Tag Archives: Dinner

Venison Stroganoff – Beating Off the Last of Winter’s Chill

Venison Stroganoff 5Is it just me, or is Spring the biggest tease of all the seasons?  I don’t know how the weather looks in your neck of the woods, but here in the D.C. area a day or two of beautiful, sunshine-y, warmish days are followed by sometimes 20 degree drops in temperature with rains and crazy winds.  For example, just a week ago I went for a lovely seven mile run in shorts and a tank-top.  That evening I packed up my winter sweaters…only to pull one out the next morning to shield myself from the wintry chill that arrived overnight.  Brrrrr!  On these early days of spring, when a shiver or two lingers in the air, we can find ourselves still craving a bowl of something warm and comforting.  However,  by this time I am chili and stew tired out.  Time for something new, right? Now last we spoke, I promised to share my new experiences with you.  Well, to break out of the season transition doldrums, I ventured into the “new” territory of…venison!

It is no surprise that I work with a number of hunters and overall outdoors men Venison Stroganoff 1(and women); it’s the military after all.  Monday mornings during hunting season, I’d often hear of  miserable hours of sitting in cold drizzle with no game, see video clips of foraging bears, and lend an ear to the venting of the bad “etiquette” of late-starting hunters scoping out for spots and scaring away the deer.  As the weeks passed on, it  appeared to me that this past season was un-plentiful.  It wasn’t until nearly the very end that one of my friends stopped by super excited to share his catch (as promised) and presented me with a neatly butcher wrapped package of  venison chops.  The catch to the promise, of course, was to share what I thought about my first experience with venison.

Venison Stroganoff_prepping chopsI followed my friend’s recommendation to prepare a small piece of venison in order to just taste the flavor of the meat itself.  “Just a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, ” he said, “sear it in a pan then finish it in the oven like you would a nice steak.” Roger that!  Upon opening the package that weekend, I noticed the deep, rich color of the meat.  Meat doesn’t look that nice even from the higher end grocery stores!  I added checking out the downtown butcher shop to my to-do list so that I could make a comparison some day.   Then I removed a piece of venison from the package, froze the rest for later, and followed my friend’s recommended preparation.  Below is how it turned out.  Now doesn’t that look tasty?

Venison Stroganoff_ready to taste Venison Stroganoff_ready to taste 2

My first thoughts as I chewed that initial bite of venison was, “What’s this “gamey” flavor everyone keeps talking about?”  To me, the venison tasted almost identical to beef, albeit drier and a bit tougher than a piece of beef prepared in the same manner.   My second bite, I took it slower.  I went ahead and chewed and chewed allowing every bit of my mouth to have contact with the venison as I tried to discern that distinct flavor.  Still, I did not notice much of a difference, only this time I did discover a mild, earthy after-taste that reminded me of mushrooms.

Venison Stroganoff 3That slight earthiness of the venison inspired me to use the remaining meat in a Stroganoff, a creamy dish of sauteed beef and mushrooms simmered in sour-cream.  I’d been dying to make some for the longest time (I grew up on Hamburger Helper’s Potato Stroganoff!).  The venison and the incoming spring provided me the perfect excuse and opportunity to bust out of that muddy spring rut I mentioned earlier.  To fight the lingering chill, the venison Stroganoff provided warm and creamy comfort without the heaviness of a fall or winter stews,  while the earthy notes of from the venison and mushrooms gave hint to the coming freshness of spring.

Now c’mon already Spring.  We’re ready for you!

Venison Stroganoff

Ingredients

Venison Stroganoff_packaged chops 1

  • 1 pound venison
  • 6 ounce package cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided in half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¾ cup beef or chicken stock
  • 1 large bay leave
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 cup full fat sour-cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked rice or egg noodles
Directions
  1. Pat venison dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.Venison Stroganoff_pat salt pepper
  2. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Sear venison in pan.  Use Emilie’s guide to cook venison to desired doneness. Remove venison from pan, setting aside to rest.
     Venison Stroganoff_butter sear      Venison Stroganoff_remove venison
  4. Reduce heat to medium and melt remaining butter in pan and pour in olive oil.  Add shallots and mushrooms, slowly sauteing until soft, about 7-10 minutes.Venison Stroganoff_shallots and mushrooms
  5. Add minced garlic to the mushrooms and cook one minute more.
  6. Pour in stock and add mustard and bay leaf to pan.  Stir, scraping up any bits left over from searing the venison.Venison Stroganoff_mustard and bayleaf
  7. Raise heat back to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer 5 minutes.
  8. While sauce simmers, slice the venison.Venison Stroganoff_slice venison
  9. Stir sour-cream into the mushroom sauce and let sauce warm through.  Be careful not to let the sauce come to a boil or the sour-cream may break.Venison Stroganoff_add sour cream
  10. Fold in venison and parsley and remove from heat.
    Venison Stroganoff_fold venison into sour cream  Venison Stroganoff_ready to serve
  11. Serve Venison Stroganoff over rice or egg noodles.Venison Stroganoff 4

Rustic Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts

“Everything is bigger in Texas.”

