Monday, November 12, 2012

Roasted garlic chicken soup with white beans and rosemary

I had planned to make chicken with 40 cloves of garlic for dinner, but it was one of those drizzly, dreary Oregon winter days that just begged for a soup. So I compromised, combining the chicken with 40 cloves of garlic with one of my favorite soups, chicken with white beans and rosemary. It's a pretty natural match. The roasted garlic melts into the soup, creating a silky texture and mellow, smooth garlic flavor. I go easy on the rosemary so the garlic can shine. For me, the perfect broth texture for a soup like this is thick enough so the vegetables and chicken don't sink to the bottom, but thin enough so it's nothing like stew. Adding a little flour is key, and adds to the silkiness.

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 lb)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons oil (olive or vegetable, or some combination thereof), plus some for drizzling over garlic
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cans white beans (I used one can of small white beans and one can of cannellini), rinsed and drained
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Heat oven to 350. Cut the tops off the head of garlic so the cloves are showing. Place in aluminum foil or on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, or until the cloves offer no resistance when poked. Remove them from oven and let cool.

Bring broth to simmer over medium heat. Add wine, and bring back to a simmer. Gently simmer the chicken in the broth until it's barely cooked through. Remove and set aside to cool. Keep broth simmering.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and add carrots and celery. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Add flour and stir until the flour coats the vegetables and isn't raw anymore, about 2 minutes. Add mixture to broth and stir until well combined. Add beans.

Peel garlic and chop coarsely. Add to broth. Cut chicken in bite-sized pieces and add to broth. Add rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup simmer for another 10-20 minutes for the flavors to meld. Or longer, if necessary.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Orange Jell-O Shot Slices

You know how sometimes restaurants garnish breakfast plates with orange slices? Well, if I had a restaurant, I would garnish all plates with orange jello shot slices. I could list all the reasons why these are awesome, but I'm pretty sure it's obvious.

4 Oranges (or grapefruits or limes or lemons...but oranges are the easiest to work with)
1 cup liquor of choice (you could go with the standard vodka, or get creative)
2 packs orange jello
hot water

cut oranges in half so you can see the cross section. Being careful not to puncture the rind, cut around the edge with a knife and scoop out with a spoon. You can save the innards for something else, but they aren't needed for this project. Situate orange halves in a casserole dish or something else they can't tip over in. Make room in your refrigerator for casserole dish.

Dissolve jello in 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Cool to lukewarm then add liquor. Pour liquor mixture into oranges, filling to top. Refrigerate until completely firm. Cut oranges into wedges and serve.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Warm Potato Salad with Cilantro and Toasted Cumin

I love potato salad. But I hate the potato salad most people love, thanks to my intense dislike of mayonnaise. So I usually substitute sour cream and yogurt for the mayonnaise, but I'm always on the lookout for new ways to make potato salad that don't involve anything creamy. This recipe from bears little resemblance to regular ole American potato salad, but its fantastic in its own way. And it's also a lot faster, since you don't have to chop up all the celery and pickles and such. I've adjusted the recipe to my taste a bit—I used a variety of fingerling potatoes instead of red potatoes, cut back on the olive oil and added a bit of vinegar and cayenne pepper for an extra kick.

2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 pounds red potatoes, chopped into roughly 2-inch pieces
1 bunch cilantro, stems trimmed and removed
3 large shallots
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons whole cumin
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
grated parmesan (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Add the diced potatoes and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are tender but not yet mush. Drain and return to the pot.
Chop the cilantro roughly and stir it into the hot potatoes. Slice the shallots thinly and stir them in too.
Pour the olive oil oil into a small skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is quite hot, stir in the 1 1/2 tablespoons of whole cumin seeds. Cook for about 45 seconds, stirring frequently, until the cumin and oil smell toasty and the cumin has darkened slightly. Pour the contents of the skillet over the potatoes (watch out, as some of the seeds may pop as they hit the cooler pan). Stir thoroughly.
Juice the 1/2 lemon and stir the juice in as well. Season to taste with black pepper, and any additional salt, if needed. Spri
nkle with parmesan. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Tomatoes

Everyone should have a go-to recipe for potlucks and barbecues. Not that you can't ever bring something different, but the security of having a delicious dish you can put together in a few minutes without thinking too much about it sure is nice. This quinoa salad has been my go-to recipe for a couple summers now. I  freshen it up by changing the ingredients slightly each time--sometimes I'll throw in some grilled veggies, or avocados, or whatever else I have on hand that looks like it would fit in.

