Archive | main dishes

Linguine with Braised Chard and Prosciutto

After a busy day, there’s nothing more that I want than fast food. Not the McD kind or the pizza kind. I want something I could fix ASAP without having to fret over ingredients I’m missing. You must think I just bake and eat baked goods all the time with everything that I’ve been posting lately, but I still do cook. I want to spend my time in the kitchen wisely (=quickly), making something that’s good enough to eat and enjoy, but still healthy. I mean, cutting out the part where I drink wine is eating healthier, right? Aha.

There were still fresh pasta and prosciutto from my last trip to Granville Island, and a bunch of almost- forgotten Swiss chard that commanded attention or they will take a direct trip to the food scrap recycling bin. And then there’s the leftover ricotta from my crumb cake baking, plus a lonely shallot bulb.  I’m not organized enough to have my market loot assigned into dishes and menus, so this is a regular plight: Get available and/or in-season ingredients and figure it out in the kitchen later. The pantry and fridge supplies my cooking notes, and sometimes we orchestrate some magic. This one will be added to my pile of go-to quick food, with the greens adapted to what’s in season or easily available.

Simple food can be satisfying, you just have to be willing to try. And don’t forget to check what you already have in your kitchen. Yes, that is a lesson for myself as well.

If you’re into Swiss chard, check this other recipe, too: Eggplant & Chard Lasagne. It’s a vegetarian dish that has a good chance of winning the meat lovers over. :)

Happy weekend!

   Get the recipe for Linguine with Braised Chard and Prosciutto

Posted in cheese, experiments, Fuss Free Fridays, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, pasta, quick & easy, vegetables3 Comments

Indoor Pulled Pork

This is “faux” barbecue pulled pork at its finest. There’s no need to barbecue pork outside for hours, just do it right in your oven! Liquid smoke in brine and spice rub lend those smoky flavors in the meat. Serve it in a tortilla for carnitas, between two slices of baguette bánh mì-style, or with grains (it goes great with rice and scrambled eggs) and you’re good to go. For me, I like it Filipino-style, in soft, sweet pan de sal buns!

I love barbecue pork, pulled pork, bánh mì Vietnamese sandwiches, and the only sandwiches I truly, absolutely enjoy are those with warm meat in between toasted soft buns. I will eat cold cuts sandwiches, but I won’t crave for it. Now the pulled, barbecued kind? I dream of it.

Indoor Pulled Pork

Simply delicious. That's all I can say.

As soon as I saw this recipe on my Cook’s Illustrated magazine (one of the very few magazines with recipes I can rely on), I knew instantly that I have to make it. Dan made it first and said, “Oh god.” I didn’t need an explanation after that, because no sooner was I saying the same thing, perhaps with a little profanity peppered in. Holy ****.

Indoor Pulled Pork

If the looks alone won't hook you, the first bite will. It is just a piece of heaven in sweet pan de sal. We get ours from Aling Mary's.

This will be on the menu again in the near future and the recipe will be doubled, so I can freeze half to enjoy whenever I crave for it.

I just don’t have anything else to say other than: Make it. It’s good for you.

   Get the recipe for Indoor Pulled Pork here (PDF download included)

Posted in main dishes, pork3 Comments

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne and Being a Reluctant Gardener

In case you’re in the mood for lasagne, and up for something different, try this Eggplant and Chard Lasagne. Yes, it’s vegetarian and it’s incredibly good in a Wow-That’s-Vegetarian?! kind of way. I served it to a group of carnivores who whined (a little) before tasting it. They shut up after the first bite. Then, the rest of the lasagna was history…gone with the skeptic wind.

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

I really, really wish you could taste this right now!

Eating what I consider a “balanced” diet

I do love my chocolates, high-fat Irish butter, desserts and everything sweet, so I try to balance them out with oatmeal or 2% greek yogurt in the mornings, and vegetable/fruit-rich dishes the rest of the day [Keep in mind: I try, but it doesn't always happen.]. Having said that, I also don’t see the point of dreading a lackluster meal only to make myself feel better with too much dessert. And let’s face it–it’s way easier to keep eating dessert…so very easy. I want to eat with a good diet in mind, but I don’t want to eat like I’m missing out. I’m with the camp who believes that eating healthier shouldn’t mean resigning to eating food that taste like crap.

