Chickpea Summer Salad
Since my college days, I've been making this one simple lettuce-free salad that's been a big hit at barbecues and backyard parties. I always see people go back for seconds. With the summer season approaching, consider this side dish for your Memorial Day celebration! It's simple to make; easy to transport; and is a colorful accompaniment to any picnic situation. The delicious medley of protein-rich chickpeas, salty black olives, and fresh mozzarella cheese cubes, is accentuated with bits of tomato and red onion.
Fresh tomatoes, red onion, and Italian parsley add flavor.
1 large can of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), drained
1 large can of black olives, pitted, drained
1 large package (16 oz.) fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 large beefsteak tomato or 2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 Tbsp. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
I drain the entire can of black olives using a strainer. It's quick and easy that way. This method also works well for draining the chickpeas.
If you can't find a 16 oz. package of fresh mozzarella, 2 - 8oz. packages will work just fine!
1. Combine the drained chickpeas, drained olives, chopped onion, and chopped tomatoes in a large bowl.
2. Add the chopped parsley.
It's getting very colorful now!
3. Add the fresh mozzarella cubes.
Mmmm... now it's looking good, right?
4. To make the dressing, combine the 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk. Then slowly drizzle in the 5 Tbsp. olive oil while whisking.
The end result will be a beautiful lemony-yellow emulsified dressing.
5. Pour the dressing over the salad, and mix everything to combine it all. That's it! So simple and tasty!
Chickpea Summer Salad
Serves 10-15 easily as a side dish.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 - 2 days max. Before serving, just give everything a final stir to redistribute the dressing.
If plating, you can use extra parsley sprigs for garnish.
Any tomatoes will do. Got one avocado? Two? Doesn't matter. 3 scallions? 4? You decide. This non-lettucey salad is so versatile and takes minutes to make.
Someday I may write a book on 100 different things you can do with tomatoes. I think I've explored this realm because every summer I seem to have an over abundance of them in my garden - all within a two week time span. So I get creative.
That said, when I get my fresh produce delivered, sometimes certain things are in season, and I wind up with extras that I either need to use before they go bad, or I lose them. I went down to my kitchen today and noticed I had way too many tomatoes for making any sense, my avocado was screaming that it was ripe, I had a bunch of fresh scallions, and I was pondering what the heck I was going to do with this plethora of jalapeño peppers from an order I received that was accidentally doubled. (Jalapeño smoothie anyone? LOL)
Seriously, though, these ingredients were in inspiration to create a simple, fresh side dish that sings (and zings!) Zings, just a bit! Don't worry, I'm not going to set your mouth on fire with this! The acidity of the tomatoes combined with the tiny bits of jalapeño peppers, tones that flaming hotness down a bit so you won't have to call the fire department.
The best part about this dish is that it's not an exact science. Any kind of tomatoes will work - cherry, Roma, beefsteak, just any kind. Got one avocado? Two? Doesn't matter. 3 scallions? 4? You decide. This non-lettucey salad is so versataile and takes minutes to make. It pairs well with beef stroganoff, any kind of steak, or even bison.
I tell ya, give me a box of fresh veggies and I'm like a kid in a candy store! It sets my mind in motion and inspires me!
This salad is very forgiving. No big deal if you add an extra scallion or turn up the heat more with extra jalapeño.
1 - 2 avocados (you choose how many; I used 1 because it's all I had on hand)
3 Roma tomatoes (or 1 - 2 large tomatoes, maybe 20 cherry tomatoes... any kind of tomatoes will work)
3 - 5 scallions
1 - 2 jalapeño peppers
1 Tbsp. olive oil
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (this prevents the avocado from browning)
1. Chop the scallions into small pieces. Place scallions in a large bowl.
2. Slice up the jalapeños, making sure not to use any seeds. Then mince them into tiny bits. Add them to the bowl.
You'll hear people say wear rubber gloves when you do this so you don't get the juice on you fingers and then rub your eyes with it. My feeling is, just slice 'em and wash your hands immediately afterwards. I've tried cutting them wearing gloves, and I don't get as good of a grip on the peppers and almost wind up slicing my fingers off. Soap, water, and done.
Slice the jalapeños into strips, then mince them.
3. Cut around the avocado, discard the pit, then flip the halves over so they are skin side up. Slice each half into half. Peel the skins off, and chop the avocado slices into smaller bites. Introduce the avocado pieces to the scallions and jalapeño bits in the bowl.
Once you cut around the avocado it should separate in half easily, and the pit should pop right out.
I find it easier to remove the skin from the avocado once the halves are sliced in half.
4. Slice a lemon or lime and squeeze about 1 Tbsp. of juice over the ingredients in the bowl. The acidity will prevent the avocados from oxidizing and turning brown.
I lucked out and had some Meyer lemons on hand. They are more mild and lemony than most lemons. Oooh so good! (Not required for this recipe, but if I have 'em, I use 'em!)
4. Chop the tomatoes into bite size pieces. Any tomatoes will do. Send them into the bowl.
I use organic tomatoes and tomatoes left on the vine whenever possible. They have more flavor than others grown out of season. Also, when tomatoes are left with part of the vine intact once they are picked, they ripen more evenly and stay firmer, longer.
5. Add a pinch of salt and the olive oil to the mixture. Toss well to coat. That's it! Serve and enjoy!
Serves 3 - 4 as a side dish, unless you eat the whole bowl by yourself. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. 0:)
Asian Chicken with Broccoli and Rice - Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
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Whenever I have Chinese, Thai, Japanese, or Korean food I always wonder how they get that sauce to well - taste like THAT SAUCE. If you have ever made stir fry anything before, you know that if you just dump a bottle of soy sauce on something, or dip your dish in duck sauce, it's just not the same thing. There's a trick to pulling apart the sauce ingredients, infuse them all with the flavor of vegetables, and dial up the Mmmm factor by mixing various spices and bottles of things together to blend them into something savory and special.
Chef Jeff unveils the secret components to a good Asian fusion sauce right here.
The sauce - is key to Asian cuisine. Without it, well, this dish would just be chicken and rice with some rather boring broccoli. But, when you add the magical "sauce" - it changes everything.
Don't be scared. TheLadyinRed's culinary counterpart, Chef Jeff, stuck to supermarket available ingredients here. You don't need to fly around the world to China or go seeking out a special Asian market.
If you've got chicken, broccoli, and rice on hand, you've got your prime time players for this plate ready to go!
This takes about 30 minutes to make; and it's a meld of Chinese and Thai flavor profiles that are going on here.... a food fusion.
As always, feel free to deviate a little bit by adding vegetables that make your mouth sing. You just know TheLadyinRed had to add her own personal touches here. (She pushes the envelope with Chef Jeff in her test kitchen because well - that's what cooks do! Never be afraid to make something your own!) She's got this thing for water chestnuts, so they went in. (They add extra crunch!) You can also add baby corn or mushrooms, too. (TheLadyinRed recommends only adding mushrooms if you go with beef bouillon, instead of chicken or vegetable bouillon. Mushrooms tend to complement beef the best because they are earthy.)
The leftovers are yummy, too - refrigerable for about 3 days max.
