Category Archives: Pantry

Corn Spaghetti

That’s right kids, corn spaghetti. I dabble in gluten-free cookery from time to time, as I’m slightly sensitive to the stretchy stuff. Usually I feel tired, bloated, and cranky when I’ve had more than a little gluten, so I keep it to a minimum. That means I’m always trying new GF products and recipes.

I got this corn spaghetti at Whole Foods, so I’m sure it’s pretty widely available. It cooks up just like any other pasta, and it’s surprisingly mild. The taste is reminiscent of corn tortillas, but since it’s cooked in water, it doesn’t have the distinct taco taste.

My first dish with this was simply dressed with a little olive oil, salt, and red pepper. I can imagine it would be great in sopa seca, the Mexican noodle casserole.  It would also be good in a take on Shanghai pan-fried noodles, or anything else that features fried noodles.

I’d totally buy this again, and I’ll keep you posted when I make a more complex recipe with it.

Has anyone else tried corn spaghetti? What did you think?

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Filed under gluten-free, Pantry, review, Side Dish

The Newest Year

Happy Inauguration Day! It feels like New Year’s Day, for real this time. This is the newest year we’ve had in a decade, maybe more. So in honor of this fresh start, I cooked up a quick (gotta have time to watch all the coverage) and cheap (economy won’t recover overnight) meal full of luck-bringing foods.

This quick semi-stir-fry has all the beans, greens, and pork of a traditional New Year’s feast, and using dried chickpeas and frozen spinach makes it affordable and healthy – not to mention delicious.

What are you up to on this historic day?

Inauguration Beans

  • 1 small Mexican chorizo, (about 3oz) casing removed, crumbled
  • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked and drained (canned is ok)
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach (or fresh if it’s handy)
  • 1 Tbs snipped fresh basil

Sautee the chorizo over medium high heat about 4 minutes. Drain as much of the fat as you can, probably about 2 Tbs. Stir in the chickpeas and cook 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook a few more minutes, until heated all the way through. Turn off the heat. Snip the basil over the spinach and stir in. Serves 2 as a side, can be multiplied indefinitely.

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Filed under Main Dish, Pantry, Recipe, Vegetables

Getting with the Program

I’ve been more than a little zoned-out lately, and even though I’ve been cooking, I haven’t had the drive to publish photos and recipes. (Like that’s never happened to you.) I spend long hours at work, and by the time I’m home at night (after a yoga class if I’m lucky) I’m totally uninterested in anything else that takes mental or physical energy. (Cry me a river, right?) Most of the food I’ve made in the past few months has been very simple – the kind of thing that I think doesn’t merit measurement or recording – and I’ve been eating more prepared foods, both good and bad (Sabra hummus, Luna bars, street meat and Rainbow falafel) than ever before.

In an effort to slow my simultaneous eventual downswing both into expensive just-ok convenience food and total thoughtlessness about said convenience food, I’m going to start posting some of the things I toss together when I’m home and have 15 minutes free. I’m also going to start a new category, Deskmates, to chronicle the little snacks, goodies, and concoctions that fuel my workday.

So. Here’s the first step back into the weblog program.

Tonight I was craving yogurt-marinated lamb with a pile of yieldingly soft braised nappa cabbage. But the nearest grocery store is almost a block away, so I decided to ignore my craving and make do with my admittedly ample pantry ingredients. It turned out to be much quicker and it allowed me to avoid putting on flip-flops and spending 10 minutes away from home. I know, it’s pretty sad. But at least if this trend continues, I’ll be able to make room  in my cupboards for more homemade jam and pickles.

So I rooted through a cupboard, and behind my spice grinder and a cardboard canister of rolled oats was a lonely can of tuna. I pulled that out, and remembered the shelled edamame in the freezer. Some shredded carrot and ginger, soy sauce and rice vinegar, rounded out the motley crew into a delicious asian-inspired salad. It turned out to be just what I needed, and all that fresh clean protein and vegetable matter gave me the energy to make a quick dessert, too (recipe to come). This is shaping up to be a program I think I can stick to – at least when it involves meals like this.

Tuna, Carrot, and Edamame Salad for a Lazy Sunday

  • 1 can of tuna packed in water, drained
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 c frozen shelled edamame
  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger, grated on a microplane
  • 3 Tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce ( I used wheat-free low-sodium tamari)
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Korean red pepper flakes

Put a small pot with about 1 quart of water on to boil. Measure 1/2c frozen edamame and set aside. Grate the carrot into a medium bowl. Add the ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, oil and red pepper and stir with a fork. Scrape the tuna on top. When the water boils, add the edamame and cook until bright green and tender, about 4 minutes. Strain and dump into the bowl. Stir everything together and add more vinegar or soy sauce if you like. Eat with a fork while checking your RSS feeds for the first time in a week. Feel stronger.