After having cooked several recipes from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, I couldn’t recommend it enough for anyone thinking of putting more vegetable dishes on their tables. Remember the split pea soup? Yum! This lasagne? Oh my. It’s another winning combination, and I can’t believe I’ve never used chard and eggplant together like this, it’s so deviously simple.

I wasn’t quite sure how it would taste from the recipe, to be honest, but knowing that my fellow food blogging pal Dana made it before was the extra assurance I needed to feel at ease making this for the first time and serving it to hungry non-vegetarian bellies.

And you know what? It was a smashing success of a pasta dish. If you taste this, you won’t say: “This tastes good for vegetarian…” It is awesome. Period. No need to label it as “vegetarian” as an excuse for its taste. I know what it’s like. I used to wince whenever someone said the V-word. I die a little each time then, if I want to be dramatic about it. But this. Oh, I love it! I’ve no qualms about serving it to anyone. I plan to serve this at my next birthday party, and it won’t need the usual introduction of, “That’s vegetarian, FYI.”

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

Dig in.

It tastes like lasagne (in case you’re wondering). It’s not too leafy, not too rich. It’s filling, but it won’t weigh you down–y’know that feeling with pasta that’s bloated you can barely look at it before thinking there’s just no way I could eat that? I was quite surprised at how good eggplant was in between sheets of pasta, and really being good friends with wilted chard. Mmmm…mmm!

So the question is: would I pick this over the conventional lasagne if I had the choice? YES! Oh, heck, YES!

Truly, I love the dish as is, but something’s missing. With the beginning of spring, I can’t help but think of how it could be better with garden-fresh eggplants and chard. Yeah, I’m going to go all oogly-vegetably on you now.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, a-gardening we go!

I won’t lie. I don’t have a green thumb (although he says there is no such thing) and gardening became obliterated from my thinking process before I reached my teens. Gardening wha’? Before that, I enjoyed mostly third-party gardening. I was perfectly content with watering the plants and removing/cutting the occasional dried stem or leaf. The major dig-ins, I just watch while others do it. My forte was harvesting and eating the fruits/vegetables, or cutting flowers and leaves to put in vases for our rooms. Very nice.

This year, I want to overcome my fear of soil–of earthworms, in particular–and start a small garden in the backyard. I used to live in a building complex where the yard consisted of rocks and manicured lawns and trees tended on an almost-daily basis by gardeners. You can’t plant. Not that it mattered at the time. Now that I’m back in the ‘burbs of Vancouver, there is actually a yard to play with.

Gulp.

I fear the yard. All it looks to me is more work when I could be tweeting instead! I’m so inspired by Kristina and Kristina‘s gardens. [Hah! Did I confuse you? Raise your hand if your name is Kristina and you garden. I see a pattern here.] I hope I’m not setting myself up for failure. We’ll see. I’ll try.

I mean…really, I will. Just thinking of having fresh produce from my own garden makes me happy. And I know that sounds like the geekiest food-related thing I’ve said. Help.

Do you have any tips for a newbie gardener like me? Can you share links/resources or books/primers to read?

I want to have a vegetable garden and eat the fruits of my labor. Hopefully, we can get soil this weekend. And no, I have not read a single book on gardening. Can gardening knowledge be–hold your breath–organic? :D

Get the recipe for Eggplant and Chard Lasagne (includes PDF)

Posted in books and publications, cheese, healthier choices, main dishes, pasta, vegetables, vegetarian4 Comments

Slow-Roasted Beef with Red Wine Sauce

Slow roasting at low temperatures is the best way to tame a not-so-tender cut of beef. The chuck is the best ‘cheaper’ cut for this recipe, but I’ve tested it even on a bottom round cut roast and achieved great results. So have some good, homemade roast beef any day of the week without blowing your budget!

