Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Korean Grilled Chicken

Korean dinner: grilled spicy chicken, kimchi cucumber and some simple green beans
It's still grilling season and here's a delicious combination of flavors. There are a lot of ingredients in the marinade but they are all easy to find. If you can find Korean crushed red pepper - it's much milder than the stuff you shake on pizzas - use that. Rather than searingly hot, it's slightly hot and fruity. On the heat/flavor scale, I think it's close to Aleppo pepper, though that isn't much easier to locate than Korean chile! If you must, use the crushed red pepper. Or you can leave out the chile because there is a lot of flavor going on here.

This marinade is also great on veggies, such as chunks of red peppers, shiitake mushrooms, whole scallions, or spring onions.

Korean Grilled Chicken
(serves 8)

2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts

3 Tablespoons soy sauce
⅓ cup rice wine or dry vermouth
3 scallions, white and light green part, finely minced
8 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
4 walnut halves, toasted and finely chopped
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Korean red chile flakes or Aleppo pepper OR ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 ½ ground black pepper
pinch of salt

oil for greasing grill

Cut the chicken breasts into 1" thick slices. Mix together the remaining ingredients in a large glass baking dish. Add the chicken and coat with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat up your grill on high. Brush with oil to prevent sticking. Reduce heat to medium. Remove chicken from the marinade, sprinkle lightly with salt, and cook until done, about 20 minutes, flipping to get some light char on both sides. Serve as whole pieces, or slice on the bias (as in photo above).

From Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen: A Cookbook by Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall, Ten Speed Press, 2001.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sausage and Vegetable Stew

I recently visited Chicago to take in a baseball game at the oldest major league ballpark: Wrigley Field. The food there is very old-school. Unlike my local ballpark Coors Field, the fare is as traditional! Classic Chicago hot dogs and one of my favorites, sausage and peppers and onions on a roll. This inspired me to create this stew. There's a little bit of sausage but the bulk of it is veggies from my garden - some eggplant, zucchini, and Italian peppers. You can serve this on a hoagie roll or Italian bread. Or you can serve it over rice, like my dinner in the photo. We also ate it stuffed into a pita, though that's a pretty messy container!

You can choose the type of sausage you like best: spicy or mild, chicken or pork. You want a flavorful Italian sausage because the flavors in the sausage provide a lot of flavor in the stew.

Sausage and Vegetable Stew
(serves 6)

1 large sweet onion, sliced
2 Italian sweet peppers, cored and sliced crosswise
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil + ½ Tablespoon
¾ pound Italian sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 pound zucchini, cut into ½" dice
½ pound eggplant, peeled and cut into ½" dice
salt and pepper
healthy pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
about 20 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Heat up a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the 2 Tablespoons oil and the onions. Sprinkle with about ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook until golden and very soft, about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes of cooking, lower heat to medium-low to keep the onions from burning. Stir occasionally. This step takes time but this is how you get delicious onions. Add the peppers and garlic. Stir to mix and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the onion mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Return the skillet to the stove and turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the ½ Tablespoon oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the sausage. Brown the sausage. Add the diced and crushed tomatoes, scrapping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (this is the good stuff!). Add the zucchini, eggplant, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and crushed red pepper, if you want a spicy sauce. Stir to mix and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove the cover, add the cheese, and cook for another 5 minutes to thicken the sauce a bit. Stir in ½ the chopped basil. Taste and add more salt and black pepper, if needed. To serve, mound onto a roll, and garnish with onions and remaining chopped basil.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lipstick on a Pig

Been busy traveling of late so not much cooking going on in my house. Have been catching up on my reading, though. Found this excellent article by Dr. David Katz, Director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. Quick summary - fortification is great, but juicing up junk food with nutrients does not make it a replacement for real food. Check it out. (And, I love the photo of a pig with lipstick.)

