Mushrooms and Soy over Noodles

Soy and Mushroom Dish

Recipe adapted from Chris Jaeckle, All’onda, New York.
Published March 2014 in the New York Times
Further adaptations from Sam Sifton, and then further adapted in my kitchen.

Mushrooms and Soy wNoodles

Lemon Pappardelle pasta

TOTAL TIME: 35 minutes
Put the water on to boil for the a Lemon Paparadelle noodles from Trader Joe’s or use any high quality flat noodle that is at least 1/2″ wide. In between all other tasks, cook the noodles to al dente and the let them drain. Just before combining with the mushrooms, run hot water over them to freshen and unstick, the let drain again. Or, just get the timing down so the noodles are ready when the mushrooms are.

sliced mushrooms

FOR THE MUSHROOMS
About 20-30 ounces of mushrooms, thinly sliced (It’s better with a combination of mushrooms, such as Golden Oak, Crimini and Shiitakke, but it’s still quite good with just white mushrooms and crimini.) I do not measure, but when combining the mushrooms at the end, most go into the mixture, but some might be held back for another day. You be the judge.

Roughly 6 ounces cold butter, cut into 2 tablespoon pats
3 ounces butter ( for finishing)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed through a press (or minced)
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon low-salt soy sauce
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION

  1. So as to not crowd the mushrooms as they cook,work in batches to cook them. For each batch, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sauté pan set over high heat until it has melted. Add 1/2 pressed clove of garlic, then about 2 -3 cups of mushrooms, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, turning until browned, tossing frequently, until mushrooms are coated with butter and start to wilt slightly. The ratio is more important than the quantity (a small amount of butter and garlic to the mushrooms), so if your pan is smaller, use fewer mushrooms. Remove to a bowl, then repeat until all mushrooms have been cooked. Remove last batch to the bowl.
  2. Add the beef broth to the pan deglaze the surface, using a wooden spoon to scrape at the browned bits. Allow the stock to reduce by half, then turn the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, whisking to combine, followed by the soy sauce, cream and olive oil. Allow mixture to cook until it thickens a little, then remove from heat. Taste for seasoning, adding black pepper, if desired.
  3. Add the mushrooms to this, tossing to coat as well as incorporate any accumulated juices (can drain those out earlier into soy mixture if desired).
  4. Put the warm noodles in a warmed bowl, then top with mushrooms and the sauce. Serve immediately.

Sweet and Savory Chicken

Sweet and Savory Chicken

This is a modification of the recipe “Sweet and Spicy Chicken” published on the New York Times website, which I found one day while perusing the videos from Melissa Clark.  She makes me believe I can cook anything.  Since I am of a certain age, I crave more layering of flavors and textures and this fits the bill.

SS Chicken_1

SS Chicken_2

SS Chicken_5

We served it to two young adult guests one night and one cleaned her plate and the other one pushed most of it around.  When you bite into those lemons, it’s a jolt, that’s for sure, but I loved the surprise of all the flavors together.

Ingredients
1 lemon, plus 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more for pot
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

About 4 lbs. of bone-in chicken thighs, drumsticks and/or breasts–about 8-10 pieces total.  (Hers call for one 4-lb. chicken cut up, but we thought all this good flavor was wasted on the bony chicken backs and wings.  We also liked the dark chicken parts better than the white, although both were moist and delicious.)

3 cups sliced carrots (1/4-inch thick)
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
3/4  cup sliced dates
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, mint or parsley, for garnish (we used cilantro)
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts, for garnish

 

Preparation (to be done the afternoon before, if possible)
Quarter the lemon lengthwise, removing any seeds. Thinly slice crosswise into small wedges and add to small pot of boiling, salted water. Blanch for 2 minutes and drain. Reserve slices.

In a saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool.

Put chicken in a bowl and add honey mixture. Add carrots, onion, dates, thyme and blanched lemon slices. Turn mixture several times to coat.

SS Chicken_7We stuffed ours into two plastic zipper bags (yes, I ripped the bay leaf in half), set it in a bigger container and left it in the fridge overnight.  (She says you could let it marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, but then the marinade won’t really have time to work its magic.)

