Baked acorn squash

Adapted from Ina Garten and Simply Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup, plus extra for serving
  • good olive oil
  • Dash of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. If you have a microwave, microwave the squash for a minute each, to make it easier to cut. Then stabilize the squash on a cutting board as best you can, stem end down if the stem is short enough, otherwise on the side. Using a sharp, sturdy chef’s knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half, from tip to stem. If on its side, the squash can rock back and forth, so take care as you are cutting it.
  3. Use a sturdy metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy bits inside each squash half, until the inside is smooth. Take a sharp paring knife and score the insides of the acorn squash halves in a cross-hatch pattern, about a half-inch deep cuts.
  4. Place the squash halves cut side up in a roasting pan. Pour 1/4 inch of water over the bottom of the pan so that the squash doesn’t burn or get dried out in the oven.
  5. Rub ½ tablespoon butter into the insides of each half. Brush the cut sides with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground pepper.  Crumble 1 tablespoon brown sugar into the center of each half (optional: and drizzle with 1 teaspoon maple syrup.)
  6. Bake at 400°F for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the tops of the squash halves are nicely browned and the squash flesh is very soft and cooked through.
  7. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas. Let cool for a bit before serving. Drizzle lightly with extra maple syrup, sprinkle with sea salt, and serve hot. 

Jesse picked these up at the last Farmer’s Market we went to, purely on a whim. My Chinese mother never baked a squash in my life that I can remember, and I didn’t really miss it. I was impressed at how quickly you can put this together and then just leave in the oven for an hour or so. I also appreciated this tip: “It’s hard to overcook squash, it just gets better with more caramelization. Don’t undercook it.” Gotta get that glaze on!

~Jessica

Sheet pan chicken tikka

Adapted from smitten kitchen

Ingredients:

  • CHICKEN
  • 1 3/4-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced (see Note up top)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 fresh green chili (I used a jalapeno), seeded and minced
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne, or adjusted to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, drumsticks or halved chicken breasts (all skin-on, bone-in)
  • VEG
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds (about 4 medium) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled if desired, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 3/4 pounds (1 small or half a very large head) cauliflower, cut into 3/4-inch-wide florets
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • GARNISH
  • A few thin slices of red onion
  • Lemon wedges
  • Salt
  • Dollops of yogurt
  • A few tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. If you have, mash the ginger, garlic, chiles and spice in a mortar and pestle to a paste. Combine ginger, garlic, fresh chili, yogurt, salt, spices and sugar in a freezer bag, bowl or container. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat evenly. Let marinate for 15 minutes or up to a day in the fridge.
  2. When you’re ready to cook the dish, heat your oven to 425°F.
  3. Line a half-sheet (13×18-inch) with foil and coat it with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add potatoes, cauliflower, salt, cumin and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss together with you hands until evenly coated.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade and leave excess behind. Make spaces in the vegetables for chicken parts throughout the pan. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, then toss the potato and cauliflower to ensure they’re cooking evenly, and return the pan to the oven for 10 to 20 minutes more (i.e. 30 to 40 minutes total roasting time), until chicken and vegetables are cooked through.
  5. While it roasts, if you’d like to use the lightly pickled onion rings that we did on top, which added a nice tangy fresh zip to the dish, separate the rings and toss them in a small bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Set aside until needed.
  6. When chicken and vegetables are cooked, top with garnishes of your choice — we used dollops of yogurt, herbs and scattered the above onion rings all over. Serve right in the pan.

Jesse loves Indian food, and I miss trying more of Smitten Kitchen‘s recipes, so we decided to try this one. Anything involving marinating meat in yogurt is A-ok in my book. The potatoes took a little bit longer than just 40 minutes (more like 60+ minutes), so maybe cut them smaller? I also made some garlic butter mushrooms because we had some leftover after making mushroom soup this week. Also followed this recipe for pickled onions which were nice and not too strong.

