Saturday, January 19, 2013

Asian Salad Dressing & Marinade

Asian Dressing with Chinese Chicken Salad
For years now, when we've wanted an Asian dressing, we've just thrown some crap together.  Some have been good, some have been not-so-good, but we never wrote down what we did.  So a little while ago, I decided I was going to get myself a solid recipe that I could make that would be consistently awesome every time.  Bam!  Here it is!  I love this dressing!  We use it for all kinds of things: green leaf salads with some cucumber, shredded carrot, green onions and cashews; marinade for chicken or pork (but only marinate it for a few hours or the vinegar and lime juice will "cook" the meat and make it kind of mealy); sometimes we'll toss some veggies like broccoli, onions, bell peppers and zucchini with it and then roast them; made a Thai-style 4-bean salad with it.  Very diverse.  Very yummy.

I was in an Elvis mood the other day (because I love Elvis)... but then I remembered U.S. Bombs' "Rocks in Memphis" and had to listen to it again.  You think Lisa Marie has even heard this song?  -jen

Time:  all of like... 5 minutes, maybe, if you measure slowly
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  1.5 cups
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisen
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon hot mustard (or any mustard)
  • dash of sriracha (or more, if you want it spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 1 cup canola (or vegetable) oil
Combine all ingredients together in a blender and blend for a few seconds!  You can store this in your refrigerator for a few weeks at least.  It should emulsify pretty well, so there shouldn't be much separation.  Just give it a quick shake before use!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stuffed Breakfast Chiles

Awww yeah!  I just made these bad boys a few minutes ago!  They're like reverse chile rellenos - the eggs are on the inside instead of the outside.  My fingers are still burning from the pasillas (which were spicier than expected, maybe I didn't de-vain them well enough!) - I never wear gloves when I handle chiles and then I regret it.  Wear gloves!!!  But really, these are only a little spicy, not really "hot".

I was thinking these stuffed chiles are pretty versatile.  I used green onion and bacon.  You could use jalapeƱos, cilantro (wish I'd had some!), sausage, chorizo, salsa.  Someone gave a shout for more vegetarian recipes - well here's one you can make vegetarian any way you want.  I love recipes like this where you can change it over and over and over again and just keep coming up with different combinations.  And... low-carb, if you're watching that kind of thing.

What goes with breakfast?  Well, naturally, I went straight to crack and dope... so Choking Victim was my only option, singing "500 Channels".  Get your skank on.  -jen

Homemade taco seasoning and Tabasco
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Bake Time:  10-12 minutes
Difficulty:  Medium
Yields:  4 stuffed chiles
  • 4 large pasilla chiles
  • 1/4 pound of bacon
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 6 eggs
  • salt and pepper*
  • dash of milk (like 1/4-1/2 teaspoon)
  • few dashes of green Tabasco sauce
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • toothpicks
Wash and dry chiles.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray (I like to line the pan with foil for easy clean-up).  Place chiles on baking sheet and broil on one side for 4-5 minutes until charred, then flip and broil on the other side 4-5 minutes until charred. 

Immediately place charred chiles in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or place in a large plastic zip bag and seal.  Let rest for 10-15 minutes so that the chiles sweat.  Then remove and peel off the charred skins.  Cut stem ends off chiles and slice down one side to open them up so that they lay flat.  Remove all seeds and ribs from inside of chile.  Re-spray the same baking sheet with more non-stick spray and lay chiles flayed open on baking sheet.  

While chiles are roasting, you can dice up your bacon and cook in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp and crumbled, 10-15 minutes.  Line a plate with paper towels and place the bacon onto the paper towel to absorb the grease.  In the same skillet, saute the diced green onion for 1-2 minutes, just until tender.  Mix in with the crumbled bacon on the paper towel plate.

When chiles are done roasting, turn oven down to 350 degrees F.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper, Tabasco, and dash of milk.  (We always have some homemade "taco seasoning", and I used some of that to season my eggs, too!)  Using the same skillet again (I left a little bit of the bacon grease in it, or you can drain the grease out and use non-stick spray) over medium heat, scramble the eggs.  After 2-3 minutes of cooking, add the crumbled bacon and onion into the eggs and cook until just barely wet still.  Turn off heat.

