Ginger-Glazed Bok Choy with Tofu and Noodles

Ginger-Glazed Bok Choy with Tofu and Soba Noodles Recipe

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

I was making a tofu stir fry the other day and realized mid-fry that I was out of half the ingredients for my go-to stir fry sauce. So I came up with this quick dish as an alternative and (to my surprise) it was quite tasty and despite the extremely minimalistic ingredient list very satisfying. Here’s what I did: I rolled the tofu in flour and fried it. Then I cooked some soba noodles and put a chopped baby bok choy (drizzled with a mix of soy sauce, oil and ginger) in a 400-degree oven. That was already pretty much it. I put the noodles, tofu and bok choy into bowls, drizzled the ginger sauce over everything, then sprinkled sesame seeds, chopped scallions and red cabbage on and voila, a quick and delicious lunch or dinner!

Ginger Glazed Bok Choy with Tofu and Noodles
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main Course
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • ½ pound tofu
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 ounces soba or other Asian noodles
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • one baby bok choy, chopped into 1-inch chunks
  • sesame seeds
  • a handful shredded red cabbage
  • 2 green onions, chopped
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and dip in flour on all sides.
  3. Fill a cast iron pan or a Dutch oven with vegetable oil about ½ inch high.
  4. Heat the oil until it's shimmering, then add the tofu and fry until brown on all sides.
  5. Take the tofu out and dry on a paper towel.
  6. Cook the noodles according to package instructions.
  7. Mix one tablespoon of oil with the soy sauce and the ginger.
  8. Transfer the bok choy to a baking pan and drizzle with the oil/soy/ginger mix.
  9. Put the bok choy in the oven and roast until it starts to wilt and the sauce starts to thicken.
  10. Serve the noodles with the tofu and the bok choy, drizzle the sauce over them, then sprinkle with sesame seeds, shredded cabbage and green onion.

 

Bay Leaf Chicken Drumsticks with Tarragon Pan Sauce

Bay Leaf Chicken Drumsticks with Tarragon Pan Sauce

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Bay leaves haven’t made much of an appearance on The Spice Train so far. I’m actually not sure why that is because I really like their slightly mentholy and herby flavor a lot, and I don’t view them as optional supporting characters, I like to let them take center stage as they do in this roasted chicken drumsticks dish.

I browned these guys in a cast iron pan with a bit of olive oil, then added the bay leaves and finished cooking them in the oven. You could easily serve them right then with a bit of rice or bread but if you are into saucy things you can continue with a quick pan sauce. I just added a minced shallot and chicken broth to the pan, reduced the mix, then finished it off with fresh tarragon, mustard and sour cream. A great, quick weeknight meal. 

Bay Leaf Chicken Drumsticks with Tarragon Pan Sauce
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main Courses
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds chicken drumsticks
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup sour cream
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Heat the oil in a cast iron pan until shimmering.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook on high heat until browned.
  4. Add the bay leaves to the pan and transfer to the oven.
  5. When the chicken drumsticks are cooked through transfer them onto a plate and set aside.
  6. Add the shallot to the pan and cook until softened (about 2 minutes).
  7. Add the chicken broth to the pan and simmer until reduced to about ¼ cup, then take off the heat.
  8. Stir in the tarragon, the mustard and the sour cream.
  9. Serve with rice or bread.

Food Photography and Styling:  Since the bay leaves are the important ingredient here I made sure to select two pretty ones and then laid them prominently on the drumsticks for the photo. I knew from previous experience that arranging drumsticks on a round plate or pan is a nightmare so I went with an oval dish/small platter and I think that worked nicely. I used an antique wooden milk crate as my “table” and my dark wood tray as the “wall.” My wooden salt and pepper shaker fit well into the rustic set and provided some height in the back of the frame. As usual, I lit this photo with my strobe.
For info on what type of camera and lighting equipment I used head on over to my FAQ page.

