Chicken Fajita Salad

I picked up the weirdest, most inedible avocado for this recipe. It should be no surprise that finding a ripe avocado on demand is damn near impossible around here. Your best bet is to plan ahead, since they’re usually rock hard, and age them on your counter. If you happen to find one that isn’t rock hard, odds are that it has dents from every person who came before you to squeeze it in hopes that it was the one avocado in the pile that wasn’t hard as a rock. Don’t be lured into a false sense of security. If it feels ripe, it’s not. It’s an unripe avocado bruised to high hell. Poor thing.

I thought I found something between rock and mush. It actually gave a little to the touch. I could still deal with a mostly unripe one. Desperate times call for desperate measures. When I got home and tried to cut it open, the two halves wouldn’t come apart. At all. I felt like I was hacking into a mango. After working it for a few minutes—twisting and pulling, pulling and twisting—the pit finally split in half letting me not only a half of an avocado in each hand but the pit too. As if I weren’t already thoroughly freaked out, the texture of the avocado flesh felt like plastic. It felt like a Barbie with avocado green flesh. Bizarre. A fork’s tines would barely puncture it without some serious effort. I was thoroughly creeped out. I should have just bought the guacamole that New Seasons makes. I should have known better [fyi, that wasn’t New Seasons that sold me the weird avocado, I’m pretty sure they’re better than that].

At least this salad was good without it.

Chicken Fajita Salad

Inspiration: Buzzfeed Tasty

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes [or two if you’re me]
  • 1 head of romaine, chopped
  • 1 avocado, optional for serving

Preparation

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the chicken, red and yellow peppers, onion, salt, cumin, and garlic powder. Stir well to coat in oil and mix in all the spices. Cook, stirring often, for about 7-10 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked through, the peppers and onions will be soft. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl or a mason jar with a lid, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, lime juice, sugar, and chile flakes. Whisk together if in a bowl or seal the lid on the jar and shake. Add the romaine to your serving plate or bowl before topping with the fajita mixture. Drizzle with dressing and top with avocado if you actually live in a world with good avocados.

You can mix it all together in a bowl first and serve from there, but I find that all the heavy stuff just goes to the bottom, and if you aren’t eating it in one sitting, the lettuce will inevitably get soggy. The method above avoids all that.

 

Bánh Mì Hot Dog

The grill was in full effect this weekend. Back-to-back 100 degree days will force you outside. We’re some of the lucky souls with air conditioning, but when it’s that hot, it struggles. Nothing says ‘holy crap, it’s hot out’ quite like grilling several pounds of marinated pork, sipping copious amounts of Pacifico with lime, and eating your weight in tacos, chips, and salsa.

I seek out hot dogs very infrequently, but when I want one, I want one. Corn dogs are a totally different animal. It’s hard to say no to those. They’re a weakness. I fall into two very different camps regarding hot dogs. It either has to be unbelievably simple—Bun. Dog. Mustard.—or they have to be interesting. Like this dog.

I’m a sucker for a bánh mì. A bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich. They usually are simple with a meat or tofu, crunchy veggies or pickled veggies, and a crunchy little baguette. There is a food cart downtown by the office that has them for $3. Well, they did. They closed up for awhile and came back as something else but the menu looked similar the last time I walked by. The freshness of the ingredient, the crispness of the veggies, and the spiciness of the sauce are the best parts. It translates well to a hot dog.

Bahn Mi Hot Dog

Inspiration: Real Simple

Ingredients

  • 4 hot dogs
  • 4 buns
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tablespoons sriracha
  • 1/4 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1/4 cup mint, chopped

Preparation

In a small bowl, whisk together the sriracha and mayonnaise.

Heat grill on medium high heat. Place dogs across the grate. Roll the dogs after a minute or two when the grill marks show up.

Optional: grill the buns

Spread the spicy mayonnaise mixture on the buns. Layer the hot dogs, sliced cucumber, and shredded carrots. Drizzle on more sauce as you see fit. Top with chopped mint.

Broccoli Raab and Goat Cheese Pasta with Shrimp

[this is currently being written while Roma is waging war against a fly under my desk]

Burger Week is almost over, and I hardly participated this year. I have eaten one burger. Well, one half of a burger. We stopped at one location and the wait was well over an hour [which is expected], so we left and ate falafel at Wolf & Bear’s insteadAn excellent choice. Afterward, we went to Alberta Street Pub. They were also still slow [and still expected], but I didn’t have a case of hangry looming. Beers were consumed. The Olympics were watched because that’s all that restaurants and bars show right now. We split a peach caprese juicy lucy. What is a juicy lucy you say? That is a burger stuffed with cheese instead of cheese on top—so the mozzarella of caprese is inside the burger. The tomatoes were traded into peaches caramelized in bacon vinaigrette. I’ll let you think about that for a minute.

