oriental journey

Korean beef wrapsPhoto: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr

 

Time to fly to the Orient to sample some of the excellent dishes we can easily prepare in our northern Maine kitchens. Takeout never tasted as good as your own, freshly prepared, delectable Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps, Sticky Sweet Chicken, or Thai Peanut Chicken Noodles.

korean beef lettuce wraps

Korean BBQ can be made at home with these light, refreshing lettuce wraps! These are SO good. They can also be made/prepped ahead of time! I used boneless pork one time, and that was good, too.

ingredients

  • ½  cup soy sauce
  • ¼  cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼  cup thinly chopped green onions, both tops and white ends
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil (in the Ethnic aisle)
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder but the flavor will not be as bright)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1½  pounds sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 head butter or Bibb lettuce
  • ½ teaspoons sesame seeds

directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, green onions, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and cayenne. Reserve ¼ cup and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine soy sauce mixture and steak; marinate for at least 1 hour to overnight, turning the bag occasionally. Drain steak from marinade.
  3. In a large saucepan of 2 cups water, cook rice according to package instructions; set aside.
  4. Preheat a cast iron pan to medium-high heat. Add steak and cook, flipping once and basting with reserved ¼ cup marinade until cooked through, about 1-2 minutes each side.
  5. Spoon rice into the center of a lettuce leaf; top with steak, garnish with sesame seeds. Roll up, taco-style.

sticky sweet chicken

This is a tasty way to prepare chicken. You can use tenders if they are a better bargain at the store. Serve with a green vegetable and rice or noodles.

ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • ¼  cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger root (You can sub 1 teaspoon ginger powder but the flavor will not be as bright)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons hot sauce, optional (or sub a pinch of cayenne)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves cut into ½-inch strips
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

directions

  1. Mix together brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and hot sauce or cayenne in a small bowl.
  2. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken strips.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and brown quickly about 2 minutes per side till caramelized.
  4. Pour sauce over chicken. Simmer uncovered until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.

tip:

Never bought or dealt with fresh ginger root? Here is a handy online tutorial about how to prepare it. http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_peel_and_chop_ginger/

thai peanut chicken noodles

The surprising flavor of peanuts gives this dish an unusually delicious edge.  Add additional veggies like bean sprouts or pea pods if you like.  Whip this up in less than thirty minutes. Flavorful, and can be served as a side or main dish!

ingredients

  • 2 packages dried ramen noodles, seasoning sauce packets discarded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts or 8 chicken tenders, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (or use prepared slaw mix)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

for the sauce

  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (in Ethnic aisle)
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha or Tabasco, optional

directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, honey, ginger, vinegar, sesame oil and Sriracha or Tabasco, if using; set aside.
  2. In a large pot of boiling water, add noodles and boil until soft, about 1-2 minutes; drain well.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 4-6 minutes.
  4. Stir in cabbage, carrots and green onions until heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in cooked noodles and peanut butter mixture. Serve immediately, garnished with peanuts, if desired.

 

Print this post:  CJ – ASIAN 3-23-17

tips & tricks – odds & ends – bits & basics

Saving time and trouble in the kitchen conserves a cook’s energy. Seasoned cooks know many of these tips and basics, but if you’re new to the culinary world, you’ll appreciate learning these.

tips & tricks (totally random)

  • Add ½ cup of water or beef broth to 1 lb ground beef (or chicken broth to ground turkey or chicken) for the juiciest burgers ever.
  • Cookie and ice cream scoops make life easy. How have I lived without them all these years! Use them to make uniform size cookies and meatballs, dip batter into muffin cups, the list is endless.
  • For sky-high muffins, let batter sit in tins for about a half-hour before baking.
  • If using coarse or kosher salt, double the amount called for in recipes calling for regular table salt. The opposite also applies.
  • Freeze ground meat packed in 1-qt zipper freezer bags, and flatten to about ½ to ¾ thick, distributing evenly. Freeze flat. This takes only a half-hour or so to defrost.
  • Wrap chicken or pork chops separately (I use cheap sandwich bags), freeze 2 hours; place in a larger freezer bag. Pull out only pieces you need. No defrosting huge blocks of meat for hours!
  • Never buy scallions for $1 a bunch again! Cut off the white root ends. Put them in a glass jar with an inch of water, place on a sunny windowsill, and they will re-grow! Keep trimming off when you need green tops, and they’ll shoot up again! Trimming encourages growth. Mine shot up 8 inches in a week. You can also plant them in a pot after a while.

freezing veggies

  • Most vegetables like peas and green beans should be blanched before freezing. Blanching means boiling for three minutes or so (varies by vegetable), plunging into icewater to “shock,” draining very well, and wrapping securely before freezing. Blanching ensures your veggies will maintain their color and won’t get freezer burn if used within a reasonable period.
  • I always blanch my bell pepper halves before making stuffed peppers because they bake up so much more colorfully. Fresh sliced, halved, or whole bell peppers, however, can be placed in plastic bags and frozen dry without any need for blanching. So can sliced apples and berries.

basic recipes i can’t live without

homemade ranch dressing is so good, and it is SO much healthier than the bottled kind, which is loaded with sugar (Really! Have you read the ingredients?) This mixes up quick and easy.

