Sunday, August 30, 2009

Steak Sandwich

I have seen similar versions of this made by Ina Garten and Smitten Kitchen (although I'm pretty sure the Smitten Kitchen version was referencing the Ina Garten version, so all thanks should go to Barefoot Contessa), and I thought I'd have a go at it.

This version makes 6 medium-sized sanwhiches.

Steak Sandwich
  • 2 thick-sliced New York Strip Steaks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large, sweet yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1 large ciabatta loaf (or several small, individual-sized loafs)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon coarse-group mustard
  • 3 slices Provolone cheese
  • Baby arugula to top
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Salt and pepper the steaks, and let the steaks come to room temperature. Heat a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet or oven-proof frying pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Sear the steak on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the steak, and stick the entire pan in the oven for about 10 minutes. When they're done (a nice medium-rare to medium), remove from the oven and let them sit for a few minutes.

In another skillet, heat some more olive oil, and cook the sliced onion until soft and caramelized. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the ciabatta loaf in half (sandwich style). Combine the mayo, sour cream, and mustards in a bowl, then spread over the top half of the loaf. Cut the provolone slices in half, and layer over the mayo mixture. Layer the onions on the bottom half of the loaf.

Slice the steak into thin strips, and place on top of the onions. Top with arugula, and very carefully place the top of the loaf on the bottom, forming the whole sandwich. Applying a lot of pressure, cut the loaf into the desired number of sandwiches (it makes 6 nicely, but you could do 4 if you have big eaters)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are not for the faint of heart. You may think, "Oh, well let me just go throw together some chocolate chip cookies real quickly," without a second thought. There is a science to this; a science which must be appreciated. There are also opposing philosophies. I strongly believe in the slight crispiness on the outside, chewy on the inside philosophy. You can disagree, but I'll think you're weird.

I use self-rising flour (which I think yields a better result), but you could make your own with 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, mixed well.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, melted and allowed to cool slightly
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chunks (I like bigger pieces than just the chips)
Preheat the oven to 325.

Cream the butter and sugars in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until very smooth (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until mixed (but don't over work the dough).

Add the flour, and mix on low until well-incorporated. Scrape down the side of the bowl as needed. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Here is where you really need to pay attention. These steps are important. I'm not kidding.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes. This causes the melted butter to solidify a bit, making the cookies less likely to be flat. Scoop the dough into small balls (maybe about 2 tablespoons each), and place on the cookie sheet, well-spaced.

In my oven, I bake them for 13 minutes exactly: you'll probably have to figure it out in yours. The edges should be barely golden, the but the tops should not. Remove the cookie sheet, and immediately transfer the cookies to a wire wrack to cool (crucial). Be very careful to not break the cookies as they will be very soft. The exterior will crisp just a bit as the cool, and they will be perfect.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Kids, these don't even pretend to be authentic. Not even a little bit. I'm just shooting for "good." These enchiladas pack a creamy punch, let me tell you. Perhaps a little too creamy (if such a thing is possible), so be judicious with the sour cream.

I chose to use chicken thighs rather than the traditional chicken breasts, because I liked the richer flavor of the dark meat. However, with the richness of the sauce, you may prefer all white meat. Do whatever you want; I trust you.

You can serve with guacamole and other south-of-the-border (referring to Canada's border) fixins'.

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
  • about 2 pounds chicken thighs, skin and bones still on (they cook better, I promise)
  • a few tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large, sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 soup-can of milk
  • 2 large dollops sour cream
  • several sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 10-13 medium tortillas
  • A generous amount of shredded cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the chicken on both sides in a flat-bottomed saute pan in the olive oil over medium-high heat (a few minutes each side). Transfer the chicken to a 9 by 13 inch pan, and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden and juices run clear. Set aside.

While the chicken is in the oven, return the saute pan to the stove, and add the onions and green chilies. Saute until soft. When the chicken is done cooking, remove the flesh from the bone, and shred it into the onion and chilies in the pan. Season with salt and pepper

In a seperate mixing bowl, combine the soup, milk, sour cream, and cilantro. Whisk until smooth. Add about 1/3 of the mixture to the onions and chicken in the saute pan, and stir to coat.

