Monday, February 25, 2013

Mango & Pineapple Salsa

I went to the grocery the other day, and noticed that Mango's were on sale for a $1 each. I believe we are entering Mango season if we aren't already there, and I had this great idea to make Mango Salsa. Several years ago my Aunt made this Mango and Pineapple salsa and it was to die for. We ate it up in a flash. I decided to try and replicate it, so I purchased a pre-cut pineapple core as well. I have to say this Mango and Pineapple salsa is really delicious. It's not quite exactly like my Aunt's because I didn't add a tomato to it, but pretty darn close. The addition of a jalapeno and a Serrano pepper gives it a nice spice. If you like Mangoes and Pineapples then you will love this salsa. Enjoy!

2 Mangos, diced (about 2 cups)
2 cups diced Pineapple
1 Jalapeno, seeded if you don't want it spicy and diced
1 Serrano, seeded if you don't want it spicy and diced
1/4 cup chopped red onion
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Dash of Salt

Combine all the above ingredients into a medium sized bowl and stir well. For optimal taste, place in a fridge, covered, for an hour or so before eating. Enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips.

Clementine Beef Stir-Fry

Clementines are pretty much the greatest. They’re like, all the things you like about oranges, without the things you don’t (like the hard-to-peel peel). And they are small so you can have two without feeling like a piggy. I like to take them to work for a healthy snack/paperweight. But, one thing that drives me crazy is that it seems like you can only buy them in crates. It’s difficult, in fact nearly impossible, for me to eat an entire crate of clementines before they start to go bad. So, I was pretty excited to see this recipe for clementine beef stir-fry on the Daisy’s World blog. She called it spicy but it really didn’t turn out spicy in the least so I eliminated that from my name. But it was delicious! And if you top it with some clementine zest, that flavor really comes through. They were just a little sweet with some saltiness and tanginess that was really nice and flavorful. She made hers with spinach but I used broccoli, and really you can use any veggie you like. I might add in some onions next time.

3 Tbsps. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds tri-tip, skirt or flank steak, sliced thinly
2 Tbsps. Shaoxing Rice Wine or dry Sherry
2 Tbsps. hoisin sauce
2 Tbsps. honey
1 Tbsp. Sriracha chili sauce
Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
3 Tbsps. soy sauce
1/3 cup freshly squeezed clementine juice
2 clementines, for zest
3 to 4 Tbsps. vegetable oil, as needed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsps. fresh ginger, minced
6 oz. broccoli (or other veggie)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Start by mixing up the soy sauce and cornstarch in a bowl. You want to mix well to break up the cornstarch (a whisk helps). Add the beef strips and mix before covering and refrigerating for 30 minutes. Next mix up your sauce in a small bowl. Whisk rice wine or sherry, hoisin, honey, Sriracha, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, clementine juice and the zest of one clementine until combined. Set this aside for later.

Heat your oil on high in a pan or wok, and brown the beef. Work in small batches so you don’t crowd the pan. This makes sure your beef gets nice and browned. This is a dangerous step, since the oil is so hot it tends to spatter a lot. Be careful, and if you have to turn the heat down, the world will not end. Use a slotted spoon to move the beef to a plate and set aside.  

If you need more oil, add a little. We didn’t. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook about one minute. We definitely turned the heat down to medium for this because we didn’t want to burn the garlic. Add in the sauce mixture and cook until reduced and thickened which should take about 5 minutes or so. We added the broccoli back in after about two minutes because it will take a little longer than other veggies to soften up a little bit. After the sauce has thickened add the beef back into the pan for another minute, stirring to coat it in sauce. Serve over rice and garnish with clementine zest.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mini Shrimp Cakes with Ginger Butter

These mini shrimp cakes were one of the recipes I tried for Iron Chef Ginger, and I almost made these instead for the big night. I thought they were very tasty, but a little greasy. I think I used too much oil to fry these little guys. The ginger butter really made it. I decided not to go with these for our Iron Chef, because I really didn't feel like frying anything at our Hostess' house. I do think these would have been hit had I decided to make them. But, if you are hosting a party these would make great little appetizers. Enjoy!

