Homemade Miso Ramen

29 Sep

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After spatchcocking a chicken the other night (recipe here), I saved the backbone to make a chicken stock.

To make a light chicken stock: Place the backbone and a few other chicken bones/discards into a pot with a chopped carrot, onion, and celery stalk and cover with water. Let it come to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, partially covered. Drain the solids out and you get a beautiful homemade chicken stock. Salt to taste. Skim some fat off during simmering or after refrigeration.

I was contemplating a recipe to make that would let the homemade chicken stock shine, and my boyfriend suggested/challenged me to make ramen. Genius! Sometimes I need a little outside input to get my creative juices going again.

And guess what? Making ramen at home was not as scary as I thought it would be.

Granted, I made a somewhat simplified version compared to what one might find at a Japanese ramen shop, but I appreciate my less salty, vegetable-topped ramen for it’s purpose as an amped-up dinner at home. Having the chicken stock already prepared from the day before saved me a lot of time, too.

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I cooked all of the components of the ramen dish separately, but I was multitasking the whole time and only used 2 pots in the process. As the miso broth was simmering, I made 7-minute eggs* and set them in an ice bath while I steamed some broccoli and boiled my ramen noodles (eggs, broccoli, and noodles were all cooked in the same pot at different times). I kept everything separate until serving.

To serve the ramen, I placed cooked noodles in the bottom of a serving bowl. Then I ladled in hot broth and placed egg halves and vegetables on top.

*This was also my first time making a medium or 7-minute egg. It was so good, I need to do this more often.

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I had broccoli and greens on-hand at home. Use whatever seasonal vegetables you want. Also, you could add some ground pork or chicken to this recipe after sautéing the shallot/garlic/ginger. Cook until no longer pink and then add the miso/bean/sesame and follow the rest of the recipe.

Homemade Miso Ramen

adapted from Just One Cookbook

makes 2-3 servings

For the broth:

1 shallot or a small onion

2 garlic cloves

1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger

1 tablespoon sesame oil

3 tablespoons white miso paste

1 teaspoon fermented black bean paste (not super spicy) or chili bean paste/La Doubanjiang (spicy)

1 tablespoons crushed sesame seeds

4 cups chicken stock, homemade if you have it (or vegetarian stock or water)

Noodles:

2 servings of packaged ramen noodles (do not use any of the powders or sauces that come with)

Toppings:

7-minute boiled eggs

steamed broccoli

fresh greens

more “authentic” might be: pickled red ginger, nori (seaweed), bean sprouts, corn, scallion, Japanese chili oil, pork or chicken

Directions: 

Finely chop the shallot and garlic. Mince the ginger with a microplane.

Heat the sesame oil in a pot. Add the garlic, shallot, and ginger and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the miso, bean paste, and crushed sesame seeds and stir. Add a little of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and smooth out the miso paste, then add the rest of the chicken stock and stir. Simmer this while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

-Make your eggs. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Set two eggs on a large spoon and gently set them into the boiling water. Set the timer for 6 minutes, then spoon the eggs out of the boiling water and into an ice bath.

-Next, set a steamer over the same water you used to boil the eggs. Steam the broccoli, covered, for about 4 minutes. Set aside.

-Using the same pot you boiled the eggs and steamed the broccoli in, bring water to a boil and cook the ramen noodles for about 3 minutes.

To serve:

Spoon cooked ramen noodles into serving bowls. Ladle the miso broth on top of the noodles. Place your toppings–eggs, steamed broccoli, fresh greens–over the broth and noodles. Enjoy!

Cauliflower “Rice” Sauté: Food For the Summer-Fall Transition

25 Sep

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Making Cauliflower Pesto a few weeks ago turned me on to a whole world of cauliflower possibilities.

My post-pesto experiment? Rice! Or couscous, or whatever you want to call the small, fluffy tufts of pulsed, grated cauliflower.

