Monday, January 13, 2014

Recipe // Peanutty Noodles with Bok Choy and Tofu

Full disclosure: I'm making this recipe for the second night in a row.  I noticed that baby bok choy is crazy inexpensive right now (99 cents/lb) at the store so I sought out a recipe that I could utilize this nutrient-dense vegetable. I have also been in desperate need of a break from my postpartum meat-eating ways.  This dish turned out so clean and flavorful and it magically takes all of ten minutes to cook once you have your mis en place ready. What I'm trying to impart on you is that it's not all that tough to throw together after you've put the babe down for the night and you just want to CHILL with some netflix,  some comfort food and maybe get to all those e-mails or thank you notes you've been meaning to address... 

It has it all. Your green vegetable, your protein, your noodles (who in their right mind doesn't like noodles), your ginger, you get the point.  A few things that I've learned that make my life easier when prepping for Asian dishes: 

1) Store your ginger in the freezer + grate it with a microplane (aka zester) when you're ready to use it.  It keeps a whole lot longer than it would next to your onions + it maintains its perfume + flavor.  

2) Cook your noodles al dente + give them a quick rinse in cold water before adding them to the mix - it will get rid of some of the starch and make them less mushy when they're mixed into stir-frys.  

3) Get yourself a nice wok.  They rule. Kentucky got me one for Christmas this year and I am completely in love.

I also need to caveat this recipe to let you know that it is SPICY with the additions of the red pepper flakes + sriracha.  I like spice but sometimes Kentucky thinks I am mad at him because of the amount I add so be easy with the spice if you take issue with it.  

Peanutty Noodles with Baby Bok Choy and Tofu 
 Adapted from Bon Appétit
(Serves 4) 

For the sauce:
1/4 cup               soy sauce
2 tablespoons    rice vinegar
1 tablespoon      honey 
1 tablespoon      creamy peanut butter (like JIF) 
2 tablespoons    toasted sesame oil 
2 teaspoons       cornstarch
1 teaspoon         red pepper flakes (optional) 
1 teaspoon         sriracha (optional) 

For the stir fry:

2 tablespoons     stir fry oil (peanut oil, canola oil, sesame oil will work - blend if you wish)
1 bunch              green onions, sliced (green and white parts) 
2 each                garlic cloves, minced 
1 tablespoon      ginger, grated (or minced) 
2 each                heads of baby bok choy, washed, bottom third discarded, leaves thickly sliced
1 package          extra-firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes, drained well on paper towels
12 ounces          thin spaghetti (or soba, or udon, or linguine will work too), cooked + drained


Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set aside.  Heat stir fry oil in your wok or heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the green onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry until fragrant (15-30 seconds).  Add the bok choy and stir fry until beginning to wilt (1-2 minutes).  Mix in the tofu, then the noodles and the sauce.  Stir + heat through until the sauce thickens and coats everything (1-2 minutes).  Season with salt + pepper to taste + serve immediately

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Recipe // Rotisserie Chicken + Corn Winter Chowder with Cilantro Puree

You guys.  We've done it.  This is the best recipe for a hearty soup to serve on game day. It's creamy, it's sweet and savory and it will warm you to the core.  The most amazing thing about this recipe is that it just gets better with age.  Which gives you an awesome excuse to make this soup on your own schedule and not anyone else's.  You can make this soup 2-3 days in advance, cool it down in an ice bath, cover it and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to reheat it and serve.  

We had some close friends of ours over for a friendsgiving on the Friday after Thanksgiving and served this soup alongside a simple arugula salad + a crusty sourdough baguette.  It was the perfect follow up to the biggest food day of the year without being too meek to round out a meal. 

