Miso Mushroom Pasta

What’s great about cooking a lot is that we lazy-ish home cooks can find recipes that are easy-peasy yet delicious. Contra the two-dozen steps over three days recipes that turn out bleh. That’s why I write this blog — to record the recipes, adaptations and techniques I have used with success and would like to repeat.

When there is little in one’s pantry and no desire to shop, it’s very welcome to have a recipe like this one. The only fresh ingredients one needs are mushrooms and heavy cream. Fancy are good; cremini in a pinch will do. Browning the mushrooms I read increases the unami flavor. It’s like a Japanese fettuccine Alfredo — all comfort and deliciousness and okay, indulgence. Perfect for a cold winter eve. Stay home. Cook this. Relax.

Ingredients:

Dried pasta, 4 oz Bucatini is good
mushrooms, 3 oz — cremini, oyster, shiitake, any other exotic/Japanese type especially
Sherry vinegar, 1 t
Miso paste, 2 t White or red
Butter, 2 T, cut up to soften to room temp
Garlic cloves, 3, minced
Heavy cream, 1/2 c
Optional: scallion, finely sliced

Directions:
Take out butter to come to room temp; cut up to hasten process if needed.
Put up pot of water for pasta.
Cut mushrooms into large bite-sized chunks.
Heat large sauté pan over high heat, add 1 T canola oil, and sauté mushrooms until well browned, about 4-5 minutes, adding S&P. Add sherry vinegar to pan, toss and set aside.
Cook pasta until 1 minute underdone. Drain and set aside.
Whisk together butter and miso.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add 1 T oil and minced garlic and cook for less than one minute until fragrant. Add mushrooms, then add miso-butter mixture, then cream, and bring to a boil, stirring.
Add drained pasta to sauce, and stir. Add salt, and cook and stir until pasta is desired doneness.
Place into bowls, top with sliced scallion and pepper.

Source: Miso-Mushroom Pasta, by Yi Jun Loh, Food 52

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Coconut Thai-inspired chicken breasts

When you want to change up the preparation of boneless chicken breasts, try this simple marinade and technique. It’s akin to the classic Thai soy-fish sauce-chili-ginger flavor notes, with coconut milk added to mellow the whole thing and no lime for acid. It can be made in less time than it takes to cook rice, if you have not thought ahead to marinate the chicken. The chicken ideally would like 2 to 4 hours of marinade time, but if you’re pressed, less than one hour still works.

Put up a pot of coconut rice in your rice cooker. Easy: 1 c brown jasmine rice, rinsed and salt added to pot. Pour 1 can of coconut milk into 2 c measuring cup, add water to bring to 2-1/4 c (!), and cook in the regular way. (I used the cream on top of the can, and next time I think it would be better to spoon that off and perhaps save for sautéing, rather than use for the rice.)

Make a marinade for chicken breasts:

1 c coconut milk — heat to simmer in small pot. Add:

1 hot pepper, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Ginger, grated, ~ 1 T or less (Will need same amount later for cooking chicken)
2/3 T fish sauce
1 T soy sauce
Star anise or smallish piece of cinnamon stick
Brown sugar, 1 T
1 T chili garlic sauce

Stir together, transfer to flat bottom bowl, and then let sit together and then cool to room temp.
Cut 1/2 # chicken into strips, and then large bite-size pieces.
Add to marinade. Refrigerate if going to be more than one hour until cooked. Ideally marinate 2-4 hours.

Heat sauté pan over medium high heat and add 1 T canola or coconut oil. Scoop chicken out of marinade and add to pan. Sauté for about 4 mins, turning. Right before removing, add reserved minced garlic, toss a bit for one minute, and then remove onto plate or atop rice on plate.

Nice served with plain steamed fresh local broccoli.
Otherwise add peas to rice, perhaps.
Or roast a sweet potato, in wedges. Or carrots, roasted or boiled/stove-top braised.

Source: Jonathan Rosenberg’s Coconut-Marinated Chicken over Coconut Rice, p. 359 in One Big Table; a portrait of American Cooking by Molly O’Neill

Beans and greens deluxe

I thought I had the beans and greens dish down: Sauté lots of minced garlic and some red pepper flakes in oil, add greens, some water & salt, cook gently covered, then add beans from a can, warm up and douse with parmesan. Pretty Good.

