Sunday, September 30, 2012

Breakfast For Dinner - Baked Eggs & Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Photo: NK
Today's post is dedicated to Marina. You may remember her as our first guest poster here on NK: Marina's Fabulous Fish Tacos. For the past two years, Marina and I have become more than coworkers; I consider her a friend. Though we grew up on opposite sides of the world, she in Russia and me here in NYC, we share many synergies in our likes and dislikes, the greatest of which center around our mutually favorite subject - food! Before knowing Marina, I had yet to meet a person who enjoys an oyster as much as I do. But more than her great taste in cuisine, Marina's just one of those people whose sunny personality, warmth, and passion for life, make everything else just seem OK. 

As with many of my friends at work, Marina has been a dedicated NK fan, and someone I turn to when writer's block strikes. In fact, I came to her just last week to help me come up with a post idea. 

"Breakfast for dinner!," she suggests without missing a beat. Interesting. Can the same soul-satisfying meal you greet the day with also be the one that helps you send it off? The answer - absolutely. 

Later that night, as I sat down to do my recipe research, I thought more about breakfast for dinner... I thought about beginnings and endings, and how sometimes, they can be one in the same. 

Fast-forward a few days later, and I realize how timely Marina's idea really was. I'm standing on a corner in NYC, getting misty-eyed as I hug Marina goodbye. We've known for some time that she'd be leaving our company to relocate back home to Chicago with her husband, and though everyone at my office is incredibly sad to see her go, we all know she has many exciting new beginnings ahead of her and that we'll keep in touch to share them with her. So here's to new beginnings and memorable endings, and since this wouldn't be the first time I eat my feelings of melancholy, Marina: this meal's for you, and I think you will approve!

Day One - We enjoyed an amazingly delicious and decadent Baked Egg and Asparagus dish enhanced by Garlic Scented Cream, a crispy Panko topping, and fresh Chives to brighten it all. 

Day Two - We cooked up some lighter-than-air Pancakes made with Vanilla Greek Yogurt. The Pancakes by themselves were fluffy and seemingly light, but I felt compelled to include an optional topping to make them "extra special" aka: sinful - a Bourbon Maple Syrup dotted with Orange Segments and diced Thick-Cut Bacon. Now that is special. Just like Marina. 

Baked Egg and Asparagus Gratins
Adapted from Food and Wine
Photo: NK
Serves 2 
1/2 a large Garlic Clove, sliced very thinly
6 large Organic Eggs
1/2 cup Panko (Japanese Dry Breadcrumbs) or other plain breadcrumbs

1 Tablespoon Salted Butter, melted
2 Tablespoons chopped Chives

10-12 Aparagus Spears, ends cut off and discarded, remainder cut in thirds

1/4 Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper
Toasted Bread for serving
2 Ovenproof Gratin Dishes 

Preheat Oven to 350. 
In a pie plate or foil pan toss the Panko with the Melted Butter and bake for 6 minutes until golden, stirring midway through. Remove and set aside when done.

Meanwhile, boil water in a small to medium sized sauce pan. Add the Asparagus and cook until crisp-tender for about 3 minutes. Drain the Asparagus in a colander and run cold water over it to stop the cooking. Pat dry and set aside. 

In another small sauce pan, simmer Heavy Cream and Garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes, and season with Salt and Pepper to taste. 

Arrange Asparagus in the bottom of each gratin plate, covering a good amount of the base of the gratin.
Asparagus Base in the Gratin, NK

Now, carefully crack 3 Eggs into each gratin dish. 

Photo: NK

To ensure eggs stay intact,it's wise to crack them into a smaller bowl first and shimmy them carefully, one by one, into the gratins. This also allows you to remove any shell you may see before it is too late. 

Next, pour even amounts of the Garlic Cream over each gratin, and sprinkle each gratin all over with the Buttered Breadcrumbs. Place gratins in the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes or until the Whites are firm and the Yolks are still runny. Remove from the oven and season each gratin with a small sprinkling of salt and a Tablespoon each of the Chopped Chives. Serve Immediately with Toast and enjoy!

Photo: NK

Baked Egg and Asparagus Gratins, Photo: NK
Next up, 

Greek Yogurt Pancakes with Bourbon Maple Syrup + Mandarin Orange & Bacon Hash
Pancakes - Adapted from Recording Moments 
Serves 3-4 

Pancake Ingredients: 
1 Cup Vanilla Flavored Greek Yogurt - we used Oikos Brand
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Egg
3/4 Cup Skim Milk
1/2 teaspoon Real Vanilla Extract
Salted Butter, for cooking the pancakes
*Optional Topping - Recipe Follows Below - Topping should be prepared just after the Pancake Batter has been made and before cooking the Pancakes.  

