Saturday, February 14, 2009


My new website is up and running.  It still has a few kinks, but I am posting over there now.  So please add

to your blogroll and reader!!!!!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chili Coated Beef with Barley Cake and Tomato Sauce

I like the challenge of making good food for not a lot of money. I especially enjoy trying to make a seemingly fancy, well-composed dish on a budget. I got the basic idea for this dish from another blog and adapted it slightly.

This dish is great because it uses barley - a delicious and incredibly cheap whole grain that can make the perfect starch component to a meal. The author also gave me an interesting idea - running the barley through a food processor to give it a finer texture. That gives it a fluffy lightness that is not usually associated with barley.

Chili Coated Beef with Barley Cake and Tomato Sauce

Served 2.
Leftover Potential: The cakes will loose a little of their crispness in reheating. I made three cakes then sauteed the rest of the barley and ate it like that as leftovers. Made 2 meals after the initial dinner.

Barley Cake
1 1/2 cup barley
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 cups chicken stock
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 Tbsp oil

1. In a food processor***, process the barley until it reaches a finer texture. Each piece of the barley should be approximately 1/2 the size it was before - compareable in size and shape to couscous.
2. Remove the barley from the processor, reserving about 1/4 of the mixture. Place the barley in a large heat-safe bowl. Add the garlic and onion, and toss to combine completely.
3. In a small pot, heat the chicken stock to a rolling boil. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the stock over the barley. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until the barley is soft, about 10-15 minutes.
4. The barley should absorb all of the liquid, but if it is soft and there is still stock in the bowl, drain it out. Season as needed with salt and pepper.
5. Let cool slightly, and add the egg and bread crumbs. Mix to combine. Add more bread crumbs as necessary to allow the barley to stick together as a cake.
6. Form the barley into the desired number of cakes. Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the cakes until they are brown on each side.

Tomato Sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp basil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. In a small pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
2. Add the tomatoes, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
3. Add the herbs, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside, but keep warm.

Chili Coated Beef
1 1/2 pounds steak (top round is a good cut), cubed
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
reserved barley
1-2 dried chilis
2 Tbsp olive oil
1. Season the steak with salt and pepper as needed.
2. Place the reserved processed barley back in the food processor with the dried chili(s) and process until very fine, like a coarse flour.
3. Toss the cubed steak in the barley, making sure it's well coated.
4. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the steak and cook until browned on all sides and heated through in the center (about 3-4 minutes will give medium rare pieces). Turn the pieces as necessary throughout cooking.
5. Spoon some tomato sauce onto a plate. Top with the barley cake, some vegetables, and the cooked steak. Eat immediately!
***The apartment kitchen doesn't have a food processor, I used a blender. Either will work!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tacos on Native American Frybread

One of my favorite memories of my hometown are art festivals. There's a huge one in one of the biggest parks in town, and they shut down Mass Street between 18th and 19th street to allow for an avenue of fried foods, sweets, and all varieties of things on a stick. This, of course, is a different kind of culture than what can be found at the art show, but nevertheless an important, and tasty one.

But my favorite art festival was the Native American festival at Haskell Indian Nations University. It was so different from the other shows, and among the beautiful jewelry, paintings, pottery, and performances was another new treat: frybread.

There is not much in this world more delicious to a bread lover than fry bread. Light, airy, delicate, and yet mouth-wateringly delicious, frybread is the ultimate platform for what the fair calls Indian tacos: plentiful taco toppings atop crisp and tender frybread. This recipe is just as easy as any of the other flatbreads I've made so far - with the addition of oil to the pan where it is cooked. Try it - you will be anything but dissapointed.

Indian Tacos

Made 4 pieces of frybread, and topping for at least 4 tacos.
Leftover potential: The frybread should be eaten warm right after it's prepared, but if you make more pieces than you know you'll need, there's a delicious alternative. Sprinkle the hot frybread with cinnamon sugar and drizzle with a little bit of honey.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup warm water, or as needed

oil, as needed for pan frying***

1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and add the warm butter and water. Mix to combine, the mixture will look like a shaggy mass. Knead the dough until it is smooth, 1-2 minutes.
3. Divide into 4 pieces, and round the dough slightly. Cover with a damp paper towel and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil for frying.
4. When the dough has rested and the oil is hot, pan fry the frybread (1 piece at a time is easiest) until it is golden brown and slightly puffed up on both sides.
5. Set the finished frybread onto absorbent paper towels to drain slightly.

