Sunday, November 30, 2008

Garam Masala Scallops with Acorn Squash


For no other reason but sheer love for Indian flavors, I have been on a curry fix of late. I found this recipe from Epicurious for scallops in a curry sauce over acorn squash. I would not have thought that scallops, acorn squash, and curry would work together, but this recipe turned out very nicely. Not only did it look nice on the plate, but the slightly spicy and creamy curry sauce played an excellent complement to the sweet scallops and squash.

As with most recipes, good-quality ingredients are important to this dish. I used jumbo U-10 dry scallops, which are meaty and rich enough to not be overpowered by the curry sauce. A purist would have made curry powder and garam masala from scratch but I had Penzeys excellent representations of each already on hand, which made for an easy and delicious dinner.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bastardized Lemongrass Chicken


Still trying to use up the rest of the Southeast Asian produce I bought at Whole Foods last week, I came across this simplified recipe for Lemongrass Chicken from Food and Wine. Although I prefer to cook authentic, unabridged meals when I choose ethnic recipes, after work, I do not have the time nor the physical and mental energy to cook anything more intricate than chopping some veggies and meat and throwing everything into a pan for a few minutes.

This recipe was slightly more difficult than my usual weekday dinners as I had to marinade the chicken (albeit for only 5 minutes) and make a caramel sauce before I was able to throw all the ingredients into a pan. In the end, it was a well-flavored dish, but the result was chicken thighs in a curry sauce, not lemongrass chicken. The curry powder in the sauce obscured the lemongrass and the caramel sauce, making even this simplified recipe seem unnecessarily complicated. By simply throwing garlic, shallots, oil, curry powder, water and chicken into a pan, I could have made an equally delicious dinner.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Salmon Braised in Pinot Noir with Mushrooms


In my last post, I noted the challenges of keeping a well-stocked pantry and how it is always a triumph when I am able to prepare a gourmet meal with ingredients I have on hand. In this regard, last night’s dinner was a triumph.

As four o’clock came around yesterday at work, my mind began to wander from spreadsheets to what I would cook for dinner. With cold weather rolling in, my fridge is always stocked with a supply of fall vegetables that go so well in braised dishes: carrots, leeks, and celery. I also had a pack of cremini mushrooms on hand that I had picked up on a whim at the grocery store last weekend. I searched for a way to use at least some of the ingredients I had on hand, and I came across this recipe from for salmon braised in Pinot Noir. The ingredients:

  • Salmon: would have to buy on my way home from work
  • Salt and pepper: on hand (duh)
  • Butter: in the fridge
  • Celery: in the fridge
  • Carrots: in the fridge
  • Leek: in the fridge
  • Tomato paste: in the fridge
  • Pinot Noir: on hand (surprisingly)
  • Bay leaf: in my pantry
  • Thyme: in the fridge (random Greenmarket purchase)
  • Chicken broth: in the freezer
  • Heavy cream: in the fridge

Could it be? A moderately complex meal that would only require an easy trip to the seafood market to pick up a couple of fillets of salmon? A triumph!

Unfortunately, I found the sauce slightly bland, so the meal was not a triumph on all levels. However, my girlfriend loved it, so I still put it in triumph territory. Perhaps this was the first step to keeping a well-stocked pantry…

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Well-Stocked Pantry

One of my greatest cooking challenges is keeping a well-stocked pantry. Rarely am I able to cook a meal that does not require a trip to the market to pick up at least one ingredient, and usually I have to get a basket worth’s (and a wallet worth’s) of ingredients. The biggest source of this problem is that I do a poor job of planning menus for the week; all too often, I plan meals on the train ride home from work, stopping at the grocery store before I get home to pick up ingredients, some of which I am bound to already have on hand. Menu planning is a skill that I am trying to improve on. My other problem is that I enjoy cooking somewhat complex meals that do not always contain the “standard” ingredients. Lastly, I normally cook for one; unless I cook the same thing every night of the week, perishable foods that I keep on hand are bound to spoil before I have a chance to use them up. Whenever I am able to cook a somewhat complex meal without having to pick up more than a couple items at the market, it is a triumph. I just wish that would happen more often. Surely other amateur cooks have been able to get around these challenges and maintain a well-stocked pantry. What are your strategies?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spice Braised Nyonya Pork

Spice Braised Nyonya Pork

Towards the end of my trip to the Greenmarket this past Saturday, a rainstorm forced me to seek shelter in Whole Foods. Soaking wet with a backpack and totebag full of local goodies, a very non-local vegetable caught my eyes: fresh galangal from Hawaii. Fresh galangal? At Whole Foods? I thought that was something that was only found in Chinatown, and usually frozen at that. I knew that it was an omen, so I picked up a four inch piece of galangal along with a handful of fresh thai peppers (another “At Whole Foods?” moment for me).

