Back again with my absolute favorite spice blend — Chinese Five Spice. This recipe is completely prepared in a flash — just about five minutes from stove-top to plate. Prep your veggies before you go out for the day, and you will have this dish on the table before you can say “Dinner is served”! Heat the oil in the wok until almost smoking and toss in the asparagus and just a bit of salt. I love that all of the rest of the ingredients are thrown into the mix just one minute later. Toss together to coat the asparagus and continue to stir-fry for two minutes until the asparagus is bright green and tender crisp. Drizzle with a bit of toasted sesame oil once the asparagus is transferred to a serving plate and top with some thinly sliced green onions. Fresh and full of flavor — this healthy veggie dish gets a super boost from another nutritional powerhouse . . . walnuts!
WOK-FRIED ASPARAGUS WITH WALNUTS (Serves 4)
1 ½ pounds asparagus, pencil-size or medium
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns, or use black peppercorns
- ¼ teaspoon five-spice powder
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar or dark brown sugar
- 1 to 2 bird’s-eye chiles, thinly sliced, or use serrano or Fresno chiles
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- ½ cup toasted walnut halves
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 3 green onions, slivered
- Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
- Snap off and discard bottoms of asparagus, then cut into 2-inch pieces. (Halve thicker pieces lengthwise first.)
- Set a wok over high heat and add vegetable oil. When oil is hot, add asparagus and season lightly with salt. Stir-fry for a minute or so, then add Sichuan pepper, five-spice powder, garlic, ginger, sugar, chiles, soy sauce and walnuts. Continue cooking over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing to coat well, until asparagus is cooked but still firm and bright green. (It will continue to cook a bit off the heat.)
- Transfer asparagus to a serving platter and drizzle with sesame oil. Sprinkle green onions over the top and garnish with cilantro sprigs.
~ from Cooking.NYTimes.com ~
My sweet, sweet husband gave me cooking lessons at Sur la Table for my birthday this year. We enjoyed our first class so much that we decided to try to do one class each month. This recipe comes from the lesson Fresh & Fabulous Spring Cooking. Although Paella is often thought to be a seafood dish, it is really all about the rice and the socarrat (the crunchy rice crust for which paella is famous). This version incorporates fresh spring peas, asparagus and finely chopped Spanish chorizo sausage. The sofrito (a veggie and spice sauce that seasons the rice) is prepared first and set aside. The peas and asparagus are sautéed and set aside also. Chorizo is added to the hot pan sautéed for just a minute before the spices are added to the pan and toasted. The sofrito is added to the pan and, when combined with the spices, creates a savory paste. Hot chicken broth is added to the pan along with rice and a bit of salt. Once everything has come to a boil for several minutes, the pan is covered with foil and vented. The heat is reduced to medium-low and the mixture is allowed to simmer for 10 minutes undisturbed. Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high for a few minutes to form the socarrat. Once the rice has caramelized, the spring peas and asparagus are returned to the pan and the entire dish is covered and allowed to rest. Bring the pan to the table and serve family-style for a delicious, filling meal. This recipe was so tasty — I couldn’t stop nibbling. Shown here with Grilled Salmon and Cilantro Chimichurri.
Hint: Add the saffron to just a tiny bit of white wine for a few minutes prior to use. The saffron leaches into the white wine and allows the spice to be distributed evenly throughout the dish.
SPRING PEA, CHORIZO AND ASPARAGUS PAELLA (Serves 6-8)
- 3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
- 1 T. minced garlic
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 t. pimenton (smoked paprika)
- 1/2 t. sea salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 3-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch asparagus, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh shelled or frozen peas
- 4 ounces of Spanish-style chorizo, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 fat pinch saffron
- 2 t. pimenton (smoked paprika)
- 1-1/2 t. turmeric
- 1-1/2 cups Spanish paella rice
- 2 t. sea salt
- 2 lemons cut into wedges
- Heat the oil in the paella pan or medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, stirring frequently until tender and lightly caramelized, 5 to 8 minutes. Add red pepper and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, pimenton, salt and bay leaf. Reduce heat to medium and stir frequently until the sauce is thick and turns a deep brick red color, about 10 minutes. Transfer sofrito to a small bowl and remove the bay leaf.
- Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a large saucepan.
- Add oil to a 13-inch paella pan or skillet over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add asparagus and peas; saute until bright green and tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus and peas to bowl and set aside. Add chorizo to the pan and saute, about 1 minute. Make a space in the center of the paella pan; add the spices and toast for 30 seconds. Add the sofrito and stir to make a paste with the spices. Ladle 3 cups of hot broth and stir in rice and salt, shaking the pan to evenly distribute the rice grains. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the rice just starts to break the surface of the broth. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer gently, undisturbed for 10 minutes. During the whole process, if the rice looks dry and undercooked, drizzle in some chicken broth.
- Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high; cook for 2 minutes until the bottom layer of rice starts to crackle and caramelize creating the socarrat. At this point, you will need to closely monitor the paella and frequently move your pan around on the burner to evenly distribute the heat. With a spoon, gently scrape a small portion of the rice from the bottom, peeking to make sure that the rice is sticking and caramelizing but not burning (the rice should smell toasty, not burnt). If the rice is browned and caramelized on the bottom of the pan and the rice grains are not al dente (chewy but slightly resistant texture), remove the heat; sprinkle asparagus and peas over the rice and cover, letting the paella rest for 10 minutes.
- Garnish with lemon-wedges and serve family-style straight from the pan.
~ from Sur la Table ~
This may be the first recipe that almost didn’t make it to the blog. It began with great anticipation and ended with a bit of disappointment. However, I liked the concept of the recipe — just not as it is written. I had almost a whole pineapple left after our Teriyaki Chicken Salad, and I thought it would be awesome paired with pork. The first problem with this recipe is the “marinade”. It really seems like more of a chutney – chopped fruit, vegetables and spices. It was quite thick and had no fluidity at all. You have to spread it over the pork and pineapple rings and scrape it off before cooking. It also had a very heavy taste from the allspice that carried over to the finished product. We didn’t care for the reserved “marinade/sauce/chutney” served cold with the meal at all. My final impression was that I wasted a perfectly good pineapple. Oh, Martha (sigh) what were you thinking?! Served here with String Beans with Shallots — they were fabulous!
JERK PINEAPPLE PORK CHOPS (Serves 4-5)
- 2/3 of a whole (4-pound) pineapple, peeled
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 small habanero or 1 large jalapeno chile, stemmed and seeded
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 4 bone-in pork chops (3/4 inch thick and about 6 ounces each)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Cut four 1/2-inch-thick rounds from pineapple; set aside. Cut remaining pineapple into large chunks, discarding core. In a food processor, combine pineapple chunks, scallions, chile, thyme, garlic, and allspice, and pulse until coarsely chopped. Reserve 3/4 cup pineapple marinade and refrigerate.
- Season pork with salt and pepper and place in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish along with pineapple rounds. Top pork and pineapple with remaining pineapple marinade and turn pork and pineapple to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 4 hours).
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Working in two batches, brush pineapple mixture off pork and cook chops until browned and cooked through, 10 minutes per batch, flipping once. (Reduce heat if pork begins to overbrown.) Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Brush pineapple marinade off pineapple and cook rounds until golden brown in spots, 5 to 7 minutes, flipping once. Serve with pork and reserved pineapple marinade.
~ from MarthaStewart.com ~
When my children were younger I used to bake pies and cakes fairly often, but I rarely make desserts anymore. This beautiful creation was made for a special event — my husband’s birthday dinner. My guys love bread pudding and I thought that this Pecan Pie Bread Pudding recipe would be the perfect choice for a sweet treat. I used about 2/3 of a loaf of French bread, but I do want to suggest that you use a scant 8 cups of cubed bread pieces in order to have a good balance with the liquid ingredients. I also recommend that you line your baking pan with parchment paper. I served this dessert straight out of the oven, but when I went back to take care of the leftovers they were stuck tight to my 9×9″ dish. It also required some overnight soaking for the clean up. Combining two great classics into one delicious dish is sure to please!