***I pan fry the dough, rather than deep fry. This requires only just enough oil to cover the item by 1/2 way. For fry bread, that means just enough oil to cover the base of the pan used to cook the bread.

1 tbsp oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne ***These spices can be replaced with 1 packet of taco seasoning
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp oregano

lettuce, chopped, as needed for garnish
red onion, diced, as needed for garnish
tomatoes, diced, as needed for garnish
fresh jalapenos, sliced and seeded, as needed for garnish
cheese, as needed for garnish
cilantro, as needed for garnish

1. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until beginning to become translucent. Add the garlic, and saute until fragrant.
2. Add the meat, and cook until it is browned and cooked through. Add the seasoning, and stir to combine. Remove the finished meat from the heat.
3. Spoon some meat on top of each piece of frybread, and garnish as desired. Eat immediately.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Whole Wheat Pasta with Wilted Shallots, Mushrooms, and Fresh Mozzerella

Pasta makes a quick and easy lunch or dinner at the drop of a hat.  In restaurants, pasta dishes can be extremely costly, which is interesting seeing as it is generally one of the cheapest dishes for any kitchen to make.  Making pasta at home gives you the freedom to make it just how you like it.  The addition of a few different ingredients can make any pasta dish more interesting and much tastier.  

I always make my own sauce for my pasta, because there's not much more in the jarred sauces than tomato, salt, pepper, and maybe some herbs.  I can do that myself - cheaper and better.  From start to finish, this dish will take about 15 - 20 minutes.  Also known as dinner in a snap.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Wilted Shallots, Mushrooms, and Mozzarella

Served 2.
Leftover Potential: Keeps very well, re-heats perfectly.  Made 4 meals after the initial dinner.

1 lb whole wheat pasta

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
15 oz. crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp basil, chiffonade
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed
pepperocini, as needed for garnish

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 5-7 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
2.  In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
3.  Add the tomato paste.  Stir to combine.  Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer over low heat.  Season with basil, salt, pepper, and any other desired herbs.  
4.  Add the mushrooms and shallots.   Allow to cook until the mushrooms are soft and the shallots are wilted. 
5.  Add the pasta and toss to coat.  Add the fresh mozzarella, stirring to combine and distribute.  Turn off the heat.
6.  Serve in hot plates, topped with sliced pepperocini.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Steamed Pork Buns

This is one of my all-time favorite foods. It's a perfect combination of meat and dough that is delicious enough to be a meal but casual enough to be eaten with your hands. I first fell in love with these at Momofuku in New York City. While the steamed bun is Chinese in origin, there are a variety of Asian influences in the modern bun.

Many restaurants buy their buns and only make the fillings fresh, as the process for the perfect steamed bun is a little complicated. But fresh buns are so delicious, as I discovered in my quest to make my own last year. Though they are traditionally made with Hong Kong flour, my version used cake flour, which is much easier to find.

These buns are easy and delicious with any kind of filling, and are the perfect answer to leftover meat in your fridge - shred a roasted chicken, dice up some steak, or, as I did, peel the tender meat off of some delicious pork ribs.

Steamed Pork Buns

Makes 10 small buns.
Leftover Potential: There definitely will not be any left.

Steamed Buns:
3 1/2 cups (12 oz) cake flour, sifted
1 3/4 Tbsp (0.90) oz sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp (3.50 grams) active dry yeast)
1/2 cup (4.10 oz) water
1/4 cup (2.60 oz) milk

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder to combine. When it is well mixed, add the yeast, and mix completely to evenly distribute.
2. In a small pot, heat the water and milk over medium heat. It should feel warm to the touch, but not hot (about 110 degrees). If the mixture gets to hot, cool it down at room temperature.
3. Make a well in the flour mixture, and slowly pour the liquids in. Mix to with fingers to combine, then knead into a smooth dough. By hand, this should take about 4-5 minutes.
4. Place the dough back into the bowl. Cover completely with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size, about 20 minutes.
5. Divide the dough into 10 even pieces. Roll the dough into circles about 1/4 inch in thickness.

To Finish:
hoisin sauce, as needed
shredded pork, as needed
1 bunch scallions, finely sliced

10 wax paper or aluminum foil squares, cut into 3" by 3" squares
sriracha, or other spicy chili sauce, as needed for garnish

1. Heat a large pot filled with about 2 inches of water over medium high heat. Place the bamboo steamer on top of the pot. Make sure the lid to the steamer is completely attached.
2. Place a little bit of hoisin sauce on each round of dough, and spread gently to coat the center.
3. Place a mound of shredded meat in the center of each round.
4. Sprinkle generously with scallions.
5. Bring the edges of the dough towards the center, using your fingers to pinch the dough together. Turn the assembled bun over, keeping the sealed side down. Place each bun on a square of wax paper or aluminum foil. This will keep the buns from sticking to the steamer.
6. Place the buns inside the steamer. Depending on it's size, you can steam 5-10 at a time, utilizing the different layers. Steam each bun for 7-9 minutes, or until they are cooked through.
7. Serve with plenty of sriracha and enjoy!

