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Monday, March 21, 2011

Thai-Style Chicken Biriyani

Thai-Style Chicken Biriyani

Spring has sprung! In LA, spring greeted us with something akin to a monsoon. There was thunder, heavy downpours, and oh yeah, a marathon. I celebrated by staying indoors with warm tea and a Harry Potter marathon on tv. Of course I had to make something delicious to go with all of that lazying around and I had just the perfect one pot meal to do that. This recipe is as good as any takeout and maybe better because you know exactly what is going into it. The chicken comes out so tender. In my grocery shopping rush, I bought chicken wings instead of drumsticks, but they worked out well. The spices in the rice give it warmth and the sriracha on the side gives the dish heat. Cucumbers are the perfect accompaniment to cool your mouth down. I'm sort of addicted to cucumbers lately, I'm already thinking of more fun ways I can use cucumbers this spring and summer.

Thai-Style Chicken Biriyani
(Adapted from Saveur)

Makes 6-8 servings

6 shallots, roughly chopped
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 5-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 tablespons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
6 chicken wings, separated at the joint
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, halved crosswise
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 1/2 cups jasmine rice
1 small Japanese cucumber, thinly sliced
Thai-style chili sauce, such as Sriracha

In a blender or food processor, combine the shallots, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, tumeric, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ground pepper with 1/3 cup water. Puree to a paste.

Toss the chicken and spice paste together in a large bowl until well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate for 1 hour.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and all of the spice paste and cook, stirring occasionally until the paste is caramelized and the chicken begins to brown, about 12 minutes.

Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 minutes until the rice is lightly toasted. Add salt to taste and 2 1/4 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to sit, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Uncover and use a fork to gently toss together the chicken and the rice. Serve immediately with the cucumbers and the hot sauce on the side.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Stir-Fried Pork with Leeks and Sugar Snap Peas

Stir-Fried Pork with Leeks and Sugar Snap Peas

Lately my weekday lunches have consisted of this, or this, or this. These are all great dishes, but I was looking for something different this week. I need to incorporate more carbs and fiber into my diet so serving this with brown rice was a natural option. The original recipe didn't include snap peas, but I wanted to add some more green in this dish and also make it more spring-like. The markets are full of great snap peas which add great crunch and a slightly sweet flavor. I don't cook with them often, but they also make a great snack. I'm always on the lookout for recipes for work lunches so if you have anything you think I should try, leave it in the comments.


Stir-Fried Pork with Leeks and Snowpeas
(Adapted from Saveur)

*Note: Next time I'll probably use slightly less oil than what is called for below. If you use low-sodium soy sauce, you may need to add more to punch up the flavor. Also, a pinch of red pepper flakes would be great here.

Makes about 3 servings

10 ounces pork butt, frozen for 20 minutes and cut into 2-inch by 1/8-inch strips
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch thick pieces
2 cups sugar snap peas, washed, trimmed, and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces

In a medium bowl, combine the sliced pork, sesame oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, and half of the minced garlic. Let sit for 15 minutes.

Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat until the wok begins to smoke. Add 1 tablespoon of the canola oil around the edge of the pan and swirl to coat the bottom and the sides. Add the leeks and snap peas and cook, stirring constantly until the leeks are fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil around the edge of the wok, swirling to coat the bottom and sides. Add the pork mixture and remaining garlic and cook, stirring constantly until the pork is browned, about 2 minutes.

Add the leeks and snap peas to the wok and cook, stirring often until tender and the mixture is combined, about 1 minute. Serve with rice.


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Monday, March 14, 2011

Berlin Currywurst

I love living in a new area and exploring places nearby. Silverlake used to be a far-off land only visited infrequently, but now I find myself there almost every week braving the throngs of hipsters who threaten to overtake the neighborhood with their skinny jeans and combat boots. There are a ton of great restaurants in the area. One of the newer additions is Berlin Currywurst, an outpost where one can nosh on the famous German snack. According to Wikipedia, for those not in the know, currywurst is a pork sausage which is sliced and topped with a curry sauce. In most cases the sauce is ketchup mixed with large amounts of curry powder. Berlin Currywurst has four levels of heatness for the sauces. You need to be over 16 to get levels 3 and 4 because they are supposedly "that hot".

Paprikawurst

There are a variety of sausages with which to have your spicy sauce. There's everything from pork to chicken, beef, and even tofu. I'm all about big flavor so I had the paprikawurst which is a pork sausage flavored with paprika and garlic. Since I have a high tolerance for heat, I ordered mine with level three sauce. My dining companion chose the Bockwurst (pork and veal) with level two heat (wimp). Neither of us added any additional flavors to our wursts. We split and order of the fries topped with onions between the two of us.

Fries

I loved the salty pork with the sweet, spicy curry. I didn't find it to be overwhelmingly spicy and I will probably order a level four the next time I go back. I felt the pieces of bread on the side were superfluous given that by the time we finished our sausages, the sauce was kind of cold and we didn't feel like dipping bread into the cold sauce. The fries were a thicker cut than I normally prefer, but not off-putting to me and a nice change of flavor in between bites of sauce and sausage. There's no liquor license yet so the only way to cool your mouth between bites is with water, a few options of natural sodas, or chocolate milk. I'm not a big soda drinker, but I really enjoyed the few sips I had of Kris' Virgil's cola. It was kind of like a cross between cola and root beer. The restaurant is small and seating is extremely limited. We were lucky enough to snag a table outside almost immediately, but we rushed through finishing up our meal because of a group waiting to sit down.

