Broccoli, Mushroom and Egg Rice Bowl

This is a simple rice bowl that is easy to make for a weeknight supper.  You can substitute many other veggies for the broccoli and mushrooms according to your taste and whim.  It is also a great way to use up leftover veggies or eats that are already cooked.

This version used a sauce that included a small amount of leftover cooked hamburg, but the meat is not necessary and could be skipped altogether ir swapped out for a very small amount of any protein you like.

Makes generous serving for 2 (with some leftover)

INGREDIENTS:

2 extra large eggs

1 cup long-grain white rice with 2 cups of water for looking

1 small carrot, peeled and then, using the peeler, cut into thin strips

2 small or 1 large scallion, white and light green part, cut into 1/2″ pieces on the diagonal

2 cups broccoli florets , washed and trimmed

6-10 shiitake mushrooms (or cremini if you don;t have shiitake)

1 1/2 t. canola oil

1 t. mirin

1 T. plus 1/2 t. soy sauce (preferably Kikkoman) plus additional for serving

1/2 t. finely minced ginger

1 1/2 t. finely minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1/3 cup cooked and chopped hamburger or other protein (optional)

2 t. cornstarch

1 1/2 T. cool water

1 t. rice wine vinegar

pinch of sugar or small drizzle of honey

1 piece of sushi nori (optional)

PREPARATION:

  1. Make the rice either by combining rice and water in a rice cooker or by cooking on the stovetop.  Keep covered to stay warm, while making the rest of the meal.
  2. Bring a pan of water to a low boil over medium heat.  Prepare a bowl with cold water and ice to cool the eggs.
  3. Add the eggs to the boiling water and adjust heat to maintain a simmer for exactly 6 1/2 minutes. (A good way to do this is to set a timer for 7 minutes and add the eggs to the water when the first 30 seconds has elapsed.)
  4. Immediately remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water bath to fully cool.
  5. Peel the carrot into thin strips and slice the scallions.  Set aside.
  6. In a fry pan over medium heat, put 1/2 t. of the  canola oil, the mirin and 1/2 t. of the soy sauce.
  7. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are cooked through and their juices have reduced to a thickish (but still moist) coating on the bottom of the pan.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and set aside.
  8. To the fry pan, add 1 t. canola oil, the minced ginger, and garlic and sauté briefly.
  9. Add the chicken stock and 1 T. of soy sauce and cook until just reaching a boil.
  10. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the cornstarch and water.
  11. Pour this slurry into the chicken stock mixture and whisk until smooth and thickened.
  12. Add the rice wine vinegar and the pinch of sugar/honey.  Add the cooked meat, if using.  Set aside.
  13. Place water in the bottom of a steamer and the broccoli florets on top (alternatively, you can microwave the florets in a bowl with a small amount of water and a lid) and cook until just crisp-tender.
  14. Reheat the sauce briefly if needed.
  15. Drain and VERY gently peel the eggs and set in a bowl.
  16. Add a serving of rice to the bottom of a bowl.  Top with mushrooms, carrots, scallions, and broccoli.
  17. Gently hold an egg in the palm of your hand and use a knife to split it almost all the way in two keeping the halved pressed together (and not slicing your hand).  Open the egg over the rice bowl and nestle it on top.
  18. Drizzle several tablespoons of the sauce over the top of the egg and broccoli and garnish with the nori sheet, if using.
  19. Serve with additional soy sauce on the side.

Caramelized Apples

This is very much like apple pie filling without the crust.  It is good served warm or cold and as everything from fruit with breakfast to a side dish for roasted meats to the sauce under a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 medium to large apples (Honeycrisp hold their shape really well and are not too sweet, but Cortland and Braeburn work as well) peeled, cored and cut into 1/4″ thick slices

2T unsalted butter

2T dark brown sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 t. cinnamon (or more to taste)

pinch of nutmeg (optional)

PREPARATION:

  1.  In a pan with a thick bottom and a cover, heat the butter until just melted.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar until melted.
  3. Add the apple slices (the caramel will seize up as the apples are added but will relax as they cook).  Cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes depending on the size and type of apples) until soft but not mushy.
  4. Add the salt, cinnamon and nutmeg if using and stir gently.
  5. Remove from heat and serve or cool to room temperature.  Can be refrigerated for several days.

Crispy Lemon Chicken

This is a quick and lighter version of Chicken Piccata.  It can be served with pasta, rice, potatoes or just with an assortment of roasted or steamed vegetables.  This recipe is meant for two but it can easily be doubled (although if you want it all done at once you will need more than one frying pan).  It has been a favorite in our house for a very long time.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 T. white rice flour (optional, but it makes the cutlets crispier)

1 t. kosher salt

liberal grinding of fresh black pepper

2/3 to 3/4 lb. thin-sliced chicken breast (you can buy it this way or slice across a breast and place in a plastic bag with a few drops of water and pound until thin)

3/4 cup milk (preferably whole milk, but any kind will work)

1 lemon

3 T. olive oil

1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1 -2 t. capers. drained

PREPARATION:

  1. If you are working with whole chicken breast, slice it across into 2 pieces per breast.  Place in a  gallon sized plastic bag and sprinkle in a little water.  Close the bag and pound the chicken until it is about 1/4″ thick.
  2. In a container large enough to hold one piece of the chicken lying flat, pour the milk.  Add the chicken stacking one piece on top of each other and place in the refrigerator to soak for at least 10 minutes but up to a few hours.
  3. Mix the flour, rice flour (if using), kosher salt and black pepper together in a shallow bowl or pan large enough to hold most of one piece of the chicken.
  4. Wash the lemon and cut a few thin slices from one end (for garnish so you will need at least one slice per piece of chicken). Set the slices aside until the dish is done.
  5. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon (you should have 1 1/2 to 2 T.) and set aside.
  6. Put the olive oil into a large fry pan and bring to medium heat.
  7. Take the chicken piece out of the milk and dredge in the flour, gently shaking off any excess.  Place each chicken piece carefully into the hot oil.  Cook for a few minutes on the first side until the flour has browned and is nicely golden.  Carefully turn the chicken and cook of a minute or two on the second side.
  8. Remove the chicken pieces to a warm plate.
  9. Increase the heat under the fry pan to medium high and add the chicken stock to the oil left in the pan, stirring to incorporate any bits of the coating left on the bottom of the pan.  Add the lemon juice and boil until the sauce is slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and add the capers to warm through. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Place one or two chicken cutlets on each plate and top with the sauce as well as a slice of lemon.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This is really a recipe for meatballs as it can be used with any good homemade tomato sauce or (if really pushed) a jar of Rao’s sauce of your choosing.  I know that Rao’s is expensive, but it is the only one I have found so far that doesn’t contain copious amounts of sugar.  That said, any homemade tomato sauce (even one that starts with canned or boxed tomatoes) will beat a jar any time.  The key to moist and light meatballs  is ….. water.  I don’t remember any more what food writer noted that water works better than most other liquids, but my experience says that he or she was right!  I use the same recipe for meatloaf and have included a note at the end of the Preparation section about the assembly and cooking time for meatloaf.

Notes:  The meatball recipe makes at least twice as many meatballs as you will need for four to six people.  Freeze the other half and you will have either meatballs for the future or a meatloaf.  The meatballs can be cooked right in the sauce but they do add fat to it (good or bad depending on your point of view) along with flavor.  If you prefer, they can be pre-baked in a 350 degree oven until some of the fat has been rendered and they are browned and partially cooked and then added to the sauce.

This recipe serves 4-6 depending on portion size

INGREDIENTS:

2 T. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped  AND

1 small yellow onion, minced (chopped very finely)

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 green pepper, finely chopped

2 boxes (26.45 oz.) San Marzano crushed tomatoes

2 t. dried basil

1 t. dried thyme (or oregano if you prefer)

1 lb. 90% lean ground beef or ground sirloin

1/2 lb. ground pork

1/2 lb. ground veal (or ground turkey if you can’t find/prefer not to use veal)

1 egg, beaten slightly

1 T. lemon juice

1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs

1/4 to 1/3 cup of finely grated parmigiano (optional, but it improves both flavor and texture)

1 cup of cool/cold water

salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. dried spaghetti or thin linguini

PREPARATION:

  1.  In a pot large enough to accommodate the sauce and half of the meatballs, heat 2 T. of olivel oil over medium heat and add the large chopped yellow onion.  Sauté until translucent.
  2. Add half of the minced garlic cloves and the green pepper to the onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil and thyme and stir to combine.  (if you happen to have an open bottle of a decent red wine you can also add a glug of it at this point, but that is strictly if it happens to be on hand)
  4. Bring the sauce to a simmer and partially cover with pot lid.  Simmer until sauce changes from bright to  a deep red color and the flavors have combined nicely.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, make the meatballs.
  6. In a large bowl, place the small minced onion, the remaining minced cloves of garlic, the beef, pork, veal/turkey, the beaten egg, lemon juice, breadcrumbs and parmigiano (if using).  Add 1/2 cup of water and mix gently just to combine.  If the mixture feels dense add water 1/8 cup at a time, until it begins to feel noticeably lighter.  At that point stop mixing.
  7. If the sauce is not yet ready, refrigerate meatball mixture until ready to use.  You can also divide it in two at this point and freeze half for later use.
  8. With sauce still at a simmer, use your hands and half of the meatball mixture to make meatballs that are 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and add to sauce to cook.  Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes and cover leaving on stove to stay warm.
  9. While the sauce and meatballs are simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  10. When the meatballs are done, add the pasta to the salted water and cook for the time directed on the package.  Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  11. Serve the pasta and top with meatballs and sauce, along with more of the parmigiano.  Note:  If the sauce has become a bit too thick while on the stove, you can add a little of the pasta cooking water to thin it a bit.

MEATLOAF VARIATION:

You can take half of the meatball mixture and shape it into a freeform meatloaf.  Make certain that the pan in which you cook it is big enough to leave room on all sides (so the excess fat can be released).  You can place it on a rack in the pan if you want the fat to fully drain.  For the meatloaf to remain moist it needs some kind of covering.  A few bacon strips are the material of choice for me but, if you don’t want to add more fat the the meatloaf, you can also mix ketchup and brown sugar or use barbecue sauce to insulate the meatloaf.  Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 to 65 minutes depending on the shape of your meatloaf.  Allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes covered with foil before serving.