Friday, September 21, 2012

Chicken Pho Naan Sandwich


One of our all-time favorite dishes at our house is Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup that is equally as complex as it is savory and can almost always keep any cold or chilly day at bay. Pho is made with a magical broth and is served with beef or chicken, rice noodles and various garnishes such as thai basil, bean sprouts, and lime wedges. Oh yeah, and sriracha. Pho and sirarcha were made for each other.

I would try making it at home, but I haven't found the time to make the broth (it takes hours and hours for it to be authentic). So as a riff on the traditional Pho, I wanted to experiment and try making it more portable, a.k.a. a sandwich. There are your typical pho ingredients: bean sprouts, cilantro, basil, tomato, avocado, chicken, hoisin and sirarcha sauces. And then the non-traditional: everything is all wrapped in a tandori naan. The ingredients come together and will remind you of pho. And the naan is perfect wrapper, soft yet sturdy enough to keep everything together without overpowering the other ingredients. It's a small stroke of genius if I do say so myself.

Chicken Pho Sandwich
Makes 4 sandwiches (approximately $7.92 per serving)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package of 365 Everyday Value Tandoori Naan
  • 4 tablespoons 365 Everyday Value Organic Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 scallions, green parts only, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • 1 beefsteak tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (Thai basil if available)
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges (optional)


DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat 365 Everyday Value Tandoori Naan according to package directions. Remove naan from oven and lay out in assembly-line fashion.
  2. Spread about a tablespoon of 365 Everyday Value Organic Hoisin Sauce in the center of each naan.
  3. Add 1/2 tablespoon (or more if desired) of sriracha to hoisin spread on each naan.
  4. Divide shredded chicken and place on top of sauces.
  5. Divide cilantro and scallions and distribute on top of the chicken.
  6. Divide avocado slices among the four sandwiches, placing them on top of the cilantro and scallions.
  7. Add one or two tomato slices on top of the cilantro and scallions.
  8. Divide basil and place on top of the tomato.
  9. Divide bean sprouts and distribute equally among the four sandwiches and place on top of the tomato.
  10. Season with salt and pepper and squeeze some lime on top, if desired. Roll sandwiches and wrap with parchment pepper. Serve immediately - no soup spoon required!

I was inspired to come up with this recipe as part of the Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value Cook-off. The winning recipe will win a donation in a blogger's name to a local food-related non-profit.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Letter to My Future 30-Something Year Old Son

Dear Son,

Now that you have a family of your own, you no doubt have some challenges with your picky eater. You're wondering, "How can this be? I'm a foodie. My wife is a foodie. We get the best produce teleported to us from our virtual CSA!" I know this will come to a surprise, but you too were a picky eater. Especially when it came to eating your vegetables. We tried serving it raw, baked, sautéed, grilled - you name it. You were just like that silly girl Lola from the classic tale of "I Will Never, Not Ever, Eat a Tomato" by Lauren Childs.

So here's a tip I want to share with you that worked for me and your father. Introduce new ingredients with something you know your kids like to eat. So for you, we added veggies to rice. We also found if we got you to help grow veggies in our garden, you were more open to trying it. I've never seen you gobble up tomatoes faster then when we picked them off the vine from the garden in our backyard.

So put away your cookscreens (or whatever you call those fancy cookbooks of the future) and try this one-pot chicken and rice favorite. You loved it as a kid. I think your kids will like it too.

Love,
Mom



Chicken Sofrito 
Adapted from Food and Wine 

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4-8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large thyme sprigs
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup chopped tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 cup white rice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup roasted almonds

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust lightly with chili powder. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until well browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. 
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme sprigs to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until onion is softened (about 8 minutes). Add the bell pepper, fennel seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder and cook, stirring until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the chopped tomatoes, raise the heat to high and cook until bubbling. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a simmer. Arrange chicken pieces on the rice. Bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender.
  3. Transfer chicken to a plate. Discard thyme sprigs, stir in lemon juice and sprinkle almonds on top. Spoon the rice onto plates, add the chicken and serve. 


