Thursday, June 30, 2005

Passport: Mexico

Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Quesadillas with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream

These are soooo yummy. They are great for a casual dinner, appetizers or as an easy party hors d’oeuvre. They can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, with a quick reheat on the stove before you serve. And maybe even frozen.

I’ve written this recipe down once and when I recently looked back at it, I laughed. I’m going to start from scratch here.

2 Red Bell Peppers-roasted/sliced (optional)
1 lb Chicken-boneless/skinless (optional)
10 Flour tortillas
1 4 cup package of shredded cheese (I like the “Mexican” blend by Kraft or store brand)
Lime (2) (optional)
Cilantro (bunch) (optional)
Sour Cream-low/no fat works(optional)
Salsa (optional)
Salt/Pepper (optional)
McCormick’s Grill Seasoning (optional)
Mrs. Dash (optional)
Olive or Vegetable Oil

All you really need to make a quesadilla is tortillas and cheese. The rest is up to you.

To start, we need to roast the red peppers. I do this one of two ways. You can decide which will work best for you. Also, the red peppers are not necessary, omit them if you like, or buy jarred ones! But for educating the masses here is how I roast them.

Option 1:
Place the peppers in an oven proof pan. Place under the broil. Give them a few minutes, about 4, check. If they are blackening/“burning,” let them. You want them to be charred. When one side is fully charred, rotate and get the next side. Fully char the whole pepper. What this does is burn the skin and roast the insides of the pepper. When they are fully charred, remove from the broiler and place in a bowl. Place this bowl in a paper bag or cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit for twenty minutes. You can now remove the charred skin (it basically wipes/slides off) and be left with tender tasty roasted red bell peppers. Slice out the stem and seed pod from the inside. You might have some juice inside the pepper. I save this and pour onto the chicken later. You don’t have to. Now slice into quarter inch strips. Done.

Option 2:
On a gas stove, place the pepper over a high flame. Watch and rotate to char each side. Then place in a bag or bowl to cool, and follow the remaining directions from above.

Moving on…
Prepare your chicken by seasoning on both sides. I sprinkle liberally with Mrs. Dash and McCormick’s Grill Seasoning. Sometimes a generic “seasoning salt.” Place into a sauté pan over medium high heat, which has had about 1 tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil put in. Once you place the chicken, allow to sit for about 5 minutes, this will get a nice crust on it and coat it thoroughly. Flip and cook the other side. Same thing; about 5 minutes. If the chicken breast are larger or thicker, you may need to give them another few minutes. If you are worried they are going to burn, turn the heat down to medium.

When they are done, remove from the pan and place on a plate, allow to cool to for five minutes.

Now, chop them up. I stick a fork in one end and just start running my knife through into about ¼ inch slices. Then I turn them a ¼ turn and do it again. You’ll get lovely little bites of chicken. Place the chicken in a bowl.

Zest and juice both limes. Pour ½ the juice over the chicken. Stir chicken and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the materials. Add a handful of chopped cilantro.

Clean out your fry pan, wipe clean. Put over medium heat.

Begin Assembly:
1 tortilla, then two tablespoons of shredded cheese, then about a quarter cup of chicken, then a few red peppers, then another tablespoon of shredded cheese, top with another tortilla. I do this on a cutting board next to my pan, and then with a flipper, carefully move the pan. Allow to sit for about two minutes. Lift the top tortilla. Is the cheese melting? If so, give the top tortilla a press down and then carefully flip. Your bottom tortilla is now on top and should be lightly browned/crisped. Give another minute or two. Peek between the tortillas and you should see them getting all goopy and melty and yummy.

Remove to cutting board and slice and serve. Top with your favorite salsa and or sour cream.

If you want to make these in advance, cook them all the way, place on a wire rack to cool completely. Stack with a sheet of wax paper between each one. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. To reheat, over medium heat, in a pan, place the quesadilla. Allow a few minutes per side. The tortilla will crisp back up and the insides will get all warm and gooey again.

I’m guessing they should be good after being frozen. Thaw in the fridge over night, then reheat as described above. Enjoy.

To make the Cilatnro-Lime Sour Cream

-Chop a small handful of cilantro

-Pour the sour cream into a bowl. Add the reserved lime juice, lime zest, small pinch of salt and grind or two of fresh black pepper. Stir to combine.