~Jessica

Chinese garlic baby bok choy

Adapted from The Woks of Life

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound baby bok choy(450g)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated ginger (optional)
  • 5 cloves garlic (minced)
  • salt and white pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons hot chicken stock (optional)

Directions:

  1. Trim the bottoms off of each bundle of bok choy, and split them in half or quarters. Just make sure all of the pieces are relatively uniform so they cook evenly. You can leave them whole if they’re very small and tender.
  2. Wash thoroughly with cold water two to three times, using a large basin or sink to rinse and swirl around the vegetables, letting them soak for a few minutes, before draining and washing again. Shake off the excess water after the final rinse and transfer to a colander to drain. It is important to drain the vegetables well since these veggies will release quite a bit of water during the cooking process. Then use the discard water to water plants!
  3. Heat the wok over low heat until smoking, and add 2 tablespoons oil. Swirl around the oil so the wok is coated. Add the ginger, then all of the garlic, then add the bok choy and turn the heat up to high. Move quickly to stir and sauté the greens in the oil and garlic. Stir quickly so you don’t burn the garlic! his first 30 seconds is a critical time not to let your aromatics burn and to cook your veggies evenly.
  4. Use a folding motion to turn the vegetables or use tongs if that is easier. Once the vegetables begin to wilt, about 30 seconds, add salt, pepper, sugar, etc. Stir fry uncovered for another 1-2 minutes. Plate and serve immediately. You may have a little or a lot of liquid, depending upon the heat of your stove and how much water was left in your vegetables after washing, so use a deep dish for serving. That veggie “soup” liquid is full of vitamins and is awesome when poured over a bit of rice!

Made as a side dish for pork chops and rice (but then the rice took too long in the rice cooker, so now we’re going to save it for fried rice later this week.) My sister Jennifer chopped it up small so it would cook faster and easier for her boys to bite.

~Jessica

hapa helpings

IMG_20171011_205255.jpg

Adapted from Steamy Kitchen

bok choy, separated into leaves
1-2 cloves of garlic
ginger
salt
sesame oil
broth/rice wine

Soak bok choy in cool water, to clean off dirt. Grate some ginger, smash and mince some garlic. Fry the garlic and ginger in a little vegetable oil in a hot wok, then add the bok choy quickly. It will spatter a bit, so guard yourself. Add a sprinkle of salt and dash of sesame oil. After the sputtering dies down a bit, add the rice wine, and and cover. Cook for one minute, then serve immediately.

I ate mine with some brown and white rice, and a fried soy sauce egg!

~Jessica

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Chinese grilled pork chops II

Adapted from The Woks of Life and NYTimes. Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 0.75 cup soy sauce (60 ml)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 0.75 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 4.5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 0.75 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 3 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 6 center cut pork chops (about 1 inch thick)
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Marinate the chops in a mixture of the soy sauce, garlic, scallions, ginger, sesame oil and pepper for two hours at room temperature.
  2. Remove the chops from the marinade and discard the extra liquid–you can keep the aromatics on that stuck to the chops though.
  3. Grill: Grill on a BBQ, giving at least 1-2 inches spacing between each chop. Sear on high heat for browning or grill marks for a few minutes, then lower to medium heat and cook on both sides, flipping often until cooked all the way through. When done, the pork should read 145 °F using an instant read thermometer at the thickest part of the cut.
  4. Pan fry: Heat the peanut oil in a skillet large enough to hold 1-2 chops comfortably, remove them from the marinade and brown them for three to four minutes on each side. Add the wine, hoisin sauce and remaining marinade, scrape up the cooking juices, cover and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, or until the pork is done. Be careful not to overcook the meat or it will be tough.
  5. In the oven: Bake at 375 °F for 15-20 minutes until the internal temperature of the meat hits around 135 °F. Lower the rack and broil, flipping a few times during broiling, to get nice coloring on both sides. The pork is done when the internal temp reaches 145 °F.
  6. Place the chops on heated plates and spoon the sauce over the top.
  7. Serve with 1 sliced tomato, 1 sliced cucumber, 6 leaves green leaf lettuce, 3 Tbsp scallion, and “broken rice” for a Vietnamese feel.

