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Posts Tagged ‘stanley’s’

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 year for Thanksgiving we didn’t really have much of a plan. There weren’t a lot of options on the table for us. We could have gone to my mom’s in Merida, Mexico, but flights were very expensive this year. We could have gone to my Grandma’s in the Quad Cities, but no one there cooks anymore, they go to a restaurant in Andalusia. Not exactly a mouth-watering proposition. Almost all of our friends were with their families. It wasn’t until 3:00 Thursday afternoon that we figured out what to do. With so little time we decided to keep it very simple. So, we headed to Stanley’s and Whole Foods to get the fixin’s we needed to make a small dinner of four portions.

First thing I made was a sweet potato puree soup. I skinned and chopped up two medium-sized sweet potatoes and tossed them into a pot with 3 garlic cloves and 2 cups of chicken stock. I brought it to a boil, covered it, and let it simmer for 20 minutes until the potato chunks were nice and soft. Once it cooled down a little I threw it all into my blender with a cup of soy milk and pureed it nice and smooth. I seasoned it with some salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of cinnamon and then poured it back into the pot ready to re-heat once everything else was done.

For the rice I simply rinsed 2 cups of rice and put it in our rice cooker. Once I poured in the water I added one diced carrot and 1.5 tablespoons of dried hijiki. I let it sit for about 30 minutes and then hit the start button. Simple as that.

For the Turkey I just got a 1.75 pound breast. I laid it in a large rimmed baking sheet and covered it with a mix of 2 tablespoons of miso, the juice from one lemon, the zest from half of the lemon, and some black pepper. After evenly coating the top of the turkey with the miso I put it on the lower 3rd rack of the oven at 400 degrees. I let it roast for about an hour. Once the hour was up I took it out and put a bunch of haricots vert all around the pan and poured 3/4 cup of chicken stock around the bird. I put that back into the oven for another 15 minutes. When I took it out I let the bird rest on a board and set the haricots vert aside. I mixed together 1 tablespoon of miso and 1/4 cup of chicken stock and poured that into the pan to mix with the rest of the juices. That was my sauce for the turkey after slicing it.

While the turkey was cooking I melted 1/4 cup of butter and slowly carmelized 1 sliced onion for about 20 minutes.

To serve, I sliced the turkey and laid it on top of the haricots vert. I spooned some sauce on top and then laid down some of the onions. I garnished it all with the other half of lemon zest. The soup and rice were on the side.

I cheated on dessert, we just picked up a pumpkin pie and some vanilla ice cream. It’s a shame we didn’t plan ahead because both Yuki and I make a mean pumpkin pie. I also make a pretty good ice cream. Oh well, we weren’t trying to impress anyone this year, so this worked out just fine. Maybe next year we’ll be more creative and extravagant. In the meantime, everything turned out really tasty and we have no complaints. It sure beats a restaurant in Andalusia.

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Last night we went to Millennium Park to see Tony Allen play for free. Beautiful night and fantastic music! However, because of this, I didn’t do much for Meatless Monday. Nothing worth blogging about anyway. Instead, here’s a dish that Yuki made the other night. Thinly sliced strip steak in Korean chili sauce.

She thinly sliced a strip steak that weighed about 3/4’s of a pound. Then she marinated it in a mix of soy sauce, mirin, sake, sesame oil, a touch of salt, black pepper, and toban djan. Toban djan is a wonderful Korean chili paste that most grocers have in their Asian section. I have no idea what measurements she used since I was busy prepping vegetables, but I would imagine about a tablespoon or so of each liquid is pretty close. That marinated for about a half hour or so while we got everything else ready.

For vegetables we used some green beans, green onions, shiitake, alfalfa sprouts (Stanley’s didn’t have any bean sprouts), napa cabbage, and some fresh corn. The corn was simply boiled while the rest of the veggies were sautéed with the beef.

She sautéed the beef first with some diced garlic in sesame oil in small batches until they were partially cooked. Then she set the beef aside and threw the veggies in.

First was the green onions for a few minutes, followed by the green beans, then the shiitake, and finally the cabbage. She let them cook together for about 5 minutes or so with about a quarter cup of sake added.

Then she put the beef back in and added the sprouts. That went for another 5-7 minutes before it was ready (had to let the sake reduce) to be mauled by my molars.