Including my new digs here in Austin. For the same price I was paying for a 400 sq. ft. 1-bedroom apartment in D.C., I am now renting a 3-bedroom duplex with a backyard and a garage. We have so much space, I am going to get a craft room – and Tom agreed to it!  It is all pretty fabulous and I am in love with our new place.

Living in Texas - Living Room Living in Texas - Dining Room

Moving from a tiny galley style kitchen with maybe 2 square feet of counter space to my new spacious kitchen (with a dishwasher!) is the best part of the new house. Precious counter space that once belonged to an ever present stack of drying dishes has been given to my KitchenAide mixer. Now it is always close at hand and easy to use in a moments notice. Recipes that involve half a dozen bowls are no longer daunting because those dishes just go into the dishwasher – no more hours of cleaning. I am having a bit of trouble re-learning how to use an electric stove and I may have burned a few batches of bacon, but I’ll figure it out soon enough, I just have to keep practicing.

Living in Texas - Kitchen

After finally unpacking my cooking supplies, I decided to celebrate my new kitchen by getting my hands dirty making my first from scratch meal. No more frozen pizza for me! My first dish in the new kitchen needed to be something fun, not too difficult (I was tired after all that unpacking), and hearty (to fuel a long night of organizing my walk-in closet). By combining Hungarian noodles and cabbage with Italian pasta carbonara, I came up with this fabulous dish of noodles, shaved Brussels sprouts, bacon, and poached eggs. A rustic, satisfying pasta carbonara with veggies thrown in for good measure.

Rustic Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts v 3

Rustic Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts
2-4 servings

4 cups shredded brussel sprouts (see Recipe Notes)
½ pound uncooked pasta (see Recipe Notes)
1 large shallot, minced
salt and fresh ground pepper
¼ pound of medium thickness bacon
4 eggs
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼  shredded Parmesan cheese + more for serving

Rustic Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts - prep the veggies

1)      Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil for the pasta. Once at a roiling boil, cook pasta according to package directions. Also place a large, wide pan or pot with about 3 inches of water on medium-low to bring it to a simmer (I like to use my large soup pot).

2)     In a large heavy bottomed skillet fry bacon to desired crispness and remove to a paper towel lined plate. Pour off some of the bacon grease, leaving about 1-2 tablespoons in the pan. Make sure you save the extra bacon grease in case you need a bit more.

Rustic Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts - fry the bacon

3)     Add minced shallot to pan and cook for 1 minute. Add shredded brussels sprouts and toss to coat in the bacon grease. Sauté brussels sprouts for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that they do not burn, but not so frequently that they don’t brown in places.

Rustic Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts - saute Brussels sprouts

4)     At this point your poaching water should be simmering, add about 4 teaspoons of white wine vinegar to the water and, using your preferred method (like the one described here) poach your four eggs. I use 2 eggs per dish for the 2 servings, if you are making 4 smaller servings, you may want to poach more eggs, or just serve one egg each serving.

5)     Remove brussels sprouts from direct heat and add drained, cooked pasta, tossing to coat. Here is where you may want to dribble on a bit more bacon grease. Sprinkle with about ¼ cup of Parmesan and toss to incorporate.

Rustic Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts - add drained pasta 1 Rustic Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts - add drained pasta 2

6)     To serve, spoon pasta-brussels sprouts mixture on a plate, top with a few slices of the cooked bacon, crumbled, sprinkle with extra cheese, and top with your poached eggs. Ta-Da!

Rustic Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts v 1

Recipe Notes
Shredded Brussels Sprouts sound much harder than they really are – for me the real trick is buying the largest sprouts you can find. The website Almost Practical has a great step-by-step tutorial, with pictures on how prep them. If you want a bit of guidance before you get started, check it out.

Traditional carbonara is made with spaghetti or bucattini, but with the addition of the brussels sprouts, I didn’t think these would work as well. I ended up  using campanella pasta, so that the Brussles sprout shreds could easily wrap around the pasta and be better incorporated. Really, any shorter sturdier pasta like farfella or radiatori should work here.