You don't need fresh cut flowers in your kitchen to spruce things up. If you put a bowl of colorful peppers as a centerpiece - it's just as pretty!
Peppers are just so colorful and awesome. Red, orange, yellow, and green bell peppers all taste the same, so take the opportunity to make your dishes pretty by adding color when you can.
Gathering your ingredients ahead of time will save you time in the prep process. Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
Ok, well let's stop gabbing and get on with it! Ready, set, go!'
Chef Jeff likes to separate all of his ingredients while working in the kitchen. He's all nice and neat that way. :) Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
TheLadyinRed is all about the fewer the dirty dishes - the better! LOL! So if the peppers and onions are going in the same pot, chances are as she slices and dices, they're going to wind up becoming best friends in one bowl, too! :)
1 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 head of fresh broccoli
2 large, thick boneless chicken breasts
additional chicken/vegetable/beef stock (for rice preparation)
1 lime (optional)
for the sauce:
2 cups water (or 2 cups of chicken, vegetable of beef stock) <--TheLadyinRed recommends using chicken or vegetable stock for a "lighter flavor"
1 chicken/vegetable/beef bouillon cube (ONLY if using water)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup thinly sliced bell peppers (approximately 2 bell peppers) (any colors will do, but a combination of red, yellow, and orange looks appetizing)
1 cup thinly sliced onion (approximately 1 large onion)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 Tbsp. white, white wine, or rice wine vinegar (TheLadyinRed found out that white wine vinegar works well, too.)
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger or 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger (TheLadyinRed recommends using fresh ginger if you can. It adds that authentic Asian "zing" in the aftertaste of every bite.)
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. oyster sauce <-- yes, this is in a regular supermarket! Just ask! It's probably in the Asian aisle or with the various bottled sauces.
You can start with bouillon or stock. Once you add the cornstarch, you will see the magic happen as you stir it and the "gravy" transforms itself into a semi-translucent sauce.
1. If you are using bouillon, microwave 2 cups of water for 3 minutes with the cube or packet of bouillon, and then mix well. Add this to a large, deep pan on the stove.
If you are using stock, heat 2 cups of stock in a large, deep pan on the stove until boiling.
2. Add 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and mix until combined, over low heat - like super low, simmering style heat. :) You will see the magic happen as you stir the cornstarch into the broth. The "gravy" will transform itself into a semi-translucent sauce.
3. The sauce will need to simmer while the rest of the dish is prepared. Add all of the ingredients to the sauce, except for the rice, broccoli and chicken. This means those onions, peppers, garlic and other sauce components are going to dive right in the pot. This is why your pot needs to be large. The sauce flavor will mature as it's simmering, with the peppers infusing it.
(If you want to add anything additional - water chestnuts, baby corn, or mushrooms to the sauce - this is the time to do it. It's optional. Chef Jeff sticks to the basic sauce. TheLadyinRed breaks the rules, as usual. :) )
The peppers, onions, and garlic will go for a swim in the sauce along with the other sauce ingredients.
4. Prepare the rice as per package directions, except instead of water, use the chicken/vegetable/beef stock in lieu of water. This infuses the rice with flavor and makes it go from bland to oh-so-yum!
Any kind of white rice will work in this dish.
5. In a large saucepan, bring 3/4 of a pot of water to a boil.
6. While the water is coming to a boil, chop the broccoli into bite size pieces.
Use fresh broccoli in this recipe. This makes sure that the cooking time is equal for both the chicken and the broccoli as you poach both in the same pot at the same time.
7. Slice the boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips, as if you were making chicken fingers. You want long slices, about 1 1/2 inches wide. This step is important so the chicken does not overcook and become dry.
Make sure that your chicken breasts are thick, and sliced into "chicken fingers". Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
8. Once the water is rapidly boiling, add the broccoli and chicken at the same time. Cover the pot, remove it from the heat, and set it aside for 20 minutes. (We're not trying to make chicken-broccoli soup here; we just want to cook everything so the broccoli isn't mush and the chicken isn't dried out.)
The broccoli and chicken will become BFF's while they poach together in the boiling water. Love this step, as once again, there is one less dish to wash by sharing stove time!
9. Stir the sauce every few minutes as it thickens. If you are finding that your sauce is just too darn thick, or it looks like you've got more veggies than sauce, add 1/4 cup of water to it to thin it out a bit.
10. After 20 minutes, drain the chicken and broccoli into a colander. Remove the chicken and cut it into 1" pieces.
11. Put 1/2 cup of rice on each plate. Arrange some broccoli and chicken over the rice.
Just look at that plating! Chef Jeff rocks a plate! Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
12. Generously spoon some sauce over the plate. Cut a lime into wedges (if using); and serve along side. Fresh squeezed lime adds a nice tart accompaniment.
Voila! And there you have it - Asian Chicken with Broccoli and Rice - as plated by Chef Jeff! Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
If you like it spicy, add 1/8 - 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes to the sauce while it's simmering.
Leftovers last for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Other sauce additions can include: water chestnuts, baby corn, and mushrooms. The addition of mushrooms is only recommended if using a beef stock/bouillon base to match the earthiness of the dish.
A pescetarian option would be to use vegetable stock, leave out the chicken, and substitute an equal portion of broccoli. Sorry - but the oyster sauce is essential to the flavor, so you really can't vegetarian this out completely.
TheLadyinRed plated the dish differently. You can mix the broccoli and chicken over the bed of rice and then add the sauce on top. As you can see, she added water chestnuts to her version, and used a chicken stock base.
It seems like sweet potatoes (or yams) are in season for at least six months of the year. I get tired of roasting, mashing, or baking them, and I was looking for something else to do with them. That was the inspiration for this medley of small chunks of sweet potatoes, dried cranberries, and almond slivers sautéed in butter. This is so easy and takes less than 30 minutes to make. It's a great accompaniment to fish, pork or turkey.
The 3 primary ingredients that get slathered in butter and seasoned with a dash of salt and a bit of pepper.
2 sweet potatoes (or yams)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 Tbsp. butter
Start the water boiling while you dice the sweet potatoes.
1. Fill a small saucepan with water and add some salt. Cover. Bring to a boil.
I don't get out a ruler or anything - but the idea is you want fairly thin strips of a sweet potato.
2. While you are waiting for the water to boil, slice your yams/sweet potatoes into thin 1/3" strips. (TheLadyinRed leaves the skin on for flavor and texture. If you want to pretty the potatoes up and peel them first, go ahead.)
3. Cut the thin strips into 1/3" pieces. You should wind up with a chunky dice.
By chopping the potatoes up into little bits, they cook faster. You don't want to be standing over a stove all day!
4. When the water boils, add the potatoes to it. Boil them for 8-10 minutes and no longer! You don't want sweet potato soup! The goal is to make them a little bit tender. When they are fork tender, drain the water off of them using a colander.
5. Melt butter in a frying pan.
6. Add the sweet potatoes, cranberries, and almond slivers. Then add a pinch of salt and a decent amount of pepper. The pepper will be a counteracting complement to the sweetness of the cranberries.
