You know, salads with balsamic vinaigrette are pretty great, but sometimes the same old routine gets a little boring. Here’s a neat little salad, adapted from Serious Eats, that takes things in a different direction with some Japanese ingredients. The primary component is “shoyu-dashi,” which is basically a mixture of soy sauce and dashi, which is, in turn, a brewed broth of kombu and bonito (a type of seaweed and smoked fish flakes, respectively). Got all that?

To make things less confusing, let me simplify and describe the dressing this way: a blend of soy sauce, oil, and seaweed broth that gets some extra umami from fish stock. I had trouble finding bonito, so I used anchovies instead (yum), a classic trick from Caesar salad. Long story short, this dressing is truly delicious, unusually full of umami for something so light, and quite easy to prepare so long as you can find kombu (try Whole Foods).

The salad itself is composed of arugula, sweet potatoes, and walnuts. Making things extra easy, the sweet potatoes are “steamed” in the microwave; ditto with the toasting of the walnuts. The dressing would be good on any number of things, though. I added chopped red onions to the original recipe, for sweetness, and a soft-boiled egg, because, well, that goes without saying.

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Sweet Potato and Walnut Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, poked all over with a fork
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 ounce dried kombu
  • 1 tin anchovies
  • ¼ red onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 soft-boiled egg, optional

Instructions

  1. Microwave sweet potatoes until tender and easily pierced with a fork, about ten minutes. Set aside to cool. Cut into cubes.
  2. Meanwhile, on a microwave-safe plate, drizzle walnuts with olive oil and shake them up. Microwave in 1-minute intervals at high power, tossing between intervals, until toasted and fragrant, about two minutes.
  3. In a medium pot, combine water with kombu and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook for ten minutes. Remove and discard kombu.
  4. Add oil from anchovy tin to Magic Bullet with one or two anchovies. Blend. Add about ¼ cup of the kombu broth (discarding the rest), along with the soy sauce, and blend. Add the olive oil and pulse a few times.
  5. In a salad bowl, combine sweet potato, walnuts, red onion and arugula. Toss with dressing and serve with anchovies and egg.

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Convenience food: it doesn’t sound good, does it? Like a frozen pizza or one of those rotisserie chickens from the grocery store (okay, both of those can be good sometimes.) Even so, I think it’s funny how squishy the line is between “prepared food” and “homemade.” As far as I can tell, these days virtually nobody actually makes food from scratch from scratch – I mean, what would that even mean? Is anybody out there milling their own flour? But on the other hand, some food just resonates as being made from scratch and other food just doesn’t.

Anyway, the key to this easy, delicious, healthy pasta is that it takes almost no work (with your Magic Bullet, not even any chopping), and results in a fresh and easy homemade dish. The secret, such as it is, is using two convenient ingredients that are still delicious and “fresh:” Italian sausage and pre-chopped kale. Since both have actually been substantially prepared by another person (well, or a machine, I don’t really know…), their use here sneakily lets you make something delicious and homemade that is also really quick and easy.

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Pasta with Kale, Sausage, and Lemon

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta, any kind
  • 1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, removed from casing (any sausage will do)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 pound of chopped kale, from a bag
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions

  1. Boil pasta in heavily salted water until just short of al dente. Reserve half of a cup of pasta-cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, blend garlic in Magic Bullet, then add to a pan with a big glug of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook until garlic is just fragrant, about thirty seconds.
  3. Add sausage to pan and cook, stirring to break up the sausage, until just beginning to brown. Add all the kale, stirring in batches if necessary, and cook for another minute. Then add the chicken broth and continue to cook for another few minutes until kale is well-wilted and sausage is clearly done.
  4. Mix together pasta, kale and sausage and lemon juice. Stir everything together for another minute over medium-low heat until pasta is not visibly wet. (If pasta gets too dry, add some of the cooking water.) Add extra olive oil and salt to taste.
  5. Serve, passing parmesan.

 

Mar
11
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Poppy Seed Dressing

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So, let’s talk salad dressing. You can buy it and it’s easy and it’s good. But is it good? Well, I often find that I do not want to eat salad when it’s made with store-bought dressing. But when I make my own salad dressing, sometimes I do want to eat salad. Correlation? Causation? Who’s to say?

In any event, here’s a great new salad dressing that was really different from anything I’d ever made before. It uses poppy seeds, an ingredient I’d never bought before (except on a bagel, but that’s buying a bagel, not poppy seeds), and all the ingredients create a really nice balance of sweet, savory, and herbal flavors. Don’t skip the sugar here. I know it’s a salad (we’ve been over that several times), but it’s the combination and balance here that really makes this dressing special.

I served this with some baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, farro, and a soft-boiled egg: all winter ingredients that still somehow taste like vegetables. Glory!

Adapted from The Kitchn.

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Poppy Seed Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mustard (the kind that’s in a powder)
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Blend the garlic in the Magic Bullet. Add the vinegar and the sugar and blend.
  2. Add the poppy seeds, salt, and ground mustard, and pulse a few times to combine.
  3. Bit by bit, add the oil and blend.
  4. Serve over salad or keep in the fridge. If dressing separates, shake or blend to reconstitute.

 

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There’s a time and a place for an all-day vegetarian chili-making session, and there’s a weeknight dinner when you just want something healthy and delicious, but not too boring. I’m here to offer you something tasty and just a little different that will still fit into your week, without much cooking, prep, or even extensive grocery shopping: roasted Brussels sprouts with a delicious, Asian-inspired glaze.

This is really a way to use your well-stocked pantry to create an incredibly delicious side dish. Just pick up some Brussels sprouts, fish sauce and oyster sauce if you don’t already have them, and you’re ready to go. You’ll be amazed by how much flavor slips into a few minutes of prep work.

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Brussels Sprouts with Oyster Sauce Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • olive oil

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 450. Add brussels sprouts to a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. (Do not add salt.)
  2. Blend garlic in Magic Bullet until well chopped. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, and oyster sauce and blend a few pulses.
  3. Roast the brussels sprouts until just beginning to brown, about fifteen minutes. Remove pan from oven and toss with the sauce. Add back to oven and cook until just beginning to crisp up, about another five minutes. (Be careful not to overcook or the glaze will burn.)
  4. Serve with chicken, meat, or fish.

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I’ve been trying for a few years to recreate this dish from Ivy Noodle, the great (okay, good) Chinese noodle house in New Haven, Connecticut. I think this is my best yet: stir-fried noodles with a salty, soy-sauce based sauce with just the slightest hint of fishiness and funky sweetness from oyster and fish sauce, combined with the sweetness of shrimp and crunch from bean sprouts. Not to mention bits of chewy stir-fried tofu, which complement the noodles, as well as a meaty, funky bite from bits of preserved Chinese sausage. It all comes together faster than it sounds and is truly delicious.

This dish should not be confused with the “Singapore noodles” that you get in Chinese-American restaurants in the United States. As far as I can tell, that’s just fried noodles with curry powder… not my favorite. This dish is a relatively more authentic dish from modern Singapore, known as char kway teow. If you can’t find Chinese sausage, just skip it; the rest of the ingredients can be found in any good grocery store (and certainly any Asian grocery store).

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Singapore-Style Stir Fry Noodles with Shrimp and Chinese Sausage (Char Kway Teow)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound stir-fry noodles, any type
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ pound shrimp
  • ½ pound extra firm or super-pressed tofu, cut into bite-sized slices
  • 1 preserved Chinese sausage link, casing removed and sliced
  • 2 tsp. sambal olek or other hot sauce
  • 1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced

Instructions

  1. Prepare noodles for stir-frying according to package instructions.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet (or wok) over high heat. Add garlic to Magic Bullet and blend. Add garlic to skillet and cook until fragrant, no more than 30 seconds.
  3. Add shrimp to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until just barely cooked through. Remove shrimp and place in a bowl.
  4. Add tofu and sausage to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until nicely browned.
  5. Add hot sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce to Magic Bullet and blend.
  6. Add noodles and blended sauce to pan and cook, stirring frequently, for two minutes or until liquid is just absorbed.
  7. Add shrimp, bean sprouts and scallions to noodles and cook, stirring frequently, for a minute or two until sprouts and scallions have just lost their raw edge.
  8. Enjoy!

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I recently was given a pressure cooker and here’s a strange-but-true fact: chicken cooked in a pressure cooker gets extra chicken-y. I don’t know why this is so, but once I figured it out, one thing became obvious: I needed to make Hainanese chicken.

What’s Hainanese chicken? Chicken and rice is a dish that is popular around the world in many cuisines, and Hainanese chicken is essentially the Southeast Asian version: white meat chicken and rice cooked in chicken broth, fragrant with just the slightest bit of shallot, ginger, and garlic, to ensure a thoroughly chickeny dish.

As in Singapore, I served this with a nice, subtle ginger-scallion sauce, with the ginger serving to complement the flavors of the chicken itself and had just the slightest hint of sharpness from the scallion. This it the chicken and rice of your dreams. Serve with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

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Hainanese Chicken with Ginger-Scallion Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 4 scallions, ends removed
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Blend ginger and garlic in your Magic Bullet.
  2. Heat pressure cooker pot (with cover off) over medium-high heat. Add butter and wait until it foams, then add chicken skin side down and cook until golden brown. Flip chicken, cook for a minute or two, and remove chicken. (Chicken will still basically be raw.)
  3. Add shallot with half the ginger and garlic. Cook until shallot is softened. Add the rice and cook two minutes. Add the chicken and the chicken broth. Cover pressure cooker, bring the cooker to pressure, and cook for eleven minutes.
  4. Add the scallions to the Magic Bullet and blend.
  5. In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering, then pour it over the garlic-ginger-scallion mixture.
  6. Serve with scallion sauce and hot sauce if you like.

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This is one of the craziest salads I’ve ever made, combining a bunch of ingredients that home cooks only occasionally use, such as blackened cabbage and tofu, into a delicious hot salad. Game on.

