Friday, July 31, 2009

It's not always exciting

Yes, even we eat leftovers. I usually try to eat them for lunch, but every once in a while we end up with so much stuff that it is too much and we end up with a interesting combination of foods that I have to figure out how to turn into a dinner.

I do try to recreate things if I can. If you have leftover pasta, turn it into baked pasta with cheese.
Soups are also a great way to use up leftovers. Just remember that what you have might already be cooked and only need reheating.

As is usually the case I also made a quick salad with some leftover bread that I turned into croutons (croutons are big in our house).

Arugula, tomatoes, croutons with parm.

Cooking with Auden

One of the best parts about cooking with Auden is that there is little struggle to get him to wash his hands. Now its just part of the process... You want to cook...You wash your hands...Done!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Asain Market Adventures

Whenever I get the chance, I like to go to interesting and exotic grocery stores. The other day I had just the chance. On the north side of Chicago there is a group of Asain, mostly Thai, grocery stores. They carry all kinds of interesting and hard to find ingredients.

I first stumbled into Tai Nam Market when out with my friend Adam. He had been to other markets in the neighborhood, but not this one. This place is the real deal. I remember they had a cardboard box of chicken feet on the floor, that was so covered in fat that the box had changed color. That aside, this place is great. Need a 50 lb bag of rice...they have it. Need soy sauce for the next 5 years...this is the place.

They do carry a wide range of vegtables that are hard to find. I saw these long beans and couldn't resist. We love them Szechuan style at Lao Sze Chuan

This recipe can be made with any green bean if long beans aren't available.

Szechuan Spicy Long Beans
1 bunch long beans, trimmed, cut to desired length
1 - 2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 inch ginger, diced
1 - 3 Tbs hot sauce (Sambal Oelek)
splash soy sauce

Heat a pan on high and add oil.
Saute beans for a few minutes until they begin to brown. Set aside.
Add more oil and saute the garlic and ginger for a minute until soft.
Add the hot sauce and return the beans.
Splash with soy, toss to coat.

The other great thing at the market are the fresh Lo Mein noodles. They are so fresh that they are still hot when you get them.

Another of our favorite dishes is Kung Pao. I found this simple sauce recipe from Ming Tsai which works great with almost any vegetable, tofu or meat.

We had some salmon and broccoli to add as well.

To prepare the salmon, season with salt and pepper and dust with flour. This will help create a nice crust when cooked.

Saute for a couple minutes on each side then set aside.

I stated the dish by sauting and onion in oil. Remove and set aside.
Cook the broccoli and add to the onion.

Kung Pao Sauce
1 inch ginger, minced well
2 Tbs hot sauce (Sambal Oelek)
6 - 8 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
2-3 Tbs sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbs corn starch mixed with 1 Tbs cold water
2 - 3 Tbs peanuts, plus more for garnish

In a wok or saucepan, heat oil over high heat.
Add ginger, garlic, saute for a minute. Add sambal oelek. Mix well for 10 seconds.

Add soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar. Bring to boil quickly.

Slowly add the cornstarch mix, whisking continuously. Add the peanuts. Cook until the sauce thickens.

Add the noodle and heat though. Add the vegetables.

To serve, place noodles in a bowl. Top with a piece of salmon and top with more sauce and chopped peanuts.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cooking with Auden: Spring Rolls

Spring rolls are an easy health starter whenever serving Thai food. The only thing special required are spring roll wrappers. These can be found in most Asian markets or large supermarkets. (These are not the same as egg roll wrappers, which are found in the refrigerator section in produce. Spring roll wrappers are white and hard and would be found in the center section with other Asian products.)

Before you begin, have all the ingredients ready to fill. Then its quick to roll them all at once.
I used cucumber, carrots, mint, basil and arugula. You can also use tofu or shrimp and cellophane noodles

Julienne the veggies, and tear the herbs into strips.

To make the rolls, soak the wrapper in water for a couple of minutes until soft.

Place a pile of the filling in the middle of the wrapper running diagonally across. This is a great kid activity. It also allows them to leave out things that they may not like.

Then fold over one corner, tucking in to create a roll. Fold the bottom and top over onto the roll and continue rolling to seal. The wrapper will stick to itself.

Once all the rolls are complete, you can make the sauce. If making ahead they can be store in the refrigerator loosely covered with a damp towel to prevent drying.

To make the sauce, mix the following:
2 Tbs peanut butter, crunchy
3 - 4 Tbs soy sauce
squirt hot sauce
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 - 2 Tbs water

Mixing is always great for kids to do.

Cut in half and use your fingers to pick up and dip in the sauce.

Red Curry Salmon

I have always been a fan of Asia food, but have struggled to make it at home. One trick of late is to actually limit the number of ingredients. Sticking with fewer more flavorful ingredients, the dishes end up tasting much better.

This recipe for red curry was passed on from my friend Liz. It is easy and doesn't require many exotic ingredients.

Start by making the sauce.

2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste*
1 13 1/2- to 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk*
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh lemongrass or 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla*)

Heat the oil in a pan and add the curry. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the coconut milk, sugar and lemongrass.
Cook this for several minutes until thick.
Then add the lime juice and fish sauce

This can be set aside on low until ready to serve.

