Green Pasta, simple way to use up leftover veggies

I always have odds and ends of vegetables and greens that I can’t throw out, just ask my husband about my hoarding problems, not even Marie Kondo can help.   So, instead I make this green pasta.  You can use any greens or vegetables you have in your refrigerator.  This pasta is simple to make and you can eat it warm or cold, you can easily double, triple, quadruple, and whatever comes after that… this recipe.  It makes a great lunch or dinner, but if you are packing it for work, make sure you have some mints, because it’s loaded with garlic.

I start by making the base sauce, more like a flavored oil.  Just one anchovy packed in oil, 2 garlic cloves and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and lots of extra virgin olive oil (all pantry items), put it all into a small pot or sauce pan and cook until the garlic turns golden, take care not to burn it, the anchovy will just melt.  A note about anchovies, they do not smell or taste fishy and it just adds a nice savory flavor (umami).  Set the oil aside to cool.  You could just slice up some good bread and use this as a dipping sauce and call it a day… but I promised pasta… read on!

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Next, trim and blanch the vegetables. I happened to have broccoli rabe, asparagus and peas.  In a medium pot, bring enough water to cook pasta to a boil and blanch each vegetable separately (for timing purposes, you don’t want to blanch peas the same amount of time as the broccoli rabe and a sure sign that a vegetable is done blanching is the bright green color) for a minute or less and plunge vegetable into an ice bath until cool, drain and blot dry.  Using the same water, add salt and cook your pasta as instructed on the package, drain and toss with olive oil so that the pasta doesn’t stick together in one clump.  I like a colorful fusilli for this, but you can use whatever you have, this is a post about using up odds and ends so if you have a little of this or a little of that, it would do as well… just be sure to check the different cooking times.

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Make the pesto, this is probably the most involved of the steps, and by involved, I mean you have to drag out your food processor, but by all means use your mortar and pestle, if you want to go rogue.  I had left over kale, so I made kale-walnut pesto.  A handful of kale and another handful of walnuts, a bit of parmesan, juice of a lemon and a clove of garlic, all in the food processor, whirl whirl whirl… add olive oil, whirl some more and salt to taste.

img_3700img_3705Now put it all together… in a medium to large skillet, on medium heat, coat the bottom with olive oil, add the chopped blanched vegetables and saute until warmed through, add cooked pasta and drizzle with flavored oil, toss to incorporate.  Off heat, add pesto, add as little or as much as you like, after all – you are the one eating it, add salt and pepper to taste and a drizzle of your favorite vinegar, right now I’m obsessed with red-wine vinegar (thanks to chef Joshua McFadden, I’ve been finishing everything with vinegar… I can’t stop! And on a side note, if you haven’t picked up his cookbook, “Six Season, a new way with vegetables,”  you are a dummy, just saying.  Toss and enjoy!

Mangia, mangia…

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Green Pasta
 
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Use up bit and pieces of vegetables with this vegetable packed pasta and pesto combo
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • Flavored oil
  • 1 anchovy (packed in oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetables and pasta
  • 1 cup of leafy greens, broccolini, kale, chard
  • 1 cup of vegetables, asparagus, green beans, zucchini, bell peppers, peas, carrots, tomatoes
  • ½ lb of pasta
  • Pesto
  • 1 cup of chopped kale
  • ½ cup of raw walnuts (unsalted)
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼-1/2 cup of olive oil
  • salt
Instructions
  1. Flavored oil
  2. Heat small sauce pan or pot on medium heat, add anchovy filet, minced garlic, pinch of red pepper flake and olive oil, and cook until garlic turns golden, set aside to cool
  3. Vegetables and pasta
  4. Heat medium to large pot of water to boil, blanch each vegetables separately and cool in an ice bath. Once the vegetables are blanched, add salt to the same water and cook the pasta as instructed on the package. Drain.
  5. Pesto
  6. Add kale, walnuts, parmesan, garlic into the food processor and process until somewhat smooth, with the machine on, add olive oil through the feeder, add the lemon juice. With the motor off, taste and season with salt.
  7. Putting it all together
  8. Heat, medium to large pan on medium, add the chopped vegetables and saute until heated through, add cooked pasta, and toss with flavored oil. Off heat, add the pesto and a drizzle of vinegar and toss, add salt to taste.