I'll just get right down to it and tell you how it's made:

 Rotisserie Chicken + Corn Winter Chowder with Cilantro Puree
(Serves 6-8)
Adapted from Bon Appétit

For the soup:
1 each                     rotisserie chicken from your local market (I prefer Whole Foods plain) 
5 each                     bacon slices, chopped into lardons 
1 tablespoon           unsalted butter
1 1/2 each              medium yellow onion, medium-diced 
1 cup                     red bell pepper (divided) 
1/8 cup                  AP flour
4 1/2 cups              low-salt chicken broth
2 cups                   butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 pounds            russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces 
3/4 tablespoon       fresh thyme, chopped
1 each                  16-ounce bag frozen sweet yellow corn kernels 
1/2 cup                 whipping cream 
1 cup                    green onions, (green parts only) chopped

For the cilantro puree:
1/2 bunch             fresh cilantro 
1 each                  lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons       olive oil 
1 tablespoon         water 


Pick the chicken in shreds from the rotisserie chicken while it's still warm.  Take special care to remove all of the bones and the skin from the picked chicken.  Reserve the bones for stock and discard the skin.  

Cook the bacon lardons in a large pot over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer the bacon lardons onto paper towels to drain.  Pour off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon drippings from the pot.  Add the butter + melt over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and half of the bell peppers.  Saute until the onions are soft.  Add the flour and stir for two minutes until well-incorporated.  

Mix in the broth, squash, potatoes and thyme and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until squash and potatoes are tender.  Turn off the heat. If you have an immersion blender - use it to blend the soup into a smooth puree.  Otherwise, work in batches to blend the soup in your regular blender.  

While the potatoes and squash are cooking make the cilantro puree.  Add all puree ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Put the puree into a squeeze bottle to garnish. 

Put the soup back on medium-low heat and add the corn, cream and bell peppers.  Bring to simmer and then add the shredded chicken from the rotisserie chicken + most of the reserved bacon.  Add 1/2 cup of green onions and season generously with salt and pepper.  Take off the heat + serve immediately or chill in an ice bath to 41 degrees and store in the fridge for up to five days or freeze. 

Garnish with fresh sprigs of cilantro, bacon lardons, green onions and cilantro puree.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Recipe // Red Zhug Spiced Kale and Tomato Stew with Carrots, Red Potatoes and Chickpeas

Apologies for the complete and utter abandonment of posting recipes but I took some time off to have a baby + get the hang of hanging out with a baby all the time.  Well we're six weeks in with Aster and I'm slowly figuring out how to cook and hang with a baby at the same time.  

(we've been doing a lot of this)... 

Anyway, it was a blustery day in the valley and soup sounded really lovely.  One of my CIA instructors said he always judges a restaurant by the caliber of their soup because it shows how talented the kitchen is with all of its leftovers. With visitors coming into town this week and weekend, I wanted to get rid of some of the produce we had lying around the house and this spicy kale and tomato stew was born.  

We have this amazing red zhug spice that we purchased in bulk from Whole Spice. In order to re-create the dry spice mix, it's a combination of chile tianjin, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt, cardamon, clove and cilantro. However, traditionally it's made as a paste with a mortar and pestle -- a combination of peppers, garlic, and herbs.  One recipe for the paste can be found here via The Atlantic.  I highly recommend trying out the recipe for the sauce and purchasing the dried spice mix from Whole Spice because it is seriously an amazing way to perk up soups and dips -- just like this kale and tomato stew -- 

Red Zhug Spiced Kale and Tomato Stew with Carrots, Red Potatoes and Chickpeas
(Serves 4-6)

For the Stew

1 quart                                  vegetable stock
1 12-ounce can                    chickpeas
1 22-ounce can                    peeled, whole tomatoes
1 bunch                                red kale, chopped
1 each                                  yellow onion, diced
3 each                                  garlic cloves, minced
1 each                                  carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch half moons
1 each                                  red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon                        red zhug spice mix
2 tablespoons                      red wine vinegar
1 squeeze                            lemon juice
1 teaspoon                           red pepper flakes 
                                             salt + pepper to taste 

**(soup will take a decent amount of salt to achieve the correct seasoning) 


For the Stew:

Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Cook onions until browning and then add the garlic.  Deglaze the pot with some of the vegetable stock, scraping all of the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  Add the rest of the stock and crush the whole tomatoes with your hands and add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot.  Add the zhug, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and kale.  Let simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Add the potatoes, carrots and chickpeas and then let simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes until carrots and potatoes are cooked through but not too hard and not too soft.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve over the grain of your choice (cous cous, brown rice or quinoa are all good options) or with a grilled cheese sandwich made with sharp cheddar and good bread (also delicious).