Redo with my sister, trying out The Woks of Life recipe! We made some garlic greens and rice on the side to eat with.

~Jessica

hapa helpings

Adapted from No Special Effects and smitten kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • Marinade for 4 bone-in pork chops (~ 1 kg total)
  • rice wine/dry sherry
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • honey
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ginger
  • oyster sauce
  • salt + pepper, Five-spice powder (Star anise (八角), Cloves (丁香), Cinnamon (肉桂), Sichuan pepper (花椒), Fennel seeds (小茴香))
  • scallions
  • cornstarch
  • Hoisin sauce (optional)
  • Sriracha (optional)

Directions:

How to marinate

  1. In a nonreactive dish (glass, ceramic, plastic, stainless steel), mix: ACID + SALT OIL + HERBS/SEASONINGS/SUGAR + TIME
  2. wine + soy sauce + sesame oil + garlic, ginger, honey, chili pepper flakes, scallions, etc.
  3. Marinate pork for 4-12 hours! (30 minutes minimum)

IMAG4820IMAG4821

Perfect for the barbecue! I like using cornstarch; it’s a classic ingredient for Chinese marinades that keeps the meat juicy. Also featured in the pics: garlic butter roasted mushrooms and crispy potatoes.

~Jessica

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Tomato salad

Adapted from Spanish Sabores and Sarah & Olive

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes on the vine
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon sugar (if needed to decrease acidity in off-season tomatoes)
  • A tiny quantity of vinegar – balsamic, sherry or red wine
  • A few sprigs of basil (about 15 decent size leaves) if you have it
  • ½ loaf of whole-wheat rustic, or unleavened bread (works best for avoiding sogginess and maintaining crunchiness)
  • A few thin slices of Spanish Serrano or Iberian ham (optional, but highly recommended)

Directions:

  1. Chop the tomatoes and finely shred the basil.
  2. Mix together in a bowl and generously drizzle with oil, a dash of vinegar and a generous pinch of flakey salt.
  3. Mix well then set aside for at least 20 minutes (or 3 hours to marinate).
  4. Toast the bread. Serve together.

I felt that pan con tomate or something with tomatoes would have been a nice balanced accompaniment for the Spanish tortilla. Alas, I had not prepared the necessary ingredients. Here we are then!

~Jessica

Spanish tortilla II

Adapted from Foot Network and Spanish Sabores

The Five Ingredients:

  • 3 medium potatoes, sliced thin (Yukon Gold works)
  • 2 small onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 6-7 eggs
  • jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Scrub the potatoes. Slice as thin as possible. Peel the onion and slice as thin as possible (arcs, not rings). Deseed the jalapeno carefully, and slice small slivers.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Fry the potatoes on low heat, season with ½ tsp salt, and cover with a lid for 5 minutes to let them soften. Turn up the heat for another 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat.
  3. Fry the pepper and onions separately until soft. Let cool. (We didn’t want to caramelize them, because time.)
  4. Meanwhile break the eggs into a medium bowl. Season with remaining salt, whisk vigorously until frothy. Once the onions have cooled, gently stir them into the eggs.
  5. Once the potatoes have cooled slightly (about five minutes or so) gently stir them into the onion and egg mixture. Be careful that the hot potatoes don’t start to scramble the egg! If you don’t have room in the bowl, keep the potatoes separately plated.
  6. Now let the egg mixture sit for 15 minutes. Let the pan cool as well.
  7. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil on a high heat and pour in the mixture, moving it around in the pan to help the tortilla to rise. Fry until golden brown, stirring occasionally until it has set. Then turn down the heat to allow the inside to cook. After a few minutes, turn up the heat in order to brown the tortilla.
  8. Gently pour the tortilla batter into a frying pan over medium-low heat. You don’t want the pan to be too hot. Gently cook the tortilla for about 6 – 8 minutes on the first side. You can run a spatula along the sides to make sure it’s not sticking.
  9. To flip the tortilla grab a large plate — it must be larger than the frying pan! Put the plate on top of the pan and flip quickly and confidently. It will be runny, but don’t worry.
  10. Slide the tortilla back into the frying pan and let the other side cook for another six to eight minutes (let it cook longer if you like your tortilla fully cooked through). Then flip back out onto a clean plate. Allow it to cool for at least ten minutes before slicing and enjoying. 

