Saturday, January 18, 2020

Garlic Roasted Eggplant with Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, and Basil

Eggplant and olive oil are like two peas in a pod. And when you add garlic, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil on top of that, well they're like four peas in a pod! This recipe combines all of these ingredients together in an easy to prepare and delicious oven-roasted veggie dish. I do not have exact measurements for the olive oil, balsamic and seasonings as that is up to one's own taste. However, skimping on the olive oil is never a good idea when it comes to eggplants because they soak it up like a sponge and will taste like one without it. Also, I use granulated or powdered garlic instead of fresh because sometimes fresh garlic will burn during the roasting process and leave a bitter taste. 

2 large eggplants, cut into large 2" dice
1/2 cup+ olive oil
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. granulated garlic or garlic powder
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. 

2. Place the diced eggplant on a foil-lined baking sheet and pour a generous amount of olive oil over the eggplant and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, then toss the eggplants to combine all the ingredients. 

3. Spread the eggplant out into a single layer on the pan and place in the oven. Let roast for about 45 minutes, turning the pieces over with tongs about halfway through the cooking time. 

4. When the eggplant is tender (check with a fork), remove the pan from the oven. When slightly cooled, taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, garlic powder as needed. Tear the basil leaves by hand into smaller pieces and add to the eggplant. Toss to combine while the eggplant is still warm.

This dish can be served warm as a side dish or at room temperature as an appetizer/antipasto.

 Flavored olive oils and vinegars like roasted garlic olive oil and vanilla & fig California balsamic from the Temecula Olive Oil Company here, work well in this recipe.

Toss the diced eggplant with a generous amount of the olive oil, balsamic and seasonings. 

Toss in the torn basil leaves with the warm eggplant before serving. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Crispy Pan-Fried Thousand Year Eggs with Sautéed Bell Peppers and Chili-Black Bean-Vinegar Sauce

This is a very interesting and delicious take on thousand year-old eggs (aka 'Pidan'). Mom came across this recipe online (YouTube?) and adapted it to her own taste. She made it for our June 22, 2019 celebration of what would have been dad's 93rd birthday. The Pidan are halved and coated in potato starch and pan fried until lightly crispy. The topping is a sauce of sautéed diced bell peppers, minced Fresno chilies and minced garlic with black bean sauce, chili sauce and rice vinegar. I haven't made this myself yet but will update this post when I do with more exact ingredient proportions and instructions. The only thing I would change is to put the bell pepper sauce on the bottom of the plate and top it with the Pidan to keep them crispy. Otherwise, it's a tasty and brilliant dish! Thanks mom!

6 Thousand Year-Old Eggs (Pidan), halved
Potato starch
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1" dice
1 Fresno chili, seeded and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Black bean sauce
Chinese chili sauce
Rice vinegar
Cilantro for garnish

Gyoza (Japanese Potstickers / Pan-Fried Dumplings) with Soy-Vinegar Dipping Sauce

The best recipe for Japanese potstickers (aka 'gyoza') I've come across so far is the one by Kenji Lopez-Alt. The filling is the perfect combination of ground pork, cabbage, garlic, ginger, scallions, salt and sugar. Salting and then draining the finely chopped cabbage before adding it to the filling helps to keep the dumplings from getting soggy (soggy = less crispy = not good). Gyoza are different from Chinese pan-fried dumplings (Guo Tie) in that they are smaller in size and have thinner skins. In fact, according to Kenji, using the thinner store-bought wrappers to make gyozas rather than the thicker and larger homemade variety, is absolutely requisite. The following recipe is adapted from Kenji's, which I doubled, using fewer scallions and green cabbage instead of Napa. 

