Tag Archives: recipes

Touring exotic places… from the kitchen

This week, John did a lot of the cooking as I was sick and/or working. So, I didn’t get the full benefit of all this food, but in the first three days of the week, John cooked up a culinary tour!
First up was my favorite Chinese restaurant staple: Chicken with Broccoli. John’s the stir-fry king in our household, so I couldn’t be happier to come home to a hot plate of this take out dinner made yummier, healthier and (can it be?) faster than delivery. In our neck of the woods (and farms), decent Chinese food is just not available, so we have come to rely on John’s prowess with sauces. While there is no exact recipe, there is a procedure and ingredients list. We had it with some nice brown rice (definitely not something that’s available in our area from take out places!) Just a warning, when you don’t buy the instant brown rice, it does take a while to cook, so you’ll want to get that going first.

Chicken and Broccoli ala Johnny

For the rice:

I used Texmati Brown Rice

Follow instructions on package, but i usually use a 3:1 water to rice ratio for this one. I also added a few items to amplify the flavor of otherwise plain rice.

  • Rice 1 cup
  • Water 2 cups
  • Chicken stock 1 cup
  • Soy Sauce     1/4 cup
  • Salt  1/2 tsp
  • Orange peel 3 pcs
  • Fresh grated ginger 1 Tbsp

Combine all items in a sauce pan. Bring to boil, then reduce to light simmer for about 30-40 minutes, covered.

Prepare the sauce:

  • Orange pineapple juice       1 cup
  • Rice vinegar         2 Tbsp
  • soy sauce       2 Tbsp
  • honey            2 Tbsp
  • ground ginger  1 tsp
  • fresh ginger        1 Tbsp
  • sesame seed        1/4 cup
  • xanthan gum       1/2 tsp
  • Veg oil               2 Tbsp

Combine all in a Tupperware quick shake, and shake, or use an immersion blender in a container to blend together. The xanthan gum will help emulsify everything, though it can be simply combined without it. Reserve.

In a microwave safe bowl, steam about six cups of broccoli with about 1/4 cup of water, a tsp. salt, cover loosely with plastic wrap for about three minutes. Remove plastic and reserve.

Heat a skillet to medium heat, add vegetable oil. Slice one chicken breast per two people thin, toss with seasoned flour (salt and pepper). Sear in hot pan. Add sauce to combine, then broccoli. Simmer about five minutes and you’re done! Serve over rice.

The second night was Mexican, and it was delicious! John got the inspiration from Rick Bayless on a local channel. So, on Tuesday I was treated to Warm Chorizo Spinach Salad. It was delicious and it seemed pretty easy (keep in mind, I had nothing to do with it!)

Wednesday’s dinner, which I have yet to sample (being under the weather) was Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup (really more of a stew) that he’s been wanting to make for so long he doesn’t remember where the recipe came from. What I can tell you is that it looked and smelled delicious.

  • Red split lentils, soaked      1 cup
  • Finely chopped onion
  • Olive oil      2 tsp
  • Finely chopped garlic clove
  • Curry powder      1 tbs
  • Sweet potatoes, cubed      500 grams
  • Vegetable bouillon powder    2 tsp
  • Miso      2 tsp
  • Chopped coriander

Preparation:

Put lentils in a pan with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Skim , turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onion in the olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook for a few more minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the saute mix to the lentils with the bouillon and cooked for 5 minutes until potatoes are cooked through.

We didn’t have miso or coriander, so we left them out and it was still delicious!

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Retro Yum

This week, I returned to work from the winter break. Happily, I was given an extra class, unfortunately, that means less time experimenting with food. Still, our aim is to post for  you all at least three times a week. I have Fridays off, too, and have named Friday, “Fine Dining Friday”. Has a nice ring to it, no?

