Saturday, August 29, 2015

Spanish Garlic Shrimp (Gambas Al Ajillo)

Whenever I go to a Tapas bar, there's always one thing I get (mostly because it's almost impossible to mess up). I get the great garlic shrimp with chili and lots of olive oil. It's so delicious and easy to do (and the garlic olive oil is so flavorful that you can't help but eat it all up with crusty bread).

This shrimp is great for an easy weeknight main dish or as a tapas style appetizer for a group of 4 or 5. Make sure you use a great quality extra virgin olive oil and enjoy. You can use mushrooms or clams or anything else you want (I tend to use a combination of quartered white mushrooms and shrimp)

  •  1 1/2 lb shrimp, about 25-30 ct, peeled and deveined
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 or 2 arbol chilis, crumbled (use less if you're not too into spice)
  • 3 Tbsp minced parsley
  • crusty bread for serving.
  1. Drain shrimp on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Add olive oil and garlic to a 10-12 inch cast iron pan on medium low. Cook until oil shimmers and garlic smells fragrant, but isn't colored.
  3. Add chili for a few seconds, then add shrimp. Cook about 3 minutes until pink and done.
  4. Stir in parsley and salt to taste. Serve with crusty bread. If you have extra oil at the end of your meal, stir it into a plane pasta with parmesan cheese the next day.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Homemade Pork Belly Ramen with homemade noodles

I have both good and bad memories of ramen. I think everyone does. Everyone remembers having Top Ramen either in childhood or in college, and I hope everyone remembers that first bowl of really great ramen they ever had. I hope everyone has had the chance to try really great ramen and doesn't think Top Ramen or Cup of Noodles is the standard. If you've never tried great ramen before, you need to seek it out.
I grew up having Saporro Ichiban as a snack at my grandmother's house (a brand of instant ramen... a few steps above top ramen). She would always doctor it up by adding an egg and green onions and leftover vegetables from the night before (often cabbage). It's the afternoon snack that most reminds me of childhood.
A few years later, I had really superb ramen. It was more of a Tokyo/Chinese style and that is the flavor I like best. It's lighter than the popular Hakata style, which is the opaque, heavy pork based broth that is so popular now. It was so simple and so delicious and perfectly springy noodles.
The recipe for the pork and the noodles comes from the Momofuku cookbook and the broth was kind of ad-libbed. 


For the pork belly:
  • 3 lb piece of pork belly, skin off
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
Mix salt and sugar together. Sprinkle generously over the pork on all sides (you won't need all the salt mix) and cover with plastic. Refrigerate for 12 hours. Move to a roasting pan and roast at 450 for one hour. Lower temp to 250 and continue roasting for another hour until belly is tender. Let pork cool completely for slicing the next day. When re-heating, heat slices on a frying pan until just warm or move them quickly through hot broth.

For broth:
  • Pork neck, leg or shoulder plate bones
  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 1 piece of kombu
  • 10 or so dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1 big handful of bonito flakes
  • 2 onions
  • 1 6 inch piece of ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic (ish)
  • 1 or 2 carrots, depending on the size
  • leek tops (if you have them. if not, not big deal)
  • water
  • soy sauce
  • mirin
  • sake
  • kosher salt
Roast chicken and pork bones at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. This will help keep your stock clear as it cooks and add a great richness (you can also par-boil your bones, but I don't like that as much). Add everything except soy sauce, salt, mirin and sake to a pot and simmer for 6 hours (a crockpot will also work well).

When broth is done, season to taste with soy, mirin, sake and salt. The ratio should be about 1:1:2 mirin:sake:soy. Add to the broth and adjust as necessary.

For the noodles:
  • 800 grams bread flour
  • 300 grams room temperature water
  • 2 tsp baked baking soda (about 20 minutes or so)
Mix all ingredients together and knead for 10 minutes until thoroughly incorporated. Adjust water or flour if needed. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll dough to desired thickness (7 of 9 on my pasta machine) and cut. You can dry the noodles, freeze them or cook them fresh.

For assembly:
  • Noodles
  • Broth
  • Pork belly
  • Wood ear mushrooms
  • Wakame seaweed
  • soft boiled or poached egg
  • green or napa cabbage
  • scallions
  • whatever else you want.
Soak wakame and wood ear mushrooms if using them. Slice cabbage thinly and steam or simmer in broth until cooked. Add all ingredients (cooked to how you like) in the bowl atop cooked noodles. Ladle hot soup on top and eat with gusto.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Tomato Soup Sloppy Joes

It's time for Secret Recipe Club again. As many of you know, Secret Recipe Club is a monthly collection of bloggers who make another member's recipe and post about it on a given day. You always get to discover something knew and others are making recipes (old and new) from your blog as well.

