all photographs by Robyn Lee unless otherwise noted
Ma Po Tofu
related article: Tofu: Tasteless Mush or Wholesome Delight?
Adapted from about.com.
- In a bowl, mix 1 1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch and 2 tablespoons soy sauce until well blended. Add the pork and marinate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes and drain on a paper towel-lined plate for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Stir-fry the pork, breaking it up with a spatula until golden crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the black beans, mashing them lightly with the spatula and incorporate with the meat. Add the chili paste, broth, tofu, and scallions. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile mix the remaining tapioca starch and soy sauce with 2 tablespoons water until well blended. Add the mixture to the wok and stir gently, so as not to break up tofu, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot, sprinkled lightly with freshly ground Szechuan peppercorn.
related article: Saffron, the Empress of Spice
Adapted from Miriam Kelen’s Spanish Home Cooking.
- In a paella pan or large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil. Saut� the artichokes, green beans, lima beans, green pepper, and red bell pepper until just tender, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer the vegetables to a plate.
- Add remaining oil to same pan and increase heat to medium-high. Brown chicken on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Move chicken to edge of the pan. Add the rice and return the vegetables to the center of the pan. Add the water and saffron. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice is tender yet firm, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Cover the dish with a clean kitchen towel, and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 6-8 servings
Wild Peppercorn Rubbed Filet of Beef
related article: Szechuan Peppercorns: The Peppercorn of Asia
Adapted from recipecircus.com.
- In a small bowl, mix together the peppercorns, paprika, brown sugar, pepper, salt, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil until well blended. Place the fillet mignon in a dish and rub all over with the spice mixture. Cover and marinate, refrigerated, for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 425�F for 20 minutes. In a roasting pan (large enough to hold the fillet), add the vegetable oil, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, and beef scraps, stirring with spatula to combine. Roast in the oven until the beef scraps are browned, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining olive oil. Sear the fillet mignon until golden crisp on all sides, about 20 minutes total.
- Remove the roasting pan from the oven, divide and push vegetables to the sides of roasting pan, and place the fillet in center. Return the pan to the oven and continue to cook to desired doneness, 30-40 minutes for medium to medium-well.
- Transfer the meat to a serving dish and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the roasting pan on top of the stove over medium heat. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and chicken broth, stirring to lift all of the brown bits. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice fillet into 1/2-inch medallions. Strain pan juices (jus) through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour jus over meat and serve.
Dinner Salad for Two
Mulberries are chewy, sweet, brown berries that taste like graham crackers. Packed with vitamin C, iron, and fiber, they are the key to this healthful salad. The hemp seeds, which are an excellent source of B- vitamins and essential fatty acids, add a nutty flavor and buttery texture to the salad. Enjoy this medley of simple flavors!
- In a bowl, toss the greens with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mulberries, avocado, sunflower sprouts, apple, 2 ounces blue cheese, and hemp seeds, and toss lightly to distribute evenly.
- Garnish salad with remaining cheese and chives. Serve immediately.
Let's face it: college students are procrastinators, living by the last minute and working into the wee hours. But, while burning the midnight oil, hunger often calls, just as gnawingly as those 9:00 AM paper deadlines. These spicy, stellar beef burritos are the perfect cure for any student's case of the late night munchies and, along with other burrito varieties, represent the hearty, ranch-style cuisine of El Norte,a region in Mexico known for its tasty beef. 1
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, stirring with a wooden spoon to break it up, and cook until pink, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, green and yellow bell peppers, Serrano pepper, and garlic. Stir frequently, incorporating the vegetables with the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. stir in the Meyer lemon and lime juice. Continue to cook, stirring until the beef is cooked through and onions are caramelized, about 10 minutes more. Remove from heat.
