Friday, May 31, 2019

Flashback Friday - Rice Salad with Chinese Sausage and Roasted Broccoli

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This post originally appeared on Minxeats.com on April 30, 2014.

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Have you ever read a food magazine and felt the urge to cook one of the recipes RIGHT NOW? As in, drop the magazine and run to the kitchen immediately? I had that feeling when I spotted the recipe for savory granola in the April 2014 issue of Bon Appetit. I had just turned the oven off 10 minutes earlier after removing a tray of roasted broccoli and knew I wouldn't have to wait for the thing to pre-heat (it takes forever, which can be a real buzz-kill during a cooking frenzy). We had most of the ingredients--old fashioned oats, walnuts, sesame seeds, fennel, seeds--and I substituted for a couple others (pumpkin seeds in place of sunflower seeds, skipped the pistachios entirely). I mixed up the ingredients pronto and banged them into the hot oven.

Now you must recall that I had just roasted broccoli. At 450°F. So the oven was a wee bit hotter than it needed to be, hence the charred appearance of my salad topping (some of the black bits are black sesame seeds though). No matter, even slightly burnt, the granola was AMAZING. It took all of my willpower not to shove handfuls of it into my face hole. The combination of nuts + fennel seeds is delicious and I wish I had thought of it myself.

Rather than eating all of it right then and there (it makes about 3 cups), I decided to use it as a component in the dinner I was preparing--cold rice salad with Chinese sausage and a peanut butter vinaigrette. Oh, and roasted broccoli.

I wanted the salad to have a peanut sauce flavor, but not a standard sweet peanut sauce. Instead, I made it ultra vinegary, using both rice wine and Chinese black vinegar (also called Chinkiang vinegar). Chinese black vinegar is, as Isaac Mizrahi is fond of saying, EVERYTHING, Darlings. It's mellow, malty, and woodsy, with a burnt caramel aspect. If you're a vinegar fan (and I know not everyone is...weirdos), then you have to try it. I then added a bit of agave syrup, soy, and sambal oelek for heat. (We use Huy Fong brand, the company that makes the ever popular "rooster sauce" sriracha. Oelek is different in that it's just crushed chiles in vinegar and salt, no garlic or sugar.) It was perfect on plain steamed rice garnished with Chinese sausage and scallions.

I tossed the broccoli into the salad after the sauce was added, because I didn't want the broccoli to have soggy florets. And then I sprinkled a bit of the granola on each serving.

So. Good. I need to make this again very soon.

Rice Salad with Roasted Broccoli

Roasted broccoli:
3 broccoli crowns
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt

Peanut sauce:
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
5 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sambal oelek
1/4 teaspoon salt

To assemble salad:
3 cups cooked, room-temperature rice (Jasmine is nice, or basmati)
3 Chinese pork sausages, sliced into coins, lightly fried, and drained on paper towels
1/2 cup julienned carrots
3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

Savory granola (optional, but delicious)

To make broccoli: Preheat oven to 450°F.

Remove thick stem from each broccoli crown. Break the floret into small pieces. Cut the stem into lengthwise slices. Toss both florets and stems with olive oil and salt and arrange in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning broccoli halfway, until tender and browning in spots. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make peanut sauce: In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well. Taste for seasoning--it should be vinegary, lightly salty, and lightly spicy. Add more salt and sambal if you wish.

To assemble salad: Using a fork, stir rice into prepared peanut sauce until well-coated. Add the sausages, carrots, and scallions and toss to combine.

Serve at room temperature with a helping of broccoli and a sprinkle of the savory granola.

Posted on Minxeats.com.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Flahback Friday - Coconut Macaroon Cake

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This post originally appeared on Minxeats.com on May 19, 2014.

Have I posted this here before as a flashback? No matter, it is well worth the repeat!
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I'm a huge fan of coconut. I can remember when my Dad used to impulsively buy sweetened coconut flakes and we'd tear it open and eat the stuff straight out of the bag with our hands. (Each of us have always had a huge sweet tooth.) Mounds and Almond Joy were among my favorite candies, and I looooved macaroons. (That's macaroons, with a ROON, not macarons, with a RON, although many pronounce the latter like the former. Wrong, wrong, wrong. They are completely different confections.) Flipping through the April issue of Martha Stewart Living I found a recipe for a coconut cake that combines both cake and macaroon and immediately decided it would be the perfect dessert for Easter dinner.

