Wednesday, October 31

Asian-Marinated Pork Chops

Asian Marinated Pork Chops

I do a lot of meal prep for the week on Sundays, which usually includes grocery shopping, making a big meal that can be broken down into leftovers, and creating marinades. Marinades are a great way to impart flavor into food ahead of time, so that when the time comes to cook, all you need to do is pop the meat into the oven or onto the grill. This one contains lots of ginger, garlic, and soy sauce and tastes great on pork or chicken. I prepare it the night before so that when I get home from work it takes less than thirty minutes to put food on the table. Try serving it with this simple green salad (make the dressing the night before, too) and you’ll be able to serve a hearty, well-rounded meal any night of the week. 

Asian-Marinated Pork Chops:
  • Combine 4 tbsp. soy sauce, 2 tbsp. brown sugar, 4 tsp. freshly grated ginger, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 2 tsp. sesame oil.
  • Pour marinade in a large resealable bag and place in 2 boneless pork chops.*
  • Close bag, squeezing out all the air, and place in the fridge overnight.
  • When ready to cook, remove chops from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a grill to high and cook for 5 minutes per side, or until just slightly pink.
  • Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Serves two - three
*You can use bone-in chops but they will take longer to cook.

Tuesday, October 30

Miso Asian Pear Salad

I have a few go-to salads that I throw together for easy sides throughout the week, but I'd been missing a simple one to go with Asian food until I came across this recipe. The real star is the miso-ginger vinaigrette, which adds a huge punch of flavor in this three-ingredient salad. I tossed it with a mix of Asian greens (tatsoi, pea shoots, and two types of mizuna) I got from the bulk bins at my farmers market, a thinly sliced Asian pear, and some toasted walnuts. If those ingredients are hard to come by, you can use whatever mix of similar ingredients (such as baby spinach, apples, and cashews) you have on hand or just add the dressing to a little arugula. Feel free to make extra vinaigrette - it will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Asian Pear & Walnut Salad with Miso-Ginger Vinaigrette:
For Dressing
  • Combine 4 tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. white miso paste,* 1/2 tbsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger, 1 small clove of grated garlic, and 2-3 drops of Sriracha hot sauce.**
  • Slowly whisk in 1 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil and set aside.
For Salad
  • Add 6 oz. mixed greens, 1 handful of toasted walnuts,*** and 1 thinly sliced Asian pear into a large bowl.
  • Pour in 1/2 of the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Continue to add more vinaigrette until salad is dressed to your liking.
  • Divide onto plates and serve immediately.

Serves two (light main course)
Serves three - four (side dish)
*Can be substituted for darker miso paste but flavor will be more pungent.
**Or any hot sauce of your choice.
***To toast nuts, place in a hot dry skillet for 5 minutes, or until fragrant.

Monday, October 29

Mozzarella & Italian Sausage Queso Dip

A meaty Italian spin on traditional queso cheese dip

Being a football fan for an out of state team is tough and usually requires a trip to a sports bar in order to watch them play because local cable won't show the games on television. This past Thursday, however, the Vikings played the only NFL game of the night and we were finally able to watch them from the comfort of our living room. We had some friends over, so I set out some store-bought snacks and whipped up this mozzarella and Italian sausage queso dip. Unlike the standard Velveeta queso, this version is made up entirely of melted mozzarella and studded with caramelized onions and crispy Italian sausage. It's denser and chewier than the liquid orange dip you might be used to, but it packs a lot more flavor and texture. It's sure to be a hit at your next football party or tailgate.

Related Recipes:
- Queso Fundido Dip
- Baked Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Sauce
- Baked Potato Bites

Mozzarella & Italian Sausage Queso:
  • Heat 1 tsp. canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Crumble in two large spicy Italian sausages, casings removed, and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until browned and just cooked through.
  • Transfer sausage to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan.*
  • Lower the heat to medium-low and add in 1/2 diced onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic.
  • Cook for 7 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden, then turn off the heat and stir in the cooked sausage.
  • Add 1 c. grated mozzarella cheese in the bottom of a small baking dish or oven-proof skillet.
  • Top cheese with half the sausage mixture, then cover with 1 more c. of cheese and the rest of the sausage.**
  • Bake in a 375F oven for 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling.
  • Serve immediately with chips.

