Posts tagged ‘spicy’

February 12, 2012

Flip’s Spiced Chicken Sausage Soup

I came back from a business trip with a box of tissues, cough drops, and a sore throat that wouldn’t pass.  By day 4 I developed a hacking cough so I eventually gave in and went to the doctor.  Well, there I was, 2 ear infections and bronchitis and my other half had just left for New Zealand for 2 weeks.  I was miserable.  After a hot shower and a little dusting off, I decided to end my pity party and headed to the store for some key ingredients.

With all my congestion I wasn’t able to taste anything.  I know, my worst nightmare.  So, the traditional chicken noodle soup was going to need a little kick.  I made a twist on the original with a little heat and some Italian sausage.  It’s as if gumbo and chicken noodle soup had a child.  On day 1 I wasn’t really able to taste it, but it did have a great combination of textures from soft vegetables and tender meatballs swimming in a warm, silky broth.  I figured I’d let it stew overnight before adjusting the spice, in hopes my taste buds would make a quick recovery.  Thanks to some antibiotics, prescription strength cough syrup and decongestants, I woke the next morning to the fragrant bouquet of rosemary and Italian sausage seeping through the house.  Ok, I’ll admit it, I had it for breakfast.  I just couldn’t resist!!  The hint of spice and cumin, mixed with the expected aroma of thyme, rosemary and soft tender chicken was a welcome home.  By the end of day 2 I feel like a new person.  It has everything I needed in one bowl to fight back, who can ask for more than that?

I packed up my weeks worth of lunches, and as long as I stop sneaking into the refrigerator for another bowl it should last me until Tuesday.

Ingredients

Stock

  • 4lb. raw chicken
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. peppercorns
  • 1 bullion cube
  • 1 gallon cold water (enough to cover the chicken and all the contents)

Soup

  • Homemade stock (above)
  • Chicken from stock, shredded
  • 2 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 handfuls baby potatoes, quartered
  • 5 Italian sausages, casing removed
  • 1 bullion cube
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Method

  1. Wash raw chicken with cold water and remove giblets
  2. Place in large stockpot and add onion, celery, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, thyme, rosemary, salt, peppercorns, and bullion cube.  Don’t worry about chopping anything nicely, this is just to flavor the stock and it will all be strained out when the stock is ready.
  3. Fill pot with water until chicken and all contents are fully covered
  4. Place on stove on high and bring to a boil
  5. Once boiling, bring heat to low and simmer for 2-2½  hours.  The longer to simmer the better the flavor.  You can always make the stock the night before and let it sit overnight in the fridge.  Then you can strain it in the morning and you’re ready to make your soup.
  6. Remove chicken and strain stock
  7. Place stock back on stove and turn off heat.  Let sit for 10 minutes and then skim some of the extra oil off the top.  No need to go crazy, just skim some of the extra.
  8. Let the chicken cool about 15 minutes. Carefully remove and discard skin and bones and shred chicken with a fork.
  9. Sprinkle shredded chicken with cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper.  Mix spices into chicken and return to stockpot.
  10. In a  sauté pan, cook onions and garlic in a tbsp. of olive oil.  Sauté on medium~high until slightly golden (about 7 mins).
  11. Add onions and garlic to stock along with celery, carrots, and potatoes.
  12. Use the same sauté pan for the sausage.  Remove sausage from casing and drop small bite size balls into pan and cook until slightly golden.
  13. Remove sausage from heat and add directly into stock.
  14. Add bullion cube and tomato paste, stir and let simmer.
  15. Let soup simmer on medium~low for 1 hour, taste and add salt/pepper if necessary.
  16. Serve and sprinkle with cilantro and Parmesan cheese.

I ran out of Parmesan so decided to try it with a little French feta crumbled on top.  Let me say, it’s worth trying!  The salty bite was perfectly balanced with the warm spice of the soup.

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September 21, 2011

Simply Grilled Steak with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Want a new spin on your traditional steak and potatoes?  Try adding a little wasabi!  The buttery potatoes have a slow-rising, distinctive heat, which contrasts well with the juicy steak.  In the summertime, there’s nothing quite like as satisfying as the smell of a big juice steak grilling over a hot fire.  One of my favorite things in the perfectly charred crust, all the seasoning from the grill in one perfect bite.   The grill may just be the best thing that ever happened to a steak.

To make my life a little easier, I bought mixed baby potatoes so I could avoid both peeling and chopping.  I also like the look of the potatoes skins mashed in, it makes it feel more rustic and the skins contain many essential nutrients, so why throw that away?   On a side note, I had a bad experience with my disposal and potato skins, so I try to avoid peeling at all costs… you can probably guess  how that turned out.  The small potatoes have a rich buttery texture so you have to add less milk and butter to get them to the right consistency.

Open up a nice bottle of red wine, relax, and enjoy your $40 steak house dinner in the comfort of your own home for a quarter of the price.