The below links provided me with some background and technique on making grain-like cauliflower salads:

The Kitchn provides an easy how-to tutorial on cauliflower couscous

Food52 makes an easy spiced couscous with cumin, za’atar, and lemon

Joy the Baker turns colorful cauliflower  into a rice burrito bowl

The First Mess knows how to make a mean “rice and peas” with all of the best crunchy elements

Clearly, I wanted to be among those in the use-cauliflower-like-a-grain club. So, I picked out the biggest head of cauliflower at the farmer’s market and set to work.

An efficient person would likely use a food processor or blender to pulse the cauliflower into tiny pieces. I, on the other hand, used my box grater, justifying the mess I made all over the counter and the floor as a yearning for the old-fashioned and an excuse to exercise my arm and core muscles. To make less of a mess when grating my hand, try setting the box grater in a large bowl to catch fly-away cauliflower bits.

The cauliflower “rice” can be eaten raw, but I prefer it lightly sautéed.

Use the “rice” plain as a bed for a curry, or stir the “rice” into some seasonal vegetables and add-ins to create a full meal.

I cooked up some onion with zucchini, corn, and tomato, and mixed in the cauliflower “rice” with some chili powder, paprika, and my friend Amy’s uncle’s special Maryland spice blend (you can use something like Old Bay). Shave some Parmesan on top if you want. I took this for lunch every day this week, sometimes adding a little avocado or hummus on top to make things interesting.

Cauliflower is hot, hot, hot right now, as it should be. Jump on board.

Cauliflower “Rice” Sauté: Food For the Summer-Fall Transition

1/2 very large or 1 regular size head of cauliflower

1 tablespoon oil, olive or canola

1 small onion, chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped small

1/2 cup small tomatoes, sliced in half or quartered

1 ear corn, sliced off the cob

1 teaspoon each: chili powder, paprika, Old Bay

salt and pepper, to taste

optional: fresh grated Parmesan cheese and/or hot sauce

Wash the cauliflower and take off the stalk and leaves. Cut or tear the cauliflower into large florets. In batches, pulse the cauliflower florets until finely chopped and they look approximately the size of rice or couscous. **You can also use a box grater to grate the florets by hand. You should get about 4 cups, more or less. Set the “rice” aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and tomatoes and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Slowly toss the cauliflower “rice” into the skillet with the spices. Continue cooking everything for another few minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Finish with Parmesan and/or hot sauce.

Slow Food NYC Benefit Dinner at Kings County Distillery

22 Sep

On Wednesday, September 10, I attended Parker Red’s Farm to Fork Dinner benefiting Slow Food NYC at Kings County Distillery in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The dinner was supporting Slow Food NYC’s Producer Summit, an event bringing together local farmers, chefs, and distributors to discuss challenges and celebrate successes of the current local food system. The Producer Summit will be held at Hawthorne Valley Farm in early November, and the hope is to create “an actionable strategy to strengthen and expand the supply chain of organic and sustainably-grown food to New York City restaurants.”

FTF Whiskey Dinner Invite - Final

The evening began with live music, radishes with butter and salt, boiled peanuts, charcuterie, and a tasting—moonshine, bourbon, and chocolate whiskey—made from corn and barley grown onsite at the distillery in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (*Kings County Distillery regularly hosts a great little tour for only $8, with the tasting included!)

After a few more drinks and snacks, we all gathered to sit down for dinner, cooked by Chef Ned Baldwin and his team. (*Three years ago when I moved to New York, I worked with Ned for one day when I “trailed” [a restaurant industry term for a trial day working in the kitchen] for him at Prune restaurant. I ended up working somewhere else, but had such a memorable experience and learned some valuable lessons from my day at Prune.)