When I returned home, I immediately pulled out the cookbook that I had in mind when I spotted the galangal: James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor. The book is full of delicious recipes from the Spice Islands, but I do not get to cook from it very often since nearly every recipe requires a trip to Chinatown to pick out ingredients such as fresh turmeric, kaffir lime leaves, and, yes, galangal. This time, I at least had one ingredient on hand without having to treck down to Mott St.

The recipe I picked out was Spice Braised Nyonya Pork. Pork butt sauteed with galangal and a paste of shallots, then braised with water, sugar, double black soy sauce, rice vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. All of this is reduced until the sauce just barely coats the meat. It ain’t local, but it sure was delicious!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Molly Stevens’ Sausages and Plums Braised in Red Wine

To celebrate my girlfriend’s long-awaited move to New York, I found this recipe from Molly Stevens’ All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking. I braised sausages and plums in red wine, and like every other recipe I have tried from the cookbook, it did not let me down. It was a very simple braise that filled my apartment with aromas of sweet italian sausage, sage, and red wine. The recipe can be found here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pork Tonkatsu

I’m still alive! After spending last week on vacation in Florida, I have been busy catching up on work and my workouts, and have had little time to cook or post. My cupboard and refrigerator are pretty empty, so I have been living mostly off of leftovers this week. I did, however, find some Berkshire pork cutlets in my freezer, so I prepared pork tonkatsu, a simple japanese dish of panko-breaded pork with a sweet and sour sauce.

I prepared the pork using the tonkatsu recipe from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World. It’s very easy: season the pork, dredge in flour, dip it in beaten eggs, and coat it with panko. Shallow fry for 3 minutes per side. Serve with a sauce consisting of equal parts dijon mustard, mirin, and soy sauce, and slightly less rice vinegar. I served the pork with roasted potatoes and stir fried kale. Sorry, no picture due to poor lighting.

Now that this hectic week is almost over, I’ll I can make my return to the kitchen (and the blog).

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New Amsterdam Market and Marcella Hazan’s Roast Chicken

Last Sunday, I schlepped over to the New Amsterdam Market at New York’s South Street Seaport. This is the third installation of the market, which runs a few days a year and and features some of the region’s top proponents of local and sustainable food. The goal is for the market to become a permanent fixture of the South Street Seaport, but for now, we Manhattan foodlovers must settle for having some of the region’s top purveyors and producers of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, bread, and more in the same place only a few times a year. It’s like a Greenmarket on steroids.

After stuffing my face with bread and cheese samples; an excellent ham, pickle, and butter sandwich from Marlowe and Sons; and a slice of delicious caramelized leak and ricotta tart from a baker I don’t remember, I began to think about dinner. I did not have much cash on me, so I passed by two of my favorite Greenmarket meat producers, 3 Corner FIeld Farm and Flying Pigs Farm, and set my sight on the $5 chickens at Bo Bo Chicken. I was unfamiliar with Bo Bo chicken, but the friendly lady at the stall informed me that they sell super fresh (i.e. less than a day from the slaughterhouse) poultry. She told me they sell mostly to Asian markets, but also deliver fresh poultry to some of New York’s finest restaurants. I bought a medium-sized chicken for $5 dollars, and they also gave me a free tote bag with an ice pack so I could safely get the chicken home to the Upper East Side in this 90 degree weather. A great deal for a what sounded like a great chicken. Here’s what it looked like when I put it on my cutting board to prepare dinner:

This chicken was so fresh that it had seen little in the way of a butcher’s table. I had only dealt with headless and feetless chicken before, but I was able to quickly get the chicken into it’s more familiar form with a few chops of my knife. I threw the head and feet into the freezer for a stock I will be making later down the road.

