Bok Choy Lime Stir Fry

For New Year’s Eve, we got together with some friends and had Raclette and homemade Feuerzangenbowle. This was delicious, but my digestion was still mad at me due to the 12-hour flight home from Singapore I’d subjected it to the day before. We needed something a little less indulgent, but it still needed to taste good. Cliff was craving bok choy, but neither of us wanted meat, so this was our vegan version of our other bok choy adventure. It was exquisite and didn’t even taste virtuous.

2 T sesame oil
2 bunches green onions, white and light greens sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 in/5 cm ginger, minced
6 heads baby bok choy, cleaned and chopped
pinch salt
1/2 t ground white pepper
1 T hoisin sauce
1/4 c Shao Xing wine
1 T dark soy sauce
2 T light soy sauce
juice of two limes
steamed brown rice

Heat 1 T oil in wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger and stir frequently until starting to get tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add rest of oil and bok choy, stirring to coat with oil (bok choy will shrink down quickly). Add salt & pepper. Whisk hoisin, wine, soy sauces and lime juice together and add to wok, stirring frequently. Keep stirring until liquids are distributed and about half-reduced and bok choy is tender-crisp. Serve immediately over brown rice.

Radicchio Risotto

How much respect do you give radicchio? Probably not much, but that ought to change.

I never thought much about it before last year. On our last big grocery run to Italy, it refused to be ignored. We were in the major radicchio production region at peak harvest, so it was everywhere. And with good reason! I’d always thought of it as that bitter, purple and white stuff you threw in a salad to brighten it up and nothing more. But it’s a not just any lettuce, it’s a chicory and can be cooked. It takes on a bit more sweetness as it wilts, while retaining some of the characteristic bitterness. And in this recipe from Serious Eats (with the requisite tweaks), it’s paired with pancetta. You could probably use regular bacon, but if you can get your hands on the pancetta, it’s worth it.

4 T olive oil
100 g (1/4 lb) pancetta, chopped into lardons
2 heads Chioggia radicchio, cored and chopped to bite-size
salt & pepper to taste
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
500 g (2 c) risotto rice
3/4 c white wine
5 c hot chicken broth
2 T butter
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

In a deep skillet, heat 2 T olive oil over medium-low heat. Add pancetta and fry until beginning to crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Next add radicchio by the handful, stirring each addition to coat with fat. When all radicchio is in, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and set aside (or transfer radicchio mixture to a warm bowl and wipe out skillet if you want to use the same pan).

Heat the other 2 T olive oil to medium-low in a deep, wide skillet. Add shallots and garlic and cook until just translucent, then add rice and stir to coat with fat, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Add wine and stir frequently until mostly absorbed, then start adding your chicken broth (it should be at a gentle simmer) by the ladleful. Stir after each broth addition and when almost completely absorbed, add the next. When you’ve added half the broth, stir the radicchio-pancetta mixture in the risotto.

Finish adding the broth by the ladleful. With the last addition, remove from heat, stir in butter and cheese and cover for 5 minutes. Serve with extra cheese or a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.

Pumpkin Risotto

I made a lot of pumpkin purée last fall, which took up residence in the freezer. In an effort to continue the meat detox from our KC trip and clear out some of the longer-term freezer occupants, finally got to try this recipe. As I already have neutral pumpkin purée (so I can go sweet or savory), I changed a few aspects of the original and the recipe below will reflect what I did.

This risotto has a texture that is completely extraordinary. As in many things involving pumpkin, it’s subtly sweet and velvety. While cooking, it becomes much saucier than I’m used to. I think that makes it extra important that you let it rest, covered and off the burner, after finishing.

2 T olive oil
2 large or 3 small shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 c/500 g arborio rice
1 c white wine
1/2 t coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 t dried thyme
5-6 c/1.25-1.5 l chicken or vegetable broth (must be at a simmer when added to rice)
1 c/250 g pumpkin purée
1 c/250 g grated parmesan cheese, divided
2 T butter

In a wide, deep lidded skillet, heat oil to medium. Sauté the shallots and garlic to just tender, then add rice to skillet, stirring frequently and coating well with oil.

Add white wine to skillet and, stirring constantly, cook until liquid is almost completely cooked off. Add pepper and thyme, lower heat to low, stir and start adding broth by the ladle. When one ladleful cooks off, add another, stirring all the time.

When about two thirds of the broth is added, stir in the pumpkin purée. The texture will change and the sauce will become quite thick and possibly splattery. Right before the last broth addition, turn the burner off and add the cheese and butter.

