Monday, February 28, 2011

Roasted Beet and Orange Salad with Toasted Walnuts

My valentines day present also included beets, whole and intact--not from a can, imagine that!  I love beets and always order them when I see them on menus, but I've never tried roasting them myself.  Well, I'm glad I learned how to cook these babies because they turned out super delicious, looked incredibly beautiful and went wonderfully with bright oranges and toasted walnuts.  I even got to take a friend's beet v-card, and she loved them!

What you'll need:
1 bunch fresh beets 
olive oil
2 oranges

Preheat the oven to 350 and start by cutting off the beet greens, and rinsing the beets

As a side note, I didn't end up doing this myself, but the greens are apparently really delicious sauteed like spinach with garlic and olive oil

Next, wrap them in tin foil and pour a touch of olive oil over the beets
Wrap up the tin foil to make a little packet
 Put the packet in the oven and don't touch it for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the beets are fork-tender
While these are cooking, chop up walnuts and put them into a pan over low heat
Toss occasionally until the walnuts are lightly toasted 

After the walnuts are done, let them cool off and get started on peeling the oranges and cutting them into slices
When the beets are done, take them out of the oven and open the foil packet
It'll be all steamy and smell good
 Let the beets cool off.  You have to take the skin off of the beet, but that's the messy part so I looked up how to do this and found a cool trick.  Run the beet under cold water as you gently rub the skin off, and the dye will wash away with the water, staining your fingers minimally.
Cut the beets into fourths and toss with the oranges and the walnuts
Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some sea salt
The dye from the beets will turn the oranges a beautiful pink 
This is a perfect, non-traditional salad or side dish and was lovely with some chickendorisgordon!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


When my father was young, my grandmother used to make chickendorisgordon.  That's right, it was just one word.  And it was delicious.  My father and siblings never really knew what a chickendorisgordon was, where these chickens were from or how they were different from  regular chickens.  And then one day my grandmother's good friend, Doris Gordon, came to visit and the fog was lifted.  OK, my dad might have been off to a slow start, but he is a famous tax lawyer now (is there anyone who hasn't read his article "Till Debt do us Part?")   And Doris Gordon does have absolutely the best recipe for chicken, and here it is, thanks to my amazing grandma, who manages to make anything she touches taste good!

What you'll need:
Chicken legs+thighs
1 bottle Russian/Thousand Island Dressing
1 bottle water
1 package of onion soup/dip mix
1 bottle apricot preserves/fruit spread

Start by preheating the oven to 350 ad mix the ingredients all together.
This admittedly looks like something Alex Mac jumped into, but trust me, it is neither toxic nor inedible.
You'll notice that the ingredients aren't specific as to quantity.  This is because the recipe is fairly forgiving, so you just have to stick to a ratio that is something like: equal amount of water to dressing--so when you pour out the dressing, fill the bottle back up with water and put that in.  I used a 8 ounce bottle of dressing for 4 chicken thighs, and put in 3/4 of the package of dip mix, and about 8 ounce of preserves.  As you can see, it's almost a 1:1 ratio for all the ingredients.
Pour over chicken and put it in the oven
An hour and a half later, you will have the most tender, salty-sweet and delicious chicken legs you can imagine. The chicken will literally fall off the bone, and the marinade will somehow have cooked down to a delicious sauce to spoon over the meat.
This is a fail-proof recipe, and one that I suggest you try in the near future!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Red Chard with Bacon and Caramelized Onion

My mom got me the best valentines day gift this year.  She didn't get chocolate or flowers, but rather she picked out all of the most amazing red products in the grocery store, from strawberries to raspberries to red peppers.  Some of these treats were favorites, like pull-n-peel twizzlers, and some were items I had never seen before, much less cooked.  One of those items was red chard.  I had no idea what to do with it, so I checked out recipes online and found that some people paired it with caramelized onions, and some with bacon.  I thought, why not both?  This recipe is all about how to make a healthy vegetable unhealthy.  But hey, it was delicious so I'm not complaining.  
What you'll need:
1 white onion
1 bunch red chard
a few slabs of bacon
1 tsp brown or white sugar
Dash of lemon juice

Look how beautiful this chard is!
Start by chopping up the stems and separating them from the leaves.  The stems take a little bit longer to cook so that's why you need to separate.
Coarsely chop the leaves.
 Thinly slice the onion
 Put the onion slices in a small pot with a splash of water and brown sugar to slowly cook and caramelize
 They should look something like this when they're done
 Cook the bacon in a separate skillet
When the bacon is done, take them, place them on a paper towel and break into pieces
Don't throw out the bacon fat!  Well, throw out about half of the bacon fat at the bottom of the pan.  Then, put the chard stems in the pan and slowly stir them around slow heat till they're almost done.
After about 2-ish minutes, add the chard leaves
The leaves will cook down real fast so keep your eye on it
Toss everything together while it's still hot and then throw a dash of lemon juice over all of it
Whew! Who knew veggies could taste so good?! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thai Noodle Chicken Salad: Chinatown Forays

Recently, I've started hearing the same complaint from my my friends---they can't seem to find good fresh groceries for reasonable prices.  Or, actually anything for reasonable prices in NYC.  I'm no expert on bargain hunting here, but I have found a few good deals that I'll share over the next few posts, or whenever I remember.
 This post is about my first, and best discovery about Manhattan, or anywhere that has a Chinatown.

Anyone who knows me knows I love Chinatown.  I live in Manhattan now, but I don't discriminate--I love Chinatowns everywhere.  There's something about the little shops, the mysterious menus, the dirtiness and crowds that I just can't stay away from.  And, I just loooove me some cheap Chinese food.  I can't help it!  Chinese food is my comfort food, which my friends can attest to after being dragged for dim sum, for Chinese baked goods or just for dumplings, many, many more times than they'd care to admit.  I've even rubbed off on a few of them to the point where they've become dumpling addicts too (cough cough sorry Cap).

Located deep in the heart of any good Chinatown is about the secret I'd like to share with you today--Chinese grocery stores.  If you go to the right one, they have, far and away, the freshest, cheapest groceries in New York City that I've found to date.  Yes, the employees probably don't speak English, and yes, you may have to wad through aisles of soy sauce before you get to the goodies (although in my opinion, soy sauce IS a goody!) but where else can you get avocados and bok choy and already peeled garlic for 1/3 of Food Emporium's price?  Hong Kong Supermarket, on 157 Hester Street, that's where.  (If you happen to be in St. Louis--check out the grocery store on Olive st.!)

Go, right now!  Because not only can you get fresh fruits and veggies, you can get all sorts of delicious sauces, noodles, and your very own set of chopsticks!  I headed down there this time because I was on the hunt for Fish Sauce, which is a staple in Thai cooking.  I, for some reason, was having a craving for a Thai-inspired salad.
Fish sauce smells kind of funny, but it adds a saltiness similar to soy sauce in dips, marinades and dressings.
It was going to be the base for my Thai inspired salad dressing.
The next thing on my grocery list was rice noodles.  Rice noodles are super cheap and last nearly forever on your shelf.  They're excellent to have around for an impromptu, or quick dinner.  To prepare them, you simply need to soak them in lukewarm water and then boil them for about 2 minutes.

The rest of the ingredients for the salad and dressing you probably already have around.
(before you put the dressing together, boil a pot of water)

For the dressing:
about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of peeled and chopped ginger
1 chopped garlic clove
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon of brown sugar (white sugar is also fine)
chopped chilies or sriracha if you like spicy

My dressing looked like this:
 Play with the flavors of your dressing.  It should taste salty, sweet, sour and spicy all at the same time.
While you're assembling the dressing, soak the noodles in warm water.

When the dressing is done, throw the noodles into the boiling water for about 2 minutes.  Then they're done!

Anything can go into your salad.
I peeled and thinly sliced cucumbers, scallions, cabbage, yellow onion and chopped romaine lettuce.
I also grilled a piece of chicken with a little bit of soy sauce.

Toss everything together.
Eat with your new, lovely chopsticks.


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Check it out...
and get 15% off with this code

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Easy Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Dip

This is the easiest dip ever to make!  It's a great thing to bring to a party, especially if you have no time to think about something elaborate to make.  You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.

What you need:
small food processor
lemon juice
greek yogurt (as a substitute for sour cream)
roasted red peppers (you can roast them yourself but jarred ones up the easy and cheap factor)
goat cheese
salt and papper
 Put 6oz of yogurt into the processor
1-2 large roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
6 ish ounces of goat cheese
blend together till creamy, with little chunks of pepper
Add salt and pepper to taste
 Looks fluorescent, but tastes good!
Serve with pita chips and eat like a civilized person...right from the food processor...