For our “fancier” dinner, we decided to make some old-school food. We were inspired by television to make some cheese souffle and built the menu around it:

Cheese Souffle

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Iceberg Wedge Salad

Brownie Baked Alaska

To make our meal even more delicious, our friends Mike and Kristin shared it with us! We had a really great time and ended up talking/playing games until two in the morning – something I haven’t done in a very long time.

Since this was our first time making cheese souffle, we consulted the internet and the expert for food science – Alton Brown. You can follow this link to the recipe we used (it turned out perfect, as you can see below).

Brownie Baked Alaska:

Step One: Brownie

  • Butter                            12 oz
  • Dark Chocolate         15 oz
  • Sugar                               1# 2 oz
  • Light brown sugar     9 oz
  • Eggs                                 9
  • Instant coffee              1 t
  • Vanilla Extract            1 t
  • Ap flour                        10 ½ oz
  • Cocoa powder             1 oz
  • Salt                                   ¾  t

Procedure:

  • Melt butter and chocolate together over a double boiler on stovetop.
  • Whisk eggs, sugars, flavorings in large bowl.  Set aside.
  • Measure dry ingredients in separate bowl.
  • Whisk melted chocolate and butter mix into egg mix.
  • Then, whisk in dries.
  • Pour into a half sheet pan that has been coated with nonstick spray.
  • Bake 350F about 15-20 mins.
  • Cool down.

In the meantime:

  • Line mold of choice (in this case I used my grandmothers circa 1950 dessert cups) with plastic wrap.
  • Press in ice cream of choice (we used mint chocolate cookie), and fill to the top.
  • Using appropriate cutter, cut out brownie shape to fit on top of ice cream in mold.
  • Wrap in plastic and let freeze at least 2 hours.

Meringue Topping:

  • Egg whites          5 oz
  • Sugar                    4 oz
  • Vanilla                  1/2 tsp
  • Lemon juice        1 tsp

Procedure:

  • Combine all ingredients in kitchen aid bowl.
  • Place over double boiler wile whisking lightly to dissolve sugar.
  • Mixer on medium speed until medium peak, then high speed until stiff peak.
  • Unmold and unwrap frozen brownie and ice cream.
  • Using a piping bag with a star tip, pipe out the meringue to cover outside.
  • Then either using a blowtorch, or your oven broiler, apply fire/heat to meringue to a medium brown color all around. I find the blowtorch achieves the best results, and is much more fun:)

Drizzle with chocolate sauce, and you’re done!

Enjoy!

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Butter Chicken

There is nothing to distract from a bad day like cooking. Cooking forces me to focus on a given task and, unless I want to eat bad food hours later, I don’t tend to stray. Well, with the exception of a Facebook update on the meal, that is.
John and I had the sort of day where you spend hours trying to get in touch with the insurance company, help desk, doctor’s office, mortgage company, etc. only to find out that you are really, really screwed.
Since John is currently between jobs, we were really counting an my adjunct work to get us through the Spring. I found out today that I am going to have two classes instead of four. If you don’t know what an adjunct is, the technical definition is a part time college instructor. The reality is, adjuncts are the bitches of whatever department they belong to. We do the same amount of work (minus meetings), don’t get an office, and get paid 1/4th of a full time instructor’s salary. Why do we do it? We love it and we love our students. And we hope that, one day, someone higher up will notice us and we will be full time. There are exceptions; there are adjuncts who have retired from full time teaching and do it part time because they want to, and I’m sure there are others, but for most of us, we would be more than happy to set up in an office in our department.

It hasn’t been a good day. Our daughter basically cried from sun up to bed time. So, I decided to try out a new recipe, courtesy of Recipezaar and Fairy Nuff:

http://www.recipezaar.com/Indian-Butter-Chicken-86753

It’s simmering right now and I might have burnt the cauliflower that I added to the recipe (had to cook it today or throw it out) because I was writing here, but I think it’s going to be good. I picked up a giant pack of Naan from Costco that doesn’t look too bad, so I’ll heat that up and slather it with butter as an accompaniment. While we eat dinner, we will forget the bullshit that we’ve had to endure today. Our bellies will be full and so will our hearts. Our minds will hopefully be blissfully empty. We might even laugh. Right now, I can’t ask for more than that.

