Monday, March 3, 2014

(Healthier) Chicken and Smoked Andouille Gumbo

To celebrate the upcoming Mardi Gras, here I'm presenting you some chicken and smoked Andouille gumbo. 

Well, no. Not really.

We were just in the mood for some hearty stew to warm us up, considering it's been raining for a few days here, again. It just so happened that gumbo comes to mind. 

But here comes the dilemma. 
We love gumbo, but we don't love the amount of fat that normally goes with it. I mean, a cup of fat for a cup of flour, that seems like a lot.
Browning the flour, or dry-frying, provides a simple solution to the problem. Using only 2 tablespoons of oil, the dish still has nice dark copper color and more importantly, still retains all of the flavors we all love from our beloved gumbo.

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 pound chicken meat, diced
  • 1 pound smoked Andouille sausage, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon gumbo file
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 scallions, chopped for garnish

  • Place the flour in a skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the flour turns dark brown. Set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and green pepper. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stir constantly, until the vegetables are cooked through and the onion become translucent. Add brown flour, bay leaves, thyme, creole seasoning, and cayenne pepper into the saucepan and mix thoroughly. Gradually add chicken stock into the pot, stir continuously to make sure that the soup is well blended. Bring the soup to boil, reduce the heat to low and cook covered for about 30 minutes
  • Add chicken and sausage into the gumbo. Cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Add gumbo file and mix well. Season with salt. Turn off the heat. Ladle gumbo into serving bowl, sprinkle with chopped green onion. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Serves 4

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stir-Fried Garlic Chives with Ground Pork and Tofu (Cang Ying Tou)

Somewhere between the frustration over a hacked email account and the annoyance over wet muddy days, spending a little time in the kitchen provides comfort to me.
And having a final product in front of me in 15 minutes elevates my mood to a much better place.

Cang Ying Tou, or flies heads in english got its name from the fermented black beans (Dousi) that's being used in the recipe. It's spicy, savory, slightly pungent, not mentioning delicious and easy to make. It's a perfect dish for us who want to veer away from the mainstream Chinese food.

If garlic chives are hard to find in your area, feel free to substitute with any green vegetables of your liking. Serve hot with steamed rice.

  • 1 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fermented black beans (Dousi), rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 Thai red chiles (more if you like it spicy), seeded and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup sliced tofu (optional)
  • 1 bunch garlic chives with buds still intact, remove the bottom parts, cut into small bits. You will end up with about 2 cups of chives
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • Heat both oil in skillet/wok over high heat. Add garlic, black beans, and chili pepper, cook for a few seconds. Add pork, chives, and tofu (optional), cook until the pork and vegetables are cooked through, stirring often.
  • Season with oyster and soy sauce. Mix to blend. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Cheesy Dilly Rolls

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus 3 tablespoons melted butter for brushing
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup milk, heated to 105-110 F
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2.5 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • In a hot skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter, add chopped onion and cook until translucent. Cool completely.
  • Add sugar and yeast into warm milk, mix to combine. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes, until the yeast starts to foam. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, salt, dill, sour cream, milk mixture, sautéed onion, cheddar, and 3 tablespoons of butter. Using your hand, mix all of the ingredients and keep kneading until it forms sticky dough. Transfer dough to a floured countertop, continue kneading until the dough turns smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with kitchen towel and let sit in warm place to rise, until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Punch down the dough, divide into 12* equal pieces. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll each dough piece gently into a ball, place it on the line baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, space the balls at least 2-inches apart. Cover baking sheet with kitchen towel. Store in warm place and let rise until doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake rolls until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Pull baking sheet out of the oven, and brush the top of the rolls with melted butter immediately. Transfer to wire rack and cool down slightly before serving.
Yield 12 rolls, or 24 small rolls

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Guajillo Fish Tacos

We love our fish tacos, but this time we opted to bake the fish instead of deep frying it. Guajillo marinated fish gives a different flavor tone to the tacos, but delicious nevertheless.

Ingredients for the fish:
  • 4 dried Guajillo chiles, stemmed
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 or 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Juice from 1 lime, about 4 tablespoons
  • Salt 
  • 1 pound white fish fillet (I used pacific cod for this, but tilapia works beautifully too), rinsed and pat dry.
Ingredients for avocado sauce:
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded stemmed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt
Other ingredients:
  • 2 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup broccoli sprouts (optional)
  • 1 package corn tortillas, about 8 or 10
  • Lime wedges
  • Hot sauce and salsa, optional
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the Guajillo chiles until slightly puffed and fragrant, about 10-15 seconds each side. Turn off the heat. Pour hot water into the skillet, just enough to cover the chiles, cover and let sit for about 30 minutes. Drain chiles and transfer into a blender, add the rest of marinating ingredients, and pulse into a thick puree. Season with salt.
  • Sprinkle salt on fish fillets. Cover fish with chile paste on both sides, place in a container and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush with oil. Place fish fillets on the baking sheet, cover with another piece of foil. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the fish becomes flaky and turns opaque. (Alternatively, you may choose to pan frying the fish on the hot skillet, if you don't want to wait 25 minutes).
  • While the fish is baking, place all of the ingredients for avocado sauce in a blender. Pulse into smooth puree, transfer to a bowl. Season with salt.
  • When the fish is done, cut into bite-size pieces. Place some fish pieces on warm tortilla, top with shredded cabbage and sprouts. Serve with avocado sauce, lime wedges, salsa, and hot sauce (optional)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fennel Citrus Salad with Honey Mint Dressing

Fennel and citrus salad with honey mint dressing.
To me, it's such a great respite from whatever not-so-healthy food I've been consuming lately.
Let's face the fact, I have not paid much attention to my diet. I let things slide from time to time, and indulged in greasy, or sweet goodness more than I care to admit.

And then there was yesterday. An event where little C graduated from Cub Scout and is moving on to Boy Scout, the Blue and Gold dinner.
Where the dinner menu included fried chicken and pulled pork sliders, some pasta and salad. And also the whole array of dessert on the table. I hit my new low. I was no longer holding on for dear life to a healthy wagon, I fell off of it and landed in a fatty puddle. 
My body just can't cope with it anymore. What the heck was I thinking?

The next day I became sluggish. I spent the majority of my day laying down on the coach, soaking in self-loathe. The house was a total mess, but I didn't care.
I dragged myself to get up and tried to do my best to (at least) look alive. I was really forcing myself to take a shower and get dressed.
But I managed to peered into my refrigerator and found 2 fennel bulbs. I also had 2 oranges. And some mint leaves. It took me 5 minutes to make the salad, and that was what I needed.

That. Was. Exactly. What. I. Needed. 
Life, invigorated!

Maybe I will make more of this and it will be my meals for the next 2 days.

  • 2 fennel bulbs, cut vertically in half, then slice thinly
  • 2 navel oranges (or use any kind of sweet citrus you want), peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachio 
  • Whisk mint, ginger, honey, and lime in a bowl until well combined. 
  • Arrange fennel and orange slices in a salad bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss to coat.
  • Divide salad into individual plates. Sprinkle with chopped pistachio before serving.

Serves 4 - 6