Monday, April 23, 2007

Khao Soi Gai

In anticipation of our upcoming trip to Thailand, I am researching where we will eat. I keep hearing about this famous Northern curry noodle dish and am saving this recipe to try upon our return.

I clipped this from Chubby Hubby who went to the Four Seasons Cooking School in Chiang Mai. Sounds delicious.

Khao Soi Gai

100g chicken pieces
2 small portions egg noodles
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 pieces sawtooth coriander, sliced
1/2 tablespoon spring onion, sliced

3 teaspoons pickled mustard leaves, chopped
1/2 piece lime
1 tablespoon shallots, diced
chili oil

Heat some vegetable oil in a wok. Deep fry 1 portion of the egg noodles. Set this aside.

Blanch/boil the other portion of noodles in boiling water, drain and place in a soup bowl with some of the sawtooth coriander. Heat another wok and when hot, add half of the coconut milk, the red curry paste, the yellow curry powder, and stir until everything is blended together and it starts to boil. Add the rest of the coconut milk, the fish sauce and the sugar. When it starts boiling again, lower the heat and add the chicken and chicken stock. When the chicken is cooked, pour the chicken and the curry sauce/soup over the noodles that are in the soup bowl. Then put the fried noodles on top and garnish with some spring onion.

You can add more fish sauce and sugar to taste. Also, add in some of the mustard leaves and shallots and squeeze some lime juice over the noodles. If you like things hot, you can add some chili oil.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sea Urchin & Meyer Lemon Gelee with Fennel Cream, Caviar & Kalamata Oil

From Top Chef, Season 2

10 Meyer lemons, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
5 vanilla beans
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons powdered unflavored gelatin
12 sea urchins, spiny outer casing removed
1 bulb fennel, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon olive oil, preferably Kalamata
2 ounces caviar for garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, combine lemons, vanilla beans, 3 1/2 cups water, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cook over low heat until lemon slices become transparent. Strain mixture, reserving lemons and liquid separately.
2. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add gelatin mixture to hot lemon liquid. Stir well until gelatin is dissolved, season to taste and cool to room temperature.
3. Divide sea urchins between bowls and spoon cooled liquid over sea urchins. Set bowls aside to for gelatin to jell.
4. In a medium saucepan, combine chopped fennel, cream and fennel seed. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until fennel is completely tender and cream has thickened.
5. Transfer fennel mixture to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Puree until mixture is smooth. Strain liquid and discard solids. Season to taste. Transfer strained mixture to refrigerator until well chilled.
6. To serve: Spoon fennel cream over sea urchin gelatin mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and top with caviar.

Macadamia Nut Gazpacho with Pan Roasted Fish

Macadamia Nut Gazpacho with Pan Roasted Fish

From the TV Show Top Chef

Ilan: Finale

10 cloves garlic
1 cup macadamia nuts
5 slices bread, cubed
1/4 cup of water
1 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
4 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
One English seedless cucumber
One "Buddha's Hand" lemon, zested
1/4 lb of fresh bass

1. In a sautee pan, bring a light coating of olive oil to roughly 300 degrees. Fry 8 cloves of garlic, taking care not to burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the gazpacho, add macadamia nuts, bread, water, champagne vinegar, 2 cloves of garlic, and 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a blender. Blend starting at a low speed.
3. Slice cucumber into 1/8" thick plackets, removing the skin, and then dice evenly. Place in a bowl and add extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss.
4. Bring 2 Tbsp. of olive oil to high heat in sautee pan. Lay bass in pan and baste for several minutes with remaining olive oil.

To Plate:
1. Place cucumber salad in the middle.
2. Lay the fish on top, skin-side up.
3. Spoon gazpacho around the fish and cucumber.
4. Place fried garlic slices around and on top of the fish.
5. Sprinkle "buddha's hand" lemon zest around the fish, onto the gazpacho.
6. Finish with toasted macadamia nut with smoked paprika sprinkled on top of the fish.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Nature's Bounty

I feel fortunate that I inherited some very fine things when we moved into our current home, especially in the garden. This lemon tree seems to have ripe fruit year round, and the picture shows just the part of the tree that hangs over the fence from our next door neighbor's backyard! The lemons are big and juicy and are mostly seedless.

