Archive | January, 2012

Chipotle Black Bean and Tangy Steak Naked Burritos

26 Jan

I had part of an uncooked steak leftover from shaving a bit of it into some pho, and wanted to do something with it without having to make an extra trip to the grocery store.  Sometimes that extra fifteen minutes sounds too damn daunting, amiright?  Anyway, I’m quite the lover of Chipotle, but I don’t eat it much since there isn’t one that close to campus or work and I try to pack a lunch most days anyway.  I figured I would do a (very loose) spin on a burrito bowl based on whatever I could find in my pantry.

The dish below is what we ended up with.  Zak made a slightly Asian-y spin on a slaw to go on top of this, which worked surprisingly well.  The light flavors worked well with the rich and spicy beans and tangy steak.  We made this a sort of build-your-own type of deal.  Zak opted out on the steak and went for just beans, and it was – I am told – adequately filling as a main dinner course.  The flavors here were extremely flavorful and bold and we both went back for seconds (plus I made up two more leftover lunches out of this).  Feel free to play around with the elements, but I will say that this combination – with a little bit of everything – was insanely delicious.  This picture stinks, but I was so pleasantly surprised at this on-the-fly, super-quick and easy meal that I felt compelled to share with you anyway.

Chipotle Black Bean and Tangy Steak Naked Burritos

Tangy Steak:

1 steak cut of choice, cut into strips or cubes, depending on your preference (I used a t-bone, because that’s what I had, and I wanted the bone for homemade beef stock – it was tender and delicious, but flank or something else would be good, too)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbs. red wine vinegar

1 tbs. paprika

1 tbs. dried parsley

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a ziplock bag and marinate at least six hours.  Remove from refrigerator about an hour before cooking to bring back to room temperature.

Once beans and rice (see below) are cooked and coleslaw (see below) is prepared, cook fajitas (see below) according to instructions.  Add the steak and cook for 2-3 minutes (or more, depending on the type of steak you used), tossing frequently, until medium rare.  Remove from heat and transfer to serving dish.

Lime and Cilantro Rice:

1 cup long grained rice, cooked according to package instructions

1 lime, juiced and zested

1 small pat butter

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

Once rice is cooked, add all ingredients directly to the cooking vessel.  Stir to combine well.  Cover and set aside until serving.

Chipotle Black Beans:

1 can black beans, drained

1/2 jalapeño, minced

1 tbs. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 chipotle in adobo, minced

1 tbs. adobo sauce

2 cups water

Add all ingredients to a sauce pan over medium heat.  Cover and simmer about 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Remove cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer another 10 minutes until liquid is evaporated.  Set aside for serving.


2 yellow onions, sliced

1/2 jalapeño, cut lengthwise into thin strips

1 can whole green peppers, cut lengthwise into thin strips

1 tsp. cumin

2 tbs. olive oil

Add olive oil to a 10″ cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Once shimmering, add all other ingredients.  Cook, tossing very frequently, until onions are translucent and peppers are tender.  Move to one side of the pan and add steak on the other.

Napa Cabbage Coleslaw:

Adapted from

1 head napa cabbage, thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

2-3 carrots, thinly sliced

3-4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 cup almonds, roughly chopped

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tbs. soy sauce

Over medium heat, heat vinegar, olive oil, sugar, and soy sauce until it comes to a boil.  Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature.

Toss together all ingredients and let sit a few minutes before serving.

For Serving:

Tangy steak, see above

Chipotle black beans, see above

Lime and cilantro rice, see above

Fajitas, see above

Napa cabbage coleslaw, see above

Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

Queso fresco or cotija cheese

Hot sauce, if desired (this is already pretty spicy)

Assemble as desired.

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Soup

21 Jan

Yesterday at work, I started getting that slight soreness of the throat and buzzing in my head that is a big fat red flag for an oncoming cold.  Not surprising, considering the crazy way the weather has been snapping between freezing and snowy and forty and rainy.  Needless to say, once I got home from work (and trying on my wedding dress for the first time!!!!), I was in the mood for something comforting to chase away the sniffles.  Few things are more comforting to me than some yummy roasted garlic.  This soup has an absolute abundance of garlic.  The flavors are very rich, amped up a few notches by the sweetness of some caramelized onions.  The cannellini beans added a creamy texture and some filling body.  As an added bonus, this fills the house with really intoxicating aromas while the garlic is roasting, onions are caramelized, and soup is simmering.

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Soup

Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 1999

4 heads garlic, outermost papery skin removed

1 tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling on garlic

2 yellow onions, sliced 1/4″ thick

1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

3 cups beef stock

1 cup water

1 cup canned cannellini beans

2-3 tbs. finely grated Parmesan cheese

4 lemon wedges

Parsley, for serving

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cut the top 1/8″ off 3 heads of garlic.  Place each on a small square of tinfoil and drizzle with olive oil.  Seal the garlic in tinfoil packets.  Place on a baking sheet and put in oven.  Roast 45 minutes or until the garlic cloves are deep golden brown.  Let cool until cool enough to handle and remove cloves.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium stock pot.  Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Add roasted garlic, thyme, remaining head of garlic cloves (peeled) and cannellini beans.  Add stock and water and cover.  Simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, puree, working in batches if necessary.  Raise heat to medium high and simmer another 15 minutes  or so until reduced to desired consistency.

Serve with Parmesan cheese, lemon wedges, and parsley.

