Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chinese Cold Noodles and Sesame and Salad with Asian Style Dressing


Cold Noodles and Sesame on salad greens

The first time I had Chinese Cold Noodles and Sesame was in a Chinese restaurant in New York City in the early eighties. I was in college at the time and my boyfriend took me to this restaurant...it was my first experience eating anything spicy and I loved cold noodles immediately—even though it took me ages to eat the first few times, as my taste buds had to adjust to the spiciness.  
 
Eventually, I learned how to make them myself. Over the years, I have tweaked the recipe; it is quite different from the original--better, in my opinion. I like to serve it over salad with an Asian dressing to make a complete meal and to lighten it up a bit. I actually eat the dish warm--not cold--and like the way they make the salad greens wilt just a bit.  


Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce
Serves 4-5 



1 pound Chinese-style dried noodle or spaghetti/fettuccine
2 tablespoons good quality peanut oil, like Loriva's roasted peanut 

6 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons ginger, minced

3 tablespoon black and/or white sesame seeds

1/2 bunch scallions, chopped

1 cucumber, julienned or cut thinly
2 tablespoon San-J® All Purpose Szechuan Hot and Spicy Sauce

1 cup crunchy or smooth natural peanut butter

2 tablespoons soy or tamari sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Hot pepper flakes to taste

Water
Cilantro, chopped for sauce, leaves for garnish



While heating water to cook pasta; sauté ginger, sesame seeds, scallion and garlic in peanut oil on low heat. Do not allow garlic to brown. Add remaining ingredients for sauce except cilantro and sesame oil, stirring well to combine. Add small amounts of water until you like the consistency—should be thin enough to coat the pasta easily. Taste the sauce, as you may want to add more of one or more ingredients. If it is too hot and spicy, add more peanut butter. Turn off heat and add chopped cilantro and sesame oil. Cook pasta, drain and return to pot; add the sauce. Embellish with cucumber, cilantro leaves and more sesame seeds Serve room temperature or warm. 

salad

Cold Noodle sauce

Asian Style Dressing and Salad

3 parts olive oil

1 part white rice vinegar

1 part soy sauce


crushed garlic

Pepper



Salad greens, like romaine, radicchio, thinly sliced kale

Combine dressing and toss with vegetables. Serve noodles on top of salad.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chicken Soup and Stock

You can buy chicken stock—even organic free range—but it is not even close to homemade--and, it's easy to make. Homemade chicken stock is much richer and will make anything you use with it taste better. You can also make chicken stock from leftover bones with any remaining meat--from a roast or rotisserie chicken.

Some cooks make chicken stock by adding the chicken and cooking it to death and then throwing away the tasteless chicken. There is no reason to do this! Instead, cook chicken until it's done--about an hour if cut into pieces--then return the bones to the pot so they can continue to add flavor to the stock.

Chicken Stock
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces (do not use organs; neck is fine)
1 onion, quartered, skin on
2 stacks celery, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 parsnip, roughly chopped
1 turnip, roughly chopped
Handful parsley (can put in a piece of cheese cloth)
Salt and pepper
Put chicken pieces into a large pot, add remaining ingredients and fill with water. When water comes to a boil, lower hit to a medium simmer and skim off any scum that forms on the top. Boil for about an hour. Remove meat and reserve. When meat is cool, discard skin and remove meat from bones. Throw bones (and any of the vegetables) back into the pot and simmer for at least another hour. Occasionally check water level. You can simmer for hours, if desired. Remove bones and vegetables (a Chinese slotted spoon is perfect.) Whatever stock you don't need can be frozen and stored in plastic or glass containers. Fat will rise to top when chilled and can be removed.

Chicken stock from Bones
Put chicken bones and any remaining bits of meat into a stock pot and follow recipe above. Cook for 2-3 hours.  

Chicken Soup
Stock
Chicken cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
Root vegetables—carrot, celery, parsnips, turnips, celery root, jicama, etc cut into bite-sized pieces
Brown or white rice or pasta
Broccoli, Kale, spinach, peas, seaweed (optional)
Lemon zest (optional)
Heat stock and add root veggies and white rice and cook 20 minutes. If using brown, add 25 minutes earlier. If using pasta, cook separately and add at end.  Add other vegetables and chicken for last 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.  Plate soup and add lemon zest to bowl.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Curried Lentil Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Kale
 


A package of assorted heirloom lentils in my pantry was calling me and I came up with this dish, because it also included sweet potatoes and coconut milk--a combination that I was recently told was terrific together. The result--a creamy, super flavorful dish that is also light and super healthy! This is a complete meal, but you can also add some nice crusty bread.
Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
2” piece of ginger, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, diced
1 medium kale, cut chiffonade
1 large shallot or scallion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon curry
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
 4 cups water
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
1/3 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries
3 tablespoons cilantro stems, finely chopped and leaves for garnish
Heat oil in a pot over medium heat and add garlic, ginger, shallot, lentils, potatoes and carrots. Stir often until soften, about 7 minutes. Add curry and stir until fragrant, 1 minute.
Add salt, ¾ can coconut milk, water and bring to boil. Cover and let simmer, about 10 minutes or until lentils and potatoes are soft. Add kale for another minute or two, add cherries, saving a few for garnish and cilantro stems. Ladle soup in bowl, swirl in remaining coconut milk in 4 bowls and add cilantro and cherries as garnish.











Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sweet Potato and Spinach/Cheese Ravioli on Arugula with Pumpkin Seeds and Brown Butter

Inspired by the delicious sweet potato ravioli appetizer I had at my nephew's wedding at Bernards Inn last month, I decided to make them, but as a main course. I was stumped about what to serve them with as a complete meal and decided to make them with spinach and ricotta ravioli atop arugula. I thought the same sauce the restaurant used for the sweet potatoes would work with spinach/cheese and I was right...the dish was delicious! The topping is brown butter, sage, pumpkin seeds and black truffle salt. I decided to shape the sweet potato ravioli like wontons to make the dish look more interesting. Two servings was 12 wonton and 8 raviolis.

1 12 ounce package of Nasoya wanton skins (found in grocery store in produce section)

Sweet Potato Ravioli
 ¾ pound sweet potatoes
 1 tablespoons brown sugar
 2 tablespoons  butter, room temperature
Bake potato and remove skins. Add sugar and butter; mash well.
 
Spinach Cheese Ravioli
4 ounces cooked spinach
 1 cup ricotta
1 clove garlic, minced
 1 egg
 1 ounce parmesan
Mix together

Topping
12 or more sage leaves, roughly chopped
 3 T butter
 1/4 cup raw pumpkin (pepitas)  seeds
 Parmesan
 Truffles or truffle salt (optional)

For ravioli:
 
Lightly brush 1 wrapper with water, put 1 T filling on skin and top with another, pressing edges together to seal. To shape like wontons, place about 1 teaspoon of mixture in 1 wonton, fold to make a triangle and bring long sides together. Can cover with plastic and refrigerate if desired.

Saute pumpkin seeds in butter. Add sage and truffle salt.

Meanwhile, working in batches, cook ravioli in pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. Ravioli/wantons will float when done. Drain well. Put arugula on dinner plate and add ravioli; drizzle topping over. Add parmesan.

I had leftovers of both mixtures and baked the sweet potato ravioli the next day. Lightly spray ravioli (I made ravioli) with olive oil and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. They get a bit crisp and are quite tasty. I added more spinach and ricotta to other mix and added it to 1/2 pound of pasta. Next time, would add some chicken, too.