 

Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Apple Galette

Brussels Sprouts Bacon and Apple Galette

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Hands up, who likes to eat pie for dinner? Oh, everyone? Okay, in that case let me tell you about this galette (a.k.a. free-form tart). It features a very buttery and flaky crust (as you can tell by the grease stains and the crumbs on the paper) but its highlight is the filling: Brussels sprouts and apple chunks roasted with bacon and yellow mustard seeds, then mixed with asiago cheese. But that’s not all, to intensify the mustard flavor I spread some Dijon onto the raw dough before piling on the filling and to add a bit of an herbal note I baked dried sage into the crust. Sounds good? It is, it’s a really delicious and surprisingly hands-off recipe (my favorite kind). Hope you like it! :)

Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Apple Galette
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2 – 3
Ingredients:
For the crust:
  • 1⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 4 tablespoons shortening
  • 4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup ice water (more if needed)
For the filling:
  • 16 small Brussels sprouts, cut in half
  • 3 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 honeycrisp apple, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds, ground
To put it together:
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 ounces asiago cheese, grated
Instructions:
For the crust:
  1. Whisk flour, salt and sage together in a bowl.
  2. Add the shortening and the butter and cut them in with a pastry cutter until you have the consistency of a meal.
  3. Sprinkle the water over the fat/flour mix and bring the dough together with your hands. (If the dough doesn't come together, add a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time).
  4. Form the dough into a disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
For the filling:
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Add Brussels sprouts, bacon, apple and mustard seeds to a baking pan.
  3. Roast, mixing everything around a few times, until the Brussels sprouts are tender but not browned (40 – 45 minutes).
To put it together:
  1. Keep the oven running at 400 degrees F.
  2. Lightly beat the egg with 1 tablespoon cold water. Set aside.
  3. Roll the dough into a 13-inch round (about ⅛ inch thickness, that's important, if the dough is too thick it will open up away from the filling like a flower during baking).
  4. Spread the Dijon mustard on the dough.
  5. Mix the cheese into the roasted vegetable mix and spoon it onto the dough round, leaving a 2-inch border around the edge. (Try to spread the filling out evenly, rather than making a steep tower).
  6. Fold the edge over onto the filling and pinch together every few inches.
  7. Brush the egg/water mix onto the outside of the crust, then bake the galette until the crust turns golden-brown (30 – 40 minutes).

Food Photography and Styling: This was a tough job as far as the food styling was concerned, I had to try three times. The first tart I baked wasn’t perfectly round so that was out right away. (Photographing something oval that is supposed to be round and hoping that no one will notice doesn’t work, I learned that long ago…). The second tart was too thick and the crust opened up during baking. No good. What you see here was the third and best of the bunch and I figured this was as good as it was going to get. The nearly uniform mush that is the filling wasn’t exactly attractive but at least the crust looked pretty. I lit this photo from the back using my strobe.
For info on what type of camera and lighting equipment I used head on over to my FAQ page.

 

Sumac Chicken Brown Butter Almond Rice Bowl

Sumac Chicken Brown Butter Almond Rice Bowl Recipe

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Sumac has become one of my favorite spices, which is kind of funny considering that up until about two years ago I didn’t even know it existed. In case you’ve never used it, it’s a beautifully red powder (made from dried sumac berries) that has a tangy and savory flavor that works great on chicken. I used it here to marinate a good old chicken breast, which I later grilled and served with steamed broccoli, brown butter garlic and lemon almonds and rice. A fantastic, super-quick and easy meal great for any occasion.

Sumac Chicken Brown Butter Almond Rice Bowl
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • ~14 small broccoli florets
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ - ¾ cup cooked rice
Instructions:
  1. Whisk sumac, salt, pepper and olive oil together in a bowl, then transfer into a sealable plastic bag.
  2. Add the chicken breast to the bag, make sure it's well coated with marinade, seal the bag and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Grill the chicken breast.
  4. While the chicken is on the grill or grill pan steam the broccoli florets until tender.
  5. Melt the butter in a pan.
  6. Add the almonds and cook for a few minutes, until they are starting to brown.
  7. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, then take the pan off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  8. Season with salt.
  9. To serve, divide rice between two bowls, add broccoli, shred the chicken breast and put on top of the rice, then drizzle the almond butter sauce over everything.