Serves six
*If sausage pieces are a little on the large size, you can dice them more finely.
**Can be assembled and left at room temperature a few hours before baking.

Thursday, October 25

Kale Coconut Farro Salad

This salad is another genius Heidi Swanson recipe that pairs together seemingly unusual flavors to create a dish unlike any other. I was hesitant that the coconut would overpower the kale, but after roasting in the oven it has a nice nutty flavor and slight sweetness that pairs really well with the kale and farro. I generally stick to Italian flavors when cooking kale (garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes) but the soy-sesame dressing is really delicious and stands up nicely to the strong greens. If you like a little heat, adding a few drops of Sriracha to the dressing would add a nice kick (I’m planning on doing that next time). The grains keep it pretty filling, so this certainly works as a full meal or great potluck dish. I’d imagine that leftovers would taste good too, if you can keep any around that long.

Kale Coconut Farro Salad:
  • Rinse 1 c. farro under cold water, place in a saucepan, and cover with cold water.
  • Bring farro to a boil, season with salt, then lower to a simmer and cover with a lid.
  • Cook farro for 25-30 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and place in a large bowl.*
  • Meanwhile, whisk together 1/3 c. olive oil, 1 tsp. sesame oil, and 3 tbsp. soy sauce in a small bowl.
  • Remove the center ribs of two large bunches of kale** and chop into bite-size pieces.
  • Transfer kale to a large mixing bowl, add in 1 1/2 c. large flaked unsweetened coconut,*** and toss with most of the soy sauce dressing.
  • Spread kale mixture onto 2 baking sheets and place in a 350F oven.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, turning with a spatula once, or until coconut is nicely browned.
  • Add kale mixture to the bowl of farro and pour over the remaining dressing.
  • Toss to combine and serve warm.

Serves two (main course)
Serves six (side dish)
*Can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge. Some farro brands suggest soaking the grain in cold water for several hours before boiling it.
**I used purple kale, but any variety will do.
***Must be unsweetened. If you can't find flakes, you can use unsweetened shredded coconut and reduce the amount by half.

Wednesday, October 24

Lemon Asparagus Risotto

It’s been cool and drizzly the last few days - a sure signal that fall is finally here - but our markets are still selling summer produce rather than winter squash and greens. I’d been craving something comforting, so I decided to make a cold-weather classic but using bright, fresh flavors. This risotto (loosely based on this recipe) is still super creamy and warming, but the lemon and asparagus keep it from feeling too heavy. It’s the perfect thing to eat while transitioning the seasons and a nice introduction to many upcoming cozy nights. If you love risotto but don’t feel like spending an hour at the stove, try this easy weeknight version.

Lemon Asparagus Risotto:
  • Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a small dutch oven and add in 1 diced onion.
  • Cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, or until soft but not brown.
  • Add in 1 c. aborio rice and stir so that each piece of rice is coated with butter.
  • Add in 1/3 c. dry white wine and cook for another few minutes, or until most of the wine has been absorbed.
  • Begin adding in a ladle from 1 qt. warm chicken stock* into the rice, stirring often.
  • Wait until most of the stock has been absorbed, then add in another ladle.
  • Continue adding in stock until rice is half-way cooked, then add in the zest of 2 lemons, salt,** and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add in 1 bunch of trimmed asparagus.
  • Cook asparagus for 5 minutes, or almost tender, then transfer to a bowl of ice cold water to cool.
  • Cut asparagus into 3/4" pieces and set aside.***
  • Continue cooking rice until nearly done, then stir in the asparagus and continue adding stock until rice is al dente.
  • Stir in 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 heaping tbsp. Greek yogurt,**** and any more salt and pepper.
  • Divide into bowls and garnish with minced scallions and more cheese.