Busy weekend here. I’ve some spillover work, and Gourmeted-related things to finish (aka The Newsletter), plus I’m helping out a friend with her wedding invitations. You’ll know just how busy I am just by the scarcity of my tweets.

Before I disappear into the haze, I’d like to leave you with this must-keep-on-hand recipe for slow-roasted beef. Pick up some beef and get cooking!

Slow Roasted Beef

It tasted even better than it looks. It was so juicy and yummy!

Have a great weekend!

Continue Reading

Posted in beef, dips and sauces, main dishes7 Comments

Brined Roast Turkey

If you’re like me, you’re not prepared for the Christmas dinners (emphasis on plural) to come… in a few hours! I’m not usually like this, especially with special occasion meals, but this time I’ve just basically let go because I’ve been so ill. I’m happy I could even post this before it’s too late (or is it?).

Well, if you’re like me, then you can still make this. Or at least consider brining your turkey if you’re serving turkey like we are. It’s the best decision I’ve made about the bird. I should have known better because this is what my grandmother used to do with the chickens she handpicks from the farm. [Yes, I won't go there..to that visual place, no, not during the holidays.] We could not wait to have a taste of the pineapple chicken she makes, which has been brined in salt, sugar and pineapple first. Oh, yummy!

I do have a not-so-pretty picture from this year’s Thanksgiving, but I’ll change this as soon as I get pics tomorrow night.

Brined Roast Turkey

But forget about how it looks…just remember this: we almost didn’t have any leftovers! It was so juicy and flavorful. Give it a try!

Ok…gotta go! Happy roasting!

BRINED ROAST TURKEY Download the PDF recipe for Brined Roast Turkey

Ingredients

For brining:
1 fresh or thawed turkey, with giblets from cavity removed (at least 13 lbs)
kosher salt
juice of 1 orange*
juice of 1 lemon*

* As an alternative (and a very delicious one at that) you can use a cup of pineapple juice, or whatever light-colored juice you prefer. You can also add brown/raw/demerara sugar, honey, agave nectar or molasses to the solution.

For roasting:
2 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
Pepper to taste

Preparation

1. Brining. If you at least 12 hours to prepare: submerge turkey in a liquid solution of 1/2-cup salt combined with 1-gallon water and the orange and lemon juice. You can also brine the turkey for only 4 hours using a stronger solution of 1-cup salt to 1-gallon water, and the juices.

You can use extra large Ziploc bags (double bag it for safety and put on the most bottom area of the fridge in case of spillage) or the specially made brining bags you can buy at specialty stores. You can also use a large pan that can fit the turkey (you might need to turn the turkey halfway through if you use a pan). Keep the turkey in the brining bag/container in the refrigerator or place it in a large cooler with bags of ice – you need to watch out for the temperature. Important: Remember to keep the turkey below 40°F.

2. Cooking the turkey. Preheat the oven to 325°F.** Rinse the turkey thoroughly and pat dry.

3. Mix thyme, rosemary, carrots, celery and onions in a small bowl. Stuff the turkey’s cavity with this vegetable mixture and scatter any leftovers on the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour wine and broth over the vegetables in the pan.

4. Place the turkey rack (flat or v-rack) in the roasting pan, over the vegetables. Transfer the turkey to the rack, with the breast side down. Brush half of melted butter on the whole turkey, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5. Roast turkey breast side down for the first half of the roasting time.** Remove from the oven and turn breast side up, brush with the rest of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Roast until thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F.

6. Remove turkey from the oven and set aside to rest for 30 minutes, tented with foil. Carve and serve drizzled with pan drippings.

** Most store-bought turkeys will have temperature and roasting times indicated on the packaging. Please follow them.

Here’s a quick reference for roasting (stuffed) turkey at 325°F from the USDA website.

