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Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

29 Sep

Eggplant parmesan is a dish that is a little involved, but by no means difficult. You have to batter and fry the eggplant (I’ve tried skipping this step, and let me tell you from experience that it is there for a reason; you NEED it!) before you layer the dish (like lasagna) which is why it takes longer to make. If you have an extra hour for dinner, though, it is totally worth it. I made marinara from scratch (see my previous post about the Great Tomato Invasion of ’09) but you could just as easily use canned tomatoes, or a jar of pre-made sauce.

You’re basically getting two recipes for the price of one in this post, because I’m going to give you my recipe for marinara sauce. Marinara is a critical component-too little and the whole dish is too dry, but you don’t want too much either or you end up with more of an eggplant sauce than an eggplant parmesan.

In short, do not be afraid of multi-step dishes! They are easy, I swear it. Make this for your Mom the next time she comes over for dinner. She will be so impressed that not only can you cook, but that you eat your veggies. Mothers love that shit.

Eggplant Bit.

1 medium to large eggplant (see picture below)

1 C (ish) breadcrumbs

1 C flour

2-3 eggs

2-4 C of cheese, mozzarella, jack, provolone, one or all three. Whatever you have or prefer.

1-2 C Parmesan

This is an eggplant.

Cut your eggplant into 1/2″ (ish) slices.

Now you’ve got to drain the eggplant (annoying, but necessary) in a colander for 1-2 hours. Layer the eggplant in a strainer, putting a single layer of eggplant, salting the layer, topping it with more eggplant and salting again.

Put something heavy on it and leave it for at least an hour.

While you wait for the eggplant to catch up, make the sauce.

Sauce bit.

I forgot to take picture of the sauce bit, so I hope you will forgive me!

Marinara Sauce:

1.5 – 2 lbs fresh tomatoes

OR

1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

OR

1 jar of pre-made pasta sauce

½ medium or 1 small onion, diced

3-5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp salt

Splash of dry red wine (you can leave this out if you want)

Ground pepper to taste

¼ tsp sugar

1-1.5 TB fresh basil, sliced, or 2 tsp dry

Olive oil

If you are using fresh tomatoes:

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. It has to be big enough to contain all of the tomatoes under the water. Take each tomato and cut a shallow X onto the bottom of each. When the water starts boiling, slowly put the tomatoes into the water and allow them to boil for 30 seconds. Allow the tomatoes to cool by plunging them into an ice bath. When they are cool, peel them and squeeze the seeds and juices out. Chop up the rest of the pulp and put aside for now.

Pour 2 TB of olive oil into a pan and heat. Add the onion and the garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the wine and allow it to boil for a minute before adding the tomatoes, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and sugar. If you are using dry basil, add it now. If you have a stick blender or a potato masher, blend the sauce up a bit to give it a thicker consistency. If you don’t have either of these things don’t worry about it.

Your sauce will be kind of thin, especially if you used fresh tomatoes.

Simmer it for at least 20 minutes. The sauce will thicken and should look more like this.

If you are using fresh basil, add it after the sauce has simmered.

Ta da! Marinara sauce.

Put the sauce aside, you are going to use it later when you assemble the parmesan.

Right now (if the time is up on the eggplant draining) you are going to batter and fry your eggplant.

Take out your eggplant slices and line them on paper towels, patting them dry as you go.

Get two wide, shallow bowls and put the eggs in one and the breadcrumbs and flour in the other. Mix up the flour and breadcrumbs and scramble the egg but don’t add anything.

Get a deep frying pan (cast iron is the best but just use what you have) and fill it with 1/2″ of canola (or veggie) oil. Heat the oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Another way to check is if you drop a bit of the breadcrumb mix into the oil it should start to fry immediately and then rise to the surface.

Once the oil is ready, you are going to take an eggplant slice. Dip both sides in the egg, then coat it with the breadcrumb mix and slowly put it in the oil. Fry on both sides for about 45 sec, until it is golden brown. Layer between paper towels to drain (layer of eggplant, layer of paper towels, repeat). You can fry about 2 slices at a time, but not too much more than that. If you over-crowd the pan the temperature of the oil will actually lower and you don’t want that.

Repeat for the rest of the slices.

Preheat the oven to 350˚, and you are going to layer some more! Get a glass baking dish, the one I used was rectangular, I think 10×15.

