My favorite quarantine recipes Part X

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Corn and Gorgonzola salad

If you’re just joining us now, let me catch you up on what’s been happening for the past 10 weeks. Being a bit of a foodie in a foodie city where all 18,000 food establishments are closed, I decided to embark on a personal challenge: to keep up my beloved culinary variety by cooking a different dish every day until the lock-down ends. And so, as I wring out my recipe books with new, used, cherished, nostalgic and beloved meals, I hope you  join me as I eat “out” every night of the week.

 

SUNDAY

It’s hardly surprising that Butter chicken is one of the hottest items on any Indian restaurant menu. It’s relatively mild, silky smooth and a little bit indulgent. But this recipe is not only butter-free, but it pretty much cooks itself too. The real work today was making our own Naan bread for the first time. It’s fun, rather easy (by bread standards) and it “bakes” in the pan.

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Slow cooker Butter Chicken with Home-made Naan bread

SLOW COOKER BUTTER CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk (if necessary, whisk to combine the liquid and solids before measuring)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Cooked basmati or jasmine rice, for serving

DIRECTIONS

In medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions to skillet, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and ginger, and cook another 2 minutes. Add garam masala, tomato paste and salt; cook and stir 2 minutes.

Place chicken pieces in a slow cooker, then add tomato paste mixture, lime zest and juice, coconut milk and chicken stock. Stir everything together, cover and cook on low heat setting for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, until the chicken is cooked through. (You may let it cook up to 7 hours if necessary, but the chicken may be very soft and shred.) Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati or jasmine rice, and naan if you have some. Serves 4.

NAAN BREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup ice water
  • ⅓ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

In measuring cup or small bowl, combine water, yogurt, 3 tablespoons oil, and egg yolk. Process flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined, about 2 seconds. With processor running, slowly add water mixture; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.

Add salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Let dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. Fold partially risen dough over itself 8 times by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle, turning bowl 90 degrees after each fold. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising one more time, for total of three 30-minute rises.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Place heatproof plate on rack. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into smooth, tight ball. Place dough balls on lightly oiled baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic coated with vegetable oil spray. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer 1 ball to lightly floured work surface and sprinkle with flour. Using hands and rolling pin, press and roll piece of dough into 9-inch round of even thickness, sprinkling dough and work surface with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Using fork, poke entire surface of round 20 to 25 times. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Wipe oil out of skillet completely with paper towels. Mist top of dough lightly with water. Place dough in pan, moistened side down; mist top surface of dough with water; and cover. Cook until bottom is browned in spots across surface, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip naan, cover, and continue to cook on second side until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. (If naan puffs up, gently poke with fork to deflate.) Flip naan, brush top with about 1 teaspoon melted butter, transfer to plate in oven, and cover plate tightly with aluminum foil. Repeat rolling and cooking remaining 3 dough balls. Once last naan is baked, serve immediately. Serves 4.

MONDAY

When Kale salad and I were first introduced, we didn’t really get along so well. It felt like I was chewing down on an old garden hose. But then I discovered that the leaves have a thick coating that instinctively repels even the finest dressings in the world, unless you “massage” them down – literally squeeze the $#!* out of them with a little olive oil and salt in between your thumbs and forefingers until they succumb to the pressure and turn dark green. That’s when all the hoopla happens, and this surprisingly crunchy, salty, creamy salad is a show-stopper.

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Kale salad with garlicky panko

KALE SALAD WITH GARLICKY PANKO

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in the panko and cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate to cool.
Cut the stems from the kale and tear the leaves into pieces. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 1/2 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the kale; massage with the dressing using your fingers. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Transfer to a platter, top with the feta, garlic panko and serve.

TUESDAY

Summer isn’t summer without a good Gazpacho. There’s just something special about being able to drink sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes. This recipe easily serves about 8, and so we siphon off a little each day for just under a week. If you’re a purist, be warned: I took the liberty of adding some feta to this predominantly Spanish recipe. I know. I know. But it does give it a smidge more creaminess. Don’t hate me until you try it.

