October 05, 2009

Asian Chicken and Noodles

The flavors in this dish are pretty similar to the ones in this recipe, but in somewhat different proportions.


1/2c soy sauce
1 Tablespoon of each:
   rice vinegar (mine is seasoned--pre-sweetened--but unseasoned is fine)
   sesame oil
   Hoisin sauce
   sugar or honey (not pictured. Because I'm lame)
1 teaspoon of each:
   Worcestershire sauce
   freshly-grated ginger
Sesame seeds, toasted
Noodles (I went with a package of Chinese egg noodles, but this would be good with soba or even with thin spaghetti)
1/2 onion (Mayan sweet, in this case. Oh, they're so good...)
2 cloves of garlic
2c frozen broccoli
1 breast of chicken
black pepper to taste

So, start off by mixing your sauce. In a bowl, mix together everything through to the sesame seeds and let it sit.

Here it is, nearly done, getting a bit of Worcestershire sauce.

Cut your chicken into cubes and get them cooked in sesame oil on medium-high heat. Get them browned and delicious! You'll deglaze your pan with your sauce, so don't be shy with heat!

In another pan, on medium heat with sesame oil, soften the garlic which you've minced and the onion which you've sliced into half moons like these:

When the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, get your noodles into some boiling water. These will take about 10 minutes, according to the package. A couple of minutes before the noodles are done, add 2 cups of frozen (or fresh) broccoli to the pasta water and let the broccoli warm up/parboil until the noodles are cooked. Drain them at the same time.

Add the sauce to your chicken and dump the onions and garlic into the pan on top. Get it all stirred around and let the sauce reduce on high heat.

Drain the noodles and broccoli, get them into a bowl, and add the chicken, garlic, and onion on top. Sprinkle it with your toasted sesame seeds and you've got supper!

Add a liberal amount of black pepper and dine happily. Note how there isn't any added salt in this. When you're cooking with soy sauce, the soy sauce IS your salt. I never add any salt to a dish that has soy sauce in it. It makes it nearly impossible to eat, otherwise.

Moroccan spiced Veggies and Quinoa

So Justin and I are poor. And broke. We're both of those things, pretty perpetually. So, we were faced with needing to conjure up supper one night and I was thinking, "I have nothing! Nothing!!" I was poking around online for recipe inspiration and I decided that I wanted to do some kind of casserole type dealie with what little we did have. Well, I had plenty of spices and I was investigating something with a kind of Moroccan flavor profile.

Now, for most Moroccan food, you would want to head for the couscous. Feel free to do just that, in fact. I, however, am in possession of about six tablespoon of uncooked couscous, which is not going to feed two people with any degree of satiety. So, I considered rice. Nope, not enough rice for even one person. What other grains did I have... Quinoa! It's light, it's nutty, it cooks quickly and deliciously, and it's mild enough to be useful for pretty much anything! Problem solved!

Quinoa, rinsed and drained (I tend to buy in bulk and sometimes it's a little soapy tasting. If your quinoa comes in a box, you probably don't need to rinse it) 2 cups of quinoa.

So, here's the cast of characters:
Spice blend:

2 teaspoons each of
   Whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Stick your peppercorns and cumin into a coffer grinder/spice grinder and get it ground pretty finely. Add the paprika, cinnamon, and turmeric and give it a whiz to blend it.

Get your veggies chopped and ready!
1/2 onion, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2/3c frozen peas
1c frozen broccoli (I like using broccoli cuts instead of just florets since I think the stems are delicious)

Get your raw vegetables sauteed in some olive oil until they're just barely softened. You don't want mushy veggies. Ever! No mush! So just when the onion is starting to look translucent and the carrot has a little bit of give to it in the core.

Now, get yourself about 4 1/2 cups of milk and heat it up on the stove. Medium heat will do. Add your spice mixture and cook it until the milk is warm. Quinoa cooks with 1 part grain to 2 parts liquid, so for 1c uncooked quinoa, you'll need at least 4 cups of milk. I like to have just a little bit of extra liquid, so the veggies can soak a little up and I can reasonably lose some to evaporation in the oven. Get your oven preheated to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, add your UNCOOKED quinoa, your cooked veggies, your frozen veggies, a can of chickpeas, and your milk mixture. Stir it all together really well and add it to a casserole, like so:

Lid it, get it into the oven, and let it cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take the lid off and let it cook for another 15 minutes so that the top can get golden brown and luscious.

