Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Apples and Walnuts

Salad making has never a specialty of mine. My parents immigrated from a land where vegetables had to be thoroughly washed and well cooked. As a result, raw vegetables were a rare part of my diet growing up. I do fondly remember eating the occasional iceberg lettuce doused with thousand island dressing with my dad, who had a penchant for the thick, creamy sweet condiment.

This early exposure to thousand island dressing was probably what fueled my love for Big Macs growing up ūüėõ

The warm goat cheese salad I present to you today is a healthy, light way to start off your next meal. Use a different type of apple if you find the Granny Smith to be too tart, especially paired with the honey apple cider vinaigrette. I cracked open my own walnuts with a garlic press (I do recommend getting an actual nutcracker though), but you can buy pre-shelled walnuts to make your lives a bit easier.

Ingredients:

1 granny smith apple, sliced
3 oz goat cheese log, sliced into 1/3 inch rounds
3 cup spring mix salad
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Vinaigrette:
5-¬Ĺ tbsp honey
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 pinch salt
1 pinch freshly ground Pepper
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 dash lemon juice

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 375 F. Place the sliced goat cheese on a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes until the cheese has melted inside but still retains its shape.

2) For the vinaigrette, whisk together the honey and vinegar till the honey has dissolved. Season with salt and pepper and slowly add the olive oil while stirring. Add a dash of lemon juice. Taste the vinaigrette and adjust accordingly if you want a sweeter dressing.

3) Toss the spring mix greens with the dressing. Add the walnuts and apple slices and mix well.

4) Plate the salad and add the warm slices of goat cheese on top. Enjoy!

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Roast Chicken and Potatoes

The monthly subscription business exploded in popularity about a year ago as monthly hand-selected boxes including beauty products (Birchbox being an original), doggy treats, and Paleo snacks came on the scene to tempt consumers.

Andrew loves his¬†Bespoke Post¬†subscription ‚Äď a monthly shipment of manly #boxofawesome goodness. You can find a comprehensive list of available subscription boxes at¬†Fantabulously Frugal.

The concept is fairly easy ‚Äď pay X dollars a month and the company will ship a hand-selected box of goodies straight to your doorstep. It‚Äôs a¬†great way to sample new products, and you can purchase the full-size versions on the website if something strikes your fancy.

I of course jumped on the chance to get a free trial box of food through Foodzie.¬†Foodzie¬†allows you to discover artisanal treats like crispy seaweed snacks and organic dried pineapple for the monthly subscription price of $29.95 ($19.95 when the service first started). I like Foodzie‚Äôs branding strategy ‚Ästevery box is a tasting adventure!¬†They also help small-batch food makers get their products out there on the market.

My box of goodies included sample packets of Wood’s Gourmet spices and a recipe card for some roast chicken and potatoes. Make sure to rub the chicken liberally with the Basil & Lemongrass Herb Sea Salt. I love anything that simplifies the cooking process and still makes me feel like an awesome cook :D. The tender, juicy leftover chicken makes perfect sandwiches for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:

1 small whole chicken (about 3 ‚Äď 3 1/2 pounds)
1 tbsp of Woody’s Gourmet Basil & Lemongrass Herb Sea Salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 sprigs of fresh marjoram
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 lb of small German butterball potatoes
Woody’s Gourmet Fresh Rosemary and Sage Sea Salt, to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat it dry. Drizzle the olive oil on top and rub it over the chicken.

3) Rub the chicken (inside and out) with the lemongrass sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Stuff the cavity with the sprigs of fresh marjoram.

4) Rinse the potatoes and place them into a cast iron griddle. Toss them with the rosemary sea salt (to taste), a sprinkling of freshly-ground pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil.

5) Heat a large cast iron griddle over medium-high heat. When the griddle is hot, place the chicken, breast side down, into the griddle. Cook for a few minutes, letting the skin brown lightly. Flip to the other side, and cook for a few minutes before flipping it again and placing it in the oven to roast.

