Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lamb Tacos

This weekend my parents came up to the City for a BBQ. We made enough food for 17 families but devoured a ton of it ourselves. We made a boneless lamb leg, butterflied and marinated in garlic, rosemary, orange and lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and a ton of olive oil. It was delicious and I snagged myself some for leftovers. I decided I wanted to make a taco/fajita with the lamb for dinner tonight, it was really tasty. I pickled some onions and added a few condiments and it actually was one really delicious meal.

Lamb "Tacos"

slices of warm lamb
pickled red onion - see below
cucumber slices
sun dried tomatoes
shredded cabbage
crumbled feta cheese
Tzatziki sauce - see below
corn tortillas

Tzatziki Sauce - My Way:
1 small package of Nonfat Fage Greek Yogurt
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 large lemon, maybe more depending on how thick you want your sauce
splash of orange juice or a touch of orange zest
8 mint leaves, minced
3 chives, minced
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Combine all in a bowl and drizzle over tacos at the end. Top with Feta Cheese. This can also be used as a dressing for cucumber slices.

Pickled Red Onion:

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup vinegar (I also added a splash of red wine vinegar)
3 tbsp white sugar
2 bay leaves
5 whole peppercorns
5 allspice berries
5 whole cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coriander
6 celery seeds
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or 1 dried chili
1 garlic clove, smashed

In a sauce pan, bring everything but the onion to a boil and make sure the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low and add the sliced onion. Cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want your onions. Let cool and serve with the lamb tacos. Store in a metal jar, with the pickling juice, in the fridge and it can last for months.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jalapeno Nectarine Martini

A few weeks ago I went to trivia night at Tonic, a bar in Russian Hill. They have a really tasty Peach Jalapeno Martini that is amazingly good and really pretty. They use Absolute APeach, peach nectar, jalapeno and muddle it together to make the martini. I decided that I wanted to recreate it using a white nectarine because I like white stone fruit better. My first attempt was pretty unsuccessful. I thought muddling the fruit, jalapeno and regular vodka together would be completely fine. I know now that I have to use some nectar or puree to make the drink taste more like the fruit.

Round two: I pureed the nectarine in a food processor and added a little water to thin it out and a little sugar or splenda to sweeten the nectarine, mine wasn't as juicy as I wanted it to be. I then used that juice with the cut up jalapenos and the vodka to muddle it all in a glass with ice. I added mint too because I like how both the mint and the jalapeno cut through the sweetness of the nectarine. Add a splash of Cointreau or Triple Sec and shake over ice. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with either a twist or I used some jalapeno slices. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries

Another side dish to the asparagus that I made were Sweet Potato Fries. Technically they're Yam Fries because we used yams instead of sweet potatoes but that's just a technicality. You cut up the potato into thin fry like strips, coat with olive oil and some seasoning and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. They're super delicious and extremely good for you.

Sweet Potato Fries

2 large sweet potatoes, cleaned and cut into thin match like strips
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder (you can use regular or ancho depending on your preference)
1/2 tsp Lawry's seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 400 F. On a lined baking sheet (I used foil) coat the taters in the olive oil and the seasoning, use you hands, get down and dirty and mix it all up. Bake for about 20-30 minutes till the potato is cooked and they're a bit crispy. Keep and eye on them and don't let them get too mushy, you may need to add some olive oil in the middle of the cooking process.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I made a very delicious dinner last night with the boy. It was my take on Steak Frite (recipe soon to follow), however, the asparagus with a bread crumb and egg topping was probably my favorite side dish of the night. I roasted the asparagus instead of steaming them because I like the flavor it develops in the oven. As for the topping, I wanted to use a crumbled egg but put my own little twist on it. This is probably one of the easiest side dishes I've done and yet extremely flavorful.

Asparagus with a Bread Crumb and Egg Topping

2 eggs
1/3- 1/2 cup bread crumbs, unseasoned
1 tbsp butter
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
4 springs of thyme and parsley, minced
1/2 tsp lemon zest or half of a lemon zested - eyeball it
1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
extra virgin olive oil - enough to coat the asparagus
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a saucepan, put the two eggs in and add enough cold water to cover them completely. Put on the stove and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, put a top on the lid and take off the heat. Let sit in the hot water for about 15-20 minutes, then drain and fill back up with cold water. Once cool, remove shell (they should come off fairly easily) and separate the yolks from the whites.

While the eggs are cooking, in a pan coat the asparagus in the olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes.

While the asparagus is roasting. Heat a saute pan with the butter and toast the breadcrumbs till a golden brown, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Transfer to a bowl and let cool a bit, add the Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and the crumbled cooked egg yolks. Add the fresh herbs at the end and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste.

