Sunday, August 30, 2009

Shells and Broccoli

This is a really easy recipe that I found here.

1/3 cup pignoli (pine) nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese (I used fresh Parmesan Reggiano)
1 pound small shells (I used medium)
4 cups broccoli florets

Heat large pot of water to boiling for pasta. Toast pine nuts at 350 degrees F in oven until golden (6 to 8 minutes) or brown them in a skillet. Watch them carefully, or they will burn. Transfer to large serving bowl. Stir in oil and Parmesan.

Cook pasta until tender but firm to the bite. Place broccoli in colander and pour pasta and water over the broccoli. (The hot water will blanch the broccoli.)

Add pasta and broccoli to the ingredients in bowl. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

I bought a 2 oz package of pine nuts. This was slightly more than 1/3 cup.
I toasted the pine nuts in a skillet over a medium flame. It was easy to see when they were done.
The dish was pretty bland as cooked. I added a little salt and red pepper flakes which improved it somewhat, but I think it needs garlic, more oil and more Parmesan cheese.
This method worked well to cook the broccoli.

I probably will look for another recipe when I want to repeat this dish. This one (Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli) looks promising. Mark Bittman also has some nice ideas.


From Simply Recipes. I keep having to look this up for the occasional times I make lemonade.

1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice

Make simple syrup by heating 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.

Use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.

Put 3 to 4 cups of cold water into a pitcher. Add the lemon juice and the sugar water to the pitcher.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Marinated Flank Steak

I have about a pound of flank steak (Sunset $9.99/lb) marinating in this:

1/2 cup soy sauce (Kikkoman, always)
1/2 cup cooking sherry
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 heaping tablespoons minced ginger (Oh, $%^&, I used 3)
3 to 5 cloves minced garlic (3 huge ones)
1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (forgot this, added it halfway thru)

The recipe is from The Pioneer Woman. I also scored the steak with 1/4 inch deep cuts about an inch apart  across the grain of the meat as suggested by simply recipes.

Later today, I'll be cooking the steak. Not sure if I will be using the grill or the oven. She used a grill pan.

By the time I cooked the steak, it had been marinating about 20-24 hours. I removed it from the bag and coated both sides with kosher salt and pepper (as suggested by simply recipes). I grilled it on a gas grill on high for 5 minutes per side. I let the meat rest for 10 minutes under a loose foil cover. The resulting steak cut easily and was tender, but perhaps a little too well done. Taste-wise I would say it was a little too salty which I'm pretty sure had to do with the salt coating. I will say that the marinade was good and I loved the taste of the ginger, garlic and soy, but the flavors of the sherry, honey and oil were lost, probably in the salt. Still, an easy dish which can be made ahead. Another web site (can't remember or find it) suggested bagging several of these and putting them in the freezer to save time the next time you want to cook it (the steak marinates as it defrosts). Finally, Mark Bittman has an interesting marinade using lime juice. He also suggests drying the steak well with paper towels before grilling. I seem to remember reading about this suggestion for grilling meat. It leads to better grill marks since the surface moisture does not have to boil off which steams the meat and cools the grill surface slightly. I think this was what the salt coating was supposed to do, but it added too much salt flavor.  

Next time:
Use toasted sesame oil
No salt coating.
Pat dry meat before grilling
Grilling time: about 4 minutes on a side.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cold Noodles With Sesame Sauce

I selected this recipe for a picnic and it was easy to prepare, traveled well and it tasted great. I served it with Edamame and an Australian Red Cabernet (can't remember which one) which was OK. Next time I think I'll pair it with a Porter or Brown Ale.

The original recipe is here.

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (I used Jif Extra Crunchy)
1/4 cup water or chicken broth (water - I was lazy)
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. (10 Tbsp) soy sauce (Kikkoman)

2 Tbsp. sesame oil (Toasted Sesame Oil from Trader Joe's)
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar (Heinz)
3 Tbsp. honey
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced (I used 2)
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil (Canola)
Salt to taste
Ichimi Togarashi to taste (about a tsp)

1 lb. cooked, cold thin spaghetti (Barilla)
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
3 to 4 scallions, chopped (I used 4 - I like scallions)
1 med. cucumber, sliced in strips (seeds removed)

Cook spaghetti, drain and set aside. While it's cooking, prep the scallions and cucumber. The sauce can be made while the spaghetti cooks. It's easy to interrupt the process of making the sauce and it won't affect the result.

Combine peanut butter, water and soy sauce in microwave bowl. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap (be sure to leave vent hole) and heat for 20 to 30 seconds on medium-high. Stir and repeat until peanut butter is melted. Do not overcook. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients. Pour over spaghetti and mix thoroughly. Top with scallions, cucumbers and sesame seeds. Serve cold. (Can be made ahead.) Add some red pepper flakes for more heat if desired.

Some final comments. For the best, freshest looking dish, add the scallions, cucumbers and sesame seeds right before serving. You might also top with some additional broken up raw peanuts if you want.