Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad

So this recipe was a recent Barefoot Bloggers pick, a group dedicated to blogging Ina Garten‘s recipes that I do not belong to.  I stumbled upon it instead at Ezra Pound Cake, one of my regular reads.  I don’t know what it is with me these days, but once again, the sesame oil in the dressing really caught me.  Just like the week before I made Mark Bittman’s Thai Beef Salad, I couldn’t stop thinking about how delicious this salad was going to be.

After a day of enjoying the bea-u-ti-ful weather in Toronto this weekend, we arrived back at the apartment in the late afternoon and I began putting the salad together.  Each time I added another ingredient into the dressing I couldn’t resist a little taste, getting more and more excited to try the final dish with each taste.

Some of the Barefoot Bloggers felt that the salad was much better the next day, after the flavours had a chance to settle in together, so I was worried that it was going to be short on flavour.  Heck no, it was awesome in the flavour department, so I can only imagine what lunch is going to be tomorrow.

But once I plated the meal I realized that there really wasn’t much to it.  It didn’t feel complete; probably because I’m a bit of a starch addict, so I wanted pasta or rice to go along with my salad.  I didn’t mind the lightness of it, it just felt like a lot of meat on my plate.  Next time (and there will be a next time) I would up the veggies in the dish, maybe even add a couple more — like carrots or celery or bok choy — and add some noodles (which I did for my lunch time left overs).  But all in all, a delicious meal!

Chinese Chicken Salad
Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Parties!”
Serves 12

Ingredients:

4 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound snow peas (or asparagus, sliced into thirds)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 scallions, sliced diagonally
1 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted

For the dressing:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
3 tbsps. soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsps. dark sesame oil
1/2 tbsp. honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. peeled, grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
Up to 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter (I used about a tablespoon, and it was all it needed)
2 tsp. kosher salt (you could omit the salt as you used soy sauce, or add it a little at a time)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the chicken on a sheet pan. Rub the skin with olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Let cool. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.

3. Combine the chicken, snow peas and peppers in a large bowl.

4. Whisk the dressing ingredients, and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds, and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad

There were a few catalysts behind my decision to make this salad. The first was a very bizarre craving for sesame oil. The second was Mark Bittman’s Food Matters.  Without getting too deep into the politics of food, Bittman’s incredibly rational approach to conscious eating has certainly inspired me to eat a little less meat.  But I digress.

All I really have to say is that this salad is delicious.  It’s quick and easy and is perfect for dinner or lunch.  The recipe says it yields four; however this did us for one dinner and two lunches.  Jeff has a hollow leg and there was no way 2 oz. of beef were filling it up.

The dressing for this salad is so delicious, it would be great on any number of things.  Chicken, fish, you name it.

Thai Beef Salad
From Mark Bittman via the New York Times

Ingredients:

8 ounces skirt or flank steak, leftover or raw
6 cups torn salad greens (mixed is nice)
1 cup torn fresh herb leaves (mint, cilantro, Thai basil or a combination)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 medium cucumber, peeled if skin is tough, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and diced
1 small fresh hot red chili, like Thai, or to taste, minced
Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla, available at Asian markets) or soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar.

Method:

1. If you are starting with raw meat, start a gas or charcoal grill or heat a broiler; rack should be about 4 inches from heat source. Grill or broil beef until medium rare, turning once or twice, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness; set it aside to cool.

2. Toss greens with herbs, onion and cucumber. In a bowl, combine all remaining ingredients with 1 tablespoon water; dressing will be thin. Use half of this mixture to toss with greens. Remove greens to a platter.

3. Slice beef thinly, reserving its juice; combine juice with remaining dressing. Lay slices of beef over salad, drizzle remaining dressing over all, and serve.

From my mother’s cookbook: Singapore Noodles and Pork

Singapore Noodles and Pork

While I inherited my love for eating from my dad, it was my mum that gave me my passion for cooking — especially cooking for family and friends.  No doubt my mum’s dedication to providing our family healthy, delicious home-cooked meals can be directly attributed to my turning out to be a relatively well-adjusted adult.

Needless to say, many of my mother’s recipes have worked their way into my own repertoire, including this one for stir-fried pork and curried peppers.  When I announced to Jeff that I was preparing Singapore Noodles and Pork for dinner he immediately asked what was ‘Singapore’ about the noodles.  My answer; I don’t know, the recipe just calls for whole wheat spaghetti.  Mum, maybe you can shed some light on this?

Yes, this is the second time in two weeks that pork tenderloin has ended up on my table.  Pork has now officially made its way onto my regular grocery list.  And thank goodness, I’ve been eating chicken for years.

Singapore Noodles and Pork
Makes four servings

Ingredients:

1 lb. pork loin
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion *
1 each sweet red, yellow and green pepper, seeded
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. cold water
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or coriander (optional)
Dash hot pepper sauce
1/2 lb. whole wheat spaghetti

Method:

1. Cut pork into 1/4 x 2-inch strips.

2. In large skillet, heat oil over high heat; stir-fry pork for 3 to 4 minutes or until well browned. Remove and set aside.

3. Cut onion and sweet peppers into 1 1/2 inch long strips. Add onion, peppers, garlic and stock to skillet; cover and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in oyster sauce and curry powder.

4. Blend cornstarch with water; add to skillet along with pork. Bring to boil; cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through and thickened.

5. Sitr in parsley and hot pepper sauce.

6. Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender but firm. In large bowl, toss spaghetti with meat mixture.

To reheat, microwave for 3 to 5 minutes if thawed.

Enjoy!

  • Note: the original recipe calls for one leek, light green and white parts only. Unless I have leeks on hand, I usually just use a regular cooking onion.

Seared Beef Tenderloin with Cabernet Sauce

Seared Beef Tenderloin with Cabernet Sauce

For weeks I had planned on surprising Jeff with a Valentine’s Day brunch, but a series of morning commitments — celebrating my niece’s first birthday and our day trip to Niagara — over the V-Day weekend put the kibosh on that idea.  Instead I decided to make his current favorite, steak frites.

Only we didn’t have frites, we had roasted potatoes instead.

I first made this recipe at Calphalon. It was one of the first few times I had ever made steak and I was very impressed with the results. In fact, I may even say that it was the best steak I have ever had.

The recipe makes more than enough sauce to spoon over two steaks; next time I may even go ahead and half it.


Seared Beef Tenderloin with Cabernet Sauce

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. chilled butter
2 (6 oz.) fillets beef tenderloin
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup cabernet sauvignon, or other dry, full-bodied red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Olive Oil

Method:

1. Add olive oil to a medium-size fry pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of steaks with salt and black pepper.

2. Saute steaks and cook to desired doneness, about four minutes per side for medium. Transfer steaks to a plate and tent loosely with foil.

3. Add shallots to fry pan and saute for about one minute. Add wine, stock and mustard; simmer until slightly thickened, about two minutes. Reduce head to medium-low.

4. Whisk in butter. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Spoon over steaks.