Recipe for The Daring Kitchen
The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.
I’m totally mad for moo shu and I think that what does it is the inclusion of the awful sounding (but awfully addictively good) tree fungus. Tender pork, spicy ginger and matchsticks of bamboo shoots all solidify the greatness, but it’s the ebony slivers of the tree fungus that make me crazy with delight over this one. I’m known to pitch an actual fit over my chinese takeout if the moo shu order comes with white button mushrooms as a substitute. Blech. Not cool. Continue reading Moo Shu Pork with Homemade Pancakes
Risotto is one of those dishes that when I see on chefy shows on tv, I perennially call shenanigans. I have made many a stunning risotto in my day, and every single stinking one of them became glorious from the sheer amount of love (read: time) that was poured into the dish. A good risotto required at least a half an hour of my attention and stirring, a goodly amount of time spent prepping the ingredients beforehand and guests ready to tuck in immediately while its piping hot. As such, I only ever made for risotto for folks I truly loved (meaning that if you HAVE had my risotto, you can bet your cutie bootie I adore having you in my life). So the thought that risotto could share a plate with any other dish, and as a side item at that, was preposterous to me.
Fast forward a bit to the day that Santa Claus decided to bring me a pressure cooker. I was giddy at first, then frustrated with getting my new baby to do my bidding, but shortly thereafter, head over heels in love. I mastered the darn thing with no true hiccups and questioned why I hadn’t used one sooner. It was a dream! As a means of learning more about it, I turned to the queen of pressure cooking, Lorna Sass. As I poured through her book, Cooking Under Pressure, I found the traditional bevy of stews and braises alongside surprises such as meatloaf and bread pudding. There in the mix, I also found a recipe for risotto that purported the cooking time at under 10 minutes! And, even crazier, no stirring! I felt as if the world had been turned on its head a la Alice in Wonderland – what was this whimsically nonsensical recipe? And how could I wield it in my cooking arsenal?
This recipe below is based on my pressure cooker risotto experiments, and the result is mind-blowingly good. Yes, it takes only 10 minutes to cook. Yes, it frees you from 45 minutes of straight elbow grease. And yes, it’s simple enough to serve as a side. The only problem I now have is finding a dish complicated enough to cook for the folks I love for them alone. I’m fine with going on a bit of a culinary hunt for a challenge. But in the meantime, I’ll be whipping up this risotto.
The Quickest Mushroom Risotto Ever
1 c. of dried mixed mushrooms (porcini, chanterelle, shitake, hen of the woods or morels)
5 c. of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 c. of dry white wine
1/2 c. of chopped onions
2 tbs. of butter
2 tbs. of olive oil
1 1/2 c. of arborio rice
3/4 c. of grated locatelli
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
salt to taste
4 tbs. of chopped chives
Bring 2 c. of chicken stock to a boil. Add the dried mushrooms and cover. Let sit for about 20 minutes, allowing the mushrooms to rehydrate. Drain the liquid off of the mushrooms and reserve. Pour the liquid into a quart measuring cup and add enough additional stock to make 3 1/2 cups.
Melt the butter and olive oil in a pressure cooker and add the onions. Cook for about a minute or until softened and then add the rice. Cook rice until slightly translucent. Add the wine and cook until absorbed completely. Add 3 1/2 cups of stock and white pepper. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and bring up to high pressure. Cook for 5 minutes and then use a quick release method to bring pressure back to normal. Open the lid and return pot to the burner. Taste the rice for doneness and stir to allow the last remaining stock to be absorbed by the rice. If the rice is chewy and the stock has all been absorbed, add a little extra stock and continue to cook until the rice is tender. Stir in the cheese and taste for salt. Sprinkle with the chives and serve immediately.
If you do not have a pressure cooker and would like to make this recipe, use the same ingredients, but follow the instructions for Rock Shrimp Risotto.