After stirring in the last bit of broth, put the lid on the skillet, take it off the hot burner and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Homemade Lasagna

Lasagna Finished ProductThis was a labor of love. I’ve learned to make a bolognese sauce that is pretty outstanding, but takes a few hours to make and at least one overnight to develop. We’ve had a pasta roller for about a year now and Cliff is getting pretty skilled at its use. If I was really a go-getter, I would have made my own ricotta and mozzarella, but I’m not happy with the texture of my homemade stuff (yet), so I just bought those. This is not a saucy lasagna, and the ultra-thin noodles combined with a conservative hand filling the layers yields a surprisingly light-textured product. Just FYI, we boil the lasagna noodles prior to assembly. I know that lots of people don’t, but I prefer it this way.

1/2 recipe fresh pasta, rolled into sheets on setting 7 (second to last – very thin)
8 oz/225 g frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed very dry
1 egg
1 c/250 g ricotta cheese
2 T cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 recipe bolognese sauce
2 small balls fresh mozzarella (preferably buffalo), drained and roughly chopped
1/2 c grana padano or parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 375° F/190° C.

Take your sheets of pasta and cut them into lasagna sheets, roughly 6in x 4in/15cm x 10 cm. Don’t be too exacting – it helps to have a few small or odd-shaped ones to get complete coverage. If you have a rolling pizza cutter, it’s great for this task. In a large pot of rapidly boiling water, boil 3-4 noodles at a time for no more than one minute. Then remove to colander, run cold water over the cooked noodles and lay noodles flat on damp paper towels until it’s time to assemble. We ended up with about 20 noodles and used them all.

Put the spinach in a large bowl and add the egg, whisking until well-combined. Whisk in the ricotta and cream until mixture is smooth and even. Add salt and pepper and stir.

Lasagna -- halfway thereIn a 9×13 pan, spoon a little of the bolognese on the bottom and spread it into an even layer.
1) Place the first layer of noodles on the bolognese, making sure they completely cover the bottom of the pan, overlapping to seal the seams (noodles will stick to each other). Next, spread bolognese on the first layer of noodles, starting with 1/2 c/125 ml and adding more if needed to cover the noodles completely.
2) Add another layer of noodles, then top with half of the ricotta mixture, spreading it evenly to the edges of the noodles.
3) Another layer of noodles, then another layer of bolognese, this time with half of the mozzarella sprinkled over it.
4) Another layer of noodles, then the other half of the ricotta.
5) Another layer of noodles, then the bolognese and the other half of the mozzarella.
6) The last layer of noodles, with more bolognese spread on top and the grated cheese sprinkled on.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes, then uncover and keep baking for 15-20. After removing it from the oven, let it sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Fresh Fettucine Alfredo

For Christmas last year, we got some KitchenAid attachments from my family. Back in January, I posted some of our first attempts, which were great successes. Here is a detailed recipe for fresh Fettucine Alfredo: a simple, fresh pasta and a rich, creamy sauce. Continue reading Fresh Fettucine Alfredo

Indian Meatballs (Kofta)

We learned three things from this recipe:

  1. You CAN get a restaurant-like texture to your sauces at home if you’re patient enough to let them simmer the full time and are willing to get a few more pieces of equipment dirty
  2. Metzgerei Salzberger is our new hookup for ground lamb in Regensburg
  3. A rice cooker is certainly a convenience a lot of the time, but we can do great pilau rice on the stovetop, too.

More on those three points:
Continue reading Indian Meatballs (Kofta)

Stove-top Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli

This was a weird one. I was pretty doubtful about the method, but the result was unquestionably fabulous. We’ve been on a bit of a broccoli kick of late – I would go so far as to double the broccoli and halve the pasta. I found the original here by way of Tastespotting, but I lightly steamed my broccoli, making my version use more than one pot. The recipe below details what I did.

4 1/2 c/1.125 l water, plus more as needed
1 lb/500 g broccoli, cut into small florets
3 T butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz/350 ml evaporated milk
1/2 t salt
1 lb/500 g short tube pasta
3/4 t cornstarch
1/2 t smoked paprika (pimentón)
1/2 t dry mustard
12 oz/350 g shredded cheddar cheese

Pour 1 cup/250 ml water into a small saucepan and set a steamer basket filled with broccoli in it. Cover with tight lid and steam over medium low heat for 5 minutes or until broccoli is bright green. Set aside when finished (if you like, shock the broccoli by pouring it into an icebath slightly before the desired texture is achieved).

In a large dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Turn heat to medium and add the remaining 3 1/2 cups/875 ml of water, 1 cup/8 oz/250 ml of the milk, salt and pasta. Stirring frequently, bring to a rapid boil. Turn heat down to simmer and cook pasta for 7-9 minutes, always stirring, until pasta is barely undercooked and liquid thickens slightly.

