Sugar Snap Peas and Red Potatoes

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Egyptian Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas and Red Potatoes

Ingredients:
4 medium sized Red Pontiac Potatoes, cut in 2mm slices
2 cups Sugar Snap Peas
2 Tbsp Sour Cream
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
1/4 cup Bacon Bits (Real or Soy)
1 Lime
1 tsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  • In a bowl, toss the Potatoes with Italian Seasoning, Crushed Red Pepper, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, and Pepper.
  • In a saute pan, on medium heat, add the Potatoes and cook until fork tender and browned, about 7 minutes. Toss and stir so they do not stick.
  • Halve the Lime, and squirt the juice over the Potatoes. Invert the peal and leave to cook with the Potatoes for 2 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the Sugar Snap Peas, Balsamic Vinegar Glaze, and Sour Cream, and 2 Tbsp water to the pan. Stir well, so everything is coated, and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Toss in the Bacon Bits, remove from heat and serve.

Makes about: 4-6 servings

Notes: It is rare that I say this, but I prefer this with the soy-based Bacon Bits rather than real Bacon. One can also use fat-free sour cream and reduce the calories further. Be sure not to add too much salt to the potatoes, as they Bacon Bits will add some when added.

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Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

12265847_779290548826_2173721953493967764_oPumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs
in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Gnocchi
2 Russet Potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup prepared Pumpkin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg

Sage Apple Chicken Meatballs
1 lb Ground Chicken
1/2 cup Sage, finely chopped
1/2 Vidalia Onion, minced
1/2 Granny Smith Onion, skinned & minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper, coarsely ground
1 Egg
Olive Oil for cooking

Spinach Vermouth Sauce
6 cups Baby Spinach
1/2 Vidalia Onion, Sliced
1/2 Granny Smith Apple, sliced
1/4 cup Vermouth
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 tsp Oregano
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper

Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  • Prepare the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash in a large bowl.
  • Incorporate the Pumpkin pulp, Spices, & Egg.
  • Start incorporating the Flour into the mixture. You may not use all the flour, or you may need more. What you are looking for is a dough forming that you can handle, and roll. It should be cohesive to itself, but not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into six parts.
  • On a floured surface, start rolling each part into a rope, about 1/2″-1″ thick in diameter.
  • Start cutting into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Think little pillows for the shape. You do not want to saw, you want to come down with your knife.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough. Set to the side.
  • Prepare the Meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands.
  • Form into 1 1/2″ balls.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the balls to the oil, but do not over crowd them.
  • Let the balls cook a minute and then roll them to a raw side. Repeat until all sides are cooked. Let cook an additional minute so that they cook through. Remove to a plate and repeat until all meatballs are completed.
  • Cook the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add all the Gnocchi. They will sink.
  • As the Gnocchi start to float, they are done, and can be ladled out.
  • Prepare the Sauce: Using the skillet that was used to cook the meatballs, deglaze with the Vermouth, and add the Butter.
  • Add the Onions and Apples, and cook till tender.
  • Add the Oregano and Crushed Red Pepper.
  • Toss in the Spinach until it wilts.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Add the Gnocchi and Meatballs and toss well.
  • Plate and garnish with shaved Parmesan.

Serves 6.

NOTES: Gnocchi are simple to make for scratch. I’ve seen many recipes that exclude the use of Potatoes, but in my opinion, it is the Potato that makes the Gnocchi.
This dish was inspired by a recipe that I found through a cooking club, but I decided to improve upon it and make it in my own way.