 

 

 

Rice Noodle Coconut Soup

I’ve been making some sort of variation of coconut soup for some time now, with or without meat, always with some type of bitter greens and lots of herbs.  In the winter, soup is a staple and my go-to lunch on most days as you may have seen from my Instagram posts.  It’s nourishing, healthy, and simple to cook.

Ginger (left) and Galangal (right). Galangal is very hard and woody, although the center is a little softer. It is piney and sharp, with a strong citrus scent. Ginger (left) and Galangal (right). Galangal is very hard and woody, although the center is a little softer with a strong citrus scent.

Bring 4 cups of vegetable/chicken broth to boil.  Add roughly chopped lemongrass, shallots, cilantro stems, chili peppers, galangal root and kaffir lime leaves.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Pour contents through a sieve/strainer and press on the solids to squeeze out as much liquid as possible, discard solids.  Return broth to the pot and bring to a boil.  Add coconut milk, coconut/palm or brown sugar, salt, low sodium soy sauce/fish sauce (optional) and lime juice and simmer 5 minutes.  Taste the broth and add more of the last 4-5 ingredients until they are singing!  The trick to this soup is to harmonize the spicy, sweet, and sour flavors against the comforting backdrop of a creamy coconut broth.

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Blanch the bitter greens by bringing a pot of water to boil, have ready a big bowl of ice water nearby.  Add the greens to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes, Using tongs, remove the greens to an ice bath to stop if from cooking.  Once the greens are cooled, remove from ice bath and spin in salad spinner to remove excess water, and give them a rough chop

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For the ragu, heat saute pan on medium heat, add coconut oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan, add chopped green onions, garlic, shallots, peppers, and cilantro until the vegetables have soften, add ground meat/tofu (optional), crumble and cook until the meat is cooked through, you can add the greens to the ragu or you can saute separately for better presentation.  Season with salt and garlic chili sauce.

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Cook the rice noodles as instructed on the package.  If you buy fresh rice noodles, be sure to check the ingredients list to avoid preservatives.  Whole foods has fresh rice noodles (Pad See Ew noodles) sans any nasty stuff, I recommend it!

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Put it all together, using a large soup bowl, add a serving of cooked rice noodles, a dollop of ragu, and a big serving of the bitter greens.  Gently ladle the piping hot broth on top and garnish with cilantro, Thai basil, parsley or any edible green herbs you have.  Enjoy with friends or family or share with a foe, they are sure to turn into a friend!

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Rice Noodle Coconut Soup
 
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This is one of my favorite soups, it's spicy, sweet, sour, bitter and salty.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Thai-ish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 cups of chicken/vegetable broth
  • 2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, washed and roughly chopped
  • 4 shallots, 3 peeled and roughly chopped, 1 diced, separated
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1½" galangal root, roughly chopped
  • Stems from 1 bunch cilantro, trim ¼ inch off the bottom
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans of coconut milk, full fat
  • 2 limes, quartered, more for garnish
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ lb of grass-fed ground beef or firm tofu (optional)
  • 3-5 TBS garlic-chili sauce
  • 1-2 bunch rapini, baby broccoli, broccoli rabe, ends trimmed
  • 1 pkg rice noodles
  • coconut/palm/or brown sugar, 2 tablespoons, to taste
  • fish sauce, to taste (optional)
  • reduced sodium soy sauce, to taste
  • salt
  • coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Make the broth, add the first 6 ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil, simmer 15-20 minutes, strain, pressing on solids and return broth to pot. Add coconut milk, and sugar, salt and fish sauce, if using or soy sauce and taste, add salt as needed. You want to balance the flavors between sweet, sour and salt, add lime juice to taste.
  2. Blanch the greens, bring a pot of water to boil, add salt, add greens, cook 2 minutes, remove to a prepared ice bath, once cooled, spin dry and roughly chop
  3. Make the ragu, add a tablespoon of coconut oil to the bottom of a heated saute pan, add shallot, garlic, cilantro and green onion and saute until soften, add ground meat/tofu, cook while breaking up into small pieces. Add salt and pepper and garlic chili sauce to taste
  4. Cook the rice noodles as instructed on the package. Divide the rice noodles, ragu and blanched greens into bowls and ladle piping hot broth, garnish with lime wedge and cilantro or other herbs.
  5. Serve immediately or store each component separately in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

 

