Vegetarian pasta carbonara

Photo 10.05.18, 9 31 07 PMPhoto 10.05.18, 9 31 40 PM

If this is the first time you are making pasta carbonara, save yourself the anxiety and resign to the reality that you will soon be enjoying pasta scrambled eggs. After comparing notes with a few other carbonara-enthusiasts, we reached a quorum, determining this must be fact: the soonest you can enjoy pasta carbonara is on the second attempt. It’s worth the trials and tribulations, though. It’s another great example of the versatility of the egg. Indeed, I, too, would choose the humble egg as my desert island ingredient. If you have 30 minutes, treat yourself: Essential Pépin: Egg-ceptional

Tip: Don’t make more than you can consume in one sitting. This dish doesn’t reheat well.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 250 g dry pasta (I used spaghetti noodles)
  • 2 eggs
  • 75 – 100 g grated hard cheese (e.g. pecorino, parmesean, asiago, or some such blend thereof)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • freshly crushed black pepper
  • your choice of smoked tofu or mushrooms
  • olive oil or butter
  • chopped parsley, as garnish
  • salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Fry the tofu in some oil, or sautee the mushrooms such that they brown slightly. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until it becomes fragrant.
  2. Take the skillet off the heat, letting it cool with the tofu or mushrooms. This is the most important step if you would like to avoid the pasta scrambled eggs scenario.
  3. Beat the eggs, pepper, and cheese together (but not too much). Set aside.
  4. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water (it usually takes me about 10 minutes).
  5. Drain the pasta, setting aside a bit of water (about 1/4 cup).
  6. Mix the pasta with the tofu/mushrooms in the skillet.
  7. Pour the egg and cheese mixture in the skillet and turn the pasta so that the egg coats each noodle well. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water to make it saucy.
  8. Turn the heat to medium low and continue to swirl the pasta around, watching carefully. You want the egg to thicken and become creamy, but not overcook.
  9. As soon as the consistency has changed to being creamy, take the pasta off of the heat and plate.
  10. Garnish with a bit of parsley and cheese.

 

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Blueberry Honey Yogurt Cake

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I’m noticing a trend with myself, blueberries and cake (Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake, Lemon Blueberry Bread). Is the perfect blueberry cake my white whale? Or do I simply have an unconscious affinity for blueberries? Anyway. I got to try out a couple new techniques with this recipe, and so it was deemed blog-worthy. Two thoughts:

  1. What’s it like to whip egg whites into soft peaks without the aid of a kitchen appliance? (Answer: Surprisingly, it’s not that much work to do manually; Amy gives this method an A+ and continues to espouse the viewpoint that most kitchen gadgets are a scam.)
  2. What does yogurt cake taste like, and would it imply sour cream cake (Smeteneh Küchen) is delicious? (Answer: Yogurt cake is unbelievably moist and Smeteneh Küchen cannot get in my belly fast enough.)

Yield: a 20 cm cake

Ingredients

Dry bits

  • 100 g rolled oats
  • 100 g almond meal
  • 80 g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet bits

  • 100 g butter, cubed
  • 160 ml honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 250 ml plain unsweetened yogurt (I used 3.8% fat yogurt, but next time I’m going to spring for the 10% fat Greek yogurt, or skip directly to the sour cream.)
  • 300 g blueberries (I had a 50-50 split of fresh and frozen, separated)
  • optional: whipped cream as a topping

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Grease the springform (either with butter or a bit of olive oil).
  3. Using a food processor or a blender, blend the oats until the texture resembles coarse flour.
  4. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  5. Separately combine the butter, honey, and lemon zest in another vessel. Mix until creamy.
  6. Add the yogurt and the egg yolks, mix, and don’t over stir.
  7. Combine the dry bits into the wet bits in thirds, and stir this until the lumps are gone.
  8. In another clean and dry bowl, whip the egg whites by hand until you get soft peaks. Take the opportunity to develop your non-dominant arm’s beating muscles.
  9. Fold the egg whites and the frozen blueberries in the dough, careful not to over-mix as this will result in a flat and compact cake, completely wasting all the lift you just whipped into the egg whites.
  10. Pour the cake batter in the springform and scatter the remaining blueberries over the top.
  11. Bake for 1 hour.
  12. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before attempting to liberate it (into your mouth).
  13. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if you wish.