Everybody knows that I’m a fan of mushrooms. And yes, I just said that in my best Phaedra Parks voice. I’m amazed by folks who aren’t down with fungus, but that emotion is quickly replaced with, “If you’re not gonna eat those, I’ll take care of ’em for you.” In addition to the plebian (but ever so delicious) market staples of white buttons, portobellos and cremini mushrooms, I’m a huge fan of those mushrooms that are literally found off the beaten path. Maitakes, enoki and chanterelles are all beloved, and pricey morels are a necessary splurge during their short spring season. Even the funky ones that are more chewy than spongy, like the wood ear mushrooms or black trumpets.
I particularly love the versatile ones that hold up to all sorts of cooking and cuisines, and oyster mushrooms are no exception. Royal oysters (sometimes called King Trumpets) are fabulous in that after a little cooking, they still retain all of their flavor and their texture. So much so that you can actually marinate them and grill them, treating trumpets like a protein rather than a vegetable. If you see these guys at the market sometime, give them a whirl – they’re a simple side and will sway even the most skeptical mushroom eater. Actually, sway or no, who cares. I want to eat these and not share with anyone. I’m not kidding.
Grilled Trumpet Mushrooms
8 trumpet (royal oyster) mushrooms, halved and bottoms trimmed
1/4 c. of white balsamic vinegar
6 tbs. of olive oil
1 tsp. of kosher salt
1 tbs. of chopped rosemary
1/4 tsp. of coarse ground black pepper
Mix balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary together in a small bowl. Pour over mushrooms and toss to mix. Marinate for 20 minutes.
Heat a grill or a grill pan and oil lightly. Place mushrooms on the grill and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until the mushrooms are slightly browned. Serve.
*in Jay-Z voice* “Tim, you did it again. You’re a genius.” Not too often when I’m cooking am I reminded of the fine balance between strict adherence to technique and freestyle improvisation in the kitchen. This recipe is like a dance – you certainly want to follow the rules to coax it into perfection, but there is room for you to do your thang as well. In essence, it’s everything I love about the kitchen. And as I watched my husband take the first bite of the final product and nod his head knowingly that this was something of pure majesty, I loved it all the more.
In Chef Tim Ma’s interview for this site, he talks about the importance of organization in the kitchen. As home cooks, although we don’t go all out with a true mise en place and prep kitchen work, there is something to be said for taking time to lay out all of your ingredients before you launch into the assembly of the dish. This recipe is a great example of this fact – chopping all of your ingredients first and setting up your kitchen before turning on the stove will allow you the luxury of breezing through this one. When you are all finished, you take a bite and marvel at the genius your tucking into without feeling as if you slaved at all.
Tim purports that this dish is an excellent use of many important kitchen techniques – I see it as a reminder of how much there is to learn in the kitchen, far beyond what we’ve learned from our families or from puttering around on our own with a bit of trial and error. Spending the time to figure out how to properly treat ingredients is so very necessary, and though we won’t all have the honor or luxury of attending cooking school, it doesn’t mean we can’t go out of our way with a little self-directed study on proper methods and techniques. Consider this recipe a solid lesson with Chef Tim as the instructor du jour.
Since we don’t have access to a live demonstration of this one (yet), a trickier part of the recipe is in the deboning of the chicken leg and thigh as one piece. While you can absolutely have your butcher do this for you, it’s a lot more interesting to grab a sharp knife and try it out for yourself. I found this old video of Paul Prudhomme doing it, and teacher that I am, I love his level of encouragement offered to newbies trying this for the first time. Yes, you can do this, and no, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never done it before. Now, fancy names be damned, go get yourself some roast chicken and mushroom action.
