Monthly Archives: June 2009
|June 22, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Asian, Chicken and Poultry, Light, One Pan, Quick Weeknight Meals, Thai|
The upside to all the rain that we’ve been having lately is that my little vegetable garden is doing great! It looks like I should have some peppers and tomatoes soon, and its already been a few weeks since I’ve had to buy fresh herbs. My basil plants has gotten to the point of ridiculousness (I meant to take a pic, but I forgot) needed some TLC. Normally when it gets to that point I’d make a big batch of pesto, but my freezer is already fully stocked with pesto from Whole in the Wall, so that just seemed silly. I thought about other ways to use it up, and decided that basil chicken would be a good idea. I’ve been craving Thai lately anyway.
Basil chicken is probably one of the simplest Thai dishes to make. Because basil plays such a huge roll in the flavor, there really isn’t a lot of need for a ton of other ingredients. If you have a basil plant, there’s a good chance you’ll always have what you need on hand to make this! Its good weeknight meal too – because you cut the chicken into tiny pieces before cooking it only takes about 15 minutes to cook.
Traditionally this would be served with rice, but I served it with a version of the Thai Noodles that I wrote about here. I more or less followed the same recipe, but I omitted the shrimp and substituted soy sause for the fish sauce (I used the last of the fish sauce in the chicken).
I made my chicken extra spicy. If you like less spice, you might want to use a mild flavored oil like canola instead of the chili oil. You can also use 1 chili instead of 2.
Thai Basil Chicken
- 1 tsp chili oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 thai chilis, minced
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx 1/2 lb), cut into small cubes
- 2 Tbs fish sauce
- 1 cup basil, roughly chopped
Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and chili and let cook for about 2 minutes, or until tender and fragrant. Add chicken. Cook until done – about 5-7 minutes. Add fish sauce and basil. Toss to combine. Cook another minute or two to allow basil to wilt. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
|June 19, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fish and Seafood, Lent, Quick Weeknight Meals, Special Occasions|
When I saw a saffron cream sauce over at The Pink Peppercorn, I immediately put it on my list of things to make. Then I saw another one over at Vlasta Loves to Cook, and it went on my list of things to cook immediately!
Saffron can be expensive, but I picked some up on a trip to Trader Joe’s for $2.99. As long as you have that on hand, this dish can easily be whipped up with ingredients that you’ll likely have on hand. A little milk, leftover heavy cream from making ice cream, some frozen bay scallops … a little bit of this, a little bit of that… and you have an amazing dish!
This is comfort food at its finest, it was a cold, rainy day at the end of a long week and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect meal than a dish of this, a piece of garlic bread, and a glass of wine. It was rich and filling without being heavy, and really, can anythign with scallops not be amazing? Since I used frozen bay scallops instead of sea scallops, it was also very inexpensive to make. You’d never know by the taste though. I’d serve this at a dinner party without a second thought. Actually, I might invite people for dinner just so I have an excuse to make it again. Not bad, considering it was on the table in 15 minutes flat!
Linguini with Scallops and Saffron Cream Sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 2Tbs flour
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 1-3/4 c. skim milk
- 1 tsp saffron
- 1/2 lb bay scallops
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 c. baby spinach, torn (I’d use more next time)
- 1 pkg fresh linguine
Spray a medium saucepan with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot and heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add flour, and cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in cream and milk. Continue to whisk untilflout is incorporated and there are no lumps. Add saffron. Allow to simmer and reduce by about 1/2, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cook linguine.
Set a medium skillet over high heat. Add scallops and cook until defrosted, about 2 minutes. Add oil and cook another 3 or so minutes or until slightly browned and cooked through. Remove from heat.
Add spinach to sauce and allow to wilt. Pour sauce into pan with scallops. Drain pasta. Add pasta to scallops and sauce, and toss to coat. Let sit for a few minutes to allow sauce to thicken.
|June 18, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Greek/Mediterranean, Light, One Pan, Soups and Stews, Summer|
When I know that I’m going to have an exceptionally busy week at work, I like to make a big batch of something over the weekend that I can bring with me for lunches or dinners. That way I don’t have to worry about making dinner if I get home late, and I don’t waste money eating unhealthy and expensive take-out.
Most “big batch” foods tend to be fairly wintry – soups, chilis, etc – but some soups work well in the warmer weather. This soup is one of them. The lemon juice in the broth keeps it very light and refreshing, almost like drinking a cup of herbal tea.
I loosely based the recipe on Greek Avgolemono, but I omitted the egg white because I hate the texture of eggy soups. I also added some homemade goat cheese ravioli, which was very delicate but helped round the soup into more of a meal. The ravioli were simple to make using prepared wonton wrappers instead of pasta. (I usually find the wonton wrappers in my regular grocery store near the refrigerated soy products and prepared polenta.) I cut them with a biscuit cutter to help seal the edge and remove the excess wrapper. This gave the ravioli a nice scalloped edge and made them super cute!
I served this will no-knead bread for a simple dinner on Sunday and have been eating the leftovers all week.
Spinach and Lemon Soup with Goat Cheese Ravioli
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced and divided
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 2 cups baby spinach, washed and torn
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 30 prepared wonton wrappers
- 4 oz goat cheese
- 2 oz fat-free ricotta
- ¼ cup fresh basil, torn plus more for garnish
- juice of 3 lemons (mine yielded about ¼ cup)
- dash red pepper
Heat oil in bottom of a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallot, and onion. Cook until soft and fragrant – about 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Add stock. Reduce heat and let simmer.