The only problem? Mr Minx hates the texture of grated coconut. He says it's like eating plastic shavings. He does like the flavor of coconut, however, so he said he'd force himself to eat it if he had to. Now that's a good husband.

The way the recipe read, it seemed like it would be a coconut-flavored cake layer topped with a layer of macaroon. I figured he could just cut off the top and eat the bottom. Alas, the macaroon layer was heavy and sunk down into the batter, which, containing leavening, rose up and around the shredded coconut. So while there were cake-y bits within the cake, the shredded coconut pretty much permeated everything.

He ate it anyway, and I promised that I'd try it again, omitting the macaroon-y bit altogether. The bottom part, flavored with both coconut oil and Coco Lopez, might be an interesting base for a pineapple upside-down cake. Or just fine on it's own.

Here's the cake recipe, from the Martha Stewart web site.

I didn't have heavy cream on hand to make her recommended chocolate sauce. I wanted something runnier anyway, that could be made well in advance and didn't need heating to loosen up before drizzling. I found David Leibovitz' recipe online and added some sour cream and vanilla, just because I felt it needed more flavor.

Chocolate Sauce (adapted from David Leibovitz)

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons sour cream

Whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it starts to simmer, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips until melted. Whisk in the vanilla and sour cream and allow sauce to cool to room temperature. Pour into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Drizzle over cake. Or squeeze directly into your mouth--I won't tell.
Posted on Minxeats.com.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Flashback Friday - Savory Oatmeal

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This post originally appeared on Minxeats.com on May 7, 2014.

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I have never been a big fan of oatmeal. The snotty, somewhat gelatinous texture always turned me off. Fortunately, my mother never liked it, either, so she didn't force us kids to eat it. In fact, Cream of Wheat ruled in our house, at least until I hit school age. Because I usually had a hard time waking up in the morning, instant oatmeal was occasionally called into play to get me fed and out the door, pronto. (We tried instant Cream of Wheat, too, but that was like eating sawdust soaked in hot water. Truly horrible stuff. My mind can still conjure up the malevolent taste of the apple cinnamon flavor.)

I managed to go decades without ever touching oatmeal again, but when the spectre of high cholesterol loomed, I thought I'd give the stuff another chance. Mr Minx was also of the yay Cream of Wheat/nay oatmeal way of thinking, but he was willing to give it a try as well.

The snotty texture of oatmeal is due to the whole boiling and stirring technique of cooking. With those two elements eliminated, the stuff is actually quite palatable. Turns out, oatmeal just needs to rehydrate, and that can be done quite efficiently with the heat off. Just bring water to a boil, turn off the heat, and stir in the oats. Allow them to rest for 10 or 15 minutes and they will absorb all of the water without getting slimy.

I first tried savory oatmeal at Blue Grass Tavern. It was served as an accompaniment to a sausage-stuffed quail topped with a poached egg and hot sauce. A riff on breakfast, if you will. I liked it, but wasn't sure if I should try it at home. But I realized I was getting tired of the usual weekend breakfast of either oatmeal with Nutella or oatmeal with maple syrup. Out went the sweet stuff and in went some cheese and hot sauce. The usual pat of butter was replaced with a spoonful of bacon fat. And it was delicious.

Savory Oatmeal

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon bacon fat or butter
1 heaping tablespoon grated cheese
Sriracha
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Splash milk

Place 1 cup of water in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and stir in oats. Cover pot and walk away for about 10 minutes. If the oats haven't absorbed all the water after that time, give them another few minutes.

While oats are "cooking," place bacon fat or butter and cheese in a bowl. Top with hot oats and stir well. Season with sriracha, salt, and pepper to taste, and add a bit of milk to the bowl to loosen the texture a bit.

Serves 1

Posted on Minxeats.com.

Monday, May 13, 2019

What's Your Beef?

What’s Your Beef in the kitchen?! Throughout May, in celebration of National Beef Month, join our friends at Keystone Meats as they invite fans from all over the U.S. to vote daily on their biggest kitchen problem. Keystone is ready and willing to solve it with recipe-ready, all-natural beef. When you vote, you will be entered to win a year’s supply of Keystone Meats!