The menu:

To Start: Whelks and Trotters flamed with King’s County Moonshine served warm with Green Tomatoes, Lemon and Fennel Blossoms; Charred Treviso, Anchovies, Lemon

Moving Forward: Salad of Corn, Watercress and Peaches mixed Liver Mousse, Toasts, King’s County Bourbon

Digging In: Whole Roasted Carrots, Crumbs, Gremolata; Braised Collards with Mushrooms and Tomatoes; Slow Sticky Pork

To Finish: King’s County Chocolate Bourbon Bread Pudding

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Whelks and trotters

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Treviso salad

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Ned preparing the liver mousse toasts

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 Corn salad with watercress and peaches

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My friends Michelle and Matt, looking cute

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The slow sticky pork was amazing, so tender and sweet

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The dessert line-up

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Chocolate bourbon bread pudding. YES

It was such a fun experience to participate in this dinner party. I am lucky to have been so well-fed and well-drunk ;)

Want to feel good about dining out? Check out this directory of the restaurants, bars, food and beverage artisans, and stores and markets that have been awarded the Slow Food NYC Snail of Approval.

Slow Food NYC works to create a food system based on the principles of high quality and taste, environmental sustainability, and social justice—in essence, a food system that is good, clean and fair. We seek to move our culture away from the destructive effects of an industrial food system and towards the cultural, social and economic benefits of a sustainable food system, regional food traditions, and the pleasures of the table.

Spaghetti with Cauliflower Pesto

6 Sep

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She’s a beaut, right?

Obviously I could not resist lugging home a head each of orange and purple cauliflower on top of my already heavy farmer’s market haul of melon, tomatoes, summer squash, eggs, and my newest obsession, maple cream!

I am such a sucker for roasted cauliflower. I love how it gets those golden-brown roasted marks, and packs a salty, slightly oily bite. But, it is important to try new things, and there is SO much happening with cauliflower these days.

I thought about making a purple cauliflower soup or a cauliflower gratin, but, desperate to hang on to the summer, I was not yet ready to dive into those cozier, creamier fall foods. After tossing around ideas of the ever-trendy cauliflower rice/couscous, cauliflower pizza crust, and cauliflower pasta sauce, I turned to my trusty food maven, Deb Perelman, who has a recipe in her cookbook for…CAULIFLOWER PESTO.

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Cauliflower pesto is made with raw cauliflower pulsed in a food processor (I took the Italian grandmother way/the hard route and hand-chopped/used my blender) and combined with a separate pulsed mix of brine-y, pesto-y ingredients: capers, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, herbs. Both mixtures get stirred together with some olive oil and acid such as lemon or vinegar, and combined with warm spaghetti (don’t forget to save the cooking water!) for a serious twist on traditional pesto pasta.

Deb uses sun-dried tomatoes in her pesto. I did not have any on-hand, so I threw in a few fresh tomatoes at the end for a little color and flavor.

I really had no idea what to expect with this recipe, but like every Smitten Kitchen recipe, it was a screaming success.

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Pale green plate= big NO for food photography. Ah well.

I served the pasta with sautéed radish greens and my old standby, roasted orange and purple cauliflower.  To drink: Bellwether hard cider in Liberty Spy flavor that I bought on a recent road trip to the Finger Lakes. Drank it out of a mug because who needs wine glasses (?!) and drank it on ice because I did not chill it long enough. Real life.

Spaghetti with Cauliflower Pesto

adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook 

serves 6-8

*Note: Deb uses 4 sun-dried tomatoes of the dry variety in her pesto. I didn’t have any so I just added a few fresh tomatoes, chopped and warmed in a skillet. 

1 small head or 1/2 large head cauliflower (about 1 pound or 455 g), trimmed of leaves, cored, and cut into large chunks

1 clove garlic, chopped

small pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 cup (70 g) pine nuts (or almonds), toasted and cooled

2 oz (55 g) chunk Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon drained capers

2 tablespoons fresh basil (or parsley) leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1-2 teaspoons lemon juice (or sherry vinegar)

salt and pepper

optional: small handful of fresh tomatoes, chopped

3/4-1 lb of spaghetti (or linguine)

Prepare the pesto: Pulse half the cauliflower in a food processor until it looks like mixed sizes of couscous. Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl, and repeat with the second batch, adding it to the same bowl. If the cauliflower looks like the perfect texture but one large chunk escapes the blade’s grasp, pick it out and pulse it separately. By the end, you should have about 3 1/2 cups of fluffy cauliflower-couscous crumbs. *I don’t have a food processor, so I began chopping by hand, but then just decided to do multiple small batches in my blender. Works fine, just takes a little longer. 