Food Photography and Styling: Green is really difficult to photograph, in my opinion, and the only safe thing to do is keep the rest of the set completely neutral so that’s what I did here with a completely black background (a foam board), my slate cheeseboard, uncolored glass and water. I actually liked that clean look because it fit with the healthy theme of this recipe (well, if you ignore the butter for a moment). As usual, I used my strobe to light the set.
For info on what type of camera and lighting equipment I used head on over to my FAQ page.

 

Sesame Lime Cilantro Chicken Noodle Stir Fry

Are you up for a refreshing, spicy, flavorful stir fry that takes barely any work? If so, I suggest this easy and delicious chicken noodle dish. I flavored it with lime zest, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, cilantro and a chili pepper (in addition to the usual suspects: soy sauce, rice vinegar and honey). For the noodle part I used hokkien here but soba work just as well.

An easy recipe for a flavorful sesame lime cilantro chicken noodle stir fry.

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

The freshness of the lime zest and the cilantro, the spice of the chili pepper and the intense flavors of the garlic and ginger work together beautifully and the preparation is super-easy, you just whisk the ingredients together into a sauce, then use half of it to marinate the chicken and the other half as the stir fry sauce. The recipe is very similar to my Asian Noodle Salad except that it’s a stir fry, not a salad, and has chicken instead of shrimp. Both recipes have become my favorites!

Sesame Lime Cilantro Chicken Noodle Stir Fry
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 chili pepper, sliced, most of the ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • zest of ½ lime
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 7 ounces cooked hokkien noodles (you can substitute soba if you'd like)
  • 4 chicken tenderloins, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 10 small broccoli florets
  • ¼ teaspoon cornstarch
  • ~20 mint leaves (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, honey, chili pepper, sesame oil, cilantro, lime zest, ginger and sesame seeds together in a bowl.
  2. Divide the content in half and set one half aside (this will be the stir fry sauce). Marinate the chicken pieces in the other half for 30 minutes.
  3. Fry the chicken pieces in a pan in batches on high heat until they start to brown on the edges. Take out of the pan and set aside.
  4. Add the broccoli to the pan, add ¼ cup of water and boil until all the water has evaporated.
  5. Add the chicken back to the pan.
  6. Add the noodles to the pan.
  7. Stir the cornstarch into the sauce and add to the pan.
  8. Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce starts to thicken and turns translucent.
  9. Take off the heat and serve with chopped mint leaves (optional).

 

Radicchio Rice Bowl

Radicchio Rice Bowl – Cooked radicchio loses all its bitterness and turns into a delicious vegetable in this quick and easy recipe!

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Happy Wednesday everyone! I’ve got a smashing lunch recipe for you today. This dish has been a staple of mine for more than 20 years and I’m still not tired of it. It’s very simple, very quick and very delicious. You just saute a little minced onion in butter, then add radicchio, a bit of cream and some chicken bouillon and serve over rice. The cooking gets rid of almost all the bitterness that makes radicchio inedible unpleasant when it’s raw and turns it into a quite delicious vegetable. Hope you give it a try. :)

Before I go I wanna give you a quick heads-up that I’ll publish a post about the business of stock photography on Friday. Many of you are asking me about that so I’ve put something together. See you then! :)

Radicchio Rice Bowl
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch/Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 1 small head of radicchio
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons minced onion
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cube (meant to make 1 cup of broth) chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup cooked rice
Instructions:
  1. Take the radicchio apart into individual leaves and remove and discard the white parts, keeping only the purple parts of the leaves.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet.
  3. Saute the onion until translucent.
  4. Add the radicchio leaves and saute until they are starting to wilt (about 2 minutes).
  5. Add the cream and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the chicken broth and dissolve in the cream.
  7. Take off the heat and serve over rice.

