Tuesday, September 14, 2010

there are few more pleasurable things in life than a sharpened knife

tonight i took a break from my routine of work, post-work errands, home, crash, sleep and actually came home at a decent hour. my roommate from the month i lived in a barrio in managua, nicaragua during a semester abroad is crashing on my couch tonight so i felt like it would be a good time to cook dinner in large proportions, to feed both me, her, and me in the next few nights.

the menu: broccoli steamed (not really sure what my methodology qualifies as) with garlic, eggplant with garlic and hoisin sauce, cashew chicken with red peppers, and couscous and scallions (i don't eat rice). this is, obviously, influenced by the years i spent around a chinese dinner table.

first and most importantly was the glass of chardonnay that i was hankering for all day -- it was a very long tuesday that was preceded by a very long monday. you can always start a meal right by having taken the time to pour yourself one.

the menu seems complex but is really rather simple and i think i threw it together in about 30 minutes (give or take, as it was a bit impeded by the drinking). i don't eat rice (only on rare occasions), so i replace rice with couscous.

broccoli and garlic:
heat olive oil
add chopped garlic
add broccoli crowns
add water
add salt
add soy sauce paste
add white pepper
cover with lid and let steam/cook until broccoli is crisp but cooked through

eggplant with hoisin sauce:
slice eggplant into bite size pieces (i like to slice width wise into rings and then quarter the rings)
heat olive oil
add chopped garlic
add eggplant
add water if necessary
add a pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
let eggplant cook until soft
add hoisin (i like lee kum kee) sauce (2-3 tablespoons)
let cook until eggplant is cooked through and soft
add tablespoon or so of cornstarch, stir
cook until cornstarch is mixed with sauce

cashew chicken with red peppers:
cube organic, boneless chicken breast (1-2 pieces), place in bowl
add chardonnay
let the chicken and chardonnay sit for at least 10-20 minutes (prepare the chicken first, then do all the other dishes before preparing the cashew chicken with red peppers dish)
in the meantime, dice red peppers
add a tablespoon or two of cornstarch to the chicken and chardonnay, stir until cornstarch is dissolved
heat olive oil
add a small amount of minced garlic
add chicken, cook until about 2/3 done
add red peppers
add a few dashes of soy sauce, a generous amount of sesame oil, a hint of sweetened rice vinegar
add cashews
stir until chicken is cooked through

couscous with scallions:
pour a cup (or whatever quantity you so desire) of couscous into a bowl
set an equal amount of water to boil
thinly slice a stalk of scallion (green onion)
add half to the boiling water, the other half to the uncooked couscous
when the water boils, add to the couscous
let sit for 5 minutes
add olive oil
fluff with fork

serve all the dishes together, family style preferred. with wine, even better.

thoughts: next time i might add slices of chicken or tilapia (with cornstarch, to keep it from flaking) to the eggplant. or maybe even shrimp! i had shrimp in my freezer (deal: $5.99 a pound!) but i was too lazy to thaw/defrost it.

make sure your knife is super sharp, it makes everything ten times more pleasant.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for the delicious meal! (and the comfy couch!) the broccoli was supreme. :) happy taste buds.