Tag Archives: spicy

Slow Cooker Caribbean-Style: Chipotle-Lime Jerk Chicken

26 Jul

I acquired a slow cooker with credit card points about a year ago. In my tiny space, it is rather a big deal to bring in a bulky piece of equipment that you have no place for. So you’d think I’d make it work for its slice of my kitchen shelves.

Vinny in the kitchen (this may be him making the ceviche and not the chicken, but nevermind)

Vinny in the kitchen (this may be him making the ceviche and not the chicken, but nevermind)

But perversely enough, no. I’ve been intimidated by it! I love it for softening beans, but have hesitated to truly play with it in that way we hesitate when confronted with a new way to do habitual things. You wouldn’t think, since I do so much cooking and experimenting, but surprise…I too can be loathe to embrace a new (for me) technology when my customary ways have been working out so well!

Remember to put veggies on the bottom, then meat, then sauce

Remember to put veggies on the bottom, then meat, then sauce

So I was very glad to be tossed right into slow cooking by my friends Vinny and Carolyn Macchirole with whom we stayed for several days in Long Island’s North Fork recently (Leandro happily at sweaty, buggy, scrape-y, muddy, swimmy Peconic Dunes summer camp from 9-5, everyday for a week, oh heaven for both of us). We’d been planning a Caribbean Night cooking extravaganza (more recipes to come) and Vinny was in charge of the jerk chicken. He came up with a recipe for slow-cooked chipotle-lime chicken that he felt could be easily altered to our purposes. And he was right,

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Stir-fried Vegetables (Faster and better than ordering out)

2 Apr

Saturday lunch -crisp and light and zippy

When I am in the mood for some crunchy, spicy Asian vegetables, my first instinct is not to pick up the phone, but to open the refrigerator door.

I am forever buying virtuous items that I mean to use right away, but that slip into the deep recesses in of my mind and the even deeper recesses of the fridge. A good stir-fry is a way to use up just about any crunchy vegetable in a way that will bring the virtue right back (nothing should go to waist or waste!).

Such was the situation today, when my dad started pulling out vegetables for a raw salad, and my mom and I convinced him it would have more flair in a hot and spicy variation.

So we got to chopping and measuring and whisking and in very little time (about 20 minutes) we were crunching and nodding and going for seconds. While there is a place in every household for Chinese takeout menus, it is so easy to make your own, without the gelatinous goopiness that passes for brown sauce, that this is really worth making part of your repertoire. I can see tossing in some peeled shrimp just as the vegetables have cooked in the first step….on this occasion, my dad seasoned and sauteed strips of chicken breast separately as the vegetables were cooking, rather than incorporate the chicken. As a result, the chicken played a gentle counterbalance to the sizzle of the vegetables.

Here’s what we did (adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Stir-Fried Broccoli)

Stir-fried vegetables in brown sauce (serves four for a light meal or as a side)

A:

1/2 Cup low sodium vegetable broth

2 Tbs dry white wine (or dry sherry, if you’ve got)

4 tsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 tsp olive oil (or one toasted sesame oil)

2 tsp cornstarch

2 tsp Thai chili sauce (can be increased, depending on your sauce AND your tolerance for hot and spicy; the one we used is already prepared as a marinade, so is sweet. If you use straight Thai chili – like a sambal – it could be stronger!)

B:

6 cloves garlic, minced (you can play with this proportion, especially if your chili sauce has a lot of garlic)

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

2 tsp vegetable oil

C:

2 Tbs vegetable oil

2-2.5 lbs mixed stir-fry vegetables, cut into ¾ inch pieces (we used onions, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, red peppers, green peppers, but you can play around with this!)

½ tsp sugar

Whisk ingredients in A (broth, wine, soy sauce, olive/sesame oil, cornstarch and chili sauce) in a small bowl. In another small bowl, mix up ingredients in B (garlic, pepper flakes, and 2 tsp vegetable oil).

Now for the ingredients in C. Heat the remaining two Tbs vegetable oil in a 12 inch skillet with a heavy bottom, until just rippling and just beginning to smoke. Add vegetables and sprinkle the sugar over, coat with the oil and cook, stirring frequently, for about eight minutes, looking for caramelization on the vegetables. Lower the temperature to medium if you get a lot of sticking.

Push vegetables to the side and add the garlic mixture (B), stir to heat, then mix with the vegetables. Add vegetable broth mixture (A) and stir for a bit less than a minute, or until warmed and the sauce gets a bit thicker. Serve with rice.

 

Cheesy Chard Pasta

7 Mar

Chard is one of those leafy greens everyone should eat more of. It’s actually as delicious in winter as in summer and provides calcium and all sorts of other nutrients and has a bit more body than spinach (but can be used in much the same ways with a little extra cook time).

