Chicken Stir Fry with Eggplant and Mushroom

There are countless stir fry recipes on the internet, the last thing it needs is another.  Having said that, I think the ratio of ingredients and method of prep I have below is a pretty damn good combination.  Like many of the recipes on here, I am really posting it more as documentation for later reference.  I fully admit this is completely non-revolutionary as far as recipes go, but if you are looking for a tasty stir fry to try, give this one a shot.  I think when I revisit this I will add in a red bell pepper with the onion and maybe some basil leaves at the end.

Note, the fish and soy sauce here provides a big salty flavor so little to no additional salt is needed.  Taste and add only if needed at the end!

Chicken Stir Fry with Eggplant and Mushroom

  • 1 eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 pound chicken cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon neutral oil, divided (grapeseed or something similar)
  • 1 large onion, cut into thin slices
  • 2-3 thai red chiles, cut into thin slices, or 2 teaspoons dried red-pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, chunked (any kind)
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

Salt the eggplant cubes generously and let them sweat in a colander for about 20 minutes while you get the other ingredients together.  After the 20 minutes, rinse and pat dry the eggplant.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, corn starch, and sugar.  Add the chicken to the marinade and set aside.  While the chicken marinates, heat oil over moderately high heat,  add the onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the chiles and garlic; cook, stirring, 30 seconds longer.  With a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the chicken from the marinade and add it to the hot pan.  Cook until chicken is just done.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan over high heat.  Add the eggplant and mushrooms, stirring and cooking until the mushroom liquid is cooked out and the eggplant is tender.  Throw the chicken back in along with the remaining marinade.  Stir and cook gently for just a few minutes so the sauce thickens.  Top with sliced scallions and sesame seeds before serving.

 

Advertisements

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp and Pork

In Atlanta, one of my absolute favorite restaurants is BoccaLupo. They focus primarily on pasta dishes but you can always count on unexpected and new flavor combinations or old favorites that have been rethought in a creative way. One of their best known dishes is a black spaghetti with calabrese sausage, shrimp, and scallions. The combination of briny and spicy they have come up with easily earns it a spot as one of my favorite dishes in the city. To my knowledge, the recipe has never been published so what you have here is certainly influenced by BoccaLupo but it is definitely a different dish. I did not have calabrese sausage on hand and their dish is almost certainly finished with quite a bit of butter. The dish below relies on tomatoes and a little wine for the base of the sauce.

Note that some squid ink pasta is saltier than others so be sure to taste the finished dish as a whole before adding more salt.

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp and Pork

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 small can (8oz) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 pound large white or red shrimp
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces squid ink linguine
  • 3-4 scallions sliced diagonally
  • Handful of parsley, chipped

Set a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

Heat one tablespoon of oil over medium heat and add the ground pork. When it is about halfway cooked, add in the Spanish paprika and the crushed red pepper along with a little salt and pepper. When it is almost done, add in the garlic and cook until it is softened (about a minute).

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling salted water and cook until very al dente (firm in the center).

Meanwhile, add the white wine and tomatoes to the pan and bring it to a soft simmer. Stir occasionally, letting the sauce thicken and flavors meld. Add the shrimp pieces and let it simmer until they are just cooked (about 2 minutes).

Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and then drain the pasta. Add pasta and 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid to sauce and cook, tossing often and adding more pasta water if needed to help finish cooking pasta, until pasta is al dente and sauce is thickened (but still saucy) and coats pasta, about 5 minutes.

Add the scallions and finish with another drizzle of good olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper, garnishing with parsley.

Pork Cheek Ragu and Parmesan Grits

If you are lucky enough to find a butcher that sells pork cheeks but you have not tried them yet, you need to fix that soon.  This is one of the most perfect pieces of meat on the pig and it doesn’t get the love it deserves.  When cooked properly, the cheek portions melt into tender, silky, fall apart bites that is best compared to long braised short ribs.

I forgot to get a picture of this when it was done but instead have a picture of the cheeks prior to braising.

Pork Cheek Ragu and Parmesan Grits

Pork:

  • 2 pounds trimmed pork cheeks (if pork cheeks are unavailable, use boneless pork shoulder cut into 3″ chunks)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon neutral high heat oil (grapeseed oil is great for this)
  • 1 large onion, rough chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup bold red wine (cab, zin, or merlot)
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 sprigs oregano (1/2 tablespoon dried)
  • 4 sprigs thyme (1/2 tablespoon dried)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (1/2 tablespoon dried)
  • 2 bay leaves

Grits

  • 1 cup stoneground grits
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Handful chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high.  Sear the pork on all sides until evenly browned. Set aside.  Add onion to the pot and cook until the onion softens (5-7 minutes), then add the garlic. Stir until fragrant (about 1 minute) then add the tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly darkened in color (about 4-5 minutes).  Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add tomatoes, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, crushed red pepper, 2 cups water, and the pork with any juices accumulated on the platter; season with salt and pepper. Bring the pot to a low boil, then cover and place in the oven for 2.5-3 hours.  You basically want it to go until the pork falls apart with the touch of a fork.