Salmon and Shrimp Phad Thai – กุ้งและปลาแซลมอนแผ่นไทย

905679_779815561696_389662409841940469_oSalmon and Shrimp Phad Thai

Ingredients
1 dozen Shrimp, peeled, de-veined
1 8oz Salmon filet, skinned, de-boned, cubed
1 Leek, sliced in 1/8″ rounds
1 cup Red Cabbage, sliced
1/2 cup Carrot, diced or julienne
1 quarter’s width worth of Rice Pasta or Linguini
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Egg, beaten
2 Tbsp Ginger, minced
2 Tbsp Tamarind Paste
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 cup Bok Choy, chopped or Bean Sprouts
1/2 cup Peanuts, crushed
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
Juice of 1 Lime
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Cilantro for Garnish
Lime Wedges for Garnish
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  • If using Linguini: In a large pot bring water to a boil. Add salt for seasoning. Add the Pasta and cook till al dente, drain. Toss in olive oil and set to the side.
  • If using Rice Noodles, soak in lukewarm water for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • In a wok or wide skillet, heat the Olive Oil and add the Leek, Cabbage, and Carrots. Toss until tender.
  • Stir in the Egg.
  • Add the Garlic, Tamarind Paste, Hoisin Sauce, Fish Sauce, and Lime Juice.
  • Add the Salmon, Shrimp, Cayenne Pepper, Cumin, and Crushed Red Pepper. Toss over heat until cooked.
  • Toss in the Pasta, Peanuts, and Bok Choy/Bean Sprouts until all is well coated.
  • Add salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Plate and garnish with Cilantro and a Lime Wedge.

Makes about 4 servings

NOTES: Pad Thai ผัดไทย is a common Thai dish that means “fried Thai style”. It usually consists of rice noodles, a sweet sauce, scallions, a protein, peanuts, and bean sprouts, but can also have scallions, cabbage, and other ingredients. This version is my variation, with a little heat added in the form of Ginger and Cayenne Pepper. I also varied by using Leeks instead of Scallion and offering Bok Choy and Linguini as substitutes for ingredients.

Blackened Chicken with Grilled Fruit

Blackened Chicken with Grilled Fruit

Ingredients:
3 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless, butterfly cut
3 Tbsp Butter, melted
1/2 – 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Blackened Seasoning
2 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Onion Powder
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp Coriander Seed
3/4 Tbsp Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper ground
1/2 Tsp White Pepper ground
1/2 tsp Thyme dried
1/2 tsp Oregano dried
1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds dried

Grilled Fruit
1 Papaya, skinned, cut in chunks or slices
1 Pineapple, skinned, cut in chunks or slices
1-2 Mangoes, skinned, cut in chunks or slices
1-2 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper ground
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:

  • Prepare the Fruit and place on Skewers.
  • Brush with Olive Oil.
  • Sprinkle with Salt, Pepper, and Cinnamon.
  • Place on a hot grill or in the Broiler for 5 minutes per side. Set to the side, or cook while you prepare the Chicken.
  • Put all of the Ingredients of the Blackened Spice Rub in a Mortar and rub with the Pestle to mix well and open up some of the spices and herbs. Place to the side.
  • Begin heating a cast-iron skillet on high with the Olive Oil. You do not need to use all of it, just enough to coat the skillet. You do not want a puddle of oil.
  • Dredge the Chicken in the melted Butter, and then coat with the Spice Rub on all sides.
  • Place in the Skillet, and cook both sides. They will blacken because of the Butter and herbs. Each side should be about 5 minutes. Because the Chicken was butterfly cut, it will cook all the way through.
  • Plate the Chicken and cover with the Grilled Fruit (on or off the skewers, your choice).

Makes 3 Servings.

NOTES: Blackening is a technique of cooking often associated with Cajun cooking. I have read some places that attribute it however to a modern chef named Paul Prudhomme (who specializes in Cajun cooking). Whether an old technique, or a modern one, it extremely flavorful. I recommend playing with the amounts of spices–some like it hot, some don’t like it as hot–but Blackened is intended to be Spicy. If you are wanting to cheat, pick up some Hot Shot instead of the various types of Peppercorns, but do not skimp on the flavors. A lot of folks seem to want to avoid using Butter in the recipe–it is essential for true Blackened food, as the milk solids are part of the Blackening process. If you want a spicy chicken on the grill with the rub, great, but it’s not truly Blackened… just spicy ;-).  

Also, just a note, this Blackened Spice Rub can be used on Fish (it’s original intention), as well as other forms of protein.

Snap Peas and Black Beans

Snap Peas and Black Beans

Ingredients:
2 cups Black Beans, drained
1 cup Snap Peas, in pod
1 Shallot, chopped
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 tsp Ginger powder
1 tsp Olive Oil

Directions:

  • Sweat the Shallot in the Olive Oil with the Salt and Pepper in a Skillet on medium heat.
  • When the Shallots start to become translucent, add the other ingredients and mix well.
  • Cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring often so that the Black Beans do not stick.