Most months, I get really excited about SRC, but sometimes I find myself slacking. There are such a great variety of bloggers with such varying styles. Sometimes, it's more difficult to find something that fits your diet or that includes ingredients you keep in your home.

This month, I was assigned Heather at It's Yummy to My Tummy. Heather loves to bake and cook and has so many recipes for quickbreads and sweets. We don't make sweets unless we have a party to attend, so I try to stick to main dishes during SRC. She has tons of main dishes too, but a lot of them include ingredients we don't often buy (crescent rolls, hot dogs, etc.) I think this will probably change when we have kids, but for now we try to keep most of my recipes to ingredients on the outer ring of the supermarket. Steve has fond memories of these types of foods from his childhood and I have very bad memories of these types from mine (my other was not a good cook).  Heather's other recipes seemed like things I'd done in the past, and I like to do something totally different with Secret Recipe Club. In short, I was stumped.

Then I saw she had Tomato Soup Sloppy Joes on her recipe list. I'd heard of Sloppy Joes, but I've never eaten them. I was a little scared, but my husband urged me toward this recipe because he hadn't had Sloppy Joes since he was 15 years old. I glad he did. This was a simple, cheap, filling weeknight food that was something different for me and something comforting for him. I wasn't quite ready for just how sloppy they would be, but it was fun and enjoyable. I might not start buying frozen foods on a regular basis, but I'll certainly be more open to experimentation.

Thank you Heather for making me a little more open minded and reminding me how great pigs in a blanket are (and it is because they are great, and because I will eat a whole tube of crescent rolls, that I do not let myself keep them in my house)

Tomato Soup Sloppy Joes

  • 1 lb ground beef, 80/20
  • 1/2 cup each diced onion, celery, green bell pepper and carrot
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • smoked paprika
  • Ciabatta Rolls for serving
  1. Brown ground beef in a pan until cooked through. Drain off fat and remove beef to a separate bowl
  2. Put diced veggies and garlic in the pan and sautee for 5 minutes until onions are translucent.
  3. Add beef back to the pan with tomato soup, ketchup, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire and water. Mix well and simmer covered about 15 minutes until flavors combine. Remove lid and continue to simmer until correct consistency is reached.
  4. Adjust seasoning to taste, spoon over rolls and eat with steamed veggies or a salad.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Coffee Granita

I used to love coffee so much. I used to be able to start my day (after a rough night) with a cup of black coffee, an asprin and a cold shower (but then again, I think everyone can do that when you're 20 years old). Now, coffee really tears up my stomach if I don't have it with food. No more starting the morning with just a cup of coffee. A cup of tea on the other hand... well that's a different story. I try to keep my coffee drinking to after meal times. I might not do it often, but a cappuccino after lunch is still quite nice.

I'd never made a granite before thinking it was just an inferior sorbet, but it has its own  time and place. It is very refreshing in the summer time and works exceptionally well as a textural garnish to ice cream. A tomato granite would also be a great way to make a more interesting gazpacho.

I opted for a simple coffee one and served it with just a touch of condensed milk to give it that Vietnamese coffee flavor. Give it a try next time, but don't have it for dessert at 8pm after dinner. I did that and I was up until 2am...

  • 4 cups strong black coffee
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp Kahlua
  1. Brew coffee and mix in sugar while still warm. Allow to cool to lukewarm and mix in Kahlua.
  2. Pour into shallow pan and place in the freezer. Remove every half hour to scrape the ice crystals and mix
  3. Continue until the entire thing is frozen and the ice crystals are fluffy and separated. Spoon into a glass with whipped cream or ice cream or condensed milk. Plain is also good.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)


I never at Vietnamese food until I was almost 20 years old. It just wasn't something we had in my city growing up (or, at least, I wasn't something I ever knew about). The same can be said about Korean food, but that's another story for another day.

The first time I ever had pho (the normal beef one, not the one I made for this post) it was a truly magical experience. It was rich and delicious with plenty of herbal notes to cut the fat from the beef. There were plenty of noodles and more than enough different textures of meet (from flank steak to brisket to tendon to tripe). It was so interesting and so perfect and SO CHEAP. $9 for a masterful bowl followed up with a cup of Vietnamese iced coffee seemed like the perfect meal.