Reusing the same 9 by 13 inch pan you used for the chicken, coat the bottom of the pan with some of the soup mixture. Scoop a few spoonfuls of the chicken and onions mixture into a tortilla, wrap, and place in the pan. Repeat until the pan is full (probably about 10-12 will fit). Pour the rest of the soup mixture over the top, and top generously with the cheese.

Return the pan to the oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes until bubbly and golden brown on top.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breast

Thanks to LacyLu for the inspiration for this beautiful, fancy, tasty little dish here. This flavor combination was inspired by a Hot Pocket (well, actually a lean pocket). This is (hopefully) a slightly more fulfilling, non-microwavable version taking slightly more than 90 seconds until piping hot, but hey, Mom says it's nice enough for company (and it's pretty dang good, too).

Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breast

  • 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 cup chopped, marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup frozen, chopped spinach
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 6 boneless, plump chicken breasts
  • extra virgin olive oil, for sauteing
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1/2 lemon (I zested the other half in long strips to use as a garnish)
  • a few tablespoons cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the cheese, artichoke, spinach, shallot, and some salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Finely dice 1 sprig of the rosemary and 2 - 3 sprigs of the thyme, and add to the mixture.

Cut a deep slice into the sides of the chicken breast, forming a pocket inside (being ever so careful as to not cut through them completely). Evenly distribute the filling into 6 portions, and stuff the chicken breasts, closing off the edges with toothpicks, as needed.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a deep-sided frying pan over medium-high, and sear the chicken breasts a few at a time on both sides (about 3-5 minutes a side). Transfer the chicken to a 9 by 13 inch pan (retaining the juices in the frying pan), and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until juice run clear.

Add the chicken broth, lemon juice,lemon zest, and remaining herbs to the pan with the chicken drippings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer to reduce as the chicken roasts.

When the chicken is finished, pour any juices from the baking pan into the gravy. Thicken the gravy with a few tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in cold water, then added to the gravy. Stir until thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve the chicken breasts with the gravy, and garnish with additional herbs and lemon zest.

You can serve it with roasted asparagus and some roasted red potatoes.

Guest Post:: Caponata (Tomato and Bread Salad)

Thanks to SHeil for this dish, straight from her authentically Italian grandmother's garden.

This is a central Italian bread and tomato salad. It is a great way to turn fresh tomatoes from the garden into a quick, healthy, delicious lunch. There are many different regional versions of the caponata, but this is the 'correct' one, according to my grandmother, who lives in Salerno (which is in the second wrinkle in the ankle of the boot). This recipe may look long at first, but once you know how much seasoning goes into the tomatoes, it's really very quick and simple: seasoned tomatoes and crunchy bread cubes. If you have been storing the tomatoes in your fridge, shame on you. You've created nasty, inedible, bitter things, only good for sauce, BUT you can redeem yourself SLIGHTLY by leaving them on the windowsill for a few hours before you use them.

I hate to say the best bread for this salad is made only in Italy, but it's true. However, you can cheat relatively well with a good baguette, or other fresh, hearty loaf of crusty bread. For this recipe, I used half a baguette I had in the bread bin, and it was very good. When you season and toast the bread they will look like giant croutons, but making them yourself is essential. You can make them ahead of time and store them, but they only take about 10 minutes to cut and bake, so it really doesn't matter, and fresh will be better.

The ingredients are all rough estimations as this is not a picky recipe. You really just need even proportions of bread and tomatoes; you can use according to taste. Use a little more or less of some things, according to your taste. Just don't skimp on the olive oil, you're skinny enough. Trust me.


