Friday, July 29

Indian Chicken Sandwiches with Red Harissa

This week has been pretty hectic (we're leaving for a quick trip to the Pacific Northwest today), so I purposely cooked some extra yogurt-marinated chicken for use in last night's meal. I love the idea of this Indian sandwich, which I served on garlic naan bread (seriously delicious on its own) and topped with homemade red harissa sauce (spicy red pepper sauce, adapted from this recipe). The contrasting colors and textures of the soft bread, grilled chicken, spicy sauce, and crunchy vegetables are a real delight. It's a meal that looks great and tastes great too, and no one will know that you made it out of leftovers!

Grilled Indian Chicken Sandwiches with Red Harissa:
For Sauce
  •  In a blender*, combine 8 oz. jarred roasted red peppers, 1 1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1 minced Fresno chile**, and 1 tsp. cumin powder.
  • Stream in 1/4 c. olive oil until very smooth. Season with salt and black pepper.
For Sandwiches
  • Slice 3/4 -1 lb. of cooked, room-temperature chicken breasts into thin strips.
  • Lightly toast 2 garlic naan flatbreads, then divide chicken on top, drizzle with harissa, and top with lettuce and onion.
  • Secure with wooden skewers for an easy presentation.

Serves two
*Or a food processor.
**Seeds removed. You can substitute a Fresno chile with a jalapeno.

Thursday, July 28

Lobster Risotto

Last week I received a well-deserved promotion at work, and I've been using it as an excuse to celebrate ever since. In addition to several kir royales and nicer-than-usual red wine, I wanted to create a special meal to honor the occasion. I decided to make lobster risotto, as I'd been having a craving for lobster for weeks and couldn't stop thinking about the vegetable risotto I made recently, either. I used the same shortcut I featured before, but substituted chicken stock for our local seafood market's amazing homemade fish stock. Then I topped the whole thing with sliced lobster tails and a drizzle of melted butter. It was divine!

Related Recipes:
- Mushroom & Pancetta Risotto
- Lobster Tails with Garlic Panko Crust
- "Baked" Saffron Risotto with Seared Scallops

Lobster Risotto:
  • In a heavy-lidded pot, combine 2 1/2 c. high-quality lobster stock* with 3/4 c. aborio rice.
  • Place the pot in a 350°F oven for 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place 2 lobster tails (about 6 oz. each) in a pot of boiling water and cook for 6-8 minutes.**
  • Remove tails from the water and cool for 15 minutes. Then use a knife to split the shell in half and remove the meat.
  • Slice the meat into medallions and set aside.
  • Remove the rice from the oven and stir in 1/2 c. stock, 1/4 white wine, 2 tbsp. cold butter, salt, pepper, and a few drops of Sriracha hot sauce.***
  • Stir rice until thick and creamy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a small pan and place the lobster in it to gently reheat.
  • To serve, divide risotto onto plates, then top with lobster meat, drizzle with remaining melted butter, and top with a sprinkle of chives.

Serves two
*If no lobster stock is available, use seafood or shrimp stock.
**Lobster will be done when the shells turn bright red and the tails start to curl.
***Asian hot sauce. I add it for color and a slight heat.

Wednesday, July 27

Pesto Roasted Vegetables

I've been eating a lot of heavy food lately (pasta, beef, crawfish etouffee), so I wanted to get back to some healthy eating. These roasted vegetables make a killer side dish, but can also pose as a light vegetarian supper when served over brown rice. The pesto flavor makes them really special (try my recipe for homemade pesto here), and they would be equally delicious cooked over a smokey grill.

Pesto Roasted Vegetables:
  • Toss 2 lb. of diced, assorted vegetables (such as broccoli, green beans, bell pepper, and onion) with 3 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Arrange into an even layer on several baking sheets and place into a 400°F oven.
  • Roast vegetables for 10-12 minutes, or until crisp tender.
  • While hot, toss with 2-3 tbsp. pesto sauce* and 2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts.
  • Can be served hot or at room temperature.

Serves two - three (main course)
Serves four - six (side dish)
*Recipe for homemade pesto can be found here, or buy a high-quality pesto at the store.

