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Posts Tagged ‘baby spinach’

Armed with a full slab of ribs left from Honey 1 BBQ I threw together a chili-like stew. After sitting in the fridge for a day they did get a little dry. That deep smoky meat was perfect to use.

I chopped up 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 orange bell pepper, 1 carrot, 1 onion, I minced 3 cloves of garlic, soaked 1 cup of black beans for 1 hour after boiling for 2 minutes, 1 can of white kidney beans, 4 ounces of baby spinach, shredded the meat off 1/2 slab of ribs, the bbq sauce that came with the ribs, and used 2 cups of chicken stock.

In my large stock pot I heated up some olive oil and then sweated the peppers, onion, carrot, and garlic for about 8 minutes or so.

While that was going on I realized that I had 3 yukon gold potatoes sitting around. So, I skinned them, chopped them up, and added them to the pot. I let them cook for about 3 or 4 minutes before adding the chicken stock.

While the chicken stock was being brought up to a boil I noticed I had a couple of tomatoes. So, I chopped them up.

When the stock came to a slow boil I added the tomatoes along with the meat and let that simmer for about 8 minutes before adding all of the bean and the bbq sauce. I turned the heat to med-low, covered the pot, and let it go for about 15 minutes. Right before serving I added the spinach and stirred it in until it had all slightly wilted. Then I turned off the heat and served it.

I placed some toast in the bowl before scooping the stew in. Then I topped with some habanero-jack cheese and some sour cream. It tasted fantastic! I got 4 servings out of this and still have 1/2 slab of Honey 1 BBQ ribs left.

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I try to make quinoa a regular in my diet, but don’t make it as often as I should. Being one of the world’s superfoods, as well as being relatively inexpensive, I think everyone should eat it at least a few times a month. I’m just waiting for the McQuinoa to show up on menus. Although, to get most Americans to eat it they’d probably have to use burger patties as the bun.

First thing I did was marinate the pork chops. I mixed together 2 tablespoons of sake, 1 tablespoon of mirin, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce,1/2 inch ginger grated, a large garlic clove grated, and some cracked black pepper. I turned the pork around in the marinade a few times to coat it entirely, then I covered it and set it in the fridge for about 2 hours. I turned it a couple of times while marinating. I also took it out about 30 minutes prior to grilling to bring it to room temperature, this ensures that it cooks more evenly.

For the quinoa I used 1 tablespoon of curry powder, 6 green onions sliced, 1 yellow bell pepper sliced, 2 garlic cloves minced, 1/2 inch of ginger minced, 1/3 of a small pumpkin (I just eye-balled how much I wanted to use, I have no idea how much it actually was), 1 cup of quinoa, and a couple large handfuls of baby spinach.

In a small sauce pan I brought 2 cups of water to a boil. While the water was getting hot, I heated up my medium pan and poured in about 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. I threw in the pumpkin, bell pepper, and green onions. I let them saute for about 5 minutes and then added the garlic and ginger. While the garlic and ginger started to heat up, about a minute, I thoroughly rinsed the quinoa and then added it to the pan along with the curry powder, a touch of salt, and some black pepper. I stirred it around for about 3-4 minutes so that the quinoa would start to give off a slight nutty aroma. After that I poured in the boiling water, covered the pan, and let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Once that 15 minutes was up I turned off the heat and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

While the quinoa was simmering I got the grill hot and grilled up the pork chops. It took about 5-6 minutes per side.

Just before serving I toasted my last piece of manakeesh from the Tannourine Bakery. I also fluffed up the quinoa with a fork and then mixed in the baby spinach.

If I were to make this recipe again I would do two things different. Instead of using 1 tablespoon curry powder I would use 1.5-2 tablespoons, or maybe a touch of cinnamon. I would also squeeze a lemon or lime into the quinoa as I stir in the spinach. The quinoa was good, just much more lightly flavored than I would have liked.

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Last night I made some noodle soup using Vietnamese rice noodles, pho-like broth, and Japanese fish cakes. Not sure what to call this dish, so I’ll just call it Japanese Pho. It was very simple to make and actually tasted really really good.