Taste and season with salt and pepper then recover and set aside.

Bring 2 teaspoons of salt and water to a boil in a medium pot. Whisking constantly, gradually add grits; reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook, whisking often, until grits are tender and creamy, 20–25 minutes (if grits becomes too thick, add more water if needed).  Add butter and Parmesan to grits and whisk until melted; season with salt and pepper.

Spoon grits into a bowl or onto a plate and top with chunks of pork and sauce.  Scatter parsley and more Parmesan over top and serve with a green salad or another veggie on the side.

Plukkfisk (Norwegian Cod and Potatoes)

When Nina and I were on our honeymoon this summer, one of the best meals we had was in Bergen, Norway at a restaurant called Bare Vestland.  Most of the courses were extremely modern and creative but one stood out because of its simplicity and its history as one of Norway’s most well loved peasant dishes.  As I was eating it I knew I wanted to try and replicate it when I got home.  The dish is called plukkfisk and it is composed of potatoes, cod, leeks, bacon, and a standard bechamel sauce.

The small handful of recipes I was able to find differed in a few ways from the dish we had at Bare Vestland.  The restaurant version was more like a loaded mashed potato texture and included pickled leeks as a topping which added a nice acidity.  I think (could be wrong) that they also skipped the bechamel in favor of copious amounts of butter.  The recipe below is my attempt at molding what we had with what I am seeing online.  I was very happy with the results and will definitely make this again.

Plukkfisk (Norwegian Cod and Potatoes)

  • 1 large leek or 2 medium, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 pound cod
  • 5-6 medium yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2.5 tablespoons flour
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 4 slices bacon
  • Handful of chives, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put half the chopped leeks in a small bowl or coffee cup and add just enough cider vinegar to cover.  Set aside.

Place the potatoes in a pot of salted water and boil until almost done (some resistance when piercing them with a knife).  Strain and let them cool for a few minutes, then roughly mash.  They should resemble loosely mashed potatoes that still have chunks.

In a large heavy pan (this will later need to hold everything), melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat and cook your cod until it flakes easily.  Set the fish aside and wipe out the pan.  Add the bacon and cook until crisp.  Leave about a tablespoon of the grease and then add the onions.  Cook until translucent, then add the remaining leeks.  Saute for another minute and then reduce the heat to low.  Fold the potatoes into the pan, keeping everything at a nice warm temperature.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Once melted, whisk in the flour so it becomes incorporated.  Once smooth, start gradually adding in the milk while constantly whisking.  Season with salt and pepper and let it simmer for about 7-10 minutes.  The sauce should be relatively thick like a sausage gravy.

Flake the fish onto the potatoes and gently mix together.  Pour the sauce over the potato/leek/onion/fish mixture, lightly mix together, and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the plukkfisk topped with the crispy bacon, strained pickled leeks, and chopped chives.

 

Brunswick Stew and Cornbread Muffins

Like many other stew recipes, Brunswick stew comes in about a million different variations and folks are very vocal about their preferences.  I personally like the smoked pork and chicken combo best with a mustard sauce in the base.  Any of the veggies can be removed and others (like okra) can certainly be added.

This goes great with cornbread muffins.  I made mine following Edna Lewis’ recipe which I also included below.

Brunswick Stew

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. high-quality Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup sweet mustard base barbecue sauce**
  • 1 lb. smoked pulled pork shoulder meat
  • 1 lb. smoked pulled chicken
  • 1 lb. yukon gold potatoes, diced small
  • 3 cans (14oz) crushed tomatoes (fire roasted if possible)
  • 1 bag (12oz) frozen (or canned) corn
  • 1 can crowder peas
  • 1 bag (12oz) frozen (or canned) field peas or lima beans
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • Hot Sauce to taste

Heat butter and bacon fat in a good sized pot over medium high heat.  Add onions and saute until golden (5 min) then add the garlic.  Once softened, add the cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, and Worcestershire sauce.  Let this cook for a few minutes then add the ketchup, barbeque sauce, and the meats, adding a little more sauce if needed to completely cover the meat.  Cook for a few minutes, stirring so it doesn’t stick.