Virgil's Cola

I'll definitely be back at this tiny gem, but hopefully the crowds will be kept at bay so I can enjoy my spicy sausage in peace..or else I can just get it to go.



Berlin Currywurst
3827 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 663-1989
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza 3/5/11

Sometimes, I hoard things. As an avid cook, I've amassed quite a few cooking related things. Not just equipment, but various food stuffs that most single girls who cook for just themselves wouldn't normally have in their kitchen...but I'm not a normal girl. One of the refreshing things about moving is that you can through away things and start again. That package of rice sticks that I've had for two years? So long! The 9x13 pan I haven't been able to fit into an oven in nearly two years? Toodles! One of the things that I have a hard time letting go of is my recipe collection. I'm constantly seeking recipes from new sources, forgetting that at home I have hundred of printed out recipes all waiting to be made. This particular pizza was first brought to my attention via the New York Times. It was made popular by Smitten Kitchen, and recently fell into my radar again via Cupcakes and Cashmere. I've had it sitting in my recipe book for ages, but I'm only now getting around to making it. I wish I had done it sooner.

Breakfast Pizza

This is a great breakfast for me since I'm not a big fan of sweet breakfasts. As regular readers know, a runny egg yolk on top of almost any savory dish makes me swoon. All I had to do was add some hot sauce and I was in porky, eggy, carb heaven. I'm glad I just completed a week of vegetarian eating before I indulged in this.

Breakfast Pizza


Breakfast Pizza
(Adapted from The Big Sur Bakery as found in the New York Times)

Makes 2 servings

8 ounces whole wheat pizza dough
3 strips of bacon, cooked to desired crispness, chopped
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 tablespoon minced chives
1/2 scallion, minced

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly flour the back of a baking sheet.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about an 8 inch round. Transfer the dough to the floured side of the baking sheet. Spread the cheeses and bacon over the top of the pizza. Make 2 wells in the cheese, and crack an egg into each well. Season each egg with salt and pepper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melted, the dough is cooked, and the egg whites have set. Turn once halfway through baking. Spread the herbs over the top of the pizza and let cool for two minutes. Serve immediately.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Ganache

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Ganache

I have made some amazing friends from food blogging. A couple of months ago, one of those friends (Joy) sent me a donut pan that I won in a giveaway on her blog. A few weeks later, another friend (Dawn) posted phenomenal pictures of donuts that I knew I had to make soon. I am loving my new apartment and one of my favorite places in it is the kitchen. It's small, but has everything I need...including a trash compactor which I have been without for a year and a half! I finally got to put my cute little donut pan to use yesterday and I couldn't be happier with the results. These little cakey donuts are a perfect way to enjoy a chocolate treat with a little less guilt than regular fried donuts. The salty nut (ha ha) toppings help cut through the richness of the ganache and are a perfect pairing. If you're not a big fan of salty nuts (lol) then use unsalted, or replace them with sprinkles, sanding sugar, or coconut flakes. The possibilities are endless. 

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Ganache 3/6/11

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Ganache
(Adapted from Vanilla Sugar)

Makes 20 mini donuts

Donuts:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

Ganache:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Toppings:
Finely chopped pistachios
Finely chopped peanuts
Sprinkles
Coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat the donut pan with non stick spray. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack over the parchment. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and baking soda. Stir in the salt. Add the buttermilk and stir to combine, then add the butter. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla and add them to the flour mixture. Stir, just until the mixture is combined. Stir in the chopped chocolate if using.

Fill each donut mold about 2/3 full. Bake for about 8 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the donuts cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto the wire rack.

To make the ganache:
Heat some water in a small saucepan until it is simmering. Add the chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons of the cream to a bowl, and place over the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the liquid. Stir until the chips have melted and are combined with the cream. If the mixture seems too thick, add the rest of the cream.

Dip each donut in the ganache. Top with whichever toppings you desire.Let the chocolate set before you dig in.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pea Shoots with Shrimp, Bacon, and Chives

Pea Shoots with Shrimp, Bacon, and Chives

This winter in Southern California has been beyond strange. Towards the end of December we experienced cold temperatures and above average rain. For much of January and February, the temps hovered around 80 degrees and then all of a sudden, Mother Nature seemed to remember it was winter and last week brought back cold temps, rain, and even snow in parts of LA. Clearly, this has affected the growing season. Pea shoots are normally an early spring delicacy, but I've been seeing them at the farmers markets for at least a month now. I finally decided to pick some up and try this easy salad. I'm a new fan of pea shoots after this. I love their delicate, vaguely spinach tasting flavor. Apparently I'm not the only one of this opinion because people were snatching them up at the market. Sweet shrimp and crisp, salty bacon are a great pairing with the shoots and the sweet and sour dressing brings it all together. I'm now on the hunt for more pea shoot recipes. If you have any good ones, send them my way!

Pea Shoots with Shrimp, Bacon, and Chives

Pea Shoots with Shrimp, Bacon, and Chives
(Adapted from Saveur and Serious Eats)

Makes 2 servings

10 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
3 strips bacon, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces pea shoots
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped

Fill a bowl with cold water and ice and set aside.Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add a good pinch of salt to the water, then add the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp turn pink, about two minutes. Drain and transfer the shrimp to the ice bath. Let sit until cold, drain, and set aside.

Clean out the saucepan and return it to the stove. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, over medium-high heat until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on towels. Leave about 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat in the pan.

Add the shallots to the pan and cook until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, mustard, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cook until the dressing is hot, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the pea shoots to the saucepan. Toss to combine with the dressing and until the pea shoots have wilted slightly.

Divide the pea shoots between plates. Top with shrimp, bacon, chives, and tarragon.

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