Month: September 2008

Stir Fried Swiss Chard

Stir fried swiss chard was an improvisation – I had a big bunch of Swiss Chard in my CSA box, along with some garlic, and I had a chinese themed meal planned.  Voila!  Since I have my stir fry technique internalized, this was a quick side dish that I put together while I was making my chinese barbecued pork. *I wish planning dinner was always this easy.  Sometimes, it feels like I’m sweating blood, trying to come up with enough meals for the week:   “Tortillas and chicken – no, we did that last week.  Shoot, I still need a quick meal for Thursday, when Ben has soccer.  Oh, and a starch and a veg side for the hamburgers…” Recipe: Stir Fried Swiss ChardIngredients: 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 onion 1 bunch Swiss Chard, leaves trimmed from stems 1/3 cup water 1tbsp garlic 1tbsp toasted sesame oil 2 tbsp hoisin sauce 2 tbsp soy sauce Directions: *We’ll be following the stir fry basic technique for this. 1. Prep the sauce: Combine the hoisin sauce and …

Grand Unified Stir Fry Theory (aka: Stir Fry, basic technique)

This is the basic technique I use for weeknight stir frying – meat, vegetables, or (preferably) both together as a one skillet meal.*  As I’ve mentioned before – anything that goes well with basic white rice is a recipe I use a lot. *Right now, the kids make me cook the meat and the vegetables separately; I can’t let the vegetables contaminate the meat. Or vice versa.  I accidentally added a red pepper to the chicken stir fry this week – you should have heard the whining.   However, stir fry is another one of my culinary pathways.  “American” Chinese food was the first non-american cuisine I ate*, and the one that started to open my eyes to the fact that there was a wide world of taste out there.  Specifically, the little hole in the wall Hunan restaurant on Chardon Rd in Wickliffe (just past E 260th) that served the best Hot and Sour soup I’ve ever had.  Their Governor’s chicken was great, too.  The combination of sweet, spicy, sour and hot was a revelation to me.  Especially …

Chinese BBQ Boneless Ribs

Pork shoulder (aka Boston Butt, or Pork Butt**) is one of my favorite cuts of meat. I’m particularly fond of using it as “ribs” – which are sold in my local grocery store as “western ribs”, but are really just 2″ thick slices of pork shoulder roast. They cost a LOT less than real ribs do around here – as low as $1.29/lb, where spare ribs never seem to go below $2.19 a pound. When you consider all the extra meat you get out of the western ribs as compared to the spare ribs, it is quite the deal.* *That’s not to say I don’t like real ribs – just not often. At those prices, when so much of what you’re paying for is bone, I can only bring myself to buy them a couple of times a summer. Where did we go wrong? The ribs are supposed to be the cheap cut, the throwaway part that you can get cheap. I guess they got too popular. Sniffle. I’ll be OK, I just need a …

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

When I am asked to bring an appetizer, this is usually the first thing I think of.* Other than roasting the peppers, it’s “dump and process”. I like that when I’m rushing around, getting ready to go to someone’s house! *OK, the second thing. The first thing is a cheese plate with some good blue cheese, hard cheese, and goat cheese, and a sliced baguette on the side. Mmm. Cheese. Recipe: Grill Roasted Red Pepper Dip Equipment: Grill (I used a Weber Summit 650. Here it is.) Food Processor (I used my KitchenAid Food Processor) Ingredients: 3 red peppers 2 cloves garlic 1 can (15oz) chickpeas 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil juice of 1 lemon 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper Salt to taste (depends on how salty the chickpeas are – I usually add 1/2tsp kosher) Directions: 1. Roasting the peppers: Preheat your grill to medium – direct heat. Cook the peppers until blackened on all sides (usually about 5 minutes a side). You want to get them good and burned – it’s …

Basic White Rice

This is, by far, the side dish I make most often.  Why?  Because The Kids will eat it.  Always.  I think they’d be happy if this was all I ever made for them.  “White rice?  Just plain white rice this time, right, Dad?”* *Translation: No funny stuff, right?  You’re not getting fancy on us again, right? It’s the perfect side dish for Asian meals – I usually make it with a stir fry of some sort, but it also goes well with grilled chicken, barbecued pork, and many other meals.* *Red beans and rice, of course, how could I forget red beans and rice… Recipe: Basic White Rice Cook time: 30 minutes Ingredients: 2 cups rice (my preferences are: jasmine rice, CalRose rice, or Carolina long grain rice) 3 cups water 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (or table salt) 1 tbsp butter (optional) Directions: Put ingredients in a 3 quart or larger saucepan with a tight fitting lid.  Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Remove the cover once the water is boiling, …

On the importance of basic techniques

How did I get here? In 1999, I decided I was going to cook dinner every night.  I don’t exactly remember what prompted this; it was a gradual thing, my interest in cooking. It started with wine.  Diane came back from a trip to Europe with her sister, Jackie, and said “you know, they have a glass of wine with dinner every night…”.  I can’t exactly say why, but that struck a chord in me, and I was off and running. Then, to go with the wine, I wanted to learn how to cook.  NPR had an intervew with Barbara Kafka, about her book Roasting-A Simple Art.  In it, she describes how to make a great Thanksgiving turkey in about two hours – roast it in your oven, with the oven set as high as you can.  Then, remove the turkey, and make a sauce with the pan drippings and some water.  I tried it, and it was great!  So I went out and bought the book, which is based on this premise – roast …

Grill Roasted Chicken Wings

Here’s my recipe for grill-roasted chicken wings.  It’s healthier than deep-fried*, and I think the crispy/smoky taste of these wings is better than deep fried.  Diane is a chicken wing fiend.  Whenever I roast a chicken, she goes straight for the wings.  Needless to say, she gets excited when she finds out this recipe is on our menu. *I said heathier, not healthy.  I think the reason chicken wings are so good is that they’re all skin, and there’s nothing that tastes better than crispy chicken skin. Recipe: Grill Roasted Chicken Wings, Buffalo Style Equipment: Grill (I used a Weber kettle, here) aluminum foil drip pan (9″x11″, or whatever fits your grill) Ingredients: 3 lbs chicken wings 1 fist-sized chunk of hickory, soaked for 1 hour (or 1 cup hickory chips, soaked for 1/2 hour and drained) Marinade: 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup vegetable oil 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce juice of 1/2 lemon (I substituted 1 tbsp cider vinegar) Hot Wing Sauce: 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot 1/4 cup …