Tuesday, July 26

Indian Grilled Chicken

Boneless chicken breasts get a burst of flavor from this Indian-inspired marinade

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of boneless, skinless chicken breasts because I find that they're often bland and dry. But every once and awhile I come across a dish that changes my mind, such as this recipe for yogurt-marinated chicken (other game changers found here and here). This recipe was featured in Bon Appetit's July issue and although it does require a few exotic spices and herbs, it's so worth it. I've never been able to nail these flavors on my own, and I love the technique of pounding out the breasts to speed up cooking time. I even made extra for leftovers later this week.

Related Recipes:
- Indian Butter Chicken
- Roast Chicken with Cilantro Chimichurri
- Grilled Chicken Naanwiches with Red Harissa Sauce

Indian Grilled Chicken with Yogurt Marinade:
  • In a blender*, combine 1 c. plain yogurt, 1 c. cilantro, 1/4 sliced onion, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 tbsp. chopped ginger, 1/2 tbsp. fresh lime juice, 1/2 tbsp. garam masala**, 3 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Blend mixture until smooth and pour into a resealable bag.
  • Meanwhile, place a boneless, skinless chicken breast in between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound until 1/2 inch thick.***
  • Repeat until all four breasts**** are pounded, then add to the marinade.
  • Let chicken marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Remove chicken from the bag and scrape off excess marinade. Season with salt.
  • Place on a hot grill and cook for 3-4 minutes per side.
  • Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Serves four
*Or food processor.
**An Indian spice blend available at some supermarkets. I purchased mine at Whole Foods.
***Or buy already pounded chicken cutlets.
***About 1.75 - 2 lbs. of chicken.

Monday, July 25

Weekend Review: The Gumbo Pot

Crawfish Etouffee, Cornbread, Green Salad with Pecan Dressing

One of my favorite spots in L.A. is the Original Farmers Market, which has been a foodie mecca in the city since 1934. Not to be confused with the once-a-week traveling farmer's markets in your neighborhood, the L.A. Farmers Market houses permanent stands for restaurants, fresh produce, butchers, and more. It's always one of my top destinations to take out-of-town guests, and I love the rich history of the place. My favorite place to eat is The Gumbo Pot, a critically acclaimed, authentic Cajun restaurant. I love their po' boys, etouffee, gumbo, and I always have to end the meal with beignets.

Shrimp & Oyster Po' Boy
Beignets with Powdered Sugar

Sunday, July 24

Pasta Bolognese

An easy weeknight version of pasta bolognese

Last week was exhausting - from work, to errands, to an unexpected flat tire, my boyfriend and I had little time to relax. We were excited to finally spend Friday night at home, sitting on the couch and watching The Godfather (my first time seeing it). I wanted to create a casual Italian meal to go along with the night's theme, so I chose to make an adaptation of Ina Garten's weeknight bolognese (found in Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?). It comes together in thirty minutes and was the perfect comforting, rich meal we deserved after our long week. I love using the small shells instead of linguine or spaghetti, as they act like little cups to hold the sauce and make perfect bites.

Shells & Bolognese:
  • Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet.
  • Add 1 lb. lean ground beef* and break up into small pieces.
  • Cook for 5-6 minutes (or until brown) and add 6 minced garlic cloves, 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, 1 large pinch of red chili flakes.
  • Add in 1 c. of red wine and loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  • Add a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, 2 tbsp. tomato paste, salt, and pepper.**
  • Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  • While sauce is simmering, cook 1 package of small pasta shells in a pot of boiling, salted water, according to package directions.
  • Drain pasta, set aside.
  • Once sauce is done, stir in 1/4 c. heavy cream and 1/4 c. fresh basil.
  • Add pasta to the sauce, and toss to combine with 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese.
  • Divide into bowls and serve.

Serves four
*I used a local, grass-fed, ground beef with less than 10% fat. 
**Check seasoning. I found that the sauce needed a fair amount of salt, pepper, and red chili flake.