My son loves spinach pasta (which appears in an earlier post “My kids loves spinach” https://hotcheapeasy.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/my-kid-loves-spinach/) and never notices the difference when I serve the chard variation. He especially digs in when I use curly, frilly or curvy pasta that he can get his eager litle fingers all over– I am attributing that to a chromosomal enthusiastic male response to visual stimuli that I have been hearing a lot about lately.  That’s hot!

It is also fast and easy and really hearty-comforting.

Chard Pesto for Pasta (serves four)

1 lb. fiore (pinwheel) pasta

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

3-5 cloves garlic, chopped

(1/8 tsp hot red pepper flakes, optional)

1 lb. chard, washed, stems removed and chopped fine*

1 Cup broth or water

Salt and pepper to taste

Several Tbs grated cheese (preferably parmigiano reggiano or gran padano) or crumbled feta or, why not both?

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a generous skillet with a cover. Add garlic and stir around for a minute or until turning golden and fragrant. Add hot red pepper flakes if desired. Add chard and stir to coat. Sauté chard until bright and beginning to wilt, then add water or broth. Bring to a simmer and cover, turning occasionally. The idea is for the chard to really soften, which will take 10-15 minutes. If you run out of cooking liquid, add a ladleful of water from the pasta pot. If I want the chard really fine (to encourage more consumption by my toddler, I will spread the cooked chard on a cutting board and chop some more when it is a bit cool.

 Drain pasta and mix with sauce and a generous amount of grated cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

*Save the stems, chop and use in another recipe; they are delicious as part of a stir-fry or just sautéed with onions to top burgers.

It’s Winter and I Am Roasting (vegetables)

17 Jan

Moving and angst are natural partners. We’ve been moving upstairs and emptying a storage unit  this week — as in:

“I didn’t even know I still (or ever) had this!”

“Where the f**k did all this crap come from?”

“I have never seen a dust mouse that big. Ever.”

“Oh God, how am I going to get all this done before the semester starts on Tuesday?”

“Leandro please don’t run in front of: the moving truck/hand truck/person trying to move a big box up the stairs/me. ”

“Sweet Jesus, the moving guy just looked in that long-unopened drawer before I  had a chance to remove the scandalous lingerie that I had completely (and sadly) forgotten about.”

…etc. etc. etc….

and add to that an aching, frigging back from said moving, ’cause the ten years that have passed since I last saw that stuff haven’t made me any younger. Heavy sigh.

So, our diet has not been virtuous – Chef Boyardee was on the menu more than once; reheated pizza, Cheese-Its, leftover Halloween chocolate, cheese and crackers, cheese and crackers, salty popcorn, basically a diet of shut-up food all in front of the T.V. and endless repeats of a Scooby-Doo video — where can I buy those Scooby Snacks, anyway, cause Lord knows they would fit right in with my current mode…

But within the frenzy, I have made some good food happen too, thanks to some of the very recipes you have seen here. The spinach sauce for pasta served for a couple of meals, especially because I used farfalle (bow ties), which Leandro really really digs (and which grip a lot of spinach).

I made the basic seasoned ground beef in a big batch, a third of which went into an impromptu pasta dinner for friends on Friday, another third into chili con carne with rice Saturday, then on tortilla chips with cheese today (Sunday) and another third is frozen for next week and the new semester.

I also roasted vegetables.  This is something I do all winter (it’s too damn hot in the summer to turn on the oven) and then eat the vegetables all week in different formats. This is just one version (as I continue to crave asparagus in the off-season). It really is best with the linguine, but I was pressed for time and my son is not yet interested in this kind of dish, so I just served it to myself (several days running) with leftover rice and a dash of soy sauce. I also gave a plastic tublet to Leandro’s godmother (a teacher) for her take-to-school lunch.

Roasted Vegetable Linguine

2 packets (about 20 oz) baby bella mushrooms, washed and sliced

1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces

1 bunch broccoli crowns, separated into florets

1 red pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

3 Tbs olive oil

½ tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup cherry tomatoes

½ cup white wine

½ lb linguine

½ cup torn fresh basil leaves or 1 Tbs dry oregano

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Toss all vegetables (except tomatoes and herbs but including red pepper flakes!) and oil into a large roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Get your pasta water on the boil and prepare pasta according to package directions. Save ½ cup pasta water when draining.

Add tomatoes to pan and roast 10 more minutes. Transfer vegetables to a bowl. Set pan on two burners on medium heat and add wine, stirring and scraping off burnt bits. Simmer for 3 minutes or so, until wine has cooked off then add reserved pasta water.

Return pasta to pot, add vegetables and liquid from pan. Warm to serving temperature and add herbs.

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