Combine all Dry Ingredients together. 

Whisk in Wet Ingredients into Dry Mixture, and mix gently until fully incorporated. 

Optionally, prepare the Maple, Bourbon and Mandarin Bacon Hash Topping as below

Heat a skillet over medium heat and grease with an ample amount of Butter. 

Pour Pancake Mix into a container with a spout or measuring cup and pour slowly into the skillet, forming uniform circles. Cook for a few minutes on one side until golden brown (these will cook quickly) and flip midway through. Set Pancakes aside in a stack and keep warm.

*NK's Bourbon Maple Syrup + Mandarin Orange & Bacon Hash
1/2 Cup Real Maple Syrup
1 15 Ounce Can of Mandarin Orange Segments, rinsed, drained and patted dry
5 Slices of Thick-Cut Bacon, diced into small pieces
1 Tablespoon Bourbon, plus more to taste if you like 

In a small pan, cook Bacon Bits to your desired doneness. Drain Bacon Bits on paper towels and set aside. In another small pan, heat Maple Syrup and Bourbon together until sufficiently warm.

To serve, remove Maple Syrup from the heat and stir in Mandarin Segments. Spoon the mixture over Pancakes and sprinkle all over with Bacon Bits. Enjoy!

Greek Yogurt Pancakes with Bourbon Maple Syrup & Mandarin Orange Bacon Hash, Photo: NK

Pin It

Monday, September 24, 2012

Takeout Makeover - Lightened Up Asian Dinner

Today's post is all about flavor, and how even the richest takeout delights can be lightened up yet still remain satisfying in all the right ways. Our first recipe is a bold, Thai-inspired salad made with absolutely no fats. Zucchini Ribbons sliced on my new mandoline (courtesy of my wonderful Mother-in-Law) make for a lovely presentation, and the tangy, sweet and salty dressing packs a delicious punch. Any crunchy green veggie will do for this, green beans, snap peas, whatever you have on hand! You will almost forget that you're eating healthy. 

For our entree, I checked out a few WeightWatchers recipes a friend shared with me and settled on their virtuous version of General Tso's Chicken. I will say - it came out pretty good. While it was by no means an exact copy, more evocative really, the recipe definitely yields an easy, tasty and flavorful chicken dish nonetheless. Just because you are eating more carefully doesn't mean you have to miss out. 

Super Healthy Thai-Style Mango Salad
Adapted from Veggie Wedgie
Serves 2-3

Juice of One Lime 
1 teaspoon Agave Syrup or Honey
1 teaspoon Orange Juice
1/2 teaspoon Fish Sauce (optional)
1 dash Sriracha 

1/2 Cup Cilantro, chopped
1/2 Hot House Cucumber, unpeeled, or 1 regular Cucumber, peeled
1 Zucchini
1/2 Lb Sugar Snap Peas
1 Yellow Thai Mango or underripe regular Mango

Julienned Mango, Photo NK

In a small bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients to make the dressing. Set aside.

Next, peel and cut Mango into matchsticks (julienne them) and chop Snow Peas

Using a spiralizer, mandoline set on the thinnest setting, or sharp chef's knife, cut zucchini lengthwise as thin as you possible can, to create ribbons. 

Chop Cucumber by hand into 1/4 inch thick slices and then roughly chop them. 

Combine chopped Cucumbers, Sugar Snap Peas, and Cilantro together. Pour half the dressing over and toss, the add in half the Mango matchsticks.

Snap Peas, Cilantro and Cucumber, Photo: NK

Next, Spread the Zucchini Ribbons on a flat surface and gently toss them in the remainder of the dressing. 

To assemble the salad, pile the Snow Pea, Cucumber, and Mango mixture onto a plate. Place Zucchini Ribbons on top or on the side (whatever you prefer presentation-wise!). 

Finally, top with the reserved Mango matchsticks. Serve and enjoy!

Thai-Style Mango Salad, Photo: NK

WeightWatchers General Tso's Chicken
Very lightly adapted
Photo: NK
Serves 4. *8 Points Per Serving

3/4 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1.5 Tbsp Cornstarch
2 tsp Peanut Oil
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 Jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper 
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 Scallions, white and green parts sliced

2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice,we like Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (done in 90 seconds in microwave),kept warm

1 Lb Organic Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into two inch chunks


In a bowl, combine Chicken Broth, Cornstarch, Soy, Sugar, Vinegar and Ginger powder. Whisk briskly and set aside. 

