Category Archives: Oven

Asian Chicken Meatballs in Butter Lettuce Wraps

Asian Chicken Meatballs

This dish came out of nowhere. In an attempt to stave off high cholesterol medication I’ve been eating a lot of lean proteins and greens. For a couple weeks I found it fun to revisit the humble chicken breast. It brought me back to my early days of cooking, back when a bag of frozen chicken breasts was always in my freezer and I would dream up new ways to enjoy the staple item. Yesterday however, I was bored. I wanted something bright and light, something fun and new to make and eat. My mind wandered and landed on the classic flavor profile from Asia.

Soy sauce, ginger and green onion.

The game was afoot. The race was on. Off to the store.

Servings 4, Cook time 30 minutes 

Asian Chicken Meatballs in Butter Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground chicken. (white meat is fine, dark meat is better)
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Soy Sauce (Low sodium if you have it)
  • 1 egg
  • Bread crumbs (I used panko)
  • 1 head of butter lettuce
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  • Fresh Ginger, a piece about half the size of a man’s thumb
  • 1 ripe Avocado

Dipping Sauce 

  • Soy Sauce
  • Rice Vinegar (Or White Wine Vinegar)
  • Sriracha (or Chili Oil)
  • Sugar (Or honey)
  • Sesame Oil (or Olive Oil)
  • Sliced green onion

Method

Preheat the oven to 400F / 200C. Finely slice and chop your garlic and onions, rinse off your lettuce and toss the chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add the onions, garlic, cracked egg and soy sauce to the bowl. Grate the ginger down using a zester or the fine side of cheese grater. Use enough soy sauce to create a puddle around the chicken. Don a pair of gloves or using your freshly washed hands, dig in and start to mix by hand. It will be very soupy. Mix just enough so that your ingredients are together and add a layer of breadcrumbs. This is when using the buddy system really helps, have them pour some in the bowl so you can keep your hands on the mix.

Asian Meatball Mix, pre Breadcrumbs

Mix in the bread crumbs a little at a time. You want the mixture to be able to stick to itself and form into balls without using so much that you dry it all out.

Find a baking sheet and start to make balls of the meat. Place the meatballs on the sheet with a little space between them. Pop in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and use a flat spatula to peel them off of the pan without losing the crusty bits. Take some tongs and turn them over, back in the oven for another ten minutes. It was too hot for me to turn on an oven in my house. I used a cast iron skillet outside on my propane grill. The principle remains the same. I’ll keep my instructions to the oven for word counts sake.

Asian Chicken Meatballs Post, Flip

While in the oven, mix the Soy Sauce, Oil and Vinegar in a 3:1:1 ratio in a bowl. Add as much Sriracha as you want and toss in a spoonful of sugar. Taste. If the soy sauce is to powerful add more vinegar. If it’s too vinegary add oil. Once happy add the green onion.

Sacrifice one meatball to check for doneness. You want the center to be a little moist but cooked through. Look for the textural difference between cooked meat and raw.

Serve in butter lettuce leafs with sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with avocado and sesame seeds. I seasoned and spun some leftover brown rice into balls using plastic wrap for a little extra heft.

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Eggs Baked In Avocado

Eggs Baked in Avocado

Some beautiful genius deserves credit for this. If I had the time I would bravely sift through years of Instagram and peel back layers of Pinterest until just one picture remained.

Maybe what I’m searching for goes beyond the internet… I picture a dusty crawlspace with shoe boxes of family photos.  An elderly woman pushing out words loud enough to hear through the floor, “Florence used to do that I swear! The kids loved it!”

When that day comes I will give credit where credit is due. Until then, that hero will remain unnamed, safe in the knowledge that they made the world a better place.

Breakfast is easily the best meal. First of all there’s coffee, that’s awesome. That’s a blog post alone. Shoot, making the perfect cup of coffee is an entire industry. I’ll leave it be. For now.

Then, amongst the cacophony of choices, there is the humble chicken’s egg. It rises like the phoenix above all matters of parfaits and home made muesli bars. A perfectly prepared egg is easily the third most photographed thing on the internet. Check out #eggporn for a good time.

