Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just in Time for the End of Crab Season and the Beginning of Cool Weather

Crab Asparagus Soup

Growing up, my dad used to make a delicious soup for us on special occasions.  I'm not sure why it was only on special occasions, perhaps because crab tends to be expensive and maybe asparagus wasn't available often.  But these days if my dad isn't golfing in the morning, he's crabbing so there is always an abundance of leftover crab meat.  A few years ago I had a distinct food memory of this soup so I asked my dad to try and dig up the cookbook with this recipe.  This particular cookbook was ancient - well the 1970s at least - when eating "ethnic food" was Chinese...but I think I'll try to find it and make some additional recipes.

This soup is incredibly easy, probably the most easy soup I have ever made.  However, the resulting dish is so elegant you would be proud to serve it to the most foodie dinner guest.  As my coworker said today as he sipped my leftovers "I would pay for that at a restaurant!"

This recipe makes 6 servings - and I recommend homemade chicken stock to make it really special.

8 ounces fresh crabmeat
1 pound fresh thin stemmed asparagus
1 tablespoon sherry
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
6 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 scallion, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch (I didn't have this so I just used Wondra flour)
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese chili paste or chili sauce
1 tablespoon of finely chopped chives

  1. Pick through the crab meat to make sure none of the hard membranes are left behind.  Cut the top 2/3 of the asparagus off in 1 inch pieces.  
  2. Boil the asparagus in water for 3 minutes, remove the asparagus and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  
  3. In a soup pot, bring the chicken broth, sherry, and soy sauce to a boil.  
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium high and add the scallion, stir frying for 30 seconds.  Next add the crabmeat and asparagus and stir fry for another 30 seconds.
  5. Add the stir fried mixture to the pot of boiling broth and add chili sauce.
  6. Stir in the cornstarch into a small bowl containing the 3 tablespoons water.  Whisk.  Add this to the soup and allow it to thicken for 1 minute while stirring slightly.
  7. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with chives.

Serve nice, crusty bread alongside to sop up all the broth!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finally Back to Blogging

When I just logged in, blogspot kindly reminded me it has been since March 28 that I last created an entry.  I felt the need to explain to blogspot with the end of law school, the bar exam, work, and of course Ben...I've been a little busy.  But now that life has settled back down, Ben is already one, I should get back to sharing my love of food and cooking for my family.  Not to say that I haven't been cooking all this time...I just couldn't quite bring myself to sit in front of the computer to write anymore than I did studying that whole time.

Banh Mi

So Jordan and I got hooked on the very end of the Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network.  The idea behind it is that operators of food trucks compete against each other for sales.  They are given the same amount of money in each city to buy ingredients and given a set amount of time to get as many sales as possible.  The winner is the one who makes the most money.  Surprisingly to me, one of the biggest successes was a truck called NomNom serving Vietnamese sandwiches called Banh Mi.  I had always been interested in having one because I think Vietnamese food is one of the most underrated Asian foods around.  Pho - beef noodle soup - is my favorite in the winter.

Now, my husband does not share my love of Vietnamese foods.  In fact - he and fish sauce (a common Vietnamese ingredient) don't get along at all.  Even a little bit of this savory sauce added to a dish he can taste.  So when throughout the Great Food Truck Race season he increasingly expressed an interest in trying the Banh Mi, I was rightfully skeptical.  I repeatedly explained that fish sauce was an ingredient in the sandwich, along with pate (another of my favorites and his not so favorite) but he persisted.  So this week, while reading Gourmet, I saw a recipe for Banh Mi.  (NOTE:  while Gourmet has sadly gone out of business, they are apparently publishing montages of previously published recipes in new forms) I had my doubts about this particular recipe - it used chicken instead of pork and included liverwurst.  Now I have never had liverwurst but more importantly - I didn't even know where to buy it.  So I doubled checked the recipe with and read the reviews...not so good.  By the way, the user reviews on Epicurious recipes are invaluable.  So I searched the website and found a new one...and it was far and away a success.  This sandwich has the beautiful balance of tastes: savory, sweet, sour, spicy - that all good Vietnamese food has.  Needless to say, despite the fish sauce, Jordan loved everything about the Banh Mi!

Hot Chili Mayo:
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)*

Stir all ingredients in small bowl. Season with salt. do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)*
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Line rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl. Using moistened hands and scant tablespoonful for each, roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Arrange on baking sheet.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of meatballs. Sauté until brown and cooked through, turning meatballs often and lowering heat if browning too quickly, about 15 minutes. Transfer meatballs to another rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
  • 2 cups coarsely grated carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon (Japanese white radish)**
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Toss first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • 4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or four 10-inch-long pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
  • 16 large fresh cilantro sprigs

Cut each baguette or baguette piece horizontally in half. Pull out enough bread from each bread half to leave 1/2-inch-thick shell. Spread hot chili mayo over each bread shell. Arrange jalapeños, then cilantro, in bottom halves. 
Fill each with 1/4 of meatballs. Drain pickled vegetables; place atop meatballs. 
Press on baguette tops.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easy Asian Inspired Meal

Spring vegetables tend to lend themselves to Asian and Italian foods, in my opinion.  With this month's Bon Appetit I wanted to try a recipe that used the beautiful Alaskan King Salmon I had seen at Whole Foods and the prevalence of spring vegetables (last night was roasted baby artichokes).  So this meal was Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze, Sugar Snap Peas, and Pea Tendrils.  On the side an Asian Cucumber Ribbon Salad and Soba Noodles.

