Thursday, June 30, 2016

Feeling Indulgent

In the case of many ingredients, if you can make a sandwich out of it, you can probably make a salad out of it, or even toss the ingredients with pasta. Today's recipe is a combination of ingredients I've had as a sandwich with a salad on the side.

My ingredients list (this makes four meals, no sides needed):
  • .5 lb of prosciutto, sliced into .25 inch long strips
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 Cup chopped tomatoes 
  • 4 Cups arugula torn into small strips
  • 1 pound orchiette (Orchiette means "little ears." I find it at the grocery store. Farfalle aka bow-ties would also work. Nexx doesn't like farfalle for some reason. Go figure)
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or (1 Tablespoon fresh, cut into strips as thin as you can make them).
  • 6 oz shredded parmesan cheese, or more to taste

Zest the lemon, and set aside.

Set your water to boil, add salt if you wish (I always do), then cut up the tomatoes and put them in a bowl. Add the lemon zest and stir gently so you don't break up the tomatoes. I use the pink rubber scraper from this set, it has a slightly pointed tip, so it's easy to get under things, and a scoop feel to it

Chop and add your garlic. Alternately, add a Tablespoon of chopped garlic from a jar. Add to your tomatoes. Next, add your basil and gently stir in. 

By this time, your water should be close to boiling, toss in the pasta, stir, and let cook according to package directions. When I get orchiette, the brand takes about 9 minutes for al dente. Hate hate hate mushy pasta. Sorry, almost had a rant going there. Shred your arugula. Slice your prosciutto, keep it in a loose pile. It's a pain in the ass, but resist the temptation to stack it up and slice it all at once. It sticks together.

Drain your pasta, turn off the heat, but don't shake the water off it like you might do usually. The curve of the pasta will help hold a little water. This will help the other ingredients stick. It's also a lot easier than remembering to reserve pasta water, which I never do. Anyway...

Add your olive oil to the pan and swirl it around. Add your pasta back to the pan, then one at a time, add your tomato mix, cheese, arugula, and lastly the prosciutto, stirring well, still gently. Your arugula will wilt a bit, but will still have some crunch to it upon serving. The prosciutto will get a little warm, but will still retain that deliciously rich texture.

Scoops into bowls. Top will black pepper if desired. Can be served either warm or room temperature. If you do room temperature, you can top it with a few shakes of balsamic if you want a bit of acidity--taste it first, the lemon zest already adds some.

Another alteration is not to add the arugula, but rather place the arugula on a plate and scoop the pasta over it. I prefer it mixed in. If you just won the lottery, you could also add pine nuts. 

Questions, comments, suggestions, request? Let us hear from you.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

舞乙女 (Maiotome): Dreaming of Dancers

The Kate received a bottle of 紅乙女 (Beniotome, "young lady in crimson") sesame shōchū from her colleagues for her recent birthday. We debated what to make, starting with simple cocktails. Then I found this recipe for 舞乙女 (Maiotome, "dancing young lady"), a winning cocktail in 1984 Hotel Barmen's Association, Japan Competition:

  • 20 mL Beniotome (Gold is what was specified)
  • 15 mL Crème de Framboise
  • 10 mL Cointreau (Probably can use other white Curaçao)
  • 10 mL Grenadine Syrup
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice

Wet the lip of the cocktail glass with a lemon. Place the rest of the ingredients into a shaker, add some ice, and shake vigorously until the shaker is too cold to handle. Strain into the prepped glass. It's a short drink, and the aromatics of the Beniotome seems to have a short shelf life, so enjoy relatively quickly after pouring.

Despite its name, the shōchū itself is quite clear, so the crème de framboise and grenadine syrup add a fantastic red colour, and the shaken Cointreau turns cloudy, turning the ruby-red drink into something less transparent.