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Gazpacho with Avocado Salsa

GAZPACHO WITH AVOCADO SALSA

INGREDIENTS

For the Gazpacho:

  • 6 heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1-2 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil (or less,depending on consistency)
  • 2 peeled cucumbers
  • 2 Tblspn white wine vinegar to taste
  • 2 square inches of feta cheese.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

For the Avodaco Salsa:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 Tblspn chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS

Gazpacho:
Blend all ingredients for at least 5 minutes on highest blender setting. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Salsa:
Dice the avocado and carefully toss with the other three ingredients. Layer on top of Gazpacho before serving.

WEDNESDAY

I found this recipe in the New York Times Magazine a few years ago, where it was originally called “Scratchy husband spaghetti”. Evidently, whenever the food writer’s husband would have a bad day at the office, she combined two of the most popular Roman pasta dishes into one. A sensational example of 1+1=55.

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Linguine Cacia e Pepe & Aglio e Olio

LINGUINE CACIA E PEPE & AGLIO E OLIO

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ pound unsalted butter
  • 1 whole head of garlic, or at least 10 cloves, peeled, sliced thin across the grain
  • Good quality salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 4 teaspoons of chile flakes
  • A generous 1/2 cup of grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Many, many, many cranks of the pepper mill

DIRECTIONS

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Simultaneously bring a 10-inch deep-sided sauté pan to medium-low heat.

Add the olive oil and butter and sliced garlic to the pan and let the butter melt, as the garlic begins to warm through.
When the pasta water gets roiling, add salt to taste. Add the pasta.
Add chile flakes to the warming garlic-oil mixture and swirl the pan a bit and let the garlic soften and start to turn golden as the butter starts to foam. When the pasta is al dente, pull it from the boiling water with tongs, let it briefly drip its excess water above the pasta pot, but then place it right into the garlic-chile-oil pan, letting the last drips of water go right into the sauce.
Turn up the heat under the pasta now and stir vigorously for about a minute.
Turn off the heat, add cheese and a lot of black pepper. Toss and distribute all the garlic and the cheese and the chile flakes using two forks like you are tossing a salad, making sure every bit is coated and luscious. Serve.

THURSDAY

I’m a big fan of big flavors. And the smoky heat of Gochujang (Korean fermented chilies) always hits the spot for me. These Barbecue Ribs are dry rubbed the night before, and then blasted 3 times with a jolt of vinegary, peppery spice while they cook low and slow. Don’t skimp on the peanuts and scallions. They add some brightness and crunch as the meat falls off the bone and your face gets smeared with sauce, from nose to chin.

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Gochujang Barbecue Ribs

GOCHUJANG BARBECUE RIBS

INGREDIENTS

For the Ribs and Rub:

  • 3 racks St. Louis-style spareribs (2 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground black pepper

For the Gochujang sauce:

  • 1/2 cup gochujang
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder, such as ancho
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

For the Garnish:

  • 1 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 cup sliced scallions

DIRECTIONS

The day before you plan to cook the ribs, use a paper towel to help you pull the silver skin off the backside of the ribs. Combine salt, light brown sugar and black pepper to make a rub, then generously season ribs with the rub on both sides. (You may have some rub left over.) Place on a rimmed baking sheet, wrap in plastic, put in the refrigerator, and let sit overnight.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients and whisk until brown sugar is dissolved. (You can use a hand mixer if you’d like.)

The next day, prepare a charcoal grill (preferably a kamado, the egg-shaped ceramic grill) and warm it to 225 to 250 degrees. If your grill doesn’t have a thermometer, use an oven thermometer to try to keep the temperature consistent. Place ribs on a rack so they are not sitting directly on the grate. If baking in an oven, preheat to 275 degrees and cover ribs with tin foil. Cook 3 to 4 hours, turning and basting ribs with barbecue sauce every hour.

Glaze the ribs with the sauce once more before serving. Cut the ribs and then sprinkle with peanuts and scallions and serve. Serves 6.

FRIDAY

Just in case we didn’t have enough garlic going on this week, (I must be driving my poor neighbors crazy) this Spanish version of Garlic Shrimp has a few taste surprises that manage to cut through the luxuriously delectably garlicy olive-oil.

