Sunday, September 16, 2007

Happy Surprise

I've never cooked with shallots before, because I always thought they were to expensive and tasted just like onions and garlic--which I use in everything anyway. But the other day, my sister Lisa and I went to the Chinese market in Sandy (amazing place!) and they had shallots for cheap so I thought I'd try them out. Now, I think, they are one of my favorite ingredients for pasta. Amazing flavor!

Shallot, Eggplant, and Fresh Tomato Pasta

1 Japanese eggplant*, diced
4-5 small tomatoes (I always use campari tomatoes from Costco), quartered
1/2 lb pasta (spaghetti or linguine would be best)
1/2 medium onion, diced small
4 shallots, diced small
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
about 1/4 C olive oil
1 lime
S&P to taste

*Japanese eggplant is a lot smaller and the the flesh is much creamier and less bitter. And you don't have to peel it. It's very rich and absorbs flavor very well, and I think it's a perfect compliment for this dish.
  1. Cook pasta to al dente, as directed. Drain and put to the side.
  2. Place a deep frying pan on medium heat, put in about 3-4 T of olive oil and heat though. Add onions and shallots, and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and keep cooking until slightly browned. Add eggplant and cook until eggplant is cooked through. The onions, garlic, and shallots should be medium brown (but not burned) at this point.
  3. Toss in the cooked pasta, and stir so all ingredients are well incorporated. Add juice of 1/2 a lime, and add the rest of the olive oil. Heat through.
  4. Take off the heat and add the tomatoes and the juice of the other half of a lime.
  5. Toss and serve.
Because the shallots and eggplant have such rich flavors, I really like the fresh tomatoes and the slight citrus flavor of the lime to compliment the dish. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the mellow but rich flavors. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Healthy and Fast

Tonight, I decided to make something healthy and fast. And of course delicious. Blake wanted a quesadilla, and I wanted something more substantial, so I made a compromise.

Tortilla Pizza
serves 2 (plus left overs?)
4 tortillas*
1/4 C pizza sauce (I recommend Contadina's)
1 C uncooked spinach
1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
12 shrimp
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 C mozzarella cheese, diced small
1-1 inch slice of a large eggplant (so it looks like a big circle), peeled
4-5 button mushrooms, sliced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1/4 C olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed

*I always buy the uncooked tortillas at Costco. They are a lot softer and work really well for this recipe. If you can't find uncooked tortillas, just normal large tortillas will work fine.
  1. Cook onions until golden brown, set aside. Cook mushrooms through until tender (In the same frying pan), but not too soft. Set aside. Cook spinach until wilted, set aside. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, cook briefly on both sides and set aside. Slice eggplant into long rectangular shapes, and brown on both sides. Set aside.
  2. In a seperate frying pan, put in 1/4 C olive oil and garlic. Turn heat to medium-low, and keep an eye on it. Don't let the garlic burn, but let it get soft and cooked through in the oil until the oil is well flavored.
  3. Cook the tortillas on one side only, and don't let it brown. Just cook until it turns a white. Then, take one tortilla, uncooked side down, and place back on pan. put 1/2 C cheddar and put another tortilla on top, uncooked side up. Cook until cheese starts to melt, and set aside on a cookie sheet. Do the same with the other two tortillas.
  4. When the quesadillas are made, brush with garlic-infused oil on the top. Sprinkle on the pizza sauce. Layer on eggplant, mushroom, shrimp, onions, and spinach. sprinkle on top mozarella cheese. Place under broiler for 3-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and browned.
  5. Once out of the oven, toss on the diced tomatoes. Slice and serve while hot. (It will cool down pretty fast, so do put it in the broiler right before you're ready to serve.)

Quick Lunch

We cooked some rice last night that we decided not to eat, so we saved it for today and had a reeeeeally quick and easy lunch. I just threw in vegetables I had in the fridge, so I didn't have anything green in it. So I recommend adding green peppers, diced really small, put in the pan after the onions and carrots, before the mushrooms.

Fried Rice
serves 2 healthy portions
1/2 an onion, diced small
1 small carrot, sliced very thin in short strips
3-4 slices of deli ham, cut into small squares
3-4 button mushrooms, diced small
2 eggs
2 C cooked rice
2 T soy sauce
pinch of salt
1 t sesame oil
oil for the pan

*If you have a wok, that is what I suggest using. If not, the biggest, deepest frying you have would work best.
  1. Put some oil in the wok on high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and carrots. When the onions look translucent and soft, add the ham and mushrooms. Stir for a few seconds, until the mushrooms look tender, and crack the eggs into a small bowl and stir until ready to be scrambled.
  2. Push the veggies aside in the wok, and pour the eggs in. Stir around until they are still a little milky, but not raw. Combine with other veggies.
  3. Add rice, and break up until there are no more big chunks. Add soy sauce and salt. Keep breaking up rice and mixing with vegetables and add sesame oil. When the sesame oil becomes fragrant and the ingredients are well distributed, turn the heat off and just leave the rice in the wok to let it get a little crunchy. Serve hot.

2 Dinners

Yakitori Don1 chicken breast, cup up into little pieces
1/4 C "yakitori no tare"
1 T soy sauce
1 T mirin
1 T Rice Wine Vinegar
1 t white pepper
1/2 t chili oil

1 T grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped fine
2 T chicken broth
1/2 head of cabbage, sliced as thin as possible on the mandolin slicer
enough Japanese rice for 2 bowls
  1. combine yakitori sauce, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, white pepper, chili oil, ginger, and garlic in a plastic bag. Add the chicken breast and let marinate for at least 20 minutes. (I prefer about 45 minutes)
  2. After marinating, put the chicken into a lightly oiled frying pan on medium heat and cook through. add about half of the left over marinating liquid, and add chicken broth to thin out a little so it doesn't stick to the pan. Heat through.
  3. in a medium sized bowl, put rice, and then cabbage, and the chicken on top. And you're done!
Carmalized Onion and Roasted Potatoes1/2 medium sized onion, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, crushed
about 4 T olive oil
3-4 russet potatoes, washed well and diced (skins on)
salt & pepper to taste
1 t Herbes de Provence
  1. Preheat oven to "broil". Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until translucent. Add garlic, and and turn heat to medium low. Keep stirring constantly until onions are a darker brown, but not burnt.
  2. Meanwhile, boil diced potatoes in water with about 1 T salt. Once potatoes are cooked through, transfer to a baking dish. Once the onions and garlic are done, pour all of the contents of the pan (including the oil!) on top of the potatoes. add herbes de provence, salt & pepper, and toss until all contents are evenly distributed.
  3. Put in oven under broiler until potatoes are a little crispy, but before the onions burn, about 5-8 minutes.
  4. Let cool for a few minutes. Serve hot.
I like to serve it with a marinated chicken breast. I used Mrs. Dash "mesquite" 10-minute marinade. But I marinated it all day. It was really good:)