If you’ve got a beef in the kitchen, tell us about it! After years of headaches, vote on your biggest kitchen beef and you could win! https://keystonemeats.com/whats-your-beef-in-the-kitchen/

My personal beef: cooking in the summertime. I want to eat flavorful meals that come from my own kitchen, but don't require a lot of cooking. This means we default to cold things, like salads, sandwiches, and gazpacho. But with Keystone products, all of the heavy lifting has been done for us--we just need to embellish the meat. (No, that's not a euphemism.) Take this relatively lazy bibimbap. It involved making a sauce, warming the meat in said sauce, and serving it over rice with some veg. We have a rice cooker, so that part was a no-brainer, but if you don't, I won't tell if you buy pre-cooked microwave rice, or use leftovers from Chinese carry-out. In any case, none of it heated up the kitchen, and we had a super tasty dish that was both hearty and light in not a lot of time.

Easy Bibimbap
The sauce can be made a couple of days in advance. If you are only feeding 2 people, you can make half the sauce, or make the whole recipe and use it on something else, like roasted cauliflower or broccoli.

For the sauce:
1/2 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper bean paste)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 green onions, both white and green parts chopped

To serve:
2 14.5-ounce cans Keystone All Natural Beef
Cooked rice
Sliced cucumber
Shredded carrot
Baby spinach
More chopped scallions for garnish
Sesame seeds for garnish

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir. If you're making it in advance, keep it in a lidded container in the fridge until ready to use.

Put the beef (with juices) in a saucepan with the sauce. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat until about half the liquid has evaporated and is looking somewhat glossy. Remove from the heat.

Place a mound of rice in the bottom of a bowl (drizzle on some sesame oil, if you like). Top with a portion of the warm beef, and add piles of the cucumber, carrot, and spinach. Sprinkle on some scallions and sesame seeds and serve immediately.

To eat, mix everything up with your chopstick (or fork) and enjoy.

Makes 4-5 servings.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

Posted on Minxeats.com.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Flashback Friday - Thai Red Curry Chicken Burgers

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This post originally appeared on Minxeats.com on May 2, 2014.

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We have a ton of stuff on our freezer. Other than ice cream, I mean. There are several quarts of gumbo from Cajun Kate's, leftover pork shoulder from that 8-lb behemoth I cooked last month, half a roast duck from the Great Wall grocery store in Catonsville, a leg of lamb, pasta sauce, various types of sausages (chorizo, andouille, lap cheong, hot dogs), ground beef, a skirt steak, bags of nuts, yeast, coffee, and bread, and more. And this is one of those standard above-the-fridge freezer jobbies, not a big ol' chest freezer. (So don't believe me when I say we have nothing in the house to eat. What I really mean is that there's nothing that I feel like defrosting and cooking.)

There was a pound of ground chicken in there too. I can't remember why we bought it exactly, maybe to make some laab, but there it was, looking slightly freezer-burned, buried under a pile of other foodstuffs. I determined that if it was not indeed funky with freezer burn, I'd make chicken burgers with it. And not just chicken burgers, but Thai red curry chicken burgers. We had two open jars of Thai Kitchen red curry paste in the fridge, and I've been looking for a way to use the stuff up. We also had a partial jar of  Maesri "chilli paste with basil leaves" and a jar of sliced Kaffir lime leaves. I love that chilli paste stuff and have used it in a number of things over the years. As for the lime leaves--have you noticed how difficult they are to find in the supermarket? And when you do find them, you have to use them right away or they'll go bad? Then I found sliced ones in a jar at H-Mart. They're not quite as powerfully-flavored as fresh, but they'll do in a pinch. And I think their flavor is an essential match to red curry paste.

So...back to the burgers. Ground chicken can often be unpalatably dry, so I always add some chia seeds soaked in water to add moisture. The omega-3 boost doesn't hurt, either. The curry paste also helps to make the meat moist. In fact, the raw mixture will be very moist, so don't be anal about trying to get perfectly round patties. Refrigerate them for a while before cooking so the flavors meld and the patties firm up a bit.

These were a big hit. The burgers were not only moist, but also super flavorful. We ate them both on bread and as-is with a salad, using the special sauce as dressing.

Thai Red Curry Chicken Burgers

2 teaspoons chia seeds soaked in 1 tablespoon water
1 lb ground chicken
1 tablespoon coconut milk powder
4 teaspoons Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste
2 teaspoons finely minced Kaffir lime leaves
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well to incorporate the chia and curry paste. Form into patties, between 4-8, depending on the size of your rolls, number of guests, or appetite. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour so the flavors will meld.

Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When hot, add the chicken patties. Cook for 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook an additional 3 minutes.

Serve with Special Sauce.

Special Sauce

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Maesri Thai chilli sauce with basil
1/2 roasted red bell pepper, diced
2 scallions, white and green part, chopped

Combine all ingredients. Serve with Thai Red Curry Chicken Burgers.

Posted on Minxeats.com.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Cranberry-Blood Orange Limoncello Muffins

* The Fabrizia Blood Orange limoncello mentioned in this post has been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats.  
Fabrizia Spirits sent me three bottles of limoncello last month. The stuff is so good, I've killed half of each bottle. But I'm not only drinking it - I'm cooking with it. This month, I've done a riff on the classic cranberry-orange muffin. Rather than use fresh cranberries, I've used dried ones plumped up in blood orange limoncello. The booze picks up a nice pink color from the cranberries, which in turn makes the glaze (made with the plumping liquid) pink-ish, too. And tasty.

Want the recipe? Here you go!

Cranberry-Blood Orange Limoncello Muffins

For the muffins:
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Fabrizia Blood Orange limoncello
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of one large tangerine (Minneola) or the zest of 2 oranges
1 and 3/4 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons reserved Fabrizia Blood Orange limoncello
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Combine dried cranberries and limoncello in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow the berries to macerate for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the berries and reserve the liquid.

Preheat oven to 425F.  Line two 6-count or one 12-count muffin pans with cupcake liners.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter on high until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and tangerine zest, beating until well combined, scraping the bowl as needed.

Stir together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to the wet ingredients and beat until just combined. Remove the mixer bowl from the stand and add 2 tablespoons of the reserved limoncello and the milk, stirring by hand with a wooden spoon until the batter is combined. Fold in the cranberries.

Spoon batter into muffin pans. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350F. Bake for 16-18 minutes more, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove muffins from pan onto a cooling rack.

While muffins are cooling, combine the powdered sugar and 3 tablespoon of the reserved limoncello. (There will probably be a few tablepoons left over. Drink it - cook's treat.) Drizzle the glaze over the muffins, and immediately top with a few of the almonds.

Posted on Minxeats.com.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Flashback Friday - Skirt Steak and Watermelon Radish Tacos

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This post originally appeared on Minxeats.com on May 12, 2014.

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We almost never see skirt steak in the average supermarket, so when we did see it, we bought one and tossed it in the freezer for later. And then promptly forgot about it.

Digging through the freezer some months later for something else entirely, I stumbled upon the skirt steak and figured it was high time to put it to use. I wanted to make something fajita-like (the word fajita actually refers to skirt steak) but not exactly. After an inspirational online search, I thought something in an Asian vein might be tasty and put together a marinade with various Asian elements like miso, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce. I also added honey for sweetness and a ton of garlic. Because what doesn't taste good with a ton of garlic? (Don't tell me--chocolate cake.)

After briefly contemplating frying some onions, I was lazy and chopped scallions to use raw. I also saw this to be a good time to use the watermelon radish we bought at MOM's Organic Market a few days earlier. Quick pickling seemed like the way to go. And of course, homemade corn tortillas, because they are so easy and better than store bought.

The resulting tacos had nicely spiced and garlicky meat, and a nice sweet/tartness from the pickle. I stirred some powdered coconut milk (from a trip to H Mart) into a bit of Greek yogurt to use in place of crema, and threw together a simple tomato and scallion salsa. However, the best addition to the steak-and-radish taco was a bit of crumbled feta cheese, which added a nice bit of funky saltiness.

Asian Marinated Skirt Steak

1 tablespoon red miso
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 1-lb skirt steak

Combine first six ingredients in a bowl. Place the steak in a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over. Massage the marinade into the steak for a few seconds, then close the bag, making sure to squeeze out as much air as possible. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat your broiler. Place oven rack in highest position. Remove steak from marinade, wipe off any chunky bits and place steak onto a baking sheet with sides. Broil 3-4 minutes per side, to medium-rare. Remove steak from oven and allow to rest 5 minutes before cutting against the grain into thin slices.

Serve as a filling for corn tortillas, with some pickled radishes, feta cheese, and sour cream or crema.

Pickled Watermelon Radish

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 watermelon radish, cut into thin rounds

Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the radish and toss well to coat all radish pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Drain liquid before serving.

Posted on Minxeats.com.