Friday, July 22

Rainbow Trout Almondine

My mom is a notoriously picky eater who doesn't like fish, but on several occasions she has encouraged me to make a dish from her childhood, sole almondine (fish with buttery sauteed almonds on top). I knew it would have to be delicious to pass her high standards, so I finally made my own version. I substituted the sole for rainbow trout, which cooks in just a few minutes and is the perfect vehicle to showcase the hot, buttery nuts. I also added some lemon to bring some more acid and a  flavorful zing to the dish.

Rainbow Trout Almondine:
  • Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a small pan until frothy.
  • Add 1/4 c. sliced, raw almonds and cook until brown.
  • Turn off the heat and add the juice of 1/2 a lemon.* Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.
  • Season both sides of two 6 oz. rainbow trout fillets with salt and pepper.
  • Add fish to the skillet, skin side down, and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, or until crispy.**
  • Flip fish and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Divide fish onto plates and top with almonds. Serve with lemon wedges.

Serves two
*Be careful adding the lemon, it will splatter.
**Make sure your pan is very hot in order to crisp the skin. 

Thursday, July 21

Scallops & Sauteed Sweet Corn

This dish is the epitome of summer to me: fresh seafood, sweet corn, and just a few other ingredients make a great, quick supper. I make often make scallops for special occasions and I always cook them the same way - sauteed in butter - so that they get a brown crust and are just-cooked through inside. The corn and red onion side is another one of my warm weather go-to recipes and emphasizes the sweetness of the scallops. I recommend whipping this up in the kitchen, then moving to the backyard with a cold cocktail and enjoying.

Sauteed Scallops & Sweet Corn Relish:
For Corn
  • Remove the kernels from 2-3 ears of fresh corn and dice 1/2 red onion.
  • Meanwhile, add 1 tbsp. olive to a large pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, until translucent.
  • Add the corn and season with salt and pepper.*
  • Cook mixture for another 3-4 minutes, then turn off heat and stir in 1 tbsp. butter until melted.
For Scallops
  • Season 3/4 lb. fresh sea scallops with salt and pepper.**
  • Meanwhile, melt 1/2 tbsp. butter and 1/2 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet.***
  • Add scallops to the pan, arranging in one layer with space in between.
  • Cook scallops for 3-4 minutes, or until brown crust forms.
  • Flip scallops and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the inside just turns opaque.

Serves two
*I often add 1tsp. fresh thyme leaves as well.
**Pat scallops dry with a paper towel first to ensure they sear nicely.
***Using a combination of butter and oil helps to prevent the butter from burning.

Wednesday, July 20

Asparagus & Mushroom Baked Risotto

My boyfriend's mom made us this amazing risotto recipe when we were in Minnesota and I knew I had to try it myself. It's actually an Ina Garten recipe from her cookbook How Easy is That?, which I already had at home. Unlike traditional risotto, which takes a lot of time and effort, this version is baked in the oven and then seasoned in the last few minutes after the rice has cooked. I decided to add my own favorite vegetables and flavors to make it more of a main course. It's a great option for a quick weeknight meal, but it's impressive enough to serve at a dinner party.

Asparagus & Mushroom Baked Risotto:
  • Combine 3/4 c. aborio rice and 2.5 c. chicken stock in a dutch oven or heavy, lidded pot.
  • Bake in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet.
  • Add 1 bunch chopped asparagus, 1 package of sliced mushrooms, and 2 minced garlic cloves.
  • Cook for 4-6 minutes, or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the pot from the oven and immediately stir in 1/2 c. chicken stock, 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, 1/4 c. white wine, 1 tbsp. butter, 1 tbsp. chopped parsley, salt, and pepper.
  • Continue stirring for 2-3 minutes, or until the rice is thick and creamy.*
  • Gently fold in the mushroom and asparagus mixture.
  • Divide into bowls and top with extra parsley and cheese.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves two - three
*Add more chicken stock as needed for desired consistency. I ended up adding about 1 more cup.

