Archive for the ‘Main Dish’ Category

Chicken Lettuce CupsHappy new year to all my Asian friends! It is the year of the rabbit and Plucky finds that she will be attending–not one–but two lunar celebrations this week.

To celebrate, I’ve developed a lighter version of one of my favorites. Since I am thousands of miles away from my favorite Chinese food place (Gary Lee’s Asian Star in Salt Lake City), this quick recipe for chicken lettuce cups comes pretty close to the “real deal.”

For my friends at Weight Watchers: This recipe serves 8 entree portions and much, much more as an appetizer. Figure on about 6 points per each entree-sized portion. To keep the calories down, I have made it with chicken, but you could also try it with a pound of ground pork.

Chicken Lettuce Cups

In the morning: Wash and core one head of iceberg lettuce. Let drain and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

2 oz. rice sticks, fried until golden, drained on paper toweling and set aside.

Whisk sauce together in small bowl and set aside:
1 tablespoon Mirin (Chinese rice wine) or sherry
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

Prepare as directed and set aside:
3 scallions, minced
4 oz. mushrooms, rough chop
2 oz. bamboo shoots, rough chop
2 oz. water chestnuts, rough chop
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, rough chop

In wok or fry pan, heat 1 teaspoon peanut oil on high heat until just smoking. Add 1 pound ground chicken and stir until halfway cooked. Add mushrooms and keep stirring until mixture is cooked through and liquid from mushrooms is nearly evaporated. Reduce heat to medium. Add scallions, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and heat through. Add sauce and stir to thoroughly incorporate. Just before serving, add salt and pepper to taste, add peanuts and rice sticks (crumbled). Serve on platter with lettuce cups and extra hoisin sauce.

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Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Summer is winding down. We’ve scheduled the pool closing and now we look at our grill with renewed interest. During the next few weeks, it will be the only thing between us and winter.

My husband was jonesing for bacon-wrapped scallops last night. It has been a long while since we’ve indulged ourselves in these tasty little morsels. These are great for a main dish, or you can serve them up as an appetizer. ¬†We served them up with a nice salad and called it a meal.

The nights are getting cooler. Get your grill on while you can!

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup minced scallion
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
dash Worcestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all in a bowl, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add 15 large sea scallops. Marinate one hour.

You will need one pound of thin-sliced bacon. Wrap each scallop with one slice bacon. Thread on to l8-inch metal skewer. Grill the threaded scallops over medium coals for 15 minutes or until bacon is crisp. Slide off metal skewers onto heated platter and serve.

Note: I ran out of regular Dijon and had to use whole grain Dijon with great results.

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Short Ribs

Great meal for your hungry snow-throwing man.

Gas up the snow thrower! We had our third major snowstorm in as many weeks here in New Jersey.

My amiable taster has been putting in the overtime dealing with our slippery slope of a driveway. Knowing we’d be shut in this weekend, I stocked up on some manly-man food. After he’d fed that beast of a machine, I knew that I would have to do likewise.

Great short ribs–like great sex–requires a good deal of preparation. You can’t hurry these babies up. But then: Oh baby oh!

Braised Short Ribs

The day before (just as it starts to snow):
Red Wine Reduction
3 cups red wine
1/2 yellow sweet onion, rough dice
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 leek, sliced (white and light green parts)
6 cloves garlic, smashed
small bunch thyme
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. peppercorns

Place all in enameled cast iron pot and bring to boil. Simmer uncovered until wine is reduced at least two-thirds. This will take 60-90 minutes. Strain mixture and reserve.

While the wine is reducing…
The Ribs

Take a dozen beef short ribs and sprinkle them with salt, pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Sear the ribs until browned. This should take about 2-3 minutes on each side. Set aside.

Heat oven to 325-degrees. Return the wine reduction to the original cast iron pot. Add the following:
1/2 large sweet yellow onion, cut into wedges
2 ribs celery, cut into 3-inch slice
2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced into 2-inch (can also save time a use a bag of baby carrots)
2 cloves garlic, smashed

Place the seared ribs on top of the vegetables. Add 1 quart of beef stock (not broth) Cover and place in preheated oven for 2 hours. When cooking time is done, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight. (Your house will smell divine and you will be sorely tempted to eat these ribs but trust me, these bad boys taste better the second day).

Day 2:
Drag the pot out of the refrigerator and to the stove. Remove the fat that has hardened on the top of your ribs. Heat the ribs thoroughly. With your kitchen tongs, place the ribs on a heated platter and shove them in a warm (not hot) oven). Strain the cooking mixture. Save the veggies for dinner and the stock for gravy-land.

Place the stock back in the cast-iron pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce again until you have 1 cup stock. Whisk in 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Heat thoroughly. Serve to hungry snow-remover types.

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