Shrimp Cakes:
3 tablespoons vegetable olive oil
5 large button mushrooms, stemmed, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (about 4 ounces)
2 large shallots, minced
1 medium carrot, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
1 large egg
Zest of 1/2 large lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Ginger Butter:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
One 1/2-inch-long piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and finely grated (about 4 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus extra as needed

To make the shrimp cakes, take out a medium sized skillet and saute in the olive oil the mushrooms, shallots, and carrots until softened.  Transfer the mixture into your food processor. Add in the shrimp, eggs, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, salt and pepper to the food processor. Pulse until combined but still chunky. Form the mixture into 15 patties, place on a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

To make the butter, combine the butter, ginger, and soy sauce. Stir well with a rubber spatula and then place the butter on plastic wrap. Form the butter into a log and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil into a skillet, and fry the shrimp cakes until golden in color at least 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Serve the shrimp cakes while still warm and add a slice of the ginger butter on top. Enjoy.

Iron Chef Ginger - Sweet & Sour Pork Sliders

I had a tough time trying to decide what recipe to use for Iron Chef Ginger. I tried a different pork slider recipe that just wasn't good. I tried latkes, sauteed shrimp, and shrimp cakes with a ginger butter. I normally always go with a recipe that I've tried. Well, I decided to wing it this time, and went with Giada de Laurentiis' Sweet and Sour Pork Sliders . It had 5 stars on Food Network, so I figured it had to be tasty. My question was whether it would have enough ginger in it to tell it was there. Well, the slaw didn't call for ginger, so I added it in to the mixture. The marinade was very tasty. The ginger didn't hit you over the head, but I thought it was nicely subtle. This pork slider was very tasty, and I really recommend it. Thanks for voting this one the winner! Sometimes winging it pays off!

1 1/2 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/4 cabbage)
1 1/2 cups very thinly sliced red cabbage (about 1/4 cabbage)
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 thinly sliced green onions (about 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp minced ginger (optional)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 packed cup golden brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Zest of 1 large orange
One 1 to 1 1/4-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 teaspoons arrowroot
10 to 12 mini Hawaiian-style sweet rolls, halved horizontally

To make the slaw, combine all the ingredients above. Stir well, and place covered in the fridge while you prepare the pork. By the way, for the cabbage I just used pre-packaged cabbage that you can find in the veggie aisle.

For the pork; combine the orange juice thru the zest of an orange in a medium-sized bowl. Mix well. Pour the mixture into a ziplock bag, and add in the pork. Place in the fridge for an hour at the least or overnight at the most. I let it marinade for about 3 hours. Be sure to turn the pork over a couple times while it's marinating. Set your oven to preheat at 425. Take out the pork, and pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Place the pork on a baking sheet, and cook in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the temperature reads 140 to 160 degrees. Next, cook the marinade over medium heat and add in the arrowroot to help thicken the sauce. If you don't have arrowroot, then use about a 1/4 cup of water and 2 to 3 tablespoons of corn starch. Mix and then pour into the marinade. Once the pork is ready, remove from the oven and let rest for a couple minutes. Cut into thin slices. Take your roll and cut in half. Add the pork to the bottom half of the roll, add some of the sauce, add the slaw, and top with top half of the roll. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Iron Chef Ginger

Ginger was a pretty great ingredient choice by our lovely hostess for this round, Cara. And it seems like everyone else agreed since this turned out to be our most well-attended Iron Chef competition ever! Twelve of our regular thirteen showed up to duke it out for ginger glory. And everyone brought their A game, as well. There wasn't a single dish that flopped, and everything tasted delicious, though it was harder to taste the ginger in some dishes versus others. It was also the first night that we instituted our new rule of trying to keep everything relatively bite-sized, and that was a huge success as well, especially since there were so many of us. We ended the evening feeling satisfied but not rolling around on the ground holding our full stomachs and groaning. Ok, enough of the preamble, let's get to the food!

Lee's Ginger Sweet Tea Tinis 

We started off with the drinks (we get right to business), and the first was Lee's Ginger Sweet Tea Tini. She even designed an adorable little label (presentation points!). These were dangerously tasty: one of those drinks where you tend to forget there is alcohol involved until you are doing something embarrassing. The ginger was subtle but definitely present, and we're in the South so sweet tea is always welcome!