Fortification Follies: Lipstick on a Pig for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Monday, July 14, 2014

Carrots and Turnips with Marsala

This recipe gives me an opportunity to introduce a few interesting ingredients:
  • Marsala wine - a fortified wine from Sicily. It has a wonderful nutty flavor. It's fairly inexpensive and because it is fortified with brandy (and sometimes sugar), it lasts forever. I used a dry Marsala, which is an aperitif, but sweet Marsala is also made and served as a dessert wine. Marsala is the primary flavoring in Zabaglione, a silky, frothy egg custard dessert, and one of the great Italian sweets.
  • Walnut oil - full of delicious walnut flavor, it can be used for cooking, as a salad oil, or as a finishing oil, like a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. And like extra-virgin olive oil or butter, it can handle medium-high heat cooking. A great source of healthy fats, so I like it to use it instead of butter in many recipes where the flavor of olive oil is too savory. Walnut oil is expensive, about twice as expensive as butter, which isn't exactly cheap either. But, if you can fit a bottle in your budget, and use it sparingly, it packs a lot of flavor per penny. 
  • Turnips - Not the most popular vegetable in the garden. They have an earthy flavor which is most pronounced in bigger turnips like rutabagas. I prefer the smaller purple topped turnips that show up in the Boulder Farmers' Market in early summer. From a good family, the Brassicas, which includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbages.
We're going to put all these together with some carrots - their sweetness balances the earthiness of the turnips - to make a delicious and unusual vegetable side dish.

Carrots and Turnips with Marsala
(makes 4-6 servings)

4 medium carrots
12 oz. purple-topped turnips
2 Tablespoons walnut oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup dry Marsala
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (about 4 sprigs) or more
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Peel the carrots and turnips. Cut the carrots into thick sticks about 3" long. Cut the turnips in half and then slice into half-moons. Heat the oil in a large skillet with a cover over medium heat. Add the carrots and turnips and toss to coat in oil. Sprinkle with the salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Marsala and cover the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes until the wine has evaporated and the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with parsley and black pepper. Serve hot.

Adapted from 1000 Italian Recipes by Michele Scicolone, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Granola

My breakfast: granola with strawberries and yogurt. Yum!

As I said last year, the low-sugar granola recipe is one of the most popular here. Here's yet another version of this: apple-cinnamon. Boosted the cinnamon a bit, added a touch of powdered ginger, dried apples, and raisins, though like my dear friend Deb, I like to add the dried fruit as I eat it, so I can eat what I feel like that day.

Apple Cinnamon Granola
(serves about 8-10)

3 cups rolled oats (not quick or instant)
½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ cup honey, heated in the microwave until pourable
1 cup silvered or sliced almonds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon powdered ginger
a large pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup diced dried apples
½ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, cinnamon, honey and salt in a large heatproof bowl. Dump onto a large rimmed cookie sheet. Don't clean out of the bowl; you'll be using it again. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring it every 10 minutes so that it browns evenly. Keep an eye on it near the end of baking so that it doesn't burn. Transfer the hot granola from the cookie sheet back to the bowl. Drizzle on the vanilla and stir. Allow to cool and mix in the dried fruit. Store in a cool, dry place.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sweet Potato & Bean Stew

This recipe is really Mark Bittman's from his excellent The Food Matters Cookbook. That recipe starts with dried beans, cooks the beans with some seasoning and pork product, and then proceeds to the stew. I think it's wonderful to start with dried beans; I usually do that myself. But, there are plenty of days where I'm just running behind and a can or two of cooked beans can save your dinner. If you start with dried beans, dinner will take a few hours. If you start with canned beans, you can pull this off in an hour.

The sausage in this recipe is garnish, not the main event. I made it with 1 link (about 6 oz.) of andouille, so everyone gets two to three small slices of sausage with their stew. You get the flavor of the meat without adding much to the cost.

Sweet Potato and Bean Stew
(serves 6, cost $12)

1 teaspoon oil
2 oz. bacon or pancetta, diced
1-2 links andouille or hot Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
a pinch of cayenne
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
2 15-oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 large sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds, cut into 1" chunks
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
vinegar-based hot sauce (like Tabasco) or juice of ½ a lime

Heat up the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook until it renders its fat. Remove from the pot and set aside. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the sausage. Sauté until browned. Remove from pot and set aside to cool slightly. There will be a bit of fat in the pot and it will add lots of flavor to the dish. But, you don't need more than a couple of tablespoons and remove some if there is more than that.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, peppers, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, allspice, and cayenne. Sauté for 5 minutes, scraping the bottom to keep the spices from burning. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the reserved pancetta, beans, sweet potatoes, salt, and pepper. There should be enough liquid to nearly cover the beans and potatoes. If not, add some water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 30 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender. Slice the sausage while the stew is cooking and add back to the pot so the sausage can finish cooking. Add hot sauce or lime juice, stir, and serve.

Reheats very well.