Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Glazed Baby Bok Choy

At our house, we eat a lot of broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, and even peas -- all the "usual suspects" in the vegetable genre. But sometimes it's nice to change it up a little and that's where baby bok choy comes in! I bought this at a local Asian grocery, but I've seen it at my regular supermarket, too. If you have an Asian grocery, you can probably get a big bag of this for about $2! Score!

Baby bok choy is more tender and less bitter than its "adult" counterpart, and it cooks up beautifully in stir fries or sauteed with a light sauce, which is what we're doing here. This dish is a great side to any Asian main dish, or any grilled meat. 

First, wash and dry the bok choy. Kind of like celery, dirt can hide in the stalks and the leaves so give it a good once over. I usually spray it down and then double check for the dirties when I dry it with a paper towel. 

Heat your oil in a large pan until it's nice and hot, then add the bok choy, cut side down. I had to do this in two batches as to not crowd it. You want the vegetables to have plenty of room so that they brown nicely. 

After a couple minutes, flip them over and let them brown on the other side.

Repeat with your second batch, if necessary, and then cook the sauce slightly till it begins to thicken. Add all the bok choy back into the pan, and stir it around till it's all coated with the sauce.

Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds (oops, I forgot those! but they add a nice touch, so try to remember, ha!) 


Glazed Bok Choy

1 pound baby bok choy
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil 
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-2 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil

Place the bok choy in a colander and rinse with cold water. Be sure to scrub off any dirt on the stalks or in between the leaves, then pat dry. 

Cut each bok choy in half lengthwise.

Combine the soy sauce, water, vinegar, sweet chili sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl or measuring cup. 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy in a single layer, cut side down, and cook without stirring until the bottoms start to brown, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, flip the bok choy over and cook an additional minutes. Transfer to a plate. (I had to do this in two batches. You don't want to crowd them in the skillet, because you want them to brown nicely.)

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the sauce to the skillet. Simmer for 30 seconds or until slightly thickened whisking constantly.

Add bok choy back to the skillet and turn with tongs until the sauce glazes each bok choy halve. Transfer to a platter and garnish with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Caramel Pear Upside Down Cake

We were recently the recipients of a large bag of pears from friends who have two pear trees in their yard. What a gift! We've been eating them plain, putting them on salads, and I used some to bake two different cakes. 

(Half the pears were already gone when I took this picture!)

Pears and caramel go really well together, so I knew this cake would be a big hit. And it was. It's so easy to put together, (no mixer required) and I don't even peel the pears, since the skin is so thin. Just look at all that caramelly pear goodness!

Add some batter, bake it up, then let it rest for a bit

before you bravely flip it over onto a plate! I couldn't flip and take a photo at the same time, ha! Guess I need an assistant.

If you need an impressive dessert, look no further than this. We especially loved how the caramel gets kind of crunchy on the outside edge of the cake - yum! 

We loved this with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream, but whipped cream would be a great garnish, too.  (And eating it plain is also a great option.)


Caramel Pear Upside Down Cake

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1-2 pears, thinly sliced (or 1 can pears)
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla 
1/3 cup vegetable or avocado oil

In a greased 9 inch cake pan, arrange the pears slices in a circle, starting from the outer edge. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt the brown sugar and butter together. Once it begins to bubble, swirl the pan and lightly stir to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Add the cream, and stir to incorporate.

Gently pour the caramel over the pear slices.

Into a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and oil until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk well until no streaks of flour remain. 

Carefully pour the cake batter on top of the pear slices. Bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes then invert onto a serving plate. Allow to cool completely, or serve slightly warm, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Roasted Potato "Salad" with Dijon Vinaigrette

Here's another great summer salad recipe for your next al fresco dining adventure. This time, potatoes get the royal treatment -- roasted to perfection, then tossed with a light dressing, bacon, chives and cheese. It's a great change of pace from heavy mayo-based potato salads. 

This side dish goes well with any kind of meat: we loved it with both pork tenderloin and chicken, and it would be especially good with steak. You'll get the best results for this using Yukon Gold potatoes - they have a delicious creamy interior that roasts up beautifully and quickly in the oven. (Using the oven in summer is the only downside of this recipe. I suppose you could try air frying the potatoes but my air fryer wouldn't be big enough to do them all in one batch. So I used the oven and then we ate outside! ha!)

Toss the potatoes with olive oil and salt, then roast them in an even layer. I also broiled them for a couple minutes to get a nice blistery effect. 

Transfer the potatoes to a bowl, then top with the cheese so it can get a little melty on the hot potatoes! Yum.

Drizzle with the dressing. Mix it all up together so all the pieces are coated with the dressing, then add the bacon and chives. 

Voila! That's all there is to it. So simply, and such good flavor. 

You'll for sure want to taste test one of these beauties before you transfer it to a serving dish! 

Here's to many more nights eating outside yet this summer - and many more roasted potato salads!

Roasted Potato "Salad" with Dijon Viniagrette

2-3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into wedges 
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. apple cider or balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
Pinch of black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, feta, or Queso Fresca (you can also leave cheese out!)
2-3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
4-6 slices cooked, crumbled bacon

Preheat the oven to 400 and place a large, rimmed baking sheet in the oven.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Put the potatoes on the hot baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes. Flip the potatoes and bake for and additional 10 minutes, until the potatoes are golden and tender.

Set the broiler to high. Place the potatoes near the heat source and broil for several minutes until the potato skins are blistered and toasty. (This is an optional step.)

While the potatoes are baking, make the dressing by whisking together the Dijon, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Chop the chives and cook and chop the bacon.

When the potatoes are finished cooking, scrape them into a shallow bowl or serving platter. If using cheese, sprinkle it immediately over the warm potatoes so it melts slightly. Drizzle the dressing over the potatoes and toss gently to combine. Garnish with bacon crumbles and chives. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 side dish servings. 

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

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