 

 

Turkish Eggs

I’m not sure if words can properly encapsulate precisely how delicious these eggs are – imagine creamy, garlicky, brown buttery, chili, egg yolky, soft, warm, crunchy toasty goodness? I guess, if you like Eggs Benedict, then you will like Turkish Eggs. Eat this with a thick slice of toast or on the lucky half of a Rye English Muffin.

One of my favorite parts of this recipe is how nearly everything is to taste – use as much or as little as you feel like.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg, chilled in the refrigerator
  • a knob of butter
  • a spill of olive oil
  • a dash of chili (on my wish list is some Aleppo pepper, but sadly our resident Indian has issued a stop order on all new varieties of pepper in this household; apparently there are simply too many bottles in the cabinet…)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed (my Boo, Jacques, is about to crack an egg of knowledge on you)
  • a bit of yogurt
  • a slice of bread
  • a sprinkle of salt

Directions

  1. Mix the yogurt, garlic, and salt together. Set it aside.
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter until it starts hissing at you. Then add the olive oil and pepper, frying lightly until the pepper blooms. Then take this off the heat and set aside.
  3. Poach your egg. I’ve tried a variety of techniques (who hasn’t?), and this is the easiest way. My favorite part of the post is in the last paragraph, “Be warned: once you have this technique down, you may find that everything looks like a piece of toast.”
  4. Decide on the best way to consume the eggs – either as pictured above (toast + yogurt + egg + yogurt + butter) or more classically Turkish: spoon some yogurt into a bowl, place the egg in the middle, and create a butter moat around the egg. Use the toast as an edible shovel.

Rye English muffins

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Is it strange that I would wear a perfume if it smelled like caraway seeds? I have the same feeling about the way dill smells, too. (Note to self: What would soap with caraway seeds be like? Dill soap is probably not going to turn out good…) Something about this rye smell is so intoxicating to me; it’s all I can do to hold myself together when the scent wafts my way. My inner dialogue goes something like this, “Focus, woman! Keep yourself together! No! Stop it! Oh good god, this again…”

In my tremendously subjective opinion, the caraway seeds elevate the humble English muffin to near-divine status and complement both sweet and savory palates.

Yield: 16 muffins

Ingredients

Wet Bits

  • 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water

Dry Bits

  • 2/3 cup Dinkelmehl
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (next time, I will try Vollkornmehl for a more interesting texture)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp whole caraway seeds

Other Wet Bits

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 30 g butter
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Other Dry Bits

  • cornmeal or rava/semolina for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Warm the Other Wet Bits and add it to the yeast mixture. Make sure it’s not too hot; we don’t want to cook the yeast to death.
  3. Mix the Dry Bits together well and add it in thirds to the Wet Bits. The dough will be quite shaggy. Knead it until stretchy and cohesive, about 5 minutes or so.
  4. Remove the dough from your bowl temporarily in order to grease the sides and bottom with some butter or oil. Then add the dough back to the bowl, cover, and let it rise for about 1 hour at room temperature.
  5. Sprinkle a baking sheet covered with a piece of parchment paper with some cornmeal/rava.
  6. Divide the dough into 16 balls, and place them on the baking sheet, flattening them slightly. Sprinkle some more cornmeal/rava over them.
  7. Cover loosely and let them rest for another 30 minutes at room temperature, or set them up in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them (for up to 3 days).
  8. Heat the oven to 120 C.
  9. Heat a skillet on the stove top with some oil.
  10. Fry each side of the muffin in the skillet, about 5 minutes per side.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  12. Let them cool for about 10 minutes, and then tuck in.

Paella, revisited

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Yeah, I know I already made paella… But this one is different. And I like it better. The garlicky sauteed trumpet mushrooms are my favorite part.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • three trumpet mushrooms, chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 6 tomatoes, diced (about 300g)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp saffron, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of green peas
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • vegetarian chorizo or quartered vegetarische klößchen
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup of paella rice (risotto/arborio rice will also do)
  • lemon wedges
  • chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Heat the butter in medium heat.
  2. Brown the mushrooms with half of the garlic in the butter. Mushrooms lose a lot of water when you sautee them, and they only brown once the water is gone. This will take some time. Once most of the water is gone, try not to disturb the mushrooms too much so that they can develop their crispy crust.
  3. Add the remaining garlic and onions. Cook until the onions are soft.
  4. Fold in the bell pepper.
  5. After some fond develops on the bottom of the pan, stir in the rice, tomato paste, pepper, salt, and paprika. Lightly fry the rice for about a minute.
  6. Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth.
  7. Stir in the saffron and bay leaves.
  8. Bring the pot to boil, then stir in the green peas and vegetable chorizo/ballchens.
  9. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  10. When the rice is more or less done (only very mildly grainy), take the pan off the heat and set aside, covered, for 10 more minutes.
  11. Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with parsley.

