Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cantonese Style Spare Ribs with Veggie Spring Rolls

My youngest daughter brought home a Chinese cook book from the school library, and kindly demanded the ribs. That was the jumping off point of this recipe. I simplified the preparation to accommodate my odd sleep schedule and paired it with spring rolls to help cool us off on this hot, sticky day.

The spring rolls are prepared in the fresh style--that is, no deep-fat frying. I left the filling undressed to facilitate dipping (love plum sauce!). To increase portability, combine the filling with the dressing before rolling.

I apologize for the quality of the photos. I didn't realize the batteries on my camera were on their last electron prior to chowing down, hence the weird focus.

Cantonese Style BBQ Spareribs

1 tbs ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c hoisin sauce
1/3 c plum sauce
1 tbs whole peppercorns
2 lb pork spareribs, cut apart
2 tbs honey

Combine ginger, garlic, sauces, and pepper in a large bowl; add ribs and toss to coat. Place ribs and sauce in crock pot and allow to cook on low for 6 hours.

Set oven to broil and place the rack on the highest level. Remove ribs from the sauce and place on a baking sheet. Brush the ribs with the honey and broil for about 3 minutes, or until the ribs have a glazed appearance. Flip ribs, brush with honey, and broil another 3 minutes. Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Veggie Spring Rolls

1 tbs sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
8oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
8 spring roll wrappers, soaked according to directions
1 c carrots, matchstick cut
1/4 red bell pepper, matchstick cut
2 stalks green onion, thinly sliced lengthwise and cut into 5" lengths
1 jalapeno, matchstick cut (optional)
1 c alfalfa sprouts

In a small skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and saute until just soft. Stir in mushrooms and cook until tender (about 4 minutes). Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Lay out a softened spring roll wrapper. At about one-third up from the edge closest to you, arrange a 5" layer of carrot using about 2 tablespoons of carrot per roll. Top with several slices of bell pepper, green onion, and jalapeno (if desired). Add 2 tablespoons of alfalfa sprouts. Bring the end of the wrapper closest to you over the fillings, and roll tightly until half the wrapper is aroung the filling. Bring in the left and right sides of the wrapper over the center, and then roll the rest of the way. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling ingredients.

Bias slice each roll in half and serve with plum dipping sauce. Makes 8 rolls.

1/4 c plum sauce
3 tbs rice vinegar
1/4 c water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbs sunflower seeds

Blend all iingredients until smooth. Refridgerate at least 30 minutes before use. Makes about 3/4 cups of dipping sauce.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Stuffed Eggplant Marinara

Eggplant season is here, and it is incredibly difficult for me to say no to this pretty purple member of the nightshade family. I started out wanting eggplant parmesan, but ended up with this thanks to my aversion to battering and frying (see the Fried Pickle Wontons for my favorite way around such things).

This dish uses crispy tofu to fill the texture void left by skipping the vat of frying oil; the protein boost doesn't hurt anything, either. If you don't want to be bothered with gutting the eggplant just to put its insides back inside, simply cube the eggplant before roasting, mix it all together in a 9x9 pan, and bake as instructed.

Stuffed Eggplant Marinara

2 eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 tbs light olive oil
salt to taste
1 15oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
3 springs fresh oregano, stem discarded
6 sprigs fresh thyme, stem discarded
1 18oz block extra firm tofu, pressed, drained, and cut into 1" cubes
3 tbs peanut oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8oz baby portabella mushrooms, stems discarded, caps quartered
1/2 c shredded asiago cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Brush cut side of eggplant with olive oil and season with salt. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

Combine tomatoes, roasted peppers, oregano, and thyme in a bowl, crushing the larger tomato pieces. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and set aside.

Heat peanut oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tofu several minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

In the same skillet that the tofu was prepared, saute onions over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and saute another minute. Stir in tomato paste, coating the onions. Add the crushed tomato combination and stir. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place mushrooms on a baking dish and bake for ten minutes. Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant, leaving a 1/4" shell. Chop the removed eggplant and combine in a large bowl with the mushrooms, tofu, and tomato sauce. Season with salt again, if necessary, then divide the tomato mixture evenly amoung the hollow eggplant halves. If desired, top with cheese. Bake in oven for 10 more minutes, or until heated through. Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Crab and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers with Citrus Tomato Rice

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was hungry. Her parents invited her over to eat, but only if she cooked it. And so she did.

