Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tandoori Tofu and Red Cabbage Slaw

I've been super busy and am only getting up my post-work travel post now.  This dish is made from stuff that I had in the fridge with no special purchases, since I was trying to use up stuff before I went to the grocery store.  It's Tandoori tofu with a random red cabbage slaw that I made up on the fly because I had some cabbage and radishes that I needed to use up.  I've made the tofu before, it's a super fast, healthy vegetarian dish.  The cabbage slaw turned out really well, I'm very proud of it!  Both of these dishes take very little time to make and are great for a work night. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Anniversary Dinner! Pasta with Lamb Ragu and a Nice Bottle of Bordeaux

This weekend was my seventh wedding anniversary!  After all these years, my husband and I are as in love as we were when we met in law school (we met in torts, how romantic!).  Sunday was our actual anniversary, but we went out on Saturday so we didn't have to care about being out late.  Conveniently, A Game of Thrones premiered on Sunday night and we took the opportunity to cook something tasty and geek out in front of the TV.

This pasta dish is something we make a lot in the winter.  I've altered the original recipe a bit to make the spice mixture more to my liking and eliminate some waste.  Instead of using one rib of celery, I use a shallot because I always have one around and I rarely find a good use for random celery.  I added a clove of garlic and some extra ground fennel seed.  The fennel seed makes the sauce smell heavenly and it brings out the lamb really well. Instead of buying a tub of ricotta that would sit in the fridge until it achieved consciousness, I used grana padano.  Sometimes, we make our own pasta to go with it.  This time, we bought some fresh pasta from an Italian deli up the street.

This meal is a good excuse for a nice bottle of red wine.   Wine is a hobby of Dave's, so he decided to pair the dinner with one of his special bottles that we've had for a few years.  He picked a bottle of Chateau Tour St. Bonnet 2005 M├ędoc, which smelled wonderful and went well with the cheesy, fennel-y goodness of the lamb ragu. I lack the vocabulary to adequately describe the wine, it's definitely worth a try if you can get ahold of it.  It sells for around $20.  I would link to the official website but (1) it's in French and (2) it looks like it was designed in 1997 and my eyes can only take so much of the blink tag. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Swear There are Enchiladas Under All That Sauce!

Rick Bayless has another name for these enchiladas, but I nicknamed them "deconstructed enchiladas" since the tortillas are folded at the bottom and all the fillings are dumped on top.  I'm sure my use of "deconstructed" isn't entirely correct, but that's what I've been calling them forever.

This recipe is great if you like spicy tomato sauce and have some leftover chicken laying around.  I always tell myself that I'm going to buy a rotisserie chicken and use it as a source of shredded chicken and then I never do.  So, for this batch of enchiladas, I sliced some chicken breast, seasoned it with adobo, and cooked it in a nonstick pan.

This sauce is very flavorful, and it can be spicy if you use a whole jalapeno (or more!).  Definitely let it reduce enough, otherwise you'll have watery enchiladas.  I add less broth than the recipe calls for and eyeball it from there.  I use both the sour cream + milk mixture and cilantro as garnishes, I think they're both necessary to complete the dish.  The sour cream mixture has a nice cooling effect and the cilantro adds some green to the dish. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Grilled Chicken Salad with "Rustic" Guacamole

This is a good, healthy main dish salad.  The grilled onion guacamole and chili lime dressing make it different than the usual grilled chicken salad.  Plus, it's from Rick Bayless, so I know it's good. 

The original recipe called for hearts of romaine, but I use red leaf lettuce because it's my standard salad lettuce and I didn't see the point in buying a special type of lettuce for this salad.  I think it works perfectly fine.  The original title for this salad is "Grilled Chicken Salad with Rustic Guacamole, Romaine and Queso Anejo."  I can't get queso anejo so I used grana padano as a substitute because it's a good grating cheese.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chicken, Black Beans, and Rice

I'm in Texas this week for work, and apparently my iPad doesn't want me to post in compose mode. What little HTML I know is from years ago, so forgive my complete lack of formatting and lack of a proper jump.

Before I left for my trip, I made three Rick Bayless dishes. The first was Swiss chard tacos. The second was chicken with black beans and rice. Ive been making this for years. It's easy, hearty, and a great excuse to put salsa on rice!

The spice blend in this recipe is completely open to interpretation, I use a lot of extra chili power and have been known to add paprika to it as well. I make his smoky chipotle salsa because it's comparatively quick and doesnt involve a ton of ingredients.

I originally intended to make a half recipe. But, I added extra green onions and made plenty of salsa. I also used the whole can of black beans because I didn't want to waste them. So, it was more food than two standard servings. The chili powder turns the rice a nice red color and seasons the chicken very nicely. The star of this dish is the salsa though.

Chicken, Black Beans, and Rice
From Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday
Makes two generous portions

1 large or 2 small chicken breasts
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed very well
1 generous Tbsp of ancho chile powder plus more to season chicken
1 tsp medium hot chili powder (or as much as you want, I added extra a few times as I cooked).
1/2 medium onion, chopped (I used a white onion here)
1/2 cup rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth
4+ scallions, sliced
Rick Bayless smoky chipotle salsa (below)

1) sprinkle the chicken with salt and chili powder. Heat some vegetable oil in a skillet and brown the chicken on all sides. Then cut it into cubes. It doesn't matter that the chicken isn't cooked, it will get more time in the pot.
2) After removing the chicken from the pot, add the garlic, onion, and rice. Cook until the rice becomes opaque. No more than 3 or 4 minutes.
3) Add the chili powder and mix well. Cook for one minute. Then add chicken broth.
4)Bring to a boil and then cover the pot and let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Then stir in the beans and chicken. cover the pot again and let cook for 12 minutes or until chicken is cooked.
5)Test to see if the rice is dine. If it's ready, stir in the scallions and then serve in bowls. Let people add as much salsa as they want.