One of the things I love about this dish is that the potatoes are used to keep the avocados from tipping over during the cook. Practical engineering in the kitchen. I think. I’m not an engineer.

This all  leads us to a remarkably simple and elevated way to serve a pair of eggs. Perfect these and your lady friend might stick around for all of Sunday Funday.

Avocado Egg Ingredients

Serves 2 Takes 35 minutes

  • 4 chicken eggs
  • 2 large ripe Avocados
  • 2 medium sized red potatoes
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • hot sauce, preferably Tapatio or Cholula (or minced onion, or a dash of cheese, or all of the above)
  • Salt and Pepper

Preheat to 400f / 205c

Start by dicing your potatoes and tossing in olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet and get them in the oven. Set a timer for 20 minutes.

Get to work on the avocado. Slice in half and remove the seed.

Using a spoon, scoop out enough avocado to fit the volume of the egg inside. Might be more than you think, at least two spoonfuls.

Scooped Avocado

Splash a pinch of salt and pepper on the avocado and wait out the timer on the potatoes.

Once those are half done, using a good potholder, take the sheet pan out of the oven and push the potatoes around so you can set the avocados on the sheet without them tipping and rolling around. Crack one egg into each half an avocado. Have a small bowl standing by in case you start to overflow and panic. Just pour the egg into the bowl and scoop a little more avo out.

Into the oven

Once the avocados are filled and propped up, dash some hot sauce on them and put them back in the oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes.

Slice up that tomato and drizzle with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Set that up with the excess avocado on your serving plates.

When the 15 minutes are up pull out the pan and take a look. The whites should be set and the yolks still soft. The air bubbles in the yolk cook translucent, don’t be fooled by the clear. I usually poke the white with a fork.

Finished!

Remove from oven, dash of salt and pepper on each. Serve with the fresh tomatoes and roasted potatoes.

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Dutch Oven Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

Bone In Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

There is no greater link to my past than preparing festive food on a budget. This kind of cooking is in my bones. Generations of Lithuanians and French Canadians speak through me as I stir and chop and taste. I connect with the ghosts of family past in my kitchen with flavors and scents. I can feel my grandfather in the room, his colloquialisms echoing in my brain. If not just for one day our holiday feasts cut through the extra noise of this modern life. We return to a time when food was our only form of entertainment at home. Sure we steal glances at our phones, but only occasionally and then feel bad about it afterwards. Instead we talk to each other, we listen to one another… and most importantly, we eat.

I was struck by inspiration for this years Easter dinner by one wayward glance at the butcher counter more than two weeks ago. The sight of short ribs got my gears turning. What a perfect holiday meal to serve our guests… It hits all the marks… Easy, delicious, cheap. Once you get it in the oven your work is basically finished… Short ribs it had to be.

Let’s get to it.

Beef Short ribs

Serves 4-6 Approximately 3 hours

  • 3 pounds of bone in short rib (boneless is fine too. Costs more but just as good)
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cups of beef broth (usually one large box)
  • 1 bunch of scallions or chives
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1 small bundle of fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • all purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • A dutch oven or oven safe pot

Pep Talk

Something to remember before you start. This is going to seem like a lot of steps for a fancy meal. Don’t get nervous about it. This is easy. It is really hard to screw up. Even if you skip all these steps and just throw everything in the pot in the oven you will end up with a delicious meal. Remember, this is essentially European peasant food. Cheap cuts of meat, a pot full of vegetables and a bottle of local red wine cooked over fires or baked until it falls off the bone. This entire dish can be done a day ahead, some say it’s even better that way. It’s an ideal meal for entertaining.

Preparation

First step, salt and pepper the short ribs. Then toss them in a large bag with flour and shake them up until they all have a nice even coating.

Set them aside and chop up your onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Turn your oven on 350 (175c).

Pour some oil in your dutch oven and put the heat on medium. You want enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Let the oil heat up and place the ribs in one at a time until you have single layer. With 3 pounds this will likely take two batches. Sear the ribs until they’re browned up nicely. 4 minutes or so on each side. Set them aside for later and spoon out most of the oil. Scrape the crusty bits with a wooden spoon and add your onions to the pot. Once they are starting to brown and melt down add your carrots and celery. Stir them up and salt and pepper everything. Add two of the chopped garlic cloves now.

