Ginger-Basil Chicken Thighs with Green Tomato

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I’ve professed my love for The Kitchn many times on this blog, but this time, it’s serious.  We have a tomato explosion in our garden this year, and as I was staring out my office window and all of the lovely green beauties hanging on their vines, I happened to stumble upon this delightful recipe.  It’s also culinary bonus when I find that I have all the ingredients on hand necessary to complete the dish!

In general, I try to avoid using my oven too much during the summer.  But when zucchini abound, I bake zucchini bread.  When peaches are in season, I bake peach pie.  And when a roasted chicken and tomato dish like this comes along, I do not hesitate to turn on my oven.  It’s that good.

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One of my favorite flavor combinations is ginger and garlic.  The addition of fresh basil from my garden elevated this dish and offered a summery depth of flavor that went perfectly with the green tomatoes.

The original recipe called for Sherry, but I was out, so I used Shaohsing rice cooking wine instead.  You should be able to find it at any Asian market and often in the “international” aisle of your local grocery store.

I also added a little fish sauce and some chopped scallions to round it all off.  The whole dish came together so quickly, which was perfect for a summer night.

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All the ingredients go in the same roasting dish!  So easy!

I chose to pair this with steamed jasmine rice sprinkled with a little rice vinegar.  Roasting the green tomatoes made them slightly sweeter, but they still retained a little sour bite, which went really well with the juicy chicken thighs.  Give this dish a try and let me know how you like it!  Enjoy!

Ginger-Basil Chicken Thighs with Green Tomato
Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients:

1 large (or two medium) green tomatoes, cored, halved, and sliced 1/2 -inch thick
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Shaohsing rice cooking wine
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2-3 scallions, chopped
steamed jasmine rice sprinkled with rice vinegar (for serving)

Method:

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except 1 tablespoon basil and all the chopped scallions; stir to fully incorporate.

Turn out into a 9×13-inch roasting dish.  Roast until chicken is fully cooked and the tomatoes are softened, around 25 minutes.  Stir halfway through roasting time to make sure all chicken is cooked through.  Serve on steamed rice and garnish with remaining basil and chopped scallions.

 

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Peach and Bourbon Bars

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The farmers market is in full force here in Omaha and I absolutely could not pass up the opportunity to bring home a few lovely peaches.  As they sat on my counter, I thought about what I might do with them besides just slice and eat (which is perfectly fine).  I ran across a few inspirations online and decided to sort of mash them all together and add a few of my own ingredients.

Continue reading “Peach and Bourbon Bars”

Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet

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This is not the first (nor will it be the last) strawberry-related recipe you’ll see on this blog.  I absolutely love strawberries and I thoroughly enjoy trying new recipes which feature them.  As I was flipping through my July edition of Bon Appétit, I came across a delightful section devoted to tasty frozen treats.

I totally love making ice cream here in my kitchen.  There is something so pure and delicious about a well-made batch of rich ice cream.  I don’t have to wonder what sort of preservatives might be lurking beneath the surface, nor do I have to consider how many artificial flavors are taking the place of good, clean ingredients.

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Braised Oxtail Tacos with Red Cabbage, Cilantro, and Feta Slaw

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We’ve had a package of oxtails in our freezer since my dad gave them to us at Christmas.  I wasn’t ignoring them; I knew they were there.  I just wasn’t sure what to do with them.  I did know that they were perfect for braising, but beyond that, I was unsure what to do with them once braised.

After a little research, I found that many recipes used them for dishes such as soups, stews, and ragouts.  But I didn’t want to do that, as the weather has been really nice and summery lately.  I wanted to so something relatively light, not heavy like a stew.

My thoughts then shifted to something Scott and I have a lot here at home: black bean tacos.  I thought I could substitute the oxtail for the black beans and do the same basic taco preparation.

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I created a marinade for the oxtail loosely based on a recipe from Kitchen Runway, which is a fabulous site with great recipes and lovely photos.  I was just happy to see that someone was doing something a little different with oxtail AND shared my love of tacos!

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After the initial browning stage.

Continue reading “Braised Oxtail Tacos with Red Cabbage, Cilantro, and Feta Slaw”

Chicken Laksa (Southeast Asian Chicken Noodle Soup)

Last weekend it was really rainy and overcast here in Omaha.  Yes, it’s June, but because of the weather, I was craving chicken noodle soup.  I didn’t want to do the expected noodle soup; I wanted to do something spicy, tangy, something that took me to another place when I ate it.

