January 12, 2020

Butternut Squash Pasta with Sage and Bacon

I first made this pasta four years ago. Two kids and a bunch of new appliances later, here’s the better and faster version! This use to take over an hour. Now it’s under 30min.

I’m almost too embarrassed to share this, but look at how ugly this dish use to be: old version.

Four years ago, I had a crappy Nutribullet blender which required working in batches. That’s why everything came out chunky. Today, my Vitamix took a few seconds. Pasta also use to take forever. Rental property stoves take 20 minutes to just boil a damn pot of water, then another 10 or so to cook the pasta. So that was another bottle neck. My new multicooker takes 5 minutes to cook pasta. Beginning to end.

Now I have more time for all of life’s other demands! More time to wipe noses and butts and step on legos. And of course, my lovely, appreciative, angel of a son takes one look at his plate and goes “I dont like this dinner, mommy. Cook me something else. How about a lot of bacon?”

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Some notes:

  • Toys that will make your life easier:
    • multicooker with a steamer basket,
    • vitamix blender,
    • veggie spiraler
  • I roasted half the squash (or whatever fits on the toaster oven tray) and steamed the rest. I find the steamed half lends a creamier texture while the roasted half gives it a nice caramelized flavor. Feel free to pick one or the other. I prefer using both.
  • I use zoodles for half my pasta for health reasons. We also use barilla veggie pasta that’s 1/4 veggies. Also, maybe my kids are dumb, but they dont notice they’re eating veggies when it’s zoodles. Big leafs of spinach? Much less appealing to toddlers.
  • Timing is everything. Roasting veggies takes the longest. Do that first. Everything else can be done while roasting. Then start up pasta when veggies are done. While pasta is cooking, blend the sauce together. 30 min meal, y’all.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 package spaghetti
  • 2 large shallots, thick sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • fresh sage
  • 3-4 slices of bacon
  • ~1 cup chicken stock
  • salt
  • optional: zucchini for zoodles
  • optional: grated parmesan  (I save the little containers that come with Italian take out and keep them in the freezer. Fresh is obviously better but we dont use parmesan often)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. PREP SQUASH: Peel and chop off ends. Cut squash in half, where the skinny end and the fat bulb meet. Slice the skinny half into <1/2 cm thick slices. Thinner slices roast faster! Cut bulb end in half again. Scoop out seeds. Chop into large chunks.
  3. Lightly spray aluminum lined pan and place sliced squash, whole garlic, and shallots on pan. Avoid crowding. Place shallots and garlic in center so they dont burn. Roast for ~15- 20 min.
  4. Dump squash chunks into steamer basket of multi cooker. Add 1-2 cups of water to inner pot, insert steamer rack trivet then steamer basket, making sure squash isn’t sitting in water. Steam 7 min. Drain and dump squash into blender.
  5. COOK BACON: Place slices of bacon in a cold frying pan. Turn heat on to medium. Render fat and fry bacon, turning as needed, until brown and crispy. Remove and set aside on paper towel. Chop into pieces. Use fat to fry sage–>
  6. FRY SAGE: Pick off the large pretty leaves from your sage stem. Reserve ugly or small ones and set aside. Place pretty leaves in hot bacon fat over medium high heat. Fry until each side is dark and crisp. I used a chopstick to turn them as they crumble easily when fried.  Remove and set aside on paper towel.
  7. COOK ZOODLES: Dump out most of the bacon fat. In remaining thin coat, heat pan on medium high again, then add zoodles. stir and salt to taste. Remove and later mix with pasta.
  8. COOK PASTA: (multicooker)
    • Unfortunately for spaghetti you need to break the dried pasta in half.
    • Dump pasta in inner pot.
    • Pour in just enough water to cover pasta. Salt.
    • Pressure cook on high for a little under half the time the box says. 9min pasta? Cook for 4. 11 min pasta? Try 5.
    • Drain in steamer basket used earlier for squash.
  9. BLEND SAUCE: Add chicken stock then roasted veggies and several small ugly sage leaves. Blend until smooth, adding chicken stock if too thick. (Honestly I didn’t’t bother to heat the chicken stock as everything else is plenty hot.)
  10. Mix zoodles and pasta, pour over some sauce, mix. Top with parmesan bacon and sage leaves.

 

 

January 5, 2020

Multicooker: Chinese Pork Rib Stew 清燉排骨湯

Chinese soups in the multicooker, take 2! Totally trying Korean braised short rib stew next. That was my intention this week, but my son ate the Korean pear I was saving.

