Bok Choy, Eggplant and Peppers with Oyster Sauce

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Beautiful Bok Choy Photo by Jodie Morgan on Unsplash

We love baby bok choy and chinese eggplant.  When I saw them looking all fresh and delicious at the Asian market, I couldn’t resist.  I grabbed a beautiful red pepper, too and it made for a quick and easy supper.   The recipe is from foodandwine.com with a few tweaks of my own.

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. baby bok choy, washed and patted dry
2 small Chinese eggplants* (about 1 ½” x 10″) halved and cut into ½” half circles
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1″ squares
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 big tsp chopped garlic (or two cloves fresh minced)
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 cups basmati or jasmine rice**
3 and 7/8 cup water
1 tsp salt

Rinse rice well and start cooking with water and salt on medium heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil on medium/high heat. You can use peanut oil or canola, but I had Olive oil handy so I just used that. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.

Add bok choy and cook, moving it gently but constantly so the garlic and ginger don’t burn.  Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add eggplants and peppers and continue cooking and tossing for another minute.

Add oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce and cook for another minute or so until everything is warmed through. If the bottom of the pan is starting to brown too much, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and scrape up the bottom.

Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice.

*You could probably substitute a small regular eggplant for the Chinese eggplants. Don’t think it would be the same without the Bok Choy. If you can only get regular bok choy, wash and pat it dry and then slice it into four quarters.

** Jasmine or another long grain rice would be great, but I always have basmati, so that’s what I used.

Ina’s Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad

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Photo by Jonathan Pielmayer on Unsplash

We are pretty lowkey on Christmas Day:  gifts and stocking with the kids in the morning  with lots of good coffee.  But I do like to make a good Christmas Lunch.  This year I made Roasted Carrot Salad, a Pork Tenderloin and Maya’s request: Baked Apple Pancakes.

This recipe is outstanding – from Ina Garten’s “Cooking for Jeffrey.” You can easily roast the carrots and soak the cranberries the day before and then assemble the salad in minutes.

Ingredients

2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut in diagonal slices 1″ wide and 2″ long
Olive Oil
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2/3 cup Craisins
2/3 cup orange juice
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar (Ina uses sherry, but I didn’t have any.)
2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane, or 1 tsp crushed garlic
6 oz. baby arugula
6 oz. feta cheese crumbles (Ina uses goat cheese, medium-diced)
2/3 cup roasted salted whole almonds (Ina uses Marcona almonds)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, toss carrots, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Dump everything onto a big sheet pan, and roast for 20 minutes. (Use two sheet pans if needed.) Toss after 10 minutes so they brown nicely all over. Remove from oven, drizzle with maple syrup, toss again and and roast for another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Combine cranberries and orange juice in a small pan and simmer for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Whisk in 3 Tbsp olive oil.

In a large bowl, toss together carrots, arugulas, craisins with all liquid, feta, vinaigrette and almonds.

Serve on a white platter. So good!

To make ahead, cook the carrots, soak the cranberries in orange juice, and make the vinaigrette in a small mason jar. Take everything out an hour before serving, so it can warm to room temperature and put salad together.  

Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

portobello-lasagnaThis is one of Ina Garten’s recipes from “Barefoot Contessa at Home.”  It is a surprisingly easy dish to make and was really delicious.  I oohed and aahed about it so much that my friend Donna photographed the cookbook page.  So Donna, this recipe is for you!

Ingredients

kosher salt
good olive oil
12 lasagna noodles
4 cups whole milk
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 lbs Portobello mushrooms (I used three 8 oz packages of sliced Baby Bellos.)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.
Bring a large pot of water to boil with a Tbsp of salt and a splash of oil. Add lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

Heat milk in a glass container in the microwave until just starting to bubble at the edges. In a large saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter and add the flour. Cook, stirring constantly for one minute. Add the hot milk, 1 Tbsp salt, the pepper and nutmeg and cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened, for 3-5 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of oil, until shimmering. Add the first 8 oz. container of mushrooms. Saute for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released some of their juices and are starting to get golden edges.

Remove from pan, add a little more oil and butter and start second container of mushrooms. You’ll do the same for the third container.

Since each container gets its own layer of the lasagna, you can start creating the layers while the second and third batch of mushrooms are cooking.

To assemble the lasagna, pour about 1/3 of a cup of sauce in the bottom of a rectangular, ceramic baking dish. (My dish held three full lasagna noodles perfectly.)

Next, put three lasagna noodles, then about a cup of sauce, then the 1st batch of mushrooms, and about a 1/4 of the Parmesan. Second layer: again noodles, then sauce, then mushrooms and then Parmesan. Third layer: again noodles, then sauce, then mushrooms and then Parmesan. Add last three noodles and pour remaining sauce on top and sprinkle remaining Parmesan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot. Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot. Yum!

Po’ Boys for a Crowd

how-to-make-a-po-boyThere was Moon over Bourbon Street at our house recently, and we served Po’ Boys for a crowd.

Making Po’ Boys is quite easy, and they are so tasty! We offered a choice of beef brisket or Cajun Roasted Cauliflower for fillings, along with fresh, sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, Remoulade Sauce or Mayo and hot sauce on a split french roll.

