Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cavatappi with Cheesy Bechamel, Sauteed Spinach, and Roasted Butternut Squash

Oli, I made this pasta dish because I had nothing else to eat in the house. So I used stuff in the fridge that was going to go bad if I didn't use it soon. And bechamel sauce is a quick and easy white sauce that's the base of all those delicious creamy dishes like mac and cheese. I added some smoked scamorza cheese (because it's always good to have cheese in the fridge!) to make a cheesy white sauce to coat all the ingredients before I baked it. Sorry I didn't take a picture of all the ingredients beforehand...I didn't know where I was going with this dish so I threw a bunch of things in! Sorry it's kind of complicated - my pasta dishes are usually much easier to make.

1. Ingredients: Bechamel sauce (flour, butter, milk, salt), cavatappi noodles (you can use whatever noodles you like - but it's nice to use a hollow pasta so that sauce gets all up in there), spinach, butternut squash.

2. For the bechamel sauce: 3 tablespoons of butter, 3 tablespoons of flour, 3 cups of HOT milk, pinch of salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a pot - when it's melted put in the flour and whisk for a couple minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.

3. After the butter/flour mixture (called a roux, which is a thickening agent) has cooked a couple minutes, slowly pour in the hot milk and whisk until everything is incorporated.  Remember to use hot milk because if you pour cold milk in, your sauce will come out grainy.  Whisk constantly so you don't scald the bottom of the pan until the sauce thickens up, enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Add salt and pepper to your taste.

4. I sauteed the spinach in some bacon fat (yeah, I like to keep bacon fat in the fridge), garlic, salt, and pepper until it was nice and wilted down.

5. As for the butternut squash, I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and rubbed it with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.  I roasted it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.  You can use your discretion when roasting veggies - just check it once in awhile to see if it's soft enough and to your liking.

6. Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water.  But make sure it's slightly undercooked because it's going to finish cooking when you bake it.  After you drain it, put it back in the emptied pot.  Throw in the diced butternut squash, sauteed spinach, and bechamel.  Toss everything together.  You might have to add more salt and pepper.  Put everything into a baking dish.

7. Top the pasta with more grated cheese so it can form a nice brown crust.  I used mozzarella and parmesan.

8. Then bake the dish at 375 degrees until the top is bubbling and gold brown - about 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kimchi Fried Rice

Oli, this recipe isn't for you. You can't eat spicy food! And you call yourself Korean! Anyhoo, this is for the other handful of people who read the blog and love spicy food :P

1. Ingredients: Rice (day old rice is great for this - it dries out a little so it's great for fried rice), kimchi (fresh kimchi would probably not be best - more "ripe" kimchi would be better), sesame oil, kochujang (korean chili paste), and an egg.

2. Chop the kimchi -  it's ok if there's some kimchi juice.  Then saute with a little sesame oil on medium heat.  You can also use olive oil or butter.  Saute about 7 or 8 minutes until the kimchi is still a little tender but still a little crunchy.  Then add a dollop of the kochujang.  If the kimchi is looking too dry, add some of the kimchi juice or a little water.

3. After the kochujang has been incorporated, put in the rice.  Microwave the rice beforehand - if you put in cold rice, it'll be too clumpy (if you're using Korean/Japanese rice).  Fold everything together until everything is well incorporated.

4. You can eat it like this but I prefer to top it with a fried egg.  Garnish with a little toasted sesame seeds and you're ready to eat!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pappardelle with Creamy Vodka Sauce, Pancetta, Chicken, and Peas

Oli, here's a pasta recipe. Pasta dishes are great because you can throw in whatever you feel like! I always try to have the basics on hand so I can make a hot plate of comforting pasta even if there's nothing else to eat in the house. So always keep noodles, sauce, onions, and garlic around and you'll never starve.

1. Ingredients: Pappardelle, vodka sauce (it's not bad, but doesn't really taste like vodka), pancetta, onions, garlic, shredded chicken, frozen peas, basil, a little red wine, parmesan cheese.

2. Cook the pancetta over medium-low heat until browned and some of the fat renders out. 

3. Take the pancetta out - put into a bowl for later use.  Cook the sliced onions in the pancetta fat.  When the onions are translucent, toss the chopped garlic in and saute those as well for a couple of minutes.  Cook until slightly browned - don't let the garlic burn because it'll get bitter!

4. Deglaze the pan with a little red wine - scrap up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  That's where the flavor is!

5. Toss the pancetta back in as well as the shredded chicken.

6. Pour in the jarred sauce and some basil - stir and combine everything.

7. Simmer the sauce on low heat until the pasta is finished cooking.  Don't forget to salt the water! When the noodles are almost done, pour in some frozen peas into the sauce.  They cook super fast so you'll want to toss them in at the last minute, just to warm them up.

8. Toss the drained pasta into the sauce and plate.  Grate some parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Easy Roasted Chicken Breast

Oli, here's an easy way to cook chicken breasts for a delicious and nutritious dinner. This can be your main protein and you can add whichever side dishes you want. For this dinner, I used rice and haricot verts (French green beans). Quick tip, you can mix half white rice and half brown rice - you get the same consistency as sticky white rice, but with some texture and healthy stuff from the brown rice.