Apartment-Worthy Kitchen Equipment

Yesterday I bought my first piece of new, somewhat specialized piece of equipment for the apartment kitchen. I don't have a lot of money or space to buy new things, but I am a foodie at heart. This means any equipment I invest in has to be practical, inexpensive, and have multiple uses.

Which is precisely why my first purchase was a bamboo steamer. Priced as low as $9 - $17 dollars, these steamers are great for a number of uses in the kitchen. They're easy to use, relatively compact (can range in size from 3" - 20" in circumference), and can be utilized in a number of ways: steaming vegetables, meats, fish, dim sum, dumplings, and even for baked goods such as breads, puddings, and cakes.

These can be purchased at kitchen supply stores, Asian markets, and even specialty grocery stores. At $15, my 10 inch bamboo steamer was an excellent investment, and I can't wait to use it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chicken and Corn Enchiladas

I often talk about food that won't have a lot of leftovers, or that will make an interesting array of leftovers.  But sometimes, there are times when I want leftovers.  That's when I turn to fantastically craveable food: food that re-heats perfectly, that holds well, and that you won't mind eating for a couple of days.  

For me, one of those foods are enchiladas.  This year, my family ate my mother's delicious enchiladas on Christmas Eve.  In a fit of homesickness, I ran to the store and bought everything I'd need to make them, apartment kitchen style.  I wanted to make chicken and corn enchiladas, so I used ground chicken and canned corn for simplicity.  It made a full tray of enchiladas that will sit in my fridge for whenever I need them over the busy weekend.

Chicken and Corn Enchiladas
Serves many.
Leftover Potential: Excellent.  Will provide up to 5 meals.

1 Tbsp oil
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 bunch scallions, sliced on the bias
1 (15 oz) can corn
1/2 pound ground chicken
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
1 tsp cayenne pepper

grated cheese, as needed
12 corn tortillas, or as needed ***
1 large can or 25 oz. homemade enchilada sauce
red onions, for garnish
scallions, for garnish

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2.  In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic, and cook until aromatic.
3.  Add the corn and cook until browning slightly.  Add the scallions, and cook until wilted slightly.
4.  Next, add the ground chicken.  Cook until browned and cooked through.  Season as needed with salt and pepper, and add the cayenne pepper.  
5.  Remove the chicken mixture from the heat.  Place a lice of filling into a corn tortilla.  Top generously with grated cheese, then wrap tightly and place onto a baking sheet.
6.  Continue this until all of the filling has been used, being careful to wrap the enchiladas as carefully as possible to keep the filling inside the tortillas.
7.  Top with the enchilada sauce, spreading a layer evenly over all enchiladas.  Top with more cheese.  
8.  Bake in the oven until sauce in bubbling, cheese is melted, and enchiladas are heated all the way through.  
9.  Serve on hot plates, garnished with red onions and scallions.

*** Flour tortillas can be easier to work with, because they roll a little bit better.  But I like the texture of corn tortillas, so I used them.  No matter which tortilla you use, it can help to heat the tortillas in a pan on the stovetop or in the microwave, which will soften them, making them easier to roll.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Whole Wheat Sausage, Pear, Fig, and Parmesan Tart

One of the best things about working at a culinary school is the access to great ingredients.  Produce, meats, cheese, and anything else you can think of is the freshest it can be.  My favorite thing to do with great ingredients is keep it simple.  This, of course, is especially great in the apartment kitchen, where I don't have a lot to work with.

Even though I have access to unique ingredients, you can emulate a simple dish like this with whatever you have on hand, or whatever looks especially fresh or great in the grocery store.  Splurge a little for organic produce or take a trip to a specialty market.  Buy things that are fresh and seasonal, and make flavor combinations that highlight the best in the product.

Whole Wheat Sausage, Pear, Fig, and Parmesan Tart

Served 2.
Leftover Potential: Reheats easily, though crust may not be quite as crisp.  Also delicious cold.  We had 1 slice left.

