Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thai Red Coconut Curry with Chicken

When I used to live and cook on Cape Cod, I experienced my first taste of a coconut curry. The chef I worked for then, Chach, made this amazing coconut curry sauce that I would eat every night. I would plop a mound of mashed potatoes and then pour over the curry sauce and top it all off with freshly shucked lobster meat. This was my post dinner rush Scooby snack. I have visited many Thai restaurants here in Columbus, but none have ever matched the flavor of her sauce. This is the closest that I have come matching her amazing curry. The great thing about this recipe is that all the ingredients should be available at your local megamart and its a quick cook.

Thai red coconut curry with chicken 
Serves 4
2t. canola oil
2t. Thai red curry paste (You can find this in the international isle)
1 serano chile seeded and diced (this may be omitted or substitute a jalapeno if you don't like it spicy)
1 14oz can light coconut milk
2T fish sauce
1T light brown sugar
1 pound b.s. chicken (boneless and skinless)
1/2c chicken stock
1t. corn starch
2 red bell peppers julienned aka cut into matchsticks
8oz sugar snap peas ends trimmed and cut in half on a bias
1 medium yellow onion halved and sliced
1/2c fresh chopped fresh basil
Juice of 1 fresh lime.
Brown rice ( follow the directions on the box for 4 servings

1. In a 6qt Dutch oven, heat 1t canola oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the curry paste and chile and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar. Stir until incorporated and the sugar dissolves.

2.  Add the chicken and cover. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 12 minutes turning the chicken breasts after 6 minutes. Once cooked remove the chicken to a plate and shred once cool enough to handle.

3. Whisk the cornstarch and the broth together to make a slurry. Add to the sauce and stir to combine. Add the bell peppers, snap peas and onions to the sauce. Cook for 8 minutes until the veggies are cooked but still crisp.

4. Add the shredded chicken and any juices back to the pot and cook until heated through. Turn off the heat an add the basil and lime juice.

Serving size is 3/4c brown rice and 1 1/2c of the curry

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Seared Salmon with Farfalle and Pistacio-Spring Pea Pesto

The Prosecutor and I went to a living historical farm (no gas or electricity) over the weekend and were inspired by the Spring awakenings that were going on. We saw the Spring lambs that were just born a few days earlier. They were so cute looking and all I could think of is how delicious they will taste in a few weeks on the Easter dinner table. I know a little sick but that is what they are raised. We are having an exceptionally cold Spring this year in Ohio so the Spring produce is still a couple of weeks out. Thinking of Printemps, we wanted something green for our Sunday dinner. 

Seared Salmon with Farfalle and Pistacio-Spring Pea Pesto
Serves 4

Two 8oz. "center cut" salmon filets cut down the center of the filet to yield you four 4oz. squares of salmon 

2c frozen peas
1c. chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2c. roasted salted pistachio nut meats
1/3 Parmesan cheese grated (there are few ingredients in this pesto so buy the good stuff)
3 cloves garlic pealed
2T. water
1/2c. extra virgin olive oil
1t. kosher salt
1/2t. freshly grated pepper
1 box of whole grain farfalle (bow ties) cooked according to the instructions on the back

1. Nuke 1c. of the peas in a heatproof bowl covered for 2 minutes.

2. Add cooked peas, parsley, pistachios, cheese, garlic and water to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse the mixture until an even paste is formed. Turn on the processor and pour in oil in a small stream. Add salt and pepper and mix to combine.

3. When draining the pasta, reserve 1c. of the pasta water. Return pasta to the pan. Mix in pesto and remaining peas. Add enough of the pasta water to thin out the pesto to sauce consistency.

4. Season the salmon with kosher salt 5 minutes before you plan on cooking it. This allow the souluable protiens rise to the surface and these are going to brown and give the fish a delicious crust. Take a 12in. skillet and heat it over medium high heat with 1T. olive until the oil is shimmering, about 3 minutes. Place the fish in the pan with the flesh side down. Let the fish cook for 4 minutes on this side. Resist the temptation to move the fish or shake the pan. As the fish cooks, it will naturally release itself from the pan. After 4 minutes, gently turn the fish over and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from the pan.

4. Top with salmon and enjoy

Serving size
One 4oz. pice of salmon and 1 1/2c. of the pasta

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My first reader question... and Answer. Thanks Rich!

Linc, do you have any good recipes for baked salmon? And particularly how to prepare it so that it does not smell fishy?