Weight

Time

8 – 12 pounds

3 to 3 ½ hours

12 – 14 pounds

3 ½ to 4 hours

14 – 18 pounds

4 to 4 ¼ hours

18 – 10 pounds

4 ¼ to 4 ¾ hours

20 – 24 pounds

4 ¾ to 5 ¼ hours

Posted in Christmas, main dishes, turkey5 Comments

Pork Cutlets with Rutabagas & Green Peppers in Coconut Milk

In the course of my adventurous summer with food, when I tried ingredients I’ve never eaten or cooked before, I picked up a rutabaga. Also called swede, yellow turnip, or wax turnip, it is part smooth, part rough/hairy/bumpy, hard and so foreign to me. I laughed when I got home because I absolutely had no idea what it tasted like. I just assumed it can be boiled. Peeling it revealed what looks like a raw sweet yellow potato flesh. Trying to cut into it tested my patience. Be very careful when slicing it raw. Save your hands and fingers. They are tough little buggers that could roll off your cutting board and kitchen counter if you don’t hang on to them.

Ever since I got it, I can only think of cooking it with coconut milk.  No idea why, it just sounded delicious at the time. Then someone from Twitter asked me if I use turmeric in my cooking, and I replied ‘No’, so the next day I decided to remedy that and added the ginger-family spice. It made the rutabaga in this recipe even yellower. In Medieval Europe, turmeric was known as “Indian Saffron” due to its wide use as an alternative to the pricier saffron, and it is a significant ingredient in commercial curry powders, thus the resulting taste and color of a curry dish:

Pork Cutlets with Rutabagas & Green Peppers in Coconut Milk

It was just the right blend of subtle flavors, without overpowering the rutabagas. Biting into each chunk of rutabaga feels like biting into a vegetable that is a cross between a turnip and squash, without the latter’s mushiness but a hint of its taste. I love that it holds its shape without easily disintegrating when cooked. The peppers were a nice complement to the rutabaga and coconut milk, and the turmeric added just enough character to the taste of the dish. Having this for dinner one quiet, dreary evening brought a smile to my face. I just love it when my food experimentation works out. Mmmmm….

Pork Cutlets with Rutabagas & Green Peppers in Coconut Milk

Ingredients (serves two)Download the print-ready PDF recipe

  • 1/2 lb tenderized pork loin cutlets
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1- to 1.5-inch chunks
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • canola oil
  • coconut oil

Preparation

1.    In boiling water with a pinch of salt, cook the chunks of rutabaga until tender; about 25 to 30 minutes in medium heat. Strain and set aside.

2.    Heat a large frying pan, with about 1/2-tablespoon canola oil, in medium-to-high heat. Once the oil is hot, cook each side of the pork cutlet till golden brown (not burnt), about 3 to 4 minutes each side.

3.    Lower the heat to medium and add 1/2-teaspoon coconut oil. Saute the onion slices for a few minutes until they become transparent, and then add the chopped garlic and bell pepper slices. Cook for a couple more minutes before adding the rutabaga chunks. Fry until the edges of the rutabaga begin to brown.

4.    Pour coconut milk, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Stir and wait for it to boil before adding more salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Serve over the pork cutlets and enjoy with steamed rice.

Posted in Asian dish, experiments, healthier choices, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, pork, vegetables16 Comments

Basa Fillets Baked in Garlic and Butter

Blogathon 2009Hello Friends! I’m doing this year’s Blogathon on July 25 and blog every 30 minutes for 24 hours to raise money for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. If you are able, please sponsor me and make a donation pledge.

Butter. I love it and there’s no denying it. When I was really, really young, vegetables (snow peas, carrots, green beans and corn) cooked in butter and served with a sprinkle of salt blew my mind. These days I enjoy adding butter to meat and fish. It makes everything much better, just like bacon. I think they’re siblings.

Here, instead of frying basa fish, I baked it in butter:

Baked Basa Fish Fillet

Oh, and it was so good with the coconut rice!

Baked Basa Fillets in Garlic and ButterDownload the PDF recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 fillet slabs of basa fish (mine was 1.4 lb in total), or any white fish of your preference
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 a lemon, cut in 1/2
  • a handful of cilantro, roughly chopped, for garnish

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. In a baking dish, mix the butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Place the fish fillets into the mixture, and then turn them so both sides are coated. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.