We served the Beef Brisket in one 1/2 catering tray, and the roasted Cauliflower in another 1/2 catering tray. Both trays fit in one large tray, with 1/2″ of water in the bottom to keep them warm, with two tins of chafing dish fuel.

Each Beef Brisket 1/2 catering tray makes 16 – 24 sandwiches, depending on how much brisket people use. The Cauliflower is probably the same.

For each half tray, you’ll need

5 lbs. of sliced beef brisket (We used 2 packages of beef brisket from Costco.)
10 cups cauliflower florets, seasoned and roasted
3-4 sliced tomatoes
3-4 cups shredded tomatoes
Remoulade Sauce or Mayonnaise
Hot Sauce
18 French Rolls (Again, we used the french rolls from Costco.)

To heat the brisket, just add two packages (5 lbs.) of brisket to a 1/2 catering tray and add 1/2 cup water. Seal tightly with aluminum foil and bake at least 30 minutes. We warmed out trays up ahead of time and kept them in a warming oven.

For a vegan version, make only the Cajun Roasted Cauliflower, and serve with Remoulade Sauce or vegan mayo.

To serve, we kept a little sign by all the Po’ Boy fixings and let our guests assemble them. People loved them!

Cajun-Roasted Cauliflower

cauliflowerFor a recent party, we served Po’Boys and for my vegan friends I made them with Cajun-roasted Cauliflower. It was crazy easy and makes a wonderful sandwich.

4 cups cauliflower florets
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Emeril’s Rustic Rub (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix oil and Rub in a large bowl. If you like things really spicy add 1/2 tsp more of Rub, but generally 1 tsp Rub is plenty.

Add cauliflower and toss well to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake 25 – 30 minutes tossing occasionally. You want the edges of the cauliflower to start browning up. Serve immediately.

Emeril’s Rustic Rub (From Louisiana Real and Rustic Cookbook)

8 Tbsp paprika
3 Tbsp cayenne pepper
6 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp onion powder
2 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme

Blend well and store in an airtight jar. Will keep for a couple of months.

Spinach & Cheese Quiche

We had a full house in August, and for brunch one Sunday morning, I decided to make quiche. But I needed a hearty vegetarian version, as some of our guests don’t eat meat. This one was quick, delish and disappeared in no time!

I’ve posted a spinach and cheese quiche previously, but this one is a little different, and uses a lot more spinach and cheese.  (Whenever possible, I like to double or even triple the normal amount of vegetables in a dish, without compromising on the flavor.)

If you have the time, you can make a home-made pie crust, adding some of the same seasonings that are in the quiche, but a pre-made crust is so much quicker.

1 Pre-made pie crust, thawed

5 eggs
1 cup milk
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (a microplane makes it super easy!)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
4-5 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2-3 cups of sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Lay pie crust in a quiche pan and set aside. (It will be too small, but that’s fine.)

In a bowl, mix eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

In a large frying pan, melt butter. Add onion and saute until translucent and slightly golden. Add garlic and saute a couple of minutes more. Start adding spinach by handfuls, stirring as it wilts.

Scoop onion/spinach mixture into crust and smooth out in a fairly even layer. Sprinkle cheese over spinach. Carefully pour egg mixture over the spinach and cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes. Check to see if done by wiggling the dish slightly. If it is still “sloshy” in the middle leave in a few more minutes. It will continue solidifying as it cools.

Let cool 10 minutes and then serve.

Note: if I’d had them, I’d have sauteed and added a package of sliced mushrooms.  You can also try a different cheese – Gruyere or even part Gruyere would be delicious.  And you can use almost any vegetable, but make sure to dry it out through sauteing, or squeezing liquid out so it doesn’t dilute the egg mixture.

Enjoy!

Ali’s Tom Kha Thai Soup

My son Ali made this soup for dinner at our house a couple of nights ago and I don’t think I’ve ever had better. It was so delicious that I kept taking a little more rice, and then a little more soup until I’d eaten way more than I should have!

This recipe makes a very large pot of soup, but it freezes well and taste even better the next day. Thanks, Ali for sharing this amazing recipe.

Ingredients

2 large onions, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup Thai Tom Yum Paste*
4 cups chicken stock or veggie broth
4 cups water
6 Kefir Lime leaves*
1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 package fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced (can substitute button mushrooms)
2-4 Tbsp Fish Sauce* (to taste)
4 large or 6 small fresh tomatoes, diced
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
24 oz. coconut milk
juice from 1/2 lime
salt and pepper to taste

3 cups jasmine rice, cooked with 2 tsp salt

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot. Add onions and 1/3 cup water. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes until onions are softened, but not browned.

Add Tom Yum paste, stir well and cook for a minute or two. Increase heat to medium and add chicken stock, water and kefir lime leaves. Bring to a boil and add chicken and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are soft and chicken is cooked through.

Season with fish sauce to taste, and add fresh tomatoes. Continue to cook 3-4 minutes and add cilantro. Remove from heat and add coconut milk. Finally, add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a bowl with a side plate of jasmine rice. (You can put the rice in the soup bowl first, but we love to take a scoop of rice and dip it in the soup.)

*If not available locally, these ingredients are available online. I’ve also seen the Tom Yum Paste referred to as Hot and Sour Paste. Substitute Tofu for the chicken and add it last with the coconut milk for a vegetarian version.