Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups with Rainbow Slaw

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The current heatwave in NYC has me thinking about summer cooking.  Salads, slaws and sandwiches replace the slow braises, soups and stews of winter. They’ll be back soon enough. For now, it’s all about minimalism. These lettuce wraps go above and beyond the sum of their parts. Ground chicken or turkey is perked up with Thai-inspired flavors (don’t know what the heck to do with fish sauce? Now’s your chance). The colorful, tangy slaw does double-duty as a topping, or alongside summertime barbecue. This actually travels surprisingly well for office lunches and picnics. Simply pack all the components separately. It’s just as good warm as it is cold from the fridge.

And in this weather, there’s not chance I’m slaving over the stove.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups with Rainbow Slaw
Serves 4

For the Chicken Lettuce Cups:

  • 4 limes, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or coconut oil
  • ½ large red onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 stalk spring garlic, white and light green parts, minced OR 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated
  • Chopped fresh mint, for garnish

For the Rainbow Slaw:

  • 3 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced seeded cucumber
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 green apple, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish

instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, fish sauce and honey. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook about 5 minutes, or until onion begins to soften. Add the ginger and garlic and cook another minute, stirring. Add the ground chicken. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add about half the dressing to the pan and stir until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 2 minutes. Season with kosher salt and fresh black pepper.
  3. For the Slaw: In a large bowl, combine the veggies and apple. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and toss to coat.
  4. Spoon the chicken mixture into the lettuce leaves and top with spoonful of slaw. Garnish with mint and sliced scallion. Serve with extra slaw.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sriracha and Honey

 brussels

Isn’t it funny how until just a few years ago everyone hated brussels sprouts? They were passed over like iceberg lettuce, simply not worth the worry. Like hairstyles and skirt hems, everything goes in and out of fashion. Food included. What, you’ve never heard of this phenomenon? Martha thinks it’s worth mentioning.

While I don’t use the word ‘trend’ lightly, there has been a big shift towards big flavor infused into unassuming places. Click through this list of Smorgasburg vendors and you’ll get the idea. Old standbys like ice pops, donuts, pickles and even mustard are being reinvented. While I think some things are best left alone (I’m not sold on artisan mayo yet), I welcome change and even improvement on a classic.

Like these brussels sprouts.

No, they’re not lightly dusted with pecorino or drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. They’re deeply roasted, then doused in a fiery, funky sauce. They’re confident in their ability to be at once sweet and savory. Cilantro adds a bit of controversy. Which is never a bad thing when it comes to vegetables.

Despite what the calendar says, it’s still winter in NYC and at the market. Take advantage of the season while it lasts.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sriracha and Honey

Adapted from Food52

1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if large
2 teaspoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 teaspoons sriracha (or more, depending on how hot you like it)
1 tablespoon honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (or tamari)
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Directions

Heat oven to 400F. Arrange brussels sprouts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil, tossing to coat. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes or so until brussels are deep brown and crispy, about 30-40 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, sriracha, honey, garlic and fish sauce. Drizzle over roasted brussels sprouts and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Miso-Lime Noodle Bowl with Shiitakes and Bok Choy

noodles

Isn’t it weird how you get in certain habits with food? You find yourself eating the same breakfast, going to the same coffee shop or reaching for chocolate at the same time each day (I don’t know about you, but it happens at around 3pm for me.) While I consider myself a fairly adventurous eater and cook, I have my old standbys. I will never turn down a trip to Westville. I eat Greek yogurt almost every day. And kale? I still can’t get enough of it. I’m a creature of {healthy} habits.

Sometimes, I feel the urge to break out of  my comfort zone. Why not start with dinner? Pasta is a major go-to for me and many of my personal chef clients. After a long day of work, it’s just the thing. While I love an Italian pasta carbonara, Asian noodle dishes are becoming a new habit for me these days. The trick? I keep a few key staples around. Scallions, ginger and garlic are the starting point for countless noodle variations. Invest in a container of good miso, a bottle of tamari or soy sauce and some type of hot sauce or chile paste. Chances are you’ve made a stir fry before. See? You’re already halfway outside the box.

