Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Succulent Citrus Salad With Honey Vinaigrette

Citrus fruits are perfect for summer, and while summer is not quite here just yet, it is the perfect time for a juicy citrus salad.  All citrus fruits taste very different and this salad would be great with a combination of any different flavors.  What’s most important is using fresh, juicy organic fruits – the best you can find – because the salad depends on their quality.  I selected tangerines, Valencia oranges and blood oranges, along with blackberries.  Other great fruits to use include Satsuma oranges, Mandarin Oranges, grapefruits and raspberries.  I would have actually preferred raspberries but they are not in season yet and are exorbitantly expensive right now.

As far as the lettuce, I recommend using Boston butter lettuce, my absolute favorite kind of lettuce.  Please do not substitute other types of lettuce in this salad as none will have the buttery sweet flavor of Boston lettuce, which complements the citrus fruit and the sweet honey vinaigrette perfectly.

Sasha’s Succulent Citrus Salad (makes about 3-4 salads, depending on the size)

2 tangerines
1 large Valencia orange
2 medium sized blood oranges
2 small heads of Boston butter lettuce
fresh tarragon
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup champagne vinegar
15 blackberries
2T honey

Slice the peels off the fruit and separate into segments.  Prepare each salad with the Boston lettuce and equal portions of the fruits.  Combine vinegar, canola oil and honey into a vinaigrette.  Top with the vinaigrette and a bit of fresh tarragon.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Eric's Kitchen in Jersey City: Marinated Tofu Stir Fry

I wasn't initially going to post this recipe because it's pretty simple and didn't think it would photograph too well but it tasted amazing (I have less pictures than normal). This was only my second time cooking tofu but it was so much better than the first. Initially I was just going to bread and saute the tofu but recalled the first time I made it, it was pretty dry and I wasn't a huge fan. I knew I needed some sort of sauce to go with my dish so I looked up some stir-fry sauce recipes and cobbled together things that I actually had in the kitchen and decided to marinate the tofu in the same sauce.

Ingredients: (serves 4 portions)
1 package of extra firm tofu (drained weight, 14 oz.)
1 cup (dry) of white rice
1/2 vidalia onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
3 shiitake mushrooms
1 bunch of broccoli, chopped
1 small can of water chestnuts, drained & sliced
1 cup of chicken broth
1 cup panko crumbs
whole wheat flour
3 egg whites
sesame and vegetable oil

Sauce/Marinade: (most the measurements are guesstimates)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 bunch of scallions
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 hot pepper, minced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 -2 tbsp white wine (I used Kris's Pinot Grigio)
1-2 tbsp sesame oil

To start, I prepped all my veggies, then tried to dry out the tofu as much as possible so it would soak up as much marinade as possible. I put the tofu on top of a couple of pieces of paper towels and another on top, in between two sturdy paper plates and then stacked a few cans of Progresso's Soup on top to help drain it out over the course of an hour or so. I changed out the paper towels once or twice.

Then I sliced the tofu into 16 pieces and marinated 8 at a time for about an hour each (I had a lot of time yesterday). In the future I might add the chicken broth to the marinade so that I could marinate all the pieces at once. I then dredged the tofu in whole wheat flour and egg whites and coated them with the Panko crumbs. Panko crumbs are light and fluffy and therefore it takes a lot more volume to coat things than normal bread crumbs.

I started my rice and I got two pans nice and hot with some sesame and vegatable oils and started my broccoli in the large pan and some of the tofu in the other. The tofu, I turned often and had to add a little more oil pretty often to get them nicely browned on each side. I suppose you could deep fry them also but I don't have a fryer and don't want one as I would probably deep fry way too many things... The key with the tofu was nicely browning each side to seal in the moisture from the marinade.

After the broccoli had been in the pan for a few minutes I added my other veggies and some minced garlic and cracked black pepper along with enough oil to cook everything as the pan was pretty full! Once I was almost done with the tofu after a few rounds in the small pan, and the veggies were softened and cooked, I added my sauce/marinade and 1 cup of chicken broth and brought it to a boil, adding just a couple of pinches of whole wheat flour to give the sauce a little more thickness. I let this boil down for a few minutes while dealt with my rice and finished off the tofu.

I served the tofu over the rice and then topped it all off with the veggies and sauce. In the end the tofu was nice and moist and crunchy took on all the flavor of the marinade and the sauce made a fantastic topping with the rice and veggies as well.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Charlene's Kitchen in Philadelphia: Chicken with Garlic and Parsley

It's no secret that I have a culinary crush on Jacques Pépin. I first saw Jacques on the PBS series "Fast Food My Way" (2004) and since then his recipes, techniques, and philosophy of cooking have influenced my meal times. He emphasizes that preparing food, especially for guests, doesn't have to be stressful or time consuming, and that sharing meals should be enjoyable.

