We've talked a lot about ramen in The Flying Chef Journal because it's such a versatile staple for many kitchens. In our current situation, however, ramen is fast becoming a staple of many a lunch or dinner meal. Fresh or dried, ramen is good stuff, but not just for soups. This recipe is a fresh twist on the usual, with pickled ginger, mandarin oranges, green onions, and crunchy Napa cabbage. The dressing's sweet-tart flavor comes from honey and rice vinegar, with a dash of soy.
Turn your Pandemic Pantry around and surprise your people with this colorful ramen salad.
1 head Napa cabbage
1 package instant ramen noodles, crumbled
½ cup sliced almonds
1 can mandarin orange slices, drained
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 handful sliced, pickled ginger
2/3 cup oil, vegetable works best
1/3 cup honey or agave
1/3-cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp sesame oil
A dash salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place sliced almonds on cookie sheet, and add the dry uncooked, crumbled ramen.
(You can throw the ramen seasoning packet away; you won't need it.)
Place ramen and almonds into oven and bake for about seven minutes, or until all crunchy bits are lightly toasted.
Do not burn.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Rinse, drain, and chop cabbage into bite sizes pieces.
Chop green onion and slice pickled ginger.
Drain mandarin orange sections.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl
Whip up dressing and toss the salad.
Eat promptly; the ramen will get soggy if held too long.
If you want to prepare the salad ahead of time wait until it is time to serve to add the dressing.
See, cooking is easy!
If you, like most of us, are spending more time at home, it's probably a sure bet that you've started cleaning stuff, and this cleaning might include the freezer. Spring is finally here, which means we can look toward (I hope) another salmon fishing season. But first, last year's fish needs to be used up, especially if space is at a premium. These salmon burgers are a perfect way to use up that fish. A rich blackening seasoning, made from ingredients you probably have at home already (or hey, why not clean out the spice cupboard, too?), provides a nice summery flavor that will help us think of better times ahead.
For the burger:
2 salmon fillets, skin removed, cooked, and shredded
2 TBS chopped onion
¼ tsp fresh chopped parsley
¼ cup bread crumbs (Italian seasoned is the best, but use what you have)
½ tsp dried basil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs vegetable oil
Red pepper flakes, to taste
For the dressing:
3 Tbs mayonnaise
1 pinch dried basil
Chopped fresh dill to taste (dried is fine, too)
In a bowl, mix all of the burger ingredients except the oil, and form six patties about ½-inch thick.
In a large heavy pan over medium heat, add the oil.
Just as the oil starts to smoke, add salmon patties, and cook about 4 minutes per side, or until browned.
For the dressing, mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, basil and dill.
It’s just that easy. Smear some atop your burger and enjoy.
Homemade Blackening Seasoning
1 Tbs paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
½ tsp dried oregano
It is perfectly OK if you don’t have all seasoning ingredients on hand. Wing it with what you have and make your own flavor.
Mix it all up and store in an airtight container. This seasoning would be good on halibut or chicken, too.
Use as a rub and let set in on the salmon before cooking.
Remember that chicken you roasted yesterday? Today it will become a comforting meal that everyone in your family will eat.
Just what is it about casseroles? These one-dish wonders that are known also by other names -- "hot dish," "covered dish," or perhaps something else in your family. Casseroles are true comfort food, called such because of the sense of nostalgia they provide, especially in times like now.
This hearty, warming dish is made even more delicious by the leftover chicken roasted in yesterday's post. Today's lunch or dinner meal is the second in my installment of "Pandemic Pantry" recipes, and is a sure bet to help you feel good in these troubled times.
A note: If you'd like to stretch this dish even further, serve over hot rice or wide egg noodles.
Hey, and I hope you'll tune in to my latest radio appearance with KFQD, where I expand upon the Pandemic Pantry options, and how we can all help one another and appreciate our food service workers during this difficult time.
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup, or cream of mushroom soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups panko or Italian bread crumbs (some mothers in the 1950's and 60's used corn flakes or other dry cereals; do what you remember fondly)
6 Tbs butter, melted
Salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350F
Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish
Combine soup, chicken, salt/pepper, and shredded cheese and spread in dish
In a large bowl, stir bread crumbs and melted butter, top casserole
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until bubbling, and topping is golden brown
If there's one thing I do know during this crazy Coronavirus pandemic, it's that we'll all likely have a lot more time to cook, for better or worse. The State of Alaska has also mandated several actions, including maintaining several feet of distance between people, which means a lot fewer trips to the grocery store.
This is a great opportunity to use up several common pantry items, and get creative, but also fall back on old favorites. Over the next several days, look for The Flying Chef's "Pandemic Pantry" series, hopefully inspiring and comforting all of you (read: us) stuck at home.
First up: The Flying Chef's Two-Day Chicken. A favorite from the minute you purchase in bulk (two chickens) from your local big box store.
Just remember to wash, wash, and wash your hands some more, for at least 25 seconds, with real soap, and don't touch your face. Just don't. Stay at least six feet from other people, which may mean a slower shopping process, but that's OK if it keeps us from getting sick, OR transmitting the virus to other people.
OK -- message received? Let's cook.
The Flying Chef's Two-Day Chicken.
1 whole chicken (buy in packs of two or individually)
¼ cup olive oil
8 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons whole basil
1-teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp brown sugar
1 cup wood chips for smoking (see procedure for option)
1 plastic bag (produce bags work, as do smaller-size NON-SCENTED trash bags)
Add the following to a blender:
Slice lemon and extract juice. Pour juice into blender and reserve the rind.
Add all remaining ingredients, except the wood chips and blend for about a minute.
Clean chicken under cool running water, remove giblets and discard.
Place chicken in plastic bag.
Pour contents of blender into the bag and fully coat the bird with the mixture, being sure to get some of the marinade into the cavity.
Place the reserved lemon rind into the cavity of the chicken.
Remove excess air from the bag and tie closed.
Place in refrigerator for 24 hours.
Make sure and knead the bag once or twice in this period.
From here, vary the recipe depending upon your cooking equipment:
Use a grill and cook with wood chips for about 90 minutes on indirect heat. Using charcoal? Move the coals to one side and place the bird on the other. With a gas grill, light only one burner to ensure that the tasty entrée will not burn when it drips, and will be a golden brown success.
Don't have a grill or want to cook inside? No problem.
Roast at 375 degrees for about an hour, or until the internal temperature of the hip joints reaches 180 degrees. Yes, you should clean the kitchen drawers to find that meat thermometer.
Remove bird form heat and cover with foil for approximately 15 minutes.
Carve, serve and wait for the complements to roll in. Seriously.
I suggest a few side dishes. Stuffing or garlic mashers along with a light salad should do the trick.
Here's the thing about ramen noodles -- those squiggly, narrow noodles most of us cooked in two minutes or less during less-affluent times in our lives: They are not all created equal. Good ramen noodles are slightly-sweet, wheaty-flavored goodness with just a bit of chew to their texture. Ramen comes in three styles; fresh, dried, and fried (we are all familiar with the "blocks" of noodles that come wrapped in plastic and sold with a spice packet, yes?). Hey, eat what pleases you, but if you can get fresh ramen noodles at a local store, do it, then make this "to-go" style ramen recipe that serves up well at lunchtime, no matter where you might be.
2 small mason jars (pint)
1 package ramen noodles
1 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tsp hot sauce
1 cup shredded chicken
1 cup spinach, chopped
½ cup carrot, cut julienne-style
2 TBS sliced green onions
Cook ramen noodles like you always do, according to directions on package
Run cold water in the pot of ramen to stop the cooking process and preserve noodles' firm texture
Tear open ramen flavor packet and pour in the bottom of the mason jar
Split the soy, ginger, and hot sauce between the two jars
Add the chicken, then layer the spinach and carrots. Top with the chopped green onions and screw the lid on.
When ready to dine, boil water and pour into jar, just topping the ingredients
Screw the lid back on and let steep for 3 minutes.
Remove lid. Stir, and enjoy!
Did you think you blew it this Valentines Day?
There is still time to recover; even at this late hour.
This quick treat is sure to fire up the one you love -- Or, at least, get you out of the doghouse.
American Airlines has long been known for their ice cream desserts for their First Class cabin passengers, and this chocolate-berry combination is a treat to behold. It might even remind you of a time when, you know, flights were something special to dress up for.
First Class Ice Cream
- 4 oz. frozen berries, such as strawberries or raspberries, blended and poured in a parfait glass to be re-frozen as a single layer.
- 1 large scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Sutra or, you know, something like that.
- 4 chunks dark chocolate for the top; I used Cadbury brand.
Thaw frozen berries just enough to slightly blend and pour in to glass. Re- freeze.
Add a large scoop of Karamel Sutra, or other yummy flavor ice cream.
Place 4 or more chunks of dark chocolate on top and place back in freezer until ready to eat…
Prep time: 10 minutes
1 decadent serving per glass.
Ah, cauliflower; the vegetable our parents tried to make us eat. But now that we are grownups, cauliflower's once-cringy rap has been replaced by a multitude of recipes and several varieties of this cruciferous nutritional powerhouse.
Cauliflower is packed with Vitamin C, Folate, Vitamin K, and B 12, and should be on everyone's list of Foods to Eat On a Regular Basis. Why isn't it? Most of us only remember the mushy, stinky vegetable steamed with a plop of butter to make it more "appetizing."
But cauliflower, when cooked properly, can be a fresh addition to sides, and makes a great veggie-based main dish casserole. The recipe below uses an air fryer to roast cauliflower in about 10 minutes without any mushiness. Don't have an air fryer? A sheet pan works well under the broiler, just be sure to watch the cauliflower very carefully.
1 head cauliflower, rinsed and chopped (look for creamy-white heads with no spots or yellow color anywhere)
1 TBS curry powder
3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Procedure (using air fryer)
Chop cauliflower in bite-size pieces
In a bowl toss cauliflower, curry and oil
Add to air fryer and cook for 10 minutes
If using a sheet pan, line the pan with foil and broil for 10 minutes, turning often with tongs
Same 10 minutes… turn often.
French onion soup looks like it should be a simple dish. Cook onions, add stock, simmer; add bread, melt cheese. Serve. Easy, right?
The key to all excellent French onion soups centers around how one cooks the onions, a process called caramelizing. Low and slow, deglazing with broth as needed, until a soft product with a deep, brown color that produces a hint of sweetness. I give a tip for those interested in speeding up the process, but it's better if you don't.
This French onion soup recipe uses Gruyere cheese for a mellow, smooth topping on what is surely to be a favorite for frigid winter nights.
3 large onions, sliced thin (any type of onion will do, but yellow onions make a delicious soup, and are cheaper)
2 oz clarified butter
3 quarts beef stock
4 oz sherry
4 oz Alaska Distillery Bristol Bay Gin (or a similar, less-juniper-y gin)
A sachet, or tea ball ,containing;
3 parsley stems
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp cracked black peppercorns
½ tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf dry French bread, sliced
½ pound Gruyere cheese
In soup kettle or dutch oven, cook sliced onions in butter until a deep brown color develops. Add small amounts of broth if necessary to prevent burning. In a hurry (but try not to be)? Add a pinch of sugar at this point to speed caramelizing.
Add sherry and deglaze. Continue to cook until the onions and broth have a slightly-syrupy consistency.
Add remaining broth and sachet of herbs.
Simmer up to 25 minutes and remove sachet. Add the Bristol Bay Gin and stir.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in to bowls and top with bread as pictured (above). Add Gruyere cheese and place under a broiler until desired cheese melt is achieved.
Serve carefully, bowls are hot.
Using tea as a smoking agent for meats is not a new concept. In fact, the Chinese have been doing it this way for centuries, and I find its rich, juicy flavor a winner for not only chicken, but salmon as well. This recipe may look complicated, but it's really not -- just a matter of careful timing and vigilance on the part of the chef. The first step involves steaming the chicken on a rack inside a wok (or a large saucepan if you don't have a wok). The second step brings the "smoking" mixture into the process, allowing the mixture to reach temperature, then turning heat off so the chicken sits and absorb the wonderful flavors of jasmine, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Perfect for a cold winter day. This recipe serves two, mostly due to space constraints in a wok. It pairs nicely with rice and a fresh salad.
2 bone-in chicken breasts, skin left on
2 Tbs Jasmine tea (loose tea)
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs long-grain rice
Heavy aluminum foil
A wok or large saucepan with a rack
- In a small bowl, mix loose tea, sugar, and rice. Set aside.
- Place the wok or saucepan on the stove and add 1 ½ - 2 cups water, and turn heat to high. Place rack in the pan or wok and place chicken on top. Cover and steam for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Tear off a piece of foil and fold and shape until it resembles a circle about 8 inches in diameter. It helps to fold up the sides a little bit to form a rim.
- Drain the pan or wok of initial drippings, and place back on stove. Place the foil creation in the bottom of the pan. - Add the smoking mixture to the top of the foil, and turn heat to high. Place rack back into pan.
- Rub the chicken pieces with sesame oil.
- When smoke starts to rise from the tea mixture, place the chicken back on the rack and cover.
- Heat on high for 5 minutes, then turn the burner off. Leave chicken covered for about 20 minutes.
- NOTE: Be sure chicken is fully cooked by piercing it with a sharp knife; juices should run clear. At this point you have a succulent and delightful treat, and I usually eat it at this point.
You can however, go one step further by removing the bones from the chicken, slicing, and returning to the wok with sesame or peanut oil, and frying until the chicken is a deep, rich brown. Add a dash of Szechuan pepper and salt to taste.
Your grandmother was right: Chicken soup is one of the best remedies for a common cold, and judging by the number of people in Anchorage coughing and sneezing, looks like this recipe is going to be worth its weight in gold.
The ingredients of a basic chicken soup are not fancy in any way; chicken broth, chunks of chicken, vegetables, and maybe some salt and pepper for seasoning. But it's exactly those elements that make it good, and good for you. Hot broth soothes a sore, scratchy throat; vegetables provide vitamins, and chicken is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, perfect for the achy, stuffy head.
The Flying Chef recipe goes a bit further, with a bunch of onion, a few potatoes for bulk, tomatoes, and some heat from spicy peppers. I cook it in a crock pot, but a deep dutch oven will work as well; just make sure heat is low and slow for best results if you go that route.
Serve this soup in big mugs, with some warm bread, and perhaps a blanket and cozy fire.
Spicy Crockpot Chicken Soup
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced in to chunks
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
4 tomatoes, cut in quarters or eighths
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 jalapeños (remove seeds), diced
1 bag of frozen sweet corn
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups chicken broth (want to make your own? Go HERE)
2 or 3 cups leftover chicken, cut in to bite sized pieces
Honestly, there is no real technique; just put all ingredients into the crockpot or dutch oven, and cook for six to eight hours on low (if using stovetop, add ingredients, bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer on low for two hours). Need soup faster? Hit "high" on the crock pot for four hours, but longer and slower is always better.
Favorites from Chef Mark Bly
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