Monday, August 31, 2009

Soba Noodle Salad

About six months ago I saw a recipe in a magazine for some dish that required Soba noodles*. Intrigued, I went to several stores in search of this buckwheat angel hair. When I finally acquired the noodles, I misplaced the recipe and so the noodles sat in the pasta section of my pantry waiting to be useful.

This afternoon, my sister was coming over for a trip to IKEA which is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Burbank. I decided that it was a rare chance for me to make an Asian dish and to use my fun chopsticks. I knew I wanted something cold with the heat soaring into the triple digits. I found a recipe that used my Soba noodles in Martha Stewart's Whole Living recipe search. I felt it was too green and added a few vegetables to brighten it up.

The flavors were light and fresh. Katie loved it and I found it to be a little too light. I probably should've reserved more of the dressing. Next time I'll know.

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Soba Noodle Salad
1 two-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into thin strips
1 serrano pepper, seeded and sliced into very thin strips
1/4 sugar
3 T fresh squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
2 T soy sauce
1 package firm or extra-firm tofu cut into bite-sized cubes, pat dry (if you don't like tofu you could substitute poached chicken)
1 package soba noodles (8-12oz) *whole wheat pasta would be similar, and ever since I purchased these, I have seen them at every store
4 oz snow peas, thinly sliced
1 t vegetable oil
1 cucumber, halved and cut into thin strips
1/4 bunch chives cut into 1 inch pieces
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, sliced
Sesame seeds, for serving

1. Cook noodles according to package directions, drain, and rinse with cool water. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring ginger, Serrano pepper, sugar and 1/3 c of water to a bowl. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes or until ginger and pepper are soft. Remove from heat. With a slotted spoon, scoop pepper and ginger into a bowl for later. Reserve syrup.
3. In a shallow bowl (but large enough for all the tofu), whisk together soy sauce, 2 t reserved syrup, and lime juice. Add tofu, toss to coat, and set aside.
4. Add snow peas, oil and 1 T dressing to noodles, toss. Add cucumbers, tomatoes, tofu and chives to serving bowl.
5. Divide noodle salad among plates. Top with sliced avocado and sesame seeds.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Arugula Salad and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

The one thing about mac and cheese is that it is very rich. To cut the richness, I followed Tyler's suggestions and made his Arugula salad which is absolutely fantastic. To give it a little depth, I added a few chopped up heirloom tomatoes. I also didn't have a shallot on hand so I substituted a little chopped onion (about 1 T finely chopped) and 1 small clove of garlic from the garlic press.

Arugula Salad and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

1 shallot, finely minced
1 t dijon mustard
2 t red wine vinegar
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 t sugar
1 t honey
salt and pepper
6 cups arugula
tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers if desired.

Mix the dressing together and toss with arugula just before serving.

Friday, August 28, 2009

100th Recipe! Another Twist on Mac & Cheese

This post marks the 100th post for this blog! I think that the only recipe worthy of this spot is another twist on Mac & Cheese. Sure there is nothing as great as Grandma Bev's classic, but it is always fun to try something new when it comes to this classic comfort dish.

Joey and I recently watched Tyler's Ultimate on the food network and were moved by his Ultimate Mac & Cheese with Bacon. Everything on his show is called "The Ultimate" but this really seemed special. We headed over to Costco for some cheap cheese in big packages. We chose Tilamook Vintage White Cheddar cheese which has a very extra sharp cheddar flavor. When buying the bacon for this recipe, it is important to buy bacon that is not too fatty to impart the particular flavors.

This recipe uses thyme as a flavoring, but recently we haven't been fans of thyme so we substituted basil (since we already had some). I think the thyme really might have added more. I thought this Mac & Cheese had a very earthy flavor but it just didn't seem cheesy enough to me. Joey, on the other hand, loved this dish when it came out of the oven.


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni (cavatapi is the new macaroni in our house)
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 or 3 sprigs thyme(we used 1 large bunch of basil)
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and divided
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 1/2 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips (More Bacon!)
  • 1 large onion, diced (we only used half an onion and that was plenty, I might use shallots next time)
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Leaves from 1/4 bunch fresh thyme


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small saucepan heat the milk with the thyme sprigs (we used basil) and 2 garlic cloves. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming.

Strain the solids out of the milk and whisk it into the butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk vigorously, and cook until the mixture is nice and smooth.

Stir in the 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and the parsley and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture.

Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

While that bakes, heat a saute pan. Add the bacon, render the fat and cook until crispy. Add onion, garlic (while it says smash, we recommend dicing) and thyme leaves and cook for about 5 minutes to soften the onion. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, scatter the bacon mixture over the mac and cheese. Use a big spoon to scoop out servings, making sure you get some of the smoking bacon mixture on each spoonful.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fresh Tomato Tart with Basil-Garlic Crust

Tastespotting, is a picture food blog that I browse whenever I am hungry. Recently, while browsing, I came across Ezra Poundcake's recipe for Fresh Tomato tart. I had been seeing lots of tarts lately and was eager to give it a try. Furthermore, it is tomato season, and I have recently found this heirloom tomato seller at the Farmer's Market for good prices.