Makes 3 Servings.

NOTES: This was a quick and easy dish that I came up with this Spring. The sweetness of the Peas is a good contrast to the Black Beans which seem to absorb the flavors of the Cumin and Shallots. You don’t want to overcook this, as you do want the Snap Peas to be crunchy still.

Mango-Glazed Chicken

Mango-Glazed Chicken

Ingredients:
3 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, butterfly cut
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Onion powder
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp ground Coriander
2 tsp fresh Ginger, minced
1 Mango, diced
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Mango Puree
1 tsp Allspice
1 tsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Scallion, diced

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • Place the Chicken cutlets on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and dust with the Crushed Red Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Coriander, and Salt. Drizzle with Olive Oil
  • Place in the oven for 15 minutes, turning after 7 minutes.
  • While the Chicken is cooking, in a non-stick sauce pan, add the Mango, Ginger, Honey, Mango Puree, Allspice and Butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and let it reduce to a jelly consistency, about 7 minutes.
  • After the Chicken has cooked for 15 minutes, remove, and cover with the Mango glaze.
  • Return the Chicken to the Oven and increase to 400°F and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Plate and garnish with the Scallion.

Makes 3 servings.

NOTES: My Michael loves Chicken, so I am always trying to get some new ideas on what to do with Chicken. This one came to me this afternoon, and he loved it! Thus, I thought I’d share it with everyone else.

Ginger Citrus Glazed Salmon

Ginger Citrus Glazed Salmon and Roast Broccoli

Ingredients:
2 Salmon Filets (6-8 oz each)
Juice of 2 Oranges (medium size)
Juice of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1 Lime
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 Tbsp Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 400°F.
  • Combine the Juice, Butter, Ginger, Garlic, Crushed Red Pepper, and Honey in a Sauce Pot on medium heat. Reduce in half.
  • Place the Salmon filets on a greased baking sheet, and sprinkle with Salt and Pepper to taste. Bake for 7 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cover with Glaze.
  • Return to the Oven and cook for an additional 7 minutes, or until desired done-ness.

Makes: 2 Servings.

Notes: This is a simple and flavorful way to do Salmon. You can even toss it up by adding some mango or Pineapple juice to the mix.

Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Sesame Oil
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2 Tbsp minced Ginger
1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
1/2 cup Soy Sauce

Directions:

  • Whisk together all ingredients.

Makes a little over 1 cup

NOTES: If not served immediately, the dressing will separate. Just whisk together when ready to serve. To add an extra kick, you may choose to add some Wasabi to it…just be careful.

Sautéed Spinach Parmesan

Sautéed Spinach Parmesan

Ingredients:
1 lb Baby Spinach, cleaned
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced length-wise thinly
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
Juice of 1 Lemon
6-8 Tbsp grated Parmesan, or equivalent shaved Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions

  • Heat the Oil in a large skillet on medium heat.
  • Add the Crushed Red Pepper and Garlic, and saute for 30 seconds to let the oils infuse with the Olive Oil. Stir, and do not let it brown.
  • Add the Baby Spinach with tongs.
  • Let cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to wilt, using the tongs to stir so none burn.
  • Squeeze the Juice of the Lemon over the Spinach, and toss.
  • Plate the Spinach and top with the Parmesan.
  • Keeping in mind, the Parmesan can be salty, season to taste.

Makes 4 Servings.

NOTE: I love sauteed spinach, but prefer to use Baby Spinach because it usually comes prepackaged, cleaned, and is easier to eat. I like mine Lemony, Garlicky, with a mix of Hot from the Crushed Red Pepper soothed by the nutty, salty Parmesan. This is also a very QUICK side dish to make, and can often be done with oil used for accompanying chicken dishes–so less mess!

