Tuesday, June 26, 2012

All Stir (Fried) Up!

Stir-Fried Pork with Kale and Orange
Stir fry is one of the fastest, easiest, and tastiest ways to get a meal well balanced with protein and veggies. My recent kale obsession drove me to put together this leafy green into a Chinese-style stir fry dish with noodles and marinated pork. The sweet, orange citrus is a great compliment to kale's slightly bitter tones. Just throw the pork in the marinade the night before and then cook up this stir fry in about 20 minutes. It's fast to put together and really, really yummy.

- 2 1" thick cut pork chops, sliced across the grain to about 1/4" thick
- 6 oz. chow mien noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and discarded, and leaves torn into about 2" pieces
- 6 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
- juice and zest from 1 orange
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
- 1 large clove garlic, grated
- 4 large coves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
- 1/4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. cooking sherry
- salt and pepper
- 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
- 1 Tbsp. chili hot sauce, such as Sriracha
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. corn starch
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Sprinkle sliced pork with salt and pepper and place in a shallow dish. Whisk together 1/2 the orange juice, 1 Tbsp. orange zest, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, grated ginger, hot sauce, grated garlic clove, and olive oil. Pour over the sliced pork and toss to make sure the meat is covered completely with marinade. Cover marinating meat and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight to infuse the flavor.

When you are ready to stir fry, make the sauce by whisking together remaining soy sauce, orange juice, cooking sherry, honey, and corn starch. Set aside and cook the chow mien noodles according to package directions. Set aside when cooked (they usually cook very quickly, 4-5 minutes). Meanwhile, heat a wok or large non-stick pan over high and add vegetable oil. Fry the minced garlic and chili pepper flakes for 1 minutes, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add pork with marinade and fry over high about about 3 minutes, until pork is cooked through. Remove pork from wok with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add vegetable broth to hot wok and then add scallions and kale. Cover wok with lid and steam vegetables for about 1 minute until the kale is bright green. 

Return pork to wok with cooked noodles and prepared orange and soy sauce mixture. Toss ingredients together with tongs and allow mixture to warm through completely and sauce to thicken. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve. Yum!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Soup to Nuts

Roasted Carrot and Potato Soup with Hazelnuts and Garlic Croutons
I was looking for something new for my weekly vegetarian rotation and ways explore the world of vegan cuisine. I've done some successful vegetarian recipes, but vegan cooking is a whole other world. Good vegan food is deliciously nourishing, but bad vegan food is bland and, quite frankly, not very filling. The real challenge is that animal fats provide rich, easy flavor infusions and their absence can make for some pretty dull dinners. Vegan cooking is a fun challenge because it forces me to think differently about flavor. This soup is an easy vegan meal made rich and delicious with curry powder, soy milk, and hearty hazelnuts. Garlic croutons add a great dose of crunch and fresh chives are the perfect finish!

- 6 large carrots, peeled and quartered
- 2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 small yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, diced
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 c. vegetable broth
- 1 Tbsp. yellow curry powder
- 2 c. soy milk
- salt and pepper
- 1 c. roughly chopped hazelnuts
- 1 small handful chopped fresh chives
- 2 c. garlic croutons

Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and spritz lightly with cooking spray. Spread potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes evenly on the foil. Heat oven to 425˚F. Drizzle vegetables with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with paprika and roast in oven for 25-30 minutes until vegetable soften and begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.

While vegetables are roasting, heat remaining olive oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot oven medium. Add onion and cook until very soft, about 7-9 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add roasted vegetables to onion with 2 c. of vegetable broth and curry powder. Bring to a boil. Lower and cover. Simmer vegetables over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and blend soup to a puree with an immersion blender. Return soup to low heat and stir in soy milk slowly until soup becomes creamy. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. When soup is heated through divide among bowls and top each serving with chopped hazelnuts, chives, and croutons. Yummy!