Heat oil in a wok or large, high sided skillet over medium-high heat. Make sure it gets nice and hot. Add Scallions, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes and Jalapeno. Cook for 1-2 minutes stirring continuously. Add chicken and sauté until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. 

Next, add the Sauce that you set aside and simmer until the sauce becomes thickened and the Chicken is fully cooked, about 3 minutes.

Serve over Rice and enjoy!
Lightened Up General Tso's, Photo: NK
Pin It

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Summery Seafood Appetizer - Zuppa di Clams With Savory Crouton

Now that there's a bit of chill in the air, it's with a heavy heart that we bid the summer an unofficial farewell. On the bright side, we look forward to fall which is already jam-packed with weddings, parties, and other festive events. 
Photo: NK

This past weekend, my husband and I spent some time alone at my family bungalow on Long Island. Knowing we probably wouldn't be back there for some time, we made a special effort to enjoy the exquisite quiet (we don't even have a TV!) and just relax. Among our purposefully minimal accomplishments:  

A trip to the local antique shops where we snatched up this bit of beach house kitsch that was obviously a must have. 

A few extra competitive games of Trivial Pursuit. 

And last but not least, we cooked a very nice and easy homemade dinner. Mr NK grilled up the most delicious entree of double cut Pork Chops on the Weber kettle while I was tasked with making an appetizer. With so much great seafood at our fingertips, my choice was a no-brainer. So off we went to our favorite seafood shop/clam bar to grab some Littlenecks. 

Photo: NK

Clams are my all time most favorite seafood. Today's dish is like the best Linguine with Clam Sauce you ever had, minus the pasta. It makes an ideal appetizer and when you serve it, the room goes silent for at least ten minutes. It's that good. 

In my world, Clams simply must be served with broth. Here, copious amounts of fresh and canned clams sit atop a generous "crouton" of savory Bread flavored with Garlic and Pecorino Romano. The Crouton serves both as a base for the tender Littlenecks to perch on, but most importantly, as a sponge to soak up all that brothy goodness at the end.

Note - This recipe is easily doubled, but you may want to consider making it in two different pots so Clams have room to open. It's also very is adaptable to a pasta entree. Just skip the Crouton, prepare Clams as directed, and serve over Linguine!

NK's Clams Con Zuppa With Savory Crouton
Serves 2

Scrubbed and Ready to Roll, Photo: NK
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter plus more

3 Garlic Cloves, two finely sliced and then minced, the third, cut in half

1 Can Chopped Clams (5 oz)
4 Ounces Clam Juice (half a bottle)

18-20 Littleneck Clams, scrubbed thoroughly. Ask the fishmonger to pick out the smallest possible.

1 Cup Dry White Wine, divided - we've been enjoying using these boxed wines for cooking because they are resealable and come in small sizes - Bota Box

1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper to taste  
1/4 Cup Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, Chopped 
1 Loaf of Crusty Bread -  choose a wider sized baguette that is about 8 to 10 inches long 
1/4 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

Take out your serving bowls and cut 2 large hunks off the Baguette that are sized to fit nicely in the base of the bowl. Next, cut the tops off the Bread. Rub each piece with half of the Garlic Clove, spread on a bit of Butter, and sprinkle generously with Pecorino Romano. Toast Bread in the toaster oven or regular oven until golden. Place each flavored "Crouton" in the base of your serving bowls. Set aside. 

One big "crouton," Photo: NK

In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat Oil and Butter over medium low heat. 

Once the Butter is melted, add the minced Garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 or 2 minutes. Do not burn the garlic. If the garlic burns, it is not a bad idea to toss everything and start over. 

Next, add the can of Chopped Clams with their juice to the pot. Turn up the flame to medium. 

Add 1/2 a cup of the Dry White Wine
Heat until the liquids begin to bubble a bit.

Add 4 oz (half a bottle) of Clam Juice

Add the Black Pepper and Crushed Red Pepper to taste.
Bring to a light boil again and add all the Fresh Clams. 

Photo: NK
Cover the pot and cook for 3 minutes. 
Add the remaining 1/2 Cup of Wine.
Cover pot and cook another 3-4 minutes. 

Check the Clams now and as they should begin opening. 
Pull clams out immediately with tongs the moment they open and set aside. 
Give the pot a stir and continue to cook, removing Clams out one by one as the pop open. Discard any that do not after a reasonable period of time. 

To assemble: Place Fresh Clams on and around the Crouton base as pictured below. Pour generous amounts of Broth and Chopped Clams from the pot over each bowl. 

Assembly, Photo: NK
Sprinkle with a bit more Crushed Red Pepper if you like, and top with Chopped Parsley.
Serve right away. 