Homemade Pork Ramen

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You’ve asked for my ramen recipe so I’ve finally put pen to paper (more like fingers to the keyboard) and ready to share my recipe.  I’ve read dozens of recipes for ramen and watched youtube videos, so this is a mishmash of techniques and flavorings.  Then I started experimenting.  I use the same cut of pork that I do for pulled pork sandwiches, lots of fat to meat ratio (pork shoulder/pork butt/boston butt).  The cut requires a long cooking time at a low temp in the oven, then straining out the fat and onions, then flavoring the broth. Fresh ramen noodles makes a world of difference, so don’t go through the process of making the broth, if you are going to use instant noodles, but in a pinch, its better than nothing.

Equipment:  Dutch oven, fine mesh strainer, fat separator, stainless steel nesting bowls, ramen bowls, soy sauce, mirin, fresh ramen noodles

Cut 2 medium onions into quarters and saute in heavy bottom pan (large enough to hold 8-10 cups of liquid)
Peel and cut 2 medium onions into quarters and sauté in heavy bottom pot on med-high until the onions get a little color.  The pot should be large enough to hold 10-12 cups of liquid
Trim the fat cap off the pork shoulder and add to the pot, move the onions around to make room
Trim the fat cap off the pork shoulder or have your butcher do it.  Season with salt and pepper (season liberally) and add to the pot, move the onions around to make room
Add enough water to cover the pork and bring to a boil, cook in a 350 deg oven 4 hours until the meat is falls apart tender (1 hour to each pound)
Add enough water to cover the pork and bring to a boil, cook in a 300 deg oven 4-5 hours until the meat is falls apart tender (about 1 hour to each pound)
Remove the pork and once cool enough to handle, slice
Remove the pork and once cool enough to handle, slice
Strain the onions from the liquid in a fine mesh strainer
Strain the onions from the liquid in a fine mesh strainer to a container big enough to hold the liquid
Using a fat separator, remove the fat from the liquid
Using a fat separator, remove the fat from the liquid, if you don’t have a fat separator, you can use a gallon zip lock bag (google – fat separator using zip lock bag)
Add dried shiitake mushrooms and more water to bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes
Add dried shiitake mushrooms and more water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes
Season ramen broth the soy, moron, sugar and salt to taste. You want it to be a little salty as you will be adding unsalted noodles
Season ramen broth the soy, mirin, sugar and salt to taste. You want to over season the broth as you will be adding unsalted noodles
Cook fresh ramen noodles per instructions on the package, rinse well.
Cook fresh ramen noodles per instructions on the package, rinse well.
Laddle broth into bowl, add cook noodles, hard boiled egg, scallions and sliced pork, Enjoy!
Laddle broth into bowl, add cook noodles, hard boiled egg, scallions and sliced pork, Enjoy!

Homemade Pork Ramen
 
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This is a soy based pork broth, you can use beef, chicken or vegetables
Author:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • For the Pork broth
  • 3-4 lb pork shoulder
  • 2-3 med onions
  • 6-8 dried shitake mushrooms (without sulfites)
  • soy sauce
  • mirin
  • sugar
  • water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • For the Ramen noodles
  • 1 pkg fresh ramen noodles
  • Optional:
  • sliced scallions
  • hard boiled eggs
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 300.
  2. Let pork come to room temp and liberally season with salt and pepper
  3. In a heavy bottom pot, add peeled quartered onions and cook until browned
  4. Add pork and cover with water
  5. Cook pork 4-5 hours, until it easily pulls apart
  6. Let the cooked pork cool on a plate
  7. Strain out the onions and get as much of the liquid as possible
  8. Pour the liquid into a fat separator, discard the fat and return the pork broth to the pot and add 2-4 cups of water
  9. Add soy, miring, salt and sugar to taste
  10. Cook ramen noodles as instructed on the package
  11. Laddle 1 cup or more of seasoned broth into a bowl, add cooked ramen noodles and top with sliced pork, scallions, sliced onions, and hard boiled egg

 

Dorm Room Cooking!

NCL class photo of high school seniors
NCL class photo of high school seniors

I recently had the pleasure of teaching a “basic” dorm room cooking demonstration to a group of high school seniors as one of the NCL events.  If you have a microwave, panini grill and an electric kettle, you can cook almost anything in your dorm room.  Their feedback on how easy it is to cook these recipes and how delicious it turned out was inspirational.

