Showing posts with label dinner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dinner. Show all posts

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Forbidden Rice Risotto


comfort food.  that's what cold weather is all about...
but with a HEALTHY TWIST

let's just say that this is NOT your typical "risotto".
i would call it "risotto-like"...but it definitely fits the comfort-food category

all the deep rich flavors from the slow cooking and reducing are there, but the black rice has a different texture...almost "al dente-like" to regular rice.  it maintains it's shape no matter how long you cook it.  i cooked this for a good 1 hour and 20 minutes!  the black rice does not act like the Arborio used in classic risotto, but it does make an interesting twist on a popular comfort food dish.  
the end result was delicious and worth the effort, but i think i'll leave the risotto up to the professionals.
on the other hand....
for a fabulous easy recipe using this super-food rice...one on the sweet comfort food list, check out my post on "Black Rice Pudding".  i'm not sure i will make the risotto again (due to the time and effort), but i will surely be making the rice pudding for a healthy dessert alternative or breakfast treat..



Forbidden Rice...once revered for Emperor's only...is now considered one of the new "super-foods".
not only is it full of antioxidants, it is packed with a load of health benefits and more are being discovered.  for more information you might want to click HERE  and  HERE.


FORBIDDEN RICE RISOTTO

1 cup dried forbidden rice
2 1/2 - 3 cup vegetable or chicken broth
NOTE...i ended up using 4 cups homemade broth AND almost 1 can of low sodium broth (see more notes)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 medium shallot chopped fine
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 big Tbsp shiitake mushroom powder
1/3 cup white wine
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
fresh thyme, basil or Italian parsley for topping
8-10 crimini mushrooms, sauteed and browned for additional topping

in a saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat and saute shallots until translucent.  do not brown.  add the forbidden rice and cook for a minute, stirring well so that the rice is well coated with butter and shallots.  deglaze the pan with the white wine and stir to incorporate.  when the wine reduces turn the heat to medium-low and add warm chicken stock...1/2 cup at a time.  add the dried thyme and shiitake mushroom powder.  when 1/2 cup has absorbed, add another...then do this again and again until all stock has been used and risotto looks creamy, done and delicious.  i guess this is "risotto 101".  i have never made risotto, but this is what i was told to do.  i'm sure it takes practice for a perfect risotto.
when you feel it is done, check for seasoning, stir in some grated parmesan and top with fresh thyme, basil OR Italian parsley...and sauteed crimini mushrooms.

A FEW NOTES...if i were to cook this again...i would probably pre-cook the black rice.  then go on with the risotto-like instructions.  i bet it would shorten the overall cooking time, make for a softer bite and it would take less stock.  the recipe called for 2.5 cups of stock and i went through about 5-6 cups of liquid AND it was on the stove for about 1 1/2 hours before it was done..
also when reheating (i had left-overs) just add a little more stock.




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thai Coconut Curry Sauce with Fresh Tofu and Konjac Noodles


healthy fresh tofu and clean Konjac noodles in a light flavorful Spicy Thai Coconut Curry Sauce.

a delicious alternative to a meat and pasta meal.
the sauce is easy and can be made ahead of time.  the tofu...fresh is best if you can find it.  the noodles. however,  are a bit different and unusual.  they are Konjac noodles made from yam flour.  this is a great dish for the non wheat people and those watching the ol' waistline.  a huge serving is under 200 calories and you'll still have room for dessert.  personally, i like it because i eat so many pork products and fatty weird stuff along with my addiction to the Mexican bakery... i have to throw in a healthy light dish every now and then.
the noodles are quite good, but like tofu...pretty flavorless on their own.  they need a good sauce.  i find this coconut curry does just the trick.




fresh tofu (photo above)...way better than packaged....still warm, soft and fragrant like a fresh loaf of bread.  even my mother, a non-tofu lover, said she really liked it....well, maybe that's a stretch.  it only costs about $1.99,  probably twice the size and tastes much better that regular packaged tofu.
i get mine at 99 Ranch Market in Irvine, CA.  if you've never been and you're in Orange County/So. California i highly recommend finding one.  great resource for all Asian goods.

Konjac noodles...aka YAM noodles
a little slippery, very long, no distinct flavor...but a great filler, no wheat, almost no calories, no carbs , fun to eat and a great vehicle for many different sauces.  Konjac noodles come in angel hair and fettuccine cuts as well as blocks and cute little knotted bundles.  check out the nutritional info below...amazingly low on everything.


