IMG_8274

If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the look-out for healthy, delicious, vegetable-based side dishes that come together quickly and can be on hand for almost any meal. Ta da! Here’s a recipe that doesn’t even involve any cooking, just some pantry ingredients (well, they’re in my pantry — you might need to buy them, but then you’ll have them) mixed up in the Magic Bullet for a delicious, and indeed authentically Chinese, side dish. The use of Chinese black (Chinkiang) vinegar here gives a distinctive, vaguely smoky tang, and you can mix up as many or as few other Chinese ingredients to provide as simple or more complex a dish as you like. My version is spicy with sweetness from sugar, depth of flavor from sesame oil and soy, and a good bit of bite from fresh garlic.

Plus, if you have a flair for the dramatic, you can smash these cucumbers with a side of a cleaver (the smashing apparently helps them soak up the dressing) to really impress your friends. Or you can just smoosh them down on the cutting board, like I did. Up to you, really.

IMG_8230

Smashed Cucumbers with Chinese Black Vinegar Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber, peeled if you like, smashed on the counter then cut roughly into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbl Chinese black (Chinkiang) vinegar
  • 1 tbl roasted peanuts
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp hot chili oil (optional)

IMG_8247

Instructions

  1. Blend peanuts in the Magic Bullet until roughly chopped. Remove to bowl.
  2. Blend garlic in the Magic Bullet. Add vinegar, oils, sugar, and soy sauce and blend just slightly.
  3. Toss cucumbers with vinegar blend in a big bowl. Serve, garnishing with peanuts.

IMG_8255

 

email
Mar
13
0

Mapo Tofu

IMG_7869

Do you know mapo tofu? This classic Chinese meal uses an unusual (to the American palette) combo of ground beef and tofu for an incredibly interesting effect. The combination of the meaty beef and the silken tofu creates a fascinating textural contrast, and the beef combined with fermented ingredients creates an incredibly savory mouthfeel. Plus, the famous Sichuan peppercorns are used to generate a distinctive, spicy-but-vaguely-numbing effect.

This recipe requires a few unusual ingredients that you may need to go online to purchase, but once you do it’s totally worth it: my version comes together in a matter of minutes for an incredibly flavorful, unusual weeknight dinner. You can even add some hearty greens for what is truly a one-pot meal.

IMG_7781

 

Mapo Tofu Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb silken tofu
  • ¼ lb ground pork or beef
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 2 tbl preserved Chinese vegetable or fermented black beans
  • 1 bunch hearty greens, sliced (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbl Sichuan peppercorns (half ground, half not)
  • 2 dried red chilis
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp water
  • 4 tsp fermented Chinese bean paste
  • 4 tsp Chinese rice wine
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp chili oil
  • 1 tbl brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Blend the garlic, ginger and preserved vegetable (or black beans) in the Magic Bullet.
  2. Add vegetable oil, chilis and whole Sichuan peppercorns to pan over medium-high heat. Cook two minutes until sizzling, maybe beginning to brown. Drain peppercorns and discard.
  3. Raise heat to high until oil lightly smokes. Add ground meat and cook, stirring, for one minute.
  4. Add garlic, ginger, scallion whites, and yucai and cook until fragrant.
  5. Add chili-bean paste, wine, soy sauce, brown sugar, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium. If using the hearty greens, add them and cook until wilted, about four minutes.
  6. Combine cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl and mix with a fork until homogenous. Pour in cornstarch mixture and cook for 30 seconds until thickened.
  7. Lower heat to medium, add tofu and carefully fold in, being careful not to break it up too much. Let tofu get hot for a few minutes.
  8. Stir in chili oil, scallion greens, and ground peppercorns and serve.

IMG_7774

 

Mar
6
0

Sichuan Green Beans

IMG_8169

Okay, my love for Sichuan Chinese food may be getting a little out of control, but here’s a recipe for a healthy, delicious side dish that packs a TON of flavor and is extremely easy to make. You will need Chinese preserved vegetables, which can be bought online very easily or from any decent Asian grocery store. (Once you pop open the can, the vegetable will keep for months in the fridge.) For deep fermented flavor with truly minimal effort, it’s worth a little shopping. A touch of sugar and the classics of ginger and garlic add layers of flavor and sweetness, and a handful of dried red peppers (available in the “Latino” section of most supermarkets) add heat and a hint of smoke.