Equipment

Microwave, Panini Grill, Electric Kettle, Microwave pasta cooker, mandoline slicer, grater, peeler, cutting board, knife, kitchen scissors, mason jars (various sizes), spatula, tongs, chopsticks, glass measuring cups (various sizes), measuring cups, measuring spoons, glass bowls

Using the panini press

Pancakes

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Trader Joe’s seasonal pumpkin pancake mix was a hit with the girls

Ingredients:

Pancake mix, eggs, butter, milk, oil spray, maple syrup

Basic pancake recipe:  1 cup flour, 1 TBS sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 salt, 1 egg, 1 cup milk Or 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup buttermilk

Instructions:

Preheat a panini grill to 350 and spray the griddle with oil.  Using the recipe from the pancake mix, add the ingredients into a jar, seal tightly and shake until all the ingredients are incorporated, if there are any big lump, break up with a fork.  Once the griddle is hot, pour pancake batter onto the griddle, cook 4-5 minutes on one side and flip and cook the other side 2-3 minutes.  Transfer onto a plate, and cook the rest of the pancakes, serve with syrup.

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Choose a panini grill with both a grill and griddle plates
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Don’t overcrowd the griddle img_8303Serve immediately with butter and syrup

 

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients: Bread (baguette, ciabatta, rolls, english muffins, bagels, etc), deli sliced or precook meats, cheeses, fruit spreads, dips

Instructions:  Turn the grill on high, spray the grill (top and bottom) with oil, spread condiment (if using) on one side of each slice of bread, place meats, cheeses, and veggies, turn the grill to medium and close the grill, grill for 3-4 minutes.

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Sliced sourdough bread, fig spread, prosciutto, swiss cheese, and greens
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I wasn’t  surprised that the girls really enjoyed the fig spread in this sandwich, it’s my favorite

Quesadillas

Ingredients:  Precooked chicken pieces, taco seasoning, tortillas, shredded cheese

Instructions:  Preheat the grill to high, and spray top and bottom, place one tortilla on the grill, add chicken, a pinch or two of taco seasoning, add shredded cheese.  Close panini grill, Cook 2-3 minutes.  Serve with salsa and guacamole.

Using the electric Kettle

Vegetable rice noodle soup

Ingredients: Vegetable bouillon (1/2 cube), rice noodles, chopped veggies (carrots, bean sprouts, bok choy) and herbs (green onions, cilantro)

Instructions: Heat water in electric kettle to boil, put the bouillon cube and rice noodles into the jar, add hot water to cover, using a spoon or fork,  break up the bouillon cube until it dissolves.  Add the chopped vegetables and herbs and add more water if needed, cover with lid for 2 minutes. Add salt to your taste and additionally you can enhance the flavor with soy or fish sauce, siracha or other hot sauce

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You can use any variation of vegetables

You can enhance the flavor with fish sauce and siracha or other hot sauce

Enjoy!
Enjoy!

Chicken noodle soup

Ingredients:  1/2 chicken bouillon, hot water, precooked chicken pieces, mirepoix (pre-chopped carrots, celery, and onion), parsley, and cooked macaroni pasta

Instructions:  Heat water in the electric kettle to boil.  Place the bullion into a jar and add hot water, mix to dissolve the bullion cube, add chicken, veggies, and cooked pasta and cover with lid for 1-2 minutes, add salt to taste.

Tofu veggie spring roll

Ingredients: rice paper, red lettuce leaf (optional), julienned veggies, tofu (optional), cooked rice noodles

Instructions: soften the rice paper in hot water until it is pliable – 1 minute. Place the rice paper on a flat surface and place one large lettuce leaf with the rib removed, cooked rice noddles, julienned carrots and red bell pepper, sautéed tofu (cooked on the panini press), and cilantro.  Turn the sides of the rice paper in, and starting at the bottom, roll up as you continue to tuck the sides in until you’ve reached the top. Serve with peanut sauce.

Tofu Marinade – 2 tbs soy sauce, a dash of rice wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, a dash of toasted sesame oil, five dashes of fish sauce.

