Monday, January 31, 2011

Soba Noodles

Soba Noodles with Kim Chee
Developed January 31, 2011 from an Internet antecedent.
1/2 cup sesame seeds
8 ounces soba noodles
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 t white sugar
2-1/2 T soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t dark sesame oil
1/4 c green onions, finely diced
1/4 c cilantro, chopped coarsely
Toast the seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until they are a rich golden color, and set aside to cool on a plate. Meanwhile, bring 3 qts of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles, with stirring, return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain them, rinse well with cold water, and drain again. Mix together the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil and green onions in a 2 qt bowl. Add the noodles, and the toasted sesame seeds. Toss well. Let the dish sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving. Top with kim chee. Serves six.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rigatoni alla Pastora (Shepherd style)

Not mine but too good not to record. Transcribed from Lidia Bastianich's PBS-TV broadcast January, 2011. Simple, fast, and delicious. The sausage brings most of the flavor. Fresh herbs pick up the rest.
1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage, removed from casing, and crumbled
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil [Lidia used 1/2 c]
1/2 t crushed red pepper (peperoncino) Omit with hot sausage
1 lb rigatoni
1/2 t kosher salt
2 c whole-milk ricotta
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c loosely-packed fresh basil leaves torn into shreds (or 1/2 c parsley and cilantro, mixed)
Sauce: Heat a heavy large saucepan over medium-high, add the oil and then the peperoncino for a few seconds. Add the crumbled sausage, and cook well with occasional turning, for about 10 minutes until well-browned and crispy. Variation: Add 1/2 c sliced sweet red pepper and 1 c sliced mushrooms to the sausage as it is cooking.
Pasta: As the sausage is browning, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook until just tender, about 11 minutes. Stir about 1/2 c of the pasta water into the cooked sausage to form a sauce. Transfer pasta with a slotted spoon to the sauce and continue cooking. Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan, and toss well, adding more pasta water as needed. Heat through. Scatter the herbs on top, drizzle on a bit more oil, and heap into warm bowls.

Seafood Risotto

Devised and prepared January 27, 2011.The prep is long-winded but straight-forward. The result is well worth the effort.
6 oz cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 leek, white part only, finely sliced
1/3 c shallots, finely sliced
1 T garlic, finely minced
6 oz asparagus, roll cut into half-inch pieces
1/2 c baby peas, defrosted
3/4 c dry white wine
4 c hot seafood stock (or chicken stock) plus 2 c hot water
1-1/2 c arborio rice
4 oz pkg salad shrimps
4 oz pkg  bay scallops
1 lb pkg mussels in sauce, defrosted
6 oz frozen seafood assortment (squid, octopus, mussels, shrimp)
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c parsley, coarsely chopped
1/4 c cilantro, coarsely chopped
zest and juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Brine: 1/4 c kosher salt, 1/4 c sugar dissolved in 1 qt cold water
Prepare brine and soak frozen shrimp, scallops, and seafood mix for 30 minutes, or until is thoroughly defrosted, stirring occasionally. Drain thawed seafood, and discard the brine. Heat the diluted stock almost to a boil, and off heat, stir in the drained seafood, and set aside. [This will lightly cook and tenderize the seafood.]
In a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium heat, saute the mushrooms in 1 T oil for a few minutes, add the leeks, shallots, and garlic, and a bit more oil, salt and pepper. After a few minutes, add the asparagus, and continue cooking. Stir in the peas, and cook a few minutes more until heated through. Remove
vegetables to a plate, and set aside.
Wipe out the skillet, and add 2 T more oil. When hot, stir in the rice and cook over medium heat until translucent and lightly colored. Stir frequently and avoid burning. Add the wine and continue cooking until absorbed. Drain the seafood from the stock, and reheat the stock. Lower the heat, and add enough hot stock to cover the rice. When it's largely absorbed, ladle in more hot stock. Stir frequently, and continue slowly adding stock until most is absorbed. This takes about 20 minutes. Stir in the mussels and cooked seafood, and heat through gently. Stir in herbs, lemon, and the cheese. Correct seasoning. Serves six.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pigeon Peas and Rice