Hawaiian Pork Chops

Hawaiian Pork Chops

Ingredients:
4 thick-cut Pork Chops (8-10 oz each)
1 Tbsp Steak Spice Rub
1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup Coconut Rum
1 can Pineapple Chunks
1 Shallot, diced
3 cloves Garlic, sliced horizontal
2 tsp fresh Ginger, minced
1 Bell Pepper, diced
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Dijon Mustard

Directions:

  • Rub the Steak Spice Rub on both sides of the chops. Use more Spice Rub if needed.
  • Preheat the Oven to 400°F.
  • Heat a large heavy skillet on high with the Olive Oil.
  • Place the Chops in the skillet and let cook for 2 minutes. Do not move them while they cook.
  • Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Remove to a baking sheet and place in the oven.
  • Deglaze the pan with the Coconut Rum. Be careful, as it will likely flame up.
  • Add the Pineapple and Juice, as well as all the other ingredients to the pan.
  • Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring constantly, and coating the Fruit with the sauce.
  • Remove the Pork Chops from the Oven (if internal temp is at 160°F) and plate.
  • Pour the Sauce and Fruit over the Pork Chops.

Makes 4 chops.

NOTES: It appears that any recipe with Pineapple is called “Hawaiian”–though no specific “style” of cooking seems to accompany it. I prefer a pan sauce, myself.  Though the pan sauce could be used as a glaze poured on pork chops cooked on the grill.

Pininyahang Manok – Pineapple Chicken

Pininyahang Manok – Pineapple Chicken

Ingredients:
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Jalapeños, minced
2 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
1 Pineapple, diced (about 4 cups)
2 links Chorizo Español picante, sliced into rounds
1 lb Chicken Breast, diced (boneless, skinless)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Pineapple Juice
1/4 cup Coconut Water
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped fine
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Prepare all ingredients before starting.
  • In a large pot, on medium heat, combine the Onion, Bell Pepper and Jalapeños; cooking for about minutes.
  • Add the Garlic, Ginger, Chorizo, and Pineapple.
  • You want to sauté these ingredients, letting them brown and caramelize a little for flavor.
  • Add the Chicken, Crushed Red Pepper, Pineapple Juice, and Coconut Water.
  • Let the Chicken cook through, about 5-10 minutes. You can speed this up by putting a lid on effectively steaming and poaching at the same time.
  • Add the fresh Parsley, and Season with Salt and Pepper; cook for an additional minute.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: Pininyahang Manok is essentially a Filipino chicken stew with pineapple. I have substituted Coconut Water for Coconut Milk, though you can retain the milk instead if you prefer. I have also added Chorizo to give it a depth of smoky, salty flavor. With regards to the chicken, you can also use bone-in chicken pieces–but I’d suggest Thighs instead of breasts.

This dish would serve well as a stew, but also can be served over rice.

The Chorizo used is a Spanish-style cured Chorizo–unlike the Mexican variety which, though flavorful, is raw and often cooked like ground beef. Spanish-style Chorizo comes in “dulce” and “picante”–with my preference for picante in this dish. Do not accidentally use a Portuguese Chouriço de Sangue, often marketed as just Chouriço, as it is VERY different.

Chimichurri

Dedicated to my friend Anahi G. who educated me about Salmuera

Chimichurri-Marinated Skirt Steak and Chicken,
Grilled with Onions and Chimicurri Sauce on the side

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Oregano
8 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup warm Water
1 1/2 Tbsp Salt
3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 wedge of Lemon
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In a bowl, whisk the Salt and warm water together to dissolve. In Spanish, this is called salmuera which acts like a brine.
  • Combine the Herbs, Garlic, Cumin, Crushed Red Pepper into a Food Processor and pules a couple times.
  • Squeeze in the Juice from the wedge of Lemon, and drizzle in the Salmuera and Red Wine Vinegar, pulsing.
  • Remove to a bowl, and stir in the Olive Oil, and Salt and Pepper.

NOTES: This is a very simple Argentinian marinade and sauce. The first time I ever had it was in Jackson Heights, NY at one of their many tasty Argentine places. It should be chunky and not a paste like an Adobo or Pesto. Some Recipes will include Onion and sweet Red Peppers. I prefer to keep those out. If you are able, instead of the American variety of Crushed Red Pepper, try to get Aji Molido also known as Aji Triturado–a more authentic Argentine variety of Crushed Red Pepper. You can vary the amounts of spice and garlic based on your tastes. This marinade is great on Steaks and Chicken, but can also be used with Fish. Serve it as a sauce on the side of Steak or drizzled over Roasted Potatoes as well–you can’t go wrong!

