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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Home Gardening

City living is not exactly helpful for developing a green thumb, so Rich and I have had many failed attempts at home gardening.  Both of my parents are avid gardeners, so every summer their back yard is filled with flowers, fruit and vegetables.  I know it takes a lot of work and care, but they make it look so easy!  I purchased a Meyer lemon tree with the hope that I would never have to purchase a lemon again.  Unfortunately my lemon tree turned out to be a lemon, blooming once then withering away! Then there were the several other plants that went careening off our balcony one windy day.  I'm giving it another shot this summer with herbs.  I picked basil and thyme since they are so versatile and they smell amazing.  My little plants are actually doing pretty well so far.  So convenient for a deliciously fresh addition to any dish!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice Pasta

Summer Solstice Pasta
1 LB whole wheat pasta
1 Shallot, minced
1 Zucchini, diced
1 Yellow squash, diced
Salt and pepper
1 Pint cherry tomatoes
1 Cup sweet corn, fresh or frozen
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 Cup white wine
1 TBS fresh thyme
Chili oil for drizzling
Parmesan cheese

I'm making my bi-weekly trip to Grand Central Market to pick up some fresh vegetables for the week.  You never really know what they're going to have, or what's going to be the freshest, so I let the produce stand serve as my inspiration.  It's the official start of summer so my pasta dish is inspired by summer veggies like fresh-off-the-cob corn, yellow squash and tomatoes.  I added a drizzle of my dad's homemade chili oil at the very end for a little extra kick which goes nicely with the sweet corn.  You could also use crushed red pepper or some thinly sliced hot peppers.  This dish is pretty hearty on it's own, but these flavors would be great with sliced chicken or shellfish too.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the shallots for 1 minute. Add the zucchini and squash, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the corn and tomatoes; sauté until the tomatoes begin to blister.  Add the lemon juice and wine, let reduce slightly.  Toss in cooked pasta and mix in the thyme.  Before serving, drizzle with chili oil and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tandoori-Spiced Chicken With Mango-Jicama Salad

Tandoori-Spiced Chicken
From Cooking Light
1 1/2 Cups plain reduced-fat Greek yogurt
2 TBS grated onion
1 TBS grated peeled fresh ginger
1 TBS canola oil
1 TSP ground cumin
1/2 TSP ground red pepper
1/4 TS ground turmeric
3 Garlic cloves, minced
4 (6-ounce) Skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 TSP salt
Cooking spray

Mango Salad
3 Mangoes, medium dice
1/2 LB jicama (about 1 small jicama), small dice
1/4 Cup packed fresh mint leaves, torn
2 TBSs freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 TSP kosher salt
1/4 TSP cayenne pepper

I have found that marinating chicken in yogurt always yields the tastiest, juiciest meat by far, no tandoori oven required.  If you're not a fan of Indian flavors, you can swap the spices for citrus and fresh herbs for an equally delicious chicken dinner.  A mango-jicama salad perfectly compliments the yogurt and spices in this chicken.  I've never cooked with jicama before, but I love the crisp texture and clean flavor - perfect for summer.

For the chicken, combine the first 8 ingredients in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, turning occasionally.  Place a small roasting pan in oven. Preheat broiler to high. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Season both sides of chicken evenly with salt. Place chicken on preheated pan coated with cooking spray. Broil in lower third of oven for 15 minutes or until done, turning after 7 minutes.

In the meantime toss the mangoes, jicama and mint with lime juice in a non-reactive bowl.  Season with salt and cayenne pepper.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes (can be made 1 day ahead).

