Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ginger-Scallion Noodles

Here's something simple to try the next time you have a craving for noodles or just don't want to cook.  It's a really simple recipe, and it comes from the Momofuku cookbook, and it makes enough to store in the fridge for later.  Basically, it's ginger and scallions.   Here is a link to the recipe.

It's a lot of ginger. It looks like it's going to be overwhelming, but it's not, don't worry.

David Chang recommends serving with a quick salted pickle.  This is basically a sliced cucumber mixed with salt and sugar and let to sit for a few minutes.  I added water chestnuts from a can because we had them in the pantry, or you could try roasted cauliflower.  His suggestion that a dash of hoisin sauce over the top is the perfect finish sounds spot on, but I will have to save it for next time.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Egg Salad

It's warm out and egg salad makes a perfect light picnic.  It's simple, and a blank slate to be creative with the flavors.  This one is fresh dill and sun-dried tomatoes.  When I make it I do everything by feel.  Hard boil the eggs (I like 2 per sandwich) and chop them roughly.  Chop the dill and tomatoes and put everything in a bowl.  Add 2 parts dijon mustard, 3 parts mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.  Mix well.  Taste.  Add a little more wet stuff to get the right consistency or a little more salt and pepper.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pork Paillards with Sour Cream-Paprika Sauce

Paillards are a great way to cook meat.  The basic idea is to pound the meat thin.  It gets tender, cooks very fast, and maximizes the ratio of browned, seasoned outsides to total weight.  Because it's thin it's also easy to pay close attention and not overcook the meat.  The browning also lends itself nicely to a pan sauce.  Martha has a tasty one here that Emily whipped up the other night.  We paired it with cole slaw made with a homemade milk mayonnaise.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower with Fish Sauce Vinagrette

This is the recipe that I mentioned in my Momofuku post.  It is so good that I have actually made it twice already.  Fish sauce is one of those sauces that doesn't smell so good, but when you start eating it it tastes so good you just keep eating.  There are spicy Rice Crispies in here for crunch, along with fried cilantro.  This was totally new to me, but it worked great.  The leaves get crispy almost instantly and make for something interesting in the bowl.  There are a couple ingredients you'll get from the Asian market.  The Shichimi Togarashi, a Japanese chili powder, and the fish sauce.  Chang recommends Squid brand, which I have actually seen in the market but am waiting to use up what I have before trying it.  I gave an easy hand to the vinaigrette when dressing the cauliflower - it needs more than a salad, but less than a total soaking.  Overall this recipe is fresh and new, but comforting.   Here's a link to the recipe that others have posted.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Almond Butter and Jelly Thumbprints

PB&J in a cookie.  Blackberry jam, almond butter, Martha Stewart's recipe.  Simple and delicious. If you haven't discovered Trader Joe's reasonably priced nut butters, please discover them soon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con pollo is one of my favorite comfort foods of all time.  It can come in many forms and I like nearly all of them.  The main definition here is that rice and chicken get cooked in the same pot together and their flavors combine into seriously addictive compounds.  Generally dark meats like chicken thighs are used because they stay juicy during the cooking process.  Other keys are keeping the rice from getting overcooked and using a "brightening" agent at the very end - something like lemon juice or vinegar that really makes the flavors pop.  This recipe from Cook's Illustrated is pretty great.  I found two bloggers that have posted the recipe.  One is pretty excited about the recipe and has posted it with some modifications.  The other has some great pictures of the recipe process, but is a little negative about the amount of work it takes to accomplish this dish.  In my opinion there is no downside to eating this for a week.  It never even lasts that long.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Balsamic Mushrooms and Polenta

This is a great one-dish, satisfying vegetarian meal, one that we have made often on weeknights.  It's slightly modified from Martha's original recipe here to make it fit into what we normally have on hand in the kitchen.  It's got baby bella mushrooms, a lot more greens in the form of spinach, and cornmeal-polenta cooked on the stove and formed into balls with a cookie scoop.  The balsamic sauce and the proper seasoning of the polenta make this tasty and warming.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I have recently finished reading the Momofuku cookbook by David Chang.  He's the chef at 3 Momofuku restaurants he started in NYC: noodle bar, ssam bar and ko.  Noodle bar is a ramen joint, ssam bar is kind of creative late-night food, and ko is a upscale set menu place, all of which are great concepts.  I mean, how cool is "Momofuku" as a name?  It means lucky peach which is also my favorite fruit.  As a result, I am currently enamored with David Chang's tasty, non-pretentious, hard-working, genuine-feeling style. So we have been scavenging DC for the appropriate Japanese and Korean ingredients with a few pictured here and a few more to go.  I have tried one of the simpler dishes - a roasted cauliflower in fish sauce vinagrette - which turned out to be very delicious.  This makes me even more excited to try the ramen broth, the steamed buns, the chicken and egg, and almost the whole cookbook which sounds amazing.  However it is not for the quick and easy cook - most of these recipes have something that is unusual or take planning and adventures with pork.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Molcajete Guacamole

The molcajete is seasoned!  I got this Mexican mortar and pestle for Christmas.  Then I googled how to prepare it for use.  As usual, there were conflicting opinions forecasting certain doom in the form of gritty salsa if the proper seasoning process was not followed.  Some seemed to think smoothness was good, others told me to attack the thing with a screwdriver to roughen it up.  So I chose my approach... wash the thing well, and then grind rice in it until I got flour.

Wow, that took a lot of work.  I think I hurt my arm doing it, but I made flour.  There was definitely ground stone mixed in with the rice when I was done.  But I wasn't about to repeat the process, so I went ahead and made guac.  This is definitely the way to process garlic.  Forget the mincer, a bit of oil and a couple of strokes and the garlic is a smooth, even paste.  The rest of the guacamole was similarly easy.  No grit!  The real magic is supposed to be crushing chilies for salsa - supposedly much tastier than the blender.  That'll be next.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

English Muffins


I wonder if you have had the same experience I did.  Thomas' English Muffins were the only game in town and they were great fresh out of the toaster.  Then maybe you tried a Thomas' Bagel.  Guess what, it's horrible!  It tastes like an English Muffin!

Well guess what?  You don't have to buy Thomas', you can make your own.  And they don't have that "Thomas'" flavor.  In fact they are really, really good fresh.  Basically, it is a bread started in the pan and finished in the oven, then fork split.  The versions pictured here are from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" but there are many recipes out there and of course, Emily is still experimenting.  


This is the second batch that came out even better than the first!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cinnamon Bread

Cinnamon bread smells delicious in the oven.  This is one of Emily's latest projects.  She is working through The Bread Baker's Apprentice, which currently under her review to see if it stands up to rumors that it is an excellent reference on a wide variety of breads.  We will keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I recall eating lumpia when I was growing up.  It is a Filipino egg roll of sorts, with a filling of all kinds of vegetables... vegetables like cabbage and sweet potato that are easy to find in the winter time but also year-round.  I used to eat these at inevitably international pot luck dinners here in the DC area, where, alongside Argentine empanadas, these were my favorites.  This recipe is from the Washington post, and is pretty good.  Look for the Wei Chuan spring roll warppers - they made these a cinch to roll and were very tasty.  The Post also has a photo collection that shows the whole process very well.  Note how big the wok is in the pictures... the recipe makes a lot of filling.  But I've got some in the freezer which will make frying up my next batch very easy.  This recipe is easy to make vegetarian by simply omitting the ground beef... I don't think it would make much of a difference.