The other fabulous thing is the herb garden, I have a huge bush of rosemary and another of oregano that grow wild in the backyard, and these also are thriving year round.

Along with these basics, I also have chives, mint, thyme, tarragon, savory and parsley that grow intermittently in pots nearby.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bacon Toffee

This sounds very intriguing, I copied from the website.

WooHoo! Glad y’all enjoyed the bacon toffee.

First, don’t rush out and get a candy thermometer. This is the easiest recipe and although somewhat time consuming on the bacon end it is well worth it.

If you have a favorite toffee recipe you can just add bacon to your recipe instead of nuts. You can also use pancetta, guanciale or lardo. Prosciutto only works if it is sliced much thicker than you normally would.

Fry, bake or microwave bacon, dry and chop up.

Add 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp
1/8 tsp baking soda.
Set aside.

Grease a sheet pan or place a silpat mat on the pan.

In a pan:
1 1/3c sugar, 1/2c water, 1/4c light corn syrup, 2.5 Tablespoons unsalted butter. Cook for 12 min. on hight heat until you start to see caramel notes on the edges of the liquid. Continue to cook until you get more of a light color change. When it is all over caramel quickly add bacon mix and stir quickly and in invert onto your pan. Quickly smooth out mix and let cool.

Very important: To store you must store in a plastic container or the condensation of a bag or any other material will turn your toffee to goo. Do not store in the refrigerator. Don’t worry about the bacon going bad if not stored in the fridge….this will also turn it into goo too.

Coconut-Avocado Ice Cream

Snipped this from Tutti Foodie

Ice Cream

main image
This is the kind of ice cream you take a first bit of just because it's different.

But any bites you take afterwards are just because it's so good.

It figures, really. Avocado is technically a fruit, and when you put two of nature's richest fruits together, the results are heavenly. Our guest chef Chih-Chung Fang used lowfat milk to temper the richness of his recipe, but says you can use whole or nonfat milk instead.

Whatever you do, don't use cream. Your ice cream will be so full of fat that it'll taste almost like you're eating a stick of butter. And that warning comes from Chih, who subscribes mightily to the mantra that it's better with butter.

The Goods

1 lb. ripe avocado, pitted and scooped out of the skin

1 c. coconut milk

1 1/2 c. lowfat milk

Juice from 1 small lemon

Drizzle of vanilla extract

1 c. sugar

The How-To

Blend avocado, milk, coconut milk, lemon juice, and vanilla in a blender until smooth. (The mixture will be thick, so you may need to stop the blender and stir with a spoon several times to get a creamy consistency.)

Mix in the sugar.

Cover mixture with plastic wrap directly on the surface and chill for an hour or more.

Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

When frozen and set, scoop and serve.

With a stint in the Chez Panisse pastry kitchen behind him, Chih-Chung Fang now creates artisan breads and pastries at Arizmendi.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Gabriel's Guacamole

Mr. K cut this out of Sunset magazine and it has been on our refrigerator door for a long time, we use it as the base for guacamole as below...

This is the base recipe from Gabriel's in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is intended only as a jumping-off point: Add more seasonings to your taste. We preferred it with 1/2 teaspoon jalapeño, 4 teaspoons onion, and 4 teaspoons lime juice. Prep Time: 10 minutes.

2 medium Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeño
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon finely chopped onion
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro

Coarsely mash avocados, garlic, and jalapeño with a wooden spoon until the avocados are creamy but still very chunky. Add the tomato, onion, and salt to taste, and stir together. Sprinkle with lime juice and cilantro, then stir and taste once more. Add more garlic, jalapeño, onion, salt, lime juice, or cilantro as desired. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: Makes 2 cups

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

We were invited over to Mank and CDR's Kensington Fabupad for Zuni Roast Chicken and to hang out with Joe the visiting dignitary. The chicken was soooo good. We did nothing to help, just sat around and caught up while those two cooked up a storm. In retrospect, they seemed to mostly be hanging out with us in the upper level enjoying the view, not cooking. Looking at the recipe, I think they must have had a small crew of invisible kitchen slaves toiling away.

