Archive for the ‘Ethnic’ Category

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The Infinity of Rick Bayless’ Divinity

August 24, 2012

You know, it’s getting to the point where if Rick Bayless gave me a recipe for stewed monkey brains with rabbit feces, toilet paper and chalk, I’d probably make it…and it would be delicious. I’m not sure how we hadn’t made today’s recipe thus far, but it’s fantastic. It’s almost like a chunky chicken and potato salad hybrid, infused with oregano, vinegar, spicy chipotles, crunchy Romaine, and sweet and creamy avocado. Rick’s original recipe calls for the chipotles to be seeded, but we kept the seeds and added a little honey to offset the spiciness a bit. We used a rotisserie chicken, but any leftover chicken you have would be fine. It’s a one-dish meal, perfect for warm summer days. Enjoy!

Chipotle Chicken Salad Tacos with Avocado, Red-Skin Potatoes and Romaine

(serves 4)

1 large red-skin potato or Yukon Gold, sliced about ¼ inch thick
1 tbsp. salt
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, chopped

1 tsp. honey
¼ small white onion, finely chopped
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) coarsely shredded cooked chicken breast
2 cups sliced romaine leaves – slice them about ¼ inch across
1 ripe avocado, cut into ¼ inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 warm corn tortillas

Place the sliced potatoes into a large microwavable bowl, pour in ¼ cup of water and sprinkle generously with salt. Cover and microwave on high for about 4 minutes. Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and let cool, reserving cooking liquid. Add the vinegar, oregano, chipotles, honey, and onion to the bowl with the potato water to make the dressing. Mix and then add salt. Use a fork to break up the potatoes into ½ inch pieces, then place them in a large bowl. Add the chicken and the dressing, and toss to combine. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Just before serving, add the lettuce and avocado, and drizzle with olive oil and toss gently to combine. Serve with warm tortillas. Eat!

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A Tale of Two Tunas

August 23, 2012

Until about a week ago, the only tuna ever prepared at the MHK was the kind that comes in a can with some misnomer about a chicken named Charlie Tuna or something like that (actually only Mrs. MHK has made that). But we love tuna in restaurants, especially raw as in sushi or a tartare. So recently we came across a couple of tuna recipes that sounded great, so we gave them a shot. We were disappointed with both, but I don’t think it had to do with the recipes themselves – it had to do with the quality of the tuna. It seems restaurants get a much better tuna than our local supermarket does. You can tell just by the smell – ours smelled a little fishy, and that comes from not being super fresh. Plus it wasn’t nearly as tender as you find in restaurants. The dishes otherwise tasted good.

The first was a seared tuna with Bajan seasoning – Bajan, apparently, refers to the type of cuisine found in Barbados…who knew? But as you can see from the recipe, the flavors were really nice – garlic, jalapeno, shallots, and fresh herbs made for a nicely balanced marinade. Had the tuna been of better quality, it would have been a knockout dish.

The other recipe we tried was from the awesome Sriracha Cookbook for Turned-Up Tuna Tartare. With heat from the Sriracha and wasabi powder balanced with citrus from grapefruit, plus shallots and green onions, the marinade was delicious. But again, the raw tuna cubes just didn’t do it for me…slicing them thinly may have helped a bit, but I really think it’s the freshness and sub-sushi grade of the tuna that is very discouraging. But that’s why we do what we do – always trying new things, and we always will. And you’ll have to hear about it. Enjoy.

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Seoul Food

August 21, 2012

I don’t know if there is such a thing as Korean soul food, but if so, I think this would qualify. It’s so absolutely delicious, bursting with the aromatic flavors of garlic and ginger, sweetness from brown sugar, salty soy sauce, and fiery pepper paste and pepper flakes. The original recipe, from www.maangchi.com, calls for pork belly. We didn’t feel like going to the Asian market, so we used boneless pork chops and they worked just fine (though we did slightly overcook them). But you could certainly use chicken, thinly sliced beef, or tofu and it would still be terrific (you’ll just need to adjust the cooking time depending on the protein you use).