That's an over-simplified version of the origins for this recipe, but it works. My dad bought the ingredients, and I packed up the offspring and the puppy and we made an evening of it (on a school night--gasp!). I combined cream cheese, crab meat, and mushrooms to stuff into anaheim pepper halves. The rice dish was added to make this a complete meal (mmmmm, carbs).

Crab and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers

1 tbs light olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
4 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz crab meat, chopped
1 c red onion, diced
1 tbs fresh oregano, minced
1/2 c bread crumbs
1 tsp lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper
dash hot sauce, if desired
6 large Anaheim peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 c shredded asiago cheese

Preheat oven to 375F.

Heat medium saute pan over medium heat. Add oil and saute garlic for one minute. Add mushrooms and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine mushrooms, cream cheese, crab, onion, oregano, bread crumbs, zest, juice, pepper, and hot sauce (if desired). Mix until very well combined and salt to taste.

Arrange anaheim peppers on a lightly greased baking sheet. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the crab filling on each pepper half and top with asiago cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until filling is heated through and tops are a golden brown. Allow to rest 5 minutes, then serve. Serves 4-6 people as an entree. For hors d'ouerves, cut each pepper into 2" portions.

Citrus Tomato Rice:

1 tbs light olive oil
1 med onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbs fresh oregano, minced
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp lemon zest
2 c prepared rice
1/4 tsp salt
1 large tomato, diced
juice of 1 lemon

Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Saute onion 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and saute one more minute. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in oregano, paprika, cayenne, and zest. Stirring constantly, cook an additional 2 minutes and remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, combine rice and the sauteed onion. Stir in tomato and salt, adjusting seasoning to taste. Finish by stirring in fresh lemon juice. Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shrimp Skewers and Wild Rice, Grilled Eggplant, Mushrooms, and Arugula

I've been on a shrimp kick, and with a random assortment of half-used items in my kitchen that I needed to either use or send to the gods of wastefulness, my fridge was looking a bit desperate. This is a case of coming up with a side dish that has nearly everything but my kitchen sink in it....it's tasty, though (probably in no small part due to the omission of the kitchen sink).

As for the shrimp, this is a simple preparation that offers a tiny bit of heat from the chili pepper. The bell pepper offers crunch while the tomatoes give a tiny bit of sweet acidity to the skewer. The basil leaf folded in the center of each shrimp offers just a slight hint of fresh herbiness to compliment the chili. Should you be so fortunate, these would work beautifully on the grill!

Shrimp Skewers with Wild Rice, Grilled Eggplant, Mushrooms, and Arugula

5 tbs light olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red chili, finely minced
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail on
1/2 large eggplant, cut into small cubes
8 oz mushrooms of choice, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used oyster and shiitake)
1/2 c dry white wine
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 c fresh baby arugula
12 leaves fresh basil
1/2 bell pepper, cut into 8 large chunks
8 cherry tomatos
2 c prepared wild rice mix
fresh tomato slices, if desired
lime wedges, if desired

In a ziplock bag, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, minced chili, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Set aside, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, toss eggplant with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt and broil on the top rack for 4 minutes. Flip the eggplant, and broil an additional 3 minutes, or until soft and just turning brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

Combine the mushrooms and wine in a bowl with 1/4 tsp salt and allow to rest, stirring occeasionally.

Heat remaining 2 tbs oil over medium heat. Saute the onion until just turning golden. Add the remaining garlic and saute another minute. Add eggplant, wine, and mushrooms; allow to cook--stirring frequently--until mushrooms are soft and most the liquid has evaporated. Reduce heat to low and stir in arugula.

For the shrimp skewers, have the basil ready to skewer with the shrimp. You will place the skewer through the base of the tail, come out on the other side of the shrimp, skewer the basil leaf, and then skewer the shrimp again at the head.

Set up the shrimp skewers in this order: Bell pepper, shrimp (with basil leaf), tomato, shrimp, tomato, shrimp, bell pepper. Brush the skewers with remaining marinade and broil 2 minutes on the first side; flip, brush with additional marinade, and broil one more minute. Remove from oven.