Serves two- three
*It's easiest to keep it simmering in a pot next to the risotto. Can substitute for vegetable stock.
**Be modest with the salt because the chicken stock and cheese will also add saltiness.
***Can be done a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge. Leftover cooked asparagus would also work.
****Optional, but I like the tang and extra creaminess it provides.

Tuesday, October 23

Chicken & Green Bean Stir-Fry

I'm always looking for new stir-fry recipes and love the balance of sweet and heat in this latest version. The chicken gets a simple four-ingredient marinade before cooking in a hot wok with green beans and bell peppers. I also added in a red chile for some heat and some peanuts for extra crunch and flavor. There's a lot of brothy sauce from the chicken stock, but if you like your stir-fry sauce a little thicker you can add in a little bit of cornstarch to make it come together. It's a versatile weeknight dinner that can easily be adapted based on whatever meat, vegetables, and nuts you have on hand.

Chicken, Red Pepper, & Green Bean Stir-Fry:
  • Whisk together 3 tbsp. fish sauce, 1 tsp. oyster sauce,* 1 scant tbsp. sugar, and 2 tbsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger.
  • Add in 1 lb. diced boneless, skinless chicken thighs and toss to coat.
  • Let chicken marinate in the fridge for an hour, or at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. canola oil in a wok or skillet until very hot.
  • Add in 1 thinly sliced red bell pepper and 8 oz. trimmed green beans.**
  • Cook vegetables for 3-4 minutes, until softened, and add in 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 minced, seeded, red chile.***
  • Add in the chicken and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until chicken starts to brown.
  • Add in 3/4 c. low-sodium chicken stock, cover wok with a lid, and cook for 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through.
  • Add in 1 large handful of roasted, salted peanuts and check for seasoning.
  • Divide onto plates and serve with steamed rice.

Serves three - four
*Fish sauce and oyster sauce are available in the Asian section of most grocery stores.
**I like to use thin haricot verts because they cook faster.
***I used a Fresno chile, but you could add a spicier chile, such as Thai, depending on your heat tolerance.

Monday, October 22

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

Spaghetti and meatballs are great, but there are so many types of meatballs out there (nearly every cuisine has their own version) that it’s worth trying something new. This lamb version has tons of great Greek flavors and pairs really well with a creamy herbed yogurt sauce. I like to stuff them into whole wheat pita bread for a healthy sandwich pocket, but you could also roll them into bite-size balls and stick them on toothpicks for an easy party appetizer. It’s a much healthier and unique take on the classic Italian version.

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce:
For Sauce
  • Combine 1/2 c. Greek yogurt, 1 minced shallot, 1 heaping tbsp. minced dill, and the juice of 1/2 lemon in a small bowl.
  • Season with salt and pepper and set aside.*
For Meatballs
  • Use the large holes on a box grater to grate 1/2 yellow onion and add to a mixing bowl.
  • Add in 1 lb. lean ground lamb, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs, 1/2 tbsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
  • Use your hands to mix until well incorporated, then roll into balls slightly larger than a golf ball.
  • Arrange meatballs on a lined baking sheet and place in a 375F oven.
  • Cook for 15-25 minutes, or until just cooked through.
  • Let cool slightly, then divide onto plates and serve with the yogurt sauce.

Serves three - four (main course)
Serves eight (appetizer)
*Can be made a day ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge.

Thursday, October 18

Sausage with Cheddar & Spicy Peppers

Sausages are a big favorite at our house, whether they're tossed into salads, crumbled into pasta, or simply grilled. I like to serve them on a whole wheat bun with peppers and onions and some good mustard in my version of classic Italian sausage and peppers. Here I jazzed things up a little bit by using garlic-basil beef sausages from our farmer's market and topped them melted white cheddar and a spicy pepper medley.  It's the perfect thing to serve at a tailgate, barbecue, or busy weeknight, since it's easy to make for a crowd and the whole process takes less than twenty minutes.