While all of that was going on the corn was boiling in some salt water. When it was done all I did was melt a little butter on it and sprinkle it with some salt. I was surprised at how good the corn was. I know it’s not our good Midwestern corn yet, that won’t be ready for a couple of months yet. This probably came from Georgia, but it was quite tasty.

Also, true to a dish by Yuki, there was white rice on the side.

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Last night I made the dinner that my brother-in-law probably would have preferred over Meatless Monday, I grilled up some skirt steak!

I got a steak that weighed about 1.3 lbs. For it to fit in my largest dish to marinate, I had to cut it into thirds. I marinated it in a mix of 6 tbls of soy sauce, 4 tbls of sake, 2 tbls of mirin, 1 tbls of sesame oil, 5 minced garlic cloves, a bunch of chopped cilantro, black pepper, and nanami togarashi. I wrapped it and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour. I took it out about 30 minutes before grilling to bring it up to room temperature.

For vegetables I found these great little sweet onions at Stanleys. I halved them and set them on the upper rack of the grill so that they’d get real sweet but not burned. They also had some great little purple potatoes. I quartered them, drizzled them with olive oil, threw some salt and pepper on, then grilled them as well. They get a nice crisp skin and get real soft inside. I love grilled potatoes! I also cut a couple of red bell peppers into disks. I waited until everything was about 10 minutes from being finished on the grill. Since they were pretty thin, I didn’t want them to burn.

I served everything with some sliced avocado and halved cherry tomatoes. Some cilantro garnish, a beer, and we were set! Yuki had to have some white rice too, she has white rice with everything.

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Grilling season is here people! Nothing could make me happier. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true, but it does bring a smile to my belly. To kick off the year’s grilling I picked up a beautiful 1.5 pound skirt steak, easily one of the best cuts of any carcass.

To start off I marinated the skirt in a mix of 5 tablespoons of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of sake, 2 tablespoons of mirin, 5 chopped garlic cloves, an inch of chopped ginger, 1 teaspoon of cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, black pepper, and some whole sprigs of rosemary. The steak was too long for my biggest dish, so I cut it in half and marinated covered in the fridge for about 4 hours, turning every hour or so.

I skewered some cherry tomatoes, cut the yellow pepper that I had left in my fridge, and cleaned some green onions. Stanley’s had real thick green onions that were just screaming to be grilled. when you leave the thicker outer layer on and then grill them as is, the inside becomes real soft and sweet. You can just put the whole thing in your mouth and squeeze out the innards with your teeth as you pull the onion out. So delicious!

While everything was on the grill I sautéed some cannellini beans with garlic and spinach. I started with some olive oil and chopped garlic. A few minutes later I added the left-over marinade from the steak and let that boil for a couple of minutes. Then I tossed in a drained can of beans. Once they were heated through I added a bunch of spinach. I stirred it all around until the spinach had just wilted and most of the liquid had evaporated. Then I took it off the heat and covered it until the grill was ready.

Once the grill was ready I let the steak rest for about 8 minutes while I plated everything else. Then I sliced the steak with the grains, put them on the plates, and we ate. I also served some white rice.

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I was flipping through a Jewish cookbook that I have trying to find recipes for Passover when I came across a recipe for Doro Wat, the national dish of Ethiopia. At first, I was surprised to see this. As I thought about it though, there has been a Jewish community in Ethiopia for thousands of years, untouched by the Romans or Crusaders. This allowed a more traditional interpretation of the Torah to exist, along with strict dietary Kashrut laws. I’m not saying that Doro Wat was created by the Jewish community, I don’t think anyone knows where its origins are, but it is consistent with a style of cooking prevalent throughout the Jewish diaspora during the Sabbath. Since it’s not permitted to do any work, cooking included, during the Sabbath, food is simmered on low heat for long periods of time. That way, when families get home from synagogue, a warm and filling meal is ready to go without further cooking.

I felt compelled to give it a whirl since Yuki and I both thoroughly enjoyed the two Ethiopian food experiences we’ve had. The recipe calls for a mix of spices, but I prefered to make a berbere to use instead. To make the berbere I mixed the following spices together all at a 1/2 teaspoon measurement: chili powder, paprika, ground ginger, cinnamon, ground cardamom seeds, ground cloves, and dried basil. Like any spice mix, you can make much more and store in a tight container for a few months.

