Well Dined


Random Weekday Food

When I don't plan ahead for a week of meals, it can get a bit random and haphazard in the kitchen. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. Here is a sampling of what I threw together recently during a hectic week.

Sandwiches don't have to be boring, I threw together a gourmet panini with ingredients that I happened to have hanging around already: turkey, arugula, fig jam, and taleggio cheese. The pungent cheese, rich and sweet jam, and spicy arugula are perfect for turning turkey into something special.

I revisited a recipe that I demoed in a technique class at Williams Sonoma back in February. This Peruvian dish, called Aji de Gallina, uses aji pepper paste for flavor (but not necessarily for spice) and evaporated milk and ground walnuts for creaminess and texture. The original recipe (which you can find here) called for poaching a whole chicken. Instead, I used rotisserie chicken from the store to save me time and effort and it worked just as well. I actually had leftover steamed rice from PF Changs on hand, so I re-steamed it in the microwave (sprinkle water over the rice and cover with a damp paper towel) and served it with the chicken. Using those shortcuts made it easy to put this hearty dish together on a weeknight. I also added a soft-boiled egg (a traditional addition to the dish), but decided I would have liked it closer to a medium boil - the flavor of the raw yolk got lost and overpowered by the flavor of the aji paste.

Ramen noodles may not seem like anything special, but you can definitely add ingredients to make them more exciting. I love to poach an egg in the soup (you can see one peeking out in the left side of the bowl in the photo) and top it off with scallions. Using less water and topping the noodles with breaded chicken or pork is another great option.

Lastly, I made some brisket. Smoking a brisket can be quite a process, but there is definitely an easier way to cook it. I just throw it in my slow cooker with some starter sauce and onions and leave it alone all day! The brisket comes out tender and the braised onions are ridiculously good. I served it up with some mashed potatoes and steamed green beans topped with butter and lemon juice. Let me tell you, after all those vegetable heavy meals over the summer, Jasper was so happy to get some meat and potatoes!

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