The pepper paste gochujang is what really gives the dish a great texture – you can find it in your Asian market in varying degrees of spiciness (get at least the medium one – it’s not that spicy).

We served this with a fantastic new product we found at Trader Joe’s – frozen kimchi fried rice. Despite being microwaved in a plastic bag, I was fluffy, moist, and flavorful. There weren’t many pieces of kimchi in it, but it was a little spicy and very tasty. Good for the Seoul. Enjoy!

(Insert unpronounceable Korean name) Spicy Korean Stir-fried Pork

(serves 4)

1½ pounds boneless pork chops, cut into bite size pieces about ¼ inch thick

1 medium onion, sliced

3 scallions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp. minced ginger

1/3 cup gochujang

2 tbsp. hot pepper flakes

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. soy sauce

½ tsp. black ground pepper

2 tsp. of sesame oil

1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Heat a wok or deep skillet over high heat. Place all ingredients except the sesame seeds into the pan. Mix and stir with a wooden spoon, until the pork is cooked thoroughly, about 7-8 minutes. Transfer it to a serving plate, sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and serve with rice and kimchi. Eat!

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Refried, Reborn

August 17, 2012

It just goes to show – no matter your age, you’re never too old to start liking a new food. For the last, well – 40-ish years or so – I had never made a particular item in our kitchen. And with our love of Mexican food, it seems unlikely that this item, very common in Mexican cooking, has never made it to our table. But the fact is that for the last, well – 40-ish years or so – I have had a disdain for this comestible. We’re not sure what caused a change of heart, but this week I purchased, cooked, and ate…beans. Many of you just became completely indifferent to this post, but for those of you who have known me for a while, you know that eating beans here is a big deal.

Now before anyone gets too celebratory, I must concede that it was refried beans that I made – but again, for someone who has never ever, ever prepared or even liked beans, this was a culinary event. So what was the motivation after all these years to finally consume some legumes? Back in December we visited a place called Gloria’s Café in Los Angeles, a Salvadoran restaurant with terrific food. At said eatery we were served refried beans, and they were terrific. For some reason that experience came to the forefront of my foodie brain this week and I bought a can of Goya’s Rancheros Refried Pinto Beans to make some bean, rice, and cheese burritos. The “Ranchero” refers to the beans being cooked with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and spices, and even on their own, they were quite tasty. Wrapped in a flour tortilla with rice and cheese, they were even better.

The main reason for my not liking beans is their texture – I just don’t enjoy those semi-firm, slippery little buggers. But frijoles refritos are very mushy, so that helps explain why I can tolerate – nay, like – that varietal of bean. And it only took me, well, 40-ish years to figure it out.

Oh, you want the recipe for the burrito? Sure – ok, it’s pretty complex. Take a large flour tortilla. Cook some rice. Heat the beans until hot. Spread the beans on the tortilla. Scoop some rice on the tortilla. Crumble cheese on the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla. Eat. Enjoy!

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Chicken: Inspired

August 13, 2012

“Chicken is so boring!” That mantra is something not only uttered by certain 5-year-olds who reside at the MHK, but also by plenty of adults out there. We feel sorry for anyone who feels that way – yes, a plain cooked piece of unseasoned, skinless chicken is boring, agreed. But honestly, if that’s the kind of chicken you’re eating, you have no right to hyperbolize chicken and its excitement factor. We submit that even the pickiest chicken eaters out there will go nuts – peanuts – for this recipe. This dish, presented by the Hannaford Supermarket magazine, is made with common Thai ingredients like coconut milk, curry powder, ginger, fish sauce, and peanuts, but it’s not really something you’d see on a Thai restaurant menu. Regardless, it’s frickin’ delicious. The sweetness of the coconut milk and peanut butter is balanced by the kick of the garlic and ginger, the salty fish sauce, and the aromatic curry powder, and the turmeric adds some earthiness and bright color. We served this with a salad made with a cilantro-basil dressing. Add some rice for a complete and healthy meal that tastes fantastic. Enjoy!