To prepare the fish, season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium in an oiled oven safe pan. Flip and finish cooking in a 400 deg oven.

To prepare the bok choi, boil in salted water for 2 -3 minutes.

Serve with rice.

To top it off, we had peanut butter chocolate chip gelato.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cooking with Auden: Salads

Salads are a great way to get kids involved in cooking. They are usually fresh (the salads that is) so there is little need to worry about cooking and the dangers the oven/stove can bring and in most cases things can be done without sharp knives.

Last night we made a simple salad of arugula and tomatoes with some quick croutons.

To make the croutons slice bread into thick slices and brush with oil. This is a great activity for kids. Then toast until browned and dice.

We picked up some cherry tomatoes as well. They had little stems which needed to be removed...another great activity for kids.

Toss the tomatoes and croutons with a bunch of arugula, vinegar, EVOO and salt and pepper.

Oh and kids make the best taste testers:

The Quest for the Perfect Pizza Continues

In the time that the blog has been on hold, I have continued my efforts to perfect the homemade pizza.

Though I did make one excellent round while in Tucson (I think the dryness really helped the dough) I am back home and the quest must continue.

Last week I saw this article on Slice, and could not wait to try it. It did require another trip to Bari to pick up Caputo flour.

I cut the recipe in half, and it still made quite a bit of dough. I actually ran out of cheese after the third pizza.

I made on red.

One caramelized onion with arugula.

And one white with hots.

The result was fabulous...Bari even said that I should stop trying recipes as this was the best.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cooking with Auden

So I've decided to add a new feature to the blog...Cooking with Auden.

Since moving into our new apartment Auden (our 3 year old son) has been more and more interested in helping in the kitchen. Though I have always tried to have him help, he is getting to the age where he can actually take part in the cooking.

I hope to be able to start to add recipes that we work on together, highlighting where he has helped out, and any additional comments that he may have.

I have always felt that the best way to get kids to eat all kinds of food is to get them involved with the cooking. the image above we made blueberry muffins.

Tomato Bruschetta

In this country when we think of bruschetta we think of the tomato and basil variety. Bruschetta is actually just toasted garlic bread with stuff on top.

Though I rarely make the tomato basil version, I had the ingredients on hand and need a quick meal. The topping will save well, so if you have extra save in the refrigerator and toast new bread.

Tomato Bruschetta
basil, torn into strips
garlic, diced plus one to rub with
salt and pepper

To prepare the topping, seed, then chop the tomatoes to the desired size, I cut into a quarter inch dice. In a bowl toss with the basil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and a generous amount of EVOO.

Toast the bread, or better grill, then rub one side with a garlic clove.

Place the topping on the bread and drizzle a little more EVOO on top. I also finished with a little balsamic, you can also add fresh parm.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Of late I feel as though I have fallen for oven roasted tomatoes. The roasted adds depth and sweetness to tomatoes that just adds to their deliciousness. This technique can be used with any tomatoes, big or small, even a mixture works well. Just make sure that there is not a huge difference in size between the smallest and largest, otherwise the small ones will be over done before the biggest are.

They also last longer than fresh tomatoes. Once roasted they can be stored in the refrigerator for days.

Slice tomatoes in half, if using small cherry or teardrops you can leave whole.
Place in a oven safe earthenware baking dish.
Drizzle a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Fresh herbs are a great addition, I particularly like thyme, as are whole garlic cloves.

Place in 375 to 400 deg oven.
Roast for about an hour (this will largely depend on the tomatoes, bigger ones will take longer, as will ones with more moisture.) until they are nicely browned and cooked through but still hold their shape. They can be turned mid-way through the cooking.

Make sure when storing to keep all the liquid and to scrap the pan for any of the caramelization on the pan.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shell on Shrimp

Shrimp are great, but with the shell on they really take on a great flavor. The shells are full of flavor and should be saved if not used. They can be used to make a simple shrimp stock, which is great in soups or rice dishes.

By leaving the shell on the shrimp also stay nice and moist, trapping some of the moisture inside the meat.

Toss shrimp with a little oil and salt and pepper.
They can be grilled or tossed in a hot pan.
Let rest a few minutes to brown a bit. One nice part about the shell-on shrimp is that you can let them burn a bit and it does not ruin the inside.

After they have cooked several minutes a side and are nicely cooked through you can toss with sauce.

I used a jerk inspired one with cilanto, cumin, chili powder, garlic, mango chili vinegar, salt and pepper and EVOO.

I served with some rice and topped with the mango salsa.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mango Salad

FINALLY...I think we are back in business. Have no fear we did not go the last month without eating...

I picked up a mango the other night that turned perfect tonight. Not too ripe that it falls apart, but not to firm that it is mealy.

Chop this with an avocado, tomato and red onion.
Toss with some lime juice and EVOO and salt and pepper.

This is great as a side on its own or great on top of shrimp or fish.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

We have the tubes...

To my fellow readers,

As many of you know, we recently moved. This has obviously made cooking quite challenging, though not impossible. The larger issue has been the lack of Internet.

Today, over a week after I was promised to have it, my network is up and running. I can now come back to my blog and continue to share what I have been cooking.

Hopefully over the next several days I should be able to work out the image issue and get things running smoothly again.

Thanks and happy eating,

Monday, July 6, 2009

Still no internets