All Wrapped Up

Prosciutto-Wrapped Maple Salmon with Roasted Kale and Potatoes
Ahh, bacon in its many (and delicious) forms! Thick-cut with eggs and toast for breakfast, crumbled over a spinach salad, or even on an apple pie . . . bacon truly makes everything better. In its paper-thin prosciutto form, bacon is the perfect partner for a salmon fillet brushed with a light maple glaze - you just can't beat the sweet and salty combination! Try this for dinner with an easy side of roasted potatoes and kale, it makes for an easy and memorable meal for two.

- 2 6-7 salmon fillets, sprinkled lightly with salt and pepper
- 4 slices prosciutto
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into large pieces
- 6 small soft-fleshed potatoes such an Yukon Gold, quartered
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. sesame seeds
- 2 Tbsp. good quality maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spritz lightly with cooking spray. Spread potatoes and kale evenly on the baking sheet and sprinkle very lightly with salt and pepper. Drizzle evenly with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and soy sauce and toss together. Roast in oven for about 15-20 minutes until potatoes are softened and browned and the kale is wilted. Toss occasionally during roasting time so that potatoes brown evenly.

Remove from oven and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover with foil to keep warm while salmon cooks.

While the kale and potatoes are roasting, wrap the salmon fillets in two slices of prosciutto each and secure with toothpicks. Heat remaining olive oil in a heavy skillet and sear salmon about 2-3 minutes per side so that a golden brown crust begins to appear. Remove from pan and place in a glass baking dish sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Brush each fillet with 1 Tbsp. of maple syrup. Bake in 400˚F oven after the kale and potatoes have been removed. Cook about 10-12 minutes until salmon is cooked through. Serve with potatoes and kale! Yum!

Sweet n' Sour (But Mostly Sweet)

Strawberry and Balsamic Jam Tart with Almonds
I'm taking every opportunity to take advantage of these beautiful spring time strawberries on display in the local produce sections. Sweet and juicy . . . nothing tastes more like the season on my taste buds. My recent desserts had been shifting between pies and shortcakes, so I was looking for something just a little different. Strawberry and Balsamic vinegar make a great pairing and this dessert broke me out of a pasty rut!

- 1 9" buttery pastry crust (check out the crust I used for my Honey Vanilla Plum Tart)
- 1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. good quality Balsamic vinegar
- 1 c. sliced almonds

To prepare the jam, place the strawberries, vinegar, and sugar in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer gently for 15- 20 minutes. The strawberries will soften and the liquid will thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature before using in the tart. (This can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. It's great spread on toast!)

To prepare the tart, take the prepared pastry dough and press firmly into a 9" pastry pan with a removable bottom. Cover in plastic and cool in oven for 30 minutes - 1 hour. Heat the oven to 375˚F. Remove the plastic wrap from the chilled pastry and cover the top loosely with foil, fill with dried beans or pastry weights to keep the dough from puffing up. Bake for 20 minutes until it begins turning lightly browned. Remove foil and weights and allow to cool slightly before filling with prepared jam.

Spoon jam into the crust in a even layer and then sprinkle evenly with sliced almonds. Bake in 375˚F oven for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling has thickened. Remove and cool completely before serving. It's great with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Let's Sear it for Tuna!

Soy Marinated Tuna Steaks with Sesame Kale and Avocado Mango Salsa
I try to incorporate fish into my diet each week. While salmon is my first go-to seafood choice, tuna is a close second. Whether in its  fresh or canned form, tuna is an inexpensive and flavorful source of B-vitamins and those legendarily healthy omega-3s we hear so much about. I paired these quick, easy, and flavorful ahi tuna steaks with my other favorite super-food of late, kale, for a nutrient-rich dinner perfect for a quick weeknight nosh. Plate it up fancy and serve it to impress weekend guests. This meal for two is easily doubled for the family.

