Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Not-so-Asian chicken salad

This is just another instance of me being crazy. Coming home hungry, and deciding to "make dinner". Not from a box or the freezer, but as in open and marinate chicken, soak rice noodles, do pilates, and then cook. And scarf down meal.
As far as cooking elaborate meals when hungry, this meal was less crazy than other ones I've done. Only an hour and a half from start to in my belly (I know a lot of people think that's a long time, but guys, come on, if you want good food that is not crap, you need to commit some time and/or effort into it!)

I will admit, however, that as much as I love using soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil, there is always something missing. I need to take a class on "Asian" cooking, I think. That might be my only hope. That said, this salad is a pretty great Americany Asian-flavor inspired salad. You just have to be willing to stick your finger into marinades and dressings to taste them as you go, or you never know what you'll end up with. I didn't have any on hand, but I think crushed peanuts would make this better. Or lime wedges. Or fish sauce.

Here's what you need for 2-3 servings:
12 oz rice noodles
1 1/2 T grated ginger
1 1/2 T minced garlic
juice of one lemon or lime
4 T toasted sesame oil
1/4 c soy or tamari, low sodium or whatever you like
3 T rice wine vinegar (I use brown)
salt and pepper to taste, if needed
3 chicken breast halves, boneless, skinless
1 T honey
about half a head of romaine
1-2 grated carrots
2 sticks celery, diced, and any other veggies you think may be good raw in this

Step 1: Soak rice noodles in warm water 30 min. When done, drain.
Step 2: Marinate chicken 30 min-1 hr in:
  • 2 T soy
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/2 T garlic
  • 1 T ginger
  • lemon juice
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
Step 3: Make salad dressing/noodle cooking sauce - mix and set aside until ready to use:
  • remaining ginger, garlic, soy, sesame oil, vinegar
  • honey
Step 4: Cook chicken - set oven for 375, on broil, with oven rack close to heat (about 3 inches away if possible). I set my chicken in a cast iron pan with a little olive oil. Broil each side for about 5 min, or until it's done in the middle.
Step 4a: Cook Noodles - throw in a pan with a splash of sesame oil on medium heat. After a few moments of sizzling, add dressing. 

Step 5: Assemble! Cut chicken into strips. Toss with veggies, noodles and their sauce. Eat it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

...and we're back!

Seriously, I think it would be fair to say I have been busier in the past six months than I've ever been in my entire life. Between managing weird health, applying for psych positions for next year, adapting to Mr. Ripe being gone on tour, or actually going out on weeknights when he's around, there's been a lot going on!
This month alone, I've only had enough energy to cook soups - low maintenance, easy bean and greens soups, that have been filling as meals on their own or with bread, and that I've taken for lunch nearly every day of the week. The rest of the things I've eaten have been lazy things like cereal and milk, or frozen pizza from trader joe's!!
Anyway, I guess being so busy I like to take on slower, longer term projects. Pickles, kombucha...and last week I started a sourdough starter. The first batch of 666sourdough bread is in the oven now. I used a no-knead method, see below. If you don't HAVE a sourdough starter, you can make one using the method here, or you can just substitute half a cup of flour and 1 t yeast and do the basic no knead method described below -

1 c starter
1 c whole wheat bread flour
2 c all purpose flour
2 t salt
1 c water

Mix it all together in a medium to big size bowl, make sure texture is "shaggy". If your starter is kind of thick, you may need to add more water. If it's all soft and like a batter, you need more flour. You get the idea, you want an in between shaggy wet/dry consistency (man, that sounds confusing. I'll post a picture next week when I bake another loaf so you know what I mean, ok?). Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 24 hours.
Dump risen dough out onto bran- or flour-sprinkled countertop or cutting board. Fold over twice. Sprinkle with bran or flour. Cover with a dish towel. Let rise for 2 hours.
When 30 minutes are left in the rise time, put a heavy pot (I use a dutch oven) in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
When the 2 hour rise time is up, put the dough into the pot in the oven. Cover and bake for 15 min. Uncover and cook for another 20 min or so. Remove from oven, let cool on rack.
Cut the bread ONLY when it's cool, otherwise it will dry out.