Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cilantro-Lime Rice for a Citrus #SundaySupper

Cilantro Lime Rice

Happy Easter!

This might read like my salmon dish I published a couple of months ago because I was searching for a more flavorful side dish. I honestly couldn't remember where I saw this idea, but when I went looking at recipes it occurred to me that a possibility was the restaurant chain, Chipotle. It's probably one of the least repugnant national fast-casual chains in this country. I admire their culture of sustainability and sourcing their ingredients from local farmers, so I thought I'd take this opportunitry to replicate this component for a citrus #SundaySupper.

The Challenge

In all honesty, this dish isn't very difficult to prepare but this side dish would be perfect when your attention is focused on the protein. At the very least, this dish provides a fundamental method for cooking rice on the stovetop instead of using a rice cooker.

The Source

I adapted this recipe by Kelsey Nixon I found on Cooking Channel's website by doubling the ingredients and adding a garnish.


1 cup white rice
10 sprigs fresh cilantro plus 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped.
2 cups chicken stock
Juice of 2 limes


1. Put rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until the water draining from the strainer runs clear. In a small saucepan, bring the rice, cilantro sprigs, broth, and lime juice to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Remove the cilantro sprigs, stir in the chopped cilantro, fluff with a fork and serve.


Absolutely, however I'm a little surprised Chipotle does not have a seafood option on their menu because these flavors would complement it well.

Other Sunday Supper Participants

And finally, please check out this week's other Sunday Supper participants:

Better with Citrus Breakfasts:
Big On Citrus Breads & Condiments:
Make You Pucker Salads, Sides, & Main Dishes:
Sour Citrusy Sweets & Desserts:
Sour Sips & Drinks:
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter today to talk all about citrus recipes! We’ll tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more delicious recipes and food photos.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guest Post at Noshing with the Nolands: Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken

Remember in my shrimp and polenta dish when I noted that I hadn't prepared anything blogworthy in a while?

Um, yeah...I lied.

I prepared one dish but had to hold it back because I wrote it for a guest post for my friend, Tara of Noshing with the Nolands, that published today. If you're not familiar with her, I recommend getting to know her. She left a nursing career after twenty years to form a successful gift basket company but started preparing meals at home once her daughter arrived which led to her starting a blog. Please 'Like' her on facebook, follow her on twitter and pinterest.

The Challenge

Sucessfully execute a dish for someone else while leaving a good impression on their readers.

The Source, Ingredients and Method

...can all be found at Noshing with the Nolands.


Like I noted in my guest post for Cravings of a Lunatic, I cannot answer the second part of the challenge immediately. From an execution standpoint, I had one issue but you'll have to click on the link to read about it.

Finally, check out Tara's other guest posters:

Aly of Cooking in Stillettos
Jessica of One Sweet Appetite
Peter of Feed Your Soul
Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
Soni of Soni's Food

And a preview of Tara's upcoming guests:

Jennifer of Peanut Butter and Peppers
Laureen of Art and the Kitchen
Nancy of Gotta Get Baked

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Call this winter's last gasp.

About three months ago, I published a braised short ribs dish that I was not successful primarily because the addition of vinegar in the braising fluid that overpowered any other flavor, so I wanted to correct it here. So earlier this week on a cool afternoon I prepared the dish again using an altered method from the earlier one.

The Challenge

Correct a previously unsuccessful dish.

The Source

Page 60 of the recipe guide of Top Chef University DVD set.


4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5-6 pounds bone-n beef short ribs
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 onions, cut into quarters
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 bottle (375 milliliters or approximately 1 3/4 cups) full bodied-red wine
4 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 bouquet garni (1 bunch flat-leaf parsley stems, 6 sprigs fresh thyme, 2-3 rosemary sprigs tied together using kitchen twine)
2 bay leaves


1. Season the short ribs on all sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the short ribs and brown on all sides (cooking in batches, if necessary, so the pan doesn't get too crowded), about 2 minutes per side. Once browned, remove to a plate and set aside.

2. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook until soft and brown slightly, about 5 minutes.

Add the bouquet garni and bay leaves. Deglaze the Dutch oven with the red wine and reduce by half.

Return the ribs to the oven and add enough beef stock to cover at least 3/4 of the ribs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer over low heat until the meat is tender and falling off the bones, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

3. Remove the ribs and place aside. Put a colander over a bowl and strain the sauce of its solids. Return the oven to the stovetop over high heat and reduce by half, or until rich and syrupy, adjusting the season if necessary. Serve with the sauce poured over the ribs.