Roasted Vegetable “Stir-Fry” with Chicken and Quinoa

Roast Veg Stir 5I can’t believe race day is almost here!  A few weeks out and I have so many butterflies in my stomach it’s not even funny. Eeep! It’s not helping that with the most intense part of my training now complete, the shorter distances and lower intensity cross training have my thoughts wandering a bit too much.  One minute I’m rocking chatarunga push-ups with all sorts of “strong” mantras singing in my brain, but as I rest in down-dog and my mind goes quiet, suddenly it shouts, “Not 13 miles, 13 point one miles! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!”  Before full scale panic mode can ensue, however, I have been able to talk myself off the ledge. “Ruth,” I say, “You were thinking you can handle anything life throws at you. ” Or now, “Hellloooo, Ruth, you ran 13 point TWO miles just a few days ago. Obviously you can do it.” Obviously…

Roast Veg Stir 2Thankfully I’m not doing this alone! Sue and I are running this half-marathon together. Originally it was us and my sister…until my sister found out she was pregnant.   By that time she had already set up a private Facebook page for all our runner friends where we’ve been posting our runs and workouts to motivate each other.  After I started posting articles on running, race training, and fitness in general, I became the go-to person for information.  Our forum’s hottest topic?  Food!  

In all honesty, although I have my race day “fuel plan” ready, I have beenRoast Veg Stir 3 horrible with fueling my overall health.  This is my usual conundrum, if you’ve read Emilie’s and my About page.  Of course, as a consequence, for nearly half of my training I have felt fatigued and sluggish in between runs and workouts.   It got really bad, actually, but my resilient nature kicked in just in time with the help of a little inspiration.  I saw this recipe in Self magazine for Kung Pao salmon with sweet potatoes and broccoli and really liked the idea of roasting the vegetables. So I gave the technique a try with my favorite stir-fry combo: broccoli and bell peppers. 

Roast Veg Stir 1This is a winning runner’s combination! Not only is it full of delicious Asian flavor, it is packed with some key nutrients that help keep your body ready to lace up, such as anti-oxidants, beta carotene, Vitamin C, potassium, and protein.  I am so grateful I was able to break out of my nutrition rut, because with dishes like this I am so going to ROCK THIS RACE!

 

Roasted Vegetable “Stir-Fry” with Chicken and Quinoa

INGREDIENTS
serves about 4

Roast Veg Stir Ingredients

• 1 large head of broccoli, chopped into florets
• 1 red bell pepper, diced large
• 1 yellow bell pepper, diced large
• 1 large chicken breast, sliced thin
• 3-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• Sea salt and ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
• 1/4 cup rice vinegar
• 1 tablespoon agave syrup
• 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
• 1 cup uncooked quinoa

PREPARATION
  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 375°.
  3. On a baking sheet, toss broccoli and bell peppers with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Season the vegetables with a pinch of salt and pepper, toss again, and then arrange in a single layer. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, but al dente. Set aside.Roast Veg Stir Prep
  4. While the quinoa and vegetables cook, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, agave, garlic, ginger, and Sriracha in a bowl and set aside.Roast Veg Stir Sauce
  5.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over high heat.  Stir fry sliced chicken cook salmon until browned.  Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.Roast Veg Stir Chicken
  6.  Lower heat to medium high heat and add soy sauce mixture to pan.  Simmer until slightly thickened, 2 to 4 minutes.Roast Veg Stir Cook Sauce
  7. Reduce heat to medium.  Add chicken back into the pan along with the roasted vegetables.  Toss gently so that everything is coated in the sauce.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired and cook for another 3 minutes.Roast Veg Stir Final Pot
  8. Serve hot over quinoa.

Roast Veg Stir 4

Back to Basics : Thai Red Curry

basic curry 2

Late last summer, Emilie came up with a fabulous idea for a Cork and Spoon post series: Back to Basics.  Even in late August, our friends were already sending us text messages and e-mails about holiday recipes and plans and asking pretty basic questions: what’s the best way to cook a turkey, what wine goes with this dish, how do I…and so on and so forth.  So, Emilie concluded, why not write a series of posts about the cooking topics our friends ask us about the most?  Couldn’t argue there!

I often get questions about Asian dishes from my friends, not exactly surprising since I am Asian and grew up in Asia, and the most popular basic curry 8request is how to make a Thai-style curry.  I’ve already shared a few recipes with you, but today, it’s Back to Basics!

So what are the basic ingredients of a Thai-style curry? My basics are:

  •  red or green curry paste (homemade or store-bought)
  •  a can or two of coconut milk
  • fish sauce (a must!)
  • garlic
  • basil (Thai or Sweet)
  • veggies
  • steamed white rice (jasmine)

I also like a protein, but that is, of course, optional.

basic curry 5Like many Asian dishes, Thai-curry comes in a plethora of forms because it is very much regionally and family based.  I have been to quite a few Thai restaurants and Thai homes in my life and not one has served the exact same dish.  So what does that mean? That means that once you have the basics down you really can’t go wrong.

Now for some more curry basics to keep in mind while cooking.

