The flu hit Merideth and I hard at the beginning of this year, so we wanted to make meals that we low key, warming, and flavorful enough to soothe our sniffles. With its warm spices and forgiving ingredients, curry is my go-to comfort food. I mixed my own curry powder for this out of turmeric, paprika, ginger, white pepper, and a pinch of salt, but any curry spice you have on hand will make a tasty dinner. I also roasted my own whole chicken (part of my stubborn determination not to turn on my heater in Florida), but to make this even easier, you can use a premade, grab and go chicken available at the grocery store or deli.
- Whole chicken, cooked (or store bought rotisserie chicken)
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 4 tbs garam masala or other curry powder
- 3 tbs fish sauce
- 2tbs tamarind paste
- 2 tbs fenugreek
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
- 2-3 shallots, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3tbs butter
- 2 cups spinach
- Cooked rice, to serve
- Debone cooked chicken and put bones into a medium pot. Cover with 6 cups water and simmer until reduced, about 30-45 minutes. Turn off heat.
- Melt butter in a large pot. Add diced shallots and minced garlic and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add coconut milk and garam masala to pot and simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Cut incisions in the tomatoes and add tomatoes and chicken to pot and ladle chicken broth into the mixture until curry has reached desired consistency.
- Simmer for 30 minutes and serve over rice!
For this week, Amanda and I were in the mood for some brunch. Since with the holiday and the new year, it’s definitely brunch hosting season. We wanted to share some interesting, low maintenance, and somewhat nutritious brunch ideas that would definitely please a crowd, just in case you still had a few people around to share a meal and you were sick of something too heavy. This breakfast pizza, a twist on the classic Shakshuka, might be something that is a little different, has a little bit of a kick to wake everyone up and is easy as can be. In addition, if you have a big day of eating ahead of you, as I often do when family is around, this will both be likely a different flavor profile than your future meals and has at least some nutrition. Overall, it’s a nice meal to add to your breakfast rotation, even if it’s not a special occasion and just a random Saturday, and its convenience is big selling point.
If you’re hosting a New Years Day get-together, sometimes being alone in the kitchen preparing a feast can be a much needed social pause (introverts ftw!). Often, though, at breakfast I just want to enjoy my tea and not dirty too many dishes. Since this pizza’s sauce and crust can be made in advance, it’s fairly low maintenance (which, I mean, I don’t know how you celebrate New Year’s Eve, but it you might not be in the mood to do too much). However, the results are pretty impressive so if you still need to get away, feel free to relax and sip your tea while hiding in the kitchen and pretending you’re slogging away.
Pizza Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 cup of crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp Hungarian Half-Sharp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp vegetable or grapeseed oil
- Pinch of salt
Heat a small saucepot over medium heat and add the oil. Add your diced onions and salt to the pot and sweat them for 2-3 minutes until translucent in color. Add the minced garlic and stir in with onions, cooking for an additional minute.
Add your remaining sauce ingredients and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before adding to your pizza or make ahead of time and store in the fridge for up to 3 days in a sealed container.
Other Pizza Ingredients:
- Pizza Crust (I used premade Naan but any flatbread would do, or you can make your own)
- Feta Cheese crumbles
- Spinach Leaves
- Preheat your oven to 425°F (if using a pizza stone or baking steel, preheat the oven for 45 minutes at least).
- Spread a nice dollop of sauce onto your pizza crust (up to you how much you want although I went a little thicker than I normally would since Shakshuka is all about the sauce).
- Top with a few spinach leaves and feta cheese evenly distributed.
- If you’re planning on using a pizza stone, I would recommend transferring your crust and ingredients at this point in time. If using a baking sheet, no worries. Create a divot in the pizza sauce if possible and crack an egg or two into the divots or wherever you think the egg will not run off the sides. Try to make your egg placement so that the pizza will have good egg coverage.
- If using that pizza stone/steel, quickly and carefully crack the egg directly onto the pizza on the stone.
- Bake for 12-18 minutes, monitoring how the eggs are set. Ideally you want set whites and fairly runny yolks. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly and serve. Enjoy!
Wine Pairing: I mean, I know a Mimosa is my go-to breakfast drink, but that’s what I’d probably have. If you’re going the breakfast for dinner route or if you wanted to just go full on glass of wine (I’m not above it) I think I’d still pick a light wine like Pinot Grigio but a Beaujolais would go well also.