I rarely bake fish. I find that the best way to cook fish is to sear it in a hot skillet.

It is best to seek out good quality salmon from a reputable fish monger. Ask for "center cut". Season the salmon with kosher salt 5 minutes before you plan on cooking it.This allow the souluable protiens rise to the surface and these are going to brown and give the fish a delicious crust. Take a 12in. skillet and heat it over medium high heat with 1T. olive until the oil is shimmering, about 3 minutes. Placethe fish in the pan with the flesh side down. Let the fish cook for 6 minutes on this side. Resist the temptation to move the fish or shake the pan. As the fish cooks, it will naturally release itself from the pan. After 6 minutes, gently turn the fish over and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the pan.

Now it's time to make a pan sauce to pour over the fish. Add 1 diced shallot to the pan. You can find these in the produce section at your megamart. Ask an employee if you can't find them. They are there. Trust me. Cook the shallots for 2 minutes. Add a half a cup white wine (Use a Sauvingnon Blanc, but don't spend more than $15 on it) off of the heat. Return to the heat and cook the wine down for 3 minutes. Drink the rest of the wine with dinner. Add 1T. chopped fresh thyme (dill works great as well) and the juice of half a lemon. Season with a 1/2t. salt and a few grinds from your pepper mill. Pour over the fish and enjoy!

I hope this helps.

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya with Brown Rice

This recipe has been a work in progress. The issue with making a good brown rice jambalaya is the rice. You need to use the right kind of brown rice. Take the effort and seek out the Uncle brand. You are looking for instant brown rice NOT fully cooked. I have found out, through trial and error, that there is a huge difference in the quality of brown rice on your megamart shelves. Instant brown rice is a pantry staple in my kitchen as it cooks up in less than ten minutes. It packs so much more fiber and overall nutrition than its white counterpart. One of the best features of this recipe, is it all cooks together in one pot. There is nothing worse than a weeknight recipe that has you getting out all your pots in your cabinet and then having to clean them. Listen up RR!

Brown Rice Jambalaya
Serves 4

2T Extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper diced
1 green pepper diced
1 onion diced
3 cloves of garlic run through a garlic press
1/2t. dried thyme
1t. dried oregano
1t. paprika
2 bay leaves
1T tomato paste
14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
2 1/2c low sodium chicken stock
1c instant brown rice. The brand with the bald relative on the box
1package lean smoked turkey sausage cut into 1 inch half moons.
2 10oz packages frozen peeled, deveined, and tail off shrimp (19-25 count per pound)
1t. Kosher salt
1/2t. Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat olive in in an 8qt. Dutch oven over medium high heat. Cook the sausage for 5 minutes or until it browns. Sauté peppers and onions for 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one more minute.

2. Add spices and tomato paste and cook for 4 minutes. You want to cook the tomato paste in this step as it will help deepen the overall flavor of the dish. Adding dried herbs and cooking them will help release their essential oils aka more flavor!

3. Add canned tomatoes, stock and rice. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take off the lid and test the rice for doneness. If it is not done, continue to cook and check at 2 minute intervals.

4. Add shrimp and turn off the heat. Place the lid back on and let the shrimp cook in the residual heat of the pot for 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

A serving size is a whopping 2 cups.

Chicken Med(iterranean) with Whole Wheat Couscous

This is a great quick cooking and flavor packed meal. This dish comes together in no time and fills you up with tons of flavor an nutrition. The Prosecutor's favorite cuisine is greek so this is a stand by in our kitchen. This dish uses one my favorite no fat ingredients, fat free Feta. This little block of yumminess adds tons of flavor to a simple salad, on eggs in the morning, or a great snack with whole wheat crackers.

Chicken Med with Whole Wheat Couscous
Serves 4

4t. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1lb. BS chicken cut up into one inch pieces (Boneless and skinless)
1t. salt
1/2t. freshly ground pepper
2 garlic gloves minced or run through a garlic press
1 bunch Swiss chard tough ribs cut out
1 head broccoli cut into small florets
1T. Sherry vinegar
1 14.5oz can Artichoke hearts (I get mine at Trader Joe, they are much cheaper and of a higher quality)
1/2c Kalamata olives
1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
8oz fat free feta cut in 1/2 in. cubes
4 servings of whole wheat couscous made according to the instructions on the back. I nuke mine.

1. In a 12in. non-stick skillet, heat 2t. extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Sear chicken on one side for 4 minutes. You want the chicken to brown on the first side. Turn and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate.

