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
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!
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.
So at my day job, a colleague brought cupcakes in for a birthday celebration. They were so good, I begged her for the recipe so I could share it with all of you. Yes, they were that good. They were a perfect reconstruction of a hearty breakfast – buttermilk pancakes, bacon, and maple syrup. They didn’t taste like dessert – they literally tasted like a plate of pancakes and bacon with maple syrup. Uncanny. The pancake cupcake was a stroke of genius; the frosting was surprisingly light and delicate, not dense and overpowering. And the sweet and smoky bacon on top was the icing on the…well, you know what I mean. I really expected it to be too sweet with all of those sugary components, but it was just right. Thank you Deb! Enjoy.
Pancake Cupcakes with Maple Frosting and Candied Bacon
2 cups Bisquick (original, baking mix)
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup butter, melted
4 tbsp sugar
Preheat your oven 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients until blended. Fill lined muffin or cupcake tins. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until your tester comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
Maple-Butter Frosting Recipe
1 cup softened, unsalted butter 3 oz. cream cheese, softened 2/3 cup brown sugar ¼ tsp. salt ¾ tsp. maple extract/flavoring
¾ tsp. vanilla extract 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Beat the softened butter, cream cheese, brown sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl until fluffy. While you continue beating, add both the maple flavoring and the vanilla. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and gradually increase the speed to high. Continue beating until the icing is fluffy. Chill the maple-butter frosting for one hour before using.
4-6 bacon slices Brown sugar
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place rack in center of foil. Dredge bacon slices with brown sugar and lay on rack. Bake until sugar is melted, about 8 minutes. Turn bacon over and continue baking until bacon is deep brown and glazed, 12-14 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Cool bacon completely on rack. Cut into 1/4-inch dice or crumble.
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
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!
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!
There is some controversy regarding the history of the Cobb salad. Some report that the owner of L.A.’s famous Brown Derby restaurant, Robert Cobb, created it himself in the late 20’s or early 30’s; others say it was his head chef that created it, and still others say the chef created it and named it for the owner. (Those of you who watch the show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” may recall an episode where the origin of the salad is questioned.) Our theory is that “Cobb” is actually short for “cobble,” in that this salad was simply cobbled together with various ingredients. Regardless of its past, it’s a tasty salad that, when done the right way, bursts with flavors and can be relatively healthy. This recipe features most of the usual Cobb salad ingredients, with a nice shallot-infused vinaigrette with a hint of mustard. The real key to a good Cobb is the freshness of the turkey or chicken. We bought a rotisserie-cooked turkey breast at the market and chopped it up; it really elevated the salad to a new level. The bacon and blue cheese add some saltiness and tang, the tomatoes give it sweetness and some acidity, and the buttery avocado adds some creaminess that really ties it all together. Plus the dressing really brings out the flavors well. It’s a simple version of a simple dish – but when the simple things are done right, it’s always delicious. Enjoy!
The MHK’s Cobb-led Together Salad
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. spicy/Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 head leaf lettuce (Boston, butter, green), chopped
2 cups cooked turkey or chicken breast, chopped
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1 Roma tomato, diced
2 oz. blue cheese crumbles
1 ripe avocado, sliced
Mix the first five ingredients together in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Arrange lettuce on plates. Top with turkey, bacon, tomato, cheese, and avocado. Drizzle dressing over each salad. Eat!