With the Magic Bullet this dish all comes together in no time at all. Sichuan peppercorns get blended up into that distinctive, vaguely anise-like, mouth-tingling powder. The fermented vegetable goes in as big pieces and comes out perfectly sized for cooking. Finally, I use my “best green beans ever” technique for perfectly al dente green beans in no time flat.

IMG_8087

Sichuan Green Bean Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb green beans, ends trimmed, cut into three inch pieces if necessary
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 piece of preserved Sichuan vegetable (about two tablespoons when diced)
  • Handful of dried red peppers, or to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled.
  • 1 two-inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Add peppercorns to Magic Bullet and blend. Remove to small bowl. Add vegetable to Magic Bullet and blend. Remove to bowl. Add the garlic to the Magic Bullet, blend, and move to bowl. Add the ginger to the Magic Bullet, blend, and move to bowl.
  2. Add green beans to skillet on high heat with dash of vegetable oil. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until green beans are thoroughly browned.
  3. Add ¼ cup water. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow green beans to steam for 2 minutes, until cooked through but still a touch al dente.
  4. Raise heat to high. Add blended mixture, the scallions, and the red peppers to the pan. Cook until garlic is mellowed and flavors meld, another two to three minutes. Add the sugar, stir everything up, and serve.

IMG_8183

 

IMG_8475

Is there anything more delicious than pesto? Or anything better suited to the Magic Bullet? If there is, I don’t know it.

I like to change up the pesto sauces I make and this time I  swapped the traditional basil pesto with fresh arugula pesto. Subtle, yet delicious: the arugula is peppery and vaguely woody, giving it a nice but none-too-bold flavor. I picked up some fresh pasta at the farmer’s market here in DC, as well as some delicious in-season tomatoes.

IMG_8361

Arugula Pesto Pasta Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 8 oz. arugula
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbl. walnuts, toasted in the microwave in a bit of oil
  • Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil with some salt and add the arugula for fifteen seconds, then remove and run under cold water. Squeeze dry in a strainer.
  2. Add the pasta to the water and cook according to the package instructions.
  3. Blend the parmesan in the Magic Bullet until all the big pieces are gone. Add the arugula, garlic, olive oil, salt, and walnuts, then blend until you have a paste.
  4. Mix pesto with pasta and serve, passing additional parmesan, with a runny egg if you like.

IMG_8399

Feb
15
0

Pasta carbonara

pasta-carbonara

Spaghetti carbonara… it’s a classic, easy, delicious, cheap, and hearty dinner, so why haven’t you made it? If you don’t know what carbonara is, you’re in for a treat. This classic, Roman dish consists of bacon, barely cooked eggs and parmesan, to create a rich, delicious pasta sauce.

Although I’ve made carbonara many times before, this one follows a new recipe from Serious Eats, which involves more egg yolks and less bacon and cheese than other recipes. The result is particularly eggy and rich but less greasy. You can also use any type of bacon; here I use pancetta, which is more porky and less smoky.

The Magic Bullet does triple duty here, grating the parmesan, chopping the garlic, and grinding the pepper.

pasta-carbonara8

Pasta Carbonara Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta (I used bucatini; spaghetti is “traditional”)
  • 1/2 cup diced bacon (or guanciale or pancetta)
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 2 whole eggs plus 6 egg yolks
  • 1 large parmesan (enough to make ½ cup when grated)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled

 

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta until al dente in heavily salted water. Without draining the pasta water, remove the pasta.
  2. Add bacon to pan with oil over medium heat and cook until crisp. Turn off heat.
  3. Blend garlic in the Magic Bullet and remove to a large metal or glass bowl. Blend the parmesan and remove to the bowl. Blend the black pepper and remove to the bowl. Add the eggs and egg yolks and stir everything up.
  4. Add cooked pasta to the pan with the bacon and stir everything together. Add the egg mixture to the pan and stir everything some more. Add ½ cup of the pasta water and bring the pasta water to a boil.
  5. Dump everything in the pan back into the bowl over the boiling water. Let the pasta cook from the heat of the steam until you have a creamy sauce.
  6. Serve immediately.

