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January 19, 2012

I can’t believe I waited so long to try this dish, but who knew something so simple would


be so fantastic?  It’s really just rice, vegetables, sesame oil and chile sauce…but it comes together like magic.  This is a very simple version of what is a dish with a million variations.  But that simplicity makes it perfect for weeknight meals.  I changed the recipe up a bit because the servings were kind of small for us, and added some soy sauce at the end when served.  Next time I’m going to serve it with a fried runny egg on top and some sliced shiitake mushrooms.  This dish comes from Food52 and serves 4.


1 1/2 c sushi or short grain rice

1 medium sweet potato, cut into 3/4″ cubes

About 6 small potatoes (like Yukon gold), quartered (I skipped these)

1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 zucchini, cut into matchsticks

1 8 oz package shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1 cup mung bean sprouts

5 scallions, sliced

3/4 cup frozen edamame beans, shelled and defrosted

2 T toasted sesame seed

1 pound shrimp, cleaned and de-veined (omit for vegetarian)

1 T grated fresh ginger

1 T grated garlic

1 T sesame oil

1 t hot sauce (like Sriracha, or other Asian chili)

1-2 T safflower or canola oil

Soy sauce for serving

4 fried eggs for serving


In a small bowl, combine the cleaned shrimp with the grated garlic and ginger and season with salt and pepper.  Keep in the fridge for half an hour or longer, while you’re preparing the vegetables.

Rinse the rice in several washes of cold water until water runs clean. Add it to a small pot with 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the water boils, turn heat to very low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for another 15 minutes.

For the potatoes: preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the sweet potatoes and potatoes separately with about 1 teaspoon of oil each, then spread on opposite sides of a baking sheet. Roast, flipping once, for 35-45 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and browned.

For the carrots, zucchini and mushrooms: warm a large saucepan or wok over high heat. Add a tiny bit of oil or a coat of cooking spray, season with salt and pepper, then add the carrot matchsticks and toss until they’ve softened and gotten a tiny bit brown. Remove and set aside, then repeat for the zucchini.

Re-coat the wok with the canola or safflower oil and spread the rice on the bottom. Top with the mung beans, scallions, edamame, carrots, zucchini and mushrooms, in separate wedges. Sprinkle with one tablespoon of sesame oil and the chili sauce.  Sprinkle with soy sauce if desired.  Cover the wok with a lid or with foil, and set the whole wok over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are warm and the rice has developed a slight crust.

Meanwhile, warm 1/2 teaspoon of oil in a smaller frying pan. When hot, add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until they are pink through. Pile the shrimp on the vegetables and rice and garnish with sesame seeds and fried eggs if using.  Serve straight from the wok.


Rustic Vegan Winter Stew over Polenta

January 16, 2012

I am really digging Post-Punk Kitchen for some good vegan recipes.  I love lentil stew, and

vegan lentil stew

this seemed like a perfect early Winter dish, especially served over polenta.  I changed it up a bit though- I increased the lentils and decreased the carrots, added some red wine for richness, and some mushrooms because I love ’em.


For the stew:

1-2 T olive oil

1 small onion, diced medium

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t dried thyme

1/2 t celery seed

Several dashes fresh black pepper

1 t salt

3/4 c green or brown lentils

3/4 c baby carrots

2 lbs plum tomatoes, chopped (I used 1 28 oz can whole Italian tomatoes)

4 c vegetable broth

1 c red wine

1 lb small yukon gold potatoes, sliced in half (if using large ones, cut into about 1 inch pieces)

2 bay leaves

3 leeks, white & light green parts only, in 1 inch chunks (and washed well) (I skipped this)

1 8 oz package baby portobello mushrooms,cut in half

For the polenta:

4 c vegetable broth

1/2 t salt

2 T olive oil

1 c dry polenta


For the stew:  Heat a large pot over over medium heat and add the olive oil, onion and a dash of salt and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, celery seed, pepper and salt and saute a minute more.

Add the lentils, baby carrots, tomatoes, vegetable broth and red wine.  Cover pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes, until lentils are slightly softened.

Meanwhile, make the polenta by bringing the vegetable broth and salt to a boil in a 2 quart pot. Add oil and lower the heat to a simmer. Add the polenta in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Whisk for about 5 minutes, until polenta is thickened. Keeping heat low, cover and let cook for 20 more minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

When the stew has cooked for 20 minutes, add the potatoes, mushrooms and leeks (if using).  Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 20 to 30 more minutes, until potatoes are fork tender and lentils are soft. Let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavors to meld.  Serve over the polenta and sprinkle with Parmesan for a not-so-vegan dish.

