Stir-Fried Beef with Asparagus
I had enough Pork Fried Rice leftover to serve with this dish. See the recipe.
1 pound lean, tender beef steak (tenderloin, top sirloin, ribeye or strip steak) sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil, divided
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 small bunch green onions, cut on diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
1 teaspoon sugar
Combine beef and cornstarch in large bowl. Using hands, rub to coat well.
Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, add beef in single layer and cook, undisturbed, until the meat begins to brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook until the second side browns, about 1 minute. Transfer beef to large plate.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus, green onions, garlic and ginger; sauté until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add broth, fish sauce, and sugar; bring to boil. Return beef to the skillet and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened about 1 minute. Transfer to a platter and serve with rice or fried rice.
Asian Cucumber Salad
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut crosswise into half moons
1 teaspoon sea salt
One small red onion, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
¼ cup unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Mirin
1 scallion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
Place sliced cucumbers into a fine-mesh strainer suspended inside a medium-sized bowl. Season with the 1 teaspoon sea salt. Toss thoroughly to combine. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to overnight to drain the cucumbers of excess moisture.
To make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar through the sugar. Whisk well and set aside.
Transfer the cucumbers to a clean kitchen towel. Pat dry. Combine the cucumbers and red onions scallions to a medium-sized bowl. Add the dressing and toss. Place the salad in the refrigerator and allow the flavors to develop, for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
When ready to serve, garnish with sesame seeds and peanuts.
Grilled Lemongrass Chicken
I made half the recipe to yield 2 servings.
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons lemongrass paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Zest from 1 lime
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon honey
8 chicken thighs, bone-in, and skin-on or off according to preference (3½ pounds)
Make the marinade.
Mince the shallots and combine them with the lemongrass paste in a large bowl or ziplock bag. Add the minced garlic, ginger, black pepper, lime zest, salt, oil, fish sauce, and honey. Stir the marinade to combine all the ingredients.
Place the chicken thighs in the marinade. Massage the marinade into the chicken. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to 24 hours.
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grilling grates. If using a stovetop grill, heat on medium-high and oil the pan.
Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and shake to remove excess marinade. Discard the remaining marinade.
Grill the chicken until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 10 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F.
Rainy Day Oven Method
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the chicken skin-side down on a wire rack placed on top of a foil-lined baking sheet.
Place the chicken in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Turn the chicken skin-side up and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until the skin is evenly browned and the thickest part of the meat registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.
Pork Fried Rice
I always save one BBQ pork chop, when I make them, to use in this dish. If you want to add some spice to this dish use Asian chili oil instead of peanut oil. For a low carb version substitute four cups of cauliflower rice.
4 cups leftover cooked rice
1 cup cooked pork, finely diced
2 tablespoons Asian chili oil or peanut oil, divided
2 large eggs, beaten
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced banana pepper or other thin-skinned pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the beaten eggs and cook, without stirring, until fully cooked on one side, about 30 seconds. Flip and cook until just cooked through, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into ½-inch pieces.
Add 1 tablespoon chili or peanut oil to the pan along with scallions, ginger, and garlic; cook, stirring until the scallions have softened, about 30 seconds. Add banana pepper and celery; cook, stirring, until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the diced pork and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer everything to a large plate.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon chili or peanut oil to the pan; add the rice and stir-fry 2 minutes.
Return the pork mixture and eggs to the pan; add soy sauce and sesame oil and stir until well combined. Serve with the Lemongrass Chicken.
The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel on the east; the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco on the south and the Mediterranean Island Countries of Cyprus and Malta. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same healthy ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the cuisine in the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. This series continues with the country of Morocco.
Morocco is located in the northwestern corner of Africa and is slightly larger in area than California. The country has three different regions: the northern coast along the Mediterranean Sea is made up of fertile land that rises to elevations of about 8,000 feet (2,400 meters), the Atlas Mountains run between the Atlantic coast in the southwest to the Mediterranean Sea in the northeast and the semiarid area in the south and east known as the Western Sahara .