To the internet I went!

On one of my favorite websites, Food Republic, I found just what I was looking for: something called Chicken Laksa.  One look at the ingredient list told me it was just what I wanted.  And I only had to buy a few items!

I cook with a lot of different spices, so I was glad to see that I had pretty much every spice on the list: coriander seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, and turmeric.  These spices featured a lot in Thai and Indian recipes (which I love) so I always have them on hand.

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I absolutely love going to the Asian market here in town.  Shopping there transports me to another place.  I can spend at least an hour in there, just walking around, discovering ingredients I’ve never seen before.  I fully suggest you do the same.  Find your nearest ethnic market, walk in, and immerse yourself in the food of that culture.  You might be surprised what goes home with you in your shopping bag.

This soup is really easy to put together.  After you grind your spices, chop your shallots and garlic, smash your lemongrass, and cut up your chicken thighs, it pretty much all goes into one pot and boom! you’re done.

I suggest giving this one a try.  If, for any reason, you don’t have a spice or coffee grinder,  you can use pre-ground spices from the market.  Also, if you can’t find shrimp paste (I absolutely had to go to the Asian market for it) I’m sure you could substitute fish sauce.

However, I know that I really loved the boost of flavor the shrimp paste gave.  It doesn’t smell good, but boy, it was a lovely addition to the soup.  If you do substitute, just be sure to taste, as both are salty and exact substitutions might be off.

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Chicken Laksa (Southeast Asian Chicken Noodle Soup)
Adapted from Food Republic

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
4 cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you really like it spicy)
2 lemongrass stalks
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 can (13.5 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
1 quart reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cinnamon stick
8 ounces mung bean sprouts, rinsed
8 ounces wide rice noodles
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, torn
lime wedges
Sambal Oelek chili paste (can find at Asian market)

Method:

In a spice or coffee grinder, place first seven ingredients and grind to medium-fine powder.  Set aside.  Peel off outer layers of lemongrass stalks and give them a good whack on your counter.  Or, if you’re feeling inclined, smash the core with a heavy skillet.  Basically, you’re crushing them in order for them to give off their lovely lemony flavor (you’ll take them out of the soup at the end).

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  When hot, add the cubed chicken, shrimp paste, shallots, and spice mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

Add coconut milk, broth, sugar, and salt.  Add cinnamon stick and lemongrass stalks.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for at least 20 minutes.

In a separate pot, bring 3-4 quarts of water to a boil.  Toss in bean sprouts and blanche them until softened, about 3 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon or a spider, transfer sprouts to a bowl.  Add noodles to same pot and cook until firm, but pliable, about 4-5 minutes; drain.

Divide sprouts and noodles among bowls.  Remove lemongrass and cinnamon stick from soup pot.  Ladle soup into bowls and top with cilantro.  Squeeze fresh lime juice over soup and add as much Sambal Oelek as your tongue can handle.

If you’re going to store this for leftovers, be sure to keep components separate.  When reheating, pour soup into saucepan and heat on stove over medium.  There’s no need to reheat the noodles; the soup will take care of that.

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Rhubarb-Strawberry Cobbler (with Fresh Thyme, Orange Zest, and Port!)

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Rhubarb at the farmers market always excites me.  I grew up with a rhubarb patch in our garden, and my mom would always make rhubarb pie for my dad.  There was something about the tartness of the stalks mixed with the sweetness of the sugar that always stuck with me.

Rhubarb is one of those ingredients that can be mixed with almost any fruit and thrown into a cobbler, pie, or crisp and taste delicious.  This time, I chose to go with the classic pairing of rhubarb and strawberry.  But with a couple of my own additions, natch.

Cobblers are so easy that I don’t know why I don’t make one every week.  How could you go wrong with sweet, warm fruit under a buttery biscuit topping??

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All that is required of you is some fresh fruit and a few other ingredients, and wham! you have cobbler.  Listen, go out and pick up some rhubarb and strawberries from the farmers (or other) market and get started.  You’ll be done before you know it and enjoying warm cobbler on your patio while you listen to the summer birds sing your praises!

Continue reading “Rhubarb-Strawberry Cobbler (with Fresh Thyme, Orange Zest, and Port!)”

Chocolate Banana Bread

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If you’re like me at all, you have a collection of overripe bananas in your freezer, destined for bread.  I have a pretty fool-proof (and delicious) recipe for banana bread given to me by my mother, but I wanted to change things up this time around.  And what better way to do that than with chocolate?