Put a layer of sauce, layer of eggplant, layer of cheese, layer of parmesan. Repeat until all the ingredients are gone, making sure that you end with a cheese layer.

Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melty and slightly browned on the edges.

Let cool for 15 minutes, then cut and serve.

NOM NOM NOM!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Roasted Potatoes and Tomatoes with Pesto

18 Sep

Hello again! Did you miss me? I’ll bet you did. I’ve had a very hectic few weeks, starting my graduate program at Boston College and moving out of my old place and into the new. Although I am IN my new place I still don’t have any of my stuff, just the items I had the foresight to pack. (Like my Shun Santoku knife and hand-made wood cutting board.) (These are ESSENTIALS, people!)

This is a recipe I’ve had “on file” for awhile. It uses slightly overripe tomatoes, pesto and potatoes, and was my response to The Great Tomato Invasion of ’09.

This summer my kitchen was overrun with tomatoes. I typically try to eat summer tomatoes raw because they are so amazing, but this year I was getting tomatoes from my father’s garden as well as my CSA box and they were EVERYWHERE.

I should probably have prefaced this by saying that I do not put fresh tomatoes in the fridge because keeping them at such a low temperature can completely ruin their flavor.

So picture, if you may, a kitchen exploding with tomatoes. They rested in bowls on my kitchen table, cascaded onto the table itself, and occasionally hung out on my cutting board. I had red ones, yellow ones, purple ones. I couldn’t eat them fast enough, and a few unfortunate tomatoes began to. . .soften. In their new cushy state, they were unsuited for use in a salad. My dad likes to stick soft tomatoes in the freezer, for use later in pasta sauce, but my freezer space is limited.

I prefer to get creative.

Roasted Potato and Tomato with Pesto:

Use 1/2 C of pesto (my recipe is at https://dinnerlove.com/2009/07/17/recipe-basil-pesto-with-walnuts/)

1.5lbs (ish) of little creamer or red skin potatoes

2 medium to large tomatoes

olive oil

salt

pepper

balsamic

Cut the potatoes into quarters, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. During that time, make the pesto (for my recipe, with pictures and instructions, see https://dinnerlove.com/2009/07/17/recipe-basil-pesto-with-walnuts/) and cut the tomatoes into small sized wedges.

After the potatoes have baked for 30 minutes, add the tomato.

Then add the pesto and about 1 TB of balsamic and mix together.

Put back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Keep the heat at 400.

Serve!

I served this alongside a roast pork loin, and it they were AMAZING together. It also tastes fantastic fried with some eggs for breakfast!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Basil Pesto with Walnuts

17 Jul

Summer is in full swing, and as such basil is everywhere. Yes, you can grow herbs at any time of year, really, but right now is when they start propagating out of control. I bought a bunch of basil as big as my head for $2 at one of my local Farmer’s Markets, and aside from the fact that I couldn’t stop smelling it (smells amaaaazing) I was immediately seized with panic.

What the hell was I going to make with all of that basil? I only have so many tomatoes! When I thought, duh. I’ll make some pesto! I had never made homemade pesto, because I thought I wasn’t a huge fan. I’m normally a tomato sauce gal. I intended my very first batch for a potato-pesto pizza (just as amazing as it sounds) and when the pesto was done I was in shock. Who knew homemade pesto could be so amazing? It didn’t taste anything like the drab pestos I’d previously been accustomed to. This was fresh, garlicy-sweet, with a slight bite. Absolutely brilliant. I immediately slathered some on toast, and while I ate thought “I’m totally making this for my next blog”.

I know that nearly everyone knows how to make pesto, and that this recipe won’t really be a revelation to anyone. I just wanted to share my enthusiasm, and to let you know that if you have never made pesto from scratch, now is the perfect time to start.

Pesto, makes about 1 C. Recipe from Simply Recipes.com.

1 C basil leaves, packed

1/4 C parmesean cheese

1/4 C olive oil

2.5 TB walnuts (You can use pine nuts if you want).

1.5 garlic cloves, sliced.

salt and pepper to taste

You will need a food processor or a blender. I have an itsy-bitsy Toastmaster Chopster. It’s a mini food processor, not very powerful, but perfect for pesto because it doesn’t liquefy the ingredients.

Put the walnuts in the food processor and pulse a few times until they are crumbly.

Grab your basil and pack a cup full of basil leaves. No stems, and make sure you pack tightly!

Chop the garlic very coarsely, add it to the walnuts in the food processor and pulse them together.