Sizzling melty butter in the pan welcomes the diced sweet potatoes.
Add in the cranberries and almonds. Be stingy with the salt. Be generous with the pepper.
6. Add the sweet potatoes, cranberries, and almond slivers. Then add a pinch of salt and a decent amount of pepper. The pepper will be a counteracting complement to the sweetness of the cranberries.
Stir it around a little bit. Be gentle. We don't want a mash here - just a medley.
7. Saute the medley over medium heat for about 5 minutes, just stirring to combine everything in a fairly even distribution - but do NOT stir it too much! You don't want a sweet potato pancake by breaking down the starch with a spoon.
That's it! Now you're going to say "That's so easy!" Yes, it is! Enjoy!
Serves 2-3. Feel free to double it!
Pad Thai - The Chef Jeff Way - Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
Not near an Asian food store? No worries! Chef Jeff actually improves upon the traditional Thai dish by making leftovers last with - LINGUINI! Seriously, you have to give this a try. It's tasty, tangy, and has a little spice on the backburner.
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I will admit, before I tried this Pad Thai recipe, I was not a fan of Thai food. I've tried it in many restaurants which were highly recommended by friends, but it was (believe it or not) too sweet, too sour, too spicy, or just not my thing. Chef Jeff and I had a discussion about my disappointment, and he clued me in that my dissatisfaction most likely came from too little or too much tamarind in the sauce; or the chef just blatantly didn't now what s/he was doing.
I do like Asian food. I can eat sushi all the time. Tempura is my friend. Chinese - thumbs up! But after a few bad experiences with Thai food, I was ready to give up.
So when Chef Jeff told me to try his Pad Thai recipe as an Emergency Eats feature, I was a bit hesitant. But I figured, ok, I will try it, because there are Thai food lovers out there, even if I'm not destined to be one.
He made a believer out of me. His Pad Thai has given me hope for my dining future!
One of Chef Jeff's secrets is that he infuses the linguini with flavor. You will see below. And, if you do want to take the more traditional route, this recipe will adapt if you want to use standard rice noodles, or bean sprout noodles - which are good if you plan on serving all of this dish immediately. He's also outlined vegan and gluten free options in the "Special Notes" for you, too.
The Emergency Eats inspiration for using a gluten-based noodle in Pad Thai is because rice-based noodles are great if you serve them immediately; the same with bean sprout noodles; however, if you want to make this dish in advance or want leftovers later in the week, those kinds of noodles turn to mush. Linguini stands up to the test of time. Udon Noodles (fresh only) is the closest substitution that may hold up under refrigeration for about 3 days.
It's so cool to have someone skilled in Asian cuisine like Chef Jeff cranking out these dishes that are very adaptable as you will see!
Gathering the ingredients. Looks so colorful! Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
1 red pepper
1 cup fresh snow peas (in the pod)
1 tsp. fresh ginger root, grated
2" piece fresh ginger root (will be used when boiling the noodles)
2 garlic cloves
1 cup bean sprouts (rinsed & dried)
1/2 cup firm tofu (cut into 1" rectangles, 1/4" thick)
1 lb. shrimp (shelled, deveined, tails on) (medium, large, or jumbo are fine)
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 limes, each quartered
1/2 lb. dried linguine noodles
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
3 Tbsp. soy sauce (2 Tbsp. will be used when boiling the noodles)
1/2 tsp. Sriracha hot chili sauce (you can substitute 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 lemon (juiced)
1 tsp. dried tamarind (fresh tamarind fruit is hard to find; if you can find one, grate the green part. Knorr Tamarind Soup Base works well. You can also substitute 2 Tbsp. white vinegar if all else fails)
Get your ginger and noodles ready to go! Oh, and some of your soy sauce too!
1. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a BIG pot.
2. Add 2 Tbsp. soy sauce to the water.
3. Cut the 2" piece of fresh ginger into 5 rings about 1/4" thick. Leave the skin on. (There's a method to this madness of counting 5 rings - you will see!)
4. By adding the soy sauce and ginger to the water, this will infuse the noodles with flavor while they cook. Cook the linguini until it's al dente. (slightly firm with a toothy bite) If the box says boil for 8-10 minutes, subtract 2 minutes from the cooking time - that's a good rule of thumb. While the noodles boil, your mouth will water. Who knew soy-ginger water smelled so good!
Who knew soy-ginger infused water smelled so good!
5. IMPORTANT! Do NOT drain the noodles because you don't want the broth to go down the drain! Scoop off about 1 - 2 cups of the broth, and reserve it to the side. Then, you may drain the noodles in a colander. Do NOT rinse them.
6. Remove the 5 pieces of ginger root that were boiled with the noodles. No one wants to bite into boiled ginger hunks! Toss them in the trash.
7. Cut the red pepper, onion, and carrot into 1"-2" long matchstick pieces. (Chef Jeff is a perfectionist with this. He has mad knife skills. TheLadyinRed is not so fussy - and that's fine.) :)
8. Cut the cabbage as thinly as you can. (Or get out your food processor with the shredding blade; or cheat and buy the pre-packaged shredded cabbage)
9. Cut the white part of the scallions into small rings and the green part into 1" pieces. Leave the snow peas alone. Mince the garlic.
Tofu sizzling. - Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
Tofu cooked to a golden brown on both sides. - Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
10. Preheat a deep and large frying pan or wok with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Add the tofu in a single layer. Cook the tofu about 3 - 5 minutes on each side. Tofu contains a lot of water and the idea is to let that water evaporate so the pieces turn golden brown on both sides. Once the tofu is browned, remove it from the pan and set it aside.
The cooked garlic shrimp. Delicious even by itself!
11. Use the same frying pan, and reheat it again with the other tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the garlic and the shrimp. Stir frequently keeping the shrimp coated with the garlic on medium-high heat. Shrimp cook quickly. Once they are orangey-pink, they are done. That will happen in 3 - 4 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set aside. (As a side note, you can just prepare garlic shrimp on its own just like this for a quick meal!)
12. TheLadyinRed and Chef Jeff are all about minimizing clean-up in the kitchen so we're going to re-use that same pan or wok AGAIN! (Yay for less dirty dishes!) Add the final Tbsp. of vegetable oil to the pan over medium-high heat and get ready to stir and not leave the stove! You want your veggies on the crunchier side - not a soggy sad mess.
13. Add the cabbage, carrots, and grated ginger root. Stir for about 1 minute to coat them with oil.
14. Add all of the other vegetables and 3/4 of the bean sprouts. (Reserve the remaining bean sprouts to add to the top of each plate upon serving for extra crunch.)
15. Stir the vegetables until they are crisp-tender - about 5 - 6 minutes should do it. If you like them softer, cook them longer.
I juice the lemon into a separate bowl so I can remove any seeds before using the liquid in a dish.
16. Place the linguini in the wok/pan. It will be clumped together but that's ok.
17. Add back the tofu, shrimp, and reserved broth. Stir to combine over medium-high heat.
18. Add 2 Tbsp. fish sauce, remaining 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1/2 tsp. Sriracha sauce, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. dried tamarind, and the juice of one lemon. Mix well. Taste it. If you would like it tangier, add more tamarind. It it's not spicy enough, add more Sriracha or hot pepper flakes. If you want it saltier, add more soy sauce.