Cara's Ginger Champagne 

Next up was Cara's Ginger Champagne, which was very elegantly presented with a sprig of thyme. Unfortunately, a mishap sent most of the glasses into the lap of one of our competitors (strategic move?), but there were enough left standing for everyone to get a taste. I really enjoyed how the ginger paired with champagne was almost like a play on ginger ale. Just a very elegant ginger ale. I was pretty glad I got my glass before the whole champagne shower went down.

Chelyen's Ginger Beef Bites 

We moved on to the appetizer round via Chelyen's Ginger Beef Bites. She took little phyllo cups, (perfect for appetizers, take note) and filled them with a tasty ginger beef and green pepper mixture. These had a hint of spice from the ginger and a ton of flavor, and made for a great little bite. For me, more like several bites (as I might have had more than one).

Emily's Sweet and Sour Pork Sliders 

Emily tried a few different recipes before deciding to throw caution to the wind and make these Sweet and Sour Pork Sliders that she had never tried before. Well, it was a good thing because she pulled out the Iron Chef Ginger win! These were really delicious little sandwiches with marinated pork slices topped with a nice crunchy slaw. The ginger was subtle in just the right way and the whole combination was very flavorful. Definitely a crowd pleaser (obviously)!

Sara's Gingered Goat Cheese Puffs 

My Gingered Goat Cheese Puffs were up next and, as always, I wasn't really sure about them. I also tried a few recipes before that turned out tasty, but didn't taste like ginger. Well, this one met the same fate, as the ginger seemed to be lacking, no matter how much I put in. The good news is, it still tasted ok. A little sweet, a little spicy and all in all, a good little bite.

Greta's Ginger Slaw 

As we moved into the sides and main courses, it was an awesome feeling to not already feel totally stuffed! Greta's Ginger Slaw was a really refreshing side, with sweet citrus flavor that paired well with the ginger and gave the slaw a nice brightness. I think pairing fruit and veggies can be a difficult line to walk but Greta did it really well with this dish. And it was nice to have something at least somewhat healthy as well.

Kim's Ginger Muffins with Ginger Butter 

The next side was Kim's Ginger Muffins, made with pears and crystallized ginger. She paired it with a tasty ginger butter. The muffin itself was nice and light, sweet but not dessert-like and overall had some good ginger flavor. The ginger butter was really good as well and definitely went well with the muffin.

Doan's Spicy Ginger Chicken with Soba Noodles 

On to the main courses! We started with Doan's Spicy Ginger Chicken and Soba Noodles which was a big hit! It was spicy (which is right up my alley) and had a ton of flavor, but the noodles didn't make it heavy. It felt light and healthy, and I don't want to know if it wasn't! I bet it would be great hot or cold.

Jen's Ginger Scallops 

Scallops are a pretty tricky thing to make at home, much less at a dinner party like this. But I think Jen's Ginger Scallops may have converted a few people over from anti-scallop to scallop fan because she pulled out a second place finish. These were pan seared with a nice crust and the ginger sauce was packed with flavor. You tasted the ginger in the sauce but it didn't overpower the delicate flavor of the scallop. And it was really gorgeous to look at, as well!

Shu's Ginger Banana Wontons with Vanilla Cream 

Shu "threw together" some Ginger Banana Wontons and homemade Vanilla Cream. She's definitely upping the ante on us by making her own whipped cream (which was worth it, in my opinion). The wontons were fun and unexpected, with a good combination of flavors, and everyone really enjoyed them! The wontons themselves weren't particularly sweet so putting the vanilla cream with them balanced out the dessert in a really smart way.

Kristy's Ginger Spice Cookies 

Kristy's Ginger Spice Cookies were one of the dishes where the ginger flavor was really pronounced, and she accented it with spices in a very nice way. They had that heat that you look for in a gingersnap, but these were nice and soft. I'm always a fan of cookies that play along the savory line, and these, while sweet, had some savory notes in them as well that were fun.

