Monday, January 20, 2014

Slow Cooker Short Ribs - Asian Style

The slightly weird looking vegetable above is a Chinese radish called a daikon.  It is crisp and refreshing and can be eaten raw or cooked.  It is slightly more mild than a regular red radish.  In this recipe, the pickled carrot and daikon salad adds a fresh and crispy crunch to the tender and succulent short ribs.

This recipe is adapted from the Williams Sonoma New Slow Cooker book.  I made this recipe once for just Scott and I without the salad, and it was still very good, so if you are in a hurry, just throw everything in the slow cooker and forget about it.  The second time I made it, my brother and sister-in-law were visiting from L.A, so I thought I should do it right and include the salad.  It was met by rave reviews from all (even though I should have cooked it for a bit longer that time since I had made a bigger batch).

The portions here will serve four people when served over rice.


3 kg beef short ribs (about 8 small ones)
salt and pepper
3/4 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup organic ketchup
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
5 cloves garlic, smashed

2 carrots
1 daikon
rice wine vinegar
organic canola oil


1. Preheat the broiler on high.

2. Place the ribs bone-side down on a rack over a tray.  Season meat with salt, pepper, and five-spice powder.

3. Broil for 8 minutes.  Turn and broil for another 8 minutes.

4. Mix the hoisin, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, onion, ginger, and garlic in a 6 quart slow cooker.

5. Add the broiled ribs to the slow cooker and turn to coat in the sauce.  Cover with the lid and cook on low for at least 6 hours.  Ribs will be very tender and falling off the bone when done.

6. While the ribs are cooking, finely slice the carrot and daikon in to thin julienned strips.  Toss with a bit of rice vinegar, canola oil, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of sugar.  Let marinate in the fridge until the ribs are done.

7. When the ribs are done, serve them with rice.  Pour the cooking liquid into another container and let sit for five minutes.  Skim off the fat from the top, discard, and then pour the sauce over the ribs and rice.  Top off with the drained carrot/daikon salad. Enjoy!

Shopping Tips:

1. The hoisin and fish sauce can be found in the Asian section of a regular grocery store.

2. Daikon can be found in some grocery stores and in Asian markets (although it may be called lo bok).  If you can't find it, leave it out.  


1. The first time I made this, I didn't make the salad part. It was very good, so if you want an easier recipe, just make the ribs.

2. As with most things, this is even better the next day.  I like to cook it in the slow cooker on Sunday, and then I make another meal for dinner.  That way, I can save the ribs for meals later in the week.  I just separate the meat from the sauce and store them separately in the fridge.  That way the fat rises to the top of the sauce and I can skim it off the next day.  Then I mix them together again when I reheat them.  This meal does not suffer from being reheated in the microwave.  Just make fresh rice.  (Mom, do NOT mix the rice with the sauce and save it for leftovers!). 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chicken and Rice Bake

I love casseroles!  They are easy to make, taste comforting, and always produce leftovers.  What better for a cold winter supper.  The best thing about this casserole is that it is healthy without tasting "healthy" and can be made in an infinite number of variations.

This will serve four generously.  I bake it in an oval casserole dish that is a bit smaller than 9 x 11", but I think if you did it in a 9x11, it would also work.  You might just have to add more cheese to cover the top, but oh well, there are worse things in life!

This may look a bit complicated, but it is really no difficult than making a lasagne: cook rice, sauté veggies and chicken, mix sauce, combine, bake, eat!  This is also a great dish for leftover rice or chicken.


1/2 cups brown rice or farro (I used farro, but I know it can be difficult to find - check an Italian or organic store…)

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter
227 grams crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 leeks, sliced
4 kale stalks
3 cloves garlic
2 chicken breasts, cubed

1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 - 14 oz can of white beans (navy or cannelloni work), drained and rinsed

2 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp English or Dijon mustard
salt, pepper

1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated


*You will need: medium pot, large frying pan, large mixing bowl, small bowl, casserole dish.

1. Cook rice or farro in medium pot and let cool to room temperature.  (This is a great use for leftovers rice).

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. In a large frying pan, sauté mushrooms in oil until they start to brown.  Add salt, pepper, and leeks.  *It is very important that you season this dish with salt and pepper as you go.  If not, it will be bland.*  Sauté until leeks are wilted.