Thai-Inspired Chicken Thighs

(serves 4)

1 tablespoon light coconut milk

1 tablespoon peanut butter

2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce

1 ½ to 2 lb. boneless chicken thighs

1 tbsp. chopped roasted peanuts

Preheat grill to medium high. In a large bowl, whisk together coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, turmeric, curry, sugar, and fish sauce until evenly blended. Pat the mixture all over the chicken thighs. Let marinate at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Brush hot grill with vegetable oil. Place thighs on the grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until well marked. Turn and continue to grill until done, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Divide on to plates, sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Eat!

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Som Tum is Yum

August 7, 2012

We’ve espoused enough about our love for Thai food on this blog, so I’ll save the back story and get straight into the food. Som tum, the fantastically fresh and spicy papaya salad from Northern Thailand, is something we’ve wanted to make for a while but for some reason never got around to it…until now. We based this recipe on one from www.thaitable.com; as far as the flavors go, it was a complete success. As far as the texture goes, it was not up to our standards. The problem was with the papaya – it’s a very juicy, moist fruit, and if you don’t get that moisture out of there, it turns very soggy; sweet and delicious, but soggy. That was the failing of the dish – somehow we will extract the moisture better next time. But the sweet tomatoes, the crunchy bean sprouts, the hot and spicy chili peppers, the salty fish sauce (which can be substituted with soy sauce to go vegetarian), the tangy lime juice, and the cilantro and peanuts create a vibrant ménage of flavors that is very refreshing. You can certainly remove the seeds and veins from the peppers if you don’t like it spicy, but it’s the spiciness that really brings the dish together (otherwise it’s a lot of just sweet and salty). We even used spicy peanuts, but we are kind of insane about spicy food. We used Fresno chili peppers – if you can find Thai chilis that would be ideal, but serranos would work just as well (get an extra one or two though since they are small). We served this with a quick and delicious Thai omelet (traditional Thai street food made with fish sauce and black pepper in the eggs, with cilantro and Sriracha on top – really tasty!). It was like Bangkok in our kitchen; almost as humid too, but with no underage prostitutes…that we know of. Enjoy!

Som Tum (Thai Papaya Salad)

(serves 2)

2 tomatoes, diced

1 cup bean sprouts

2 red chili peppers, stemmed and chopped

1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

2 scallions, coarsely chopped

2 cups shredded green papaya

1 lime

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

Combine the garlic, tomatoes, chili peppers, and bean sprouts in a large bowl; add fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Add the papaya and mix well. Add the scallions and 1 tbsp. of the peanuts; stir to combine. Top the salad with the remaining peanuts and the cilantro. Eat!

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Asian Pork Burgers. Yum.

July 19, 2012

Yes, I know the last two posts have similar titles. It was intentional. Not that funny, but intentional. Moving on.

Ground pork is a terrific alternative to beef when you’re in the mood for a burger. They are pretty lean, though not as much as ground turkey, so the meat doesn’t need as much help as turkey to keep it seasoned and flavorful, but it does need some attention. Going for an Asian flare, we kept it simple but tasty by mixing the meat with scallions, grated ginger (yummy), garlic, salt and pepper, and sesame oil, which kept the burgers nice and moist. The savory burger topped with smoky grilled onions and capped by a Sriracha mayo created an intense and aromatic flavor combination that was fantastic. We used boring hamburger buns – the dish would be even better with a nice onion roll or Kaiser roll. We served this with a cucumber salad for a complete and healthy meal. Enjoy!

Asian Pork Burgers

(serves 4)

1 1/2 pounds ground pork
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

8 thick onion slices

4 buns, lightly toasted

2 tbsp. mayo

1/2 tbsp. Sriracha or other spicy Asian chili sauce

Heat a grill on medium. In a large bowl, mix the pork with the scallions, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Form the meat into four 3/4-inch thick patties. Lightly oil the onion slices. Grill the burgers and onions, turning once, until cooked through, about 8 minutes (the onions may take less time). Spread 1/2 tbsp. of the chili mayo on the top half of each bun. Place the burger on the bottom half, top with onions, close with top bun. Eat!

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Mexican Pork. Yum.