Zuppa di Vongole with Savory Crouton, Photo: NK

Delicious broth soaked bread - the final flourish! Photo: NK

Enjoy! Pin It

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Making of Neurotic Kitchen - A Retrospective in Recipes

Two years ago today I cooked a lovely duck dish. It looked so pretty that I snapped a picture of it and posted it, where else, on Facebook. I couldn't believe the reception it got when my friends all flooded in with comments on how delicious it looked. That day, a new hobby was born.

Robert Irvine's Duck with Apple Pomegranate Sauce, Photo: NK
 Click Here for the Recipe

I love to cook. I love to plate. Most of all, I love to eat. This was not only two years ago, but also a few pounds ago. But from that day on, each week, in an online album that I dubbed "Food Porn" (back then, this term was semi-original!), I would document my weekly dinners and cooking adventures, and include the links to the recipes I used. Once I hit about 50 photos, just after one year's time, I decided it was time to take my cooking to the blogosphere. This go 'round, I'd create my own recipes or adapt existing ones, telling their stories along the way. My purpose was the same as it is now: to show that even beautiful, delicious looking and outrageously tasty dishes could indeed be easy and accessible to the everyday cook with a day job (me!). 

Because I'd like to give credit where credit is due, I must tell you that it is in no small part because of the encouragement of my friends and family that Food Porn went public in the form of Neurotic Kitchen - a place where I am lucky enough to interact with all of you! 

As my homage to where it all began, I am using today's post to revisit some of Food Porn's most well received dishes. Follow the recipe links to try them for yourself! Enjoy, and as always, thanks for joining me on the neurotic culinary journey I like to call life. 

Rao's Lemon Chicken, Photo: NK
Click Here for the Recipe

Cuban Pork Chops with Mojo, Photo: NK
Click Here for the Recipe

Thai Ground Pork Salad, Photo: NK
Click Here for the Recipe

Juicy Buttermilk Pork Chops, Cheddar Grits, and Okra, Photo: NK
Click Here for the Recipe

Pin It

Monday, September 3, 2012

Good Deeds Grow In Brooklyn - Community Inspired Vegetarian Menu

Photo: NK
Today, you don't have to look too far to find legions of foodies on the web and on the streets waxing poetic about what they are eating, ate, plan to eat, or cook.

Clearly, I am a major offender.  

In the national conversation, the subject of food and food enjoyment has certainly hit critical mass. I can understand why. Food is amazing.

But with the airwaves and internet so saturated with food chat, it's easy to forget -
we are the lucky ones.

For so many, far too many, food means survival, not entertainment. It is basic sustenance. Hunger is a problem that I have always been passionate about, and in these especially trying economic times, it's even more pervasive. There is no better time to answer the call for help.

Pre-Dinner Snacks - Beet Hummus & Homemade Pickles, NK
Last week, I had the privilege of attending a fundraiser for an incredible community outreach group - the Soup Kitchen at the Greenpoint Reformed Church in North Brooklyn.

The dedicated folks there, with the help of monetary donations and partnerships with local farms and CSAs, provide homemade community dinners for the hungry in the neighborhood as well as groceries and bagged lunches on select days each week.

The volunteers at the Greenpoint Reformed Church do their best to serve tasty meals that are organic when possible, and most importantly, filling and nutritious.

The festive night featured a delicious all-vegetarian menu, live music, and great people - all of which made for an especially spirited fundraiser. To donate your time or money to this wonderful charity, please follow this link: Get Involved!

Church volunteers set up a beautiful dining area, Photo: NK

On the way home, my brain still abuzz with the excitement of the evening, I decided I'd try my hand at a company-worthy all-veggie feast. Check it out below.

Most importantly, the event served as a personal reminder to be grateful and give back, and of how everyday people offering their talents and dedication in unison can make a world of difference in the lives of others.

Vegetarian Menu
Cauliflower Steak with Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Relish
Grey Zucchini Stuffed with Red Quinoa and Graffiti Eggplant
Cocktail: Rye Lemon Ginger Fizz 

Cauliflower Steak with Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Relish
Lightly Adapted From Bon Appetit  
Serves 4 
1 large head of Cauliflower
1/2 cup pitted Oil-Cured Black Olives, finely chopped
5 Sun-Dried Tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided, plus more
2 Tablespoons Chopped Flat-Leaf Italian Parsley
1 teaspoon fresh Lemon Juice
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
3 whole Garlic Cloves
2 Roma or 3 Plum Tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters

Remove leaves and trim stem end of Cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Stand cauliflower core side down on a cutting board. Using a long, sturdy knife, slice Cauliflower into four 1/2 inch "steaks" from center of Cauliflower working outwards (some florets will break loose - reserve them). 