The original recipe, from The Kitchn, grilled the cabbage and didn’t include tofu, but my grill is closed for the winter and I wanted this to be more of a meal, so I cut the cabbage into chunks and threw it under the broiler with some shallots, and I also added some sautéed super-pressed tofu, for meaty texture and protein. The lime vinaigrette, which contains cilantro and fish sauce, provides a nice tart, fragrant, salty counterbalance.

If you make this, it’s important to get crunchy, blackened cabbage pieces and nice softened shallot, so don’t be afraid to really broil the heck out of them.

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Hot Cabbage Salad with Tofu and Lime Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup lime juice (from about 3 limes)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus a drizzle more
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 dried Chinese red pepper, or use ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp. sugar
  • 1 head green cabbage, cut into hunks
  • 3 shallots, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 8 oz super pressed tofu, cut into slices (about ½ inch thick)
  • vegetable oil for sautéing

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler. Remove the loosest, toughest outer leaves from the cabbage, and cut into evenly sized wedges. (Do not remove the stalk or inner core.) Put the cabbage and the shallots on a sheet pan and drizzle with oil. Cook under the broiler until everything gets blackened spots.
  2. Add the vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the tofu and cook until nicely brown, then cut the tofu up into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Blend remaining ingredients in the Magic Bullet to make the dressing.
  4. Mix everything together and serve.

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A time to kill, and a time to heal;

A time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to eat macaroni and cheese, and a time to eat red cabbage salad.

OK, that’s not how the old song goes (which apparently is based on an Old Testament verse –who knew?) But maybe it’s how it should go.

If you’ve overindulged the last few weeks (or months), may I recommend this delicious cabbage salad? I’ve adapted it from Martha Shulman over at the New York Times, and it is sweet, nutty, salty and sour. So good, you won’t miss the macaroni and cheese! OK, that isn’t true, but I added shrimp and it’s pretty darn delicious and healthy, too.

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Red Cabbage Salad with Walnuts and Radishes

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup lime juice (about two limes’ worth of juice)
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 piece of ginger (about two inches), peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium cabbage, quartered, cored and finely sliced
  • 1 cup radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted if you like
  • seared shrimp, chicken, or tofu (optional)

Instructions

  1. Blend lime juice, vinegar, honey, fish sauce, and oils in the Magic Bullet. Add ginger and blend just for a few pulses to make the dressing.
  2. Toss cabbage with radishes, walnuts, and blended dressing. Serve, passing protein if you like.
Jan
15
0

Cacio e Pepe

If you’ve never made cacio e pepe, drop whatever you’re doing right now and get yourself to your kitchen. OK, if you’re holding an infant or a bullfrog, put that down first.

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This recipe takes all of fifteen minutes and a handful of ingredients that you probably already have, and it is good. Creamy and cheesy, with a nice peppery bite, this is weeknight cooking that will make you feel like you’re in Rome.

I took the controversial step of using some half-and-half here, which is how Cook’s Illustrated does it, so deal with it. I think the cream does a nice job of emulsifying everything together into a rich sauce, and using half-and-half makes this into a somewhat lighter dish, perfect for a weeknight. I also like using a blend of olive oil and butter, which gives nice, well-rounded and fruity flavors. A little goes a long way. As they say, since this dish has very few ingredients, it’s best to use the highest quality cheese and olive oil here.

To take this dish to its highest form, use your Magic Bullet as a spice grinder to make freshly ground black pepper. You can also use the Bullet to make freshly grated cheese.

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Cacio e Pepe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta, such as spaghetti
  • 4 oz (1/4 pound) hard cheese – pecorino romano is traditional, parmesan or parmigiano reggiano is also good
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp half-and-half
  • 8 black peppercorns

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta until al dente in a dutch oven with heavily salted water, reserving 1.5 cups of pasta cooking liquid after draining.
  2. Blend peppercorns in Magic Bullet and set aside. Blend cheese in Magic Bullet.
  3. Add olive oil, butter, and pepper to dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook until fragrant. Add half of the reserved cooking water and the half-and-half and cook briefly, 15 seconds.
  4. Add the cooked pasta and the cheese and stir everything together rapidly, adding more cooking water as desired.
  5. Enjoy!

Do you ever wake up the morning with nothing to eat? Here’s a fantastic, easy breakfast that is low in fat and high in delicious: biscuits whipped up from pantry items in your Magic Bullet. I actually made this totally on a whim because I was hungry – and it turned out great. The biscuits were crunchy on the outside, and moist and flaky on the inside. This was great with an egg stuffed in the middle, though next time I’ll make the actual biscuits twice as big for easier egg-sandwiching. Of course, these biscuits aren’t nonfat; they do contain butter, because, you know, biscuits.

I hear McDonald’s is now serving breakfast all day, which I guess means it’s okay to make these biscuits all day, too. I guess that shouldn’t be surprising: homemade biscuits are better than McDonald’s. Alert the media!

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Easy Low-Fat Breakfast Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 1⁄2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup low fat, plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp butter, cold, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Blend all ingredients except butter in the Magic Bullet.
  3. Add butter to Magic Bullet and process just a few pulses.
  4. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, scoop out balls of batter (about two tablespoons of batter per ball, though you could double that for larger biscuits).
  5. Bake about twenty minutes or until golden brown on the outside.