Sautéed sugar snap peas

When super fresh, you can eat ’em raw, cut up in a salad. Or you can make ’em for dinner — in a snap(!) — as follows:

Chop up some fresh mint.

Tip and tail pea pods, pulling strings on both sides. 

Heat small sauté pan and add water and knob of butter.

Add peas and sauté for a few minutes covered with salt, then uncover to let water boil off.

Add mint. 

Can hold at room temp with lid off for the rest of the meal to finish. Good with fish or barbecued chicken, or Asian whatever.

Baked fish on a weeknight

A good piece of fresh fish is a delight to eat, healthy, quick and easy. Easy that is if you remember the technique, which I often forget. And then I have to look up a recipe, figure out the oven temperature, and it starts to not feel so easy or simple. So here is a technique:

Preheat oven to 400 to 450 degrees. Put baking dish in oven with a bit of butter for a few minutes to melt the butter. 

Put fish in pan (skin side down if there is skin, such as salmon), dot with butter and lemon juice. Roast for about 8-10 mins, turning and adding butter 3 mins before done. Generally guide is 8 mins for every inch of thickness; varies depending on how cooked you prefer your fish. Cod is very forgiving and I like my fish cooked well.

Remove fish to plate or platter; top with compound butter and serve.

Compound butter ideas:

  1. lemon zest, tarragon (or parsley), mustard, anchovy. Mash into softened butter — good for cod or other white fish
  2. Lemon zest, sweet red pepper flakes (or paprika), mustard — good for salmon

Serve with: roasted garlic potatoes and steamed asparagus

Pasta with butter and sage sauce

Pasta for when you are hungry and need to eat pronto with minimal effort.

Ingredients:
1/2 # rigatoni (or penne or fettucine) Even better: tortellini!

Optional: Roasted delicata or butternut squash (delicata in thin half-slices; butternut in small chunks, tossed w/ olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in 425° oven 12+ minutes until tender.)

3 T good quality butter
8 sage leaves

Parmesan, grated

Directions:

1. Put up pot of water for pasta. Roast squash.

2. Put butter into medium saucepan over medium heat near end of pasta cook time. Cook until foam subsides and before butter turns brown. Add sage leaves, toss and cook for a couple minutes and remove from heat when butter turns brown and smells delightfully nutty.

3. Reserve pasta water in heatproof measuring cup (<1 c)

4. When pasta is cooked, drain and put into saucepan with the butter. Add parmesan and some reserved water — not too much — and toss. Put squash on top. Serve with parmesan at the table. Not bad!

 

Origins: Marcella Hazan & Mark Bittman NY Times Cooking

Corn bread

I have been off corn bread for many years because I have not had great success in making at home and figured I need a cast iron pan. Not true. I baked up in a regular 8″ square baking pan which I brushed with melted butter and it was baked and done in 15 minutes with speedy prep. I made a plain cornbread with good quality buttermilk and stone-ground coarse cornmeal with was superb, moist and delicious. I’m sure it will take well to variations with optional add-ins, which I intend to do regularly now that I see how easy and quick it is to bake. When I long for polenta and have not planned ahead (1 -1/2 hr in oven no stir) this is an excellent satisfying alternative for corny flavor. It turns soup into dinner.

Directions:

Heat oven to 425°.
Put 8” square pan in oven with 2 T butter to melt. Paint butter on sides and bottom of pan.

Dry ingredients:

Cornmeal, coarse ground 163 g (1 c)
AP flour, 60 g (1/2 c)
sugar, 25 g (2 T) (or honey 42 g)
Baking powder, 4 g (1 t)
Baking soda, 6 g (1 t)
Salt, 4 g (1/2 t)

Wet ingredients:

eggs, 2
buttermilk, 227 g (1 c)

1. Combine dry ingredients in one medium-large size bowl.
2. Whisk eggs in another bowl, add in buttermilk and whisk together.

3. Combine wet and dry — Wet into dry is good idea.
Stir just until moistened but don’t overstir or try to make batter smooth.

4. Pour into pan, spread out and bake 15 mins, or until toothpick in center comes out clean.

Optional: add 1/4 c. Roasted chiles
Other ideas: cooked bacon, sautéed onions or shallots, chili powder or cumin, chopped herbs, grated cheese, or corn — fresh, canned or frozen.

source:
Vegetarian cooking for everyone
Julia Moskin, NY Times “Corn Bread”

Pasta with asparagus for the Spring

When asparagus is locally-grown and freshly-harvested, there are a myriad of ways to enjoy its fresh flavor. In the winter I prefer a cream-based Parmesan-loaded pasta dish because hey in winter who doesn’t appreciate indulgently fatty comfort foods (isn’t that the definition of comfort food?)

Here is what I came up with last eve when hunger struck and new asparagus was at hand: Pasta sautéed with butter and olive oil with spinach (or arugula), lemon juice and zest, topped by Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan if that’s what’s on hand)

Ingredients:

Bucatini (or spaghetti)
Asparagus, 1/2#, cut into 3/4” lengths
Garlic, 3 cloves, minced
Juice and zest of one lemon
Pecorino Romano, grated
Directions:

Put up big pot of water for pasta. Add kosher salt when it comes to a boil. Add pasta and cook to within one minute of being done. Scoop out some pasta water into glass measuring cup to use for sauce mid-way and when completing dish.

Rinse and cut up 1/2 # asparagus. Mince 3 cloves garlic.
Heat sauté pan and add butter and a bit of olive oil. Add asparagus and cook for 3-4 minutes, adding some pasta water to steam. Add garlic, sauté, and then add spinach on top with salt, lemon juice, and more pasta water. Set aside.
When pasta is almost done, drain and add to asparagus in pan, toss with lemon zest and some more pasta water. Season w/ S&P and cheese.

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

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