Saturday, September 8, 2012

End of Summer Corn Salad



Corn: one of the few veggies my kids will actually devour, willingly. They will eat it on the cob, but they prefer to eat corn off the cob. So as the summer corn crops come to an end, I thought I’d share a corn side dish that has proven to be a crowd-pleaser, even if the crowd consists of loads of picky eaters.

Herbed Corn & Zucchini Salad
Inspired by Cook’s Country

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 small zucchini, diced (my kids prefer a fine dice)
4-5 ears of corn, cut from the cob (about 3 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh scallions
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
  1.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and cook until softened and browned at edges, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add corn and cook until deep yellow and softened, about 2 minutes
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) and remove from heat
  4. Stir in herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Boston Brunchers Review: M3 (Davis Square)



As I’ve mentioned previously, brunch is my absolute favorite meal. Other than waiting for a table at some of the more popular brunch spots, it’s a win-win when it comes to dining out with your kids. What kid doesn’t like pancakes (or in my case, bacon)? And brunch is the few times when it’s totally acceptable to have a cocktail before noon.

But let’s be honest for a moment, most brunch places are kind of the same. You got your eggs benedict, pancakes, waffles, French toast, omelets, etc. So when I heard the Boston Brunchers were going check out M3, Davis Square’s new Southern-inspired restaurant, I quickly jumped at the chance faster than you can say “Meat & Three.”

M3, which stands for the southern concept of “meat and three sides,” is the brainchild of owner and Nashville, Tennessee native Jason Owens. There is a very hip, retro vibe as soon as you walk in. It could be the pretty blue tin decorative ceiling and light fixtures, the kitschy salt & pepper shakers, or the fact that the walls and tables are covered with chalk-board paint. Whatever it is, it is way cool.



While I was not with my kids, I can confidently say M3 is kid-friendly. There were plenty of diners with young children. I know my kids would get a kick out of drawing right on the table with the bowls filled with chalk. While M3 does not have a kids menu, there certainly is plenty of items even the pickiest eater can find enjoyable on the menu.

As a group, the Boston Brunchers were treated to a sampling of their greatest hits when it comes to brunch. We started off with a refreshing pickled watermelon salad with minty goat cheese and cucumber. The combination of sweet and sour plus the silkiness of the goat cheese was a perfect palate cleanser.


Pickles is their thing here. And they do it well. There is the perfect balance of tangy, sour, bite and crunch.


Next came the Scotch Eggs. I’ve never had scotch eggs before, but always wanted to try one. M3’s Scotch Eggs are made with quail eggs, wrapped in a house sausage and deep-fried. I like ordering things I would never make for myself at home. This is definitely one of them.


Then came some true southern dishes according to some of the fellow brunchers who hailed from the south. Our group swooned over the Chicken and Biscuits - house-made chicken patties served between fresh buttermilk biscuits and gravy.


At this point I was getting full, but our server brought out another southern classic - Fried Chicken and Waffles.  And looking around the dining room, this was a popular item. The chicken was cooked perfectly but was outshined by the waffles in my opinion. Hard to compete with made to order waffles stuffed with pecans and topped with cherries.

Athena Yang of Finance Foodie excited to dig in


It was official. We were stuffed. But then it happened. Stack of the fluffiest blueberry pancakes topped with lemon ricotta and house berry syrup. We all just *had* to try it. And so glad we did.


Just as we were all trying to loosen some clothing due to expanding waistlines, the final dish made its entrance: cinnamon bran, texas-style, French toast with apple butter syrup and, wait for it… bacon covered with chocolate. Oh. My. M3’s pastry chef is also a chocolatier and makes and hand-dips the bacon in-house. Over the top? Maybe. Delicious? You bet.


As we all rolled out of there, it was unanimous everyone would return. Maybe only after running a marathon the day before so we would not feel so guilty consuming all those calories. But brunch is supposed to be indulgent. And M3 hits “indulgence” right out of the park. 

Disclosure: Thanks to M3 and Boston Brunchers for hosting brunch, which I received free of charge. As always, all opinions are my own.

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