Thursday, July 30, 2015

Asian-Style Catfish Wraps, July 29, 2015

When I finished making dinner last night, I thought, "Oh, boy, this could be a terrible flop." By the time my darling got home, I had already decided just to make quesadillas if she hated the food I had made. The meal of Asian-style catfish wraps, sweet & sour potato shreds, and a spring mix salad was pretty outside-the-box for me. I was fairly certain it was going to be too weird for Jeannene. But, she picked up the wooden spoon perched on the side of the skillet containing the filling for the wraps, nibbled a bite, and made yummy noises. Whew! "Now," I wondered, "is it going to be too weird for me?" I'm not big on wraps, except for Mexican food, and I am not a huge seafood fan. However, I do tend to like catfish, although my favorite way to eat it is either fried or blackened. I'd had some amazing Vietnamese catfish nuggets at The Winds Cafe, but this was nothing like those. However, when I bit into it, I thought, "Okay, that's pretty good!" I was skeptical about the potatoes, as well, especially since I don't tend to like sweet not-dessert dishes and since I hadn't followed Madhur Jaffrey's recipe, passed on to me by my mom, who was very enthusiastic about the dish. The potatoes I thought I had had gone bad on me, so I was left with the option to use already mostly baked potatoes left over from Sunday. I want to try it again using raw potatoes, to see what the difference is. I suspect I will like them better done the way they were intended to be made, but they were certainly edible as it was. The catfish wraps are based on a Cooking Light recipe from April 2005.

Asian-Style Catfish Wraps
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
1/2 lb. catfish, cut into chunks
1 1/2 c. thinly sliced Napa cabbage
1 carrot, shredded
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp. minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 c. hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp. Asian chili garlic sauce
4 small flour tortillas

Heat half the sesame oil in a large skillet or wok on medium-high heat. Add catfish and stir-fry to cook through, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Add the rest of the oil. Once heated, add vegetables and stir-fry until carrots are crisp-tender, a couple of minutes. Return catfish to pan, add sauces, and heat through. Warm tortillas and fill with catfish mixture. Serves 2-4. 

Sweet & Sour Potato Shreds
1/2 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into fine julienne strips
2 tbsp. peanut or canola oil
2 scallions, sliced
1 slice ginger, peeled and minced
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
Large pinch salt
1/2 tbsp. sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife & peeled
1 tsp. sesame oil

Place potatoes in cold water to cover. Shake the bowl to release the starch. Pour out water & repeat process several times. Drain well. Heat oil in large skillet or wok. Stir fry ginger and scallions about 30 seconds. Add potatoes and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add soy sauce, vinegar, salt, sugar, and garlic. Stir fry 2-5 minutes, until potatoes are browned. Add sesame oil and stir to mix. Remove garlic cloves to serve. Serves 2-4. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sausage Rolls, July 28, 2015

My darling got in fairly late last night, so I made sure to have something good for her to munch on immediately when she got in, a platter of baby carrots (Bunny Luv, my favorite brand), cauliflower, & broccoli with garlic anchovy dip. After she finished some more work, we settled in to the rest of the meal, sausage rolls and corn on the cob (cooked in boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes). I have traditionally made pigs in blankets with hot dogs and bread dough, so it was fun to mix it up a bit with smoked sausage & puff pastry. I would definitely try that again! It was a great summer meal and pretty dang easy! The dip is very, very garlicky, so beware if you're not a huge fan of the stuff. We both really love it! And don't be afraid of the anchovies. You can definitely taste them, but it's certainly not super-fishy. I was inspired for these recipes by Pippa Middleton's Celebrate cookbook, but have altered them. The cookbook is full of great seasonal menus & recipes, as well as a whole bunch of fun ideas and gorgeous pictures.

Garlic Anchovy Dip
4 cloves garlic
2 oz. can flat anchovies, drained
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. sour cream (reduced fat is fine)

Whizz the garlic and anchovies into a paste in a mini food processor. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Serve with veggies!

Sausage Rolls
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
4 smoked sausages (the size of hot dogs)
Ketchup, mustard, apricot jam/mango chutney/orange marmalade (optional)
1 egg yolk
A little bit of water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unfold puff pastry on a lightly floured surface & roll out to make it slightly larger. Cut into 8 rectangles. Spread 4 with a little bit of whatever condiments you like or leave plain---I put apricot jam on one for Jeannene to try (she loved it), then had ketchup & mustard on the table for dipping. Center a sausage on those 4 rectangles. Mix the egg yolk and water. Brush the edges of the pastry with the mixture, then top with a second pastry rectangle. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Press edges together & crimp with a fork to seal. Prick the top pastry of each and brush with the rest of the egg mixture. Bake about 20 minutes, until the pastry is nicely browned. Serves 2-4. 

