Friday, August 1, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga and Mexican Restaurant Style Rice!

It's hard to find slow cooker recipes that I both love and are truly fix it and forget it.  A lot of recipes require browning meat on the stove and other extra steps when I just want something where I can toss a bunch of stuff into the slow cooker and ignore it for several hours.  This recipe comes very close to accomplishing that.  But, it involves some pre-cooking food processor use. I sped things up by chopping the onion and garlic pretty coarsely. This meal will make your kitchen smell fantastic.  The chicken is tender, the sauce is complex.  Slightly spicy, slightly earthy, and this recipe makes a ton of it so you can put it on rice if you wnant.  The original recipe suggested serving with tortillas or over rice.  I love Mexican restaurant style rice. I decided to try and make some on a whim.  I googled a bunch of recipes and they all called for things I didn't have.  So I improvised and it turned out really well!

The rice is not terribly quick so if you're really in a hurry, serving the chicken with tortillas would be your best bet.  I suspect that the chicken and sauce would work well as leftovers or maybe even freeze.  That said, I have little experience with leftovers, but I'm trying to remedy that.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fried Green Tomatoes!

A few weeks ago, I impulse-bought some green tomatoes and fried them with some panko and some random baharat seasoning.  It was supposed to be a side dish, but three tomatoes was more than enough food to be an entire meal for two people and they were so good that whatever it was that was supposed to be the main course got put to the side.

Last night, I made them again as a main course.  I used three tomatoes again, which was (again) too much food.  You'd think I'd learn.  I served them with a steamed artichoke because it's a standby side dish at my house that involves very little effort.  The sauce for the tomatoes is sriracha mayo and the sauce for the artichokes is Greek yogurt and dill.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Blue Cheese Crusted Steak with Port Wine Sauce


We don't eat steak very often.  Generally it's when we want to enjoy a nice bottle of cabernet sauvignon and can't think of something to go well with it other than "steak."  I've had blue cheese crusted steak in restaurants many times and made a strip steak with a gorgonzola sauce.  But I've never attempted the crust myself.  Tonight, I was inspired.  I wanted to both enjoy some cabernet sauvignon and eat enough blue cheese to stop my heart. The crust turned out perfect!  The cheese had just the right level of softness and the panko mixed in with the cheese was crispy.  I reduced the port wine sauce a great deal so it didn't ruin the crisp of the crust. Asparagus isn't the best side dish for this steak because asparagus is the wine killer.  But hey, I love asparagus.  The side dish is irrelevant, really.  The showcase is the steak, the cheese, and the sauce.

I know my presentation is mostly always the same: meat on one side, veggie on the other, ne'er the twain shall meet.  Someday, I'll get better.  Just not tonight.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Panang Curry

I frequently go to the huge Korean supermarket near my house.  A few weeks ago, my husband found out about Great Wall, a nearby Chinese supermarket.  We both love dumplings, and he was told that Great Wall had some of the best.  Like any good little compulsive shopper, I went in looking for dumplings and came out with all kinds of extra stuff, including some panang curry paste.  I love ordering panang curry in Thai restaurants and wanted to try making it myself.  The result was so good that it's in my regular rotation now!

Yes, I know that's more than one standard service of rice.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tangy Bean Thread Noodles with Cilantro and Lime

Bean thread noodles are what I buy by accident when what I really meant to buy were rice stick noodles.  So they tend to accumulate in the back of my pantry.  Quick and Easy Thai is one of my favorite cookbooks, but I tend to make the same handful of recipes over and over.  I was cleaning out my pantry and found yet another bag of neglected bean thread noodles and found something to make with them.  This dish was pretty quick to make, except for the 1,000 years it takes to prep the cilantro.  I don't like the stems very much so I end up having to take all the leaves off and it takes forever.  I know I should attempt to embrace the stems because it would make my life easier.  But I just can't do it.

We didn't eat this dish as directed.  It's supposed to cool to room temperature.  This was so quick to make because we started dinner late, we were starving, and we wanted to eat ASAP so we could play computer games.  It's also supposed to be eaten with lettuce leaves.  Oops.