Trying to find an etymology for the word has proved interesting.   Various sources say it was either created by an English soldier or butcher named Jimmy Curry or Jimmy McCurry, who created the sauce–and folks unable to say his name morphed it into chimichurri.  It seems far-fetched to me.  Similarly, one origins story says that it was introduced about the time England was trying to invade Argentina, and captured soldiers would ask for a sauce with their meat “Give me a curry” that somehow morphed into chimichurri by natives trying to mimic them.  It just seems strange to me that there would be any English involvement in the creation of this dish–but hey, I wasn’t there.

Pollo alla Romana – Roman-Style Chicken

Pollo alla Romana

Ingredients:
6-8 fillets of Chicken Breasts, thin sliced, boneless, skinless
1 Roasted Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper, chopped
6 slices Prosciutto, chopped
2 Plum Tomatoes, diced
1 head of Roasted Garlic
1/2 cup Pinot Grigio
1 cup Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp fresh Basil
1 Tbsp fresh Oregano
1 Tbsp fresh Thyme
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
1 Tbsp Capers
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Romano Cheese, grated

Directions:

  • Do all necessary roasting ahead of time.
  • In a large skillet, brown the Chicken Fillets in the Olive Oil.
  • Remove the Fillets to the side.
  • Add the Peppers and Prosciutto, and cook until the Prosciutto starts to crisp, about 4 minutes.
  • Squeeze the Garlic into a Mortar and Pestle, and grind.
  • Add Garlic, Tomatoes, Chicken Stock, Wine, Basil, Oregano, Thyme, and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes to the skillet.
  • Heat for 10 minutes, and then add the Chicken Fillets back to the skillet.
  • Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Just before serving, stir in the Capers and Parsley.
  • Garnish with grated Romano Cheese.

Serves 3-4 people (portion 2 fillets per person)

NOTES: So it was a long weekend, and my partner volunteered to cook. He loves chicken, so he started looking online for a chicken recipe. I should mention he is not a good cook–toast and oatmeal he does well, but not much more than that. So he found a recipe for Roman-Style Chicken by Giada DiLaurentis. I had a feeling he would not end up cooking, and by the time we got back from the store, it dawned on him how much work would be involved. So it was saved for another night. I don’t like to do other people’s recipes, so I compare them to similar recipes and then make my own version with my own variations. This is my version of Roman-Style Chicken that resulted from my research and comparisons. I decided to add some different herbage, deepen the flavors with roasted peppers and garlic, as well as adding Romano cheese over the top. This is a light summery Italian meal, and it does not need a side of pasta!

General Tso’s Chicken – 左宗棠雞

Ingredients:
3 lb Chicken Thighs, boneless, skinless, cut in bite-size chunks
1 cup & 2 Tbsp Corn Starch, divided
1-3 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Shaoxing Rice Wine 绍兴酒
1/2 cup and 1 tsp Soy Sauce, divided
1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
3 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
4 cloves Garlic, slivered
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced
8-12 Dried Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers 天津辣椒
2 Scallions, cut in pieces
4 cups Broccoli, cut in bite size pieces
2 cloves Garlic, minced
Juice of 1 Lemon

1 1/2-2 cups Brown Rice
3-4 cups Water (or more)

Directions:

  • Cook the Brown Rice according to the directions on the bag and set aside
  • In a seal-able plastic bag, combine 1 cup Corn Starch and the Cayenne Pepper, mixing well.
  • Pat the Chicken pieces dry with a paper towel, and add to the bag. Seal and shake, coating the chicken in the powder.
  • Bring a wok to high heat and add 1/2 of the Vegetable Oil.
  • Remove the chicken from the bag and saute in the oil until browned on all sides.
  • Drain the chicken on paper towels.
  • Blanch or Steam the Broccoli spears and set to the side.
  • In a glass, whisk together the Rice Wine and remaining Cornstarch.
  • Heat the wok again, and add the Rice Wine/Corn Starch mixture, 1/2 cup of Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, the Honey, Chicken Broth, Ginger, slivered Garlic, and Crushed Red Pepper, mixing well.
  • Heat until the mixture begins to bubble.
  • Add the Scallions, Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers, and Chicken and coat well.
  • Pour the Mixture into a serving dish.
  • In another sealed bag, combine the remaining Soy Sauce, minced Garlic, and Lemon Juice.
  • add the Broccoli Spears and mix well.
  • Garnish the Chicken with the Broccoli or serve in a separate dish.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: So I was inspired to make this dish because of a very awful version that I ordered in from the local take-away. This version should be more flavorful, slightly spicier, and not as unhealthy as the heavy batter, deep-fried kind.

