• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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    I've been getting a lot of requests and suggestions for the apartment kitchen. I LOVE these suggestions, keep them coming!

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    em570039@mycia.net

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Spicy Chicken with Quick Asian Pickled Salad

For a quick dinner before my trip to Kansas, Matt and I made a quick dinner from some easy recipes we’ve made before. A light breading made for some crisp, spicy chicken. And our favorite quick Asian-style refrigerator pickles makes a delicious salad as a base. Just season the chicken (we used thin, tender-like pieces) with salt, pepper, and a little bit of cayenne, and dredge in enough flour to coat. Cook in 3 Tbsp of olive oil until crisp and cooked through, about 6-7 minutes. Serve with the quick pickles and it’s a delicious dinner in no time – even the night before a big flight!


Spicy Ground Pork over Sauteed Scallions (“Ants on a Log”)

I’ll be heading home to Kansas this weekend to spend my first Thanksgiving in four years with my wonderful family. I’m loving the fact that my neice and nephew finally understand the concept of time so we can tell them “Aunt Erin will be home next weekend” and they get it. So this weekend, I was video-chatting with them (gotta love technology), and my neice asked “What are you eating?” – she could see my plate on the edge of the screen. I told her I’m eating a favorite Asian dish that’s called “Ants on a Log”. Her face crinkled up (she probably assumed I was eating real ants), but I heard my nephew bust in from the next room. “I KNOW WHAT THAT IS!!!!!!!!! ERIN! I KNOW WHAT THAT IS!” He was out of breath from excitement, and my dad was giggling in the background. “Celery and peanut butter! Are you eating celery and peanut butter?!?!?!?”

I said yes to prevent myself from falling out of my chair laughing, but in actuality this is a delicious main course and has nothing to do with peanut butter. I got the idea from one of my favorite cookbooks. The first time I made this dish for Matt, he gobbled it up in no time…and then proceeded to ask for it…constantly. I had no real qualms with this – it’s incredibly easy and very fast, great for a quick lunch or weeknight supper. The flavors are great, and I can mix it up by adding rice, my favorite scallion pancakes, or other veggies into the pork mixture. The problem is, I just don’t like to make the same things over and over again. Why? Because of you, my lovely readers! But Matt came into the kitchen hautily one day and informed me that I’d never put this recipe on my blog. Ha! He thwarted the system, and I made it again.

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Okonomiyaki

While Matt is a very willing and accepting taste tester, I like to use nights when I’m by myself to try new things or things that don’t quite meet his criteria. He’ll eat almost anything, but he definitely prefers a big slab of meat in the center of the plate. On nights when I’m on my own, I often opt for vegetarian or super-light dishes…like this awesome Okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake made with vegetables. I got a basic recipe from Kevin at Closet Cooking, though I made a few tweaks – added different veggies (you can really use anything you need to use up) and added a tasty dipping sauce. It was quick, comforting, and used up a lot of veggies that were about to go bad! It was so good, I might have to reconsider and make this for Matt!

Steamed Pork Buns

This is one of my all-time favorite foods. It’s a perfect combination of meat and dough that is delicious enough to be a meal but casual enough to be eaten with your hands. I first fell in love with these at Momofuku in New York City. While the steamed bun is Chinese in origin, there are a variety of Asian influences in the modern bun.


Many restaurants buy their buns and only make the fillings fresh, as the process for the perfect steamed bun is a little complicated. But fresh buns are so delicious, as I discovered in my quest to make my own last year. Though they are traditionally made with Hong Kong flour, my version used cake flour, which is much easier to find.


These buns are easy and delicious with any kind of filling, and are the perfect answer to leftover meat in your fridge – shred a roasted chicken, dice up some steak, or, as I did, peel the tender meat off of some delicious pork ribs. 

Vegetarian Red Curry with Brown Rice

I have several vegetarian friends and family members.  Often times, I want to make a dish that’s vegetarian friendly that can also feed several carnivores as well.  In the past when I’ve faced this problem, I turn to Asian cuisines.  There are an array of Asian dishes that are classically vegetarian, but since there are so many stews or one-bowl dishes, the addition of meat is very simple.

