Saturday, February 20, 2010

Asian Chicken* Noodle Soup

I love Asian food but often feel it is very foreign and intimidating to make.  I finally broke down a bought the ingredients that I keep on substituting in Asian recipes and realize now that's the cause for all of my Asian culinary failures up until now.  Rice vinegar= deliciousness.  Chile paste (I have garlic chile sauce) is spicy and flavorful.  Sesame oil, while I hate the smell of it, definitely lends the flavor that compliments the dish.  And powdered ginger is no substitute for real ginger.  I never buy it because I only ever need a small bit of it. However, according to a friend it freezes well, so just slice off the part you need, grate or slice the rest and freeze it until called for. Found this recipe on the Food Network's website, read the reviews and decided to try it.  It was super easy-- probably took about 30 min.  This recipe is very adaptable.  I am including my version here, but the website's original is, I'm sure, every bit as delectable.

4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Garlic chile sauce (add more if you want it spicier)
8 cups chicken broth
*1/2 bag of Trader Joe's frozen Thai Vegetable Goyzas (the original recipe called for 12 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut crosswise into thin strips.  I really think you can substitute any protein at this point or even omit it altogether)
4 cups chopped asian vegetables (I used a frozen package of stir fry veggies and just defrosted it for 2 min in the microwave, though next time I think I'll just add them to the soup frozen) or Napa cabbage
1 (5-ounce) package rice noodles, prepared according to packing directions (I used bean noodles.  They're the clear noodles that are often in Vietnamese food)  You could probably use spaghetti in a pinch.
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
6 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
1 cucumber, julliened

Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar, and chile paste in a small bowl.

Heat the broth in a medium saucepan. Add the soy sauce mixture, the chicken or won tons, and the vegetables and bring to a boil. Simmer for two minutes or until chicken/protein/wonton is cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Pour over prepared Chinese noodles. Garnish with cilantro, scallions, and cucumbers.  I also squeezed a few limes over the soup because I love that citrus bite.  Sorry, no pictures, it was just that good.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blood Moon*

1. Open Blue Moon (or other blonde beer).

2. Garnish with blood oranges.

3. Enjoy.

*as punned by John K

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Chicken with tomatoes, apricots and chickpeas

I found this in Sunset magazine a while ago, made it once, loved it, and then filed it away with a bunch of other recipes I plan to someday arrage in a more orderly fashion than tossed in my desk drawer.  In other words, it was long neglected and forgotten.  I happily found it today and highly recommend it.  It's fast and easy, and the only chopping you really have to do is 3 garlic cloves (or if you're me, more than 3 because I don't recall ever using the paltry amount of garlic a recipe calls for, except when Julie and I made 100 Garlic Chicken... mmm).  I'm not a fan of dried fruit, but once cooked they definitely perk up and lose that awful dried texture that has haunted me since childhood.  And the apricots add a nice balance to the spice of the dish.

Serves 4

4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves
kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1/3 c chopped dried apricots
1 tbsp sugar
3 minced garlic cloves
1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 c chopped parsley (I just did a couple tablespoons of the dried stuff)

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat, then add cumin, coriander, and cayenne; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add chicken and cook until golden brown, turning once, about 6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Stir in tomatoes, apricots, sugar, and garlic.  Return chicken to pan and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Stir in chickpeas, and parsley and cook until heated through.  Serve with rice or cous cous.