This was the second course of our “one ingredient: 3 courses” dinner and I knew I wanted something a little different than the first course, the Potato and Mushroom Galette, but also that still had potatoes as the star of the dish. Since potatoes can be a little heavy and we had three courses to get through, I also wanted something that wouldn’t leave me needing to change to elastic pants halfway through the meal so these pierogies-meet-Indian flavors were the perfect choice–albeit labor intensive.
I opted to use pre-made wonton wrappers rather than make my own dough, since I had a big day ahead of me and don’t always have luck with making my own wrappers. If you have your own recipe, feel free to use it. I know I usually like to make everything from scratch when I do these posts, but as our dinner date approached and my back started to ache from stuffing these dumplings, I had no regrets. This will make quite a few dumplings and if you use full fat yogurt they should freeze nicely.
So, if you aren’t sick of potatoes yet, here is course #2:
- 2 medium potatoes
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups roughly chopped spinach
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 cup plain, full fat yogurt
- 2 tbsp butter
- Salt & Pepper
- Potsticker or wonton wrappers
- 1/2 cup plain, full fat yogurt
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 2 tsp lime juice
- Peel and cut the potato into quarters. In a medium size pot, add your potato pieces, enough water to cover them and a heavy pinch of salt.
- On the stovetop, bring the pot to a boil and cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 10 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and mash. with a masher, ricer or food mill.
- Meanwhile, in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat, add 1 tbsp of oil, onion and the minced garlic.
- Stir the garlic and onion, careful not to burn it, until fragrant: about 1-2 minutes. Add the garam masala, curry powder, cumin and turmeric and stir for an additional minute.
- Add the spinach and cook until fully wilted and turn the heat to low. Add the potato mash, yogurt, butter, and salt and pepper (to taste) and ensure that everything is fully incorporated in the potato mash. Remove from heat and allow to cool so that you can safely spoon it in the wonton wrappers.
- Once ready to start your dumplings, lay out your potsticker wrappers and a small cup of water to dip your fingers for sealing.
- Spoon 1 tsp of the potato mixture into the center of the wrapper and using a finger dipped in the water, wet one half of the outer 1/4″ of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half being sure to push out any air and making sure the filling does not come out. Press the two sides of the wrapper together firmly to make sure the dumpling is sealed.
- Repeat until you have no more filling. At this point, you could freeze these for later by lining the dumplings up on a cookie sheet and freezing flat for 30 minutes. Then, transfer the frozen dumplings to a plastic bag for freezer storage.
- When ready to cook the dumplings, first, whisk together the yogurt, curry powder and lime juice in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pan and cook the dumplings on each side for about 3 minutes, until the skins look crispy and brown.
- Transfer the cooked dumplings to a plate and drizzle with the yogurt sauce and some fresh cilantro or green onion slices. Enjoy!
Merideth and I’s schedules got a little crazy in the month of October, so instead of our usual Saturday night Skype date, we made quick weeknight dinners! Nothing better for some comfort food than chicken nuggets and some cut up veggies. This easy and versatile chicken nugget recipe came in handy for a breakfast biscuit (more on that soon!)
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- Canola oil for frying
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Set aside a plate covered in a few layers of paper towels to absorb oil after frying.
- Cut chicken breasts into bite size chunks.
- Set ingredients into three bowls, left to right: flour, eggs, and bread crumbs.
- Dredge chicken nuggets first in flour, then egg mixture, and then bread crumbs until thoroughly covered. Set aside.
- Using tongs, place nuggets into hot oil and heat for approximately 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Note: the oil will lose heat, so wait for oil to reheat in between batches and keep a close eye on the frying process.
- Place nuggets on paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil. Enjoy!
Amanda and I have made no effort to hide our love of Masterchef, and when the contestants were taught to break down a large piece of meat, we were inspired. Amanda and I wanted to try our hand at breaking down a large cut into smaller, more presentable portions. In my case, I had done this before with a whole beef tenderloin (also called a PiSMO) and so I thought I would share.
Whole Tenderloin, because they require less processing, are usually a pretty economical choice considering that this one of the most prized parts of the cow. They are generally vacuum packed and sold at a much lower rate per pound than their individually packaged counterparts. Since there is a lot of meat in one of those packages, the overall cost might still be high. However, considering I have usually managed to get 8-10 dinners out of one piece, it still works out to be a great deal.