Sausage with Cheddar & Spicy Peppers:
  • Heat a grill to high heat, brush 4 sausages with canola oil, and place on the grill.
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes, turning once, until just cooked through.
  • Add 4 whole-wheat hot dog buns and grill for 1-2 minutes, per side.
  • Transfer everything to a plate, cover with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. canola oil in a large skillet and add in 1 large, thinly sliced onion* and 1 thinly sliced green bell pepper.
  • Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until soft, then add in 1 minced garlic clove and 2 diced, roasted yellow wax peppers.**
  • Cook for another 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place sausages into buns and top with a handful of grated white cheddar cheese and some of the pepper-onion mixture.
  • Place dogs under a hot broiler for 2 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

Serves two-four
*The onion will really shrink when it cooks. You may want to use two if yours are small.
**To roast peppers, place on a sheet pan under a hot broiler for 7-10 minutes, turning once, until skin is black all over. Transfer to a plastic bag for 15 minutes to steam, then rub off skins with your hand and remove seeds and stem. Or you can use 1-2 minced jalapenos.

Wednesday, October 17

Plum Skillet Cake

I've been picking up a bag full of yellow plums at our farmer's market for a few weeks now and wanted to showcase them in an easy dessert. I usually opt for a simple crisp or crostada when I want a quick sweet fix, but this cake is just as easy. If you're like me, you probably already have the ingredients at home, and it's served in an all-purpose skillet so no special baking equipment is required. It's not too sweet, so leftovers are perfect for breakfast (or at work for an afternoon snack), but real sugar lovers will love it served a la mode. And don't worry if you can't find yellow plums, any variety will work great here. 

Plum Skillet Cake:
  • Butter an 8" skillet and coat with flour, shaking out any excess.
  • In a small mixing bowl, stir together 1 c. all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
  • In another mixing bowl, use a mixer to beat together 1/2 stick room-temperature unsalted butter and 3/4 c. sugar until fluffy. Then beat in 1 egg.
  • Add in 1/2 flour mixture, then 1/4 c. buttermilk, then the rest of the flour and 1/4 c. more buttermilk.
  • Mix until just combined and pour batter into the skillet.
  • Arrange 4 thinly sliced plums on top of the cake and sprinkle with a handful of sugar.
  • Bake in a 375F oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool, then cut into slices and serve.

Serves six-eight

Tuesday, October 16

Mixed Seafood Stew

I just got back from my bridal shower in Minnesota with my mom and my fiance's family. It was my first real taste of a Minnesota fall and while the changing leaves, cool weather, and Midwest hospitality was a refreshing change from L.A., it feels good to be back home. We're having another heat wave but it still gets chilly at night, so this seafood stew is the perfect easy dinner. The fish gently poaches in a flavorful tomato and herb broth until just cooked through, which really keeps the seafood tender and delicate. It's a great meal to serve any time of the year, wherever you might be, and it all comes together in less than thirty minutes.

Mixed Seafood Stew:
  • Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a small dutch oven and add in 4 cloves of minced garlic.
  • Cook for a minute, then add in 5 sliced, seeded tomatoes and 4 sprigs of fresh thyme.
  • Cook for 4-5 minutes, until softened, then add in 1/3 c. white wine and 1 c. fish stock.*
  • Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower to a simmer and season with salt and pepper.
  • Let broth reduce for 10-15 minutes, then nestle in 1/2 lb. of sea bass cut into bite-size pieces and 5-6 large scallops.
  • Scatter 8-10 medium-sized peeled and de-veined shrimp and cover with a lid.
  • Let seafood cook for 6-8 minutes, until opaque.
  • Spoon stew into bowls and serve with crostini** or bread.