To make the polenta:

Green Chile Cheeseburgers

January 11, 2012

Finally, something that’s not soup, right?  Here’s a great dish for anytime of the year, and

green chile cheeseburger

is fast enough for a weeknight.  I found this recipe in a Saveur magazine, which I really love.  It’s a classic dish with roasted green chiles and melty cheese.  I used ground turkey instead of beef, but either will work.  I served this with some sweet potato fries for a good old-fashioned burger and fries meal.  Serves 4.


1 1/2 -2 lb. ground turkey (depending on how large you like your burgers)

1 T plus 1 1/2 t New Mexico chile powder (or substitute ancho chile)

1 1/2 t ground cumin

Kosher salt and freshly ground blackpepper, to taste

1/3 c mayonnaise

2 T ketchup

4 cloves roasted garlic, mashed to a paste

2 T canola oil

6 roasted poblano chiles, peeled, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped (do this by blackening the whole chiles over a gas flame, putting them in a covered bowl, then skinning them)

4 slices cheddar cheese (I used shredded Mexican cheese blend)

4 hamburger buns


In a bowl, combine the ground turkey, 1 T chile powder, cumin, and salt and pepper.  For into four patties and chill.  Whisk the remaining chile powder, mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl and refrigerate sauce until needed.

Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Working in 2 batches, cook the patties, turning once, until a thick crust develops on both sides, about 10 minutes for medium-rare (less if you used less meat).  Top each patty with 1/4 of roasted chiles and cheese and cover the pan with a lid to melt the cheese.  To serve, place 1 patty on each bottom bun and spread top buns with some of the sauce. Cover burgers with top bun and serve immediately.

Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini and Pesto

January 7, 2012

I guess I can’t ever have enough Italian-style vegetable soups.  I love how versatile they

smoky tortellini soup

are and I never tire of them…plus, they’re like winter’s salads.  Chock full of vegetables, but warm and hearty.  This soup features tortellini, makes it quick for a weeknight.  The recipe contains bacon, but I skipped it and instead added some smoked paprika to give it the smokiness.  This recipe comes from Food52 and serves 4-6.


2-3 T olive oil

2 bacon, chopped into small pieces (I skipped this)

1 large onion, chopped

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 ribs of celery, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 potato, chopped

1/4 t sweet smoked paprika

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas

1 28 oz. can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes, with juice

1 cup kale, chopped fine

1 9-ounce package of cheese tortellini

Good balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Grated parmesan cheese for garnish- optional

Prepared basil pesto


Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook for a couple of minutes, until they start to brown.  Or, just start by adding 2 tablespoons of oil along with the chopped onion and garlic  to the pan.  Continue to cook, strirring occasionally, over medium heat until softened

Add the chopped carrot, celery, zucchini, potato and smoked paprika and stir around for a minute or two.  Add the stock, the chickpeas, and then the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you go.  Add a few generous pinches of salt to taste.  Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender.

Add the kale and the tortellini, and continue to cook over a simmer until both are tender and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve garnished with a spoonful of the pesto, a few drops of the aged balsamic, and a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Seared Chicken Breasts with Cherry Tomato Pan Sauce and Goat Cheese

January 6, 2012

This is an excellent skillet chicken dinner, one that’s rich and filling, but not overly heavy.

chicken with tomatoes and goat cheese

I changed it up a bit and stirred goat cheese into the tomato sauce, so it melted and had a tangy, creamy consistency.  You could serve this with simple sauteed zucchini and pasta, or as I served it with a zucchini rice gratin.  It’s nice enough for entertaining and quick enough for a weeknight.  This recipe was adapted from Big Girls, Small Kitchen and serves 4-6.


2 T  unsalted butter

6 chicken cutlets

Sea salt


1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved

1 t sugar

1/4 c chicken stock

2 T fresh basil, slivered

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled (or 1/4 pound fresh mozzarella)


In a large cast iron skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season them generously on both sides with salt and paprika. Add the chicken to the pan and cook, lowering the heat to medium if your pan starts to smoke, until nicely browned on both sides and just pink in the middle, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Remove to a plate and tent with foil.

