Category: Pasta/Rice

Thai Basil Pork

My first full weekend without work was equal parts good and bad. Saturday felt like Sunday the whole time, but it obviously wasn’t. We checked the box on several big pieces to the new patio out front. Bistro lights were hung. Outdoor furniture has been purchased. More plants have found homes. There are only a few things left to do. Regardless we spent a lot of time outside eating. It’s the new favorite place in the house. Get ready for a lot of food photos from out there. It’s going to happen. Sunday was spent watching a lot of football [soccer], studying, and a whole lot of my body fighting some sort of congestion crap. Not the perfect weekend, but I’ll take it.

This stir fry has become the new curry in this house. I make it all the time. When we don’t know what we want to eat? I make this. If I managed to have some time in the kitchen during busy season? I made this. The first meal back in the kitchen? This.

It started out as this Thai Basil Chicken recipe, and it’s morphed into what it’s become for me now. I don’t measure much anymore; it becomes an shake of this and a dash of that. The overall foundation is there. There is always a fried egg. There is always white rice. The bottle of fish sauce is always on the table. I add it to the stir fry and then again when it’s on my plate or in a bowl. My love of fish sauce is strong. I tried using a defrosted chicken breast once. Don’t do that. It was way too watery. I’ve tried ground chicken, which is good, but kind of bland ultimately. I ended up with ground pork because it’s cheap, already cut up into small pieces, and imparts a lot of flavor with it’s fattiness without being too greasy. Since New Seasons the fridge doesn’t have Thai chilies or Thai basil, it’s jalapeños or serranos and regular basil. It’s still very good, and still very worth it.

Inspiration: Eating Thai Food

Ingredients

  • 3/4lb ground pork
  • 2-4 small jalapeños or serranos, depending on your spice tolerance, sliced
  • 1-2 large handful of basil leaves
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce, plus more to taste
  • olive oil
  • fried eggs and rice for serving

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil on medium high heat. Add the garlic and jalapeños or serranos. Stir often. You don’t want that garlic to burn. Burned garlic sucks. Once it gets hot and fragrant, add the ground pork. While it browns, whisk together your sauce ingredients and sugar. Once the pork is cooked, if there is a lot of grease, drain it. It happens every two or three times for me. It totally depends on the pork. Add the pork back to the pan. There should be no need to turn the heat back on. Stir in the sauce and the basil. Stir until the is basil starts to wilt. Serve with rice and a fried egg.

Unstuffed Peppers

Sometimes you just want a one-pot meal. I’m pretty sure the crock-pot is the ultimate one-pot meal, but that requires planning and foresight that I just don’t have most of the time. I’ve been getting better. Expect some crock-pot meals to come, but until then there are these.

This is what happens when you unstuff a bell pepper. It’s practically what I do when I’ve ever made/eaten stuffed ones anyway. Sure they’re pretty all on your plate perched high and stuffed full of whatever goodness, but one cut and it’s on its side anyway. Then you have to cut up the pepper with each bite so you get enough pepper with every bite. Cooking it up this way ensures you’re increasing your fork to face time. Who doesn’t like making something a little easier every now and then?

Inspiration: Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2lb ground beef
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, diced
  • 15oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup white rice, uncooked
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

Preparation

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes before adding the garlic for a minute or two. Add the ground beef. Break up into small pieces as it browns. Add the diced bell pepper and cook until soft—about 3-5 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes to the pan, including the juice. Stir in the rice, basil, oregano, some pepper, and the beef broth. Bring the whole mixture to a boil before turning down to a low simmer. Cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for 30-40 minutes. The rice should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed. Stir in the tomato sauce and worcestershire sauce.

Taste for salt and more pepper before serving.

Salmon Snap Pea Risotto

Burger Week is going strong. I haven’t binged been as dedicated as some. One burger a day is enough for me. There’s only been the one photo because it’s usually too dark. So far I’ve been to North Light, Double Barrel, Club 21, and Tilt. Tilt ran out of the $5 burger before we got there, and I didn’t want to hold out on my hunger any longer, so we ate there. Even though it wasn’t one of the burgers it’s still a burger. North Light’s burger stuffed with cheese curds and Double Barrel’s pimento cheese and fresh jalapeños were so, so good. Club 21 had a solid, traditional burger [gouda and onion ring!] and their grill master had medium rare on lock. Tilt was awesome as usual. So many burgers left and so little time!