Once the asparagus are cooked, align them on plate and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top in a line, allowing the asparagus to be visible on both sides.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Night Dinner, Kinda

Roast Chicken, need I say more? I have been craving one of these for a very long time and finally took the time out of my busy day to go for it. I had the boy over, it was delicious, the entire apartment smelt like chicken for a day or so but it was glorious! I am a huge fan of the crispy skin afterwards and the meat turned out to be sooo moist! I even made a chicken salad afterwards. I usually make this dish on a Sunday Night, it takes a bit of time and to me feels like a great way to start off the week. However, nothing ever goes as planned so we did a Monday Night Dinner.

*Make sure to take out the chicken and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour. Placing a cold chicken in the oven results in uneven cooking.

Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken, 5-6 pounds
1/2 lemon, cut up into wedges
1/2 small onion, cut up into wedges
2 garlic cloves, smashed
6 springs of rosemary
2 springs of thyme
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp each of salt and pepper + more for seasoning inside the bird
pinch of red pepper flakes
Kitchen Twine

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a bowl combine the olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a bowl and set aside. Separate the skin from the meat with you fingers and go as far down the bird as you can. Take the olive oil mixture and rub the meat under the skin with it. You can also substitute butter pad for this as well. Stick a sprig each of rosemary between the skin and the meat (where you just massaged) and stick it as far down as you can. Season the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper and then stuff the cavity of the chicken with the onion, lemon, garlic, thyme and rosemary. You want the cavity to have some aromatics in it but not completely stuffed full.

Tuck the wings of the bird underneath it's body and use some kitchen twine to tie the legs together. Place on a lined baking dish and stick in the oven for about an hour to an hour and a half depending on the size of the bird. Cook till the bird is about 160 - 165 F and the juices run clear when poked. Once at that temperature, pull out the chicken and tent with tin foil and the bird will continue to cook for a few more minutes out of the oven.

Let rest for about 15 minutes, carve her up and serve. You can also season the skin with a little salt at then end if you like. If you don't end up using all the chicken, save it and make Chicken Salad with it later in the week.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dinner with Momma

My mother came up to SF to have dinner with me and help me finish unpacking, oh the joys of moving! I made Stuffed Peppers, Broccolini with White Cheddar Cheese Sauce, and an Arugula Salad. The dinner went great and we made a Carrot Cake afterwards, recipe maybe to follow.

Stuffed Peppers

1 lb. lean ground beef or chicken (I used 94% lean ground beef)
5 bell peppers - 1 finely diced, 4 chopped in half length wise cleaned of all the ribs and seeds
1/2 large onion or 1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tsp marjoram (optional)
1 tsp - 1 tbsp salt and pepper
1/2 tsp ground chili powder
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
1 can of tomato sauce or 1/2 box of Pomi tomato sauce (picture below)
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 cup brown rice
1/2 cup water (optional)
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for grating on top

In a deep and wide saucepan heat up 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Saute the chopped pepper, onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook till onion is translucent on moderate heat, about 5-9 minutes. Remove all the vegetables from the pan. Add the remaining olive oil and sear the ground beef (on medium high heat) till cooked, breaking it up into bits, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining cooked vegetables and stir to combine. Add the bay leaf, the herbs (minus the parsley), the tomato paste and the water and stir to combine. Add the tomato sauce (you may need more or less depending on the dryness of the meat), brown rice, and stir. Taste for seasoning, adjust to your liking. Turn to low and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking dish or cookie tray with foil and drizzle olive oil on the pepper halves, facing upwards. Season with some salt and pepper as well and bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes till the peppers give a little and aren't entirely crisp. Pull out and let cool.

After the sauce has been simmering away, retaste the sauce and adjust for seasoning, add the fresh parsley. Spoon mixture into each pepper so it's completely stuffed. Spoon a tsp of tomato paste on the top of the stuffing and grate some Parmesan cheese on top and put back in the oven. Let cook for 10-25 minutes depending on how soft you want your pepper and how crispy you want the Parmesan cheese to get.

Take out of oven, let cool and serve with a salad and a green vegetable.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I have officially moved! This past weekend was a long one. I have moved all of my stuff about 6 blocks to my friend's old place, same neighborhood, different house. The kitchen is bigger, back yard is nicer, and the roommates are great. Sunday night dinner, had a few ingredients in the new fridge and decided to make Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

5-6 chicken thighs, skin off
1/4 cup soy sauce
juice 1/2 orange
juice AND zest of 1 lime (zest first, then juice)
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sherry
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 scallion, chopped
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup peanut oil

For Garnish:
Butter Lettuce Leaves
Toasted Almond Slivers
Cucumber Salad

Combine all ingredients in a zip lock bag or bowl and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a frying pan, spray with non stick spray and add some peanut oil. Cook chicken on one side on medium/medium high heat for about 6-7 minutes, flip and cook on the other side. If the chicken is still not done, put the pan in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how thick the chicken thighs are. Once the chicken is done, squeeze a little bit of lime juice on top while warm. Let rest for a few minutes and then chop into bite size pieces.

Serve with butter lettuce, cucumber salad, chopped cilantro and scallions, and toasted almond slivers. Put all into the lettuce leaf, wrap up and chomp.