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Gambas al ajillo

GAMBAS AL AJILLO

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 pounds shelled and de-veined large shrimp, tails intact
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small dried hot red chile, seeded and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry, such as manzanilla
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Crusty bread, for serving

DIRECTIONS

In a large strainer, toss the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and let stand for 2 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water and toss another 1 tsp salt and let stand for 2 minutes. Rince thoroughly and dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet, combine the garlic and olive oil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is very fragrant and just starts to brown, 5 – 8 minutes. Add the chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.

Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook over medium-low, stirring and turning the shrimp occasionally, until barely pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, sherry, lemon zest and a generous pinch of salt. Remove from the heat and let stand until the shrimp are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve in the skillet, passing crusty bread at the table. Serves 4.

 

 

SATURDAY

Don’t be misled by what looks like a complicated fish dish. In fact, the Roasted Sea bass is very simply baked with a little oil, sea salt and pepper. The oomph comes from the 3 different mushrooms that are an absolute knockout of deep, rich, sumptuously earthy flavors.

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Roasted Sea bass with wild mushrooms

ROASTED SEA BASS WITH WILD MUSHROOMS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for fish
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 small red onion, halved through the root end and sliced thin
  • 1 pound portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, halved
  • Salt
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless fillets Chilean sea bass, each about 1 1/2 inches thick (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 small lemon, cut into wedges

DIRECTIONS

Mix the dried porcini mushrooms with 1/2 cup hot tap water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, cut several steam vents in the plastic wrap with a paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until the mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes.
Lift the mushrooms from the liquid with a fork and mince. Pour the liquid through a small strainer lined with a single sheet of paper towel and placed over a measuring cup.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees.
Heat the butter, olive oil, and rosemary in an ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides. Add the onion, fresh mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have shed their liquid and their cut surfaces have browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and minced porcini. Cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Remove the pan from the heat and season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.
Using a wooden spoon, clear 4 spaces in the skillet for the fish fillets. (The spaces should be equidistant from one another so that the fillets don’t touch.) Rub each fillet with enough oil to coat lightly and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper to taste.
Nestle one fillet into each space in the skillet. Drizzle the reserved porcini liquid over the mushrooms (avoiding the fish) and immediately set the pan in the oven.
Cook until the fish is opaque and cooked through, 11 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness.
Sprinkle with the parsley.
Divide the mushrooms among individual plates and place a piece of fish on top of the mushrooms on each plate. Drizzle the fish with any juices remaining in the pan as well as a little olive oil. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

BONUS RECIPE

Remember when I told you to throw away your Banana bread recipe for the one I’ve been making for 20 years? Well, now it’s time to throw that one away too! This has got to be the most banana-ry Banana bread ever – and it’s really rather dashing and statuesque too.

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The Ultimate Banana Bread

THE ULTIMATE BANANA BREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ¾ cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled (see note)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

DIRECTIONS

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.

Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have ½ to ¾ cup liquid).

Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1½-inch-wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Stay safe. Stay sane, and most importantly – stay at home!

 

 

My favorite quarantine recipes Part VII

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Banana Bread

Week 7? That’s it? I’m just getting started over here! Say hello to a bunch of keeper recipes making their 2020 reprises. Here’s how this works: if we both like a new dish, it gets labeled a “keeper”. But if we find it a bit “meh”, we never mention it again.

 

SUNDAY

There are 2 fundamental issues with turkey meatloaf: it’s either too dry or too dry. This recipe uses rolled oats (yes, you read that correctly) which helps keep it moist and fluffy, and I took the liberty of doubling the tomato glaze ingredients, and so as God is your witness, you’ll never have to endure a dry loaf again.

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Turkey Meatloaf

TURKEY MEATLOAF

INGREDIENTS

For the Meatloaf:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch baking soda
  • ½ onion, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons quick oats
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 pounds 85 or 93 percent lean ground turkey
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tblspn cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce

DIRECTIONS

Do not use 99 percent lean ground turkey in this recipe; it will make a dry meatloaf. Three tablespoons of rolled oats, chopped fine, can be substituted for the quick oats; do not use steel-cut oats.

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line wire rack with aluminum foil and set in rimmed baking sheet. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over low heat. Stir baking soda into melted butter. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in Worcestershire and continue to cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute longer. Transfer onion mixture to large bowl and set aside. Combine oats, cornstarch, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in second bowl.

