Poke Bowl with Avocado Rice 

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.

Ingredients

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)

Avocado Rice

  •  2 cups cooked jasmine rice 
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • 1 tbs ground ginger
  • Salt and pepper 

Instructions

  1. Whisk marinade ingredients together and pour over tuna in a bowl and Marinade for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Stir diced avocado into jasmine rice until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and ginger.
  3. 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.

Beef, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

The slow cooked meal is such a wonderful convenience in all seasons. While at first thought, it seems that it is best served during the winter months as the slow cooker rewards you with hearty stews and belly-warming chilis, it can definitely be a summer blessing as well. An oven or even a simmering pot on the stove can make the kitchen uncomfortably warm on an already warm day, and a slow cooker silently cooking away in the corner is an excellent alternative to using your kitchen towels to wipe sweat from your brows every two minutes.

This week, Amanda and I wanted to go low maintenance. I had some obligations on the day of our skype date so a set-it-and-forget-it recipe was just what the doctor ordered.  Since it was an unseasonably cold day, I did opt for a heartier beef soup but it could easily be enjoyed during warm weather as well. As stated above, the reduced use of heat emanating appliances would definitely make me more receptive to a soup in the middle of July for sure. Regardless, this soup was tasty, easy and made plenty of leftovers for weekday lunches.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1 inch chunks.
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, I used baby bellas but you could branch out with varieties.
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick clices.
  • 1 onion, diced.
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions (I know. See if you can keep up with me here):

  1. If desired (and you will be rewarded in flavor), brown the beef over medium heat before adding to the slow cooker. However, if you’re like me and and feel that the point of the slow cooker is not to dirty any other pans, add all ingredients to the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Enjoy with your favorite crusty bread or however you would like!

Wine Pairing: The umami flavor of the mushrooms and the rich beefy taste can stand up to a full bodied red like a syrah, which would warm the belly and bring even more comfort to a dinner with this soup. 

Japanese Style Curry & Chicken Katsu with Satay Spices

This weekend, I found myself home alone which has become a bit more rare in married life. Therefore, Amanda and I got to talking about meals we like to make when no one else is home and we have the whole kitchen and day to ourselves. While I like to use these home alone days to delve into new culinary experiments, I do often love to use this time to treat myself to an old comforting favorite that I could probably eat every night of the week. Of course, for me, this means one of two meals: Curry, or Chicken Satay.

While these two meals are hardly exotic or out of the realm of Amanda’s and my normal cooking, I wanted to combine these two favorites to create the ultimate comfort meal with leftovers enough to entertain me for the rest of the weekend should I decide sip wine and watch rom-coms for the rest of the time alone. This can be as hands off as you’d like once you get past making the roux (which can be done in advance or you can buy this part), or you can go more traditional with the actual frying of the chicken if you’re feeling it. The possibilities are what you’d like to make of it! The results are something I’ll certainly be adding to my comfort food rotation and I hope you like it too.

Satay Spice Blend

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, if desired

Satay Marinated Chicken Katsu Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Satay spice blend
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts butterflied and pounded thin
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp butter (if pan frying)

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the spice blend, cilantro, water, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil until blended.
  2. Place the butterflied and pounded chicken breasts into a large zip-top bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over the chicken. Make sure the chicken is fully covered by the marinade and allow to sit in the refrigerator (covered/sealed) for 8-24 hours.
  3. Once the time has passed, prepare 3 shallow dishes (or paper plates for easy cleanup). Add your flour to one, the egg to the second (and scramble it) and the panko with some salt and pepper to taste to the third. Remove the chicken from the marinated and try to shake off any excess liquid.
  4. Dip the chicken first into the flour and shake off the excess, then dip into the egg and then the panko ensuring even coating at each step. Repeat with additional breasts.
  5. The traditional Katsu is fried, but you can either pan fry with 2-3 tbsp of butter over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side or you can bake on a greased wire rack over a baking sheet at 350°F for 30 minutes if you want a lower maintenance approach. Slice and serve with the curry.

Curry Roux:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp satay spice blend

Instructions: 

  1. Over low heat, heat the flour and butter in a small saucepan,stirring constantly so it does not burn.
  2. Once the butter has melted, continue stirring over heat for 20-30 minutes. The mixture should thicken and take on a light brown color.
  3. Add the garam masala and satay spices and heat for about 30 more seconds until the mixture is thick and there is little liquid left.
  4. Allow to cool and use immediately or refrigerate until needed. It will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week or you can freeze for up to a year if needed.

Curry Sauce:

  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Remainder of satay spice blend
  • Curry roux from above or store-bought cubes.
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes to remove starch
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Cooked white rice to serve

Instructions: 

  1. Over medium heat in a large saucepan, add the oil, onions and spices to the pan and cook until the onions are semi-translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add the carrots and potatoes to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, roux and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir to incorporate the roux, and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Serve with white rice and the breaded chicken. Enjoy!

Alternate Pressure Cooker instructions: 

  1. If you’re looking to have a maintenance free night, saute the onions, oil and spices in the pressure cooker. Then add all other ingredients and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Valve release the pressure and spoon over white rice and add your chicken.