Whole Wheat Crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast
3/4 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)

olive oil, as needed

1.  Combine the flours, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast on top, and mix completely to combine.
2.  Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the water.  Mix to combine completely, then remove from bowl and knead until smooth.  By hand this should take about 3-5 minutes.
3.  Place the finished dough back in the bowl, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.  
4.  Coat a cookie sheet or pizza pan well with olive oil.  Put the dough onto the pan and use your hands to spread the dough out across the sheet.  Use your fingers to stipple the dough to make it even and pull it to the size and thickness you want.  I made a thin, crisp crust, but a thicker, chewier crust could be achieved with this dough also.

Finished Tart:
5 figs, thinly sliced
1 pear, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 sausages, precooked, sliced thinly
parmesan cheese, as needed

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Evenly spread the ingredients across the tart dough.  
3.  Finely grate the parmesan across the dough.  Use as much or as little as you wish, but the cheese will add a saltiness and help bind the ingredients to the tart.
4.  Bake until the edges are golden brown and crisp, about 15-20 minutes.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kung Pao Chicken

It snowed all day Sunday.  Even though we got plowed at noon, my housemate still had to shovel at 5, and Matt and I had to shovel this morning.  On a day that cold and snowy, nothing feels better than staying inside.  And to keep warm, we spiced up the afternoon with some Kung Pao chicken.  The perfect Sunday food - and the take-out drivers will thank you!

Kung Pao Chicken

Served 2.
Leftover Potential:  Just as good if not better than the Chinese food that comes in a box.  Made 2 meals after the initial dinner.

1 lb chicken, cut into bite size pieces
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
flour, as needed

1 Tbsp oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp ginger, finely sliced
10 dried chilis, split, seeded, and cut in half
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup water, or as needed

1.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Dip lightly in flour.  Set aside.
2.  In a large pan or a wok, heat the oil over medium heat.
3.  Add the onions, and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic.  Stir fry for about a minute.
4.  Add the mushrooms, bell pepper, scallions, ginger, and dried chilis and stir fry over medium heat.
5.  Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil.  Stir fry to create an even sauce.  Add the chicken, and stir fry until the chicken is tender and cooked through.  Add water as needed to thin sauce so as to coat the chicken.
6.  Serve in warm bowls with rice.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Healthy Wings? Well, Healthier...

I came upon the idea for this recipe on another food blog. Baked chicken wings. I have always thought of chicken ways in one way: grilled. I wasn't familiar with the concept of fried chicken wings until I came to college. My family likes to grill chicken wings before dousing them in sauce. For this reason, I tend to not eat lot of wings when I can't turn the grill on. Not to mention, the aparment kitchen (or the apartment back yard) currently doesn't have a grill. But baked? I can do that any old time. So when chicken wings went on sale this week at the grocery store, there was no doubt in my mind we were going to snatch them up.
We finished the chicken with a thick pineapple-soy glaze that was the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. It was really fast and we basked in the glow of each beautiful wing as though it was summer. Proving, you don't need 75 degree weather or a grill to have a good time. Especially if you add a cold beer to the mix.

Pineapple-Soy Glazed Wings  

Served 2. 

Leftover Potential: I'm not sure how these would re-heat because of the sauciness. Needless to say, we didn't have any leftovers.

Baked Chicken Wings 
3 pounds chicken wings 
salt, as needed 
pepper, as needed 
flour, as needed  

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Break down the chicken wings if need be. 
2. Season with chicken wings with salt and pepper. Toss the seasoned chicken in flour to coat. 
3. Spread the wings out on a baking sheet, spacing them as evenly as possible. 
4. Bake the chicken wings for 12-15 minutes before turning each wing and baking another 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. 
5. Meanwhile, make the glaze.

Pineapple-Soy Glaze

1 can crushed pineapple 
3-4 Tbsp soy sauce, or more as needed 
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar 
1 tsp ginger 
1 clove garlic, finely minced 
1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes *** 
1 Tbsp cornstarch 
1/2 cup water 
1 bunch scallions, finely sliced 
cilantro, chopped, for garnish 
lime wedges, for garnish  

1. In a small pot combine the pineapple, soy, vinegar, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. 
2. Make a slurry with the water and cornstarch. Add the slurry to the simmering pineapple mixture, and bring to a boil. 
3. Finish with 1/2 of the scallions. Taste the sauce for flavor, adding more ingredients as needed. 
4. Strain or puree the mixture. This gets rid of the chunks of pineapple, creating a smooth glaze for the wings. 
5. Toss the hot wings in the glaze to coat. Garnish with more scallions, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mushroom Farro Risotto with Grilled Chicken

I love this healthier version of risotto. Using a whole grain instead of arborio rice works incredibly well, while keeping you true to your New Year's resolution. Farro has enough starch in it to release to creamy perfection when cooked, just like the rice used to make risotto. The result is delicious - rich and smooth.