Some notes on the recipe: I left the sugar out, used diced tomato + water instead of puree, and added salt and black pepper and at the last minute or two, frozen peas, the magic ingredient to most saucy dishes.

You want to see it? Sure! Here are some photos:

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Welcome!

Hello world!

We are a husband and wife on a culinary adventure! We have been inspired by several things to create a food blog. Our plan is to post new recipes, family favorites, and trips to local farms, orchards and markets. We are going to prepare one fine dining quality meal (or try) every week. We hope to be joined by friends and family for these dinners and we will share our trials, tribulations and results with the world. John is a pastry chef who has worked for ten years in some of New Jersey and New York’s best restaurants. Kat is a writer (she’ll write the text here, John will post the photos) and a teacher of writing.

To start out, last night we joined my (Kat’s) parents and sister’s family for a traditional Sunday dinner. My family is Sicilian/Irish. My mother is second generation American, and my father was born an Italian citizen (which he remained until just a few years ago!), so my siblings and I are first generation Americans! I bring that up because our dinners are often steeped in traditions. Despite being Irish, my mother is the best Italian cook I know! So, we gathered for some veal, eggplant parmesan, fried zucchini (not bread, just fried in oil and topped with parmesan cheese) and pasta. Of course, my family has come to expect dessert from John and I. I don’t think we disappointed!

John is also of Italian origin; he whipped out his grandmother’s zeppole recipe (my own Nonna never wrote hers down, sadly.) We have experimented with this recipe before (it’s not exactly precise, it includes instructions to add enough flour until it’s ready…) and we are pretty sure we have nailed it! We had some helped from my father’s memory regarding the technique of dropping the batter into the fryer, and voila! Perfect zeppoles! We made the yummy fried dough into three varieties: topped with powdered sugar, topped with honey and powdered sugar, and filled with home made ricotta (courtesy of my sister) topped with orange flavored honey.

Recipe for Zeppoles!

  • Warm water   2 cups
  • Dry yeast     1/2 oz
  • Sugar             2 Tbsp
  • Salt                 1 tsp
  • AP flour       3 1/2 – 4 cups

Procedure:

  • Place yeast in a large bowl with the sugar and 2 Tbsp of the flour.
  • Pour half of the water over the top. Let sit about 5 minutes.
  • Pour in rest of the water, salt, and 3 1/2 cups of flour.
  • Mix by hand with a wooden spoon. It will be a fairly loose batter.
  • Cover and let rise one hour.

In the meantime, you can make the ricotta filling, and the orange honey.

Ricotta filling:

  • Ricotta     1 cup
  • Powdered Sugar 1/4 c
  • Ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp
  • Orange zest 1 tsp

Procedure:

  • Combine all in a bowl and beat together. Reserve.
  • Add extra sugar if a higher level of sweetness is desired.

Orange Honey:

  • Honey     1/2 cup
  • Orange juice 1/2 orange
  • Orange zest  1/2 orange

Procedure:

  • Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to boil for about 30 seconds
  • Cool to room temp.

Cooking the zeppoles:

  • HEAT FRYER OIL TO 375 F!
  • Using a tablespoon, drop spoonfuls of the risen dough into fryer.
  • Turn once during cooking. You are looking for a  golden brown on both sides.
  • Remove and turn onto a paper lined plate to absorb excess oil.
  • Repeat until finished.

This recipe makes quite a few, so invite your friends!

While hot, take some and toss in powdered sugar.

We also took some and drizzled with locally produced dark amber honey from Sussex County.

And for the remainder, we sliced to form a pocket, and filled with ricotta filling….then drizzled with orange honey!….These seemed to disappear the fastest.

For those who wish to try these, let us know how it goes!

Enjoy!

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