6) Place the potatoes alongside the chicken. Check the potatoes after about 30 minutes and take them out of the oven when they’re fork-tender. Check the chicken to make sure it is not browning too quickly. Roast the chicken for about 45 minutes to an hour (until the juices run clear).

Remove the chicken from the cast iron griddle and set it on a large cutting board. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before carving it (this helps keep it moist and juicy).

7) Serve the chicken with the potatoes.

Serves 2.

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Chicken Teriyaki

Inspiration? A¬†quick and cheap¬†Japanese entree that would balance out the Miso Glazed Salmon. Complexity? Possibly one of the simplest dishes I‚Äôve ever created. This particular recipe should be called an¬†LJ shortcut. It features two very basic ingredients ‚Ästchicken and marinade sauce¬†ūüôā

Teriyaki sauce is usually a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and honey. (Variations include adding sugar, ginger, garlic, etc).

However, I just happened to own an unused bottle of Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce, and I decided to take the lazy route with the premade sauce. Super easy recipe to make, a welcome dish that slowly cooked in the oven as I worked on the homemade dashi stock for the other dishes.

Ingredients:

6 chicken drumsticks
Kikkoman teriyaki sauce.

Instructions:

1) Put drumsticks in a bowl and cover with teriyaki sauce. Cover and marinate overnight in the fridge.

2) Lay chicken on lined baking pan and bake covered at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes, turning once. Make sure the meat is fully cooked before serving.

Yumm tender chicken meat! Simple is good =)

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Steamed Mussels in Garlic and White Wine

Shame on me, it’s been a while since my last update. The hectic balancing act that was my life the past few months has now calmed down a bit, giving me additional reflection time on next steps. And of course, time to return to my food blog and take care of some neglected LJ Bistro dishes from the end of Summer & Fall.

I wanted to cook a seafood themed dinner for LJ Bistro #15, and some steamed mussels sounded like the perfect opening dish. I’ve always placed a high value on shellfish, with fantasies of one day eating unlimited lobsters dancing in my mind. Until then, I satisfy those shellfish cravings with $1 happy hour raw oysters and $2.50 seafood chigae from Woorijip. And on special binge sessions? Juicy king crab legs at Chinese buffets *drool*.

Mussels are definitely on the affordable end as well and surprisingly easy to cook! No longer are you limited to fancy French restaurants for your Moules Frites fix. Enjoy these fine moules delicacies from the comfort of your own home. And *ahem* according to Andrew, this dish is perfect for you male cooks out there looking to impress a special lady friend (sophisticated dish created with minimal effort).

On a final note before we dive into how to steam some delicious mussels, I want to invite you guys to join Lot18, a beautifully designed daily deals website that provides insider access to fine wines, specialty foods, and epicurean-themed excursions. I actually haven’t quite learned to fully appreciate a glass of full-bodied wine, so for me I love browsing the site for deals on cookware and utensils. I recently purchased a gorgeous Nero fondue set. Now I just need some people over to enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 lb mussels
1 cup chopped onions
6 cloves minced garlic
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp flour (optional, used to thicken broth)

Instructions:

1) Clean the mussels by placing them in a bowl of water for about 30 minutes until the mussels open up and disgorge any sand. Scrub the outside shells with a brush under running water, removing the ‚Äúbeard‚ÄĚ from each with your fingers. Throw away any mussels whose shells are not tightly shut.

2) Heat the olive oil in a large griddle over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes until the onions are translucent.

3) Add the tomatoes, white wine, parsley, thyme, flour, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring everything to a boil.

4) Add the mussels, stir well, and cover the griddle. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until all the mussels are open. While steaming, shake the pot once or twice to distribute the broth over the mussels and to make sure they don’t burn on the bottom.

5) Discard any mussels that do not open. Mussels that do not open were dead already before being cooked, and you don’t want to risk getting food poisoning! Pour the mussels and broth into a large bowl and serve immediately.

Don’t forget a few thick chunks of bread to soak up all that delicious broth at the bottom! I went with a freshly baked demi baguette from Trader Joes. If you’re feeling very ambitious, fry up some frites to eat alongside your steamed mussels. Bon appetit!