Add the remaining butter to the pan, along with the garlic and tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are beginning to fall apart, stirring occasionally and scraping up any brown bits of chicken from the bottom, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and sugar and using the back of your spoon, gently crush the tomatoes so they give up all their juices. Simmer the sauce for another 3 minutes until it’s thickened and the acidity has mellowed.  Stir in the basil and taste for seasoning, adding more salt as necessary. Add the chicken back to the pan and simmer until it’s cooked through. Dot the top with the goat cheese and stir to incorporate.  Remove from the heat, garnish with basil or Parmesan, and serve immediately, family style.

Grilled Vegetable and Hummus Olive Oil Tart

January 4, 2012

This recipe is definitely more than the sum of it’s parts.  Grilled vegetables, hummus and a

hummus and vegetable tart

crust sound great, but it’s far greater than that.  The olive oil tart is what makes it and it’s so simple to put together you can do it on a weeknight.  I did shortcut this recipe by using prepared sun-dried tomato hummus.  I used a thick, chunky one from Publix, but you could make your own if you want to spend the time.  I also wanted to be sure I had enough, so I upped the ingredients for the tart a bit.  It made 2 6″ x 12″ tarts, perfect for 6 people served with a side salad.  This recipe was adapted from from e-curry.  


For the tart:

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/3 c + 3 T olive oil

1/3 c cold club soda

3/4 t salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 t dried Italian herbs

For the grilled vegetables:

1 medium red onion, thickly sliced

2 zucchini, sliced

1 small eggplant, sliced

2 Roma medium tomatoes, sliced lengthwise

6 cloves of garlic, minced or grated

salt and pepper

1/2 t crushed red pepper

2-3 T olive oil

1 t dried Italian herbs

8 oz prepared sun-dried tomato hummus

Grated Parmesan for serving, optional


To make the tart:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl combine flour,  salt, black pepper, herbs with a whisk.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together club soda and oil until almost creamy, for about 2 minutes.

Pour the oil and water mix in to the flour mix and stir together with a fork, until the flour come together in a dough form.  Add some more club soda if the mixture is much too dry to form a dough, but use sparingly.  Dump the dough onto a floured surface and give it a knead or two just to pull the dough together.  If you overwork it, it will get tough.

Divide the dough into two parts and gently pat each ball into a 12″ by 6″ rectangle, about a 1/4″ thickness.  Prick the crust with a fork in a few places.  Transfer tarts to greased baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

Grill the vegetables:  Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables by whisking the olive oil, salt, herbs, crushed pepper and minced garlic together.  Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over high heat and cook the vegetables on a stove top cast iron grill/skillet drizzled with garlic oil.  Alternatively  you can roast the vegetables in the oven by placing them in a single layer in a baking tray; drizzle the garlic oil.  Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping them half way through baking.

To assemble the tart, heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread a half cup of the hummus over each baked tart.  Layer on the grilled vegetables.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.  Grated Parmesan on the top is great for serving.

Mixed Berry Pavlova

January 1, 2012

I’ve always wanted to make a Pavlova.  While I’m not the biggest fan of meringues,


Pavolva’s are a large merinuge that bakes at a really low temperature and turns crisp on the outside and nice and gooey marshmallowy in the center.  This seems like a celebratory New Year dessert (although I made it way back at Mother’s Day), and it’s both over the top and not as indulgent as it looks.  Pile on some fresh mixed berries and a raspberry sauce, and you’ve got a light dessert, perfect for a luncheon, or after a rich meal with champagne preferably.  I skipped the whipped cream because it didn’t seem necessary.  I am definitely making this again for a special celebration.  This recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen and serves 6.


For the meringue

4 large egg whites

Pinch of salt

1 c granulated sugar (superfine if you have it)

1 t white vinegar

1/2 T cornstarch

For the raspberry sauce

1 10-ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed

3 T sugar

For the mixed berry topping

1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

1/2 pint fresh blueberries

1/2 pint fresh raspberries


For the meringue: Preheat oven to 250°F and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper.

Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.

In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn’t use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.

Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.)

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)  Don’t wait too long to take the pavlova off of the parchment, or trim the parchment down.  Mine cracked (although it still looked great).

For the raspberry sauce: Puree the raspberries in a food processor, blender or immersion blender. Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds (you have to really work at this to get the sauce out).  Heat the puree in a small pot with three tablespoons of sugar, until it is heated through and the sugar is dissolved.  Cool the sauce.

Mix the berries with 1/2 cup of the raspberry sauce and set aside.

To assemble the Pavlova:  When the meringue disk is cooled, put it on a plate.  Add the mixed berries and sauce mixture, spooning them carefully into the middle of the pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue. Serve immediately in large scoops with extra raspberry sauce.