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Posts Tagged ‘white wine’

Alright, so I don’t just cook for Uichiro when he’s here, I also cook for Tamiko. She’s a huge fan of Italian food as well as seafood. That said, I thought a nice pasta with clams would be just the trick. With Uichiro back in Japan already, this dish would also make him a little jealous since he’s probably eating a take-home bento box right now. Sorry Uichiro.

I wanted to get all of the sand and grit out of the clams so the first thing I did was purge them. To do that all I did was rinse them real well in cold water and then let them sit in cold salt water with some cornmeal for about 2 hours. What this does is trick them into thinking that the cornmeal is sand so it cycles it through spitting out any real sand in the process. Just before cooking I rinsed them again in fresh cold water. Since I was cooking for 3 I used 15 clams. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Iris Tsai (Ming’s mom) it’s that 5 is a good number for a plate of food.

One of my side dishes was a simple bruschetta. I prepared that ahead of time so that come dinner all I had to do was toast the bread and top it. I used some fresh basil chopped up, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan, 3 tomatoes diced, 1 garlic clove peeled, 1.5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a some ciabatta.

In a glass bowl I whisked together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and parmesan along with some salt and pepper until it was emulsified. Then I added the tomatoes and basil and mixed it thoroughly. I wrapped it up and put it in the fridge until dinner time. That way, all I had to do was toast the bread, rub the garlic over the toast, and then top it with the tomato-basil mix.

I also made a simple Italian bean and vegetable soup. I used one carrot cut into half moons, 14oz can of cannellini beans, 1 cup chicken stock, 1/2 onion diced, 1 garlic clove minced, and a large handful of baby spinach.

I threw everything except for the beans into a pot and brought it up to a boil. I covered the pot, turned the heat down to med-low, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Then I added the beans and let it simmer for another 3 minutes. Since the beans were canned I had no need to cook them, just heat them through. A little salt and pepper and that’s all she wrote for this one.

My final side dish was simple roast asparagus. I cleaned up 15 spears and drizzled them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan. They went into a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Finally, the main event! For the pasta I used 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, 1/4 cup of white wine, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 6oz capellini (I didn’t actually use spaghetti because I already had some capellini open in my cupboard), 1 garlic clove thinly sliced, and my clams.

In a large pot of boiling salt water I cooked the pasta until about 2 minutes before al dente. I reserved a ladle of the pasta water and drained the noodles and set them aside.

While that was going on I heated up my large pan and poured in the olive oil. I added the garlic and let it sautee until it turned a light golden brown, then I added the red pepper flakes. I swirled that all around for about 15 seconds to make sure the flavors mixed into all of the oil. Then I poured in the wine, added the clams, covered the pan, and let the clams cook for about 6 minutes or so until they were all opened up. If any clams don’t open then throw them away, they’re dead. Fortunately, all 15 of these were alive and well…that is until I killed them in my spicy garlicky wine sauce!

Once the clams were open I set them aside in a bowl and poured the reserved pasta water into the pan. Once it came to a boil I added the noodles and let them cook in the wine sauce for about 2 minutes. Then I added the clams back, along with any juices that accumulated in the bottom of the bowl, as well as the parsley. I tossed it all around and then served everything up, Buon Appetito!

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Besides being a great Japanese housewife, I also have a little Italian bosom to me. I’m very worldly for being a midwestern Jewish man. The other night I made a classic Southern Italian Chicken and Pepper Stew along with a Tuscan-style soup. Instead of a Tuscan Bean Soup that uses cannelloni beans I used chickpeas, simply because I had a can in my cupboard.

The soup couldn’t be simpler. I used 1 bunch of kale chopped, 1 onion sliced, 3 garlic cloves diced, 1 quart of chicken stock, and 1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed.

I put everything except for the chickpeas in a pot along with a couple of bay leaves. I brought it up to a boil, covered the pot, turned the heat to med-low, and let it simmer for about 45 minutes so that the kale would get nice and tender. I didn’t add the chickpeas until a few minutes before dinner time. Since they were canned the didn’t need to be cooked, just heated. I seasoned with salt and pepper just before serving.

For the chicken I used about 1/4 cup of parsley chopped, 1/2 onion sliced, 3 cloves of garlic diced, 2 plum tomatoes skinned and diced, 1 dry pint of sweet peppers seeded and sliced, 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks skinned with the bone in, and 1/2 cup of white wine.