If you can, do this the night before. The lime and cilantro flavors will grow over night!!!! But if you make it right away, it will be just as good.

Oh hell, here is what I do to make my own salsa.

6 ripe Roma tomatoes (seeded and chopped into 1/4 inch cubes)
1 medium white onion (finely diced)
½ Jalapeno pepper (finely diced)
Cilantro, large handful (chopped)
S/P to taste
Lime, juiced

Mix tomatoes, onions, pepper and cilantro. Pour in juice from one lime. Salt and Pepper to taste. If it sits over night, YUMMY!

OK, I’m sure this was rough to read. Let me know if you have any questions.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tagine Follow up

Hello Everyone.

Hope you all had a good time with the Quick Chicken Tagine. Below you will see some comments by those who participated last night and posted their comments. I had intended on making it, but the air conditioning wasn’t working and it was too damn hot to stand over a stove to cook. If it’s working, we’ll be having the chicken tonight…also without the couscous, as we have salad fixin’s we need to use. Thanks all. If you haven’t posted comments yet, please do so, it’s great to hear what worked and what doesn’t. I’m going to try to do another event in about two to three weeks. I have another simple Rachel Ray recipe, but I might also kick it up a notch with something else….? We’ll see what I’m in the mood to post.

And here are the comments we have so far:

Terri L in WI:
I decided to do a bit of mall shopping after work tonight, but still had plenty of time to make this recipe. Sooo easy! I whoops-ed at the beginning... started cooking the chicken before adding the garlic. No biggie, seemed to work just fine. I didn't make couscous, but had intended to grill pita to have along with the chicken. Unfortunately, when I opened the package of pita bread, the bread had started to mold! So disgusting. Quite upsetting, really, as I was looking forward to the pita, but I substituted whole wheat bread, grilling it in a pan with some olive oil and it worked quite well. No side dish for me. No veggie's either.... hmmm... haven't quite gotten my four food groups in today. Whoops! Still, it was fabulous! I opened a bottle of wine that is new to me, Barefoot California Cabernet Sauvignon.

"Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon is a jammy wine with robust flavors of wild berries and currants. Hints of toasted oak and clove complete the velvety, smooth finish"

Quite inexpensive and very tasty. Still enjoying it... and a bit tipsy, I might add. :) A great evening of food and wine. When can we do it again??

Scott: Sorry to hear about the pita. Take it back and blame the store. Good to know the wine is tasty! Rock on. Some co-workers of mine have spent lots of time in Morocco for work. They say beer is really the best thing to have with the tagine. I’m sure it is…but no reason wine doesn’t work either. I had asked if there was such a thing as good north African wine and people giggled and said the only thing worse is wine from India. OK then.

The Kara:
Cilantro - not just a garnish! Had fun cooking this dish - met all my 'easy' requirements (I could make it) and it was quick enough that I could do it while throwing in a load of laundry. I'm not big on raisins or couscous so ditched both of those. Completely took the tip on the pita and loved it... also the sauce is so good that any other veggie side you add will also soak up the goodness. I didn't have 'sweet paprika' - just regular paprika - does that make much of a difference? Wound up adding more eventually to spice it up. Good Call!

Scott: Did you do a bag of mixed frozen veg or was it a fresh veg? I’d be interested in hearing which vegs you used. The pita is great. I like to spritz mine with a tiny bit of olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt. Glams it up a bit. I don’t know the differences really, with the paprika. We have Hungarian, which is darker and smokier and we have “fancy.” I think that means, expensive for no real reason. Happy to know you adjusted the quantity to make it more to your liking. It is easy!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tagine Tonight

Hello all. Tonight is the night for the Quick Chicken-Tagine. Hope everyone will have an opportunity to make it. Sorry I didn't get some side dishes posted last week. Here is one I intended on doing. I do apologize for the delay.

This really is just a chopped up veg salad, almost a salsa. A nice option to go with the Tagine.

Green Pepper and Tomato Salad
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray
Prep Time: 10 minutes ● Yield: 4 servings

2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch dice
3 vine-ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
½ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
½ lemon, juiced (1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro in a bowl with your fingertips. Add the juice of the lemon evenly over the salad. Next, sprinkle a tablespoon of vinegar over the salad. Drizzle the extra-virgin olive oil over the salad, add the salt, pepper and cumin. Toss again. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve.