First thing I did was make the broth base. I crushed 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds and 1 star anise with my pestle and mortar. Once they were ground to an almost fine powder I added 1 teaspoon of ground cloves. I wish I had some ginger, I would have bashed that up and added it as well. At any rate, I had 3 cups of vegetable broth in my fridge that needed to be used up so I poured that into a pot, dumped the spices in, and let it boil for about 10 minutes. After that I turned off the heat and let it sit while I prepped the rest of the dish.

My ingredient list included 4 green onions sliced into inch length pieces, a small head of broccoli chopped up, two small carrots cut into thin strips, 2/3’s of a pack of shiitake sliced, half a cube of silken tofu diced, about half a container of baby spinach, about 4-5 ounces of bean sprouts, and 3 fish cakes from the Tensuke Market (these fish cakes had slivers of carrot and peas in them, one of my favorites).

In a clean pot I strained the broth base discarding the grit. I made sure to press the grit though to make sure I got all of the flavorful liquid. To that I added about 3 cups of water, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of dashi-no-moto, and 3 tablespoons of sesame oil. Then I tossed in the green onions, shiitake, and broccoli. I brought all of that up to a boil and let it go for about 7 minutes while toasting the fish cakes. After that I added the carrots, tofu, and baby spinach for about 3 minutes. That was it, I turned off the heat.

While the soup was cooking I boiled some rice noodles in a separate pot with just plain water. I did that according to package instructions and then drained.

In my serving bowls I first put in the noodles. Then I ladled the soup on top and squeezed in some sriracha. On top of the soup I put in some bean sprouts and garnished those with some cilantro. I placed the halved fish cakes around the edge.

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Last night Yuki and I went to Millenium Park for another one of their Made In Chicago: World Class Jazz shows. Besides listening to some killer guitar by Alfonso Ponticelli we ate some killer skirt steak sandwiches that I made earlier in the day, along with some potato salad.

For the steak I took a big handful of cilantro, 1/4 cup of sesame oil, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of ginger, and two cloves of garlic. I processed it all into a nice marinade along with some black pepper. I picked up a 1.5 pound skirt steak and cut it into 4 equal pieces. I laid the steak in a glass baking dish and covered it in the marinade. I wrapped it in plastic and put it in the fridge for about 3 hours. I took it out and let it come to room temperature for about a half hour before grilling it.

I brought my grill up to high heat and grilled the steak for about 7 minutes on each side. That made it somewhere between medium-rare and medium. I let it sit for a few hours to cool down in its own juices while I went back to my computer to do some work.

For the potato salad I defrosted about 1/3 cup of frozen organic peas and chopped up a bunch of green onions, a carrot, 4 radishes, and 7 yukon gold potatoes that were skinned before getting chopped up. For the dressing I mixed together a branch of rosemary from my back porch that I gave the once over with my knife, 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons of mustard (my favorite brand of Boetje’s of course), and a pinch of salt and pepper.

In a pot of boiling water I dumped the skinned diced potatoes and let them cook for about 10 minutes until they were soft but held their shape (may take a little longer depending upon how big the chunks are). After 10 minutes I added the green onions, radishes, and carrot for about 2 minutes. I didn’t want to cook the vegetables, I just wanted to take away the sharpness and rawness of them while keeping the texture. Then I strained everything into a colander.

In a large glass bowl I put the peas and then strained vegetables and potatoes. While still warm I poured the dressing on top and stirred it all around. I like dressing it while still warm so that the potatoes absorb some of the dressing.

To put together the sandwiches I toasted some ciabatta rolls. On the bottom I laid some baby spinach and tomato slices. I sliced up two of the steak portions and laid them on top. I covered the steak with cilantro. On the top bun I spread some mustard and mayonnaise. It was outstanding!