In my pan I heated up about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sautéed the onion for about 6 minutes. I took the onion out, added another 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and added the chicken. I browned the chicken all over for a few minutes and then put the onion back in. I poured in the wine and let it reduce by half for about 5 minutes or so. Then I added the peppers and tomatoes, seasoned with salt and pepper, stirred it up really well, covered the pan, turned the heat down to med-low, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. I stirred it occasionally throughout the 30 minutes. Just before serving I mixed in the parsley. Another simple, yet delicious dish.

I got some nice crusty bread to serve with everything. I did make some white rice for Yuki since she needs rice in her guts. I stuck with the bread though so I could sop up all of the juices and dip into my soup.

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Yuki and I picked up some pre-flavored aburaage (deep-fried tofu) for inarizushi at the Assi Plaza the other day. So, last night for dinner she made some sushi rice with hijiki to stuff into them and I made a quick stew with a couple of kielbasa that I picked up from Andy’s last week. I mean really, what matches sushi better than Polish sausage?

Inarizushi is really simple to make. Yuki measured out the rice to make 2 cups in our rice cooker. After she poured in the water the put about 2 tablespoons of dried hijiki in and let it sit for about 30 minutes before turning the cooker on. Once the rice was cooked she dumped it into a large glass baking dish. I stirred it around while she fanned it to release the excess moisture. Then, she poured in a mixture containing 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a pinch of salt. I mixed that all in until the rice was cooled to room temperature. Prior to that Yuki took the aburaage and boiled it for a few minutes. Aburaage is covered in oil and by boiling it you can remove most of the oil. Then, it’s simply a matter of stuffing the rice into the packets, a job that fell into my hands. Make sure to keep a bowl of water nearby to keep your fingers wet otherwise the rice will stick and you’ll never get the aburaage filled.

For the kielbasa I sliced up half an onion, 1 yellow bell pepper, 3 cloves of garlic, half a long napa cabbage, and the two kielbasa. In a pot I heated up a tablespoon of olive oil and tossed in the onion, pepper, and garlic. I let those saute down for about 5 minutes and then added the kielbasa, I let that cook for about 4 minutes. Then I tossed in the cabbage and let it wilt down for about 4 minutes. I poured in 1/4 cup dry white wine and let it boil for a few minutes until it evaporated. Finally, I poured in a mixture of 1/4 cup soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of mustard. I let that boil down for about 5 minutes and that was it, just a little black pepper to season.

To serve, we put a shiso leaf underneath the inarizushi. We also served the extra rice because we made more than we could stuff into the aburaage.

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It doesn’t look like much in this picture, but last night I made some delicious pasta with scallops and vegetables. I had some things in my fridge I wanted to use up and pasta seemed like a good way to do it. While at the store I first went to the fish counter to figure out what to do. They just got in some really fresh bay scallops for $9.99 a pound, I couldn’t resist.

I had some cherry tomatoes to use up along with some asparagus, 3 cloves of garlic, a carrot, 1/2 onion, and 1/4 cup of white wine. To go with it I picked up a bulb of fennel (I only used half), some cremini mushrooms (I only used half the package), 1 pound of bay scallops. I chopped up all of the vegetables slicing the onion and fennel.

In a large hot skillet I poured in a good glug of olive oil, probably about 1/4 cup or so and then tossed in the garlic for about minute. Then I added the onion, carrot, and asparagus and let them go for about 4 minutes. Then I added the fennel and mushrooms for about another 4 minutes. Once all of the vegetables were slightly transparent I poured in the white wine and let it boil off for 3 minutes while seasoning with salt and pepper. After that I added the scallops which only needed about 2-3 minutes to cook. You never want to overcook scallops so always cook them a little less than you think.

While this was going on I cooked some angel hair pasta according to package instructions and drained them. Once the scallops were ready I tossed the cherry tomatoes in followed by the pasta and some basil I picked from my back porch. I tossed and tossed and tossed it all together so that the vegetables were incorporated throughout the pasta. Then I turned of the heat and served it up. Quick, simple, healthy, and delicious.

To eat with the pasta I toasted some bread and spread this delicious artichoke-garlic dip I have on top.

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I thought I had come up with a ground-breaking idea the other day when I conceptualized gnocchi made from tofu. Not quite sure how to go about doing it, but with a few ideas, I googled it. Much to my dismay, Craig Koketsu (chef at Park Avenue Spring and Quality Meats) had already done this. On the one hand I was a little upset because I can’t claim to be the first. On the other, it confirms my genius that a high-caliber chef had also come up with this idea. He did his as a re-imagined way to do Mabo Tofu. Mine was a Meatless Monday way to get protein into a dish. At any rate, I decided that it was best to use his recipe for the gnocchi themselves since it was already a proven method.

