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

hello, gorgeous! – part 1

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My tomatoes were grown in containers in my driveway.

do something with those gorgeous garden veggies!
Even if you don’t have your own veggie garden, there are many roadside stands, greenhouses, and farmers’ markets out there where you can pick up an amazing harvest of gorgeous, delicious, and sometimes organic, veggies. I’ve compiled a nice collection of unusual recipes that capture the spirit of the harvest that you and your family will want to enjoy for years to come.

feta and parmesan zucchini bake
This is so easy to throw together and a great way to use up zucchini or summer squash. Since eggs and cheese provide protein, this dish can be served alone with crusty bread for a quick late summer meal.

  • 6-7 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried thyme or 1 ½ Tbs fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375° and spray a large casserole dish with nonstick spray. Slice the squash into 1/4″ slices. If they are larger squash, cut them down the middle before slicing into half-moons. Heat the oil to medium high in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the squash, garlic and thyme. Sauté and stir constantly until the squash starts to brown and soften slightly. Don’t cook too long or it will be mushy after it bakes in the oven, and the garlic will burn. Remove from heat.

Beat together the eggs, sour cream, cheeses and lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl. Place half of the squash into the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper (remember the cheeses are salty!) then spread 1/2 of the egg mixture over the top. Repeat with remaining squash and then the egg mixture. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and slightly set. Serve hot.

 

Buffalo Green Beansbuffalo-style green beans
This is an old Weight Watchers recipe I’ve adapted. It serves four, but you can double it.

  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs orange juice or lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Tabasco or Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 2 nice-size plum tomatoes, diced, or 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 2 or 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 pound green snap beans, washed, trimmed, and cooked until tender-crisp and well-drained
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves rolled and sliced thin, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp table salt or to taste

Whisk together oil, Worcestershire sauce, juice, and hot pepper sauce. Stir in vegetables, basil, salt, and pepper; Serve hot, or chill for 1 hour or overnight. Divide into 4 portions and serve with blue cheese dressing.

lebanese potato salad
This is a tangy variation on your potato, onion, and mayo version. The ingredients, like lemon, scallions, and fresh mint, make it a popular local dish, and it will be a big hit at potluck dinners, too. It is also very nutritious. You can make this with new potatoes, too. Just reduce boiling time.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare all the ingredients ahead of time and refrigerate, then assemble just before serving. For a creamier salad, whisk ½ cup of plain yogurt into the lemon juice and oil mixture. Enjoy!

  • 4-5 pounds Round White potatoes (about 6-8 medium)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 6 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup each chopped fresh mint and fresh parsley

Scrub potatoes; remove stems and eyes. Place in a large saucepan. Cover with lightly salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 25 to 30 minutes, or till a fork is inserted easily. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a cutting board. Let cool for 20 minutes. Cut the cooled potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces leaving the skins on.

Whisk lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cut-up potatoes and toss to coat. Just before serving, add scallions, parsley, and mint and toss gently.

roasted zucchini coins
This is a cinch to put together. Let the kids help. Be daring! Add sliced mushrooms, onions, or any fresh summer veggie.

  • 2 zucchini (give or take depending on size and how many people you are feeding)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Rosemary (fresh if possible, but dried works, too)
  • Garlic cloves, sliced
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut zucchini into large coins and then quarter. Place the zucchini and garlic in a large zipper bag, drizzle in enough olive oil to coat, sprinkle in some salt and pepper, a bit of crushed rosemary and massage the bag gently to coat. Turn the zucchini out onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until soft and starting to turn golden in a few places. Spoon into a serving bowl. Garnish with parmesan cheese and pass lemon wedges.

bonus recipe: curried broccoli
This exotic twist on broccoli will have your family asking for it again and again. Healthy, delicious, AND no cooking required! This can also be made using raw cauliflower or blanched brussels sprouts.

  • 1 small crown of broccoli, washed
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 pint or container cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Remove small crowns from broccoli stems, remove skin from stems and slice stems and crowns thinly. Place in bowl. Mix liquids very well and pour over. Toss. Add spices and toss again. Marinate up to 1 hour in the refrigerator. Add chopped tomatoes and mix before serving.

PRINT THIS POST Hello gorgeous part 1 BLOG

bits & basics – part 2

Here are some more cooking basics I continue to make over and over. My basics are foundations for more elaborate dishes with ingredients added to spice up my repertoire in the kitchen. You can do the same to save time and effort.

Basic Nine-Day Coleslaw  If you’re a coleslaw lover like I am, you’ll find this recipe valuable. It is mayonnaise-free, really does keep for nine days, makes a ton of slaw, and is great to bring to a potluck.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs cabbage
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 onions
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup lite olive oil
  • 2 tsp table salt (or 4 tsp kosher salt)
  • 2 Tbs mustard seed

Directions

Chop cabbage, pepper and onion and set aside in a large bowl. Place the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and pour over vegetables. Toss well to coat. Place in container or jar and store in refrigerator. Best after sitting one day. Optional additions are raisins, shredded carrots, or green onions.

Basic Fruit Cobbler  This is so easy to throw together. You can use most kinds of fruit or berries—whatever is in season, but it is best with apples or peaches.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled and sliced fruit
  • 1½ cups sugar (divided)
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Pour ¾ cup of the sugar over fruit, mix lightly and set aside. Mix remaining sugar, flour, baking powder, milk, and salt till blended. Place butter in a casserole dish and set in oven. When butter is melted, remove dish from oven, pour in batter, and top with fruit, spreading evenly. Bake 1 hour.

Basic Barbecue Sauce  I find bottled barbecue sauce way too sweet and loaded with all kinds of unpronounceable ingredients. This recipe is delicious, and you control how sweet it will be. You can make large batches and put it up in jars to give as gifts (be sure to check your canner instructions).

  • Ingredients
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs balsamic or apple cider vinegar
  • 6 Tbs lemon juice
  • 5 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 3 Tbs (or less) brown sugar
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Cayenne or red pepper flakes to taste
  • Liquid Smoke to taste (optional but very nice if used sparingly)

Directions

Prepare onions and garlic. Place tomato paste in a large saucepan. Add water gradually till well blended. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Adjust salt, pepper, and sugar. Refrigerate in jars. Use within two weeks or so, or freeze in several small containers to extend shelf life.

Basic Roasted Vegetables  What shouts “comfort food” more than oven-roasted veggies? Well, maybe mac and cheese, but really, this is so easy to make and you might even get your kids to eat them.

You can use any root vegetable like potatoes, beets, carrots, as well as apples, onions, fennel bulb, winter squash, and even cauliflower and brussels sprouts.

First, preheat your oven to 425°. Depending on the hardness of the vegetable, you’ll want to cut them according to how long they need to cook. For example, cut carrots and parsnips thin and potato a bit thicker. Apples will not take as long as squash.

You can cut your veggies into chunks or slices. Spread them out on a large cookie sheet with sides. Drizzle with oil (I like extra virgin but you can use whatever you prefer), and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven for about 40 minutes, flipping around about half way through, or till browned around the edges. Test doneness with a fork. Remove the cooked pieces to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm. Return any undone pieces to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes or till done. Serve as a side dish with anything. A drizzle of lemon juice and cracked pepper makes it even more yummy. Honey mustard dressing tastes great on this, too.

I added two bonus recipes on my blog last time—basic crepes and basic brown butter sauce—so be sure to log on to get them, and while you’re at it, download a printable PDF, Cook’s Journal-TIPS pt 2 of this post, too!

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