pasta-carbonara1

 

Feb
2
0

Sushi Bowls

IMG_9949

“Bowls”: I know, trending right now. I’m sorry to be part of the trend. I really am. But, what can I say? Sometimes trends happen for a reason. (I still like pesto.) Anyway, if you haven’t tried making sushi bowls, you’re in for a treat: it turns out that a lot of the magic going on behind the sushi counter is about presentation. You can make a perfectly delicious, sushi-like creation with only a few simple ingredients. I use brown rice for a better glycemic index, too.

I’m lucky enough to live near an excellent Japanese store in Washington, DC that sells sushi-grade fish at reasonable prices, but you could easily substitute crabstick or shrimp for an equally delicious meal. The Magic Bullet whips up the seasoning in no time flat.

IMG_9911

Sushi Bowl Recipe

Sushi Rice Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups short grain brown rice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tbl sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Salad Ingredients

  • Protein, any type (I used seared tuna, sliced)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced (peeling is optional)
  • Scallions, sliced
  • Big dash of sesame seeds
  • Nori (roasted sushi seaweed)
  • Wasabi
  • Soy sauce

 

Instructions

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to boil and add the rice. Cook for 30 minutes. Drain and refrigerate for 60 minutes (or if you’re pressed for time, rinse with cold water).
  2. Meanwhile, blend vinegar, sugar, and salt in the Magic Bullet.
  3. Mix rice with vinegar mixture.
  4. Put rice in bowl and add garnishes. Serve, passing wasabi and soy sauce.

IMG_9977

 

 

IMG_9653

Recapping 2016, I wonder, is farro going to be the IT grain of 2016?! Farro seems to be getting a lot of buzz! Its star is rising! Farro appreciates all the attention, but has it lost touch with its roots? Only time will tell….

Anyway, here I combine farrow with another once-trendy ingredient, pimenton, aka smoked Spanish paprika, for a delicious grain “salad” with fish and roasted broccoli. The pimenton makes an appearance in the dressing as well as in the fish. This ended up being a home run: the farro was nutty and crunchy, the pimenton smoky and savory, the broccoli healthy and flavorful and also crunchy and smoky, and the whole thing pretty darn healthy.

Get ahead of the fad and try farro today. It’s just pretty darn good.

IMG_9597

Pimenton Grain Salad with Fish, Farro and Roasted Broccoli Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fish, any type (I used swordfish)
  • 2 tbl pimenton, separated
  • 4 tbl olive oil, plus more for cooking and coating
  • 2 tbl white balsamic vinegar, or any vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2/3 cup farro
  • four scallions, sliced
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets

IMG_9611

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss broccoli with olive oil and salt and roast until crunchy and just beginning to blacken.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the farro. Cook for 20 minutes or until al dente, then drain.
  3. Toss the fish with a tablespoon of pimenton and salt. Heat a dash of olive oil over medium heat, then add the fish and cook until just barely cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, blend the garlic in the Magic Bullet. Add the olive oil, a tablespoon of pimenton, and the vinegar and blend.
  5. Mix together broccoli, farro, scallions, and the dressing. Top with the fish and serve.

 

IMG_9127

These noodles will drive you craaaaazy. OK, I can’t back that up, but they’re spicy and funky and unexpectedly cold, like a salad and ramen’s spicy funky lovechild. OK, I can’t back that up either. In any event, get yourself some kimchi – I got delicious radish kimchi from my local farmer’s market – and you’ll have these noodles made in twenty minutes or less. Might we even say they are healthy? They contain very little fat and a lot of vegetables, so… Hey, yeah. A salad it is.