After breaking everything down, obviously the best reward would be to cook one of these newly trimmed filets up for yourself. Combined with the mushroom shallot butter recipe below and a glass of wine, I think you’re in for a good night after hauling that hunk of beef home from the store.
Breaking down a whole (or half in my case) Beef Tenderloin:
- Pull the initial layer of fat off the tenderloin. You may need a knife to get an initial tear in the fat started, but once you get your fingers under this layer, you should be largely able to remove with your hands.
- With the fat removed, you should be able to make out three parts of the meat. The actual tenderloin is the long, circular portion in the middle. On one side will the “Chain”which is the smaller, longer piece. On the other side, is a wide, thick portion much shorter than the tenderloin. Remove the pieces on either side of the tenderloin and reserve for recipes of your choice. The chain makes excellent stir fry meat and the other portion is also great as a roast!
- Now that the tenderloin is trimmed, you should be able to see a layer of “silverskin” on some of the meat. This must be removed as it does not render like other fat. To remove, stick the tip of your knife under a small piece. Once you can get your finger under the silverskin, lift the skin with one hand and peel it off the meat, using your knife when needed. This part can be a bit tricky, but continue to peel off the silverskin in strips this way until all is removed.
- Now the tenderloin is ready to be portioned. You can keep it whole if you’d like, but I usually like to cut some of it into filets. Slice into 2″ portions. The end with the taper can be butterflied into a filet if you would like or you can save that end as a roast if you want to leave that portion a little thicker.
- I like to freeze the extra meat in freezer bags individually so I can pull them out whenever I’m craving some steak for dinner. Portions can stay in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Filet with Mushroom Butter:
Mushroom butter Ingredients:
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1 lb baby Portobello mushrooms or mushrooms of your choice, minced.
- 1 small shallot, minced.
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp oil
- In a small pan over medium heat, add the oil and saute the shallots until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt.
- Cook the mushrooms and shallots until the mushrooms have released their moisture and reduced size, about 5-7 minutes. Taste and add more salt if desired during cooking. When finished, remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Once cooled, add the stick of butter to a stand mixer and add your mushroom/shallot mixture and mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until everything is distributed.
- Spoon the butter mixture onto the middle of a sheet of parchment paper. Fold the paper in half over the butter, gently. Using a sheet pan and starting at the end where the paper corners meet, slowly slide the pan down and toward the butter so that elongates into a tube. Once this is completed, you can roll the leftover parchment around the butter and twist the ends. Chill the butter for at least 2 hours. This can be made up to 5 days in advance, or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.
- When you are ready to make your steaks, remove them from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Preheat the oven to 450°F and stick in a cast iron pan.
- Once the oven and pan are preheated, (carefully) move the cast iron pan to the stove top and heat over medium-high. Liberally salt and pepper your steaks and sear in the hot pan for 2 minutes on each side.
- Add a pat of the mushroom butter to the tops of the steaks and transfer the pan to the oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 140°F for medium rare. This should be about 3-5 minutes depending on thickness.
- Remove from the oven and allow steaks to rest on a cooling rack loosely draped with foil for 10 minutes. Top with an additional pat of butter and serve. Enjoy!
Wine Pairing: A Burgundy or a really bold Pinot Noir would be a great match with both the mushroomy undertones that the butter brings as well as the beef. Happy cooking!
Well, it’s the middle of summer and it…is…HOT! As if the outside temperature weren’t enough, my giant kitchen windows face west. While having the setting sun’s rays streaming across my prep areas is aesthetically pleasing, it certainly raises the temperature of the kitchen noticeably. This, combined with the fact that the oven loves to radiate heat in any way it can makes for a sweaty dinner preparation. After a long day, any recipe that allows me to keep my cool is welcome in my house in the peak of summer for sure.
While my spring rolls are also a great choice, I do like to look towards sushi in times of serious heat. While it does involve cooking the rice, those of us lucky enough to automatic rice cookers (you’ll have to pry that appliance from my fingers–I’m never living without one) means that we can push the button and run away.
Since my palette has not quite graduated to raw fish, and living in a landlocked state hardly places confidence in any fish available, I love to make this fruit sushi as inspired from DK Sushi in Austin. About once every few months I get a craving for these flavors that can only be quenched by bringing out the sushi mat. For a more savory version, I have also made a cucumber and turkey roll that showcases the regional favorite, provel cheese.
