Sunday, October 30, 2011

Still learning tricks to good ramen

It's a mystery to me that we don't have a plethora of delicious ramen houses considering the plethora of Asian Americans in the Seattle area, but that doesn't stop me ordering it even when I know it's a total rip-off.

So it would make sense that I would just learn how to make the perfect ramen at home, right?

Let the experimenting begin! I bought soba noodles for the first time I-don't-know-how-many-months-ago, and decided to try them today using the mushroom broth from last night's Polenta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce, with some extra chicken broth I had in the fridge.

With a total of about 4 cups of broth, I suspected I might not quite have enough fluids. I really should have trusted my gut instinct when I read that the recipe called for cooking just one bundle of noodles in 6 cups of water (and I was cooking two bundles). But I wanted the noodles to have the delicious mushroom flavor so I just went with it.

By the end, there was definitely a lack of extra fluid, but there was more than enough to cook the noodles and they were extremely flavorful from the broth. I added chives and a sliced boiled egg to each, and each had a bowl full of ramen sans soup, but just as delicious.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cream sauce doesn't need chantrelles

Instead of taking advantage of Seattle Restaurant Week, we decided to be lazy earlier this week and go to Cafe Piccolo right down the street. Half-price wines, woo-hoo! Plus a few ideas ...

One of the specials of the day was a risotto dish with chantrelles and pumpkin, and though it was tempting, restaurant risotto is always too reminiscent of Minute Rice than the creamy, thick risotto we make at home. But it got me thinking, and craving chantrelles.

But alas, it appears that chantrelles might not be in season, because I was unable to find them at Whole Foods and instead had to settle for a container of what said it was dried chantrelles, but instead turned out to be dry mixed mushrooms.

However, I think anything tastes good when you use heavy cream.

Polenta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
2 oz. dried mushrooms
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
tube of polenta, sliced in 1/2-pinch rounds
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic, minced
8 oz. heavy cream
1 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

Place dried mushrooms in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Cover bowl and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove mushrooms from soaking water (which you can save for another use) with a slotted spoon to a colander and let cool for a few minutes. Gently squeeze mushrooms dry and slice into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet until crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Pour half the bacon grease into another large skillet over medium-high heat. Place polenta rounds in the second skillet and fry for about 5 minutes per side, until crispy.

In first skillet, add shallots and saute for about 1 to 2 minutes, then add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, and saute until mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add cream and let simmer until mixture is bubbly. Stir in Parmesan, then add peas and bacon until heated through.

When polenta is finished, lightly blot with paper towels then divide evenly among two plates; pour sauce on top of the polenta.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Of course, Mom's dumplings are better

Why would I listen to some random lady at the grocery store instead of listening to my own mother?

Since returning from a long-overdue trip to Mexico last week, I've been craving nothing but comfort food to warm my bones now that the Pacific Northwest fall has finally hit. Finally, I decided it was time to make chicken soup with Mom's fluffy, delicious dumplings made from Bisquick.

But when I asked an employee at Albertson's where the Bisquick was, she asked me what I was making. "Dumplings," I said, wondering why the heck she was being so nosy. Then she got even nosier. "Oh, you don't want to use Bisquick," she said, then proceeded to tell me that her mom made dumplings with just flour and water and they were absolutely the best, blah blah blah.

Problem is, I believed her. I looked up a recipe for dumplings that used 2 cups of flour, 1/3 cup of shortening, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup of milk and they were ... not as good as Mom's. They look good, though!

But I could give a rip how my dumplings look. I want Mom's dumplings! Looks like I'll be heading back to the store for some Bisquick soon!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Derek!

Who wouldda thought that chocolate and mangoes could go so well together?

I've been contemplating a birthday meal for my co-worker Derek for weeks, and I finally found the perfect cake to go with the luau theme that's been developing.

When we first started working together, we quickly discovered that both got married on and have a true love for Hawaii. And I think the guy might even like food more than me. So what better way to celebrate his birthday than with food?

I made all my Hawaiian favorites: Kalua Pig, Hawaiian-Style Macaroni Salad and Hawaiian Bread. And even though Derek had requested carrot cake when I'd asked him what his favorite was months earlier, I knew I just had to make this recipe for Cocoa-Mango Upside-Down Cake as a logical finale to this meal.

Plus, we had to restore our blood sugar after this strenuous hula lesson:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Got unsightly zucchini? Make fritters!

Once again, I failed to grow anything this summer aside from a yard full of weeds, but that's never stopped me from collecting the kinds of recipes I would need for the garden that I will someday have.

Which means I absolutely had to read the recipe that went along with the Pacific Northwest Magazine article, "Attack of the summer zucchini, and what to do with them," because one of these days, I'm going to have so much zucchini it'll be coming out of my ears ...

But until that time, I have other problems. Like the weeks-old (don't tell Bryan), now unsightly zucchini from Trader Joe's, which I could think of no other way to use than through the accompanying Turkish Zucchini Fritters recipe (scroll down).

Because the zucchinis are grated, I was able to cut off all of the brownish spots and put some use to veggies that I otherwise would have thrown away. Eh, it might not have been the healthiest way to eat zucchini, but it kept them out of the compost and made for a delicious late-summer dinner!