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It’s been raining here for a few days. When it rains, we often make dishes that require long simmer times. J was feeling adventurous and decided to try an Egyptian peasant dish he found on Food.com. I wanted to try my hand at homemade pita bread. Surprisingly, the bread turned out well. As usual, J’s dish was fantastic. It was an amazing meal.
Lahma Bil Basal ingredients:
1 lb stewing beef
4 yellow onions (sliced super thin, we used the food processor)
2 chicken bouillon cubes (yes, chicken. I promise this works)
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (do NOT use olive oil for this)
salt & pepper (we used a couple of turns of each)
Lahma Bil Basal directions:
Put the meat in saucepan over medium heat with butter and oil. Cook until lightly browned. Add all sliced onions, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper, bay leaf and stir around cooking on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Add water, about 1-1/2 cups, turn to low, cover and cook for at least 2 hours. (We cooked for about three total hours.)
Check during cooking, add more water if too dry. Don’t be afraid to let a few bits brown, those add extra depth to the flavor. But the onions should give enough liquid with initial water you added. For the last half hour remove the lid and allow the dish to thicken. When finished you should have super tender beef with a thick oniony sauce. The onions cook down to create a thick rich sauce. Serve with rice, pita bread or your favorite pasta.
Pita Bread ingredients:
This is originally from this website and was super easy. (Note: your yeast packet might have slightly different directions. Follow those directions first.)
1 1/4 cup warm water (not boiling or hot, apparently it kills the yeast. Yes, I learned this the hard way.)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. oil
Turn the dough onto the counter and knead well to bring it all together. Feel free to add more flour as necessary. Divide the dough into eight equal parts. Roll each part into a ball and flatten into a six-inch circle with a rolling-pin.
Flour a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place each rolled out circle on the floured surface and let rise for at least a half an hour. Heat your oven to 500 degrees. Peel the dough off the foil and put onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 4-8 minutes, (we cooked each side for 5 minutes) flipping halfway through. Stack on top of each other and cover loosely with dish towel to let steam escape.
This was the perfect dish to have with a nice glass of syrah. The meat is fall apart tender and the gravy is melt in your mouth delicious. I thought it was best with the pita bread.
J grew up eating the decadent hot and sour soup at King Doh, authentic Peking and Szechuan cuisine. After several years of trial and error, we finally found a recipe that is really close to the original. To celebrate the Chinese New Year last night, we made a big pot.
2 quarts chicken stock
2 ounces dried black mushrooms (we had trouble finding these and had the must success using fresh shiitake mushrooms)
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon red chili paste (in a pinch, we combined Thai chili oil, Sriracha sauce and Hoisin sauce to make a paste)
1 small can bamboo shoots
1 small can water chestnuts (you can buy them already sliced)
1 small can straw mushrooms
18 ounces firm tofu, drained and cubed
three small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons sesame oil
green onion, chopped (to garnish)
If using dried mushrooms, reconstitute them in water according to package directions. Heat oil in wok or large pot. When the oil is hot, add ginger, chile paste and chicken, cook for about two-minute. Add bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and mushrooms, cook for about a minute. In a bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, salt, pepper and sugar and pour into wok. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes (don’t rush this. The simmering is what seals in the hot and sour flavors). Add tofu and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Mix cornstarch and water and add to soup and cook until thickened (this will make the soup cloudy and thick, but don’t add too much cornstarch or it will gelatinize . Stir soup in one direction to get current going then add beaten egg, it will look feathery. Stir the soup brining the contents from the bottom to the top> Garnish soup with green onion and serve.
Make sue you leave the soup on low for seconds. The second bowl is always better than the first. The only thing we might add in the future is some shrimp or an onion. The soup is even better the next day!
After watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations for Vietnam, J and I have sought out Vietnamese dishes to prepare. And as we’ve mentioned before, we are always looking for more ways to eat fish . J found this recipe from the Ravenous Couple and it didn’t disappoint. Easy to prepare, delicious and fragrant, we’ve added this to our dinner rotation.