You’ll notice it looks a lot like the Chinese chicken soup recipe. But it tastes surprisingly different. Chicken and pork don’t taste alike, after all. This one takes a bit longer with an extra parboiling step, but well worth the effort.

This is the clear broth version. For the soy sauce based or “red braised”  紅燒排骨 pork rib stew, see this recipe! Easy to adapt for the multicooker.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3lb pork spare ribs (chinese style, or other small tender cuts)
  • 2 stalks green onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 slices ginger
  • white pepper, pinch
  • 1/2 cup of Chinese rice wine/Michiu (TTL is my go to brand)
  • dash of soy sauce for umami
  • salt
  • 2-3 medium daikon radishes, roll cut
  • 6 -7 dried red jujube dates

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. PARBOIL: I always parboil pork. ‘Cause my momma says to. Add ribs (chopped into equal size pieces) into a pot (not your multicooker pot). Fill water until just covered. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, remove from heat.
  2. Remove ribs one by one and wash under cold water in the sink. Place each clean rib into the inner pot of your multipot.
  3. Place a large mesh strainer over the inner pot of ribs. Carefully pour parboiling water over strainer. This is your soup base without all the nasty foamy meat floaties. *some people discard their parboiling water and start their base with clean water. I think that’s a waste of good tasting meat water.
  4. Add green onions, garlic, ginger, rice wine, a sprinkle or two of white pepper, and a dash of soy sauce, and a couple tsp of salt.
  5. Cover, close vent to “pressure”, pressure cook on HIGH for 40min.
  6. Carefully vent pressure.
  7. Add daikon and jujube dates. Close valve and pressure cook on HIGH for 10min.
  8. Best served the next day. Cover and store in fridge the next day. Skim off fat, then slowly heat on stove before serving. *TIP: remove some of the solids into a separate container before storing soup so that skimming the fat is easier! Or you’ll be skimming around chunks of rib pork and daikon instead of working with a smooth surface.

 

January 5, 2020

Multicooker: Chinese Chicken Soup

Got myself a Zavor Lux for Xmas! I’ve been a snobby purist for years, sticking to my Le Creuset for soups and braises for the last decade. But the demands of working and raising two babies has finally convinced me to pull the trigger on a multicooker. I can make meals after work that use to be reserved for weekends only!

Why Zavor and not Instapot? Cooks Illustrated reviews told me so.

So far my favorite thing to cook with my new pot is healthy Chinese soups. During the months of October through April, our family is plagued by never ending illness. Here’s the basic components: meat, water, rice wine, ginger, garlic, green onion, and chinese herbal ingredients like red jujube dates, gogi berries, etc, and a dash of soy sauce.

I swear I’ve never made chicken soup before. My 1 year old sucked down four bowls of this stuff in one sitting and screamed for more. Incidentally, her nickname is JujuBe.

No pictures this time ’cause my hungry family burst through the doors the moment I finished cooking.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 bone in thighs
  • 1/2 cup Chinese rice wine
  • 2 stalks green onion
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 5 dried jujube dates
  • 5 dried scallops, soaked 30min
  • 1 package of shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 daikon radish, ROLL cut
  • small handful gogi berries
  • white pepper
  • 2+ tsp salt
  • dash of soy sauce
  • Optional: white rice (Nishiki is my go to)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place chicken thighs, green onion, garlic, ginger, white pepper, rice wine, mushrooms, scallops, dash of soy sauce, and salt in inner pot of multicooker. Add water until just covered.
  2. Close vent valve to “pressure” setting. Pressure cook on HIGH for 30min.
  3. Carefully release steam via valve.
  4. Add daikon and dates. Cover, close valve, and pressure cook on HIGH for 10min.
  5. Salt to taste of needed. Scoop out green onions, ginger, and chicken skin and discard.
  6. Pour out soup into separate pot, drop in gogi berries, cover. You can continue to simmer, but no need if it’s in a cast iron! See below for making rice to serve with:

INSTRUCTIONS FOR RICE

  1. Wash rice 3x (soak, swirl with fingers, drain, repeat).
  2. Pour damp rice back into inner pot of multicooker (no need to wash after soup, rice will just taste chicken-y). Add liquid at 1:1 ratio to rice. I did 1 cup rice, 3/4 water, 1/4 cup chicken soup.
  3. Pressure cook on HIGH 4-5min, more if you make more than 1 cup of rice, or if you like your rice softer. Leave it and don’t touch anything for 10min, then quick release on the valve.

