Archive | September, 2011

Ruby Fooooos

29 Sep

Memories of a Halloween spent in Gotham City — erm, Manhattan — are motivating us to cast a Pan Asian spell on this year’s gothic gourmet menu.

Walking the streets of the Upper West Side on a warm and breezy autumn evening gave us a chance to spy on New York kids trick or treating at Columbus Avenue shops and on the steps of brownstones.

With iPod variously playing Autumn in New York and Danse Macabre (playlist for the occasion) we sashayed past the glowing red lanterns of Ruby Foo’s on Broadway and 77th, a friend’s former favourite haunt.

For this year’s Halloween dinner and a moooovie, we’re thinking of a tip of the witches hat to Ruby’s now-closed UWS location.

How about lychee blood orange martinis and a delectable selection of dim sum offerings (more bones!).

Each year, we like to hunker down with classic spooky movies (no slashers, pleaz) and some Halloween themed nibbles.

We leave the grossout grub for the kiddies, and instead choose a menu evocative of the season’s spirit.

To relive our Manhattan Halloween, we’re happy to take on Kung Pao or sweeter General Tao chicken wings, tamarind glazed spare ribs, and shrimp dumplings or steamed shrimp balls.

No New York-themed Halloween celebration would be complete without a screening of Ghostbusters, right?

And speaking of New York themes, how about this adorable candy corn pizza;

1 oz. (or equal parts) super-premium vodka
1/2 oz or 1 oz plum sake
1 oz. cranberry juice

A splash of lemon juice and a splash of pineapple juice (a splash is equal to 1/8–1/4 oz.)

Shake well with ice and strain into chilled martini glass; garnish with a thinly sliced lemon wheel.


Chicken Wings
24 chicken wings
3 tablespoons peanut or olive oil

2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sugar
1 green onion, thinly sliced (optional)
Chicken Wings
With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Line a 30 x 43-cm (12 x 17-inch) baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Cut the wings through the joints into 3 pieces. Discard the wing tips.
Place the chicken pieces in a bowl. Coat them with the oil and season with salt. Arrange them on the cooling rack so they are not touching. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn and bake until the meat pulls easily from the bone, about 20 minutes. Finish by broiling until the skin is crisp and golden-brown.

In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, water, fresh ginger, garlic, sambal oelek and paprika. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Cook without stirring until the mixture turns gold. Add the mixture. Simmer until the caramel has dissolved and has become syrupy.
In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, cook the chicken in the sauce, turning the pieces until completely coated and well glazed. Garnish with green onion.

To prevent the wings from becoming soft, serve them on a plate or platter instead of in a bowl.

Penne from Heaven

8 Sep

More adventures in meal planning:

Dead easy sausage penne with fresh spinach, mushrooms, onion, and whatever vegetables are handy. In this case, broccoli and cherry tomatoes. Add garlic close to end so it doesn’t burn. Chicken broth, beer or wine to loosen. Add saved pasta water to slick the penne when you toss it in the frying pan. Sprinkle with half a cup of shredded melting cheese like cheddar or mozzerela and top with parmesan.

This is similar to vegetarian pasta recipe we clipped eons ago that saw veggies added the boiling pasta water: while cooking egg noodles, add 2 cloves of garlic, a thinly sliced sweet potato, 1 cup of chopped broccoli, 1 cup sliced mushroom. tossed with 1 cup of mozzerella, 1/4 tsp dried thyme (or more fresh), black pepper and 2 tbsp soy sauce.

If you’re meal planning, the vegetables can be chopped the night before. We sauteed three whole sausages and sliced them on a cutting board when cooked, then added back to pan with onions and mushrooms. It used half a box of Barilla penne rigata.

Tortellini, mushrooms, spinach and sausage work well too.

1 lb pkg. cheese tortellini
fresh basil or pesto
3 big Italian sausages
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
two ore more chopped garlic cloves
1/2 cup chicken or beef stock or pasta water
up to 1 cup cream
baby spinach leaves
grated Parmesan

Cook tortellini, drain and toss with pesto or basil leaves.

For sausages, either fry whole and slice, or slice and fry, or squeeze out of casings into the pan. When half way cooked, remove excess grease, and add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the meat is done and pan is a bit dry. Add the stock or water and scrape up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cream. Cook for a few minutes until bubbling and slightly thickened.

Add the tortellini and fresh spinach. top with cheese.

Quick and dirty

7 Sep

No one should need to write this down.

We have been experimenting with different ratios, most recently 1 can of refried beans and 1 can of rotel to 1 litre of chicken stock. It produces a much thinner soup, but with crushed tortillas chips and a spoonful of sour cream, makes a beautiful consistency.

Dad remarked “it tastes like a chimichanga!”

We’ve changed it so often the Mister is bound to ask, helplessly: “how do you make that again?”

And I will say, like this:

2 cans (398 ml or 14 fl oz) refried beans
24 fl oz or more of chicken stock
1/2 cup salsa
1 tsp or more cumin
1 tsp or more chili powder
Shredded cheese
Tortilla chips
Cooked, shredded chicken
(any toppings on hand: diced avocado, shredded cheese chopped onion, lime wedges, corn, cilantro, sour cream)

In a stockpot, heat refried beans, chicken stock, salsa, and spices on medium heat. When the mixture is melted and cohesive, lower heat and add crushed tortilla chips (use a tablespoon of dried cornmeal if no chips).
While stirring, add a handful of shredded cheese and stir in a figure 8 to melt.

Serve in bowls and top with more chips and other toppings.
This thickens up, so keep extra stock handy or just water to thin if it gets too thick.


Tommy Bahama Tropical Café

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped (about 2½ cups) We used sweet onions and surprise! They were too sweet.
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into quarters
1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped (we use Anaheim)
6 small (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into small pieces (about 1¼ cups) (we toasted ours)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
8 cups low sodium chicken stock or broth
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cooked, diced or shredded chicken breasts

Heat olive oil and butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and green pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and just starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Add spices and fry. (here you can sprinkle 3 tbsp of flour if using to brown before adding chicken broth)

Add diced corn tortillas, chili powder and cumin; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, a few minutes more. Add chicken stock, salt and cayenne pepper and bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Cool, and use hand-held blender to puree until completely smooth. Stir in chicken, then ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chips, cheese, avocado, lime wedges, cilantro and sour cream.