Tag Archives: bok choy

Bittman Salads: 3 Delicious Choices

Radishes

 

Since I began working my way through Mark Bittman’s “101 Simple Salads for the Season”, I’ve not quite been able to keep up with the goal I set to make at least five salads in a seven day week.  Most of the time, it’s simply that I was missing a key ingredient, or I hadn’t planned on making a trip to the market for the third time in three days.  I’ve planned ahead, but even that has caused some problems because we all know that fresh produce won’t wait forever to be used.  On weekends, I’ve been able to make a salad for my lunch, and then another for dinner, so I’ve made up a bit of time, but the goal isn’t necessarily to make all the salads by a particular date; instead, it is simply to make all the salads.

A few of you have mentioned that you’d like to get this book.  It’s not a book — it’s a list that was printed last month in The New York Times.  Each “salad” is really only a suggested list of ingredients and quantities mentioned only occasionally with phrases such as, “not a lot,” “a few,” “a bit,” and “loads.”  I think that’s what I enjoy best about this experience.  Cooking, or in this case, making salad isn’t necessarily about exact amounts of anything when you want something light and healthy without a lot of fuss.  It’s more about learning what will taste well together and which textures contrast appealingly.  It’s also about being able to relax a bit on dealing with a specific recipe, experimenting, and tasting as you go to decide how much of a particular flavor you enjoy.

As I’ve made each salad, I’ve only kept notes about what I’ve included in each salad, ingredients I’ve added, if any, and only occasionally, the quantities of dressing ingredients.  We don’t use bottled or packaged salad dressing , so experimenting with flavors is always something we enjoy.  If a dressing works especially well, then I will keep a quantity list, but even then, the amounts will be estimates.  There are no measuring cups or spoons — only squirts, glugs, and dollops of this and that along the way.

I’ve featured salads Nos. 29, 13, and 14 in respective posts, but in keeping with the spirit of simplicity, I’ve decided to group more of them together in a single post.  We’ll see how that goes.  In the meantime, make a salad!  Fourteen down, seemingly a million to go.

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Garlic Beef & Shiitakes with Baby Bok Choy

There’s an Asian market very near to where I take my son for guitar lessons each Thursday afternoon.  It’s a dangerous place for me because every aisle contains ingredients for dishes I’ve often wanted to make, but was too lazy to find out where I might drive to purchase them before now.  Who would think that a market called Ranch 99 sold Asian food?  Certainly not me.

Do I really need yet another excuse to buy food? I already shop at too many grocery stores as it is.  I do have a regular market that I won’t ever give up because I know where everything is in the entire store.   And then there’s Trader Joe’s.  They have an eclectic assortment of yummy things at rock bottom prices — especially in the deli and dairy.  But most of the time, they won’t have something I can’t live without, and that forces me to cross the street to pick up the rest of my list at Henry’s.  Henry’s is a Wild Oats store.  You know, bins full of flour and trail mix, or rolled oats.  On special occasions, I go to Whole Foods just because I love the produce and fresh seafood, meat, and deli counters.

Now, I’ve found the Asian market.  *sigh*

If it wasn’t bad enough the first time I oogled my way through the store, the second time, I grabbed noodles and hot sauce and baby bok choy that was only 69 cents a pound.  There’s no way I could pass that up, even if I already had baby bok choy at home in the fridge.  You just never know when baby bok choy might come in handy.

But what happened always happens.  By the time I unpacked it all, I realized there was no way I could actually cook what I’d purchased. It makes me remember the days I actually used to be organized about all of this. There’s only so much food that three of us can eat.

A few days passed.  Maybe more than a few.  Regardless, so many passed that I noticed the bok choy sprouting blooms.  No water — just plenty of light from the window, and a snug wrap in the plastic it was packaged in.  Then the blooms actually grew some more.

Clearly, I had to do something with this lovely vegetable that was trying so hard to get my attention.

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Soy Chicken with Ginger Steamed Bok Choy

Okay, time’s up.  You’ve had enough dessert lately.  Goodness knows I have.  So for a change of pace, I’m going to try and get some of the dishes I’ve made out of my photo files where they’ve been sitting.  It’s about time!

I’ve been really enjoying the recipes I’ve made from Donna Hay’s magazine and cookbooks.  They continue to amaze me with not only their simplicity, but excellent taste.  I haven’t found one yet that we haven’t liked.  Yes, my 15-year-old will leave a veggie or two here and there, but for the most part, he cleans his plate.  If that’s not a vote of favor, nothing is.

Recently Hay’s "Soy Chicken" recipe caught my eye.  It’s not typical for me to take a second look at a savory recipe that has brown sugar and cinnamon in it, but the combination of flavors in this was very appealing — beautiful to look at as well.  A quick scan of the ingredients list showed that I’d only have to make one or two substitutions — not bad considering it is an Asian-inspired dish and I don’t often cook anything beyond fried rice.  It seems we usually do take out when it comes to Asian cuisine. If I steamed some baby bok choy and cooked those rice noodles I’ve had in the cupboard for a while, dinner would be fairly quick.  I was set!

Soy Chicken

4 c. Chinese cooking wine (Shao Hsing)
3/4 c. dark soy sauce
8 c. water
1 c. brown sugar
3 sticks cinnamon
4 star anise
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3/4 oz. ginger, sliced
2 green onions, chopped
4 pieces orange peel
2-3/4 lb. whole chicken

Preheat the oven to 390 degrees F.  Place the Chinese cooking wine, soy, water and sugar in a large saucepan over high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Reduce the heat to low, add the cinnamon, star anise, garlic, ginger, green onions, orange peel, and chicken and simmer for 30 minutes.

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Carefully remove the chicken from the soy mixture, place on a roasting rack in a baking dish and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the skin is golden and crispy.  Chop the chicken into pieces, place on a platter and spoon over the soy mixture to serve.  Serves 4.

To prepare the rice noodles, I soaked them in water for 15 minutes, then cooking them in the broth for about 5 minutes before serving.

Notes:  I halved this recipe for the three of us.  I used three rather hefty skinless, boneless chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken and reduced the cooking time to about 20 minutes.  I substituted 4 whole allspice berries for the star anise and used one large piece of cinnamon stick.  Since the chicken meat did not have skin, the finished baked chicken lacked the glossy, caramel coat the photo showed, but it certainly didn’t lack for flavor, and I didn’t miss all the fat that comes with chicken skin.

Ginger Asian Bok Choy

1/2 oz. ginger, sliced
2 "heads" baby bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise
1/4 c. dark soy sauce
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. roasted red pepper oil

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Place a steaming basket in a large saucepan filled partially with water.  Place sliced ginger in the basket, and place the bok choy on top.  Cover with a lid and heat over med-high heat until steam cooks bok choy to tenderness, about 5-7 minutes.  While cooking, mix soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper oil.  Spoon sauce over bok choy and serve with chicken.

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Notes:  I’ve presented the recipe above as I made it.  The original called for a vegetable called choy sum and the use of a steamer which I don’t own.  We liked the flavor of the sauce, and I plan to try it with other vegetables such as napa cabbage or snow peas.

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This meal was very satisfying and light.  The aroma of the chicken in the broth was exceptional, and the texture of the meat quite tender. I’d like to try it again, but with a whole chicken as the recipe calls for.

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