Thursday, July 09, 2015

BBQ Chicken, July 8, 2015

Yesterday was a perfect cozy dinner day, a good day to have the crockpot filling the house with good smells. I made bbq chicken breasts in the crockpot, then added some oven fries and broccoli to round out the meal. I am still not used to making broccoli without a steamer, so I ended up overcooking it. I guess that's better than undercooking it, as I am willing (if not thrilled about) to eat it mushy, while my darling wife will not eat it too crisp. The fries were perfect. I made them by cutting some potatoes into thin wedges, with the skin on, then tossing them with a smidge of olive oil and some seasoning mix I keep on hand that has salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then, I put them on a baking sheet in a 450 degree oven for about 40 minutes. The chicken was beautifully tender, but I was not a fan of the sauce, as it turned out to taste too boozy for me. That said, I would very cheerfully give it another try, with half the Jack Daniels. Jeannene really liked it.

Slow BBQ Chicken
3-4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (skin-on, bone-in is fine, too)
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
15 oz. tomato sauce
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. Jack Daniels (or similar)
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. hot sauce (or more, to taste)

Place the chicken in a slow cooker. Mix everything else well and pour over chicken. Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours. Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Mexican Scrambled Eggs, July 7, 2015

We had kind of a progressive dinner last night. I was out running errands in the late afternoon, way before my dear wife is usually home, when she called to ask if I wanted to go out for drinks & appetizers with her. Of course, I was delighted at the prospect. Once home, I discovered that she didn't have any particular place in mind. After suggesting some of her favorite chains that I usually nix, it became clear that she truly didn't care where we went, as long as we could get drinks and "some kind of cool appetizer."

Having had the veggie plate at 24th Street Grill (Oxford, MI) the week before for lunch---and having dreamt all week of the cool, crisp veggies and perfect ranch dip---I decided to take her there. I had a Raspberry Stoli & Sprite, which the waitress suggested when I said I wanted something "girly and sweet, no gin," while Jeannene stuck to domestic beer. I had no need of the menu whatsoever, with my tiny, little heart set on a giant platter of deep orange, juicy carrot sticks, crisp celery, and sumptuous cucumber ovals. They serve their veggies cold as a Himalayan spring. I just adore them. Jeannene, after asking the waitress' favorite appetizer and being told it was spinach and artichoke dip because the freshly made pita chips are soooo good, picked the buffalo chicken dip, which had the same chips but satisfied her meat tooth. It was terrific, too.

Since we'd already had appetizers, I didn't make the guacamole I was going to serve with chips when we got home. Since my appetizer, which Jeannene also dipped into, was basically salad, I didn't bother with a salad, either. I simply made Mexican scrambled eggs. They're basically a variation on my cousins' garbage skillet, scrambled eggs in which they toss whatever needs to be used up. In my case, it was a little more deliberate, but with the same yummy sort of result. I heated some Ro*Tel (tomatoes and green chiles) with some chopped scallions in just a smidge of butter. You could just use cooking spray. While it heated a bit, long enough to reduce the juice to practically nil, I whipped 4 eggs together. Then, I threw them into the skillet, too, along with a handful of Fritos that were on the verge of becoming stale and a little bit of Mexican-blend shredded cheese and cooked, stirring gently, until the eggs were done. We both loved the result!

Monday, July 06, 2015

What I'm Cooking in July 2015

-Mexican scrambled eggs, salad, toast, fruit
-BBQ chicken, potato wedges, salad, rhubarb compote 
-Tuna zucchini burgers, chips, green beans
-Puerco asado, black beans & rice, maduros, avocado salad, key lime pie
-Something from Madhur Jaffrey's Climbing the Mango Trees for Uppity Book Women gathering
-Fritas, papas a la Huancaina, broccoli salad 
-Sausage rolls, corn on the cob, crudités with anchovy dip
-Asian catfish wraps, sweet & sour potato shreds, salad
-Garlic soup, flank steak crostinis, salad
-Grilled steaks with herb-mustard sauce, baked potatoes, strawberry spinach salad, chocolate ice cream with chocolate peanut butter sauce 
-Chickpea cakes with raita, basmati rice, salad
-Grilled turkey burgers, wilted salad, corn pudding, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce
-Smothered pork chops, baked grits, sautéed cabbage  (78-6)

-Sloppy Lennys (vegan sloppy joes)
-Taco soup 
-Mixed baby greens with mandarin orange & cucumber in sesame dressing
 -Lemon chiffon pie 
-Chocolate crinkles      
-Fudgy brownie squares 
-Bar nuts 
-Onion parmesan toasts