I look forward to hearing comments from those who will be making the Tagine. Please let me know if you have any questions.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Passport Stamp-Morocco

It has been awhile since the first Eat With Me special event—Cooking Without Borders (still don’t like the name, any suggestions?). So, it’s time for the next event.

Cooking Without Borders gives this blogs readers an opportunity to make the same recipe on the same evening and to post their feedback, allowing for an improved cooking experience in the future.

I will post the recipe below and the shopping list, as well as any tips I have to offer.

This special event will be scheduled for next Monday, June 27, 2005. If you are unavailable, perhaps Sunday or Tuesday. I’d recommend shopping over the weekend, the following recipe is very easy, but has some ‘exotic’ ingredients. You might need one or two trips to one or two grocery stores.

Quick Tagine-Style Chicken
(4 servings)
A tagine (or tajine) is any of a various Moroccan and North African stews featuring meat or poultry gently simmered with vegetables, olives, preserved lemons, garlic and spices like cinnamon, cumin, ginger, pepper, saffron and tumeric. Tagines are often served with couscous. (Food Lovers Companion, 3rd ed.)
A tagine is also a style of cookware designed for this same style dish. Although pretty and I’m sure practical, not something I have room for in my kitchen.

This tagine comes from our dear friend Rachel Ray. So you know what that means…30 minutes until you eat! Rachel does not used preserved lemons or olives. I’m sure both would be delightful if added. If you would like to pay homage to the preserved lemons, perhaps some lemon wedges on the side of the plate as a garnish.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cracked
1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large bite-size pieces
1 ½ teaspoons grill seasoning blend (Rachel recommends: Montreal Seasoning by McCormick)
1 large yellow skinned onion, quartered and sliced
¼ cup golden raisins
2 cups chicken stock/broth

Spice blend:
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon turmeric
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups couscous
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
2 scallions, finely chopped

Chopped cilantro leaves
Finely chopped scallions

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, in a slow stream, and add smashed garlic. Season the chicken with grill seasoning blend. Scatter chicken around the pan in an even layer. Cook chicken pieces 2 minutes on each side to brown, then add the onions, raisins and stock. Mix remaining spices in a small dish and scatter over the pot. Cover and reduce to moderate heat. Cook 7 or 8 minutes.

To prepare the couscous, bring chicken stock to a boil in a medium pot. Add couscous, extra-virgin olive oil and scallions and remove the couscous from the stove immediately. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork.

Uncover chicken and cook another 2 to 3 minutes to thicken slightly. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve chicken on a bed of couscous. Garnish with chopped cilantro and scallions. (and lemon wedges!)

You may want to serve some pita or flat bread on the side. Just warm in a 250 oven for ten minutes.

One note: We've made this with a pound of chicken thighs. They are cheaper and just as easy to make. Just brown for a few minutes on each side before adding the onions and raisins.

Here is your Shopping List:
olive oil
1 head of garlic
1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
grill seasoning blend (recommended: Montreal Seasoning by McCormick)
1 large yellow onion
golden raisins (small box/bag)
chicken stock/broth (quart)
ground cumin
sweet paprika
ground coriander
ground cinnamon
couscous (1 box)
scallions/green onions (1 bunch)
cilantro (1 bunch)
lemon (optional)
pita/flat bread (optional)

Hopefully your "pantry" has most, if not al lthe spices and olive oil, so you don't have to splurge to get them all at once. If you have most of them, this can be a very affordable meal.

OK, this entry is getting way to long. In the next day or two I'll post an option or two for a side dish.

Questions? Comments?


Friday, June 17, 2005

Two Things Before the weekend

Hello all,

No new recipes today, sorry. Been really busy this week, but I wanted to pass on two things before the weekend begins.

1) Went to dinner with Lady Brandenburg this Wednesday to Silverado's in Annandale, VA. Yes, it's in Timbuktu and yes, you need a passport, but it's really good. The appetizer we had were these Tex Mex "Egg Rolls." A smoked chicken with beans and corn and some sauce. Very tasty. Lady B had their crabcakes which just about made me cry. Very good. I had this sirloin tips with a lime tequila cream sauce on penne pasta. Yum O! If you get out that way, check it out.

2) To follow up on the last post regarding the Coke Zero. I tried another new Coke product. This one...Diet Coke Splenda. Recommended, at least to try. Tastes more like Coke than Diet Coke but without a crazy aftertaste. It's less syrupy than Coke as well. I like this one. I guess it's also good for those on the South Beach diet.

