Salmon Salad with Roasted Beets, Potatoes, and Pesto – and Triple Chocolate Cookies

Salmon salad with roasted beets and potatoes

Yesterday we went to the farmer’s market hoping for some interesting options. I couldn’t find some things that I wanted but did leave with a few things that I hadn’t planned on getting. After that and a trip to Earthfare, we headed home. For dinner, I made a dish that now ranks as one of my favorites ever. I got the idea from Cannelle et Vanille but adapted it due to what I had available locally. I would never think to combine a pesto with roasted beets but it worked really well. It was filling thanks to the meatiness of the salmon and starchiness of the potatoes.

With such a healthy dinner, we had to end the evening with a chocolatey, gooey dessert. I also got this recipe from Cannelle et Vanille but slightly adapted it as well. I try not to give Sophie many sweets but the happiness on her face from taking bites of a freshly baked triple chocolate cookie was priceless.

Salmon Salad with Roasted Beets and Potatoes
adapted from Cannelle et Vanille

The original recipe calls for peppergrass and sorrel for both the pesto and the salad greens. Because I couldn’t find them at the farmers market I improvised. I already love pesto made from the combo of arugula and spinach, so I added parsley to give it more of an herbaceous flavor. Also, she poached her salmon. I didn’t have enough olive oil for poaching so we grilled the salmon, which I think worked out really well. It gave it that nice grilled flavor which is great in contrast to the pesto. I used Earthbound Farms Fresh Herb Salad blend as my base because I knew it would provide a good balance of fresh herbs and lettuces with the salmon.

Spinach, Arugula, and Parsley Pesto

1 cup mixed spinach and arugula (I get this already mixed from the Organic Girl brand)
1/4 cup parsley
1 garlic clove
2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil

Salad ingredients

3 small red beets
3 small golden beets
6-8 small white/golden potatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound fresh salmon with skin, cut in half
olive oil
salt and pepper
Mixed greens or herb blend
lemon juice

In a food processor, blend spinach, arugula, parsley, garlic, pine nuts and salt. Once it’s become paste-like, add the cheese and blend. While it is blending, slowly add the olive oil through the top until you get the consistency that you like. I don’t like mine too runny so I probably only added 1/4 cup olive oil. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Trim and peel the beets and cut in half. Peel the potatoes and cut in half. Place on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes in the oven until cooked (but don’t overcook these as you don’t want them mushy). The beets will have a slight “bite” to them which is good. Once cooked, mixed with some of the pesto in a bowl.

While the vegetables are roasting in the oven, heat a grill or grill pan. Rub olive oil, salt, and pepper on the salmon and grill (skin side down) for 12 minutes or so depending on thickness. Do not flip over.

Take your mixed herb blend and place it on a platter. Squeeze about a half a lemon on it and sprinkle a little salt. Mix together. Spread roasted vegetables on top. Flake the salmon into big chunks (discarding the skin) and place onto the salad. I guarantee this will become one of your favorites as well. If you don’t like salmon, try it with shrimp or chicken…or leave out the protein altogether.

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Triple Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Cannelle et Vanille

These cookies are really chocolately and rich. You need quite of an assortment of chocolate for this and very little flour (surprisingly). I changed up the types of chocolates to come up with what I have below, which led me to alter the sugar levels as well (mostly because I couldn’t find unsweetened chocolate). Her recipe was in grams, so I left it that way to keep it more exact. Grams are easy if you have a food scale. If you don’t have one, you should get one. They are not expensive and come in really handy with cooking.

2 eggs
140 grams sugar
100 grams semisweet chocolate (bar or chips are find)
113 grams bittersweet chocolate (Ghirardelli bar recommended)
80 grams butter
40 grams flour
1 gram baking powder (a little less than 1/4 tsp)
2 grams salt (a little less than 1/2 tsp)
55 grams milk chocolate chips
110 grams dark chocolate chips

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the eggs and sugar. In the meantime, melt the semisweet and bittersweet chocolates and the butter over a double boiler. When the chocolate has melted, add it to the eggs and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix to combine. Then fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula or wooden spoon.

The batter will be really liquidy and very hard to scoop. You can let it rest in the bowl for around an hour so that it hardens enough to scoop it. I put it in the fridge for the last 15 minutes to help it along. Use an ice cream scoop and scoop out balls onto a sheetpan lined with parchment or a silicon mat. I used a regular ice cream scoop, so I yielded about 9 large cookies. You could also use a small scoop to get smaller cookies.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 12-14 minutes or until the edges of the cookies have set. (if you make smaller cookies they will probably be done in 10-12 minutes). They will be really soft in the middle until they cool off. Once done, let cool on the cookie sheet and then move to cooling racks.