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Filed under Main Dish, Meat & Fish, Pantry, Recipe, Vegetables

Mujadara

Tuesday it was about 95 degrees, and despite the heat, I was hungry. Rather than order takeout or eat raw seasonal vegetables like any sensible person, I ended up cooking the plainest of pantry staples. I don’t know why, exactly, but I was craving mujadara. It’s a mixture of rice, lentils and onion, and not much else besides a little salt and olive oil. It sounds dull at first, but the way the sweet caramelized onions slither amongst the rice and lentils melding the flavors, is nothing short of extraordinary. I’ve had versions of mujadara that involve herbs, spices, stock, and vegetables, but when I make it at home, I like to give the stage to the trio of rice, lentil, and onion. This version uses brown rice and red lentils because that’s what I happened to have on hand, but it would be equally delicious with the traditional long-grain white rice and brown lentils or any other rice or lentil you can find. The cooking times for each would just need to be adjusted.

My method of cooking red lentils is a little unorthodox, but it’s necessary for these delicate little lentils. If I cook them like other lentils, no matter how gently I simmer them they always seem to dissolve into a potful of mush. Sometimes that’s perfect, but for this recipe, they need to keep their structural integrity.

I’ve been having this for lunch all week, accompanied by watermelon, juicy apricots, and sunburn. It was totally worth the steamy evening in the kitchen.

Mujadara

For the lentils:

  • 1 1/4 c red lentils
  • 1 1/2 c water

For the rice:

  • 1 c brown rice
  • 1 1/2 c water

For the onions:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c water (may not need all of it)
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Start with the lentils. Bring their 1 1/2 c water and 1/2 tsp salt to a rolling boil. Stir in the lentils and return to a boil for 2 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring gently and re-covering after 30 minutes. The key is to let the lentils absorb water at their own pace. The salt toughens them just enough to let them hold their shape.

While the lentils are soaking, get the rice going. Rinse the rice in a fine mesh sieve, then put in a small pot with the 1 1/2 c water. Cover and bring to a boil, which takes about 5 minutes. Reduce to low heat and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat, keeping covered, and let stand 15 minutes.

During that half-hour when the rice is cooking and the lentils soaking, start on the onions. Dice the onion (or slice into half-moons, but I prefer smaller pieces), making sure the pieces are all about the same size. Heat the ordinary olive oil in a large skillet and add the onions once the oil shimmers. Add the salt and stir, then reduce heat to medium. Stir ever two or three minutes until the onions lose most of their moisture. Then turn down the heat keep stirring at short intervals. Eventually, the sugar in the onions will begin to caramelize and stick to the pan. The darker they are, the more flavorful, but be careful not to burn them. Splash a tablespoon or two of water into the pan to deglaze it and pick up the fond (that sweet dark pan-crust). Keep stirring until your onions are a rick golden brown, about 25 minutes, then turn off the heat.

Stir the extra virgin olive oil into the onions. Fluff the rice with a fork and stir that into the pan of onions, too. (If your skillet is getting full, you can transfer the contents to a mixing bowl. Gently fold the lentils into the rice mixture, taste, and add more salt if needed.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Filed under Main Dish, Pantry, Recipe, Side Dish

Caramel Coulant

I haven’t posted in over a week, as I’ve barely been able to cook anything more interesting than oatmeal. Yes, I have so-called reasons: I’m at work most of the day and trying to see my friends in the evening, and there was that appetite-negating heat wave. But it’s all just an elaborate excuse for not sticking to my guns. Oh, for shame!

The worst of it is, I’ve been neglecting this recipe for The Wednesday Chef‘s role-reversal project. I’ve had the Caramel Coulant recipe in hand almost a month without doing so much as buying a half-pint of cream. I finally made it a few days ago and took some pictures, and I’m glad to have at least one recipe checked off the infinite to-do list.

Thanks to Luisa for implementing this Freaky Friday-esque scheme. Swing by her site for full disclosure!

And just for posterity, here’s the recipe.

Caramel Coulant
For the caramel sauce:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 ½ tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup milk

For the coulant:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch of fleur de sel
  • ¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the sugar and ¼ cup water in a pot. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and deglaze with the cream, standing back to avoid bubbling caramel. Add the butter and milk. (It will bubble again.) Stir until well incorporated. Let cool. (The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated.)
2. Spray 5, 4-ounce ramekins with cooking spray; cover the inside of the ramekin with sugar and remove excess. Place on a sheet pan.
3. Make the coulant by warming 1/3 cup caramel sauce in a medium saucepan; then stir in the butter and fleur de sel. Off the heat, stir in the sugar, then flour, then eggs, adding the next just after the prior has been combined. Pour the mixture two-thirds of the way into each ramekin. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, turning the sheet pan halfway through, until the shell is cakelike but the center is flowing. Let cool. When ready to serve, rewarm the cakes in the ramekins for a few minutes. Place a serving plate over the ramekin and flip it to release the coulant. Serve with salted caramel ice cream.