Adapted from Serious Eats "The Best Japanese Pork & Cabbage (Gyoza) Recipe, by Kenji Lopez-Alt:


1 medium had of Napa or Green Cabbage, finely chopped
4 tsp. salt

Filling Ingredients:
2 lbs. ground pork
2 tsp. white pepper
6 cloves finely minced garlic
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
4 scallions, minced
4 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt

2 pkgs. gyoza wrappers (around 40 wrappers per pkg.)
2 tbsp. grapeseed or vegetable oil
1/2 cup water (if using 12" skillet - use less if pan-frying in a smaller skillet)

Soy-Vinegar Dipping Sauce: 
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. chili oil (Layu)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 clove garlic, grated
1 green onion, finely minced

Can also use Ponzu Sauce:

Detailed instructions and video on how to make and pleat the dumpling wrappers:

1. Finely chop the cabbage and place in a bowl. Add 4 tsp. of salt and stir to combine (I use my gloved hands for this). Let sit for 15 minutes and then transfer the cabbage to the center of a large dish towel. Twist the towel and squeeze as hard as you can over a bowl or the sink to remove as much liquid as possible. 

2. Place the squeeze-dried cabbage back into a clean bowl and add the filling ingredients. Using your hands, knead the mixture well until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined and starts to feel tacky/sticky. Place a teaspoon-sized amount of the pork mixture to a small microwave-proof bowl and nuke for about 15 seconds or until done. Taste the cooked portion for salt, pepper, sugar and adjust seasonings to the mixture if needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate if not using immediately. 

3. MAKE THE DUMPLINGS: Set up a workstation with a small bowl of water on the side and a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place one gyoza wrapper on your palm and fill a heaping teaspoon of the pork filling in the center. Using your index finger, moisten the edge of the wrapper with water and fold over into a crescent shape, pleating the edges to seal tight. 

Kenji has an instructive video on his Serious Eats website on how to make and pleat the dumplings:

Place the dumplings on the parchment-lined baking sheet. If not using right away, place the baking sheet into the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes. Place the frozen dumplings into Ziplock-type bags and freeze for future use. 

4. TO COOK: Heat 1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil (I like to use grapeseed oil, which has a high smoking point) over medium heat until very hot. Place as many dumplings into the pan as will fit in a single layer. Swirl the pan occasionally and cook until the bottoms of the dumplings are golden brown (probably takes about 2-3 minutes). Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan and cover tightly. Let steam for 3 minutes (5 minutes if the dumplings are frozen). Remove the lid and continue cooking until all the water has evaporated and the dumplings have crisped again. 

5. TO SERVE: Slide the dumplings onto a serving plate and turn them over so that the crispy bottoms are facing up. Serve with the soy-vinegar dipping sauce, ponzu sauce, or your fav store-bought dumpling sauce. 

Finely chop the cabbage.

Add 4 tsp. of salt to the chopped cabbage and stir to combine (I use my hands for this). Let sit 15 minutes. 

Finely chopped ginger, scallions, and garlic.

After 15 minutes, place the chopped cabbage onto the center of a clean kitchen towel over a bowl. 

Twist the towel and squeeze the cabbage tightly to remove as much liquid as possible. 

Place the squeeze-dried cabbage into a large bowl and add the scallions, ginger, green onion, salt, white pepper, and sugar. 

Add the ground pork and knead the mixture well with your hands until slightly sticky/tacky. 

Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling onto the center of each dumpling wrapper. Using your index finger wet the edges of the wrapper, fold over, and crimp to seal. 

Place the dumplings onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and place the dumplings into the pan in a single layer. Swirl the pan occasionally. 

When the bottoms of the dumplings are golden brown, add 1/2 cup of water and immediately cover the pan. Steam for 3 minutes (5 minutes if the dumplings are frozen). 

Remove the cover and continue cooking the dumplings until all the water has evaporated and the bottoms have re-crisped. 

Some of the dipping sauce ingredients: rice vinegar, soy sauce, chili oil (layu).

Serve the dumplings crispy side up. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Classic American Beef Stew

This is my take on classic American beef stew: chunks of tender beef braised in a rich yet not heavy brown gravy sauce with sautéed onions, celery, carrots, potatoes and peas. The mushrooms are optional but the addition of a little soy sauce and fish sauce is a total must umami booster that I picked up from Kenji Lopez-Alt's excellent cookbook Food Lab and his blog Serious Eats. Now this is some serious comfort food!