Add the basil and pulse lightly until the leaves have broken up, scraping down the sides of the processor is necessary.

Add the olive oil a little at a time, pulsing between each addition. When you are done, the mixture should be cohesive but still granular.

Add the cheese and pulse to combine.

Now taste and add add salt and pepper as you like.

You can add the pesto to anything, use it for pastas or pizza, or just slather it on a slice of french bread like me.

Yum.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Blue Cheese Stuffed Steak and Caprese Salad

13 Jun

My boyfriend hates steak. He eats meat. He eats ground beef, pork chops, sausage and pretty much any other type of meat known to man, but will not touch steak. I’m not sure why. He probably doesn’t even know why.  In any case, I think he’s nuts and anytime I want a steak I have to concoct new and exciting ways to eat it. That’s why I decided to take a sirloin steak my mother gave me and fillet it and stuff it with onions and blue cheese. The salad was thrown in as an afterthought for two reasons. One, you can’t have a meal with just meat. It’s just not right. Two, I have a bunch of basil and tomatoes that need eating.

I have to warn you that the recipes that follow don’t have any specific measurements. You really don’t need them for this, it’s more of a “stuff steak with as much blue cheese as you like” type of deal.

Stuffed Steak with Blue Cheese and Red Onion

1 sirloin steak, about 1/2 lb. You can use more if you like. You could also use a meat other than sirloin if you wish. Flank would work well.

Blue cheese. I used a few slices, less than 3 oz

Red onion, sliced thin. About 1/2 of a small onion, or to taste.

Steak seasoning

Salt and pepper

Tools:

Pan that can be used both on the  stove top and in the oven.

Butcher’s twine.

Grab your steak.

Using a super sharp knife, butterfly the steak by slicing it in half width wise and opening it up.

Slice your red onion into very thin slices.

Saute the onion with a bit of olive oil for about a minute or two. This will make them sweeter.

Slice the blue cheese.

Layer the blue cheese on the steak.

Put the sauteed onions on top.

Season with salt and pepper.

Now roll the steak up, and secure every inch or so with butcher’s twine. Season on all sides with steak seasoning. I always use Old Bay.

A note about butcher’s twine-I didn’t have any, so I used sewing thread instead. It worked just fine, but you should probably buy yourself some butcher’s twine anyway. I keep meaning to pick some up, but I always forget. Plus, you really have no idea if your sewing thread with hold in the high heat you will be cooking the steak in.

Using the pan that you sauteed the onions in (make sure it is oven-safe!) sear the steak roll on all sides so that it has a nice crust.

Once it has been seared, put the whole pan in a 400˚ oven for 15 minutes. I like my steak rare to medium rare, so 15 minutes was perfect. Leave it in 5-10 minutes longer if you prefer yours medium to well done.

Remove from the oven, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute. Plus, keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook during this period, raising in temperature up to 10˚.

While you wait for the steak, make the salad.

Caprese Salad

1 medium-large tomato

Fresh mozzarella

Handful of fresh basil

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Dried oregano

Garlic powder

Salt and pepper

Cut the tomato and the mozzarella into large cubes.

Grab a handful of basil and cut into strips.

Put all three ingredients into a bowl together.

Add the salt and pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, and a splash of olive oil and a smaller splash of balsamic. Eyeball it. Use less than you think you need at first. You can always add, but removing ingredients is difficult. Just like mascara, or eyeliner. (I apologize to my male audience members, who may or may not have any idea of what I’m talking about!) Mix together.

Once the salad is done (and 10 minutes have elapsed) cut the steak into slices.

Serve with the salad.

Ok, now, when you eat the steak, but a piece of steak in your mouth, followed immediately by a piece of tomato.

Mmmmmmmmmm.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Spring Onion Pizza with Sweet Peppers and Fresh Sausage

29 May

I’ve begun to really appreciate pizza as a delicious way to use up veggies and meats that you otherwise might not think to use together. When in doubt, put it on a pizza! Tasty. Pizza is also an amazing dish to make with kids. My Mom used to make pizza with my siblings and I when we were young, and I remember thinking that it was so much fun to be able to choose your own toppings! The best was that we never fought about it. We were actually encouraged to split pizzas in half and slather that pizza with whatever we wanted. Homemade pizza nights were always the best!