Serves two - three
*Or clam juice.
**I like to slice some ciabatta bread into thin rounds, brush with olive oil, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until crispy.

Thursday, October 11

Corn, Zucchini & Poblano Lasagna

I love combining unexpected flavors into classic dishes, and I find that Mexican ingredients work really well with pasta (just see here). This lasagna is completely different than traditional Italian versions with no tomato sauce in sight, and instead draws on the unique flavors of poblano rajas. A creamy corn sauce is layered between the noodles, along with roasted peppers, zucchini, onions, and lots of cheese. There a few steps to making it, but it's well worth it and (depending on how many people you're feeding) you'll have leftovers for days. It's a really memorable, smart dish that will sure to be a new household favorite.

Corn, Zucchini & Poblano Lasagna:
  • Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet and add in the kernels from 3 ears of corn* and 3 cloves of minced garlic.
  • Cook for 5 minutes, or until corn is tender, then add in 2 c. heavy cream, 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, and 1 tbsp. fresh minced oregano.
  • Cook mixture on low heat for 5-7 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
  • Let mixture cool slightly, then transfer to a blender and puree til smooth.**
  • At the same time, melt 2 tbsp. butter in another skillet and add in 1 thinly sliced onion.
  • Cook onion until softened, about 5 minutes, then add in 2 cloves minced garlic, 4 thinly sliced roasted poblano peppers,*** and 1 thinly sliced (length-wise) zucchini.
  • Cook vegetables for another 5 minutes, or until softened. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.****
  • To assemble lasagna, pour 1/4 of the corn sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish and top with a layer of no-boil lasagna noodles.
  • Top noodles with a layer of grated mozzarella cheese***** and some of the vegetable mixture.
  • Continue layering lasagna, ending with a layer of cheese, until all the ingredients are used.
  • Cover dish with foil and place in a 350F oven for 45 minutes, then uncover and broil for 5-6 minutes.
  • Let lasagna cool slightly, then cut into pieces and serve.

Serves eight
*Or about 2 c. of thawed frozen corn kernels.
**Sauce can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge. It also tastes great by itself on pasta.
***Sometimes called pasilla. To roast, place on a sheet pan under a hot broiler for 15 minutes, turning once, or until the outside skins are completely charred. Let steam in a plastic bag for 15 minutes, then rub off skins with your hands and remove stem and seeds.
****Can also be done a day in advance and kept in the fridge.
*****You will need about 2 c. of cheese total.

Wednesday, October 10

Mushroom Gravy

Gravy can be a stressful thing to cook since the easy options (store-bought packets and bases) never taste quite right and making a pan gravy is a messy, time consuming process and relies on having a lot of drippings from your bird. This version is genius since it’s still fully homemade but doesn't rely at all on the rest of your meal. It can also be made fully vegetarian (although I used chicken stock instead of vegetable), which is perfect for guests who forgo the turkey but still want some sauce on their mashed potatoes. The dried mushrooms and soy sauce provide a rich, meaty flavor that is super satisfying and a little different from the usual stuff. It’s a great addition to the Thanksgiving table, but try it on some grilled chicken for a quick weeknight meal.

Mushroom & Thyme Gravy:
  • Microwave 1 c. chicken stock* until hot, then add in 4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms and let sit for 20 minutes.
  • Remove mushrooms and finely mince and pour stock through a paper towel to catch any grit from the mushrooms.
  • Melt 1 1/2 tbsp. butter in a small sauce pot and add in 1 tbsp. minced shallot.
  • Cook shallot for a few minutes, until softened, then whisk in 1 1/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour.
  • Cook flour mixture for 1-2 minutes, then slowly add in the chicken stock, whisking constantly.
  • Cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes, then add in 1/4 c. heavy cream, 2 tbsp. soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp. sherry, and 1/2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm until serving.

Serves four
*Or vegetable stock, or turkey stock.