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce*
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger, divided
  • 6 6-ounce salmon fillets with skin
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry
  • 3 cups pea tendrils** or pea sprouts** (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bombay Sliders and my favorite salad

This meal is sort of disconnected but it happens to be two of my favorite dishes.  First, Bombay Sliders.  These were in Bon Appetit a few years back and since then I've been making them pretty regularly and have tweaked the recipe a bit.  The second is my favorite easy salad.  The ingredients are few, but specialty, so if you have a local source...try it out.

Bombay Sliders with Garlic Curry Sauce


1/2 cup plain yogurt - I use nonfat, whatever you have is fine.
1/2 cup mayo.  Ina Garten always says 'good' mayo and suggests Hellman's.  I have tried others and now I have to agree its the only way to go.
1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
3 teaspoons curry powder (I use hot Madras curry)
1 garlic clove - minced.

Mix all the ingredients and let sit at room temperature while you cook the sliders.


2 lbs ground turkey (I use 1 lb of ground breast and 1 lb of ground thighs, whatever combo you like is fine)
6 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped scallions (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all the above ingredients and form into slider size patties.  About 2 inches in diameter.  You can either broil or pan cook these.  Broiling is certainly easier.  Preheat your broiler and cook the sliders about 3-4 minutes per side, or until cooked through.  If you want to cook in a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat and cook the same amount of time.

Serve the sliders on mini-pita breads topped with the sauce.  Dinner rolls work if you don't have mini-pita breads.

My favorite salad

1 5 oz container mache
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
3 oz soft goat cheese
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Mache is a delicate lettuce grown in a rosette shape.  It has recently experienced a growth in the US, it has been popular in Europe for a long time.  It is a super delicate lettuce with tons of antioxidants and a nutty, mellow flavor.  Below is a link to a story about it on NPR. Marcona almonds are a roasted, salted almond from Spain.

NPR Article

For the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Whisk in olive oil.

For the salad, top the mache with crumbled goat cheese and the Marcona almonds, chopped roughly if you want.  Drizzle on enough vinaigrette to moisten the salad and toss.

NOTE:  Don't dress the salad until right before you are going to eat, the mache is so delicate it wilts if you let it sit for too long!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Favorite Weeknight Meal - Roast Chicken

Roast chicken is my go to meal for weeknights when I want something satisfying but with little work.  Just start with a good quality roaster chicken.  I like Bell & Evans but something free-range from your local farmers market should give you good results as well.  This meal takes me about 10 mins to get in the oven and then it requires little other tending.

Simple Roast Chicken
four pound roasting chicken
1 large sweet onion
1/2 bag baby carrots
4- 6 yukon gold potatoes, depending on their size
2 large garlic cloves
1 lemon
2 tbls butter - melted
olive oil
1 loaf of bread - I like ciabatta for this but you can use any type of whole loaf bread you like.


Preheat the oven to 425.

Slice the onion into 1/3 inch rings and separate.  Cut the potatoes into chunks, about 4 -6 pieces per potato.  Put these and the 1/2 bag of carrots onto a cookie sheet.  Drizzle the veggies with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) and season with salt (about 3/4 teaspoon) and pepper (1/2 teaspoon).

Rinse the chicken inside and out, pat dry.  Season the chicken, inside and out, generously with salt and pepper.  Create a chicken-sized hole in the veggies and place the chicken on the cookie sheet.  Smash each clove of garlic.  Cut the lemon into four wedges.  Place lemon and garlic inside the chicken cavity.  Brush the top of the chicken all over with the melted butter.

Roast the chicken in the oven, at 425, for 1 1/2 hours.  About every 30 mins give the veggies a toss around the cookie sheet.  The veggies will get pretty dark brown as they cook - this is good!  If they appear to be cooking too quickly for your tastes, just remove them and reserve them in a dish.

The chicken is done when a meat thermometer inserted in the dark meat registers 170 or a slice made between the leg and the body runs clear juices.  When the chicken is done, place it on a cutting board, cover it with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.  THIS STEP IS CRITICAL TO SUCCESS!  This resting allows for the chicken to cool slightly and for the juices to redistribute into the meat. If you cut into the chicken to early, all the juices run out and they are lost - result: dry meat.

While the chicken is resting, cut your bread in half (if you are using ciabatta) or in 1 inch slices if you are using a bigger bread.  Brush the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  If you have a grill handy, grill the bread until it is crispy and browned.  If not, just place it under your broiler for the same effect - about 3 - 5 minutes.  Chop the grilled bread into 1 inch cubes.  Place the bread in a layer at the bottom of your serving dish.


