Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

Best Ever Bok Choy

May 2, 2012

Best Ever Bok Choy and Smoked Turkey Wings

The more I learn about Bok Choy, the more amazed I am that I have never eaten this in my life until I grew it in my garden. The Chinese have been growing this amazing cabbage for 6000 years even though I find it somewhat bland and tasteless. So what’s amazing about a tasteless vegetable? A 6 ounce portion of boiled greens only has 20 calories and still supplies 144% of your daily need for vitamin A, 74% for Vitamin C, 16% of your calcium requirement and 10% of your iron needs.

I am also beginning to accept that Bok Choy is one of those tasteless food items which will take the flavor of whatever you cook with it and the recipe with balsamic vinegar and lemon was quite good. It finally dawned on me that very small changes in the ingredients make a huge difference in flavor and you can still avoid excess salt. With this in mind, it was time for me to revisit the Smoked Turkey and Bok Choy that was just OK.

The starting point for this recipe was a very simple stir fried Bok Choy recipe from food.com for Bok Choy and Garlic with butter and low sodium chicken broth. The two items that caught my attention were the use of butter for more flavor and once again longer cooking times which also worked well for the Balsamic Vinegar recipe.

Smoked Turkey and Bok Choy

Ingredients:

1/4 stick butter
2 T crushed garlic
1 onion
1 thin slice scotch bonnet
1 T fresh grated Ginger
5 oz smoked turkey wings
package bullion
1 oz rum
6 leaves large
12 oz water
sprinkle with salt

Method:

  1. Add the butter, garlic, onion and hot pepper to the coffee pot and let cook for about 1 hour until the onion glazes over.
  2. Add the grated ginger root, bullion, turkey wings and rum to the pot.
  3. Cook covered for four or more hours.
  4. Strip the leaves from the stems of the bok choy. Cut the stems into bite size pieces and shred the leaves.
  5. Put the bok choy in the pot on top of everything else and pass the water through the coffee maker be sure to use enough to cover the leaves.
  6. When the water is done dripping, stir the pot and let cook for two more hours.

I was very pleased with the result and look forward to eating this again. In my mind, it is equally as good as the smoked Turkey and Collard greens I had previously made. A bonus for those who don’ like the smell of cooking collard greens, bok choy has none of that strong cabbage smell which is perhaps why it has very little cabbage flavor.

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Giambotta, Italian Stewed Chicken

April 28, 2012

Giambotta, Italian Stew?

I am indebted to Maria Pitella for reminding me of this meal and I never knew that Giambotta meant Italian Stew. My Mother-in-Law and her Brother were both born in Italy and my wife was a great Italian cook as were her Mother and Aunt. Now the family all favored every type of pasta with red sauce or very good meat as her Grandfather and Uncle had run a Butcher Shop. The red sauce would have seafood or three types of meat, veal, pork (or sausage) and beef (usually meatballs or Braciole).

My wife never made this stew and for good reason. She liked her chicken barbequed and beef, in any recipe including stew. On rainy days, you could almost count on beef stew and on the very rare occasions that she made this, I am not sure if she made it in an Italian style or an Irish style and she simply called it chicken stew. But this is the way Dolores made it with the principle difference being the inclusion of carrots and thickening the gravy with a rue.

Chicken Stew:

Ingredients:

1 potatoes peeled and diced
2 carrots coined
1 1 piece mild Italian sausage sliced into chunks
1 boneless chicken breasts sliced into strips
2 T cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 oz rum
1 small red bell peppers sliced
1 medium onions sliced
1 stalk celery cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp of oregano
1 Bay leaf

1 bullion and 12 oz. Water
cold rue (1 T butter 1 T flour )
salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Mix a tablespoon of room temperature butter with a tablespoon of white flower until smooth set aside.
  2. Precook the carrots for an hour in a foil covered coffeepot using about 1 tsp of salt with the cut up carrots and potatoes to the coffeepot and passing 8 cups water through the coffeemaker portion prior to covering with foil. Save and set aside.
  3. Put everything else into the empty coffeepot and cook covered for about 2 hours.
  4. Add the potatoes and carrots and run 12 oz of water through the coffeemaker.
  5. Give the pot about 1 hour for the carrots and potatoes to get hot.
  6. Decant the broth a little at a time into the rue until all the liquid is mixed with the rue. Return it to the pot. Serve when ready.

This was very good but more than a meal for one person but not quite enough for two unless I used more potatoes. That means I had leftovers because I didn’t plan ahead which I definitely try to avoid having around. The only way I am winning “The Battle of the Bulge” is by waging my constant “War Against Leftovers.” In this case I got rid of them by eating them as a snack the next day. They were quite good.

Pollo en Escabeche – A Zesty Chicken Dinner

April 23, 2012

Pollo en Escabeche - A Zesty Chicken Dinner

In my last post on Pollo en Escabeche, I mentioned a Goya recipe that looked attractive and for the most part, I followed their recipe with only a few minor changes. What attracted my attention was that their meal was definitely served as a dinner and not just an appetizer. Well I just had to give it a try to see how their presentation compared to mine.

Ingredients:

1 chicken breast, skinned and deboned.
1 packets Sazón GOYA con Azafrán
1/2 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium onions, thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 carrots, coined
2 T crushed garlic
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1 bay leaves
½ tsp thyme
3 whole cloves
1 thin slice scotch bonnet pepper
1 T Spanish olives
1 oz dark rum
2 oz Lime or Lemon Juice
2 oz Balsamic Vinegar

Method:

  1. Wash chicken with lime and sprinkle evenly with Sazón.
  2. Add oil to the coffeepot and add all ingredients except rum, vinegar and chicken.
  3. Cook about 1 hour until onions are glazed add rum and chicken. Cook covered until done. Minimum of 2 hours but can be up to 8 hrs.
  4. Add vinegar, stir and serve.
  5. I served the chicken hot with brown rice and used the oil blend as gravy for the rice.

Actually, I think I like this better than the appetizer Pollo en Escabeche that I previously published. Even though it used the same ingredients, it just looks more like a dinner.

Bok Choy and Flowers

April 21, 2012

Flowers and Panas en Escabeche

Last week the winds brought down partially ripe breadfruit from a tree and I got 3 of them. Now breadfruit is one of those items that is best eaten in the green phase as when ripe, it gets a very sweet taste and has the consistency of custard  I am not fond of the ripe ones. Even green it is not a popular vegetable in the Virgin Islands but gets more popular in the Eastern Caribbean. When I was in St. Kitts last summer a friend prepared Breadfruit Plantains and they are fantastic.

They are essentially fried and when cooked for only five minutes they are according to my granddaughters who did not know I made a switch with regular white potatoes, the best French Fries they had ever eaten. When they are cooked for 15 minutes or so, they turn a golden brown and get very crispy like a potato chip. I like them both ways and have been know to over indulge since you start with a whole breadfruit weighing about four pounds and you can fry another batch ever 5 to 10 minutes.

Since I had three breadfruit to play with, I started searching for other recipes. It seems the first recipe I found was called “Soused Breadfruit” which I had never heard of nor could I find it anywhere on the web other than that one recipe. But in the West Indies, most souse recipes call for Vinegar and oil which is the basis for Puerto Rican Escabeche so I expanded my search for Panas en Escabeche.

Essentially, these is just like the Green Banana salad (Escabeche de Guineos) previously published. You dice the Breadfruit after pealing and discarding the seed. The breadfruit cubes are boiled for about 20- to 25 minutes which makes them soft to a fork. All of the other ingredients are added to the bowl and tossed.

This time I had green and red bell peppers so I used both. Also I had a cucumber that I wanted to use up so, I pealed it and sliced it very thin with a cheese slicer and added that to the salad. It was a pretty good salad  but not as good as “the Best French Fries ever.”

So what has this got to do with Bok Choy? My friend Gloria loves Bok Choy and at 90 pounds is not worried about salt and high blood pressure from traditional stir fried recipes which are really quite good.  Gloria Powell (www.antilleslilies.com) is a event florist on St, Croix heavily involved in working with tourists who want to get married in a St. Croix celebration.The solution, I made a trade of my excess arugula and Bok Choy for her gift of flowers. She also bought me a glass of wine.

Colorful Hash

April 20, 2012

Colorful Hash

I have been visiting over at Audrey Can Cook since January of this yer when she caught my attention with a recipe for blintzes. For those who don’t know, these crapes, when used as a dessert, are stuffed with a sweetened cheese filling. Now I am not big on desserts, but her focus is on small portions whether it’s a meal or a dessert so I keep going back.

In March, she had a very simple recipe for Hash and the only substitution I made was to use a yam instead of a white Irish Potato. Seems I didn’t have any potatoes on hand and didn’t feel like making a special trip to the store so I used ½ of a medium sized yam which is still larger than a normal potato. While this may not be traditional, the hash turned out excellent.

Ingredients:
1/2 Yam, cooked and cubed
1 carrot, coined
1T olive oil
1 piece Italian sausage remove meat from the casings
1 small onion, rough cut
1 bell pepper (red), diced
1 T garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
salt & pepper to taste

Method:
1. Pre-Cook Carrots and Yam. (Put coined carrots and cubed yam in coffeepot with tsp salt. Run water through coffeemaker to heat up and let drip on yam and carrots. When done dripping, cover with foil and cook for about one hour. Drain and remove from pot and hold for later.
2. Cook meat, onions and garlic in 1T of olive oil about 1 hour
3. Add peppers to the pot and cook covered for one hour
4. Add cooked carrots and yams to the pot, cook covered for 2 more hours.
5. mix well and season to taste

As the picture shows, this was a colorful combination and the next time I cook it, I will stick with the yam. The other advice I would give for this simple flavorful meal, is to make sure you get the best sausage you can find. A lot of the flavor comes from the spices in the sausage and the fat gets adsorbed by the vegetables. So good sausage will give you a good hash.

Good Bok Choy

April 17, 2012

Bok Choy Bed

The Bok Choy in my garden is even healthier than my arugula which is so thick, I could harvest it with a Machete. To bad I’m not overly fond of Bok Choy because most recipes taste good but are heavily loaded with salt which I try to avoid. I started searching for low salt recipes and found a few and decided to move from the least complex to more sophisticated to see if I really liked any of them.

The following recipe was inspired by a recipe from steamykitchen.com where they start to build up the flavor with the addition of ginger and chicken broth with salt to taste.

Stir Fried Bok Choy

Ingredients:

4 large leaves

3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 T crushed garlic, finely minced

1 T grated fresh ginger

1 tsp sesame seeds

4 tablespoons chicken broth

salt to taste

Method:

This is a typical stir fry with the oil, garlic, ginger and sesame seeds added to my fry pan and stir fried for a minute or two after the pan starts sizzling.

The stems are added to soften for a few minutes and then the broth and chopped leaves are added and stir fried until the leaves wilt.

Serve immediately and add salt to taste.

The Bok Choy still needed salt but at least I was in control.

Any Thoughts on Bok Choy or Pok Choi

April 3, 2012

Bok Choy and Smoked Turkey

My friend Chino from St. Croix had a standard answer when asked about anything substandard. If you asked about a questionable person, his answer would always be He or She “is alright.” If you asked about a poorly cooked or tasteless meal, his answer would be, “It’s alright”. He was a positive person who had programmed all negative responses out of his system. If he couldn’t say anything good, he would always say, “It’s alright”.

Now what brought this story to mind is my love-hate relationship with Bok Choy or Pok Choi. I love having this vegetable growing in the garden because it loves my soil and grows healthy and disease free without any special attention. A very special addition is that when I put a plant among my tomato plants and arugula plants, I can tell by looking from my gallery which is 100 feet away if my garden needs water. If the bok choy is wilted, everything needs water but is not quite as visible.

My only wish is that I could cook it so I could safely eat it. Most web recipes call for fish sauce, oyster sauce or soy sauce and when you stir fry it with any of them, the stuff tastes great and one little helping gives you all the salt you need for the whole day even if you don’t add salt to anything else.

I tried my collard green recipe using  Bok Choy (pictured above) instead of collard greens and ate it. All I can really say is, “It’s alright!”

If anybody has any suggestions for a tasty meal that is low in sodium, feel free to share them. And I don’t consider low salt soy sauce a substitute, because it still has a lot of salt and most cooks just add more.

The one thing I keep in mind is that about 80% of the world population considers this a staple so I am sure someone knows how to cook it without too much salt.

Egg Muffin or Egg Souffle – Coffeepot Style

March 31, 2012

Egg Muffin or Egg Souffle, The Top One has Salsa

Over the past few months, I have stumbled on some very good cooks who are actively blogging their secrets. It seems about a year ago, the bloggers I was following grew tired and posted fewer recipes to stimulate my creative juices and so I also dropped out. Since I reached my weight goals, I have started to get sloppy with my cooking and eating habits and lack the discipline of cooking smaller portions in my coffeepot. I find that once you have the grill heated up, it’s just as easy to BBQ a whole rack of ribs as it is to prepare only two that you really need for dinner. Besides leftover ribs are a treat.

So now that I have been officially bad for a few months, I am glad that there are new creative cooks to provide me with the stimulation I need to cook portion controlled meals even if I have to translate from metric to English measures and don’t always make the exact meal. Over at Daily Dose of Fresh, the author presented Egg Muffins for Breakfast and makes suggestions for doing it your way with the ingredients you have or like.

Now that was too much of a challenge to pass up so of course I used Adobo as the seasoning and covered the muffin with salsa for a little Caribbean Flair. For additional flavor there was the arugula, onion and sharp cheddar cheese. I might have called these fluffy light muffins a souffle but with either name, they were delicious. The only secret to cooking them in the coffeepot is to use those silicone cupcake holders filled within a ¼ inch of the top and to put a little water in the bottom of the pot to steam the muffins quicker.

Oh yeah, I made them for a light dinner as I am trying to regain portion controlled meals and dump the unhealthy snacking. At 178 pounds, I am about six pounds heavier than I want to be but still down 87 pounds from my high.

Egg Muffin or Egg Souffle – Coffeepot Style

Ingredients – 4 Muffins:

1 small onion minced

hand full of chopped arugula

½ tsp Adobo

¼ tsp of freshly ground black pepper

3 oz Sharp Cheddar cheese shredded

2 oz water

Serve with Salsa

Method:

  1. Pull arugula or spinach from stems and shred or cut into small pieces. Place in bowl.
  2. Mince the onions and add to bowl.
  3. Shred the cheese into the bowl.
  4. Toss with a fork until uniform.
  5. Add eggs to the bowl, break yoke and mix into the cheese and vegetables.
  6. Fill 3 silicone cups with mixture about ¼ inch from top.
  7. Put 2 oz of water into coffeepot (this will increase heat transfer and prevent any spillage from sticking to the bottom
  8. Carefully place silicone cups with egg mixture into coffeepot.
  9. Cook for 1 hour.
  10. Separate muffins from walls of silicone cup with a fork. Turn over and remove silicone cup.
  11. Serve with salsa.

Unlike all those fallen souffle jokes on television, mine were fluffy and light but never really rose to overflow the cup.

Monica’s Murgh Masala (Chicken Curry) – Coffeepot Style

March 28, 2012

Monica's Murgh Masala (Chicken Curry) – Coffeepot Style

I never really liked curry or even the far broader category of Indian Foods until I moved to the Caribbean and discovered that there was no such thing as a spice called curry but all curry spice blends were different and depended on the knowledge and skill of the blender. From Trinidad to the Virgin Islands in the English Speaking Easter Caribbean the curry blend of choice is Chief Curry Powder which as stated on the label is a blend of coriander, cumin, garlic,turmeric, fenugreek, ani, and ajwa.

My wife had tried cooking curry a few times when we lived in Pennsylvania and I thought it was really nasty stuff even though my wife only used name brand spices. My daughter grew up on St Croix and she and her mother both loved curry and ordered it when having lunch out. Eventually we discovered Chief Curry Powder and everybody in the household got to enjoy curry. When my daughter moved to the states she tried making Curry with a name brand spice blend and called me in despair. She wanted to know what she did wrong because her curry was awful and I told her to read the label which unbelievably said “spices, turmeric, red pepper”.

As far as I was concerned, that label was a license to steal as it allowed the manufacture to dump any spice they had in over supply and try to hide those spices with tumeric and hot pepper. After extracting a promise to throw out all those things labeled “curry powder” and to only use Chief Curry Powder in the future, I suggested adding a tablespoon each of coriander, cumin and crushed garlic to the pot to try and save the meal. I also suggested if it was the wrong color, to slowly add turmeric a teaspoon at a time until she got the color she liked. It turned out fine and masked the flavor of the “spices” she had previously added with the original blend.

To further compound the concept of “curry powder”, I am beginning to find that most published recipes for Asian Indian Curry never mention “curry powder” but instead refer to making a “masala” or spice blend. I did a Google search for Murgh Masala and looked at the first five recipes. All five referred to this as a chicken curry and all of them made their own spice blends and never mentioned “curry powder”. Now with 1.2 billion Indians in India, I am sure that it is possible that one Indian cook may have tried a product called “curry powder” one time but am equally sure that no one who likes food would do it a second time unless it was Chief Curry Powder.

I do not consider myself an Indian Cook nor am I sure that I like all Indian food, However, I am definitely a fan of everything Monica presents at the Spice Diary and consider myself a student of hers (whether she wants that or not). With no further thoughts I present:

Monica’s Murgh Masala – Coffeepot Style

Ingredients:

4 T olive oil

1 black cardamom

6 whole pepper corns

1 onions, finely chopped

1 T minced garlic

2 T ginger, grated

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1 Large tomato chopped

2-3 pieces of chicken thigh

3 tbsp yoghurt

1 T dried coriander use Fresh when available.

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in the coffeepot for ½ hour.
  2. Add the cardomom and peppercorns. Once they begin to sizzle, add the onions.
  3. Add the garlic and mix well. Now add the ginger and mix again.
  4. Now add all of the dry spices and mix.
  5. Dice the tomatoes and mash well. Add to pot.
  6. Add the chicken pieces to the masala and let cook.
  7. After a few hours, the meat should be soft and tender. At this point add the yoghurt and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  8. Turn the heat off. Add the coriander and 1/4 tsp garam masala.
  9. Serve when ready.

I skipped cooking the potatoes called for in the original recipe because I intended serving it with brown rice. Also, since it is virtually impossible to do a reduction in a coffeepot, I skipped adding the water and then reducing the same and the only liquids came from the oil, onion, tomato, chicken and yoghurt.

Oops, was out of brown rice, but had noodles so rather than waste gas going to the store, I served the chicken with noodles.

This meal was excellent but it is a lot different than the flavors from the spices used in West Indian Chicken Curry. Indian and West Indian are two distinctly different types of food even though Asian Indians have had a tremendous impact on Island foods.

Salt Fish and Pepperoncini Flat Bread Pizza

March 26, 2012

Salt Fish and Pasta

Of course I recognize that the featured picture is pasta with red sauce and in this case it’s Salt Fish Marinara or Baccala alla Marinara with a side salad of home grown arugula and tomatoes. I had an friend come by and this is a very easy meal to quickly prepare once the fish is washed. Washing the fish can be rushed if you change the water every half hour and swirl the fish around in the fresh water. Since I always cook too much for guests I used 12 ounces of salt fish and a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes as the base. Naturally, there was leftover sauce, but not much, as my friend had a couple of helpings of pasta and salt fish sauce.

Salt Fish and Pepperoncini Pizza

In the past I had experimented with flat bread pizzas and really enjoyed them for dinner. The eight inch shells pictured above only have about 150 calories for each tortilla, so this is really not a gut busting breach of portioned controlled eating and besides, I find I can stick to my program of weight control if I really indulge myself once in a while and feel a little guilty about the pleasure of food.

Recipe:

Once again there is not a real recipe. I toasted the shells in the oven for 10 minutes spread the leftover sauce on the browned shells, Sprinkled the shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan on top and then sprinkled the chopped up pepperoncini on top of the cheese. The pies were cooked for 1o more minutes and then cut up and eaten.

Why this particular combination. My friend John From the Palms loves an Anchovy and Jalapeno Pizza pie and the only other one that likes it is me. So, we started sharing a pie about once a week, and when he and his wife went on vacation, I decided to make my own but the only peppers I have around are the scotch bonnet which are extremely hot and the milder Greek peppers. This worked out as a pleasant combination.