Tuesday, October 9

Double Bacon Waffles

My fiancĂ© is obsessed with bacon and loves to order the bacon waffle from FIG in Santa Monica. The FIG dish is incredibly decadent and involves a bacon-studded waffle topped with bacon-infused maple syrup and a scoop of bacon ice cream. My version is simpler but still incorporates the sweet waffles and salty bacon together, making this the perfect double-serving breakfast meal. It’s really not more difficult than making both items separately, but putting them together is so much more exciting. My favorite part is the bacon syrup, which adds a nice sweet element to this mostly-savory dish.

Double Bacon Waffles:
For Syrup
  • Dice 2 strips of thick-cut bacon and cook in a small pan until crispy, about 5 minutes.
  • Pour off the bacon fat and turn the heat to low, then add in 1/3 c. good-quality maple syrup.
  • Set aside and keep warm.
For Waffles
  • Add 6 strips of bacon into a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Cook bacon for 10-15 minutes, turning once, or until bacon is crisp.
  • Let bacon drain on a paper towel and reserve the bacon fat in a separate bowl.
  • In a small mixing bowl, sift together 1 c. all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
  • In another mixing bowl, beat together 2 eggs and 1 tbsp. sugar until sugar dissolves.
  • Mix 1 c. milk and 2 tbsp. melted butter into the egg mixture.
  • Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
  • Heat a waffle iron to medium-high heat and brush with reserved bacon fat.*
  • Pour in 1/3 of the batter and top with two pieces of crispy bacon in a criss-cross (x) pattern.
  • Close the iron and cook for 5 minutes, or until just cooked through.**
  • Remove the waffle and repeat steps until all batter is gone.
  • Top waffles with bacon syrup and enjoy.

Makes three waffles
*Or use a non-stick cooking spray, but the bacon fat adds a lot of great flavor.
**Waffle irons vary greatly. For best results, use your instruction manual.

Monday, October 8

Herbed Ciabatta Stuffing

Thanksgiving is the best food day of the year and stuffing is by far my favorite dish. I get a craving for it all the time and couldn't wait another month to have some, so I decided to make my own mini-Thanksgiving meal over the weekend. A lot of people (my family included) use some sort of boxed mix to make stuffing, but using day old bread is even better. The dried ciabatta gets tossed with soft buttery vegetables and tons of fresh herbs for a nostalgic taste that everyone will love. I like to spread it out in a large, shallow baking dish so that each bite has crispy top and soft center.

Herbed Ciabatta Stuffing:*
  • Cut 1 day-old large ciabatta bread into 1" cubes and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Place in a 350F oven and cook for 10-20 minutes, or until bread is dry and crusty but not toasted.
  • Let the bread cool and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Meanwhile, melt 1/2 stick butter in a large skillet and add in 4-5 stalks diced celery and 1 large diced onion.
  • Cook vegetables for 7-10 minutes, or until soft and translucent, then add in 2 tbsp. minced fresh thyme and 2 tbsp. minced fresh oregano. Turn off heat and let cool.**
  • Add the vegetables to the bowl with the bread and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  • In another small bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 1 c. low-sodium chicken broth, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the egg-broth mixture into the bread and toss so that the bread absorbs all the liquid.
  • If the stuffing looks a little dry, add some more stock.
  • Place stuffing in a large, buttered baking dish and place in a 350F oven.
  • Cook for 45-55 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
  • Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.

Serves four - six
*Adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe.
**Can be done one day ahead of time and kept in the fridge.

Friday, October 5

Ginger-Soy-Lime Roasted Salmon

Fish is a great choice for a quick weeknight meal because you can't spend much time cooking it or it will be overdone. I've made a lot of Asian salmon dishes before (see here, here, and here) but this recipe, which is inspired by one in Jamie Oliver's cookbook, different than anything I've ever had. A simple marinade is put together in the blender (saves a lot of time on chopping) and then poured into a baking dish. The salmon then goes on top with the flesh side down, so that the skin gets nice and crispy while the flesh absorbs the flavorful sauce. Serve it with some simple rice or veggies and it's one of those quick meals that still works for a special occasion.