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I needed to use up the rest of the coconut milk I had from the other night so I decided to use it as a marinade for some chicken. I really wanted to grill the chicken, but the wind kept putting out my burner, one of the downfalls of a gas grill. If I ever have a metal balcony instead of a wood one I’m getting me one of those big green egg grills! No worries though, I just threw the chicken in the oven as that sure beats raw poultry.

For the marinade I had about 1/2 cup left of the coconut milk. I poured it into my blender and added two chopped up lemongrass stalks (just the non-fibrous center), 2 tablespoons of sriracha, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, 1 garlic clove, and 1 tablespoon of ginger. I blended it all up and poured it over 2 pounds of skin-on bone-in chicken thighs. Prior to pouring the marinade over I did score the skin with three slashes so that the marinade would penetrate the skin nicely. I covered it and let it sit in the fridge for about 4 hours. I took it out about 45 minutes prior to cooking and cracked a little black pepper on top just before going under the heat.

 

Since the wind didn’t cooperate with me last night I heated my oven to 425 degrees and cooked the chicken on the upper 3rd for about 15 minutes. Then, I turned the oven to the broiler setting and let the skin get nice and crisp for about 5 more minutes.

For my side I made some Thai flavored asparagus. For the flavoring I used 1 teaspoon of cane sugar, 1 inch of ginger cut into slivers, 1/3 red bell pepper small diced, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 3 cloves of garlic minced (didn’t make it into the pic) and 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds. First, I mixed together the sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and 3 tablespoons of water. I set that aside.

In a skillet large enough to handle the asparagus in one layer I heated up 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and added the garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds. I let them sizzle for about a minute or two and then added the asparagus and red pepper. I rolled it around to make sure the asparagus was completely coated with all of the flavors. After 4 or 5 minutes I poured in the liquid and let that boil off for about 3 minutes. That’s all I did for this side.

I also made some miso soup. In a pot I poured in about 4-5 cups of water and brought it to a boil with 1/2 an onion sliced, the rest of my shiitake sliced, and a few pinches of dashi-no-moto. I let it boil for about 15 minutes until the onion was softened. Then I threw in a large handful of baby spinach and let that boil for another few minutes. Finally, I took two large tablespoons of shiro miso and mixed that in.

Besides the asparagus and miso soup I served some Thai Red Rice instead of regular white rice.

While this was one of the tastiest marinades I’ve whipped up in a while I did forget two things. I wanted to squeeze some lemon juice on the chicken as soon as I took it out of the oven and I wanted to garnish with some cilantro. I guess I’ll use that lemon and cilantro some other time.

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I thought I had come up with a ground-breaking idea the other day when I conceptualized gnocchi made from tofu. Not quite sure how to go about doing it, but with a few ideas, I googled it. Much to my dismay, Craig Koketsu (chef at Park Avenue Spring and Quality Meats) had already done this. On the one hand I was a little upset because I can’t claim to be the first. On the other, it confirms my genius that a high-caliber chef had also come up with this idea. He did his as a re-imagined way to do Mabo Tofu. Mine was a Meatless Monday way to get protein into a dish. At any rate, I decided that it was best to use his recipe for the gnocchi themselves since it was already a proven method.

In a food processor I processed two 12 oz blocks of extra firm tofu along with 1 cup of tapioca flour and 1 tablespoon of salt. I’m not real sure why he used tapioca flour, but it is a finer ground than regular flour as well as being a better binder. It’s almost a cross between starch and flour. Once everything was well blended I poured it all into a large ziplock bag (I don’t have a piping bag, so I used the ziplock and snipped one of the corners off).

I brought a pot of water up to a high boil. After the mix had rested in the bag for about ten minutes I started to squeeze it out, snipping off approximately 1 inch lengths. I let it boil until the gnocchi had all started to float to the top. Then I drained them and chilled them in a bowl full of ice water. Once they chilled I drained them again and patted them dry, then set them aside until the sauce was ready.

To kind of bridge the gap between Italy and Asia I used a mix of vegetables that included 5 oz of sliced shiitake (instead of cremini), cherry tomatoes (during cooking I changed my mind and used a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes instead), 1 carrot chopped, 3 garlic cloves minced, some back porch basil, 1 celery rib halved and chopped, 6 green onions sliced, and a large handful of baby spinach (about 3-4 oz).