Pulse the garlic, pepper flakes, nuts, cheese, capers, and herbs in the food processor until the mixture looks like course breadcrumbs. Transfer to the bowl with cauliflower. Stir in the olive oil, the lemon juice, and a few pinches of salt and pepper, and stir until combined (if you do this step in the food processor, it becomes an unseemly paste. Best to do it by hand). Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Assemble the dish: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until it is al dente. Reserve a cup of the cooking water, then drain the rest. Immediately toss the hot pasta with the cauliflower pesto (and fresh tomatoes, if using) and half of the reserved cooking water, until everything is nicely dispersed. If the pesto still feels too thick, loosen it with the remaining cooking water. Divide among bowls, garnish with extra chopped herbs, and serve with more Parmesan if you wish!

Cooking notes: Want to skip the pasta? Use the pesto as a tapenade on olive-oil brushed toasts.

Make ahead: the pesto can be prepared a few hours to a day in advance.

Figs in my Belly Traveled to Kansas City: A “Guide”

2 Sep

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Back in July (doesn’t that feel like forever ago now?!), I hopped on a tiny airplane headed to Kansas City, Missouri to visit my friend Elizabeth and her friends and family. The trip was filled with food, drink, music, and fountains.

Below is my little guide to this lovely city, and a few random photos that I snapped during the trip. Surely, I missed some hot spots, so if you have any KC places that are not to be missed, let me know!

Coffee

Drinks/bars (also see the restaurants for good drinks, too)

Restaurants

  • Story.-great restaurant, excellent desserts, 10$ dinners on Sunday
  • Bluestem-go to the lounge for happy hour snacks and drinks
  • Room 39-causal lunch (great for sitting at the bar), more upscale dinner
  • The Westside Local-kale hummus, friendly servers
  • Cafe Europa-order the classic lemon cake from the pastry case; go for dinner or Sunday Supper
  • Port Fonda-Mexican food, margaritas
  • Beer Kitchen
  • Succotash-unique little breakfast spot; the “vegan sink” and the “cake and a smile”
  • Minsky’s-good for delivery or take-out pizza
  • Füd-vegan
  • Cafe Gratitude-vegan

Barbecue

  • Oklahoma Joe’s-the Z-man sandwich is supposed to be awesome
  • Gates Bar-B-Q-their sauce is good, burnt ends sandwich, more of a fast food type place

Sweets

Markets

  • City Market-go on the day when they have the farmer’s market
  • BADSEED-organic farmer’s market

Shopping

Museums and Things to Do

A few random photos from the trip:

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Coffee at  Oddly Correct

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Don’t miss out on the happy hour drinks and snacks (and desserts!) at Bluestem

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Live music at The Westport Saloon

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A must-order if brunching at Story.: ricotta fritters

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The desserts at Story.are insanely good!

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A visit to The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum

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Burnt ends sandwich at Gates Bar-B-Q

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The Kale Hummus at The Westside Local!

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A stop at Loose Park to check out the Rose Garden

Blueberry Compote (with gin!)

1 Sep

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David Lebovitz said I should put gin in my blueberry compote. So I did.

In the headnote of his recipe, Lebovitz writes, “…Gin’s herbaceous flavor does indeed marry nicely with blueberries–it can hardly be tasted once cooked, but somehow it just rounds out the blueberry notes…”

I was immediately sold. I took out a saucepan, set it on the stove, and proceeded to make what is now my favorite fruit-based “condiment” of the summer (I imagine another similar summer berry, such as a blackberry, could be substituted for the blueberry).

Cooking the blueberries helped bring out that intense deep blue color and concentrated the flavor, giving off a quintessential blueberry smell. The texture of the berries changed, too, leaving the sometimes-mushy consistency of a fresh blueberry behind and highlighting a blueberry that bursts and oozes a juicy filling instead. Nature’s gushing candy!