You'll need:
  • several ripe tomatoes (4 big/6 medium should do)
  • half a baguette
  • 1/3 cup relatively good extra virgin olive oil, plus a little more for drizzling
  • a medium handful of FRESH basil, torn into little pieces
  • a large clove FRESH garlic
  • sea/kosher salt (about 1.5 Tbsp) *Kosher/sea salt is WAY better, but regular salt will not kill you in a pinch. It's just not nearly as good, and you'll have to live with that.
  • a little pepper

for the tomatoes

Get a medium mixing bowl. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add them to the bowl. Less seeds are better, so leave that seedy juice puddle on the board, but you don't have to be obsessive about removing every seed from the tomatoes. Pour the oil over the tomatoes, about 1/3 c,
enough to generously drizzle over the whole pile.

Salt the tomatoes generously (about 1.5 T, enough to shake evenly and lightly over the whole
bowl--you should be able to see salt, but the tomatoes should not be drowning in it). Tear up your handful of basil (you can chop, but tearing releases the flavor better) and add that to the bowl. Finely mince the garlic clove (I just use a garlic press right in the bowl) and add that to
the bowl. Add around 5 twists of the pepper grinder-you'll want enough to very lightly coat the tomatoes. Toss everything together.

At this point smell the bowl. Yes, smell it. It should smell really fantastic, like a good Italian restaurant, or your Italian grandmother's kitchen, and you should be able to smell the tomatoes, basil, salt, and oil about the same amount. If all you are smelling is tomatoes, add more basil. If it smells fruity, add a little more salt. If there is not a little puddle of oil under the tomatoes (or there are not drops of oil in the juice under the tomatoes), add a little more oil (the tomatoes should glisten). Then, taste a piece. It should taste very slightly salty, because you have to
add seasoning for the bread you'll add later. If it tastes really salty, add more tomato. Again, this is not a picky recipe, adjust to your tastes. It should be tasty all by itself, albeit a little salty, at this point.

for the bread

Slice the baguette half into 1-inch wide slices, then cut the slices into cubes about 1-1.5 inches wide. Dump them all on a cookie sheet, spray them lightly with olive oil, and put them in the
oven at around 400 degrees F. The point is to get them very lightly golden, but crunchy throughout. Crunchy is the important part. You do not want crunchy outside, squishy inside. The whole cube must be crunchy. Seriously. Watch them, as this will not take long, and flip them when the tops become golden, so that most sides have a chance to become golden.


Simply toss the bread cubes with the tomato/herb mixture. The key is to not toss them together until the very last moment before serving, or the bread will become soggy and unappetizing. The bread should absorb the tomato juice in the bottom of the mixing bowl and be a happy medium between crunchy and chewy.

If your bread is very crunchy, and you do not like the texture, simply dip your bread cubes VERY quickly in water right before adding them to the bowl of tomatoes, again making sure to do this right before serving. You should only have to do this with either really dry tomatoes, or really dense, grainy bread.

Tutti a tavola a mangiare! (the italian equivalent of bon appetito!, literally means "everyone to table to eat!", or "let's eat!")

Monday, August 24, 2009

It really does taste better if it's grown with love

Pictures from our field trip to and lunch from the farmers market. Go buy yourself some local goodness.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Guest Post: Summer Pasta Salad with Basil Lemon Mayo

This one comes courtesy of local foodie, A.Dyer.

Hmm, how to introduce something as glorious and amazing as the idea of Basil Mayonnaise over a pasta salad of sweet peppers, cucumber and Farfalle? Does it really need any introduction? The idea of marrying the flavors of fresh garden basil, tart lemon and stone ground mustard into a creamy fresh mayonnaise is almost indecent it's so good! Add to that the sweet crisp of miniature sweet peppers, the cool crunch of English cucumbers and the delicate texture of al dente farfalle and you have a match made in heaven!