19. Plate with most of the noodles at the bottom and try to arrange some of the shrimp and vegetables on top for nice presentation. Place a small amount of the reserved bean sprouts on the top of each serving. Serve with lime wedges on the side so each person can adjust the citrus flavor to their own liking by squeezing limes onto their own plates.
Plated Pad Thai - Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
This serves 6-8 people. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days; or you can make it in advance for a future "Emergency Eats" reheat situation.
Experiment with adding vegetables you love. Suggestions are:
- thinly sliced raw Brussels sprouts (or if you are a patient person, remove the leaves one at a time and add them to the dish for complimentary flavor)
- sliced mushrooms (all kinds) <-- highly recommended by The Lady in Red
- different colors of bell peppers
- sliced fresh tomatoes
- bamboo shoots
- water chestnuts <--yes please! says The Lady in Red
- string beans
- yellow or green zucchini/squash
- spinach, kale, or any other green leafy vegetable
- peanuts <-- yay! says The Lady in Red
- omit the fish sauce
- add more tofu
- add more vegetables
GLUTEN FREE OPTION:
- replace the linguini with rice or mung bean noodles
- use a gluten free soy sauce (Kikkoman makes a good one)
Chicken Piccata Stew - Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
The best part of veal or chicken piccata for many people is the tangy, lemony sauce with garlic overtones, studded with salty capers. There just never seems to be enough of it. This recipe solves that problem!
Like most stews, the dish is phenomenal fresh; but once the flavors meld, the leftovers bring out the best in the combination of fresh vegetables, savory sauce, and tender meat. As with many Emergency Eats recipes, this allows you to prepare more than enough for one meal, so you can freeze the leftovers for future servings when you just want to thaw and reheat something hearty and homemade.
Perhaps you've never heard of a piccata stew. I Googled it. Google never heard of it either! That's what makes this creation by Chef Jeff even more unique! It seemingly has never been done before!
You're probably wondering what kind of piccata is going on here? Chicken? Veal? Pork? That's the great part - you can substitute any of those meats in this recipe. And if you want a meatless version - just bump up the addition of spaetzle, leave the meat out, and you're good to go.Chef Jeff created a chicken version for this recipe and The Lady in Red used veal. No pounding, breading or frying is required, either. It's THAT easy! Bon Appetit!
As usual, we use fresh vegetables whenever possible.
Ingredients for Stew:2 boneless chicken breasts (or 1 lb. cubed veal stew meat, or 1lb. pork loin, cubed)1 medium red potato (other types of potatoes are fine; the red skin just adds a bit of color)1 medium onion1 stalk celery4 garlic cloves1 Tbsp capers, drained (The Lady in Red LOVES capers, so feel free to ad more! She added a 1/2 a jar!)6 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock may be substituted for a vegetarian version)1 lemon (optional: a second lemon used for garnish)1/2 cup milk (WARNING: do NOT use soy milk! It will ruin the broth!)1/4 cup flour (The Lady in Red recommends Wondra. She learned a little trick from Chef Nicholas Hararay, who runs the #1 Zagat & Gayot restaurant in NJ: Wondra incorporates into sauces without lumps a lot easier than flour.)1 stick butter2 Tbsp. olive oil1/4 cup dry white wine (optional, but recommended)2 Tbsp. soy sauce1/4 tsp. dried thyme1/2 tsp. paprika1/4 tsp. salt1/4 tsp. ground pepper
Normally ,The Lady in Red doesn't endorse brand names in recipes. However, Chef Nicholas Harary, of the #1 Zagat and Gayot rated restaurant in New Jersey, taught her a little trick. Wondra, is better than flour in stews and gravies because it blends into the sauces easily without lumps. If you don't have Wondra, don't worry. You can still use old-fashioned flour. You will just need a little extra whisking and elbow grease so your sauce doesn't have any lumps.
Instructions for Stew:
1. Cut each chicken breast in half the long way if you are using thick filets. This will make 2 thin filets from each chicken breast. (If your chicken breasts are already thin, skip this step.) Then, cut the filets into 1/2" strips, then into 1/2" pieces. (If using cubed veal, cut each cube into 1/2" chunks. If using pork loin, cut that into 1/2" chunks.)
The chicken breasts - Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
You want your meat to be in 1/2" cubes so it cooks quickly and you don't have to spend a half day at the stove. - Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
The Lady in Red used veal stew meat. Be sure to cut them into 1/2" cubes before cooking.
2. Place the meat in a bowl and add the soy sauce. Mix well, cover, and put it aside - a little marinating magic.
Melt the butter in a stock pot. Add the olive oil.
3. Melt 4 Tbsp. of the butter and add the 2 Tbsp. of olive oil to the stock pot.
4. Chop the onion, carrot, potato, and celery into 1/2" pieces. (You don't have to peel the potato.) Mince the garlic.
Bite size veggies cook quicker than large chunks. - Photo Credit: Jeffrey Doucette
5. Sauté the vegetables with a little salt and pepper in the stock pot for about 5 minutes, until the carrots start to caramelize. Add the thyme and paprika. Then add the garlic, and sauté for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic last. Minced garlic cooks quickly. It can burn by the time the other veggies are sautéed if you add it at the same time. No one likes burnt garlic!
Add the spices during the sauté.
6. Turn up the heat to high and add the white wine. Use a wine that you like to drink. The flavors of the wine will enhance the flavors of the food. I recommend a dry or mostly dry chardonnay that you really like. The best wine pairing with this meal will be the one you cook with. If you aren't using wine, go on to the next step.
When cooking with wine, the first rule is to use a wine you like. The best wine pairing with this meal will be the one that you cook with. For this particular stew, a dry white wine works best. Sweet wines are better for making dessert sauces. Cheers!
When you add the wine, scrape any bits from the bottom of the pot. The wine will deglaze it, and these "bits" add depth to the gravy.
7. Scrape the bits from the bottom of the pot, as the wine deglazes it. Bring the wine to a simmer. If you aren't adding wine, then do the scraping as you now add 4 cups of the chicken (or vegetable) stock to the pot.
Add the stock to the pot.
8. Add the capers. (Chef Jeff says to rinse the capers prior to adding them to the stew. The Lady in Red likes the salty, briny taste, so she doesn't rinse them. The choice is yours.)
9. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the pot. Add the rest of the butter.
1. Making the piccata gravy: 1/4 cup flour/Wondra + 2 cups chicken stock
3. Adding the meat to the stew.
2. Adding the gravy and milk to the stew.
10. Meanwhile, on the side, in a separate bowl, mix 1/4 cup of flour (or Wondra) into 2 cups of room temperature chicken (or vegetable) stock. Whisk until the flour is incorporated and there are no lumps. If you are using Wondra for this step, you will have no lumps. If you are using flour - well - you probably will have lumps. Chef Jeff recommends pouring the gravy through a strainer as you pour it into the pot to eliminate lumps. The addition of this flour-infused stock will thicken the sauce.
