green onions are one of my favorite flavor and texture combinations:  chewy with crunchy, earthy with green.  So good.

Overall this was a perfectly good 15 minute, use what’s in the fridge meal.  My neighbor calls this “kitchen cooking.”  You just use whatever’s in the kitchen.  It’s a good way to use up what you have and if you know you can do it in 15 minutes it’s likely to keep you out of the drive through line too.

Good? Good.  Not spectacular, but absolutely good.
Easy? Beyond easy.
Good for company? Not so much, but if someone stops by unexpectedly it would work fine.
Special shopping? Nope. It’s kitchen cooking.

Pork Chops with Shiitake Mushrooms

9 ounces pork loin chop, cut into 3 servings
salt and pepper
1-2 cups fresh shiitakes, stemmed and sliced
3 green onions, sliced
2 tbsp ginger/soy dressing
1 tsp honey

1/4 water
1 zucchini diced
1 tsp soy sauce

Directions

Heat a heavy skillet. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chop.
When the pan begins to smoke add the pork chop. Cook 3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan. Set aside to rest.

Add water to pan and stir. Add zucchini and soy sauce. Cook 3-5 minutes until zucchini is crisp tender.

In a smaller pan heat a little cooking spray. Add shiitakes and green onions. Add dressing and honey. Cook until mushrooms are soft.

Soy Honey Tuna Steaks

July 8, 2012

Another trip to the farmers’ market, another stop to see the guys at the Barham’s Seafood stand for tuna steaks.  I was actually hoping for some clams, but no such luck yesterday.  Still, the tuna was beautiful and they had some small steaks just right for a single portion.  A quick tour through foodnetwork.com and I came upon this recipe from Alton Brown.  Of course being Alton Brown it can’t be straightforward.  It has to require a chimney for cooking. Um, no.  I used the marinade and left the rest to serious grilling folk.

The marinade is unbelievable easy:  soy sauce, honey, wasabi.  I did use prepared wasabi because it was half the price of wasabi powder.  It’s clearly less potent in its prepared state.  I could have added quite a bit more to get some more kick out of it.  Still, the sweet/salty of the soy and honey was super good.  One caution, scrape as much marinade as possible off the tuna before you put it in the pan.  The honey will burn a little as the tuna sears.  If you have a lot of honey you’ll end up with a burned gummy mess and riun your beautiful tuna steaks.

The recipe recommends that you set some marinade aside for dipping sauce.  Unfortunately I forgot to do that.  It would have been yummy as a dipping sauce.  Instead I used the leftover marinade as a cooking sauce for a few vegetables.  I had some shiitakes, red pepper and green onions in the veggie drawer that were approaching the end of their little vegetable lives.  I sliced them and sauteed them in some sesame oil before adding some of the marinade.  I cooked them until the marinade was completely absorbed.  So good.  The shiitakes added a terrific earthiness to the salty/sweet of the marinade.

This is a marinade I would use again.  It would be great with shrimp, chicken or tofu.  With a little more wasabi and some seasonal vegetables its the makings of a wonderful stirfry.

Good? Quite good.
Easy? Definitely.
Good for company? Easy grilling for a small dinner party.
Special shopping? The fresher the tuna the better.

Soy Honey Tuna Steaks

Ingredients

1 pound fresh tuna steaks
1/4 C low sodium soy sauce
1/4 C honey
3 T wasabi

Directions

Mix soy, honey and wasabi in a bowl. Pour over tuna steaks. Marinate 1-8 hours.
Remove tuna from marinade and drain slightly.
Heat grill or heavy skillet.
Cook tuna 2 minutes on each side for rare.
Reserve the marinade to cook vegetables in if desired.