To serve the chicken I first cut off both legs and wings, then separate the thigh from the drumstick.  Place these pieces on the bread layer.  Then I slice off both breasts and cut them into 4 -5 pieces.  This allows everyone to have some of each type of meat.  Place this on the bread cubes.  Pour the veggies, pan juices, and any leftover juice from cutting up the chicken over the serving dish.  The bread will soak up all the juice and flavor (sorry Mona and Ash - its a soggy bread dish).

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bon Appetit's One Pot Classics - Part 1 - Pork and Poblano Tamale Pie

Growing up we didn't have any of the traditional dishes that people my age complained about.  Meatloaf, tuna noodle casserole, crock pot dishes were pretty exotic to my sister and I until we visited a friend or started cooking with our roommates college.  So when Bon Appetit had a one pot classics article I was very interested.

Bon Appetit Article

First of all, I've never had even one of these dishes in its original form so I don't have much to compare.  But despite this I forged ahead because I feel my culinary education isn't complete until I understand as many possible cuisines as I can.  I had my first deviled egg just last year so I still have a lot to learn.

The final dish here was amazing, one of the best I've made that only required slight modification from its original form.  I left about half the poblano seeds into the chopped peppers.  The reviews of the dish indicated that it did not have quite enough heat so this really did the trick.  I used a pretty coarsely ground cornmeal so the cornbread topping was really rustic.  It paired perfectly with the fork-tender pork.  Another note here - the pork  (1 1/2 pounds trimmed boneless country-style pork ribs) was something that I was not familiar with.  Just ask your butcher is my advice.  When it was cooked it was like the pork used in barbecue rather than a pork loin. Also, I just threw the charred peppers into a paper grocery bag, this works well instead of having to clean a bowl.

Pork and Poblano Tamale Pie.

6 servings


Pie Filling

  • 12 ounces fresh poblano chilies (about 4 large)
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds trimmed boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 cups chopped white onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chiles
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup purchased salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Cornbread Topping

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal (preferably whole-grain stone-ground)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 5 ounces), divided
  • Sour cream

Pie Filling

  • Char poblano chiles and bell pepper directly over flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Transfer chiles and bell pepper to large bowl; cover and let steam 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop chiles and bell pepper.
  • Stir cumin seeds and coriander seeds in small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and slightly darker in color, about 3 minutes. Remove seeds from heat and cool completely. Finely grind toasted seeds in spice mill or in mortar with pestle. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.
  • Coarsely puree thawed corn kernels in processor. Cover and refrigerate corn puree until ready to use.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with coarse salt and pepper. Working in batches, add pork to pot and sauté until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to medium bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot, then add chopped onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add ground spice mixture, garlic, jalapeño, and oregano; stir 1 minute. Return pork and any accumulated juices to pot. Add chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits. Add salsa verde and bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover partially and simmer 30 minutes. Add chopped chiles, chopped bell pepper, and half of corn puree to pork mixture; cover partially and simmer until pork is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes longer. Season pie filling to taste with coarse salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Pie filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm pie filling, stirring over medium heat, before continuing.
  • Transfer pie filling to 10-inch-diameter 2 1/2-inch-deep ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron). Stir in chopped cilantro.

Cornbread Topping

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk flour, yellow cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and chili powder in large bowl to blend. Whisk remaining corn puree, whole milk, melted butter, egg, and honey in medium bowl to blend. Add corn puree mixture to flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup cheddar cheese over pie filling in skillet. Drop cornbread batter by large spoonfuls atop pie filling. Spread cornbread batter evenly to cover pie filling completely. 
  • Bake tamale pie until cornbread topping is deep golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve tamale pie hot, passing sour cream alongside.

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits is one of my favorite southern dishes.  In Gourmet magazine's last edition, a recipe for shrimp and polenta was posted in the Gourmet Everyday section.  I've been making a version of this dish often since then. It only takes about 20 mins from start to finish, perfect for a week night but the final result is worthy of a weekend meal.

1 lb shrimp - I use frozen (which are often much fresher than the "fresh" ones in the case as these have usually been frozen before they made it to the store) 21-30 count (which refers to a size class - how many shrimp of this size make up a pound)
4 oz of pancetta (Italian bacon) chopped
3 gloves of garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, depending on how much heat you like
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes - with juice
olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil at medium high. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp - about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and crush red pepper to the cooked pancetta.  Cook for 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.  Then add the can of tomatoes and juice.  Cook this at medium heat for about 5 - 8 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Finally, add the shrimp, cooking until just done, flipping once - about 2 minutes per side.

Finish with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper (probably won't need much salt, depending on how salty your pancetta is).


1 cup coarse ground corn meal (called grits or polenta - depending on the brand)
3 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Boil the water and salt in a saucepan over high heat.  Reduce heat to low - medium/low and whisk in the grits.  Use a wooden spoon and stir the grits frequently while they thicken and the water is absorbed.  I usually allow about 10 minutes of cooking time.  When the grits have reached your desired consistency, add the butter, cheese, and season with salt and pepper.  Beware - cooking the grits too long will create a gummy texture and they will all stick together in a blob.  Now this can be good if you want to shape it and grill it but that's not the point of this dish.

To serve - spoon a serving of grits onto your plate and top with the cooked shrimp and sauce.  I served it with a simple side of steamed broccoli.