Whisk all the glaze ingredients in saucepan until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes; set aside.

Stir egg yolks and mustard into cooled onion mixture until well combined. Add turkey, Parmesan, parsley, and oat mixture; using your hands, mix until well combined. Transfer turkey mixture to center of prepared rack. Using your wet hands, shape into 9 by 5-inch loaf. Using pastry brush, spread half of glaze evenly over top and sides of meatloaf. Bake meatloaf for 40 minutes.

Brush remaining glaze onto top and sides of meatloaf and continue to bake until meatloaf registers 160 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes longer. Let meatloaf cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Serves 6.

 

MONDAY

If you asked anyone what their favorite Peruvian dish was, they’d either say Ceviche or Lomo Saltado. Actually, to be fair, there are several dozen famous Peruvian specialties, but Lomo Saltado is without question the most popular standout. And this version (which is my own concoction) consists a stir fry of tender Beef filet chunks amid a drop-dead delectably dark and rich saucy sauce. I prefer my crispy French fries on top rather than mixing them in and getting them all soggy, but that’s up to the eater. Oh, and in case you’re wondering – the crema is literally the cream on top!

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Lomo Saltado

LOMO SALTADO

INGREDIENTS

For the Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 tsps cumin
  • 2 tsps ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup beef au jus, or hearty beef stock
  • 2 tblspn rice vinegar
  • 3 tblspn sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 2 tblspn oyster sauce
  • For the Stir-Fry:
  • 1 – 2 tblspn canola oil
  • 1 1/2lb beef tenderloin steak, cut into bite-sized chunks.
  • 1 red onion, cut into strips lengthwise
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 – 2 jalapeno peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 red bell pepper cut into strips
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • French fries

For the Crema:

  • 3 tblspn mayonaise
  • 2 tsps lemon juice
  • 2 tsps Chili paste (such as Shriracha)

DIRECTIONS

Season the steak with salt and pepper.
Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
Blend the crema ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate while cooking the rest of the meal.
Pour a small amount of oil in a wok & turn on medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the steak & cook until brown. Set aside. Add the onions to the hot oil and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, jalapeño, peppers, cilantro, & marinade to the wok, slowly stirring until well blended. Simmer for 4 more minutes. Add back the steak and toss to heat through.
Serve in a large platter, top with hot french fries and scallions, and a drizzle of the topping sauce. Serves 4.

 

TUESDAY

The 2 reasons why so few people dare to make Pad Thai at home is because it all happens faster than the Kentucky Derby which requires flawless preparation, and you need a bunch of fairly specific ingredients. Thanks to the good people at America’s Test Kitchen who have come up with a recipe that not only works well and tastes amazing, but the only tricky-to-find ingredient on the list is Tamarind juice concentrate.

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Pad Thai

PAD THAI

INGREDIENTS

For the chile vinegar:

  • ⅓ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed and sliced into thin rings

For the Stir-Fry:

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • 2 radishes, trimmed and cut into matchsticks
  • 8oz rice noodles
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, separated
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind juice concentrate
  • 1 pound large shrimp peeled and deveined with tails attached
  • 4 scallions, white and light green parts minced, dark green parts cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 ounces (2 cups) bean sprouts
  • ¼ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped coarse
  • Lime wedges

DIRECTIONS

Combine vinegar and chile in bowl and let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

Combine 1/4 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon sugar in small bowl. Microwave until steaming, about 30 seconds. Add radishes and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Bring 6 cups water to boil. Place noodles in large bowl. Pour boiling water over noodles. Stir, then let soak until noodles are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through soaking. Drain noodles and soak in cold water. Drain noodles well, then toss with 2 teaspoons oil.

Combine fish sauce, tamarind concentrate, and 3 tablespoons sugar in bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Set sauce aside.

Remove tails from 4 shrimp. Cut shrimp in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss shrimp pieces with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon sugar. Arrange pieces in single layer on large plate and microwave at 50 percent power until shrimp are dried and have reduced in size by half, 4 to 5 minutes. (Check halfway through microwaving and separate any pieces that may have stuck together.)

