Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mima's Warm Red Salsa

3 peeled tomatoes, chopped roughly
1/2 an onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large bay leaves
3-4 small, dried red peppers (or large red pepper flakes if you have no blender)
Olive oil
Mexican oregano
Chicken broth or water (if the tomatoes are pretty dry)

1. Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium heat and add the peppers (or pepper flakes) . Toast them briefly, maybe 2 minutes, or until they've very slightly browned. Take them out of the pan and set them aside.

2. Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Add the onion and saute until translucent, then add the garlic and saute until softened. About 1 minute. Make sure to lightly salt the onion and garlic. Add the bay leaves. Meanwhile, use a knife to cut up a the peppers into pieces.

3. When the garlic and onion are sauteed and fragrant add the peppers (or pepper flakes) and diced tomato and continue sauteinng. The goal is to cook the tomatoes down to a point that you can crush them fine. If they seem too dry to crush and still be a sauce, add some water or chicken stock.

4. Once the tomatoes are saucy, and the peppers have been softened and broken up into smaller pieces you can either a) blend it in a blender for a smooth sauce or b) leave as is and spice with as much oregano and any extra salt needed.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Eggplant & Chickpeas with Rosemary & Cumin

You will need:
1 smallish eggplant, diced into smallish cubes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 can of diced tomatoes, or about 2-3 tomatoes blanched, peeled and chopped
2 cups uncooked spinach, roughly chopped (OPTIONAL)
1 tablespoon of cumin, or to taste
1 tablespoon of rosemary, or to taste
2 tablespoons oil (olive oil is preferred but not essential)
Salt and pepper

How to make it:

First, cut up all of your ingredients. Blanche and peel the tomatoes, cut them up. Cut up the eggplant, skin and all, then place in a bowl and drizzle the olive oil over, toss to coat eggplant evenly. Peel and mince the garlic. Open your can of chickpeas and drain them.

Saute the eggplant in a large pan until starting to become translucent and brownish, about 5-8 minutes over medium heat.

Add garlic, stir around and saute over medium heat for another 2 minutes.

Add most of the spices, reserving a little to add at the very end to add a fresher flavor.

Add the chickpeas and saute until softer, about 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and saute until it's not soupy or very wet anymore.

If you're adding spinach, you can add it now and wait for it to wilt and cook through.

Add the remaining amounts of spices, stir and serve! We ate it with crusty bread, breaded pork chops and salad.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Italian Garlic Chicken

Here is a quick post for a weekday dinner. When I was young, I refered to this chicken simply as 'crispy chicken' for years. From that name, it sounds like it'd be fried chicken, which it is not. It's not breaded at all, but still delivers that satisfying, salty crunch in each bite. The skin turns golden brown and translucent, and yet each mouthful is succulent and moist. I love this chicken and, as with many things I've posted so far, it is one of the dishes I made frequently in college. It's cheap, it works on any cut of chicken with skin, but is especially delicious on thighs and drumsticks. It is composed entirely of things you should have in your kitchen already and is baked, making it an easy dish to throw together and then go about doing your laundry or watching that movie. For a real college throwback, serve with rice-a-roni. Or, have a nice salad and some crusty bread for a nicer, easy meal.

4-6 chicken legs, thighs or breasts, skin on
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of olive oil
3 tablespoons Italian seasoning
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Put everything in a gallon sized plastic, ziplock bag and shake it around. Use your hands through the bag to make sure each piece of chicken is thoroughly coated. Allow to marinate in the refridgerator for 15 minutes to 1 hour.

2.  Line a baking sheet with foil,  place each chicken piece on the baking pan as even spaced as possible.

3. Bake in the oven until crispy, golden on the outside and juices run clear when one piece is pierced with a knife. About 30-45 minutes.

Note: I find that ovens can actually vary a lot regardless of exact temperatures set. Your goal here is to cook the chicken all the way through at about the same rate the skin needs to crisp. To do this, you'll need to have it at a medium-low enough temperature for a little bit to cook it through. Once cooked through, feel free to turn your oven up to crisp up the skin.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chicken & Eggplant Gyros with Tzaziki and Tomato Salad

I constantly crave foods wrapped in breads. Tacos and enchiladas usually top the craving list, but just under that is the gyro. I've got no idea how it's actually pronounced, and I can't say I care. It's called many things, kebab in some places, and shwarma in others. I call it a gyro and that's all.

My version of the gyro is... involved. It's a true labor of love when I make it here in China. I make the soft bread that wraps it myself. I cook and season the meat. Make the tzatziki, make a tomato salad to add, and then shred some lettuce and crumble the feta. It takes a special trip to the city to get the mint I need for the recipe. And I do it because it is so worth it.

I'll post a recipe for the bread I make for this another time, as this recipe and its fixings are already rather numerous. You can wrap yours in warm, soft pitas, and that will be just as delicious.

Chicken & Eggplant Gyros with Tzaziki and Tomato Salad


For the Eggplant-Chicken Mixture:
1 chicken breast
1 large eggplant
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt & pepper
Pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp cumin


For the tzatziki:
1 cucumber
3 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp sour cream (optional, replace with yogurt if desired)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of ¼ of a lemon (about 1-2 tbsp)
1 1/2 tsp dill
Small splash of olive oil
Salt & pepper

For the tomato salad:
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced into rounds
½  a medium red onion
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Fresh mint, about 1 tablespoon chopped

NOTE: I've grouped directions by which aspect of the gyro it makes. Really though, to streamline this process, you should start off putting your eggplant in the oven and your chicken on to boil, then go on to assemble your tzatziki and tomato salads. This will allow your filling to be in the works while you make the other parts, which come together quickly. Then, they can sit and the flavors can meld while you finish cooking up the chicken-eggplant filling. I hope that helps!

Make the Tomato Salad:
1. Slice the tomatoes into rounds so that they resemble small coins. Thinly slice your red onion, chop the mint. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl together and let sit, allowing flavors to meld for at least 10 minutes. 

Make the Tzatziki:
1. Grate cucumber on the large grate side of a box grater, and put into a medium sized bowl. Add a small splash of olive oil, the minced garlic, and the salt and stir.

2.Add the yogurt and sour cream (if using), and a small amount of lemon juice, then mix. Taste. I like my tzatziki sour, but you should adjust your lemon juice amount to your own tastes. 

3.Now add the dill, a tiny bit more salt, and some pepper. Taste and adjust.

Make the filling:
1.Preheat your oven to 375 F. Slice the top off of the eggplant, then cut through the middle lengthwise. Slice each half into thin slices and arrange on a foil lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt, then cook until the eggplant has become more transparent looking.

2.Fill a small pot with water, add some salt and bring to a boil. Drop your chicken in and boil until just cooked through.  Using a slotted spoon, take our your chicken and allow to cool a bit. Then,  either shred or slice the chicken.

3.In a pan, add about 1 tbsp of oil and the two cloves of garlic minced. Saute about 1 minute, then add both the chicken and the eggplant. Sprinkle the other seasonings over this mixture and cook until heated through and some of the moisture from the chicken and eggplant has gone. 

Warm your bread of choice. If pitas, determine whether you wish to stuff the pita or wrap with the pita. It's a hard decision, I know. Layer your tzatziki sauce, chicken-eggplant filling, and tomato salad into the pita, then top with shredded lettuce and crumbled feta. Enjoy your messy, delicious gyros!