Plus some photos! I used Vidalia onions because they were in season. I added the jalapeno pepper because Jesse likes spicy foods, and why not add a little kick? I agree with the tip: “Use room temperature eggs. In Europe, many people don’t refrigerate their eggs at all.” We just returned from a week in Puerto Rico, and one of the last things I ate was a Spanish tortilla (sandwich). It was good, and made me crave vegetarian food. Don’t get me wrong, Puerto Rico does pork and mofongo well, but there is only so much meat and carbs one can consume!

~Jessica

hapa helpings

Adapted from Jamie Oliver, inspired by my friend Daniel, cooked with Amber

Ingredients:

300 g waxy potatoes
1 onion
olive oil
5 large free-range eggs

Directions:

  1. Peel the potatoes then slice thin. Pat dry. Peel and finely slice the onion.
  2. Drizzle Spanish olive oil into a small frying pan over medium heat, then add the onion and potatoes, alternating layers of potatoes with the onions. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 25-30 minutes covered. Do not stir it or the potatoes will break up.
  3. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then whisk together. When the onions and potatoes are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the eggs. Cook over low heat for around 20 minutes, then loosen the sides of the tortilla.
  4. Carefully flip the pan over a dinner plate and tip…

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Potato soup

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices thin bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
  • 1 whole medium onion, diced
  • 3 whole carrots, scrubbed clean and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 6 whole small russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 8 c. low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. milk (omitted)
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. salt, more to taste Black pepper, to taste
  • ½ tsp. spice mix (e.g. Sazón with Saffron)
  • paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh parsley (subbed with arugula)
  • 1 c. grated cheese of your choice (optional)

Directions:

  1. If you’re using meat, add bacon pieces to a soup pot over medium heat and cook bacon until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the pot and set it aside. Pour off most of the grease (I save this in a jar for cooking), but do not clean the pot.
  2. If you’re not using meat, add some butter to your pot. Return the hot to medium-high heat and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or so, then add the diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper, and spice mix.
  3. Pour in the broth and bring it to a gentle boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are starting to get tender. Whisk together the flour and the milk, then pour into the soup and allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Blend with immersion blender, taste for seasonings, adding more of what it needs. Stir in cream, then stir in your greens, reserving a little for garnish.
  5. Serve in bowls garnished with greens, grated cheese and crisp bacon pieces.

I used the wonderful Dutch oven to cook this, and my immersion blender — highly recommend both pieces of kitchen cookware. I also had plenty of Sazón with Saffron leftover from that fideo soup, so added that packet. We had some leftover arugula from this excellent salad, so I added that instead of parsley for fresh greens. I’m so glad I was able to find an immersion blender at HomeGoods for making lovely soups easy — a food processor can be so explosive! I needed the baby carrots, celery, and potatoes for science lab experiments (prepping for next school year), so I was inspired to try a recipe like this.

~Jessica

Chana butter masala

Adapted from NYTimes and Spice India

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 can whole peeled plum tomatoes (I used 800 g)
  • 1 can (400 mL) coconut milk
  • 2 (440 g) cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground cayenne (red pepper flakes work too)
  • Cooked basmati rice, for serving
  • 0.5 cups cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Stir in onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until golden and browned around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to medium-high; keeping the heat on medium ensures even browning without burning the butter.)
  3. Stir in garlic and ginger, and cook another 1 minute.
  4. Stir in cumin, paprika, garam masala and cinnamon stick, and cook another 30 seconds.
  5. Add tomatoes with their juices. Using a large spoon or flat spatula, break up and smash the tomatoes in the pot (or you can use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes while they are still in the can).
  6. Stir in coconut milk and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and continuing to mash up the tomatoes if necessary to help them break down.
  7. If you have an immersion blender, use it now to really break down the tomato bits!
  8. Stir in chickpeas and a pinch of cayenne. Bring the pot back up to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes.
  9. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  10. Serve spooned over rice, topped with cilantro, with warm naan and steamed spinach, as desired.