If this post has ignited a need for sushi but you’re still craving that fish, I’d suggest checking out Amanda’s too-hot-to-cook post, the Poke Bowl with Avocado Rice, for some fish marinade suggestions that can easily be incorporated into a roll of your choice. For now though, enjoy these alternative options!
Yogurt Drizzle Ingredients:
- 1/4 cup of strawberry yogurt
- 2 tbsp pineapple juice
- 1 tsp sugar
- Stir together the yogurt, pineapple juice and sugar until you have a smooth consistency and sugar is dissolved. Chill until ready to serve.
Sushi Rice Ingredients:
- 2 cups of uncooked, short grain white rice
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp salt
- Rinse the uncooked rice in cold water until the water is clear (this is very important!). I usually like to add rice and water to the pot in which I’ll be cooking and then use my hand as a claw to agitate the starches. Then drain the starchy water and repeat until the water is clear.
- Add 2 cups of fresh water to the rice pot and either cook using a rice cooker or the traditional method (bring to boil over stove, cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes and fluff).
- Add the sugar, rice wine vinegar and salt to the rice and stir until well incorporated. Traditionally these are heated together to form a syrup but we’re trying to use heat as little as possible here and I find the residual rice heat can help dissolve the granules.
- Allow rice to cool for 15-20 minutes. It can still be slightly warm when you are ready to assemble.
Sushi Assembly Ingredients:
- Fresh Pineapple, thinly sliced
- Apple, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
- Avocado, sliced
- Fresh Mango
- Strawberries, sliced
- Nori Sheets
- Black sesame seeds
- Sprinkle the black sesame seeds over your sushi mat and then spread 1/3 of your rice evenly onto the mat it in a square, about 1/4″ shorter than the nori height. Then add the nori, shiny side down.
- Place the slices of avocado, apple and pineapple about 2/3 of the way down the nori sheet trying to fill in as many gaps as possible. However, try not to overfill.
- Roll your mat over the filling ingredients and continue to roll. s you complete a rotation, press to make sure the roll is coming together. Pull the mat away from the roll as you keep going.
- Slice the roll into 8 equal portions.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel slices of mango so you have a small 1 inch sheet of mango.
- With a pastry brush or your finger, brush a little bit of your yogurt drizzle onto the mango sheet and lay it over the top of one of your sushi pieces. Place a slice of strawberry on top.
- Once all pieces are assembled, drizzle the yogurt over top and enjoy!
Quick Cucumber and Turkey Sushi
- Sushi Rice
- Nori Sheets
- Cucumber, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
- Provel cheese (can also use cream cheese)
- Sliced turkey, deli meat.
- Place the nori sheet, shiny side down on your sushi mat. Spread a thin, even layer of your sushi rice over the nori sheet and leave about 1/4″ of the nori visible at the top.
- Place the cucumber, turkey and cheese about 2/3 down the nori sheet avoiding gaps.
- Roll your sushi; when you get to the top, brush some water onto the nori to help it seal itself.
- Slice into 8 equal portions and enjoy.
Wine Pairing: Obviously, we’re going for refreshing here so a chilled white or rose wine sounds fitting. Something like a riesling is an excellent choice!
Usually, Saturdays are cooking days in my house while I get ready for my blog dates with Merideth. In the heat of the summer, this is way less exciting. I just got back from a week in California and, now that I’m home in, realized I never truly appreciated how absolutely hot it is in Florida. This minimal-cooking, refrigerator friendly recipe is perfect for lazy, hot summer afternoons when you want to make the most of your air conditioning and chilled white wine.
Ahi Tuna and Marinade
- 1 tuna steak, sushi grade (about 1lb), cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 2 tbs sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbs ground ginger
- Toppings: Sriracha, green onions, and/or sesame seeds (optional)
- 2 cups cooked jasmine rice
- 1 medium avocado, diced
- 1 tbs ground ginger
- Salt and pepper
- Whisk marinade ingredients together and pour over tuna in a bowl and Marinade for at least 15 minutes.
- Stir diced avocado into jasmine rice until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and ginger.
- Top rice with marinated tuna and other accompaniments as desired.
Wine Pairing: Though I’m tempted to justify a Pinot noir because I tend toward red wine, this tuna was great with a Pinot Grigio, which is slightly sweeter than a Sauvignon Blanc without being too rich.
Merideth and I are big fans of MasterChef and their “stunning” dishes, including the signature “me on a plate” entries. In honor of the newest season, Merideth and I made our own signature dishes! For me, it’s scallops and a spinach strawberry salad. Probably not MasterChef worthy in its complexity, but tasty, light, and protein rich! Scallops and spinach are also high in iron, which I am usually low in due to my exercise.