Morgan's Ginger and Peanut Butter Chip Cookie 

Finally, Morgan's Ginger and Peanut Butter Chip Cookies. Although she said she nearly gave up and brought nothing but a bottle of wine, Morgan's cookies were really tasty. They didn't really taste like ginger, but that didn't stop me from having more than one! And I don't think I'm the only one who did, since she didn't have many to take home at the end of the night. Thanks Cara for hosting our biggest group yet! Looking forward to the next competition sometime in April or May.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken

Being a big fan of spicy food, of course Jerk Chicken is on my radar as something to try. However, it’s a pretty intimidating thing to try. Like a mole sauce, it has a lot of ingredients, a wide variety of flavors, and a lot of different versions (all of them claiming to be “the best!”). It’s also typically cooked for a long time over a flame. But when I saw this recipe on Baker’s Royale for jerk chicken made in a slow cooker, I thought I’d give it a shot. I liked that even though the majority of the cooking was done in the slow cooker, it finished under the broiler to get that somewhat charred, delicious crispy skin. It turned out to be extremely flavorful, although my batch was also extremely spicy. One thing I would definitely change is to not use the split chicken breasts at all and just stick to chicken thighs. The breasts turned out unforgivably dry (as breasts are wont to do). My husband and I generally prefer thigh meat anyway.

8 chicken thighs (skin on, bone in) or 4 thighs, 2 split chicken breasts
½ cup vegetable oil
3 habanero chilies, de-stemmed
1 (1-inch) fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons molasses
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoon coarse salt
lime wedges for serving

If you don’t like things really, really spicy, I suggest seeding them and maybe only using one or two. You could also sub in jalapeno. In your food processor or blender, mix up all the ingredients except the chicken and lime wedges until they are blended into a sort of puree or sauce. Put your chicken into the slow cooker and spread half of the puree on it, reserving the other half for basting. Cook the chicken on low for 4-6 hours until it’s tender. I did it for 5 hours, which was maybe a bit long and could explain why my breasts were so dry.
Move your oven rack about 10 inches away from the broiler and turn the broiler on high. Line a baking sheet with foil, and put a wire rack on top of that. Place your chicken skin side down on the wire rack, and baste the other side with half the remaining puree. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until this side is a little charred and crispy. Flip the chicken over and baste with the rest of the puree, and then cook another 5-10 minutes until this side is also lightly charred and crispy. Then serve with some lime wedges, which can help cut down the spiciness if it’s too much for you. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Grilled Cabbage with Spicy Lime Dressing

Ok, I know what you're thinking. Cabbage. Cabbage? But don't judge. Don't give up on this humble veggie without giving it another, newer (and tastier) try. I've always been a fan of raw cabbage, although I know that puts me in the minority. In fact, as a kid I remember we used to ask my mom for the cabbage core whenever she was making cole slaw. If you've never tried the core, please do. It's a little like a radish without the bite. Very tasty. But I digress. I saw this recipe for grilled cabbage on The Kitchn and knew that I wanted to try it immediately. I also knew that I would meet with some resistance from the Hubs, but I thought the spicy lime dressing might bring him around. Well, he admitted he had his doubts, but in the end said that he was "pleasantly surprised." Hey, I'll take it. This is a great, flavor-packed side dish that is surprisingly filling, considering it's pretty much just cabbage. The dressing is very citrusy, but pairs nicely with the mellow cabbage and the garlic and cilantro also stood out. If I had one complaint it would be that I didn't get spiciness from this at all, so next time I might add a jalapeno to the dressing. We used half a head of cabbage for two people, but I'm including the recipe for the whole head below. 

1/4 cup lime juice (2-3 limes)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 head green cabbage
Grapeseed or canola oil

For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients except the cabbage together in a small bowl. The original recipe said to "whizz" them in a food processor, but to be honest, I didn't feel like dirtying up my whole Cuisinart just for this little bit of dressing. So I used my trusty garlic press and I feel like it turned out just fine. Set the dressing aside and prepare your cabbage. Get rid of the outer layers of tough leaves until you get to the tasty good cabbage inside. Cut it into 8 wedges and brush the edges with oil. To grill it, put the wedges on for about 5 minutes or so with the cover closed until the edges start to get some good color. Flip them on the other edge and cook for another 5-7 minutes with the cover closed. We kept the cabbage relatively crisp in the center, but if you want to soften it up even more just cook it for longer.  Then just pour the dressing over the wedge and serve with a knife. Give cabbage a chance! You might find yourself pleasantly surprised as well.