Basil Lemon Mayonnaise

1 c. basil leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 extra large egg yolks
1 T. lemon juice
2/3 c. olive oil
2/3 c. sunflower oil
1/3 c. stone ground mustard
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, pulse the basil leaves and garlic until finely minced. Remove and set aside. Clean the bowl and add the egg yolks and lemon juice - process them briefly until lightly blended. Stir the oils together and, with the machine running, pour in the oil very slowly, a little at a time, in a very thin stream until all of the oil has been added. With the processor still running, add the mustard and the garlic basil mixture. Pulse until thoroughly incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For Salad:
1 lb. box farfalle pasta
1 English cucumber, diced
3 c. sweet miniature peppers, seeded and chopped.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse until cool. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the cucumber and peppers. Add half of the mayonnaise and stir to incorporate. Refrigerator until ready to serve.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Guest Post: Domestic Showcase Summer Salad

Thanks to Ruby for the guest post.

I once gave my sister The Cottage Cheese Cookbook: 101 Recipes with Cottage Cheese.
I ensure you this recipe was not included; however it does include chesse de la cottage in a surprisingly sophisticated way (at least I think so). I adore this salad because of its texture and it feels more substantial than your everyday mix of spinach. I learned to make it from a college friend who we deemed the "Domestic Showcase"--my motto is fake it till you make it and this salad is so easy...

domestic showcase summer salad:

  • toss fresh spinach leaves
  • about 3/4 a container of cottage cheese
  • lots or red or purple grapes- I prefer really flavorful purple ones from the CFM, but that's your call
  • a few splashes of zesty italian dressing
  • [sunflower seeds or pine nuts optional]
you're done! I don't measure--to get the proportions just right you have to taste and sample until your tastebuds say, "Yes!"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Insalata Caprese Crostini (aka, Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil on Toast)

I realize I have a very similar recipe on the site already, but it's summer and the tomatoes are straight from heaven (via the dirt of North Carolina's local farms), and I can never get enough fresh mozzarella (especially when it comes from the farmer's market, and you're kind of scared of touching it because it's so soft and creamy), and this one has bread involved, which is amazing, so it's different. I don't care.

At the farmer's market, Hollywood just got a grab bag of different varieties of tomatoes, so I have no idea what kinds we actually ended up using, but having a slightly different color and flavor on each slice was kind of fun. Whatever kind you use, make sure it's ripe and fresh and divine, and you'll be fine.

Some people would have put balsamic vinegar on this dish. I'm told that such is horribly inauthentic (I personally don't care a thing about authenticity), but I really think it isn't needed. The simplicity of this dish really brings out the freshness and quality of the ingredients, so a super-strong flavor like that would be too much, I think.

Insalata Caprese Crostini (aka, Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil on Toast)

for the crostini
  • 1 fresh, French baguette, sliced about 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal
  • extra virgin olive oil
for the salad
  • Fresh, ripe, firm, amazing tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Heat the oven on broil. Arrange the bread slices on a cookie sheet, and brush the tops with olive oil. Broil for a few minutes (maybe 3 -5, depending on your oven), until the tops are golden and crispy, but the interior is still soft.

Cut the tomatoes in half, then slice them into half-circles. Cut the mozzarella into similarly-shaped and -sized pieces. Top the bread with the tomato and cheese, then drizzle some more olive oil over top. Salt and pepper to taste.

Top each slice with the basil, and serve immediately (don't let them get soggy--the texture is half the fun).

Guest Post: Fried Okra

This post comes from J.Deal, and let me tell you, this girl is legit. If you're trying to become authentically southern, this is the girl to listen to. Raised in Georgia and North Carolina, J has authority when it comes to all things southern where I am just pretending. And friends, there's not much else more southern than fried okra.

Everyone's first reaction when they hear the word okra is, "Ugh, it's slimy," which is not true at all in this case. It's crisp, flavorful, deep fried, and amazing. Go make yourself some right now (extra points if the okra is from the farmer's market and is uber fresh to boot).

Southern Fried Okra
Serves 4.
  • 1 lb okra
  • 1 c cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • vegetable oil
Choose okra that is an even green color and 2" - 4" long. Trim stem ends from okra and cut into 3/4" lengths. Soak in buttermilk for 15 minutes.

Mix cornmeal, salt, and pepper in a plastic bag. Add okra and toss to coat.