To prepare the chicken, I used a recipe for roasted chicken with lemon’s from Marcella Hazan’s The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Roasting a chicken does not get much easier than this. Just take two lemons, roll them and squish them, poke a bunch of holes into each, and stuff them into the cavity of the chicken. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, truss it, and into the oven it goes. Here’s what it all looked like after cooking at 350 degrees for an hour, then 20 minutes at 400 degrees:

Unfortunately, I failed to dry the chicken well enough after I washed it, so the skin did not get as brown or as crispy as I would have liked. Thankfully, the meat was deliciously moist and flavorful with the lemon juice that it absorbed while in the oven. Marcella even convinced me to retract my statement that the best roast chickens are cooked with generous amounts of butter. This chicken had no butter, and was as delicious as any roast chicken I have made. It did, however, have a good amount of salt, so I stand by my belief that salt is a roast chicken’s best friend.

Monday, June 30, 2008

“Grilled” Salmon with Figs, Watercress, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Last night, I made salmon “grilled” in my cast iron grill pan with “grilled” figs served over watercress with balsamic vinaigrette. The recipe was from Dave Pasternack’s Young Man & the Sea, a cookbook that I still haven’t made up my mind on yet. On one hand, the book features very simple seafood recipes and has helped me discover some excellent flavor pairing when it comes to seafood. On the other hand, the recipes I have tried have been very hit or miss, with some seemingly incorrect information when it comes to cooking times and the amount of olive oil to use in each dish. Fortunately, last night’s dish fell into the hit category.

The exact recipe is easy to find online, but it takes very little in the terms of step-by-step directions. I rubbed a salmon filet with olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I threw the salmon onto the grill pan skin-side down and grilled for five minutes over medium-high heat. I flipped it, and grilled it another minute or so, then set it aside. I threw 6 fig halves onto the grill pan and stirred them for about 2 minutes. I plated everything on top of a bed of watercress dressed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper), and drizzled the figs with a bit more of the vinaigrette.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Penne Arrabiatia

I ran a 5-mile race this morning, so to help me have enough energy to run in today’s stifling heat and humidity, I cooked this simple dish of pasta in a spicy tomato sauce last night. Note that this recipe makes enough sauce for about 4 servings, but it freezes well.

Penne Arrabiata


  • Penne pasta
  • slightly less than a 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, drained and crushed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, grated


  • Boil pasta in salted water.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet over medium heat
  • Add garlic and pepper flakes to oil. Stir constantly until garlic is golden, about 5 minutes
  • Add tomatoes to skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Reduce sauce, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens to desired consistency, about 10 minutes
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Toss pasta with sauce
  • Garnish pasta with parsley and Pecorino Romano.

Friday, June 27, 2008

D’oh! Moments in the Kitchen

I tend to make some pretty jackass moves in the kitchen. My most frequent error occurs when a recipe calls for a plate to be garnished with fresh herbs before it is served. I’ll take the time to clean and chop fresh herbs, a task that I hate doing for some reason, and then I’ll set them aside as I wait for the food to cook. Then I’ll plate the food and serve it. Only after I’ve taken several bites, will I realize that I forgot to garnish the plate with all the herbs I chopped. D’oh!

Another dumb kitchen moment came this weekend when I was making my Rogan Josh. The first step in the recipe was to make a paste by blending minced ginger and garlic together. Well, stupid me, paying very little attention to detail, read “ginger” as “onions” and made a fairly watery paste with garlic and onions instead of garlic and ginger. It was only after I stared blankly at the 1 inch pieces of ginger that were laying neglected on my counter that I realized my error. I added the ginger to the onion and garlic paste and blended the paste once again. I don’t think my mistake killed the recipe, as it was still fairly tasty, but it would have been nice to have tried it exactly as Madhur Jaffrey had called for, with intact onions. Oh well, maybe next time. D’oh!

I hope I’m not the only one who can be a jackass in the kitchen, even when performing a task as simple as following the steps of a recipe. What are your D’oh! moments in the kitchen?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken

June 25, 2008 · 1 Comment

For tonight’s dinner, I had roast chicken with leftover curried Christmas limas and sauteed kale. I’ll ignore the boring side dishes, and just focus on the chicken.

While there are countless techniques for roasting a chicken, the one thing to remember about roast chicken is that butter and salt are your best friends. A great roast chicken shouldn’t be diet food. I’ve found that more salt = crispier skin and more butter = moist meat. The other seasonings can vary, but don’t skimp on butter or salt.