I did help out with cutting up bread for the cheese plate... Perversely (or should I say ironically), Mank thought that we may have eaten one of the chickens we saw at the Marin Sun Farm tour a couple of weeks back... and the eggs in the caesar salad were also from MSF.

From Judy Rodgers, "Zuni Cafe Cookbook"

Servings: 2 to 4


For the chicken

  • One small chicken, 2-3/4 to 3-1/2-pounds
  • 4 tender sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage, about 1/2 inch long
  • Salt
  • About 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • A little water

For the salad

  • Generous 8 ounces slightly stale open-crumbed, chewy, peasant-style bread (not sourdough)
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons mild-tasting olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried currants
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or as needed
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, slivered
  • 1/4 cup slivered scallions (about 4 scallions), including a little of the green part
  • 2 tablespoons lightly salted Chicken Stock {page 58} or lightly salted water
  • A few handfuls of arugula, frisée, or red mustard greens, carefully washed and dried

Seasoning the chicken (Can be done 1 to 3 days before serving; for 3-1/4- to 3-1/2-pound chickens, at least 2 days)

Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out. Be thorough-a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown.

Approaching from the edge of the cavity, slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Using your finger, shove and herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.

Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper {we use ¾ teaspoon of sea salt per pound of chicken}. Season the thick sections a little more heavily than the skinny ankles and wings. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity, on the backbone, but don’t otherwise worry about seasoning the inside. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders. Cover loosely and refrigerate.

Starting the bread salad (Can be done up to several hours in advance)

Preheat the broiler.

Cut the bread into a couple of large chunks. Carve off all of the bottom crust and most of the top and side crust. Reserve the top and side crusts to use as croutons in salads or soups. Brush the bread all over with olive oil. Broil very briefly, to crisp and lightly color the surface. Turn the bread chunks over and crisp the other side. Trim off any badly charred tips, then tear the chunks into a combination of irregular 2- to 3-inch wads, bite-sized bits, and fat crumbs. You should get about 4 cups.

Combine about 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the Champagne or white wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Toss about 1/4 cup of this tart vinaigrette with the torn bread in a wide salad bowl; the bread will be unevenly dressed. Taste one of the more saturated pieces. If it is bland, add a little salt and pepper and toss again.

Place the currants in a small bowl and moisten with the red wine vinegar and warm water. Set aside.

Roasting the chicken and assembling the salad

Preheat the oven to 475. Depending on the size, efficiency and accuracy of your oven, and the size of your bird, you may need to adjust the heat to as high as 500 or as low as 450 during the course of roasting the chicken to get it to brown properly. If that proves to be the case, begin at that temperature the next time you roast a chicken. If you have a convection function on your oven, use it for the first 30 minutes; it will enhance browning, and may reduce overall cooking by 5 to 10 minutes.

Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan or dish barely larger than the chicken, or use a 10-inch skillet with an all-metal handle. Preheat the pan over medium heat. Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle.

Place the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over — drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes. Total oven time will be 45 minutes to an hour.

While the chicken is roasting, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish and set in the hot oven for a minute or two, just to warm though. Add them to the bowl of bread.

Place a spoonful of the olive oil in a small skillet, add the garlic and scallions, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until softened. Don’t let them color. Scrape into the bread and fold to combine. Drain the plumped currants and fold in. Dribble the chicken stock or lightly salted water over the salad and fold again. Taste a few pieces of bread-a fairly saturated one and a dryish one. If it is bland, add salt, pepper, and/or a few drops of vinegar, then toss well. Since the basic character of the bread salad depends on the bread you use, these adjustments can be essential.

Pile the bread salad in a 1-quart baking dish and tent with foil; set the salad bowl aside. Place the salad in the oven after you flip the chicken the final time.