4. Add kale and garlic, season again with salt and pepper, and sauté for 2 more minutes.  Remove all ingredients to a large mixing bowl.

5. Add a bit more oil, if needed, and fry chicken cubes with salt and pepper until they are cooked through and liquid has evaporated. (If you have leftover chicken, this is a great place to use it).

6. Add rice, chicken, thyme, and beans to the mixing bowl with the vegetables.  Mixed together gently.

7. In a separate small bowl, mix together the eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, mustard, and a bit more salt and pepper.  Pour over the mixture in the large mixing bowl and combine.

8. Transfer all the ingredients to the casserole dish, which has been greased with a bit of oil or cooking spray.

9. Top with the grated cheese.

10. Bake for 40 minutes and then broil for 2 - 4 minutes until the cheese is brown. Enjoy!


1. You can really use any whole grain for this dish.  A combination of grains with different textures would work well also.

2. If you don't have leeks, use onion.  If you don't have kale, use spinach or chard or leave it out.  If you don't have yogurt, use sour cream.  If you don't have chicken use tuna or leave it out for a vegetarian dish!

Anything goes with this dish.  Try it with broccoli, cheese, and bacon instead of the veggies listed here, or make up your own combination.  Let me know what else you try...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Michael Smith's Mediterranean Salad

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Happy New Year!

If you are like me, you are a few dollars lighter and a few pounds heavier after the holiday season.  Around this time of year, I really feel the need to detox and lighten the load some.  For me, that doesn't mean juice cleanses or leek broth diets, it means eating lighter and including more fruits and vegetables at every meal - something that is very important for keeping your energy up for the final push through winter.

This salad is a great way to do that because it is full of several ingredients that will boost your energy and keep you going.  One of the problems I have with salads is that they are too light - they don't keep me filled.  But this one eats like a meal, and the chickpeas and olives provide healthy fibre and fat that keep me satiated.

Either as lunch or as a side to a dinner meal, this is one salad that you will keep coming back to again and again.  It serves 4 - 6.  (I have modified it slightly from Chef Michael Smith's original version).


1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp English or Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt

1 - 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 small red onion, diced and soaked in cold water
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 - 19 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
15 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 romaine lettuce hearts, torn into bits


1. Whisk first six ingredients together in the order listed (this will keep your tablespoon clean - trust me, I first did mustard and then oregano, and it was a mess!).  I like to make dressing in a small canning jar because then I can put on the lid, shake it up, and store the extra in the same jar.  Set aside.

2. In a salad bowl, mix the salad ingredients together except for the lettuce.

3. Toss the salad ingredients with as much dressing as you like and marinate in the fridge for an hour or so, if you have time.  If not, no problem.

4. When you are ready to serve the salad, toss the lettuce with some more of the dressing and then add the mixed ingredients on top.  Finish with the freshly group pepper.  Enjoy!

Shopping Tips:

1. Kalamata olives are the blackish purple ones.  You can sometimes buy them already pitted, but if not, just use the side of your knife to smash them gently and pull the pit out with your fingers.

2. Marinated artichoke hearts are usually sold in jars as opposed to cans.  If you have to use canned artichokes, make sure you rinse them first as they are quite a bit more acidic than the marinated ones.

3. Honey comes either pasteurized or unpasteurized.  I buy unpasteurized because it has more health benefits.  You can also buy different kinds of honey (wildflower, clover, etc.). These are based on the kinds of flowers that the bees were feasting on.  I really like wildflower honey.  I was also told last year that eating local honey can help with seasonal allergies.  Although I was a bit skeptical, I tried eating one teaspoon every day last year and found a noticeable difference…


1. You could make this with mixed Italian herbs instead of just oregano.

2. White wine vinegar would work if you don't have red wine vinegar.

3. You could also add a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese on top if you are so inclined.

4. If you are going to have leftovers, just make sure that you keep the lettuce separate from the rest of the dressed ingredients.  By doing so, this salad will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.  You might also want to leave out the tomatoes and add them at the last minute as well…

All in all, this is a great make ahead salad for potlucks, entertaining, or just for weekday lunches.  I have had several people comment that they do not normally like these ingredients separately, but mixed together with this dressing, it works!