Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Salad Duet

Yes, a DUET of FOODS.

Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad + Cabbage Apple Walnut Salad

Both recipes are adaptations from Smitten Kitchen. I was just about to complain about how infrequently she's been updating her blog lately... but then I realized that WE haven't had a new post in three months. So I shan't. Smitten Kitchen is one of my go-to cooking blogs. When I have ingredients I feel like cooking with, there's almost always a recipe on her site that fits the bill, and every single thing I've ever made (and it's a lot) has come out like gangbusters. And she does Jewish recipes to boot! My only complaint is that her directions can be a little finicky. That can be useful for a true baking potchke, but on a regular old weeknight, I can't be tamed.

The recipes:

How I kept it real:
- I didn't measure anything. In both of these recipes, you can eyeball basically everything.
- I substituted hummus for the tahini in the squash salad's dressing
- I used regular old green cabbage plus chopped kale in the cabbage salad
- Yogurt instead of sour cream/creme fraiche in the cabbage salad
- Feta instead of goat cheese, ditto
- Didn't peel the apple, ditto

Basically, you can adapt either recipe to your heart's desire and you can't really go wrong. I felt super healthy after eating this for dinner.

BONUS TIP: (Stolen from
For easy butternut squash prep, first cut off the long neck from the bulbous bottom. Then cut off the top of the neck. Stand the cylinder up straight on your cutting board to slice off the skin, then chop it easily into the called-for chunks. Take the remaining bulb, halve it, and scoop out the seeds, then roast the intact halves with olive oil and salt alongside the chunks. When they have cooled, peel off the skin and save the squash to make soup tomorrow! Pioneer style!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Steak Salad

This is inspired by a salad I ate once with my mom at the Neimann Marcus restaurant in St. Louis. I think it was after I tried on wedding dresses. Not sure. But I do remember that there were ladies modeling fashions while we ate, and I do remember this salad! I'm not going to include ingredient amounts, because you can put in as much or as little of everything as you want.

steak (not too thickly cut)
corn (mine came from a can)
red onion
cherry tomatoes
blue cheese
olive oil
white or red wine vinegar
dijon mustard

1) Prepare the salad dressing-- combine 4 parts olive oil to 2 parts vinegar and 1 part each of mustard and honey. Salt and pepper to taste.

2) Prepare the other veggies-- halve the cherry tomatoes, thinly slice the red onion, and chop the blue cheese. Open your can of corn and drain the water.

3) Season your steak with salt and pepper. Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan. Over high heat, sear the steak for about 2 and a half minutes on each side. You could also do this on the grill. Let it rest for 5 minutes.

BONUS TIP: When cooking meat, I find the best way to check for doneness is by touch. Poke the meat. If it's still super soft, it's still rare inside. If it's very firm to the touch, it's probably well-done. The trick is finding the sweet spot in the middle. It should be firm but soft. Hmm. Does that help? Maybe not. It does take practice. It's best to turn off the heat when it is still slightly more soft than your preference, because it will continue to cook a bit when it's resting.

4) Toss your arugula with the salad dressing and spread it on a platter. Layer the rest of the veggies and cheese on top, then finish with thinly sliced steak.

Potchke level rating: low.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Salmon en Papillote

It's my single-lady treat when Will's out of town! (He's allergic)

Ingredients (for 2):
2 salmon filets, skin removed, if possible
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 lemon
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
1 bunch skinny asparagus (or fat asparagus, sliced in half longways)
Flaky salt

1) Preheat the oven to 425.

2) Lay out two large squares of aluminum foil. Break off the ends of the asparagus where they naturally snap and lay diagonally across the foil.

3) Scatter the tomatoes and sliced garlic on and around the asparagus.

4) Lay the salmon on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover with lemon slices.

5) Fold up the two opposite corners of the foil that are perpendicular to the asparagus-salmon arrangement (you kind of can't fold it the other way). Pinch at the top, then fold and pinch over the foil down along both sides of the triangle so that it's completely sealed. Lay on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes, letting it rest for 5 minutes after you take it out.