There are two types of scallops you’ll commonly find: bay and sea scallops. Usually, I get sea scallops, as they are larger and better for pan-searing, but I didn’t pay close attention and got bay scallops for this dinner instead. No worries though – bay scallops are well suited for stir-frying! In both cases, seasoning with salt, pepper, and some lime juice is all you need.
- 1/2 lb scallops (about 25)
- Canola oil
- Salt and pepper
- Lime juice
- Vinegrette: red wine vinegar, olive oil
- Lay out scallops on a cutting board or plate and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and let sit for about 5 minutes. Pat dry again.
- Heat canola oil in a skillet on medium-high heat and add scallops. If using the larger sea scallops, sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the top and bottom are caramelized. If using smaller bay scallops, stir fry for about 5 minutes or until scallops feel more dense.
- Meanwhile, slice strawberries and use to top spinach salad. Dress with oil and vinegar!
Wine Pairing: I usually prefer red wine, but this goes well with a Sauvignon Blanc or, if you’re feeling fancy, some bubbly!
Its settled down now, but a few weeks ago it was raining nonstop here in Florida. We badly needed the rain, but it left outdoor dining options pretty limited (and gave me a good excuse to sit inside and enjoy the cloudy night!) Not having a grill anyway, I decided to go for a baked chickpea burger. The pineapple salsa was a last minute addition and made dinner feel tropical on a stormy night!
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg (or equivalent egg substitute)
- Hamburger buns (I used Hawaiian sweet rolls!)
- Pineapple chunks, drained
- Red wine vinegar
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Add garlic, onion, chickpeas, and salt and pepper to taste to food processor and drizzle oil into bowl. Blend until it forms a rough paste.
- Empty food processor into medium bowl. Add egg and bread crumbs and combine.
- Mold chickpea blend into palm-sized patties, about 3 inches across and half an inch thing. If they cannot hold their shape, add a little more olive oil.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Drain pineapple through colander and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 20 minutes.
- Move pineapple to bowl and toss with red wine vinegar and cilantro to taste.
- Serve on top of chickpea patty.
Rosé Strawberry Punch
Mix ingredients in a pitcher and serve!
- 1 bottle rosé
- Juice from can of pineapple, drained
- 1 liter Sprite
- Frozen whole strawberries (to chill your punch)
It was burger week for Amanda and me with our latest Distance Dishes date. While I don’t crave them often, something about that warm, summer air that has been moving in made me want to bite into a nice, juicy burger. While classic beef burgers are all well and good, we wanted to experiment with some alternatives for when red meat just won’t do.
Amanda got creative with a vegetarian version soon to come, but Mediterranean flavors were calling my name. With a heavily seasoned patty topped with a refreshing tzatziki, this burger packs an amazing flavor punch while still feeling refreshing. Biting into this delicious sandwich topped with fresh vegetables is quite the reward for standing over a hot grill (or pan).
One tip I will say Amanda and I both learned is not make your patties too thick or you’ll be waiting forever for that middle to cook. I had to delay our skype date because I was waiting for a safe internal temperature forever. The picture above is an eight ounce patty, but I’ve adjusted the recipe below. Learn from my mistakes 😉
Greek Chicken Burger Patty:
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 mini bell pepper, minced
- 1/4 cup cooked spinach, chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- In a large bowl, hand mix together all ingredients so that everything is well incorporated into the meat.
- Form into 4 patties and cook in a pan or grill over medium heat until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Then, they are ready for assembly.
- 1/4 cucumber, shredded
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- juice of half a lemon
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
- Whisk together all ingredients and chill until ready to use.
- Ciabatta Rolls
- Red onion slices
Assemble as desired and top burger with Tzatziki. If you’d like, serve with the Grilled Balsamic Zucchini and enjoy!
Wine Pairing: For this meal, I wanted to try out a new pitcher and actually made a Summery Wine Punch (below) to add to the summery vibes. However, for a true pairing, actually a Pinot Noir might stand up to the tartness of the Tzatziki while also balancing out the flavor profile.
Summer Wine Punch:
- 1 bottle of dry white wine
- 1 qt pink lemonade
- 4 oz pineapple juice
- Fresh, sliced strawberries for garnish
Add all ingredients into a pitcher, stir and serve with ice.