Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thai Chicken with Young Corn

Okay, so maybe this seems a little funny right before Christmas--I mean, Thai food?  Where's the frosting?  Where's the cooked fruit?

Or maybe it's exactly what you need:  light, fast, a little sweet, a little tang on the tongue.  

It comes, unadulterated, from Thailand:  The Beautiful Cookbook.  It's a small-ish recipe, but doubles well. 

Thai Chicken with Young Corn

Enough cooked rice for your family (I usually do 2 cups for the five of us)
3 Tablespoons oil
1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized slices
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup baby corn
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (straw or otherwise)
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground peppercorns
2 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces (or smaller, if you have fussy buggers)

  1. Cook rice according to instructions. 
  2. Cut up your chicken and slice your mushrooms.
  3. Rinse the baby corn.  This helps give it a fresher taste
  4. In a small bowl, mix together oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and peppercorns. 
  5. Heat your wok or skillet to high heat.  Add oil. 
  6. Stir-fry chicken and garlic for 2 minutes. 
  7. Add everything else.  Stir-fry for two more minutes.  
  8. Serve hot over rice.  

Family Ratings: 

Will, who really is starting to develop an appetite:  10
Lucy, who was fighting the flu:  7
Jamie, who is becoming a fussy butt:  8
Ellen, who's not crazy about mushrooms:  10
Paul, who still resents the fact that he wasn't able to go to Thailand because of the red-shirt revolution:  10

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Baked Spaghetti That Doesn't Suck

I'm sorry, but when someone says "baked spaghetti," I think church luncheon and midwestern caterers.  I mean, if you're going to have spaghetti, why not do it right instead of dumping a jar of Chef Boyardee on overcooked noodles and cheddar cheese?

My sense that baked spaghetti was the realm of culinary hacks was confirmed when Lucy decided that that's what she wanted to make for dinner last week.  Because, I assumed, I didn't have a recipe on my shelf, I went straight to  Guess what?  No baked spaghetti!  Ha.  

So I went to, which is another good site.  They have several versions of BS, all of which, at that crucial moment, explicitly said, "Now dump a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce into the mix."  

A simple question:  if I wanted jarred spaghetti, why would I be on-line looking at recipes?  

Feeling smug, I hit my bookshelf--Bittman, Betty, even the NYT cookbook, which carries some pretty crazy stuff.  Nothing that looked good.  

At this point, I was pretty much ready to switch over to Chinese fried dumplings.  At the last second, though, I pulled down one of those old church cookbooks where all the women of the church--"Ladies," they used to be called--shared their favorite recipes in an attempt to raise money for a new organ or baptismal fount.  You know the kind of book I'm talking about, where the recipe for Chicken Dumpling Soup explains that if you want a really good stewing chicken "old hen is the best."  (I'm not making this up!)  This is the same book that contains Will's all-time favorite fajita recipe, and I figured if anyone would know how to make baked spaghetti that didn't suck, it would be some old Lutheran lady from western PA.  

Dang, was I right.  What follows goes waaaaaaay beyond "not sucking" into the realm of oh. my. god. It's just tasty.  The only change I made was to include some Italian sausage.  Otherwise, it's exactly as Dolores Kupsh created it all of those years to go.  

I love you Dolores.  Truly, I do.  

Baked Spaghetti That Doesn't Suck

1/2 lb ground beef
1 lb mild Italian sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
28 oz canned chopped tomatoes
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella (it's a pain, but I'd suggest grating this by hand, because the pre-grated is always dry)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
15 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. sugar
1.5 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. basil
8-12 oz. uncooked spaghetti

  1. Cook spaghetti al dente (basically, cook it according to directions, only taking it out of the water 2 minutes earlier than the lowest time listed)
  2. In a dutch over, brown the sausage, beef, onion, and garlic, until there's just a touch of pink left in the meat. 
  3. Drain the grease.  
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, mushrooms, sugar, oregano, salt, and basil.  Bring to a boil and boil gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  5. Preheat oven to 375. 
  6. Drain the spaghetti and stir it into the sauce. 
  7. Place half of the sauce mixture in a 13x9 pan.  Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella.  Top with the rest of the sauce mixture, then top with the remaining mozzarella and the parmesan.  
  8. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Serve with crusty bread and lime-jello salad with shredded carrots in it (just kidding!)

Family Ratings: 

Will, who would probably really like lime-jello salad:  10
Lucy, who loves sausage, and likes getting her way even more:  10
Jamie, who wants to show his enthusiasm, but isn't sure how:  42
Ellen, who's not all that crazy about ground meats:  8
Paul, who's going to track down Dolores and give her a big smooch:  10