The original recipe called for using the cookies to make ice cream sandwiches. She made her own chocolate mint ice cream, but I just got some vanilla gelato (though I bet chocolate mint would be really good too). After the cookies are totally cooled, scoop out some ice cream and press it down a little. Then top it with another cookie and press down a little on that (careful not to break the cookie).

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Creamy Buckwheat with Peas, Fennel and Watercress

This dish appealed to me because it sounded like Spring. I got the recipe from cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com. It was definitely delicious, but I realize now that I put twice as much mascarpone as I was supposed to so it was a little heavier than I expected. I had doubled this recipe to have extra and did the oz. to cups conversion wrong on that part. Oh well. This was the first time I had “buckwheat groats” and the consistency was really great. The final product kind of felt a little like a risotto.

I constantly struggle to find great watercress at the grocery stores, so I ended up with about half the amount I needed because I had to weed through the bunch to find good pieces.

Creamy Buckwheat with Peas, Fennel and Watercress

Serves 4

3 cups of water
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs olive oil
1 shallot, thinly diced
1/2 medium fennel bulb, diced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup watercress
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
chicken stock, optional

Bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and the buckwheat. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Drain.

In the meantime, in a separate saucepan, heat the olive oil. Sweat the shallots and the fennel until tender.

Add the cooked buckwheat, peas, mascarpone, parmesan, lemon zest, watercress, salt and pepper. If you feel it’s too dry, add a little bit of chicken stock to lighten it. Serve immediately.

Sunday cooking (Whole Wheat Apple Muffins, Quinoa Salad, and Dreams of Watermelon Radishes)

This weekend was such beautiful weather…until Sunday, which was pretty overcast. It proved to be a great day to stay in and do a lot of cooking.

The day began with fresh baked apple muffins. I saw the recipe on smittenkitchen.com when I was searching for a “healthier” muffin recipe. This did not disappoint. Initially I thought there would be too many apples and not enough muffin, but when you take your first bite it just all works together so well. The apple cooks enough that it is tender, yet not mushy. This was also another hit with Sophie, which makes me so happy. Sometimes I feel like she is my biggest critic. Loves something one minute, and LITERALLY hates it 3 minutes later. So when she eats it from start to finish, I feel victorious!

We attempted to go to the farmer’s market to get some local, organic vegetables, but when we arrived we found very few vendors. I guess it’s not quite the season for all of the farmers to come out. So, we took our chances at Earthfare. One thing I desperately wanted was watermelon radishes. I saw a very simple salad recipe on Cannelle et Vanille’s website and desperately wanted that for lunch. But the only radishes I found were the regular ones so I gave up that dream for now.  I don’t know even know if I’ll be able to find those around here anyway. We’ll see once Spring comes! Another hope was to find fresh peas, but no luck there either.

So, lunch was an interesting, yet delicious mix of treats. I made a quinoa salad with goat cheese and grilled asparagus. This is something I have made up along the way and is one of my favorites now. Mark made a white bean “mash” with truffle oil on toasted whole grain bread.  Really satisfying and flavorful.

You’d think after all the cooking at baking in the early part of the day that we would simplify dinner…no, not us! Mark wanted us to try to go vegetarian until we go to Paris and London next month. So he bought this great modern vegetarian cookbook where he got the white bean mash recipe out of…and this is where he also found our dinner idea…more on that soon…

For the recipes of the muffins and quinoa, see below.

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
From smittenkitchen.com…who adapted it from King Arthur Flour

Note: I used 1 granny smith and 1 pink lady apple to get the combo of tarte and sweet, but you can use all granny smith, yellow, pink lady…or any other you like. Also, I didn’t have buttermilk so I used yogurt.

Yield: They said 12, I got 18

1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk or yogurt
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease and flour 18 muffin cups and set aside.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.Mix in the buttermilk gently. (If you over-mix, the buttermilk will cause the mixture to curdle.) Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese and Grilled Asparagus

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 bunch asparagus
2 oz goat cheese
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Toast quinoa in a heavy bottom pot for 1-2 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low-medium, and cook for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, trim the asparagus and then toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Grill either on outside grill or inside on a grill pan for about 5 minutes (depending on the thickness of the asparagus). Don’t overcook it, it should still have a slight bite to it. Once done, cut into bite-sized pieces and place in a large glass/ceramic bowl.