Transcribed January 25, 2011 from this handwritten note kindly written down for me by Dixie Sawin's mother several years ago. Trinidad and Tobago origin.
3 c boiled rice
1 c canned pigeon peas (also called gandules)
1 c mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
1-1/2 c onions, tomatoes, celery, cilantro, green onions, bell peppers, coarsely chopped together
2 T ketchup
3 T soy sauce
1 t each: garlic powder, parsley flakes, and crushed red pepper
salt and black pepper to taste
1 to 2 T butter (optional)
Heat 2 T oil in a large pot. Add pigeon peas, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, bell peppers, and ketchup. Saute about 3 minutes. Add boiled rice and mixed vegetables, mixing well. Add garlic powder, parsley flakes, and crushed pepper. Stir and continue to cook another 5 minutes. Add soy sauce. Stir well, coating rice and vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, and butter.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Roasted Tomatoes

Prepared January 20, 2011. By slicing the tomatoes through their poles, they are kept intact and hold their juice.
8 small ripe tomatoes, cut through the poles
1 T olive oil
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
Preheat toaster oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange tomato halves cut side up in an 8-inch roasting pan. Season well, sprinkle on the cheese, and drizzle on the oil. Roast 10 minutes, rotate pan 180 degrees (π radians), and continue for another 8 to 10 minutes, until tomatoes are nicely colored and bubbling. Serves 4. Makes a good side dish for onion-braised spare ribs or other rich entrée.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nutty Fruity Pancake Stacks

A pair almost ready to flip
about 1-1/2 c buttermilk pancake batter
1/4 c fresh or frozen blueberries
1 oz slivered toasted pecans
3 oz almond butter, softened briefly in the microwave
Heat a griddle to about 325 degrees F. Water drops should bounce and sizzle. Oil lightly. For 2 servings, make 6 pancakes, the largest about 4 inches across, the others somewhat smaller. Add a few berries and nuts to each pancake as it bakes. When batter on top becomes dull, flip to finish. Remove to a plate until all the cakes have been prepared. On a serving plate, place a large cake. Spoon on a tablespoon or two of almond butter, place a smaller cake on top, add a second dollop almond butter. Finish with the smallest cake, and top with a big spoonful of black cherry (or other berry) sauce. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Braised Cabbage

Recorded January 3, 2007 (at long last). A Family Favorite for decades.
1 medium head of cabbage, quartered, cored, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 c low-fat soft margarine
salt, pepper, paprika to taste
Put cabbage in a 12-inch skillet, cover half way with water and salt lightly. Cover and bring to a moderate boil. Boil 8 minutes and drain thoroughly. Return drained cabbage to medium heat, let excess water cook off, stir in margarine and seasonings. Braise uncovered slowly about 10 minutes until tender, turning occasionally. Good as a side dish to many dishes. Can be added to vegetable soups or used in vegetarian burritos or mixed with buttered egg noodles. Serves 6.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Toasted Pecans

Recorded January 17, 2011
1/2 c pecan halves
1 t vegetable oil
1/2 t sugar (in shaker)
pinch of salt
Spread the nuts in a small nonstick skillet in a single layer; add the oil. Heat over medium heat, shaking often, until aromatic and light tan in color, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar and salt, and heat with shaking until the nuts are glazed. Take care not to burn. Turn out on a plate and let cool thoroughly. Good for snacking as is, or sliver them and add to pancakes and waffles or sprinkle on fried fish or salads as a garnish. Adds crunch, flavor, and nourishment.