I get a CSA box every two weeks, and this week’s box has fresh spring onion, gypsy peppers, heritage tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, apples, and rosemary. I took one look at the onions, which still had the green bits attached, and knew they belonged on a pizza. I made the pizza dough and the sauce from scratch, but toppings were chopped and topped. As most toppings are!

I am extremely pleased with the dough recipe that I used. It is very easy to handle and roll out, yet pleasingly crispy. It also has a short rise time. Totally recommended for all of your pizza dough needs!

You will need:

1 recipe for pizza dough, see below

1 recipe for pizza sauce, see below

1 fresh sweet Italian sausage, casing removed

2-3 sweet gypsy peppers (or 1 bell pepper)

1 fresh spring onion, green tops attached

8 oz mozzarella cheese

First make the dough. You’ll need to allow it to rise, which will take 1-2 hours.

Dough, recipe from epicurious.com

3/4 C warm water (105°F to 115°F)

1 envelope active dry yeast

2 C all purpose flour

1 tsp honey

3/4 tsp salt

3 TB olive oil

Mix the warm water and the yeast and allow the yeast to dissolve, approximately 5 minutes. Mix together the flour, honey and salt, then drizzle in the olive oil and the water-yeast mixture. Stir together all the ingredients until the dough forms a ball. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, adding flour if the dough is very sticky. Put the ball of dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour. I allowed mine to rise for 2.

Pre-rise.

Post-rise.

Post-rise.

I love poking bread dough after it has risen. It satisfies the same libidinal urge that stomping on bubble wrap does! When you’re ready, roll out the dough, starting from the center and working your way out. Don’t roll over the edges; this will leave a nice crust. This dough can be rolled very thin without breaking or tearing, which is awesome.

After the dough has risen, before you roll it out, make the tomato sauce.

Sauce:

1 8oz can tomato sauce

1 tsp garlic (2-3 garlic cloves)

1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce

1/2  tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp dried oregano

a few turns of a pepper mill

Mix all ingredients together and allow to simmer for as long as it takes you to roll out the crust, 5-10 minutes.

Put the rolled out dough onto a baking sheet and smooth the sauce onto it. The best way to do this is the back of a metal spoon.

Now you get together your pizza toppings!

Put about half of the toppings sans cheese onto the crust.

Cut the mozzarella into slices and layer half of the cheese onto the first half of the toppings. Then layer more toppings and cheese, ending with cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20  minutes.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then cut and devour!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Chicken and Zucchini Layered Enchilada

7 May

Today is the day! Enchiladas made, Mexican feast delivered, Rubik’s cube solved. Perfection. Ok, I didn’t solve the Rubik’s cube. But everything else is true. Scout’s honor!

Enchiladas are crazy easy to make, especially when you make them casserole-style (as I do). You can use nearly anything for a filling, just add some enchilada sauce, cheese, and tortillas and BAM! Enchilada madness. These are made with leftover chicken and zucchini. Leftover chicken because I had it, and it needed to be used. Zucchini because I received some in my CSA box and it’s extremely important to me to use fresh, local produce. I’m lucky because I live in California, which means that some kind of produce is available year-round. In August I’m moving to Boston for grad school, and I’m already wondering what kind of CSA boxes are available, or if anything even grows in Boston in the winter! I’ve never lived on the east coast, so I have no idea what to expect. Anyway, back to the food!

You can make these vegetarian really easily by leaving out the chicken and the chicken broth, and doubling the amount of zucchini (or squash of your choice) and substituting veggie broth. If you’re looking to turn your enchiladas into a full-blown fiesta, add some pico de gallo and a margarita or two!

Sauce:
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 C chicken broth
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes (optional)

artful spices.

artful spices.

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan.

dlove_enchiladas2

Allow to simmer 10-15 minutes, until sauce has reduced by about 1/2 C. While you are waiting for the sauce to reduce, start on the enchiladas.

1 medium zucchini
1/2 lb of chicken quarter of an onion, diced, about 1/3 C
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 TB olive oil
4 turns black pepper mill
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 C jack cheese
corn tortillas

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and the onion, saute until fragrant. Add the zucchini, the pepper, and the salt.

dlove_enchiladas3

Cook until browned on the edges. This is total zucchini porn. This is when you know it’s getting good-when the zucchini is brown and slightly caramelized. Delicious!

hello, delicious.

hello, delicious.