Serves 5. Adapted from Nicole Kaplan at Eleven Madison Park, New York.

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Filed under Baked, Pantry, Recipe, Sweets

Work n Roll

This evening I got out all my sushi-making supplies and made some rolls to get me through the working week. I used brown medium-grain rice (didn’t remember to get more sushi rice when out, didn’t want to go back out), and cooked it pretty much the way I cook sushi rice, but with more water and for a longer time. I filled the rolls with batons of pickled daikon, fresh cucumber, slender blanched asparagus, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and a streak of Sriracha. All my favorite sushi vegetables together in one roll, at long last.

I’ve only made sushi once before, so the first roll of this batch was a little loose. But by the time I got to the last one, I was able to turn out a compact, even roll with all the vegetables nicely centered. I’m already thinking of all the things I’d like to roll up in rice and seaweed: avocado (note to self: buy one tomorrow so it will ripen by next week), kimchi, cooked & drained tatsoi, mango, chives, carrot, all kinds of pickles, pear, mushrooms, and watercress stems. What else should I try?

Though I think these rolls turned out well, there;s one thing I’ll do differently next time. I couldn’t find a recipe for brown sushi-style rice in under two minutes, so I made one up. The top half of the rice was perfect, but the bottom half was a little soggy. So I’ll reduce the water, and I’ve noted that change in the recipe below. I cut two rolls into eight pieces each and tucked them (minus the two slices I ate for quality conrol) into the bottom of my steel lunchbox. The other two I left whole and wrapped in plastic to keep them from drying out until I get to use them.

I’m so looking forward to lunch tomorrow.

Vegetable Sushi

For the rice:

  • 1 cup brown medium grain rice (or short-grain, if you can)
  • 1 1/2 c water, plus more for rinsing
  • 1 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Measure the rice into a bowl and cover with water. Stir with your hands, then drain the cloudy water – a fine-mesh strainer makes this foolproof. Repeat the rinsing and draining 3 times, then put the rice and 1 1/2 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 30 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. (Don’t uncover the pot during these 40 minutes.) In the meantime, stir vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until sugar and salt dissolve. When the rice’s time is up, add it to the bowl and gently stir to coat each grain with the vinegar mixture. Spread the rice up the sides of the bowl and let cool to room temperature. Makes about 3 cups.

For the rolls:

  • 4 sheets nori
  • Sushi rice (above)
  • 4 spears asparagus, blanched (boil 1 minute, cool in ice water)
  • 4 batons pickled daikon (about 1/2-inch thick)
  • 4 batons cucumber (about 1/4-inch thich)
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • Sriracha chili sauce, optional

Lay one sheet of nori on your sushi mat, shiny side down. Cover with 1/4 of the cooled sushi rice, leaving 1/2-inch bare at the side of the nori farthest from you. Wet your hands and rice paddle to make spreading easier. Sprinkle the rice with 1/2 tsp sesame seeds. Arrange 1 of each vegetable in the center of the roll, and squeeze a thin stripe of Sriracha alongside. Using your mat, bring the side of the rice-covered nori closest to you up and over the vegetables and press. Pull the mat away from you with one hand, keep the other on the sushi lump inside the mat, and roll all in one go, thinking cylindrical thoughts all the while. Unroll your mat and inspect your sushi log. If it seems a little loose, you can tighten it a bit with your mat. Making a good roll takes practice, and you’ll improve noticeably by your fourth try.

Slice each roll into eighths, and eat with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger (all available at Asian grocery stores). Since they’re just vegetables and rice, these rolls will keep in the refrigerator 2 days when cut, and about a week uncut.

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Filed under Main Dish, Pantry, Recipe, Side Dish, Vegetables

Sunrise Mart

Today, just before the torrential downpour, I walked through Soho to Sunrise Mart on Broome Street to stock up on my favorite Japanese foods.  There’s a little Japanese store in Astoria, too, but I had other errands in Soho.  I’ve decided to start making my own sushi rolls for weekday lunches to save time, especially since if I don’t bring lunch, there’s no guarantee I’ll make an effort to eat at work.

I bought:

Nori sheets to make sushi to take to work

Bamboo sushi-rolling mat

Matcha for drinks and desserts

Seaweed salad

A huge pickled daikon, shown above after I sliced it

Wheat-free low-sodium Tamari

A red bean cake I ate in the store’s cafe section

Detox foot pads (not convinced they’ll do anything, but they were there and I’m curious)

Dried anchovies as a snack, and possible lunchbox treat when dressed with chili and sesame oil

Mmm.  But even after all that shopping, I got home and realized I was down to 1/2 cup sushi rice and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar.  I used them to make one asparagus and radish roll, and now I need to re-stock.  Which is fine – I love grocery shopping!

Sunrise Mart

494 Broome Street

New York, NY 10013

212-219-0033

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Filed under Pantry, review, Things I Did Not Cook