On the open-faced chiles, add a layer of shredded cheese, then 1/4 of the egg mixture, then another layer of cheddar cheese.  Carefully fold the chile together and use a toothpick to secure it, leaving it seam-side up.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Remove toothpicks and serve immediately.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cheddar Dill Scones

So this is an old recipe from several years back that I make every so often and realized that we hadn't yet shared.  I know scones aren't on everybody's list of "Stuff To Eat Whenever Possible" but these scones will be!  I have had some scones in my day that were awfully bland and much more akin to the offspring that would be produced by a hockey puck mating with a biscuit.  This is not okay.  Scones should be light, flaky, buttery, and generally awesome.  So I set out to make a good one and after tweaking a couple recipes to get the desired result, I have come up with this.

I like dill and cheddar but you could substitute any cheese and herb combo that you may desire.  Fennel and Havarti or Gruyere and basil or whatever you like.  Or leave out the cheese and herbs and toss in some fruit like blueberries or raspberries.

Since scones make me think of stuffy old British folk taking tea and how awfully boring that must be, I decided to rock out with someone Brits who may take their scones with some whiskey and a side of mayhem and blasted some Siouxsie & The Banshees.  I definitely like their earlier stuff so I went with a classic of theirs from 1977 "Bad Shape".  - justin

Time: 35 min
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: As large or small as you want to make them but about 15
  • 4 cups + 1/4 cup (to flour a rolling surface) of flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 lb cold, unsalted butter, diced into cubes (the butter must be refrigerated until final mixing or the scones will be small and dense)
  • 4 extra large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 1/2 lb extra sharp yellow cheddar, grated
  • 1 cup fresh dill, minced fine
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water or milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dice butter into cubes and put back in fridge for later use.  Add the 4 cups flour, the baking powder, and the salt to a large bowl and mix.  Take the butter cubes out of the fridge and add them to the flour mixture all at once and incorporate them with either a stand mixer or hand mixer/egg beaters until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.  Add the grated cheese and chopped dill and incorporate quickly.  Combine the eggs and heavy cream in a small bowl and mix them into the butter and flour mixture until it just holds together.  Do not over mix!  The scones will turn out like a hockey puck mated with a biscuit!  Again: Do not over mix!  Less is better!  If you aren't sure if you are over mixing, you are probably over mixing! 

Pour the dough out onto a surface dusted with the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and roll out into a rectangle 1 inch thick.  Cut into 4 inch squares and then in half diagonally to form triangles.  Mix the 1 egg and water/milk to make an egg wash and brush it on top of the scones.  Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with non-stick spray for 20 to 25 minutes or until the outside is a nice crusty brown and the inside is fully cooked.  Guess you'll just have to try one to see if they are!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

I guarantee you that you could serve this to 10 people who claim they don't like cauliflower, not tell them what it is, and at least 9 of them are going to love it.  If you're into watching your carbs, this is the PERFECT substitution for mashed potatoes.  A little high in fat, maybe, because of all the cheese.  But it's great.  We made it last night to eat with Fish Piccata and I'm eating the leftovers for breakfast as I type this up.  Good way to fool kids into eating their veggies too, if you happen to have that problem.

So how about a little smooth and creamy singing by Iggy Pop with "The Passenger".  (I dug all the clips from classic movies on this video.)  -jen

Prep Time:  25 minutes
Bake Time:  30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Yields:  about 8 cups
  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste (and any other seasoning)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped (about 3 onions)
  • 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously coat a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. 

Cut cauliflower into medium-sized florets.  Steam until tender.  Times will vary, depending on the size of your florets, 5-15 minutes.  You should be able to slide a fork into it easily - "fork-tender".  Remove from heat.

Place cauliflower into food processor bowl (if you don't have a food processor, egg-beaters/hand mixer would probably work).  Add butter, milk, garlic and cayenne.  I added just a pinch of salt, a few cranks of fresh black pepper, and a pinch of Caldo de Pollo (seasoned Mexican chicken bouillon).  You can use whatever seasoning you want - thyme, rosemary, dill, seasoning salt.  Blend in the food processor until smooth and creamy.  At this point taste it to see if it's seasoned to where you want it, add more seasoning if necessary.  Then add the eggs and blend those in.