Morocco has to deal with desertification. Desertification is the process where fertile land becomes barren and desert-like over time. It may be caused by a lack of rainfall or drought, the clearing away of trees for farming or allowing livestock to graze too long in an area. These practices leave no plants to hold the soil in place so wind and rain can carry away the fertile topsoil. Morocco also has a problem with water pollution from oil spills, poor sewage treatment practices, and the use of strong pesticides.
Nomads called Berbers were the first inhabitants of Morocco over two thousand years ago. They used local ingredients to prepare lamb and poultry stews. Over time, traders and conquering nations introduced new food customs. Among them were the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans. However, the strongest influence on native cooking was the Arab invasion in the seventh century A.D.
They introduced spices including cinnamon, ginger, saffron, cumin, and caraway. They also introduced sweet-and-sour cooking, which they had learned from the Persians. Moors from Andalusia in southern Spain also influenced Moroccan cooking. The pastilla, or bisteeya, a popular pigeon pie in Morocco, was originally a Moorish dish. In modern times, the French and the British made contributions to Moroccan cuisine.
Morocco, unlike most other African countries, produces all the food it needs to feed its people. Its many home-grown fruits and vegetables include oranges, melons, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and potatoes. Five more native products that are especially important in Moroccan cooking are lemons, olives, figs, dates, and almonds. Due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in fish and seafood. Beef is not plentiful, so meals are usually built around seafood, lamb or poultry. The Moroccan national dish is the tagine or stew. Common ingredients may include chicken or lamb, almonds, hard-boiled eggs, prunes, lemons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The tagine, like other Moroccan dishes, is known for its distinctive flavoring, which comes from spices including saffron, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and ground red pepper. The tagine’s name is taken from the earthenware dish with a cone-shaped top in which it is cooked and served. Another Moroccan dietary staple is couscous, made from fine grains of a wheat product called semolina. It is served in many different ways, with vegetables, meat, or seafood.
Flat, round Moroccan bread is eaten at every meal. Moroccans eat their meals at low round tables, sitting on cushions on the floor. They eat with their hands instead of silverware, using the thumb and first two fingers of their right hands. They also use pieces of bread to soak up sauces and carry food to the mouth. Small warmed, damp towels are passed around before the meal to make sure everyone’s hands are clean.
Most meals consist of a single main dish, often a stew, a couscous dish, or a hearty soup. It is served with bread, salad, cold vegetables, and couscous or rice on the side. A typical breakfast might include bessara (dried fava beans stewed with cumin and paprika), baghrir (pancakes), and bread. Two breakfast favorites that may sound exotic to Westerners are lambs’ heads and calves’ feet. Although Moroccans love sweets, they are usually saved for special occasions. With everyday meals, the most common dessert is fresh fruit.
The sweetened mint tea that comes with every meal is served a special way. It is brewed in a silver teapot and served in small glasses. When the tea is poured, the pot is held high above the glasses to let air mix with the tea. Tea is served not only at home but also in public places. In stores, merchants often offer tea to their customers.
Morocco is famous for its street food that includes shish kebab, roasted chickpeas, and salads. Both full meals and light snacks are sold.
A favorite purchase is sugared doughnuts tied together on a string to carry home.
Moroccan Mint Tea
1½ Tablespoons green tea (or 2 teabags of green tea)
3 Tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons of fresh or dried spearmint leaves
Put the tea in a 2-pint teapot and fill it with boiling water.
Let the tea steep (soak) for 2 minutes.
Add mint leaves and sugar to taste.
Chicken Tagine with Almonds and Prunes
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
½ teaspoon powdered saffron
3 short cinnamon sticks
4 ounces butter
2 large onions
½ cup sugar
1 strip lemon peel
1 pound dried prunes
Combine the oil and ground spices in a large bowl.
Cut the chicken into cubes and chop the onion finely. Put the chicken and onion into the bowl with the oil and spices. Combine well and let stand for 30 minutes.
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the chicken, searing (browning) them lightly on all sides.
Add any remaining marinade and enough water to cover. Simmer until chicken is tender (about 30 minutes).
While the chicken is cooking, put the prunes in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring the water to a bowl. Remove the pan from the heat and let them stand for 20 minutes.