Finishing and serving the chicken and bread salad

Remove the chicken from the oven and turn off the heat. Leave the bread salad to continue warming for another 5 minutes or so.

Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate. Carefully pour the clear fat from the roasting oven, leaving the lean drippings behind. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and swirl it.

Slash the stretched skin between the thighs and breasts of the chicken, then tilt the bird and plate over the roasting pan to drain the juice into the drippings.

Set the chicken in a warm spot and leave to rest while you finish the bread salad. The meat will become more tender and uniformly succulent as it cools.

Set a platter in the oven to warm for a minute or two.

Tilt the roasting pan and skim the last of the fat. Place over medium-low heat, add any juice that has collected under the chicken, and bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape to soften any hard golden drippings. Taste-the juices will be extremely flavorful.

Tip the bread salad into the salad bowl. It will be steamy-hot, a mixture of soft, moist wads, crispy-on-the-outside-but-moist-in-the-middle-wads, and a few downright crispy ones. Drizzle and toss with a spoonful of the pan juices. Add the greens, a drizzle of vinaigrette, and fold well. Taste again.

Cut the chicken into pieces, spread the bread salad on the warm platter, and nestle the chicken in the salad.

Capitalizing on leftovers: Strain and save the drippings you don’t use, they are delicious tossed with spätzle or egg noodles, or stirred into beans or risotto. You can also use them, plus leftover scraps of roast chicken, for the chicken salad which follows.

Zuni Caesar Salad

From The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Judy Rodgers

For 4 to 6 Servings:

For the croutons:

A 4- to 5-ounce chunk or slice of day-old levain or sourdough bread or other chewy, peasant-style bread
2 to 3 tbsp mild-tasting olive oil

To finish the salad:

2 to 3 heads romaine lettuce (to yield about 1-1/2 lbs usable leaves)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2/3 cup mild-tasting olive oil
about 1-1/2 tbsp chopped salt-packed anchovy fillets (6 to 9 fillets)
about 2 tsp chopped garlic
a few pinches of salt
2 large cold eggs
about 3 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (1-1/2 cups very lightly packed)
Freshly cracked black pepper
about 1-1/2 lemons (to yield about 3 tbsp juice)

Preheat oven to 350F

Cut the bread into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes, toss with oil to coat evenly, salt lightly, toss again, and spread on a sheet pan. Roast, rotating the pan as needed, until golden all over, about 8 to 12 minutes. Taste a crouton; it should be well seasoned and slightly tender in the center. Leave to cool on the sheet pan.

Discard the leathery outer leaves of the romaine, then cut off the base of each head and wash and dry the leaves. Go through the leaves, trimming them of discolored, leathery, bruised, or wilted parts, but leave them whole. You need about 1-1/2 lbs of prepared leaves. Layer the leaves with towels if necessary to wick off every drop of water - wet lettuce will make an insipid salad. Refrigerate until just before dressing the salad.

Whisk together the vinegar, oil, anchovies, salt, and garlic in a small mixing bowl. Add the eggs, a few sprinkles of the cheese, and lots of black pepper. Whisk to emulsify. Add the lemon juice, squeezing it through a strainer to catch the seeds. Whisk again, just to emulsify. Taste the dressing, first by itself and then on a leaf of lettuce, and adjust any of the seasonings to taste. If the romaine is very sweet, the dressing may already taste balanced and excellent - if it is mineraly, extra lemon or garlic may improve the flavor. If you like more anchovy, add it. (You should have about 1-1/2 cups of dressing).

Place the romaine in a wide salad bowl. Add most of the dressing and fold and toss very thoroughly, taking care to separate the leaves and coat each surface with dressing, adding more as needed. Dust with most of the remaining cheese, add the croutons, and toss again. Taste and adjust as before. In generally, the tastier the romaine, the less you will need to emphasize the other flavors.