The next day, heat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer all ingredients, including marinade, to a sheet pan with a rim. Chicken should be skin side up. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes for breasts and 30 to 40 for legs and wings (remove the pieces as they are done cooking). When the chicken is done, give the carrot mixture in the pan a stir; if the pan looks dry add 2 to 3 tablespoons water. Continue roasting the carrots until they are tender, about 7 to 12 minutes longer.  When you have about 3 minutes to go, add in the scallions/green onions to roast along with the vegetables, just to take that rawness off of them. (A change from her recipe)

SS Chicken_9Spoon carrots over chicken and top with cilantro (or parsley or mint), scallions and pistachio nuts.  This is even better the next day.  I served it with Rice Pilaf, and served up some homemade cookies, and gelato from the grocers for dessert.

SS Chicken_10

Summer Pasta Salad

Summer Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

Even though I call this Summer Pasta Salad, asparagus is typically a spring vegetable.  But I always make some version of this just as the heat begins to creep into our days, as it’s easy and delicious.  Add some bread, and bowl of fruit for dessert and dinner’s done.

Ingredients
1 lb. package of high quality cheese-filled tortellini
about 8 ounces of golden cherry tomatoes (2-3 handfuls)
about 8 ounces of sweet red pearl-like tomatoes
bunch of asparagus, about 15 spears
pitted black Greek olives, about 10 very large ones, or 20 medium
extra-virgin olive oil
good quality balsamic vinegar
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
a light shake of cayenne pepper

Method
Toss the tomatoes with some olive oil and some salt and pepper, then spread out on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 425F for 15 minutes.  The tomatoes should still have their shape but be a little wobbly-looking.  Set aside to cool.

Blanched Asparagus

Wash, then prepare asparagus by snapping off the ends.  Hold your fingers at the end of the spear, letting it snap off where it wants to, then cut into 1″ pieces.  Cook in a gently simmering pot of salted water for 1 minute, then plunge into an ice-water bath to stop the cooking.  They should have some chewiness to them, but not crunchiness.  I always test first as some batches can take up to two minutes to be at the right texture.  To do that, grab one piece and put it in the ice water bath, then taste.

After each batch, place cooled asparagus to drain in a strainer or colander, then set aside.

Cooking Tortellini

Cook the pasta in lightly salted water on a gentle boil until done, but not DEAD-done.  You don’t want the pasta to fall apart.  Tip into a colander in the sink and rinse with cool water. GENTLY.

In a large bowl, place drained pasta, tomatoes, blanched asparagus, Greek olives.  Splash more olive oil on the mix, then some balsamic and some red wine vinegar (about 2-4 Tablespoons combined for the vinegars) then grind on some fresh pepper and salt, then a light sprinkle of cayenne..  Toss gently, then taste.  Adjust as needed.

Serves a crowd.

Mediterranean Chicken

This dish hails originally from Martha and I pretty much make it like she says, but don’t worry so much about the proportions.  If I think it needs more tomatoes, I add a few.  Likewise with the olives.  This goes together quickly and is good for a crowd.  Once I served it to over 50 people, and they all liked it (although I did see a few olives left on plates–guess they didn’t like those).

Cook’s Note: Like I’ve said before, I think the chicken breasts these days are beyond one person’s serving size, so I “fillet” them into thirds by slicing them on the diagonal, with the blade closer to horizontal than vertical.

This is the yield from two chicken breasts.  While the recipe originally called for 4 chicken breasts, I find that by filleting the chicken and leaving the amounts of the vegetable mixture the same, this will feed four nicely.

Ingredients:
2 cups grape tomatoes (1 pint)  *I like to cut some of mine in half, the long-way. I have used Roma tomatoes cut into large thumb-sized chunks and that works just fine too.  Different flavor, though.*
16 Kalamata olives, pitted and drained *The ones from the grocery store are bigger than the ones from Trader Joe’s, so use 20-25 of the Trader Joe’s olives.*
3 Tablespoons drained capers
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (although Martha calls for chicken breasts with skin)
Salt and Pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Toss tomatoes, olives, capers and 2 Tablespoons oil together in a medium bowl.

Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over high hot until hot.  Add 1 Tablespoon oil and heat until hot, but not smoking.  Place chicken in skillet; cook until golden brown, then turn chicken over to sear the backside briefly.

Place chicken in oven-proof baker.  Add tomato mixture all around.  Roast until chicken is cooked through and tomatoes have softened, about 18 minutes.

Note: Martha says to use an oven-proof skillet, then you can just add the tomato mixture to the pan and pop that in the oven.  Now you have options.