 

June 12, 2019

Garlicky Clam Pasta

Super fast dinner. 20 min total time. Husband made pasta ahead of time while I took the kids to the park. By the time everyone’s hands were washed, milk poured, and table set, dinner was ready. And mamma was tipsy. Win.

And to think, this dish only happened because my toddler figured out how to add items to my FreshDirect cart. (Online grocery delivery service in NYC)

I’m gonna let him pick our meals more from now on.

Photo above shows clams note quite done! You want them nice and open. Cover again and continue to steam for another 2-3minutes. Total cook time should be about 5-7 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3lb or 25 fresh littleneck clams
  • Package of Beech/Buna shimeji mushrooms
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh parsley
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 lemon
  • 2-3tbs butter
  • Parmesan
  • 1/2+ package of spaghetti/linguini

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. At least an hour or so before cooking (or morning or), place clams in heavily salted water and set in fridge. Clams will spit out sand over time. Before cooking, give them a good scrub down and rinse off sand. Drain and set aside.
  2. Boil water in large pot. Cook pasta as per package instructions. Drain and set aside once done. While cooking pasta, make clams in separate Dutch oven. (Can be done ahead. Toss in olive oil so it doesn’t stick.)
  3. Heat Dutch oven on medium high. Once hot, melt butter then sauté onions 2-3min until soft. Salt generously.
  4. Add garlic, continue to sauté until fragrant but don’t burn it. 1-2min.
  5. Add mushrooms, another pat of butter, parsley and any other herbs you want (chives? Tarragon?). Sauté until mushrooms are just soft. 2-3min.
  6. Add 1cup white wine. Let it cook off and bubble for 3 minutes or so. Add a dash (about 1/4-1/3 cup of chicken stock) and bring to a rolling boil.
  7. Gently dump in cleaned clams. COVER and steam on medium heat for 5min, stir once at half way point. Clams are done when they’re wide open. Discard unopened clams. Squeeze some lemon over the clams and mix.
  1. Remove clams and set aside. Let liquid continue to boil and reduce in volume. Add more butter if you want it extra rich. Turn off heat.
  2. Dump in cooked pasta and mix thoroughly.
  3. Plate. Top with clams, extra chopped parsley, and a generous grating of cheese.

June 9, 2019

Strawberry Cake

Dense, moist, cornmeal cake packed with summery strawberry flavor. Recipe from Bon Appetite! Mine did not come out nearly as pretty as I’d like, but the baby was stirring from her nap so I rushed the berry arrangement…

Notes:

  • Use finer cornmeal to avoid grittiness.

  • Use fresh strawberries for neater slices, or cut while still slightly frozen. Soggy defrosted strawberries are difficult to cut…Also, fresh berries shrink so pack them more tightly when arranging the rows.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8oz strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar + 2 tbs extra, set apart
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup AP flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal, fine grind
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup strawberry jam (preferably Bonne Maman)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Rub down pan with olive oil and sprinkle with sugar. Shake out excess
  2. Slice strawberries thin. Mix with a generous sprinkle of sugar and a pinch of salt. Set aside
  3. In a large bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, 1 cup of sugar, 1 tsp salt, baking powder, baking soda. Mix.
  4. In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, sour cream, vanilla, zest, lemon juice until creamy and well combined.
  5. Gently mix in dry ingredients.
  6. With spatula, gently fold in olive oil until well combined and homogeneous.
  7. Pour batter into pan.
  8. Scoop in dollops of jam on surface and swirl in with butter knife. Don’t mix into batter. Gentle swirls.
  9. Lay strawberry slices on top of the batter in even rows, edges touching.
  10. Sprinkle over with sugar.
  11. Bake 30-40 min or until golden and toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  12. Cool before serving. Can sit out for 4 days covered.
  • June 6, 2019

    Broccoli and Ham Quiche

    To blind bake or not to blind bake pie crusts?? I have no idea. Blind baking is when you pre bake your crust before filing it. Quiche is rather liquidy. When in doubt, doesn’t hurt to blind bake. But as I had a three year old climbing on me and eating all my ham, I was in hurry and went ahead and filled my store bought crust without a blind bake. Tastes fine to me. If you like a firmer, more crumbly crust, go ahead with the extra step.

    After the quiche cools, the center will deflate a bit. Definitely one of those things that tastes better the next day, I think. Reheat in toaster oven.