Peanut sauce – 2 TBS peanut butter, 1 TBS hot water, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/4-1/2 tsp of sugar, 3-5 dashes of fish sauce, 1 squirt of siracusa (optional)

Soften the rice paper round in hot water until it is pliable - 1 minute. Add in layers, one large lettuce leaf with the rib removed, julienned carrots and red bell pepper, sauteed marinated tofu (cooked on the panini press), and cilantro. Marinade - 2 tbs soy sauce, a dash of rice wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, a dash of toasted sesame oil, five dashes of fish sauce. Turn the sides in and roll up

Tofu veggie spring rolls with peanut sauce

Using the microwave pasta cooker 

Spaghetti with red sauce

Ingredients: Spaghetti pasta, jarred pasta sauce, parmesan cheese, basil, olive oil, salt

Instructions:  Put a portion of pasta into the chamber of the pasta cooker and cover with water, cook according to the package instructions of the pasta cooker in your microwave, remove and taste for doneness, drain the pasta, add sauce, cheese and basil, a little drizzle of olive oil and salt to taste.

Put a portion of pasta into the chamber and cover with water

The time guide is shown on the box of the microwave paster cooker

The time guide is shown on the box of this Lekue microwave pasta cooker, whichever brand you choose, be sure it is BPA free

One portion of pasta can take 10-12 minutes in my microwave (I have a small microwave).

Drain the pasta water, take care as the steam is very hot

Be careful when draining the pasta water, steam can burn

Add any sauce you like, and serve in the container if you like
You can eat it right out of the container of the pasta cooker
Plate it and serve
Plate it and serve

Ravioli’s in Pesto sauce

Ingredients:  One package of fresh ravioli, prepared pesto sauce, parmesan, basil, olive oil, salt

Instructions:  Put one serving of fresh ravioli or pasta of your choice into the pasta cooker, cover with water and cook for the time instructed on the pasta cooker box (the fresh Trader Joe’s cheese raviolis took only 5 minutes).  Drain the pasta water and mix 3-4 Tbs of prepared pesto sauce ,salt to taste, sprinkle with grated parmesan and / or basil.  You can eat it out of the pasta cooker or plate it and serve.

Using the Microwave

Rice Bowls

Ingredients: Frozen rice, 1 can black beans, 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa, sliced veggies, 1 avocado, 1 lime, salt, pepper, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa

Instructions:  Cook rice according to package instructions. Into a bowl, add cooked rice, drained and rinsed black beans, cooked quinoa, sliced veggies, shredded lettuce, cubed avocado, lime juice, shredded cheese and top with salsa.  Mix and eat.

Options:  Trader Joe’s white or brown rice, black or garbanzo beans, cooked quinoa, sliced veggies, precooked protein, premade sauces.  You can make endless combinations of rice or bean bowls, be creative!img_8332

Recipe for microwave cooked Quinoa – 1 cup of quinoa into a microwave safe bowl, rinse quinoa and drain.  Add 2 cups of water, place a plate over the bowl and cook in the microwave for 6 minutes, stir and cook 2 more minutes, let sit 5-10 minutes, with the plate covering the bowl, all of the water should be absorbed.  The plate may be hot, handle with care.

 

Chocolate cakes in a mug – the group’s favorite recipe!

Ingredients:  1 stick of room-temperature butter, cubed, 1 cup of chocolate chips, 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 eggs

Instructions:  Melt the butter and chocolate together in a glass bowl for 60 seconds in the microwave.  In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and eggs. Mix in the melted chocolate mixture. Divide the batter among 4 large or 6 medium coffee cups.  Microwave for 50 seconds to 2 minutes on high.  Let cool for 30 seconds.

 

Chicken Diablo

 

The inspiration for this recipe came from the prepared hot foods section at my local Whole Foods.  You can use skin-on, bone-in chicken for more flavor (you need to increase the cooking time – use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness).

Chicken Diablo
 
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Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breast or 8 chicken thighs, season with salt and pepper
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can of roasted tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. In an oven proof, oiled pan, brown both sides of the seasoned chicken pieces on med-high heat - remove from pan and set aside (it will not be cooked through- just getting color on it)
  3. Add a little more olive oil and add onions, peppers, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and stir up the browned bits, cook 4-5 minutes, until onions wilt but not browned
  4. Add the can of tomatoes and stir, taste for seasoning, add salt as needed - it may also need a little water/stock, simmer on medium for 3-4 minutes
  5. Add the chicken and the juices back into the pan, and cook in the oven 20-25 minutes
  6. Check for doneness with meat thermometer - register 165 or when pierced with a knife and the juices run clear, finish with your favorite finishing salt and drizzle of a fruity olive oil

 

Royal Cuisine in Seoul, Korea

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While I was in Seoul, Korea, I had the opportunity to “experience” Royal Court Cuisine.  Royal Court Cuisine is the style of cooking that was reserved for the King and Queen, their families, and the royal court during the Joseson Dynasty (1392 to 1910). Traditionally, twelve dishes are served along with rice and soup.  Food is served in Bronzeware and strict rules regarding how each dish is placed on the table is observed.

