Archive for March, 2008
Have you ever gone to a Japanese restaurant and ordered chicken katsu? It usually comes with a small salad topped with a sweet, creamy dressing. What I’ve done here, you see, is put the chicken directly on the salad, and then taken some liberties with the ingredients. The end result is a sophisticated main-course salad suitable for a fork or chopsticks.
Makes: 2 people get up and gyoza
Total kitchen time: 45 minutes
- 1-2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1 1/3 cups green cabbage, shredded
- 1 1/3 cups red cabbage, shredded
- 1 cup muscat grapes, halved (These are very sweet grapes. If you can’t find muscat, use the next sweetest grape you can find)
- 1 Asian pear, peeled and cut into sticks
- 2 tbsp. slivered almonds
- Preheat your oven to 400°F and set the top rack in the bottom third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, if you’ve got some available. This won’t make the food taste better, but it will make cleanup that much sweeter.
- Place the chicken breasts between two large layers of plastic wrap. Using a mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet, pound the breasts out flat. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts generously on both sides.
- Beat the egg in a small bowl. Then, lightly coat each chicken breast with the beaten egg, again on both sides. Sprinkle the panko flakes over the breasts – you guessed it – on both sides. Arrange the breasts on your parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving lots of room in between.
- Bake the chicken breasts at 400°F for 25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the breast reads 165°F. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into 1/2″ pieces.
- Meanwhile, toss the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl. When the chicken is ready, plate the salad first, then top with the chicken. Finally, drizzle over a generous amount of the honey-ginger dressing (recipe follows).
- 4 tbsp. real mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. peanut oil (or sesame oil)
- 2 tbsp. mirin (sweet rice wine)
- 1 tbsp. blue agave nectar (substitute with honey)
- 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
- 2 drops red chili oil
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Combine all ingredients in a small food processor, or whisk by hand if the power is out at your house. Check the taste and adjust with salt and agave nectar as needed. The final dressing should be sweet but mild.
Wow, I feel healthier already. A salad with baked chicken breasts? This could totally have been a 90’s fad diet, combining the allure of Japanese health-cuisine with the American penchant for crispy chicken. Next time your belt doesn’t fit, or your cell phone won’t play back HD video, try out this recipe.
What’s better than fish sticks? These are, my friend. As a proud Pacific Northwest resident, I feel like an ambassador of salmon, the mighty pink fish of Puget Sound. So, I proudly present salmon as you’ve never had it before. The flavorful, crisp batter turns this magnificent fish into the finger food of your dreams.
Total kitchen time: 1 hr
Makes: 2 people swim upstream for more
- 1 1/2 lbs. center-cut salmon fillet, skin removed
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 cranks freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup light beer
- 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1 qt. safflower oil (or vegetable oil) for frying
- Slice the salmon fillet against the grain to form sticks, about 1″ square by 5″ long. Pat the sticks dry thoroughly with paper towels.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, paprika, baking soda, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the beer and stir until the mixture forms a sticky paste.
- Spread the panko flakes in an even layer on a plate. Then, carefully dip each salmon stick into the batter, wiping off the excess. Roll the sticks in the panko to coat and set aside. You want to be very delicate as you handle the fish because it will have a tendency to break apart easily.
- Heat the oil to 350°F in a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Make sure you have enough oil to cover about1.5″. Add the fish sticks, no more than 3 at a time, and fry until golden. You’ll want to turn the fish once during the frying to ensure that it is cooking evenly. It should only take about 1 minute or so per side for nicely done fish. Set the fried fish sticks on a stack of paper towels to drain.
For the dippin’ sauce:
- 1 tbsp. pimentos (and about 1/2 tsp. of the liquid they’re stored in)
- 1 tbsp. capers
- 4 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse for 20 seconds or until roughly combined.
For the slaw:
- 1 cup red cabbage, finely shaved
- 2 large carrots
- 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. champagne vinegar
- 1 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the outside layer of the carrot and discard. Then, peel the inner flesh of the carrot into long, thin strips. Coarsely chop the strips to about 3″ in length.
- Combine the carrot shavings and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
Allow me to reiterate how awesome this meal is. If you are cooking for children, this is your ticket to Salmonville. Enjoy the trip, and remember to write!