Butter and Parsley Sauteed White Asparagus

18 Jan

When debating on what side to serve with our savory salmon with vanilla balsamic marinade, this lovely white asparagus caught our eye.  Neither of us had tried it before, but I figured it couldn’t be that much different from regular ol’ green asparagus, which Zak and I both enjoy.  I was mostly correct – the main difference is that white asparagus needs to be peeled, lest the outer skin become bitter and tough.  The taste is similar, though slightly sweeter and less “grassy” than traditional green asparagus.  This makes it a bit more delicate, which lends itself to a side for fish.  Furthermore, I thought it would go nicely with our “vanilla” theme of the evening.

The simple flavors of this side went really well with the salmon, particularly since both featured parsley.  It would go equally well with most any fish and chicken.

Butter and Parsley Sautéed White Asparagus

1 lb. white asparagus, ends trimmed and peeled (yes, you really have to peel it)

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 tbs. olive oil

1 tbs. butter

Juice of 1 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil.  Add asparagus and cover.  Cook 3-4 minutes until you can pierce it with a fork but it is still al dente.

Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in a pan large enough to hold the asparagus in a single layer until butter is melted and just begins to froth.  Add asparagus.  Season with salt and pepper.  Once heated through and tender, add parsley and toss.  Place on a serving platter and toss with lemon juice.

Savory Salmon with Vanilla Balsamic Marinade

16 Jan

Zak ordered a boatload of vanilla beans for making vanilla extract and beer.  Since neither of us were excited at the prospect of having a ton of baked goods around the house, I thought I’d try to find a savory application to use up a couple of them.  I Googled around for awhile before I saw this vanilla and balsamic marinade for fish.  I immediately knew it would be something both Zak and I could get excited about, so I added salmon to our shopping list.  I am very glad I did, because this slightly sweet, slightly acidic marinade was absolutely lovely with the fatty, rich taste of the salmon.  The marinade forms a slightly sticky-sweet crust on the fish, offset by the luscious, silken texture of the salmon.  I served this with lemon-parsley white asparagus and wilted arugula with pearled barley, the recipes for which I will likely be posting over the next several days.

Though I was initially slightly skeptical about the thought of vanilla on anything savory (especially fish!), I’m now looking forward to trying it in other applications.  Vanilla needn’t be relegated to the dessert table – when treated properly, it has a hint of sweetness with a dark, musky undertone that works really well in this savory application.  I can’t wait to see where else it might work!

Savory Salmon with Vanilla Balsamic Marinade

Adapted from

1 lb. center-cut salmon, cut into 2 fillets

2-3 tbs. olive oil

1/2 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley

1/4 tsp. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tbs. balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Caviar from two vanilla beans

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 tbs. olive oil

Combine all ingredients except fish and canola oil in food processor and puree.  Pour into a ziplock bag and add salmon fillets.  Marinate 1 hour.  Remove salmon fillets and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Brush flesh side with marinade.

Preheat broiler.

Add olive oil to a 10″ cast iron pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Add salmon flesh side down and cook 3-4 minutes until a slight crust forms.  Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until skin is crispy.  Brush thoroughly with marinade and transfer to broiler.  Cook another 2-3 minutes until a glaze forms and fish is cooked to desired temperature.

Dry Fried Spicy Tofu Stir Fry

14 Jan

The real gem of this dish is the tofu.  I recently discovered the method of dry frying tofu, which is illustrated below.  By pressing the tofu under something heavy, you draw out all of the moisture.  A quick fry until golden brown in a dry, hot pan crisps up the tofu without the need for oil or breading.  A nice long soak in some marinade allows the tofu to suck up all of the flavors of the marinade while maintaining a delicious, meaty texture.  Then, simply add to a stir fry as usual.

The spicy flavors of the marinade below marry well with the tofu and are sopped up by the pho noodles to create a delicious, mouth-tingling sauce.  The ginger is very pronounced without being overwhelming.  If you are looking for a healthy, filling, flavorful and fast dinner, I highly suggest you give this a try.

Dry Fried Spicy Tofu Stir Fry

Dry Fried Spicy Tofu:

1 14 oz. block firm or extra firm tofu

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tbs. clam juice

1 heaping tbs. sriracha

1 tbs. soy sauce

1 tbs. thinly sliced lemongrass

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 jalapeño, thinly sliced

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

1″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated

1 lemon, juiced

Cut tofu in 1/2″ slices and then cut diagonally to form triangles.

Place a clean kitchen towel on the counter.  Lay a paper towel or two on top of it.  Place the tofu in a single layer on the paper towel.  Top with another paper towel and another kitchen towel.  Place cast iron pan, heavy cutting board, or something flat weighed down with canned goods or bricks.  Let sit for about an hour until very dry.

Heat a dry, well-seasoned cast iron pan over medium-high heat.  If you don’t have cast iron, use a wok, if possible.  Don’t use any oil in the pan – the point of this step is to allow all of the moisture in the tofu to evaporate so it can sop up all of the delicious flavors of the marinade later.

Add tofu to the hot pan and cook 4-6 minutes per side until golden brown, working in batches if necessary.

Meanwhile, whisk together marinade ingredients.

Add tofu to marinade.  Marinate at least half an hour – the longer the better, up to overnight.

Add to stir fry (see below).

Stir Fry:

Tofu, with marinade (see above)

1 package bahn pho noodles, cooked according to package instructions and drained

1 tbs. canola oil

1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

1 cup frozen peas

1 jalapeño, very thinly sliced

1/2 onion, very thinly sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp. cornstarch

1 scallion/green onion, green parts only

Heat olive oil in a large wok over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add corn and peas and cook until defrosted and any water that leaches out is evaporated, another 4-6 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add jalapeño and onion and cook until the jalapeño is tender, about 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add tofu with marinade, noodles, and garlic.  Sprinkle corn starch over the wok.  Toss.  Cook until tofu and noodles are heated through and ingredients are well combined, about 3-4 minutes.

Serve immediately topped with scallion greens.

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