A friend cooked this on Instagram, so I wanted to try it too. The doctor said I should eat more vegetables, and this seemed like on step in the right direction. Jesse thought of blending the tomato base before adding the garbanzo and paneer, and I highly agree with this. If you can’t find frozen paneer at your local Pakistani grocery, some cubed potatoes would add to the carb calories and taste great too. Compared to Smitten Kitchen, I would try this recipe with minced green chili pepper, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, and 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted.

~Jessica

Pasta con zucchine e pancetta e ricotta

Adapted from Cooking with Rosetta and Il Cucchiaio Argente and Giallo Zafferano

Ingredients:

  • 500 g Farfalle
  • 2-3 Zucchini
  • 20 g olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 100 g pancetta, cubed
  • salt, to taste
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • parsley, to taste
  • 200 mL (3/4 cup) ricotta, plus more for garnish
  • some fresh basil
  • 1 small fresh green or red chili, minced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Boil 4-6 qts. water (for pasta) in a 8 qt. pasta pot, then add salt.
  2. In the meantime, wash and dry the courgettes. Trim them and then grate them with a grater with large holes, or slice into thin (⅛ inch) rounds. Salt lightly and toss.
  3. In a fairly large pan, pour the olive oil and heat it over low heat together with whole clove of garlic. Brown the pancetta.
  4. As soon as the oil is hot, add the courgettes. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally; then remove the garlic. Fry until golden on both sides. Fry the basil a few minutes with this to infuse the flavors.
  5. In the meantime, boil the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain it, keeping a little pasta water.
  6. Add the pasta directly into the pan with the zucchini, together with a little cooking water. Cook for a few moments, stir and then turn off.
  7. Top with some ricotta salata and pasta water, to make a sauce.

I couldn’t find ricotta salata at the local Whole Foods, although I have seen it in DeCicco & Sons in Westchester, of course. Next time I wouldn’t mind subbing with creme fraiche or mascarpone for the fresh ricotta, although the flavor was good. I halved the amount of pasta and zucchini, to make half as much. I used jalapeno pepper, although now my left pointer finger is numb from touching it. I would also be willing to try dicing the zucchini, while julienne sounds like a tad too much work..

~Jessica

Mrs. Maggot’s cottage pie

Adapted from Middle-earth Recipes linked from NPR

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, cubed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrots, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 lb. cubed meat
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup of stock (Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • some fresh marjoram and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1.5 lb. potatoes, quartered (we used red potatoes, skin on)
  • 2-3 tbsp. butter
  • some milk

Directions:

  1. Slice a large onion and 2 carrots (we used 1 carrot and 1 leek) and sauté in bacon fat until the onions are limp.
  2. Add 1 pound of cubed meat, 1 tablespoon of flour, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute for several minutes, and then add the stock and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Peel and quarter 1 pound of potatoes and boil until soft. Mash with 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter and enough milk to make a soft mash. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the meat in a pie dish, cover with the mashed potatoes, and bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Before serving, run the dish quickly under the broiler to brown the potato crust.

I wish we had had bacon fat for flavoring. I accidentally thought we needed ground meat instead of stew meat, so I wonder if there would have been more fat. We underseasoned a little bit (pinch more salt on the meat and potatoes next time), but added in the herbs and paprika for a little more oomph. I can see why the recipe called from peeled potatoes, because the skin detracts a little from that shepherd’s pie look, but it was less work.

~Jessie