Ingredients

  • 2 rib-eyes, about 2 inches thick, ours we’re BIG steaks, so if you get smaller ones you’ll need to shorten the cooking time.  Here’s a helpful link on grilling steaks.
  • 1 tsp. salt per steak
  • 1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper per steak
  • 2 lbs. baby potatoes, washed (if they are varying in size, cut the large ones so they are all about the same, this way they cook at the same rate)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. wasabi (this varies depending on the heat you want, add a little less at first and try it, you can always add more but you can’t take it away)
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Method

  • Remove steaks from fridge 30 minutes before cooking and season well with salt and pepper.  Rub the spices in so they don’t fall off on the grill.  Then put them aside and let them warm up to room temperature.
  • Fill a medium size pot half full and bring to a boil on the stove
  • Once the water is boiling, add a generous portion of salt (at least a tablespoon) and add the potatoes.
  • Leave potatoes on a light boil with the lid off for 15-20 minutes.  Check by sticking them with a knife, it is goes in without pressure they’re done.
  • While the potatoes boil, turn grill on high
  • When the grill is hot, place steaks on rack and cook on high (~500F) for 5 min per side to sear
  • Then turn grill down to medium (~350-400F) and cook an additional 7 min per side to cook the middle
  • If you use a meat thermometer (which you should feel no shame in using, especially if you are new to cooking meat) 130F in the middle is medium-rare, 140 is medium.  It’s only about 1-2 minutes difference on the grill!
  • Pull the meat off and let is rest for 5-10 minutes before serving, this allows the meat juices to redistribute.  If you cut into it immediately all the juice will run out and you’ll be left with dry steak.
  • While the meat rests, it’s mashing time!
  • Add cream, butter, salt and pepper (to taste) and mash.  Please please please, buy yourself a 4 dollar masher.  Please do not use an electric mixer, this beaks up the gluten in the potatoes and leaves you with tacky, sticky textured potatoes.
  • Slowly add the milk, add about ¼ – ½ a cup, more or less depending on the texture you’re looking for.  I don’t mash my potatoes until they are completely creamy, I like a little texture, so a few lumps are ok with me… plus the skin helps give it a rustic feel.
  • Add the wasabi at the end and mix with a spoon, add it slowly and taste as you go along to get the appropriate heat level for you and your guests.  I didn’t want to use the powdered wasabi I found in the grocery store (maybe one of you have tried it, and if so please let me know how it is), so I stopped by my local Japanese restaurant and asked them for a small side of wasabi.
  • Once you’re finished mashing, your meat has rested and you are ready to dig in.
  • Enjoy!

 

September 16, 2011

Cumin Crusted Pork Chop with Peach Salsa

I love a well-cooked pork chop (not well done, but one that’s cooked by someone who knows what they’re doing), but a dried out one can ruin the meal, and put me off pork chops for months.  This is one of those recipes that will make you love them, and hopefully encourage you to get out of your usual rut of ground beef and chicken (I know I get in those).

This Latin-inspired combination of flavors is great for the summer.  It’s light but fulfilling. The smoky, crispy cumin crust on the pork couples amazingly with the heat and sweetness of the salsa.  I paired this with some wild rice and broccoli and there you have it, one healthy, all around balanced meal!

I picked up some fresh peaches, but the nectarines and plumes looked delicious and could easily be substituted in the below recipe.

Ingredients                                                                                                                                                                                                        Salsa

  • 4 peaches ripe but firm, peeled, pitted and diced (you can leave the skin on if it’s tender)
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Pork Chops

  • 3 tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 pork chops, bone in or out, it’s your preference
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (and a little more for the pan if needed)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper

Method

  • For the salsa, in medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Toss lightly and leave on the side for later.
  • Preheat cast iron skillet to medium high, you will know when it’s ready when you slash a drop of water on the pan and it sizzles away (I used a cast iron pan and it have the chops a great sear, you can also cook these on the grill)
  • Rub chops with oil, sprinkle with cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Place pork chops in hot pan with a little more olive oil.  These should sizzle away!
  • Leave for 6-8 minutes depending on the thickness and turn
  • Cook an additional 6-8 minutes.  The temperate of pork should reach about 140 when it’s done
  • Remove from skillet and top with peach salsa.
  • Consume!

I’m from California so I’m still getting used to the spicy chilies.  To tablespoons of chipotle was plenty for me, but you can add a little more if you’re a Texas native.

September 13, 2011

Aka Sushi, Best Sushi in Houston

Salt and vinegar potato chips, molten dark chocolate cake, fish and chips, bacon, and stick to your ribs homemade macaroni and cheese.  We all give into our cravings. Lucky for me, one of mine happens to be healthy.  There aren’t many places that make me as happy as a trip to my favorite sushi place in Houston, Aka Sushi.