That said, the noodles were quite tasty!  They were what I consider to be mildly spicy and what normal human beings would probably consider to be moderately spicy.  The lime juice was significantly more noticeable than I expected.  I figured it would be barely there, maybe the fish sauce helped it out.  I'm definitely going to make them again.  Maybe if I'm not super hungry I'll actually follow the instructions for eating them.
Take note of this artistic presentation.  It'll be all the rage in New York by next week.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Orecchiette with Toasted Breadcrumbs

Here's a simple, quick dish for a work night.  It's certainly not the healthiest thing out there, but it's fast and it tastes good!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Inn at Little Washington

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, my husband and I went to The Inn at Little Washington, a place we've been curious about since we moved to the DC area in 2003.  It's consistently in the top 5 of the Washingtonian 100 Very Best Restaurants, which is how I found out about it.  Like this year's review says, I was kind of surprised that one of the absolute best restaurants in the DC area is actually about an hour and a half away from the city, in "the sticks."  Since 10 is a big anniversary, we decided to go all out and sit at the Chef's Table.  I made reservations ten months ahead and one of the two four-person tables was already booked.  On a Thursday.  *boggle*

This was quite possibly the best meal I've ever had.  The experience of sitting right in the kitchen and watching the swarms of chefs work was amazing to watch.  These chefs worked as a well oiled machine, but I could tell from watching them talk and laugh that they loved their jobs.  Chef O'Connell took the time to stop by each of the two Chef's Tables and talk to us.  He wished us a happy anniversary and let us take a picture with him.  He told us about how the chefs' aprons and pants were dalmatian print in honor of his pet rescue dalmatians, which I thought was super cute.

The Inn has a few greenhouses and its own vegetable garden.  The garden hadn't been planted yet, but we walked around it anyway just to read the painted stones that labeled all the crops they were going to grow.  At our meal, we were told that 15 kinds of micro grains came from their greenhouse.  There was also an animal enclosure with several sheep and two llamas.  We were told that the llamas watch over the sheep.  I've never heard of llama-as-sheepdog before. There was also a chicken coop with a few hens and roosters.

I tried to take pictures of every course.  That said, we had a glass of champagne before we were seated, received a bottle of champagne as a gift before the meal, and got the wine pairings.  The only course I missed taking a picture of was the pheasant on champagne-braised cabbage.  But, I got the other nine, so I call that a win.

When the dress code at a restaurant is listed as "formal" in a city where it's (mostly) okay to wear smart casual, I usually assume that the atmosphere is going to be very stuffy.  One of the things I loved about this restaurant is that it isn't the slightest bit stuffy at all.  It didn't take itself too seriously, and that made it so much more fun.

When we were first seated, the host explained to us that Patrick O'Connell was considered the Pope of American cooking.  When the kitchen doors were opened, there was a waiter dressed as a thurifer  (yes, I googled that), swinging incense.  We got to greet the chef and were seated at our table which was right in the kitchen with no barrier between us and the action. Monastic chant played during the entire meal.

So many toys!! Not pictured: a mixer bowl large enough for me to fit in, a machine with the sole purpose of making croissant dough, a huge oven that also does convection and steaming, the dessert station, and a few walk-in fridges and pantries.  This kitchen is probably bigger than my house. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lemon Chicken!

When I was in college, the Chinese delivery guy knew the code to my dorm.  I lived on Chinese delivery for my first three years of college, until a sorority sister found a caterpillar in her lo mein and that was it for me until there was another place to order from, because yuck.

I order Chinese occasionally and lemon chicken is one of my favorites.  This recipe from Ken Hom is much better than delivery unless you're in the mood for some battered and fried chicken.  This chicken isn't crunchy because there's no batter.  The sauce is much more citrus-y than some delivery places that make a cloying, overly sweet lemon sauce.  I doubled the sauce so that it would flavor my rice.  However, the recipe below is a single batch of the sauce. The recipe is relatively simple but it does require a bit of physical work because you have to drain your wok and wipe it down.  So if you have a wok with short handles, oven mitts are a good thing to have around.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Curried Chicken Sandwich with Apple Raita

The general impression I got when I told people that I was pregnant was that with a baby, I was basically never going to cook again.  That once I ran out of tasty food brought by friends and family, my diet would consist of frozen meals that contain no flavor yet somehow account for my weekly total salt intake.  Well, I definitely cook fewer new or elaborate things.  And I get sushi carry out more than I should.  But my husband and I still make our own meals most nights.  Just simpler, easier ones on work nights.  Usually regular rotation recipes that are quick, easy, and that one person can make solo if they need to.  But, sometimes I make something new!  I bought America's Test Kitchen: Simple Weeknight Favorites after seeing an awesome looking pasta recipe from it on another food blog.  I made a Penzey's run last weekend.  So, instead of leaving with the one thing I needed, I came home with a huge bag of spices, including some curry powder.  This curried chicken sandwich is fantastic for a work night!  It takes about 20 minutes to make.  I was skeptical of putting apple in the raita. It has a little kick and a little tang but it works really well.  I made sandwiches for two people, but a full recipe of the raita.
I served some rice with my naan sandwich.  Because one can never have too many carbs.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pappardelle with Chestnuts, Prosciutto, and Sage