I flavored this risotto with mushrooms and leeks and topped it with grilled chicken. Farro and other grains take a little while to cook, so it's best for a weekend meal. But finished with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese - it's well worth the wait.

Mushroom Farro Risotto with Grilled Chicken

Served 2.
Leftover Potential:  You can cook just the amount of chicken breast that you need.  There was enough risotto left for a snack after the initial dinner.

Mushroom Farro Risotto
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 leeks, finely sliced
1 1/4 cup farro
1/4 cup white wine
2 1/2 - 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 tbsp butter ***
parmesan cheese, grated, to taste***

1.  In a large, tall pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  In another pot, heat the stock over medium low heat.  This will help your risotto cook faster, as the liquid will be warm already and won't take time to heat in the cooking pot.
2.  Add the onion to the first pot and cook until translucent.
3.  Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.  Add the leeks and cook until beginning to wilt.
4.  Add the farro and cook briefly, stirring to combine with the other ingredients.  Add the wine and reduce over medium heat until completely gone, stirring constantly.
5.  Begin adding the stock in ladlefuls.  Allow to reduce almost completely (stirring constantly) before adding more stock.  Continue adding stock until the farro begins to get tender.
6.  Add the mushrooms, stir to combine.  Allow the mushrooms to become tender.
7.  Season with salt and pepper.
8.  Finish with butter, stirring to combine, and grated parmesan cheese.

*** You can leave these items out for a healthier option, but they really add a delicious creaminess to the dish. 

Grilled Chicken
2 chicken breasts
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
flour, as needed to coat
1-2 tbsp olive oil

1.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and coat lightly with flour.
2.  In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  When hot, add the chicken and allow to cook until beginning to gain color, about 3 minutes, before turning over and finishing cooking on the other side.  The chicken should feel slightly firm to the touch.
3.  Slice the chicken on the bias, and serve on top of the risotto.  You can also top the dish with sliced pepperocini peppers, which add a little bit of acidity and spice. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Grilled Steak with Sauteed Mushrooms and Chili Glazed Green Beans

There is not much that a Kansas girl can ask for other than a good steak once in awhile.  It's so simple - a mouth watering, tender, juicy piece o' meat and I'm in heaven any day of the week. It's also an easy meal to prepare in a pinch or when you're tired after a long day's work.  Another great thing is you can make just enough for yourself if you're eating alone.  Not to mention it's so deliciously satisfying even though it's fast.  

There are, of course, many classic combinations for steak sides.  I love mushrooms on top of my steak, and I spiced up some green beans for a side dish.  Between the richness of the steak, the soft, earthiness of the mushrooms, and the crisp, spicy green beans - I was one happy Kansan...even though I'm far from home!

Grilled Steak with Sauteed Mushrooms and Chili Glazed Green Beans

Served 2.
Leftover Potential: If you want to make more steaks than you need, or you get a great bargain on multiple or over-sized steaks, cook it all and save the rest.  You can cut it and eat it later in the week in sandwiches or salads!

Sauteed Mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small container mushrooms, sliced ***
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1.  In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  
2.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3.  Add the mushrooms and cook over medium-low heat until browned and softened.  Season with salt and pepper. Set aside or keep warm for topping the steak.

*** I used crimini mushrooms, but any kind would be delicious.  Sometimes, I use dried mushrooms.  Simply re-hydrate the mushrooms in warm water.  Then you can reduce the re-hydrating liquid for a delicious sauce.

Chili Glazed Green Beans
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 cups green beans, chopped in half
salt, to taste
1 tsp chili oil ***
1 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste

1.  In a medium pan or wok, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2.  Add the green beans and stir fry until soft, but still crisp.  Season with salt.
3.  Drizzle the beans with the chili oil and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.  Use more or less to taste, but even people who don't like spice will enjoy a little of one of these components.  Set aside or keep warm to serve with the steak.