  • As I’ve stated in other posts, do not allow the coconut milk to boil. Bubbles=bad. Your curry will curdle. Now, I often step away a tad too long from the stove and end up with curdled curry.  It will taste just fine, but it won’t look very pretty.
  • Asian food is about balance. Thai food may have a spicy  reputation, but notice that despite the heat (for your daring, basic curry 6Teflon tongued souls), it is still balanced by the other flavors in the dish.  Spicy, sour, sweet, and salty flavors should complement each other.  My usual conundrum is not enough sweet and an overpowering sour (I love my lime!).  The cure? Sugar.  Palm sugar is best for Thai cuisine, but it’s also pricey.  Regular granulated sugar will work just fine. Don’t be afraid to add sugar.
  • Use as much fresh herbs and spices (vice dried herbs and spices) as possible.  This is a key difference between Thai curry and other Asian curries.  Fresh basil, fresh ginger, fresh chilies, fresh lemongrass, etc.
  • Cut your vegetables and proteins small and thin.  This will help ensure quick cooking since everything is poached in the curried coconut milk.
  • When poaching the ingredients of your curry, add in phases to prevent overcooking. For my own typical curry, chicken goes in first.  After about five (5) minutes, I follow with any frozen vegetables.  Once the coconut milk has re-heated, I add fleshy vegetables like eggplant and zucchini followed by “steamers” such as green beans and broccoli.  The last to go in are the more delicate vegetables that breakdown if cooked too long, such as bell peppers and tomatoes.basic curry 4

Thai Red Curry Basic Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste (add more for more heat if you like)
  • 1 can [lite] coconut milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small scallions, whites and greens sliced
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce (add more for saltiness if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil (Thai basil if you can find it)
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Building on the Basics

Protein:

-1 chicken breast, thinly sliced

Vegetables:

– 1 cup frozen peas
– 1 medium Ichiban eggplant, sliced into half moons
–  Appx. 1 cup bell peppers sliced thinly (go for color!)

 Directions

  1. Pour oil into a large pan, add garlic and scallions and turn heat to medium high.basic curry aromatics
  2. When garlic and scallions become fragrant add curry paste. Cook curry paste until it begins to break down.  Be careful not to let the garlic burn. Lower heat to medium.
    basic curry cook curry paste 1 basic curry cook curry paste 2
  3. Slowly add coconut milk to the pan and fish sauce, stirring to blend the curry paste. Taste and add more curry paste and/or salt if desired.basic curry cook add coconut milk
  4. Allow coconut milk to break a low simmer, but do not allow it to boil or the coconut milk will separate.basic curry cook simmering coconut milk
  5. Add sliced chicken to hot liquid and poach for approximately 10 minutes. If using shrimp as your protein, add later at step 10.basic curry poach chicken 1 basic curry poach chicken 2
  6. Add frozen peas and egg plant to curry. Allow to return to a simmer and cook 3-5 minutes.  At this step, add vegetables that take longer to cook, such as squashes and root vegetables, as well as frozen vegetables.basic curry peas and eggplant
  7. Add sliced bell peppers.  At this step, add vegetables that cook in a few minutes, such as the bell peppers, green beans, and broccoli.basic curry bell peppers
  8. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about another 5-8 minutes.basic curry cover and simmer
  9. Taste and season as desired.  For more heat, had a dash of cayenne or chili powder. For saltiness, more fish sauce. Good old salt and pepper is completely allowable, too!basic curry simmering
  10. During the last 3-5 minutes, add half of the basil and stir in. If using shrimp as your protein add now.basic curry adding herbs
  11. Serve over rice.basic curry 1

Zucchini Mac and Cheese

zucchinimac2It’s inevitable. It snows and I almost lose a finger. Last year I had the little incident with a mandolin. The year before my espresso machine attacked me. This year destiny upped the ante with my garage door opener throwing a tantrum. At first I thought the polar vortex had frozen everything. Nope, it was mechanical. I will probably have a fear of ladders and springs for the near future, but thankfully all extremities are accounted for and no broken bones.

Bandaged and bruised, something comforting was in order after that ordeal. Of course, I still had to keep in mind my year’s plan to get my ripped abs back. Whatever I was going to make was sure to pack in thezucchinimac5 calories, but to assuage a potential guilt trap, I needed to make sure I added some more nutritious calories to the mix. After rummaging through my crisper and throwing out the rotten cauliflower and broccoli, I came up with one, sad zucchini on it’s last leg. Then I remembered the zucchini twist I had made on my Poogan’s Porch mac and cheese over the summer following a fun Farmer’s Market morning. Mac and cheese – it was fate!

My favorite thing about this particular mac and cheese is the color. How pretty are all those green specks from the zucchini and chopped herbs? zucchinimac3You can’t even taste the squash if you’re worried about losing the essence of the gooey, creamy dish. See how easy it is to add a healthy twist to your favorite comfort food? When I get my next craving, I’m hoping to substitute some of the pasta for cauliflower to help lower the calorie count. I’m not giving up on my abs yet!