Drain the prunes, return them to the pan, and ladle a little liquid from the meat pan over the prunes. Simmer the prunes for 5 minutes.
Add the lemon peel, cinnamon sticks, saffron and half the sugar to the prunes.
Stir the remaining sugar into the meat.
Arrange the meat on a serving platter. Add the prunes to the meat, and pour the sauce from the prunes over the meat and prunes.
Boil the remaining liquid from the meat rapidly to reduce it by half and pour over the meat and prunes.
Melt a small amount of butter in a saucepan and brown the almonds lightly. Garnish the tajine with the almonds and mint.
Serve with rice or couscous.
Fried Baby Carrots
1 pound baby carrots
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, roughly chopped
Sprigs of mint, to garnish
Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to hold the carrots in a single layer.
Add the carrots and cook gently 15 minutes, shaking frequently.
Add the garlic and cook 10 minutes more until the carrots are tender and spotted with brown.
Add the sugar and cook 2 minutes.
Stir in the lemon rind and juice and season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the chopped mint and transfer to a serving dish.
Garnish with sprigs of mint.
Ingredients for salad
2 cans (15-ounces each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 ounces feta cheese, cut into cubes
8 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes
2 ounces pitted black olives
4 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley
Lettuce or other salad greens
Ingredients for dressing
5 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt, to taste
Place the chickpeas in a bowl and add the feta cheese cubes.
Cut the tomatoes in half if necessary, to make them bite-sized.
Add tomatoes to the chickpeas and feta cheese mixture. Add the black olives, parsley, and lettuce.
Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Pour over chickpea mixture, toss gently, and chill. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
For low carb or gluten-free use almond flour
4 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon flour or cornstarch or 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (to thicken)
3 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute
1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a medium bowl, combine the blueberries, thickener, sugar, and lemon juice and mix well until the blueberries are coated.
Pour the blueberry mixture into a greased 9-inch pie pan.
Melt the butter in the microwave in a glass bowl. Stir in the almond flour, sugar, and lemon zest until a crumbly dough forms.
Using your hands, crumble the dough over the blueberries in pea-sized clumps.
Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the blueberries are bubbling. Serve warm or cold.
Small-Batch Fresh Blueberry Jam
Two cups of berries will make a half cup of jam.
With this recipe, I was able to fill two pint-sized freezer jelly jars three-fourths of the way to the top. This recipe can be doubled but you will need a longer cooking time.
4 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar or sugar substitute
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a large saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened and reduced by about half, about 30 minutes.
Using a potato masher crush the berries several times during the cooking process.
Pour the jam into clean freezer jars. Store the jam in the freezer.
Makes 12 – 15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin pan.
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar or sugar substitute for baking
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) fresh blueberries
2/3 cup packed brown sugar or brown sugar substitute for baking
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 400°F and either butter a 12-15 muffin cup pan or use paper liners.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand-held or stand mixer, until light and fluffy and almost white in color.
Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed just until the batter is smooth. Fold in the berries by hand.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using 1/4-cup for each muffin.
To make the topping:
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle the topping over the muffins.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Fresh Fruit Ice Cream
The vodka helps to keep the ice cream from getting icy.
I used strawberries for these recipes.
2 pounds fresh in-season fruit (strawberries, peaches, etc), chopped
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 can (13.5 ounces) full fat coconut cream
½ cup powdered sugar or sugar substitute
2 tablespoons vodka
1 teaspoon orange extract
Pour the heavy cream, coconut cream, sugar, vodka, and orange extract into a deep mixing bowl.
Process the mixture with an immersion blender until thoroughly combined and the mixture thickens. Stir in the sliced fruit.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the mixture for 3 hours to overnight to let the flavors develop.
Whisk the mixture and pour into a large loaf pan, cover and place into the freezer.
After about an hour, stir the mixture.
Return it to the freezer until frozen solid.
Let the ice cream sit on the kitchen counter for 15 minutes before serving.
4 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar or sugar substitute
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup (8-9 oz) fresh strawberries finely chopped
Place cream cheese, cream, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the chopped strawberries. and process
until the berries are incorporated.
Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze at least 4 hours. To unmold, run under hot tap water for 20 to 30 seconds, and then twist the stick to gently to release.
Grilled Steak Salad
1 1/2 pound French-cut, bone-in ribeye steak, about 2 inches thick
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups packed fresh lettuce leaves, washed, dried and torn into small pieces
1 cup cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
Half a medium red onion, thinly sliced
Half a cucumber, peeled and sliced
2 tomatoes, cut in eighths
4 large radishes, sliced thin
1 medium green bell pepper, sliced
1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 tablespoon grated garlic
2 tablespoons very good balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
In a small mixing bowl, combine the rub ingredients. Brush the steak with olive oil. Sprinkle the seasoning over the entire steak and set aside.
To make the dressing:
Place the garlic and vinegar in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Continue whisking and slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
For the grilled steak:
Heat an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan. Oil the grill grates or pan. Prepare one side of the grill for indirect heat or turn the heat under a grill pan to very low. Place the steak on the indirect side of the grill.
Plan on grilling the steaks for 10-15 minutes on each side over indirect heat. When the internal temperature measures 80-85 degrees turn the steak over. If it’s higher, decrease the amount of cook time on the second side to 5-10 minutes. Once the internal temperature of the meat is about 120 degrees move the steak to the direct heat side of the grill for 2 minutes per side for searing. For a grill pan, turn the heat to high and sear the steak for the same amount of time. Remove the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.
For the salad:
Toss the lettuce with half the vinaigrette. Place the lettuce on a serving platter. Top the lettuce with the cheese, tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, radishes, and avocado. Line each topping in its own individual row.
Slice the steaks into strips and place them on the salad platter. Drizzle the remaining balsamic vinaigrette over the salad ingredients.
4 cups washed basil leaves
½ cup shelled pistachio nuts
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the pistachios, garlic, salt, and pepper in a processor bowl. Process until the nuts and garlic are chopped.
Add the basil leaves and process for a minute or two. In the opening spout at the top, pour the olive oil as you process.
Keep processing until the mixture is smooth.
Fresh Tomato Pesto Tart
Press in the Pan Pastry Dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups All-purpose, Low-Carb or Gluten-free flour
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, melted
Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour the flour, cheddar cheese, and salt into a 9-inch pie pan. Stir with a fork to mix the ingredients together. Pour in the melted butter and mix with the fork until the dry ingredients are completely moistened. Press the dough, using the fork, across the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
6 plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ cup pistachio basil pesto, recipe above
Spread the bottom of the baked crust with the pesto. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Arrange the tomatoes in an overlapping single layer over the crust and sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top.
Bake until the tart is deep golden brown and crispy, about 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before cutting.
Bell Peppers Stuffed With Shrimp Salad
When using shrimp for salads, I prefer to grill or oven roast them. Boiling tends to make them soft and they do not stand up to the dressing.
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoons seafood seasoning
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 chopped green onions
1 stalk celery, chopped
Zest and juice of half an orange
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
4 green bell peppers, halved and seeded
Heat a grill pan over medium-high.
Place the peeled and deveined the shrimp in a ziplock plastic bag with 1 tablespoon olive oil, seafood seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and shake the bag. Spread the shrimp in one layer on the heated grill pan. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, just until pink, firm and cooked through. Let cool for 25 minutes.
To make the dressing. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, orange zest, orange juice, dill, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
When the shrimp are cool, cut them into ½ inch dice and add them to the dressing and toss. Chill in the refrigerator until serving time. Fill bell pepper halves with shrimp salad and serve.
Summer Green Bean Salad
1 pound green beans trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 finely chopped shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Coarsely chopped basil for garnish
Several hours before serving:
Place green beans in a pan of salted boiling water to cover. Cook until crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes according to the size of the beans. Do not overcook. Drain.
In a salad bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, shallots, garlic, oil, chopped tomato, salt, and pepper. Add hot, drained green beans and toss well. Sprinkle with basil. Let the dish sit at room temperature for several hours before serving. Toss a few times during the marinating time.