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add dried shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add minced scallions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl with dried shrimp.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in now-empty skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add remaining whole shrimp and spread into even layer. Cook, without stirring, until shrimp turn opaque and brown around edges, 2 to 3 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. Push shrimp to sides of skillet. Add 2 teaspoons oil to center, then add eggs to center. Using rubber spatula, stir eggs gently and cook until set but still wet. Stir eggs into shrimp and continue to cook, breaking up large pieces of egg, until eggs are fully cooked, 30 to 60 seconds longer. Transfer shrimp-egg mixture to bowl with scallion-garlic mixture and dried shrimp.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in now-empty skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add noodles and sauce and toss with tongs to coat. Cook, stirring and tossing often, until noodles are tender and have absorbed sauce, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer noodles to bowl with shrimp mixture. Add 2 teaspoons chile vinegar, drained radishes, scallion greens, and bean sprouts and toss to combine.

Transfer to platter and sprinkle with peanuts. Serve immediately, passing lime wedges and remaining chile vinegar separately. Serves 2 – 3.

 

WEDNESDAY

There are a few locations in Manhattan where street food vendors have been shoveling chicken shawarma into tin-foil plates for hordes of midtown tie-wearers – who will gladly stand in line for most of their lunch breaks. I’m often tempted to join the line when I catch a whiff of the most drool-inducing middle-eastern flavors, but in the back of my mind I can’t get over the fact that it’s still…well…street meat. Below is literally the same recipe but made in safety of your own kitchen. (And you’ll notice that New York City pigeon poop and taxi cab exhaust are not on the ingredients list!)

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Chicken Shawarma

CHICKEN SHAWARMA

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • A pinch ground cinnamon
  • Red-pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into bite sized pieces.
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • To serve (all optional):
  • Pita bread
  • Tahina sauce
  • Hot Sauce
  • Olives
  • Chopped tomatoes and cucumbers
  • Feta

DIRECTIONS

1. Prepare a marinade for the chicken. Combine the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red-pepper flakes in a large bowl, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken, and toss well to coat. Cover, and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425. Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to grease a rimmed sheet pan. (Line with tin foil if desired). Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine. Remove the chicken from the marinade (leaving the onion behind), and place on the pan, spreading everything evenly across it.

3. Put the chicken in the oven, and roast for 10 minutes. Remove any liquid that might have been released. Add the onions and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes until the chicken is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes.
Scatter the parsley and remaining olive oil over the top and serve with tomatoes, cucumbers, pita, white sauce, hot sauce, olives, fried eggplant, feta, rice — really anything you desire. Serves 4.

 

THURSDAY

Remember last week’s 10-hour Marinara sauce? Well, I’m still summoning the left-overs for double duty – and in this case they became the most amazing tomato base for our home-made pizzas. (This was supposed to be veggie night, but something happened.)

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Home-made Pizza’s

HOME-MADE PIZZA’S

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour, plus more for work surface (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups ice water (about 10 1/2 ounces) (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for work surface
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • Any other toppings

DIRECTIONS

In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes.

Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly on lightly oiled countertop until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack to second highest position (rack should be about 4 to 5 inches below broiler), set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into 3 equal balls. Shape each into a smooth, tight ball. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray; let stand for 1 hour.

Only use 1 tablespoon flour directly onto the peel. Discard any extra flour. Holding with the palm of your hand, grab the edges and pull outwards in a circle until the dough covers the peel’s surface. Using back of spoon or ladle, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in thin layer over surface of dough, leaving 1/4-inch border around edge. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan evenly over sauce, followed by 1 cup mozzarella. Slide pizza carefully onto stone and bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pizza halfway through. Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Repeat step 5 to shape, top, and bake second pizza. Serves 3 – 4.

 

FRIDAY

I dare you to try and hold a conversation while eating these ridiculously tasty, crunchy, fragrant and ever so irresistible beef tacos.