Royal Cuisine uses various cooking methods that showcase and celebrate fresh seasonal ingredients and local specialties.  Only the best ingredients available is used including seafood, meat, vegetables and grains.  In the past, Royal Cuisine was strictly reserved for the Royal family and the court.

Currently, Royal Cuisine can be enjoyed by everyone and Chef’s prepare each dish as closely as possible to the meals of the court as prescribed in written texts of ancient literature.  Each dish is elaborately made and much thought is put into the ingredients to preserve the authenticity of the past.  Utmost care is given to the presentation of each dish according to the recipes that have been inherited and handed down over the generations.

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Seokparang Restaurant is one of seven restaurants that correctly represents Royal Court Cuisine (according to KoreaTourism Organization)
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Seokparang is housed in Prince Daewongun’s traditional villa
The place setting
The place setting
Towels to clean our hands before the meal
Towels to clean our hands before the meal
Menu for October 31, 2015
Menu for October 31, 2015
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Bronze Serviceware
Two sauces; mustard and soy
Two sauces; mustard and soy
Traditional porridge to whet the appetite and prepare for the meal
Traditional porridge to whet the appetite and prepare for the meal
Gujulpan consists of eight vegetables and meats and thin wheat pancakes for wrapping
Gujulpan consists of eight vegetables with thin crepes
Seafood salad
Seafood and pear salad
Cold noodle and vegetable salad
Cold noodle, vegetable and seaweed salad
Vegetable and meat pancakes
Zucchini and eggplant pancakes (jeon)
Grilled Abalone
Grilled Abalone
Braised pork belly on a charcoal pit - one of my favorites
Braised pork belly on a charcoal pit
Prawn with roe
Prawn with roe and black sesame
Grilled beef and mushrooms
Grilled marinated beef and mushrooms with Gingko seeds
Napa cabbage salad - very tasty, another one of my favorites
Napa cabbage salad
Seafood soup
Seafood soup
Rice and soup
Rice, soup and five side dishes
Noodle with seafood broth
Noodle with seafood broth
Crispy dates with fresh ginseng and honey
Crispy dates with fresh ginseng and honey and rice cakes
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Korean pear
Sweet rice tea - served cold
Sweet rice punch flavored with ginger and cinnamon (sikhye) – served cold

Asado De Bodas – Pork in Red Chile Sauce

Every time I go to a Mexican restaurant, I reminisce about a prawn dish I had at a restaurant in the Bay Area more than a decade ago.  The sauce was dark, rich and spicy.  I didn’t know at the time that I would be moving away from the area and never finding that flavor again (I’ve gone back to the same restaurant a few times on my trips back home, but it’s not the same), until this recipe.  But before I get to that, I should tell you that when the recipe calls for chiles or Mexican chocolate, you should go to a Mexican grocery store, one that has a prepared food counter is a plus, but one with fresh tortillas is a must.  These stores have the hard to find mexican ingredients or can help you find a good alternatives, for example, I was looking for dried New Mexico chiles and I learned that California chiles were the same things… who knew?

There’s some kind of magic thing that happens, when you blend, toasted chiles, toasted nuts, raisins, spices and mexican chocolate and adding more or less of each of those ingredients changes the flavor as well.  I can say that I’ve found something close to the sauce but I will keep on tweaking this recipe until it’s exactly as I remember it.

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Dried New Mexico or California and Guajillo chiles – remove stems and seeds and toast in a hot skillet, toast peanuts and almonds

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Trim most of the fat, and cut pork shoulder/pork butt into bite size pieces season with salt and pepper.  In a hot pot, working in batches, brown pork on all sides.