Add potatoes, tomatoes, corn, peas, beans, and chicken stock then bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cover and let this simmer on low  for a few hours.  Add more stock if needed to get to the desired consistency.  Once done, add hot sauce to taste and serve with cornbread.

Mustard Base BBQ sauce

  • 1 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic power
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper

Add all ingredients and stir until smooth and incorporated.

 

Edna Lewis Cornbread Muffins

  • 2 tablespoons lard or butter, plus 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 ½ cups corn flour or extra-fine cornmeal (not cornstarch)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 ½ cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400. Generously grease the wells of the muffin pan with 2 tablespoons of lard or butter, leaving the extra fat in the wells. In a mixing bowl, sift together the corn flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

When the oven is hot, place the muffin tin inside to preheat. Meanwhile, stir the buttermilk into the dry ingredients and mix well, then stir in the egg and 2 tablespoons melted butter. When the muffin pan is very hot (if using butter to grease, the butter should have just stopped sizzling), carefully remove it, and quickly fill each well with about 3 ounces of batter. Bake for 17-20 minutes, rotating once, until a toothpick comes out clean and the edges of the muffins are golden brown.

Let the pan cool for 2 minutes on a rack, then remove the muffins. (If necessary, use a paring knife to release them.) Serve muffins hot, with butter.

 

Roasted Veggie Grain Bowl with Strip Steak

If there is any dish that does NOT need a recipe, it is a grain bowl like this.  All of the veggies here can be substituted for others, the steak can be subbed for any other protein (or keep it all veggie), and the spelt can be replaced with another whole grain.  I dig this with broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprout, asparagus…damn near anything really.   I liked this combination a lot so I am documenting it for future reference.

Roasted Veggie Grain Bowl with Strip Steak

  • 1 cup whole grain spelt (farro, wheat berries, quinoa, brown rice)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 8-10 crimini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 small/medium red onion, cut into thick slices
  • 1 pound steak (used strip here but flank, skirt, hanger, or any other cut would be fine)

Heat your oven to 450 degrees and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Remove your steak from the fridge so it can get to room temperature.

Put the spelt into a small pot and add water so the grains are covered by a few inches.  Bring to a boil then cover and simmer until grains are tender (about 45 minutes).

Mix the tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and garlic together until smooth and slowly add water to thin to your desired thickness.

Toss the butternut squash and red onion with a little olive oil, salt and pepper then spread over one of the baking sheets.  Place it in the oven for 20 minutes.  While that is cooking, toss the mushrooms and green beans with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread it over the other baking sheet.  Once the 20 minutes on the squash and onion is up, remove the pan, toss, and put back in along with the mushroom and green bean sheet.  Roast another 20-25 minutes or until everything looks done to your liking.

Grill or skillet sear the steak to medium rare and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Place a few scoops of the cooked grain in the bowl, add the veggies and steak, top with the sauce.

 

 

Green Chile and Cheddar Quick Bread

Nina and I are both hooked on the Great British Baking show at the moment.  While I am definitely not a fan of the sweet stuff, I do love when they highlight savory baking.  Last night we saw an episode focused on quick breads and I decided to try my hand at one.

I looked online for a good green chile quick bread and came up a bit short.  I did find one that looked tasty for a parmesan and garlic quick bread so I have used that for my base and just subbed in cheddar and green chile.  It turned out pretty good!  If you cannot find green chile, you can totally use sun dried tomatoes, roasted jalapenos, olives, or whatever else sounds good.  Altogether, this takes 5 minutes to throw together and about an hour to bake.  Can’t beat that.

Green Chile and Cheddar Quick Bread

  • cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped green chile 
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar and/or monterey jack
  • 1 12-ounce can of beer
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Whisk together the dry ingredients, then add in the chopped garlic, cheese, and chile. Lightly mix with a spoon then slowly pour in the beer.  Let it sit for a few minutes to absorb and then stir until it is all incorporated with a thick consistency.

Grease a bread pan and pour in the mixture.  Pour the butter over the top of the dough and cook for 50-60 minutes, until bread is golden and firm to the touch.  Remove from the oven and let it stand a few minutes before slicing.

Hot and Numbing Sichuan Beef Jerky

This recipe is really a happy accident more than anything.  I had a hankering for beef jerky and decided to shoot for a Sichuan influenced marinade instead of the traditional jerky flavors.  The recipe below was the first run but I am happy with it so I am documenting it here later use.