4-5 lbs. boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 2" dice
Salt & pepper
1 cup flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 large onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
8 oz. button or cremini mushrooms, halved or cut into thick slices (optional)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut thirds
1 cup red wine
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fish sauce
4 cups beef stock
6 cups water
3 bay leaves
8 sprigs thyme
8 sprigs Italian parsley

6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large dice

3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 cup frozen peas

1. Place the diced beef chuck on a lined baking sheet and pat dry with paper towels. Season generously with salt and pepper. 

2. Place the flour on a large plate and add the seasoned beef, a few pieces at a time; coat on all sides and return back to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining beef until all the pieces are coated with flour. 

3. Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat until hot. Add the beef to the pan (do not overcrowd - cook in batches as needed) and sauté until the beef is well browned on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate and cook the remaining beef until done. 

4. Bring the heat back up to medium high in the same pot with the drippings. Add the diced onion and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, celery, and mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes or until the veggies start to brown. 

5. Add the reserved beef and its accumulated juices back to the pan and deglaze with red wine. 

6. Stir in the tomato paste, soy sauce, fish sauce, beef stock, water, 2 carrots (cut into thirds), bay leaves, thyme and parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is super tender. Remove the carrots, bay leaves, thyme and parsley stems from the pot and discard.

7. Add the remaining 6 diced carrots and potatoes to the pot and cook another 20 minutes or until the they are just tender and the sauce has thickened. Taste and season with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper, as needed. Stir in the peas, turn off the heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.  

Diced carrots, celery, garlic, onion, parsley, and 2 carrots cut into thirds for the initial braising.

Diced Yukon Gold potatoes and quartered crimini mushrooms.

Beef chuck for pot roast.

Pat the cubed beef dry with paper towels and season well with kosher salt and black pepper.

Coat the seasoned beef with flour.

Tomato paste, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce and beef stock.

Brown the beef in batches and set aside on a plate.

In the pan drippings, sauce the diced onion.

Add the garlic, celery (and mushrooms, if using), and sauté until the veggies are lightly browned.

Return the beef and its accumulated juices to the pot and deglaze with red wine. 

Add the tomato paste.

Stir in the beef broth, water, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and fish sauce.

Add 2 carrots, bay leaves, thyme and parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender. Discard the carrots, bay leaves, thyme and parsley stems.

Add the remaining 6 diced carrots and potatoes to the pot and cook another 20 minutes or until the they are just tender and the sauce has thickened. Taste and season with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper, as needed. Stir in the peas, turn off the heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Dinner (or lunch, or breakfast) is served!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Arugula, Green Apple, Golden Raisin, Dill & Sorghum Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

This recipe was inspired by a recent Gobble dinner kit I received. I switched to Gobble from Blue Apron on the recommendation of my boss because there's a lot less less prep involved and I can bust out a fresh meal for two in less than 20 minutes (yup, sadly it's true, but I don't make everything from scratch for dinner on weekdays cuz I still work full time and need to destress after those long daily commutes). The salad was the accompaniment for pan-seared salmon and was light, delicious and had just the right amount of tartness from the apple and lemon juice to make it a perfect pairing for the fish. If you can't find sorghum you can easily sub with bulgar wheat, couscous, pearled barley, quinoa, or even freekeh - an ancient grain (green durum wheat) that's becoming much more readily available these days due to its current reputation as the next bestest super grain on the market).

Serves 4:

1 cup cooked sorghum (or bulgur, couscous, pearled barley, quinoa, freekeh)

4 cups arugula or any blend of your favorite salad greens
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 Granny Smith or other green apple, cored and cut into small dice
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh Italian or flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
4 scallions, finely sliced

1 lemon, quartered
Salt & pepper
Lemon Poppyseed Dressing (homemade or store-bought)

1. Cook the sorghum (or other wheat or grain) according to package directions; drain and set aside to cool. 

2. Combine the arugula, raisins, diced apple, minced dill, parsley, scallions and cooked sorghum together in a large bowl and toss gently to mix. 

2. Season with salt and pepper, then squeeze in as much of the lemon juice as you like, according to your taste. 

3. Add just enough of the lemon poppyseed dressing to coat all the ingredients and toss gently (I prefer to use my hands, to do this wearing disposable gloves).

Great served as a side to pan-seared salmon or other fish.

 A great accompaniment to pan-seared salmon.