Roast Chicken Leg and Thigh with Chardonnay Sauce, Trumpet Mushroom Duxelle and Fingerling Potatoes
2 trumpet mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 tbs. of butter
half of a lemon, juiced
1 shallot, minced
1 oz. of slab bacon or salt pork
1/4 c. of caramelized onions
2 chicken legs and thighs, deboned
2 tbsp dry chardonnay
4 tbsp vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
1 lb. of fingerling potatoes
duck fat (or vegetable oil if you don’t have any)
salt and pepper
Melt 2 tbs. of butter in a large pan over low heat. Add bacon or salt pork and sweat for a few minutes without giving it color. Add shallots and sweat without giving color for a few minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to cook over low heat, adding a pinch of salt, pepper and the lemon juice. The mushrooms will begin to release water – once the water is completely absorbed, stop cooking. Add caramelized onions and toss to heat. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Heat a new pan that can go into the oven over high heat with a little blended oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Once pan is hot, add chicken legs skin side down and cook over high heat for a minute. Place entire pan in oven and cook until chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes. Take pan out, remove chicken, drain oil. Deglaze pan with chardonnay, scraping up the brown bits. Reduce wine by half, add stock and reduce by half again. Turn fire off, add 2 tbs. of butter and whisk until incorporated. Place mushroom mix in center of plate, top with chicken, add sauce around, garnish with parsley.
To cook the fingerlings, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and blanch for 3-4 minutes. Drain and dry well. Add about 2 inches of oil (or equivalent amount of duck fat) to a heavy bottomed sauce pan and heat until a piece of bread, when dropped into the oil, browns in 3 seconds. Add the potatoes to the pan, being careful to stand back if the skins sputter a bit. Allow to cook for a minute, remove and drain on paper towels and salt and pepper immediately while still hot. If you’d like to time this all so that the potatoes are finished at the same time as the chicken, cook the potatoes as soon as the chicken goes into the oven.
I really love making shish kebab – it’s always praised effusively when made for friends and that pay off comes with very little work. Buy a bunch of veggies and a little meat, let them hang in some herbs and spices, thread on skewers, grill or broil and call it a day. This marinade could not be any easier, and best of all, is made with such common pantry staples, you don’t have to do any special shopping ahead of time to get this one on the table.
The best part is that you can absolutely do what you like when making this – if you prefer red meat to chicken, substitute cubes of beef tenderloin or tender lamb. Like seafood better? Try this recipe with cubes of swordfish threaded on skewers, separated by bay leaves instead of the vegetables. It makes a hearty, savory alternative to the traditional red meat or chicken. And of course, you can bypass the meat altogether and just go with the veggies alone. Use whatever assortment of vegetables that look the best in the grocery, or are on hand in your fridge – eggplant and squash also make excellent additions. It’s all good!
Serve these gems with a squeeze of lemon and a side of fluffy rice or pita. No fuss, no muss and people will swoon for the fresh preparation and bright ingredients. It’s such a winner, you’ve just gotta try it.
Lemon Chicken Shish Kebab
1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tbs. of olive oil
1 tsp. of garlic powder
1/2 tsp. of onion powder
1 tsp. of paprika
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/2 tsp. of kosher salt
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cl. of garlic
whole mushrooms (white or crimini)
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbs. of olive oil
1 tsp of salt
Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes and place in a tupperware. On a clean cutting board, loosely chop garlic and then sprinkle the kosher salt on top. Using the blade of your knife, drag it across the garlic to mash it into the salt, forming a paste. Add garlic paste to chicken, along with the olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir well and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
Remove chicken from fridge and let rest on the counter while you prep the veggies. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel and place in a bowl. Add your cherry tomatoes to the bowl. Cut red and green pepper into 1 inch chunks and add to the mushrooms. Next, cut onion into 1 inch chunks, making sure to keep the slices of onion together as best you can. Set aside, separate from the mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes. In the veggie bowl, add the lemon zest, olive oil, black pepper and salt. Toss to combine flavors.
Get out some skewers – if you are using bamboo skewers, make sure to soak them in water first to prevent them from burning. Thread the chicken and vegetables onto the skewers, alternating between meat and veggies. Place skewers on a tray to hang out while you continue to assemble the shish kebab.
Lightly grease a grill or a grill pan with canola oil or Pam for grilling and heat to smoking. Turn heat down to medium and cook kebabs until veggies are charred and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes per side. Serve.