Zucchini Mac and Cheese

serves 4-6

Ingredients
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere, Emmental, or Cheddar cheese (or a combination of)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4-5 tablespoons butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 a sweet onion small dice, appx 1/2 cup
  • 1 large zucchini, shredded (if you want it packed with veggies, use 2 zucchini!)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 ounces small pasta, such as shells or elbow, aapx half a box
  • 3-4 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 Fahrenheit and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. When melted, add onions and cook until soften.zucchinimac_cooking onions
  3. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir to coat. Cook 2-3 minutes to cook out the raw flour flavor.zucchinimac_roux
  4. Stir in milk, breaking up any the four clumps. Bring to a simmer.zucchinimac_bechemel base
  5. Add bayleaf the reduce heat to medium. Let mixture simmer until thickened, about 7-10 minutes.
  6. Stir in shredded cheese about 2 tablespoons at a time to create a thick cheese sauce.zucchinimac_add cheese
  7. Fold shredded zucchini into the cheese sauce. Taste sauce and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.zucchinimac_squash time
  8. Allow sauce to come to a bubble again, then remove from heat.zucchinimac_simmering cheese sauce
  9. Add pasta to the cheese sauce mixture and stir to coat. Pour into a casserole dish. Set aside.zucchinimac_mac time
  10. In a small bowl, stir breadcrumbs and olive oil together. If using plain breadcrumbs, season as desired.
  11. Sprinkle mac and cheese with breadcrumbs and bake 15-20 minutes until bubbly.
    zucchinimac_crumb topping zucchinimac_oven hot

zucchinimac1

Gluten Free Pizza Dough

GF Pizza Crust 5When my sister mentioned a week before Thanksgiving she was going completely gluten free I wanted to reach through the phone and slap her silly.  Power to her for the life-style change, but I’m the one in charge of  all the holiday family meals.  I’m the one that had to figure it all out!  How about more than a week’s notice, please?  Luckily for both of us  my curious and experimental nature had already lead me to some dabbling in gluten free recipes.

Now I’m not much of a fad person myself, but I do respect the will-power of those who chose restrictive life-styles (for whatever reasons).  I also GF Pizza Crust 4empathize with those living with food allergies.  However, what is often left out of the conversation are those, like me, that do not have these restrictions, but find themselves thrust suddenly into that world. Emilie and I were discussing this not too long ago just after the New Year.

Who doesn’t love to accommodate their friends and family, but can you imagine how bad your host(ess) might feel if they didn’t know of your GF Pizza Crust 3recent vegan conversion and watched you pick at your bacon wrapped  steak and butter topped asparagus all evening?  Forewarned is forearmed!  Don’t feel bad about giving someone a heads up about your allergies or special diet. When Emilie and I were visiting a friend in San Francisco one Spring Break, I made sure to mentioned that it was Lent, which, after receiving a family dinner invite on a Friday night, allowed enough notice for a Lent friendly meal that everyone could enjoy.  When my friend Sue is in town, I know to keep a container of soy milk on hand for her coffee since she is allergic to dairy.  Now that my sister is gluten-free, I have engineered gluten-free versions of our favorite family GF Pizza Crust 6holiday recipes.  However,  there are still folks that might feel uncomfortable at the potential inconvenience.  Emilie has a great tactic for that.  She offers to bring a dish! This tactic not only ensures there will be at least one thing you can eat, but provides an easy opening to mention what you are not able to eat as well as eases any feeling of inconvenience, because you’re bringing the dish.  Not a bad idea huh?

With that said, many of you are like Emilie and me: food lovers.  We like to eat and cook new things, unfamiliar things.   Our friends are lucky, because we’re the most likely to have that paleo vegan, gluten-soy-nut free recipe in our back pocket.  We’re always experimenting.  My favorite food “fad” to experiment is, as I’ve mentioned, gluten-free substitutions.  So, without further adieu,  for your back-pocket I present this gluten free, thin crust pizza dough!

