When I think of clay-pot chicken rice I imagine glossy brown chicken, sweet Chinese sausage, and plump, slightly toothsome soy-saucy rice cooked and served in a clay pot. Oh, and I’m forgetting the best part – the crispy “shell” of rice on the bottom and sides of the pot. FHE and I ordered it time and time again from a little Vietnamese-Chinese cafe while in college. (One of the few authentic Asian eateries – or so it seemed – in suburban Chicago.) One of our favorite comfort dishes, it’s been years since we’ve delighted in clay-pot chicken rice. So when I happened upon a modern version on Gourmet’s website, I knew I had to try.
This rich, homey stew is a modern interpretation of a Mexican stew but with Japanese ingredients. (Only Momofuku.) While it shares some similar ingredients with Asian clay-pot chicken, it tastes nothing like the traditional. But that’s not to say it is not delicious. After roasting in the oven and braising in a savory, earthy broth for an hour, the chicken thighs are fall-off-the-bone tender and the wood ear mushrooms add a unique crunchy textural contrast. The flavors are satisfying and well-balanced – a blend of spicy ginger and garlic, sweet and salty shiro miso, earthy mushrooms, and sweet vegetables. It is a satisfying one-pot meal – even if it isn’t the authentic clay-pot chicken rice we are accustomed to.
Modern Clay-Pot Miso Chicken, adapted from Gourmet and contributed by Momofuku Restaurant
8 chicken thighs with skin and bone
1/2 cup dried wood ear mushrooms
2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp finely chopped peeled ginger
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup mirin
4 tbsp white shiro miso
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 lb mustard greens, napa cabbage or green of your choice
Rice, for serving
Sliced green onions, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pat chicken dry, then roast, skin side up, shallow baking pan or dish until skin is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.
- While chicken roasts, soak wood ear mushrooms and shiitakes in hot water until softened. W hen soft, cut the stems off the shiitakes and slice. Set aside.
- Transfer roasted chicken to a bowl and pour pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass measure. Let stand until fat rises to top, 1 to 2 minutes, then skim off and discard fat. Add enough stock to bring a cup of liquid. (At this point I removed the chicken skin. You can, of course, keep it on for more flavor.)
- Reduce oven to 300 degrees F.
- Heat oil in a small heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté onions until softened and beginning to brown. Add ginger, and garlic and sauté until garlic is golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add mirin and boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, 1 minute. Stir in miso and soy sauce, then stir in chicken, wood ear mushrooms, shiitakes, and stock mixture. Bring to a boil, skimming off any froth.
- Cover pot and braise in oven until chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Just prior to serving, add vegetable of your choice and cook until tender. Serve with brown or white rice.
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For my husband, sugar and cinnamon aren’t the desired breakfast flavors. His palette favors savory and salty. Not one to cook up breakfast sausage, bacon, or ham with regularity, I turned to the pantry and decided a vegetarian, savory french toast would be a good change of pace. This is a simple “template” recipe – vary the spices, cheese, and toppings to your liking. Today, we dipped slices of whole wheat baguette into a buttermilk-egg mixture seasoned simply with herbs de Provence and topped with mozarella cheese, avocado, and tomato. The more adventurous tastebuds might enjoy a spicy wake-up with curry or Tabasco mixed in the eggs.
Savory French Toast, from Rice Kernel’s kitchen
2 thick slices day-old bread
1/4 cup milk, buttermilk, or sour cream
1 egg + 1 egg white
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp herbes de Provence
Cheese, avocado, tomato for topping
- Soak the bread in the milk on both sides to soften, about 5 minutes per side, depending on how hard the bread is. (If it is softer, it may need less time.
- Beat the egg with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence in a flat or shallow dish.
- Over medium high heat, add oil. Pull the bread from the milk and turn it around in the egg mixture to coat.
- Fry on both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Add cheese to melt in the last minute.
- Serve warm, topped with avocado and tomato. Tomato jam would also be delicious. And, for my husband and son, I imagine ketchup (my despised condiment – sorry) would be perfect.
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Moist, hearty, and flavorful, these are the kind of muffins that make you feel good about yourself and your morning. Made with wholesome ingredients, the addition of pear puree adds a sensual honeyed flavor and a beckoning perfume. Topped with thick, creamy, protein-packed yogurt, this is breakfast’s healthiest cupcake!