I decided that it would be a smart idea to make the dough and the actual tart on different days. Pie crust (or in this case tart) is not my strongest subject. The dough, however, was pretty easy. However, they say it is ready when it forms a ball. This recipe calls for 4 T of water but mine formed a ball after only 2 T. Not knowing what to do, I added the additional water and my dough was somewhat of a sticky mess by the end. Probably I should've stopped at 2. After refrigeration, however, the dough was back to normal.

Rolling out the dough, also a weak subject, was really hard. Again the dough became a sticky mess. I ended up finally getting it by rolling the dough between two well floured pieces of plastic wrap and then getting in the tart pan.

This dish was absolutely fabulous when I tasted it after 5 minutes from the oven. The flavors highly depend on good tomatoes, but it is worth it. This is not enough for a full meal but would make a superb appetizer or bread side with roast chicken...or anything else really. After being in the refrigerator, the quality suffers a little but the flavors are still there. I recommend eating it all the first night.

Basil - Garlic Tart Dough
1/3 C fresh basil
1 clove garlic
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 t salt
8 T unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
4-5 T ice water

1. Process basil and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add flour and salt and pulse to combine.
2. Add butter and pulse about 10 times until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs.
3. Add water 1 T at a time while pulsing until the mixture forms a ball
4. Flatten dough into a 5 inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour (I put my plastic-wrapped dough in a ziploc bag and refrigerated it for 3 days).

Fresh Tomato Tart
1 recipe Basil-Garlic Tart Dough
8 oz sliced mozzarella
1 pound tomatoes, cored and cut crosswise into thin slices (I don't know how to core an heirloom tomato so I cut some in chunks, but the ones in slices were way prettier
Salt and pepper
1 T extra virgin olive oil
10 inch tart pan with removable bottom (my tart pan is 9.5 inches and worked fine)

1. Butter the tart pan. Roll out dough into 12 inch circle and press into the tart pan, refrigerate if your kitchen is hot until needed.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. Line the bottom of the tart pan with cheese slices
4. Place a ring of tomatoes around the outside of the pan and another inner circle until all cheese is topped with tomatoes
5. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and oil
6. Bake until crust is golden brown (it looks a little green from the basil) and cheese is starting to brown--about 35-40 minutes. Cool for at least 5 minutes before serving

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quick Microwave Mac

This morning we were out of portable breakfast foods, and not being one to even like breakfast, I considered my options. I decided on a quick Mac & Cheese dish. After making this at work, I found that it worked surprisingly well, resulting in a creamy, cheesy dish that didn't disappoint my tastebuds. It had all the things that a satisfying breakfast does - flavor, warmth, texture, fulfillingness.

Quick Microwave Mac

Tupperware container
leftover pasta noodles, any shape
1/4 C cubed cheese - I used Cheddar and Fontina

1. Add cheese and pasta to a tupperware container, set lid on top diagonally but not closed allowing for air to escape
2. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir with a fork, replace lid diagonally, and microwave an additional 10 seconds on high.
3. Remove from microwave, stir, and place lid on tupperware securly. Let sit for 2-3 minutes.
4. Eat!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Late Morning Pasta

Last night Joey and decided to make Emeril's recipe for Late Night Pasta in order to use up some bacon we bought for the Ellie Beans we made last weekend. The ingredient list was so simple, that the only thing we had to buy was a shallot--and I suppose, in hindsight, we could've replaced it with an onion. The recipe seemed to me to be better described as "Spicy buttered noodles with bacon and garlic" but it still had a nice flavor and it was quick and easy.


  • 1 pound pasta (I used half bowties and half curly macaroni)
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I think you could use less because of all the bacon grease)
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (again, I'd use less because of the bacon grease)
  • 1 large egg
  • Parmesan cheese for serving


1. Cook pasta to al dente according to box instructions. Reserve 1/4 C pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Add the garlic, shallots, pepper, and salt and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the garlic is soft but not brown, about 1 1/2 minutes.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg and reserved pasta cooking water, stirring quickly until the mixture thickens, but the egg does not scramble (our pan was really hot and so the egg scrambled, I recommend possibly cooling the pan a little bit first or perhaps adding the egg to the pasta water first).

4. Divide the pasta among bowls, sprinkle cheese to taste over the top of each serving, and serve immediately.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kona Coffee Ice Cream Pie

Joey and I decided to try our hand at making an ice cream pie now that 31 Flavor's prices have soared. Joey looked through the ice cream book and decided on Kona coffee ice cream, an Oreo cookie crust, and hot fudge. We thought it would be fun to just make all the elements from turns out, it is actually pretty expensive to make your own ice cream pie...but I dare say, tastier. I don't have a picture because it was all melty by the time i thought of it...but just picture delicious and try it yourself, or, stop on by and we'll make one for you.

Joey basically made the pie himself. Meanwhile, I made baked beans.

