Chipotle Chilaquiles

Continuing the festivities during Kevin’s birthday celebration weekend, I wanted to make some sort of Mexican breakfast (his favorite).  If we are ever out to brunch and chilaquiles are on a menu, it’s a given that he will order it.  I wanted to make a different kind of chilaquiles dish to mix it up from what you’d find in a restaurant and came across this Rick Bayless recipe on Food and Wine Magazine.  I was drawn to the idea of a smoky chipotle chilaquiles dish, and I still had some chipotle chiles in the freezer from a previous recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

  1. In a blender, combine the tomatoes with their reserved 1/2 cup of liquid and the chipotles; blend until almost smooth.

    Pureed!
  2. In a very large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add two-thirds of the onion and cook over moderately high heat until browned around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the tomato puree and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock and boil the sauce over moderately high heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and remove from the heat.
  3. Gently stir the tortilla chips into the sauce, making sure they are well coated. Top with the remaining onion, the shredded chicken, cheese, and a fried egg and 1/4 avocado per serving. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately.

    Chipotle Chilaquiles

NOTE: The recipe makes 4 servings and can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Reheat the chipotle-tomato sauce before proceeding.

*I decided to make my own baked tortilla chips instead of using store-bought chips or deep-frying.  I highly recommend baking tortillas to make chips vs anything else, since you can slightly over-bake them to dry them out a bit more.  That way, they won’t get too soggy in the chilaquiles sauce!  I used a Food Network recipe and baked for 2 minutes longer than recommended.

Baked Tortilla Chips

**I highly recommend keeping a batch of shredded chicken on hand for any occasion.  You can easily thaw and use it in salads, sandwiches, enchiladas (recipe forthcoming!), and of course, chipotle chilaquiles.  The Kitchn’s instructions for making shredded chicken in a slow cooker is my favorite – it’s easy and you don’t lose any of the nutrients by boiling the chicken, nor moisture by using the oven.  I strain the fat out of the stock after and use it for other things too!

Nordstrom Lime Cilantro Salad Dressing

One of the jobs I had prior to graduating college was working in the Lingerie Department at Nordstrom slanging bras and panties to women (and the occasional man) of all ages, shapes, and sizes.  I learned the art of the hustle since my paychecks were based on commission, and I also frequented the Cafe inside the store I worked at.  I fell in love with their Lime and Cilantro Chicken Salad Dressing, among other dishes I could use my discount on.  After I stopped working there, I found myself missing it and thankfully Nordstrom published a cookbook a few years later.  Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy!

Nordstrom Lime and Cilantro Salad Dressing

Is it the prettiest dressing you ever did see?  Perhaps not, but it’s delicious and it’s packed with flavor so a little bit goes a long way.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1cup lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 3cup canola oil
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Puree chipotle chilies in food processor.
  2. Add all ingredients except oil and cilantro to processor and blend.
  3. Slowly add stream of oil to form emulsion.
  4. Add cilantro to processor and pulse to combine.

    Add Cilantro Last

The salad that Nordstrom used the dressing on had baby greens, corn, chicken breasts, plum tomatoes, jack cheese, roasted red pepper, and toasted pumpkin seeds.  It goes great as a thin sandwich spread, dipping veggie sticks, everything you’d use a vinaigrette on really!

NOTE: A small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce will give you way more than you need for this recipe.  You can easily just freeze leftover peppers in a small plastic dressing container.  About two peppers fit per container, and it’ll thaw overnight.  I love the smoky flavor it adds to dishes and will share another recipe featuring chipotle peppers soon!

Bulgogi (Grilled Korean Beef)

I’ve made this recipe a few times but have never written about it – I figure it’s time to finally share!  While bulgogi isn’t something I normally order at a Korean restaurant, I do love making it at home.  It’s also an easy crowd-pleaser when you have people over.  The marinade can handle more meat than the recipe calls for, so if say you wanted to make two pounds of bulgogi, just multiple the marinade ingredients by 1.5x!  Here is the original recipe from New York Times:

INGREDIENTS:

  • pound well-marbled, boneless sirloin, tenderloin or skirt steak
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 cup peeled, chopped ripe Asian or Bosc pear  (I’ve also used an apple in a pinch!)
  • ¾ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 TSBP soy sauce
  • 1 TSBP roasted sesame oil
  • 1 TSBP light brown sugar or honey
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ sliced white onion and 5 white mushrooms (optional)
  • ½ tsp sesame seeds, toasted

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wrap beef in plastic wrap or butcher paper and place in freezer for 1 to 2 hours to firm up.
  2. Cut beef across the grain into thin slices. If cooking in a skillet, slices should be less than 1/8 inch thick; do not worry if they are a bit ragged. If cooking on the grill, uniform slices, 1/8-inch thick, are best.  As an alternative, you can purchase pre-sliced meat from the Japanese or Korean market.  For this particular post, I used some beautifully marbled thinly sliced Prime Beef Shabu-Shabu Style Chuckroll from Mitsuwa and it worked perfectly after a couple of trims (they come in long thin strips).

    With Sliced Prime Beef Chuckroll
  3. In a food processor, combine garlic, pear, onion and ginger and process until very smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.

    Bulgogi Marinade
  4. In a bowl or sealable plastic bag, combine steak, marinade, scallion, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and pepper and mix well. Cover or seal, then refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  5. If using a cast-iron grill pan or large skillet, heat over high heat. Add all the meat and its juices to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until most (but not all) of the liquid has evaporated and the meat begins to brown around the edges.

    Added Sliced Onions and Mushrooms

TO SERVE:

  •  Whole, fluffy lettuce leaves for wrapping, such as green leaf, oak leaf or romaine; and whole perilla leaves (optional)
  •  Any or all of the following: hot cooked short-grain rice; long green hot peppers, sliced crosswise into 1-inch chunks; small peeled garlic cloves; carrot and cucumber spears or sticks, 1 to 2 inches long
  •  Korean Barbecue Sauce (Ssamjang, see recipe)

The great thing about this recipe is that you still get the sweet-and-savory flavor of bulgogi without added sugar.  We served this with sprouted brown rice (only 1/3 cup per meal, thanks to the GD), kale sauteed with garlic and sesame, steamed broccoli, and plenty of MSG-free kimchi.

Bulgogi (Grilled Korean Beef)

I haven’t made panchan (Korean side dishes) from scratch before, but there are SO many of them and one recipe makes far too much to eat for just one meal (or a couple meals if there are leftovers).  I learned my lesson from the batch of Pickled Daikon and Carrot which we STILL are trying to get through.  The thought of driving to Koreatown just to pick-up some sides was too much to bear, but luckily Lissette had tipped me off last month about a little Korean market hidden in the valley.  I picked up japchae and a plethora of mixed panchan to top off our meal.  Thanks again for the tip, LG!

Bulgogi (Grilled Korean Beef)

Vietnamese Pickled Daikon and Carrot

To compliment the Lemongrass Chicken bowls, I made a batch of pickled daikon (Japanese radish) and carrot.  The pickles are the perfect garnish for any type of Vietnamese food – banh mi sandwiches, egg rolls, meat dishes – you name it!

I got the recipe from New York Times. The recipe will make about 3 cups of pickles, so you can divide the recipe if you don’t foresee needing THAT much garnish.  I don’t think you’ll regret making the full batch though!

INGREDIENTS:

  • large carrots, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
  • 1 pound daikon radish, no larger than 2 inches in diameter, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup warm water
Daikon and Carrot Matchsticks
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Place carrot and daikon in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and 2 teaspoons sugar. Knead vegetables for about 3 minutes, expelling water from them (this will keep them crisp). Stop kneading when vegetables have lost about 1/4 of their volume. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water, then press gently to expel extra water. Return vegetables to bowl, or transfer to a glass container for longer storage.

    Quick-Pickle Rinse
  2. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, the vinegar and 1 cup lukewarm water, and stir to dissolve sugar. Pour over vegetables. Let marinate at least 1 hour before eating, or refrigerate for up to 4 weeks. Remove vegetables from liquid before using.
Vietnamese Pickled Daikon and Carrot

Lemongrass Chicken

As this crazy summer heat wears on, I’ve found myself really wanting Vietnamese food.  Maybe not so much a hot bowl of pho, but a nice rice noodle (bún) bowl is so refreshing on hot days.  I love the many fresh herbs and cold vegetables (fresh and pickled together!) that compliment deliciously grilled meats and cold rice noodles.  Nong La is my go-to for a nice pork bún bowl, and their egg rolls are to die for.  I don’t dare try and recreate their pork bowl, but I did find a nice recipe for a lemongrass chicken on the interwebs.   Here’s the recipe as adapted from Bon Appetit.  BA’s original recipe calls for chicken breasts which you have to pound to eliminate dryness, but I used chicken thighs since they tend to have more flavor and frankly are much harder to dry out.

Lemongrass, Shallot, Lime, Garlic, Fish Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 lemongrass stalks, tough outer layers removed, chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Lime wedges (for serving)

    Ready for a Whirl
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Process lemongrass, shallot, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes in a food processor to a fine paste.

    Lemongrass Marinade
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in a resealable plastic bag or container. Add lemongrass mixture; chill at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 days ahead).

    Ready for Marinating!
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Remove chicken from marinade, scraping off excess (this is important!), and cook until golden brown, 5-7 minutes; turn and cook until cooked through, about 2 minutes longer.  You can also throw these on a grill if you can stand the heat!
  4. Serve chicken with lime wedges for squeezing over.

NOTE: If you’re doing whole-30, you can substitute the brown sugar for orange juice.  However, the nice thing about the sugar is that it will make sure you get a nice char on the chicken once you cook it.

Kevin and I recently discovered GABA sprouted brown rice (unpolished brown rice that has been allowed to germinate to improve the flavor and texture and increase levels of nutrients such as γ-aminobutyric acid), and we LOVE it despite the longer preparation requirements.  To maximize the nutrient factor and flavor to the meal, I sliced and sauteed a leek in a wee bit of soy sauce and tossed it with a batch of GABA rice in chicken broth in lieu of traditional rice vermicelli noodles.  Together the lemongrass chicken, Pickled Daikon and Carrot, freshly shredded lettuce, Persian cucumber, cilantro, green onion, and crushed toasted peanuts (oops, not pictured), it was the perfectly balanced healthy dinner!

Lemongrass Chicken