Stuffed Pumpkin

I first heard about this on NPR, when Dorie Greenspan was interviewed for a fall baking dish and also to promote her new book of Around my French Table.  Which I promptly put in my Amazon cart and which I now possess.  But because she encourages you to make this recipe your own, mine is nothing like hers except you start with a hollowed-out pumpkin and somewhere along the line you fill it will good things, put it in a 350 degree over for 90 minutes to two hours.  So I bought a sugar pumpkin at Trader Joe’s one day, and since we were having company for Halloween Night (the  trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood all grew up and went to college), I decided to try this.  Mine is stuffed with a small pasta blend (from Trader Joe’s), mushrooms and some Jimmy Dean’s sage sausage.  I roasted it with the lid on for 90 minutes, and it was done.  It makes a great presentation.

Start with the way Dorie starts: cut the lid off a pumpkin and hollow it out, scraping the flesh slightly to get rid of the stringy bits.  Sprinkle the inside cavity with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  I found it easier to grind the salt and pepper onto my cutting board, then pinch by pinch, sprinkle it around the inside cavity (the nutmeg went on from the spice bottle, no trouble).  Set aside.

In a medium size pot, brown the sausage well.  Turn off the heat, set aside.

Wash and cut about 3/4 pound crimini mushrooms into chunks.  In 1 Tablespoon butter, sautee half of the mushrooms in a saucepan (you’ll use this saucepan later for the pasta cooking); don’t crowd.  As they get done, dump them into the sausage, stir to mix.

When mushrooms are done, in about 1 Tablespoon olive oil, cook until slightly soft: 1 shallot, chopped and 1 large (2 small, or 3 weensy) cloves of garlic.  Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups of Harvest Grains Blend** mix (about 1/2 of the package), then add in 1 can of reduced salt Swanson’s chicken broth.  Cook until al dente–it will continue to cook in the pumpkin.  Add this slightly soupy mix to the sausage and mushrooms; stir to mix.

Spoon into your pumpkin, and don’t pack it down.  Just loosely spoon it in.  Set the pumpkin on a cookie sheet that has been lined with a sheet of parchment (or a Silpat) and bake at 350 for 90 minutes to 2 hours.  Check at 90 minutes.  The tip of knife blade should go in easily.  If the mixture is too soupy (mine wasn’t, but Dorie’s was) leave the lid off for the last few minutes.

Serve with freshly grated cheese, to be added atop the melange.  We served it by slicing it into wedges, then scooping out the mushroom/sausage mixture into a shallow bowl, topped with the cheese.  Encourage your guests to mix the cooked pumpkin with the rest–delicious.

I decided to try this again tonight, to see if we still liked it.  We did.  It’s perfect for a fall supper, and since a) today’s the last day in November–made it under the wire for fall, and b) we’re supposed to get a ten-year wind event tonight.  The house is creaking and moaning, and it feels like a Winnie-the-Pooh blustery day.

**Harvest Grain Blend: Could substitute a mix of pearl couscous, red quinoa, orzo and miniscule baby garbanzo beans.  At least that’s what the package says is in there.

Corn and Shrimp Soup

After doing lesson prep for my classes for so long that my eyes hurt, I wandered downstairs to figure out dinner.  It was a colder day, the first not-hot day we’ve had this fall and some rain was falling here and there all afternoon.  I wanted something warm for dinner, but not heavy.  Something traditional but with a bit of kick.  The soup cookbook fell out and after looking through it I chose a recipe to start in on.  But I took a huge turn off their recipe highway onto something wholly my own.  We enjoyed it and I hope you will too.  Oh, that red pepper?  It’s for looks.  You leave it in, but to add some heat, use Sriracha sauce at the table.

Although this looks complicated, get everything ready at the beginning as it goes together quickly.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 1/2 sweet bell peppers (I used 1 red and 1/2 yellow), chopped
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (or put through a garlic press)
2 stalks lemon grass
2 dried red pepper pods (more if you want more heat)
2 knuckle-sized chunks of fresh ginger
about 2 cups white frozen corn (can add more at the end if you like your soup with more “stuff”)
1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed and drained
2 cans chicken broth (14 oz each)
1 can coconut milk (about 14 oz.)
1 Tablespoon sugar
juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tablespoons)
pinch or two of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Melt butter and oil together in heavy soup-sized pan, saute peppers, shallot and garlic for 2-3 minutes.  Add chicken stock, broken-in-half lemon grass stalks, dried red peppers and the pieces of ginger.  Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Add in the shrimp and corn.  Let simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Fish out lemon grass and ginger.  Add sugar, lime juice, pinch of red pepper flakes, and cilantro.