Starting to smell good huh?

Let the mixture cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often.

Place the seared short ribs on top of the veggies. At this point it doesn’t matter if they’re all arranged perfectly or not, just get them in the pot.

Open that bottle of red. Buy a wine that’s drinkable but don’t spend too much money on it. A table red or a cabernet works great here. Pour yourself a half a glass and dump the rest of the bottle in the pot. Turn the heat up to medium high and make a note of how high up on the pot the liquid is. Keep the lid off of the pot.

Wait for a boil. You’ve got about 20 minutes here and only need to stir a few times. Wash up the cutting board and dishes, get your counters clean.

You want to boil it until the amount of red wine has reduced by half. I tied up a bundle of the thyme and a sprig of rosemary with cooking string and tossed it in with two bay leafs and the third chopped garlic clove. Toss in a couple pinches of flour and pour in the (4 cups) entire box of beef broth.

Short Ribs in Red Wine, pre boil

Cover. Place in oven.

“Siri, set a timer for 2 hours please

Plenty to do for that time. Set out your appetizers, greet your guests, work on your side dish for the short ribs. (mashed potatoes, polenta, roasted vegetables, risotto, pasta come to mind) I made a parmesan risotto to accompany mine. It came out pretty good but not good enough for me to tell you how to make it. Maybe next time.

When the two hours is up take a look at your masterpiece.

Voila!

I pulled out the bones with a pair of tongs and tossed them. Using the tongs, break up the meat until it’s shredded. If the bones don’t come out easily and the meat doesn’t shred  with a light touch give it some more time. Stir up the mixture and have a spoonful. Add salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste and put back in the oven for 30 minutes. This is when I made my (decent) risotto.

When finished, serve your amazing short ribs over your amazing side dish. Top with chopped green onion or chives. Pray for leftovers.

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Homemade Tortilla Chips

Home Made Corn Tortilla Chips

The first time I had an authentic Mexican taco I’ll admit I was a little skeptical. I had recently transplanted from Massachusetts to Southern California and until that moment I had only eaten tacos sitting down, in crunchy shells and loaded with cheese. Massachusetts has a lot of great food, but Mexican cuisine is not it’s strong suit.

I stood in a line of Mexican men at a truck in a parking lot in Bakersfield, CA, using my fractured high school Spanish to navigate the menu while my friend Renee tried her hardest to convince me that these were “real tacos” and that eating from a truck in a parking lot wasn’t going to make me sick. This was 2002 mind you. Gourmet food trucks were nearly a decade from being fashionable.

 

So I ordered an A-Sa-da taco for $1. I looked at this mini disk of corn tortilla with steak, onion, cilantro and salsa on it and furrowed my brow a little. I took a bite.

 

I ordered 3 more when I was finished. By the end of the week I had returned to the truck twice more.

So yea. Mexican food is my buddy now. I eat it constantly in the spring and summer.

Here’s my take on healthy tortilla chips. A simple snack that tastes great and isn’t loaded with calories and fried oil.

 

 

  • Buy Corn Tortillas
  • Cut them into triangles.

Corn Tortilla Chips Prepped

  • Toss them in oil, sea salt and lime juice. 
  • Toast in the toaster oven. You can broil them or bake on high heat in a conventional oven too.

Homemade chips in the oven

  • Keep an eye (nose) on them, they turn quick. Maybe 3-5 minutes depending on temperature.
  • Homemade chips.

Yum

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Perfectly Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable. You can grill it, steam it, roast it, purée it, sautte it, make steaks with it, soups, stocks, steaks, oh my.

Sorry. Little bit of Bubba Gump there.

Outside of the emerging vegetable movement in some innovative restaurants these days, cauliflower has been relegated to icky status. Over steamed, farty smelling cauliflower mixed in with some sorry ass carrots and onions.

No wonder so many people think they don’t like it.

Try this on for size.