11. Add the milk to the pot. Stir.
12. Add the chicken/veal/pork with any leftover soy sauce drippings to the pot. Stir. The meat will poach in the sauce while the vegetables continue to soften for about 10 minutes more. You can let it simmer for longer if you want to, while you prepare the (optional) spaetzle.
Eggs, milk, flour, and butter are the basic spaetzle ingredients.
Ingredients for Quick Spaetzle: (optional)
1 cup Wondra (or flour) <-- again, The Lady in Red Recommends Wondra for its easy ability to be dissolved without lumps
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. butter
WARNING: DO NOT ADD NUTMEG TO THIS SPAETZLE!
(Most spaetzle recipes call for nutmeg. Trust us; you don't want nutmeg in your piccata! It spoils the flavor profile.)
Incorporating the Wondra into the eggs and butter.
Instructions for Quick Spaetzle:
1. Mix all of the ingredients together. You want the consistency of pancake batter.
This is the spaetzle mixture before adding milk. You want to achieve the consistency of pancake batter. There will be a few butter lumps in the batter. That's ok. Just make sure you did your best to break up the butter. I find kneeding it with my fingers helps a lot!
2. If the batter is too thick, add a little more milk 1 Tbsp. at a time.
3. Using 2 spoons, fill a spoon with batter and use the 2nd spoon to push off 1/2" dumplings into the stew, which should be bubbling hot. The spaetzle should float to the top of the stew when it's done cooking.
The piccata stew is done! You can see that the meat is cooked through, the vegetables are tender, and the spaetzle ha has floated to the top.
1. Try adding 1" pieces of cut fresh asparagus to the vegetable medley. The lemon overtones complement asparagus nicely and add more color to the dish.
2. If you prefer rice instead of spaetzle, that works! Just prepare some rice on the side and serve the stew over it.
3. If you want a purely vegetarian version, omit the meat and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Just be sure to add some spaetzle to give the stew substance.
4. Garnish each bowl with a lemon slice for presentation. (optional)
5. Leftovers refrigerate or freeze well for future meals.
Serves 4 - 6 people, depending on portion size.
Dinner is done.
Finished Omelette Cups garnished with two leaves of fresh spinach for the final touch.
Breakfast for dinner? Not exactly. My version of these carb-free cupcake tin delights are on the savory side. However - if you change up the fillings, you can definitely dish them out for breakfast or brunch.
My good friend, Chef Amanda Nahas, (of Gourmania Chef and Gourmania with Chef Amanda Nahas, and her regular co-host, Ronnie Pino) came up with a similar breakfast-based recipe (Quick and Easy Egg Cups) that includes refrigerator biscuits in its base.
Chef Amanda Nahas and her guest Ronnie Pino on Gourmania Chef preparing Quick and Easy Egg Cups - the full-carb version
However, if you're cutting those calories, here's an alternative way to churn out a creative side dish with dinner, or a individual-sized brunch idea for when an omelette is just too much.
One of the things I like about this recipe is that it produces a half-dozen delights all at once. There's no waiting around while individual omelettes are created, and the chef gets to sit and eat, too, instead of being glued to the stove!
Use fresh ingredients whenever possible. It makes a difference in the flavor.
1/4 cup whole milk
1 clove garlic, minced (the garlic gives a savory quality to this dish; substitute 1/4 diced onion for a breakfast edition)
1 tomato, diced
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms (canned or fresh)
1/2 cup shredded Gouda or Gruyère cheese
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 package fresh spinach, plus 12 nice looking spinach leaves for garnish
The spinach, mushrooms, and eggs look so appealing clustered together as you gather your ingredients.
Grate your Gruyère or cheese of choice finely. I use a microplane.
Use your favorite type of mushrooms in this dish - it's very flexible. Pictured here are baby shitake mushrooms. These take a little longer to sauté than some mushrooms, such as button or baby bella mushrooms.
Preheat your oven to 350°.
1. Preheat your oven to 350°.
2. Sauté the sliced mushrooms in 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil with a little salt and pepper. If the mushrooms are fresh mushrooms, sauté them for about 10 minutes until they soften and become pliable. If the mushrooms are canned, place them in the pan with the spinach and garlic at the same time. (Reserve those 12 nice spinach leaves on the side. You don't want to cook them.)
Before the sauté.
3. If you are using fresh mushrooms, and they are done sautéing, add the spinach and garlic and cook for 2 minutes more until the spinach is slightly wilted and the garlic is fragrant. If you are using canned mushrooms and placed the spinach and garlic in the pan with them, just sauté everything for about 2 - 3 minutes total.
4. Grease 6 cupcake tin cups with the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Alternate / stagger the cups you oil so everything will bake evenly.
Dice your tomato if you haven't!
See how when making a half-dozen omelette cups you get them to bake evenly? Stagger where you bake! :) Layer the diced tomatoes in 6 of the greased cups first.
5. Dice your tomato, and place equal amounts in each of the 6 greased cupcake tins.
6. Crack the 4 eggs in a bowl. Add the milk and some salt and pepper. Whisk.
Crack your eggs, add your milk, and some salt and pepper, too. Whisk.
7. Place equal amounts of the spinach-mushroom mixture on top of the tomatoes in the muffin tin.
Place equal amounts of the spinach-mushroom mixture over the tomatoes.
8. Top each of the vegetable stuffed cups with equal portions of the grated cheese.
Top with cheese.
9. Add equal portions of the egg mixture to each cup that has ingredients in it.
You don't want to overflow the cups with egg mixture. The egg mixture and cheese act as binding agents to hold the vegetables together. Everything will melt and bake together in the oven.
10. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese and edges turn just a little bit light brown. The omelette cups will rise slightly. Turn the cupcake tin over onto a cutting board and the omelette cups should release easily. If you need to pry any out, gently use a butter knife.
Voila! All done! Since you greased the tin with a bit of olive oil before baking, the finished omelette cups will come out easily when you tip the tin over! I also used a non-stick cupcake tin. If you are not using a non-stick cupcake tin, you may have to gently pry each omelette cup out with a butter knife.
That's it! Garnish each pair of omelette cups with two spinach leaves for presentation. Enjoy as a side dish with any meal, or this is a great addition to a brunch!
The eggs turn out light and fluffy with the bites of juicy tomato and savory spinach and mushrooms inside.
You can double this recipe for a full dozen omelette cups. This recipe serves 2 as a main dish, or 3 as a side dish.
Any leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated the next day in the microwave for a few seconds.
Using a non-stick cupcake tin works best, but still take the time to grease it with olive oil before adding ingredients.
If you are not a fan of Gruyère or Gouda cheese, you can substitute your favorite cheese of choice. Do not omit it from the dish as it acts as a binding agent.
Any kind of mushrooms can be used. Or if you hate mushrooms, don't use them! :)
Try changing up the ingredients for variety, even within the same batch. You can add cooked, diced ham, sautéed green or red bell peppers, a grated cheese blend (cheddar-American or American-mozzerella works well), sautéed, diced and cooked potatoes, chopped, cooked bacon, sautéed zucchini cubes... the combinations are endless.