    INGREDIENTS

    • Refrigerated pie crust
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1.5 cups broccoli florets chopped small
    • 3/4 cup chopped ham
    • 1/2 small onion chopped
    • 1 cup+ shredded Swiss cheese
    • Parsley
    • Salt
    • Pepper

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Preheat oven 375F
    2. Sauté onions until browned. Add broccoli and sauté 5-8 min or until broccoli is just fork tender. Salt to taste. Set aside in fridge to cool.
    3. Optional: Bake pie crust ~8 min or until bottom just browns a bit.
    4. Beat eggs with 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Mix in shredded cheese, ham, and onion/broccoli mixture.
    5. Pour mixture into pie crust.
    6. Bake 30min.
    7. Cover edges of crust with strips of aluminum foil.
    8. Return to oven and bake additional 10-15min or until center is set. Edges should be browned, center can be slightly wobbly.
    9. Remove and cool before cutting.
    March 30, 2019

    Galbi Jjim: Korean Braised Short Ribs

    Winter has come and gone, but it’s still in the 30’s in NYC. I think we have a few more weeks of stews and braises in our house. Plus, now that I gotta feed a family of four, any dish that lasts a whole week is a win. (I guess the baby eats it indirectly from me. Soups are great for nursing mamas!)

    Typically I make stews at the beginning of the week then eat it with rice one night, noodles the next, and as a side dish to another meal when we get to the dregs. If it even lasts that long.

    Note on cutting veggies for stews: roll cuting is your friend! Just make sure you keep the pieces relatively equal in size. With large veggies like daikon, you have to get creative. Roll cut then halve or chop into 3’s.

    Parboil vs Sear: Unlike lamb shanks or boeuf bourguignon, Asian braises and stew recipes typically do NOT call for browning the meat first.  Instead, parboiling the meat results in a clear, cleaner looking soup. Is it ok to sear instead of parboil? Sure. But if you want a cleaner presentation, I’d recommend skimming off the meat foam before adding veggies.

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 3lb country style beef short ribs, or 4lb bone in short ribs, cut into large equal sized chunks
    • 1 medium yellow onion, large dice or puréed
    • 1 korean pear, peeled and pureed, OR:  ~6oz apple sauce
    • 2 stalks green onion, chopped into 3 inch pieces
    • two thin slices of ginger
    • 1/2 lb daikon radish (half of a large radish), chopped
    • 2 carrots, chopped (see note on roll cutting)
    • 2 large cloves garlic, sliced
    • 1/4 cup mirin
    • 1/2 cup soy sauce
    • 2 cup water
    • Sesame oil

    *you can puree onions with the pear. Makes the soup thicker. But as I am lazy and didn’t want to wash yet another device, I just diced the onions and used packaged apple sauce.

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    1. Parboil method: Place meat in a pot of COLD water. Just enough to submerge. Bring to a low boil on medium heat. Once you reach a low bubbling boil, wait 5 min, then strain out meat. Reserve the strained water (saves the flavor you would otherwise lose from parboiling). Rinse meat off and remove debris.
    2. In dry dutch oven, heat on medium high heat. Once hot, add 1 tbs cooking oil and heat until shimmery. Add aromatics: green onion (and regular onion if not purée-ing it with the apples), ginger, and garlic and quickly stir as it pops and sizzles.
    3. Once fragrant but nOT burned, add mirin and soy sauce, reserved liquid from step one, and bring to a gentle low boil.
    4. Add ribs back in, stir in apple sauce (and onion purée), turn heat down to low and cover with lid. Simmer for two hours.
    5. Add daikon and carrots. Simmer another hour.
    6. Set in fridge over night and skim off fat the next day. Remove ugly green onion pieces. Reheat on low simmer.
    January 3, 2019

    Tuna Casserole from Scratch

    Trying to find ways to feed our monster toddler that doesn’t end up with my hard work on the floor. I was inspired by this amazing recipe and a craving for the hamburger helper tuna casserole that an old childhood friend of mine use to make for us when we went to college together. Good times. I don’t like peas so feel free to substitute broccoli for peas!