In a food processor I processed two 12 oz blocks of extra firm tofu along with 1 cup of tapioca flour and 1 tablespoon of salt. I’m not real sure why he used tapioca flour, but it is a finer ground than regular flour as well as being a better binder. It’s almost a cross between starch and flour. Once everything was well blended I poured it all into a large ziplock bag (I don’t have a piping bag, so I used the ziplock and snipped one of the corners off).

I brought a pot of water up to a high boil. After the mix had rested in the bag for about ten minutes I started to squeeze it out, snipping off approximately 1 inch lengths. I let it boil until the gnocchi had all started to float to the top. Then I drained them and chilled them in a bowl full of ice water. Once they chilled I drained them again and patted them dry, then set them aside until the sauce was ready.

To kind of bridge the gap between Italy and Asia I used a mix of vegetables that included 5 oz of sliced shiitake (instead of cremini), cherry tomatoes (during cooking I changed my mind and used a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes instead), 1 carrot chopped, 3 garlic cloves minced, some back porch basil, 1 celery rib halved and chopped, 6 green onions sliced, and a large handful of baby spinach (about 3-4 oz).

To make the sauce I heated up my pan and poured in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. I let the garlic gently fry for about a minute and then tossed in the carrot and celery. About 5 minutes later I added the shiitake and green onion. Once they were cooked down a little, maybe 3 minutes, I poured in 1/4 cup of white wine and let that boil away. After the wine had evaporated I poured in the can of diced tomatoes and seasoned with salt and pepper. Once the juice from the can of tomatoes started to boil I threw in the spinach and turned off the heat.

In about 1/4 cup of boiling water I threw in two portions of the gnocchi and let them heat up for about 2 or 3 minutes.

To serve, I took the gnocchi out of the water with a slotted spoon and laid them on the plate. I topped them with some of the sauce. Then I garnished with parmesan cheese and basil.

All in all this dish wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. The gnocchi were great and the sauce was ok, they just didn’t quite meld together they way I had it in my head. I make sauce like this quite often, but it is definitely better with regular pasta. As far as the gnocchi, I would try a Mabo Tofu next time as I think those flavors match tofu much better. This was not a complete failure, it just wasn’t a huge success. Lesson learned.

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Last night was the final performance of Millenium Park’s world music series. They had two different accordion players, and I have to say, that is one bad ass instrument! Now I need to work on my air accordion skills. It’s a lot of fun packing a picnic and hanging out at the park for free music (I say free, but let’s be honest, we already paid for it with our tax dollars). At any rate, I had to make a dinner that would taste good cold. I thought that poached salmon on corn salad would do the trick. As usual, I was right.

The first thing I did was roast some cherry tomatoes. I simply drizzled them with olive oil and then put them in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes. I set them aside to cool down before packing it all up.

For the corn salad I used two medium-sized zucchini, one red bell pepper, and three ears of corn. I grated the zucchini into a mesh sieve, sprinkled a little salt on it, and let the juices drain for about 20 minutes. Then I squeezed it as dry as I could and set it aside for cooking. For the bell pepper, I just diced it up.

After cleaning all of the silk off the corn I separated the kernels from the ears. This can be a little messy as kernels have been known to fly around the kitchen as you slice them off, in my kitchen at least. I find the easiest way to do this is to cut the ears in half first. Then, I take my cutting board and lay it over a large baking dish. This way, when I slice the kernels off they fall right into the baking dish instead of all over my counter and floor.

Save the cleaned ears, they have tons of flavorful juice in them. I used these to help flavor the poaching liquid for the salmon.

To make the salad I first sautéed about three tablespoons of diced shallots in some olive oil for about 5 minutes. Then I poured in 1/4 cup of white wine (I used the same White Burgundy that I planned on drinking with dinner) and let that boil away for about 3 minutes. Once the wine was boiled off I dumped in the corn, bell pepper, and 1/2 cup of water. I covered the skillet and let it go until the corn was softened a little, about 5 more minutes. After that I seasoned with salt and pepper and then threw in the zucchini. I stirred it all around to separate the zucchini (it will become a zucchini ball when squeezing out the liquid), let it cook for another 5 minutes, then turned off the heat and moved on to the salmon while it cooled down.

