Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gyudon: AKA Awesome Japanese Beef and Onions in Wine Broth over Rice

This is an adaptation of one of my favorite recipes from my favorite cookbook (Let’s Cook Japanese Food!). It is easy. It is delicious. It has alcohol in it. It is Japanese. What else could one want?

2 lb thinly sliced beef
3/4 C soy sauce
1 C wine (any will do—I used merlot)
1 C sake
1 T ginger juice (removed from a jar of grated ginger)
1 t ginger (somewhat inevitable when fishing the juice out of the ginger jar)
1/2 C sugar
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T salt
Beef broth or hot water to fill
2 C rice
4 C water

1. Put everything in your crockpot. Put on high for 3 hours.
2. After the beef is done, make the rice. Put the rice and water into a covered pot over high heat. When the water boils, turn the heat to low or medium (whatever works to keep it simmering). After 15 minutes, turn off the heat. Allow the pot to sit, covered, for another 15 minutes.
3. Serve in a bowl—a scoop of rice, topped with some of the broth and a scoop of the meat and onions. Enjoy!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Rosemary-Honey Chicken with Penne and Roasted Broccoli Sauce

While browsing the Web, I found this random site for mail-order meatballs, pasta, and sauce. I thought to myself… “Self, what about making a GREEN sauce for pasta? This seems like a good idea. Red is nice, white is nice, but what about a change?” After speaking thusly to myself, I got some broccoli and made this. I like the toasty flavor of the roasted veggies, but I have to admit that the sauce is more brown than green. If you want a vivid green color, steam the broccoli instead of roasting it.

Ingredients for sauce puree
2 heads of broccoli (this is forgiving—but I used medium to large size heads)
6 cloves of garlic
3 onions
14.5 oz can chicken broth
S+P to taste

Ingredients for chicken
Chicken thighs (I had 4, weighed about 2 pounds total)
1/2 orange
1-1/2T honey per chicken piece
1T rosemary per chicken piece
1 head of broccoli (small), separated into edible pieces.
1 onion, sliced
4 oz baby bella mushrooms, washed and sliced in half if large

1A. Prep the roasted veggies. Put foil on a baking sheet and lightly oil with a high-heat oil (I used a canola blend). The veggie prep is easier because everything (mostly) is getting pureed later. Smash and peel the garlic; leave whole. Peel and cut the onions into eighths. Separate the 2 heads of broccoli into larger florets than you would normally find comfortable to eat. Arrange on baking sheet, top with S+P, and roast in a 350-degree F oven for 40-50 minutes (or until it looks good and roasty to you).

1B. Prep the chicken. Rinse off the chicken pieces and arrange in a casserole dish over the sliced onion. Top each chicken piece with the honey and rosemary. Add mushrooms and broccoli to the dish. Cut the half-orange into pieces and squeeze over everything, then throw them on top. Pop into the same 350-degree F oven for about an hour.

2. After the stuff has been in the oven about 35 minutes, get a pot of water boiling for the penne. When it boils, add the penne and set a timer for about 10 minutes. When the pasta is done to your liking, drain it and mix a bit of oil in to keep the pasta from sticking together.

3. When the veggies hit 40-50 minutes, remove from the oven and pop them in your favorite blender or food processor. Tongs are very helpful for this process. Add in the chicken broth (about half the can worked for me) and process those veggies until they’re nice and smooth. Taste the sauce. What do you think? How is the texture? If you want the sauce to be thicker, pour it into a saucepan, mix a bit of flour into a small cup of hot water, and add to the sauce. Personally, I found the sauce to be fine without adding any thickeners.

4. When all is done, serve penne with the “green” sauce on top, next to a chicken thigh with the roasted veggies nearby. I suggest topping with parmesan…always nice. Looks good! Tastes awesome, too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Limp and Delicious Roasted Butternut Squash Fries with Sriracha Mayo Dip

Time for another KA quickie. For those of you who don’t remember what that means—no measurements, also pretty easy and forgiving. I saw a recipe for butternut squash fries on Cook Taste Eat—a very good online cooking show hosted by chef Michael Mina, and often co-hosted by Michelle Branch, that is unfortunately no longer online. Chef Mina created a batter for his squash and actually deep-fried the fries, but since I am lazy (and also forgot to buy eggs), that did not happen. The result is a quicker, easier, and still deliciously butternut-squashy side dish. As the title indicates, these are not particularly crisp—unless you leave them in the oven too long and the bottoms get black. Best to avoid that. These would also be good sliced into coins and then put on a sandwich with the sriracha mayo as a spread—the flavor combo of spicy-squashy-sweet-salty is quite nice, no matter how you get it in your mouth.

Butternut squash (I used about 5 pounds)
Oil that can take high heat, such as canola
Maple syrup
Black pepper
Granulated garlic
Granulated onion

Dip ingredients
Maple syrup

1.       Cut up the butternut squash into pieces roughly fry-like in shape, and about the same size so they bake evenly. This, more than almost any cooking task I have yet undertaken, is seriously more easily said than done. Butternut squashes are intractable jerks, as delicious as they are. The skins are tough to cut through, and the meat oozes a slippery starch when cut. It is, in short, perilous to cut these. Use the sharpest knife you have and BE CAREFUL. Make sure your fingers and other parts of your body are not near the blade or in an area where the blade could slip to. One good thing about this recipe is that it is unnecessary to peel the squash. The peel becomes very soft when baked, so it tastes just fine left on. If you don’t appreciate that yet, you will as soon as you start cutting the evil squash. When purchasing a squash, try to get one that is a uniformly straight-sided specimen—avoid the typical pear shape. This helps to make cutting easier. Cut off the vine and flower ends and don’t forget to scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Good luck!

2.       At some point, take a break from the frustration and put the oven on to 400 F to preheat. You can also cover one or two cookie sheets with foil and oil them.

3.       Toss the hard-won pieces of butternut squash in a large bowl with some oil, the aforementioned spices, and maple syrup. Don’t go overboard with anything—you just want a thin coating of oil and syrup. If you happen to be married to someone who doesn’t love sweet and savory mixed together, make one tray without maple syrup. Spread the squash on the cookie sheet as close to one layer as your patience will permit at this point.

4.       Bake the squash at 400 F for 20 minutes, then rotate the trays. Bake for another 20 minutes. They are done when a fork enters the fries smoothly. No need to flip the fries on the tray.

5.       In the meantime, prepare the dip by mixing mayo with sriracha and a touch of maple syrup. My version is about 1 cup of mayo to 1 T sriracha to 1 t maple syrup—but make it how you like it. Enjoy!