Food Photography and Styling: I started my thought process for this photo by trying to pick a color that would work well with the deep purple of the radicchio leaves and the only one that appealed to me was black (which is not actually a color) so I used a black foam board as the backdrop (and kept it out of the light to keep it black). I lit the photo with my strobe (I directed it through a doorframe like I did here) and kept the styling and propping very simple to reflect the simplicity of this dish.
For info on what type of camera and lighting equipment I used head on over to my FAQ page.

 

Roasted Vegetables with Mustard Seeds and Bacon

Roasted Vegetables with Mustard Seeds and Bacon

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Last week I pulled the first turnips and beets of the season out of our vegetable garden and since my go-to recipe for root vegetables is to roast them that’s what I did but this time I added a few embellishments. One of them was bacon and the other two a sprinkling of crushed yellow mustard seeds and a smattering of fresh thyme leaves. It turned out beautifully. The bacon provided enough fat and salt, so there wasn’t any need for oil or seasoning. I simply tossed the raw vegetables with the bacon and the mustard seeds, put them in the oven and 45 minutes later we had a complete and very delicious main course on the table. For days when you want or need a hands-off meal this one’s perfect. :)

Roasted Vegetables with Mustard Seed and Bacon
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 3 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 turnips, quartered
  • 3 carrots, sliced in half and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 1 beet, quartered
  • 2 red potatoes, quartered
  • ½ green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss bacon, vegetables and mustard seeds and add to a roasting pan.
  3. Roast until tender (40 – 50 minutes).
  4. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves.

Food Photography and Styling: The veggies had naturally beautiful colors and shapes, which always greatly helps a photograph along. The surface I used here is an old wooden milk crate that I turned upside down and to make it look less naked I put a piece of brown packing paper on it. I added the spoon to the pan to make it look as if someone was about to start spooning the food onto plates and I lit the photo from the back with my strobe.
For info on what type of camera and lighting equipment I used head on over to my FAQ page.

 

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Delicious chicken satay with peanut sauce. Easy, quick and bursting with flavor!

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Before I jump into this recipe just a quick reminder for all the food bloggers among you: You still have a few days left to enter your blog photo into the DMBLGiT contest! See more details here: DMBLGiT – Call for Entries.

Now, about this chicken satay. It’s one of my favorite recipes and I make it often, partially because it tastes fantastic but also because I usually have the ingredients on hand so if I didn’t have time to get groceries it’s always a great fallback. Here’s how it goes: You whisk up a quick marinade with just pantry ingredients: soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and sesame oil. Then you cut up some chicken breasts, plop them into the marinade and let the mix sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. For the sauce you use some of the same ingredients: garlic, sesame oil, brown sugar, soy sauce and then add some sambal, lime juice, coconut milk and, of course, peanuts. Put it all in the food processor and let it spin until your sauce is smooth. Thread the chicken onto skewers, grill it, sprinkle with a little lime juice and chopped green onions and there’s your dinner!

Just one quick word of caution, don’t be tempted to shortcut this recipe and skip the marinade, it’s a very important component that turns the chicken from bland to bursting with great flavor. Enjoy!

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main/Appetizer
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
For the chicken:
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • lime juice
For the peanut sauce:
  • 1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sambal
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • green onion, for garnish
Instructions:
For the chicken:
  1. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes.
  2. Make the marinade by mixing soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and sesame oil together in a bowl.
  3. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and place in the marinade. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Thread the chicken onto skewers and grill until its internal temperature registers 165 degrees F.
For the peanut sauce:
  1. Place all ingredients except for the green onion in a food processor and blend until you have a smooth sauce.
  2. Sprinkle lime juice and chopped green onion on the chicken and serve with the peanut sauce.

Food Photography and Styling: I find it generally very difficult to photograph anything on skewers. They are by definition rigid and straight and therefore can look really awkward on a plate so I decided to cut them quite short and place them in a bowl instead. That made them look a little more lively, I thought. I used a slate tile as the backdrop because I liked its texture and the colors worked well with the rest of the photo. The food is sitting on a brown tray, the same one I used as the backdrop in this green tea photo and I lit this photo from the side with my strobe.
For info on what type of camera and lighting equipment I used head on over to my FAQ page.