General Tso’s Chicken is believed to have been created in New York City in the 1970s as an attempt to introduce the spicier Hunan cuisine to what was generally Cantonese cuisine in the city. There are two chefs who are attributed as possible inventors of this dish, Chef Peng Jia of Peng’s Restaurant formerly of E 44th St and Chef T. T. Wong of the Shun Lee Palace restaurants. I have also found claims of invention by a chef in Taiwan about the same time. As far as I can tell, the Peng Jia seems to be the most widely accepted, though no one seems to know for sure.

General Tso’s Chicken is named after Zuo Zongtang (左宗棠, 1812–1885), a Qing Dynasty general from Hunan Provence. I cannot find any reason or rational as to why the dish is named after him. Another source suggests that the name is really a mis-translation. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo states in her book The Chinese Kitchen that the dish originates from a simple Hunan chicken dish, and that the reference to “Zongtang” in “Zuo Zongtang chicken” was not a reference to Zuo Zongtang’s given name, but rather a reference to the homonym zōngtáng 宗堂, meaning “ancestral meeting hall”. As one who is completely ignorant to Chinese languages, I’ll have to take her word for it. Also regionally, in the US, there are various spellings of used…Gua, Tsao, Tsa, Cua, Zuo, etc… reflecting how poorly we Americans transliterate Chinese.

Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco – Chicken and Artichoke Fettuccine

Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco

Ingredients:
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into strips
2 cups Marinated Artichoke Hearts, quartered
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Red Onion, diced
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Pinot Grigio or White Wine
1 Tbsp Basil, chopped fine
1/2 Tbsp Oregano, chopped fine
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt
2-4 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
1 lb Fettuccine (fresh if possible)
Water for boiling
1 tsp Capers for Garnish

Directions:

  • Strain the Oil from the Artichokes into a bowl containing the Chicken. Set the Artichokes to the side, but marinade the Chicken for 1 hour.
  • When ready to cook, begin heating a pot of water on high heat for the Pasta.
  • In a large skillet, combine 1 Tbsp of the Olive Oil with the Onions and Salt, and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the Garlic, Crushed Red Pepper, and Chicken (with the Oil) and sauté until the Chicken begins to brown.
  • Add the White Wine, careful as it may flare up. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add the Artichokes and Cherry Tomatoes and cook for another 2-5 minutes until heated through.
  • Add the Pasta to the water when it is boiling. Watch if you are using fresh Fettuccine as it cooks quicker than dried.
  • Strain the Pasta and toss with the Parmesan, Salt, Pepper, Herbs and the remaining Olive Oil in a large bowl.
  • Add the Chicken Artichoke Mixture, and toss well.

Makes about 4-6 Servings.

NOTES: So I had to come up with dinner at the last minute, and searched the cupboard and fridge for ingredients – the result was this dish. It is similar to Chicken Vino Bianco from Olive Garden (which I admit I did not know existed until I was trying to search for similar dishes to come up with a name for what I made), except that I add vegetables, do not use the large amount of Butter, nor did I batter the Chicken. Thus we find a healthier, lighter, dish that is still full of flavor.

Arrabbiata Sauce – Fra Diavolo Sauce

Ingredients:
4-6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
2 tsp Oregano, chopped fine
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, diced
3 cups Tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper

Directions:

  • Heat the Olive Oil in a Saucepan with the Garlic, Parsley and Oregano on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add the Onion and sauté until near translucent, stirring continually.
  • Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Discard the Bay Leaf before serving.

Makes 3 1/2 cups.

NOTES: The best pasta to use for this is Penne Rigate because it absorbs the sauce well. Arrabbiata is a red sauce that is spiced with Crushed Red Pepper flakes meaning roughly “Angry Sauce” though I’ve been told it has the connotation of “Pissed-Off Sauce”. It is often called Fra Diavolo meaning “Brother of the Devil” in America, though when so called, a protein like Seafood or Chicken is added.

