Friday, January 30, 2015

Quinoa Salad

Just like spaghetti squash, quinoa was something I tried making years ago, was not a big fan with the end result probably due to the recipe used and therefore never had an incentive to return to it.  But just like the spaghetti squash, this is just another example of why you should try something more than once before completely writing it off.  After having an absolutely delicious quinoa salad at Saha’s around the holidays, I decided to give it another shot http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/12/warm-quinoa-salad-with-romesco-sauce.html and now I am on my third recipe in less than 2 months, perfect timing for trying to eat healthier. 

This recipe came from the San Leandro Times that I cut out probably years ago since the paper is discoloring but just never got around to making it.  Better late than never right?  I did make many substitutions to use what I had on hand and/or left out and/or cut down certain ingredients based on taste which I just placed under notes and it still came out delicious. 

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
2 ears corn, roasted and cut off cob
1 red bell pepper, roasted and chopped
1 (15 oz.) can black beans rinsed and drained
3 scallions
½ cup chopped cilantro
3 limes juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Preparation

  1. Rinse quinoa in cold water and drain
  2. Put quinoa and broth in medium saucepan and bring to a boil
  3. Cover and simmer for about 15 min until liquid absorbed and quinoa tender
  4. In large bowl, mix together cooked quinoa, corn, pepper, beans, scallion, and cilantro
  5. In small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, and seasonings
  6. Pour over the quinoa mixture
  7. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes to let flavors set

Note:

  1. Corn is not in season right now so I use frozen corn which I sautéed in a pan with the black beans to warm them both up which I prefer vs cold anyways
  2. I usually don’t have vegetable broth on hand so I just cooked the quinoa in mixture of 1 cup water and 1 cup chicken broth instead
  3. Left out scallions and cayenne pepper and just put in a couple of shakes of salt and pepper shaker vs. full ½ tsp of salt and full ¼ tsp of pepper
  4. I personally like cilantro, so I added another handful on top
Price:  $5 for 4 servings = $1.25 per serving



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Japchae

Having successfully made the bibimbap my first try at a Korean dish, I decided to expand my repertoire and finally get around to making Japchae.  So a couple of weeks ago since I was in Oakland all day, I decided to stop by the Koreana Plaza to check it out and to look for the glass noodles.  First bag I picked up was from China so I hunted around until I found a bag of sweet potato glass noodle that was from Korea.  Since I was trying out new Rachael and Kelsey recipes last week, I never got around to this until now. 

After a weekend of indulgence for me with a belated birthday dinner at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon and a restaurant week dinner at Rivoli, I literally gained 2 pounds since Friday.  So much for my motto of moderation, so back to more veggies again.  The last dish we cooked was the Ground Pork with Salted Fish - http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/03/steamed-ground-pork-with-salted-fish.html  which I thought I could crumble the leftovers and incorporate into this dish for the protein. 

Ingredients

Glass Noodles – 3.5 oz per serving
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil
4 Shitake Mushrooms – if dry, reconstitute it in water for a couple of hours and wash it before slicing
3 Carrots julienned
1-2 tbsp Onion chopped
1-2 cloves Garlic chopped

Preparation

  1. Soak about 3.5-4 oz of glass noodles per serving in water for 20-30 minutes – sweet potato ones are usually the lower end at 20 min
  2. Boil the glass noodles in pot on high heat for 6 minutes
  3. Rinse in cold water and drain well
  4. Toss with a little sesame oil and soy sauce
  5. Heat a little sesame oil in pan and toss in garlic, onions, carrots, and shitake mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes until carrots are still tender crisp
  6. Add in cooked glass noodles while stirring in about 3tbsp of soy sauce total throughout different areas of the noodles to ensure all noodles are flavored
  7. I heated and crumbled my leftover ground pork with salted fish
  8. You can garnish with sesame seeds or green onions if you like
Note:

