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Posts Tagged ‘lemon’

Stanley’s had these cute little Boston Lettuce heads for sale. The leaves looked perfect to make a wrap with. Then I remembered talking to Yuki about how we haven’t had ginger pork in a while, actually her craving for it. Sometimes I get it. Not often, but this time I did. What better way to put some ginger and pork together than in the buttery leaves of some fresh Boston Lettuce?

Laap is simply a Laotian ground meat dish. I can either be raw or cooked. This one is more of a Southeast Asian flavor instead of a typical laap. I used a handful of parsley chopped (cilantro would have been prefered, but I had to use up my parsley), 7 shiitake caps diced, 1 yellow bell pepper diced, 2 stalks of lemongrass tender innards thinly sliced, juice of 1 lemon (prefer lime but thought lemon would match parsley better), 1/2 inch ginger minced, 3 garlic cloves minced, 6 green onions sliced, 1 head of Boston Lettuce large outer leaves used for wraps while the small inner leaves were chopped up, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of sriracha, and 1.25 pounds of ground pork. I also used 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, but that wasn’t in the picture.

I heated up some vegetable oil and added the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic. I let them sizzle for about a minute and then added the pork. I broke the pork up as it cooked through, that took about 5 minutes. Then I added the shiitake, pepper, and green onion. I let those cooked down for about 3 minutes and then added the fish sauce, soy sauce, and sriracha. After the sauces cooked down for a few minutes I turned off the heat and stirred in the parsley, lemon juice, and sesame oil.  

For side vegetables planned on sauteing some baby eggplant and broccoli with garlic, but for some reason I ended up quartering the eggplant and roasting it at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes in sesame oil while steaming the broccoli with ground sesame seeds. I didn’t use the garlic.

The rice I made was Japanese style. Not really the best match, but not bad. In the rice cooker, once I rinsed 2 cups of rice and filled the bowl with the right amount of water I added 1 diced carrot and a few pinches of dried hijiki seaweed. I let it sit for about a half hour before turning the machine on. I made sure to mix the carrots and hijiki in well before serving.

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This recipe is based on an old Yiddish-a-bachur dish. I made a similar dish years ago at my old man’s house and thought it’d be good again. It was, but I might have made it a tad spicy for preggo’s taste buds. It’s that cayenne pepper I love so much. It didn’t turn out quite as pretty as I had wanted because the phyllo dough I had was pretty old and not as easy to work with as a fresh bought pack. I had to work faster than normal and didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked. Oh well, what can you do? It still tasted pretty damn good and that’s all that really matters.

My ingredient list included 12 oz of skinned salmon that I cut into three portions (we only needed one lunch the next day instead of 2), 1/2 cup of strained tomato, 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes, 5 garlic cloves minced, 2 ribs of celery chopped, the juice from half a lemon, 1 green bell pepper diced, 1/2 onion diced, 1 broccoli head broken down with stem skinned and chopped, a handful of cilantro chopped, and some phyllo dough (they spell it Fillo, take your pick).

Before I made the sauce I salted and peppered the salmon and then squeezed the lemon juice all over. I let it sit and rest while making the sauce. I heated up my sauce pan and added about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. I sweated down the onion, celery, and green pepper for about 7 minutes before adding the garlic and letting it saute for another 1 minute or so. Then I poured in the strained tomato and the canned tomatoes and let them boil down for about another 7 minutes. I grabbed my cayenne and ground cloves out of the spice rack and threw a few dashes of each in. Cut back on the cayenne if you want it less spicy. I seasoned with salt and pepper, turned of the heat, and stirred in the cilantro.

Working as fast as possible and using a moist dish towel to keep the phyllo from drying out I wrapped up the salmon. I layered 3-4 sheets on top of each other, topped it with a piece of salmon, spooned some of the sauce on top of the salmon, wrapped it all up, place it on an olive oiled baking sheet, and brushed more olive oil all over the phyllo to give it a nice golden color in the oven. I did this for all three pieces of salmon. Then, I put the sheet into a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

I steamed the broccoli during the last 5 minutes of baking time and re-heated the rest of the sauce. To serve, I threw it all on a plate and slapped a bowl of white rice next to it.