Like so:

And then dump it on a plate! (Or serve it as-is, and let the eater open it themselves for a fancier presentation)

You might have noticed that this dish has involves no cooking fat! It is extremely healthy-- everything is steamed inside, but it tastes really decadent. The fish is really tender and the lemon, plus the juice from the tomatoes when you stick your fork in them and they burst, really makes for awesome flavor. It's a ritual of mine when Will is out of town to go to the store and go get my single salmon filet and have a little solo omega-3s party. This is really a great thing to make for guests, though, because it's pretty to look at, tasty to eat, and easy to make!

Cold Cucumber Soup

It's the only thing I could bear to make in 90 degree heat with no air-conditioning!

2 large seedless cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 cups plain yogurt
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
One handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1) Heat the olive oil in a pan, then sautee the onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes

2) Combine the diced cucumber, onion, garlic, yogurt, red pepper flakes and salt either in a large bowl and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Or, puree in a blender, in batches.

3) Chill, then enjoy!

Ingredients ready to be blended

And, the finished product can be seen up at the top.

This one's easy! If you feel so bold as to abandon the recipe and eyeball the ingredients, or add them to taste, you might win in the end-- my measurements are pret-ty approximate! Before you blend, it might seem like not enough liquid to become a soup, but the cucumbers release a lot of water when they are pureed. I was also very generous with the red pepper flakes, and the soup had quite a bite. If you don't like spicy, dial the pepper back. Lastly, as far as yogurt, something a little tangy is good-- I used a fat-free greek yogurt that wasn't too thick. It'd be crazy good with something a little more fatty, though!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork

Alright, guys. To kick off the revival of KP, I bring you a very, very unkosher meal.

Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork

1 3-4 lb. pork shoulder (also called "pork butt")
2 cups chicken broth/stock
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (include the sauce)
2 onions, cut in half
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
A few tbs. ketchup
A few tbs. barbecue sauce
Splash of apple cider vinegar

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2) Heat up a large Dutch oven on high heat and add enough vegetable oil to coat the pan.

3) Season the pork generously with salt and pepper, then begin to sear in the pan (a good 4-5 minutes on each side for it to get nice and brown and caramelized).

4) Add to your pot the chicken broth (to deglaze), chipotle peppers, ketchup, and barbecue sauce.** Stir! You want the liquid to go about halfway up the meat, so if you are short on liquid you can add some water or more broth.

5) Nestle the onions and garlic around the pork.

6) Cover the pot and roast in the oven for 2.5 hours, until pork is really tender and pulls apart easily.

**Here's where you can get crazy with it. The idea is getting a really flavorful braising liquid, for this will be your sauce later! So, you can feel free to add any of the following items: beer, mustard, cinnamon, tomato paste, liquid smoke, etc. Get creative!

7) Once your pork is out of the oven and cool enough to handle, pull it apart with your fingers or with 2 forks. Ta-da! Now you have pulled pork.

8) Meanwhile, take a look at all that tasty juice in your pot! Remember that flavorful braising liquid? Well, now it's even MORE delicious because it's infused with pork! And pork fat. In making this recipe for the third time, I think I finally settled on using a fat-separator as the best method for getting some of the fat out of this liquid. Just pour all the liquid into the fat separator, let it sit for a while, and then pour out the lean stuff. Alternatively, you could keep all the liquid in the pot and then skim off the fat when it rises to the top. Either way, I highly recommend straining the fat out, or else you'll have a big gelatinous mess the next day after it's been in the fridge, and it's not really so appetizing.

9) After the liquid has been strained, put it back into the pot and turn up the heat so that the sauce reduces down and thickens. Add your pulled pork to that, and stir. At this point I like to stir in some more barbecue or adobo sauce for flavor.

10) Serve alongside some cornbread with some yummy greens!

Seasoned pork shoulder

Gettin' browned

Everybody in!