3. Bake for 10 minutes, then take out of the oven and turn off the heat. Squeeze the lemon, a quarter lemon for each fillet. Sprinkle with cilantro and cover again with aluminum foil. Place back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until the meat becomes flaky and the thinner edges begin to have some color. You will notice that you might end up with a lot of juice in the pan. That’s fine. You can either toss it, or spoon a little over the fillets to be served.

4. Slice and serve with rice.

To make coconut rice, use this proportion: For every cup of uncooked white rice, use 1/4 cup coconut milk (canned is perfectly fine) and 3/4 cups water.

Posted in baking, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, seafood40 Comments

Beef Rhubarb Potstickers

Could it be that my brain is now part-rhubarb? I wouldn’t doubt it really. I have to admit that although I’ve made many dishes with rhubarb by now, they are all savory. I can’t help it if that sour stalk is so good.

Had I been more prepared, I really would have loved to make the filling with pork and shrimp, but I wasn’t. In fact, I was late for the Daring Cooks’ Challenge deadline last Sunday. After all the talk about it online, I built up a gargantuan craving for it, hence, this:

Potstickers

I’ve made potstickers before but failed miserably with the pleating. Now…thanks to Jen’s recipe with detailed photos, they now closely resemble the real thing! I love it! I couldn’t help but admire my handiwork. Haha.

I did follow our challenge’s dough recipe proportions and the rest are all mine. It was very, very good. If you don’t have rhubarb, just add a little more meat and 1 tbsp lemon juice.

I’ll post a more organized recipe tomorrow, including the PDF download. I just wanted to share this quickly for those of you who have been waiting for it since I posted a mobile photo. :-)

Potsticker Wrappers

Ingredients:

  • 250 g all purpose flour (I used unbleached)
  • 113 g warm water

Preparation (How I made it)

  1. In a medium bowl, place the flour and add half of the water. Stir with a spoon. Continue to add the remaining water little by little, probably by teaspoons.
  2. Continue to mix into a cohesive ball by hand. Place on your clean counter that’s been sprinkled with flour to prevent sticking, and knead for 10 minutes.
  3. Place back inside the bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 15 minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes, shape dough into a shallow dome and cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices. Leave one slice on the counter and place the others back into the bowl and cover with the damp towel. Slice the strip into 3/4 inch pieces and shape and flatten down with your palm into small discs. Place each disk on the counter and flatten further with your rolling pin. Continue with the rest of the dough. Be careful about putting the dough on top of each other. I made the time-consuming mistake of not putting enough flour between wrappers and my hard work went back to square one of being one big dough.

Filling the wrappers

  1. Put a wrapper on the palm of your hand and drop a tablespoon of filling at the center. Fold the wrapper in half and press firmly to attach the top-center portion.
  2. From the center, start pleating the single side of the wrapper (not both) but scrunching farther side on top of the previous pleat. Continue until you almost reach the end and you get a small teardrop-shaped hole. Simply tuck in the bottom of the ‘teardrop’ into the pointed top end of the teardrop. Each dumpling will look like the semi-circular women’s purses.

Beef Rhubarb Filling

  • 200 g ground beef (or other meat/s of your choice)
  • 1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/3 cup button mushrooms, chopped (sauted in med heat for 2 mins to let the juices out
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/3 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 4 stalks of green onion, chopped

Preparation

In a small saucepan, saute onion, rhubarb and celery for 3 minutes in medium-high heat. Set aside and let it cool before mixing with all the other ingredients.

Pan-Frying

On a frying pan with vegetable oil in high heat, cook the dumplings until the bottoms are golden brown in color. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Let it cook until the water is almost gone. Remove the lid and let it cook for another 2 minutes.

Optional Dip: You can mix soy sauce, white vinegar with a smashed garlic. Very simple.

Posted in appetizer, Asian dish, beef, Daring Cooks, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, vegetables24 Comments