Heat 1/2" oil in a 10" skillet (cast iron is traditional) over medium high heat. When oil begins to shimmer, sift excess cornmeal mixture from okra and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown. (Stir gently to avoid losing coating.) Drain on paper towels and salt again if needed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Broccoli Salad

People, I don't measure. I'm sorry. Sometimes I try to measure, knowing full well that I'm going to have to write up a list of ingredients to put on the blog, but it's just not that easy. As you go along, you realize that you need a little more of this, or you just use handfulls rather than measuring cups. Sometimes you measure all the ingredients, but then you throw a little more on top as a garnish at the end. People, I just assume that you are intelligent and creative and will add more or less onion if you feel like it.

So, with that out of the way, let's talk about the recipe.

I don't particularly think of this as anything fancy or special--you can find this is the deli isle of almost any grocery store on earth next to the cole slaw and potato salad--but I pulled this one out at a church potluck, and people loved it. To mean, this salad screams summer, grilling, outdoors, picnics, etc. Most of the time, the bacon and cheese are most prominent in this salad, but I really like it to be a little sweeter with more emphasis on the cashews and cranberries. Hopefully you like it, too.

Broccoli Salad

for the salad
  • About 2 pounds broccoli crowns, chopped into small, bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries, plus additional for garnishing
  • 2/3 heaping cup roasted cashew halves, plus additional for garnishing
  • about 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I pretty much just garnish with it)
  • 2-3 slices crispy bacon, chopped
for the dressing

  • 1.5 cup mayonnaise
  • 1.5 tablespoons fruity vinegar (I use a raspberry white balsamic)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons sugar
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the dressing well. Immediately before serving (you don't want the nuts to get soggy), fold the dressing into the salad, stirring until well-coated. Top with retained cranberries and cashews.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pasta with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce

I've got a confession, and most people are shocked when the hear it. I really don't like pasta all that much. I mean, the concept of pasta is fine, but it seems like anytime you go to an Italian restaurant, you just end up with a big homogeneous bowl of pasta and sauce. Every bite is exactly the same. Who likes dinner to be homogeneous?

I've made this argument several times to several people, and once my sister tried to explain to someone else my position. She said, "He doesn't like pasta, because it's too monogamous." When I tried to explain to her that 'homogeneous' and 'monogamous' were in fact, two very different words, she stated, "Well, they both mean 'the same,' don't they?" Who can fight with logic like that?

However, there are a few sauces of which I wouldn't mind a big ole' bowl of homogeneity. I first tasted a tomato mascarpone sauce from a little food delivery service my parents have (seriously, it started as a milkman delivering 2 gallons a week, and now he brings produce, and baked goods, and ridiculously good pasta sauce). Then I had another shot at it at a quirky little cafe in a bookstore in Washington DC over lobster and asparagus ravioli (more on that later). I decided to give it a go.

The end result was not exactly like what I had before, but was quite good. Feel free to experiment and comment.

Pasta with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce

  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 large, ripe Roma tomatoes, diced
  • about 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3-4 large, fresh basil leaves, sliced thin, plus additional for garnishing
  • about 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound dry pasta (I used fusilli, because I like how it holds the sauce, but you could use just about anything)
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the shallot and garlic, and stir until soft but not yet browned. Add the diced tomatoes, and saute for a few minutes. Add the chicken broth and basil, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the tomatoes are very soft, about 25-30 minutes. Add more broth if it reduces too much.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Rinse, and keep warm.

When the tomatoes have finished simmering, add the mascarpone and stir until melted and mixed well throughout. Season with salt and pepper to taste (it will probably require a good bit of salt).

Top the pasta with the warm sauce and additional sliced, fresh basil.


What do you listen to when you cook? Do you have a jammin' out in the kitchen sing-along session? Do you just turn on whatever's on the radio? Do you have a set culinary playlist? Do you just let the simmering sauce sing to you?

I probably put too much thought into what the iPod plays as I cook away, but sometimes I am very particular. The other day, I needed my angsty love, Ingrid Michaelson. A week or so ago, (I'm embarrassed I'm even writing this down), ABBA was all that would do (if you tell anyone about that, I'll lie and deny it).