I didn't quite like the presentation in the cocktail glass, so into an ice wine glass it went for this shot, with some of its ingredients in the background:

I spent a bit of time before making the drink to set up this shot, as to not make the drink wait too long.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

More things to do with things in jars

Hi everyone,

I've been planning to post about this recipe for a while. It's pretty easy, needs just one sauté pan and is absolutely delicious.  It's from the folks at Bon Appetit. Here's our ingredients list:

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 8 chicken thighs (The recipe calls for bone-in, skin-on, but I've made it without either and it came out just fine)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh-ground pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (which works out to about half a cup.)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (you can also use a couple teaspoons of jarred chopped garlic)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste. (read the ingredients when you're shopping, some have salt and/or sugar, and who needs extra of those?)
  • 1/4 Cup harissa paste (more on that below)
  • 1/3 Cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (which I always seem to forget to add)
  • Lemon wedges for serving. I recommend at least one lemon per person.
About harissa. It's a chili paste that originates from Tunisia. Naturally, it's going to vary in intensity according to exactly where in the region you're getting it. The good news? You can get prepared harissa in a jar from Amazon just use 1/2 a cup or more to taste. This is the brand I use: 

Preheat your oven to 425 F. Heat the oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper (I sometimes use garlic salt in place of kosher salt here). In two batches, cook chicken until browned, about 5 minutes a side. Remove chicken to a plate.

Here the recipe says to drain off all but 1Tablespoon drippings out of the pan. I am not that exact, but if that's what makes you feel comfortable, go ahead and measure. 

Add onion and garlic to the pan, stir frequently (as in don't leave it to sit more than 10 seconds at a time) until the onions are softened (almost translucent and a bit yellow), about 3 minutes:

Add tomato paste and cook until it darkens, about one minute. Add chickpeas, harissa, and chicken broth, bring to a simmer. 

Nestle chicken, skin side up in the chickpeas, transfer skillet to the oven. Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Top with parsley, and serve with lemon wedges.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Rerun because coffee

Hi again. We just got back from Coffee-Con in Brooklyn. I lost track of how many different kinds of coffee we tried. Cold brew, different types of brewing supplies, though Chemex was probably the most popular. I went to a tasting with two kinds of coffee and several different things to pair with the tasting from vanilla cookies to tamarind paste. Considering the possibilities, we were actually pretty restrained in our spending. My darling Nexx bought some coffee. I came home with some Colombian Sugar. Yes, I realize that sounds too hipster for words, but a) it tasted delicious and b)It was only $5.

So, after coffee and sweets, we headed home and I got to thinking about oen of my favorite recipes from a while ago:  Coffee Jelly. Set the wayback machine to 2011


Yes, folks, you read it correctly. As I type this, I have coffee jelly hopefully gelling in my fridge. I first had this with my sweetie and a dear friend at a Japanese restaurant on the Upper East Side of New York. It was as delicious as the concept was astonishing.

You may have noticed I don't make a lot of desserts. This is generally because they require more exact measurements than I tend to use. I wasn't exact with this either, so let's see how it goes:

My ingredients (makes 4 half cup servings):

  • 4 oz espresso (purchased from the nearby cafe. We don't own a coffee maker) (this has since been rectified)
  • 12 oz water
  • 1 heaping T of sugar (according to the local authenticity monitor, the sweet in this dessert should be incorporated into the whipped cream topping)
  • 1 envelope Knox gelatin, which works out to about a Tablespoon

coffee filter

Dissolve the gelatin in 4 T of water
Add the coffee, gelatin and water to a small saucepan. Stir on low until gelatin and sugar is dissolved. Strain through coffee filter (You can use your coffee maker for this). Pour into serving dishes. Chill. Write blog entry. Check fridge every 20 minutes until sweetie tells you to calm down and go watch the Criminal Minds marathon on A&E.

I'm leaving the making of the topping to my sweetie. Later this evening, or possibly tomorrow, we will have the results.


The results were delicious

A friend in Tennessee makes this as a special treat for family gatherings. The local authenticity monitor is amused.