This risotto was something I drummed up while on a salmon kick. I really really really really want to love salmon in a can, but I really have to dress it up to make it not taste like canned salmon. It just isn’t the same as the fresh stuff. I don’t know if that’s because I grew up on the fresh stuff or what, but I love canned tuna and fresh tuna equally. They’re different, but I like them. Canned salmon is just okay for me. I think part of it is always having to pick out the bones. It drives me crazy and makes me paranoid. I know they’re cooked down and you can eat them, but I freak out a little bit if I get an unexpected little crunch while eating.

I dumped the cans of salmon into a bowl and went fishing for bones for a few minutes before going any further. It helped. A lot. The bright, crisp snap peas also helped give the dish a crunch so in the event I might have missed one, it would blend right in. Baking it is the lazy man’s risotto, and I’m all about it [never mind it’s been nearly three years since I’ve last made some]. You can add just about whatever you want into it. If you want to use some other meat, I’d probably cook it first. Top it all off with parsley and a bunch of shredded cheese, and it’s dinner without a whole lot of work.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1lb snap peas, ends trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cans of salmon
  • parsley, chopped
  • parmesan cheese, shredded

 Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.  If you have a large oven proof pan with high walls that you can sauté in, use that. Otherwise start with a skillet of some kind, and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add onion and garlic. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the onion is translucent. Stir often to keep the garlic from burning. Add the Arborio rice, salmon, and snap peas and sauté until the grains appeared to be slightly translucent.

Transfer the rice mixture to an oven proof dish if it isn’t already in one. Stir in stock. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the rice is tender, and the stock is evaporated. Set aside, covered, for five minutes. To serve, top with parmesan, chopped parsley. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

Coconut Milk Rice Pudding with Mango Puree

I’ve been enjoying an abundance of fruit and vegetable. I wander over to New Seasons and see what’s new. A beautiful new batch of honeydew melon from Hermiston, Oregon. It was a bigger, more oval shape. Intrigued was an understatement. I don’t think I’d ever had one before, only watermelon. It was extra juicy, a more vivid orange, and just as deliciously sweet as you’d expect from a melon. The radishes are extra spicy and nearly the size of golf balls right now. I don’t think I’ve had one that spicy before. I’ve been eating them like apples, so I don’t see them ending up in any salad or side dish anytime soon. The radish greens are cleaned and waiting to hopefully get used up here soon. I was tempted to blend them into my morning smoothie, but that just seems…unappetizing. My last experience with them was bitter and spicy, so I don’t know how well that will go with the latest concoction I’ve been blending up.

It all started with craving a mango. I don’t eat that many mangos after a really random and unfortunate reaction to a mango that left me with obscenely dry lips and eyelids. It’s related to poison ivy, I guess. I still gave into the craving and picked up some pre-made puree in hopes of alleviating another reaction. I did pick up a couple champagne mangos a few weeks later and survived. Maybe it was just freak thing. Either way I’m still cautious.

Rice pudding is like the risotto of the breakfast dessert world. It’s such a comforting bowl of awesome. I love it best the first day and less so each following day. Don’t think it stops me from eating it cold for breakfast. There are no rules. It’s really easy to make. The hardest part is remembering to stir it often enough so it doesn’t stick and burn to the bottom of the pan. No one likes crunchy burnt bits, do they? Maybe for color.

Each bite of the pudding was every bit of wonderful. Stirring in the puree was nice, but I really think I’d want cubed mangos next time. It would be a nice texture change and you’d get a bigger contrast between spicy coconut and the sweet mango.

Inspiration: A Thought for Food

Ingredients

  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1.25 cups of water
  • 2/3 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoons grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup mango puree [the original recipe has a details on how to make your own] or cubed mango

Instructions

In a large saucepan that will hold all of your liquid and rice, add the rice, coconut milk, water, orange juice, salt, and vanilla extract. Bring it to a boil and reduce it to a simmer and partially cover the pot with a lid. Stir the mixture occasionally over the next 20-30 minutes until the liquid is mostly absorbed by the rice. Stir in the brown sugar, maple syrup, and your spices. Remove from heat. Spoon into serving dishes and top with mango.

Spaghetti and Anchovy Butter with Crushed Tomatoes

Let’s spare you the rant on how the internet ate my post. Again. I think it’s a sign.