To make the Doro Wat I first sautéed a diced large onion in some vegetable oil until it was soft but not burned, about 7 or 8 minutes. Then I grated in 6 garlic cloves and a 1/2 inch of fresh ginger and let those cook for a couple of minutes. After that, I added one cup of chicken stock and one 14 oz can of diced tomatoes and brought to a boil. I let it boil for about 10 minutes to reduce some of the liquid. Next, I salted and peppered to taste.

I was making 4 servings, so I picked up 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. You can get a whole bird and break it down, purchase 4 complete leg sections, whatever you want to make 4 portions. Just make sure to use skin-on, bone-in chicken. The skin and bones will add depth to the dish. So, just before putting the thighs in the sauce I mixed in 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of the berbere that I made. Once the chicken was added I covered it with the sauce, turned the heat down, and let it simmer for an hour covered.

While the chicken was simmering I hard-boiled 4 eggs, one per portion. The egg is what really sets this dish apart from other chicken stews, so make sure every plate gets one. When the chicken only had about 10 minutes left I peeled the eggs, pricked them all over with a fork making sure not to break them, and then added them to the stew.

To serve with the Doro Wat I made another traditional Ethiopian dish of stewed greens. Typically collard greens are used, but Stanley’s had some beautiful chard, so I used that instead. It’s a real simple recipe. Fry a diced red onion in some olive oil for a few minutes, then add a couple of crushed garlic cloves and 1/2 inch grated ginger. After that, add 2 green chilis that have been seeded and sliced. Add about 1/3 cup of water and let come to a boil for a couple of minutes. Then, add one red pepper that’s been seeded and sliced as well as 1 pound of whatever green you use (collard, chard, kale, cabbage, etc.) thinly sliced. Season with salt and pepper, mix it all up and cook over a med-low heat for about 25 minutes partially covered. That’s all there is too it.

As much as I wanted to make some Injera, I have absolutely no idea where to find teff, the grain used to make it. I found a bunch of recipes, but no teff. So, I just made some basmati rice.

I have to say, this is one of the best tasting dishes I’ve ever made! The sauce is so friggin delicious, I am definitely keeping it in my regular rotation. It would be equally good with lamb instead of chicken. I would even give shrimp a try in this sauce.

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I wanted to make my own spaghetti sauce this past Monday for our meatless dinner. I was disappointed that Stanley’s didn’t have any canned tomatoes Monday morning when I went shopping for my veggies. I was going to make a mushroom ragu with basil, but those plans went out the window because I didn’t feel like cruising to any other stores just for a can of crushed tomatoes. I knew I had an unopened jar of Whole Foods Marinara sauce, so I figured I’d just doctor that up instead of running around town all morning.

I diced up some onion, carrots, and cremini mushrooms then sauteed them in olive oil for about 5 minutes or so with garlic. Then I dumped half the jar of marinara and a half cup of red wine and let them come to a simmer. I tossed in some soft goat cheese and let it melt into the sauce. Seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. Turned off the heat and tossed in a bunch of fresh basil. Then I tossed it with al dente spaghetti. Easy as can be.

I still had a bunch of hummus left that I had to use, so instead of garlic bread we had toast with hummus instead. It worked well since there’s a ton of garlic in my hummus.

Next week’s Meatless Monday will be much more interesting. I promise.

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Here’s a simple grilled fish dish. I got some fantastic fresh Halibut at Isaacson’s for $12.50 a pound. My wife and I each eat about 6oz so that’s about $4.70 per person. I marinated it in soy, mirin, sake, garlic, ginger, and fresh thai basil from my porch. Also a touch of olive oil to keep it nice and moist when it’s grilled.

For veggies we got some mixed organic potatoes that almost taste like plantains when grilled with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I also olive oiled, salt, and peppered some fresh organic hericot verts, spanish onions, and carrots. All of the veggies came from the Farmer’s Market and Stanley’s.  In total, we each ate about $2.50 in veggies.

Some white rice with grated nori seaweed (the kind that wraps sushi rolls) and seasame and a glass of white wine completed the meal.

The best part is that there were no dishes to clean up since everything was cooked on the grill.

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salmon

The other night I made another finance-efficient dinner that tasted outstanding; Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon with Soba Noodles, Roasted Orange Pepper, Pea Pods, and Shitake-Green Onion Salsa. Simple, well-balanced, healthy, organic, and delish!