You will not find better sushi for such a good price anywhere in Houston, let along anywhere in Texas.  I grew up in San Francisco, a mecca for fresh fish and great produce, so I think I can say with conviction I’ve tried my fair share of sushi.  Through all my travels, Aka is still at the top of my list.

Upon my first visit, I was eager to try about 20 different rolls on Aka’s enormous menu. They’re certainly on top of some of the better Japanese fusion trends.  I took some recommendations from the welcoming and very informative waiters, and was extremely pleased with all my selections.  Ask for Tony and Jay (they are my two pals and know me too well), they will steer you in the right direction.  Whether you’re the adventurous type, or a beginner sushi lover, they’ll be able to help you navigate the multitude of choices.

Here is my number one tip.  If there is anything you remember from this post, it has to be this.  Ask for a side of their creamy ginger dressing to go along with your sushi.  This is essential to enjoying the ultimate sushi experience.  It has a smooth, rich consistency and the combination of spicy ginger and tangy vinegar makes a perfect addition to any roll.  It’s heavenly, pure bliss!

I’ve tried most of their sushi rolls, and here are my top picks for both the adventurous and timid:

  • Tony’s roll a.k.a. flamin’: spicy salmon, tempura crunch, pepper tuna, avocado, tobiko, sesame seeds, eel sauce, honey wasabi To die for…probably the best roll I’ve ever had.)
  • Ninja roll: spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado; topped with blackened tuna, crumbled goat cheese, honey wasabi, balsamic soy (ask for it “Tony style” and they’ll add some fresh apple slices)
  • Crazy: spicy tuna, shrimp temp., cucumber, jalapeño, masago, sesame, spicy mayo
  • Spicy crunchy salmon: spicy salmon with tempura crunch
  • Spicy crunchy tuna:  spicy tuna with tempura crunch

Aka’s lunch and happy hour deals are unbeatable.   If you get a chance to visit please let me know how you like it and your favorite roll, I’m always looking to try something new!

September 7, 2011

Hatch Chile and Chicken Enchiladas

I grew up in a very British household, my mom being from South Wales and my Dad is from London. With two British parents, Mexican chiles weren’t a common ingredient in our home.  It wasn’t until I moved to Houston a year ago that I discovered the varieties available and the subtle differences between each one.  One month into my Houston arrival, the Hatch Green Chili festival was being held at the local Central Market grocery store.  Of course, I came home with bags of roasted Hatch chiles with little idea of what to do with them.  So, I made it up as I went along.

We were having people over for dinner a few nights later and figured it would be a good way to use up a bunch of chiles and make my fellow Houstonians feel at home.  I don’t think Shepherd’s Pie would’ve gone over so well in 102-degree heat.   I settled on Chile chicken enchiladas, I’d never made enchiladas before so this was an experiment, and one that turned out quite well!

You should know, I don’t usually make this dish from scratch (unless I want to spend 2 hours making dinner).  We have this dish the night after cooking chicken;  I always cook extra the night before and it saves me at least in hour in the kitchen.

I also take another shortcut; I buy roasted hatch green chiles.  You can get these in August at most grocery stores, and can be stored in the freezer for use year round.  This will save you time and mess. If you need to roast them yourself, I recommend doing it in the oven.  Put the chiles on a baking sheet and broil, turning with tongs, until the skin is blackened. Skin the peppers; then seed, core, and dice them.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups roasted, chopped hatch green chiles (roasted poblanos also work)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 medium onion finely diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional if you want to add some extra heat)
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 flour or corn tortillas
  • 1 cup grated Monterrey jack cheese
  • 1 cup grated queso fresco Mexican cheese (if you can’t find this you can substitute with a mild Feta cheese)
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken, cooked and shredded

Method

Sauce

  • Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat
  • Add onion and sauté on low-medium heat for about 5 minutes, add garlic for the last-minute so it doesn’t burn
  • Raise heat to medium and slowly stir in spices, stirring for 2 minutes
  • Then sprinkle on the flour and cook, stirring, 1 more minute
  • Gradually pour in the stock, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer, stirring to make sure the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.  The liquid will slowly thicken.
  • Add the chopped chiles and simmer on low for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so

While sauce is cooking, shred the leftover chicken.  If you’re starting from scratch, dust the chicken with cumin, salt and pepper and place on oiled grill.  After cooking shred and leave it on the side for assembly.  (You can also chop the chicken, personally like the texture of it shredded).

Now it’s time to assemble!

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Place a tortilla on your cutting board; add a few dollops of the chicken, and then spoon on the sauce.
  • Sprinkle with a little cheese, and roll the tortilla to enclose the filling.
  • Place it seem side down in the baking dish. Continue to fill all the tortillas and put them in the baking dish.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top.
  • Serve hot with a side of sour cream, salsa or guacamole.

If you want to make this dish vegetarian friendly, just omit the chicken and replace the stock with water.  I usually make one of each when we have friends over.  You can assemble it earlier in the day and then just pop it in the over when your guests arrive.

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