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In a blender, add toasted chiles and nuts, Mexican chocolate, spices, raisins, garlic, onion and hot water (see note) to cover and blend until a smooth puree forms.  Add puree to the browned pork in the pot and simmer with the lid partially on, for 1-2 hours.  The meat should be tender and the sauce rich.   Add hot water or broth to thin the sauce if too thick.  Season with salt and pepper.

Note:  When adding hot liquids to a blender, take the hole cover out of the top of the blender and use a folded towel to cover the hole, that way you don’t have a volcano erupt in your kitchen. 

IMG_1612Serve pork in red chile sauce with black beans and fresh tortillas.

A big city restaurant in Bend, OR – Ariana Restaurant

My husband and I had the good fortune of spending twenty-four hours in Bend, OR.  On our own, without kids or the dog, we hit the Oktoberfest festivities in downtown Bend, hiked to Benham Falls near Sunriver,  but let’s be real, the reason I was in Bend was to go to Ariana Restaurant.  A friend told us about it, and touted that it was her favorite restaurant in Bend.  As we neared the appointed hour, we were eager to get going, but we had an hour to kill, so we went out for a beer before dinner, not my usual drink before dinner, but Bend is known for its craft beer and the husband is a big fan of all things hops, barley and malt.  Luckily, we were only across the street from the Craftsman bungalow that houses Ariana Restaurant.  I love restaurants in homes, you feel like you are visiting a friend, a friend that cooks really great food.  As we entered the restaurant, I immediately got  the sense we left the laid-back aura of Bend, and entered a great food establishment in a big city.  We could have been in Chicago, New York or Paris.  The diners were dressed up, thank goodness, I told my husband to change out of his Columbia Sportswear pull over.

You know when you go to a restaurant and the waitstaff knows what they are doing, and all you have to do is sit and enjoy, that’s Ariana.  We ordered wine and sat back and enjoyed the Chef’s tasting menu.

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Summer is fading…

September is always bittersweet for me.  All the summer fruits and veggies that I’ve been gorging on is coming to an END, not to mention the end of BBQ season (although I’ve been known to grill in the rain) and I don’t want to think about what I’ll do without the crisp white and rose wines, and my love of Moscow Mules (it might be the copper mugs)!  But the cooler weather has its upside, ROASTing season!  I got a little ahead of myself and took advantage of the chill in the air by roasting a pork tenderloin and some roma tomatoes from my garden.

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Make the paste with garlic, rosemary, thyme and fennel seeds – mash them all together

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Rub the pork tenderloin with the herb paste and wrap with bacon and put into a pan with veggies and garlic around the pork, add rosemary sprigs, salt and pepper.  Roast 400 deg for 30-35 min, until temp reaches 165 deg.

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Make a pan sauce from the drippings in the pans.  Deglaze the pan with sherry and a drizzle of heavy cream.  Once the sauce is done, slice the pork tenderloin and divide among plates.  To serve, drizzle evoo and a few twists of the pepper mill.

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Roast romas cut side up in a glass baking dish – same time as the roast, with evoo and salt and pepper

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Drizzle good evoo and balsamic vinegar top with chopped basil and shaved parmesan, salt and pepper – serve with Italian bread

Starting a New Business

openforbusIt’s a scary thing, starting something new.  Especially when it’s something as personal as cooking for another family.  I cooked for several families a year ago and loved the experience of sharing my passion, providing meals with integrity and amazing ingredients, but I was cooking menus that I wanted to cook and not necessarily providing my clients the service they needed.  Now, I’m incorporating my client’s preferences and making that the priority while highlighting natural ingredients and cooking seasonally which translates to a great product and service they will love.

I had the opportunity to cook for several events over the past summer and I love the energy of planning, executing, trouble shooting and ultimately seeing the event evolve, until there’s nothing to do but smile and enjoy.   Knowing that I was a small part in creating that experience and seeing the gratitude on my client’s face – I loved that!

I have also wanted to teach cooking classes and offer cooking parties since last March, when a friend approached me with an idea that I do a cooking class for her birthday party at her house.  It was so much fun introducing people to new ingredients, cooking techniques, and knife skills while cooking a delicious meal.  An outside of the classroom setting made it less intimidating and more intimate.

So why now?  I can’t think of a better time.  The kids are getting older and are semi-self sufficient, I want to contribute to my family, and I have something to offer that I think is of great value.

They say if you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.  This doesn’t feel like work.

      

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