Monthly Archives: February 2013

Asparagus with Lemon Butter

Asparagus with Lemon ButterThe lemon is what makes this side!

1 lb asparagus, thick bottoms trimmed off
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Cook asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water, uncovered for 5 minutes.

Drain well in a colander, then return to pot and toss with butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Feta Cheese Spread

Feta SpreadIf you like feta like I do, you’ll love this simple, tasty spread from southern Russia. Delicious!






1/2 lb feta cheese
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp sour cream
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Place the feta cheese in a food processor and mince.

Transfer the cheese to a bowl. Stir in the garlic, chopped egg, dill and sour cream until well blended. Season with pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Adapted from “Please to the Table, The Russian Cookbook,” by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman

Quinoa and Chicken Casserole

Quinoa CasseroleQuinoa is a wonderful grain (or “pseudocereal,” because it’s not really a grain) that is light and fluffy when cooked, and has a nice mild, nutty flavor. Quinoa is related to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds, believe it or not! It is commonly used in South American dishes, and is fast becoming popular in the U.S. Following is a recipe for a great quinoa dish that I tried last night for the first time. I’m never afraid to try recipes that are featured on pantry item packaging — you know it’s got to be good if the manufacturer put it there! I got this recipe off the carton of my favorite chicken stock by Kitchen Basics — it was delicious and simple to make (think weeknights).

  • 2 cups Kitchen Basics Original Chicken Stock
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cremini (or white) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup acorn squash, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 tsp poultry seasoning (or dried sage)
  • 1 tsp salt (I added 2 tsp, which was about right)
  • 1/3 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a skillet, saute onion in olive oil on medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until translucent.

Add mushrooms, squash and garlic, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken, breaking it into small pieces as it browns, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, stock and quinoa, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer ingredients from pan to a bowl, and stir in parsley and 3/4 cup cheese.

Turn mixture into 9″ x 9″ casserole dish or baking pan (lightly coat the dish first with cooking spray).

Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of casserole. Bake in oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Recipe adapted from “Cozy Quinoa Casserole,” Kitchen Basics

Opor Ayam (Indonesian Chicken Curry)

Opor AyamI love this recipe. It has all the Indonesian flavors I love (especially trassi and kecap manis — please see the glossary). Opor Ayam is a chicken stew that is common in Indonesia. It is rich and aromatic, and some would consider it a curry. It’s simple, and it’s a dish that I do on weeknights.


1.5 – 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp terasi
3 oz chicken stock
1 14oz can reduced fat coconut milk
1 tbsp gula jawa (or brown sugar — see glossary)
2 tbsp kecap manis
3 tsp sambal ulek
2 kaffir lime leaves, very thinly shredded

Spice Mixture

4 kemiri nuts
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Laos powder (see glossary)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper


Combine coconut milk, chicken stock, lime leaves, gula jawa, kecap manis and set aside.

Combine spices for spice mixture and set aside.

Combine the onions, garlic, sambal ulek and chicken and set aside.

Heat oil on medium-high in a heavy sauce pan or wok. Add the chicken mixture, and saute for 5 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink.Cooking Opor Ayam

Add the spice mixture, cook for 2 minutes, then add the terasi and cook for another minute.

Add the broth mixture, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another 45 minutes, until the liquid is reduced to about half (or a little more, as Indonesian sauces are fairly dry). Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Serves 4.

Indonesian Tofu and Shrimp Curry

Indonesian_shrimp_and_tofu_curry_2013-04-16Love this dish. It’s a little more time-consuming, but it’s worth it!

1 block (16 ounces) firm tofu
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 small onion, diced
4 tsp sambal ulek or 3 red chili peppers, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
2 tsp turmeric
½ tsp Laos powder
½ tsp terasi
5 kemiri nuts (candlenuts) grated
2 cups light coconut milk
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in julienne strips
2 Tbsp tamarind water
2 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp gula jawa
5 salam leaves
2 stalks lemongrass, halved and lightly smashed with the flat part of a knife (optional)
1 Tbsp kecap manis
1 pb large shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 eggs, hard-cooked

On a cutting board, halve the tofu horizontally; cut each half into 12 pieces to make 24 total.

In a large skillet or wok over medium heat, heat 1 tbsp of the oil. Fry the tofu pieces for about 10 minutes, gently tossing them to nicely brown them on all sides. With a slotted spoon, transfer the tofu to a bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the garlic, onion, chili paste or chilies, turmeric, and nuts. Work the mixture with a spoon to form a paste.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add the spice paste. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until it releases its aroma. Add the coconut milk, red bell pepper, tamarind water, salt, sugar, bay leaves, and lemongrass, if using. Simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute more.

Return the tofu to the pan with the whole eggs. Cook, stirring gently, for 2 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked through.

Remove the eggs from the sauce. Halve them and set them on top of the dish. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Serves 4.