I used a tiny 2 lb. chicken from Knoll Crest Farm that I bought at the Greenmarket this past weekend. Immediately when I came home from work, I pulled the chicken out of the fridge, washed it, and dried it thoroughly with paper towels. I then set the chicken aside on a platter and preheated the oven to 375 degrees.

Next, I went through my fridge and pantry to see how I would season the chicken. I pulled up some thyme and some garlic. A lemon would have been great, but alas, I did not have any lemon, so I made due with the thyme and garlic. I chopped up about a quarter cup of thyme leaves, minced two cloves of garlic, and threw the two into a bowel. I also set aside a few sprigs of thyme and two crushed garlic cloves.

I then pulled out the butter. I sliced off a healthy 1/4 stick and threw it into the bowl with the garlic and thyme. I then added a large dashes of salt and pepper to the bowl. I mixed the garlic, butter, thyme and s&p with my hands to make a thick paste. I rubbed the paste all over the chicken, sticking a few sizable chunks under the skin of the breast. Finally, I poured a waterfall of salt (yes, more salt) over the chicken. If you think you’ve poured on a lot of salt, keep pouring another second. Here’s how it all looked before I stuck it in the oven:

I assumed my small chicken would take no more than 45 minutes to cook in the 375 degree oven. However, after 45 minutes, the temperature on my thermometer read 150 degrees and the skin was not very brown. I pumped the oven up to 450 and stuck the chicken in for another 7 minutes or so, when the thermometer read 160 and the skin had browned slightly. I set the chicken on a platter for ten minutes. Meanwhile, I added a splash of white vinegar to the pan I had roasted the chicken in and stirred up all the browned bits at the pan. This step not only cleaned my skillet nicely, but it also made a nice pan sauce for my chicken. I poured the sauce over the resting chicken. The result was a tasty, non-diet roast chicken.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rogan Josh (Lamb Curry)

I try my best not to let my job interfere with my cooking. Unfortunately, this is sometimes inevitable. After an early morning run, 10+ hours at the office, and a workout at the gym, I rarely have the time, the energy, or the mental capacity to toil over the stove. If it’s not leftovers, I’m usually sticking to quick and simple recipes during the week. In an effort to have leftovers I can eat for dinner over the course of a week, I tend to make a braised dish, a casserole, or roast a chicken on Sundays.

Having picked up a good amount of lamb shoulder from 3 Corner Field Farm at the Greenmarket the other day, I decided I’d try my luck at curry. I had never made an Indian-style curry before, so I searched the internet for one that sounded authentic. I came upon this recipe for Rogan Josh from Madhur Jaffrey. Silly name notwithstanding (I can’t help but think of Seth Rogen standing over a pot of curry, which is probably borderline blasphemous to Indian cuisine), I knew this would be a good Indian dish to start with since Madhur Jaffrey is one of the top Indian cookbook authors, not to mention actresses. I had also received my first shipment of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, so I decided to serve my lamb curry alongside some curried Christmas limas.

I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon preparing the curry, and soaking and cooking the beans. When I came home from work today, I put on a pot of rice. For the beans, I stir fried a chopped onion for a few minutes, then added minced garlic and fried another minute. Then I added a little over a tablespoon of curry powder, beans, about a cup of the bean cooking liquid, and salt and pepper. I simmered the bean mixture for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, I reheated the curry, added 1/4 teaspoon of Penzey’s garam masala, pepper to season. Voila! An excellent dinner was ready in under 30 minutes.

Rogan Josh with Curried Christmas Limas and Rice

Monday, June 23, 2008

Two Simple Summer Desserts

Although these first few posts on my blog may indicate otherwise, I really do try to eat healthy during the week. On the weekends, I let go a little (and frequently), and cook as unhealthy as I feel like. I’m a runner, and I tend to run upwards of 20 miles on the weekends, so I figure I can eat whatever I please on the weekends to make up for the calories I burn. In line with my eat myself to self to death on the weekends philosophy, I like to treat myself to a desserts on Saturday and Sunday. This weekend, in an effort to make a dent in the outrageous amount of berries (strawberries, blueberries, and cherries) that I purchased at the Greenmarket yesterday, I made two simple desserts:

Balsamic Glazed Strawberries (apologies for the blurry picture)

  • Mix equal parts balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Take off heat and mix in halved strawberries. Serve warm over vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry Crisp for One