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Toss blueberries in a pot with a little sugar and a little gin and cook the mix for just a few minutes until the blueberries soften and begin to release their juices. 

That’s the shorthand version of the recipe. 3 ingredients. 1 pot. 5 minutes.

Serve chilled, room temperature, or slightly warm. I have been enjoying the compote with a generous scoop of plain yogurt, and spooned atop pancakes. It would also pair well with: oatmeal, ice cream, cake, nut-butter toast.

Blueberry Compote (with gin!)

from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert; makes about 2 cups

*When I made the compote, I had slightly under 2 cups of blueberries. I ended up eyeballing the sugar and gin to about 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 heaping spoon of gin. If you feel comfortable eyeballing to taste, go for it. The proportions listed below are the original ones used in Lebovitz’s book.

  • 2 1/2 cups (12 ounces/340g) fresh blueberries (or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) gin (I used Hendrick’s Gin)

Combine the blueberries, sugar, and gin in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries just begin to soften and release their juices. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, and let cool to room temperature. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if desired.

Storage: This compote can be stored in a jar or tupperware the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  This compote is actually better when prepared a day in advance, which gives it time to thicken nicely.

Variation: If you do not want to use gin, you can substitute water and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Marco’s Trattoria, Brooklyn

29 Aug

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Yesterday evening, I met my friend Michelle in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn for a meal at one of her favorite restaurants, Marco’s. A sweet Italian trattoria owned by Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg of  Franny’s and Bklyn Larder.

The menu changes often, depending on the season and the markets. As per Michelle, some staples like the Wood-Grilled Bread with Olio Verde extra virgin olive oil and the Wood-Grilled oysters with pickles and black pepper will almost always be on the menu. While it was a difficult decision (we wanted to eat everything on the menu), we decided to save the bread and the oysters for next time and try some new (to both of us) dishes.

The 2013 Bisson Glera LIGURIA Prosecco felt like a celebratory way to toast the meal. Our Prosecco arrived with forest-green olives sprinkled with fennel pollen. Next up came the:

Eggplant w/Pecorino Fiore Sardo (not pictured)

The soft eggplant bites were tossed with a heavy pour of olive oil and a generous shaving of cheese. With little bits of chopped celery (I think it was celery? Whatever it was, it was good) and again, fennel pollen.

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Another difficult decision arose when it came time to order a pasta. We ultimately chose the:

Spaghetti w/ fennel, chilies, lemon & bottarga di muggine

Neither of us had ever tried bottarga di muggine, which is basically shaved fish eggs. We were told that bottarga is similar to an anchovy in adding that salty depth of flavor. While it was certainly different than anything we had ever tried, the bottarga-specked spaghetti grew on us. More fennel pollen, plus sautéed fennel bulb. The pasta was also *perfectly* cooked.

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Our main dish was the:

Scallops  w/ cherry tomatoes, basil & pine nuts

Nothing like bursting sun-gold baby tomatoes. We wanted to lick the plate.

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And for an extra veggie side we ordered the:

Radicchio & Spinach w/ garlic & Piave

The radicchio and spinach were slightly charred, highlighting a sweeter flavor in these usually bitter lettuces. The garlic was very thinly sliced and crisped to a little garlic chip. Sometimes I forget how good the sides can be at the right restaurant.

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We recruited Michelle’s fiancé (!!), Matt, to join us for dessert:

Rye Chocolate Cake w/ mint gelato (pictured, left)

Semifreddo w/ Amarena cherries, cocoa nib & Pianogrillo extra virgin olive oil (pictured, right)

Both desserts were phenomenal. The rye in the chocolate cake lends a deeper dark chocolate flavor. And the olive oil semifreddo had the perfect crunchy, salty richness that I always crave in my desserts.

 

Can’t wait to come back for more good eats, Marco’s!

 

Marco’s Trattoria

295 Flatbush Ave.

Brooklyn, NY 11217

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