Fish Cakes with Feta & Olives

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Not going to lie to y’all. I have no idea what kind of fish I used to make this dish. I was trying to eat through some of our freezer foods and pulled this out. It’s tilapia, maybe? So we’ll just suggest you use any white fish of your choosing. This was another of those recipes that I threw together out of the refrigerator (and freezer) ingredients and ended up pretty happy with. The cakes are just a bit crisp on the outside and nice and moist on the inside. The flavors work well together I think. I ended up topping mine with a little bit of hummus; Selim added a dash of hot sauce. If I’d had some, I would spread some tzatziki on top of mine – that would’ve been perfect!

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Fish Cakes with Feta & Olives

Ingredients:
  • 10oz white fish
  • 4oz feta, crumbled
  • 10 kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6-8 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Slide the fish into the pot, lower heat, and cover. Allow fish to poach for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove fish and pat dry.
  4. Break up the fish in a large bowl.
  5. Stir in all of the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  7. With your hands, scoop up a full handful of the fish mixture. Form into a ball between your hands. Place on the cookie sheet, and press down lightly with the heel of your hand to create the patty.
  8. Repeat step 7 for each patty.
  9. Bake for a total of 30 minutes. Flip halfway through, so each side cooks for 15 minutes.
Makes 6 patties.

Kimchi Braised Chicken with Noodles

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As you can tell, we enjoy braised chicken.  We make it more often than the handful of posts on our blog.  It’s simple, tasty, and always makes leftovers for lunches or a quick dinner later in the week.  I think kimchi scares a lot of people… fermented cabbage, anyone?  It’s alive and continues to ferment while sealed up, further breaking down the vegetables and adding flavor to the various spices contained within that swollen jar.  Ally had dog-eared this recipe a while ago, and we didn’t know what to expect.  We were both expecting a bit of sourness from the fermentation products of the kimchi, some smokiness from the bacon, acidity from the tomatoes, and of course a touch of sweetness from the white wine.  The ingredients, each lending their own simple tastes to the finished product, which has a unique complexity that will make you wish you made a double batch.  For more spice, try adding some of your favorite hot sauce (sriracha would go well), some cayenne, or a a few pinches of chipotle spices for a smoky heat.

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Kimchi Braised Chicken with Noodles

(Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, February 2016 issue)
Ingredients: 
  • 5 slices of bacon, sliced
  • 3 lb boneless chicken thighs
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz (by weight) grape tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups kimchi, with juices
  • 8oz egg noodles
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Place a large Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until slightly crispy.
  2. Remove the bacon to the side to a paper towel lined plate, retaining the bacon fat.
  3. Add the garlic and tomatoes into the dish. Lower heat slightly and cover. Stir occasionally.
  4. After ~5 minutes of cooking, the garlic should be browning and the tomatoes getting wrinkly. Using the back of your slotted spoon (or whatever utensil you’re cooking with…), press down on the tomatoes until they burst.
  5. Pour in the wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the dish.
  6. Bring to a boil and allow to reduce by half.
  7. Now return the bacon to the dish, along with the kimchi and chicken. Bring to a simmer. Then lower heat & cover.
  8. Braise over low-medium heat for an hour, uncovering once roughly halfway through to stir.
  9. After this time, remove the lid from the Dutch oven. Increase heat slightly, ensuring that the tomato-kimchi liquid comes to a fast simmer. Cook for ~20 more minutes. The liquid will reduce. Break apart the chicken as it begin to fall apart.
  10. Towards the end of the braising time, cook egg noodles. Boil in a pot of salted water until al dente.
  11. Once pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
  12. Return the pasta to the cooking pot and top with butter, 1/4 cup of cooking liquid, and salt & pepper to taste. Toss until pasta is covered with buttery liquid. Add a little bit more cooking liquid if you think it needs.
  13. To serve, top a serving of noodles with generous spoonfuls of chicken and tomato-kimchi sauce.
Makes 6-8 servings

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Bright Lemon Chicken Soup

I’ve put off posting this recipe for almost a week now. Mostly because I’ve been busy with my current rotation and was feeling pretty uncreative. The creativity bug hasn’t bitten me in the meantime, but I didn’t want to forget this recipe because I really enjoyed it. The lemon makes a basic chicken soup just that much brighter and more enticing! Sorry for the lack of creative commentary 🙂

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Bright Lemon Chicken Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 large lemon (zest & juice)
  • 8 cups of flavorful chicken stock
  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 (dry) cup pearl couscous
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Chives
Instructions:
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Poach the chicken breasts for ~5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in large pot. Once hot, cook onions in the hot oil. Top with a few turns of fresh black pepper and cook for 8-10 minute until soft and fragrant.
  3. Zest and juice the lemon. Add these to the pot, along with the stock and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add these to the pot.
  5. Allow the soup to lightly simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring every once in awhile.
  6. Add the couscous to the pot. Increase the heat slightly. Couscous should be done after 6-8 minutes.
  7. When couscous is plump, remove from heat. Serve topped with a few snips of chives.

Hamburger Helper, Minus the Box

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I may have mentioned it once or twice, but I have an embarrassing love of most things that come in a box, especially with powdered cheese. Kraft mac & cheese? Clearly. Those Knorr rice or noodle sides in a bag? So good and only $1! Hamburger Helper? Be still my heart 🖤🖤🖤 Are any of these things actually good or good for me? No and no, but my taste buds are confused. Someone mentioned Hamburger Helper the other day, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. (Don’t judge me!)

I knew the chance of convincing Selim that Hamburger Helper was a decent meal choice was slim to none, so I went for a slightly less processed version. Maybe not exactly low calorie or low fat, but hey – I added vegetables and cut out the processed/powdered cheese. Wins all the way around. And it’s delicious! Take that dinner in a box! I guess I should also mentioned that this is based on Cheeseburger Macaroni – which to me is THE Hamburger Helper, but that might not be true for everyone.

I looked to Pinterest for a little guidance in getting started with this recipe. I checked out these lovely blogs, but didn’t follow one in particular – onetwo, & three.

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Hamburger Helper, Minus the Box

(Inspired by a few different blogs – see above)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 of a large onion, diced
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups dry macaroni
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
Instructions: 
  1. In a large pan with tall edges, heat the oil.
  2. Over medium heat, cook the onions and the carrots for just 2-3 minutes. Top the onions with a few turns of black pepper and a pinch of salt.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and add the beef and worchestershire sauce to the pan. Break up the beef with your cooking spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef has browned.
  4. If you have any excess grease, drain it off before adding the next ingredients.
  5. Now add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cheese. Stir together.
  6. Bring liquid to a boil. Then turn the heat back down to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer for ~10 minutes. Stir once or twice.
  7. Remove lid. Stir in the cheese. Once it’s well-combined, serve!
Makes ~8 servings.

Sopa de Fideo (Almost)

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As is my usual plan, when I’m uninspired and looking for something to make, I turn to a) the internet and b) a random cuisine from around the world. Is it because I’m American and have always eaten “American” food, that I think it’s the least interesting cuisine out there? Or is it because legitimate “American” food doesn’t really exist – just a combination of bits and pieces of all of our immigrant roots? I think it’s probably some combination of the two. Whichever reason, I was thinking Mexican for my dinner creation. And I wanted something a little different. I feel like in this country, we just assume that Mexicans live solely on tacos, burritos, and the occasional chimichanga. There’s so much more to Mexican cuisine than that (obviously), but I’m the first to admit I don’t know a whole lot about it.

Why did I call this post Sopa De Fideo (Almost)? Well, turns out the fideo connotates a specific type of noodle. Fideo looks like spaghetti noodles that have been broken into smaller pieces (and as such, most recipes you see for sopa de fideo tell you to purchase spaghetti and break it into smaller pieces.) Before I read more about it, I thought, “Hmmm… that orzo I have in the pantry would be a perfect substitute for broke spaghetti pieces…” Little did I know by substituting orzo, I essentially took away the namesake of the soup.

Oh well…

Historical, ethnic accuracy? FAIL

Delicious soup? WIN

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Sopa De Fideo

(Adapted from Cooking the Globe blog)
Ingredients:
  • 2 + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 14oz crushed tomatoes
  • 3 + 1 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 16oz orzo
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional garnishes: cilantro, avocado, cheese, crema
Instructions: 
  1. In a large pot, warm 2 tsp of olive oil. Add the chopped onions and cook for 5-6 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Top this with a few turns on fresh black pepper.
  2. Add the minced garlic, continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Now, combine the garlic/onions, tomatoes, spices (cumin, cayenne, allspice), and 1 cup of stock in a blender or in a bowl with an immersion blender. Pulse until smooth.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil in the original pot. Once warm, pour in the orzo. Toss to coat with oil. Toast the pasta, stirring frequently, so it becomes golden, but does not burn. Give this ~5 minutes.
  5. Now return the blended mixture and the remaining cups of stock to the pot. Stir to combine.
  6. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. The pasta will plump up and the soup thicken a bit.
  7. At the end, stir in the lime juice.
  8. Taste and adjust salt & pepper as you like.
  9. Serve with one or several of the the garnishes!
Makes ~ 10-12 servings

Bangladeshi Beef & Potato Curry

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I don’t know about y’all, but I follow an absurd amount of food-related Instagram accounts. Some days I love it and drool over all the gorgeous photos, and some days I’m like, I just want to see my friends’ babies and sunsets!! (When I’m not freaking out like that), one of these delicious feeds that I love is that of the James Beard Foundation. They share amazing photos of their chef dinners and feature other dishes from chefs they love (I’m guessing). I save recipes that strike my fancy (and that I think I might actually be able to recreate). Some I know from a glance are out of my league, but there are plenty I think I can attempt. This was one of them.

Now let me tell you more about this recipe and its source, that I only discovered myself as I was making it today. While I found it featured via James Beard Foundation, it comes from the cookbook The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World, by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez. In reading the recipe on JBF’s page, it quotes a description from the cookbook itself, including the line, “Another Lutfunnessa specialty, this curry, called alu-maunsho torkerry in Bangladeshi…” And I’m sitting here like, who is Lutfunnessa…? Isn’t the author’s name Jessamyn…? She doesn’t sound Bangladeshi…? 🤷🤷 Being the incredible internet detective I am, I followed the breadcrumbs to the Hot Bread Kitchen’s website. Turns out Ms. Rodriguez is the founder of the bakery and initiative called Hot Bread Kitchen. Her organization, among other things, is a functioning bakery, that employs immigrant women facing economic insecurity and provides training and education including English skills. While her trainees/employees appear to gain much from this organization, the bakery gains much from them, particularly in the form of multi-ethnic new recipes! Sounds like an awesome setup! Back to, who is Lutfunnessa? Per their website, she is a 2012 graduate of the Bakers In Training program, who now works for Hot Bread Kitchen. I’m taking a wild guess that she’s Bangladeshi, given the description of this recipe.

So thank you Lutfunnessa, Jessamyn, Hot Bread Kitchen, the James Beard Foundation, and Instagram for this great recipe! We followed the original recipe pretty closely, except for our addition of vegetables. I think the corn and the green beans were perfect additions! The flavor of the curry is subtle, but builds as you eat it.

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Bangladeshi Beef & Potato Curry

(Adapted from this recipe, as mentioned)
Ingredients: 
  • 4 tbsp oil, divided
  • 2lbs chuck beef, cut into ~ 1 inch chunks
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups beef or vegetable stock
  • 3 yellow potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 12oz fresh green beans
  • 2 ears of corn
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Rice
Instructions: 
  1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil to medium-high in a dutch oven.
  2. Season the beef chunks with salt and pepper. Toss into the dutch oven to brown. Stir a few times to brown on all sides.
  3. Once browned, remove the beef to the side.
  4. Add the other 2 tbsp of oil to the dutch oven and lower heat to medium.
  5. Cook onions, garlic, and ginger in the oil for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’ve browned.
  6. Top with all of the spices. Toast for just a minute.
  7. Now return the beef to the dish and top with the stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover with the lid. Cook for 1 hour – check occasionally to ensure the heat isn’t too high and beef is still mostly covered with liquid.
  8. After an hour is up, add the potatoes, green beans, and corn (removed from ears). Ensure the liquid returns to a simmer. Re-cover and cook for another 30-45 minutes.
  9. Serve over top rice and with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
Makes 8 servings.

Ham and Potato Soup

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For all of you who celebrate Easter with a massive ham and therefore, invariably have leftovers – here’s a recipe for you! This soup is flavorful, and stuffed full of ham. No guilt about wasting leftovers! On a related note, save or steal the ham bone! We’ll use that too. It’s not necessary to the recipe, but man does it make it better! The depth of flavor you get out of that ham bone is amazing.

I also got to wondering… how did ham become a traditional Easter food? The Jews-turned-Christians of ancient times certainly weren’t serving up pork on their dinner tables. Seems counter-intuitive that the descendants of religious Jews would go for one of the most forbidden foods in Judaism. As best I can tell, Easter ham is a relatively recent, American Christian tradition. Why? Apparently, back in the days before refrigeration, pigs were traditionally slaughtered in the fall and stored salted through the winter. This ham was edible around Easter-time, when other spring-slaughtered animals weren’t ready. Pretty practical and boring as traditions go…

Now if you’re observant or actually reading this the day I published it, you’ll notice that Easter isn’t exactly over yet. That’s because we were unable to go home for Easter with my family as usual and instead staffed the hospital. But we did buy a massive ham this week. It was only $1/lb! That’s basically free 💸💸 And let me tell you, if our think you have leftovers, try eating a whole ham between two people! So far we’ve had two friends over for ham & swiss sandwiches, repeated those sandwiches another night, had eggs and ham for breakfast, made this soup, frozen ~1/3 of it, and still have a good other 1/3 or so in the fridge! We’ll be eating ham until Memorial Day! With this soup, I was going for creamy, but a little different than the usual heavy-cream-filled potato soup. I think it worked! 💁

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Ham & Potato Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 2 qt vegetable stock
  • Ham bone (if you have access to one)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 10oz leftover ham, chopped
  • 3 large yellow potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. If you have a ham bone, place it it a larger pot and cover with the 2 quarts of vegetable stock. Add the two bay leaves and a few sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a simmer and then turn heat down to low. [If you don’t have a ham bone, skip this step and just add the stock later as instructed.]
  2. Leave on the stove for an hour or as long as you have time for! The longer you leave it, the more flavor you’ll get out of the bone. If you have plenty of time and are getting tons of flavor out of your bone, you can top off with some water to keep it going.
  3. Allow the stock to cool. Skim off any fat and debris. You can also strain through cheesecloth if you like.
  4. In a large stockpot, heat your oil. Once hot, add shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes.
  5. Once they have started browning and are fragrant, add the ham, potatoes, stock, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.
  6. Raise heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Then turn down to medium-low heat. Cook at this temperature for ~30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
  7. Remove roughly half of the potatoes to the side. Using an immersion blender (or pour into a food processor), blend together those potatoes and the milk.
  8. Return the milk/potatoes to the soup pot. Stir in to combine well. Leave at medium-low heat for another 10+ minutes.
  9. Serve with whatever toppings you’d like! (Cheese, chives, bacon, hot sauce, whatever!)