I have to apologize for not having a final-product photo. Everything was just so delicious that I forgot to document it! Anyway, this whole pulled-pork shebang is an example of my favorite cooking method for meat: braising. It's all about cooking slowly on low-heat with liquid--and it makes everything tender, juicy, and delicious. I served the pulled pork with cornbread this time around, but the last time I made it I served it as pulled-pork tacos--accompanied with an apple cider vinegar slaw, avocado, cilantro, and lime. Or you could do it as a BBQ sandwich, with grilled corn and potato salad and all those good seasonal trimmings. Oh, summer! You've finally arrived!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Curry Chicken Pita with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

A summery lunch! Serves 2, with leftovers.


For chicken marinade:
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, pounded to uniform thickness
3 garlic gloves, smashed or rough chopped
2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 c. olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

For cucumber yogurt sauce:
1 c. plain greek yogurt
1/4 seedless cucumber, grated or small dice
1 shallot, minced
a handful of parsley, rough chopped
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper

Additional ingredients:
pita bread, tomatoes


1) Mix together the garlic, curry powder, lemon juice, and olive oil and pour over pounded chicken. Marinate chicken in the fridge for a couple hours, but not overnight (the acid in the marinade will start to break down your chicken, making it tough and chewy).

2) Meanwhile, assemble your yogurt sauce by mixing together all the ingredients. Let it sit in the fridge for a while so that the flavors develop.

2) When your chicken is done marinating, heat up a good heavy skillet, preferably cast-iron (no need to add oil, by the way!). Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken on both sides (about 4 minutes per side, without peeking!), and then transfer to a 350 degree oven so that the chicken cooks through--about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

3) Slice chicken thinly and let cool.

4) Serve the chicken and yogurt sauce in warmed pita pockets, with a simple Israeli salad (tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil). Enjoy!


Cucumber yogurt sauce (in ingredient form)!

This is adapted from a recipe I made at work, and it's so good (and also makes great leftovers!). The flavors are so bright and summery and will make you want Mediterranean food all the time. Aaaand, it's pretty healthy! For best results, put your Israeli salad INSIDE the pita pocket. Happy lunching, friends!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kimchi Soup

Serves 4
Total time: 40 minutes

2 filets pork loin
2 cups Asian rice cake slices, photographed below (NOT American rice cakes!)
6 cups chicken broth
4 cups kimchi
4 eggs
2 tablespoons gojuchang (Korean red pepper paste)
3 tablespoons mirin
1/2 tube extra-silken tofu, about 6 oz
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Optional: toasted sesame seeds and minced scallions to garnish

1) Toast the rice cakes in a dry large pot at medium-high heat. Stir them around occasionally, but allow them to blister and develop little brown spots, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pot and reserve.

2) Cut the pork into thin slices and season with salt and pepper. Coat the bottom of the soup pot with vegetable oil and heat it until a piece of pork sizzles when touched to the oil. Sear the pork for 2 minutes, stirring once, then remove from the pot and reserve.

3) Pour the chicken broth, and kimchi, along with all the kimchi juice, into the pot and bring to a boil, then keep at a simmer,

4) Stir in the gojuchang until dissolved. Add the pork, rice cakes, and mirin. Make sure to keep the broth at a simmer, then spoon off tablespoon-size globs of tofu into the pot. Then, crack the eggs into the pot one at a time. Don't stir. After two minutes, the eggs should be poached and the pork, rice cakes and tofu will be heated through. When serving, search for the eggs carefully so you don't break them! (They will sink a bit when cooking.)

Toasting the rice cakes

Reserved rice cakes and pork, plus tofu at the ready

Everything in!

Et voila

This is an inauthentic soup. I sorta just took all my favorite Korean soups and combined them in one tasty experiment. Don't be turned off by the weird ingredients. They are all standard items that can be found in Asian or Korean grocery stores, or possibly even your regular grocery store's Asian food aisle, if you are lucky enough. Items like rice cakes, kimchi, mirin and gojuchang will all keep for a crazy long time, at the ready whenever you feel like revisiting these flavors. In fact, the main ingredients you need here are really only chicken broth, kimchi, and mirin. Whatever else you add is just a matter of mood and what you have in your fridge. Dream big!

One could also be so bold as to add a few spoonfuls of gojuchang any time one makes basic chicken soup, and that alone would make for exciting times.

Last but not least, this is the ideal soup for a cold! Really opens up those sinuses.