Miso-Lime Noodle Bowl with Shiitakes and Bok Choy

Serves 1-2

1 nest instant rice vermicelli or soba noodles*
1 teaspoon vegetable or coconut oil
2 scallions, finely sliced, white and green parts separated
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
5 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
2 heads baby bok choy, chopped
Miso-Lime Sauce
2 teaspoons white miso
1 teaspoon tamari
1/2 lime, juiced
Gochujang* to taste (or another hot sauce/paste)
Sesame seeds and Korean chile flakes, for garnish (optional)

If you are using instant rice noodles, place a nest/bundle of noodles in a bowl, cover with boiling water and a plate or lid and set aside. If you are using soba or another type of noodle, boil according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat oil. Add white part of scallion, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant (be careful not to burn the garlic.) Add the shiitakes and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the bok choy and cook until wilted, another few minutes. Add a couple drops of water or stock if the veggies start to stick. In a small bowl, combine the miso, tamari, lime juice and hot sauce/paste of choice, to taste. Drain your noodles and add them to the veggie mixture, along with the sauce. Toss to combine. Serve with green scallions, sesame seeds, Korean chile flakes or hot sauce and a squeeze of lime juice.

*Look for rice vermicelli noodles in the Asian section of the grocery store. You can sub in any type of noodle you prefer (I use buckwheat soba a lot).

*Gochujang is a fermented Korean chile paste . It has a nice balance of heat and a bit of sweetness.

Coconut-Spinach Fried Rice

fried rice

For the exception of baking, I rarely cook from recipes. In culinary school, we would tediously copy the day’s curriculum on index cards. We quickly learned that the assignment was more about the act of remembering the recipes than for us to follow them word-for-word. I’m not discrediting recipes – I subscribe to just about every food magazine and own my fair share of cookbooks. They’re excellent inspiration and a great tool for getting more comfortable with technique. But learning how to cook, really cook, requires some gumption. It definitely includes mistakes. And improvisation, creativity and, well, common sense.

I always say that anyone who eats can be a good cook. Think about it: you already know what foods and flavors you like together. Once you learn a technique, like this simple fried rice, you can vary it depending on what you have in the fridge or what looks good at the market. Not a fan of coconut oil? Grapeseed oil is a neutral substitute. Ran out of spinach? Sub in leftover broccoli or frozen veggies. The rest is just a dip in the pantry or fridge: rice, oil, vinegar, eggs, hot sauce. I challenge you to read this recipe and be bold with your variations. Let me know how it goes.

Coconut-Spinach Fried Rice

Serves 2

1 T. coconut oil, plus more if necessary

2 scallions, finely sliced, white and green parts divided

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger

1 cup cooked brown rice (I used leftover brown basmati)

2 T. low-sodium tamari

2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 cup kale, stemmed and thinly sliced (optional)

1 egg, lightly beaten

Lime juice or rice vinegar

Chile-garlic sauce or Sriracha

Sesame oil

  1. Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add white parts of scallion, ginger and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Adjust heat if necessary to prevent burning.
  2. Add the brown rice and cook for a few minutes to heat through. Add a bit more coconut oil if it starts to stick to the pan. Add tamari, spinach and/or kale and cook for a few more minutes until wilted. Increase heat and add the egg, stirring constantly, until egg is scrambled in the rice mixture. Add a bit more coconut oil if it sticks.
  3. Finish with a squeeze of lime juice or rice vinegar, hot sauce and a tiny drizzle of sesame oil. Sprinkle with green scallions before serving.

Grilled Asian Steak Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Lately, my cooking has been leaning towards the Asian persuasion. I can’t get enough of all things ginger, soy and sesame. One of my favorite things to order out is a good steak salad. There is something inherently delicious about crisp, leafy greens and crunchy veggies topped with tender slices of sizzling steak and piquant dressing. Don’t be shy with the marinade here – add a bit more of this or that as you please.

Grilled Asian Steak Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Serves: 2 (plus extra dressing)

Ingredients

For Marinade:

  • 1/2 lb. flank steak
  • 2 T. fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T. honey
  • Pinch dried red chile flakes

Ginger-Lime Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 T. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T. finely minced scallion
  • 1 T. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 2 T. olive, canola or peanut oil

For Salad:

  • 1/2 head red leaf or Boston bibb lettuce, roughly chopped or torn
  • 1 small carrot, peeled
  • 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shelled, cooked and cooled edamame
  • 1/2 cup cilantro

Directions

For Marinade/Steak:

Combine ginger, garlic, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and chile flakes in a shallow dish or heavy-duty plastic bag. Place the flank steak in the marinade, turning to coat a few times. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour (or up to 24 hours in advance).

Preheat a grill or broiler. Remove steak from marinade and scrape off excess marinade. Grill 4-6 minutes on each side or broil 7-8 minutes on each side (for medium-rare). Let meat rest while you assemble the dressing.

Dressing:
In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar, scallion, ginger and honey.While whisking, stream in the oil. Taste and season with additional honey, lime or soy sauce to taste.

Salad:
Slice steak very thinly, against the grain at a slight diagonal. Place lettuce on a serving plate. Top with carrot peels, scallions and edamame. Top with sliced steak and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with cilantro.