Pick out first the large, then the medium-sized, and then the smallest leaves and arrange on cold plates. Add a last drizzle of dressing to the bowl to moisten the croutons if they are at all dry and stir them around in the bowl to capture dressing on each of their faces and in their hollows. Distribute the croutons among the salads and finish each serving with a final dusting of cheese and more pepper.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


The Gourmet Cookbook, 2004, Edited by Ruth Reichl

Char siu is usually served as one of many dishes in a Chinese main course. The leftovers are much prized, because the glaze is so flavorful that just a small amount of pork can bring another recipe, such as a stir-fry or rice dish, to life. If you make char siu at home, you can avoid the red food coloring common to the Chinatown version (red is a most auspicious color in China especially if paired with pork, the meat of choice there). Rest assured that happiness and good fortune will be yours if you have a stash of homemade char siu in the freezer.
serving size

Makes 4 servings.

ingredients1 (1-pound) piece boneless pork butt or shoulder
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or sake
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt


Cut pork along the grain into long strips 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Remove and discard any sinew but do not trim fat. Transfer pork to a large sealable plastic bag. Stir together remaining ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Add to pork and turn pork to coat, then squeeze bag to eliminate as much air as possible and seal. Marinate pork, refrigerated, for at least 4 hours.

Put a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Fill a 13-by-9-inch roasting pan with 1/2-inch water and place a wire rack across top of pan.

Remove pork from marinade, reserving marinade, and position pork strips 1 inch apart on wire rack. Roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring marinade to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan (marinade may look curdled). Remove from heat.

Brush some marinade over pork and roast for 10 minutes more. Generously baste meat with marinade, turn each piece over, and baste again. Roast pork for 20 minutes more, basting 2 or 3 more times with remaining marinade.

Increase oven temperature to 400°F and roast pork until mahogany-colored and caramelized on edges, 10 to 15 minutes more (about 1 hour total roasting time). Transfer to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes. (Its internal temperature will rise 10 to 15 degrees as it stands.) To serve, cut pork across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Cook's notes:• If you can't find pork butt or shoulder, you can use pork tenderloin.• The pork can marinate for up to 24 hours.• The intensity of the flavor fades when the pork is sliced, so cut it as needed. Keep the remaining unsliced pork wrapped in foil and refrigerated for up to 3 days.• Any leftover pork can be frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in a sealable plastic bag, for up to 1 month.

Squid salad with shaved fennel and arugula

Another recipe from the KCRW Good Food website from Russ Parsons

Total time: About 45 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 pound cleaned squid
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons minced fennel fronds
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 bulbs fennel
4 cups arugula

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

2. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. While it is heating, prepare the squid. Cut the section of tentacles in half lengthwise so that you have two bunches of tentacles still attached at the base. Slice each tube along one side lengthwise, so that you can open it out flat. When you spread the tube open, it will look like a triangle. Cut each triangle in half lengthwise, and then crosswise in roughly 2-inch sections. Using a very sharp knife, lightly score the surface of each section in a crosshatch pattern, cutting into but not through the flesh. Alternatively, simply cut the tubes in half-inch rings.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, fennel fronds and salt.

4. Blanch the squid in the boiling water, about a quarter at a time. Cook until the squid curls up, firms and becomes opaque, about 20 to 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon or wire skimmer and immediately place in the dressing. Repeat until all squid has been cooked and is in dressing.

5. Cut each fennel bulb in quarters lengthwise and trim out the solid core in the center. Slice crosswise as thinly as possible and add the fennel to the dressing. (The recipe can be prepared to this point several hours in advance and refrigerated tightly covered.)

6. When ready to serve, add the arugula to the squid and fennel and toss to combine.

Divide evenly among 4 to 6 chilled plates and scatter pine nuts over the top. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 252 calories; 15 grams protein; 10 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 18 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 176 mg. cholesterol; 549 mg. sodium.

Recipes reprinted courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.

Sausage-stuffed squid braised with tomatoes and potatoesTotal

Snagged from the Good Food website, sounds really good. I remember my grandmother used to cook squid for us stuffed with potato and dowsed with soy and sake. This sounds much better!