I adapted this recipe from one at Two teaspoons of lime zest AND two tablespoons of lime juice was a bit too limey for even my tastes, so I've scaled back on the lime and added some other spices to give it a more interesting mix of flavors. Also, the directions on epicurious for cooking the quinoa seemed really finicky--they want you to cook it in water, then drain it, then steam it with a towel over the top. I've had great success cooking quinoa exactly as I cook rice, and you can't tell the difference.

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1  can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2  tomatoes, diced
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional, but delicious!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Soak quinoa in cold water for 15-30 minutes, then rinse. Heat 1 1/2 cups water to boiling, then add quinoa and cover with tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, then turn off heat and leave the lid on for 5 more minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, mix the lime zest, lime juice, butter, oil, sugar and spices in a large bowl. Add cooked quinoa and stir gently to coat the quinoa in the dressing. Add other ingredients. This can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature, and makes a great leftover or a filling for wraps.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chinese Steamed Buns (Char Siu Bao)

Steamed buns remind me of the first Christmas I spent with Jason, which was also the first time I'd eaten steamed buns. We drove 12 hours over icy roads to get to his parents' house, but it was totally worth it. Not just for the steamed buns, of course, because I had a fantastic time with his family, but these pork-filled beauties are so tasty it may well be worth driving 12 hours to get them. That first time, Jason's mom, Lily, made them with leftover ham from Christmas, and they were super tasty. On later visits, she showed me how to make them with diced pork ribs—totally different yet equally delicious.

This recipe is versatile, and you can make adjustments if you don't have one of the seasonings. Or you could add something new, if you think it will complement the seasonings. It does take some planning, since you'll need to make the ribs a day in advance. You could make it all the same day, but you'd have to start pretty early. Plus, if you make them the day before, you can have ribs for dinner that night, and steamed buns the next! For the dough,  I use packaged steamed bun mix from our local Asian food market. I guess I could try making it from scratch, but they are delicious as they are, so why bother? You will also need waxed or parchment paper for this recipe, as well as a bamboo steamer, which you should be able to get for under $20 at an Asian food market.

Ingredients for the ribs (alternatively, you could just use leftover ribs from another meal):
1 1/2-2 1/2 lb. package of country-style pork ribs (I prefer boneless)
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons cooking sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated (or 1/2 teaspoon powdered)

Place in a baking or roasting pan and cover with foil. Roast at 300 degrees until tender, about 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure there's a little liquid in the bottom of the pan. Add a bit of water if necessary. Remove from the oven and chill. When you're ready to get started on the buns, remove the fat from the ribs and chop up the meat, in about a 1/2-1/4 inch dice. Alternatively, find someone else to do this part for you, because it's greasy and time-consuming.

Mix up the steamed bun dough according to package directions, reserving two tablespoons of the dry mix (or whatever the package says) for your filling. The dough has to rest for about 15 minutes, as I recall.

While the dough is resting, season your filling. If you are using leftover pork ribs that you did not make specifically for steamed buns, bump up the seasonings a bit. This is also a good place to be creative--I never season them quite the same.

Ingredients for the filling
Diced pork ribs
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon hoisin
2 tablespoons Mae Ploy (sweet chili sauce)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
black pepper to taste
Dry mix, according to package directions (if you forgot to reserve some, add an equivalent amount of corn starch)

Mix all filling ingredients together.

Assembling the buns
Cut waxed or parchment paper into 4-inch squares. Roll dough into long log, and cut it with a knife to divide into 12 equal pieces. Sprinkle a bit of flour down, and roll a piece into a circle, about 4 inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. If you can manage to make it thinner on the edges than in the middle, fantastic.

Now would be a good time to start heating water for steaming the buns. In a wok or large pan, heat 3-4 inches of water over medium high heat. When water starts to boil, turn it down so it's just at a simmer.