Tonight I came home to binge cook; I had three different meals going at the same time, outfitting myself with leftovers for the next week, and for the life of me, I couldn't decide what to listen to. It gnawed at me. So I just put the thing on random and let it go. It just wasn't right.

Tunes are crucial. What do you listen to in the kitchen?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

There was a little Thai place in a city where I used to live that was pretty much the definition of a dive. It was just a few tables thrown into a small room, and the owner's little children just kind of wandered around the restaurant (and I'm pretty sure they stole my friend's chapstick once). However, I kept going back, and the soup was pretty much the reason why.

The first soup on the menu was listed as "sweet and intoxicating" (I think technically it was called tom kha gai, but I always just called it "sweet and intoxicating soup" and that was good enough for me.) It was a blend of coconut, vegetables, chicken, and other stuff that I'm not exactly sure of, but it was good. I know that there may be some out there who be offended at the decidedly American-looking list of ingredients: shouldn't it contain galangal and kaffir lime leaves and those little red chilies that will burn your eyebrows off and nam prik phao and lots of other stuff I can't pronounce? Well, it probably should, and if you're a Thai soup purist, I'm sorry. I don't believe in authenticity nearly as much as I believe in awesomeness. And this, my friends, is awesome.

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 3-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced very thin
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper, stem and seeds removed
  • 3 tablespoons lemongrass puree
  • Zest of 1 lime (finely zested)
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 pound chicken breast
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion
  • 1 can pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice
  • scant 1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon basil leaves
  • Juice of 2-3 limes
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • about 1/2 cup enoki mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • salt, to taste
Place the chicken broth in a large soup pot with the ginger, jalapeno, and lemongrass. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes to flavor the broth, occasionally stirring vigorously with a whisk. Strain the broth through a fine sieve, discard what's left in the strainer, and place the broth back in the pan.

Add the coconut milk, chicken, onion, pineapple, sugar, and herbs. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the chicken is cooked (about 10 more minutes, or so). Shred the chicken, then add back to the pot.

Add the lime juice, pepper, tomato, and mushrooms. Stir until warmed throughout. Season with salt as needed.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tortellini in Asparagus Cream Sauce

This recipe comes from my sister, who was trying to find a way to sneak a few more green vegetables into the diet (she being the domestic goddess that she is, keeping her lovely home with her adorable baby). I've edited just a little bit, and frankly, I quite like the result.

Honestly, this sauce would work just as well on any type of pasta (I think the aforementioned sister uses cheese ravioli). I know what some of you will say when you read the ingredient list and see half-and-half instead of heavy cream. Just hold on there, folks. Remember, this was an attempt to be more healthy and eat more vegetables. You can use heavy cream if you want (and I bet it would be good), but that would kind of defeat my purpose.

Tortellini in Asparagus Cream Sauce

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, hard stems discarded
  • 1/2 large, sweet onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • A few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1.5 pounds dry tortellini
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 450-degrees. Cut off the tips of asparagus and set aside. Place the asparagus, onion (sections separated), and garlic in a roasting pan. Drizzle some olive oil over them, and toss to coat well. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until slightly charred and well-cooked (the time may vary depending on the thickness of the asparagus: mine were very thin).

Bring a pot of salted water to boil on the stove for the pasta. When the vegetables are done, throw in the pasta to cook for the recommended time (usually about 10-12 minutes).

Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Add the vegetables and saute for a few minutes, until soft. Add the half-and-half and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetable and cream mixture until very smooth (the asparagus can be kind of stringy, so make sure you've done a good job). Add the lemon juice and Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste (it may take a lot).

Add in the asparagus tips and simmer for just a minute until slightly soft. Drain the pasta, and using the larger of the two pots you've used, mix the pasta and sauce together until heated. Serve with more Parmesan if needed.

New Toys

Williams and Sonoma was having a sale.

Hurray for me.