PECAN PIE BREAD PUDDING (Serves 6)
8 cups bite-sized bread pieces
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
- 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon maple or vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 cup pecans, halved or chopped
- Prepare an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish by lining it with parchment paper and spraying well with a non-stick cooking spray.
- Place all of the bread pieces into the baking dish.
- Pour the melted butter over the bread.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple or vanilla extract, cinnamon, and the salt.
- Stir in the pecans. Pour evenly over the bread pieces. Use a rubber spatula to push and “prod” the bread pieces around in the dish until all are coated in the syrupy mixture.
- Bake at 375º for 45 minutes. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream.
~ from SomethingSwanky.com ~
This salad makes me wish I was planning a party so I could serve this to all of my friends! What could be more bright, beautiful and delicious? Start with a bed of spring greens and build out with raspberries, celery, mandarin oranges, toasted cashews, red bell pepper, fresh pineapple chunks and, of course, some left-over teriyaki chicken. Top with a bit of chopped green onion and serve with Poppy Seed dressing. A perfect meal to end a lovely day of working in the yard. Something that tastes so good, and, at the same time, is so good for you!
TERIYAKI CHICKEN SALAD (Serves 6-8)
- 3-4 Chicken Breasts, cooked in Teriyaki sauce, sliced thin
- 1 Large Bag of Spring Salad Mix
- 1 Can Mandarin Oranges, drained
- 1 Cup Celery, sliced
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, Sliced
- 1 Green Bell Pepper, sliced
- 1 Can Pineapple Chunks, drained
- 4 Green Onions, chopped
- 1 Cup Raspberries
- 1 Cup Cashews
- ¾ Cup White Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Dry Mustard
- 2½ Tablespoons White Vinegar
- 2½ Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Red Onion, diced
- 1 Cup Canola Oil
- 1½ Tablespoons of Poppy Seeds
- Blend the sugar, mustard and vinegars on high until thoroughly mixed, this should only need a few pulses. Turn off the blender.
- Add the red onion. Turn the blender back on and in a slow, steady stream drizzle in the canola oil.
- Add in the poppy seeds and give the blender a few quick pulses to mix in the poppy seeds. Chill.
- In a large platter, arrange the lettuce with all of the other ingredients on top, leaving the cashews to be added right before serving, so as to not get soggy.
- Sometimes it’s also nice to just arrange the ingredients around the side, so everyone can take what they want if it is being served family style in a casual setting.
- Drizzle the dressing and top with cashews, serve immediately.
~ from OhSweetBasil.com ~
Chayote Squash originally grew south of the border in Mexico and were a staple in the Aztec diet. It is somewhat pear shaped and features a thin skin and a large white seed/pit in the center. It is important to season it well when cooking since it doesn’t have a strong flavor of its own . This recipe incorporates fresh ginger, red pepper flakes and a good amount of garlic to add flavor to the otherwise bland squash. I like to cook the chayote to add variety to my menu — it’s easy to work with and can yield a very tasty end product when done correctly. The only change that I would make to this recipe would be to add the garlic to the squash during the last five minutes. It takes a full fifteen minutes for the chayote to become tender and the garlic cooks fairly quickly over medium heat. I also added an additional teaspoon of red pepper flakes to amp up the flavor profile of this dish.
CHAYOTE SQUASH WITH RED PEPPERS AND GINGER (Serves 4)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 chayotes, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter in the hot skillet, and stir chayotes, sugar, garlic, red pepper flakes, and ginger into butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until chayotes are tender, about 15 minutes; season with salt and black pepper.
~ from AllRecipes.com ~