THAI COCONUT CURRY SAUCE
makes about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups sauce

1/2 medium onion, diced small
1 full Tbsp fresh ginger or, fine dice
1 large clove garlic, fine dice
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp madras curry powder (yellow kind)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more can be added later)
3/4 - 1 cup chicken broth, if canned use low sodium
1 cup coconut milk...i use "lite" coconut milk
1 Tbsp soy sauce
juice from 1 wedge lemon
3" piece of lemon grass...
(smashed then tied together with a string so that it won't come apart and get stringy in the sauce.)
2 tsp lemon zest
4-5 large basil leaves...chiffonade (thin ribbons)
more red chile flakes to sprinkle.

in a medium sauce pan lightly saute onion, garlic and ginger in olive oil and sesame oil until translucent
add chili flakes and curry powder and saute until fragrant...2 minutes 
add tied lemongrass, chicken broth, coconut milk, soy sauce and lemon juice.
bring to a soft boil then to a simmer
simmer and stir a little for about 5 - 10 minutes.
taste for seasoning...a dash more soy?  pepper flakes?
simmer longer if you want it thicker.

if using these Konjac noodles...
noodles must be washed/rinsed well, drained then pat dry as much as possible.
tofu should be drained and slightly pressed to release some of the moisture...then it can be lightly sauteed first in separate pan or just simmered in the sauce.

this is a great sauce to toss with any noodles -YAM NOODLES (shown in photos), shirataki (tofu noodles), udon or even angel hair.
simmer some tofu, fish or chicken in sauce.  if using fish or chicken simmer until cooked through.  then mix with noodles.  i have never cooked the chicken in the sauce...i use already cooked roasted chicken from Costco.
OR just toss with steamed vegetables.
next time i think i'll simmer some talapia in the sauce...oh how i wish i had a sous vide.

NOTE...the sauce freezes well.  it just needs a good stir as it heats through. it will thicken and reduce with stronger flavors.  freeze just the sauce...not the noodles or tofu in the sauce....the noodles get funny after freezing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

BEST BURGER EVER...Hands down



YES...hands down
THE BEST BURGER I HAVE EVER EATEN

TEN SIMPLE STEPS TO THE BEST BURGER

1.  buy some good rib eye.
2.  grind the meat yourself.
3.  don't pack the patty.
4.  cast iron skillet, searing hot
5.  medium rare is the way to go...
6.  remove from skillet before you think it's done.
7.  rest the meat!
8.  top with Saint Agur cheese while resting
9.  keep additions and condiments to a bare minimum.
10.  enjoy!

now go in for another before they're gone.


start with good rib eye.  look for nice marbling.  fat is a must.  you will be slicing the meat in strips, as shown, and feeding it into the hopper so a big huge plump rib eye is not necessary.
sprinkle the strips with a little onion powder and garlic powder (i prefer powder to salt) before feeding into hopper.


make sure all of your utensils and grinder parts are clean...clean...clean


feed the meat strips through the large hole cutter plate once...then change to the smaller holes and send it through again.  make sure you have a "stomper".  do not push through with your fingers.  ya never know...


when the meat has stopped flowing through, send a slice or two of bread through the grinder to help push the last of the meat through...you don't want to waste an ounce...trust me.


handle the ground meat as little as possible.
as mentioned, DO NOT PACK YOUR PATTIES.  with all the trouble you've gone to extruding the meat, you don't want to wad this beautiful tender meat into a hard ball.
i used a biscuit cutter for a mold...lightly filled it and pressed it just enough for it to hold together.
salt and pepper the patties.


i am now a true believer in CAST IRON SKILLETS.
get it searing hot.  do not move the burger.  flip once.
again, as mentioned...remove from skillet before you think it's perfect.  it will cook considerably while resting.


i highly suggest topping with a square of SAINT AGUR CHEESE.  if you're not into bluesy cheeses, then a nice pat of butter will always suffice for that extra little unctuous trick.
let the burger rest at least 5 minutes.


choose your condiments wisely...
you do not want to interfere with the flavor and texture of this burger 
i feel like i created a burger from scratch...you will too.
i never even made it to the table

now say it with me...
"i will never buy pre-ground meat again !!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chicken Curry-Indian style


 a straight up Chicken Curry recipe.  my go-to sauce when i want something rich, warm and spicy.  i don't know how 'authentic' it is, being that Newport Beach is not the mecca of Indian cuisine...and i have not yet been to India, but it does the deal when craving something with a good deep garam masala curry flavor, not that boring yellow curry that i grew up with.  i do have another great curry recipe, but this one is so easy with no frills, no creamy coconut or yogurt sauce...just good curry.

the chicken is tender, the curry sauce is tasty, it's easy to throw together and it freezes well for reheating. i've made it quite a few times and always change up a little something, but i finally wrote down the basics.  you could easily add a little coconut milk or some plain Greek yogurt if you wanted to make it a creamy style curry.

 i'm not big on carbs so i usually serve this with some steamed cauliflower, but this would be a fabulous main dish over some basmati rice, cous cous or maybe wrapped up in some naan...even a soft flour tortilla or some pasta if you're feelin' like some fusion.