To serve, place half a cup of the rice on a plate. Add a tomato slice on the rice (if desired), then top with the mushroom saute. Place one shrimp skewer on the dish and finish with a squeeze of lime. Serves 4.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fiesta Lime Tilapia Tacos, Zesty Corn and Rice, and Kid-Friendly Coconut Mojitos

I don't typically go for spice blends (save the curry and masala blends I love so much!), but once in awhile one ends up in my possession. My sister dropped off a bunch of spices at my place. She travels for her job, and when her lease ended she didn't bother finding a new place since she lives out of hotels almost exclusively this time of year. This is how I came to know Mrs. Dash's Fiesta Lime seasoning blend.

I took the easy route and made tacos with the blend. I'm happy to say that they turned out quite flavorful with smoky lime tones. I've included a link to the ingredient list should you prefer to come up with your own blend.

I served the tacos with an old stand-by corn and rice dish that I use fairly often. It's a great use for leftover rice (this is where most of my Chinese take-out rice ends up). The beverage came about after I spent an evening watching baseball at a local hole-in-the-wall. The bartender and I were speculating what to do with the UV Coconut that had been sitting on the shelf untouched for several weeks. We decided that a coconut vodka mojito was the way to go. The next week I brought in some mint leaves and we tested the theory out. I worked, so I decided to make a non-alcoholic version that the spawn and I could both enjoy.

Sadly, my kids were less than thrilled with the "mojito" as it is presented here. For those that prefer a sweeter version, use half coconut water and half limeade.

Fiesta Lime Tilapia Tacos

1 tbs tamari
1 tbs fresh lime juice
12 oz tiliapia filets
2 tbs Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime seasoning (ingredients here)
1 tbs peanut oil
8 whole wheat tortillas, warmed
1/2 c salsa
avocado, sliced
1 stalk green onion, finely sliced
2 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges

Whisk together tamari and lime juice. Brush tilapia with the tamari blend, then season well with the Fiesta Lime seasoning. Heat peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the fish and cook about 3 minutes each side, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from heat and allow to rest a few minutes. Cut fish into bite size pieces.

Divide fish among the warmed tortillas and top as desired with salsa, avocado, green onion, and/or cilantro. Finish with a squeeze of lime and serve. Serves 4 (2 tacos per person).

Zesty Corn and Rice

1 tablespoon oil
2 tbs onion, finely diced
1 15oz can unsalted corn, drained
1 small can of roasted green chiles, finely diced
1 tsp lime zest
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
2 tbs red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon serrano chile, finely diced (optional)
2 c prepared rice
juice of half a lime
salt to taste
fresh cilantro (optional)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion until just turning translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add corn and let it heat for 5 minutes. Add chilis, zest, and seasonings and cook an additional 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper, serrano (if desired), prepared rice, and lime juice. Heat through and salt to taste. Serve with cilantro, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Coconut Mojito (non-alcoholic)

1/4 c mint leaves, tightly packed
juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbs)
1 tbs sugar
2 c coconut water
16 oz club soda
additional mint leaves and lime wedges for garnish

Muddle the mint leaves with the sugar and lime juice. Place in a pitcher and pour in the coconut water. Allow to steep in the refridgerator at least an hour.

When ready to serve, fill 4 glasses with ice and divide the minty liquid among the glasses. Top with soda water and garnish with mint leaves and lime wedge. Makes 4 16oz servings.

Chana Masala

Here's a simple Indian favorite of mine. Chana masala has a spicy dry flavor that goes great over rice or with flatbread (as you can see in my photo, I chose flatbread this time). While I can't attest to exactly how authentic the recipe is, I can definitely vouch for the flavor! I like it spicy, so I added about twice as much red pepper. To cool it off, I topped my serving off with a cucumber, onion, and tomato salad--simply dice equal amounts of each ingredient to make.

God bless the chickpea.