Add the chicken. If you’re using leftover chicken, cook a few minutes just until the chicken is heated through. If you’re using raw chicken, cook until the chicken is cooked through.Turn off the heat, and assemble the casserole.

dlove_enchiladas5

First spoon a very light layer of sauce on the bottom of a pan 8×8″ W and approximately 2.5″ D. Then add a layer of tortilla, followed by chicken and zucchini mixture, sauce, and cheese. Repeat. Then add a final layer of tortilla, sauce and cheese.

dlove_enchiladas6

Your casserole should be:

Little bit of sauce
tortilla
chicken and zucchini
sauce
cheese

tortilla
chicken and zucchini
sauce
cheese

tortilla
sauce
cheese

dlove_enchiladas7

At this point, you can either cook it or store it to cook at a later date. It will keep for about two days in the fridge, or if frozen it will keep for at least 4 months, possibly longer. If you cook it immediately, put it in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. After refrigerating, cook at 350 for about 30-45 minutes. After freezing cook it at 350 for 30 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered.

melty.

melty.

dlove_enchiladas9So. Good.

❤ Stef

The BrokeAss Gourmet Good Vibes Giveaway Post: Recipe: Asparagus with Lemon, Parmesan and Prosciutto and Rolled Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce

23 Apr

I am so very, very excited to have won! You can read all about the contest and the prize at both BrokeAss Gourmet and at Good Vibes. OMG!

Anyway, I wanted to write a more detailed post about my submission. So, here you have it! The step by step instructions, pictures included, of how to make my winning 3 course sexy locavore meal! (Well, 2 courses, anyway. The Molten Chocolate Cake has already been published in my blog. You can find the recipe here.)

Oh, and just a quick note, I have the recipes listed here in order of course, but if you actually make all 3 courses you should make the lasagna first, pop it in the oven, then start on the asparagus. If you plan on making dessert, I’d cook the cakes halfway then put them in the oven after you eat the asparagus so that by the time you’re done with dinner, the cakes are ready to go!

Asparagus with Lemon, Prosciutto and Parmesan

Ingredients:
1 small bunch asparagus tips
1/2 lemon
2 thin slices prosciutto, chopped into big pieces
1-2 TB parmesan, to top
salt
pepper
1 tsp olive oil

Cut the very bottom off of the asparagus, but leave whole otherwise.
Cook in a shallow pan with 1″ of water for 3-5 min, just until bright green. This is about what 1″ of water looks like.
This is what they will look like when you need to turn off the heat. Bright green! See the color difference?
Strain the water. Add 1/2 lemon of juice and about 1/4 tsp salt and a few turns of a pepper mill. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, until asparagus is cooked as you like it. (I like mine crisp, so I would cook for about 3 min, but you may like yours more well done.) Remove to a plate. Crisp prosciutto in the pan for about 1 minute. Top the asparagus with the prosciutto, parmesan, cracked pepper, and the olive oil. Serve. Yes, it tastes as good as it looks!

Rolled Lasagna with Bechamel

Ingredients:

Lasagna Rolls:
1/3 C chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 C ricotta
1/2 C jack cheese
1.5 C uncooked chard, leaves and stems
2 oz prosciutto (3 thin slices)
6 lasagna noodles
1 TB olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
pepper

Sauce:
1 TB butter
1 C milk
1 TB flour
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
pepper

Rolls:
Set oven to 400. Cook noodles according to package directions, cutting the cook time by about 1/4. We don’t want the noodles to be cooked all the way, because we will be finishing the dish in the oven.
Mix together ricotta, jack cheese, salt and pepper.
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. When translucent, add chard and 1/4 C water.
Cook until reduced by half. Add more water throughout cooking if needed. Cut the prosciutto pieces in half lengthwise. When the chard and noodles are done, you’re ready to roll. (Ha!) Lay the noodles on a flat surface.
Divide all ingredients by 6; there should be about 1 TB for each noodle. Smooth 1 TB of cheese, 1 TB chard, and a piece of prosciutto on the noodle.
Gently roll and place in an oiled casserole dish seam
side down.
Make sauce.

