January – Marinade

January – Marinade

MARINADE, that’s the only title on a slip of paper that was clipped to my mother’s refrigerator for many years. The words are now smeared by water droplets but the writing is still legible.

Marinade

Marinade

My mother has been gone for some years but I treasure these glimpses of her thoughts and life. And this is a very useful, simple recipe to keep around.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of bourbon
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • dash of dry mustard

Can be used on all meats…chicken, pork, London broil, fish. Marinate for 2 hours but not longer than 24.

This is quite a strong marinade. I wouldn’t marinate fish for longer than 30 minutes, chicken for 2 hours, thick cuts of beef and pork can take the 24 hours. But I recommend 6 hours for a thinner cut. Longer than that and the meat will turn mushy. This marinade has done wonders for steaks of questionable tenderness. Flank steak is infinitely improved by a 6-8 hour bath. The marinade has a definite Asian slant, you could use sake or brandy instead of the bourbon. My mother usually had bourbon around as my father had a large bourbon and water every night before dinner.

 

 

I marinated this flank steak for about 6 hours, then grilled it on high heat for about 4-5 minutes a side. It was delicious, juicy and tender.

January – Instant Pot Chicken and Cannellini Beans

January – Instant Pot Chicken and Cannellini Beans

Tender chicken, creamy and extremely tasty beans…what more could you ask? A perfect cold weather meal with a glass of chardonnay and a simple green salad. Even better, it’s one pot in the electric pressure cooker.

Instant Pot Chicken and Cannellini Beans

Instant Pot Chicken and Cannellini Beans

 

Ingredients: (Serves 4-6)

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 oz of chopped pancetta or bacon
  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 6 to 8 thighs)
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into half moons
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can or 2 (14-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • optional: 1 parmesan rind
  • ½ lemon, juiced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Add to Your Grocery List

Ingredient Substitution Guide

PREPARATION

  1. Season the chicken generously all over with salt and pepper. Turn on the sauté setting of a 6- to 8-quart electric pressure cooker and warm the oil. Add the pancetta and sauté until just starting to brown. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and sear until the skin is browned and releases easily from the pot, 6 to 8 minutes. (If you have more than 4 thighs, you may need to do this in two batches.) Using tongs, remove the chicken.
  2. Add the garlic and onion and sauté, stirring constantly, until just softened, about 2 minutes. Add the red-pepper flakes and stir constantly for about 30 seconds, then add the white wine. Stir well, scraping up all the browned bits. Turn off the sauté setting.
  3. Stir in the beans, parmesan rind if using, and rosemary. Season lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Nestle the chicken thighs on top, skin-side up. Add any accumulated juices to the pot. Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes.
  4. Allow the pressure to reduce naturally for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure manually. Remove any woody stalks of rosemary and any remaining rind of parmesan. (I found mine had simply melted into the beans.) Squeeze in the lemon juice and fold in the parsley. Serve the beans and chicken in shallow bowls.

You may want to remove the skin on the chicken thighs before serving. It has already provided a boost of flavor to the dish and is not longer particularly attractive.

Chicken Soup – The Easy Way

Chicken Soup – The Easy Way

You can have this quick, simple and flavorful soup on the table in less than 30 minutes. Quick Braised Chicken Soup with Greens is full of flavor and nutrition but low on preparation time. There is no need to brown the chicken first, braising it in the broth adds extra flavor and a boost if you don’t have homemade broth on hand.

chicken soup

chicken soup

I used boneless chicken breasts, I think thighs would be even more flavorful and tender. That’s how I will make it next time. For this soup you don’t need to brown the chicken first, a definite time saver. Instead you braise the chicken in chicken stock, making it even more rich and delectable. Serve the soup with crusty bread, over a scoop of rice, noodles, mashed potatoes or even a package of quick cooking ramen (discard the seasoning package). Use any greens you have on hand. Kale or chard would be good, I had a package of baby spinach which only needs a minute in the hot broth. Adjust the cooking times of other greens.

The pickled peppers add a spicy note, sweet and sour. Don’t leave them out. I had a jar of cherry peppers in the pantry.

