This recipe joins ingredients I’d never imagined together.  Think about a Chinese stir-fry with an American Southwestern flair.  Canned creamed corn might send me running in the opposite direction, but this recipe was described as “brilliant,” and with Mark Bittman backing it,  I took the  gastronomic leap of faith and went for it. What a great stir-fry concoction it is!   It’ll be a regular in my nightly repertoire from now on.  The combination of creamed corn and fresh corn kernels is the secret to success.

(from The Essential New York Times Cookbook)

1 pound boneless chicken breasts (or thighs), cut into small chunks
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp Japanese sesame oil
1 Tbs white wine (or rice wine)
salt to taste
2 Tbs vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs minced ginger
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 can of creamed corn (15 oz)
1 cup corn kernels (I used roasted kernels, frozen)
chopped fresh cilantro

Mix the chicken with the soy sauce, the sesame oil, and wine. Season very lightly with salt. Keep at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes (you can also do this step several hours in advance).

Heat the vegetable oil on a large skillet, when very hot, drain the chicken and add to the pan, without crowding (if necessary, do it in two batches). Let it cook undisturbed until the pieces get a nice golden brown color, then flip them around to cook the other side. The whole process will take less than 5 minutes, if your oil was hot enough to begin with. Turn the heat down, add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cook for a minute, add the creamed corn and corn kernels (no need to defrost if frozen). Cook stirring every once in a while until the dish is heated through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro right before serving, preferably over white rice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Most stir-fries finish with a liquid thickened by some type of starch – usually cornstarch or arrowroot.  In this recipe the creamed corn provides all the texture and substance you’ll need.  I made it, start to finish,   in less than 30 minutes on a weeknight, but in the future I might marinate the chicken early in the morning and leave it in the fridge the whole day.

In the Summer, when corn is at its peak, I’ll use fresh kernels, but this time I grabbed the excellent frozen kernels at Trader Joe’s.  The fact that they were roasted added even more flavor.  The colors and the taste were like Spring on the plate.  We are ready for it…  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedo (this definitely goes to our Hall of Fame of Breads)

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When we left for LA I waved goodbye to all my cookbooks except one:  Mark Bittman’s Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times.  It seemed like the perfect guide for our stay here, when we’d face longer commutes and a busier overall schedule.  I’ve already made quite a few recipes from it,  and this simple shrimp recipe is a fine example of its utility:  the dish was ready in minutes and perfect for a weeknight dinner.  Throw on some white rice, whip up a salad, unleash some tropical music (we’ve been listening to this quite a bit lately), and rock the casbah!.

(Mark Bittman, visit his website by clicking here)

2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs minced ginger
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 + 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp lime zest
1 can tomatoes, diced  (28 ounces)
salt and black pepper
1 + 1/2 pounds peeled shrimp
fresh cilantro (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the ginger and saute for 1 minute.  Add the cumin, coriander, and lime zest and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.  Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, mix well and bring to a boil.   Reduce the heat and cook until the mixture is almost dry – about 15 minutes (I opted for leaving a little bit more saucy, so I cooked for less than 10 minutes).

Add the shrimp and stir.  Cook until done, less than 10 minutes in very gentle heat.  Taste, adjust seasoning, sprinkle fresh cilantro leaves and serve over white rice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Two details make this recipe shine. First, the ginger is minced, not grated.  I confess that when I read the recipe I rolled my eyes  – why mince ginger if you can grate it, Mr Bittman? – but, my Microplane is bigger than our kitchen sink, so I succumbed to the idea of washing a knife instead.    😉    Well, from now on I’ll be mincing ginger with a smile, because I loved its intense flavor in each bite, making a huge improvement over grating.

Secondly,  he lightly toasts the spices  in oil, a common technique in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, that also pumps the flavor to another level. Don’t omit these steps,  because they make this dish surprisingly tasty. Shrimp (and seafood in general) is indeed the busy cook’s best friend!

ONE YEAR AGOGolden Zucchini: A taste of yellow

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(Mark Bittman)

2 colheres de sopa de azeite
1 colher de sopa de gengibre picado
1 colher de sopa de cominho
1 + 1 / 2 colher de chá de semente de coentro moida
1 colher de chá de raspas de limão
1 lata de tomates picados (cerca de 2.5 copos)
sal e pimenta preta
750g – 1 kg  de camarão descascado
coentro fresco (opcional)

Aqueça o azeite em uma frigideira, adicione o gengibre e refogue por 1 minuto. Adicione o cominho, semente de coentro moida e raspas de limão e cozinhe por 30 segundos, mexendo sempre. Adicione os tomates, o sal e a pimenta, misture bem e deixe ferver.  Abaixe o fogo e cozinhe até que a mistura esteja quase seca – cerca de 15 minutos (optei por deixar um pouco mais liquido, cozinhei menos de 10 minutos).

Acrescente os camarões e mexa. Cozinhe até que mudem de cor, menos de 10 minutos em fogo bem suave.  Prove, ajuste o tempero, adicione o coentro fresco imediatamente antes de servir, de preferencia com arroz branco.