Thursday, April 26, 2018

Stir-Fried Pork with Asparagus

This recipe comes from Helen Chen's EASY CHINESE STIR FRIES. The key to this recipe--and the reason kids like it so much--is the hoisin sauce. I'm not actually sure if hoisin sauce exists in China,  but I really don't care. It taste like Coca-Cola served with red licorice. What could be better?

Anyhow, enjoy. I've adjusted some of the sauce ratios to get a slightly stronger flavor.  This should serve four.

Stir-Fried Pork with Asparagus

2 pounds asparagus 
3 TB Cornstarch
3 TB Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1.5 lbs boneless pork chops
3 TB soy sauce
6 TB hoisin sauce
1 TB sugar
3 TB oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups uncooked rice

  1. Prepare rice according to instructions
  2. Combine corn starch and rice wine
  3. Slice pork chops into 1/4-inch pieces and mix into corn starch and rice wine
  4. Break lower stems from asparagus and throw away. Cut asparagus into 2-3 inch pieces
  5. Combine soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and sugar in a bowl; set aside
  6. Pour 1 TB oil into a wok or large frying pan. Heat until asparagus sizzles when you add it 
  7. Cook asparagus for 30 seconds until just dark
  8. Add 1/4 cup water to asparagus and cover immediately. 
  9. Steam for 2-4 minutes until asparagus is just beginning to lose its crispness 
  10. Pour asparagus and juice into a bowl and set aside
  11. Add the rest of the oil to the pan
  12. Once oil is hot, add pork and cook until the pink is just gone
  13. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds
  14. Add hoisin sauce mixture, mix well, and cook for one minute
  15. Add asparagus, mix well, and cook for 30 seconds. 
  16. Remove and serve

Family Ratings: 

Lucy, who remains an adventurous eater: 10
Will, who's happy to eat pretty much anything these days: 10
James, who's easily our finickiest eater: 10
Paul, who found this recipe years ago, then lost it, then found it again: 10
Petra, our Italian student, who's getting used to Paul's cooking: 10

Monday, November 6, 2017

Goan Shrimp Curry

This recipe comes from the unbelievably good At Home with Madhur Jaffrey.  If you're thinking "No WAY will my kids like that!" well . . . you might be right.  But if they like shrimp and they like rice and they like coconut, they just might like this. I've tamped the spiciness factor way down to make it more palatable for young tastebuds.  This recipe is also doubled, because my people eat a lot of it.  

Goa, just so you know, is like, in India and stuff.  

Goan Shrimp Curry

2 Tablespoons canola oil
4 finely chopped medium shallots
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2.5 cups coconut milk (well shaken, preferably before you take it out of the can)
2 lbs peeled shrimp
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

3 cups cooked basmati or jasmine rice

  1. Cook your rice. I use a rice steamer. Those things are effortless. 
  2. Chop your shallots. 
  3. Mix cayenne, paprika, pepper, and turmeric in a bowl.  Set aside. 
  4. Heat oil in a wok or sauce pan. 
  5. When hot, add shallots. Cook until light brown. 
  6. Take the pan off the heat and add spice mix. Stir once or twice, then put the pan back on the heat. 
  7. Add the coconut milk and bring to a low but steady boil. 
  8. Add the shrimp, salt, and lemon juice. 
  9. Stir and cook over medium heat until shrimp turn pink.  
  10. Serve over rice.  

Family Ratings

Lucy, who hates shrimp, except when it's cooked well: 10
James, who isn't crazy about spices: 7
Will, who's really becoming sort of laid back when it comes to food: 8
Ellen, who says I always make her ratings up: Bolivia
Paul, who ate the rest of the leftover shrimp: 10
Petra, our Italian daughter for the year: 7.5

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pasta with Chicken, CARAMELIZED ONIONS, and Blue Cheese

You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything in two or three years. That's because I haven't actually eaten anything for a long long time.

Okay, so that's not true. I've just been busy--raising a family, commuting to work, selling gold records under the pseudonym of Lil Wayne, etc. etc.

And, frankly, you know, sometimes you just don't come across that many new recipes that really float your boat.  In fact, I tried the one I'm about to share maybe 18 months ago. I liked it fine, and made a note of it, but didn't come back to it until tonight. And LOVED it. So very tasty. It's all about the caramelized onions, which, let's admit it: some of your kids may hate. Too bad. Give 'em baby carrots and then help yourself to a third serving.

This recipe comes from a book James gave me for Christmas put out by Food & Wine Books, called "Quick From Scratch Chicken Cookbook." Yeah, I know, right? Some Time Inc. mass-produced, un-authored grocery store text.  But, ya know, it's all about the caramelized onions, right?