Let’s talk about Bar Vivant instead. Spain in Portland. It was Spain from nearly top to bottom. After two glasses of Perucchi Red Spanish Vermouth, a Spanish tortilla, a chile stuffed with the best egg salad of my life on a piece of crusty bread, a marinated shrimp, two large, meaty marinated mushrooms, a plate of Iberico ham, two skewers of olives, chilies, and anchovies, mushroom puree wrapped in a puff pastry, and marinated pieces of the most tender octopus I was pretty much right back across the ocean. I’m more than impressed.

Speaking of seafood [again], do you like anchovies? They seem like a such a love/hate food. Bon Appetit debuted this recipe in one of the recent issues, and I have to say the photo won me. A pile of spaghetti marinating in a pool of melted butter and crushed tomatoes. It wasn’t until I read further that it had salty fish chopped up in it. Hello simplicity and delicious. My kind of stuff! Even if you didn’t want salty fish in there, melt some really good butter and do this. Such a nice change from olive oil.

Inspiration: Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of spaghetti
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter [if you go for no fish, use salted]
  • 2-4 anchovy filets, depending on your love of anchovies
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Preparation

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining. Set aside.

While the spaghetti cooks, melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the garlic and anchovies, stirring to break down the fish and keeping the butter from browning too much. Add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to breakdown. This will take a good 10 minutes. Add the pasta and enough pasta water so it’s covered thoroughly with the butter mixture. Sprinkle with the parsley just before serving.

Cheese Tortellini Stew with Sausage

I’m still here. Promise.

Tax season is in full swing, so I’ve been spending 60 hours a week at the office and eating a lot of catered meals. I purposely go out to eat for lunch because a break from the computer is welcome. In other words, I’m not cooking.

I’ve been missing it, though. A lot.

In my lack of free time, we booked our flight to Spain and Portugal. Nearly three weeks there. I couldn’t be happier. It’s coming up quick, too, which makes it even better. There isn’t much worse than booking something so far in advance that it doesn’t even feel like it’s happening. Couple the quick timeline with a super busy work schedule, and I’ll be on that flight soon enough. Any suggestions? We’ve got a loose schedule of Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Lisbon, and Porto. Anything else is extra. I’ve definitely learned that I can’t try to bake too much into the trip or I’ll be left exhausted and disappointed. The only things we’re trying to make happen is a ton of wine and a FC Barcelona match. I’m not a huge Barca fan, but I can’t go all that way to not see one of the best teams in the world. I’ve been working on my Español via Duolingo. I’m surprised at how much I remember. Seriously, though, suggestions. I need ’em.

This stew was random and made weeks ago in a fit of lusting after carbs and cheese. That’s normal, right? It all resulted in a famous “let’s throw everything in the pot, and see what happens.” Tortellini are one of those things that I can’t ever see myself making. It seems like way too much effort when there is are perfectly good pre-made ones at the store. Spinach, canned tomatoes, and Italian sausage round out the rest of it. It’s hardly a bad combination. Oh, and garlic and chili flakes. Lots of them, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from me. Shaved pecorino came later. And during. And before. That goes for the wine, too.

Ingredients

  • 8oz frozen tortellini
  • 15oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 10oz frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1lb spicy Italian sausage, sliced [mine was precooked]
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • chili flakes, salt, and pepper to taste
  • pecorino cheese, for serving

Preparation

Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add the oil and wait until it starts to shimmer. Add the sliced sausage to the pan, browning it on a few sides. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute. Don’t let it burn. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, juice and all. Bring it to a boil and add the vinegar. Add the chopped spinach and tortellini. Bring to a simmer, and stir occasionally. Taste the tomato broth for salt and pepper. Add chili flakes to your heart’s content. The tortellini will be cooked through after about 10 minutes. Serve into bowls, and top with fresh shaved pecorino.

Pappardelle with Prosciutto and Potatoes

I am seriously pining for longer days. Taking Roma for a five mile walk in the early afternoon, makes me either want to come home and bake or prep something for the grill. As soon as I start seriously considering it, I realize it’s going to get dark in an hour, which will completely take me out of that mode and put me into “let’s curl up on the couch with a book” mode. It’s frustrating.