GF Pizza Dough Pizza 2 cu 2

Gluten Free Pizza Dough

makes 2 9″x 9″ personal pizza crusts
Ingredients

GF Pizza Dough Ingredients

  • 2 ½  cups Gluten-Free Flour (see recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons dried milk powder or dairy-free creamer
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon honey or granulated sugar
  • 1 5/16 ounce package of instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for dough)
  • olive oil for pan
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal for dusting
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, blend together the gluten free flour mix, dried milk, baking powder, and corn starch.  Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, add yeast, olive oil, and warm water along with ½ cup of the dry ingredients.GF Pizza Dough Yeast Mixture
  3. Stir to combine and set aside for about 30 minutes.  Mixture should be bubbly and smell yeasty.GF Pizza Dough Yeast Ready
  4. When yeast is ready, add to the remaining dry ingredients.GF Pizza Dough Adding Yeast and Flour
  5. Using a stand or hand mixer, mix at medium-high speed until dough forms. It will not be like the pizza dough you’ve probably made in the past. Instead it will be sticky, like spackling.GF Pizza Dough Sticky Stuff
  6. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit .
  8. Divide dough in half.  If not using right away, grease two sheets of plastic wrap and wrap the two halves separately.GF Pizza Dough Dividing
  9. For a single personal pizza, grease a 9” x 13” baking sheet with olive oil and dust with cornmeal.
  10. Place one of the pizza halves on the baking sheet. Wet your fingers and begin working the dough outwards beginning from the center.  You should be able to get a 9″ x 9″ crust.GF Pizza Dough Forming Crust
  11. Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes before baking the crust in the oven for 8-10 minutes.GF Pizza Dough Crust Resting
  12. Your crust is now ready to become a pizza. After adding desired toppings, bake pizza for about another 10 minutes.GF Pizza Dough Starting to Make Pizza

GF Pizza Dough Topping Pizza    GF Pizza Dough Pizza 2 in the oven

Mussels with an Asian Fusion Twist

Asian Fusion Mussels 6Is it Christmas already? I don’t remember 2o12 going by this fast and I honestly can’t believe 2013 is almost over.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy this year preparing to apply for grad school.  For that reason, I thought I’d take a break from my essays and wish all of you a very, merry Christmas  with this tasty and super easy seafood dish before the holidays passes me by!

For those that have been following Emilie and I for awhile, you may recall last Christmas where I gave my family’s traditional Christmas dinner an Asian twist to honor my mother’s heritage.  I also shared my seafood risotto for an Italian Christmas Eve tradition known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes.  This mussel dish combines both of those concepts into one pot! Multi-tasking…love it!

So I have always wanted to make mussels, but for some reason found them intimidating.  It must have been the debearding.  Debearding, Asian Fusion Mussels 4what’s that?  How much work is this? Am I going to get sick or die if I debeard these things wrong? Eeep!  I was relaying this fear to Tom one evening after having a delicious pot of mussels at Dupont Circle’s  Bistrot Du Coin.  In typical Tom fashion, he told me to just do it already.

So I did!

Preparing the mussels  took a little time and the debearding was waaaay wierd,  but easy peasy over all.   I’m sure it will go faster the next time around now that I’ve gotten over my fear.  Just yank that hairy, stringy sucker from the shell.   If you need a better grip on the beard, I recommend using a paper towel.

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Have a delicious holiday!

Asian Fusion Mussels 7

Asian Fusion Mussels

serves appx 4

Ingredients

Asian Mussels Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾  cup dry white wine
  • 2 Chinese eggplant (approximately 2 cups prepped*)
  • 1  14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Thai chili, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, seperated
  • ¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped (appx 2 tablespoons, chopped)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooked spaghetti or linguine

Directions

  1. Rinse and debeard your mussels if they are not so already.Mussels Beard 2
  2. Be sure to discard any mussels with broken shells or any that do not close when tapped. Set aside.Mussels Broken Shell
  3. Pre-heat oven to 425° Fahrenheit
  4. Cut eggplant* into 1 inch cubes or rounds depending on thickness. Lay eggplant out on a baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the eggplant and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss eggplant together so that all the pieces are lightly coated with the olive oil and seasonings.Asian Mussels Prepping Eggplant
  5. Bake eggplant for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. With a heat resistant spoon or spatula, give the eggplant cubes a toss to help the eggplant cook evenly. Return to oven and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender and caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside.
  6. While eggplant is baking, begin preparing the mussels.
  7. In a large, lidded pot (I used my dutch oven), heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter over medium, to medium high heat.
  8. When butter has melted, sauté shallots until soft and translucent, then add the minced garlic.Asian Mussels Cooking Shallots
  9. Pour wine into the pot and add the Thai chili pepper and bring to a boil.Asian Mussels Wine
  10.  Add diced tomatoes along with the juices.
  11. Return to boil.  Lower heat to medium.  Cover and simmer  2-3 minutes.Asian Mussels Adding Tomato
  12. Add mussels to the pot in a single layer along with half of the Thai basil. Cover and steam the mussels for 3 minutes.Asian Mussels Layering Shellfish
  13. After 3 minutes, check to see if mussels have begun to open. Most open within 3-4 minutes.Asian Mussels Steamed and Ready
  14. Once most of the mussels have opened, use a slotted spoon to remove mussels from the juices they were steamed in and place in a large bowl. Discard mussels that remain closed.Asian Mussels Removing Mussels
  15. To serve spoon tomatoes and juices over the cooked pasta along with the baked eggplant cubes. Toss together. Add desired mussels. Spoon additional juices as desired over the mussels, and sprinkle with remaining chopped Thai basil.