Sauce!:
Melt 1 TB butter in a pan. Add 1 TB flour; whisk to make a roux.
Slowly add 1 C milk, allowing ingredients to incorporate before adding more. This is what the sauce will look like when you add the milk.
Then you should whisk to fully incorporate the milk, and it will look like this.
Then add some more milk, and repeat until you’ve added all the milk. When you’ve added all the milk, add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. When adding the nutmeg, remember, a little really does go a long way! Don’t over do it or the sauce will taste like Christmas, which isn’t what we’re going for here. 🙂
Allow sauce to simmer for about 5 min. You want the sauce to be thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon.
Turn off heat, pour sauce over noodle rolls. Top with parmesan.
Bake for 20 min. After 20 min, turn heat up to broil and bake for another 5 min to brown the top.
Yum! Serve, and enjoy!
I adore lasagna rolls. They feel so much more fancy than normal lasagna, and they are actually really easy (and cheap!) to make.

Thanks again to everyone heading over from BrokeAss Gourmet and Good Vibrations Magazine. If you had any questions about the recipes, please don’t hesitate to email me at sefarros at gmail dot com.

Happy Eating!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Chicken Pho

3 Apr

I am a Pho lover. LOVER. I eat mine with hoisin, basil and lots of lime. I typically get the rare beef stuff when I get it out (because I like my meat to be nearly raw) but I make chicken pho when I’m at home.
This isn’t my recipe, sadly. It is the first one I found when I looked up “Chicken Pho Recipe” on google a few months ago. You can find the original on Food and Wine’s website.
I want to mention a few things about this recipe before I get into all the messy stuff. First, you have to be prepared to spend at least 3 hours on this recipe if you follow the instructions and make the broth from scratch. You don’t have to do it that way, in fact I usually don’t. If you decide that you are lazy, you can use regular chicken broth and simmer it with chopped boneless, skinless chicken, the roasted veggies, salt, and sugar for like 30 – 45 minutes.
Second, if you decide to go all out and make the chicken broth, you will need either a whole chicken or a whole chicken already cut into pieces. If you don’t have very good knife skills, don’t have sharp knives, or are altogether unfamiliar with chopping up whole chickens, I suggest you buy the chicken already in pieces or have your butcher chop it up for you. Eventually I’ll write a blog about knife skills, but until then, I’d prefer if no one loses a finger. Capiche?
Good.
Ingredients:
2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered
3 1/2 inch thick slices of ginger, smashed
4 qt water
One 3.5 lb chicken
1 TB salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 C fish sauce (do not be afraid of fish sauce!)
1 lb dried rice noodles
Garnish (all of this stuff is optional):
mung bean sprouts
basil leaves
lime
jalapeno
chili-garlic sauce
hoisin sauce
First quarter the onion and smash the ginger, and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.
While the veggies are roasting, quarter the chicken (if you need to). First remove the chicken insides from the cavity. The chicken insides include the liver, heart, and neck, among other things. There they are, in the bowl in the back!
Now cut the entire chicken in half lengthwise. Yeeeah, raw chicken insides, woo!
Now cut each of these chicken halves in half again. I find it easier to flip them skin side up for this part.
There should be a picture of this, but I forgot and by the time I remembered the chicken was already boiling away. Oops.
Remember to always wash your hands when you handle poultry!
Now we are going to make a chicken insides bundle using cheesecloth and the chicken innards. This will be awesome for the chicken broth. First cut a length of cheesecloth.
Put all of the innards into the middle of the cloth. If you have any frozen innards from previous chickens, use those too. Yes, I save chicken giblets. You should, too.
Wrap the cheesecloth around the innards to make a bundle. I use thread to stitch it up very loosely, but kitchen twine or anything like that would work just as well.
Take the roasted veggies from the oven. Mmmm, don’t they look amazing?
Put all of the veggies, the chicken pieces, the innard and cheesecloth bundle, the salt, the sugar, and the water in a big soup pot and put it on the stove over medium high heat for 30 minutes. The idea is to cook the chicken.
Remove the chicken from the pot and separate the meat from the skin and the bones.
Put the skin and the bones back into the pot, and the meat in the refrigerator. Simmer the broth for 2 hours. Strain the broth using a colander and a very big bowl. This bowl was not big enough. I burned my finger. Use a very, very big bowl. And your common sense.
Return the strained broth to the soup pot and set to boil for a further 20 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce. Bubbly bubbly.
While you wait, soak the rice noodles in warm water for 15 minutes. This time may be different, depending on the noodles that you bought, so make sure you read the instructions on the box.
After the noodles are done soaking, drain the water, and add new salted water to the noodles. Bring the noodles to a boil, and then allow them to boil for about 3 minutes. Drain them.