I got the salmon at Isaacson & Stein Fish Company. It was wild caught at $9.95 per pound. Between my wife and I we only needed 3/4 of a pound, so the fish cost $6 even for both of us. I’ll take fresh wild caught over farmed any day of the week! Grilling it on a Cedar Plank, cost of $1.00, really adds a nice smoky wood flavor to salmon. The beauty of cedar plank grilling is that because the wood needs to be soaked in water for a couple of hours prior to grilling, the fish gets steamed while it’s grilled keeping it nice and moist.

The pepper cost me 37 cents at Stanley’s. Roasting peppers let’s the sugars come out resulting in a sweeter, softer pepper flavor. Since I roasted it on my grill I also got a bit of smokiness to it as well. While at Stanley’s I also got 4 bunches of green onions for $1.00. I only used a half bunch for this dish. The pea pods were also from Stanley’s and cost me 57 cents. You can buy soba noodles from almost any grocery store and shouldn’t cost more than a couple of bucks for 3 servings.

Shitakes can be expensive when purchased fresh, up to $5-6 a container. I do sometimes use fresh shitakes, but for this dish I used some dried ones we had in our pantry that cost $1.o0 for dozen. I only used 4, soaking them in hot water for a couple of hours. Save the water afterwords. It absorbs some of the shitake flavor and makes a great stock for later use.

When you add it all up the entire dish for 2 people only cost $10.34, or $5.17 per person. OK, I also added some Thai Basil to the Salmon when grilling, but I got that from my back porch garden. I also probably used a few pennies worth of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt, and pepper. Still, it’s less than five and a half bucks per person. What restaurant can give you a dish of this quality for that price? NONE! Cook at home, cook fresh, cook organic!

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One thing that being unemployed is teaching me is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to eat right. To me, eating right doesn’t mean counting carbs, or taking supplements, or any of that nutritionist crap (I’m a believer in Michael Pollan). There’s nothing wrong with eating animal fat, or bread, or dessert. There is everything wrong with eating too much and eating processed foods brought to you by the Big Food Industry.

At any rate, last night I made some of the best Lasagna you could ever pass through your tracts (and pass it through my tracts I did!). I did it using only fresh, high quality, organic ingredients, and I did it on the cheap.

I don’t buy much at Whole Foods since their prices are sometimes ridiculously high. However, I won’t buy meats from normal chain grocers because they sell meat from sick, hormone and antibiotic pumped animals. In order to save a few shekels The Big Farm Industry feeds livestock unnatural diets causing them to get ill. In turn they need to inject large amounts of antibiotics because the feed is unhealthy to them, not to mention the extremely unsanitary living-quarters. On top of all of that the animals are fed hormones to speed up growth, this causes even more health issues. Basically, if you’re not eating organic naturally fed, humanely raised animals, you’re eating sick animals. Would you eat a moldy tomato? So why eat a moldy cow?

But I digress. I headed over to Whole Foods and got some really nice, fresh ground chicken thigh meat. I opted for chicken instead of the usual beef because I grilled skirt steak (from Olympic Meat Market) the previous night. Variety is the spice of life. I went for thigh meat for a few reasons. One, it’s cheaper. Two, even though it’s higher fat it’s actually healthier for you since it’s heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Three, it has more flavor. 

While there, I noticed that organic zucchini was on sale. A perfect match for lasagna. They also had high quality parmigiano on sale. I had a jar of organic pasta sauce that I got for $2.19 from my last trip to Whole Foods sitting in my pantry. Otherwise I would have made my own sauce that would have cost me roughly the same amount, maybe another dollar or two.

Back home, I also had some lasagna noodles in the cupboard already. One thing when you have no income is that you try to eat what you’ve already bought and stocked. I picked some basil from my back porch garden. I also had some mushrooms that I bought at Stanley’s, where I buy most of my fruits and veggies.

So, I whipped up a bechemel sauce. I, for one, do not think that putting butter, flour, and milk together is too much fat. As long as the dairy comes from good cows and the flour isn’t processed or enhanced or anything unnatural. Then I cooked the ground chicken with onions, garlic, and some of the tomato sauce. I thinly sliced the zucchini and mushrooms. Then I put it all together.

Turned out to be enough for 4 full servings (I try to cook for 4 even though it’s just my wife and I, that way we have a good lunch the next day as well)when paired with a simple mixed green salad with sliced tomatoes. When I add up the costs of everything and divide by the 4 meals I got out of it I ended up making delicious healthy food for about $4 per person. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather eat that than a $5 foot-long.

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