1. Ingredients you need: chicken breasts (I used split chicken breasts on the bone and with the skin on), garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Make a quick marinade by combining some olive oil, chopped garlic (I used about 2 cloves), a generous pinch of salt, and some pepper.  Toss the chicken in this mixture and then lay out on some foil on a baking sheet. Remember, you can add other stuff to the marinade like chopped ginger, lemon zest/juice, soy sauce, anything!

3. Bake the chicken about 40 minutes or check on it periodically until the tops are golden brown and the skin is nice and crispy.  Having the bone in and the skin on will make a more moist chicken.

4.  I used some of that yummy chicken juice/fat to saute the hericot verts.  For those, blanch them in some salted, boilng water until they turn bright green.  Take them out and shock them in some ice water.  Drain the water.  Then toss them in the hot pan with the chicken juice/fat with a splash of soy sauce.  You won't need extra salt because there's salt in the marinade and soy sauce.  Then serve with the chicken and some rice.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cucumber "Kimchi"

Oli, here's an easy recipe for cucumber "kimchi"...kind of like how mom makes. Yes, even you can make kimchi!

1. Here's your ingredients: cucumber (I used an English cucumber - it's seedless and the skin is a lot thinner than regular cucumbers), green onions, kochukaru (korean chili flakes), fish sauce, rice vinegar, salt.

2. Slice the cucumber thinly and chop the green onion -  chop as much or as little as you want.

3. Put the cucumber in a bowl and toss with a pinch of salt.  Let this sit for a few minutes and it'll help the cucumbers release some of their liquid.  After that, toss all the other ingredients in the bowl.  Use your judgement with the chili flakes since you don't like the spiciness - maybe just a tiny pinch will suffice for a little color.  Add a small splash of fish sauce and a generous splash rice vinegar.  Taste it and see if you want to add more vinegar or salt.  It's up to you, but it should be kind of tart and sweet and salty.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Veggie Lasagna with Smoky Scamorza Cheese

Oli, lasagnas are easy-to-make one-dish meals.  Yes, they can be a little time-consuming to put together, but the results are delicious and you can have lasagna to eat for days!  Also, you can put whatever you want into the lasagnas...sometimes I'll put ground turkey or Italian sausage, or just stick with sauce, cheese, and noodles.  Use your imagination!  Here's the basics:

1. Ingredients I used for this dish: lasagna noodles, marinara sauce, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, smoked scamorza cheese (same consistency as mozzarella), parmesan cheese, ricotta, onion, garlic, olive oil, zucchini, carrot, basil, parsley, salt, pepper, egg.

2. Dice up your zucchini, carrot, and onion into a small dice.

3. Warm up a pan and heat up some olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) and saute your veggies.  Season with salt and pepper until onions are translucent and veggies are soft.

4. Then add the tomatoes (I used whole, peeled tomatoes and crushed them with my hands, but you can use already crushed tomatoes - San Marzano tomatoes are the best and the sweetest) and their juice.

5. Stir and bring the sauce to a simmer on low heat.  Add some basil and stir that in as well.  Let the sauce cook for at least 20 minutes so all the ingredients meld together.

6. Cook the noodles in boiling, salted water.  While the noodles cook, make the ricotta mixture.  Use ricotta, 1 egg, chopped parsley, chopped basil, a tiny pinch of salt, pepper, and some grated parmesan cheese. Mix together and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

7. When the noodles are ready, drain the water and get ready for some layering fun!  Put a couple ladles of sauce at the bottom of a casserole dish so the bottom layer of noodles have some flavor to absorb.

8. Then put the first layer of noodles, overlapping so none of that yummy filling falls through the cracks.

9. Then spread the ricotta mixture as evenly as you can over the noodles.  On top of this, put the shredded mozzarella, and the grated smoked scamorza cheese.

10.  On top of the cheeses, ladle more sauce, then add another layer of noodles.  I usually do about 3 layers of noodles and enough accompanying sauce and cheese.  So it'll go: sauce, noodles, cheese, sauce, noodles, cheese, sauce, noodles cheese.  The last layer of cheese should get some grated parmesan because it gets that nice crispy, brown crust on top.  See?

11. Yum!  Chock full of cheesey, starchy goodness!  This is what the lasagna looks like after baking for about 40 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  After you take the lasagna out of the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes while it cools down enough so when you cut it, it won't fall apart.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Better-Than-Yoshinoya Beef Bowl

Olimeno, here's your first recipe! Easy peasy beef bowl that I already told you how to make, but here are the steps in case you missed anything.  Remember, these are just how I do things...feel free to experiement with different things, ok?  You don't ALWAYS need a recipe to cook!

1. Here's your ingredients: komigare beef (really thinly sliced beef), beef bowl sauce, onions, green onions, soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), rice.  Here's a pretty picture!

2.  First step, slice all the onions:

3.  Next, saute the onions in some olive and sesame oil (just a touch - good for a nice Asian-y flavor).  Add a pinch of salt.  Cook until soft, translucent, and slightly brown on low-medium heat.

4.  Take the onions out and  turn the heat up to medium-high.  Put the slices of beef in so they sear and get a nice brown color.

5.  Stir the beef or turn over when they sear on one side.  Then add a splash of soy sauce, a splash of mirin, and some of the beef bowl sauce.  Then add the onions back in and the cut green onions.

6.  Heat up and stir until some of the liquid absorbs and reduces.  Then take out and put on top of rice.  Then eat up...oishi!