Once the quinoa is finished, let it cool slightly and then add to the bowl with the asparagus. Add in lemon juice. Then add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste and mix. Now crumble in the goat cheese, add the parsley, mix together, and enjoy!

This will make about 4 servings. It’s really good cold, out of the fridge the next day.

Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers

I recently came across a recipe for cheddar cheese goldfish crackers on one my favorite food blogs (smittenkitchen.com). Now that I have a one-year, healthy recipes for kids are constantly on my mind. I love the idea of a healthy snack that I can make and will last for almost a week.

The recipe is SO easy and everyone will love them – adults and kids. Probably the only semi-time consuming thing is cutting them out and putting their “faces on”.

I used a skewer for the eyes and a 1/4 tsp. metal measuring spoon for the mouth. It’s hard to find something that will give it that curve. I used a little less than 1/4 tsp salt and I felt like it was ever so slightly salty (the cheese had plenty of salt), so I will go with 1/8 tsp next time.

Also, I got the fish cutter here.

And here is smitten kitchen recipe….

6 ounces (1 1/2 cups coarsely grated) sharp cheddar, orange if you can find one you like
4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 57 grams) butter
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces or 62 grams) whole wheat flour
1/4 cup (1 1/8 ounces or 31 grams) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, running the machine until the dough forms a ball, about two minutes.

If the dough feels warm or worrisome-ly soft, wrap it in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes. This also makes it easier to transfer shapes once they are rolled out.

On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick. Form shapes with a cookie cutter, dipping it in flour from time to time to ensure a clean cut. Gently transfer crackers to an ungreased (though mine were parchment-lined, because they are in despicable shape) cookie sheet with a 1/2 inch between them. Bake the crackers on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are barely browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.

Hope you enjoy them as much as Sophie did!

Turkey Burgers

These posts have gotten a little harder to do lately, as we are about to put our house on the market. Unfortunately this has left little time to explore new recipes and/or share with you what we have been cooking/eating.

Friday night was a good night to grill so we decided to do turkey burgers. I have this very simple, very delicious way that I make my turkey burgers so I figured I needed to share it. I do not really measure for this. It’s more like “a little dash of this” and “a few pinches of that”. But honestly, it is really hard to mess this up so don’t stress about exact measurements.

Also, I have gone back and forth between using only ground dark meat turkey, turkey breast, and even mixing them. This weekend what I already had was ground turkey breast. It was so delicious, probably one of the best turkey burgers I have made to date so I am now going to stick with the turkey breast. If you do it right, it is really moist and juicy. But if you use dark meat it will still be delish.

Again, please excuse the approximations here. I was too tired to measure for the purpose of the blog. Next time I make these I will measure and update it here.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey breast

1/4 cup of minced yellow onion

1 teaspoon of kosher salt (if you use fine table salt then use less)

A good few dashes of Worcestershire sauce (probably equals a tablespoon or so)

A few shakes of garlic powder

Few grinds of fresh black pepper

Olive oil for brushing on burger

4 Hamburger Buns

Cheddar Cheese (or whichever cheese you prefer)

Toppings (lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, ketchup, etc)

Directions:

Place turkey, onions, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder in a bowl and mix together. Divide into 4 portions and shape into 4 burgers. Use your thumb to press a small divet in the top of each burger. Brush both sides of the burgers with olive oil.

Grill for approx 6 minutes on each side. If you are adding cheese, make sure to do this a few minutes before the burger is done so that you allow time for it to melt. Once it’s done, place it on the bun and add your favorite burger toppings!

Spaghetti with Braised Kale

I found this recipe in a Bon Appetit magazine and it has become one of my favorites. It takes only about 30 minutes total to prep and cook. Braising the kale for 20 minutes removes any bitterness and leaves this luscious flavor. The garlic has such an amazingly sweet flavor after braising with the kale for that long. It’s amazing how much it develops after cooking it for that long. The recipe says this feed four as a first course. Mark and I just make it for our dinner and we finish the entire thing easily!

I use Lacinto Kale (which is also called Dinosaur Kale). It’s pretty easy to find, but if you can’t find it I assume regular curly kale would be fine. Though use Lacinto if you have the choice. It doesn’t seem as bitter to me. And the best part, it’s so good for you. Kale is high in antioxidants, omega-3s and cancer prevention nutrients.

Sometimes we make only the kale and leave the pasta out in order to serve it as a side with fish, chicken, or meat. Last night we made this with the pasta. Believe me, you will have a newfound love for kale after you have this!