Wine Pairing: Since these flavors are pretty unique and loud by themselves, I’d go with a Pinot Grigio to lighten it up a bit. 

Herb Saffron Rice

While couscous is a traditional and delicious accompaniment to the wonderful Beef and Beet Tajine recipe Amanda and I recently tried, I decided to make some flavorful rice to go along with it this time.  I think it’s fairly clear that Amanda and I are fans of rice in general but this rice really is a showstopper.

The herbs used in this recipe are customizable to your tastes, although I’d probably stick within the leafy, more subtle family with this one. You might not want to use Basil or rosemary but Dill, parsley and cilantro (coriander leaves) would probably be delicious in your own preferred ratios. I received a hydroponic garden for Christmas and have been working on growing my herbs for a little while so this was the first dish in which I was able to use bits of my own plants in my food, so I used a lot of parsley and a bit of dill as well to equal the below measurement. I found this probably to be a little too exciting and should get out more. It was yummy though!

I absolutely love my rice cooker and I don’t know if I could live without it. However, I think it’s been established that not everyone enjoys grains as frequently as I do, so I have provided the stovetop method as well below. The stovetop method may actually produce better results since you’ll be able to control when you’re adding ingredients but either way, you’ll be rewarded with a delicious base for your tajine dinner or any other meal for sure.

  • 2 cups basmati or Jasmine Rice
  • Pinch of Saffron (about 15 threads)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or even better, ghee
  • 1/2 onion minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2  cups vegetable or broth
  • 1 cup chopped, fresh herbs, I chose curled parsley and dill
  • salt

Stovetop Method:

  1. Rinse your rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Drain.
  2. Add the pinch of saffron to the 1/2 of water and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add oil/ghee to a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Ad the minced onion and garlic to the saucepan and saute until the onions are semi-translucent and the smell is fragrant.
  5. Add the rice and stir for about 1 minutes to bring out the flavor of the rice.
  6. Add the saffron water, broth, herbs and a heavy pinch of salt to the saucepan and bring to a boil.
  7. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed (don’t check on it before the 20 minute mark though).
  8. Fluff (gently) with a fork and serve with extra herbs if desired.

Rice Cooker Method:

  1. Rinse your rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Drain.
  2. Add the pinch of saffron to the 1/2 of water and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add oil/ghee to either a pan or if your cooker has a “brown/saute” option, add it directly to the pot.
  4. Saute the minced onion and garlic in the oil until semi-translucent and the smell is fragrant.
  5. Add the rice and stir for a few moments to bring out the flavor. If this step is done outside the cooker, transfer the rice, onion and garlic to the rice cooker.
  6. Add the saffron water, broth, herbs and a heavy pinch of salt to the cooker and start the cooking.
  7. Once your rice cooker has indicated it is finished, give everything a good (but gentle) fluffing and it is ready to serve warm.

 

Quick Tofu Fried Rice

Last week, I tripped while running….and broke my fall on my phone. I lost all my pictures from recent road trips, my cat and dog, and the pictures from this dinner date! Fortunately, I make this fried rice all the time for weeknight dinners, so the simple ingredients and time weren’t too hard to track down to remake the recipe for photoshoot (and Friday night dinner!) purposes.

I really only have two “go-to” starches for my easy week night dinners: potatoes roasted in a one-pan meal, and rice from an automatic rice cooker. Since I also have a lackadaisical attitude towards measuring ingredients (this blog has been a special challenge for my “pinch of this” attitude), I usually end up with more rice then I need. Luckily, that leftover rice can be turned into a delicious meal the next day! If you’re more disciplined with measuring ingredients than me, some cooked rice chilled for at least half an hour (sometimes I put it in the fridge) will dry the rice enough to be fried.

Like a lot of our other recipes, this one is versatile and can be used with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Different toppings that I have used in the past include peas, diced carrots or celery, ginger, and sriracha.


Ingredients

Fried Tofu

1/2 block of tofu – Use more if desired, though you may have to fry in batches

2 tbs sesame oil

Fried Rice

2 cups cold, cooked rice

2 tbs sesame oil

3 cloves garlic

3-4 tbs rice vinegar

3-4 tbs soy sauce

1 1/2 tbs ginger

1 tbs powdered porcini mushrooms (or 80z sliced mushrooms)

1/2 tsp white pepper (or ground black pepper)

Chile pepper, cilantro, lemongrass to taste (optional)

2 eggs

1 tbs sesame seeds, optional

Instructions

Fried Tofu

  1. Unpack tofu and “press”- I usually do this between two plates over my sink with a soda (or wine) bottle on top of the plate – something heavy! Press for about half an hour to remove excess liquid from tofu.
  2. Slice tofu into thin, bite-sized rectangles (about 1/2 in. thick).
  3. Heat sesame oil in wok or flat griddle over medium heat. Carefully arrange tofu on surface and use spatula to “squish” the pieces. It should make a shrill sound as the moisture is further removed (this is normal!). Repeat several times over 3-4 minutes, or until the shrill sound is less intense.
  4. Carefully flip tofu. It should be golden-brown. Squish with spatula for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan to a plate and set aside.

