Monday, March 22, 2010

Curry Mee

So, another post without a recipe. Sad, I'm sorry.
But another photo of complicated food I made, and this time, the link the recipe I used.
I've been more than a little obsessed with replicating the Malacca Laksa at a local place, and this recipe from the NYT is the closest I've been able to come. The recipe is pretty involved, but the soup turned out great! I would add a bit more sugar than I did, and then adjust from there.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I'm not going to write down the recipe here (unless you really want it). But I am going to post photos of my afternoon project: Pork Dumplings

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chicken cutlets

Mm. Chicken.
You know how you get breaded chicken sometimes? Like chicken nuggets, or Chicken Parmesan, or on a Wenzel? (shout out, yeah!)
You can make these at home! I will tell you how.

First thing: Chicken. Thin chicken breasts, fresh or well defrosted. Pound them (gently) with a food mallet (or roll them thinner with a rolling pin or a bottle of wine or... be creative). The thinner they are the faster they cook and the less you will burn your gorgeous breading. Lightly salt and pepper your chicken.

Second thing: breading!
I like to use a 4-part method. Some people might tell you that simply dredging the chicken in flour or breadcrumbs is enough. This is a lie. A dirty, evil, vile lie.
So, in comes my tested 4 part method. Get out four bowls, shallow if you can. Or plates work well if they've got a decent rim. Fill them with:
  1. Milk. The layer of milk can be shallow, you just want to coat the chicken quickly.
  2. Flour
  3. Egg, beaten. If you're doing a few, one egg might be enough. 4 large chicken breasts should take about 2 eggs, and more accordingly. 
  4. Breadcrumbs. If you've got old bread, you can use it, but make sure it is very very fine. I use a can of store bought crumbs... it seems silly, but they give a great fine texture to your breading.
 So, in the order above, coat each chicken breast. Your fingers are going to become full of *stuff*, I promise. You may even have to rinse your hands occasionally to keep from having your fingers pick the breading off the chicken. But when you're done, you will have goodness. I promise.

Once everything is breaded, throw away everything that isn't the chicken. Don't try to cook with any of the stuff you just dragged raw meat through, please.

Then heat up a frying pan with some olive oil and some butter. This is the tricky part, because if it's too hot, you will cook the crust up fast, then it will burn as you wait for the meat to cook. If it's too cool, then the breading will soak up all the oil and get sort of soggy. Anyway, depending on the temperament of your stove, you probably want something between medium and all-the-way-up. Cook each one for a minute or two on each side, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Add more oil if you need it.

Pull them out when they're done-- golden on the outside, nice and white on the inside. Serve with any number of amazing sauces or sides. Yummmmm.

Pro tip: if you don't lose much breading in the making, you can deglaze the pan and make a nice sauce, like the chicken piccata I made tonight.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Maple-mustard pork

Ok. This may be a "Fall" recipe. But it's amazing, and I just sort of made it up. And I'm so pleased with myself, I have to share.

Boneless pork chops, or pork loin, or something. I use thin cuts because I like how they cook.
Flour + salt + pepper
thyme (dried is fine)
one lemon
white wine vinager
grainy mustard (NO FRENCH'S WILL NOT WORK)
maple syrup, real strongly preferred
chicken or vegetable stock (I may have been using my homemade stock... but you can use whatever)
olive oil
1/2 small red onion, chopped

1. Dredge the pork (defrosted if it was frozen) in the flour +s+p. About 1/2-1 cup of flour should be enough depending on how much pork. You can opt out of dredging the pork, but it makes it brown up really nicely. Cook the pork in a skillet with some butter, until cooked through. Take it out of the skillet, and leave it aside for now.

2. Deglaze the skillet with something like 1 cup of broth, and a little bit of olive oil. Toss in the chopped onion, and let it simmer for a while. Make sure you get all the brown bits off the bottom.

3. While that's reducing... in a small bowl, add:
  • 1 big glob of mustard
  • 2 tbsp of vinegar
  • the juice of one lemon
  • something like 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • a good sprinkling of thyme
4. Whisk together! Taste; if it is too sweet, add more vinegar or mustard. If it's too tart, add more syrup or some brown sugar. When your broth and onions are looking nice and thick, add the maple-mustard mix. Simmer until it's fairly thick.

5. Spoon over your pork, serve and enjoy.

Maple-mustard pork served with roasted squash with chickpeas and feta, and fresh bread. I meant to make steamed asparagus too, but I forgot. The bitterness would be a great complement, or a bitter greens salad....