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pear Muffins with Greek Yogurt “Frosting,” cupcakes inspired by Joy the Baker’s oatmeal applesauce blueberry muffins
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened pear sauce (or pureed canned or fresh, ripened pears)
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk or yogurt
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
2 large egg whites (or one egg), lightly beaten
Mix-ins of your choosing: 3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen), chocolate chips, candied ginger, nuts, etc.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases or spray with nonstick cooking spray. (This recipe will yield 12 to 15 muffins, depending on mix-ins.)
- In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a medium bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil and egg. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until just moist. Fold in any mix-ins. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes
Greek Yogurt “Frosting,“ from Rice Kernel’s kitchen
I admit there is nothing “frosting” (in the traditional sense) about this, but we routinely slater it atop muffins and cupcakes. Sweet and creamy, it is a healthy way to glaze the top of any breakfast muffin.
1 cup Greek yogurt (flavored Greek yogurt also works, although I use plain typically, which has no/less sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup powered sugar, sifted
- Whisk all ingredients until they become a bit thick.
- Place in the fridge to thicken even more (at least 30 minutes).
- Spread on cake, cupcakes or a sweet quick bread
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Chicken pot pie is comfort food. And they call it comfort food for a reason — you feel good when you eat it, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, the dish is typically packed with calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Here we’ve given the American classic a healthful and delicious makeover with a whole wheat crust and a lightened, almost fat-free filling. But you’d never know the difference. The filling for this pie is rich and creamy, with the consistency of a thick soup or hearty gravy. Subtly spiced with thyme and loaded with fresh vegetables, the chicken’s simple flavor shines through. And then the crust – soft, flaky, and nutty without any hint of heavy, grainy whole wheat. This recipe will keep you feeling your best and leave room for dessert!
(While the recipe does take some time to come together, you can freeze the pie before you bake it. Chicken pot pie is definitely worth making at home, though. Not only is it healthier, you can ensure a fully loaded filling – not that soupy mess from the freezer section – with ingredients that suit your own tastes.)
Healthful Chicken Pot Pie Filling
1/2 to whole large onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/4 head cauliflower, diced finely (optional – my family doesn’t seem to notice the inclusion)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups milk (I use 1%)
1/4-1/2 cup chicken stock, homemade preferably
splash dry sherry (optional)
1-2 tsp thyme or poultry seasoning
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-2 cups of shredded or cubed Rotisserie chicken (for best flavor)
1 recipe, whole wheat pie crust (recipe below)
Make the pie dough (below) and let it chill in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Add a couple tablespoons olive oil to hot pan (or 1-2 tablespoonds of oil and butter, each). Saute onions until translucent. Add cauliflower, if using and cook for a few minutes. Then stir in peas and carrots. Add flour and cook for 30 seconds until well absorbed. Add liquids and whisk vigorously. Add additional broth if too thick. Mix in seasonings and shredded or cubed chicken. Cook until heated through. Pour into a bowl and reserve.
- Take chilled dough from the refrigerator and divide into two balls. Foll on a lightly floured surface until both pieces are large enough to cover the top of the pie plate. Place one piece into a 9″ pie plate. Pour in cooled filling. Cover filling with second piece of pie, pressing it down around the edges of the pie plate and cutting 4-5 slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until filling is bubbly and the pie crust is golden.
Let pie sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
Whole Wheat Pie Crust
1 cup whole wheat
1/2 cup white flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
½ cup cold butter, sliced
4-5 tbsp cold milk
- In large bowl, stir together flours, sugar, and salt. Cut in slices of butter using a pastry cutter (or fork, if you have to) until the largest pieces resemble peas. (Try to avoid using your hands. You want the butter to stay as cold as possible and your hands will warm it up and make the crust less flaky.) Pour the milk over the mixture, one tablespoon at a time, just until moistened enough to hold the dough together. Quickly form the crust into a ball. Refrigerate until ready to use.
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In my quest to merge my breakfast sweet tooth with my husband’s more savory inclinations and Rice Kernel’s fruity obsession, I decided to hit all the tastebuds with these hearty, flavor-packed pancrepes. (So named because the texture is a cross between a crepe and a pancake.) Light and fluffy, the cakes have a subtle tang and richness that is offset by specks of salty meat. Topped with hearty, chunky apples cooked lightly with maple syrup, this breakfast will get you out of your morning rut and provide a satisfying and livening start to the day.
That is, if you eat them for breakfast. I made a batch late in the afternoon with the intention of minimizing the morning chaos and reheating them the next day. But my two little thieves interrupting this glorious train of thought and decided the pancakes were perfect with dinner (some simply-prepared greens and fish) and the apples ideal for topping frozen yogurt. Why should I be disappointed though? My oatmeal awaits.