July 12, 2012

There just isn’t anything better than real, quality Mexican food. I know coming from the MHK that isn’t big news, but it just needed to be said. Again. Today’s recipe comes from Aaron Sanchez’ book Simple Food, Big Flavor, a great tome for Mexican recipes. His adobo rub seems complicated at first, but it’s actually a breeze and this dish can be made in less than 45 minutes. We didn’t have ancho chiles, but we used ancho chile powder and it turned out fine. The aromatic spices, the deep chile flavor, and the lean pork combine for a beautiful taste experience. We served this with grilled vegetables and mini cheese quesadillas for a well-rounded, healthy Mexican meal. Enjoy!

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Aaron’s Adobo

(serves 4)

¼ cup cumin seeds

¼ cup coriander seeds

¼ cup fennel seeds

¼ cup mustard seeds

2 pasilla chiles (dried poblanos), stemmed, seeded, torn into small pieces

2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into small pieces

½ cup dried oregano

2 tbsp. onion powder

2 tbsp. garlic powder

¼ cup paprika

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 ½ lb. pork tenderloin

Heat a skillet over med-low heat. Toast the cumin, fennel, coriander, mustard, and chile pieces until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl to cool, then grind in a spice or coffee grinder. Pour powder into a bowl, add the oregano, onion and garlic powder, and paprika. Stir to combine. Heat grill on medium-high. Rub olive oil over pork, then coat on all sides with ¼ cup of the spice rub. Grill pork on both sides until done – 145 degrees in the center. Let pork rest for five minutes, then slice and serve. Eat!

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Easier Make Your Own Pizza

July 11, 2012

A few months ago I stumbled upon a product that has become very useful at the MHK. They are pre-baked flatbreads from Stonefire – you top them with whatever you want, bake at 400 for 15 minutes, and you can make amazing flatbread pizzas that could honestly be sold in a restaurant. What you top them is obviously important – here are three combinations we’ve tried that have been fantastic.

1. Italiano – fontina cheese, prosciutto, arugula, olive oil

Shred the cheese and cover the flatbread with it. Top with a couple handfuls of arugula. Cut the prosciutto into strips and add to the pizza. Bake 15 minutes. Drizze olive oil over the pizza. Slice, serve and eat!

2. Thai Peanut Chicken – peanut sauce, shredded mozzarella, carrots, bean sprouts, pre-cooked chicken, peanuts, Hoisin sauce, cilantro

Divide the peanut sauce – coat the pre-cooked, diced chicken breast in the sauce. Spread rest of peanut sauce over the flatbread. Top with mozzarella (a thin coating). Top with shredded carrots, chicken, and bean sprouts. Top with chopped peanuts. Bake for 15 minutes. Drizzle Hoisin sauce over pizza, sprinkle cilantro on top. Slice, serve and eat!

3. Mexicano (ish) – mozzarella, chorizo chicken sausage, corn, poblano chile, cilantro, crema

Cover the flatbread with mozzarella. Brown the sausage in a pan, then slice into 1/4-inch rounds, then place on pizza. Sprinkle corn and diced poblano over the pizza. Bake for 15 minutes. Add some water to sour cream to make it thin, then drizzle over pizza, sprinkle with cilantro. Slice, serve, and eat!

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Korean BBQ For You

July 5, 2012

Ah, the 4th of July – time for baseball, fireworks, and barbecue. How do they celebrate in Seoul, you may ask? Well they don’t – it’s an American holiday, what a silly question. However, barbecuing is not an American original, no sir. Asian countries have been doing their version of barbecue/grilling for centuries, and a couple of months ago, I got an in-depth look at Korean barbecue during a class at A Different Drummer’s Kitchen in Albany, led by locally famous chef Jaime Ortiz.

Chef Ortiz is the Corporate Chef for the Mazzone Management Company, which owns some the most acclaimed restaurants in NY’s Capital Region. To be able to have an intimate cooking demonstration and conversation with him was a foodie’s dream come true. He first addressed the issue that was on most of our minds – since none of his restaurants feature Korean food, why was he teaching the class? It turns out he has had extensive training in many cultures’ food, including that of Korea; and that was enough explanation for us.