Sunday, March 7, 2010

White Chicken Pizza

Premise One: Pizza is delicious.
Premise Two: Pizza makes a great meal, and great leftovers.
Premise Three: Frozen pizza isn't nearly as good as delivery (except in extreme circumstances, such as finding oneself in the rural south).
Further: So many places sell and deliver pizza!
Therefore, it must be hard to make...

Well, no. In fact this week, when my department has been throwing everything they've got at us, I come home and make pizza. (No, this is not a Chicagoan's stress reaction.)

I do cheat a little and use a prepared crust. It saves a lot of time and energy. If you want to make your own, try this.  But a pizza needs only a few things.
  1. Crust. Like I said, I usually buy mine. 
  2. Cheese. Indispensable. If you know what you like, use that. If not, go for a bag of the pre-shredded Italian Blend for quickness. (Shredding your own is fun, but not quick.) 
  3. A base. Usually, tomato sauce. But there's no pizza sauce on the market that I actually like. So I make white pizzas. 
  4. Toppings. Do what you want. 
My favorite is here.
Bobali or similar pizza crust.
Shredded Italian cheeses
chicken, cubed and cooked
1/4 - 1/2 red onion, chopped into small pieces or slices
3-5 cloves of roasted garlic. Do this the night before, please. See yesterday's post! And don't substitute fresh! The acidity might kill you if you don't know what you're getting into. Roasted garlic makes it warm and soft and sweet, while fresh garlic is much more acrid. If you want, toss a little fresh garlic in with the chicken while you're cooking it.
Olive oil
Red pepper flakes, dry Italian seasoning mix (optional but recommended)

1. Cook up your chicken, chop your veggies. Preheat your oven, following the recipe for the crust.
2. Drizzle some olive oil on the crust. Resist the urge to smear it around until you've also added your red pepper flakes/oregano/Italian seasonings. Squeeze your roasted garlic (3-5 cloves does nicely) onto the crust. Then smear it all around. If you're squeamish, use a spoon, otherwise, get messy! Use your fingers.
3. Top with toppings. Cover with cheese. Bake.
4. Eat.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Roasted Garlic

Garlic just might be my link with God.

Anyway, roasted garlic is amazing. And amazingly easy. It has a soft texture, a little bit like room temperature butter. And it's sweet and mellow, and you can eat cloves whole quite pleasurably. (Note: do not eat whole raw garlic cloves. No one wins, ok?)

It goes great as an appetizer or as a complement to a whole host of dishes. It makes a good dip or snack, or a great spread on pizza, garlic bread, or added whole to pastas and other garlic-friendly dishes.

  1. Cut off the top of the garlic cloves. That means the pointy top end, not the tough bottom. Cut off just a little bit, enough to see the inside of each clove, but not so much as to waste a lot of perfectly good garlic. This works for either a whole head, or just a few cloves at a time.
  2. Make a little foil package around the garlic. Put the garlic, either whole or separated, into the foil. 
  3. Top with a generous pat of butter. Seal up the top of the foil package.
  4. Bake at 350-400 for 40-60 minutes. I like to put mine in a muffin tin, in case it leaks a little. But any baking sheet or dish will work fine. 
  5. Let cool before using. To use, squeeze out the roasted garlic innards from the peel by squeezing the bottom of the clove between two fingers. Or, if you prefer, you can laboriously slice away the peel.
You can safely roast your garlic several days in advance, too, which is great for me, since I never have time to roast garlic and then cook. If I remember, I'll put garlic in at the same time I start dinner and use it later in the week. Just crinkle up some foil into a tightly sealed little package and refrigerate.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Roasted Squash

I FINALLY got to roast my squash tonight. And it was worth the wait because it was delicious. And also really simple.

1. Buy a butternut squash. It looks like this:

Cut it up into cubes. Here is very good advice for that. If you want, you can make vegetable stock with the skins and seeds. But if you're doing that, you probably don't need my help.

2. Rinse a can of whole chickpeas/garbanzo beans. They're the same thing. If you're picky, you can roll each pea in your fingers to take the skin off. If not, they'll be just fine with skin on. Promise. Preheat the oven to about 400.

3. In a roasting dish, combine your cubed squash, rinsed chickpeas, and a few glugs of olive oil. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. Add about a tablespoon of brown sugar. The best way to do this would be to put the brown sugar in your hands and roll it through your hands, dusting the sugar over the dish. Then dig in and toss, with hands or spoon.

4. Bake for 40 minutes or so. Top with crumbled feta cheese (goat cheese would also be nice), and serve with crusty bread.

So much yum.