Chana Masala

2 tbs peanut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, grated
1 tbs guaram masala
1 tbs paprika
1 tsp tumeric
1 med tomato, diced
1 tbs tomato paste
1 15oz can chick peas, rinsed and drained
3 tbs coconut milk
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, optional (adjust to taste)
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup water (give or take a quarter cup)

Heat oil on medium high heat in a large wok. Saute onions until pale golden brown. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, ginger, guaram masala, paprika, tumeric, tomato, and paste. Stir and simmer about 2 minutes. Add chick peas, coconut milk, lime zest and juice, salt, pepper, and jalapeno. Simmer 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally; add red pepper to taste. Stir and simmer for 10-15 minutes more or until peas are softened, adding water as needed to prevent the stew from drying out. Serve over rice or with flat bread. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Surf'n'Turf Lettuce Wraps with Raw Cauliflower "Couscous"

Here's a very customizable meal that can cater to a variety of tastes and diets. Being the omnivores that the spawn and I are, we went for surf'n'turf. This works as a raw omnivore diet if you
leave out the steak, or vegan raw if you omit the "food with a face" altogether. If you omit the steak, then you don't even have to heat up the kitchen--great for a humid summer day!

Steak, Shrimp, and Cauli Couscous Lettuce Wraps

1 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs tamari
2 tbs lime juice
1 small red chili, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbs peanut oil
1 lb steak

1 clove garlic, minced
juice of 2 limes
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb raw shrimp
1 stalk green onion, finely chopped

1/2 zucchini, diced
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 stalks green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c red onion, diced
1 serrano pepper, finely diced (optional)
juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp salt

cauliflower couscous (recipe below)
1 avocado, diced
1 head green lettuce, leaves separated
1 tbs fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
lime wedges, if desired

Whisk together sugar, tamari, lime juice, chili, salt and pepper. Marinate steak in mixture 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.

Heat grill pan to medium-high. Add oil to pan, then grill steak to desired amount of doneness (about 3 minutes each side for medium-rare). Remove steak from heat and allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice into thin strips.

Combine garlic, citrus juices, and salt. Marinate shrimp and onion in the citrus juice 4 hours.

Combine all ingredients, adjusting salt to taste.

Lettuce Wraps:
Arrange ingredients as desired in the center of a lettuce leaf, topping with herbs and additional lime juice. Wrap lettuce leaf around filling and enjoy.

Raw Cauliflower "Couscous"

florets from 1 head of cauliflower
juice of 1 lime
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c red onion, diced
1/2 tbs fresh ginger, grated
2 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Pulse cauliflower in the food processor until pieces are the size of couscous. Add remaining ingredients and refrigerate 1-4 hours before serving. Makes 3-4 cups of couscous, depending on the size of the head of cauliflower.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Seared Swordfish with Vegetables and Wasabi Dressing

Can you guess what my grocer had on sale this week? I'll give you three guesses....

Sashimi grade swordfish! So happy!

Here's what I came up with for dinner tonight. Swordfish is a very finicky protein, and the only way I can properly cook it is very little (or not at all). For this dish, you need high-quality swordfish so you can enjoy the raw portions of the steak. This meal is super-quick and super-simple....Enjoy!

Seared Swordfish with Vegetables and Wasabi Dressing

2 tbs peanut oil
1 lb sashimi grade swordfish steak, trimmed and bloodline removed
8 oz fresh shitake mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
2 small red chilis, very finely chopped
1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed
4 stalks green onion, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 tsp wasabi paste
juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 tbs tamari
1 tbs cilantro leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in grill pan over medium-high heat. Season the swordfish steaks with salt and pepper, then sear the swordfish for about a minute and a half each side. Remove from pan and plunge into the ice water bath to stop the cooking process. After a couple of minutes in the ice water, remove the steaks, pat dry, and place in the refrigerator.

Reduce pan heat to medium heat and add remaining oil. Sauté mushrooms with the chili pepper until mushrooms are soft, about 3 minutes. Season the mushrooms with a little salt and pepper; add asparagus and green onion to the pan and sauté until asparagus is bright green, another 3-4 minutes. Remove vegetables to a serving dish. Season tomato wedges and grill about 2 minutes per side, then remove to serving dish.

Remove the swordfish from the fridge and thinly slice. Arrange on top of grilled vegetables.

Whisk together the wasabi, lime juice, and tamari. Drizzle the dressing over the fish and vegetables, and garnish with cilantro. Makes 4 servings.