Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mango Chili Chicken Salad

The London Olympics are on in our house, pretty much non-stop. We love it! We did some Olympic laundry today. We played some Olympic softball today. (We won! We won! USA! USA!) We did some Olympic baby wrestling on the floor today. I did some Olympic cooking today. In honor of the British hosts, I made a spin off of Coronation Chicken. I have no idea if this salad is actually served at a coronation, but the title inspired me and the Olympic fever fueled me.

Mango Chili Chicken Salad - inspired by Nigella Lawson's "Coronation Chicken"

Serves 2

For Chicken and Marinade
2 limes - juiced and zested
1/4 cup olive oil 
1 tablespoon sesame oil
salt and pepper
2/3 lb chicken (I used boneless, skinless thighs)

For Salad
4 cups butter lettuce
1/4 cup cilantro - roughly chopped
1 mango - cubed
1 serrano chili - diced (tiny dice)
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup toasted almonds

For Dressing
2 limes - juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
drizzle of sesame oil to finish

Preheat the grill. Zest and juice limes and stir in oils. Add chicken to marinade and add salt and pepper.

Arranged the butter lettuce and chopped cilantro in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the dressing - minus the sesame oil. In a third bowl, add chopped mango, chili, red bell pepper, and onion. 

Grill chicken, and set aside to rest.

Now that the chilli, peppers, onions and mango have had a chance to rest together, mix the dressing in with the fruit and veggies. Toss with the lettuce and cilantro. Plate the salad and slice the cooled chicken. Top with chicken and toasted almonds and drizzle the salad with sesame oil.

A few things... 

This salad was delicious, but it was spicy! We like spicy salads... as you may remember, but the serrano packed some kick. You can soak chillies in cold water for a while before chopping them to mellow them out. If you don't like spicy stuff, a diced green bell pepper would be just as pretty.

This salad, minus the chicken would be great along side a piece of light fish. 

Happy Olympic watching!  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Halibut en Papillote with Thai Pesto

My cousin Yolanda Banks is an AMAZING cook.  She has her own cookbook called “Cooking for Your Man” and also her own website  Check her out when you get a chance!  Needless to say, I have plenty of people in my family who have some serious kitchen skills but I was blown away when she made steamed black cod with thai pesto for me and a friend of hers.  It was my first time having thai pesto and I was just itching to make it myself!  I put my own spin on the thai pesto by adding garlic, using olive oil, and making a few other modifications.

You’ll find a recipe that Yolanda has on her website for halibut with thai pesto but she actually cooks it on the stove.  Since I was so blown away by her steamed black cod from before, I decided to try this with halibut and use the same cooking technique.  En papillote is a French term that means “in parchment”.  This is also known as “al cartoccio” in Italian.

Halibut en Papillote with Thai Pesto
4 halibut fillets
1c basil
1c cilantro
½ c unsalted pistachios, shelled
1 garlic clove
Juice from 1 lime
Zest from 1 lime
1 tsp peeled ginger, roughly chopped
½ jalepeno, seeded and roughly chopped
1 tbsp canned, pre-sliced lemongrass
¼ c extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

For pesto: Starting with basil, add all ingredients (through olive oil) to food processor and process until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Note: You can find the canned, sliced lemongrass at whole foods.  Yes, I’m lazy :)  If you don’t want to use the canned lemongrass, then substitute it with one stalk of fresh lemongrass.

Place 2 pieces of parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Fold each piece of parchment paper in half to create a crease and then unfold.

 Place 2 halibut fillets on one half of each piece of parchment paper.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add a large dollop (~2 tbsp) of thai pesto on top of each fillet.  Fold the open sections of the parchment paper over one another to create a packet.  Do the same for the other piece of parchment paper.  Ensure that you have a good seal so the fish will steam properly.

Tip: For a detailed tutorial on how to create a parchment packet, visit the Reynolds website at

Place the baking sheet and packets into the oven and roast for 12 mins at 400F.  Remove from oven and let set for 5 mins. 

Once you cook fish en papillote, you’ll realize why it is one of my favorite ways to cook fish.  It is almost impossible to overcook it.  The fish turns out so moist and flaky that it practically falls apart.  That being said, be sure to use a spatula to move fish from the packet to a plate so that it doesn’t fall apart on you (I learned that the hard way). 

For a quick and easy meal, you can add frozen or fresh veggies to the packet and place the fish on top.  I used frozen haircot verts (french green beans), because that is what I had but you could use snap peas, carrots, broccoli, or really any vegetable you have a taste for.  