Inspired by¬†Ina Garten‚Äôs ‚ÄúMussels in White Wine‚ÄĚ recipe

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Linguine with Sea Urchin and Shrimp

Continuing along with the seafood theme of LJ Bistro #15, I wanted to create an unique entree that really brought forth the flavors of the sea without involving any fish. Fellow food bloggers spoke highly of¬†the Maccheroni alla Chitarra with Sea Urchin and Crabmeat pasta dish at Esca. This was a¬†Mario Batali specialty starring sea urchin (uni in Japanese)¬†‚Äď I just had to make it.

Now uni isn’t for everyone. I had only tried it raw in the past served on beds of slightly warm sushi rice wrapped in nori seaweed. How to best describe this little sea creature? Sea urchins are small, round creatures with spiny shells to protect against predators. Imagine tiny round hedgehogs roaming the ocean beds. Go beyond the spiny exterior to reveal the sweet, buttery, orange tongue-like meat inside. The meat we eat is actually the sex organ harvested from these spiky sea creatures. Sounds delicious, no?

I found a great recipe on Zen Can Cook that combines pasta with sea urchin and langoustines a la Esca. For instructions on how to make the real home-made langoustine broth, check out the original recipe. I took the easy way out and used seafood broth instead. Lobster broth is also a great alternative! I also substituted shrimp for the crab meat/langoustines (couldn’t find those darn suckers anywhere in Chinatown that day!)

Ingredients:

10 large shrimp
1/2 lb linguine
1 tbsp butter
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley (optional garnish)

For the pasta sauce:
4 oz fresh sea urchin (uni)
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup seafood or lobster broth
Salt

Instructions:

1) Wash, peel, and devein the shrimp. Season with a little salt and pepper.

2) Place the sea urchin, softened butter, and pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix this in a food processor until smooth. You can also mix by hand.

3) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook to al dente based on the instructions on the box. Drain.

4) While the pasta is cooking, heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook about a minute. Flip the shrimp over and cook for another minute. The meat will be opaque throughout when done.

5) Bring the half cup of broth to a boil in a large pan. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the sea urchin mixture until smooth. This results in a very creamy sauce. You can use some of the pasta cooking water to adjust the thickness as desired.

6) Plate the pasta and add the cooked shrimp. Pour the sea urchin sauce over the pasta. Season with additional salt and pepper. I sprinkled some parsley on top to add additional color to the dish. Enjoy!

Serves 2

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BBQ Beef Brisket

This is a ridiculously easy way of cooking mouthwateringly tender beef brisket. Beef brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of a cow. The brisket muscles support about 60% of the cow’s body weight, resulting in a lot of connective tissue. Hence, cooking the meat for several hours until the connective tissue is properly tenderized is a must!

All you really need is barbecue sauce and soy sauce for the marinade. I added garlic and lime to give the dish some additional kick. 3 to 4 lbs of beef is a lot of food, so I definitely recommend cooking this for a larger group (this recipe will serve about 6-8 people)! I originally made this for a winter potluck with friends, and the slices of beef went fast.

Ingredients:

3 to 4 lbs beef brisket
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup of water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lime

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) In a bowl, mix together the barbecue sauce, soy sauce, water, garlic, and juice from the lime.

3) Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. This first layer of foil is to prevent potential sauce spillage from sticking to your pan and burning during the cooking process. Place the brisket on top of another large piece of aluminum foil. Spread the sauce mixture generously over the meat. Wrap the brisket in the foil and place it in the roasting pan.

4) Bake the brisket for 4-5 hours. As a general rule, bake one hour for every pound of meat. I kept mine in the oven for 5 hours to ensure maximum tenderness.

5) Remove from oven and let rest in the foil for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

To round out the meal, I served the slices of brisket with some potatoes cooked in olive oil and salt/pepper. The brisket is also great for making sandwiches with the next day (if you even have any leftovers!)

Recipe inspired by Simply Recipes

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