Stir in the green onion and cheeses with a spoon, leaving a little bit of cheese to sprinkle on top; don't use the food processor.  Pour into your greased pan.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Greek Summer Salad

I know it's the middle of winter, but sometimes, you need some summer food.  Something light, refreshing and easy.  So I came up with this the other day and it's been great.  We've eaten it straight up, we've eaten it on top of a lettuce salad, we've eaten it with an olive, salami and cheese platter.  And you can't beat something that tastes great and is still healthy.  Good New Year resolution food, if you're into that kinda thing.  I hadn't initially planned on adding beans... then I saw them sitting on the shelf and thought, "Yeah!"  I liked how it turned out a lot! 

I was listening to some Boston punk, so I decided to post a little Darkbuster, playing "Whiskey Will".  I should have saved this song for a recipe with whiskey in it but... I don't think I'll be at a loss for punk songs about whiskey. ;)  -jen

Time:  20 minutes, no cooking
Difficulty:  Can you use a knife?  If yes, then easy.
Yields: 4-5 cups
  • 2 cucumbers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green olives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 can (15oz) white beans, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and toss!  Can't get much easier than that!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Spiced Cider & Pumpkin Bread

Homemade pumpkin puree
I don't really get into the baking mood much, but on Christmas morning this year, I was overcome with the notorious holiday baking bug.  We had two sugar pumpkins getting pretty ripe, so we cut those suckers up and roasted them, then pureed the roasted insides.  I had some delicious, dark cider left over in the fridge, and thought I'd use that and mulling spices in the pumpkin bread!  It was great!  Not especially sweet, but very moist and spiced!  I think I might make this a Christmas tradition.

And nothing says Christmas like busting out some old school Agent Orange being "Too Young To Die".  (And, you know... pumpkins... orange... etc.)  -jen

Roasting sugar pumpkins
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time:  60 minutes
Yields:  2 loaves 
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 4 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously coat 2 loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Combine brown sugar, pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil and cider.  Add flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, cardamom, orange zest and baking powder and mix until thoroughly combined.  Stir in pecans and divide batter equally into the two loaf pans.  Bake for 60 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  Cool on baking rack until room temp.

Note:  If you'd like to make your own pumpkin puree, quarter a sugar pumpkin and roast at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.  Let cool, remove skin, and puree in a food processor or with an stick blender.  A medium sugar pumpkin will yield about 2 cups of puree.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chicken Piccata

One of my favorite dishes from my youth.  My mother didn't, nor did anyone else in my family, cook anything piccata but one of the jobs I had for a couple years in high school was as a waiter and they had veal piccata on the menu.  I used to get it quite regularly and as I've gotten older I've done fish piccata every so often when I get the craving for that butter fat, lemon, white wine tanginess.

The dish is pretty simple and versatile so, as I stated before, you can use pork, veal, chicken, or fish for this recipe as piccata refers to a style of preparation as opposed to a specific protein or sauce.  Pounded, breaded, fried, and served in sauce.  I generally use snapper or sole when I do fish and have done pounded out pork tenderloin steaks as well so mix it up if you like.

And to accompany this delicious dish I went with a classic song from a classic punk group who I'm shocked to say, has not yet been featured in a recipe of ours.  These guys are also a flashback from my youth because it was my high school days when I first heard Agnostic Front and it may very well have been this song, "Gotta Go".  I know it was one of the first that I'd heard from them so it's fitting that I go all the way back to sophomore or junior year. - justin

Time: 40 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Servings: 3-4
  • 3-4 chicken thighs, deboned, skin removed, cut in half
  • 1cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp butter divided into 2 tbsp halves
  • 1 cup onions, minced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
Preheat oven to 350.

Pat your thighs dry with some paper towels.  Toss your flour and panko in a gallon zip lock bag, along with some salt & pepper to season it up.  Beat your egg and water together to make a little egg wash.  Dredge your half thighs in the egg wash and toss inthe flour and bread crumbs to coat.  Set aside until all are done.  allow them to sit while you heat a large skillet to medium high heat and add your olive oil and 2 tbsp of the butter.

Brown the chicken on both sides until the breading starts to crisp up.  Place the thighs on a sheet pan in the oven for 10 minutes to finish them up.

While the chicken is in the oven, toss the onions in the skillet with all the drippings from the chicken.  After 5 minutes or so, when the onions should be translucent, add the lemon juice, the white wine, and the capers.  Simmer for about five minutes and when the chicken is done add the last 2 tbsp of butter to the sauce and stir it in as it melts.  When the butter is all incorporated, serve the chicken and drizzle the sauce all over the servings.