Thursday, March 15, 2012

Something different: Fried Plantain & Spinach

Fried Plantain & Spinach
The Book of Caribbean Cooking Copyright 2000

1 large plantain
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
4 scallions, roughly chopped
8 oz small spinach leaves I only used about half this
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Red chili slices, to garnish I omitted these

Cut ends off plantain. Slit skin lengthwise in several places then peel off the strips of skin. Cut plantain into cubes.

In a skillet, heat butter and oil. Add plantain cubes and fry for 3-4 minutes, turning frequently, until golden brown and cooked. Add scallions and cook for 1 more minutes.

Add spinach and cook for 1 minute until just wilted. Sprinkle with nutmeg and seasoning. Garnish with slices of red chili.

Serves 4.

I am trying to break my habit of picking up ingredients without first having a use for them.  Having come of age at a time when unique ingredients were not easily available, anytime I see anything the least bit rare or different I feel I have to grab it.  I've come to realize that almost everything is pretty easy to obtain these days.  I have a new rule that if I don't have a particular recipe in mind for something, I don't buy it. I try to just make a mental note that the ingredient is available instead of throwing it in my cart these days.

Plantains caught my eye in Walmart the other day.  I've seen them before in stores but they looked particularly good. I was going to walk on by but then I noticed a plantain was only 48 cents.  So why not break my new rule and bring one home?

This is the first cookbook I looked in and as soon as I saw this recipe, I knew it was the one.  The plantain in the picture in the cookbook was ripe (not overly ripe) and mine was green so I had to wait a few days. When I finally made it I was not disappointed. It was simple but delicious. I could definitely see myself making this again. Sometimes it pays to break the rules!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

More fun with ground chicken: Chicken Cakes with Teriyaki Sauce

Chicken Cakes with Teriyaki Sauce
Around The World in 450 Recipes Copyright 2005, 2006

For the chicken cakes:
1 pound ground chicken
1 large egg
¼ cup grated onion
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
Cornstarch, for coating
½ bunch scallion, finely shredded, to garnish
1 tablespoon oil

For the teriyaki sauce:
2 tablespoons sake or dry white wine
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Mix the ground chicken with the egg, grated onion, sugar and soy sauce until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and well bound. This process takes about 3 minutes, until the mixture is quite sticky, which makes for good texture. (I didn't quite go 3 minutes but I did get it pretty sticky.) Shape the mixture into 12 small, flat, round cakes and dust them lightly all over with cornstarch. (The mixture is very sticky. I dropped it into the cornstarch and then I was able to pat it out, once it was covered in cornstarch.)
2. Soak the scallions in cold water for 5 minutes and drain well.  (They used the white part and the water curls it - I just sliced the green part and skipped the soak.)
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Place the chicken cakes in a single layer, and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Turn the cakes and cook for 3 minutes longer.  (Mine took much longer - make sure they are cooked before adding the glaze.)
4. Mix the ingredients for the sauce and pour it into the pan. Turn the chicken cakes occasionally until they are evenly glazed. Move or gently shake the pan constantly to prevent the sauce from burning.
5. Arrange the chicken cakes on a plate and top with the scallions. Serve immediately.

I was perusing through this cookbook on Saturday night and as soon as I saw this recipe I knew I was going to make it the next day. Honestly, I never go wrong with ground chicken! It's like magic LOL.

It was a bit tricky - the mixture was super sticky. I think I set a record for washing my hands while making a recipe with this one. The cornstarch is key here. You won't get them shaped without it. You could just drop the mixture in the pan and smoosh it down I guess if you don't have cornstarch but I don't know if they would brown as well.

This is a Japanese recipe. These little chicken meatballs in a soy glaze are called Tsukune.