This is a fun dish for kids to help with in the kitchen as they can customize each cup with their favorite ingredients.
To make this dish breakfast or brunch ready, omit the garlic and substitute 1/4 diced onion instead when doing the sauté.
Chef Jeff's Beef Minastrone with Basil Parmesan Crostini - Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
When it's cold outside, don't you want something hearty that warms you up from the inside out? I do. The problem is, most soups are wimpy, and they are not filling enough to stand alone as an entire meal. You know, you leave the table and you're hungry a half hour later. Well, this beef minestrone soup is about to change all that.
Oh, and good news for those who like a vegetarian option - just leave out the beef & Worcestershire sauce, and use a vegetable stock only, and you're good to go.
The vegetables listed in the ingredients are your basic minestrone starters. Feel free to add in some small pieces of zucchini, corn, cut green beans, kidney or black beans, or my favorite - cut okra! (Yes, I know okra is what you usually find in a gumbo, but I find it's a very satisfying addition here, that holds up well in the broth.)
And don't fret over the noodles. Tri-color pasta makes it look pretty, but you can sub-out plain. I like a rotini, but other hearty dime-to-quarter size shapes work well, too. Just don't go crazy on the addition of pasta because it will soak up too much broth if you go overboard.
If you don't have a red potato, use any old potato. If you don't have a red onion, white works just fine. Can't find Italian bread? That's ok, use French bread. You can even substitute escarole or kale instead of spinach.
The most time consuming part of this recipe is dicing the vegetables, but the soup pretty much cooks itself. When all is said and done, you will have a dish that's infused with the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants of fresh vegetables in every mouthful. And yes, you will have leftovers! :) That's the best part. That's what makes it all worth it - because as many Emergency Eats recipes, the leftovers give us those quick thaw-and-heat meals on nights when we don't have the time, or don't want to cook, but still want to eat something that doesn't come out of a cardboard box.
This soup freezes well, too. If you find that there's not enough broth for subsequent servings in the future, just add a little water prior to reheating.
The crostini is so good, you might want to try it alongside other meals. It makes a great accompaniment to Italian dishes, and you can substitute oregano for the basil, or do a combination of both! Get crazy and rub some garlic on the bread, too!
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The fresh vegetables that you use in this soup will infuse the broth with colorful vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that taste phenomenal.
1 lb. cubed beef chuck (omit for vegetarian soup)
1 red bell pepper
1 medium onion (red or white)
1 bunch scallions
1 medium potato (red or yellow)
2 medium carrots
2 stalks celery
1 bunch (about 2 handfuls) fresh spinach (or kale, or escarole)
1 cup dried tri-color pasta (rotini or similar works well)
2 gloves garlic
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 rounded Tbsp. tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock (or beef stock, or vegetable stock, or use a combination of 2 or 3)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (omit for vegetarian version)
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
ground black pepper
Some of the ingredients for the Beef Minestrone Soup. Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
Ingredients (Basil Parmesan Crostini):
1 batard French or Italian bread
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
4 - 5 leaves fresh basil (or 1 Tbsp dried basil), minced
Cut the beef cubes into smaller chunks. Chef Jeff likes 1/2 inch size beef cubes. The Lady in Red prefers 1/4 inch size beef cubes. The choice is yours.
Instructions for soup:
1. Cut the beef chunks into smaller cubes. Chef Jeff prefers 1/2 inch size cubes; The Lady in Red likes 1/4 inch size cubes. The choice is yours.
2. Heat a deep sided sauté pan, on medium-high heat, and add 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Season the beef with approximately 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper. (You don't want to over-salt it. There will be plenty of salt added intrinsically when the tomatoes and soy sauce are added to the soup later.) Sauté it for about 8 minutes, stirring it occasionally. The beef will turn a gray color at first, then it will start to brown. The brown color is what you want.
Beef meets pan.
3. Meanwhile, so you're not bored or anything, start cutting your veggies.
- Slice & dice the red pepper
- Peel, slice & dice the onion
- Peel & dice the potato
- Mince the scallions
- Dice the carrot (peeling is not necessary)
- Dice the celery
- Rough chop the spinach/kale/escarole
- Mince the garlic
And if you are using zucchini, or green beans, dice them, too. If you are using frozen okra or any other frozen veggies, it's not necessary to defrost them. Basically, you want to prepare all of your veggies while the beef browns.
Clockwise from top left: Scallions, potatoes, celery, carrots, garlic, red bell pepper, and onion.
4. When your beef is brown, get it off of the stove, out of that pan, and put it right into your big-ass soup pot (or crock pot) - with all of the drippings. (I'm all about having fewer dirty dishes to clean up.)
5. Then add all of your stock, the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce into the soup pot.
6. Give it a stir, cover it, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. You're not done! Don't go away! :)
7. Now for the veggies: Take that same sauté pan you just used for browning the beef and add the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil to it. (No cleaning pans here. Save your energy!) Heat it on medium-high.
8. Add all of the veggies, EXCEPT FOR THE SPINACH (OR KALE OR ESCAROLE) and save 1/2 the scallions for garnish. Add the garlic last, because that will cook the quickest and burnt garlic is gross.
So I added the red pepper, then potatoes, then the celery, and then the carrot..... (Yes, I use the celery tops, too. It adds extra flavor!)
9. Stir the veggies to mix them all together. Add the soup spices. Stir again. (This is my favorite part. I love dumping all kinds of ingredients into a big pot watching it turn into something amazing! This part is really fun for kids, too. Just like when you make chili, you keep on adding tons of stuff to make something even better!)
Here come the onions, then the scallions, and then the garlic. Finally you add the soup spices and when you mix it together as it's sizzling stove-top, it's going to look so pretty - and smell so good!
10. Sauté the vegetables for about 5 - 10 minutes, stirring sometimes. (I went more for the 10 minute side, because I wanted to make sure those carrots and potatoes softened up just a bit. Chef Jeff will tell you to go more for the 5 minute mark because he likes his veggies a bit more firm. You decide.) Then, add them to the pot of soup.
Tri-color pasta is so pretty, but if you can't find it, don't fret! You can use regular pasta. I find that rotini or a shape of similar size works well for this soup. Be sure to add NO MORE than 1 cup of pasta to your soup. The noodles will absorb broth as they cook. You don't want your soup to turn into a stew!
11. Turn up the heat! - in the kitchen, on the stove - well, you can turn up the heat elsewhere later, but this is a PG recipe! :) Increase the heat to high, and add the cup of pasta to the soup. Stir. When the soup starts to boil, turn the heat off, cover the pot. (Alternatively, if you like softer vegetables, turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer the soup while you prepare the crostini below.)
I like spinach. You just need to give this a really rough chop.
12. Rough chop the spinach (or escarole or kale) and add it to the soup pot. Give it a stir and cover the pot again.
Stirring, and stirring, and stirring my soup!
Instructions for crostini:
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Cut the bread on the bias (angle) so you have long pieces of bread about 1/2 inch thick to work with. (The Lady in Red likes her breadsticks thin, so she sliced the bread on the bias, then cut each slice in half lengthwise.)