Ginger-Soy-Lime Roasted Salmon:*
  • Peel and roughly chop 4 cloves of garlic, 1 1" piece of fresh ginger, and 1 small red onion and add to a blender.
  • Add in 2 tbsp. soy sauce, the juice of 2 limes, and 1/2 diced Fresno chile.**
  • Puree the mixture until smooth and pour into the bottom of a small casserole dish.
  • Season two 6-7 oz. pieces of salmon with salt and pepper and place in the dish, flesh-side down.
  • Rub the skin with a bit of canola oil and place in a 480F oven for 10-12 minutes, or until almost cooked through.
  • Turn the broiler to high and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until skin gets nice and crispy.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve.

Serves two
*Based off a Jamie Oliver recipe.
**Or any other small red chile. Or use a jalapeno or serrano.

Thursday, October 4

Loaded Cornbread Muffins

Corn season is nearly over, so I loaded up at the farmer's market to make a few more dishes before it’s gone. I've had this idea for loaded cornbread for a while, which is just my standard buttermilk cornbread recipe doctored up with fresh corn kernels, roasted chiles, and cheddar cheese. I usually like my cornbread on the sweeter side, but the spicy chile and salty cheese are really delicious additions here. I even serve the muffins with a drizzle of honey, and the contrast between sweet and savory is really good. This is a great side dish to serve with chicken (I served it with this recipe) and leftovers make a great snack or quick breakfast.

Cheddar-Chile Cornbread Muffins:
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 c. all-purpose flour, 1 c. yellow cornmeal, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
  • In another mixing bowl, whisk together 1 c. buttermilk, 1 egg, 3 tbsp. honey, and 3 tbsp. melted butter.
  • Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined.
  • Gently fold in the kernels from 1 ear of corn, 1 peeled, seeded, and diced roasted poblano pepper, 2 peeled, seeded, and diced roasted yellow wax peppers,* and 1/2 c. grated white cheddar cheese.
  • Divide the batter into a lined 12-cup muffin pan and place in a 350F oven.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffins comes out clean.
  • Let cool, then serve.

Makes twelve muffins
*Can substitute yellow wax for jalapenos. To roast peppers, place in a sheet pan under a broiler for 10-15 minutes, turning once, until skin is completely charred. Place in a plastic bag for 15 minute to steam, then rub off skins with your hands.

Wednesday, October 3

Potato, Corn & Cheese Chile Rellenos

Early fall is the peak season for fresh chiles and our farmer's market has been overflowing with hard-to-find varieties like hatch, yellow wax, and red jalapenos. There's a stall at the market that's only open for a month during this time and sells roasted chiles that they char to-order in their huge outdoor grill. I picked up a bag of roasted poblanos and decided to create a riff on chile rellenos with this easy baked version (traditional recipes are deep-fried). These are stuffed with fresh sweet corn, Yukon Gold potatoes, and (of course) lots of cheese to create a wonderfully gooey filling. Can't find roasted chiles near you? No problem, I've provided easy instructions on how to do it at home.

Potato, Corn & Cheese Chile Rellenos:
  • Place 1/2 lb. small Yukon Gold potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water, and boil over high heat for 20-30 minutes, or until tender.*
  • Drain potatoes, let cool, and dice into small cubes. Mix the potatoes with the kernels from 2 ears of corn and season with salt and pepper.**
  • Meanwhile, place 5-6 poblano peppers on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for 10-15 minutes, turing once, until skins are completely black and charred.
  • Place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes so that they steam and cool.
  • Use your fingers to carefully rub off the charred skins, then cut a small slit down the front of the pepper and carefully pull out the seeds, keeping the stem intact.***
  • Stuff the peppers with some of the potato and corn mixture, then stuff in 6 oz. grated Monterey Jack cheese, divided.
  • Try to close the peppers up as much as possible and place on a lined baking sheet.
  • Bake peppers in a 350F oven for 15 minutes, then broil on high for another 3-4 minutes, until cheese is bubbling.
  • Sprinkle with minced cilantro and serve.