The key ingredient here is the infamous Sichuan peppercorn which contributes the unique numbing feel.  This recipe also uses three types of chili:

  • Heavenly Hunan Red Pepper paste which is very similar to a sambal olek chili paste
  • Ning Chi chili oil with garlic
  • Crushed New Mexico red chile (flakes-caribe)

For your beef, I highly recommend seeing if your butcher will put a rump roast or a london broil on a meat slicer so you can get consistent 1/8″ thick slices.  If you do not have a good butcher, put your beef in the freezer until it has firmed up a bit and do your best with a good sharp knife.  If you cannot get it as thin as desired, you can use a meat pounder to get the slices thinner.

Hot and Numbing Sichuan Beef Jerky

  • 1 pound of lean beef, thinly sliced (1/8″ at most)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon Hunan chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Ning Chi chili oil with garlic
  • 2 tablespoon New Mexico chile caribe flakes
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1-2 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns, crushed

Mix all of the marinade ingredients (everything except beef and peppercorns) together and then pour them into a large zip lock bag with the beef slices.  Massage the bag to ensure all of the slices are coated with the marinade and then let it sit for at 4-12 hours in the fridge.  Shoot for the longer end of that range (overnight) if possible.

If you have a dehydrator:

Lay the slices out without overlapping and dust with the crushed peppercorn.  Run the dehydrator at 160 degrees for about 5 hours, checking every 30 minutes after the 4th hour.

If you do not have a dehydrator:

Line cookie sheets with tin foil, lay out your slices without overlapping, and dust with the crushed peppercorn.  Set your oven on the lowest temperature (ideally no more than 170 degrees).  Bake the meat for 5-6 hours, turning the slices halfway through.

Jerky will keep ~2 months if stored in the fridge.

Smoked Salmon Rigatoni with Asparagus and Peas

I am not normally a fan of cream sauces but this recipe is definitely an exception.  Be sure to use hot smoked salmon and not cold smoked (like lox).

Smoked Salmon Rigatoni with Asparagus and Peas

  • pound fresh asparagus
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • tablespoon minced shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ounces smoked salmon, flaked into small pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lb rigatoni 
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced

Cut the woody ends off the asparagus and then cut on a slant to pieces about an inch long.  Steam the asparagus or wrap the asparagus in a damp paper towel and microwave for 2 minutes so they are just barely tender and still bright green, then set them aside.  Cook the frozen peas according to the package and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.  In the meantime, melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat and saute the shallots and garlic until soft but not brown. Stir in the cream and simmer about five minutes, until the cream has thickened somewhat.

Flake the salmon by hand into bite size pieces, add it to the cream and turn off the burner. Season with pepper and lemon juice, then add the asparagus and peas.

Add the pasta to the pot and drain when done. Briefly reheat the sauce. Transfer the rigatoni to a warm serving bowl, pour the sauce over it and toss. Sprinkle with dill and serve.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

While in Michigan this past week, I ate with my aunt and uncle at classic American Chinese restaurant…the kind we do not really see any more, at least in Atlanta.  Visualize Chinese horoscope placemats, faux carved entryways, a massive fish tank, and of course the plum sauce and hot mustard in the jars on the table.  My absolute favorite cuisine is authentic Sichuan Chinese however, I do have a massive soft spot in my heart for the American influenced Chinese.  Mongolian beef, General Tso’s chicken, moo goo gai pan, and chop suey are all A+ in my book.

Anyway, the place we were at made their own egg rolls in house and they were stellar.  These were not the uniform shape, mushy middle, clearly frozen items you most often see these days.  They were plump, crispy, and the stuffing had great texture.  I joked to my aunt that I wanted a bowl of just the insides and she said this was already a thing so I started looking for recipes.  Apparently this is a big thing among the paleo crowd which is definitely not my bag.  I closed all of my browser tabs and decided to just do my own.

This is basically a cabbage heavy stir fry that used ground meat instead of cuts.   As with any stir fry, use whatever vegetables you want and treat all measurements listed below as suggestions.  This is a super quick and easy dinner that I really enjoyed.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce, divided
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  • ½ Tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup shiitake mushroom caps, sliced (always remove stems)
  • ½ head green cabbage, shredded finely (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup baby bok choy, sliced
  • 3 carrots, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 4 scallions, rough chopped

Put the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sriracha, and brown sugar together in a small bowl, whisking to incorporate.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and start to cook the ground pork with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.  If it looks exceptionally lean, feel free to add a little but of neutral cooking oil but this should not be needed.  Season the pork with salt and pepper.  When the pork is about half done, add in the garlic, ginger, and thinly sliced onion.

Once the pork is done, add the mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, and baby bok choy.  When everything is mixed together, add in the prepared sauce.  Cook while stirring frequently until the cabbage and bok choy are wilted but still crunchy (about 4-6 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper as needed.  Serve with the chopped scallions, extra sriracha if desired, and rice.