Meanwhile prepare the ravioli. In a small dish, combine the goat cheese, ricotta, and basil. Spoon about ½ tsp of the mixture onto each wonton wrapper. Brush edges of wrapper with water. Fold in half, and cut with a biscuit cutter to the seal edge and trim off excess wrapper. If needed, press edge together with your fingers to tighten the seal.
Add ravioli to soup and let cook about 3 minutes or until ravioli float to the top. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, red pepper, and additional basil. Allow to cool slightly before serving (the lemon flavor will be very intense at first, but will mellow considerable as the soup cools.
I’m submitting this recipe to Souper Sundays over at Kahakai Kitchen.
|June 17, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Asian, Indulge, Lent, Sides, Weekend Meals|
I’m so excited to see that the local farmer’s markets are starting to get more produce! I’m tired of seeing the same old apples, potatoes, and greens. Boring… When I saw some beautiful asparagus and strawberries this past week, I felt like I hit the jackpot!
I don’t deep fry food very often, but I really wanted to try something different with the asparagus, so I went with tempura. The batter was surprisingly easy to make and didn’t include any fancy ingredients. I was a little worried because they seemed a little soft coming out of the pot, but one I let them cool on some paper towels for a few minutes the tempura crisped up very nicely.
While I wouldn’t go as far as saying these are healthy, but they didn’t soak up very much oil and, in moderation, they can become part of a healthy, well-rounded meal. I’ve been looking for an excuse to make my Asian-glazed steak again, and the tempura asparagus went perfectly with it. I opted to skip a heavier carb like potatoes and instead served this with grilled pineapple and shitakes that were simmer in a little beef broth.
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup ice water
- 1 lb asparagus, trimmed
- vegetable oil for frying*
In a large dish, combine flour, egg, and water to form a thin batter.
Heat oil in a large, deep sided pot. When oil begins to shimmer on top, it’s ready.
Dip the asparagus into the batter, coating it well. Add asparagus to oil in batched, being careful not to crowd the pot. Cook about 3 minutes, or until batter begins to turn golden. Remove asparagus from oil and allow to drain on a paper towl lines plate for several minutes.
*I used about 1/2 cup of oil, which was about 1 inch deep in the bottom of my pot. It probably could have used to be a little deeper (maybe 1.5 inches) but I ran out of oil.
|June 16, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fruit, Light, Mexican and Southwestern, Quick Weeknight Meals, Summer|
Ever since my honeymoon in Mexico (over 3 years ago already!), I’ve been obsessed with Mexican food. I love pretty much all of it, but I especially like the flavors that are more out of the ordinary. We have a great taco shop here that makes a delicious chili-citrus pork taco with pineapple salsa. The combination of pork with pineapple is wonderful, and was my inspiration for this dish.
Instead of using chili, I used a rub of sweeter spices. I also grilled the pineapple to bring out its sweetness. For easy assembly, I cut the pork and pineapple into 1-inch cubes before seasoning it, then grilled it on skewers. That way you can just put it right onto your tortilla to serve! You’ll want to do some skewers of all meat and some of all fruit because they need to cook for different amount of time. This also prevents cross-contamination from the pork to the pineapple.
I served these with green sauce and fresh cilantro with a side of tostones for a delicious meal. Add a pitcher of margaritas and you’re ready for a party!
Grilled Pork and Pineapple Tacos
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 lb boneless pork chop, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 fresh pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Flour tortillas, green sauce, and cilantro for serving
In a small bowl, combine first 5 ingredients (through olive oil). Toss pork and pineapple with the spice mixture to coat. Arrange onto skewers, keeping meat and fruit separate. Grill pork over medium-high heat for 12 minutes or until cooked through. About halfway through, add skewers of pineapple to the grill. Grill pineapple about 3 minutes on each side.
Serve with tortillas, green sauce, and cilantro.
|June 15, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Lent, Light, Mexican and Southwestern, One Pan, Quick Weeknight Meals, Sides, Summer, Vegetarian or Vegan|
I’ve loved plantains ever since I was a kid, but I never had (or even heard of!) tostones until my recent trip to NYC. In NYC, we ate these as an appetizer but they work great as a side dish as well. I served these alongside some grilled pork and pineapple tacos (the recipe for that is coming up tomorrow!). I’d also make them for a snack. They really don’t take very long to whip up, and I like the combination of savory and subtly sweet flavor.
Tostones are made while the plantain is still green – if you try to use a yellow plaintain it will be too soft and they’ll just turn to much. The flavor will also be off – as a plantain ripens and turns yellow it gets sweeter. The green plantain is firmer and has a sharper, more savory taste.
In doing some research on these, I found that they are often served with a garlic dipping sauce. I originally had them with “green sauce” though and wanted to make them that way. Unfortunately, the recipe for green sauce is hard to come by! I tried to recreate it, but it’s been a while. I don’t know how authentic my version is or even if it’s close at all, but the guacamole-esque sauce that I came up with tasted good to me!
Tostones with Green Sauce:
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 2 green plantains, cut into rounds
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 avocado
- 2 Tbs sour cream
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 jalapeni0, minced
- 1/4 c cilantro
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add plantains and cook, turning occasionally, until they begin to soften – about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate and let cool for a few minutes. Use a mallet or the bottom of a heavy coffee mug to gently smoosh/ flatten each piece of plantain (don’t hit it or it will break – apply pressure gently until they give). Heat garlic in what’s left of the oil in your skillet. Add the plantains and cook until golden and crispy – about 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt.