Sensational Stir-Fried Chicken & Rice Bowls

Sensational Stir-Fried Chicken & Rice Bowls

Sensational Stir-Fried Chicken & Rice Bowls, serves 6 with leftovers

The idea for the Rice Bowls comes from Shelley Adams from her wonderful cookbook, Whitewater Cooks, a stunning collection of recipes with a unique West-Coast flair.  I have adapted her version of what she calls Glory Bowls into what is essentially stir-fried, marinated chicken atop steaming bowls of rice with vegetables and cashews drizzled with a tangy dressing.  East meets west in a delicious new way.  You will need:

For the marinade:

• Extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup

• Braggs Amino (or light soy sauce), 2 tablespoons

• Garlic cloves, 2-3, minced

• Fresh ginger, about an inch, peeled and grated

• Liquid honey, 1 tablespoon

• Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 8 large

Combine the marinade ingredients in a jug then pour over the chicken in a large bowl; set aside in the fridge.

Make the rice:

I combined 1 cup of short-grain brown rice and 1 cup of white basmati (I used Lundberg brand) but honestly if you’re planning to make extra for leftovers Uncle Ben’s converted is a great choice, just cook it in chicken broth instead of water for added flavour.

Make the Dressing:

• Nutritional yeast flakes, ½ cup

• Water, 1/3 cup

• Braggs Amino or soy sauce, 1/3 cup

• Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/3 cup

• Garlic, 2-3 cloves, peeled and minced

• Vegetable oil, 1 ½ cups

• Tahini paste, 2 tablespoons

Combine all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.  You will have leftover dressing to use again; try it on any salad greens, spinach, rice or grains.

For the Rice Bowls:

• Cooked rice, 8 cups

• Carrots, peeled and grated, 2 cups (2 large carrots)

• Green onions, 1 bunch, trimmed and sliced

• Baby spinach, 2 cups

• Dry-roasted cashews, 2 cups

Just as the rice is finishing cooking, remove the chicken from the fridge.

Heat a large dry non-stick skillet over high heat for 4 minutes.  When the pan is very hot, put in the chicken with whatever marinade sticks to it and cook for 4 minutes without moving.  Turn then cook on the other side for another 4 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for another 2 minutes or so or until the chicken is cooked through (do not overcook).  Transfer to a chopping board and let rest for 5 minutes.  Once rested, set aside 2 pieces then cut the remaining 6 pieces into thick slices.

To assemble the bowls: place cooked rice into 6 bowls, top with carrots, green onion, spinach, cashews and chicken, drizzle with dressing.

Set aside the extra 2 cups of cooked rice until cool then cover.  Wrap up the leftover chicken.  Both can be refrigerated safely for up to 2 days.

Creole-style Fried Rice w. Chicken, Ham & Shrimp

Creole-style Fried Rice w. Chicken, Ham & Shrimp

Creole-style Fried Rice w. Chicken, Ham & Shrimp, serves 2-4

If the recipe for Rice Bowls seems a bit fussy this is simplicity itself.  You will need:

• Red bell pepper, ½ large

• Green pepper, ½ large

• Green onions, 1 bunch

• Vegetable oil

• Smoked paprika

• Ham, ½ cup, cubed

• Leftover cooked rice, 2 cups

• Leftover cooked chicken thighs, 2, sliced

• Cooked shrimp, ½ lb

• Chicken broth

First, a bit of preparation: de-seed and roughly chop the peppers, trim and chop the green onions.

In a large non-stick skillet or wok, heat about 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat and sauté the peppers.  Add half of the green onions and cook for 1 minute (do not allow to burn). Add about a tablespoon or more of smoked paprika and continue to cook for another minute.  Add in the ham, cooked rice, chicken and shrimp along with ½ cup of chicken broth.  Stir to combine the flavours and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.  Check to see the rice doesn’t get too dry; if it does, add a little more broth.

Serve in bowls with the remainder of the green onions scattered over the top.  Pass the hot sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot) and enjoy.  Beer would be a good choice of beverage,

Pan-Roasted Salmon Nicoise

Pan-Roasted Salmon Nicoise

Pan-Roasted Salmon Nicoise

Here’s a fabulous presentation of traditional and not-so-traditional ingredients that’s equally great for an intimate dinner for two (shown here) or for a crowd.

Don’t be put off by what seems at first glance to be a long list of instructions – much of the work is done ahead of time and all that’s left to do before serving is to arrange the food on plates or on a platter (if you don’t have one, cover a tray with foil and use that instead).  You need only a pitcher of iced tea or a chilled bottle of wine, some crusty bread and dinner’s ready.  I’ve provided a list of ingredients here for two but the recipe can easily be adapted for a larger group.  You will need:

• New baby Yukon Gold potatoes, 6-8

• Eggs, 2 large

• Green onions, 1 bunch of 6, trimmed and chopped

• Mayonnaise, preferably Hellman’s

• Dijon mustard

• Green beans

• Vine-ripened cherry tomatoes

• Pitted Kalamata olives

• Balsamic vinegar

• Extra virgin olive oil

• Salmon fillets, 7oz each, 3 or 4 (2 for this meal, 1-2 for leftovers)

Pre-heat the oven to 450F.

Put the potatoes in a pot with enough cold water to cover, add at least  a teaspoon of sea salt and bring to a boil; cook for about 15-20 minutes or until just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.  Drain and set aside.

Meantime, put two eggs in a small pan with cold water to cover and bring to a boil.  Cook for 10 minutes then remove from the heat and hold the pan under cold running water.  When the eggs are cool enough to handle, place them in a small bowl and put them in the freezer for about 2 minutes.  This keeps the yolks nice and yellow.  Set the eggs aside.

Steam the green beans for about 3 minutes or until just tender, remove from the heat and cool on a paper towel.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters; cut the olives in half then combine the two.

Make a simple balsamic vinaigrette by combining 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil; season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a dry oven-proof skillet (large enough to hold the salmon comfortably) over high heat for 5 minutes.  Meantime, rub both sides of the salmon fillets with olive oil and season the tops liberally with salt and pepper.  When the pan is very hot, place the salmon, seasoning sides down, in the pan and cook for 3 minutes until very browned.  Turn the fillets and place the pan in the oven for 5-7 minutes until the salmon is cooked.  Check for doneness by carefully touching the top of the fillet – if it is still wobbly it isn’t ready.  VERY carefully removed the skillet from the oven using oven gloves and place on the stove top.  Remove the salmon to a cutting board to cool slightly.

Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces then place in a large bowl.  Chop the eggs and add to the bowl along with the chopped green onions.  Add 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise and a rounded teaspoon of Dijon, season with salt and paper and toss lightly to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.  Although this can be made well ahead, it tastes better if still warm.

Lay out 2 dinner plates and on each one start by placing green beans in the centre, place a salmon fillet on top then heap potato salad on one side and the tomato olive mixture on the other.  Drizzle a little balsamic vinaigrette over the tomato/olive mixture and dinner is ready.

When the extra salmon fillet(s) is cold, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Smoked Salmon Salad

Smoked Salmon Salad

Smoked Salmon Salad

It’s almost worth roasting salmon fillets just for this dish it is so delicious.  With pumpernickel bread it makes a great appetizer before a meal, with bagels it can be brunch.  You will need:

Leftover, cooked salmon fillet, flaked

• Smoked salmon, 6oz, thinly sliced

• Mayonnaise, preferably Hellman’s

• Celery, 2-3 ribs, chopped

• Capers, 1 tablespoon

• Chives, fresh

• Lemon

In a bowl combine the cooked salmon, smoked salmon, 2-3 tablespoons of mayonnaise, chopped celery and up to 1 tablespoon each of chopped capers and chives.  Squeeze over fresh lemon juice and season to taste.  Serve in a pretty dish garnished with chives and place some lemon slices alongside.

Marinated Steak Salad

Marinated Steak Salad

 

Marinated Steak Salad, serves 6

When I first got serious about cooking, The Silver Palate Cookbook became my bible and is still one of my favourites.  This recipe is an adapted version of their Marinated Beef Salad, ironically originally developed as their way to utilize leftover London Broil.

It is a simple but very delicious way to prepare steak and particularly good to serve for a crowd; when sliced, each steak serves 2-3 people.  As much as everyone tells you they are cutting back on red meat, this disappears fast whenever I serve it.  You will need:

Top sirloin steaks, 3, each about 1 ½ inches thick

• Red wine vinegar, ¼ cup

• Soy sauce (I prefer gluten-free), ¼ cup

• Extra Virgin olive oil, ½ cup

• Potatoes, new, 6 large (no need to peel)

• Red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

• Green onions, 1 bunch of 6, trimmed and chopped

• Peppers, 1 red, 1 green, de-seeded and thinly sliced

• Romaine lettuce, 1, washed and patted dry, torn into small pieces

• Vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, 2 vines

• Garlic dressing, 1 cup, recipe to follow

At least an hour before you want to cook the meat, remove the steaks from the fridge, pat them dry and lay them out on a large baking sheet.

Make up the marinade by combining the vinegar, soy sauce and olive oil in a jug; pour over the steaks.  After about 30 minutes, turn the steaks so that both sides are coated in the marinade.

Meantime, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for about 20 minutes or until just tender; drain then set aside to cool.  When cool, cut into bite-sized pieces.

In a salad bowl large enough to hold the meat, potatoes and salad together, place the cold potatoes, red and green onion, peppers and romaine.

Heat the grill and cook the steaks to medium-rare, or however you like them (it’s a good idea to cook the extra steak to just medium-rare as it can then be reheated without overcooking it).

Let the cooked steaks rest for at least five minutes.  Slice thinly on the diagonal and add to the bowl with the potato and salad vegetables.  Pour over about 1 cup of dressing, toss to combine then heap the salad onto individual plates.  A few quarters of cherry tomatoes (not shown in the photo) make a pretty garnish.

When the extra steak is cold, wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Garlic Dressing

• Egg yolk, 1

• Red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup

• Granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon

• Chopped garlic, 2-3 cloves (or more, I like it very garlicky)

• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

• Extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup

Steak Panini, serves 2-4

These make either a great lunch or, served alongside a simple tossed salad, an easy dinner.  I have included a recipe for two versions, both absolutely delicious – choose which one you prefer.

Steak and Mushroom Panini

Steak and Mushroom Panini

Steak and Mushroom Panini

You will need:

• Ciabbatta or baguette (day old works better)

• Leftover cooked top sirloin steak

• Extra virgin olive oil

• Crimini mushrooms, ½ pound, wiped clean and thinly sliced

• Fresh thyme sprigs

• Butter, salted

• Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

Start by heating a skillet over medium high heat and adding about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the mushroom slices, the leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme and some freshly ground black pepper; cook for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms have reduced in size and are starting to brown.  Add a small knob of butter and continue to cook until the butter is fully melted and the mushrooms are cooked through; at this point they will be beautifully glossy and shiny. Set aside.

Meantime, pre-heat a panini grill to 400F, or high heat.

Thinly slice the cold steak on the diagonal.

Cut the bread into quarters, then slice each piece in half and lightly butter the crusts.  Lay the bread flat on a chopping board, butter side down, then on one half of each sandwich place the steak – in 2 layers, mushrooms – as many as you can fit on, and a slice of cheddar.  Put the two halves of bread together, press together gently then place on the pre-heated panini grill.  Close the top plate and cook until the bread has toasted and is golden brown, the meat is warmed and the cheese is melted, 3-5 minutes.

Steak Panini with Horseradish Mayo, Tomato & Arugula

Steak Panini with Horseradish Mayo, Tomato & Arugula

Steak Panini with Horseradish Mayo, Tomato & Arugula

For this version you will need ciabatta or baguette, leftover steak, mayonnaise, horseradish, a tomato and some baby arugula.

Mix 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise with one teaspoon of horseradish, spread it liberally on the cut sides of the bread then layer on the sliced steak, slices of tomato and arugula.  Lightly press the two sides together, brush with a little olive oil then place on the pre-heated panini grill.  Close the top plate and cook until the crust is golden brown, the meat is warmed and the arugula is barely wilted, 3-5 minutes.

Burgers with Bacon

Burgers with Bacon

Burgers with Bacon

I love this recipe that combines traditional ingredients: beef and bacon, but puts them inside the burgers.  They keep incredibly moist even when well cooked.  Make an extra batch simply by doubling up the recipe and freezing them for later.  You will need:

• Pancetta, 6 thin slices

• Lean ground sirloin, 2lbs

• Fresh thyme sprigs

• Cheddar, thinly sliced

• Burger buns

Finely chop the pancetta – you may find this easier if the pancetta is put in the freezer for a few minutes first so it doesn’t stick to the knife.
In a large bowl, combine the chopped pancetta with the ground beef, just the leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme and a liberal amount of sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Try not to handle the meat too much at this stage as it gets tough.
Form the beef mixture into 8 roughly equal-sized patties; lay them on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the grill.  Cook the burgers over high heat for about 4 minutes or until they are just browned on one side then turn and cook them for another 4 minutes; place place a slice of cheddar on each one.  Continue to cook until the cheese is fully melted, and the burger is cooked, another minute or so. While the burgers are cooking, toast the buns.  Add the burger, your favourite toppings and enjoy!

Set aside extra cooked burgers until they are cool then refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Bacon-Double-Cheeseburger Pizzas

Bacon-Double-Cheeseburger Pizzas

Bacon-Double-Cheeseburger Pizzas

When I visit certain friends in Florida, we often order a bacon-double-cheeseburger pizza to eat poolside along with a cooler full of beers while we watch a spectacular sunset.  It comes loaded with the greasiest, most delicious ingredients that pay homage to its muse, the burger.  It conjures up such good memories that I wanted to create a version that’s less of a heart-attack-on-a-plate; this seems to work.  You will need:

• Individual pizza crusts, 2

• Leftover cooked burgers (I used 3)

• Marinara sauce (I used Rao’s)

• Grated mozzarella

• Grated cheddar

• Red onion, peeled & very thinly sliced

• Crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400F.

Lay the crusts on a counter or board. Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce over each, then drop small spoonfuls of the meat mixture all over the pizzas. Top with sliced onions and mushrooms and the two cheeses – I used about twice as much mozzarella as cheddar. In the photo above I also added arugula but it wilts a little in the heat.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the crust is crisp.  I used frozen crust for mine that needed a little longer to cook; when in doubt follow the instructions for the crusts you buy.

Have a Pizza Party invite over some friends, lay out individual pizza crusts, a variety of toppings and let guests make their own; share a glass of wine while they bake and you’ve got yourself a party for adults and kids alike.