Spaghetti with Braised Kale
Taken from Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lacinato kale (about 2 bunches), large center ribs and stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Finely grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Rinse kale. Drain; transfer to bowl with some water still clinging.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add sliced garlic and sprinkle with salt; cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add kale and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in medium pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add cooked spaghetti to kale mixture in pot. Add lemon juice and 2 tablespoons reserved cooking liquid; toss to combine, adding more liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry. Sprinkle spaghetti with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Prosciutto, Peas, and Mint

We actually made our own gnocchi. It always sounded so intimidating, but we decided to try. We got the recipe from Eric Ripert’s cookbook titled “Avec Eric”. A lot of the dishes seem to be focused on spring/summer produce but we were able to work with this one.

He calls for fresh peas, but we used frozen. We forgot to buy ricotta salata, so we used one cup of fresh ricotta to make up for that.

Probably the most difficult thing was rolling out the gnocchi. Mark did a much better job than I did. It kept breaking up when I tried to roll it out. Maybe if we had refrigerated it for a bit it would have been easier? Anyway, it’s totally worth the trouble because this dish is DELICIOUS! We froze half of the gnocchi to use at another time. It just needs to boil a little longer when frozen.

And if you want to keep it vegetarian, just leave out the prosciutto.

Ingredients

2 cups fresh shelled English peas (we used frozen peas)

1 pound russett potatoes, baked, peeled, and put through a ricer

1/2 cup loosely packed grated ricotta salata (we used regular ricotta cheese)

1/2 cup fresh ricotta

2.5 cups all purpose flour plus more for dusting

Freshly grated nutmeg

Fine salt and white pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

4 ounces sliced prosciutto, julienned

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, julienned

Directions

Bring a large pot of salt water to a boil.

Blanch peas in the boiling water for 3-5 minutes, until tender (maybe just a minute for frozen peas). Using a strainer, remove the peas from the water and transfer the strainer to an ice water bath to stop them from cooking. Strain the peas and set aside.

Change the water in the pot and bring to a boil.

Put the riced potatoes in a large bowl and spread them out to cover the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle the grated ricotta salata and fresh ricotta evenly over the potatoes and sprinkle 2 cups of the flour over the cheese. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Gently knead all of the ingredients together, using more flour as necessary, until the dough comes together but is not sticky.

Place the dough on a floured surface, cut it into 4 equal pieces, and roll out each pice into a long rope that is about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the ropes crosswise into 1-inch pieces and lightly dust with flour.

Spread canola oil over a baking pan to coat. Working in batches, boil the gnocchi in the salted water until they float to the surface, about 2 minutes. Using a small strainer or a large spotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the water and place them in a single layer on the oiled baking pan. Reserve about 1/2 cup of cooking water.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft and just beginning to color, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the prosciutto and peas and saute until hot.

Add the blanched gnocchi, 1/4 cup of the gnocchi cooking water, and the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly, adding more liquid as necessary. When the gnocchi are hot, toss them with the mint and serve immediately.

“Spring Chicken” In Wintertime

Last night was the second time we made this dish and it turned out just as good as the first time. This is another Nigella recipe and is a great one pot meal. You really do only get ONE pot dirty. You don’t have to wash like 6 pots and pans after this. Quite refreshing. Some things make sense in this dish and a couple of other things seem different… braised in hard cider…chopped romaine lettuce add in at the end. The ingredients really work well together. I’m not always the biggest advocate of adding bacon to recipes because it can overpower the flavors. But in this case, it just adds another depth and gives it some nice saltiness. You could always use turkey bacon if you didn’t want to use regular bacon. I use my larger Le Creuset dutch oven to make this. If you don’t have one just use a heavy bottom large pot that has a lid. Just warm up a baguette or other crusty bread in the oven and use it to sop up all the yummy juices. This is Nigella’s recipe…I added my commentary in italics.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

1 t vegetable oil

5 ounces pancetta/lardons (1/2 cup) or 10 slices bacon chopped

12 chicken thighs, bone-in (with or without skin)

1 leek, cleaned, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 celery stalk, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 t dried tarragon

1 t kosher salt (or ½ t table salt)

Dash of white pepper (use black if you don’t have white)

2 cups dry hard cider

2 1/3 cups frozen peas

1 T Dijon mustard

1 small romaine lettuce heart thinly sliced or roughly shredded

2 T chopped fresh tarragon (I can’t find this lately so I left it out)

Directions

Heat oil in a large, wide Dutch oven that comes with a lid (and can be taken to the table) and add the cubed pancetta (or lardon or bacon), cooking them until they begin to give off their juices and start to color.