Tuesday, July 19

Heirloom Tomato & Blue Cheese Salad

I went to the farmer's market on Sunday and was overwhelmed by all the amazing produce being sold. It seemed like all my favorite summer fruits and vegetables were at the peak of their freshness and flavor - especially the heirloom tomatoes. I wanted to make a simple side salad with them that would showcase their flavor and texture. You really don't need to add much to these tomatoes to product an all-star dish, so I like to just dress them up with a few high-quality ingredients. This super quick, super easy salad is the perfect summer meal (and looks beautiful too).

Heirloom Tomato & Blue Cheese Salad:
  • Thickly slice 3-4 medium-size heirloom tomatoes.*
  • Drizzle with 1 tbsp. high-quality extra virgin olive oil and 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Top with 2 oz. crumble blue cheese and 1/4 onion, thinly sliced.

 Serves two
*Choose different colors and varieties of tomatoes for a pretty presentation.

Monday, July 18

Grilled Fillet Mignon & Baked Potatoes

L.A. was hit by Carmageddon this weekend (panic over the closing of our 405 freeway) so everyone was encouraged to stay off the roads as much as possible. My boyfriend and I went to a wedding on Friday night and were surprised by how little traffic we encountered on our drive, but we were so exhausted afterward that we decided to stay in the rest of the weekend. We were both craving a traditional meat-and-potatoes kind of meal, so we decided to create our own steakhouse menu at home. The grilled fillets got an extra kick with the blue cheese crumbles and the potatoes paired perfectly with the chive sour cream. It was so fun to re-create the restaurant experience at our house (and for a fraction of the price), and will definitely be something we try again - Carmageddon or not.

Grilled Fillet Mignon & Chive-Sour Cream Baked Potatoes:
For Steaks
  • Liberally season two 8 oz. fillets with grey salt, pepper, and olive oil.
  • Place on a hot grill and cook for 5 minutes on each side.
  • Place steaks on a plate and tent with foil.
  • Let rest for 5-10 minutes, then uncover and top each with 1 oz. blue cheese crumbles.
  • Divide onto plates and serve with baked potatoes.
For Potatoes
  • Scrub the outside of two medium-size russet potatoes.
  • Prick the outside of each potato with a fork and place in a 425°F oven.
  • Cook the potatoes until tender, about 40-45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix together 1 tbsp. chopped chives, 1/2 c. sour cream, and black pepper. Set aside.
  • Remove the potatoes from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  • Slice potatoes down the center to create a pocket.
  • Add a pat of butter to the pocket and sprinkle potatoes with salt and pepper.
  • Spoon sour cream mixture on top.

 Serves two

Friday, July 15

Ginger-Garlic Green Beans

I make a lot of Asian dishes, so I'm always trying to think of side dishes to complement the meal. I often serve steamed brown rice, but these green beans are another favorite. The combination of ginger, garlic, and chili flakes really wakes up the vegetables and complements the flavors in the rest of the meal (try it with Korean short ribs). I make this same recipe using snap peas or broccoli as well.

Ginger-Garlic Green Beans:
  • Trim the ends off of 1/2 lb. green beans.
  • Place the beans in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then drain and cover with cold water.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. canola oil, 1 tbsp. grated ginger, 2 tsp. minced garlic, and 1 pinch chili pepper flakes in a skillet.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant, and add the green beans.
  • Toss the beans for 2-3 minutes, adding salt and pepper as needed.
  • In the last minute, add a splash of soy sauce and quickly toss.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves two

Thursday, July 14

Creamy Sauteed Mushrooms

I love mushrooms because they're so versatile. I use them as a great way to jazz up pizza or pasta, but they're even hearty enough to serve as a main dish (check out my portabello tacos). In this recipe, I created a simple side that really showcased the earthy, savory flavor of cremini mushrooms. It would be a great dish to bring to a potluck, or would make a great topping over grilled chicken. They heavy cream creates richness and thickens into a delicious, mushroom-flavored sauce. A must try!

Creamy Sauteed Mushrooms:
  • Slice two packages of clean* cremini** mushrooms.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. of butter in a large skillet.
  • Add 2 diced shallots and cook for 4-6 minutes, or until they begin to caramelize.
  • Add mushrooms and 1 tsp. chopped rosemary and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add 1-2 tbsp. of heavy whipping cream and season with salt and pepper.
  • Let mixture thicken for 2-3 minutes, then serve.