Serves two-three
*Or skip this step and use leftover roasted or boiled potatoes. Potatoes are tender when a fork can easily be inserted.
**Whole mixture can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge.
***I find it easiest to do this by running the peppers under gently streaming cold water.

Monday, October 1

Smothered Chicken

It’s hard to believe that it’s already October, and while I’m not a huge fan of weather below 70 degrees, the record heat we continue to have in L.A. just feels out of sync with the rest of the world. This recipe was my first attempt at making a fall-time dish in a while (which I cooked in shorts and a tank top with all the windows and doors open) and even though it didn't mesh that well with the temperature outside, it's still the type of food I like to enjoy this time of year. The chicken gets seasoned with a simple spice rub and then quickly braised in vegetable medley until tender and succulent. It’s an easy, one-pot meal that will keep you warm and make your whole house smell good, and leftovers are great re-heated the next day.

Smothered Chicken:
  • Combine 2 tbsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper in a small bowl.
  • Season 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs with salt and then sprinkle with the spice mixture.*
  • Meanwhile, heat a dutch oven over high heat and coat the bottom of the pan with canola oil.
  • Add in the chicken, skin-side down, and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until brown and crisp. Turn the chicken and brown on the other side.**
  • Remove the chicken and set aside, then add in 2 thinly sliced onions, 1 thinly sliced green bell pepper, and 3 stalks of thinly sliced celery. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Lower the heat to medium and cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are soft and starting to brown.
  • Stir in 2 heaping tbsp. flour and cook for another minute or two, then add in 3 cloves minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add the chicken back to the pot, skin-side up, and pour in 2-3 c. water and 1 bunch minced scallions.***
  • Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover the pot.
  • Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is just cooked through, then remove the chicken and set aside.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil, add in several dashes of hot sauce, and let sauce reduce for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Spoon sauce over the chicken, garnish with a few more minced scallions, and serve.

Serves four-six
*You may not need all  the spice mixture on the chicken. If you have leftovers, add it in with the vegetables.
**You do not need to cook the chicken all the way through - just brown them. If your pot is small, you may need to do this is batches.
***You want to cover the chicken most of the way but still have the crispy skin peek out the top.

Pistachio-Crusted Scallops

Sweet scallops with a crunchy, nutty crust

I do the majority of the cooking in our house, with my fiance generally on grill or dish duty, but this weekend he requested to switch places. Scallops are one of my signature dishes, so he decided to put his own spin on it with this recipe from Bon Appetit. Large sea scallops get quickly seared until golden brown and then rolled in a mixture of mixed minced herbs and toasted pistachios. It was a great rendition of one of our favorite meals and it was such a joy to get to relax with a glass of wine while the meal was being prepared. Doing the dishes was a different story, though.

More Scallop Recipes:
- Scallops & Sauteed Sweet Corn
- Scallops with Fennel & Kumquat
- Seared Scallops & Baked Saffron Risotto

Herb & Pistachio Crusted Scallops:
  • Heat 1 scant tbsp. butter in a small skillet, then add 2 tbsp. shelled pistachios and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until deeply golden.
  • Let nuts cool, then mince and combine in a bowl with 1 tbsp. minced chives and 1 tbsp. minced parsley. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1-2 tbsp. canola oil in a large, heavy skillet or cast iron pan until very hot.
  • Add in 8 large scallops* and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden, then flip and caramelize on the other side.
  • Remove from the pan and immediately roll each scallops in the nut-herb mixture.
  • Divide onto plates and serve.

Serves two
*Remove the side muscle from the scallop before cooking.