I picked up about 24 oz’s of really nice wild caught salmon, center cut so that it was uniform in thickness. I had the fishmonger skin it for me. Fishmongers have better knives for that job than I do, plus I didn’t want my garbage can to stink like rotting fish. It’s always a good idea to let the fishmonger skin and gut for you. I cut the salmon into 4 equal filets. Before putting the salmon in the poaching liquid I lightly seasoned it with salt.

For the poaching liquid I used 1 cup of the white wine, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 3 cups of water, 1 bay leaf, about 2 tablespoons of diced shallot, and the naked corn cobs. I brought that all up to a boil and let it go for about 5 minutes or so to let all of the corn juice mix into the liquid.

Once the corn juice was incorporated I took the cobs out, gently laid the salmon in, and turned the heat down so that the liquid was at a simmer instead of a vigorous boil. It should only take about 6 or 7 minutes for the salmon to cook all the way through.

After I took the salmon out I seasoned it lightly with salt again, and a little pepper. Then I drizzled just a little olive oil on top.

I got out my little Rubbermaid TakeAlongs and scooped a bunch of the corn salad in, topped it with a piece of salmon, laid in a few of the tomatoes, and garnished with some cilantro. I also brought some dinner rolls along. It was absolutely delicious! It also would have been tasty if I served it hot right off the stove top.

The only thing I did wrong was a miscalculation on the amount of corn salad. When I cook dinner during the week I try to make 4 portions so that Yuki and I have lunch for the next day as well. I came up one portion short on the corn. So, if you try this recipe and want 4 portions use 3 zucchini and 4 ears of corn. That should do the trick.

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I had an eggplant left from my shopping excursion to the HMart that I wanted to use last night. Not wanting to do my typical grilled-eggplant or stir-fry I decided to stuff it instead. Ground lamb seemed like the perfect partner.

Hollowing out an eggplant is a pretty easy thing to do. First, you have to cut it in half length-wise. Then, I took my pairing knife and cut around the edges of the eggplant about a quarter-inch from the skin, carefully making sure I didn’t pierce the skin. After that I cut a bunch of lines through the width and length.

With a small spoon (a serrated grapefruit spoon would work great, but don’t worry if you don’t have one, I don’t and I made it work with a regular spoon) carefully scoop out the flesh. Save the flesh as it’s going to be used later on. I sprinkled some salt all over the inside of the eggplant and then let them drain in a colander for about a half hour while I prepped the rest of the ingredients. This removes some of the bitter juices.

For the stuffing I diced up a green pepper, half an onion, a carrot, one tomato (I scraped out the seeds), some spinach, the eggplant flesh, three cloves of garlic, some rosemary from my back porch, a quarter cup of white wine, and 2/3’s pound of ground lamb.

I started off by sautéing the onion, green pepper, carrot, and garlic in a quarter cup of olive oil. Once the vegetables were slightly translucent, about 7 minutes, I added the eggplant flesh and let that cook down for another 7 minutes. Then I seasoned with salt and pepper and added the lamb. It took about 5 minutes or so for the lamb to be fully cooked. Once the lamb was broken down I poured in the wine, let it come to a boil, and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Then I turned off the heat, added the rosemary, spinach, and tomato, and stirred it all together.

I wiped the salt out of the eggplant skins before stuffing them with the lamb mixture. Fill them up over the top, as much as you can before it all falls out. There will be extra stuffing, just put it in the fridge and toss it in some pasta or something for lunch the next day. I laid the stuffed eggplant halves in a lightly olive oiled baking pan and threw it in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

I had just enough time to make creamy polenta while the eggplant cooked. In a stock pot I poured in 4 cups of water, some salt, a bay leaf, and 1 cup of polenta. That’s enough for 4 portions. I brought it up to a boil over high heat. Once boiling I slowly poured in about a quarter cup of olive oil and turned the heat down to medium. I continuously stirred for about 25 minutes, until the polenta started to pull away from the sides of the pot. At that time the eggplant was done and I was ready to serve.

I poured some polenta in the middle of the plates, put an eggplant on the polenta, and topped it all with some crumbled cotija cheese. I served some white rice on the side.

Overall this dish was delicious. If I ever make it again I would make a couple of changes though. First, I’d add some spice to the lamb mixture, maybe some cumin, or turmeric, or garam masala. Second, I wouldn’t put a bay leaf in the polenta. That was the first time I used bay in polenta. It gave it kind of a medicinal taste. Yuki said it tasted like Walgreens. It wasn’t that bad, just not what I wanted. Otherwise I’d keep everything about the same.

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