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Chickpeas, Mushrooms and Italian Sausage

20 May

This was an amazing dish considering I left my home this morning thinking I needed to go grocery shopping and then decided to skip out and graze lazily instead of cooking something I could keep for lunch at work the next day.  This laziness was inexcusable, considering I had just organized an Earth Day event at work, and one of the tips we gave was for people to take their lunches to work instead of ordering.

As it turns out, I had more than enough ingredients at home; I just hadn’t imagined them together before they actually came together in the pan.  Now I can go to sleep tonight without feeling like a hypocrite because I’ve got plenty of leftovers.  I served the dish below over brown rice, but it’s good alone as well.

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3-4 cups cherry tomatoes, run through a food processor until minced with juices
15 brown Chinese mushrooms, or shittake mushrooms
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 T. butter
fresh basil
4 links (more or less 1 lb.) Italian sausage
lemon juice from one half a lemon
1 t. cumin
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. bread crumbs, finely ground 

Directions:

Brown sausage as whole links in pan, cooking covered over a medium-low heat with 1/4 c. water until cooked through. Partially cover, turn up heat and then brown slightly before removing from pan and letting drain.

Add 1/2 butter to a pan and let melt.  Add onion and saute until sweating and then add mushrooms.  When mushrooms begin to wilt, add the rest of the butter and bread crumbs.  Add cumin and red wine vinegar, and mix thoroughly.  Add chickpeas and combine, then add tomatoes.  Heat through for about 3 minutes, then add fresh basil in whole leaves and lemon juice.  Add sausage, cut into 1/2 in. pieces.  Combine and remove from heat.

Note:

That amazingly-talented woman on smittenkitchen.com has a chickpea and garbanzo bean recipe that I adore, and she has a breadcrumb base that I can’t get enough of.  It inspired this dish, and next time I make this dish, I intend to make it more like she does in her recipe.  That means using fresh bread instead of breadcrumbs, browning it as croutons in the pan with oil and adding cumin, then putting through the food processor with garlic and red wine vinegar.  It’s got a much stronger taste when done that way, and the fresh bread instead of breadcrumbs add a hearty and tangy meatiness. 

Creamy and Tangy Pasta

8 Apr

To be honest, the following recipe is quite strange and will probably seem unappetizing to many people.  This was definitely a throw-everything-in-your-pantry-and-fridge-into-a-pot sort of effort.  I was fighting urges when I made this dish – the urge to make a creamy, Italian sort of pasta dish with hearty potato, silky softened red onion, and a lots of French butter and the competing urge to make a tangy, spicy Asian stir-fry inspired by the homemade kimchi in my fridge (thanks to the pure generosity of one of my students).  In the end, I decided to combine them and see how butter and cream paired with kimchi.  Worried that I’d overdone it, I threw in some cheese to make it all gooey because melted cheese rarely detracts from a dish.

Ingredients:

2 T. butter
1 cup whole milk
Italian herbs
3 T. tomato paste
salt and pepper
1 small red onion, cut into thin slices
4 small white potatoes, cut length-wise and then sliced in thin semi-circles
1/2 cup sliced kimchi
3 T. colby-jack cheese, diced into small cubes
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups cooked pasta, lightly coated in extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add milk, tomato paste, Italian herbs, salt and pepper and whisk to create a thin sauce.  Add onions and potatoes, stir to heart through and then reduce heat to low.  Partially-cover pan and let sit, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are cooked through and onions are soft.   Uncover pan and increase heat until sauce thickens a little.  Remove from heat and combine in a large bowl with pasta, beans, kimchi and cheese cubes.  Serve immediately.

Note:

The sauce base of this recipe alone is great for pasta, and the dish may taste even better without the kimchi and cheese (it will definitely be simpler).  Also, I suggest sauteeing the potatoes and onions in butter and oil after making sauce and then combining them later.  Thinly-sliced potatoes taste great in pasta dishes when they are a little browned.

Me Gusta Migas

4 Apr

Few things in life make me happier than sitting at a comfortable home desk, listening to the news, sipping coffee with milk, and eating some rockin’ home-cooked migas as I slowly poke about, getting ready to go on some adventure on an extra day off.  Today is Qing Ming, a national holiday in China that translates to “Tomb-Sweeping Day.”  As usual, I’m enjoying the day off entirely differently than the people around me; they are visiting ancestors’ tombs, and I’m savoring the combination of a lack of obligations and plentiful sunshine.

Hungry and needing food to start things fresh after a night of margaritas and birthday cheers, I whipped up some migas.  First and foremost, please understand the awesomeness of that statement.  I live in China, where corn tortillas aren’t on every corner.  I have to scrounge through the foreign food stores, checking freezers in high hopes that they might contain more than just one brand of only flour tortillas.  Recently, I got lucky, and the frozen stack of not-very-good-in-Texas corn tortillas in my freezer is heavenly.  Missing Mexican food lately, and inspired by a recent success with cooking eggs, I made up this variation (I am usually wary of making eggs because I so often mess them up – and who messes up eggs?).