Pasta with Chicken, CARAMELIZED ONIONS, and Blue Cheese

1 Tablespoon butter
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, quartered and cut into thin slices
1-1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled between your palms
1 garlic clove, minced (not between your palms)
3/4-1 lb short pasta of your choice
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese (about 1/2 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Trim chicken and season with salt, pepper, and rosemary
  2. Begin to boil water with added salt.
  3. Melt the butter and 2 TB oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 t salt and cook until the onions are very well browned.  Remove from pan. 
  4. Add 1 TB oil to pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook chicken until brown, about 5 minutes. Turn. Cook another 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.  Cover the pan, remove from heat, and allow to steam for 5 minutes. 
  5. Add pasta to water. Cook until al dente, about 5-7 minutes, depending. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
  6. Cut chicken into 1/4 inch slices.
  7. Drain past, RESERVING 1/4 CUP OF WATER
  8. In a large bowl, toss pasta, chicken, any juices in the pan, onions, blue cheese, salt, pepper, and 2 TB of pasta water. Mix. 
  9. If pasta seems dry, add a little more water. 
  10. Serve with crusty bread, a leafy salad, and raw baby carrots. 

Family Ratings: 

Lucy ("Are you kidding? Caramelized onions???"): 10
Will, who, though less demonstrative, admits the caramelized onions are nice: 9
James, who spent most of the meal picking the caramelized onions off the chicken: 7-8.5
Ellen, who seemed surprised how much she likes this dish: 10
Paul, who, let's face it, likes his own cooking a little too much: 10
Petra, our Italian exchange student who likes her al dente very al dente: Not yet sure how my cooking compares to the fine, fresh, Italian fare upon which she was raised!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Chickpea & Feta Orzo Salad

This is one of those recipes where every flavor stands out nicely, but the dish as a whole blends well.  It's also incredibly simple. And it's perfect for summer because it won't heat up your kitchen.

It serves mainly as a side-dish, though I suppose one could make a double recipe and treat it as a main course.  Serve at room temperature, or cooled in the fridge.

Chickpea & Feta Orzo Salad

1 cup orzo pasta, uncooked
1/2 cup green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 15-oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1.5 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBSP cold water
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. minced garlic

  1. Cook the pasta according to directions being sure not to overcook.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Drain well again. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, cheese, green onions, dill, and chickpeas.  Toss gently. 
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, water, salt, and garlic. 
  4. Drizzle the sauce over the pasta mixture and toss to salt. 

Family Ratings: 

Lucy, who never met a cheese she didn't love: 10
Jamie, who's taken to picking small bits of something or other out of all of his foods, but likes chickpeas:  8
Will, who's becoming increasingly easy-going:  9
Ellen, who's no fool:  10
Paul, who's searched his whole life for a pasta salad that didn't seem forced:  10

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Smoky Frittata

This is one of those recipes where you really don't care if your kids like it.  It's just that good.  That said, it's not out of the question that your kids will indeed gobble this dish up:  it contains cheese and more cheese and cream and eggs, and is like a tasty version of scrambled eggs, albeit with cauliflower thrown in.

A few notes:  if your kids aren't cauliflower fans, cut it into small pieces and reduce the boiling/frying time dramatically so as to not overcook.

The recipe calls for scamorza affumicata, a fancy Italian cheese that's often labelled "smoked mozzarella."  If like most people in the known universe you don't have access to this cheese, substitute comte or a similar gruyere-related cheese.  Don't be afraid to allow a little of the skin or rind to get grated in as well, for extra taste texture.

This recipe comes from Yotam Ottomlenghi's PLENTY, which is fast becoming my favorite vegetarian cookbook.

Smoky Frittata

1 small cauliflower, cut into medium-sized florets. 
6 eggs
4 TBSP creme fraiche (I just used sour cream)
2 TBSP dijon mustard
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika (if you don't have both kinds of paprika, just use one kind & don't worry about it)
3 TBSP finely chopped chives
5 oz. smoked scamorza, grated
2 oz. mature cheddar, grated
salt and black pepper
2 TBSP olive oil

  1. Simmer the cauliflower in boiling salted water for 4 minutes until semi-cooked (do not let it get completely soft!).  Drain and dry. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Mix the eggs, the cream/creme, the mustard and the paprika and whisk the heck out of it, making sure everything is thoroughly blended.  
  3. Stir in the chives and 3/4s of the cheeses.  Season well with salt and pepper.  
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large, overproof frying pan.  The pan MUST BE OVENPROOF.  Not that I've tried it without, mind you . . . 
  5. Fry the cauliflower in the pan on medium-high for about five minutes until golden brown on one side.  Pour the egg mixture into the pan and spread evenly.  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  
  6. Turn off the burner.  Scatter the remaining cheeses on top of the ingredients in the pan, then carefully transfer the pan to the over.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the frittata has set. 
  7. Remove from oven and let rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.  

Family Ratings:  

Lucy, who loves everything, the more adventurous the better as long as it's not too spicy:  10
Jamie, who never got around to trying it:  No score. 
Will, who is actually becoming fairly adventurous himself:  8
Ellen, who is happy I've finely discovered vegetarian cooking:  10
Paul, who likes anything where the cheese to non-cheese ratio is high:  10

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Kid-friendly Tuna with Vietnamese Ginger Dipping Sauce

This is clearly one of those recipes where, if your kids are the least bit fussy at all, you've already dismissed it as a possibility.  Which means you're probably not even reading this, so I should probably ignore you.  But what can I say?  I'm a nice guy.  I want everyone to feel important, even if they might just have thoughtlessly dismissed arguably the greatest recipe I've ever posted on my blog.  