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I made some daikon kimchi and really wanted to build a Meatless Monday around it. I thought I was going to make a tofu bulgolgi to stick with the Korean theme, but the marinade turned out nothing like a bulgolgi. It was very asian though so I used some ganmodoki we had bought at Mitsuwa and made a clear broth Japanese-style soup to bring more vegetables into the meal.

The daikon kimchi takes 24 hours so I had to start the Sunday. The ingredient list includes a lot of kosher salt (sea salt can be used also), 1.5 tablespoons of toban djan (I didn’t have any Korean chili paste, toban djan is Sichuan, but it is similar enough to work), 1/4 onion small diced, 1 garlic clove minced, 1 lb daikon cut into 3/4 inch cubes, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 2 green onions thinly sliced.

I threw the daikon into a bowl and completely coated it with salt. I left it for 2 hours and then drained off all of the liquid that accumulated at the bottom of the bowl and then rinsed and drained very well.

Then I mixed together the rest of the ingredients, tossed the daikon to coat evenly, and put into an airtight jar. I left it out for 24 hours and then put it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours. You absolutely have to let it sit to get the flavors to penetrate and pickle, so this does take more than 24 hours to prepare. I will say, the daikon turned out way too salty when we ate it. Not sure if I added too much during the pickling process or if I just didn’t rinse it well enough, but next time I make this I will make sure it’s completely rinsed of salt and I may just add 1/2 tablespoon instead during the pickling to make sure it doesn’t get too salty. To salvage the rest of the daikon I’ll boil it in some water to make broth for noodle soup later in the week or something.

For the tofu “bulgolgi” I used 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1/4 granny smith apple, 1/4 onion, 1 tablespoon sugar, juice from 1/2 lemon, 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, 1/2 inch ginger, 2 garlic cloves, 2 green onions, and 1 packet of silken tofu.

I pressed the water out of the tofu for about an hour and then sliced it into 1/4 inch pieces. I put the rest of the ingredients into my little processor and made a marinade.

I took out my glass baking dish, poured a little marinade on the bottom, lined the tofu side-by-side on top, and then covered it with the rest of the marinade. I let it sit while I prepared the soup. When the soup was almost done I drizzled a little sesame oil on top of the tofu and threw it under the broiler for about 10 minutes.

For the soup I cut up 1/4 of a napa cabbage, used some bean sprouts, 1/4 cup of dashi seasoned soy sauce, 1 carrot cut into half moons, 1/2 package of enoki mushrooms, 5 ganmodoki, the rest of our green onions (about 3), and my last three shiitake sliced.

In my soup pan I poured in about 4 cups of water and added everything except for the cabbage, bean sprouts, and enoki. I brought it up to a boil and then covered it, lowered the heat to medium-low, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Then I added the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. That’s all she wrote for the soup.

I served everything with white rice and leaves of butter lettuce. That way we could make lettuce wraps bulgolgi-style.

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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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The Top Chef finale was on the other night and I noticed something from watching it this season…every time someone made a pea puree they won the challenge. With that in mind I decided to make my own pea puree to eat while watching the finale. Instead of using green peas though I used edamame.

To make the puree I started with 1 cup of frozen shelled edamame, 1/2 onion diced, 1 lemon zested and juiced, 1 garlic clove minced, 1/3 cup soy milk, and a handful of cilantro.

In a heated pot I poured about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and tossed the onion in. I let the onion sweat over medium heat for about 5 minutes and then added the garlic. About 1 minute later I added the edamame (it was still frozen when I added it). It only took about 6-7 minutes for the edamame to heat through, at which point I turned off the heat and let it cool down for about 10 minutes.

I put the edamame mixture in my blender and added the cilantro, soy milk, 1/4 of the lemon zest, and half of the lemon juice. While blending it I noticed that it needed a little more liquid to get a nice smooth puree. After tasting it, I decided to add about 1/4 cup of orange juice instead of more soy milk, it needed a little sweetness to it. Once I got the thick, smooth texture I wanted I seasoned it with salt and pepper and poured it back into the pot. I gently re-heated it when it came time to serve.

Before cooking the halibut I got some vegetables ready. I sliced one red bell pepper (decided to only use one of them, I’ll use the other one tonight) and the half of the onion from the puree. I also cleaned up some asparagus.