3. Butter one side of each breadstick and place them on a baking sheet.
4. Sprinkle each breadstick with the grated cheese and basil.
Counter-clockwise from top left: Sliced bread, breadsticks topped with butter, cheese, and basil, and finally the finished breadsticks!
5. Bake the crostini for 10 minutes. (Watch them, you don't want burnt breadsticks!)
The best part about being the chef is you get to sample! (Shh! I couldn't wait until the soup was served! These crostini are so good!)
6. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with reserved scallions. Serve with crostini on the side, which is great for dipping, too!
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Of course I had to sample the soup before serving it! Actually, it's a good idea to taste whatever you have prepared before plating. This gives you a chance to adjust seasonings to your taste.
Serves 8+. Expect leftovers with this recipe. That's what's so great about it - you expend the effort once to make this soup, then you can freeze leftovers for future 'Emergency Eats'.
When thawing leftovers, you can add a little water to the broth before you reheat it, since the pasta can absorb some liquid.
To make this recipe vegetarian, use vegetable broth and omit the beef and Worcesterhire sauce.
The crostini are a great accompaniment to Italian dishes. You can substitute oregano for the basil, or do a combination of both herbs.
The vegetables listed are a base for minestrone. Other additions can include, diced green beans, corn, cut okra, diced zucchini, kidney beans, or black beans. Be aware, that the more vegetables you add, the thicker the soup. If you find the soup to not have enough broth, add an additional cup during the cooking process.
If you are using frozen green beans, zucchini, or okra, it is not necessary to thaw them out before adding them to the soup. Add them to the broth at the same time you add the other sautéed vegetables. The frozen vegetables will cook in the soup as it simmers.
Don't use more than 1 cup of pasta. The pasta absorbs broth as it cooks. You want a soup; not a stew.
You can cook this in a crock pot! Follow steps 1-10 for the soup preparation, then set your crock pot on low for 4 - 6 hours. When you walk in the door, just add the spinach (or kale or escarole), give it a stir, and that's it!
Soup is served!
I prefer to purchase lamb chops instead of an entire rack of lamb. If you do have a rack of lamb, you can just slice each portion apart as shown.
I hate mint jelly. There I said it! :) (Blame it on one bad experience.) These are NOT your traditional lamb chops. It's NOT your rack of lamb. Sometimes simple is best. It applies in life, as well as with food. When we get back to the basics and eliminate a lot of the "extras", we wind up bringing out the full flavor in something that speaks to us in an unmistakable, primal way. In this case, the epicurean equivalent is when these seasoned and savory lamb chops sweep you off of your feet, and have you sitting back in your chair, closing your eyes, going "Mmmmm, mmmm!" as you sink your teeth into them.
The first time I had lamb, I was truly disappointed. It was at an unmemorable restaurant when I was in my teens; the meat was dry, and it was served with mint jelly on the side. My first reaction was, "Mint jelly? What's that? I've heard of grape jelly, but mint?" When I tasted the "classic" combination of lamb with mint jelly, it reminded me of stale Christmas fruit cake, and I avoided lamb on the menu for years after that experience.
Then I thought about it - condiments should enhance your enjoyment of food, not camouflage the taste of something you'd rather not eat to begin with. Even if those original lamb chops were prepared to perfection, I should have enjoyed them without the minty preserves.
Searing meat stove-top, then finishing it in the oven, is a technique that you can use not just for lamb, but for fish, pork chops, and almost any other non-poultry meat to guarantee tender and juicy cuts, that are not crucified. The stove-top searing seals in the juices and gives the meat excellent color and caramelization. When you finish the internal cooking process in the oven, you don't risk charring the outside of the chops. And, most importantly, to ensure a tender result, remove your meat from the oven about 3 - 5 minutes before you think it's really done, and let it sit - because the cooking process continues with the heat that's sealed inside.
So throw out your mint jelly. (Ok, if you really like the stuff, you can keep it - but you aren't going to need it for this recipe!) If you never liked lamb before, I can guarantee you, that after you try it this way, it will change your mind.
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You want to season both sides of the lamb chops generously with salt and pepper.
12 lamb chops
coarse sea salt (or regular table salt is fine if you don't have fleur de sel or other premium cooking salts)
fresh ground pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
You should be able to see the salt and pepper easily on your lamb chops. No skimping here!
1. Throw out the mint jelly. :) <--- ok, ok, I'm just making a point - you won't need it!
2. Generously salt and pepper every lamb chop on both sides. Preheat the oven to 400°.
3. Heat a really large cast iron pan (or Le Creuset or similar oven-safe pan) on the stove until it's searing hot.
4. Place the olive oil in it and swirl it around to coat the bottom. After about 45 seconds, place the lamb chops in the pan. This might take a bit of strategically fitting them all in the same pan, but you can do it!
It's like a lamb chop puzzle! I have a big-ass Le Crueset cast iron pan and I can fit 12 lamb chops in there very strategically.
5. Don't move the lamb chops and heat them for about 2 - 3 minutes until the bottoms are starting to brown. Flip them over using tongs.
See the browning on the chops? This is what you want when you flip the lamb chops over on the stove.
6. After 2 minutes, turn off the heat on the stove. Tear off a really big piece of aluminum foil and cover the chops in the pan with it, like a tent.
A lamb chop tent.
7. Place the foil-tented pan in the oven for approximately 5 - 6 minutes - no more! The idea here is to produce tender medium to medium rare lamb. When you over cook lamb, it gets dry and tasteless. We're going for juicy and soft.
8. Remove the entire pan from the oven and do not uncover it. The tented foil will retain the heat in the pan and the chops will continue to cook internally while they rest for 2 - 3 minutes. You want the juices to sink back into the meat before you cut into them or serve them.
Voila! The lamb chops are done!
Serves 3 - 4; or 2 very hungry people.
I like to serve Pinot Noir or a Petit Syrah with lamb. It's got more of a gamey (but pleasant) taste than pork chops, and I find that these wines complement it well. You can also go with a buttery Sauvignon Blanc.
When I made these, I served lentils cooked in chicken broth (with a little salt), and sautéed garlic spinach on the side. I recommend a leafy green vegetable or broccoli to serve with the lamb to add some color to your plate, and potatoes work nicely as a side dish, too - especially mashed.
If prefer to let the lamb speak for itself, but it you like a more pungent note, sprinkle some minced garlic on the chops after you flip them over on the stove.
And, finally, if you just need your mint jelly accompaniment, feel free to serve along side.
Mint-Jellyless Lamb Chops served along side sautéed spinach and lentils.
Extraordinary Enchiladas - plated with extra enchilada sauce, minced scallions, avocado slices, and a dollop of sour cream. It's not just garnish - it enhances your gastronomic experience.
When you think of traditional enchiladas, you probably picture them folded all pretty for presentation. Presentation counts, but perfection to me is when the taste of something precedes what it looks like. I've always said, some of the messiest foods are the most delicious: melty ice cream, buttery corn on the cob, ribs slathered in a savory barbeque sauce, or cracking crab shells to get at the succulent meat inside, are all examples of messy food that come to mind where the flavor comes first.