This version, while simpler, led to incredible flavor. Even my picky 5-year-old daughter, proclaimed YUM! once I gave her the first bite. The reduced sauce was rich and full bodied and the meat was tender and literally falling off the bone once I removed it from the Dutch oven. Definitely better than my first attempt.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Light Stunt: Garlic Shrimp Scampi and Soft Polenta with Olive Oil plus a Rant

Garlic Shrimp Scampi and Soft Polenta with Olive Oil

Sorry I've been so absent lately. My daughter recently had a birthday so I was caught up with preparations for her party. Also, I haven't prepared anything blogworthy lately. This past weekend was Saint Patrick's Day, so I hope everyone enjoyed green Guiness, Baileys, and/or corned beef and cabbage. For me, this past weekend was filled with food highs and lows, as I was reminded why I loathe chain restaurants. This dish was definitely a high. More on the low later.

So this is my version of the Southern staple shrimp and grits, only with an Italian twist on the dish. It's hardly original, but I have a tough time making shrimp the focal protein in a dish. For me, shrimp is best complementing other ingredients (such as in a pasta sauce, part of a surf-and-turf, etc.), or on it's own as an hors d'oeuvres because of it's size. I know it's psychological. If I can pick up the protein with my fingers and eat it without cutting it into pieces, I feel like I'm missing something.

The shrimp component came togther rather quickly which qualified it for a Light Stunt. I've also updated the polenta method primarily because the version I published last December yielded too much for my family of three.

The Challenge

Get past my mental issues with shrimp and attempt an alternate method for preparing polenta.

The Source

I adapted the polenta recipe from Michael Chiarello's Soft Polenta with Greens and Basil Oil which can be found on page 129 of Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking by Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher. The shrimp recipe I took from page 147 of the recipe guide of Top Chef University DVD set.


4 1/2 cups chicken stock
kosher salt
1 cup corn meal
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
24 medium sized shrimp, peeled, deveined, but tails left on
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade for garnish
prosciutto bits, for garnish


1. Start the polenta: Bring the chicken stock to a boil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan and add kosher salt to taste. Slowly whisk in the corn meal. Once the corn meal has been added and the mixture thickens, switch to a wooden spoon and reduce heat to low and maintain a bare simmer. Cook, stirring often until thick and creamy, about 40 minutes.

2. Prepare the shrimp: While the polenta cooks, pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Season both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place a large sauté pan over high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the shrimp and garlic. Toss the shrimp to coat them in the oil and garlic and remove them to a plate once the shrimp turn pink and are slightly curled, about 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the heated pan and swirl to melt, thereby deglazing it with any residual shrimp and garlic flavors. Add the lemon juice and white wine and let it reduce for a minute or two. Fold in the parsley and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Return the shrimp to the pan and toss the to infuse the flavors of the sauce with the shrimp. Remove from heat.

3. Finish the dish: Once the polenta has reached the desired consistency, stir in the parmesan and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Remove from heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, stirring to melt. To plate, add the polenta to warmed bowls, top with shrimp, garnish with the prosciutto and basil, then drizzle with olive oil.


Be sure to stir in the corn meal slowly. In my rush to get started with the shrimp, I added the corn meal too quickly and it started to clump together so I had to aggressively stir the mixture to break it apart. In addition, most polenta recipes I've reviewed advise to heavily season the liquid before adding the corn meal but I'd advise caution if you're using chicken stock because the stock could already have a high sodium content. This is especially true if you use store-bought stock. As I noted above, the shrimp component cooked very quickly so I was unfortunately unable to take pictures. I still have issues with shrimp entreés, but this did help in alleviating the problem.

Finally, I'd like to ask those reading this that are in the food service industry professionally a question. My food low this past weekend occurred on Saturday night when my disdain for chain restaurants was reinforced. My daughter and I went to the nearby location of said chain ahead of Mrs. Stuntman, who was meeting us there from the office. We arrived about 7:30pm and was told there would be a 45 minute wait which I thought was reasonable for a group of three at a popular restaurant, given the time on a busy Saturday night. A few minutes before my name was called, I spotted Mrs. Stuntman circling the parking lot trying to find a space. When I got to the hostess stand, I explained that my wife was just parking and would only be 5 minutes behind. The hostess refused to sit me and my daughter but noted that once Mrs. Stuntman arrived, they would seat us when the next table became available.