Ultimate French Toast

Developed January, 2011. By separating the eggs, the coating turns crispy, and the bread inside becomes custardy, rich, and somewhat sweet.
2 eggs, separated
4 thick slices of challah or good-quality sandwich white
3/4 c milk
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 T butter, melted and cooled
1 T butter for grilling
In a flat soup bowl, beat the yolks until smooth. Slowly stir in the milk, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk smooth. In another soup bowl, whisk the whites until frothy. Stir in 1 T of the milk mixture. Whisk in the melted butter.
Prepare the bread by drying in a toaster oven at 275 degrees F. for 10 minutes. Heat a griddle or non-stick skillet to 350 degrees F. Add butter. One at a time, soak both sides of the bread
in the milk mixture until almost saturated, drain, coat both sides with egg white, and place on griddle in sizzling butter. Repeat for the remaining slices. Grill for about 4 minutes, turn, and finish for 3 minutes more. Serve with warm maple syrup, cinnamon-sugar, or a fruit sauce. Serves 2 ~ 4.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mussels in Tomato and Garlic

First prepared Jan 12, 2011. The frozen mussels in sauce were "buy one, get two". Had to try it.
3 oz bacon, coarsely chopped
2 1-pound packages mussels in tomato and garlic sauce, defrosted
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 t crushed red pepper

3/4 c white wine
28 oz prepared marinara sauce
1 lb linguine, cooked al dente
reserved pasta water, as needed
extra virgin olive oil to finish
In a six-quart saucepan, fry the bacon until crisp over medium heat. Remove to paper towels to drain. Discard all but 1 T of the bacon fat, reheat the pan, and add the garlic. Heat until fragrant; add the wine, and reduce by half. Next, add defrosted mussels, the bacon, the pepper, and the sauce. Stir well, and cover. Steam about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the drained pasta to the sauce, mix, and add pasta water as necessary to adjust thickness. Heat through a few minutes. Dress with additional olive oil. Serve with Parmesan cheese. Serves four to six.

Quick Pilaf

The key here is to lightly toast the rice. It develops a very pleasant aroma and subtle flavor. This is an adaptation of Daisy Martinez' method demonstrated on her PBS television show.
1 T vegetable oil
1-1/2 c long-grain rice
2-1/4 c 1:1 mixture of water and chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 t cumin
1 t paprika
3/4 t salt
Heat the stock mixture in microwave. Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat, until hot and add the rice and salt. Stir frequently, coating each grain with oil. Cook with stirring until lightly colored and mildly fragrant with a toasty aroma, about 5 minutes. Stir in the seasonings and add the hot stock with stirring, cover, and lower the heat to a simmer. After 15 minutes, take off heat and let rest 5 minutes. Fluff gently before serving.

Mojarra Frita (Rainbow Trout)

Rainbow Trout with Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Rissotto
Prepared January 10, 2011. The coating is super crunchy, the flesh moist and sweet, and yet can easily be freed from the delicate skeleton.
2 to 3 farm-raised rainbow trout, about 12 ozs each
General Purpose Breader 
vegetable oil
Rinse fish well in cold water, scrape away any scales. Cut off head, fins, and most of tail. With a sharp knife, make 1/4 inch-deep cuts at 2 inch intervals into the thick part of the meat. Place in a one-gallon plastic bag containing the breader, and coat each fish thoroughly, including the cavity and cuts. Place bag of breaded fish in refrigerator for 1/2 hour to build up a thick layer of breader. Heat a 1/4 inch of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Test the sizzle with a pinch of breader. Knock off excess breader and carefully lower each fish into the hot fat. Fry undisturbed for about 5 minutes while ladling hot fat over the upper side. Turn over, and cook another 4 minutes, ladling the fat as before. With a large spatula and tongs, transfer the fish to a plate. Garnish with lime wedges. Suggested sides: a mixed-grain pilaf or a risotto and cauliflower in cheese sauce.

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

This yields a 1 to 8 mixture (about 11% by volume). Good for topping toast — French or otherwise, fruits — both raw and cooked, pancakes, et cetera.
1 T ground cinnamon
1/2 c granulated sugar
Mix well. Store in a covered shaker jar.