- Preheat the oven to 350�F for 20 minutes. Place 4 tortillas on top of the oven rack and heat until warm and slightly crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
- With a wooden spoon, Fill each tortillas generously with the meat and vegetable filling. Garnish with sour cream and salsa to taste, and sprinkle with some Monterrey Jack cheese. Roll the tortillas to enclose the filling. Place each roll on a baking sheet and warm in the oven for 5 minutes before serving.
1 “Did You Know? Food Traditions and History.” Ortega Foods Homepage. 11 April. 2005.
A rich and scrumptious Eastern European pudding, noodle kugel is often served on Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashana, and when breaking fast at the end of Yom Kippur. Often made with wide egg noodles and various dairy products, it is frequently found on tables accompanied by vegetarian and other non-meat dishes due to Jewish dietary law.
- Preheat oven to 350�F for 20 minutes. Grease an 8-by-12-inch or 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
- In large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until tender, about 8 minutes.
- Shock noodles under cold running water and drain. Spread noodles evenly in the baking dish.
- In electric mixer, incorporate the butter and cream cheese. Add the honey, eggs, and sour cream and continue to mix. When thick and creamy, pour mixture over noodles.
- Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until set and golden brown. Cut into squares and serve warm.
Serves 4 to 6. Adapted from Lisa Share-Sapolsky
Almost Perfect, Extremely Expensive, Cookie
These oversized peanut-butter cookies are embellished by adding hand cut chunks of Valrhona chocolate from France's Rhone Valley. Used widely by pastry enthusiasts because of its high quality, Valhrona has a intense, frank, and aromatic flavor that does not contain chemically synthesized flavor substitutes. For best results, incorporate a creamy variety of your favorite organic peanut butter. Also, butter with a high fat content (82 percent or higher) makes the crumbliest, most scrumptious cookies. To form dough, use an ice-cream scoop to ensure that the cookies maintain a uniform size and bake evenly.
- Preheat the oven to 350�F for 20 minutes. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at medium speed, incorporate the butter, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy, light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and continue to mix until thoroughly combined. Sift the flour and baking soda together over a bowl, and add to the mixture, beating just to combine, approximately 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in chocolate chunks with a spatula.
- Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Using a 1 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, shape dough, and place each portion on the baking sheet at 1-inch intervals. Press each piece slightly to flatten. Bake (in two batches, if necessary) until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Makes 14 cookies
Relatively easy-to-prepare, this chicken recipe is baked with sweet dried peaches and raisins. A hot golden brown apricot and wine glaze is pourred over the crispy chicken making this dish sticky (hence the name of the recipe) finger lickin' good. You'll beg for seconds!
- Preheat the oven to 325�F for 20 minutes.
- Season chicken with salt and garlic. Place peaches and raisins in bottom of a buttered 16x12 inch baking pan.
- Place the chicken pieces on top of fruit in a single layer. Brush each piece with melted butter and drizzle with 3/4 cup wine. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 325�F for 45 minutes.
- In small saucepan, warm apricot jam. Press jam through a sieve set over bowl. Stir in remaining white wine. Uncover chicken and baste with apricot wine mixture. Continue baking uncovered, basting frequently, until chicken is tender (juices should run clear) and deeply glazed, about 30 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.
Directly translated to "bake as you like," Okonomi-yaki is a savory pancake recipe with origins in Osaka, Japan. Variations exist from one family recipe to another. Soy-sauce and vegetable puree-based, Okonomi-yaki sauce is sweet, tangy, and adds richness and an inviting flavor to the pancake. Okonomi-yaki can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack. Hint: It is best if cooked until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, making it a challenge to flip. Be prepared to make somewhat of a mess, but that is the fun part!
- In a large bowl, whisk one cup flour with 1/2 cup konbu-dashi. Add one ounce nagaimo, and continue to whisk until smooth.
- In a medium bowl, combine half of the batter with half of the cabbage and scallions. Add 2 eggs and mix with a spatula.
- In a heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Pour the batter into the skillet and fry until the bottom gets crispy, about 5 minutes.
