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Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

Baby, it’s cold outside – but starting to warm up!

We are beginning to see glimpses of spring.  I am looking forward to the warmer weather and  actually being able to run outside without risking life and limb on black ice.  I am excited for long walks with my puppy.  I can’t wait to grill outdoors and avoid setting off my poorly ventilated kitchen’s smoke alarm.  During this intermediate time in March, I am flexing my “make simple foods fast” muscles.

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce  www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

I am all for spending hours in the kitchen and preparing incredible meals for family and friends.  The reality is that time keeps slipping through my fingertips… For everyday cooking, there are simpler foods that I really need to learn how to make and enjoy.  Enter Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce.  This recipe hails from  How to Cook Everything Fast, Mark Bittman’s latest cookbook.  It is very good.  I am simplifying it even further.  You really don’t have to use Thai Sticky Rice.  You could use some leftover white Jasmine rice and this will still taste delicious.  I’ll leave the rice decision up to you!

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

My husband scrunches up his nose whenever I mention “fish sauce” or bring it out from the bottom shelf of our refrigerator door.  The truth is the stuff smells like fermented anchovies.  It imparts an incredible flavor to this dish – one that would be very difficult to recreate.

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

Barely adapted from How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman

1.5 c short-grain sushi rice
sea salt
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
2 T canola oil
1 lb. ground pork
freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh hot green chile (I used serrano). sliced into quarters lengthwise, seeds & membranes removed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 c coconut milk
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 lime, cut into wedges
optional: Thai or regular basil for garnish

1. Put rice in a medium saucepan with 5 c water and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. When water boils, cook over high heat, stirring frequently, adding more water if needed, until rice is soft and forms a thick risotto like mixture, 10 minutes. When rice is done, spoon it out into 4 shallow bowls.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 T canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add ground pork, carrot, celery, onion, and a little sea salt & pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pork browns and vegetables soften, 10 minutes. Stir chile, garlic and ginger into the skillet.

3. Stir coconut milk and fish sauce into pork and vegetables. Bring to a boil. Let liquid bubble until it reduces to a thick sauce. Taste, adjust seasoning, and remove from heat. Spoon over bowls of rice. Squeeze a wedge of lime juice over each bowl.

Optional: Garnish with a lime wedge and basil.

Enjoy!

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce       www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

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Let’s Talk Cookbooks and Soup – Chicken Soup with Escarole and Polpettini

Chicken Soup with Escarole and Polpettini

Chicken Soup with Escarole and Polpettini (Spinach used in this photo)

Two summers ago, three generations of my family embarked on a road trip “out east.”  We stopped at Niagara Falls (New York), Erie (Pennsylvania) to visit family, Boston (Massachusetts), Cape Cod, Bar Harbor (Maine), Acadia National Park (Maine) and Sandusky (Ohio).  Oh, and we all piled into a single vehicle.  Why in the world would sane people subject themselves to that much ‘together’ time?  My grandmother does not like to fly.  We love my grandmother. Therefore, my uncle became the fearless captain and drove us several thousand miles to our destinations and back home.

At each destination, we would stop and wander around the local shops.  While we were in Boston, I picked up a cookbook.  The North End Italian Cookbook is written by Marguerite DiMino Buonopane and features the kind of slow-cooked Italian food that has comforted Italian Americans for decades.  I have made several of her recipes, including Sunday Gravy, that have won over the taste buds of my friends and family.  One recipe that has gone on repeat for me is a humble chicken soup with little meatballs or ‘polpettini’, shreds of chicken and fresh greens.

Make this soup over two days.  The broth is best made on day 1 (usually Saturday for me) and the soup will quickly come together on day 2 (Sunday).  The secret here is the broth.  If you are feeling impatient, don’t make this recipe.  You will ruin a very good thing.  Take your time with the broth!

Making the broth for Chicken Soup with Escarole and Polpettini

Making the broth for Chicken Soup with Escarole and Polpettini

Vegetables, Aromatics and Sea Salt for Broth

Vegetables, Aromatics and Sea Salt for Broth

Straining the broth for Chicken Soup with Escarole and Polpettini

Straining the broth for Chicken Soup with Escarole and Polpettini

Making the little meatballs or 'polpettini'

Making the little meatballs or ‘polpettini’

Chicken Soup with Escarole and Polpettini
Recipe adapted from The North End Italian Cookbook by Marguerite DiMino Buonopane

1 whole chicken (Organic & Free Range)
2 celery stalks, with leaves, halved
2 carrots, peeled and cut in half
4 fresh parsley sprigs
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added
20 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
sea salt
1 bunch Escarole or 8-12 oz baby spinach*
1/2 c. water
1 lb. ground beef
2 T freshly grated Romano Cheese
1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 lb. small shaped pasta (optional)

Day 1: The Broth

Remove giblets or giblet package from cavity of chicken.  Cut off any excess fat around cavity.  Place the whole chicken in a large soup pot.  Add water to pot, filling until chicken is covered by 2-3″.  Place over a burner on low-medium heat.   Let the broth slowly come to a simmer.  Skim the surface of the water often with a large spoon and discard.  Once water stays fairly clean, add celery, carrots, parsley, tomatoes, peppercorns, bay leaf and about 1.5 tsp. sea salt.   Return to a just barely bubbling simmer.  Cover pot tightly and simmer slowly over low heat, about 2.5 hours.

Using a wire ‘spider,’ scoop out vegetables that have started to float and any accumulated bits at the top of the pot.  Discard.  Using a ladle, scoop broth out of pot and pour into cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl.  Place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice to start immediately cooling the broth.  Repeat with several bowls.  When you get to the bottom inch or two of broth around the chicken, you may elect to stop scooping stock.  Carefully remove the chicken with the wire ‘spider’ scoop and transfer to a large plate or pan.  The chicken will be falling apart.  Pick the meat from the chicken.  Reserve 2 cups chicken meat for the soup, risotto, etc.

Once stock has cooled a bit and ice begins to melt, place broth in covered containers in the refrigerator.  Let sit in refrigerator several hours to overnight.   When ready to use, skim away fat that has solidified at the top of the broth containers.  Freeze any broth you do not use for soup for a later use.

Day 2: The Soup

Pour 12-14 cups broth into a large dutch oven or soup pot.  Bring to a slow simmer.  Meanwhile, combine escarole (or spinach) in a large skillet with 1/2 c. water.  Stir until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Drain in a colander, squeezing out excess water.  Once soup is simmering, stir in wilted greens.

Gently combine the ground beef, Romano cheese, parsley, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until combined.  Form into small 1/2″ balls, the size of marbles.  Drop into simmering soup, being careful to space them so they do not stick.  You may need to add them in two batches.  Let simmer 15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Stir in 2 cups reserved shredded chicken (white and/or dark meat).  Simmer an additional 15 minutes.  While simmering, season to taste with sea salt. *  Serve soup topped with freshly grated Romano cheese and a sliced baguette.

* Note:  use whichever greens look better at the store or farmer’s market.  The escarole looked terrible this weekend, so I used spinach instead.

**Optional:  Bring a medium size stockpot filled with 6-8 c. water and 2 tsp. sea salt to a boil.  Add 1/2 lb small pasta and cook until al dente.  Add to soup just before serving.

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Chicken Hash (another ‘so you can eat cookies later’ recipe)

Chicken Hash with homemade Rosemary Bread

Chicken Hash with homemade Rosemary Bread

First, where has this month gone?  I pushed myself and planned and worked and now it is December 19th!   It is two days before my long-awaited baking marathon begins and a matter of hours before my little brother’s birthday.  I have even started thinking about the New Year and my goals and aspirations for what I will bring to the next 365 days.  More on that later.  For now, I have a good, simple dish to share.

I have had this dish on my dinner ‘repeat’ playlist for weeks now.  I made it once and Mark keeps asking for this recipe again, and again, and again!  I found the original recipe for this dish on the Weight Watchers website.  I modified it by adding olive oil, smoked paprika and good parmesan.  The base of this recipe includes the culinary world’s classic ‘Trinity’ of onion, celery and bell pepper.  Then you add chicken and potatoes plus seasonings and some lemon juice and chicken broth.  It would be complete with a sunny side egg on top, although I haven’t gone that far yet.  This is a good breakfast, lunch or dinner recipe.  I usually make it for dinner then have the leftovers for breakfast.

Chicken Hash before adding smoked paprika

Chicken Hash before adding smoked paprika

Chicken Hash

1.5 pounds (~7-8) small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
1 c. celery, finely diced
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1/2″ pieces
1.5 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 c. fat free, low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. minced thyme
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. tsp sea salt

Optional:
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and add water to cover potatoes by ~ 1″.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.  Drain.  Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized chunks, about 1″ thick.  Set aside.

While potatoes are boiling, heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add 2 T. olive oil and swirl in the pan.  Add “the Holy Trinity,” (onion, celery, red bell pepper), and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Sauté, stirring frequently, until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent.  Remove from pan.

Sprinkle chicken with sea salt and pepper.

Add 1-2 T olive oil to pan, depending on how much oil remains after removing vegetables.  Then add chicken to pan and sauté over medium-high heat until chicken starts to turn a golden brown.

Add diced, cooked potatoes, smoked paprika and thyme to the chicken in the pan, stirring frequently.  Transfer cooked vegetables, lemon juice and chicken broth* to the pan and stir together.  Heat over medium heat until flavors meld, seasoning to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls with parmesan cheese on top.

*If you like a crispy hash, omit most of chicken broth, only adding a few Tablespoons full to prevent sticking.  

The cooking 'Trinity' of celery, onion and red bell pepper

The cooking ‘Trinity’ of celery, onion and red bell pepper

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