Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Zucchini Carbonara with Penne

This is a slightly modified recipe of Jamie Oliver's, using ingredients I already had in my kitchen. This is really summery--as it uses summer veg--and it's also forgiving to your AC system, as it cooks pretty darn fast!

Carbonara is really the only "true" Italian cream sauce. You probably didn't know this, but Fettucine Alfredo is NOT Italian!--Just like pizza. Italians generally eat pasta plain with olive oil, or with vegetables or meat, in non-creamy sauces. This Carbonara sauce is the closest thing to a cream sauce that they get.

Now what exactly is a Carbonara sauce? you may ask...Well, it's a cream sauce that is made by adding egg and a touch of cream directly to the hot pasta and vegetables. The hot environment cooks the eggs immediately, leaving a smooth, creamy sauce that is delicate in texture and flavor. This is very much unlike our thick bechamel sauces, which are, in fact, French in origin. The trick with the Carbonara is that you must work quickly, ensure that the just-drained pasta makes it directly into the pan with the veg, take it off the heat, and combine the cream and eggs as soon as humanly possible, stirring the pot, or else the eggs with scramble and then you have "Eww, Pasta with Scrambled Eggs" instead of "Pasta Carbonara."

Now enough yacking...Let's get into the specifics.


-12 rashers of bacon, cut into small pieces
-3 zucchini, halved and sliced thinly on an angle
-3 yellow squash (or just more zucchini), halved and sliced thinly on an angle
-1 lb. penne, NOT pre-cooked!
-4 eggs
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
-1 tsp. dried thyme, or 1 small handful of fresh thyme leaves, no stems
-salt and pepper

Heat a wide-bottomed pan with tall sides to medium heat. Once you wave your hand over it and feel hot air, add the bacon.

At this time, you can slice up your vegetables.

After the bacon browns and gets crispy, add in all of your sliced veg (leave the bacon fat in there so the vegetables will crisp up!). Toss them around, and add in the thyme and 1 tsp. pepper.

Set your pasta water to boil, being sure to add enough salt so that the water is "salty like the sea" (about 2 tbsp. for a large pot). Continue tossing the veg every 5 minutes or so, leaving time enough for them to get golden and crisp in the bacon fat.

Add your pasta to the pot when the water is boiling.

While you are waiting for the vegetables and pasta to cook, add your eggs and cream to a bowl with half of the cheese (1/2 cup). whisk together with 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper.

Set aside. This is what you will be pouring into the pasta in a bit.

When your pasta is just about done, take a mug out of the cabinet and scoop out half a mug's worth of pasta water. Set it aside.

Now this is part where it is critical to work quickly--no standing around! Get everyone ready at the table. Then, take the vegetables in the pan off of the heat. Strain the pasta and immediately add it to the pan. Directly pour in the egg mixture and toss the pasta in the sauce with tongs. Pour in a bit of the pasta water to loosen the sauce. Taste a noodle. Add salt as needed. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmesan on top of each dish.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pork Shumai

As always, I love all things Asian, so I thought I would give you another variation on the "dumpling." This one is heavier on the scallions than an average dumpling, and you can also make it with half ground shrimp and half pork--I just don't like seafood.

Check out my new Gesshin Uraku knife below! I really like it!


-1 lb. ground pork
-1 tbsp. ginger, sliced
-1 bunch of scallions, chopped
-1 carrot, finely chopped or shredded
-1 tbsp. soy sauce
-1 tsp. rice wine
-1 tsp. sesame oil
-1 tbsp. corn starch
-wonton wrappers

Place the pork in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add in all other ingredients (except the wrappers, of course) and pulse again to combine.


Form  a circle with your thumb and pointer finger, lay a wonton wrapper on top. Place a blob of filling (about a tablespoon) on the center of the wrapper and press it into the circle. Flatten off the top and bottom and press in all of the sides so it stays together. Make sure you leave the top open!


Prepare your wok by adding in about 2 inches of water and heating it to a simmer.

Place a circle of parchment or wax paper in the bottom of your steamer. Add a group of shumai, making sure they don't touch one another.

Wrap a cotton kitchen towel around the steamer top, to absorb the moisture from the steam. Cover the steamer. Place the steamer over the simmering water and let cook for 7-9 minutes, until cooked through.

Continue cooking in batches. You can also decorate the top with some sushi roe (orange, baby caviar) or chopped carrot.

Serve with rice and dumpling sauce!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Feta Mint Bruschetta

I came up with this really quickly tonight in the face of a grill fiasco. The chicken burned to a crisp when I had only left it alone for 8 minutes! I think the grill was too hot...anyway, in the face of a meat-debacle I decided to make something yummy and protein-filled. These were really good with a glass of wine. Fresh and flavorful. 


-1 loaf of french bread, sliced
-12 oz. of fresh feta cheese, very thinly sliced
-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced, seeds removed.
-1 bunch of mint, torn in small pieces
-extra virgin olive oil
-1 large garlic clove
-salt and pepper

Slice up the cheese and tomatoes, and tear up the mint. 

Toast the bread on the grill or in the oven. Slice the garlic in half and rub it on the top side of each slice of toast (this will give a little garlicky flavor!). Lay a slice (or a few) of feta, tomato, and a scattering of mint over top. Drizzle over a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and a crack of pepper. Serve!

Pear, Nut and Blue Cheese Salad with Balsamic Glaze

This is a fantastic salad! Great for summer BBQs and get-togethers. I took it to a potluck, and it was a real hit! This goes along great with many other dishes--also by itself. It's loaded with nuts, got a balsamic glaze drizzle to start, and add on the blue cheese dressing right before serving.


-Mixed greens
-1 pear, sliced
-6 oz. gorgonzola or feta cheese (if you don't want it strong go with the feta)
-1/2 cup of pecans or walnuts
-1 red onion, sliced thinly

-1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Blue cheese dressing (homemade or otherwise...)
-1 cup mayonnaise
-3/4 - 1 cup buttermilk (2 tbsp lemon juice, fill then rest of the way with milk, stir)
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-1 teaspoon onion powder
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
-1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 dash cayenne pepper
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-2 teaspoons sugar
--6 ounces crumbled blue cheese

Heat the balsamic vinegar in a saucepan. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes, until thickened and reduced. Set aside to cool.

Combine ingredients for bleu cheese dressing.

Scatter the ingredients over the mixed greens. Drizzle the cooled balsamic overtop. When ready to serve, drizzle over the bleu cheese dressing. Toss.

Simple enough, right?