Fried Rice

  1. Add second part of sesame oil to wok and heat over medium-high heat. Mince garlic and saute until golden.
  2. Add rice and separate with spatula to spread evenly throughout pan. Fry for about 2 minutes. If using fresh mushrooms, add these now as well.
  3. Add 3 tbs of soy sauce and rice vinegar to pan and stir to coat rice. If necessary, add a bit more of each to fully cover rice (but give it a minute to absorb to be sure!)
  4. Add spices and stir throughout.
  5. Finally, stir in baked tofu and any additional vegetables until heated through.
  6. Create a well in the middle of the fried rice and add both cracked eggs. Allow to heat until the whites begin to become translucent. Scramble eggs throughout rice until fully cooked.
  7. Serve with sesame seeds for garnish as desired.

Roasted Acorn Squash Bowl with Mushroom Risotto

Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday weekend has been full of much needed rest, family time, and good food! Our Thanksgiving meal tradition is turkey and canned cranberry sauce (as in the can-shaped cranberry sauce). Yum!

I’ve never made risotto, despite Merideth and I’s religious watching of Gordon Ramsay shows, and this seemed like a fun way to dress up Thanksgiving dinner! Risotto isn’t so much difficult as it is tedious a little, and this took about 30 minutes of active work to complete. However- it is probably one of my favorite dishes so far, and is so rich it could stand as a meal on its own. The squash bowl made the dish extra fun and savory!

For this, I used powdered porcini mushrooms from The Spice House of Chicago, and could be substituted for chopped mushrooms in the saute stage. This ingredient is optional, but I really enjoyed the depth of flavor the mushrooms added.

Ingredients

Squash Bowl

1 acorn squash, halved and with seeds removed

2 tbs butter

1 tbs brown sugar

1 tbs bourbon or whiskey (optional)

Risotto

1 small onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tbs powdered porcini mushrooms or 1/2 cup porcini mushrooms, chopped (optional)

3 tbs butter

2 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine (I have used Grüner Veltliner or Chardonnay)

6-8 cups chicken broth

1 cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Squash Bowl

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in microwave and combine with brown sugar and bourbon.
  3. Brush butter mixture onto inside of squash and cook for 45-60 minutes, or until flesh can be pierced with fork.
  4. Once cooked, set aside.

Risotto

  1. Melt butter in large saucepan. Once melted, add chopped onions and minced garlic, as well as mushrooms or mushroom powder (if using). Cook until fragrant and onions become translucent.
  2. Warm chicken broth in separate saucepan.
  3. Stir rice into butter mixture, coating rice thoroughly. Cook rice for 3-5 minutes, or until edges of rice become translucent.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of wine to saucepan and stir to deglaze pan. Simmer until wine is absorbed.
  5. Add chicken broth one ladle at a time to rice, simmering and waiting until liquid is absorbed before adding more broth. Adding the broth gradually is key!
  6. Taste rice after about half of the broth has been added for proper consistency. Risotto should be the consistency of thick porridge, and broth will be absorbed more slowly.
  7. Add one final ladle of broth and the parmesan cheese to the risotto and stire until melted.
  8. Serve immediately in roasted acorn squash bowls.

Chicken Tikka Masala

 

Indian food is my favorite cuisine – the flavors are so complex and warm. Chicken tikka masala is a great introductory dish for someone unfamiliar with Indian cuisine. The familiar tomato based sauce and glorious spicy smell will win over even the most suspicious and picky eater! This recipe is an adaptation from Christine Ha’s Recipes from my Home Kitchen, which Merideth got me for Christmas this past year! An “adaptation” because it has my new favorite secret ingredient: fenugreek! When I was in Boston earlier this spring, I happened to grab a barstool next to a Nepalese chef visit for “research” (excellent excuse to tour Boston’s culinary scene!). I told him about my favorite tikka masala dish and he gave me three suggestions: 1) marinate the chicken overnight instead of the hour that this recipe instructs; 2) don’t discard the marinade when adding in the chicken; and 3), use fenugreek! I added 1 tablespoon to have a similar balance with the other spices.

Ingredients

1 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground red pepper (I substituted red pepper flakes once, but I don’t recommend it since the flavors do not blend as well).

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon peeled, minced ginger (I typically grate it)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

salt

 

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon paprika

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Top with cilantro (optional)

 

Instructions

1) In large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of the cumin (half), red pepper, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Add the chicken and marinate overnight (or at least one hour).

2) In a large saucepan, melt the butter, stir in garlic, and cook. Add paprika , remaining cumin, and salt to taste. Stir in the tomato sauce and cream and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

3) Add the chicken to the simmering sauce for an additional 10 minutes. Serve over basmati rice. I also serve it with fresh baked naan (more info on naan to come)!

Wine Pairing

For this dish, we paired with a nice merlot. Not toobold, but complimented the flavors nicely with it’s slightly spicy flavor and hints of berries–it matched the spiciness of the dish while  also adding calming notes between bites. IMG_0246.JPG