Add the chicken thighs (skin side down if using skin). I can’t find skinless, bone-in organic chicken thighs so I just remove the skin myself. Toss the cubes of pancetta on top of the meat to stop the pancetta from burning (if necessary) as you put the poultry in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.

Turn the thighs over and tip in the prepared leek, celery, and garlic. Season with the dried tarragon, salt, and pepper, then stir everything around a bit, letting it cook for another 5 minutes.

Pour cider in and then sprinkle in frozen peas on top. Bring pan to a boil, then cover, turn down to a very gentle heat, and cook for 40 minutes. If you are using bone-less chicken thighs (which isn’t preferable) cook for only about 20 minutes.

Remove lid, stir in the mustard, and then toss the shredded lettuce over the chicken, letting it wilt in the hot sauce for a couple of minutes.

Scatter the chopped tarragon over the dish and take the steamily fragrant pan to the table with pride.

Hot and Sour Soup

Recently I started watching the cooking show “Chinese Food Made Easy” on the cooking channel. I love asian food but sometimes cooking it seems intimidating. This show really does simplify it for you.

We made this hot and sour soup and it was SO good. I might prefer to do tofu instead of shredded chicken next time. We’ll see. If you make the soup in advance the flavors have time to seep into the cooked chicken. But when you add cooked chicken to the soup, to me, the flavor is lacking. The next day the chicken tasted much better in the soup. You could leave out any protein all together and it would still be delicious.

INGREDIENTS

Soup Base

  • 1 tablespoon peanut, vegetable, or canola oil
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 handfuls fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced or 1 small handful dried Chinese mushrooms, reconstituted and sliced
  • 1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, hot
  • 1 (8 ounce) can bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black rice vinegar (recommended: Chinkiang) or balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch freshly cracked white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, blended with 2 tablespoons cold water

For service

  • 7 ounces cooked egg noodles
  • 2 small handfuls bean sprouts
  • 8 fresh baby corns, sliced
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 3 1/2 ounces cooked chicken, shredded

DIRECTIONS

For the soup base:
Heat a wok over high heat, add the oil, and stir-fry the ginger and mushrooms until softened.
Add the chile, Shaohsing rice wine, hot vegetable stock, bamboo shoots, soy sauces, black rice vinegar and the white pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, thicken with the cornstarch slurry and set aside over low heat. (note: I used balsamic vinegar instead of black rice vinegar and I used 2 Tablespoons of light soy sauce because I didn’t have regular soy sauce.)

For service:
In some bowls, layer some of the cooked egg noodles with the raw bean sprouts, raw sliced baby corn, and spring onions. Top everything with the shredded chicken, and then spoon plenty of the soup base over the ingredients. Give the noodle pot or bowl a good stir, and serve immediately.

Spicy Arugula Pesto

Arugula pesto has become my favorite pesto. Something about the pepperiness of it (vs. the sweetness of the typical basil pesto). We decided to jazz it up a little by adding a bit of fresh red chili pepper. We added just enough that it gave a slight kick. We really enjoyed it and will definitely be making this again.

We mixed some of the pesto with some pasta and then topped sliced grilled chicken with the remainder of the pesto. Keep in mind, this is not a classic pesto recipe (in terms of the proportions).

Ingredients:

5 cups (give or take) of arugula

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

3/4 – 1 cup olive oil

1/2 red chili pepper (roughly chopped and seeded)

1 cup grated fresh parmigiano-reggiano (don’t use the powdered Kraft stuff)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 pound pasta (your choice)

2 grilled chicken breasts (boneless)

Directions:

Put water on to boil for the pasta. Heat grill (or grill pan) for chicken breasts. Season breasts with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Set aside. Once the water boils, salt the water and add the pasta. Place chicken on grill when heated up. Grill chicken for about 6-8 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, make the pesto. Put arugula, garlic, pine nuts, parmigiano cheese, and red chili pepper along with pinch of salt and pepper into the a food processor. Once blended, slowly add olive oil through the top until the pesto becomes smooth and loose.  Taste and add salt if you think it needs it. If you like yours spicier, add the more chili pepper.

Once the pasta is done, reserve about 1/2 a cup of pasta water and then drain. Pour pasta back into pot and mix with about half of the pesto. If it’s too thick, add a little pasta water. Slice the chicken once it has rested. Plate pasta on each plate/bowl and place chicken on top of pasta. Top chicken with some of the pesto….then eat and enjoy!

