Asparagus Chicken in Spicy Black Bean Sauce

When you are tired and hungry, some days its nice to just have Ms. ChinaNob do all the work.   Especially if it involves busting out the wok and clay pot.  In spite of Ms. CN’s protestations that “cooking with a wok on an electric stove SUCKS!”, this dish still came out gobbledy-good, that belly-filling comfort food that is so yummy you have gobbled it down before you knew what happened.

Asparagus Chicken

1 pound chicken thighs, skinless, boneless, slice into 1-inch strips
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbs. canola oil
1/2 onion, sliced
1 lb. asparagus, cut into two inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1 Tbs. black bean sauce
1 tsp. oyster sauce
1/8 tsp. chili oil

Marinate chicken in soy sauce, garlic and ginger, half-hour minimum up to overnight.

Heat canola oil in wok over medium-high heat.   Saute onion until tender.   Add chicken and saute for 5 minutes.  Remove chicken and transfer to bowl.

Add asparagus and water, cook for 2 minutes.   Add back chicken, black bean sauce, oyster sauce, and chili oil.  Stir fry for 2 minutes or until chicken is cooked.  Serve over rice.

Lemon Chicken Ballotine with Fennel Garlic Confit

 Springtime eating doesn’t always have to involve goat cheese, microgreens and ramps.  It can also involve delicious carnivourous meals that when you put the food in your mouth, it makes you want to stand in a field of sunflowers in the south of France singing showtunes about bicycles.   Or something like that.

Regardless, this dish is a bright, sunny, sweet, savory, warm-weather treat – that still tastes like you got a nice plateful of meat.   And don’t be afraid of the “ballotine” – it’s just French for “meat roll”.


Chix Fennel


Lemon Chicken Ballotine Stuffed with Ricotta and Fennel Confit

4 thin chicken fillets
Salt and pepper
1 cup ricotta
1 cup Fennel, Lemon & Garlic Confit (below)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup white wine

Place the chicken fillets between two pieces of plastic wrap and flatten with a mallet or a heavy frying pan until they are about 1/4 inch thick.  Be careful – its easy to tear the chicken if you flatten it too roughly.   Season lightly with salt,  pepper and a little olive oil or the leftover, strained lemon oil from the confit. Refrigerate overnight or for a few hours.

Mix the ricotta with the confit.  Use a good ricotta.  Spread a quarter on each fillet and roll tightly. Seal with toothpicks.  This part can get messy – the ricotta/confit goo likes to squirt out the sides of the chicken roll.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat with the butter and any more oil strained off the chicken. Sear the chicken rolls, flipping with tongs, for about two minutes or until dark golden on each side. Pour in the white wine and turn the heat down to low. Cover and simmer for about twenty minutes.

Remove the toothpicks before serving. Serve with extra fennel confit.

Fennel, Lemon and Garlic Confit

1 large bulb of fennel, with stalks and tops
1 small lemon
6 large cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wash the fennel and lemon. Chop the fennel stalks into 3-4 inch pieces. Chop about half the fronds into bite size pieces – reserve the other half for garnish. Cut the lemon into quarters, removing seeds. Sliver the garlic.

Melt olive oil & butter over medium heat in a heavy saute pan.  Add the fennel, lemon, and garlic.  Season with black pepper, salt and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook on low heat for about 45 minutes, or until soft and tender.

Blend with a food processor or stick blender to a chunky consistency.   Its keeps in the frdige for about two weeks, supposedly.  I eat it up way before then so I’ve never found out.  There’s something about whole lemon pieces stewed with garlic and then pureed up that is soooooooo goood.

Recipe couresy of Apartment Therapy.

Hoisin Porter Beer Braised Shortribs, Rosemary White Bean Puree & Swiss Chard

If you ever need to impress a special someone, significant other, or just want to get past the first date, this is a guaranteed home run.    And since its a braise, you can make this one in advance.   Which leaves plenty of time to get your groove on.  (cue Barry White.)



Hoisin Porter Beer Braised Shortribs

3 lbs. beef short ribs, about 10 ribs
salt & pepper
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
10 to 12 garlic cloves, smashed
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
12 oz. Porter ale
 3 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
 1 cup hoisin sauce

Season the ribs generously with salt and pepper.  Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy pot with a lid (Dutch oven) over high heat.  Brown the ribs on all sides, in batches if necessary. Remove the ribs and pour off all but a couple tablespoons of the rendered fat.

Return the pot to the stove, lower the heat to medium and saute the garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes. Add the ribs back to the pot. Add the beer and the vinegar. Stir and then cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 300 F.  Pour the hoisin sauce over the ribs, move the pot to the oven, and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Remove ribs and ginger from sauce. Strain fat from the top of the pot.

Recipe courtesy of Dave Lieberman at Food Network.

Rosemary White Bean Puree

2 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 (15-oz) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chicken broth
1  1/4 tsp. rosemary, chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine

Puree garlic in food processor.  Add the white beans, chicken broth and 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt.  Pulse until smooth.  A stick blender would also work for this.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add rosemary and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add wine and bring to boil.  Stir in the white bean mixture.  Keep on heat until warm.

Recipe courtesy of  The Bitten Word.

Meanwhile, in a saute pan,  wilt some Swiss chard with garlic and olive oil.  Salt & pepper to taste.

Wine Poached Pears

A fool-proof, easy-peasy dessert that always wows your guests.  I brought these to a Thanksgiving pot-luck and everyone though I was mainlining Julia Child.  Little did they know the recipe was only barely more time-consuming than making Jell-O.


Wine Poached Pears

5 – 6 pears, peeled, cored and halved
1 bottle fruity red wine
1 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks

Simmer wine and sugar in a large saucepan until sugar is dissolved.  Add cinnamon sticks and pears, core side down.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Flip pears and poach for another ten minutes.  Pears should be fork tender when done.  Serve with a scoop of marscapone or Explorateur cheese.  Fresh whipped cream will do in a pinch.

Recipe courtest of


You Wanna Eat Me!

You Wanna Eat Me!

Smoked Paprika Scallops, Fennel, Black Japonica Rice & Spiced Tomato-Spinach

This was one of those “what do I have in the freezer/pantry and how can I spin it into something different?”-type meals.    It was also pretty easy to make.


Smoked Paprika Scallops


Smoked Paprika Scallops with Fennel

1 pound small scallops
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 cup white wine
Salt and pepper
1 lime, sliced into wedges, for garnish

Rinse the scallops and pat them dry. Toss with the paprika and salt. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat and sear the scallops for about a minute on each side – do not overcook. Remove and put on a plate and cover to keep warm.

Heat the olive oil in the skillet and add the garlic and fennel. Saute slowly over medium heat until slightly softened – about 5-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and wine and simmer until slightly reduced – about 10 minutes. Add the scallops back in for about 2 minutes – just long enough to warm through. Taste and season as necessary with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with pasta or rice.

Recipe courtesy of Apartment Therapy.


Spiced Tomato-Spinach

1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach
1 cup tomato, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2  teaspoon cumin, ground
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper

Rinse & clean spinach.  Discard tough stems.  Pat dry or spin in salad spinner.  Heat olive oil in heavy saute pan over medium-low heat.  Saute garlic for a few minutes.   Add spinach, tomato, cumin, and cayenne.   Toss over heat until spinach is wilted, but not mushy.  Salt & pepper to taste.

Recipe based on an article I think I read in the New York Times about a Middle Eastern spinach recipe.  Or a Mediterranean one.