In January, food writer Russ Parsons boarded the Donz Rig, a 42-foot boat owned by squid fishermen Don Brockman, and his father, Donald Sr. He shares that experience in an article for the Los Angeles Times and with us, including the following recipes. A food writer for the Los Angeles Times, Russ Parsons has won several journalism awards, including the Bert Greene Award and two James Beard Awards. He's also the author of How to Pick a Peach and How to Read a French Fry: And Other Stories of Intriguing Kitchen Science.

time: About 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

3/4 pound fingerling or other small potatoes
1/3 pound Italian sausage (about 1 link)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Minced parsley
1 egg
12 squid tubes (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups chopped canned tomatoes and juice
2 tablespoons capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces and place in a pot of simmering water fitted with a steamer or rack. Steam until tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Remove the sausage meat from the skin and crumble it into a mixing bowl. Add the bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon parsley and beat together with a wooden spoon until well mixed. It will form a pretty tight ball. Add the egg and continue mixing until the egg is well incorporated. The mixture will loosen up a lot.

3. Fill the squid tubes with the sausage mixture. You can do this with your fingers or with a small spoon, but by far the easiest way is to use a pastry bag. Fill the squid no more than half full; the mixture will expand during cooking. Depending on the size of the squid, there may be some sausage mixture left over. Seal the openings with toothpicks.

4. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is quite hot, add the stuffed squid and cook on both sides until the surface begins to color, about 2 minutes total.

5. Remove the squid to a plate and keep warm. Empty all but about 1 tablespoon of the oil from the skillet, leaving behind any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.

6. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it's fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes and the wine and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to free any of those browned bits. Cook until the wine reduces to a syrup, about 5 minutes.

7. Add the tomatoes and juice and cook until they begin to thicken, about 3 minutes. Add the capers and season with salt and pepper.

8. Return the squid to the pan, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer gently 15 minutes. Add the cooked potatoes, replace the lid, and simmer until the squid can be easily pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes more.

9. Spoon into warmed broad soup or pasta bowls and sprinkle with more parsley. Remove toothpicks and serve immediately.

Each of 6 servings: 275 calories; 17 grams protein; 24 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 220 mg. cholesterol; 382 mg. sodium.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles

From Sam Sifton, The New York Times.

1 pound Chinese egg noodles (1/8,-inch-thick), frozen or (preferably) fresh, available in Asian markets

2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus a splash

3½ tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar

2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste

1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons chili-garlic paste, or to taste

Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/8,-by- 1/8,-by-2-inch sticks

¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes; they should retain a hint of chewiness. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and toss with a splash of sesame oil.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic and chili-garlic paste.

3. Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with cucumber and peanuts. Serves 4. Adapted from Martin Yan, Marian Burros, and memory.


1. The “Chinese sesame paste,” above, is made of toasted sesame seeds; it is not the same as tahini, the Middle Eastern paste made of plain, untoasted sesame. But you could use tahini in a pinch. You need only add a little toasted sesame oil to compensate for flavor, and perhaps some peanut butter to keep the sauce emulsified.

2. On which subject, the whole point of cold sesame noodles is what’s called in the food trade its “mouth feel,” the velvety smooth feeling of perfectly combined ingredients. That’s why you find so much peanut butter in preparations of cold sesame noodles. Peanut butter emulsifies better than sesame paste.

3. Hey, where are the Sichuan peppercorns? Sichuan food depends on their tingly numbing power! Perhaps, but the little fruits were banned from the United States from 1968 until 2005 by the Food and Drug Administration because they were feared to carry citrus canker, a bacterial disease. And while you could always find them in Chinatowns somewhere (sitting, dry and baleful, in a pile), there are few in the true cult of sesame noodles who use them in their recipes. By all means, add some if you like: toast a tablespoon’s worth in a dry pan, crush lightly and whisk the resulting mess into your sauce.

My own take is almost comically easy to prepare. Simply whisk together the ingredients and taste them. “The art is in the balance,” Schoenfeld says, correctly, “between the salt and sweet, the sweet and the fire, and the fire and the acidity.”