  • One head cauliflower. (Does your store have Purple?!)
  • One lemon
  • One half handful of almonds
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil

Turn the oven on 425.

Break down the cauliflower into small sized pieces and toss them in a large bowl. The more uniform the chunks the better. The florets are where the money is at so focus your efforts on them. When that’s finished either set aside the stalks for vegetable stock or (sorry grandpa) throw them away. (But you can make soup with that!) I know Pepe I know. Sorry.

IMG_0672


Roughly chop up the almonds so that they are in halves and quarters. When that’s finished skin the lemon and chop into chunks. Swirl the olive oil over the mixture a couple times and give it a layer of salt and pepper. Mix it good, get it on a baking sheet and place it in the oven. The more single layer the pile the more yummy caramelization you’ll get.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

I set a timer for 20 minutes and mix it up. Set another timer for 15 minutes and keep your eye on it. More accurately your nose. It will smell done when it’s done.

Poke a fork in a thick floret and see if it falls off. Ideally many of the tips have begun to caramelize and the stalks are just a hair al dente.

Serve and eat. Rejoice at cauliflower’s comeback.

I'm a bad blogger. All I have is this cropped photo from the main plate.

I’m a bad blogger. All I have is this cropped photo from the main plate.

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How to make Chicken Pot Pie in under an hour

Should serve 4. Might serve 2.

Should serve 4-6. Might serve 2.

Oh my it’s mid November already. Where. Has. The. Year. Gone.

Anyways, when the days get short and the air gets that nip in it my cravings take a sharp left turn away from the grill and salad for dinner and smack dab into a pit of gravy.

Mmmm… Gravy.

Well the other day I found myself scanning the mancookgood Instagram feed and drooling over a yorkshire pudding posted by @sharonskitchenx of humbletartkitchen.com. Trouble is I’m not even sure what Yorkshire pudding tastes like and I had at least ten more hours of work in front of me. Nonetheless a seed had been planted and something had to be done.

Chicken Pot Pie floated to the surface and I spent the rest of the day considering ways I could stop at the store on the way home, crank out a pie and eat at halftime without missing too much of the game. My quest for football season food never ends. The trick is finding something delicious I can make without slaving over the fires and missing half the action.

Genius struck around 3pm and I was left without a choice.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole roasted chicken
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 leek
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 medium russet potato
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 can of chicken stock
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 1 handful of white flour
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • 2 bay leafs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oil

Put the oven on 375f / 190c. Take out a sheet of puff pastry and lay it out flat to thaw.

Pot Pie Prep

Nice and tidy

Chop the leek, shallot, celery, potato and carrots into small chunks. Toss it into a large skillet with olive oil on medium high. Salt and pepper.

Next break done the bird. Slice of the wings first, eat one and hand the other to your friend. Do the same with the drum sticks.

Then get into the breasts, thighs and back meat. Separate from the bird and remove the skin. Eat that or set it aside. Chop all the meat into bite size pieces. At this point the onions should be pretty soft.

Add the chicken to the mixture, salt, pepper, lots of thyme, half as much rosemary and two bay leafs. (we’re in a hurry, need that extra punch of spice)  Now add the chicken stock and turn the burner to high to get a boil going.

Smells like Thanksgiving

Smells like Thanksgiving

While you let the mixture reduce slice the skin off of a lemon and cube it. Throw that in there. A little brightness in an otherwise savory dish.

You can work the puff pastry a little here and roll it thinner. I left it as is. (the game was on!)

Let the liquid reduce by about half, sprinkle in a little flour a few times until the juice is almost as thick as gravy. This is to your preference, it’ll be delicious no matter what at this point.

Pour the filling into a greased pie pan. Drape the pastry over the pan and seal it around the edges. Poke a hole in the top and put in the oven.

I had a little pastry left over from the corners so I made some little chicken skin turnovers too.

Cook some of the fat off the skin in the now empty skillet, wrap it in pastry. Put it in the oven on some greased foil while the pie cooks.

Set the time for 30 minutes and go watch the game. Keep an eye on the pie for the another ten minutes until it’s the crust has browned nicely.

Eat. Watch game. Have seconds. Yum.

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