To make the sauce I heated up my pan and poured in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. I let the garlic gently fry for about a minute and then tossed in the carrot and celery. About 5 minutes later I added the shiitake and green onion. Once they were cooked down a little, maybe 3 minutes, I poured in 1/4 cup of white wine and let that boil away. After the wine had evaporated I poured in the can of diced tomatoes and seasoned with salt and pepper. Once the juice from the can of tomatoes started to boil I threw in the spinach and turned off the heat.

In about 1/4 cup of boiling water I threw in two portions of the gnocchi and let them heat up for about 2 or 3 minutes.

To serve, I took the gnocchi out of the water with a slotted spoon and laid them on the plate. I topped them with some of the sauce. Then I garnished with parmesan cheese and basil.

All in all this dish wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. The gnocchi were great and the sauce was ok, they just didn’t quite meld together they way I had it in my head. I make sauce like this quite often, but it is definitely better with regular pasta. As far as the gnocchi, I would try a Mabo Tofu next time as I think those flavors match tofu much better. This was not a complete failure, it just wasn’t a huge success. Lesson learned.

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I just got the new Saveur issue the other day and it was all about Greek cuisine. This inspired me to make my own little Greek dinner last night. Since Yuki mentioned that I haven’t made pork tenderloin in a while and it was great weather to grill I put 2 and 2 together and came up with a delicious meal.

I got a beautiful 1.3 pound tenderloin. To marinade it I mixed together 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of red wine, the juice from 1/2 lemon, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, 4 garlic cloves minced and mashed into a paste, 1 bay leaf that I crumbled, and a decent amount of black pepper. I let it marinate in the fridge for about 3 hours and then at room temperature for another 2 hours. Every hour or so I flipped it around so that the marinade would penetrate evenly.

I made some spanakopita for a side. I melted 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan, sautéed 1/2 diced onion for about 6 minutes, then wilted down a 5 ounce package of baby spinach. I put that in a bowl, let it cool, then seasoned it with salt and pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 4 ounces of feta cheese.

Instead of the usual triangles I decided to make them into cigars. I cut some phyllo dough into about 5.5-6 inch strips. At one end I placed some of the spinach mix. Then I folded in the edges, rolled them up, and brushed them with olive oil. I got 5 cigars out of them. So I guess you can figure about 1 ounce of spinach for each one. I put them in a 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. They burst open a little while cooking, I must have rolled them a little too tight. I guess I’m used to rolling other things. If you make these, don’t make them too tight.

While the spanakopita was cooking I grilled up the tenderloin along with a zucchini that I thinly sliced. I brushed the zucchini with olive oil prior to grilling. I did it over a medium heat for about 10 minutes on each side. I don’t like cooking tenderloin all the way through like a chop, that kills the soft texture. If you have a good fresh piece of meat there should be no worry about trichinosis with a tenderloin as there isn’t much fat for the little buggers to hide in. Also, drinking alcohol helps (it helps a lot of things!). Oh, I also sprinkled some salt on both sides of the tenderloin before grilling as well. I don’t like salting marinades because that draws the moisture out of the meat. It’s best to salt just before cooking.

While the meat was grilling I boiled down the marinade to make a quick sauce. I also made some orzo with cherry tomatoes and rosemary. I simply boiled 3/4 cup of orzo in salted water according to package instructions. After draining it, I tossed it in a bowl with a handful of halved cherry tomatoes and one sprig of rosemary that was given the once-over with my knife. A little salt, pepper, and olive oil and my starch was good to go.

Last thing, I let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing it. That gave it time for the juice to chill out and redistribute. If meat doesn’t rest after cooking the juice will run out and your meat will go dry. No one wants dry meat. A little juice goes a long way!

PS- This came out to 3 portions instead of my usual 4. I had lunch plans today, so I didn’t need lunch for myself.

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