I hope you enjoy this pesto!  It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  You can use it in pastas, as a dip, or on chicken.  It is very versatile so it’s well worth making extra whenever you make it. 

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Lemon Cheesecake Tart

We went camping this weekend and it was awesome! Our 11 month old baby was a super-champ the whole time - but really, what's better than twigs and sticks and dirt and parents who have dropped their cleanliness standards down to "roughin' it?" Our dear friends are camping pros and really gave us a wonderful and amazing weekend. Needless to say, in my post-camping stupor, I really don't know what to write about this little cheesecake I made last week. It has a pecan and graham crust. There is no water-bath to bother with. It's smaller than a regular cheesecake and you bake it in a tart pan. It was easy and it was delicious!

Lemony Cheesecake Tart - adapted from Martha Stewart

Pre-heat oven to 350

For the Crust
8 whole graham crackers
1/2 cup whole pecans (1/3 cup if they are already chopped)
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter 

For the Filling
3 packages (24oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs
juice and zest from 1 large lemon
pinch of salt

To make the crust, grind nuts, grahams and sugar in a food processor. Add melted butter and blend to combine. Press crumbs into a tart pan and freeze for at least 15 minutes.

To make the filling, blend all ingredients in a food processor until just combined. 

If you are using a tart pan with a removable bottom, place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and then pour in the filling. 

Bake the cheesecake tart on the rimmed baking sheet 35 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and puffy and center is just set. (The center might look slightly giggly, but should not soupy.) 

We put the last few Hood strawberries on our cheesecake. The juicy strawberries tasted great with the rich cheesecake. Cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or mixed berries would all be delicious. If you omitted the lemon juice and zest, dark chocolate would be totally decedent.

 Camping rules!  :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Shaved Veggie Salad with Versatile Vinaigrette

I am currently taking part in the Daniel Fast, which requires a very strict organic and vegan diet.  You would think that it is very challenging.  But every six months, I tend to do this as a “cleanse” of both my spirit and body.  Getting through two weeks as a vegan is definitely tough, but I feel amazing afterwards and it completely knocks out my ridiculous sweet tooth…crazy huh???

Meals like this shaved veggie salad help me to get through this fast easily and make it a little less difficult to handle.  The tedious part about this salad is the preparation.  However, if you have a mandoline, it’s easy and fun!  I know…get a life, right?!  (Try it and you’ll see lol)   After the veggies are shaved, throw in a bowl and you’re done!

Shaved Veggie Salad
6c romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
1c shaved carrot
1c shaved cucumber
¾ c shaved zucchini
¼ c shaved red onion pearls
½ c shaved radish
1c grape tomatoes, halved

Use a mandoline to “shave” veggies (very thin slices).  Mix shaved veggies, tomatoes and romaine lettuce in a large salad bowl.   Toss with vinaigrette (recipe below).  Serve at room temperature or chilled. 

When I first made this vinaigrette, it was totally an experiment.  I don’t know about you, but my experiments in the kitchen always turn out the best (go figure!).  This vinaigrette is TO DIE FOR!  I seriously almost drank the rest of what I had out of the bowl after my salad was gone.  Okay…I’ll let the recipe speak for itself!

Personally, I prefer less of the olive oil taste in my vinaigrettes.  I love having multiple dimensions and the addition of the Dijon and Italian seasoning do just that.  However, the recipe is easy enough to modify and cater to your own personal tastes.

Versatile Vinaigrette
1 tbsp shallot, minced
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
¼ tsp Italian seasoning
¼ c extra-virgin olive oil

Combine first 6 ingredients in a small mixing bowl.  Slowly whisk in oil until emulsified.  Serve chilled.  Store refrigerated for up to 2 days. 

Note: Mustard is used in many vinaigrette recipes for emulsification.  This process breaks down fats and allows liquids that are typically immiscible, to mix well together.  Slowly adding in the fat (oil) also aids in the emulsification process and slows the separation of liquids during storage.

And yes...I'm a nerd :)

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Pizza... and Bread Sticks

While in college, studying some lovely Art History, my friend and I were asked by another student who was conducting some survey what our favorite food was. We both looked incredibly sheepish, wishing we had exciting answers. She said doughnuts. I said pizza. No lobster bisque. No fois gras. Doughnuts. Pizza. This same friend and I made a 4am doughnut run in San Francisco and bought fresh, warm doughnuts with change from my car seats. When I've had a rough day at work (or a great day at work!) we make pizza. I could eat pizza everyday, forever.