Add coconut milk.  Adjust seasonings (add more salt?) and serve with Sriracha (Rooster) sauce at the table.

Note: I keep lemon grass stalks in my freezer.  I simply smacked them over the edge of the counter to break them in half, then threw them in.  Ditto the ginger (for keeping it in the freezer), but tonight I set it on a cutting board, and lopped off one of its chunks to throw in.

Scallops with Peppers and Corn

It had been a long, hot day and I didn’t feel like throwing a meal on the table.  I had earlier found this recipe in my new favorite publication: Sunset’s Fast and Fresh (go and get it) and knew I had the basic ingredients. I only had to find corn.  Corn?  No problem, right?  It’s summer–corn is cheap, right?  Wrong.  I must have hit the week that all the corn was shipped to China, or that the first harvest was finished and the second hadn’t begun.  I gave my money to the lady at the register, thinking it was the most expensive ears of corn I’d ever purchased.  Note to self: make this dish when corn is on sale.

At any rate, make a note to yourself: make this dish anytime.  They suggest serving it with couscous, pasta or rice, but somehow I had boiled New England supper on my mind, with the combo of the seafood, vegetables and corn.  We served ours with boiled white rose potatoes. I placed those in our individual bowls, cut them up, then over that spooned the vegetable mixture, and then the scallops.  It was delicious, easy and refreshing.

Ingredients

3 ears corn (about 2 1/2 lb. total), husked, silks removed
1 1/4 pounds sea scallops
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red bell peppers rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (I used three: one yellow, one orange and one red)
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

1. Holding each ear of corn upright in a deep bowl, cut kernels from cobs. Rinse scallops and pat dry; sprinkle lightly all over with salt and pepper.

2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in each of two 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pans over high heat. Add corn, bell peppers, garlic, and cumin to one pan; add scallops to the other. Cook, stirring both pans often, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes, and scallops are browned on the outside and barely opaque in the center (cut to test), about 5 minutes.

3. Just before serving, stir basil into the vegetable mixture and cilantro into the scallops. Add salt and pepper to taste to both. Mound vegetables in a wide, shallow bowl; top with scallops (and any pan juices).

Korean Tacos

This post is for Lynne, my fabulous mail lady, who takes a personal and friendly interest in all of us on the mail route.  She and her sister are getting together on Fourth of July with their families and she wanted to grill something, rather than order in a pizza.  Couple that impetus with my visit some time ago to the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) where parked out front along the street, were all kinds of food trucks.

I was delighted because I’d heard about this phenomena, but since I am from a neighboring city we would probably never have such a gourmet delight.  We tried the Korean Tacos–a hybrid of Asian-flavors wrapped up in a tortilla.  Not cheap, so we shared one, and besides we were saving our hunger for Chinese Dumplings.  But I searched for a recipe, finding one that had been printed in the now-defunct Gourmet Magazine.

For meat, I had some really thick boneless pork chops (1″ thick) in the freezer.  I let them partially thaw which allowed me to get a really thin slice on the meat.  I used two pork chops,  which served two amply with leftovers for another meal.  Guessing? They probably weighed together about 3/4 pound.  Place them in a zip-lock bag, then add the marinade:

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil (available at grocery stores–get a smaller bottle if you don’t plan to use it a lot, and store it in your fridge)
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes (the kind you get to put on your pizza)

Marinate at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.  I did this in the morning, then pulled it out of the refrigerator about an hour before grilling.

On a fairly hot (but not scorching) grill, lay out the slices of pork a few at a time, then go back and flip them over.  They will cook REALLY quickly since they are so thin.

Warm some tortillas, either by wrapping in foil and placing at the back of the grill over indirect heat, or by warming them in a frying pan.  We use the thicker white corn tortillas, which don’t fall apart and are more like the Korean tacos we tried. I think we bought these at Von’s in the plaza, but I’ve seen them other places, too.  Place the pork in the tortilla, layer some slaw on top, and if you like a little more heat, pass some siroche red pepper sauce for the top.

Napa-Romaine Slaw

Makes about 6 cups, enough for many tacos, with leftovers

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1-1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar

For the salad:
4 cups (5 ounces) shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups (3 ounces) shredded Napa cabbage
1/2 cup (2 ounces) thinly sliced onion
toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Toss the salad in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Add more dressing to taste and garnish generously with sesame seeds.