Prosciutto Buttermilk Pancrepes with Maple Syrup Apples, adapted from Epicurious
Maple Syrup Apples
1 tbsp Earth Balance or unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious apples (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 tbsp plus 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and 1 tablespoon maple syrup; sauté until apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup and cinnamon.
Prosciutto Buttermilk Pancrepes
Prosciutto confetti: barely visible to the eye, but plenty obvious to your tastebuds.
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp yellow cornmeal
2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk (I use low-fat)
1 cup plain yogurt (low-fat again)
1 large egg
1 tbsp canola oil or melted butter
3-5 slices pancetta or bacon, sliced
- In a skillet, brown prosciutto. Cool on a plate lined with a paper towel. Reserve.
- Combine first 6 ingredients in large bowl; whisk to blend. Whisk buttermilk, yogurt, and egg in medium bowl to blend; add to dry ingredients and stir until just blended but still lumpy. Gently mix in oil or melted butter and pancetta.
- Heat griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray skillet with cooking spray or place a few tablespoons of butter and let melt. Working in batches, drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle, spacing apart. Cook pancakes until brown on bottom and bubbles form on top, about 3 minutes. Turn pancakes over and cook until bottoms are brown and pancakes are barely firm to touch. Transfer to plates. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Spoon apples over pancakes. Serve with additional maple syrup, if desired.
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While my husband and Dad share a fondness for eggplant, Rice Kernel and I are ambivalent about the beautiful purple vegetable. We’ll eat it, but it’s not our first choice. For me, part of the issue is that I’m always scratching my head thinking of ways to prepare it. Stir-fry? Eggplant parmesan? Roasted as a side? Okay, I’m stuck.
So you can imagine my joy when I happened upon this recipe. Zesty with garlic and spice, this appetizing side is full of roasted vegetable sweetness. It’s great as an appetizer with goat cheese or crackers, as a base for a delicious vegetarian pannini or turkey or lamb burger, mixed with scrambled eggs, topped on grilled chicken or fish, or mixed into pasta sauces. Endlessly versatile, I’ve discovered my summer recipe for the eggplant growing in the garden.
Spicy Red Pepper and Eggplant Confit, from Gourmet, May 2006
2 lb red bell peppers, tender-roasted
1 (1 1/2-lb) eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
- Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cut peppers into 1-inch pieces. Toss together all ingredients in a large roasting pan, then spread evenly. Roast, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 1 hour. Cool before serving. (I prefer to blend the confit until almost smooth.)
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Do you lament day-old, crusty bread? After a few days on the countertop, I get a bit ansty about bread. Not that we don’t eat slightly stale bread, but there are better uses for it than eating it straight up. So I naturally begin thinking about stratas, homemade breadcrumbs, or croutons. (The sweets-fanatic in me would entertain a bread pudding, but I’d be the only one consuming it.) Recently, I recalled a simple and rustic tomato basil and bread salad we had years back in Rome. I’ve added a color boost here with added vegetables, whole wheat bread, and grilled shrimp. (Use any protein of your choosing or some cannelloni beans.) It’s a resourceful way of using leftover bread and with tomato season coming up, it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, picnic or potluck.
I also want to thank Jessie at CakeSpy for featuring Rice Kernel and my Mother’s Day Triple Strawberry Cheesecake. As Jessie would say, that’s sweet stuff!
Shrimp Panzanella Salad
This salad is very versatile – add your favorite fresh vegetables and protein. The Lebanese version, fattoush, uses stale pita. In Greece, a similar version called dakos features fetas, cucumbers, and stale bread.
8 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 thick slices day-old whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (or any bread – herb-flavored breads are wonderful in this salad)
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium cucumber, peeled (if desired), seeded and diced or cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large bell pepper, diced (color of your choice)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil or parsley
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme or poultry seasoning
4 cups salad greens
Grilled shrimp or protein of your choice
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- To make croutons: If you have fresh bread, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Mash garlic into the oil with a fork to infuse it with flavor; discard the garlic. Stir bread cubes into the oil until lightly coated. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until very crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
- In the alternative, if you have stale bread, you can skip the croutons and simply slice the stale bread into cubes or break apart with your hands.
- Whisk olives, vinegar, capers and 1/8 tsp pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until combined. Add bread, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, bell peppers and herbs. Serve over salad greens and top with shrimp.
Note: You can store the croutons in an air-tight container for up to a week.
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