Finely chop enough loose florets to measure about a 1/2 cup. Transfer chopped florets to a small bowl and mix with the Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, 1 Tablespoon of oil, the Parsley and Lemon Juice. Season relish Pepper and add a bit of Salt if needed. 
Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Relish, Photo: NK
Preheat oven to 400. 
Heat 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. 

Working in 2 batches, cook Cauliflower steaks until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side, adding a tablespoon of oil to pan between batches if needed.

Transfer steaks to a large rimmed baking sheet. Reserve skillet. 

In the oven, Roast cauliflower until tender, about 15-17 minutes. 

Meanwhile, return skillet to medium-high heat and add Garlic Cloves and Tomato wedges, cut side down. 

For the Simple Tomato Sauce Base, Photo: NK

Cook until Tomatoes are browned - just a few minutes. Turn Tomatoes over so they are cut side up and transfer the entire skillet to the oven either alongside the Cauliflower pan or on a different rack if need be. Roast the Garlic and Tomato skillet in the oven until both are tender, about 12 minutes. 

Transfer Garlic, Tomatoes, and 1/2 Tablespoon Oil to a blender and purée until smooth. Season the sauce with Salt and Pepper to taste. 

To Serve: Divide Tomato Sauce among plates. Place 1 Cauliflower steak on each plate and spoon the relish over. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Steak with Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Relish, Photo: NK

NK's Grey Zucchini Stuffed with Red Quinoa and Graffiti Eggplant
Serves 4
Local Graffiti Eggplant (Latham Farms) or other long, thinner Eggplant
Local Grey Zucchini, Photo: NK
1 Cup Prepared Red Quinoa
1 Tablespoon Oil
2 local Grey Zucchini (Pederson Farm), or the shortest, chubbiest Zucchini you can find

Salt and Pepper
1/4 Cup grated Parmigiana Cheese
3/4 Cup prepared Tomato Sauce of your choice or homemade

Chopped Italian Parsley, Optional

30 minutes ahead, slice the Eggplant into centimeter thick rounds. Salt both sides of the Eggplant generously and lay the slices on paper towel for 20-30 minutes. The moisture and any bitterness from the Eggplant will be drawn out by the Salt. 

Preheat your oven to 375. 

If you haven't already, prepare your Quinoa on the stovetop according to basic package directions and season with a bit of Salt to taste. Set aside when done.
Zucchini Stuffed with Red Quinoa & Eggplant, NK

After the Eggplant has sat for enough time, rinse off the salt and thoroughly pat dry. Cut Eggplant rounds into 1/2 inch cubes. Add 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil to a skillet over medium heat. Cook eggplant on both sides until tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes per side. Don't worry if it browns or chars just a bit. Stir Eggplant cubes into the cooked Quinoa. 

Cut the Zucchini in half lengthwise. Run your knife carefully around the inside edges and gently scoop out the middles with a melon baller or small spoon until the Zucchini is hollow.

To assemble, place Zucchini scooped side up on a baking sheet. Pour in about an 1/8 of cup of Tomato Sauce into the bottom of each Zucchini. Top with Eggplant and Quinoa mixture all the way up to the top and a little bit over if you like. Dot with a Tablespoon of Tomato Sauce and sprinkle with shredded Parmigiana over each Zucchini.

Place baking sheet in the oven and cook Zucchini for about 25 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

Next up, we have an adult beverage that I created as a nod the delicious "Gold Rush" Cocktail, a concoction of Lemon and Ginger-spiked with Rye, that was served at the event by our gracious hosts.  A quick and easy simple syrup of fresh Ginger and Lemon makes this slightly sweet and refreshing drink the perfect addition to a late summer evening.

NK's Rye Lemon Ginger Fizz
Yield - 1 drink
1 Ounce Rye - we prefer Bulleit Rye
2 Ounces Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup - recipe follows
Plain or Lemon/Lime Seltzer
Lemon Wedges and Slices
Place Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup and in the bottom a short glass tumbler.Top with Rye and stir well. Add Ice and finish with a generous splash of Seltzer. Garnish with a Lemon Wedge and float a Lemon Slice in the glass.
Rye Lemon Ginger Fizz, Photo: NK

*Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup
Recipe from Epicurious
Yield: Makes 1.5 cups
1 Cup Sugar 
3/4 Cup Water 
1/2 cup finely chopped Peeled Ginger 
3/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice
Place Water, Sugar and Ginger in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium low heat stirring occasionally until it is reduced to about 1 cup. This will take about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add the Lemon Juice. Stir. Next, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard the solids and then chill the mixture, covered, until ready to use.

Pin It