NOTE...i've made this with extra firm tofu as well.  one time i cubed and sauteed the tofu in a little olive oil before adding to the curry mixture.  the second time i just added it in cubed.  always drain and press your tofu before using so it will absorb all the flavors.  i just finished some that i had frozen and it was delicious...not quite as saucy but still very flavorful and didn't separate as some sauces might.


CHICKEN CURRY... INDIAN STYLE

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, small dice
1-2 jalapeno, small dice (remove seeds if you can't handle the heat)
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 1/2 to 2 lbs skinned boneless chicken thighs cut into large bite size.
2 cups chicken stock.  homemade or low sodium
1 Tbsp Madras curry
2 Tbsp Garam Masala curry
1 tsp Mexican chili powder (use your discretion)
zest from 1/2 lemon
a squeeze of lemon juice, more or less to taste
cilantro or parsley for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

saute onion, garlic, jalapeno and ginger in olive oil until onion is just translucent
add spices, stir in for 2-3 minutes to wake up the spices...until fragrant
add chicken and stir
add broth and incorporate all
let simmer until chicken is cooked through
curry sauce should thicken a bit.
add a bit of zest and a squeeze of lemon
taste for seasoning.  probably needs salt at this point
zest lemon and sprinkle parsley/cilantro over and serve.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Spicy Sausage Marinara (low carb Pasta)


i'll bet most home cooks have their own version of an Italian Marinara Sauce in their back pocket.

OR...know someone with the best red sauce recipe...OR you have your in-laws' Italian Grandma's hand written "gravy" recipe framed on the kitchen wall..well, i do know someone, but i usually just wait for her to have a big family dinner and hope for leftovers.  i just never turned out a good sauce for myself.  i must admit i've had a few batches of "just okay" or what i call "so-so sauces", but this one was tasty and good enough to share and post so i wouldn't forget.  i think it had a lot to do with the San Marzano Tomatoes, good spicy sausage and definitely the extra long cooking.  i'm not claiming any authentic Italian marinara here...just some good red meat sauce.  
it's pretty simple and comes together fairly quickly, but it really should cook for a few hours.  

so...i've finally learned the basics...set the day aside, buy the right ingredients, channel the Italian Grandma Gravy Gods...AND have my best friend Kim, whose a solid New York Italian known for her sauce, on speed dial...i think i called her 5 times.  maybe 6...


everyone's tastes are different so you might want to add a dash of something here and a smidgen of whatever there.  the key is to cook, stir, taste...cook some more and taste some more and so on.  i like my sauce thick and a little chunky with a bit of a kick.  too thick?...add stock or add some pasta water.  too chunky?...get out the immersion blender...to spicy?...add the pepper flakes toward the end or let the diners control the heat.  works well with any shape pasta, poured over steamed vegetables or this new "almost" spinach fettuccine i recently came across.


 let's talk a minute about this pasta...
it's NOT PASTA by any means,
BUT it is only 5 calories per serving!
believe it or not...this whole bowl with meat sauce has about 200 calories.


visually Pasta Slim does the trick.  we eat with our eyes and this truly looks like the real thing.
taste?...really has no flavor at all, but it does take on what ever you serve it with.
texture?... they are a little slippery right out of the bag and must be washed and dried as much as possible...and...some of the strands can be a bit long...like 4 feet long!... so they might need cutting.
other than that, they are a great diet, WHEAT FREE, carb conscious pasta substitute.
they definitely serve as a great vehicle for "sauce to mouth"


on with the recipe...

SPICY SAUSAGE MARINARA
makes about 6 - 7 cups.  use what you need then freeze the rest

1 med. yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced small
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
3 spicy Italian pork sausage
1 sweet Italian turkey sausage
(sausage equaling about 1 1/4 lbs.)
1 28oz can San Marzano peeled plum tomatoes
(cut up as they go in the pot.  don't lose juices)
1 15oz can San Marzano diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can San Marzano tomato sauce
2 big Tbsp San Marzano tomato paste
1 big tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 - 2 tsp dried red chili flakes (more or less)
5-7 fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
3 big Tbsp grated parmigiano reggiano
2-3 cups water

in a large stock pot...
start with olive oil and onions (med. heat), then add garlic.  remove casing from sausage and add meat to the pot. lightly brown the meat until it's cooked through.  separate the sausage lumps while cooking...it should resemble hamburger meat. 
add all tomato ingredients (with all juices), dried herbs, chili flakes and 2 cups water.
bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  stir occasionally.
after about an hour...add parmigiano and fresh basil.  if it looks to thick add a little more water.
simmer for 1 more hour. 
 taste for seasoning.
it should be ready to serve at this point...BUT...it will get better and better if you cook it for at least another hour.
NOTE...my best friend Kim (New York-Italian) cooks hers alllll day long, but she makes a HUGE pot with pork chops instead of sausage...so it cooks until the meat is just falling apart.  it's enough to feed an army of hungry Italians.  i had her on the hot line as i was cooking and she said leave it on...let it cook.

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