Quick Braised Chicken with Greens (4-6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1/2 cup sliced hot pickled peppadew, cherry or pepperoncini peppers, plus 2 tablespoons of brine (more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken
  • 1-1/2 pounds (1 to 2 bunches) dark leafy greens, such as kale, chard, escarole or spinach. de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • For serving: crisp toast, pasta, mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, or grains.

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt, and cook until translucent and starting to brown. Add the peppers, tomato paste, and cumin. Cook, stirring constantly, until the paste is a shade darker and starts to stick to the bottom of the pot.
  2. Add the broth, chicken, brine and pickled peppers. If using a tougher green like kale, add it at this point. Season with salt (if needed and your broth is salt free), stir, cover the pot, and cook on medium-high heat until it comes to a simmer. Then uncover and reduce the heat to low.
  3. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the greens are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Using two forks, shred the chicken into pieces. If using baby spinach, add it at this point just to wilt.
  4. Taste and adjust with salt and/or brine.
Quick Chicken Soup

Quick Chicken Soup

Quick Chicken Soup

Quick Chicken Soup

This recipe is slightly modified from one by Ali Slagle at the New York Times.

October – Beef Shanks with Crispy Crunchy Chili Oil in the Electric Pressure Cooker

October – Beef Shanks with Crispy Crunchy Chili Oil in the Electric Pressure Cooker

Well, that is a mouthful of a title. There are several takeaway items from it though. Beef shanks are a tough cut of meat, usually requiring long cooking. In the electric pressure cooker (maybe you have an InstaPot), that time is cut down to less than an hour. Also, crispy crunchy chili oil…if you haven’t discovered it yet…run out and buy or order it. It’s addictive and can transform a simple bowl of rice or pasta into something special. Here I use it to flavor the beef shanks. This idea and most of the recipe comes from a wonderful post by Petra. She hosts the blog Food Eat Love and you will find her original version here for beef short ribs. I would recommend clicking over to it, her food is really 5 star restaurant quality and the pictures will have your mouth watering.

Myself, I spent too long in the garden getting ready for an impending rain storm and needed to cut some corners. Lacking the 4 hours needed to cook the beef slowly in the oven, I turned to my pressure cooker. I don’t use it much in the summer when we rely on the outside grill, but come the cooler wet weather I use it often.

Don’t have an electric pressure cooker? Don’t worry. See the variation at the end for instructions for cooking in a standard Dutch oven.

Beef Shank with Crispy Crunchy Chili Oil

Beef Shank with Crispy Crunchy Chili Oil

In Italy veal shanks are called Osso Bucco. You will find numerous recipes on line and in Italian cookbooks. Here in the U.S. veal shanks are difficult to find and costly if you do. I used budget friendly beef shanks instead and gave them an Asian twist.

I served it with a sweet potato that had been cut in half, rubbed with sesame oil and roasted at 425 degrees F (in the toaster oven) for 50 minutes. It was a wonderful combination.

Beef Shanks with Crispy Crunchy Chili Oil (in the electric pressure cooker)

serves 4 -6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of neutral oil such as grape-seed
  • 3 to 4 thick slices of beef shank with the bone and marrow
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large onion, cut into half moons
  • 1 leek, chopped (if you have a spare one that needs eating as I did)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 peeled slices of fresh ginger
  • 2 cups of fresh shiitake mushrooms, tough stem ends trimmed, cut in half if very large
  • 3 tablespoons of crispy crunchy chili oil
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of rice wine, I used Shaoxing
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of cornstarch, optional if you want to thicken the sauce
  • chopped cilantro for garnish, optional

Method:

  1. Select saute mode and add the oil to the pressure cooker. Cook the carrot and onion (maybe the leek as well if you had one laying around in the crisper) until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
  2. Add the ginger, mushrooms, chili oil, soy sauce, rice wine and water. Stir to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pot and mix everything together.
  3. Nestle the beef shanks in the liquid, trying to get everything in one level if possible. The liquid should just cover the shanks.
  4. Put on the lid, close the vent, and choose high pressure cooking for 40 minutes.
  5. At the end of the 40 minutes let the pressure release naturally for another 15 minutes.
  6. Put a tea towel over the vent and release the pressure manually.
  7. Remove the shanks and mushrooms from the pot and skim off any fat from the juices. Or pour the sauce into a fat separator, let it rest for ten minutes for the fat to surface, then pour the degreased sauce into a serving boat. (Or put everything in a large bowl and refrigerate overnight. The fat will be easy to remove when it solidifies.)
  8. If you would like to thicken the sauce, pour the degreased liquid into a small saucepan and heat until just simmering. Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water and stirring into the hot liquid until it is thickened to your liking.
Beef Shank with Crispy Crunchy Chili Oil

