Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lazy man's chinese chicken with green peppers

Because I was still feeling stuffed from yesterday's Thanksgiving dinner, I couldn't bring myself to making a much-needed pit stop at the grocery store.  And when I say much needed, I mean it.  As far as main ingredients go, I was limited to beef or chicken, tomatoes or green peppers and pasta or rice.  I was in a Chinese mood so I decided to try my hand at creating a ubiquitous Chinese dish: chicken with green peppers and onion!  I didn't have a recipe, only an educated guess of what the ingredients could be.  Moreover, I had to work with what I had!

So this is what I came up with:


For two people, you 'll need:

Two large chicken breasts
1 large onion
2 medium-sized green bell peppers
4 hot peppers
5 cloves of garlic
Soy sauce
1/2 cup of chicken stock (bouillon)
1 teaspoon of cornstarch 
vegetable oil (arachid oil or sunflower seed oil, never olive oil!)


1. Cut the chicken and green peppers into bitesize pieces.  Cut the onions into 1/8ths. Slice the garlic into large pieces.  Slice the spicy peppers into long pieces.

2.  Pour enough oil into a wok to cover the bottom and heat it up.  Once the oil is hot, add the sliced garlic and the slices of spicy pepper.

3. When the garlic begins to turn brown, add the chicken. Stir rapidly, to cook the pieces on all sides.

4. Add the onions and green peppers to the chicken and stir.  Drizzle soy sauce over the chicken and vegetables. Keep on stirring.  Be careful not to pour too much soy sauce over the chicken, you can always add more later.

5. Add the chicken stock or bouillon, and swiftly stir all the contents of the wok through the sauce at the bottom of the wok.

6.  Mix the teaspoon of cornstarch with some water.  Add the cornstarch mix spoonful by spoonful to the sauce in the wok, up to the point where the sauce has reached the thickness you desire.  Make sure to stir  the starch in well with the sauce.

7.  Add more soy sauce to your taste.  Stir.

That's it!  Easy-peasy chinesey!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stoemp Met Wortelen (Stoemp with Carrots)

Since winter has arrived, I couldn't resist making this wonderful winter dish.  A traditional dish from Brussels, "stoemp" has everything you need to stay fat warm and happy!  It basically is a type of mashed potatoes with a large amount of vegetables mashed right in with the potatoes.  And you can do it with all kinds of vegetables, although each one will require a slightly different preparation.

This time we'll focus on Stoemp with carrots, one of my favorites, especially when served with a nice banger-like sausage (although it should have a bit more of a peppery taste to it).

What do you need?

For two people you'll need:

6 to 7 large potatoes
10 large carrots
1 large onion
1 to 2 cups of milk

Let's get cooking!

1. Start by peeling the potatoes and cleaning the carrots and onion. 

2 Boil the potatoes to the point where they're soft enough to make mashed potatoes (usually around 18-20 minutes, but it varies according to the size of the potatoes).  You can halve the potatoes to shorten the cooking time.  Make sure to add plenty of salt to the water.

3.  Dice the carrots into small cubes.  Do the same thing for the onion. Melt a tablespoon of good, unsalted butter in a small frying pan or pot.

4. Once the butter has melted, add the onion.  Stir it until it has become glazy.  At that point, add in the diced carrots.  Keep it on a low fire for about 15 minutes, while stirring regularly.  You may need to add a little more butter or olive oil if you prefer.  Once the carrots are soft, you can remove them from the fire.

5.  When the potatoes are cooked, pour away the water and leave the potatoes in the pot. Mash them up a little bit before adding in the carrots.

6.  Add the carrots, a tablespoon of butter, lots of pepper and freshly ground nutmeg.  Also pour in about a cup of milk to ensure the stoemp is moist enough.  Add more later if need be.

7.  Mash it all together so that you get a consistent orange-yellow mass.

8.  Taste it to check whether it needs more spices or butter, or milk.

Serve with sausage, porkchops or thick bacon.

To wash it down, I suggest a dark beer with spices, such as a Belgian trappist or abbey beer.  A nice pale ale will also go great with it!