Speaking of books, I’ve been reading The Name of the Wind and am finally loving it. It was starting off way to slow for me to really get into, and once I found an e-reader version, I’ve been gobbling it up. Someone explained it to me as a more mature Harry Potter, which doesn’t feel accurate, but it’s enough to get me to read it. It’s definitely a lot darker, but just as much magic. I’m into it.

I’m also into the comfort of fresh pasta. It’s really hard to find pappardelle by the way. I almost made my own out of fresh sheets of lasagna noodles. Is that weird? I just couldn’t bear to make this any other way. If it said pappardelle, I need pappardelle. I won’t accept a substitute [even though you totally could]. Sautéing the prosciutto didn’t bite me this time. You know how salty it gets. I was bracing myself for something similar, but it didn’t happen. I think the thicker cut coupled with the smaller dice and an overwhelming carb to protein ratio helped. It’s necessary to cut through that delicious pasta and potato. I know it seems like starchy overkill, but I can’t deny its deliciousness. I added a whole hell of a lot of arugula to the mix. It wasn’t anywhere on the original recipe, but I had some. I wanted greenery, if only for the color, but it was really, really good mixed into the pasta. Crisp. Fresh. Peppery. After I shot the photo, I added another two handfuls at least. It was really nice.

The only thing I’d do differently next time is reserve more pasta water than I think I need. Things felt gummy fast. I was thankful for the arugula to break things up. It still tasted great the next day, even if it was sticking together like one nacho.

Inspiration: La Cucina Italiana

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1lb pappardelle pasta
  • 1lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1/4″ dice [tedious but necessary]
  • 1/3lb thick cut prosciutto [I asked the deli to cut it at least double the size that they normally do; that worked great]
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3-5 cups fresh arugula
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat the olive oil in a large pan on medium high heat until it’s shimmering. Add the potato and prosciutto. Reduce heat to medium low and cover, cooking for about 8-10 minutes until the potato is tender.

Cook the pasta until it’s al dente. Reserve 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta water before you drain it. Put the pasta in your serving bowl. Add the potato mixture, at least 1/4 of the pasta water, half of the cheese and parsley, and toss. Add more water if you feel like it could use it. Season with salt and pepper and top with the remainder of the cheese and parsley. Serve with the arugula or mix it in if you so choose.

 

Turkey Ragù with Fennel and Ricotta

Things of note:

1. A Negroni Flip [think Negroni with a whole egg shaken into it] is such a good drink.

2. There has been an obscene amount of Breaking Bad watched in this house. I’m not sorry.

3. Just in time for our departure to Thailand, we’ve fallen in love with this place. Go.

So funny story — in my attempt to pick up some ground chicken the other day, I was accidentally given ground turkey. I didn’t notice until I was checking the receipt on the way out the door. I clearly haven’t had turkey lately because I really didn’t think I was going to notice that much of a difference in this ragù.

You do notice, but it’s definitely not a bad thing. It smelled like Thanksgiving in the house, which is always welcome, even when it’s sunny and 80° outside. The turkey nestled in with that white wine and mirepoix and turns out a very different but very good ragù. The fennel and ricotta dotted on top contrast with the comforting goodness of the ragù. It’s bright and fresh in comparison. If you hadn’t had fennel before it’s really black licorice-y in flavor. In other words, I love it. PS, don’t mess around with part-skim ricotta. Get the whole milk version, and you’ll be so much happier.

I’m still convinced that La Cucina Italiana Magazine can do no wrong. I have yet to be disappointed, even if I have an unexpected change to my ingredient list.

Inspiration: La Cucina Italiana

Ingredients

  • 1lb of your favorite pasta [I used fresh fettucine]
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.25lbs ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup white onion, small dice
  • 1 medium carrot, small dice
  • 1 celery stalk, small dice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 3/4 cup fennel, small dice
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. When the oil is shimmering and sputters when you hit it with a drop of water, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes, until they get soft and the onion starts to get translucent. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the ricotta and 1/2 cup of fennel with a pinch of salt and pepper. Let it sit while you finish the ragù.

Add the ground turkey, stirring it into the vegetables, and breaking it up as it cooks. Cook for another 10 minutes before adding the white wine. Continue stirring occasionally. Let it simmer together on medium until most of the wine is evaporated. If the turkey is a bit oily, it will soak up at the same time, too. Cover with a lid when it’s mostly evaporated, and turn the heat down to low. Cook for another 8-10 minutes before seasoning with a pinch of salt and turning off the heat.

