Thursday, July 29, 2010

Asian Chicken Salad

I roasted a chicken earlier this week (recipe to follow) and it was magnificent. I decided to take some of the chicken and make an Asian Chicken Salad with it and it turned out pretty tasty. I julienned (very thinly sliced) some carrots and bell peppers, added some green onions, segmented clementines, thinly sliced white onion and toasted slivered almonds with a nice citrus soy vinaigrette. It's a clean light chicken salad that doesn't need to be refrigerated, so great on a picnic or for a BBQ with friends.

Asian Chicken Salad

1/2 a cooked rotisserie chicken, skin off, shredded
1 bell pepper, julienned
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
2 scallions, chopped
1 small onion, chopped in half and very thinly shaved/sliced
4 clementines, segmented or a can of drained Mandarin oranges
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
handful of cilantro leaves

juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar or honey
1 inch of ginger, graded
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
dash garlic powder
7 mint leaves, chopped finely
3/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp peanut oil

Prepare vinaigrette, and mix well to combine. Toss all ingredients with the dressing in a bowl and let sit for about 10 minutes to absorb the flavors. Serve room temperature or cold.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Duck Breasts

After a fantastic weekend of scavenger hunts, birthday parties, a great night in with the boy, and still maintain a voice that sounds like a frog (lost my voice, seriously I hope it comes back), I wanted to enjoy a solo Sunday night dinner. Even with my family, Sunday night dinners were always special with BBQ's or some fun or new recipe my mother and I would try.

I have just gotten back from a business trip to Richmond, VA where I had a great appetizer of pork belly on top of risotto with a balsamic drizzle. I tweaked it a bit with duck breast and a parsley salad on top, but it was extremely delicious and have enough for lunch tomorrow for work.

This recipe was for one person (aka: Me) but you can totally adapt it for a family or a few friends by adding a few extra duck parts. Also, the risotto I used was from last week's recipe, when plating, use it as a base or basket for the duck, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top of the risotto for some yummy flavor. Lastly, you can use a turkey breast (skin on) in replacement of the duck if you can't find it or don't like duck (if you're a crazy person).

The Seared Duck Breast in its Entirety

Duck Breast with Balsamic Reduction (serving size: 1-2 people):

1 duck breast

1 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 clove garlic, minced and mashed with a side of a knife with some salt to make a garlic paste

non-stick spray

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

hand bunch of fresh parsley or micro greens

On medium heat reduce the balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan. Remove from heat when it developes a thicker consistency, about 5-7 minutes.

Combine thyme, oil, macerated garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Take the duck breast and score it in a diamond pattern (shown above). Massage the duck "tit" with the oil mixture and let sit for a few minutes. Get a saute pan hot, spray with non-stick cooking spray and add a touch of oil (the duck will render a TON of fat when cooking). Sear the duck breast for about 6 minutes skin side down then flip over and sear for another 5-6 minutes, till the juices run pink. Let rest for 5 or so minutes with tin foil on top. Slice duck breast and place it on top of the risotto. Drizzle the balsamic reduction around the place, top everything with parsley and serve.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Basic Risotto

I'm not feeling so hot today. I think I'm coming down with the flu, right before a business trip. When I get sick I crave homey things. One thing that I LOVE is risotto. You can add lots of different flavors to risotto because it really absorbs whatever you put in it. I made a classic risotto because I have a sore throat and didn't feel like getting fancy. The trick to risotto is to add the broth a little at a time and constantly stir. So pull up a stool, pour yourself a glass of wine (if you're not under the weather) and start working those arm muscles, it's worth it in the end.


1 shallot, finely diced
2 cups of aborio rice
1/2 -3/4 cup dry white wine
5-6 cups of hot chicken stock (put it in a sauce pan and keep it on medium low on the stove)
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh thyme leaves
Parmesan cheese

In a deep and wide sauce pan, heat the olive oil. Add shallots and saute till translucent, don't burn. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes till the rice starts to become a little translucent at the ends. Add the wine and stir, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan.

Start ladling the chicken stock 2 ladle fulls at a time into the rice. Adjust the heat to medium/medium high to make the liquid evaporate at 2-3 minute intervals. Keep ladling in the stock every 2-3 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. After about 15-18 minutes of stirring, season with the salt, pepper, and thyme and taste. Adjust to your likings of salty and pepperiness. Once the rice is soft but still a little al dente, pull off the heat and grate Parmesan cheese on top. Consume.

*You can add mushrooms and more thyme to make a delicious second risotto.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce

I usually don't make pasta. It is one of those things that for me, once you eat it, you keep eating it. So I try and only make it for special occasions, or if I'm feeding an army of people. I'm using whole wheat Penne but you can use any type of pasta your little heart desires.

You can make this two ways, one going gung-ho and opt for the cream, or you can save calories and use whole or skim milk. You won't get the richness that comes from the cream but it isn't bad at all. You can also add meat to this sauce, not technically a Vodka Cream Sauce, but it adds some protein.

Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce

1/2 box whole wheat Penne Rigate
1/2 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
Salt and Pepper (about 1 tsp each)
1/2 cup vodka
2 bay leaves
1-2 pinches of red pepper flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp marjoram (optional)
2 cans of tomato sauce
1/2 can tomato paste (small can)
2 tsp sugar (optional, depending on taste)
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
chiffonade of 7 basil leaves
Parmesan cheese for dusting afterwards

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes. Add the bay leaves and the dried herbs through the marjoram and stir to combine. Continue to saute the onion till translucent and add the vodka. Let some of the alcohol evaporate for a few minutes and then add the tomato sauce and paste, stir to combine. Add some water if the sauce it too think. Continue to cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes. Taste after 20 minutes and adjust for seasoning, add sugar at this point if necessary.

Meanwhile boil pasta water and cook pasta till al dente. Add pasta just before it's fully cooked to the sauce and continue to cook the pasta in the sauce. Once the pasta is cooked, add the cream/milk along with the fresh herbs and stir to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

*If you don't feel like making your own tomato sauce, you can use store bought sauce and doctor it up a bit with some seasoning. In a saute pan, add the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Add the vodka and let some of the alcohol evaporate. Add the cooked pasta with a bit (1/2 cup) of the cooking liquid and let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce. At the very last moment, add the cream/milk and toss to combine. Garnish with the fresh herbs and cheese.