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Tacos Dorados (Crispy Tacos)

TACOS DORADOS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tblspn water
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 12oz 90 percent lean ground beef
  • 7 tblspn vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 ½ tblspn chili powder
  • 1 ½ tblspn paprika
  • 1 ½ tblspn ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Salt
  • 2 tblspn tomato paste
  • 2oz cheddar cheese, shredded (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Chopped tomato
  • Sour cream
  • Pickled jalapeño slices
  • Hot sauce

DIRECTIONS

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine water and baking soda in large bowl. Add beef and mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook until paste is rust-colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Add beef mixture and cook, using wooden spoon to break meat into pieces no larger than ¼ inch, until beef is no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer beef mixture to bowl; stir in cheddar until cheese has melted and mixture is homogeneous. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.

Thoroughly brush both sides of tortillas with 2 tablespoons oil. Arrange tortillas, overlapping, on rimmed baking sheet in 2 rows (6 tortillas each). Bake until tortillas are warm and pliable, about 5 minutes. Remove tortillas from oven and reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees.

Place 2 tablespoons filling on 1 side of 1 tortilla. Fold and press to close tortilla (edges will be open, but tortilla will remain folded). Repeat with remaining tortillas and remaining filling. (At this point, filled tortillas can be covered and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.)

Set wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet and line rack with double layer of paper towels. Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Arrange 6 tacos in skillet with open sides facing away from you. Cook, adjusting heat so oil actively sizzles and bubbles appear around edges of tacos, until tacos are crispy and deeply browned on 1 side, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs and thin spatula, carefully flip tacos. Cook until deeply browned on second side, 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary.

Remove skillet from heat and transfer tacos to prepared wire rack. Blot tops of tacos with double layer of paper towels. Place sheet with fried tacos in oven to keep warm. Return skillet to medium-high heat and cook remaining tacos. Serve tacos immediately, passing extra cheddar, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, jalapeños, and hot sauce separately.

 

SATURDAY

There’s absolutely nothing exotic about shrimp toast, other than the way they taste. Here is a super easy, fool proof appetizer or cocktail party snack that will cause a sensation. And forget the gooey, sticky dipping sauce. These tasty triangles are just perfect as they are.

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Shrimp Toast

SHRIMP TOAST

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp-shelled, deveined and coarsely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Asian chili-garlic sauce
  • Unsalted butter, for greasing the baking sheet
  • 20 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a food processor, combine the scallions, mint, garlic, pepper, coriander and salt; pulse to mix. Add the shrimp and process to a thick paste. Add the eggs, sesame oil and chili-garlic sauce and process for 30 seconds. Transfer shrimp paste to a bowl.

Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. Stack the bread slices and cut them into 3-inch squares, cutting off the crusts. Spread the bread with the shrimp paste and brush lightly with vegetable oil. Cut each square diagonally in half and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the shrimp toast in the middle and upper third of the oven for about 10 minutes, until the topping is cooked through; switch the pans halfway through baking.
Turn on the broiler. Working with one sheet at a time, broil the shrimp toasts 6 inches from the heat for about 2 – 4 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed. Transfer the toasts to a platter and serve immediately.

 

BONUS RECIPE

Ok, so while I might be the very last person in lockdown to bake banana bread (since when did it become a COVID-prevention?), I doubt if anyone else took the trouble to save a few slices to pop into the waffle iron before smothering them with caramelized bananas for an amped-up breakfast. I didn’t think so.

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Banana Bread Waffles with Caramelized Bananas

BANANA BREAD

INGREDIENTS

This is a great way to use overripe bananas. But if you have fresh bananas, let them spend a day or two in the freezer which will soften them up nicely once they thaw out.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • 1/4 tspn baking soda
  • 1/8 tspn salt
  • 1/4 tspn cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 tspn grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9X3 inch loaf pan. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In another bowl combine the egg, bananas, sugar, oil and lemon rind.
Add the dry mixture to the egg mixture. Stir until moistened.
Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 60 – 70 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the corners are slightly burned.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf and continue to cool on the rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing. Serves 8.

 

CARAMELIZED BANANAS

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Remove the peels from the bananas and slice them into 1/2″ inch thick discs.

Set a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the oil or butter, honey, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine.

Add the banana slices, and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden and caramelized. Be sure to watch the heat and turn it down if it browns too quickly. You want enough heat to caramelize and brown the slices, but you don’t want them to burn. Serve on ice- cream, oatmeal or waffles. Serves 2.

 

Stay safe. Stay sane, but most importantly – stay inside!