Sausage lettuce wraps

Another recipe taken from the latest cookbook by Nigella Lawson, Nigella Kitchen. I am very slowly working my way through this book. I didn’t expect much out of this recipe honestly but it seemed simple – and simple is good when you have a 1 year old!

I improvised slightly. The recipe calls for pork sausage, but I used chicken sausage. Because the sausage was already spicy, I left out the red and green chiles.

This was an extremely quick dish to make and the final outcome was actually really good. It’s just a matter of removing the casing from the sausage and mixing the meat with all of the ingredients listed below. You end up with these adorable mini sausage patties. We used Maria’s whole wheat tortillas and escarole as the wraps. The squeeze of lime is essential to brighten it up a little. We had this for dinner with a salad.  I think it’s meant to be more of an appetizer though.

So I digress…anyway, definitely try this out. I’m sure any kind of sausage would work – pork, turkey, chicken…just make sure it’s raw and not a pre-cooked sausage.

Ingredients

1 pound sausage (pork/chicken/turkey)

1 t grated fresh ginger

1 green chile, seeded and chopped (leave out if sausage is spicy)

1 red chile, seeded and chopped (leave out if sausage is spicy)

2 t English Mustard (i used powdered Colman’s English Mustard)

1 garlic clove, peeled and grated

Zest of 1 lemon

2 thin or 1 fat scallion, thinly chopped

2 t chopped fresh cilantro

1 T vegetable oil

to serve:

leaves from 1 escarole or iceberg lettuce (to wrap patties)

pita bread or flat bread (warmed)

2-3 limes cut into wedges

Directions:

Cut a nick in the sausage skins and gently squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings into a bowl. Add the ginger, chiles (if using), mustard, garlic, lemon zest, scallion, and cilantro.

Mix everything together thoroughly and then make the patties by using a tablespoon measure for each one or just go by eye and feel, as you pull out roughly a walnut-sized amount at a time and shape it into a fat, little disc.

Heat the oil in a frying pan (I used a nonstick) and cook the patties over a medium heat for about 3 minutes a side. Watch that they don’t catch too much, you want them to look temptingly scorched on the outside, but properly cooked through on the inside.

Transfer to a serving platter and arrange lettuce leaves and breads to wrap the patties in on another plate. Put some of the lime wedges alongside, too, and anything else you want to eat with them.

(you can make the uncooked patties 1 day ahead and fry them up the next day)

Chicken and Chive Dumpling Soup

This soup originated as a recipe that saw in a Shape magazine. Over the years I’ve made changes to it in order to add more flavor. Here is my version of this soup. It has become one of my favorite soups. There is nothing like enjoying a bowl of this soup when the weather is cold outside. This is a meal in itself.

Ingredients

  • 2 t olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2 clv garlic, minced
  • 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T fresh chopped thyme (or 1t dried thyme)
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1 t chopped fresh sage (or 1/4 t dried sage)
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley

Dumplings

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 T unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk (lowfat/nonfat/full fat – whatever you have)
  • 2 T chopped fresh chives
  • tiny pinch of salt

Directions

Heat oil in a large stock pot (with a tight-fitting lid) over medium-high heat. Add chicken and a couple of pinches of salt. Brown the chicken for about 5 minutes and then remove from the pan.
Add onion, bell pepper, carrots, and a pinch of salt and pepper and saute 2 minutes (add a little oil here if needed). Add the garlic and sautee for about 30 seconds. Add chicken back in along with bay leaves, thyme, pepper, and sage and stir. Add chicken broth (scraping the bottom of the pan) and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Work in butter with a fork until mixture is crumbly (I use my hand because I feel that it does the job better). Add milk and stir with a fork until mixture comes together. Fold in chives.

Add peas to simmering liquid in pot and return to a simmer. Taste broth and add salt and/or pepper here if you think it needs it.

Using a large spoon, drop 8 ball-shaped dumplings (slightly bigger than golf balls) into liquid. Cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes (without lifting lid), until dumplings are tender and cooked through (they’ll be firm to the touch).

Remove from heat and discard bay leaves. Ladle soup and dumplings into bowls and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Closing notes:

– This is the type of recipe where you can use what you have on hand. You can use celery, zucchini…whatever. The onion and carrot are important to the soup, but the other veggies can be varied as needed.

– Last time I made this soup I didn’t have chives for the dumplings. So I used parsley instead. They were still really good.  I also didn’t have peas but it still tasted wonderful.

– The original dumpling recipe didn’t call for salt but I feel that it needs that little pinch to add flavor.