My sister just passed a landmark birthday and her gift request from me was a hand-made peanut-butter-cup cake. She is crazy for peanut butter, but scaling up a Reese’s to feed 20 people was a bit of a challenge. I’m not much of a baker (and my penmanship sucks) so Rachel helped me out a lot with this cake. Mad props to her, yo. By the time we were done, it looked like a buttercream grenade had gone off in the kitchen and my hand mixer smelled like burning. But, everyone loved this cake, so something must have gone right.
You’ll need your large cast iron skillet for this neo-mesa cornbread. Although I’m not the first to pile toppings onto cornbread, I’ve never before seen a layer of goat cheese inside. Perhaps KFC will pick up my idea and run with it, but in the meantime you can surprise your guests with this rustic yet upscale rendition of a barbecue favorite.
Makes: 15 round inches of goat-stuffed joy
Total kitchen time: 30 mins
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 1/2 cups cornmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt (since we’re baking use table salt, not coarse salt)
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 4 eggs
- 1 12-Oz. jar roasted red bell peppers, cut into thin slices
- 4 Oz. goat cheese, crumbled
- Preheat your oven to 450°F and set the top rack to the middle position. Heat your 15″ cast iron skillet over medium heat on the stove. If your skillet is smaller than 15″, you can make the whole recipe and discard the excess batter. Halving this recipe should yield about enough batter for a 9″ skillet.
- Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.
- Add the butter to the skillet to melt. Once the butter is melted but not quite foamy, whisk it into the buttermilk and egg mixture. Then, whisk the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
- With the skillet still hot, carefully arrange the red bell pepper slices in a sunburst pattern (or whatever pattern you’d like. I’ve got $5.00 for the first person to submit an argyle bell pepper cornbread.)
- Then, very carefully add half of the batter to the skillet. Using your spatula, gently cover each slice of bell pepper with some batter. Once the bell peppers are covered with an even layer, sprinkle on the crumbled goat cheese. Finish by adding the remaining half of the batter to cover.
- Bake at 450°F for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the skillet cool for 10 minutes or so, then carefully invert the pan onto a serving plate. Slice into wedges and enjoy!
When I serve this cornbread, I like to drizzle some blue agave nectar over the whole plate. This dish goes well with fried chicken, ribs, or a simple spice-rubbed steak.
Let me start by saying that I would eat the Los Angeles Times (Sunday Edition) if you spread enough Ricotta over the top. Well, maybe all but the sports section. Anyhow, this was a delicious, easy and colorful dish that I whipped up for company on short notice. Keep this one (and, of course, your own variations) in your arsenal for good, quick eats.
Total kitchen time: 35 minutes
Makes: Op-Ed taste like Home & Garden for 4 lovely readers
- dried pappardelle noodles (really, just get as much as it looks like you’ll need. Unlike smaller noodles, the cooked yield isn’t deceptively larger than the dried volume.)
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 12 cups baby spinach (to yield about 1 1/2 cups wilted)
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 4 slices proscuitto
- 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven (or toaster oven) to 400°F and place the top rack about three quarters of the way up.
- Boil at least a gallon of lightly salted water in the largest pot you have. This will take some time to boil, so I’ve put it here in step 2 for you. I know, what would you do without me?
- Toss the sweet potato cubes with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast until tender and just starting to get golden corners, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
- In a large skillet or a griddle over medium heat, lightly fry each piece of proscuitto until crispy. This will only take a minute or two per side, so keep a close watch. Since proscuitto typically doesn’t come in packages of 4, you can always pretend that you overcooked a slice and sneak a bite when nobody is looking. It will be our secret. Once you’re done with your shameful crisping, set the proscuitto aside on paper towels.
- Now, cook the pasta. This will take 15-20 minutes, so proceed to the next step while you’re waiting. Hey look, we’re multitasking!
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, wilt the spinach until just done. Be sure that the amount of spinach is not too great for the size of the pan – you want a lot of room for the moisture to cook off, otherwise you’ll end up with gritty, watery greens. Bad stuff.
- In a large bowl, toss the pasta with 3 tbsp. of olive oil and salt a pepper to taste. Add in the ricotta, sweet potatoes and spinach. If you want, crumble in the fried proscuitto, or just serve it to the side like a ham wafer. Yum!
That’s it, folks. An unapologetically simple and easy meal. If you felt this was too straightforward, serve only a small portion of the pasta aside duck confit with a balsamic reduction, jerk.
Oh the joy of leftovers! Trust me, if you had what I had for dinner last night, you would share my passion for this delectable day-after breakfast.