He made 5 main dishes and two side dishes that evening, explaining the history and use of the individual ingredients and their significance in Korean cuisine. He had many dishes prepared in advance, but made one of each of the dishes from scratch so we could see the process. He knocked our culinary socks off right off the bat with his Korean pork belly sliders. Yeah, pork belly sliders. Not a bad start, eh? Pork belly strips were marinated in very typical Korean ingredients – soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, mirin (rice wine), onions, and gochujang, a medium-spicy chili paste (we sampled some on its own – the next day I went to an Asian market and bought some. It was so tasty!). The pork belly strips were then grilled until tender, put on to soft slider buns, and topped with a scallion salsa made with soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, sesame seeds, mirin, and gochugaru, the chili powder found in the gochujang. Needless to say, it was delicious. The pork belly was sweet with a little heat, the marinade created a nice glaze on the meat, and the scallion salsa added some tangy freshness to the dish.

Since pork belly was on our palettes, Chef Ortiz honored us with another pork belly dish – samgyeopsal gui. This is a very simple dish – you grill the pork belly until done (no marinade or seasoning), then slice it and wrap it in lettuce with chopped vegetables, rice, chili sauce, and kimchee (more on that later). As was explained to us, Koreans typically eat this in one bite – one mouthful of pork belly, lettuce, veggies, and accompaniments. Again, it was very tasty – the tender pork absorbed all the flavors of the kim chee and the chili sauce, with the veggies adding great texture and freshness.

Up next was galbi, which are basically barbecued short ribs. Oh yeah, this class was not for vegetarians, if you hadn’t guessed. The short ribs were cut into ½-inch thick slabs across the bone and marinated in soy sauce, water, vinegar, brown and white sugar, pepper, sesame oil, garlic, and onions. Then they were simply grilled until done, about medium-well. They were fall-off-the-bone tender, and bursting with flavor. But we weren’t done yet.

Beef bulgogi was next, which was the one meat dish I was familiar with (as posted here). Chef Ortiz’ recipe was slightly different from the one we used, but all in all in came out just about the same. I’ll spare you the details here because it’s pretty much the same as in that post.

The heart and soul of Korean food is kimchee. It dates back hundreds of years and no Korean meal is complete without it, even breakfast. There are several variations, but the main thrust of the dish is cabbage that is jarred along with water, salt, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, chili paste or powder, scallions, and sugar or honey. Sometimes daikon radish is used along with or in place of the cabbage; bok choy is another vegetable that can be used. The jar is then traditionally placed in a hole in the ground for several days – of course modern times allow for just storing the jar in a cool, dry place. The idea is to let the ingredients ferment – when it starts to bubble, it’s time to refrigerate it until chilled. The result is a spicy pickled cabbage dish that I believe to be one of the world’s perfect foods, when it’s made correctly. It can be an acquired taste – it’s not like a jar of spicy pickles from the deli. The fermentation gives it a unique taste that is terrific eaten on its own, or as a condiment for the dishes I’ve described above. Chef Ortiz demonstrated the whole process to us and then presented some kimchee he had made a few days prior, and it was delicious…and healthy!

Finally we were shown a side dish and a condiment. Pajori is a green onion salad made from scallions tossed with soy sauce, hot pepper flakes, sugar, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. I had never seen a dish that featured scallions so prominently, and it was great. The scallions had a good crunch to them but were softened by the dressing, which was full of flavor. The condiment, which went with everything else from the class, was called samjang, a soybean paste dipping sauce. Gochujang was mixed with soybean paste, scallions, garlic, and sesame seeds, creating a sweet and spicy topping for anything. I couldn’t get enough of it – I think the staff was getting annoyed at me asking for more all class long.

After the class I spent a little time talking with Chef Ortiz about Korean food, food around the region, his restaurants, etc. He was a very down-to-earth, nice guy, and capped off a fun and tasty evening.

So if you’ve been reluctant to try Korean food, maybe because you just haven’t been exposed to it and don’t know what it’s all about, I hope you found this post informative and hopefully appetite-stimulating. Enjoy.

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