Mmm mmm mmm! This is creamy and nutty and delicately spiced and delightful. I like to leave my casseroles ungreased for the most part because I like the crunchy brown stuff at the bottom. So good!

Pasta with Meaty Pork Tomato Sauce

So it appears that pork is the new beef in our household. We can get SUPER cheap pig at Metropolitan Market and I like that it's so versatile. This particular meal is a pretty usual one. I'm going to show my usual meat mixture that I use for meatballs and sauces first, since that's really the bulk of this. So, for your pig, you'll need:

2 pounds of ground pork
1/2 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons of pesto (or other fresh herbs)
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg
2 tsp each of
   cumin (I usually use whole--cut it down to 1 tsp if you're using ground)
   basil (I like sweet basil, but use whatever kind you want to)
1 tsp of the following
   Italian seasoning blend (mine has some rosemary and sage)
   chili powder
a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste (go a little easy on the salt, since you've got the cheese)

Get it all mixed up thoroughly! Don't be afraid to use your hands and really get in there--clean hands are a cook's best tools. I usually use a pound at a time for most things, so when I mix it fresh, I pack half of it into a quart-size plastic baggie and press it flat so there's no (or at least very little) air in the bag. Then, I stick it flat in the freezer. It takes up very, very little space and it's quick defrosting since it's spread so thinly.

Get it into a stainless steel pan with a bit of olive oil  that's been preheated on medium/medium-high heat. Remember, I'm a "fiddler" so I tend to babysit my cooking. Use whatever stove setting you usually use for getting things golden brown and delicious. I almost never use nonstick for cooking meats, since I want all those little brown bits on the bottom for added flavor. And let it cook so that it does get nice and brown. I didn't shape the meat this time.

Oh, yeah... Mmmm... See that little beautifully-browned chunk of pork at the bottom, there? That is your friend. Your delicious, delicious friend. When your meat is fully browned, add a little bit of stock to the pan to deglaze (red wine also works for this particular meal, but I think I just used chicken stock or something equally boring and delicious.)

Now, for your sauce! You can go ahead and used a jarred sauce if you like. I find that those are often too salty and the chunks of tomato give me really gnarly heartburn, so I get a can of tomato sauce ($1) and add stuff until it's delicious.

I don't have any lovely ingredient photos for you, but here's how it went down:

1 24-oz can of tomato sauce (again, $1. One freaking dollar! How great is THAT?!)
3 T pesto
3 T awesome sauce (details kind of in the middle of this post)
1/2 sweet onion, diced (I like using the Mayan sweet onions. All the time. In everything. I think I want to marry them.)
1/2 sweet onion sliced (half moons, please, sliced VERY thinly)
3-4 cloves of garlic, diced very finely
some kind of Italian cheese for added flavor

Soften the onions and garlic in the pot on medium heat with olive oil before adding the tomato sauce. Let the tomato sauce come to a simmer before adding all the other stuff. Do not skimp on flavoring! I like to have a piece of bread torn into small pieces on hand to get an idea of how the sauce tastes ON something. A sip from a spoon is good policy, but can seem overpowering, so it's nice to get an idea of how it tastes otherwise. So yeah, just add bits and pieces of everything, stirring frequently, until everything is combined and warmed through.

Add half of the sauce to the meat mixture once the pork is fully cooked and the pan is deglazed. Save the other half of your sauce for another delicious, delicious meal. This is a LOT of sauce. Stir the sauce and meat together well, set the heat to low, and let everything hang out and become good buddies.

Get your pasta boiling. I break my pasta in half before adding it to the pot since I don't own anything that's a good size for cooking pasta. Someday I'll have a stock/pasta pot! I believe in ME! :D

I used fettuccine noodles, but use whatever rocks your boat. I like thicker pastas (no thinner than spaghetti!) for meat sauces. The heartiness of the noodles stands up well to the heartiness of the meat. For a meat-free sauce, I'll usually just use spaghetti.

Add sauce and meat to pasta and profit!

Yum! I wish I could eat pasta with tomato sauce every single day, but my esophagus would never forgive me. Alas...