His recipes from the show and companion cookbook use mostly basic ingredients and have a reasonable number of steps. He takes everyday ingredients and turns them into a delicious, easy meal. For example, chicken stock, bread, Gruyère cheese, and freshly ground pepper can be made into a satisfying soup in five minutes. He also presents traditional and seemingly complicated dishes, like bouillabaisse, as meals that can be prepared simply by home cooks.

I love how simple and tasty Jacques' recipes are. I've come to rely on Fast Food My Way for many of my weeknight dishes and I highly recommend the cookbook. Below is one of my favorite recipes for chicken, garlic, and parsley that I make regularly. It's so simple I'm almost embarrassed to be posting it with A Kitchen In Brooklyn's other recipes!

As Jacques would say in his adorable French accent, with a smile on his face and a glass of wine in his hand, "Happy Cooking!"

Chicken Breasts with Garlic and Parsley
serves 4

From Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pépin
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004)

Helpful tips from Jacques: use Wondra flour preferably, and toss the chicken in the flour just before adding to pan (otherwise it will get soggy)

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (each about 7 oz.) cut into 1- to 1 1/2-in. cubes
2 Tbs. Wondra flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 lemon, quartered

  • Combine flour, salt, and pepper in bowl.
  • Dry chicken cubes and toss in flour.
  • Add to very hot, but not smoking, 12-in skillet over high heat. Cook in one layer, turning occasionally, for about 3 1/2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine garlic and parsley in a small bowl.
  • Add the butter and garlic and parsley mixture to pan and sauté for one more minute, shaking the skillet to evenly coat the chicken.
Serve with lemon wedges.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Best Steak Burgers With Shake Shack Inspired Sauce

Usually, I have always purchased organic ground beef for my burgers, but I decided to prepare a quality steak burger, in the spirit of one of my favorite NYC burger places, Shake Shack.  Shake Shack is Danny Meyer's famous burger joint, of course with spots all over Manhattan (and long lines, especially on sunny days as well).  I'm waiting for them to open a Park Slope / Prospect Heights outpost in Brooklyn, because it is definitely time!

I wasn't obsessed with making an identical burger to Shake Shack's, but I absolutely love the Shack Sauce and their burgers, so I looked at Kenjie Lopez-Alt's article from Serious Eats on reverse engineering the famous Shake Shack burger for some ideas and inspiration.  According to Alt, his "sources" believe that the true Shake Shack burger is a mixture of three types of ground beef - sirloin, well marbled brisket and well marbled beef chunk.  For those of you who are going to try the burger will all three cuts, keep in mind that well marbled probably means to use the "second cut" brisket or chunk, which is not as lean.

Brisket is hard to come by in such small quantities, as Lopez-Alt only calls for 4 oz in his reverse engineered recipe, and most butchers generally sell three to five pound briskets.  So this time, I decided not so search for a small amount of brisket, but to just go with a mixture of sirloin and well marbled beef chunk.

I prepared the reverse engineered Shack Sauce just as Lopez-Alt directed, using his recipe.  I may want to adjust next time to add a bit more heat, and ketchup, but it was delicious.  It reminded me of the "Animal Style" sauce at In-N-Out Burger.  In addition, I went with provolone rather than American Cheese.

Steak Burgers (recipe derived loosely from this site)
8 lb well marbled beef  chunk
8 lb sirloin
salt and pepper to taste
4 Martin's Sandwich Rolls (potato rolls)
4 leaves of green lettuce
4 slices provolone cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 T ketchup
1 T yellow mustard
4 slices kosher dill pickle (I used fairly thick slices)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
canola oil
2 T of butter (melted)

Ask your butcher to grind up the steaks for you together.  Then, when you get the meat home, form into four patties and season with salt and pepper.  Toast the Martin's buns with the melted butter on each side. Grill the burgers using a grill pan or a large skillet, using canola oil.  Make sure to season the burgers with salt and pepper first.  Top with the provolone cheese and cover with tin foil for the last minute or two of cooking.  I like my burger medium, which takes about eight minutes to prepare over medium heat.  

To make the sauce, following Lopez-Alt's recipe, combine the ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickle slices, garlic powder, paprika and cayenne in a small food processor.  Top the cheeseburgers with the sauce and lettuce.  You can add a slice of tomato if you like as well.  These burgers (the recipe makes four) were very tasty and Shake Shack-esque, although I still love the real deal.
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