Asian Fusion Mussels 1

Filipino Adobo – National Dish of the Philippines

Filipino Adobo 4First, I want to say thank-you to everyone’s concern about my family in the Philippines in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan.  My family is fine.  Most of mother’s side of the  family lives in and around the capital, Manila, about 500 miles north of the devastation you have seen in Tacloban.  I grew up in that region of the world and experienced many typhoons, but nothing like Haiyan.  The closest comparison to the American experience is probably Hurricane Katrina.  Please continue to pray for the country and its people.  They have a long and hard journey ahead to recovery.

In honor of my mother’s homeland, I thought I’d share the [unofficial] national dish of the Philippines: adobo.  Unlike other popular Filipino dishes, such as lumpia or pancit, Filipino adobo is indigenous to the archipelago.  When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they made mention in their records of the natives preparing food in vinegar and Filipino Adobo 2salt.  Why? Food preservation.  Pinterest has enlightened many of us to vinegar’s antibacterial qualities.  Combine vinegar with salt and heat and you have one serious cootie kicking combination.  Later on, soy sauce eventually replaced salt as Chinese influences entered into the Philippine islands .  The term adobo itself means a seasoning or marinade in Spanish.  This is why you will find a vast amount of completely different dishes originating in Latin and South America that share the name adobo.

Filipino adobo is typically made with either pork or chicken.  Growing up, my mother used both, but we definitely had a preference for chicken.  I find that  bone-in, dark meat is best, as it stands up to the stewing process and intense flavors of the vinegar and soy sauce.  In the past 10 Filipino Adobo 5years, my mother has actually switched to using chicken wings for her adobo, which has made it a frequent request for parties.  I also prefer to make my adobo to the consistency of a stew, because I love pouring the vinegary “broth” over jasmine rice and letting it soak up all that yummy flavor.   Another version is to cook the adobo until the cooking liquid has reduced to a thick, glaze like consistency.  If you like my mother’s chicken wing idea, I’d recommend using this latter style (use less cooking liquid).

“Aaaah, Ruth! You did so good!” my mother declared the first time she tasted my adobo.  There’s nothing like receiving praises from your mother when it comes to the dishes she used to make for you when you were a child.

Filipino Adobo 1

Notes:
To add some green to this very brown dish, add petite baby bok choy during the last 5-8 minutes of cooking time so that they steam in the pot with the adobo liquid.

Filipino Chicken Adobo

Ingredients

Chicken Adobo Ingredients

  • 3-3 ½  bone in, skin on dark meat
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup to 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
Directions
  1. Optional: Heat oil in large, heavy pot over medium high. When oil is hot, brown the chicken lightly, but no more than 5 minutes.  You’re only browning, not cooking the chicken.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients into the pot over the chicken.Filipino Adobo All in the Pot
  3. Over medium high heat, bring liquid to a boil.Filipino Adobo Boil
  4. Cover and reduce heat so that the liquid comes to a simmer.  Cook for 30-45 minutes until chicken is tender.Filipino Adobo Simmer
  5. Serve hot over steamed rice.Filipino Adobo 3

Tropical Enchiladas On the Way Down Memory Lane

Enchilada Tropical 1This weekend I got to spend time with a friend who has gotten me into more mischief than Emilie ever has.  Sue. Granted, I’ve known her a few more years than I’ve known Emilie, so she got a head start on that one. I don’t get to see her very often these days. She married a soldier about five or six years ago and has been moving all over the country ever since with him and their son.

Oh dear, what have we not gotten into? Of course, we found ourselves in the midst of your typical 20 something past times such as foam parties and Me & Sue 1club hopping (Sue used to model, so she knew the happening spots).  We also passed the time with activities some may find a bit odd, such as driving several hours to an old cemetery in the middle of nowhere to visit the grave of a mysterious “Baby Bumbry” she had come across on her way to visit a then boyfriend.  All of those adventures, naturally, made us hungry and thirsty! When we weren’t zipping around the beltway in her AC-less stick-shift Civic, you could find us exploring wine shops or cooking something up in my apartment kitchen.

These enchiladas were one of our signature go to dishes. Mainly because they Cooking w Sueare quick and easy! I came up with it late one summer evening after we had been out boating all day with friends. We were soooo hungry.  We had also missed Sue’s mom’s amazing enchiladas, because we were out so late.  As Sue cleaned up (guests first, right?) I rummaged through my fridge and pantry to see if I had the ingredients for enchiladas.  I had two chicken breasts that I had baked a few days earlier to toss on lunch salads,  some tortillas…but no enchilada sauce.  Then I saw I had a jar of pineapple salsa (you know how much I love pineapples, being a Hawaiian girl and all)…and we built it from there.