- Place 3 slices of bacon on top of the pancake. With a spatula flip the pancake and fry until crispy, about 5 minutes more. Flip again, and fry for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat, smoother the top surface with 1/2 cup Okonomi-yaki sauce and mayonnaise. Repeat for the second batch.
Otafuku or Kagome brand Okonomi-yaki sauces are available at most Japanese markets. Makes approximately 2 pancakes, about 10 inches in diameter. Serves 4.
Macaroons are small chewy cookies typically made with ground almonds, but they can also be made with shredded coconut. They are believed to have been invented around 1790 in an Italian monastery—the name “macaroon” is derived from the Italian word maccarone meaning almond paste. Macaroons have become a staple in Jewish households during Passover because due to the use of egg whites as the leavener, they fit within the holiday’s dietary restrictions. While macaroons can incorporate other flavors such as chocolate and vanilla, the following modified recipe from cooks.com only uses egg whites, coconut, and sugar.
- Preheat oven to 350�F for 20 minutes.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites to a stiff peak with a hand or electric whisk. With a spatula, gradually fold in the sugar, then the coconut.
- Drop packed tablespoonfuls of the mixture on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, setting each portion1 inch apart.
- Bake the cookies until they become slightly golden at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. NOTE: Cookies may be too soft at first but will harden after cooling.
Makes 20-30 cookies
Yakibuta (Glazed pork tenderloin)
Also known in Japan as cha-shu-, yakibuta is often served on top of a steaming noodle soup. Braised in sake and infused with classic pungent aromatics such as ginger, garlic, and scallion, this pork is a succulent, tender, fragrant, and delicious with or without the accompaniment of a noodle soup.
- Pierce the pork tenderloin with a fork and rub it all over with salt and pepper. In a medium saucepan, add the meat, scallions, ginger, garlic and water to just cover. Add the sake. Place a plate that fits inside the saucepan and can sit directly on top of the meat. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the pork is cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced with skewer.
- Drain pork, reserving cooking liquid and discarding rest.
- In a wok, heat the sugar, soy sauce and sake with 1 cup reserved broth (if less than 1 cup, add water). Bring to a boil and simmer until flavors blend, being careful not to burn sugar. Adjust seasonings.
- Add pork and simmer, turning over frequently and glazing with the sauce.
- Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature with remaining glaze and a bowl of plain cooked Japanese rice.
Crisp Mustard-Glazed Chicken Breasts
Dijon mustard is truly a culinary and scientific masterpiece. Mustard dates back to around 3,000 years ago when the ancient Roman, Greek, Asian and Egyptian empires traditionally made it by grinding the seeds of the mustard plant and adding vinegar. In 1856, Jean Naigeon experimented with the traditional method of making mustard by substituting a sour juice made from unripe grapes (verjuice) for the usual vinegar, creating a smoother and less acidic mustard. Naigeon created the new mustard in the town of Dijon, France where this popular condiment got its name!
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living
- In a large bowl, pour in buttermilk. Add the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 18 hours.
- Get three dinner plates and place them side-by-side. On the first plate scatter the flour. On the second plate pour the egg. On the third plate scatter the breadcrumbs. Place a cookie sheet next to the plate containing the breadcrumbs.
- In a large skillet, pour the oil and heat it on medium high heat.
- Place the chicken next to and before the plate containing the flour. Working one piece at a time, remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk, allowing the excess to drip away. Then coat it in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs. Place the breaded chicken on the cookie sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken pieces. Using tongs, carefully lower the breaded chicken into the hot oil. Fry until cooked through, golden brown and crispy on all sides, about 5 minutes. Using the tongs, transfer chicken to paper-lined cookie sheet to drain.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and discard oil. Return the chicken to the skillet. Add broth, cream and reserved 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sauce is creamy slightly thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in mustard.
- Serve hot.