    INGREDIENTS

    • 8 oz pasta, shells or otherwise
    • 1 celery rib, small dice
    • 1 small onion, small dice
    • 1 small head of broccoli, small dice
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 tbs butter
    • 1 can chicken broth (15oz) warmed
    • 1 cup milk, warmed
    • 4 tbs white flour
    • 1 tbs dried parsley (or batch of fresh, chopped)
    • 1/8 tsp dried dill
    • 8 oz albacore white tuna packed in water
    • 3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Cook pasta as per package instructions. Drain and set aside in 9×13 baking pan or casserole dish. Add a drizzle of olive oil and toss to avoid sticking.
    2. In large skillet, heat on medium high. Add a drizzle of oil. Saute onions and celery until just soft. Salt generously. Add broccoli and garlic and continue to sauté. ~5min. Remove and set aside. Turn heat down to LOW.
    3. Nuke broth and milk separately 30sec or so, then set aside.
    4. In skillet over low heat, add butter. Once melted, slowly mix in flour to make a roux. ~30sec. Don’t let it burn!
    5. Slowly mix in warmed stock and then milk until thick and bubbly. ~3 min. Don’t bring to full boil or milk curdles.
    6. Mix in parsley and dill. Salt to taste. Stir in HALF of the cheese until completely melted in. Continue to let mixture thicken. ~1-2 min.
    7. Pour veggies back in and mix.
    8. Preheat oven 350F.
    9. Break up tuna into small pieces and crumble it over pasta. Pour gravy mixture into dish and mix well. Level the surface with a spatula.
    10. In a small bowl, make topping: drizzle 1-2 tsp olive oil over panko bread crumbs. Mix with fingers. Toss rest of the cheese in and mix. Sprinkle over pasta. Bake in oven 20-25 min or until top is just golden brown.

    January 3, 2019

    Scallops and Linguini in Lemon Butter Sauce

      
    INGREDIENTS (2 generous portions aka enough for toddler, too)

    • 0.5 lb dry packed scallops
    • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 small onion, sliced
    • 0.5 lb linguini
    • 0.5 lb zucchini spirals
    • zest from 1 lemon
    • 2 tsp lemon juice
    • 2 tsp butter
    • handful of fresh parsley, chopped, or 1-2 tsp dried
    • 1/4+ cup of grated parmesan cheese
    • olive oil
    • salt and pepper

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Cook pasta per package instructions. Drain, toss with 1-2 tsp olive oil, set aside.
    2. In large skillet, saute onions until just soft. 3-5 min. Salt. Add garlic. saute 1 min until fragrant.
    3. Add zucchini noodles and 1 tsp of butter. Saute until just softened. Salt to taste. Mix parsley. Continue to saute until slightly browned. Turn off heat. Mix in pasta, lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese. Stir and mix well. Salt if needed. Add more cheese if you like. Can’t go wrong with more cheese.
    4. Heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Pat scallops dry. Salt both sides generously and add black pepper to your preference. Add high smoke point oil to skillet (NOT butter or olive oil. Your smoke detector will go off.). Place scallops in skillet with a good 1 inch gap between each to avoid crowding. Once bottom is browned, (3-5min), flip and sear other side. When pressing down on scallop, it should be bouncy, nOT firm. Add 1 tsp butter and a squeeze of lemon juice. Swirl it around the bottom of the pan. Remove and serve ontop of pasta

     

    November 28, 2018

    醬爆肉 leek and pork belly stir fry 

    Literally translates to “exploding sauce meat”. 

    Mmmm. Good. 

    This is my mom’s recipe. Meaning there are no measurements whatsoever! I’ll come back and add what I can as I practice this dish.

    INGREDIENTS: 

    • 五花肉 Pork belly
    • 高麗菜 Chinese cabbage, chopped
    • 青蒜/蒜苗 Chinese leek, sliced on diagonal 
    • 大蒜 garlic, sliced 
    • 豆腐乾 dried tofu, sliced
    • 甜麵醬 tian mian jiang (sweet bean sauce)
    • 豆瓣醬 dou ban jiang (fermented bean sauce)
    • Rice wine 

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    1. Boil pot of water. Add pork belly. Blanch for 15-20 min until cooked through (depends on thickness. Remove and check inside for pink if you’re unsure).
    2. In a small bowl, mix the two sauces with a bit of water to thin it out a bit. Set aside. 
    3. Remove pork from water and cool. Slice thin and set aside. 
    4. Bring water to a boil again. Blanch cabbage slices for 3min or so or until just soft. Remove and set aside. Add a dash of rice wine and mix. 
    5. Heat skillet on medium high. Add a bit of oil. Once shimmering, add pork belly slices. Render fat until they dry out and shrink a bit (like breakfast bacon but don’t fry to a crisp). 
    6. Remove pork from pan. In remaining oil, fry garlic until fragrant. 1min. Do not burn! Next, add tofu slices until browned, then add cabbage and continue to stir fry. Lastly add leeks (greens last always or they get soggy and brown).
    7. Remove everything and set aside with pork. 
    8. Pour sauce in hot pan and mix until fragrant. 
    9. Pour everything back in pan. Stir fry until everything is evenly coated. 
    10. Remove from heat and serve.