I guess you can say necessity has always been my greatest inspiration.

Enchilada Tropical 2

Tropical Enchiladas

serves 2-3
Ingredients

Tropical Enchiladas Ingredients

  • 1 cup (6 ounces) shredded cooked chicken (white or dark meat)
  • 1 ½ cups (1 16 ounce jar) pineapple mango salsa
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple, bite sized chunks
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen mango, diced
  • ¼ cup water or chicken broth
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • 6 tortillas
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit
  2. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add pineapple, mango, jalapeño, and shredded chicken. Sauté in pan 2-3 minutes to help bring out the flavors in the fruit and jalapeño.Enchilada Tropical Filling
  3. Pour in the salsa and the water. Stir to combine. Allow the enchilada filling to come to a boil.Enchilada Tropical Filling Add Salsa
  4. Reduce heat to low and stir in 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro. Let the mixture simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Taste, then season with salt, pepper, and if desired, chili powder. Remove from heat.Enchilada Tropical Filling Add Salsa w Cilantro
  5. Soften the tortillas by heating them in the microwave for 30 seconds on high.
  6. Pour 3/4 to 1 cup of filling on the bottom of your baking dish.Enchilada Tropical Ready to Roll
  7. Spoon 1/3 cup of the filling down one edge of each tortilla. Roll tortillas and place seam down into your baking dish.Enchilada Tropical Rolling
  8. Pour remaining filling over the enchiladas then top with the crumbled queso blanco. Place dish in oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts.Enchilada Tropical Topping
  9. Garnish with chopped cilantro, and sour cream. Serve with rice and beans if desired.

Enchilada Tropical 4

silliness

Tofu and Veggie Stir-Fry

Tofu veggie stir-fry upclose

Now that my vacation is over and the weather is finally warming up in D.C., I thought it was time to focus again on lighter, easy to prepare dishes that let me get outside for more evening runs. That means more quick veggie based dishes, fewer heavy meats, and a little bit more advance planning. All of which are evident in today’s tofu veggie stir fry. This vegan dish came together in about 20 minutes, start to finish (if you don’t count the time I spent prepping and marinating the tofu the day before), was delicious, and made enough for lunch the next day.

Macro tofu-veggie stir-fry, 1

I’ve talked about marinating tofu before and used a similar marinade for this stir fry as I used for the pad thai. However, this time I used a new (to  me) tofu called “sprouted tofu” that I found at Trader Joe’s. I was first drawn to the tofu because it came in a handy 15 ounce package, with the tofu sliced in half and stored in 2 unique portions, so you could use some and save the other half for another time. It wasn’t until I started doing research though that I learned about the extra benefits that come from sprouted tofu over regular tofu, including fewer carbs, more protein, and it is easier to digest. The Bitchin’ Dietician has a great piece on the difference between regular tofu and sprouted tofu if you want more details (she even reviews the exact same TJ’s tofu I bought!). In all, I liked the sprouted tofu, and with the added benefits, plan on using it in place of traditional tofu in all my recipes.

Marinating Sprouted Tofu

For the veggies in my stir fry, I used what I had around the house (snow peas, red pepper, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms), and encourage you to be creative as well. Because I used a simple “all-purpose” stir fry sauce recipe, any vegetable combination you can think of would likely go well in the dish. I recommend that you make sure to select a variety of colors and textures so the dish is tasty, healthy, and even pretty. Other veggies that would go well in this dish: broccoli, baby corn, carrots, zucchini, and water chestnuts – just to name a few. Just remember that some veggies take longer to cook than others, and so you may not be able to toss all the veggies in at the same time as I did. Carrots, for example, would need a bit more time on the stove than baby bok-choy would.

A selection of prepped veggies

Tofu and Veggie Stir-Fry
Serves 2

8 ounces cubed and marinated tofu
1/2 cup, or more as needed, cornstarch
2-3 cups prepped stir -fry veggies
3-4 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil

Stir-fry sauce ingredientsFor the Stir-Fry Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
2 large cloves chopped garlic
1 teaspoon, or to taste, crushed red pepper flakes

1)     Whisk together stir-fry sauce ingredients and set aside to let the flavors marry.

Stir-fry sauce

2)     Drain marinated tofu and toss in cornstarch.

toss the tofu in cornmeal

3)     Heat approximately 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat and place tofu in pan, turning frequently to brown all sides.

Fry the tofu

4)     Add prepared veggies to pan and saute.

Add the veggies to the tofu

5)    Once veggies are cooked, re-whisk stir-fry sauce and add to the stir-fry, reduce heat to low and simmer while tossing veggies in the sauce.

Add the sauce

Simmer tofu stir-fry over low heat

6)     Serve stir-fry over freshly steamed jasmine rice.

tofu veggie stir-fry upclose, 2