Oh my god.  This is SOOOO good.  All three of the kids love it, even Lucy who's almost actually given up claiming she doesn't like fish, solely because of this dish.  

The key is the dipping sauce, which is so good that in truly big fat American style I've gone ahead and doubled the recipe here so that there's enough to go around.  Speaking of fat Americans, though, this recipe is extremely low in fat and really very good for you.  Serve it with jasmine rice and green beans or baby carrots, or some other simple vegetable.  

This recipe is from Andrea Nguyen's wonderful book "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen."  If you don't own this book, you should get on Amazon and buy it immediately.  

Final tip:  if your kids try to reject this dish just because it's tuna, lie and tell them it's chicken.  

Kid-Friendly Tuna with Vietnamese Ginger Dipping Sauce

3 Tuna steaks, roughly 1.5 pounds total (they should be about 1-inch thick)

1/2 tsp sugar
1.5 TBSP fish sauce
1 TBSP fresh lime juice
2 TBSP canola or vegetable oil

Dipping sauce: 
A 3 to 4-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
9-10 TBSP fresh lime juice (about 5-6 limes)
5 TBSP sugar
4-5 TBSP fish sauce

  1. Combine marinade ingredients in a large plastic bag or a small (8x8) baking dish. 
  2. Add tuna steaks to marinade and turn to coat.  There's no need to marinate, but it doesn't hurt to let them sit for a while as you prepare the dipping sauce and any side dishes.  
  3. Combine the first four ingredients of the dipping sauce.  Adjust ginger and lime juice to taste.
  4. Begin by adding 4 TBSP fish sauce.  Adjust to taste.  When you have it just right, mix well and divide the sauce into individual bowls.  These sit alongside each person's plate.  
  5. Heat a skillet over medium-high until hot. 
  6. Add the tuna steaks. 
  7. Cook for 2 minutes on one side. 
  8. Carefully turn steaks. 
  9. Cook on the second side for 3 minutes. 
  10. Test the steaks with a knife.  They should be white at the edges and pink in the middle.  If they look too rare, cook for another minute or two at most, but be careful:  you want pink in the center.  Overcooked tuna tastes like unsalted cardboard.  
  11. Transfer steaks to a cutting board and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices.  
  12. Serve.  

Family Ratings:

Will, who likes to tease his sister about hating fish:  10
Lucy, who's loathe to surrender her hatred of fish, just because: 10
Jamie, who's pretty sure he's eating chicken:  10
Ellen, who likes that her husband is serving something healthy for once: 10
Paul, who figures that if he eats a healthy dinner he can then have a huge slice of cake: 10

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tasty Tasty Tasty Lamb Stew

Oh my god.  I love this recipe.  It's easy.  It's tasty.  Kids like it, but it's also classy enough that when you serve it to company, you look like a friggin' culinary genius.

That said, it's likely a weekend dish, as it really does require a couple hours to simmer itself into melting tenderness.  Serve over rice (brown or white) with some kind of vegetable.  Hide the leftovers from your spouse.

This comes from A TASTE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN, by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow.  Last I looked, it seemed to be out of print, but this cookbook is so consistently good it would be worth it to hunt down a used copy and sell your Beamer to pay for it.

Tasty Lamb Stew

3 TBSP olive oil (divided)
3-3.5 lbs lamb fillet, cut into 2-inch cubes (I just use lamb stew meat.  It works dandy).
1 large onion, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 bay leaf
1 tsp paprika
1/2 cup dry sherry (I just use your generic cooking sherry.  Works dandy).
4 oz. fresh or frozen f-f-f-f-fava beans (sorry--you knew I was going to do that). 
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper  

  1. Heat to medium high 2 TBSP of the oil in a heavy, flame proof casserole dish or dutch oven (now might be a good time to ask your mother for some Le Creuset . . . )
  2. Heat the meat and brown on all sides.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.  (I usually do the meat in two batches).  
  3. Heat the remaining oil in the pan, then add the onions and cook for five minutes or so, until soft.  Return the meat to the pot. 
  4. Add the garlic cloves, the bay leaf, the paprika, and the sherry.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer gently for 2 hours.  Feel free to stir it once or twice in that time to make sure all the meat is soaking in the juices. 
  5. Test the meat.  At this point it should be fall-off-your fork tender.  If it's not, cook for another 10-20 minutes, still on low.  
  6. When the meat is tender enough, add the fava beans.  Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.  
  7. Stir in parsley and serve.  

Family Ratings

Lucy, who is likely the most culinarily adventurous 11-year-old you've ever met:  10
Jamie, who spends most of his meals trying to get Lucy to laugh:  8
Will, who's never liked meat he needs to pick from his teeth:  8
Ellen, who thinks baby sheep are cute and isn't much of a meat eater:  7
Paul, who thinks this is the tastiest stew he's ever encountered:  10