A few years ago for a party, I made this dish: red coconut curry with an array of vegetables.  Then I cooked some seasoned chicken breasts in a different saute pan, and reserved some of the curry sauce so that people could assemble their plates as they wished: chicken and vegetables or just veggies.  Curry is fantastically simple if you buy pre-made curry paste, but you can certainly make your own.  

Any vegetables or meats could be added, so it’s creative as well as easy – and it is very healthy.  That’s why I chose to pair this curry with brown rice.  In the past, I’ve made flatbreads, basmati, lentils, or even saffron rice to pair with a classic curry like this.
 


Vegetarian Red Curry with Brown Rice


Served 2
Leftover Potential: Reheats very easily.  Provided 1 meal after the initial dinner.

Curry:
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 1/1 cups green beans, cut in half ***
3-4 Tbsp curry paste, or more as desired
1 can coconut milk, unsweetened
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

chicken breasts, pork loin, etc. can be cooked separately and added as well.

1.  In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until translucent.  Do not let brown.
2.  Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, about one minute.
3.  Add the peppers, mushrooms, and green beans.  Stir over the heat for about a minute.
4.  Add the curry paste, stir well.  Add the coconut milk and stir to combine.  
5.  Allow the mixture to come to a simmer.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender, but still slightly crisp.  Season with salt and pepper as desired.
6.  Serve in warm bowls with a scoop of brown rice.

*** Green beans can also be blanched (cooked in boiling water and then chilled to retain green color) prior to cooking if you prefer them to be softer.  
**** Other great vegetables to use are corn, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and various canned products, such as water chestnuts, baby corns, etc.

Brown Rice:
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup brown rice ***
1 cup vegetable stock

1.  In a small pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, about 1 minute. 
2.  Add the rice and stir to prevent sticking.  Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook as per instructions.  Different rices cook for different lengths of time.  Brown rice generally takes awhile longer.  When the rice is tender, fluff with a fork and serve with curry.


*** Any rice can be used, I chose brown rice due to the healthy qualities.

No More Boring Leftovers Continued: Asian Meatballs with Udon and Beef Broth

Soup is a quick and easy thing to prepare at the last minute. Unfortunately, the idea equated with soup is generally a huge vat with tons and tons of leftovers. With this soup, I’ve tried to create just the right amount, using my pre-made ground meat mixture .

I used store bought beef broth for my base, because it’s flavorful and simple. I generally buy organic is possible, the increase in quality is well worth the small increase in price when it’s the entire base of a dish. Then I supplemented the meatballs with scallions, mushrooms, and udon noodles for some added texture and flavors to my soup.

The result was quick: 20 minutes max from start to finish, and an incredibly comforting, warm, and homey feeling dish. Perfect for a cold night.


Asian Meatballs with Udon and Beef Broth

Served 2.
Leftover Potential: Take out just the right amount of meat so there are no leftovers!

Meatballs:
1 cup ground meat mixture
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs (or panko)
1 tbsp oil, for cooking 

1. Combine meat mixture with the egg until well combined.
2. Add the bread crumbs/panko and mix thoroughly.
3. Using your hands, divide the meat into small balls (slightly larger than bite size).
4. In a medium pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Place the meatballs around the pan, allowing them to sear until browned, approx. 1-2 minutes.
5. Turn the meatballs over, repeating the cooking on the other side. Cover the pan and let steam until finished, another 2 minutes. You can test the meatballs by cutting into them. Set aside.

Soup:
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 can beef broth
2 oz noodles (wide noodles or lo mein work best)
6 mushrooms, thinly sliced
other vegetables, as desired, thinly sliced
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

2 scallions, cut into 1/8″ strips
meatballs, cooked

1. In a small pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, about 1 minute.
2. Add the beef broth, and bring to a gentle boil. Add the noodles and allow to cook until tender.
3. When the noodles are nearly finished, add the mushrooms and other vegetables and allow to cook until tender.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and finish with scallions and finished meatballs. Allow meatballs to heat through if they’ve had time to cool.
5. Serve in warm bowls with spoons and chopsticks.