Total kitchen time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1 rewarded chef (just multiply everything if there are other worthy cooks in the household)
- 3 organic eggs
- 1 pat butter
- 1 tsp. heavy cream
- 1/4 cup lump crab meat
- 2 tbsp. mascarpone cheese
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp. crème fraîche
- finely diced chives, to garnish
- Heat the butter over high heat in a small skillet until foamy.
- Meanwhile, beat together the eggs, heavy cream, salt and pepper. Whisk the mixture with a fork to incorporate as much air as possible.
- Pour the egg mixture in the skillet and swirl it around a bit so it is just ever-so-scrambled. Now wait. Don’t do anything for at least 45 seconds.
- Using a silicone spatula, scrape around the edges of the pan to loosen the egg from the sides. Tilt and swirl the pan to allow the runny, uncooked egg on top to drip down underneath the cooked parts. Do this for about a minute.
- Add the mascarpone and crab meat to one side of the pan and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute. Using your silicone spatula, fold the opposite side of the eggs over the crab bits. Gracefully slide the whole thing onto a plate.
- Top with a dollop of crème fraîche and some chives.
You worked hard last night, picking all that crab. And, if your guests happen to be joining you for breakfast, they will all appreciate your effort. Enjoy with a mimosa and a smile.
Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? Ok, now what if you added lobster to the mac and cheese – oh that would be delicious. Wait, what if instead of Velveeta we used Mascarpone? So awesome. White mac and cheese with lobster. Sounds great, but let’s substitute fresh king crab for the lobster because it’s a little more hearty and a third the price. Cool, I’m with you. Oh, and let’s also use a tricolor orzo instead of macaroni. Wait, what? Yeah, orzo, you know the little pasta nibblets? But why? Stop asking questions and take a bite.
Total kitchen time: 1 hr (less if you start with lump crab meat)
Makes: 6 people less crabby, paradoxically
- 2 lbs. king crab pieces (claws and legs) OR 1.5 lbs. picked lump crab meat
- 2 cups orzo
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 cups Mascarpone cheese
- 3 tbsp. crème fraîche
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- sea salt, to taste
- 3 tbsp. chives, finely chopped
- If you’re starting with crab pieces in the shell, the first (and messiest step) is to remove the meat. I recommend using a pair of kitchen shears to cut through the shell. Exercise caution, as crabs are sharp and you’ll likely get frustrated at the little crustaceans’ unwillingness to cooperate. Break the crab meat up into about 1 inch pieces. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Note: unless you are pulling the crabs out of the water yourself, they will
almost certainly be pre-cooked. This is because uncooked crab meat has a very short shelf life. If you are, in fact, starting with raw meat, steam the crabs whole, then pick the meat out yourself. If, for some bizarre reason, you have a live King crab, you will first need to kill it using any method featured in Starship Troopers.
- Cook the orzo until tender in a large pot of boiling water. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot.
- Meanwhile, combine the mascarpone, crème fraîche, white pepper, lemon juice and sea salt in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally until the cheese has melted into a smooth white sauce.
- Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet until foamy. Add the crab and toss to coat in the butter. You really just want to heat up the crab here, so be brief.
- Plate the orzo, then top with a tablespoon or so of the mascarpone sauce. Top with a bit of crab meat and garnish with chives.
You have tamed the savage ocean crab. Now, relish in the delight of victory with another spoonful of cheesy pasta! May I recommend celebrating with a bottle of Vigonier?
No, this is not a picture of Kurt Cobain’s remains. Those tasted like crap. I was referring to the spiritual kind of nirvana. I first tasted this dish at Bouchon, Thomas Keller’s French bistro restaurant in New York. I had never eaten anything like it and I came home raving about the experience. Well, I finally decided to make this dish in my own kitchen and the results were phenomenal. Unfortunately (for you) I can’t post this recipe because it came straight from Mr. Keller’s cookbook, and my code of bloggerly ethics prevents plagiarism. However, I can tell you that combining smoked salmon, steamed salmon, clarified butter and whipped butter will get you pretty close. For the rest, click the link, order the cookbook, and get to work on your own spirit quest.
You may have noticed the new “Products” section up there on the right. I launched a line of print-on-demand products (aprons only, for now) on Zazzle.com. I only make a dollar or two per purchase, but hopefully this tiny trickle of income will help offset hosting costs. If you guys really like these aprons and want to buy enough to cover my grocery store trips, by all means, order away!