Kona Coffee Ice Cream
2 C half & half
6 T coffee beans (we used Kona)
4 large egg yolks
2/3 C sugar
1 C heavy whipping cream

Special Equipment: Ice cream maker

1. In a double boiler, heat half and half and coffee beans over simmering water until steaming. Remove from heat and steep for 40 minutes.
2. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks until blended. Add sugar and whisk until combined.
3. Prepare a large ice bath that will hold the top of the double boiler pot.
4. Whisk half the hot half & half into the yolk mixture and then pour the whole mixture back into the pot and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until custard coats the back of a silicone spoon.
5. Remove from heat and place in an ice bath immediately, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches room temperature.
6. Strain through sieve into container (to remove beans), cover, and place in refrigerator to chill at least 3 hours.
7. Once the mixture is chilled, mix in ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions, place in container and freeze.
Yield: 1 qt.

Oreo Cookie Crust
20 oreos
5 T butter

1. Melt butter.
2. Mix melted butter and oreos. Press into a 9inch pie plate on the bottom and up the sides.
3. Place in refrigerator or freezer for later.

Hot Fudge
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped or 1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 C half & half
1/4 C light corn syrup
1 t vanilla extract
1 T grand Marnier, brandy or cognac (optional)

1. Combine chocolate, half & half, and corn syup over a double boiler and heat, stirring, until smooth.
2. Stir in vanilla and grand mariner, if desired. (we happened to have cognac on hand and put it in but we thought it smelled like alcohol and didn't love the flavor, we might use another fudge recipe next time).
3. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Ice Cream Pie Construction
1 1/2 qts ice cream
1 recipe hot fudge
1 cookie crust
whipped cream in the can

1. Remove pie crust from freezer. Spread with half the hot fudge. Freeze.
2. Remove ice cream from freezer and let soften so that it is spreadable.
3. Remove pie crust, spread ice cream on top of the hot fudge until it fully covers. If it starts to get too melty and moveable, Freeze for about 10 minutes.
4. Continue spreading ice cream until all the ice cream has been used or the pie looks full. Freeze.
5. Remove from freezer and top ice cream with a layer of hot fudge. Freeze.
6. Pipe whipped cream around the edges and one dollup in the center.
7. Freeze for at least an hour before serving.

Ok fine, here's a picture but it is has melted, and been devoured and it doesn't look half as good as it did when we made it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Black Bean Tacos and more...

My niece Katie invited us over for a fabulous black bean taco bar. (I will let Katie put that recipe on the blog). The taco bar was so delicious that it inspired me to look up recipes on the Internet for Black Bean Tacos. I discovered a wonderful recipe on an awesome Blog:
This economical and easy recipe was described by my son as "phenomenal". Next I plan to try the Spanish Chorizo and Asparagus.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Broiled eggplant with crumbled feta

After using up my zuchinni and eggplant from the farm on a ratatouille dish that I threw together (literally), I wanted more! Today we went to the Farmer's Market and I bought some. This easy eggplant recipe was a hit with my family - it is pretty and delicious:

olive oil
crumbled feta

Slice unpeeled eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Place the slices on a paper towel and salt them. Let them drain for a half an hour. Transfer them to a baking pan and put olive oil on each side of the eggplant and sprinkle with oregano. Broil the eggplant and turn until it is tender. Add crumbled feta and broil again until the feta starts to brown.

Rustic Mac & Cheese

I was hankering for some mac and cheese but the eggy casserole we usually make seemed too heavy for the hot weather. So, I was browsing Tastespotting and discovered something new.

The one thing about mac & cheese is that people are always trying to add breadcrumb topping to give it a little crunch. But it isn't supposed to be crunchy! It should be velvety creamy pasta in the end. The other thing is that everyone wants to add several cheeses. But, do we really taste all those cheeses at once? Is it necessary?

This recipe called for Fontina. I was at the regular store and discovered the stuff to be a pricey $6 for 5 ounces. However, we were on a trip to Costco and discovered that 1 lb of Fontina was $6! What a savings. I had thinking maybe I should just substitute another cheese like white cheddar or mozzarella. After we tasted the fontina, we thought it tasted just like cheddar with a slight hint of next time...

At the store I chose Campanelle shaped pasta. It is like a little flat piece of past rolled into a flower/cone shape (they are translated as Bells). We liked them because they were easy to fork and had that night ribbed texture on the side.

I received these rustic Italian caserolle dishes for my birthday a couple of years ago and have always thought they would be fun to use for something like this. I finally had my chance, the recipe called for a 9x13 pan but this was far more fun.

Oh and the Mac & Cheese? It was delicious! Creamy and velvety with a subtle hint of cheese flavor and light enough for an 80-degree day.

Rustic Mac & Cheese adapted from "The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook"

8 oz shredded Fontina
1 C heavy cream
1 lb pasta, any small shape
pinch nutmeg
4 T butter

Preheat oven to 350
1. Cook pasta in boiling water 2 minutes less than al dente according to package instructions.
2. While pasta is cooking, warm cream in microwave one minute and keep covered. Shred cheese. Grease baking dish (9x13).
3. Dice butter and place in a large bowl. Drain pasta and stir until coated with butter. Add cream and cheese. Stir until cheese starts to melt. Add nutmeg and salt to taste.
4. Pour pasta mixture into casserolle. Bake for 20 minutes until sauce is bubbling. Serve immediately.