Puff Pastry Samosas

 

Sometimes, I feel guilty about the ungodly amount of time I spend thinking about food. But then I remember my love of dumplings and how many people also share it – the dumpling mania transcends multiple cultural barriers.

Great clip on making dumplings and dumpling parties.

Some examples (not in any particular order and obviously only as complete as my experience has permitted):

  • Vietnamese dumplings: Bánh Bao, Bánh Ít
  • Chinese dumplings: Shumai, Bao, Wonton
  • Japanese dumplings: Gyoza, Daifuku
  • Korean dumpling: Mandu
  • South American dumpling: Empanada
  • Italian dumplings: Tortellini, Ravioli
  • Eastern European dumpling: Pierogi
  • Nepalese dumpling: Momo
  • Indian dumplings: Samosa, Kozhukatta

Now I’m no poet, but if I were at all skilled in this area, there could be an Ode to Dumplings (or multiple).

In my limited foray in the samosa world, I’ve found them to fall most often on the thick crust side of the dumpling line. For me, the best part of the dumpling is the filling, so  puff pastry offers an agreeable solution to my gripes about thick samosa crusts.

Yield: 16 samosas

Ingredients

  • one package of puff pastry, rolled a little and cut into 16 squares
  • some flour for rolling out the dough
  • 3 small potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 cup of cauliflower florets (about 1/4 of a smallish head)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 medium-small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of green peas
  • chopped cilantro
  • a bit of olive oil and a brush

Directions

Steaming

  1. Steam the potatoes, cauliflower and carrots for 10 minutes, or until they are soft.

Filling

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet and add the mustard seeds. Cover this with a lid, and wait for them to pop. Careful not to leave them too long, otherwise they will burn.
  2. When the time between pops increases noticeably, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Only let the spices bloom for about 5-10 seconds.
  3. Immediately add the ginger, garlic, and chili. Stir well.
  4. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add the onion.
  5. Once the onion becomes soft, stir in the curry powder and cook for 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the steamed vegetables and the green peas.
  7. Add salt to taste.
  8. When the vegetable mixture becomes a bit dry, take this off the heat.
  9. Stir in the cilantro.
  10. Let it cool uncovered for about 10 minutes. Stuffing hot and moist filling in a dumpling is not fun.

Assembly

  1. Heat the oven to 200 C.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Spoon about 1-2 tbsp of filling into each puff pastry square and fold the edges on the diagonal. Seal it shut with the tines of a fork. Poke some air holes at the top of the samosa and place it on a cookie sheet. Resist the urge to overstuff the samosa.
  4. Brush each samosa lightly with olive oil.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden-brown.
  6. Serve with your favorite chutney.

 

Aglio e Olio Broccoli Toast

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My spirit vegetable is garlic.

I’ve been in a “back to basics” cooking mood as of late, and which cuisine is better for this than Italian food? Dead simple recipes with fresh ingredients prepared in less than 30 minutes. But after the 6th pasta night, a girl goes a little stir crazy. Here’s an American twist on the classic Italian knock out.

Yield: 6 open faced sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 6 slices toast
  • 1/2 kg broccoli florets (make them small)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • juice and zest from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesean cheese
  • 6 slices of mild cheese (e.g. Provolone, Young Gouda, Swiss, etc)

Directions

  1. Steam the broccoli for 2-3 minutes.
  2. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper in medium-low heat. The garlic should not brown, but rather become very fragrant. Do this for about 10 minutes, or until you can see the oil start to turn a bit red from the chili flakes.
  3. Add the broccoli, lemon juice, lemon zest, Parmesean cheese and salt to taste.
  4. Spoon the mixture over each slice of toast.
  5. Place one slice of cheese on top of each sandwich.
  6. Broil the sandwiches until the cheese gets bubbly and turns a little brown – maybe around 4 minutes.