Saturday, May 31, 2014

Greenest pasta ever: Kale orecchiette alla primavera

Not much intro needed: let's all celebrate spring by making pasta alla primavera!

INGREDIENTS (2 people for a main dish, 4 people as a side):
- any pasta you like! (I used my homemade kale orecchiette, click here for a recipe)
- a bunch of green asparagus, rinsed and trimmed
- 1 small container of snow peas, rinsed
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and bruised
- a few sprigs of fresh tarragon, leaves picked
- Parmesan, shaved
- a splash of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Note: this recipe can be adapted to a vegan diet by using egg-free pasta

- bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the asparagus, snow peas and green peas for 2-3 minutes, then transfer into iced water to stop the cooking process. Keep the boiled water hot for cooking the pasta later.

- in a large skillet, add the bruised garlic clove into a splash of cold olive oil and cook over very low heat for a few minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant

Note: you do not want to fry the garlic golden here, you just want to infuse the oil and low heat is perfect for that
- after a few minutes, remove the garlic clove (it has served its purpose), add the cooled and drained blanched veggies to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes over medium heat

- meanwhile, bring the water back to a boil (it's ok if it has a green tinge from the blanching step) and cook the pasta until almost done.

Note: I like to under-cook my pasta at this stage, because I like them VERY al dente
Note 2: always reserve a little bit of your pasta water, it usually comes in very handy when making the sauce because it contains all the starch from the pasta and thickens beautifully
- when the pasta is almost cooked through, drain well and transfer into the skillet containing the vegetables. Toss well and add the chopped tarragon, half of the Parmesan and about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid. Cook for another 1 minute over medium-high heat, or until the Parmesan has melted into the sauce and coats the pasta

- serve hot, sprinkled with fresh tarragon and a few shavings of Parmesan cheese
- Buon Appetito!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Homemade Orecchiette

I've been making fresh long pasta (spaghetti, tagliatelle and lasagna sheets) for a long time, but I only recently started making my own short pasta. How fun!!

A few weeks ago, I tried my hand at Orecchiette. Those short pasta are amazing for salads and I just love them with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil in a Caprese salad.

I had mine alla primavera (recipe coming soon) and here's how I made them!

- fresh pasta dough (click here for a semolina dough recipe, or here for a kale pasta dough recipe)
Note: I used my homemade kale pasta dough recipe because I had some frozen on hand but it was a little too soft and in retrospect I would recommend using a semolina recipe for a firmer dough.

- shape the dough into slim logs (about, 1/2 inch in diameter), wrap in film and let rest in the freezer for about 20 minutes until very firm

- slice the logs into 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick "coins"

- press the discs between your thumb and index or middle finger and twist, just like you would if you were snapping your fingers together

- dregde in flour as you go and until ready to use in your favorite recipe (click here for a pasta alla primavera recipe)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Quick pickled okra and mango

I'm not going to lie. My first ever experience with okra was a gumbo slimefest. In New Orleans, I'll grant you that, but a slimefest nonetheless. I just simply hated it!

Fast forward a few years, and I had my second taste of the little green pods. In a tibetan stirfry, and I LOVED it! Not at all slimy, just the right amount of crunch and seasoning. I was smitten. I also realized that the response to okra is binary: you either hate it or you love it. There's nothing in between.

Since then I've been trying okra in all forms I can find it.

Because I love pickles and they are so easy to make, I decided to try my hand at pickled okra. Super simple and you can take it in any direction you like!

I chose to pickle my okra with mango and jalapeño pepper. Divine!

INGREDIENTS (yields two 1 pint jars):
- fresh okra, rinsed and drained
- 1 small filipino mango (or any kind you like, really!), not too ripe
- 1 fresh jalapeño pepper
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 3 tbsp salt
- 1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cup water
Note: for pickling liquid, just keep the ratio of 2tbsp salt, 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar. Adjust if you need  more or less.

- bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil

- in the mean time, layer the spices, sliced jalapeño, okra and diced mango (with the skin) in the jars

- cover with boiling pickle liquid all the way to the rim, close the jars and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating

- let sit in the fridge for a few days before eating
- enjoy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Poblano rice

Poblano lovers rejoice!

This green rice recipe is out of this world! It is perfectly garlicky, cilantro-y and the poblanos give a round, smoky flavor to the rice that just makes it a perfect side dish to pretty much anything! This rice is a staple of mine when I'm feeling tex-mex for dinner, or as a side to grilled chicken, mahi-mahi or swordfish.

Delicious. Just try it and let me know what you think.

Here's how to do it.

INGREDIENTS (4-6 people):
- 2 poblano peppers
- 2 1/4 cups of long grain rice
- 4 1/2 cups of chicken broth (for a vegetarian/vegan option, use vegetable stock)
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
- 1 medium onion, diced finely
- 5 cloves of garlic, diced finely
- a splash of olive oil (not pictured)

- grossly dice the poblanos, remove the seeds and membranes and chop the cilantro (reserve a little cilantro for decoration)

Note: if you want more heat, keep the seeds and membranes of the poblano peppers
- bring the chicken broth to a boil, add the chopped cilantro and poblanos and cook over medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the poblanos are soft

- using a stick-blender, puree until smooth: this liquid will be the cooking liquid for the rice

- in a thick bottom pan, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion and rice together for 4-5 minutes

Note: I switched pots mid-recipe after realizing my first pot was too small, hence the differences in pictures :)
- add the garlic and cook for another minute
- pour the poblano broth over the sauteed rice and bring back to a boil
- cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes over very-low heat, or until the rice is cooked through and the liquid has been completely absorbed

- serve as a side dish to a mexicali, texmex or mexican inspired meal :) This rice is a delicious addition to a grilled mahimahi steak, chicken or pork chops!
- Enjoy!