THEN . . . . I finally dragged my Instant Pot out of its box on the floor of the dining room where it had been neglected for months. And I got Melissa Clark’s Instant Pot book out of the library, again. She has a recipe for Garlicky Beans with Broccoli Rabe. With book by a NY Times recipe provider and dispenser of kitchen advice, and with a bunch of farmers market broccoli rabe in my fridge, I set about it. Okay a preview: FABULOUS in all ways.

The traditional Italian way I believe is to sauté a mess o’ minced garlic in oil. That’s what I have long done. Melissa takes it to another dimension combining garlic-infused beans with garlic-infused oil that hasn’t had the chance to get at all bitter, solely deeply flavored. Brilliant!

Ingredients:

Cooked beans — gigante or cannelini, with their cooking liquid (1 # beans to 7 c water)
Garlic cloves — 4 smashed, and 3 sliced thin
Red or sweet onion, 1/2 large
Broccoli rabe, 1 bunch, large ends cut off, and washed
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes, good pinch

Directions:

Cook beans in pressure cooker. Either keep warm, or make ahead and refrigerate. (Good idea to pop some in freezer too. Mixed in with their liquid for soups later, and some dry in a bag.)
Prepare broccoli rabe, onion and garlic.
Put a sauté pan on medium-low heat, add 4 T olive oil, sliced garlic and pinch of salt. Sauté about 3-4 minutes, stirring, until garlic is just golden. Transfer contents to a small bowl and set aside.
Put pan back on the stove (you may have to wipe the bottom so you don’t ignite any dribbled oil) over medium-high heat, and add 2 T oil. Add onion and cook until golden, about 5 minutes and then red pepper flakes. Turn heat up to high (!), add broccoli rabe and cook, tossing in oil, and add good pinch salt. Add good ladle-full of bean liquid and cook until liquid is absorbed/evaporates, about 8 minutes.
Serve: Beans in shallow bowl, drizzle with oil (and garlic!), dump broccoli rabe mixture on top.
You won’t miss the parmesan. So very deeply satisfying and delicious with good beans and heavily garlic-infused oil.

The best beans I have ever cooked at home*

I love beans. I’m not a big meat eater overall and beans are a food item I am happy to see on my plate for dinner or lunch. I buy them in cans, generally the organic brands, and they’re convenient too. And still relatively inexpensive. I have long harbored the desire to cook beans successfully at home. I say “successfully” because I have cooked beans at home. They often end up overcooked AND under-cooked — hard, falling apart and separated from their skins. Not good if you want to eat a bean meal.

A few months ago I purchased an Instant Pot on sale and it has been sitting on the floor in my dining room unused. I have looked at the manual occasionally and took out books from the library on Instant Pot recipes. Today is Day Two of Louise’s Instant Pot use. With a 66% success rate.

I made a fine, easy batch of vegetable soup yesterday. Then feeling emboldened, I tossed a lot of ingredients into the pot with interesting spices, left the house for the afternoon with my slow cooker programmed, and ended up with . . . DREK! Brown rice with the consistency of wet bread, raw eggplant, and horribly overcooked dry chicken breasts. A disaster and waste of high quality ingredients. So apparently it’s not a perfect appliance.

Today I went back to pressure cooking with some top-quality coop-purchased Gigante beans recommended highly by the bulk food manager upon consultation for my re-launch into home-cooked beans. Man are they delicious!! Flavorful and mostly tender.

Here’s how:

Ingredients:

Dried gigante or cannellini beans, 1 lb, picked over and rinsed
Garlic cloves, 4 smashed and peeled
carrot, 1, peeled
Shallot, 1/2 (optional)
Bay leaf
Olive oil, 2 T

Directions:

Prepare carrot and other aromatics and do your best to tie together with kitchen twine. A spring of rosemary or thyme would not be remiss here.

Pick over beans and remove any shrunken or discolored or unhappy-looking beans. Rinse in colander.

Add all to pot with 7 c water. Cook at high pressure for 32 minutes or so. (I did 25 minutes, not done and then 9 more). Let pressure reduce naturally (I think that means: let sit undisturbed and off for 10 minutes.) Then release pressure, and take a look at your beautiful beans!! Aren’t you proud?! Delighted? I was! And still am. I froze some in a freezer bag. I scooped some into a freezer container with liquid — the liquid is delicious and I can use for soup. I have stored the freshly cooked beans in a now small bowl in the refrigerator and separately all that delicious cooking water. Best cooking water ever! I’m told to save for soup. Perhaps. Or perhaps use for cooking water for farro. More likely it will sit in the refrigerator for one week and then I will discard.
*And probably near the best I have ever eaten!