Beef Shank with Crispy Crunchy Chili Oil

No pressure cooker? No worries. Use a heavy bottomed dutch oven with a lid, and increase the amount of liquid to 2 cups. Follow the instructions right up until step 4 above. Then, instead of pressure cooking, bring the pot to a simmer, cover with the lid, and move it to a preheated 300 degree F oven. Bake for 3 to 4 hours, until the beef shanks are tender and falling off the bone. Continue from step 7.

Leftovers were turned into a swoon worthy beef soup by adding some chicken broth and extra vegetables. This is cold weather cooking at its best.

October – Spicy Delicata Squash Pasta with Arugula

October – Spicy Delicata Squash Pasta with Arugula

Spicy Delicata Squash Pasta with Arugula

Spicy Delicata Squash Pasta with Arugula

Delicata squash is my favorite of the winter squashes. Because the skin is soft and thin, you don’t need to peel it. It’s lovely sliced into half moons and roasted. For this recipe it is first tossed with the warming spices of ground cumin and red pepper flakes, then roasted until brown on the edges and soft, tossed with pasta and finished with a dusting of grated Parmesan and a few handfuls of arugula.

Here’s the beauty of this recipe…

  • Use any kind of winter squash you happen to have on hand. For butternut, peel it and cut into 1 inch chunks.
  • No arugula? Use baby spinach instead.
  • I used gluten free chickpea pasta, but any kind of of dried pasta will work.
  • Turn it into a baked dish by finishing with grated mozzarella and cooking for 15 minutes in the oven.
  • Want to some extra protein? Add some quickly sautéed chicken (or tofu) cut into 1 inch pieces at the end or roast it with the squash.
  • Looking for more options…what about adding a drained can of chickpeas to roast with the squash? A sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds or a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil would be nice as well.
Gluten Free Chickpea Pasta

Gluten Free Chickpea Pasta

I found this pasta at our local market and was intrigued. It was delicious and I recommend it if you are looking for a gluten free option. It would be fun to serve with some chickpeas in the sauce as suggested above.

Spicy Delicata Squash Pasta with Arugula

Spicy Delicata Squash Pasta with Arugula

Spicy Delicata Squash Pasta with Arugula (serves 3 -4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 delicata squash or equivalent in other varieties, about 6 cups. Seeds removed and sliced into 1/2 inch half moons.
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • Dried pasta, I used the entire package of 8.8 oz. It gave a high ratio of ‘filling’ to pasta. You could easily go with a full 16 oz package if you want more servings. The 8.8 oz package gave us 2 very generous servings (with seconds and leftovers for lunch)
  • 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan
  • 3 packed cups of arugula
  • 1 cup of grated mozzarella (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (218 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the olive oil, cumin, red pepper flakes and garlic in a large bowl. Add the squash and toss with your hands to coat. Sprinkle with the cornstarch and mix to coat the squash lightly. Make sure that the squash doesn’t have any white cornstarch. See Note below. Reserve the bowl.
  3. Place on the baking sheet, trying to separate them as much as possible and bake for 30 minutes or until browned and soft. About half way through, turn to brown the other side.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
  5. If the pasta is done before the squash, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the colander to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  6. Using the same large bowl from step 2, combine the pasta, squash, arugula and parmesan. Add the additional saved pasta cooking water if things seem dry. Toss and serve.
  7. Optional: Put the mix into a serving bowl, sprinkle the mozzarella on top and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese. I recommend adding some of the pasta water in this case.

Note: The cornstarch will crisp the edges of the squash. I use the same technique with cubes of sweet potato. Try it.

Spicy Delicata Squash Pasta with Arugula

Spicy Delicata Squash Pasta with Arugula

Spicy Delicata Squash Pasta with Arugula

Spicy Delicata Squash Pasta with Arugula

I think the folks over at Fiesta Friday will like the seasonal dish. This week is Fiesta Friday #402 hosted by Angie. Come on over to sample delicious recipes, decorating and craft ideas.