2. Heat remaining oil until shimmering. Sauté garlic and cook for 1 minute. DO NOT BURN! Add Swiss chard and broccoli. Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes and cook for 4 more minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down. Add vinegar and cook for 2 more minutes.

4. Add artichoke hearts, olives, and chicken and cook until heated through. Add feta and stir to combine.

5. Serve over whole wheat couscous.

One serving is 1/2c of couscous with 1c of chicken sauté.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pasta Niçoise

One of my favorite things about cooking at home is finding those dishes that are "keepers". These are the dishes that you know will become stand-bys in your quick cooking repertoire. The Prosecutor made this the other night and it is definitely a "keeper." This dish has most of the ingredients of the traditional salad that originated in the town of Nice in the south of France. The dish is tossed in a very simple lemon vinaigrette that is good on almost anything. This dish has very little prep work involved, unless opening a can is an arduous task.

Pasta Niçoise
Serves 6

1lb whole grain or whole wheat fuscilli pasta (I prefer Barilla Plus, the yellow box)
1lb small red potatoes
12oz fresh green beans (If you can find haricot vert, even better)
1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 14.5oz can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 cans of olive oil packed tuna (This is the star of the dish. Look in the imported Italian goods aisle of your mega mart. I like Cento or Genova.)
12oz jar of kalamata olives drained and cut in half
3c fresh spinach chopped

1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box, drain, and place back in the pot that you cooked it in.

2. While the pasta is cooking, place potatoes into a microwave proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for approximately 8-12 minutes or until fork tender. (Do not over cook the potatoes) When potatoes are fork tender, cut in half. Be careful! These little boogers are very hot when they get nuked.

3. Place beans in a microwave proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Nuke for 1 1/2 minutes. It's better if they are a little undercooked than over cooked.

4. Mix everything together in the pot that you cooked the pasta in and toss with the lemon vinaigrette (recipe is below).

Lemon Vinaigrette
The juice and zest of one lemon. (buy a microplane, they are cheap and great multi-taskers)
1/2c good olive oil
2T Champagne vinegar
2t apriva (Splenda is the brand name. Add more if you like it a little sweeter.)
1/2t salt
1/4t pepper

1. Whisk lemon juice, zest and vinegar together in a small bowl.

2. Slowly add the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

If you want to jazz up the vinaigrette or use it as a marinade for beef or chicken, add 1T of your favorite fresh herb or store bought pesto. I love fresh thyme!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pork Stir Fried Rice Makeover

After a good work out at the gym, the Prosecutor and I were craving some Asian food tonight. One of my favorite dishes growing up was stir fried rice. There is something about the combination of the salty soy sauce, scrambled eggs and the pop of the peas (I can hear my sister-in-law gaging as I type this) that totally enamored me when eating it. When getting this from a take out joint, the amount of sodium and calories are through the roof. So, here is my recipe for a healthier pork fried rice.

Pork Fried Rice
Serves 4
2T canola oil
1lb center cut pork loin

1 onion diced (I buy the fish net bags of onions and keep them in the cupboard)
8oz mushrooms sliced
2 carrots diced
1T grated fresh ginger ( I use a Microplane and it shreds through the ginger)
3 cloves garlic run through a garlic press
1/4c frozen corn
3/4c frozen peas
1 red bell pepper, diced
4c cooked brown rice ( I use Uncle Ben's and nuke it according to the package directions)
2 eggs beaten
3T low sodium soy sauce

1. In a 12 inch skillet heat 1T of canola oil until shimmering. Season pork loin chops with kosher salt and pepper. Sear pork in hot pan on the first side for 5 minutes. Turn and cook on the second side for 2 minutes. You are not trying to cook the pork all the way. Remove and set on a plate to rest. Once the pork has rested for 5 minutes, cut into small cubes about 1/2 inch.

2. Sauté the onion, mushrooms, and carrots for 8 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes. Add corn, peas, red pepper, pork and rice and cook for 5 minutes. Be careful here and make sure the rice doesn't stick to the bottom and burn.

3. Make a well in the center of the skillet by pushing the rice mixture to sides of the pan. Add 1T canola oil and heat for 1 minute. Add the eggs and scramble them in the middle of the pan. Before they are fully cooked, mix into the rice mixture. Drizzle in the soy sauce and stir to combine.

4. Scoop into Chinese take out containers and enjoy with chopsticks. A serving is about 1 1/2 cups. (optional, but who doesn't love eating out of those fun little boxes of love?)