Shred the chicken into the broth and simmer until heated.
Serve by putting a big bunch of noodles into a bowl, and then pouring the broth and the chicken over the noodles. Serve the soup with your choice of condiments listed above.
Yum! The best thing about making this recipe is that you have pho for days. Just make sure not to mix the noodles with the broth when you store it, otherwise the noodles will get all soggy.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Cheese Tortellini with Lemony Chicken and Asparagus

19 Mar

I usually post Fridays, but I am flying to Seattle this evening for an interview with Seattle Pacific University. I didn’t want to deprive you of my culinary genius for a whole 24 hours, so I thought I would just list my recipe early this week. 😉
This recipe is very easy and super delicious. I tend to cook a lot of pastas and soups, for a few reasons.
1. I’m broke.
2. They are easy to make, and require minimal clean up.
3. My boyfriend is much pickier than he would have you believe.
I elected not to use a cream sauce for this dish, because I am trying (half-heartedly) to eat healthier and lose some weight.
This recipe can very easily be made vegetarian. Just use a whole pound of asparagus and eliminate the chicken, and substitute veggie broth for the chicken broth.

Ingredients:
12 oz cheese tortellini. I used fresh; you can use dried or frozen, whatever. The only thing it will impact is your cooking time.
1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 lb asparagus tips
1 TB crushed and chopped garlic
1/3 C chicken broth
Juice of 1 small lemon, approximately 1/8 C
1/2 tsp flour
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper
grated parmesean, to garnish
Instructions:
Set a pot of water to boil for your pasta. While you wait for the water to boil, you will be making your sauce.
First, chop your veggies and the chicken. You want to slice the chicken into little strips.
Chop the asparagus into quarters.
Next, crush the garlic with the flat of your knife and chop into tiny pieces.
Heat 1 TB of olive oil in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until slightly brown, but not burnt.
At this point, add the chicken and cook until half cooked. This is what partially cooked chicken looks like.
Add the asparagus, chicken broth, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. It is important to add the asparagus while the chicken is only halfway cooked because you otherwise run the risk of overcooking the chicken. Dry chicken is just as bad as undercooked chicken. Perhaps worse, actually, because once it is overcooked it is difficult to talk down from the ledge.
Yum yum yum. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir. Allow to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Add the chicken and the asparagus to the cooked tortellini, reserving the sauce in the pan.
Next, you are going to reduce the sauce by half. Boil the sauce over high heat for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Bubble bubble bubble.
Be sure to watch the sauce, or it will reduce too much and you will have too little sauce! This is just about perfect, but even then I think I reduced it just a little too much.
Not exactly the most flattering picture, but tasty just the same.
Add the reduced sauce to the tortellini, chicken and asparagus. Stir to coat and serve with lots of parmesean.
Mmmm. Doesn’t this look lovely? The end result is slightly lemony, which is perfectly complemented by the parmesean.
I should note that this recipe is me
ant to serve two people. You could probably serve 4 if you don’t eat very much. My boyfriend and I polished off the whole thing ourselves, but we had seconds. We’re eaters.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Chicken, Pea Shoot and Fennel Soup

13 Mar


I invented this in a moment of brilliance. To be honest, I’m not really sure what I was thinking. I had a bunch of veggies from my produce box, and I knew I wanted to use the pea shoots. They were getting wilty.
So, I threw a bunch of ingredients together and as I was chopping onion and meditating on the flavor of the pea shoot, I thought to myself, “Hm. I should put some fennel in this!” So I did. And it was good.

Serves 2.
Ingredients:
1/2 LB of chicken breast, boneless/skinless, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, smashed and diced
1 large bunch of pea shoots, enough for 2 cups, leaves and outer stems ONLY**
1 TB fennel leaves
1/4 C dry sherry (you can leave this out if you prefer)
5 C chicken broth
1 TB olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

**Note about pea shoots:
Pea shoots consist of three parts–the stalks, the leaves, and the outer shoot. The outer shoots are the bits with the leaves attached. The only parts you want to eat are the leaves and the outer shoots. The stalk is way too tough. Believe me, I tried to eat it! Strip the stalk of the shoots and leaves, then roughly chop them.

Directions:
Chop all of the vegetables and the chicken. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the diced onions and garlic and heat until the onion is translucent. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock and the fennel and bring to a boil. When the stock is boiling, add the pea shoots. Let boil for about 3 minutes, then add the sherry and turn off the heat. Check seasonings, and add salt and pepper.