I simply laid the vegetables on a roasting tray, drizzled some olive oil on top, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then sprinkled about another quarter of the lemon zest on top. This all went into an 350 degree oven for about a half hour.

For the halibut I used three 4-5 ounce filets (I still had meatloaf leftovers for my lunch so I only needed lunch leftovers for Yuki) and seasoned them with salt, pepper, and the 3rd quarter of lemon zest.

In a large skillet over high heat I poured in about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and then dropped 1 tablespoon of butter in. I laid the filets in skin-side down and let them go for 5-6 minutes, until the skin was golden brown and crispy and released from the pan with ease. If the fish doesn’t release easily then it’s not ready. Once it was ready I flipped it over and let the other side go for about 5 minutes until it released easily.

To serve, I laid the halibut on top of some puree, laid the vegetables all around, and then sprinkled everything with the rest of the lemon zest and juice. White rice on the side.

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For Meatless Monday last night I had an almost failed attempt at making falafel. To make falafel, you need to start way in advance and soak some dried chickpeas in water for about 8 hours. We were out at the Morton Arboretum all afternoon when I got the urge to make falafel, so I tried to make it using canned chickpeas. As you’ll see, that just doesn’t do the trick as canned chickpeas are way too soft and don’t have nearly the same texture. Lesson learned.

In my food processor I tossed in 2 cans of chickpeas (the pic shows 3, but I only used 2), half a chopped red onion, 5 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 1/2 tablespoon baking powder, and a handful of basil leaves. Typically, besides soaked dried chickpeas, you’d use parsley. I didn’t have any parsley so I used basil. It actually worked quite well flavor-wise. At any rate, I processed everything into a paste and let it sit for about half hour. During that time I got everything prepped for the Israeli Couscous soup I made to accompany.

For the soup I used 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes, the half of red onion diced, 1 quart of vegetable stock, 1 carrot chopped, 2 cloves of garlic minced, 1 cup of Israeli couscous, some basil, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds crushed in my pestle and mortar, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne.

I also had time to throw together my tomato and cucumber salad. I chopped up 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, half a seedless cucumber, and halved the rest of my cherry tomatoes (about 1/2 the container). I set the lettuce aside and threw the cucumber and tomatoes in a large bowl. I zested the lemon on top. In a separate bowl I juiced half of the lemon, tossed in a pinch of salt and a pepper, and then poured some olive oil in at a ratio of 2 parts oil 1 part juice. With a wisk I emulsified it into a smooth dressing and poured that in with the cucumbers and tomatoes and then tossed to coat. I set all of the salad ingredients aside.

Then, I laid some wax paper on a baking sheet and formed walnut-sized balls of the falafel mix on top. I sprinkled the tops with some sesame seeds. I was a little worried about the texture because it was kind of soft, but I thought everything would be ok. I let the falafel balls sit for about 15 minutes while I got the deep fryer ready and made the soup.

To make the soup I poured a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pot. I added the onion and carrot and let them saute for about 5 minutes. Then I added the garlic. 30 seconds later I poured in the can of tomatoes with the juice, the stock, and all of the spices along with some salt and pepper. Once it came to a light boil I added the couscous, partially covered the pot, and turned the heat down to medium-low to let it slowly simmer while I fried the falafel.

Once the oil was ready, 375 degrees, I dropped 3 balls in and let them go. A minute later when I checked on their progress I noticed that they were much smaller than they were at the start. I put them back in for a minute and then checked again…even smaller. The oil had basically disintegrated them. They were way too loose. What a waste of oil! While I was pissed, I didn’t panic. I had to switch gears and do it quickly so that the couscous wouldn’t overcook.

I quickly got out my big pan and heated it to high. I poured in some oil and ended up shallow frying the falafel. They turned out to be more like falafel latkes and did start to fall apart in the pan as well. I was able to salvage most of it though and turn out a decent dinner. It did take a little longer than I wanted and the couscous overcooked a little, they were a bit soft. Oh well, what can you do? Disasters are half of the fun of cooking.

To serve I added the basil and juice from the other half of the lemon to the soup just before ladling it into the bowls. On the plates I laid down some of the lettuce, then the cucumber and tomato salad, and then topped that with the falafel…we’ll call them patties. All in all it didn’t taste bad at all. Complete failure averted.

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Last night Yuki and I went to see RUSH at Northerly Island. What a great band! Because of that I didn’t cook Meatless Monday, though I did eat a falafel sandwich with some babaganoush before the show to keep with the theme. I tell ya, being at the concert really drove home the point that all Americans need to adopt a healthier diet as at least 75% of the concert goers were way overweight. That might be an understatement too. Concert seats are only so big and literally everyone around us was well over 200 pounds. I felt claustrophobic at time. America, start eating healthy well-balanced diets!!! But that didn’t stop us from enjoying the show. At any rate, I’m going to blog about the dinner we had Saturday night.

We were out in Schaumburg so that we could stop at the Tensuke Market, which is actually in Elk Grove, but just south of Mitsuwa. It’s smaller than Mitsuwa but sometimes has better deals and has the absolute best retail seafood in the Chicago area. If you want to make sashimi at home, I highly suggest making the trek to Tensuke for your fish. There’s a restaurant called Daruma that Yuki had wanted to try for a while so we decided to give it a try. Honestly, walking through the doors was almost like walking into Japan. I mean that in every good way possible.

The decor is very traditional of casual dining in Japan. The Japanese don’t put a whole lot of stock into gaudy decor, instead they prefer to focus on high quality food. The walls were poorly painted, the tables and seats a little worn down, cheap napkins (in Japan you usually don’t find any napkins). It really felt like a restaurant in Japan. Made me feel homesick even though I’m not Japanese.

Service was pretty good. All Japanese servers, but bi-lingual so don’t worry. It was the food that starred though.

We started off with some Miso Soup. Nothing fancy, just a well made miso soup with wakame and tofu. I also had some sake. I was torn between two kinds so they gave me a couple of samples. The samples were very generous and I honestly didn’t need to order any sake due to the large pours. But, I did get a sake from the Nara Prefecture.

We got a Daikon Salad. Thin sticks of daikon served with carrot stick tempura and a shiso dressing. Carrots often accompany daikon, but this is the first time I’ve seen carrot tempura with the daikon. Nice touch. Little pea shoots for a bit of peppery bit and color.

We ordered two maki rolls. Ebi Ten, shrimp tempura with avocado, cucumber, and smelt roe. Unakyu, fresh water eel with cucumber. The sushi was good. Not the best I’ve ever had, but overall solid.

Tatsuta Age, deep-fried chicken thigh. Usually served in smaller pieces and called karage, these were pretty big chunks of chicken. Served with shredded cabbage, potato salad, pea shoots, and a slice of lemon this is a classic. It’s also one of mine and Yuki’s favorites.

Niku Tofu, a play on the popular Japanese home cooked dish called niku jaga (meat and potato). Instead of potato Daruma used tofu. It’s thin sliced beef with tofu simmered in a sweet soy broth. Also simmered in the dish were chopped napa cabbage and green onions. This was delicious!

Hamachi Kama, the absolute star of the show! Yellowtail jaw broiled to perfection. You got all of that flavorful cheek meat, easily the best part of any large fish. I don’t know why this part isn’t served more in American cuisine because it has so much more meat and flavor than our prefered filets. This chunk of fish was so tasty it almost brought a tear to my eye. My stomach thanked me for eating this.

Overall, the food and ambiance at Daruma were fantastic. So far it’s the most authentic Japanese restaurant we’ve been to in the Chicagoland area. The food is delicious, portions are priced accordingly (we had leftovers), and the sake was flowing. The only downfall of this place is that I have to fight Hwy 90 traffic to get there. Next time Yuki’s parents are in town we’re definitely taking them there to show them that there is real Japanese cooking here.

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Last weekend I did a little searching to try to find the best ramen noodles in Chicago. It’s damn near impossible to find a good, authentic bowl of Japanese ramen in this town as all Japanese restaurants seem to be the same neighborhood sushi joint serving up Americanized sushi (ie- California Roll, Dragon Roll, Philly Roll, etc.). While that’s all well and good, what I wanted was ramen!

While searching online I came across very positive reviews of newly opened (only about 3 weeks old) Arami on Chicago just west of Wood. Billed as an authentic Japanese restaurant in my neighborhood I got a little excited, tingly you might say. Not really in the mood to cook last night I decided to take Yuki out and give Arami a go. Very wise decision indeed.