Baking is as easy as 1-2-3. 1) buy a box of chocolate cake mix; 2) get some Reese's peanut butter cups; and 3) mix and bake. Skeptics will fast become fans of this super quick and tasty cookie recipe. The rich chewy chocolate outer layer and smooth peanut butter core melt on the tongue in a single (or two, if you must) bite. YUM!
- Preheat oven to 350�F for 20 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together the cake mix, the eggs, and oil until well combined. Divide the dough into approx 25 pieces and place a peanut butter cup in the center of each piece of dough, making sure the cup is completely covered
- On greased cookie sheets, place the balls of dough about 2 inches apart
- Bake cookies until set, 8-10 minutes
Shallow Fried Eggplant
This crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside, shallow-fried eggplant is simple to execute. When choosing eggplants, be sure to select those that are firm to the touch. When soft, the eggplants tend to be full of seeds, which is less desirable.
- In a medium sized bowl, pour the eggs. Next to it set a plate with the breadcrumbs, scattered.
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
- Place eggplant slices in egg wash until fully coated. Working with one at a time, pick up an eggplant slice, allowing the excess egg wash to drip off. Coat both sides of the eggplant slice with breadcrumbs.
- Place the breaded eggplant slices in the hot oil (360� to 375� F) and fry until golden crisp on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
- Serve hot, seasoned with salt and pepper
Tagine is a specialty of North Africa (many recipes originate in Morocco and Algeria) and many different variations can be found. It is traditionally a stew comprised of a meat and or vegetables. Braised in a clay dish it is traditionally served served with couscous or a grain.
- In a large bowl, coat the chicken with � teaspoon of cumin, coriander and tumeric.
- In a stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and chicken. Brown the chicken being careful not to overcook, about 2 minutes on each side. Add the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, the olives and chickpeas. Add the chicken broth to cover. (if the stock does not cover all of the ingredients add water to make up the difference). Cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer until chicken is tender, 30-45 minutes.
- Uncover the pot and reduce the liquid by half, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan add 2 cups water plus the butter and bring to just a boil. Add the couscous, stir, cover with a tight fitting lid and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Fluff the couscous lightly with a fork.
- Transfer the chicken tagine with its vegetable bits and broth to a large bowl with a ladle and serve the couscous along side in a separate bowl.
Sweet Potato Pie Souffl�
Sweet potato pie with its crunchy pecan topping is a Southern tradition that is synonymous with soul food cooking. Pecans have long been used in southern cooking, and in this dessert they add a nutty overtone on the finish.
- Preheat the oven to 300�F for 20 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add the sweet potatoes, sugar, condensed milk, half the butter, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. With a hand held mixer set on medium speed, blend until thoroughly combined and smooth.
- Spread the sweet potato mixture in a large, well-oiled baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile make the topping. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the remaining butter with the brown sugar. Remove from heat and with a spoon, stir in the chopped pecans and crushed cornflakes.
- Spread the topping over the pie. Return the pie to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Mujadarah (Rice and Lentils)
Mujadarah’s lineage can be traced back over 7,000 years when the hunters and gatherers from the Middle East used this as their main source of nourishment. This lentil and rice dish is especially delicious served with plain yogurt or Tzatziki, (see recipe below). Caramelized onions adds a sweet finish to the dish.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils, reduce the heat to medium, and cook the lentils, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the rice and an additional 2 cups of water. Cover the pot and cook until the rice is tender, 20 minutes more. Add the allspice, cumin, and season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saut� the onions until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onions to a separate serving dish, or spread over the rice and lentils.
Tzatziki (Yogurt Cucumber Dip)
This tangy Middle Eastern cucumber yogurt dip is often served with warm pita bread or pita chips, or spooned over dolmades, grape leaves stuffed with rice and spices. Try it with lamb kebobs too!
Adapted from Donna Lalangas.
- Shred cucumbers with grater, and place in a sieve set over a bowl. Sprinkle the shredded cucumber with salt and drain for 1 hour.
- In a bowl, mix together the yogurt, drained cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and