I was reminded of a batch of chocolate-banana ice cream I made for my friend Matthew as a Christmas gift.  I asked he and his wife, Sarah, what their favorite flavors of ice cream were, and that is what I gave to them as gifts.  I much prefer giving edible gifts over anything else for holidays and birthdays.  Matthew said he loved the combination of chocolate and banana, and I totally agree.  Why not turn that into a bread?

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The bananas (minus one) are still a little frozen in this photo, my apologies.

I was hoping for a bread that was more dessert-like in texture, and I think this was a success.  It had the dense consistency of pound cake, and the banana flavor was just subtle enough not to be overpowering.   However, I would probably omit the chocolate chips in my next batch of this bread.  I say this only because (as you might know if you read this blog) I don’t prefer overly-sweet dishes.  The chocolate powder was perfect on its own and needed no extra help from the chips.

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All-purpose flour sifted with cocoa powder, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

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Restaurant Review: Railcar Modern American Kitchen

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Photo credit: Ryan Soderlin/ The World-Herald

From time to time, I will write restaurant reviews for the Omaha World-Herald.  I really enjoy doing it; I get to try new restaurants and share my thoughts with readers of the newspaper.

Most recently, I reviewed Railcar Modern American Kitchen.  You can read the review here.  Chef Jared Clarke makes one of the best burgers I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.  Check them out if you get the chance!

Strawberry and Crème Fraîche Scones with Brown Sugar Crumble

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This last Sunday was the second week of the farmers market here in Omaha and it was a gorgeous day.  Just a week ago, the sky was overcast and there was a biting wind slapping us in the face.  Not a fun trip to the market at all.  The start of the farmers market always gets me excited because it signifies the beginning of strawberry season.  In fact, my strawberries in the garden are starting to flower as I type this…

Now, we didn’t see any this last Sunday, but it’s okay, as I had picked up a container of organic strawberries from Whole Foods.  They were plump and flavorful, and I knew I wanted to make scones with them.  Luckily, one of my favorite websites, The Kitchn, had the same idea!

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These scones were destined for dessert, but of course would be great as a breakfast or brunch item.  You could even substitute different fresh fruits for the strawberries.  I think they would be lovely with fresh blueberries, chopped fresh peaches, or even fresh apricots.

Scones are probably some of the easiest baked goods to make.  If you consider yourself kitchen-challenged, scones are definitely do-able.

Continue reading “Strawberry and Crème Fraîche Scones with Brown Sugar Crumble”

Three-Cheese Tortellini with Parmesan Broth

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What do you think of this artsy photo of my tortellini??  Pretty yummy looking.  Am I right??

I woke up yesterday thinking, “Today I will make pasta.”  I wanted to challenge myself and make a style of pasta I’ve never tried before.  Tortellini it was.

Now, I know that if I had a tortellini craving I could just shop the freezer section of my local market, but why do that when fresh pasta tastes infinitely better??  And besides, fresh pasta is so simple to make.  All you need is flour, eggs, salt, and a little patience and elbow grease.

As for the filling, typically tortellini is filled with a meat or cheese mixture.  I decided to go with a trio of cheeses – ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Asiago.  I love the silky texture of ricotta, and I love the salty bite that Asiago and Parmigiano-Reggiano provide.  Fresh parsley is a natural choice in terms of herbs, and I added a touch of freshly grated nutmeg to warm up the flavor a bit.  After a few grinds of black pepper and a little kosher salt, my filling was done.  Super delicious, super fast and easy, and you can spread the leftover mixture on slices of toasted baguette for a snack!  Yum!

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Making fresh pasta shouldn’t be intimidating.  Really.  I mean, you get to use your hands and mix things up!  It’s easy, and once you do it a few times, you’ll have the feeling for it and from then on you’ll choose fresh over frozen or dried pasta any chance you can.

The only warning I’ll give to you is that making fresh pasta can be a little time-consuming.  So, your best bet is to make it when you have a couple of hours to spare, or you can always make it the night before and store it covered in the fridge prior to rolling it out.

It helps if you have a pasta attachment for your stand mixer, or even a counter-clamp pasta machine like this.  If not, a rolling pin will have to suffice.  Don’t fret, it’ll be fine.

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It is important to let your dough rest for at least 30 minutes after you have kneaded it.  This allows the gluten to develop and as a result, the dough becomes more pliable.  Some might say otherwise, but why not take advantage and give yourself a rest while you’re at it?

Continue reading “Three-Cheese Tortellini with Parmesan Broth”