The decor is true to Japanese philosophy, very simple and natural. The entrance is a big torii (traditional Japanese gate) and sets the atmosphere off right. The walls are very light, somewhere between eggshell and wasabi green, but more on the eggshell side. The tables are bamboo and the fixtures look to be made of reclaimed wood. I especially like the bar. It’s just a big slab of tree trunk.

Service was excellent. Usually, when a restaurant first opens up, the service is the worst part of the experience. The place ran like a veteran. Our server, Tiffany, was very knowledgable of the menu and very attentive without being annoying. Food came out in timely order and nothing was rushed.

As I get to the food I want to apologize as I usually do when posting pics from my phone. They are terrible! I do my best to make the food visible, but my phone’s camera is a piece of  junk. Keep that in mind and don’t let my pics deter you.

We started off with the Togarashi Seared Tuna. A beautiful strip of tuna coated in togarashi and seared perfectly, about a millimeter cooked all around the edges with the center completely raw. There were 6 pieces served on top of a seaweed and kelp salad with a meyer lemon dressing. The seaweed and kelp salad was excellent. A lot of times seaweed salads are just dripping with vinegar. Not this one. Perfectly dressed and a nice compliment to the natural fat of the tuna and mild spice of the togarashi.

Next, we got the Akami Ankimo. Akami is the red part of blue fin tuna and ankimo is monkfish liver (one of my all-time favorite ingredients). The slices of akimi sashimi (you could tell that they were cut by professionals who understand the subtlety of cutting fish) topped with small slices of ankimo and some sort of sliced green. Yuki thought it was a kind of pepper, but I think it’s just the green part of scallions. Doesn’t matter whose right, it was outstanding! Too bad Arami doesn’t yet have a liquor license as sake would have matched this perfectly.

For an entrée Yuki got the Kimchi Ramen. Hands down the best ramen I’ve ever tasted in this city! The broth was maybe a little too light to be considered authentic (in Japan the best part about ramen is all of the gelatin from using bones to make the broth, your lips should feel a little greasy), but the flavor was fantastic. Thick chunks of pork belly, cubes of tofu, sliced kimchi (not an authentic Japanese flavoring for ramen, but a delicious one), a par-boiled egg with a nice runny yolk, and sliced scallions for garnish. The only real problem is that it’s too hot in Chicago right now to eat ramen. Yuki was sweating a little from eating it. That didn’t stop her though as it was friggin fantastic.

When ever I see short rib on a menu there’s a very high likelihood that’s what I’m getting. Combine that with my love for all things donburi and I had to get the Short Rib Donburi. I really nice short rib braised in a soy-based broth served on top of rice. To counter the fattiness of the meat they serve it with sliced pickled asian pear and scallions. The rib was very tender and the broth flavors almost penetrated completely through. I’m glad it didn’t to preserve the natural flavors of the meat itself. Another winner in my book.

Dessert is the one area they fell short on. The only two options were the typical mochi ice cream balls or three different gelatos. I asked if the gelato was made in-house and Tiffany said it wasn’t. We still opted for the gelato though. They had three flavors (green tea, ginger-lemon, and muscato) and you get two scoops per order. We were told that we could only pick one flavor, but Tiffany talked the chef into letting us have two, so we got the green tea and ginger-lemon. The green tea was terrible! Overly sweet and very chunky. It was not a good product and they need to get rid of it immediately! The ginger-lemon, however, was great. Not too sweet, nice and creamy. They could do more with desserts though. I’m tired of every Japanese restaurant serving mochi ice cream and ice cream. There are so many things that can be done with Japanese ingredients to make great, simple desserts. Green Tea Pot De Creme with Adzuki Ganache was an idea I gave Tiffany. She seemed to like that idea, so hopefully she can get the chef to open his mind and make some real desserts. You don’t have to be a pastry chef to make good desserts.

At any rate, Arami is our new favorite Japanese restaurant in Chicago. While we didn’t try a lot of the sushi, we could see that they know what they’re doing. We will definitely be back over and over again, especially once they get a liquor license as I was told they’ll have a killer sake list! Sushi and sake, sounds good to me.

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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 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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