Photo of beans in Instant Pot, prior to cooking:

IMG_6266

Inspiration: Garlicky Beans with broccoli rabe recipe in Melissa Clark’s Dinner in an Instant

20-minute Instant Pot soup in the fall

My first attempt at using the Instant Pot. Is it a great soup? No, not really, but it’s nutritious and fairly delicious and satisfying. And it’s a one-pot endeavor, even using frozen stock! Has extra step of briefly sauteing onion, and then a quick toss of garlic and carrots, and then everything goes into the pot. Pressure setting of soup with steam vent locked closed and 20 minutes later: Voila! Soup in pot.

Ingredients:

Onion, small, diced
Carrot, large, cut into half moons
garlic, minced
Kale, rinsed and torn from stems, perhaps into smaller pieces
Mushrooms, sliced. Nice selection of mitake, shiitake and oyster perhaps
Potato, scrubbed and cut into medium chunks, not large.

Directions:

Turn on sauté function and heat up. Add 1 T olive oil, and sauté one small diced onion for 4 minutes. Add minced garlic, carrot, and sauté briefly. Add one potato, cubed, sliced mushrooms and kale leaves, rinsed. Add in 1 pint frozen vegetable stock and equal part water and perhaps some dried thyme or even better, fresh stems.
Cook on high pressure on soup setting. Release steam vent manually.

Add to bowls: leftover chicken and/or rice.

Roasted squash, onions, escarole with farro

A perfect fall dinner recipe when delicata squash abounds and I can’t get my fill of fall’s beautiful escarole!

Ingredients:
Delicata squash, 1 reg or 2 small
Sweet onion, 1, sliced
Escarole, 1/2 head or more
Pecorino romano cheese, grated
Pepita seeds, or toasted walnuts
Farro

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse and cook farro with salt. 1 c farro to 2 c water. Can make in rice cooker under quick setting (20 mins?) or on stovetop.

Delicata squash, rinsed, cut lengthwise and semi-peeled, remove seeds and fibrous insides with spoon.  Slice into <1/2” rounds. Roast on oiled pan for 20+ minutes, turning near end to roast on both sides. Take out and let sit.

Caramelize one sweet onion: Cut into thin slices, and cook in sauté pan with 1 T olive oil and salt, reducing heat and cooking until light golden, at least 20 mins.

Rinse escarole torn into half leaves. Cook with olive oil and red pepper flakes and splash of water and salt about 5 minutes until well wilted.

Combine squash and onions.

Plate:
Mound farro. Then add squash and onions, topped with pepitas (or roasted walnuts) and grated Romano pecorino cheese.
Escarole to the side.

Feel virtuous and happy with a delicious and healthy fall meal.

******************

Inspiration: The Kitchn
and Six Seasons — Delicata Squash “donuts” with Pumpkin seeds and honey

A nice fall soup — napa cabbage and shrimp, Vietnamese style

Just as fall is settling in and there is Napa cabbage in the market (or your CSA), this is a nice transitional seasonal soup. Neither light nor overly heavy, it makes for a satisfying and unfussy dinner, perhaps with some leftover rice.

Ingredients:

Vegetable stock or quick stock (carrots, onions and leek tops)
Onion, thinly sliced
Leek, thinly sliced (optional)
Garlic cloves, 2, minced
carrots, 2, diced
Fish sauce, 1 T
Napa cabbage, ~ 6 c, sliced
Shrimp, peeled and deveined — 6 per person
Scallion greens, sliced thin

Directions:

Sauté garlic and then onion and leeks and then carrots for about 4 minutes.
Add fish sauce and salt, and cook about 30 seconds.
Add stock and bring to a boil. Then add cabbage, turn down heat and simmer about 4 minutes until soft. Add shrimp (and cook in strainer submerged in soup for easy retrieval) and cook about 3 minutes.
Put leftover rice in bottom of individual bowls. Ladle on soup and shrimp, and garnish with scallion green tops. Mmmm.

Inspiration: Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nyugen