Whisk remaining 1/2 cup/125 ml of milk with cornstarch, paprika and mustard. Stir into pasta and continue to simmer until sauce is well thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove pasta from heat and stir in shredded cheese, a handful at a time, until completely melted. Add broccoli and stir until well coated. Serve immediately or allow to sit for 5 minutes for sauce to thicken.

Bacon Fried Rice

Here is a great way to use up leftover rice – although we often make rice the day before specifically for this. You could probably throw in other vegetables, too, but be certain to cook them until they’re no longer releasing liquid. Too-wet veggies will prevent the optimal crispness of the rice. We got the inspiration from Culinate, but (as usual) this version is my tweaked one.

4 strips bacon, roughly chopped
12-18 green onions, sliced (white and light green parts only)
3-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 inch knob ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 T soy sauce
4 T white wine (Shao Xing is great here)
1 T Hoisin sauce
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1/2 t rice vinegar
4 c cooked rice, cold
1 t sesame oil
2 eggs, beaten

In a large deep skillet or pot (or wok, if you have one), fry the bacon over medium-high heat. When the edges are just starting to get crisp, remove all but one tablespoon of the drippings and add the onions, garlic and ginger, stirring constantly, until just beginning to get tender and fragrant. Whisk together the soy, wine, Hoisin, pepper flakes and vinegar and set aside.

Add the rice to the bacon mixture, breaking up any lumps and reduce heat to medium-low. Sprinkle the sesame oil over the rice and add the sauce mixture, stirring until well distributed. Let the rice mixture stand undisturbed for one minute. After a minute, lift the layer of rice from them bottom – it should be lightly browned and crisp. Stir the rice so another layer has the chance to crisp and repeat until you’ve almost achieved your desired texture.

Push the rice to the side of the skillet and make room for the eggs. Pour the beaten eggs directly on to the surface of the pan and allow to cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Once a good skin of cooked egg has formed on the surface of the pan, briskly stir the egg, scrambling it in the small space available for it, until you’ve reached your preferred scrambly-egg texture. Remove pan from heat, stir well to distribute the egg and crisped rice bits and serve immediately.

Amatriciana Sauce

The food blogs seemed to have a real Amatriciana moment just over a year ago. I think it happened when the home charcuterie trend hit its zenith. The “authentic” preparation (according to the internet, where everything is true) calls for guanciale, cured pig’s jowl/cheek. That would be great if I could get it, but I can’t, so bacon is my fallback.

4 slices bacon, chopped (about 75 g)
3 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T tomato paste
1/4 c white wine
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid (use the best tomatoes you can get – the texture will benefit)
1 t oregano
1/2 t thyme
1/4 t salt
1/2 t sugar or honey
1/2 t ground pepper
10-12 fresh basil leaves, torn

Heat a medium saucepan to medium high. Add bacon to saucepan, stirring frequently, until edges of bacon crisp. Lower heat to medium low and drain all but one tablespoon of bacon grease (or drain bacon grease and add one T olive oil). Add shallots and garlic and sauté until tender and translucent. Stir in tomato paste and cook for one minute, then add wine. Stir in and cook until half reduced.

Add tomatoes and liquid, breaking them up with your spoon. Once you’ve got the tomatoes at the desired texture, add the oregano, thyme, salt, sugar/honey and pepper. Stir well and bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes. Add torn basil leaves and cook until wilted. Toss half the sauce with pasta (whatever type you like, but we prefer it with thick pasta), then top with another spoonful of sauce and grated parmesan.

Bacon Leek Risotto

We’ve been experimenting with risotto lately. Now that I’m an avowed maker of my own stocks, I occasionally have more than I can store and risotto is a great way to use up 4-6 cups at a time. Plus, the ritual of adding the broth and stirring is strangely relaxing. We stocked up on Arborio and Carnaroli rice on our road trip to Italy, so we’ve got plenty of risotto ingredients. This recipe from the (adorably named) blog Rootie Tootie Fresh & Foodie has been a go-to of ours for a while now.

5 c chicken broth
1 T olive oil
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 leeks, sliced into rounds
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 c Arborio rice
3/4 c dry white wine
3 T chopped parsley (plus more for topping)
1 T butter
2 T parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for topping)

Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan and cover to keep warm.

Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until edges are beginning to crisp. Remove bacon drippings except for 1 tablespoon and add leeks to skillet. Stir leeks frequently (if pan seems dry, add a little more olive oil) until beginning to soften. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for another 2 minutes.

Add rice to skillet, stir well until all grains are glossy, about 2 minutes. Add wine to skillet and stir until absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth (about 1 ladle-full) to skillet and stir constantly. When most of the broth is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup and repeat this process (always stirring) until rice is tender but firm to bite and sauce is creamy – about 20-25 minutes.

When you’re happy with the texture, add the parsley, butter and cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and remove from heat. Allow risotto to stand for 1-2 minutes before serving.