Impromptu soba noodle salad

If you have some leftover flank steak or other yummy protein, try this for lunch:

Soba noodles (buckwheat/wheat), 1/2 package — 4+ oz.  Boil in salted water 6 mins. Then drain, run cold water over, put in bowl, and mix in < 1 T sesame oil

Mushrooms, sliced, about 5 mixture of shiitake and cremini, sautéed in grapeseed oil; add salt
Garlic cloves, 2 minced. Add to mushrooms at end
Red pepper flakes — mix into mushrooms while cooking
Ginger, optional

Prep cool ingredients:
beef, couple slices, cut up
carrot, 1 large grated, some diced
Red pepper, 1/2, small dice
Sesame seeds (optional)
Scallions (optional)

On cooled noodles, mix in some soy sauce and some Bo Ssam sauce or perhaps Chile garlic sauce for spice/vinegar. Mix in mushrooms.

Plate with:
Noodles mixture
Cut-up steak
Grated carrots
Diced peppers
Sesame seeds

On top: squeeze on lime

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Beans and shrimp, North African flavors

Some days dinnertime rolls around and we’re not enthused about a big cooking endeavor but don’t want to fall back into the old familiar. Here’s a simple idea for when beans are around: beans with shrimp and North African spices. And on the table in about 20 mins or less. Would be a good time to cook up some flatbread to go with, along with minted yogurt perhaps.

For the saltiness and acid, olives and preserved lemon are preferred. But if they’re not on hand — remember, this is all about “easy” — improvise with capers and lemon juice.

For two people:

8-10 shrimp, shelled and de-veined
chickpeas, 1 c plus cooking liquid (or stock or water)

onion, 1/2, diced
Garlic, 3 cloves, minced
Hot smoked paprika, 1/4 to 1/2 t
(or use sweet smoked paprika and add red pepper flakes, 1/2 t)
Cumin, 1/2 t

If you have green olives — spiced or not — use 2 handfuls
Preserved lemon, 1, rinsed and sliced into thin strips

optional: mint leaves, torn or chopped, for garnish

Directions:

Heat sauté pan, and add 1 T olive oil and sauté onion for about 4-5 mins until soft, then add garlic and then spices. Then add beans and cooking water, and heat to hot and bubbling, adding black pepper. You want the spices to meld and some of the water to cook off.
Add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, submerging in liquid and turning.

Serve in shallow bowls with mint on top.

Inspiration: Food 52

Stir-fry with any vegetables

A surprisingly delicious simple stir-fry with rice.

When you’re going out to an evening meeting and want to eat something when you come home, do what I did and eat contentedly.
Before leaving, put up some brown rice in the rice cooker. I like medium grain. 2/3 dry with 2-1/2 x water and some salt is a good amount for two servings.

Ingredients:
Red onion, large dice, 1/2
Brussels sprouts, cut in half, rinsed and sliced
mushrooms, 4, cut into large slices and cut in half
Leftover chicken

Directions:
Sauté onion for 5 minutes in olive oil. Add in Brussels sprouts, and turn and cook a minute or so. Add good splash of water, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Uncover and let steam and water escape. Add mushrooms, cook a couple minutes, then add chicken in pieces to warm through.

Very delicious served with fresh rice. A dabble of olive oil on top is nice. Or nutritional yeast if it’s around.

Sichuan-style broccoli with garlic and red pepper

Sichuan style broccoli with garlic and red pepper
Easy, quick and cheap

Craving Szechuan numbing peppers and not motivated enough to head out of the house for a restaurant over 1/2 hour away, I stayed in on a cold rainy Sunday and cooked up some delicious spicy broccoli with reheated rice.

Here’s how:

Put up pot of water.

Cut broccoli into medium-size florets. Peel stems and cut into thick slices.
Reconstitute some birds eye peppers with hot water from the heating broccoli-cooking water in a small bowl. Get out your Sichuan peppercorns (use 1/2 t).
Peel and slice a few garlic cloves.

Heat rice in instant pot with steam function for five minutes.

When the water comes to a boil, add 1 t salt and 1 T peanut oil. Add broccoli and blanch for two minutes. Scoop into colander and let drain.

Heat sauté pan, add 3 T peanut oil and peppers and garlic. Heat for less than 30 seconds and add broccoli, tossing and stirring for one minute until coated with flavorful oil. Add salt and dump onto rice in a bowl. Feel virtuous and well nourished. Indulge in a slice of good bread. A pear makes a nice dessert.

Inspiration: Fuschia Dunlop, Stir-Fried Broccoli with chili and Sichuan Pepper, p 174, Every Grain of Rice

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

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.

Farro salad

Room temp farro salad for lunchtime emergency feeding:

Ingredients:

Cooked farro — 1 c farro cooked in 1 c apple cider and 2 c water; OR 1/2 c apple cider vinegar & 2-1/2 c water (can use less water and drain after cooking 25+ minutes
Lemon vinaigrette — 1 lemon juiced, with 4x olive oil, S&P. Optional: minced garlic (Don’t need full quantity for this recipe)
Blanched broccoli or uncooked arugula
Parsley, minced (optional addition: mint)
Fresh tomatoes, cut up
Grated parmesan
Pepitas or pistachios
Optional: sliced radishes

Cook 1 c farro (rinsed) in 2 c water and 1 c apple cider (or 1/2 c vinegar and 1/2 c water) for 25+ mins. Drain if needed. Mix with lemon vinaigrette.

Blanch broccoli in pot of salted water for less than 5 minutes. Drain on sheet pan to cool. Cut up tomatoes.

Mince herbs — parsley and perhaps mint.

Mix together: farro mixed with vinaigrette, broccoli (or arugula), grated parmesan, tomatoes, pepitas (or pistachios)

optional: sliced radishes

Inspiration: Charlie Bird’s farro salad, NY Times