My favorite quarantine recipes Part IV

4th week into my self-inflicted, no-repeat recipe challenge, and still going strong with another round of newbies and a few tried and true-bies. Trying to balance my proteins with seasonal veggies or salads on the side. It’s all about color, variety and putting every single taste bud to work.

SUNDAY

I seldom volunteer to whip up a Risotto. It’s that I don’t like the dish (there’s nothing more sublime than a steaming hot, creamy, nutty, sticky, cheesy puddle of rice), but for those who have never stood at a stove for a solid hour, stirring relentlessly until your hands blister, here’s a dish that is packed with flavor, crunch and yumminess – and the oven does all the work.

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Salsiccia Risotto

SALSICCIA RISOTTO

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 – 5 links hot Italian sausage
  • 1 Tblspn olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Riso or Arborio rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine (or additional cup of chicken stock)
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400F.
Heat the oil in a heavy, ovenproof skillet on medium-high. Add the onions and sautée until translucent. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Squeeze sausage meat from their casings into the pan along with the bell peppers and cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until vegetables begin to brown.
Add rice and sautée, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in stock, wine (if using) and tomatoes and bring to a boil while loosening any brown bits.
Transfer skillet to the oven and bake uncovered for 25 – 35 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Season with several grinds of black pepper.

MONDAY

There’s nothing more mouthwatering than Thai flavors. I don’t care if it’s the fish-sauce/lime/chili dressings or the peanut/vinegar/chili marinades. This is a great summertime dish that can be barbecued outdoors (or broiled in the oven as we all yearn for Summer to get here already!)

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Chicken Satay with Cucumber Pineapple Salad

GRILLED CHICKEN SATAY

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Tamari (or light Soy sauce)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 8 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 whole dried red chili pepper or 2 tsps dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsps chopped fresh ginger
  • 10 wooden kebab skewers
  • 4 chicken breasts cut into strips

DIRECTIONS

Combine the first 9 ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend well to emulsify, adding a few drops of water if the mixture is too thick.
Divide the mixture and use 1/3 to marinate the chicken strips for 4 hours or overnight in a Zip-lock bag.
Store the other 2/3 separately for dipping.
Bathe the skewers in water for at least 2 hours. Thread the skewers with the chicken strips. Grill or broil until browned on both sides.
Serve with dipping sauce.

 

CUCUMBER PINEAPPLE SALAD

INGREDIENTS

For the Salad:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups pineapple (fresh or canned chunks)
  • 1 English cucumber (or 1 medium field cucumber)
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup dry whole roasted unsalted peanuts (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

For the Dressing:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chili, de-seeded and minced, or 1 tsp. chili sauce
  • 1 tblspn soy sauce
  • 1 tblspn fish sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 tsp brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

Whisk the dressing ingredients thoroughly in a jug and set aside.
Peel and halve the cucumber lengthwise. Slice into 1/4” half-moons or chunks and add to a large bowl.
Add the red pepper, pineapple chunks, spring onion, peanuts, most of the basil and cilantro, (putting aside a little of each for the garnish.
Add the salad dressing and toss well to combine.
Serve on a platter and garnish with the extra herbs and nuts.

TUESDAY

This astoundingly flavorful recipe originates from Jamie Oliver. Just a few simple ingredients and little marinating time transform a piece of oven-roasted Salmon into an Asian masterpiece.

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Asian ginger Salmon

ASIAN GINGER SALMON

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lemongrass stems (pale parts only) chopped.
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated.
  • 1″ piece of ginger finely grated.
  • 2 pieces of skinless salmon filet, pin-boned (around 1/2lb each)
  • 1/3 cup honey, warmed
  • 4 spring onions, finely shredded
  • 2 limes halved

DIRECTIONS

Using a mallet or a pestle and mortar, bash the lemon-grass until fragrant. Stir in the soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Place the fish in a glass dish, then spread all over with the marinade. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400 deg and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
Wipe off the excess marinade with your hands and place the salmon on the tray, then brush with the honey.
Bake for 10 minutes or until the fish is just cooked but still a little pink in the center.
Carefully transfer the fish to a board or serving platter, sprinkle with spring onion and cilantro leaves, then serve warm or at room temperature with lime to squeeze.

 

WEDNESDAY

This incredible crowd-pleaser is both fragrant and downright numbingly spicy, but you can regulate the heat as you dare. As far as the noodles go, you can make them yourself (they are called “Biang Biang” due to the sound they make as you stretch and slap them onto an oiled surface before splitting them into 3-foot continuous belts and then boiling them) or you can opt for far less clean-up time with purchased Asian noodles or Korean rice cakes. It really doesn’t matter because it’s all about the sauce.

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Dan-Dan Noodles

DAN-DAN NOODLES

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Italian (sweet) sausages
  • 12 Thai red/bird chilies, ground fine
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Purchased noodles or Korean rice cakes, cooked al dente
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 12 fresh cilantro sprigs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 6 scallions, sliced thin on bias

DIRECTIONS

Place chilies in large heatproof bowl. Place fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside. Combine vegetable oil, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, cinnamon, and star anise pod in small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until sizzling.

Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer until garlic and ginger are slightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

While the chili oil cooks, squeeze the sausage from their casings into a medium skillet and cook on medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, break them up into small bits and stir until well-browned. Set aside.

Pour the cooked oil through the strainer into bowl with chilies; discard solids in strainer. Stir chili oil to combine and let cool for 2 minutes.

Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar until combined. Add cooked sausage and stir briefly.

Add the cooked noodles or rice-cakes and serve garnished with cilantro sprigs and scallions.

 

THURSDAY

As I try to be as heart healthy as possible (for the most part) (when I remember, that is), I tend to go the Oatmeal route for breakfast. Which makes me hunt tirelessly for ways to vary up a lifeless puddle of gray porridge any way I can. We ordered a slight variation of this at a hotel resort in Palm Springs about 17 years ago, and have been reprising it again from time to time.

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Oatmeal Brûlée

OATMEAL BRÛLÉE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • Prepared steelcut or regular oatmeal (for 4 servings)

For the vanilla sauce:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 8 tblspn sugar
  • 1 tblspn vanilla essence

DIRECTIONS

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer.
Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together until a ribbon forms when the whisk is lifted out of the mixture.
Whisk constantly while slowly pouring the hot milk into the yolk-sugar mixture.
Return the mixture to the saucepan. Over low heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. Be careful not to overcook or the eggs will scramble. The sauce is finished when you can dip a spoon into it, the draw your finger over the back of the spoon and have a track remain that is almost free of sauce.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. This can be made ahead and refrigerated in an air tight container for up to 5 days.

Divide the cooked oatmeal among flat serving bowls. Slice the bananas into discs and lay in a single layer on top of the oatmeal. Pour a thin layer of vanilla sauce to cover the oatmeal and bananas.
Using a brûlée torch, lightly burn the vanilla sauce (alternately, bring the bowls directly under a broiler for a few seconds until evenly brown) and serve immediately.

 

FRIDAY

Easy, peasy, pudding-in-pie. And oh, so scrumptious are these delightfully citrus-spiked Shrimp rolls.

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Shrimp Brioche

SHRIMP BRIOCHE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1lb baby shrimp, shelled
  • 2 Brioche buns
  • 2 tblspn Sour Cream
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 Scallions
  • 3 Radishes
  • 2 tblspn Mayonnaise
  • 2 tlblspn fresh Tarragon, chopped
  • 2 oz Arugula
  • 1 Tblspn Butter
  • 2 tspn Olive Oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a low simmer. Zest and halve the lemon. Thinly slice the scallions. Thinly slice the radishes. Finely chop the tarragon leaves.
Add the shrimp to the simmering water. Cook until just opaque, 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 Tablespoon sour cream, half the tarragon, and a squeeze of lemon (to taste). Whisk in a large drizzle of oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Halve the brioche rolls and spread them with butter. Place in the oven to toast 3-4 minutes.
If the shrimp are larger, dice into 1-inch pieces. Toss in a medium bowl with the lemon zest, scallions, remaining tarragon, 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise, remaining sour cream and no more than 1 tsp of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss the arugula and radishes into the salad dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Fill each brioche roll with shrimp salad, and top with a bit of arugula radish salad. Serve the remaining salad on the side.

 

SATURDAY

Another amazing restaurant-quality, meet-the-parents or impress-the-boss worthy dish that dazzles the taste-buds is a favorite on our “keeper” list. And I guarantee that after you taste it,  it will be on yours too. Just don’t overcook the chops.

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Lamb chops au Poivre

LAMB CHOPS AU POIVRE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tblspn black pepper corn
  • 1 tblspn coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 rack of lamb chops, trimmed and separated
  • 1 tblspn grapeseed oil
  • 1 tblspn butter
  • 2 tblspn chopped shallots
  • 6 tblspn beef stock
  • 1 1/2 tblspn cognac (optional)
  • 4 tblspn Creme fraiche
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs

DIRECTIONS

Coarsely grind the spices in a pestle and mortar. Coat eat chop with spices on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet and cook chops for 4 – 5 minutes on 1 side on medium heat until nicely browned. Turn and cook for another 4 – 5 minutes on the other side. Set aside under a foil tent.
Remove excess fat from pan. Add butter and shallots and cook on low heat. Add cognac (if using) and cook until it has evaporated. Add the beef stock and creme fraiche and cook on medium stirring until sauce has thickened and turned slightly brown. Season with salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper to taste.
Spoon sauce over and around chops and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs.

 

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

 

 

 

My favorite quarantine recipes Part I

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Afternoon tea with Pistachio and Hazelnut paste toast triangles

As the inevitability of an extended isolation drags on and on, I find that no matter how I try to vary my habits around the house (spending time in different rooms, sitting on different chairs, looking out of different windows etc.) eventually it all starts to look and feel like more and more and more of the same. But the kitchen is the one place I can truly change things up with each passing meal. I made a promise at the start of the virus outbreak that no matter how long social distancing lasts, I will never cook the same meal twice. And so here are a few of my favorites so far.

SUNDAY

CHINESE-STYLE BARBECUE SPARE RIBS

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Chinese-style barbecued Spareribs

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (6-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup honey
  • ¾ cup hoisin sauce
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 5 – 6 pounds pork spareribs (2 racks, 2 1/2- to 3-pounds each), preferably St. Louis-style, cut into individual ribs
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pulse ginger and garlic in food processor until finely chopped, 10 to 12 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer ginger-garlic mixture to Dutch oven. Add honey; hoisin; soy sauce; ½ cup water; rice wine; five-spice powder; food coloring, if using; and pepper and whisk until combined. Add ribs and stir to coat (ribs will not be fully submerged). Bring to simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 1¼ hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Using tongs, transfer ribs to large bowl. Strain braising liquid through fine-mesh strainer set over large container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Let cooking liquid settle for 10 minutes. Using wide, shallow spoon, skim fat from surface and discard.
  3. Return braising liquid to pot and add sesame oil. Bring to boil over high heat and cook until syrupy and reduced to 2½ cups, 16 to 20 minutes.
  4. Set wire rack in aluminum foil–lined rimmed baking sheet and pour ½ cup water into sheet. (This prevents the ribs from drying out) Transfer half of ribs to pot with braising liquid and toss to coat. Arrange ribs, bone sides up, on prepared rack, letting excess glaze drip off. Roast until edges of ribs start to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip ribs and continue to roast until second side starts to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Transfer ribs to serving platter; repeat process with remaining ribs. Serve.

 