Beef pho may be great, but chicken pho is great (in it's own way). I used to go to one place in San Francisco that served fantastic 5 spice chicken pho. It was just a bowl of the noodles/broth/veggies/herbs and a whole chicken leg quarter on the side roasted with Chinese five spice. You could rip that chicken into small pieces and put it in your soup for the best chicken noodle soup ever. Nothing was better on a sick day.

Mine was not quite as fancy as theirs, but used what I had in my freezer. I had several chicken back carcasses and a bunch of ginger. It was a learning experience, but well worth it. This is certainly a weekend food, but give it a try next time you have free time. This makes plenty of broth that can be frozen for future use.

Ingredients for Broth
  • 2 or 3 chicken carcasses. If using raw chicken bones, roast them first at 450 degrees until browned. If using chicken bones from a roast chicken, place in pot as is.
  • 2 yellow onions, unpeeled and cut in half
  • 1 large piece ginger, about 6 inches long, unpeeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 bunch cilantro stems
  • fish sauce (Most are Thai style, which is cheaper. Try to find Vietnamese style, which is stronger)
  • palm sugar
  • kosher salt
Ingredients for serving
  • Broth, seasoned as desired
  • Rice noodle vermicelli
  • Chicken breasts, sliced thin (or beef, or tofu, or whatever you want)
  • Bean Sprouts
  • fresh lime wedges
  • fresh thai basil
  • Fresh jalapeno
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh mint
  • Hoisin or Sambal if desired
Directions for broth
  1. Roast your chicken backs at 450 for 20 minutes if needed. Add chicken backs to a big pot and cover with cool water.
  2. Meanwhile, char your ginger and onion on all sides until black. It should be very dark and smoky smelling. A grill or your gas range works better than the broiler, as that will tend to try out your ingredients.
  3. Add your onions, ginger, cilantro stems, fennel, anise, cloves and cinnamon to the pot and simmer for 2 or 3 hours. Skim foam off the top as necessary, though you shouldn't have very much after roasting the bones. If it needs more time, add more water as necessary to keep the bones barely covered.
  4. Strain out the spices and bones. This is your stock. I usually divide it for the freezer at this time and season the stock as needed for serving when I heat it up.
Directions for soup
  1. Take your stock and heat it to simmering. Season to taste with fish sauce, palm sugar and kosher salt. It should be quite savory, as you will be adding plenty of noodles and vegetables to your stock.
  2. In a separate bowl, soak your vermicelli in warm water until soft, pliable and tender. You don't want to cook it all the way because it will continue to cook in the hot soup.
  3. Slice your chicken breast into paper thin slice and sprinkle with salt and Chinese five spice. Throw that in a pan and cook barely on both sides. If you want to use chicken quarters, season and roast until done. If using beef, you can just leave it raw and the hot stock will cook it in the bowl. Since I'm using chicken, I cooked it first.
  4. Put noodles in bowls with your meat on top. Heat the stock to a rolling boil and pour over the noodles and meat.
  5. Garnish with bean sprouts, herbs, lime wedges and peppers. Add sambal or hoisin if desired and enjoy immediately.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Shimp Po' Boy with Remoulade Sauce

I've never been to New Orleans, but shrimp po' boys are one of my favorite sandwiches. It's full of delicious ingredients and is just so easy to make. If you've never had one, you're missing out. It's covered in remoulade sauce, which is like spicy tartare sauce you can throw on crabcakes or any other fish.

I was out of panko breadcrumbs that day, so I ended up using saltine crackers. The saltines added a fantastic crunch to the shrimp and gave them an even better exterior. This isn't the best lunch sandwich since it is a little more effort than I want to go through at lunch time, but it does make a great dinner sandwich. Give it a shot next time.

Ingredients for Remoulade sauce
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 hard boiled egg, chopped
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/4 oz dry mustard
  • 1/2 oz chopped capers
  • 1 oz prepared horseradish
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 tsp Dijon
  • 2 tsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Ingredients for sandwich
  • 1 lb shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  • 4 sandwich rolls
  • 2 tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • remoulade sauce
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • eggs
  • flour
  • salt/pepper
  • crushed saltine crackers (or panko breadcrumbs)
  • oil for frying
  1. Mix all ingredients together for remoulade sauce
  2. Salt and pepper the shrimp. Then roll in flour, egg and crushed crackers, alternating. Set aside to fly.
  3. Fry shrimp in 350 degree oil until cooked through. Remove to paper towel to drain.
  4. Slice sandwich rolls and toast the cut side in melted butter. Spread remoulade sauce on bread and fill with tomato, lettuce, onion and shrimp.
  5. Eat and enjoy.
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