Well, have a good weekend. If I get a chance this weekend, I plan on making a few things and will let you know how they go. Got a recipe for a cake that made me think naughty thoughts.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005


If you know me, you know I'm impulsive when it comes to buying things. Especially new products. I'll try most new candies and snacks once, the same for beverages.

Coca-Cola recently launched a new calorie free cola--Coca-Cola Zero.

From the March 21, 2005 press release from Coca-Cola:

"Coca-Cola Zero is exactly what young adults told us they wanted - real
Coca-Cola taste, zero calories and a new brand they can call their own," said
Dan Dillon, vice president, Diet Portfolio, Coca-Cola North America. "Young
people today do not want to compromise on flavor or calories and we think
Coca-Cola Zero's taste and personality will appeal to them."

Coca-Cola Zero will be sweetened with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame
potassium (ace-k), and will be available in a broad range of package sizes.
The launch of Coca-Cola Zero will have no impact on Coca-Cola North America's ongoing support for Diet Coke, America's #1 diet soft drink, as the target audiences are different.

And herein lies the problem. The first taste is that of the classic Coca-Cola taste. But pretty much as soon as you swallow, you feel like you poured ten packets of Equal on your tongue and swallowed. The tinny, metallic, medicinal taste of aspartame is really overwhelming.

Sorry Coke, I'm going to stick with my Diet Cokes. Vanillas, Limes, Lemons and Cherries included!


Monday, June 13, 2005

I said I was going to take a leek

Here is one of our favorite dinners. I think you can make it with your eyes closed. The only problem with this dish is that you generally do not have leeks in your crisper. But if you do, run-don't walk and get started! We serve this with rice. Oh, by the way, a Rachel Ray recipe. My comments are in italics.

Too-Easy Chicken with Leeks

makes 4 servings (right, if you're an Olssen twin)

2 leeks
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (twice around the pan)
1 cup dry white wine (make sure you would want to drink a glass of it, if not, don't cook with it)

Trim the tough, dark green ends and roots off the leeks. Light to medium-green is good. Split them lenghtwice, then cut across into 1/2 inch slices. Place into a large bowl of cold water and spin around to get the sand out. Lift out and drain.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to coat the skillet. Add the chicken breast and brown, 3 to 4 minutes on each side, then transfer to a plate. Add a little more olive oil, then add the leeks and saute, five minutes, until they become soft. Add the wine to the pan and nest the chicken breast down into the leeks. Reduce heat to a simmer for another five to seven minutes. To serve, remove the chicken from the pan and slice on an angle. Fan and arrange sliced chicken breast over a bed of the sauteed leeks on each dinner plate or warm serving platter. (You don't have to!)

Friday, June 10, 2005

Rustic Italian Comfort

This recipe is from a special issue of Fine Cooking magazine, their Comfort Foods special edition. It is soooo tasty. Hot and muggy summer days are not the best for this kind of dish, best suited for a chilly autumn afternoon.

This begs the question...what are the best "comfort foods" for summer? Let me know if you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear from you.

I believe this dish gets its name from Calabria, a region in southern Italy.

Calabrese Pork Ragu with Fennel
Serves 2 to 6, depending on how hungry you are!

2 Tbs, Olive Oil
6 Oz, Pancetta, finely chopped[1]
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbs, finely chopped garlic
1 Tbs, whole fennel seeds, crushed
3 lbs, ground pork[2]
1 Tsp, sugar
1 Tsp, dried oregano
1, bay leaf
1 Tsp, crushed red chilé flakes
1 Cup, dry white wine
2 Cups, tomato puree[3]
¾ Cup, tomato paste[4]
grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until browned, 12-15 minutes[5]. Add the garlic and crushed fennel and stir for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Increase the heat to medium high. In the same pot, add just enough of the ground pork to make one layer (don’t crumble it; instead, break it into pieces to brown). Season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat all over, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the first batch of meat to the bowl and sear the remaining pork in batches, if necessary; add more olive oil as needed.

Return all the seared pork and the onion mixture to the pot. Add the sugar, oregano, bay leaf, red chilé flakes, 2 tsp. salt and 1 ½ tsp. pepper and stir to combine. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pot, stirring up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Let the wine reduce by at least half. Add the tomato puree and tomato paste and bring the sauce to a boil (mixture will be thick).

Add ½ cup water, reduce the heat, and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 1 ½ to 2 hours. As it cooks, juices will evaporate; add more water periodically, letting it reduce after each addition, to total of 1 ½ to 2 cups. After 1½ hours, the meat should be tender and the flavors melded. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Immediately before serving, whisk ½ tbs. butter per serving[6] into the sauce and toss with the pasta. Serve with sprinkled Parmigiano Reggiano if you like.

[1] Pancetta is preferred, but a thick cut bacon works just as well. Just sauté by itself for a few minutes to get more of the fat out, drain, then add back and add onions. If you use Pancetta, stick it in the freezer for ten minutes before you start to prepare this recipe. Pancetta is tough to cut and freezing helps the process.
[2] Ground Pork is what the original recipe calls for. It’s fine. A ‘meatloaf’ mix is actually what I prefer, for the multiple flavors it adds to the dish, guess you’d just have to call this Calabrese Ragu with Fennel then.
[3] This is vital for the fullest flavor. Other canned tomato products are ok, but not preferred. If I don't have tomato puree on hand, but have other canned tomato products, I put them through the food processor for a few seconds.
[4] Again, very vital for a deep full flavor dish. Made this once with just a tablespoon and it wasn’t enough, the dish lacked the richness provided by tomato paste.
[5] Letting the onion and pancetta get golden brown and delicious makes the final sauce deeper in flavor.
[6] Sounds weird and could be skipped, but makes all the difference in the world. WOW! Transforms the dish from great to sublime, mostly in a silkiness created by the butter coating everything. Doesn't make the dish 'oily.'

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Special K

I didn’t know what I was getting into for lunch today. I really didn’t want to eat the same deli sandwich as I do, or the same pizza, or the same bag of chips and Snickers…. I was craving Chinese so I went to a restaurant just around the corner from my office. We don’t have many quick places, so I figured this would be a full hour lunch…that’s ok. It’s officially summer and going out for an hour lunch is ok. I didn’t want to go to far, as I suspected it would be hot and nasty humid. A side note on the weather, it is hot, but not nasty humid, just barely humid. I liked it.

So I went to Mr. K’s.

They are at 2121 K Street NW, Washington DC. I would recommend this for more of a special occasion, not so much with the quick sit down lunch.

It’s very swank, as far as Chinese restaurants go. Sort of lush and dimly lit, but not dank in anyway. Big squishy chairs, “gold” plated flatware, rimmed plates and serving dishes. Tables that are lit from underneath. Servers and staff are in tuxes. Certainly not your friendly neighborhood Szechwan House!!!

I got my diet Coke and water and ordered Sesame Beef, strips of beef, lightly floured, lightly fried and in a sauce. I was expecting sort of chewy, skinny strips of beef in an oily, salty, heavy sauce….it really what I was craving. What I got were these large, tender, slightly crisp pieces of beef in this rich, tasty sauce, without the typical oily-ness that accompanies so much Chinese food. It was really tasty. The rice came in a “gold” serving dish, a miniature of round chaffing dish, without the fire, but same style.

I ate up my dish and throughout; the staff was very attentive, without being intrusive. Here’s a hot towel to wash your hands, here’s this, here’s that.

When I finished, they whisked away the plate and flatware and here came this giant two tiered dessert cart, fresh fruit on top with a few liqueurs and some lovely cakes below. I just asked for coffee. WELL, I didn’t know it was going to be a whole thing. I really just wanted one cup of coffee. They brought this giant apparatus to my table. Like an old chemistry set. A double balloon glass coffee maker. The bottom had water and was sitting over a flame. A tube to another balloon full of coffee grounds connected the top. As the water on the bottom heated up, it rose to the top to drench the coffee. I was mesmerized. Once all the water was on top, this contraption started shaking and spouting coffee, the waiter came over and put out the flame, the coffee flowed back into the bottom balloon and he removed the top and poured into a pot. My one-cup turned into a full pot. I only had the one-cup, but I could have certainly drunk all of it. It was a very nice cup of coffee.

All of this in 45 minute. Not bad. But it was on the pricey side. But for the service and ambiance, good food and fancy coffee, worth it. But based on price alone, I can’t go back just for lunch by myself.

Two locations:

2121 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20037

570 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Monday, June 06, 2005

Drunky Drunk

Many moons ago we ordered Thai for delivery. The dish we both loved was the Drunken noodles, a dish we both had had at many Thai restaurants, including T.H.A.I. Shirlington, in "Historic" Shirlington, VA. Lovely fat noodles with a zippy brown sauce with ground chicken or chicken breast and basil. Yum. So after having a few variations, I started to attempt to recreate the recipe.

The first time I made this dish, it was perfect! BUT....I didn't write the recipe down. This version is 2.0. Great, but still needing a tiny bit of fine tuning. I thought I would post it here and see if anyone wanted to try it.

Drunken Thai Noodles

2 TB Peanut Oil
½ Small Yellow Onion, diced
3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 lb Ground Turkey (or ground chicken or pork)
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
2 TB Soy Sauce
3 TB Hoisin Sauce
1 tsp Ground Ginger (I think I used dried, powdered, ground...but fresh would be great)
2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar or Rice Vinegar
½ tsp Sugar
1 C Broth-Chicken or veggie
1 tsp Cornstarch
3 TB Fresh Basil

Ho Fan (Vermicelli) or Lo Mein Noodles (Note 1)

·In a large pot, bring water to a boil, when boiling, begin next step.
·Over High Heat in a non stick skillet, heat the peanut oil, until shimmering
·Add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes
·Saute for 1 min, stirring constantly, to avoid having the garlic burn
·Add crumbled ground turkey, cook until nearly browned.
·Add ½ cup of hot water and the bell peppers. (Note 2)
·Continue cooking until nearly all the water has cooked off, about 4-5 minutes. The turkey will be completely cooked at this point.
·Add noodles to the water and stir. The noodles take 5 minutes.
·Meanwhile, mix the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar and sugar. Stir into the turkey mixture, simmer briefly, approximately 1 minute.
·Mix the cornstarch into a small bit of the broth, to remove any lumps. Pour this mixture into the full cup of broth. Slowly add to the skillet, stirring constantly. (Note 3)
·Cook for another minute or two. The sauce will thicken. Turn off the heat and add the basil. ·Drain the noodles and rinse briefly with hot water. Add to the turkey and sauce. Stir to combine. Serve immediately

Note 1: These noodles can be found in the Asian food section of your grocery store. The Ho Fan noodles are preferred, but the Lo Mein noodles work well. These noodles are about the size of Fettuccine, in width.

Note 2: The water is to help cook the turkey, there is little oil in this recipe and little fat in the turkey. The water also helps to steam the bell peppers. If you are using ground pork, you may be able to omit the water in this step. To decide, is the mixture “dry” in appearance or is there a lot of oil? If there is a lot of oil, the you can either: drain the oil and add the water, or skip the water and just move forward.

Note 3: The cornstarch is to make the liquid more of a sauce, with a thicker consistency. Can be omitted if you prefer.


Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to...

...Strawberry Fields

So quickly, must share.

Had a housewarming on Saturday night and had yummy food and tasty wine. One of our lovely guests brought the sweetest, tastiest, freshiest, still warm from the sun Strawberries. They had gone to a pick your own place and brought some to our party. Seriously....EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANT in a STRAWBERRY...this was it. Oh My Gawd!

The Strawberries are less than $2 a pound...of course you are picking you own, but come on!!!

I'm going to look into going...hope folks in the DC metro area can try to go as well!


Sunday, June 05, 2005

Cracker Barrel This!

Back in the day when I was not to suppose to eat at the Cracker Barrel because of their stupid discriminatory practices towards gay and lesbian employees, I would still go...but I would sit silently in protest while eating their food. My favorite side dish at Cracker Barrel is their cheesy potatoey casseroley thing. I'd sometimes order two servings of it. And for the longest time, I've been trying to figure out how to make it. This morning...I got it!

Hashbrown Casserole

For 6-10 people

2 lbs of frozen hashbrown potatoes (the shredded hashbrowns, not the patty, formed kind)
1 medium onion, finely diced or shredded
1/2 cup butter, cubed, reserve about a 1/4 of this butter for the top
2 cup of sour cream
1 can of Cream of soup, I used cream of Chicken
10 oz, shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt & Pepper to taste

Schlup it all together in a large bowl and dumped into a buttered baking pan, 13x9. Drop a few small bits of butter on top. Bake for 40-50 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Will be really hot and bubbly and starting to brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before eating. Yum-o!


I Want to Ride My Bicycle, I Want to Ride My Bike

I normally hate Chardonnay, but last night I had an entire bottle of a very tasty, cheaper Chardonnay from France. I'd recommend this wine. I think we paid $8 for the bottle. It's not oaky or buttery like the Chards that I do not like.

Red Bicyclette

Bonjour! Welcome to Red Bicyclette, from a little corner of the very best place in France. Wines from a place where the sheer joy of living is as easy as riding a bike. Wines from villages where the butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker, still exist. Wines that are meant to be shared, like magical moments pedaling together through the countryside. A field of flowers, a hillside of lavender, the scents and flavors of the countryside captured in the bottle. Crisp red apple with a hint of buttery pear and spice, perfectly balanced and easy to enjoy, as easy as riding a bike.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Homemade Chicken Dumpling Soup

Ladies and Gentlemen:

This is a very simple and common recipe, but I do call it my ancient family secret recipe. Please go forth and make this healthy, hearty, heart-warming soup. I know it goes to my Grandmother and I’m sure it goes back further than that, but I don’t know for sure.

I’m vague with the ingredients, as it’s sort of based on your likes and dislikes, what’s in your fridge or market, and how many people you want to make this for. In order to make a more flavorful soup, I first ‘amplify’ the broth/stock/bouillon. Read below to understand. Basically, a regular can of broth or a cube of bouillon can be tasty, but also a bit fake. I take an extra step to make it better. Since I’m not about to make homemade stock.

Chicken Dumpling Soup

1 large head of celery
1 large bag of baby carrots
2 large onions
chicken, either in pieces or boneless skinless (for a healthy/easier version)
Salt and Pepper
Bay Leave
“Mrs. Dash”
Chicken Broth or Bouillon

3 Eggs
Flour (a few cups are needed)

Divide the vegetables in half. The first half should be roughly chopped. Clean the celery and chop into pieces about three/four inches long. Remove the root end, but use the leaves. The onion, same thing, cut off the root end, leave the skin on and roughly chop, large chunks. With baby carrots, just cut in half. If you have some parsley, throw it in.

Throw all this in a pot and the bay leaf and either 1) cover with about 8 cups of water and add a few bouillon cubes and bring to a simmer or 2) cover with canned chicken broth. (About 4-5 cans). I prefer step one and I prefer the “Knox” brand chicken bouillon cubes. They are really cheap and are in a small yellow box near the canned broths. When the kettle is simmering, add the chicken. Keep this pot at a simmer until….this depends. If you are using chicken parts with bones and skin, leave them in their for a long while. This will allow the full body and flavor to come out while the chicken is cooking. As long as an hour. Pour the entire pot into a strainer, reserving the broth. If you are using boneless skinless, just simmer for about 12 minutes and the vegetables are tender. Again, drain and reserve the broth.

Return the broth and bring to a medium simmer, light boil. Cut the remaining vegetables into uniform bite-size pieces, add to the broth. Cut or shred the chicken. Add to the broth. Keep simmering.

In a bowl, whisk the three eggs with a pinch of salt and a few grinds/shakes of black pepper. Also add a tablespoon of Mrs. Dash. Slowly add in the flour, eventually you’ll get a heavy, doughy, sticky blob. Begin pinching pieces off about the size from the tip of your thumb to the first joint of the your thumb…average. Drop into the simmering broth. Repeat until the pot is full and the dough is gone. The ‘dumplings’ will sink to the bottom and as they cook rise to the top. Once they are all floating on the surface, basically you’re done. I like to keep them going for awhile longer. Salt and pepper to taste. The bouillon is very salty, so use caution and taste first.

At this point, eat or, cool the soup and refrigerate. This is one of those----so much better the next day---soups. Bring to a simmer on the stove or heat in the microwave. Try not to boil, a vigorous boil can break apart the dumplings.

This recipe is very vague as I don’t write it down, I just do it. Let me know, via the comments, if you have any questions or suggestions. You can add extra vegetables if you like. I’d add them after the ‘broth’ is made. Green beans, corn, broccoli are all vegetables I’ve seen…but wouldn’t put in my soup for all the world….this would violate my grandmothers memory…but please do what you want!!!! And let me know it turns out.