- 1 bunch fresh kale, leaves pulled from stems, stems discarded
- 1 ripe, but firm avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced into large chunks
- 6 scallions, trimmed and diced
- 1/2 fresh mango, peeled and diced into large chunks
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
- juice from 1 lime, divided
- 2 Tbsp. minced cilantro, divived
- 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
- 1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 3 tsp. hot sesame oil. divided
- salt and pepper
- 2 6-7 oz. ahi tuna steaks 

In a small dish whisk together half the lime juice with 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. sesame oil, half the cilantro, garlic, and ginger. Season tuna steaks on both sides with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place tuna in a shallow baking dish and pour soy marinade all over, coating tuna steaks completely. Cover with plastic and allow tuna to marinate in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.

While the tuna steaks marinate, make the salsa by combining avocado, mango, jalapeño, half the scallions, and the remaining cilantro and lime juice. Toss ingredients together gently to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Once tuna is marinated, heat a grill pan to high. Sear steaks, about 2-3 minutes per side, so that grill marks appear but tuna is still rare in the middle. Remove from heat and slice diagonally across the grain to about 1/4" thick.

While tuna is searing, heat remaining olive oil in a pan over medium-high, add remaining scallions, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add kale, remaining soy sauce, and remaining sesame oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir constantly as the kale begins to wither and turn bright green.

Plate kale at the center of the plate. Top with sliced ahi tuna and mango avocado salsa. Sprinkle 1/2 of the sesame seeds over each plate. Enjoy!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spice Girl

Jerk-Style Salmon with Mango Dressed Quinoa and Avocado Salad
I can never seem to get enough spice on my plate! Whether it's the peppery bite of Tabasco in my guacamole or the slow-burn of Sriracha in my udon noodle soup, I love the flavorful dimension spice adds to any meal! On these increasingly hot evenings, I find a healthy dose of spice is the perfect palate-pleasing way to beat the heat. The sweet, smoky blend of Jamaican Jerk-style seasoning makes a great dry-rub for salmon and paired with this fruit-infused quinoa, this is a fantastic dinner time treat. (For a vegan alternative, serve the quinoa salad with tofu or other animal-free protein for a complete meal.)

- 1 lb. salmon fillets with skin  
- 1 c. uncooked quinoa
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. all spice
- 3 Tbsp. grape seed or vegetable oil
- 1 bunch green onions, trimmed and chopped
- 1 14.5 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 mango, diced
- 1 tsp. Tabasco or other hot sauce
- 2 Tbsp. minced cilantro, divided
- 3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
- juice from 1 lime
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, trimmed and finely diced
- 1 avocado, peeled and diced

In a medium saucepan combine 1 c. quinoa with 2 c. of water and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over high, cover, and lower heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the quinoa has soaked in all the water. When it is cooked, remove from heat and transfer to a medium bowl to cool.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. In a small bowl, mix together all spice, curry, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and 1 tsp. of salt. Sprinkle salmon fillets with salt and pepper then evenly coat all sides of each fillet with spice rub. Allow fillets to sit with spices for about 10 minutes before cooking.

To make the mango dressing place diced mango, vinegar, 1 Tbsp. cilantro, minced garlic, lime juice, Tobasco, and a sprinkle of salt into the bowl of a blender. Puree until smooth. Add olive oil and blend again to combine all ingredients into a creamy consistency. Season to tasted to additional salt and pepper. Set aside.

After the quinoa has cooled slightly add green onions, diced jalapeño pepper, remaining cilantro, and black beans. Stir ingredients to combine. Add avocado and gently mix together. Pour half the dressing onto the salad, mix, then pour the other half and mix a second time so that the ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside to serve at room temperature topped with salmon.

Heat grape seed or vegetable oil over medium high in a large, heavy skillet (cast iron works great for this). Add salmon pieces to hot oil skin side down and sear 2-3 minutes so that a crispy brown layer forms. Turn over fillets and cook the skin side until it begins to brown (2-3 minutes).

Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, break up salmon fillets into bite-sized chunks and spread through the heated pan so that it cooks through, 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle salmon lightly with salt and pepper. Serve portions of salmon over the prepared quinoa salad. This meal serves 4-6.