Ingredients:

2 eggs
2 corn tortillas, cut into small 1/2-in. squares
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper
red chili powder
1/4 cup shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
1/2 T. butter
1/2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 T. tomatillo salsa

Directions:

Heat butter and oil in pan.  Add tortillas and saute until crispy and beginning to brown.  Meanwhile, whisk eggs, cheese, spices, and milk.  Add to pan and scramble on low heat.  Remove from pan and top with salsa.

Note:

I love the almost dulcet sound of Amy Goodman’s voice as she forces all the inflection from it in an attempt to hide her utter disgust at the news bite she delivered just moments before.  Also, serve these migas in warmed flour tortillas for an even tastier breakfast.

Creamy, Cheesy Breakfast Tacos with Bacon

3 Apr

I made this as a hangover meal, and it was perfect, much like everything else going on that day.

Ingredients:

1 medium tomato, cut into 1/4-in. dice
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
3-4 slices bacon
1.5 T. cream cheese
butter
red chili powder
2 T. diced sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
flour tortillas

Directions:

Cook bacon, in strips.  Remove from pan, retaining grease.  Cook tomatoes and paprika in bacon grease until just breaking down.  Remove from pan.

Whisk, beat eggs with softened cream cheese, milk, salt, pepper and red chili powder.  Cook on low heat and scramble.  Quickly add bacon (torn into small pieces), tomatoes and cheese.  Stir to combine, heat through, and then remove from pan.

Heat tortillas in pan until hot and browning slightly.  Fill with egg mixture and serve as a folded taco or burrito.

Note:

Use flavored cream cheese, especially garlic-and-chive-flavored.

Butternut and Broccoli Bowties

2 Apr

Made this one up on a whim, out of hunger, and missing the sweet taste of butternut squash, which I haven’t really indulged in this winter, which is now gone.  I’m starting to sweat, just getting ready for work now.  Gone are the days of shivering my pants off just to function in daily life (I’ve had enough of sitting on freezing toilet seats).

Ingredients:

1.5 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large head broccoli, cut into bit-sized pieces
6 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3-4 cups cooked bow tie pasta

Directions:

Saute butternut squash in oil until half-way softened.  Add broccoli, pepper flakes and salt and pepper.  Add garlic.  Saute for a minute, then add water.  Cover and simmer 5-10 minutes until vegetables are softened, and water is almost gone.

Add cheese and pasta and mix thoroughly.

Note:

After cooking pasta, add 1/2 T. olive oil and stir to coat.  Boil in well-salted water.

Beef Fried Rice with Thai Basil

2 Apr

I was trying to get rid of some chewy, over-marinated beef in my fridge that I was sorry to have bought upon retrospect.  But, by chopping it small, it went well as a flavor-enhancer to rice and vegetables all blended by a fresh, creamy mouth-kicking Thai basil spice blend.  The best part of this dish, though, is the velvety sliced shitake mushrooms that almost melt in your mouth.

Ingredients:

1.5 cups jasmine rice, cooked and cooled
1 small marinated beef steak (sweet black pepper, I believe), cut into thin strips
3 T. oil, plus some for eggs
1 package Holy Basil Fried Rice seasoning
10-12 shitake mushrooms, sliced
4 red Thai chili pepper, diced
3 green small chili peppers, diced
1 large bunch spring onions, chopped
3 eggs
salt and pepper

Directions:

Beat eggs, salt and pepper and half of the chili peppers and spring onion in a bowl.  Add half to oil in wok to make an omelet/pancake.  Cook other half to make a second pancake.  Set aside and cut into strips when cooled.

Heat remaining oil, seasoning package and beef and saute until beef is just beginning to brown.  Add broccoli and mushrooms.  When beginning to reduce, add rice and egg slices.  Add remaining peppers and onions.

Note:

Created from combined recipes from Jeni Wright’s Chinese Food and Folklore and the holy basil seasoning package recipe.

Minimalist Tofu Thai Curry

2 Apr

My roommate and I created this dish.  I used packets of spice blend from Thailand, imported with Thai all over them and very simple ingredients in them (just oil and spices, that’s it).  I used soft tofu, and it absolutely fell apart, to our delight; with coconut milk, the tofu becomes silky, and the dish just takes over your mouth.  Mixed with brown rice, it is hearty and divine.

Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 red chili peppers, medium spice, chopped
1 package green curry mix
1 block soft tofu, cubed
1-2 T. soy sauce
cilantro, minced
coconut milk
oil
string mushrooms
peanuts (large handful)

Directions:

In a wok, heat oil and add onions.  Saute on medium-high heat until onions begin to brown.  Add peppers and then curry mix.  When peppers begin to soften, add coconut milk and bring to a boil.  Add water and/or regular milk to water down if necessary.  Add soy sauce.  Add tofu and peanuts.  Heat through and then remove from heat and add cilantro.

Note:

Serve with white or brown rice or toasted bread.  This recipe is adapted from a New York Times recipe called “Curry Tofu with Soy Sauce.”