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Sesame Chicken, A Delicious Chinese Dish

sesame chicken

There are many wonderful Chinese dishes you can use as a nice two or four person meal or maybe as one of several dishes you can use as part of a bigger meal. This sesame chicken would be very high on my list of things to include in that kind of meal. It’s relatively easy to make and it turns out really well.

For this dish, I often use whatever chicken I’ve got left over from other dishes — an extra breast or some thighs, usually. Given that you’re only really just browning them quickly, both turn out just fine. The ginger and garlic really make this dish, however, and while I’m normally a huge Chinese pepper fan, just a little bit of Sechuan or other good pepper really livens this dish up. Just don’t use too much, because it can quickly turn the dish into something hot and spicy, which isn’t what this preparation is about.

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Chicken and Beans Tagine

chicken and beans tagine

You can find plenty of various tagines (that special North African cookware) all over the net, but once in a great while I love to make something up as I go along and chicken and beans tagine  is one of those. Took a few tries to get it just right, but in the end, got it just the way I like it.

I’ve written a little about tagines in the past, and while you can make this is in a nice deep pot of almost any kind, the tagine is better if you can find one. There is something about the conical lid and little escape vent that changes the flavor just a bit and makes it superb.  And if you haven’t had white beans labored with onions, garlic and basil, I’ll warn you, it’s really a dish to crave. Something about that combination, especially if cooked slowly over a low fire, that lights up my taste buds. Add a little mushrooms and lovely browns chicken thighs and legs and maybe a little rice and you’ve got a great meal. 

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Stifado of Lamb

stifado of lamb

Stifado is one of many things you can find often in Greece, although in my limited purview in the states, it’s something you rarely see here. It’s what I would call a braise, but using red wine and red vinegar rather than broth or water as the liquid. The stifado of lamb is a perfect option.

I’m told by those who do some travel in Greece that you can find stifado with almost anything that can be braised, which accompanies a lot of things, if you really think of it. The lamb stifado is done using stewing lamb (basically shoulder) and given long enough in the braising liquid, it works out really well. The spices used are quite pronounced and they really add a great deal to the dish, especially the cloves and cinnamon. Served with a little bit of orzo or maybe some rice, it’s great.

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Twice Fried Fries with Bacon and Cheese

twice fried fries

How do you make a great french fry? I’m gonna guess, despite the simplicity in frying potatoes, that there are plenty of answers to that question, but I’m gonna offer up my best guess — it’s twice fried fries. I know, probably about half of you out there already knew that, and the rest are using frozen fries (I’ll come back to those) or good old, once fried fries.

If you’re just trying to figure out why twice fried fries works, there’s a great piece at Serious Eats, which explains it pretty well. But I happen to like a story told to me by a French colleague, in which a chef on a train was trying to make some potatoes, somehow lost power and then had to restart them. What he found was that the new potatoes were more interesting and far more crunchy, which became the eventual story for french fries, as well. 

And then there are frozen fries, many — or some of them, anyway — have already been fried even before you get them. At least the good ones do that. 

The recipe below is for my twice fried fries done with a nice hot cheddar cheese and a pile of bacon bits. In the best world, I could just live on these things year round. They are very good and a perfect example of why twice fried fries really does work. They are just gooey with tons of bacon bits. I love them.

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Hey! Saturday is Filet Mignon Day!

filet mignon

Alright. Any day I can get my hands on a great  filet mignon is a pretty great one, but to be truthful I rarely, if ever, write much about them because, well, you put them on a grill and they’re done, right? Yes you can rub them, but they’re still only fun if you can grill — or maybe use a broiler or a pan, if necessary.

Well, it turns out there actually are a few nice things you can do with a filet mignon, and fortunately, they don’t involve doing anything to the meat, itself. For me, that would definitely be a no-no. Which brings me around to something I’ve done only once before, although I can’t exactly figure out why. Laziness, maybe? In any case, it’s a lovely ground pear and garlic dip that the filet can sit in or have on the side, if you prefer. The meat gets a little rub and that’s it. Everything else is the pear sauce, and I promise you that is good and something you won’t see every day.

The original recipe came from something I saw in an old food channel recipe, and it was scaled down from a much larger batch. It took several tries before I got it down to what was a bit more appropriate for a menu of say, two or maybe four filets, which makes a little more sense. I tend to go a little heavy on the garlic, so you can certainly be a little more conservative there if you like.

Filet Mignon with Pear and Garlic Sauce
Serves 2
Any time for a filet mignon day is a great one. So here's a very good little pear and garlic sauce to have along with a perfect filet mignon.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 filet mignon
  2. Olive oil
  3. Sea salt
  4. Seasoned salt (I used an apple flavored salt, use what you have or dispense with it altogether)
  5. 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  6. 2 Bartlett pears
  7. 6-8 garlic bulbs, peeled
  8. 3/4 cup chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Rinse the filets and pat dry. In a mixing bowl, cover them with a little olive oil and season with salt, seasoned salt and pepper. Place in the fridge and allow to sit there for about an hour.
  3. Place the rinced pears in a baking sheet, covered in foil. Add the garlic and drizzle the pears with a little olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove to allow to cool.
  4. Remove skin and cores from pears and add to an food processor along with the garlic. Spin until the sauce is a nice liquid and place in a pan to simmer for a short while.
  5. Grill the steaks and combine on a plate with a spoonful or two from the pear dish and you're on your way.
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Rainbow Trout with Apples

rainbow trout with apples

A really good rainbow trout is something that, especially caught wild, is something that you’ll never forget. Yes, the farm-raised trout taste reasonably like trout and maybe a bit more sustainable than wild caught trout, but I will tell you that a fresh trout right from the stream or river is number one with me. The second best is trout that you can guess or otherwise figure out that’s wild, and finally, lastly, the farm-caught versions. They are simply the best.

Which brings me to today’s recipe, which is a very simply made rainbow trout, done with a little apples in brown butter (this time served with a lightly prepared pearl couscous). Like a good recipe, it doesn’t call for much, which is especially perfect for a trout, which simply won’t stand for anything much more than that.

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Sous Vide Chicken Salad

sous vide chicken salad

Chicken salad. What can you say about it? Get some leftover chicken, or maybe some fresh, through some mayo and a handful of spices at it, and you’ve got chicken salad, right? Um. No. There is a right way to do a chicken salad and I’ve found it. No kidding. If you’ve never had a sous vide machine (or don’t think you need one), if you like chicken salad, this is the truly only way to make it. Yup. Sous Vide Chicken Salad. So good.

First, my recipe is below, and you can follow that or make up your own. It’s pretty good, especially if, like me, you like a very nice touch of tarragon. 

The key here is how you get to that point. I used four chicken breasts (bone in and skin on), done to 150F degrees (65C), left in the sous vide container about an hour to 90 minutes. Remove them and place them immediately in an ice bath to stop the cooking (for maybe 15 minutes or so) and then refrigerate for at least an hour, so they can soak up the juices that come out of them during the cooking.  When done this way, they come out perfectly done. I think the skin and bone adds some flavor, but that part isn’t necessary.

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