Gingery Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup with Crispy Garlic

Chicken Ginger Noodle Soup

Chicken Ginger Noodle SoupHappy New Year, pals! Whoo! Last year did fly by, didn’t it? No, I’m kidding of course, it didn’t fly by, it was grim and interminable and everyone hated it, but at least we’re spinning away from the winter solstice. January 2021 is now upon us, and we can fall back on tried and tested aphorisms such as “it’s darkest before the dawn” and “soup is the best thing to get you through January”. (Sometimes we change that to “whisky is the best way to get through Tuesday” but a lot of you are doing dry January and we don’t want to put you off your game.)

Soup is so essential to maintaining our sanity through the short, cold winter days that we always cook up a big batch of stock from the roast turkeys and rotisserie chickens that we’ve made since November, and then freeze it in large ice cube trays or plastic containers, so we have a store of rich, versatile broth for any soup recipe we need. Often, too, we’ll make a large pot of soup from the broth, and then freeze that so it’ll last several weeks. We’ve already blogged some of our favorites: a thick Nettle (or Spinach) and Potato soup, a Creamy Mushroom Soup with Black Rice, which quickly became a favorite, a classic Tomato Soup (with cheesy toasts that will blow your mind) and a Chicken and Potato Chowder (which we made a batch of last month and thawed this week). There’s a reason why “Chicken Soup for the Soul” is a trademark, and there’s a reason why chicken soup works so well to raise the spirits. We’d like to introduce you to our new favorite variation on the theme: Gingery Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup with Crispy Garlic.

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Sticky Gochujang-Honey Chicken

Sticky Gochujang Honey Chicken

Sticky Gochujang Honey Chicken

What happens when you marinate chicken in gochujang (spicy Korean chili paste), honey, ginger and garlic? Deliciousness, that’s what. Sticky Gochujang-Honey Chicken is our newest weeknight favorite: a little sweet, a lot spicy and just plain tasty. 

Hey, remember us? Nerds with Knives? The cheeky duo (plus dog) with a pantry full of spice and a devil-may-care attitude to food blogging? It’s been a minute since we’ve had a chance to blog a new recipe but we’re back, and we’re ready to mumble. (I think that’s the correct saying, anyway.)

It may not strictly be the New Year any more, but since this is our first post of 2020, we’re going to pretend that it is. And we wanted to start the year’s posts off with a bang. And when we think “bang”, we think “gochujang”.

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Red Curry Chicken Meatballs

Red Curry Chicken Meatballs

Red Curry Chicken Meatballs

This Thai-influenced dish delivers big flavor for very little work. Tender oven-baked chicken or turkey meatballs, simmered in a delicious coconut milk-based red curry sauce. Packed with ginger and garlic and showered with fresh herbs, this is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

It’s been made clear to us that we don’t talk enough about balls on this blog. This must be rectified. Because there’s nothing quite like the culinary experience of shaping a firm ball, baking it to meaty perfection and then slathering it with lashings of hot creamy sauce. And if you think we started with that sentence just to titillate and excite you, as well as improve our search engine rankings, you couldn’t be further from the truth, although those are two very good reasons. The fact is, we’ve only assembled four meatball recipes in the last six years of Nerds with Knives, and we felt that it was time to give those balls another gentle squeeze and/or spin. So here we go.

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Sticky Lemongrass Chicken Thighs with Black Rice Salad

Chicken thighs nestled in black rice on a platter

After a long, hard Northeast winter, nothing makes me happier than looking out on the deck and seeing row upon row of fresh herbs, sitting up in their little pots all bright and perky, like, “what? I was always here.” No, Rosemary, you weren’t. And I know that for a fact because I paid a freaking fortune for a few measly sprigs in January since I just couldn’t bear to use the dry, desiccated jar of rosemary-scented dust that languishes on my spice rack through the winter. 

Even though spring is yet young, the herb garden still feels like a cornucopia. Chives! Mint! Cilantro!  Sure it’s still too cold for the basil, but don’t be greedy, it will be here soon. Anxious for a recipe that uses this green bounty, we decided on a Black Rice Salad which, along with crisp red cabbage, sweet golden raisins and crunchy peanuts, uses a full cup of fresh herbs. We went with cilantro and mint (because that’s what we have) but basil, when it’s fresh, would be fantastic too, especially spicy Thai basil if you’re growing it or can find it in the store. 

A platter of black rice sprinkled with herbs

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Pollo a la Brasa (Peruvian-style Roasted Chicken)

Pollo a la Brasa (Peruvian Chicken)

Growing up in New York City, you learn a few very useful things. One, never get into the empty carriage of an otherwise packed train. Two, don’t even try to find a yellow cab between 4:30 and 5:30pm. And three, the very best food is usually the cheapest. For example, back in the day, you could get a roast pork bun from Hop Shing for less than $1. A big bowl of curried vegetables with roti from Punjabi Grocery & Deli went for a whopping $4. And at Pio Pio, a quarter of a golden-skinned Pollo a la Brasa, with aji verde sauce and a few maduro (sweet fried plantains), was about $7 (I’m sure it’s more now, but probably not much).

But the one bad thing about living in a cute Hudson Valley town is there are no funky little Peruvian chicken joints nearby (although we hope soon to get over to Machu Picchu, a Peruvian restaurant over the river in Newburgh). So when we get a craving for these flavors, the only thing left to do is make our own version.

Pollo a la Brasa (Peruvian Chicken)

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Basil Green Goddess Grilled Chicken with Red Onions

Green Goddess Grilled Chicken with Red Onions

Give grilled chicken thighs or breasts a long pre-cook marinade in Green Goddess dressing, and then char them to perfection along with sweet red onions. Then dollop more herby dressing on them for good measure and eat dinner under the stars.

Well, it was inevitable. Last week, after complaining that the summer had been so cold after a spring that was so cold and a winter that was so very cold, we finally got hit with the annual New York heatwave. And to the friends and family members who always say “OMG I love this heat! I could take it all year round!”, I literally do not know who you are and please get off me with your sweaty hug. While we were merrily cavorting around the garden a few days ago, tending to the herbs, the tomato plants and the budding zucchinis, now we’re staring sadly through the window from the air-conditioned interior. It may look pretty out there, but just half an hour in the sun and we both tend to go all Mad Max Fury Road. And nobody wants that.

So if we can’t go to the herbs, the herbs must come to us. And that’s best achieved in the form of Green Goddess dressing. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically a fancied up ranch, loaded up with Greek yogurt, a little mayonnaise, garlic and all the soft herbs in the garden.

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