  • ¾ cup buttermilk (Shake well!)
  • ¾ cup real mayonnaise (Do not substitute with Miracle Whip!)
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp each dried tarragon and basil (Essential!)
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Whisk together and refrigerate for a couple of hours if you have time. Make it on the fly, and it still tastes better than that stuff hiding in the valley advertised on TV. Add some fresh chopped chives just before serving. (Mine are coming up! So stoked!)

crumb topping can always be found in my ’fridge. I make it in triple batches and never have an excuse not to whip up an awesome pie. This topping bakes up golden-buttery and sweet and makes that second crust unnecessary. I’ve used it on apple, berry, peach, and rhubarb pies with great success.

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ stick soft butter
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Mix with your fingers till crumbly. Pile an inch or more deep on top of your pie and bake as usual. Double or triple so you always have it on hand. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly closed container. Makes a great topping for coffee cake, too!

basic quiche is a springboard for endless variations you can whip up in record time, amazing your friends and family! Well, maybe not quite that fab, but it’s a handy, delicious, and filling meal and makes great leftovers. I love my homemade crust, but I use the prepared rolled crust for my quiche. Add grated cheese (any kind), ham, cooked mushrooms, or whatever.

  • 2 cups shredded cheese (Swiss is traditional but not required)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375°. Beat eggs. Add milk and salt. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Spread cheese (or any other stuff) evenly over top. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit 15 minutes before cutting. Great cold the next day!

basic crepes (pronounced kreps) are a meal or a starting point for fancier dishes. Whether served with fruit and eaten like pancakes or stuffed with savory crabmeat filling and smothered in Swiss cheese sauce, crepes are not only versatile—they are also convenient since you can make up a bunch of them and freeze for a quick meal on busy nights.

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbs melted butter
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • Dash of salt

Beat well. Batter should be thin, so add more milk if needed. Prepare a 10-inch nonstick frying pan by heating to medium and spaying lightly with cooking oil. When pan is hot enough (a drop of water dances around and disappears), pour in one third cup of batter and immediately swirl pan around to distribute so batter covers entire pan surface. When top is set and edges brown and begin to curl, flip crepe carefully. Cook till second side is lightly brown. Slide on to a large plate and cover with a damp tea towel till all batter is cooked. These can be rewarmed in the microwave and served right away or stored in the refrigerator or freezer separated by sheets of wax paper or parchment and well-wrapped in plastic or foil.

basic brown butter sauce is a delicious way to transform a plain pasta or rice meal into something special, and the ingredients are usually on hand or easily obtainable. This is a basic recipe, but there are endless variations with the addition of mushrooms, Parmesan or Romano cheese, fresh sage leaves (yummy), lemons, hazelnuts, or pine nuts, vegetables like parsley, chives, blanched green beans, asparagus, artichokes or cauliflower, and proteins like lobster, mussels, crab, scallops, or chicken. I’ve been making this on the fly, so thanks for the great directions from CD Kitchen!

  • Cut 1 cup (2 sticks) of salted butter into tablespoon-sized pieces and place in a 2-quart sauce pan. Place the pan of butter on a burner over medium heat. Bring butter to a slow boil (about 5 minutes).
  • Once the butter begins to boil, stir constantly to prevent residue from sticking to the bottom of the pan. As the butter cooks, it will start to foam and rise. Continue stirring, otherwise the butter foam could overflow (about 5 minutes) and catch fire.
  • When the butter stops foaming and rising, cook until amber in color (about 1 to 2 minutes). It will have a pleasant caramel aroma.
  • Turn off the heat and remove pan from burner. Let the sediment settle to the bottom of the pan for a few minutes.
  • Pour the brown butter through a strainer into a small bowl. Do not disturb the residue at the bottom of the pan.
  • You can keep it hot over a double boiler. Brown butter can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in a microwave as needed, but be careful!
  • Boil your pasta of choice until al dente. Drain pasta and divide into four servings. Spread with 1/4 cup of hot brown butter.

Next time we’ll post additional basic recipes you can tuck away in your recipe notebook (you do have one, right?) and pull out when you’re in a bind or on a tight schedule. Add your own personal touch, and you’ll impress even your toughest critic.

Print this revised post: CJ-5-13-15-TIPS

comforting chicken and rice

Getting through all this sub-zero weather, polar vorteces, and Alberta Clippers means eating lots of comfort food. And to me, chicken and rice is the quintessential warmer-upper. These recipes are a nice diversion from the standard chicken stew. If you’ve never tried making oriental, Mexican, or Indian food, now’s your chance. These meals are super easy to make, plus their flavor profiles are not too over-the-top. And your kitchen will smell amazing!

orange glazed chicken with buttery rice

I made this last night, and what a refreshing change—so easy to put together. Sweet and savory, this dish is satisfying and delicious. This is so yummy with an oriental flair, quick and easy, and the kids will gobble it up. Serves 4, so double it for a crowd.