I'd say this is one of my favorite ground chicken recipes but they are all my favorites! Check out all of my ground chicken recipes.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

No bake, peanut-free cookies

Almost Instant Chocolate Cookies
Class Treats Take-To-School Goodies For Every Occasion Copyright 2003

1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup milk
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup shredded coconut

Line several baking sheets with wax paper or just place several long sheets on countertop.

Combine sugar, butter, milk and cocoa in saucepan over medium heat.

Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to boil.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, oats and coconut.

Working quickly, drop rounded teaspoonsfuls of mixture onto wax paper. Let cool and enjoy.

These no-bake cookies aren't pretty but don't let that fool you.  The peanut butter version of these are a favorite of many and quite popular but we don't do peanut butter in our house.  I've been looking for a good version without peanut butter for some time.  I've made a version with butterscotch pudding which were good but a little bit over-the-top sweet and I know many people are not a fan of that fake butterscotch flavor.

This recipe was a winner.  Most of my coworkers love coconut and so do I. They were fudgy and delicious and I would definitely make these again.  Of course I said that about the butterscotch version and I've yet to make another batch but now that I've been reminded of that recipe, I just might.

I didn't even realize it when I picked this book up but all of the recipes are nut-free. This is a photo-less book but I was still drawn to it. It seems to have a lot of recipes I haven't seen before (not very usual anymore).

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Almost forgotten: Spicy Chicken (or Beef) In Lettuce Cups

Spicy Beef Chicken In Lettuce Cups
Quick and Easy Chinese Copyright 2008

3 tablespoons soy sauce I used low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry, white wine of Shaoxing wine
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ pound ground beef I used ground chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger I used jarred
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 tablespoon sesame oil
About 20 cup-shaped lettuce leaves, such as Bibb, Boston, or iceberg I couldn't find a good lettuce that day. I used a green leaf lettuce.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, sugar and salt, and stir well to dissolve the cornstarch and combine everything into a smooth sauce.

Place the ground beef in a medium bowl and use a spoon to separate it into five or six big clumps. Add about half the soy sauce mixture, and gently mix the seasonings into the ground beef, using your hands or a large spoon. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.

To cook, heat a wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the vegetable oil; swirl to coat the pan, and them toss in the ginger and the garlic. Cook for about 1 minute, tossing once, until fragrant but not browned.

Crumble in the seasoned ground beef, and use your spatula or a big slotted spoon to break it up and spread the meat out over the hot pan to help it cook evenly. Let it cook until it changes color on one side, 1 to 2 minutes.

Toss the meat just enough to turn the uncooked side onto the hot pan, and let it cook another minute undisturbed. Then toss well, using your spatula to break up any large chunks. When the meat is cooked, add the red pepper flakes and green onion, and toss well, Add the sesame oil and remove from the heat, tossing once more to mix everything well.

Transfer to a serving plate and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Arrange lettuce cups on a serving platter, and fill each one with a spoonful or two of the cooked beef. Or provide lettuce cups and the serving plate of beef and invite guests to make up lettuce packets themselves.

I almost forgot to tell you about these.  On my ground chicken post, someone suggested using ground chicken for lettuce wraps. What a great idea! I adapted this beef recipe.

The filling was very good but I wasn't happy with the lettuce I used. I forget which variety it was but it wasn't what I wanted. I had waited until the last minute to buy the lettuce and it turned out not to be a good day for lettuce in the supermarket. I have since remade them with a proper lettuce but I didn't have light for a picture at the time.

This was rather spicy but you can adjust the seasonings however you wish.  I would definitely keep an eye on salt. I had a pound of meat defrosted and I tried to double the recipe the first time so that could have been why they were too salty,even though I used low-sodium soy sauce. The second time I made them I sort of winged it, leaving out the salt and basically using the original amounts for a pound of meat. Since I never did try the recipe exactly as it's written, I don't know how that would work out for you. Definitely leave out that salt.

I obviously enjoyed these since I made them twice but this is something I still need to perfect. Any suggestions?

I am adding this recipe to my ground chicken recipe list.