Place about two tablespoons of filling, or as much as you think will fit, in the middle of the circle. Dip your finger in water and run it around the edge of the circle. This will help the dough seal. Grab one edge of the dough between your thumb and forefinger and pull it up to the center of the bun, folding it to one side at the top. Continue around the circle this way, sort of "pleating"the bun as you go. If it doesn't look great, don't worry--it'll still taste great, and the dough puffs up a lot when you steam it anyway. The important thing is to get the dough to connect in the middle, even if it isn't completely sealed.

Place finished bun on square of paper, and put it into the bamboo steamer. Continue making the buns until you've filled up the steamer. The buns shouldn't touch each other. I have a two-shelf steamer and put three buns per shelf, so they cook in two equal batches. When your steamer is full, put the lid on and place it over the simmering water. Cook for 20 minutes. You'll know they are done when they look fluffy and delicious. Serve with soy sauce for dipping.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Penne with Bacon, Tomato and Feta

Bacon, check. Feta, check. Fast and easy, check. This is pretty much the best pasta ever. I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit, making it even easier and tastier (in my opinion, at least!).

8 oz. bacon, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, or equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes
16 oz. package penne
3/4 cup (or more!) feta, crumbled
1/2 cup fresh basil (optional, but definitely recommended), chopped
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan to garnish

Start heating salted water for the pasta.
Fry bacon in a large frying pan over medium heat until crispy, stirring frequently. Drain on paper towels. Remove most of bacon grease, reserving about a tablespoon. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to pan and fry over medium heat until fragrant. It won't take long. Add wine and swish around to get all the bits of bacon unstuck. Add tomatoes. Let simmer while you start the penne cooking.

The penne will need to cook until it's al dente, about 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, the sauce mixture should have thickened up slightly. Drain the pasta, put it back in the pot, and add your sauce, along with the feta. Stir it around until the feta is nice and melty. It will still be kind of chunky since feta doesn't melt well. Taste a little and add salt and pepper. Right before you serve it, add the basil and bacon. Serve with Parmesan.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pork and Turkey Meatball Banh Mi

I've never liked meatloaf. Something about a big hunk of hamburger meat mixed with breadcrumbs and eggs just isn't appealing. And ever since my husband drew a correlation between meatloaf and meatballs, I haven't liked meatballs either.

Fortunately, I discovered Pork Meatball Banh Mi in a recent issue of Bon Appetit, and with a few modifications, meatballs are once again an enjoyable food for me. I thought the meatballs made with all pork were bit rich, so I substituted ground turkey for half the pork the second time I made the recipe. Also, I did not have the patience to wait for meatballs to cook, so I turned them into tiny patties, which got done a lot faster.

The original recipe called for a spicy mayonnaise as a condiment for the sandwiches, but since I hate mayonnaise too, I made a spicy avocado cilantro lime sauce. Sort of like guacamole, but less thick and more spicy.

I didn't have any daikon, and didn't feel like driving across town to get it, but I added cucumbers and cabbage with delicious results.


  • 2 cups coarsely grated carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon (or use cucumbers and cabbage...or all three!)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or four 10-inch-long pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
  • cilantro


  • 1 pound ground pork (substitute half or all of pork with ground turkey)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil (Thai basil is good, if you have it)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil

Spicy Avocado Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce
  • juice of 1/2 small lime
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce, or to taste
  • salt to taste

Toss first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Mix meatball ingredients (except for sesame oil) and form into small patties, about 2 tablespoons each. Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of meatballs. Sauté until brown and cooked through, turning meatballs often and lowering heat if browning too quickly, about 15 minutes. Transfer meatballs to another rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

For sauce, blend ingredients in food processor until smooth. Taste and add more chili sauce or salt to taste. There isn't really a way to mess this up, as long as you don't overdo the salt or spice.

Cut each baguette or baguette piece horizontally in half. Pull out enough bread from each bread half to leave 1/2-inch-thick shell. Spread avocado sauce over each bread shell. Arrange jalapeños, then cilantro, in bottom halves. Fill each with 1/4 of meatballs. Drain pickled vegetables; place atop meatballs. Press on baguette tops.