Smoky chipotle salsa
From Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday

4 oz tomatilloes
1 chipotle from a can of chipotles en adobo, seeded
2 cloves garlic, peeled

1) Shuck the tomatilloes and rinse them off. Slice them in half lengthwise. Heat a nonstick
pan over medium heat. Put the garlic and tomatilloes in the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes each side.
2) Place the tomatilloes, garlic, and chipotle in a blender and blend until it's the texture you want. Season with salt to taste.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Swiss Chard Tacos

As I've gushed before, Rick Bayless is my hero.  If I could clone him and convince him to live in my kitchen to cook for me, I'd be a happy puppy.  Alas, I have to live on only his books.  Whenever I buy a bunch of swiss chard, I always have to think of two meals that use it because it's gigantic and takes up half my fridge.  One of my favorite swiss chard dishes is Rick Bayless' swiss chard tacos with tomatillo and chipotle salsa.  All of the salsas in his book, Mexican Everyday, are fabulous.  This one is very simple to make, provided you have easy access to tomatillos and a kickass blender.  It's not a super hot salsa, but heat can be adjusted by adding more chipotles.  The taco filling is simple: sauteed onions and wilted swiss chard with vegetable broth.  The goat cheese adds a great tang to them.  I'd say leave it off for a vegan meal, but I really think it's not optional in this case unless you have access to a good vegan substitute.

I use store bought corn tortillas.  I've posted in the past about how annoying it is when they crumble, and I find that heating them in a small pan for 30 seconds or so prevents this, regardless of their freshness.  I was very pleased when these tacos didn't fall into a giant glorpy mess when I picked them up. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Smoked Chorizo with Red Cabbage and Asparagus Salad

It's spring, and dammit I am going to make colorful food!  If I make a pretty salad, it'll keep the nasty cold weather away and I can go running in clothes that are not insulated tights, two shirts, gloves, and my hiking socks. 

Ok, now that I got that out of my system, on to a colorful spring salad!  This salad is easily made vegan, simply omit the grated grana padano.  I'm not a fan of feta cheese, so I substituted grana padano on this salad, and although I enjoyed the saltiness it added, it's definitely optional and without it, this salad is vegan.

I wish I had made this earlier in the week when I was playing Dragon Age II, it's a quick dish!  Later this week, I plan to make an experimental apple and red cabbage slaw.  The original idea was to make a fennel and red cabbage slaw, but Wegmans was out of fennel.  So, I decided that an apple might work.  Anyway, I needed a way to use the other half of the red cabbage, so I found this recipe for red cabbage and asparagus salad.  Normally, I'd make this as an entree if I was trying to eat healthy. Sure, 1 Tbsp of tahini is about 90 calories and a good bit of fat, but it's just 1 Tbsp divided between 2 people.  So, no big deal!  Given that each head of red cabbage weighs approximately 600 lbs, this could have been an entree. 

But Wegmans has a sausage bar!  So I bought two smoked chorizos and decided to grill them in my grill pan and serve them with the last of my trio of mustards that I brought home from my trip to Paris: Maille Chablis and Morel Dijon.  If there was a Maille store in DC, I'd be bankrupt.  Since the sausage didn't need any prep work, this meal didn't take very long for two people to prepare (there is a lot of chopping involved so for one person it'll take longer). 

This salad definitely could work as a vegan or vegetarian entree!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gnocchi with Green Olive Sauce

I love gnocchi.  I love olives.  So when I see a recipe for "Green Olive Gnocchi," it definitely gets starred in my google reader.  It's been in the queue for a long time/  This week, I finally got my iPad 2.  One of the reasons we bought an iPad was to have quick access to the internet on the floor where the kitchen, living room, and dining room are.  I use a lot of internet recipes, and I end up printing them out because the kitchen isn't a good place for a laptop.  This recipe was the iPad's inaugural dish.  I have a book stand with a plastic splatter guard (a requirement in my kitchen, I tend to make a mess) which is big enough to cover an iPad very well. 

This recipe is from 101 Cookbooks.  The post mentioned that the sauce isn't especially pretty, but compared to my green onion sauce experiment, this looked pretty good.  I topped it with fried capers as suggested, and then added some extra sliced green olives so I wouldn't waste what I bought at the olive bar. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lamb and Smoky Chili Lahmacun (Turkish "pizza")

I'm a bit of a pizza snob and consider delivery pizza to be cardboard smeared with red sugar paste tomato sauce and fake cheese.  So, I've always wanted to make my own.  When I found this recipe for lamb lahmacun, I was intrigued because it involved a very thin, crispy crust and lamb, which I've always got in the freezer.  Lahmacun originated in Syria, but is popular throughout the Middle East.  Translated, it means "meat with dough." The first time I made this, I didn't think it was very pretty.  Then I did a google image search and saw that mine looked pretty good.  ;)  I make this every time I've got 5 oz or so of ground lamb in my freezer.  It's a treat on a weekend when I've got some time to let the dough sit for 2 hours.  It's also a great excuse to drink a light to medium bodied red wine. 

The dough has to sit for a while, but making the lamb paste doesn't take very long at all.  I add a little extra smoky paprika since I use more lamb than a normal portion would call for (a proper half recipe for this would use 3.5 oz of ground lamb and I use 5).   I could never figure out what a "long red chili" was when it was called for in this book.  Further, Wegmans never has red chilis other than the tiny Thai chilis, and I don't think they belong in Turkish cooking.  So, I substitute a long green chili hoping that they're similar.  The combination of lamb, onion, tomato, spicy chili, and smoked paprika is absolutely wonderful!  And it makes my kitchen smell good. 


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