Plating option one - with extra enchilada sauce and avocado garnish. Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
Plating option two - with extra enchilada sauce, and no avocado garnish. Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
Additionally, if preparing a meal is a nightmare to make, you won't want to make it again. Chef Jeff has simplified the cooking techniques used here, by turning traditional enchiladas into a casserole. Everyone he's served it to, has raved about it, including me. The dish is very versatile in that you can leave it vegetarian, or mainstream it for meat eaters by adding shredded chicken, shredded beef, or ground beef. His proprietary seasoning blend and use of toasted corn tortillas lends a Mexican authenticity to this meal.
This recipe will easily serve 8 very hungry people. It takes a bit of preparation, but my recommendation is to make the entire recipe, and freeze any leftovers (without garnishes) for future use. You will appreciate this 'Emergency Eats' meal at a future date when all you need to do is defrost any leftovers, reheat, and serve.
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18 corn tortillas (I could only get a packet of 16 - that's fine!)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 28 oz. cans MILD enchilada sauce (I could only find 10 oz. cans. If you get 10 oz. cans - get 6 of them. Yes, you really need this much sauce!)
1 15 oz. can black beans (drained)
1 15 oz. can chickpeas (drained)
1 15 oz. can corn (drained)
1 large red onion, diced (yellow onion can be substituted)
1 bunch scallions (green stalk minced and reserved for plating; white portion diced and used for filling)
1/2 lb. grated cheddar cheese
1/2 lb. grated monterey jack cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 - 2 avocados, sliced (optional, for plating)
1 lime (optional; if using avocado slices, lime juice squeezed over them will prevent them from turning brown and provide a slight complimentary tangy flavor)
sour cream (optional; added at plating)
1 small bunch cilantro, minced (If you don't like cilantro, don't use it.)
To carnivorize this dish: (optional)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded, blended with 1/2 of the seasoning blend* <--I usually do this a day ahead of time. You could use leftover shredded roast chicken, too.
- or -
1 lb. ground beef, cooked with 1/2 of the seasoning blend*, drained
- or -
12 oz. steak, grilled and shredded, blended with 1/2 of the seasoning blend* <--I usually do this a day ahead of time, or you can use leftover steak.
- or -
1 lb. total ground beef/pork/veal, cooked with 1/2 of the seasoning blend*, drained
The filling for this dish will be very colorful. Pictured: fresh scallions, red onion and garlic.
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika (regular paprika is fine)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. oregano (dried)
Getting the garnish ready. Here are the green tops of the scallions, an avocado, and minced cilantro. Don't cut the avocado until the enchiladas are done baking, to preserve its bright green color. Once sliced, squeeze fresh lime juice over the slices to add a pleasant tang, and ensure that the color remains appealing.
1. Add all of the enchilada sauce and crushed tomatoes to a large saucepan. Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring every five minutes so it doesn't scorch. Continue simmering while you prepare the rest of the dish. This might seem like a lot of sauce, but the enchiladas will absorb it. Plus, you will want to add extra when serving. Any portions that you reheat will need additional sauce, too.
Enchilada sauce combined with crushed tomoatoes simmering stovetop.
2. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to a pre-heated large sauté pan, on medium-high heat. Add the onion and white parts of the scallion to the pan.
3. While the onion and scallions are sautéing, drain and rinse the beans, corn, and chickpeas. Add them to the pan.
Adding the corn to the onion/scallion sauté.
Next, after the corn, add the beans. So colorful!
After the beans, add the chickpeas.
If you are adding any meat to the dish, do it now, after the corn and beans have been added. I used pre-cooked, shredded chicken.
4. Add the rest of the seasoning blend. Stir. Sauté for 8-10 minutes stirring frequently. At this point, remove the enchilada sauce from the heat.
Tortillas, some cut in half to aid placement in the baking dish(es). Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
5. Technically, when you buy a bag of corn tortillas, they are not cooked, per se. Applying a little bit of heat to them really brings out their flavor and will give a very authentic taste to the dish.
If you are NOT using meat in your filling, you can get by with using one 9"x13" oven-safe baking dish. If you ARE using meat in your filling, plan on using one 9"x13" baking dish and another 9"x9" baking dish to accommodate all ingredients.
Toast your tortillas directly on the burners of your stove, using tongs. Toast them on both sides for about 20 seconds on each side. Do this directly on the stove - no pan! If you get a few burn spots on the tortillas, that's ok.
6. Ladle some enchilada sauce in the bottom of your baking dish(es) to coat the bottom, spreading evenly.
7. Take the tortillas one at a time and dip them right into the pot with the enchilada sauce, so they are coated with sauce on both sides. Then place them in the 9"x13" baking dish (and if also using a 9"x9" baking dish) as shown below. 3 whole tortillas down the middle of the 9"x13" baking dish, and 3 half-tortillas on each side will cover that dish perfectly.
The tortillas going for a swim in the enchilada sauce. Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
This is how you place the tortillas that were cut in half in the 9"x13" baking dish. Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
Three whole tortillas are placed overlapping the halves as shown here in the 9"x13" baking dish. Photo Credit: Jeff Doucette
If using an additional 9"x9" baking dish (you will only need this second baking dish if your filling contains meat), just make the tortillas dipped in sauce work to fit the bottom of the dish any old which way.
8. Add an even layer of filling across the entire dish(es), patting down with your spoon as you go.
9. Add a few more ladles of sauce.
10. Preheat the oven to 350°.
My filling contained meat (shredded, cooked chicken), so I had to use two baking dishes. Layering on the filling!
11. Add half of the cheeses, sprinkled evenly on top.
Here comes the cheese!
12. Repeat step 7, adding another tortillas-dipped-in-sauce layer to each baking dish.
13. Ladle some sauce over the top of the tortillas.
14. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.
15. Bake for 40 minutes uncovered.
Enchilada casserole right out of the oven. All done!
16. Let the dish rest for at least 15 minutes prior to serving to let it settle. Meanwhile, slice the avocado and squeeze some lime juice over the slices; get your garnishes ready.
17. Ladle some sauce onto the bottom of a plate. Place a portion of the enchilada casserole over it. Sprinkle it with some scallions. Arrange a few avocado slices on top, with a dollop of sour cream. Finish plating with a sprinkle of cilantro, if desired.
All garnishes are optional. However, the flavors enhance the main dish.
You can assemble the dish ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to a day. If you refrigerate the dish before baking, bake it at 350°, for 60 minutes instead of 40 minutes.
This recipe is a base for more inventive enchilada casseroles. You can try adding shredded pork, or different leftover meats. If you like heat, try adding minced jalapeños to the filling mixture when sautéing, or add them as a garnish.
Chef Jeff prefers not to add meat to the filling and leave the dish vegetarian, when baking. Afterwards, he will plate the dish with the heated, seasoned meat at the bottom, a portion of enchilada casserole placed on top, extra sauce, sliced avocado, sour cream, green scallions, and an extra squeeze of lime juice all over the top.
You can definitely freeze leftovers! Don't freeze it with the garnishes, though. Just make sure you freeze extra enchilada sauce separately on the side, so you can rehydrate the dish when serving.