  1. Usually it includes spinach and dried wood ears as well but in my case of using what I have, it was just carrots and shitake mushrooms. 
  2. A bag of the glass noodles which is about a lb was less than $5 and 4 servings were only about half a bag or less
Price:  $4 for 4 servings = $1 per serving if just vegetarian + $2.25 per serving for the steamed pork with salted fish recipe = $3.25 total combining the two


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ratatouille over Polenta

I had made ratatouille only once paired with pasta around the time the movie came out.  So why has it taken so long to make it again?  It does take a bit of time prepping without Remy’s chopping and cooking skills or a sous chef.  But seeing it served over polenta enticed me to give it another shot and as mentioned with the past polenta recipes, buying a cup of polenta loose will only set you back less than a buck so I picked up my missing ingredients from Farmer Joe’s when I got my rotisserie chicken for the quinoa recipe without putting much of a dent in the wallet. 

Red Peppers:  $1.06
Eggplant:  89 cents
Zucchini:  $1.79
Polenta:  86 cents


Note: 

1.  Since I already had so many vegetables to prep, I left out the celery and red onions
2.  I never add parmesan directly into the pot of polenta as it just makes it even harder to clean later.  Sprinkling it on top makes it so much easier and a double duty to leave out the gremolata 
3.  I prefer using this recipe for making my polenta - http://cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/05/roasted-portobello-mushroom-and-blue.html
4.  To keep the polenta smooth and pourable, follow Rachael's tip of putting the pot into a larger pot of boiled water to create a bain marie for the polenta
5.  I did take the long way to roast my red peppers like how I did for the romesco sauce - http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/11/spaghetti-squash-with-romesco-sauce.html but doing it at the same time as the garlic meant it didn't take any additional time

Price:  $9 for 4 servings = $2.25 per serving


 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Squid Ink Fettucine

Having grown up back East, between New York and New Jersey, Italian food was readily available including our local Grand Union hot bar filled with baked ziti.  Good authentic Italian food was also within reach on a whim that upon moving back out to California, it was a bit of a “culture shock” for my stomach having limited and often mediocre at best Italian food.  It took over 15 years before I finally met my now favorite Italian restaurant in the Bay Area, Terra Mia for good family home cooking like Mamma and Nonna would make. 

So imagine my delight when I discovered the somewhat newly opened (late Aug 2014) Homemade Italian Company in San Francisco thanks to Yelp.  I quickly bookmarked it and then just as quickly ventured over there on a foggy Sunday morning and was warmly greeted by Alesandro with a glimpse of owner Alice Romagnoli working her magic on the daily dough in the background.  Moving to the US just about a year ago from Rimini in the Emilia-Romagna region, she with husband Mattia Cosmi from Fano in the Marche region gives you an escape to Italy right in the middle of the city by the Bay.  After a satisfying Gnocco Ripeno (spinach and ricotta stuffed gnocchi roll with meat ragu sauce) and Classica Piadina (prosciutto and arugula flatbread sandwich) – (check out luckylotus.yelp.com to see what I thought), over to the fresh made pasta case I went with most items $15/lb and immediately locked my eyes on the squid ink fettucine.  Maybe they specially made this for the fancy food show but I knew I had to have it with dreams of marrying it with a garlicky wine sauce.

Buon appetito!!

Ingredients

½ lb of Fresh Made Squid Ink Fettucini
Cooked Shrimp and/or 4-5 Dover Sole filets
1 tbsp olive oil
3 Cloves of Garlic minced
1/3 cup White Wine
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp lemon juice

Preparation

  1. Boil a pot of water and while water is heating up, start making your protein to go over it
  2. For the dover sole, I just used this recipe - http://www.tworecipesblog.com/2011/05/lemon-garlic-sole.html
  3. In a separate pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add minced garlic and cook until fragrant
  4. Add white wine and simmer it until the flavor melds together
  5. Add shrimp, butter and optional lemon juice until it has heat through.  For me since I had to keep a portion separate from shellfish, I scooped out half of the wine sauce before adding the shrimp and added it to the pan drippings the fish was cooked in to toss later with 1 serving of pasta. 
  6. Add salt into the boiling water and cook fresh pasta for about 4 minutes total or until desired consistency
  7. Drain and toss with the respective sauce letting it sit while tossing occasionally for about 5 minutes to absorb all the good flavors. 
Note: 