During the final cooking time, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water before you drain it. Toss the pasta in a bowl with the ragù. After serving the pasta, top with dollops of the cheese. Sprinkle with some of the remaining fennel and eat.

Pasta with Green Beans and Gorgonzola

I usually have two eating modes: 1) making a nice meal, sitting down at the table, or 2) eating food straight from the fridge/pantry/in front of the sink. I guess there are three if you count going out or shoveling things into my mouth at my desk at work. I do both all the time a lot.

When I lived at home, I used to eat a lot in front of the TV. Then when I moved out on my own, I realized I don’t like to watch TV [seriously, I bought cable and the box stayed unplugged for MONTHS], so that usually puts me into mode one or two. One when Andrew’s home; two when it’s just me. An entire bag of pita chips and hummus totally make a meal.

Occasionally I’ll eat my Chinese take out while sitting on the couch, but that just results in the dog staring in hopes I’ll give her some so she’ll stop staring. That’s a vicious cycle to get yourself into. No matter how sad the puppy eyes, do not feed the dog those crunchy chow mien noodles. She won’t go away.

Then there are the times I pretend I’m on a date with myself and set a place setting. I may even make myself a cocktail [Campari and soda, kthx]. This pasta was totally one of those evenings. It’s a total pantry meal, which hardly ever happens. I would actually need food in the pantry for that to happen. I had a jar of green beans from my grandma’s canning spree, so I was pretty good to go. It’s a simple sauce of olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and a healthy dose of  crumbled and shredded gorgonzola. Simple. Easy. Totally customizable.

CONFESSION: In the end, I totally ate this on the couch. Roma likes green beans.

Ingredients

  • 4oz dried pasta [I used linguine]
  • 1 jar/can of whole green beans
  • 1 glove of garlic, minced
  • 4-5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, minced
  • 1oz shredded gorgonzola
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • chile flakes

Preparation

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat in a large enough pan to hold the pasta. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and green beans. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the green beans are warmed through. Turn the heat off, add the pasta, the remaining olive oil, and the 3/4 of the gorgonzola. Stir until the cheese starts to melt a little and the pasta is reheated. Plate [or just eat it straight from the pan]. Top with the remaining gorgonzola and some chile flakes for some spice.

 

Soba Noodles with Ground Chicken and Greens

Who decided that brussels sprouts are cool now? I feel like it’s starting to surpsass kale. Remember when everyone hated brussels [except me and my dad]? They were hated, generally steamed/boiled, and never, ever talked about. Now, they’re on absolutely every single trendy restaurant’s menu in at least one dish if not roasted on their own [with bacon]. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing one of my favorite veggies hoisted into the spotlight, but I can’t help but feel like the awesome that is brussels is cheapened by the fact that it’s now the cool thing to eat.

In more important news, I’ve been eating a lot of things in bowls lately [and bagels, but that’s a whole other subject entirely]. They’re super comforting, rather forgiving, and you can put just about anything you want in them. Actually just putting anything in a bowl makes it feel more meal-like. My dad and I polished off 4 1/2 pounds of mussels this weekend. Meal. I threw chocolate chips and pomegranate seeds in a bowl of hot cereal. Meal. Putting popcorn in a bowl. Meal. Licking leftover batter out of a bowl. Meal.

Okay, so having a carb, a protein, and a vegetable helps make it a little more balanced and complex. An Asian dressing doesn’t hurt.

Inspiration: Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch tuscan kale
  • 5 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1o brussels sprouts
  • 1/2lb ground chicken, cooked and drained of fat
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon tamari [or soy sauce]
  • 2-4 pinches red pepper flakes
  • 8oz soba noodles
  • 4 green onions, slivered

Preparation

Tear the leaves of the kale off the stems and clean and dry the leaves thoroughly. Bunch them up and slice with a knife into thin ribbons. Put the kale in a bowl and pour one teaspoon of toasted sesame oil over the top and sprinkle with salt. Massage the leaves so that ever piece is covered in oil. Slice the brussels into small shreds, and toss both greens together.

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, rice vinegar, remaining sesame oil, and tamari. Pour the dressing over the greens and toss well to combine. Store in the fridge while you finish the noodles.

Cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions, drain them well, and toss them with the greens. Add the chicken. Top with sliced onion and red pepper flakes to taste.