I understand that an empty table at a restaurant doesn't generate revenue, but I don't understand why it wouldn't seat a group when the most of them are present. Let's say the business gave my table away to someone else and then two tables later, my wife arrives which means that we would be cutting in front of someone else. Why should that other customer be penalized because I was late? Theoretically, wouldn't it be fairer to send my group back to the bottom of the list? Secondly, we're talking a mere 5 minutes. I already knew Mrs. Stuntman's drink order and she would have caught up easily when she got to our table, however, this particular chain decided to make a point and the position of the hostess was later confirmed by the front-of-house manager. I would be willing to bet that if the size of a group was twenty but were only missing two, it would be seated.

Given the extremely competitive nature of this industry (There are at least a half dozen other chain restaurants in the same parking lot alone.), I was more than a little surprised by the actions of this business. I must admit, I lost my cool, yelled at the manager, waited outside while Mrs. Stuntman and my daughter ate inside and got a drive-thru grease burger on my way home.

What am I missing here? Food service prefessionals, I would appreciate if you can enlighten me. Please leave a comment below.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Herb-Stuffed Chicken Thighs with Balsamic Jus

Herb-Stuffed Chicken Thighs with Balsamic Jus

While I was looking at The Flavor Bible one day, I noted that balsamic vinegar and chicken complemented each other and I had seen many dishes that featured these two ingredients recently so I decided to test the flavor pair myself.

The Source

I adapted this dish from Food & Wine.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 thyme sprigs
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns, crushed
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
Ksher salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and thyme sprigs and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the wine and boil over medium-high heat until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bay leaf and peppercorns and boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 30 minutes.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar with the shallots and the remaining 1/2 cup of white wine and boil over moderately high heat until the liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 8 minutes. Add the reduced chicken stock and cook for 2 minutes. Strain the sauce into a small saucepan.

3. In a bowl, combine the butter with the thyme, tarragon, parsley and garlic. Gently spread the mixture under the chicken skin. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until the butter is firm, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 450° Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a oven-safe skillet. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side up and roast in the oven until cooked through, about 20 minutes, then transfer the chicken to a warm platter.

5. Pour the juices from the roasting pan into the balsamic jus. Reheat the balsamic jus, then pour into a sauceboat and serve with the chicken.


The chicken stock took some of the bite out of the taste of the vinegar but the flavors do pair well.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Presenting: Grilled New York Steak with Béarnaise Sauce and Arugula Salad

Grilled New York Steak with Béarnaise Saude and Arugula Salad

So my kitchen has finally been put back together but the day it was finished, Mrs. Stuntman took off with my daughter and my sister-in-law to Southern California for a week to help her move. I still had a little money leftover from what my apartment manager gave me for food while my kitchen was not usable, so I ate out...often. I admit, I was lazy and didn't want to go through the trouble of cooking from scratch for one, but after more than a week of self-inflicted take-out hell I was ready for a good home-cooked meal, no matter how many were eating. Since it was just me, myself and I, I figured I could purchase something a little luxurious and not break the bank so I chose a New York strip steak.

A quick check of The Flavor Bible yielded a flavor affinity of beef steak, arugula, balsamic vinegar and parmesan. In addition, I saw Béarnaise sauce noted several times under the category of beef so I googled it. Béarnaise is a derivative of a Hollandaise which is one of five mother sauces of French cuisine. These sauces are an emulsion of butter and egg yolks but are flavored differently.

This isn't a very creative dish because these are classic pairings but I thought I could use the opportunity to practice my plating and I skipped my Presenting: series in February so I wanted to compensate for it here.

The Challenge

Improve food presentation and photography.

The Source

For the Béarnaise, I used a recipe from Heather of girlichef and the arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette and parmesan I took from Emeril via Please check their respective links for the recipes.

For the steak, I seasoned both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and used a grill pan set over medium-high heat, cooked at a 45 degree angle for two to three minutes then turned the steak the other direction (i.e. from right to left to create the cross-hatch grill marks) for an an additional two to three minutes and then flipped the steak over and repeated the process. Once finished, I removed the steak to a plate and rested for 5 minutes to allow for carryover cooking.


I now understand why these ingredients work so well together. The steak, salad and sauce complemented each other nicely. I would adjust the heat to medium instead of medium-high when I prepare it again because I like my steaks medium-rare to medium, but it was still the best meal I ate all week. From a presentation standpoint, I'd use less sauce next time but I like the color contrast of the plate.

Lastly, if you're not familiar with Heather, get to know her. She can be reached several places, namely: twitter, facebook, instagram, flickr, StumbleUpon, pinterest, G+, and LinkedIn.