  1. Since fresh pasta has egg and not just semolina flour, it is best to keep it frozen before use to prevent the pasta from sticking and put into the boiling water straight from the freezer. 
  2. Best to use fresh pasta within 10 days of purchase
  3. Due to hubby’s shellfish allergy, I had to make some Dover Sole for additional protein but the ingredients and preparation in this post is just with shrimp.  The dover sole recipe is via the link.
  4. Although we only bought 2 servings worth of fresh pasta for about $7, we do have about ½ - 1 serving leftover
Price:  $9 for 2 servings = $4.50 per serving



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lemon Chicken Quinoa Soup

Two Kelsey’s Nixon’s recipes that piqued my interest from her guest spot on the Rachael Ray Show a week ago, must be a record!!  Does RR have a reason to be nervous?  Not if the 100+ RR or Rachael influenced recipes in this blog is any indication, including the warm quinoa salad tossed in Rachael’s Roasted Red Bell Pepper Romesco Sauce that I made a couple of months ago - http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/12/warm-quinoa-salad-with-romesco-sauce.html

So when I saw how simple Kelsey’s recipe was and that I have practically all the ingredients on hand including the half used bag of quinoa, I could not help making this hearty and healthy creation to ladle over a bed of quinoa.  Bacon and eggs one week, quinoa another, it is all about moderation. 


Notes: 

  1. I did not have fire roasted tomatoes so just used stewed tomatoes
  2. I prefer the leaner free range rotisserie chicken from Farmer Joe’s so it was a pricier $9 for what seems like half the size but you can easily use the $5 Costco roti chicken
Price:  $12 for 4 servings = $3 per serving


 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

For the most part, I am pretty good at using up all the staples I stock up on before the expiration date by ensuring that the later dates are always towards the back with the earlier expiration dates closer to the front after purchase for easy access when grabbing ingredients at the time of cooking.  So as I was cleaning out my pantry as part of my Chinese New Year cleaning, mainly discarding snacks and candies that I had been given over the year but rarely get around to eating, I found a box of no boil lasagna noodles with a best buy date within the next 2 months.  However, I have been out of Harris ground beef for about 2 ½ months now from my last stockup which is why my last two meatloaves were turkey, apropos for Thanksgiving though.

So as I was watching the Rachael Ray Show this week and her guest Kelsey Nixon was demonstrating a meat-free lasagna, I thought what a great idea to use up my box of lasagna noodles and not feel so bad if I wanted to eat an extra serving.  You can use any roasted vegetables so I had some carrots leftover from my bibimbap I made the day before and butternut squash from my last Trader Joe’s run, so I only had to pick up a couple of parsnips just to add a little variety. 


Note: 

  1. Like all other times I use the no boil noodles, I do like to dip the noodles in pre-boiled water for a minute to soften it up
  2. Instead of buying another tub of ricotta cheese, I stretched what was leftover from my spinach and artichoke pockets so had only about 12 oz and left out the eggs since I just made over easy eggs for my bibimbap the night before
  3. I did not have basil on hand so just left it out
Price:  $12 for 8 servings = $1.50 per serving



Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cheesy Cauliflower

OMG, if this is what cauliflower can taste like, I would eat an entire head in one sitting.  Warning that doing so is not recommended if you have gout problems though but for non gout sufferers, adding the garlic and herb Boursin soft cheese even less than half of what it asks for is enough to make it creamy and decadent, two words I would’ve never associated with cauliflower in the past.  Bonus in making it look like mash potatoes, it will make kids try it and like it before realizing what it is. 


Note: 

  1. I did not want to make a healthy item bad so I only used less than half of the Boursin it asks for and left out the parmesan altogether and it was still delicious. 
  2. Trader Joe’s tend to have the best prices for Boursin
  3. You may want to drain half of the chicken stock before mashing so it isn't too wet
Price:  $4 for 4 side servings = $1 per serving