We served our tacos with some rice, into which I’d added some sliced green onions, about a teaspoon of sesame oil, and a dash of soy sauce.  You could just make extra of the slaw dressing and toss with that.

Linguine with Pea Pesto

This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen (link to the right), but my sister Christine says she’s made it, so I know it’s been around a while.  Basically you puree some peas, add the rest of the pesto ingredients and toss cooked linguine with this and some of the pasta water, and you have a quick and delicious summer meal.  I mean it was so delicious I’ve had it every day this week and I’m still not tired of it.  It’s creamy without being high-fat-high-calorie.  I used the frozen peas, but did buy a fresh bag so we didn’t have to use that bag that’s been kicking around the back of the freezer all winter.  We served it with fresh tomato bruschetta on crostini--a perfect meal.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups (from approximately 1 1/2 pounds peas in pods) fresh pea or a 10-ounce package frozen peas (I didn’t defrost mine–just dumped them into the boiling water.)
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and cooled
1/2 cup (1 1/8 ounces) finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon table salt, plus more for pasta water
1/3 cup olive oil
1 pound dried linguine
Garnish (optional): thinly slivered basil leaves

Prepare an ice bath, a large bowl filled with ice water. Bring a small saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add peas and cook for 2 minutes (this leaves them with a bit of structure). Drain peas then add them to the ice bath (if using) and drain again. If you haven’t used an ice bath, let your peas cool to lukewarm before making the pesto.

Set aside 1/2 cup of your cooked peas. Whirl the remaining cup of peas in the work bowl of a food processor with garlic, pine nuts, 1/3 cup parmesan and salt until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. With the machine running, drizzle in olive oil.

Cook your linguine until al dente. Reserve about two cups pasta cooking water, as the pea pesto will be surprisingly thick, then drain linguine and return it to pot. Over moderate heat, toss pasta with pesto, reserved peas and as much reserved pasta water as needed to smooth and distribute pesto; let cook for one minute so that the pesto adheres. Adjust salt to taste, add freshly ground black pepper if desired. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh herbs, if using, and remaining parmesan.

Pasta Jumble

It was at the end of a long three weeks of baking, prepping, shopping, comparing prices and shopping again for a women’s conference luncheon (for 300!), when we had the occasion to have over some family who had come into town unexpectedly.  What to serve?  While elaborate dishes can be fun to make if you are in the right mood, I was not in the right mood for such a recipe.  So my husband and I opened up our brains and creativity to pull together what we call Pasta Jumble.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it contains just about whatever you have in your refrigerator. But it all starts with a box of small, shaped pasta. My favorite is campanelle–a trumpet-shaped pasta with a fluted edge, but do try and keep in your pantry interesting shaped pastas.  They go on sale quite often.

Ingredients:
This may vary depending on what vegetables and other items you have in your fridge; I’ll list what has gone into the above dish.  This serves 6-8, amply.

1 lb. box shaped pasta (this is “campanelle”)
1 bell pepper, red or yellow
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 white or yellow onion
8 oz. frozen white corn
about 10 Spanish olives (pimimiento-stuffed green olives), sliced (We usually use 1/3 small can of chopped black olives, but had run out.  So we substituted.)
1/4 pound good-quality bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4″ strips
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped into small pieces (about 1/2″ dice)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, cut into smaller pieces (about 1/4″ dice, approximately)
2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken (we buy it at Costco, take it off the bone and pack it into freezer bags for a quick meal–one chicken yields about 4 bags)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
cayenne
salt & pepper
olive oil
red wine vinegar

Boil pasta until nearly tender (al dente), drain well, then place into large mixing bowl.  While pasta cooks, fry bacon until cooked, but not dark or too crisp; drain on paper towels.  And while that cooks, melt butter and olive oil together and add onion and bell pepper; cook until tender, about 5-8 minutes.

Add corn, olives, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, black beans, cooked bacon, sauteed vegetables, fresh tomatoes to the pasta, and toss lightly to mix.

A proper vinaigrette could be made here, but instead I’ll include the cheater method: glob some olive oil over the mixture (about 1/4 cup), two to three shakes of vinegar (roughly 2 Tablespoons), a squirt of mustard, salt and pepper, and stir.  Add cayenne to taste (we’re wimpy–about 1/4 teaspoon for this amount).  Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve!