Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Asian Flank Steak with Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Salad

I recently discovered this recipe for Asian-marinated flank steak served along an amazing crisp and refreshing cucumber salad, and I just know it will be the hit of my summer table! The steak is succulent as the sugar in the marinade creates these delicious crusty bits, and the Asian seasonings give it a sweet and savory flavor. Served with a cool cucumber salad on the side, it's not only low-carb, but highly delicious!

Asian Flank Steak with Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Salad
A delicious Asian-inspired steak and salad recipe that will be just awesome on the grill this summer! Serves 4

1 2” piece lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, lightly smashed, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
2 tablespoons Asian sweet chili sauce
1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut into 4 pieces   
Cucumber Salad
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Asian sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled, julienned
1/2 small daikon, peeled, julienned
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced                                    
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper   
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts 

Combine lemongrass, brown sugar, fish sauce, and sweet chili sauce in a resealable plastic bag. Add steak; seal, turn to coat, and chill at least 30 minutes to 24 hours.
When ready to cook, remove steak from marinade and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.
Prepare grill or skillet for medium-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper and grill, turning occasionally, 8-€“10 minutes for medium-rare. Let rest 5 minutes before thinly slicing.
Whisk vinegar, sweet chili sauce, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Add cucumber, carrot, daikon, and onion and toss; season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.
Drain salad. Serve with steak, topped with cilantro and peanuts.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

Monday, March 24, 2014

Chocolate Pots de Creme

I am not a baker, I heartily admit. I am a cook, and love throwing new dishes together in the kitchen. But when it comes to baking, I don't quite have the patience to follow a precise recipe. But every cook needs a few desserts in her repertoire, and I'm happy to say that I have found one that I love to make- chocolate pot de crème. It's an amazingly rich chocolate mousse topped with homemade whipped cream. It is creamy and decadent and satisfies every chocolate craving you've ever had. Best of all, it is easy to make and is best made a day ahead of time, leaving me with all my of energy when I'm hosting or catering a dinner party to prepare the meal, not the dessert!

Chocolate Pots De Crème
A sinfully rich and simple dessert to wow your dinner party!
Serves 8

10 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
5 large egg yolk
5 T sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 tsp instant espresso powder mixed with 1 T water (or 1 T espresso or strong coffee)

Whipped Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream (cold)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish (optional)
Cocoa powder for dusting
Chocolate shavings
Chopped toffee

For the pots de crème: Place chocolate in medium heatproof bowl; set fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside.

Whisk yolks, sugar, and salt in medium bowl until combined; whisk in heavy cream and half-and-half. Transfer mixture to medium saucepan. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon, until thickened and silky and custard registers 175 to 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 8-12 minutes. Do not let custard simmer or overcook.

Immediately pour custard through strainer over chocolate. Let mixture stand to melt chocolate, about 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, then whisk in vanilla and espresso. Divide mixture evenly among eight 5-oz ramekins. Gently tap ramekins against counter to remove air bubbles.

Cool pots de crème to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 72 hours. Before serving let pots de crème stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

For the whipped cream: using a hand mixer or standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat cream, sugar and vanilla on low speed until bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave trail, about 30 seconds longer. Increase speed to high; continue beating until nearly doubled in volume and whipped cream forms soft peaks, 30-45 seconds longer.

Dollop each pot de crème with about 2 T whipped cream. Garnish with cocoa, chocolate, or toffee, and serve.

Recipe by Cook's Illustrated

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

What's a simple, beautiful and healthy appetizer to make for any party? Roasted red pepper hummus! Don't bother buying the pre-made stuff, it is so easy and so much more delicious to make hummus yourself! Serve with fresh crudité such as bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots and baked pita bread drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika and salt. Be sure to make extra hummus to enjoy on sandwiches and in wraps.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
An easy and healthy appetizer or snack!
Makes 3 cups

3 cups drained cooked chickpeas
1 jarred roasted red bell pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons water
Juice from 1 lemon, to taste
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Ground black pepper, to taste                                                                    
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
In the bowl of a food processor, place the chickpeas and red bell pepper. Add the garlic, salt, crushed red pepper, tahini, water, 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, cumin, and pepper and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding salt and additional lemon juice, if necessary, to taste. Transfer to a wide shallow bowl for serving and use the back of a serving spoon to form a well in the center of the hummus. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle the top with the parsley, and paprika. Serve at room temperature, with pita chips and fresh veggies for dipping.

Recipe adapted from Food Network

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi

In honor of my upcoming trip to Italy, I'm sharing one of my new favorite Italian recipes- Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi. What is gnudi, you ask? Well, it's naked ravioli! Imagine ravioli without the pasta, and that's gnudi (pronounced "nudie"). Ricotta and parmesan cheese combine with spinach and herbs to make a delectable, creamy bite atop a fresh tomato-basil sauce. Served with a big salad and crusty bread, this is a fantastic Italian meal. Don't forget the chianti!

Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi
Ravioli "undressed" this creamy, cheesy baked Italian dish is delicious!
Serves 4

1 large bunch raw spinach, washed, dried, trimmed and chopped
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for smearing hands
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
All-purpose flour, if needed
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Saute the spinach with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 the quantity of the garlic for a few minutes until soft. Let cool. Then in a bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, Parmigiano and salt to taste. Add a small amount of flour, a little at a time, only if ricotta if filled with too much moisture. Combine the mixture thoroughly and set aside.
In the same saucepan, heat up the remaining olive oil, then add the remaining garlic, cherry tomatoes and basil and cook for 5-10 minutes. Spoon the sauce into a baking dish. 
Smear some olive oil on your hands. Scoop ricotta mixture, in the amount of an egg , onto the palm of your hands and form into a compact ball.  Add the "gnudi" balls on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with Parmigiano cheese and bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Quinoa Salad with Crispy Kale, Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrot

Here is a delicious and nutritious salad or side dish you can serve with any meal! Heart-healthy quinoa is tossed with balsamic vinegar with oven-crisped kale and roasted sweet potatoes and carrots. The flavor is lightly sweet and earthy, and the colors are beautiful! Even if you're unfamiliar with quinoa, this salad is so simple and visually stunning. Enjoy!

Quinoa Salad with Crispy Kale, Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrots
A delicious and nutritious light lunch, salad or side dish.
Serves 4-6
1 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups kale
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place carrots, sweet potatoes and red onion slices in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss together and then put them on a large baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir a few times while baking.
Drizzle kale with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. When the sweet potatoes and onions have been in the oven for 15 minutes, put the kale in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until kale is wilted and starting to get a little crispy.
While the vegetables are roasting, make the quinoa. Add quinoa, water, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Let cool quinoa cool to room temperature.
When the vegetables are done roasting, let them cool to room temperature. Chop up the red onion slices and kale. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, sweet potatoes, red onion, and kale. Drizzle the salad with remaining three tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and add in the dried cranberries. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Recipe by Sarah Lang

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chicken Parmigiana with Pasta

Italian comfort food is one of my favorite cuisines to cook and enjoy. Chicken Parmigiana fits the bill in every way. Tender chicken breasts are coated in Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, lightly fried, and finished in the oven before being topped with oozy fresh mozzarella cheese. I whip up a batch of my red sauce that is tossed with fettuccini, and the chicken perfectly nestles on top of the pasta. It all gets showered with more cheese and fresh basil, and is one impressive family-style dish to serve. Everyone loves this dish!

Chicken Parmigiana with Pasta
Crispy chicken atop red-sauce pasta, it's an Italian comfort food classic!
Serves 6

6 chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness, about 1/2 inch                                                                    
2 T olive oil                                                                       
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping 
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)                                                                    
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 T. dried Italian herbs
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk                                                                     
6 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
4 cups marinara sauce
3/4 pound pasta 
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped                                                                    

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat.
Set out three bowls. In one bowl combine panko and Parmesan cheese, in another bowl place flour combined with Italian herbs, and in the third bowl beat eggs and milk to combine. Make sure chicken is dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Working with two pieces of chicken at a time coat chicken in flour, then eggs, then in panko mixture, pressing to adhere. Gently lay chicken  aside. Once coated, place in pre-heated skillet. You may need to do this in a couple batches.
After 3 minutes turn chicken over to brown the other side. Once chicken is lightly golden brown on each side place on a rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack. Bake in oven for 10 minutes until cooked through. Remove chicken from oven and top with a spoonful of tomato sauce and two slices of mozzarella cheese. Return to oven to melt the cheese.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Combine with tomato sauce, basil and pasta and keep warm.
Serve chicken with pasta tossed in tomato sauce and extra Parmesan cheese and basil on top.
Recipe by Sarah Lang

Friday, January 10, 2014

Grilled Pork Steaks with Hot Link BBQ Sauce

For as many veggies as I eat, I love a perfectly cooked piece of meat as much as anyone. Pork is one of my favorites. It's leaner than steak, but so much more flavorful and juicy than chicken. Add a BBQ sauce, and I'm in heaven! This one is made with beer and hot links, adding complexity. The great news is it starts with bottled sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's) making it easy! Serve with cheesy mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli for a completely fabulous meal.
Grilled Pork Steaks with Hot Link BBQ Sauce
An amped-up sticky sweet BBQ sauce slathered on juicy pork steaks.
Serves 4
4 bone-in pork shoulder steaks: 12-16 oz. each                                                                     
Salt and pepper                                    
Olive oil                                    
1/4 cup butter
1 cup onions sliced
1 to 2 jalapenos sliced
1 T chili flakes
3 to 4 cloves garlic sliced                                                                      
1 smoked pork hot link roughly chopped into small pieces
2 cups sweet BBQ sauce with a high sugar content: important so that the glaze sticks to the steaks.
1/2 bottle beer
Juice of 1 lemon

For the sauce:
Melt the butter in a pan then sauté the onions, jalapenos, chili flakes, garlic and hot links over medium-high heat stirring frequently and until softened about 10 minutes. Add the beer, BBQ sauce and lemon juice. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until thick and sticky. The sauce can be made up to a week in advance.
For the steaks:
Coat the steaks lightly with the oil of your choice. Season the steaks liberally with salt and pepper with an emphasis on black pepper. Grill the steaks over high heat until cooked medium- about five minutes. Start glazing the steaks with the thick and sweet BBQ sauce turning frequently to caramelize the sauce.
Serve the steaks with additional sauce on the side.
Recipe adapted from Butcher and the Boar, a phenomenal Minneapolis restaurant