I grew up with Arrabbiata Sauce as my main pasta sauce but it was called Marinara and it was spicy. In reality we were eating Arrabbiata Sauce instead and just didn’t know the name difference. My Italian side of the family is from the Molise region of Italy, in the town of Campobasso.

Roast Leg of Lamb

Roast Leg of Lamb with Tzatziki

Ingredients:
5-6 lb bone-in Leg of Lamb
6-8 cloves Garlic, minced
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced in half horizontally
2 Tbsp Lemon Zest, divided
2 Tbsp Oregano, divided
2 Tbsp Rosemary, divided
2 Tbsp Mint, divided
2 Tbsp Salt, divided
1 Tbsp Black Pepper, divided
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tbsp Cardamom
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 cup dry Red Wine
1 cup Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  • Combine the minced Garlic, half of the Lemon Zest, Rosemary, Oregano, Mint, Salt, and Black Pepper, the Crushed Red Pepper, Red Wine, and Lemon Juice in a large container for a marinade. The container should be able to hold the leg of lamb, and be sealed. I advocate using a seal-able bag.
  • Place the Lamb in the container with the marinade and refrigerate for 6-12 hours.
  • After marinating, remove the Lamb to a roasting pan, and pat dry.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F
  • Taking a large paring knife, cut slits in the meat about 1/2″ wide, and 1″ deep.
  • Insert the Garlic slivers into the slits.
  • Taking the remaining Herbs and Seasoning, rub the Lamb. If you need more, feel free to add more.
  • Take the Dijon Mustard and lightly spread along the Lamb over the rub. Try to avoid clumps.
  • Drizzle the Olive Oil over the top.
  • Place in the oven, and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to 325°F and roast for an additional 25-35 minutes, or until desired doneness.
  • Rare is about 25 minute with an internal temperature of 135°F
  • Medium-rare is about 30 minutes with an internal temperature of 140°F
  • Medium is about 35 minutes with an internal temperature of 160°F
  • Remember to put the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the leg, and not touching the bone.

Serve with Tzatziki or Mint Jelly

NOTES: This recipe pulls on Greek flavors from my neighborhood Astoria. For me, lamb says Spring, Easter, and Passover. Traditionally, Lamb (קרבן פסח)would have been sacrificed on the first night of Passover in remembrance of the lambs blood that was painted on the door posts of the Hebrew homes in Egypt, signifying to the Angel of the Lord to passover that house and spare the first born son. The use of a shank-bone on the Seder plate is reminiscent of this sacrifice, and in some places, Lamb is eaten as the primary meat in the Seder meal.

In the Christian tradition, which I am much more familiar with, the symbol of the lamb has been drawn from Passover and applied to Jesus as the sacrificial lamb which allows death to passover all those washed in the blood of his sacrifice. You will see a lot of symbolism around Easter time in both the Western and Eastern Churches of the Paschal Lamb, often carrying a banner and sitting on a broken sarcophagus.

Jan Van Eyck painting “Ghent Altarpiece”, finished 1432

Whether celebrating Passover or Easter or just a group of friends coming for a visit, lamb is a great festive choice of food, and probably my favorite meat.

Falafel – فلافل

Ingredients:Vegan
2 cups Chickpeas (dried, soaked 24 hours or canned)
1 medium Onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp fresh Mint, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 tsp Coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 tsp crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 Tbsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper

3 cups Olive Oil for frying
1 Lemon

Directions:

  • Drain the Chickpeas from water/can solution.
  • Add the Chickpeas and all ingredients (except oil and Lemon) into a food processor.
  • Pulse the mixture until it resembles bread crumbs. If needed, add a small, small amount of water to aid in the pulsing. Do not over pulsate, or it will turn into a hummus-like mixture. You want it grainy.
  • Using your hands, form small 1″ balls from the mixture. I prefer to then squish the balls making a small patty. This is easier for pan-frying. If you are going to use a deep fryer, the balls are best.
  • In a skillet, add the oil and heat to 350°.
  • Using a spatula, place the patties in the oil. Let cook for 2 1/2 minutes then carefully flip. Cook another 2 1/2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack or papertowel-lined plate.
  • Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the falafel.