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix a handful of blueberries with about a teaspoon of vanilla. Add bluberries to ramekin.
  • Mix by hand a small handful of rolled oats, a small handful of cornmeal, a dash of nutmeg, a dash a cinnamon, a drizzle of honey, and a teaspoon of butter. Put mixture on top of blueberries.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
  • Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Duck with Madeira Cherry Sauce, Mashed Potatoes with Kale, and Roasted Asparagus

Duck is one of my favorite meats. However, I’ve never been able to perfect duck breast at home. The skin is never crispy enough. and the meat usually ends up being overcooked. I’ve tried searing the skin on the stove, then throwing the breast in the oven, as well as cooking the breast on the stovetop the entire time, but I always get the same disappointing results. Due to my duck inadequacies at home, duck is something I often order at restaurants, wondering why restaurant-cooked duck tends to be cooked so perfectly: nicely crisp skin and perfectly medium rare meat.

Tonight, I decided to try my luck at duck once again. I bought the some sweet cherries (first of the summer!) at the Greenmarket yesterday, so I decided to go with this recipe for duck with a Port cherry sauce, substituting Madeira for the Port because that was what I had on hand. I served it with olive oil mashed potatoes with kale, ramps, and garlic scapes, inspired by this recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I also used up the rest of the now dinky-looking asparagus from last week by roasting them in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

As for the verdict on the duck? I think I finally got it right, but decide for yourself.

Duck, resting after sauteeing over medium heat, 10 min. skin down, 5 min. skin up:

Duck, plated:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Scallops with Asparagus and Lamb’s Quarters

I credit tonight’s dinner to The Spamwise Chronicles. The author of this wonderful blog kept a foodblog on eGullet a couple of weeks ago, and a scallop dish he made caught my eye. I tweaked the ingredients a bit so I could use up the rest of last Saturday’s Greenmarket purchases, but the idea is the same. Along with ramps, garlic scapes, last of the spring Asparagus, and lamb’s quarters, all purchased last week, I picked up some sea scallops from the P.E. & D.D. Seafood at the market today. Combining everything together for a nice meal full of local veggies and seafood, I made this:

Scallops with Asparagus and Lamb’s Quarters


  1. Asparagus, washed and cut into one inch pieces
  2. Olive oil
  3. Salt and pepper
  4. Butter
  5. Large sea scallops patted dry with a paper towel
  6. Salt and pepper
  7. Ramp bulbs, minced
  8. Garlic Scapes, minced
  9. Dry white wine
  10. Heavy cream
  11. Creme Fraiche
  12. Lamb’s quarters (wild spinach) leaves, washed and dried


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put asparagus pieces in small baking dish. Stir in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast asparagus for 15 minutes and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium-high heat.
  5. Sear scallops for 3 minutes, turning once. Set aside.
  6. Add garlic scapes and ramps to pan and stir for about 30 seconds.
  7. Deglaze pan with a big splash of dry white wine. Turn heat to medium-low.
  8. Add a big splash of cream.
  9. Season sauce to taste.
  10. Whisk in a small amount (I used less than a teaspoon) of creme fraiche. Whisk until sauce coats the back of a spoon.
  11. Add lamb’s quarters and stir until lamb’s quarters wilt slightly, about a minute.
  12. Plate aspragus, followed by scallops, and pour sauce on top.

A BLT to Celebrate the First Day of Summer

I try to make it to the Union Square Greenmarket bight and early every Saturday, before the crowds of tourists (and the heat) set in. Usually, I am half asleep as I make my way through the market shopping for a week’s worth of meats, veggies, eggs, and cheese. Today was no exception, until I happened upon my first sighting of beautiful New York tomatoes at Cherry Lane Farms. I was quickly reminded that today was the first day of summer, and what better way to celebrate the day than to make a nice BLT for lunch? Among the rest of my bounty from the Greenmarket were a $4 beefsteak tomato from Cherry Lane, a $1 head of romaine from Paffenroth, a $13 package of bacon from Violet Hill, and a $4 loaf of multigrain bread from Bread Alone. Combined with some very non-local Hellman’s mayo (I’m not quite ready to make my own mayo from local eggs…yet), I have the result of today’s Greenmarket excursion:

A pricey BLT, indeed, but well worth it. Happy first day of Summer 2k8!


Related Posts with Thumbnails