Serves three - four
*Never wash mushrooms - wipe them clean with a damp towel.
**Also called baby bella mushrooms.

Wednesday, July 13

Rosemary Grilled Lamb Loin Chops

I love lamb, but I usually stick to grilling rib chops (seen here and here). However, I couldn't get my usual cuts of meat when I was on vacation, so I tried my hand at making lamb loin chops. I marinated them all day in red wine, balsamic, and rosemary - they would have been even better marinated overnight - and then quickly cooked them over a hot grill. The end result was juicy, flavorful, and just as good as my usual recipe. The only thing I missed was eating them off the bone with my hands.

Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Red Wine & Rosemary:
  • Combine 1 c. red wine, 1/2 c. olive oil, 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp. chopped rosemary, and 2 chopped garlic cloves in a large, resealable container.
  • Add in 6 lamb loin chops* and marinate for at least 6 hours.
  • Remove chops from marinade, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill over high heat for 3-4 minutes per side.
  • Let lamb rest for 5-10 minutes before eating.

Serves six
*About 1 inch thick.

    Tuesday, July 12

    Pork Chops with Blueberry-Balsamic Sauce

    Grilled pork chops topped with a sweet and tangy blueberry and balsamic reduction

    Grilled Bone-In Pork Chops with Balsamic Blueberry Sauce

    My recent trip to Minnesota was filled with long, lazy days on the lake. Food wasn't always a priority during the day since different groups of us were reading, boating, or golfing, but everyone met back up at night for dinner together. I had a tough time choosing a recipe that would be easy enough to prepare in the cabin's kitchen but was still impressive enough to serve to my husband's family. I finally settled on grilled pork chops with a balsamic-blueberry sauce, a unique summer dish that is quick and easy to make. The sauce was adapted from a recipe I found in Bon Appetit last year, which I made on the stove while my husband grilled the chops. It turned out perfectly and I can't wait to make it again back in L.A.

    More Pork Recipes:
    - Pork Chops with Apple-Onion Reduction
    - Pork Carnitas
    - Grilled Pork Chops & Peaches

    Grilled Pork Chops with Blueberry Sauce:
    For Blueberry Sauce
    • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan.
    • Add 2 chopped shallots and cook until translucent, 5-6 minutes.
    • Add in 2 garlic cloves, 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, 2 c. fresh blueberries, 1/2 c. water, and 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.
    • Cook berries for 5-7 minutes, or until starting to burst.
    • Mash with a potato masher and thicken for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
    For Pork Chops
    • Season both sides of 6 bone-in pork rib chops* with salt and pepper.
    • Grill over high heat for 4 minutes per side, or until just cooked through.
    • Let pork rest for 5-10 minutes.
    • Pour sauce over pork and serve.

    Serves six 
    *About 1 inch thick.

    Monday, July 11

    Weekend Review: Minnesota

    112 Eatery's "Short Rib Chili" - Braised Beef Short rib, Tomatillo Sauce, Creme Fraiche, Parmesan Cornbread

    I just got back from visiting my boyfriend's family in Minnesota, on a (much-needed) nine day vacation. The state isn't known for its exceptional food scene, especially outside of the twin cities, but we enjoyed several good meals out. We spent most of our time on Lake Sylvan, where our favorite local place is The Classic, a small restaurant located inside a golf clubhouse that features delicious dishes from a knock-out chef. We had a much tougher time deciding where to eat in Minneapolis, as wide array of award-winning restaurants have sprung up there in recent years, but we ended up settling on 112 Eatery, whose chef Isaac Becker won this year's James Beard award for "Best Chef Midwest".

    The Classic's "Seafood Platter for Two" - Crab Stuffed Shrimp, Broiled Walleye, Panko Crusted Grouper, Sea Scallops
    112's Sweet & Sour Crab Salad
    112's Fresh Ricotta & Truffle Honey
    112's Tagliatelle with Foie Gras Meatballs
    112's Tres Leches Cake