The Magic Bullet makes whipping together the dressing very easy, and the only other time factor is the minutes it takes to boil the noodles and the time it takes to slice some veggies. Add a soft-boiled egg for protein and incredible richness, and you’ve got yourself a spicy, funky meal.

Adapted from The New York Times

IMG_9073

Cold, Spicy Kimchi Noodle Recipe

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup kimchi
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 two-inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 tbl brown sugar
  • 1 tbl gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 1 tbl sesame oil
  • 1 tbl rice vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbl fish sauce

Noodle Ingredients

  • ½ lb soba noodles
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and large diced
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbl sesame seeds

IMG_9099

Instructions

  1. Blend kimchi, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, gochujang, miso, sesame oil, rice vinegar, lime juice, and fish sauce in your Magic Bullet.
  2. Meanwhile, cook soba noodles until al dente and rest in cold water. Drain. Boil eggs for about five minutes and rest in cold water. Peel.
  3. Mix noodles, sauce, tomatoes, noodles, and cucumbers. Serve, garnishing with eggs and sesame seeds.

IMG_9108

Jan
3
0

Cumin Lamb

img_9722

The lamb takes on the flavors of cumin so well in this Chinese food dish.

Recently I shared with you velveting, the Chinese method for keeping meat tender and delicious. Does it work with lamb?! Only one way to find out… Long story short: yes, it works! Tender, mildly chewy lamb, bursting with cumin flavor, smoky and spicy from poblano peppers, vegetable-y and vaguely healthy from lots of onion and green peppers, and tingly from Sichuan peppercorns. Puts new meaning into better-than-takeout: much healthier (more vegetables and less oil) and it’s fast and delicious!

img_9675

Cumin Lamb Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless lamb shoulder, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp. Chinese rice wine, separated (or mirin or omit)
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce, separated into 1 tbsp. and 2 tbsp.
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch, separated
  • 3 tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp. Sichuan peppercorns (available in Chinese groceries or online)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 very large onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and sliced
  • ½ bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped
  • Vegetable oil

img_9691

Instructions

  1. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and peppercorns and toast until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add to the Magic Bullet and blend. Remove spice mixture, add the garlic, and blend.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. In a bowl, mix the lamb, one tablespoon of rice wine, one tablespoon of soy sauce, egg white, and cornstarch.
  3. When the water is boiling, add the lamb and cook two minutes, until just beginning to change color. Remove lamb and rub with ground spices and a pinch of salt.
  4. Meanwhile, add the onions to the wok with a big glug of vegetable oil and a big pinch of salt. Cook until softened and just beginning to brown.
  5. Add both peppers and the lamb and cook, stirring, until lamb is just cooked through. Add remaining soy sauce, garlic, and rice wine, stir and cook until just fragrant, another 30 seconds.
  6. Add cilantro, stir, and serve.

img_9727

img_8152

Hey, here’s an easy, delicious, and healthy weeknight dinner that uses some sneaky, flavor-packed ingredients to amp up the taste with very little work. And it all gets made in one pot. I guess that’s not very much for a recipe… OK, that’s pretty awesome for a recipe if you want to know the truth.

If you don’t know preserved lemons, it’s time to work them into your repertoire. Tangy, funky, tart… they’re like the miso of citrus. Maybe not, but this is a delicious dish.

img_8106

Preserved Lemon, Asparagus, and Ricotta Pasta Recipe

 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb short pasta, any type
  • 1 lb asparagus, sliced
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup ricotta (low-fat if you like)
  • Olive oil

img_8131

 

Instructions

  1. Boil a pot of heavily salted water and add the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente, adding the asparagus for the final minute of cooking. Drain the pasta, reserving half a cup of pasta cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, blend the garlic in the Magic Bullet.
  3. Add the asparagus to the pot with the garlic and a big glug of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook until garlic is very fragrant and asparagus is just beginning to brown, about three minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Blend the lemon, ricotta, and some of the reserved pasta cooking water in the Magic Bullet.
  5. Add the pasta and the lemon-ricotta mixture to the pot with the asparagus. Stir everything over medium-low heat until everything comes together, adding more pasta cooking water as necessary to keep everything moist.

img_8209