To make a quick raita mix plain yogurt, diced cucumber, mint, cayenne pepper and lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with warm naan bread.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Korean BBQ Night - Part II

Bulgogi (Seasoned sliced beef)
From Quick & Easy Korean Cooking
2 LBS rib eye steak, sliced thin
2 TBS soy sauce
2 TSP sesame oil
1 TBS sugar
1 Bulb garlic, minced
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 Onion, sliced thin
1 Cup sliced bell peppers
Sesame seeds for garnish

Korean Potato Salad
6 Medium-sized red potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 TSP sesame oil
2 TBS Rice wine vinegar
2 Cloves garlic, minced
Green onions, sliced

Marinated Cucumbers
1 Cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 Cup rice wine vinegar
1 TSP red pepper flakes

I decided to revisit my Korean cookbook for some inspiration this week.  I work near Koreatown in the city, so I've had the pleasure of eating at some really authentic restaurants.  It's great to have  these recipes on hand, so then I can try to create my own home versions of my favorites.  Bulgogi is delicious, easy to prepare and fun to say!  A sauteed potato and carrot dish also caught my eye, but I decided to go with my own creation instead - a potato salad infused with Asian flavors.  If you're not a huge fan of mayonnaise-laden potato salad, then this is your new go-to mayo-free version for this summer.  I always make these marinated cucumbers whenever I get the chance.  They're cool and refreshing with a hint of heat.

Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic and black pepper in a bowl.  Add the steak slices, and let marinate for 30 minutes.  If slicing your own steak, place in the freezer for about 10 minutes to make the slicing easier.  Packaged steak strips would work perfectly fine here too, just depends on the quality and how much you want to spend.

While that's marinating, prepare your side dishes.  The steak and veggies will cook up in no time.  Boil the potatoes until fork-tender.  Let cool in a large bowl.  Season potatoes with salt and pepper.  Toss with vinegar, sesame oil, garlic and green onions.  Set aside.

In a small bowl toss the cucumber slices in the vinegar with the red pepper flakes.  Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

Heat the grill or grill pan and coat with cooking spray.  Cook the steak 1-2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness.  Set aside and grill the veggies until they begin to soften and char.  Top with sesame seeds.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pizza Party

Pizza Dough For a Crowd
1 1/2 TSP dry yeast
1 3/4 Cups warm water
1 TSP salt
1 TBS sugar
5 Cups of flour

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus Spears
12 Asparagus spears, trimmed
1/2 LB prosciutto
Salt and pepper

What's a party without pizza?  As a kid, pizza parties meant greasy cheese pizza and some form of liquid carbonated sugar.  As an adult, pizza can still perfect for entertaining by swapping the grease for fresh toppings and the soda for alcoholic beverages.  Add a fancy, yet simple app like prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and a salad to round out the meal.  This is my mom's pizza dough recipe and it makes enough for 2-3 pizzas, so you can please all of your guests with a variety of toppings.  I made a white pie with fresh ricotta, fontina, shitake mushrooms and green onions and a spicy sausage and garlic with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella.  When making the dough, you will want to make sure you have several hours to let the dough rise, as well as enough time to let the dough come to room temperature.  I also prepped all the toppings ahead of time, so putting the pizzas together would be a breeze.

Coat a large bowl with olive oil, set aside.  In a food processor or large bowl, combine yeast and warm water.  Let dissolve then add the oil, salt and sugar.  Mix well.  Slowly mix in the flour until a ball of dough forms.  Cover with a dish towel and let sit for 20 minutes.  Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface for 10 minutes, or until springy.  Place in the oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel.  Keep in refrigerator to let rise. 

Let the dough come to room temperature.  Divide into 2-3 balls of dough (depending on how big you want your pizzas to be).  Roll out with some more flour and stretch out to the desired thickness and shape.  Place on an oiled pizza pan or baking sheet.  Top with desired toppings and cheeses.  Add toppings then bake in a 450 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.    

For the appetizer, prepare the grill or grill pan just before your guests arrive.  Coat the asparagus in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Carefully wrapped the prosciutto around each spear.  Put on the hot grill, cooking until the asparagus gets tender and the prosciutto gets slightly crispy.  Impressive, delicious and so easy!

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The Hungry Yuppies, Annie and Rich, are a young couple from CT who are self-proclaimed foodies. Annie is the chef, and Rich is her willing taste tester. Juggling a full time job in the city wasn't going to get in the way of Annie's love for cooking. It's about eating well whether you have just 30 minutes on a Monday night, or all day on a rainy Sunday.