NOTES:
History: Falafel is originally from Egypt, and was made with Fava beans. Most Middle Eastern variations use Chickpeas, either mixed with Fava beans, or exclusively. The herbs and spices can be modified to suit your taste. Some recipes add Sesame seeds to the mix.
The Chickpeas: Either use canned, or dried. For dried, soak them at least 24 hours in water. Keep in mind that they will triple in size and may need more water.

Serving Options:
Serve with Tahini, or Tzatziki as a finger food.
Serve with lettuce, tomato, tahini, Tzatiki, in a split Pita like a sandwich.
Serve atop a salad.

Hummus – حمّص

Hummus

Ingredients:Vegan
16 0z Chickpeas
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 1/2 Tbsp Tahini
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp fresh Parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper (optional)

Well Garnish:
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
5 Parsley Sprigs, cut short
3 Kalamata Olives
1/4 tsp Sesame Seeds

Pita Bread

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a Food Processor, and pulse until desired consistency. If needing more creamy, add more Olive Oil.

To Serve, pour into a bowl and make a well, and add Well Garnish. Serve with warm, grilled, or toasted Pita Bread

NOTES:  “Hummus” or حمّص is Arabic for “chickpeas”.   The Spanish word is Garbanzo Beans, so if you do not see Chickpeas in your store, look for the Spanish name. There is no difference in what you’re buying… “a rose by any other name…”

Worcestershire Sauce

Ingredients:
1 White Onion , chopped
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 1/4″ slice of Ginger
3 Tbsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Peppercorns
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 Cinnamon stick
1 tsp Cloves
1/2 tsp Cardamom Pods
2 cups Malt Vinegar
1/2 cup Molasses
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Tamarind Pulp
3 Tbsp Salt
1/2 tsp Curry Powder
1 Tbsp Anchovy Paste
1/2 cup Water

Specialized Tools:
Cheese Cloth

Directions:

  • In a Cheese Cloth, combine Onion, Garlic, Mustard Seeds, Crushed Red Pepper, Peppercorns, Ginger, Cinnamon Stick, Cloves and Cardamom Pods, making a pouch. This will make it easier to remove the ingredients once the sauce is made.
  • In a large saucepan, Malt Vinegar, Molasses, Soy Sauce, and Tamarind Paste. Bring to boil. Place the Spice Pouch in, and lower the heat, simmering for about 50 minutes.
  • Add the Salt, Curry Powder, Anchovy Paste and Water to the pot. Let simmer 1o more minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the heat, and pour into a container with an air-tight lid. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator for at least two weeks, squeezing the Spice pouch every day.
  • After “brewing” for two weeks, remove the bundle, and put into sanitized Mason jar for storage.

NOTE: This is exceptional, but not the quickest thing to prepare. If you’re really in a hurry, or think this is just not worth it (you’re losing out) you may, at the last minute, to the degradation of what you are cooking, use Lea & Perinn’s, but never ever ever, a store-bought brand that contains HFCS!

Mustard Green Gratin

Ingredients:Vegetarian
3 lg bunches of Mustard Greens, cleaned, and de-ribbed.
16 oz Ricotta Cheese
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Salt
1 small Yellow Onion, diced
2 cups Crimini Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (“button” is fine too)
2 cloves Garlic, diced
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions:

  • In a large roasting pan, add Olive Oil, and Onions.
  • Place on two burners, on low heat and saute the Onions until translucent.
  • Add Mushrooms, Garlic and Mustard Greens. Mustard Greens will cook down.
  • Add the Crushed Red Pepper and Salt. Continue to cook down.
  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • When all greens are cooked down, take off heat.
  • Mix in Ricotta Cheese, and pour into a baking dish.
  • Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

NOTE: Regarding the Mushrooms. Button Mushrooms (a.k.a. Table Mushrooms) develop into Crimini Mushrooms (a.k.a baby bellas), which in turn develop into Portabello Mushrooms. The name refers to the cultivation stage of the Mushroom Agaricus bisporus. For this recipe, use Button or Crimini, although you can use Portabello if you want.