I’ve been craving macaroni and cheese lately. I don’t want to succumb to it for some reason, but it’s there calling my name. I had a craving for a ham, gruyere, and butter baguette sandwich from Addy’s Sandwich Bar for awhile, and I squashed that craving earlier this week. Coco Donuts has been posting all kinds of donuts on Instagram. It gave me a craving one of their signature donuts—a raised donut with chocolate frosting and topped with chocolate covered espresso beans. That craving was satisfied this morning. Now this mac and cheese craving comes out of no where, and I’m trying to figure out what to do with it. I’m not craving a specific place’s mac, so we’ll see how long this sticks around. The odds of me making a batch are slim.

This pasta is the closest thing I’ve made to macaroni and cheese in a long, long time. Since this blue cheese pasta probably. It doesn’t look like I’ve ever made anything remotely traditional when it comes to macaroni and cheese. This mac and not-cheese? Talk about flashbacks. The whole shells and cheese + greens thing is a winner. I could always stand to see some greens in any mac and cheese I’m eating if only to make it look better. Certain bitter greens are great for cutting through richness, but in this case it was subtle. Thanks, broccoli raab [or rapini]. Goat cheese is tangy and lovely. It melts into the warm pasta creating a light creamy sauce, so I added a few fat chunks of it because I like it like that. Since there wasn’t any significant sources of I added shrimp because I had a frozen bag of it staring at me every time I look in the freezer. The shrimp are optional. You could leave it off entirely or add something else of your choosing. I don’t really think you could go wrong.

Shrimp, Broccoli Raab, Goat Cheese Pasta

Inspiration: Saveur

Ingredients

  • 12oz small pasta, like shells or orecchiette
  • 1 bunch rapini or broccoli raab, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 4oz goat cheese, softened
  • 1lb frozen, peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Boiling water takes forever. Once it starts boiling, add the rapini. Cook for about 4 minutes before removing to a large bowl of ice water. Pat dry the rapini. Don’t drain the water from the pot. Use it to cook the pasta according to package instructions.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, and stir often until it’s golden brown. Add the shrimp, the paprika, and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Add the rapini and chile flakes. Toss until combined and then remove from heat.

Mix the drained pasta and the shrimp and rapini mixture together in a large bowl [or pasta pot]. Add half of the goat cheese to the pasta and stir to incorporate. It will melt and distribute. Add the remaining goat cheese as dollops to the individual servings.

Korean BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Summer is racing by. Since we’ve been back from Germany [which I should recap one of these days..], it has been nonstop fun stuff. The Euros and Copa America meant that soccer was on TV nearly 12 hours a day in our house for weeks. I learned that you can get into the Portland Art Museum for $5 on Fridays, which makes seeing the new exhibits that much more enticing. Andrew’s soccer team played it’s season final in Providence Park [where the Timbers play!]. There was a late night dinner party with some friends and some brewery events. We saw some friends that we haven’t seen in years. I took the train to Seattle for a friend’s birthday weekend [and had the most beautifully delicious breakfast at Chop Shop]. Andrew’s sister and brother-in-law came to town for a long weekend. We ate and drank as one does when you’re catching people up on the city since they last visited. We followed Inter Milan, Andrew’s favorite soccer team, around Portland while they visited on a summer tour. Seeing professional athletes up close like that is just…wow. We capped off their visit with a game against PSG in Eugene. They lost, and we got sunburnt, but we were finally able to try Agrarian Ales. Worth it. I surprised Andrew with a train ride in Hood River for his birthday. It was a short, two-hour, historical tour that included a boxed lunch and a 30 minute layover in the teeny-tiny fruit farming town of Odell, Oregon. It was a fun experience if you’re at all into trains.

Korean BBQ Ribs

So yeah, that’s the cliff’s notes version of what’s been up lately. We’ve managed to spend time on the patio exactly once. I’ve been racing through books now that I don’t have to fill my time with studying, and I’ve been cooking. Or grilling. Or both. These ribs were a bit of both. They were wrapped in foil and slow roasted in the oven on low heat for a few hours and then finished on the grill with a ton of housemade BBQ sauce with more than a little hint of Gochujang chili sauce. Gochujang is a Korean sauce that makes me happy. It is what drew me to Korean food. It is definitely it’s own flavor, and if you’ve had it, you know exactly what I mean. It’s a little spicy, a little tart, and a little sweet. It’s addicting. I would back off of the plum sauce a little bit next time just because spicy > sweet for me, but it is rather good as it is. That’s Bon Appétit for you. They know what’s up.

Also, this is my first time making ribs. Ever. They’re another one of those things that are mildly intimidating, but it’s only in my mind. I was fearing that they would end up overcooked, and no one wants two racks of overcooked ribs. No one. Yet the cooking method was practically foolproof. They were definitely fall off the bone tender. I served them with a simple [so simple it’s undressed int his photo] salad so I could focus on that spicy tang of the sauce.

Korean BBQ Ribs2

Inspiration: Bon Appétit

Ingredients

  • 2 racks of baby back ribs
  • 4-5 scallions, both the white and the green parts cut into chunks
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup Gochujang [Korean hot pepper sauce]
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons plum sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 300°. Pat the racks of ribs with a paper towel so they’re dry and then cover them liberally with salt and pepper. Wrap them in a double layer aluminum foil to prevent any messes. Place them on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 2-2.5 hours. The meat should be falling off the bone at this point.

While the ribs are cooking, prepare the sauce. In a food processor, pulse together the scallions, garlic, and ginger. Move over holy trinity or mirepoix because wow. That smells so fragrant. In a sauce pan, heat the mixture in the olive oil on medium heat. Sauté until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together. Bring to a simmer and continue to stir often to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. After 5-10 minutes, the sauce should thicken up nicely. You know what the consistency of BBQ sauce should be.

Remove the ribs from the oven when they’re ready and prepare the grill. Rub the grates with oil and heat it to medium-high. Brush all sides of the ribs liberally with a few coats of the sauce. Place on the grill until all sides start to char, a couple minutes on each side. Keep basting the ribs with a few more layers for extra flavor. Let the ribs rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving with any leftover sauce.

 

One Pan Chicken Tikka

Food lately:

  • The Wednesday farmers market is back. That means Tastebud pizza! It meant that I ate a leftover veggie burrito for breakfast in order to not waste the burrito but still have pizza for lunch. Priorities.
  • Hat Yai. Hat Yai. Hat Yai. Southern Thai food is so good.
  • I’m finally getting into this whole rotisserie chicken craze. Pollo Bravo and Chicken and Guns. Each different and so good. Pollo Bravo makes me miss Spain all over again. Tapas for days.
  • Still obsessed with Tehuana Oaxaca Cuisine. The guys at this cart continually blow my mind with their specials — housemade chorizo and some spicy camarones? Yes please.
  • Brunch at Ya Hala is pretty stellar. No wait. Interesting options. Fried chicken and cheesy couscous for breakfast. Enough said.

This one pan meal comes together as easy as a one pan meal should. The highlight of the whole thing is the marinade for the chicken. It is a deliciously spicy yogurt mixture that I left on the chicken for only the minimum amount recommended because I was impatient and hangry hungry. If I could have the foresight to leave it on overnight or at least since that morning because I imagine it would be that much better. Looking at it now, it’s not the prettiest thing I’ve made [beige!], but since when has that stopped me? We nearly ate the entire head of cauliflower in one sitting. Roasted cauliflower is so underrated, especially when it’s roasted in chicken fat and the residual marinade.

Chicken Tikka

Inspiration: Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2lbs chicken pieces, bone in and skin on
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 jalapenos, depending on spice preference [two!]
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into same-size chunks
  • 1 3/4lbs cauliflower [basically one head], cut into florets
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

Preparation

Use a small food processor to mince the ginger, garlic, and jalapenos together. If that doesn’t exist in your world, feel free to mince. Mix this delicious mixture with the yogurt, 1 teaspoon of salt, cayenne, turmeric, cumin, sugar, paprika, and garam masala in a large freeze bag. Add the chicken and seal the bag. Toss the chicken in the mixture and massage it into the skin. Marinate it in the fridge for at least the time it takes you to prep the vegetables, or longer if you have the time.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, cauliflower, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cumin seeds with the olive oil. Spread the vegetables on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Nestle the chicken in with the vegetables. Roast for 20 minute. Stir the vegetables and roast for another 15-20 minutes. The vegetables should be tender and the chicken cooked through. I like to use a meat thermometer to check that the chicken is in the 165° range internally before allowing it to rest.

Allow to cool before serving.