I can't believe I haven't written a post about this pasta dish!  It's been part of my regular rotation for years.  It's very quick and delicious!  I love chestnuts so it's one of my favorite meals to make, especially in winter when it's easier to get chestnuts.  A few years ago, Wegmans only sold Haddon House jarred chestnuts in the baking aisle.  They were nearly always sold out.  Thankfully, they now carry Galil bagged chestnuts year round.  Chestnuts are kind of earthy so I think the salty flavor of the prosciutto goes really well with it.  According to a random episode of Chopped I saw the other night, people don't like to eat raw sage.  This recipe calls for a little as a garnish and I think it's fine.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lemon and Tarragon Poached Halibut with Blood Orange Sauce (and Seriously Awesome Potatoes)

I enjoyed the saffron-scented halibut that I made a few months ago.  But it needed a sauce.  So I decided to try and make my own sous vide halibut with a fun sauce.  I will admit, this halibut was not as firm as I would like.  I think I'd try a firmer fish next time.  Despite the years I've been cooking, I'm still not that great at picking what types of fish work with what sauces or methods of cooking.  That said, the flavors of the fish and sauce worked well together.  I'd make the sauce for a breaded fish too. I thought blood orange on its own was a bit sweet so I added some lemon juice to tie it in with the poaching liquid and the citrus salt in the potatoes and I think it worked pretty well.  The sauce was kind of sweet and sour, but in a mild way; it didn't overpower the fish.

The potatoes were the star of the dish.  I liked them even more than the jalapeno poached potatoes that are the usual roasted potato staple in my house.  They have two kinds of salt in them.  Why?  Because I have a vast army of nice salts that were given to me as gifts and I want to find more ways to use them.  I've got some citrus salt that is pretty strong and some very nice salt with roasted spices.  I put some citrus salt and pepper on the potatoes and added a little thyme. Before I neglected it this winter and then let my dog run around on it, I grew some lemon thyme in my herb garden.  I figured citrus salt and thyme would work pretty well together since lemon thyme is so good.  I wanted to make sure there was enough salt on the potatoes but I didn't want the citrus to be overpowering, so I added a little of the roasted spice salt as well.  If you don't have any, regular salt would work fine.  The potatoes were perfect.  Just the right amount of crunch and flavor.  They were tangy, but not overly much.  The thyme made them smell fantastic.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Poached Tuna with Kumquats and Jalapenos

This dish takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.  It's great for a work night. I served it with some couscous from a box.  I put it in a pot to cook before I began my prep work on the tuna and they finished at about the same time.  Don't overcook the tuna!  This batch was 2 minutes on one side, 3 on the other since my steaks were a little on the thick side.  The tangy kumquats and hot jalapenos play nicely together.  If you think the jalapenos at your grocery store might be on the more mild end, get a serrano instead, the spiciness is really important.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sous Vide Beer Brats and Potato Salad with Basil-Citrus Dressing

Here's a really simple sous vide recipe with a really complicated side dish!  I loved this bratwurst.  It was perfectly tender and the beer flavored it really well.  I seared it for just a few minutes to make it look nice and add a bit of texture.  I should warn you that because it's cooked at a low temperature, the alcohol doesn't cook out.

The potato salad is fantastic!  And pretty.  And I don't really like potatoes that much.  I think the cherry tomatoes make this salad particularly awesome, their acidity goes nice with the creamy dressing.  The citrus is not overwhelming, the ratio in the recipe is just right. For once I didn't add extra and I'm glad. The original recipe also called for roasted carrots, but I left those out because I don't like cooked carrots very much.  Honestly, I think adding them would make the salad too busy.  This salad involves a lot of prep work and it has to sit in the fridge for a bit so it's not good for a work night meal.  We ate the whole batch in the same night so I don't know if it keeps well for the next day.  I'll definitely make both the brats and the potato salad again!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

First Attempt at Sous Vide: Lemon-Thyme Boneless Pork Chop

The halibut recipe I posted prior to this was actually my second time using the immersion circulator.  The halibut looked prettier and tasted better.  That's not to say that the pork chop wasn't good.  It was.  But, the fish dish is more impressive.  This boneless pork chop was my first attempt.  While it was tasty, the marinade wasn't as flavorful as I wanted and the pork chop looked like zombie meat until I seared it.

I used the Food Saver quick marinator attachment and that may have been the reason the pork wasn't very flavorful.  The marinator is supposed to do several hours of marinating in a few minutes by sucking all the air out of the container.  I accidentally broke the seal while I was moving the dish and that may have caused the problem.  Or the quick marinator is a gimmick that doesn't really do anything.  Or it was because I had to cut my marinade with a little chicken broth. I won't know until I try it again!


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