MONDAY

CHICKEN MARSALA

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Chicken Marsala

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pound, 680g), cut in half crosswise
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 to 10 ounces (230-280g) button mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons (total) olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons (total) unsalted butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • about 1/3 cup (50g) flour
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) chicken stock or water 80ml
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) Marsala wine preferably dry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put the chicken pieces between two sheets of plastic wrap, or in a sturdy zip-top freezer bag, and pound them with a rolling pin until they’re 1/2-inch, (1,5cm) thick. Put the pieces in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a wide skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over high heat until the butter starts to sizzle. Add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook – stirring occasionally – until the mushrooms are seared and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic to the mushrooms during the last-minute of cooking.
  3. Scrape the mushrooms onto a plate and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel to remove any bits of garlic. (If not, those bits will burn when frying the chicken.)
  4. To sauté the chicken, spread the flour onto a plate and dredge half of the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off most of the excess. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan. Add chicken pieces so they are in a single layer; don’t crowd them in the pan. (If you have a very large pan, you can sauté them all in one batch. But I use a 10-inch/23cm skillet, and do them in two batches.) Sauté the breasts, turning them over midway during cooking, until they are browned on each side. (They don’t need to be completely cooked through at this point.) When browned, remove the chicken pieces to a separate plate and heat another 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan, and sauté the rest of the chicken.
  1. While the chicken is cooking. Stir the corn starch into the stock or water until it’s completely dissolved, then mix it with the Marsala.
  2. When the second batch of chicken is done and removed from the pan, pour about one-third of the Marsala mixture into the pan, scraping the pan with a wooden or silicone spatula to scrape up the browned bits, then add the rest of the Marsala mixture, as well as the mushrooms and chicken pieces.
  3. Cook the chicken and mushrooms with the sauce over medium heat, turning the chicken pieces over occasionally, to make sure they’re well-basted in the sauce, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in another 1 tablespoons of butter, the balsamic vinegar, and chopped parsley. Taste the sauce and season with more salt, if necessary.

Serving: Chicken Marsala is best served with warm, with wide noodles or another pasta. Mashed potatoes would work well, too.

TUESDAY

GARLIC-GINGER-TOMATO CAULIFLOWER (OR CHICKEN) STIR FRY

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Ginger-Garlic-Tomato Cauliflower stir-fry

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head roasted cauliflower floretsor 1 ½ pounds boneless chicken, preferably dark meat, in 1/2- to 1-inch chunks
  • ½ cup flour to dredge the chicken
  • 4 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons slivered garlic
  • 2 tablespoons slivered ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cup ketchup

DIRECTIONS

Toss chicken with flour so that it is lightly dusted. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, and turn heat to high. When oil smokes, add chicken in one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

When chicken browns on one side, toss it and cook until just about done: smaller pieces will take 5 minutes total, larger pieces about 10. Remove to a plate. Turn off heat and let pan cool for a moment.

Add remaining oil to pan and turn heat to medium high. Add garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add ketchup and stir; cook until ketchup bubbles, then darkens slightly. Add chicken (or roasted cauliflower) to pan and stir to coat with sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve.

 

WEDNESDAY

PENNE OR FARFALLE WITH PISTACHIO CREAM AND SHRIMP

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Penne with Pistachio cream and shrimp

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces Farfalla or Penne pasta
  • 1/2 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup ground pistachios (unsalted, ground in a food processor)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus a little extra)
  • 1lb shelled shrimp
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • crushed red pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil.

2. In the meantime, chop onion and grind the pistachios in a food processor until the pieces are very small but not completely uniform. Add pasta to water and boil according to package directions.

3. While pasta is cooking, begin sauce: heat olive oil in a medium saute pan, add onion and cook until translucent but not browned.

4. Add pistachios and enough oil to moisten them (if needed). It should be a paste-like consistency. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for about one minute (do not let the pistachios take on any color). Add the shrimp and cook on both sides until just done.

5. Add cream, stir until heated through, then remove from heat. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper, black pepper and plenty of salt to taste.

6. When pasta is al dente, drain well then add to the saute pan with the sauce. Toss well to coat and serve immediately with lots of fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

 

FRIDAY

MISO-MARINATED SALMON

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Miso-marinated Salmon

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sake
  • 1 ½ tablespoons mirin
  • 2 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
  • Lemon wedges

DIRECTIONS

1. Whisk miso, sugar, sake, and mirin together in medium bowl until sugar and miso are dissolved (mixture will be thick). Dip each fillet into miso mixture to evenly coat all flesh sides. Place fish skin side down in baking dish and pour any remaining miso mixture over fillets. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.

2. Adjust oven rack 8 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Place wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Using your fingers, scrape miso mixture from fillets (do not rinse) and place fish skin side down on foil, leaving 1 inch between fillets.

3. Broil salmon until deeply browned and centers of fillets register 125 degrees, 8 to 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through cooking and shielding edges of fillets with foil if necessary. Transfer to platter and serve with lemon wedges.s

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