Pizza Dough - from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (GREAT book!!)

Makes 2 large pizzas, or 1 pizza and bread sticks

Preheat oven to 425

3 teaspoons yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour (you can use all white flour, or just a bit of whole wheat, but the dough is tough if you use all whole wheat.)
tiny bit of cornmeal

In a large bowl, add yeast, warm water, oil and salt. Mix the flours together and knead them into the liquid mixture - by hand or with a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let the dough rise for 30-40 minutes.

Divide dough in two, and generously flour a rolling surface. Roll out one pizza crust at a time. Try to get it pretty thin. Transfer the crust to a pizza stone or a rimmed baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal (I've used dry polenta in a pinch and baking spray in a super-pinch. Cornmeal is what works best for me.) 

Decorate your pizza with whatever sounds good to you, and bake for 15-20 minutes. I like to turn on the low broiler flame for the last 2 minutes of baking to really crisp up the edges.

Toppings... go nuts! For this pizza we used:
1/4 cup jarred marinara sauce
6 oz of fresh mozzarella
1/4 pound cooked spicy Italian sausage
2 chopped roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons slivered red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Dried oregano
Olive oil
Sprinkling of Parmesan cheese  

Other good toppings:
Pesto, cooked chicken, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella
Marinara, zucchini, cooked eggplant, mozzarella, Parmesan
BBQ Sauce, cooked chicken, cilantro, red onion, Monterrey jack cheese 
Marinara, tomatoes, feta cheese, green olives, red onion, salami
Marinara, artichoke hearts, black olives, mushrooms, feta cheese, Parmesan

With the second half of the dough, you can, of course, make a second pizza, or you can roll it out, slice it into thin strips and make bread sticks.

I rolled out the dough, drizzled olive oil all over it, sprinkled it with garlic salt and the last tiny bit of Parmesan cheese, twisted them up and baked them on a cornmeal dusted baking sheet while the pizza cooked. I hope you enjoy some delicious, homemade pizza that takes just a bit longer than delivery. 

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Pappardelle with White Truffle Butter

Truffles are mushrooms that have a very distinct (and expensive) flavor.  But it is worth every penny to get a little taste… and a little goes a long way!  White truffle butter can be found at Whole Foods and many specialty grocery stores.  I tend to use it with pasta but it can be added to seafood or risotto for a special punch!  The first time I ever tried anything truffle-infused was at a restaurant called Sweet Georgia Brown in Detroit, MI.  It was a potato bisque with a little sprinkling of truffle oil and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.  Hmmm…maybe I’ll try that at home :)  Stay tuned!

Pappardelle with Truffle Butter
1 (8oz) package dried pappardelle pasta
½ c half and half
3 oz white truffle butter
1/3 c thinly sliced shallots
¼ tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp chopped fresh chives
3 oz shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Kosher salt

Add 1 tbsp salt to large pot of water and bring to a boil.

In a large sauté pan, heat truffle butter over medium heat.  Once it melts, add shallots and garlic and sauté until tender - about 3 mins.  Add half and half to butter mixture.  Heat until it simmers.  Add salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low.

Cook pasta until al dente.  This may be a couple minutes shorter than the package directions.  When pasta is cooked, reserve a ½ c of cooking water and then drain.  Add drained pasta to the cream mixture.  As the sauce is absorbed, add cooking water until creamy.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Note: You may not need to use the entire ½ c of cooking water.

Transfer pasta to a serving bowl and garnish with chives and shaved cheese.  Serve immediately.

Tip: Use a vegetable peeler to shave hard cheeses yourself.  This way, you don’t have to buy the cheese that is already shaved at the grocery store since it often has added preservatives to keep it fresh.  The block of fresh cheese tends to last longer and have a richer taste than its processed counterparts.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012


The No Pressure Cooker food blog has made it to one month and we want to thank all of our followers who have supported us since day one!  We have enjoyed every minute of it and now want to make it easier for those of you who want to continue to share in our kitchen endeavors.

We want to personally invite all of you to join our email list!  This email list will allow us to notify followers every time we share a new post.  Don't worry, we only post twice per week so we won't bug you too much :)  Please send your name and email address to us at to be added to the list or you can comment on this post and provide your info.  Oh, and feel free to use this email for contacting us directly for questions, feedback, or recipe requests!

Thanks in advance!

Marie Antoinette & Sarah