Monday, December 30, 2013

Chinese Chicken Salad...Recess Between Bacchanalias

As usual, the other half and I have eaten our way through the holidays...Tex-Mex on Christmas Eve, brunch and prime rib on Christmas Day.  Still to come: champagne and pasta on New Years Eve, eggs benedict in the morning and fried catfish and black-eyed peas for dinner.

Today then was the break in the storm. Breakfast was green juice and an English muffin. Lunch was a hard-boiled egg and half a roast beef sandwich on multi-grain.  And dinner was this delicious Chinese chicken salad.  As luck would have it, we saw the recipe on television yesterday.  As I am wont to do, I adapted it slightly, but kept the cooking method--which gives the chicken lots of flavor.  With crisp veggies and a tangy/spicy dressing, it's a healthy meal that you'll be using well into 2014 to keep up with those New Years resolutions.

Chinese Chicken Salad
Makes 4-6 servings worth of chicken.  Alter the vegetables as you see fit.

For the chicken and dressing:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons sambal oelek
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil

For the salad:
Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
Carrot, peeled and grated
Celery, very thinly sliced (best done on a mandoline)
Red bell pepper, cut in very thin julienne
Scallion, thinly sliced
Chopped toasted cashews, peanuts or sliced almonds

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.

Combine the orange juice and the next six ingredients (through sambal oelek) in a bowl.  Whisk until thoroughly combined.  Remove 1/2 cup mixture to use to cook chicken.  To remaining dressing, add sesame oil and canola oil, whisking until emulsified.

In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, add the 1/2 cup reserved dressing mixture and heat until simmering.  Add the chicken breasts and cover pan.  Cook until chicken is done, about 12 minutes, turning several times.  Remove the chicken to a plate and continue to simmer the liquid in the pan until reduced by half.  Turn off the heat.

After the chicken has cooled slightly, shred it and return to the saute pan, adding 3 tablespoons of the finished dressing.  Heat over low heat just until heated through and liquid has been absorbed by the chicken.

The chicken can be served over the salad warm, at room temperature or chilled.  Add additional dressing to your liking and garnish with the nuts of your choice.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Getting Ready for New Years...

New Years Eve and New Years Day are just around the corner.  And I have your list of how to get ready. you have your bubbly yet?  I've become quite partial to Schramsberg, a lovely sparkler from California.  We're in the wine club and have a wonderful bottle in the wine fridge waiting for us.  But if you still need to to hit the liquor store, here's a list to consider.

Next...what are you serving with your New Years toasts?  I think it's a night for delicious bites.  Whether you're throwing  a party or just sitting on the couch watching movies, I think it's a night for grazing.  I am thinking about making these delicious little canapes with ricotta and chive puree. Also perhaps this hot crab dip.

And, of course, you need to get the black-eyed peas ready for New Years Day.  We've decided to go really Southern with fried catfish and oysters, cole slaw, and my easy, but delicious, black-eyed (really purple hulled) peas.

Enjoy and....Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cabernet and Balsamic-Caramelized Onions

Made up a batch of these flavorful onions to go on--and actually IN--some burgers we fixed the other night. But it would make a wonderful relish for roast pork or chicken, on a roast beef sandwich or even heated and used to wilt a spinach salad.

Cabernet and Balsamic-Caramelized Onions
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups thinly sliced red onions
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic pepper (or freshly ground black pepper)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and butter in a saute pan.  Add the onions, thyme, pepper and salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are golden and very tender. (Low and slow is your friend here.) Add the wine and balsamic and continue to cook, until the liquid is almost completely reduced.