Grilled Steak
2 tbsp olive oil
2 rib eye steaks, or other cuts as desired

sauteed mushrooms
chili glazed green beans

1.  In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  When the pan and oil are hot, add steaks and cook to desired doneness (4-5 minutes for medium rare).
2.  Serve covered with the mushrooms and with a side of green beans.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

White Bean Panini-Style Sandwich

I'm on some kind of vegetarian roll recently.  I was inspired to make this sandwich after a recent visit to Pachamama's in my hometown of Lawrence, Kansas.  I love the feeling of reading a menu and finding an item that instantly jumps out at you.  On this visit, it was the white bean press: a panini-like sandwich filled with white beans, avocado, red onions, and brie.  The sandwich was delicious: the perfect example of a panini, crispy on the outside, warm and smooth on the inside.

I made a few adjustments to my home version, however.  I simplified the white bean "mash" and added a squirt of lime juice and some tomato slices for acidity.  I used ciabatta bread, which worked well for my solution to not having a panini press in my kitchen.  

This sandwich is delicious, creamy, and comforting.  It's also incredibly fast.  It's a great solution for vegetarians, as the white beans have plenty of good protein in them, and carnivores could very easily slip some prosciutto or grilled chicken in between the slices of bread.  

White Bean Panini-Style Sandwich

Served 1
Leftover Potential: The avocado will begin to oxidize, but a squeeze of lime will keep it fresh.  I kept the components ready in my fridge for a second sandwich the next day.

White Bean "Mash"
1 can white beans
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp dried oregano
juice of 1/2 lime
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Drain the white beans.  Using a fork, mash the beans to a chunky mash.  Add the garlic, oregano, and lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper.

2 slices ciabatta
1 tbsp oil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

white bean "mash"

brie, thinly sliced
avocado, thinly sliced
tomato, thinly sliced
red onion, thinly sliced

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Heat a medium size saute pan over medium-high heat.  
3. Brush the ciabatta slices with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Put face down in the saute pan.  Use another pan to press the bread down.  Let cook until well toasted.
4.  Remove the bread from the pan, and place onto a baking sheet.  Spread the white bean mixture on on half of the bread.  Top with tomato and onion slices.
5.  On the other piece of bread, apply the brie and avocado slices.  
6.  Toast the open sandwich in the oven for abut 3 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.
7.  Press the sandwich together, cut in half, and enjoy warm.

*** The tomatoes and avocado can also be added after the sandwich has been baked in the oven, if you desire to keep them cold.

Vegetarian Red Curry with Brown Rice

I have several vegetarian friends and family members.  Often times, I want to make a dish that's vegetarian friendly that can also feed several carnivores as well.  In the past when I've faced this problem, I turn to Asian cuisines.  There are an array of Asian dishes that are classically vegetarian, but since there are so many stews or one-bowl dishes, the addition of meat is very simple.

A few years ago for a party, I made this dish: red coconut curry with an array of vegetables.  Then I cooked some seasoned chicken breasts in a different saute pan, and reserved some of the curry sauce so that people could assemble their plates as they wished: chicken and vegetables or just veggies.  Curry is fantastically simple if you buy pre-made curry paste, but you can certainly make your own.  

Any vegetables or meats could be added, so it's creative as well as easy - and it is very healthy.  That's why I chose to pair this curry with brown rice.  In the past, I've made flatbreads, basmati, lentils, or even saffron rice to pair with a classic curry like this.

Vegetarian Red Curry with Brown Rice

Served 2
Leftover Potential: Reheats very easily.  Provided 1 meal after the initial dinner.

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 1/1 cups green beans, cut in half ***
3-4 Tbsp curry paste, or more as desired
1 can coconut milk, unsweetened
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

chicken breasts, pork loin, etc. can be cooked separately and added as well.

1.  In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until translucent.  Do not let brown.
2.  Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, about one minute.
3.  Add the peppers, mushrooms, and green beans.  Stir over the heat for about a minute.
4.  Add the curry paste, stir well.  Add the coconut milk and stir to combine.  
5.  Allow the mixture to come to a simmer.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender, but still slightly crisp.  Season with salt and pepper as desired.
6.  Serve in warm bowls with a scoop of brown rice.

*** Green beans can also be blanched (cooked in boiling water and then chilled to retain green color) prior to cooking if you prefer them to be softer.  
**** Other great vegetables to use are corn, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and various canned products, such as water chestnuts, baby corns, etc.

Brown Rice:
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup brown rice ***
1 cup vegetable stock

1.  In a small pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, about 1 minute. 
2.  Add the rice and stir to prevent sticking.  Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook as per instructions.  Different rices cook for different lengths of time.  Brown rice generally takes awhile longer.  When the rice is tender, fluff with a fork and serve with curry.

*** Any rice can be used, I chose brown rice due to the healthy qualities.