1 lb of white fish fillets (We used tilapia fillets)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (this gives the fish the beautiful yellow color)
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder (The original recipe calls for galangal powder, but we’ve had a hard time finding it around us)
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce
1 large red onion, sliced (we only had a white onion on hand)
1 cup of green onion cut lengthwise into 1.5 inch segments
1 bunch of fresh dill coarsely chopped (thick stems removed)
1/4 cup of dry roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed (we didn’t use this because we didn’t have any)
12 oz. bag of vermicelli noodles (boiled and drained, we used white rice because we didn’t have vermicelli on hand)
If you’re ever interested in making your own fish sauce, the original recipe has instructions on how to do that. We opted not to for time purposes, as we made this on a weeknight.
Combine olive oil, turmeric, galangal, garlic, shallots, salt, sugar, and fish sauce in large bowl and mix well. Cut the fish into smaller fillets and gently mix, and allow to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour.
You’ll need two skillets for this, one large and one medium. In the large skillet, saute the red and green onions with a bit of oil under medium low heat. At the same time have the medium non-stick skillet heating on medium high.
While the onions are cooking, cook the fish fillets about 3 minutes on each side until you get a nice golden opaque color and a light brown crust. A minute or so before the fish is done, turn the large skillet with the onions to high and place the cooked fillets on top of the sauteed onions and scallions. Remove from heat and generously top with fresh dill and roasted peanuts (if desired). Serve immediately over vermicelli noodles, fresh lettuce and herbs.
The dill, fish sauce and mint make te flavors really pop. If you’re skeptical like we initially were, try just a little of each on one bite. I promise, you won’t regret it. The only change we’ve made is to use a bit of a firmer fish. Tilapia was just what we had on hand the first time and worked fine, but cod, halibut, or the recommended catfish would be easier to sear. You won’t feel bogged down by this dish. It’s light and filling. We served it with rice, but that was almost unnecessary, the onions were enough.
I’m a rather big fan of banana muffins. Mostly because they’re just as tasty as banana bread, but cook faster and are easier to transport. Plus, you can add all kinds of things, like blueberries, to them and they’re still wonderful. My usual recipe calls for flour, but some how we were out. So I found this recipe from Chase and Em’s blog. With a few modifications, I had some super fast, delicious, friend-worthy muffins.
2 and 1/2 cups quick cooking oats (regular plain old Quaker is what we used)
1 cup vanilla yogurt (we used HyVee brand. Feel free to use plain. The original recipe called for Greek.)
3/4 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 ripe bananas
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line with silicone or foil liners. Grind the oatmeal into oatmeal flour (we used our coffee grinder for this, a half cup at a time) and put in a mixing bowl. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, mashing the banana. Pour into the coated or lined muffin tins (ours took about a half cup each) making sure to leave room for the muffins to rise. Bake for 15-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Our oven took a little more than 20 minutes. Just set a timer for 15 minutes, check, if necessary add another 5 ,check, and then keep a close eye after that. Makes about 18 muffins.
Just as easy as the old standby box mix, these muffins were wonderful. We ended up freezing about half and they are just as good warmed up in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
As usual every one’s talking about what to do with left over turkey today, but what about the other left overs? Some are easy, use rolls to make turkey sandwiches, pies disappear quickly, but what about the cranberry chutney?
Cranberry chutney is actually a pretty good jam substitute. We use it like jam and enjoyed it on pancakes this morning. It would als be good on waffles and plain toast.
If you don’t have any on hand, it’s really simple to make and extra bonus, cranberries are probably on sale today at your favorite grocer. This year we went with the recipe originally from Southern Living in J’s favorite cookbook, Cooking Up a Storm.
2 cups sugar (plain, white)
3/4 cup orange juice
2 bags fresh cranberries (they’re usually 12 ounces each)
grated zest of one orange
Combine the sugar and the orange juice in a large saucepan and stir to combine. Add the cranberries and the orange zest (we just zested right over the saucepan). Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil (lots of little bubbles) stirring often. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken and the cranberry skin begins to crack (this may happen before you reach a boil, that’s ok).
If you like your chutney chunky ,but not too chunky, get out a potato masher and go to town. If you prefer a smoother texture, feel free to toss in your food processor or blender. Serve warm or chilled.
Way, way better than any store-bought canned chutney. It’s amazing on turkey and chicken. In fact, another left over dish we’ll be having this week is cranberry chutney covered baked chicken. The chutney has a sweet tart flavor and is great on any bread product where you would use jam. This dish will not be regulated to just Thanksgiving.