First, prepare the rice:

  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Stir the rice into the butter and cook until all the rice granules are milk-white.
  2. Pour in the water. Add salt and bring to a full boil, cooking until the water boils down and is no longer visible, and pockets or holes appear in the rice when the water is gone.
  3. Turn off the heat, cover the pot with a lid, and let the rice sit for 20 minutes. Fluff, eat, and enjoy.

While the rice is sitting, prepare the chicken and broccoli:

  • 1 cup orange juice, plus the zest of one orange, divided
  • 1 Tbs grated fresh ginger or 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1½ Tbs dry sherry
  • 4 tsp maple syrup or honey
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbs lite olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts if you prefer)
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 lime
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Put the orange juice in a bowl. Add the orange zest, ginger, soy sauce, sherry, maple syrup or honey, coriander, and garlic. Mix together and set aside.
  2. Cut the chicken into 2-inch pieces and pat them dry with a paper towel. Salt lightly. Place the oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is golden.
  3. Pour the orange juice mixture into the pan and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until it has reduced into a thick glaze.
  4. While the orange juice mixture is simmering, fill a large saucepan with 1 inch of water. Put the broccoli in a steamer basket, and bring the water to a boil. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, and simmer 5 minutes.
  5. When the sauce has thickened, turn the chicken and spoon the sauce over it. Squeeze lime juice over the top. Serve with buttery rice and steamed broccoli florets.

 

creamy chicken curry

This rich-tasting dish showcases traditional Indian spices without covering up the complexity of the other ingredients. You can buy tomato paste in a tube now—so convenient when small quantities are called for, and it is essential in this recipe. So is the turmeric, which is praised for its antioxidant and healing qualities.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs lite olive oil
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp curry powder, divided
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1½ tsp tomato paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 2 tsp coarse salt (or 1 tsp plain salt)
  • 1 cup hot water (optional)

Directions

  1. In a wok or heavy cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onions for 6-8 minutes or until transparent. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
  2. Stir in cumin, turmeric, 2 tsp of the curry powder, red pepper flakes, and half the salt. Cook stirring constantly for 1 minute till fragrant. Take care not to burn. Add tomato paste. Mix to combine.
  3. Season chicken pieces with remaining curry powder, salt, and pepper. Add to pan, and cook for about 5-6 minutes until outside is golden brown.
  4. Open the coconut milk. Pour into a bowl and use a rubber spatula to scrape all the contents from the can. Mix well to blend before pouring coconut milk into the pan. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 7 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. If sauce has cooked down, add hot water as needed.
  5. Serve hot with white rice. Pass the lime wedges.

 

cheesy chicken and yellow rice

This is so easy. All you need is a package of Goya’s flavor-packed yellow rice (in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store), a few veggies, and chicken for a truly delicious and tummy-filling dish in only 30 minutes. And because it’s one dish, you save dishwashing, too!

Ingredients

  • 1 8-oz package of Goya Yellow Rice mix
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in ¾ inch pieces
  • Goya Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning, to taste, or alternative*
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Directions

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil over medium heat. Add contents of yellow rice package, tomatoes, and 1 Tbs of the olive oil. Return to a boil, stir well, then reduce heat to low. Cook covered until water is absorbed and rice is tender.
  2. Heat remaining oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt, and fry, stirring often, till golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Add adobo seasoning and cook for a minute or two. Add peppers and onions to skillet and cook, stirring, till veggies are soft and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes more.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked rice and mix till well combined. Mix in cheese, stirring till melted. Keep warm till serving.

* You can substitute the Goya Adobe Seasoning by adding 1 Tbs white vinegar, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp sugar, and ½ tsp table salt.

 

chicken and brown rice soup

Everyone knows brown rice is much better for you than white. But the longer cooking time can be a stumbling block for many cooks. This satisfying soup combines the savory taste of chicken, black beans, sage, and veggies that marry beautifully with the brown rice, and the hands-off, quick prep makes brown rice a smart addition to your diet. And a great low-calorie lunch.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup diced carrots
  • ¼ cup frozen corn
  • ¼ cup drained and rinsed black beans
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ cup brown rice

Directions

  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot. Cook chicken breasts in the broth until no longer pink, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken using a slotted spoon and shred with a fork.
  2. Stir shredded chicken, celery, onions, carrots, corn, black beans, sage, pepper, salt, and bay leaf into the broth and cook till vegetables are slightly softened, about 20 minutes. Add brown rice and simmer till rice is tender, about 1 hour.

PRINT THIS POST : Comforting Chicken and Rice