Strozzapreti (stroh-tzuh-PRAY-tee) is one of my all-time favorite pastas. Its 1-inch length and rolled S-shape captures and holds the sauce, while its chewy texture adds character and interest to any pasta dish. It’s always in my pantry.
Tender, chewy flatbread wrapped around crunchy cabbage slaw, succulent prawn and mushroom filling, and spicy peanut sauce. Add a squeeze of lime and it doesn’t’ get much better than this. The only words coming from MauiJim’s lips between bites were WOW, WOW, WOW. And then finally, after eating three without coming up for air, “Are there MORE?”
There are a million and one recipes for Thai Peanut Sauce, and I’ve never tasted one that I didn’t like. That said, I worked diligently to get a good depth of flavor and an intriguing balance of flavors in my rendition of this popular sauce. It’s a fabulous sauce to have on hand and keeps for a week or more in the fridge.
Also called Beijing Pancakes, Mandarin Pancakes, or Moo Shu Pancakes, these tasty wrappers are not actually pancakes at all. At least not what we think of as pancakes in the United States. They’re not made with a pancake batter, but with a simple, unyeasted flour and water dough that is cut into golf ball-size pieces and then rolled as thinly as possible to form transparent disks.
You’re first bite of Vietnamese Crispy Crepes, served lettuce-wrap style with fresh mint, Thai basil, fresh or pickled vegetables, prawn and barbecued pork filling, and sweet-sour-spicy-hot Nuoc Cham sauce is going to push all your gustatory senses into overdrive. The aromas, the flavors, the textures. It is one amazing taste sensation, and you aren’t going to forget it anytime soon.
This is the day I wait for with keen anticipation every year. Honestly, I don’t know what to do with Saturday morning when the market is not in full swing. Sure, there’s the Winter Market at Shemanski Park, but let’s face it, in the Northwest, winter does not yield the incredible abundance of the three other seasons. For me, even though the official launch of spring is several days away, it began today at the Portland Farmers Market.
Who doesn’t love Creme Brulee? Or better yet, Chocolate Creme Brulee? And February is all about love and chocolate at LunaCafe. But, there are so many formulas for Chocolate Crème Brulee, I hardly knew where to begin. After some initial testing, I figured that the important thing was to first get the perfect proportion of egg yolks to cream, then the perfect types and amount of chocolate, and finally the perfect process. The romantic flavor pairing was added after I worked out the basic formula.
Cupid Crunch (Cracker Jacks for Lovers)
I’m in a Cracker Jack craze, and there is no end in sight. After developing Chinese Cracker Jacks in December and eating it daily for weeks, I can’t stop thinking about all the possible flavor permutations. This is such a versatile concept: popcorn, nuts, seasonings, caramel brittle. Hey, wait a minute, what about chocolate?
I have been in love with Chinese Fried Rice for as long as I can remember. Our family was Catholic, and we didn’t eat meat on Friday. Thus, Dad instituted what he called “Chinese Joint” night and every Friday evening, you could find our family of four at one of the many Chinese restaurants that dotted the Seattle cityscape. We even made it to Chinatown on a few special occasions. Chinese Joint night was special, because we each got to order the one dish we wanted most.
It’s All Asia All Month at LunaCafe. Of all the dishes I wanted to explore this month, Wonton Soup was at the top of my list. It’s one of the world’s greatest soups and my absolute favorite. This version is as close to perfection as you will find. Be sure to check back as the adventure unfolds this month.
Korean soup (Jjambbong) is a spicy, red-hued, infinitely variable, magically comforting noodle soup. Jjambbong is one of the most popular Korean dishes. It’s great with prawns and other seafood, but also delicious with vegetables only. The soup broth is clean and bright and only moderately spicy as prepared here.
Another whirlwind year of exploring and learning in the OtherWorldly Kitchen has come to a close, and it’s interesting to see which of the 40 posts garnered the most attention. Not all of the top posts actually published in 2012, which means that some older posts are still receiving a sizable number of hits. I like that.
Many moons ago, as director of the Yankee Kitchen Cooking Schools, I had the opportunity to work with the inestimable Barbra Tropp of the China Moon Café in San Francisco. She came to Seattle to teach a series of classes for the school and the first thing she wanted when she arrived was a whirlwind shopping tour of Chinatown.
I began this exploration with a question. “What is the difference between sticky and regular gingerbread?” Put another way, “What makes sticky gingerbread, well, sticky?” A couple of rounds of baking later, I had identified the differences. Namely, sticky gingerbread starts with a fluid, molasses-heavy batter, which, if not over baked, creates a beautifully moist cake, which if wrapped and refrigerated for a day or two and then brought back to room temperature, has a dense, chewy, somewhat sticky texture.
I have developed dozens of cheesecakes over the years. At one point, I even launched a cheesecake company.
But a recent request from a reader made me realize that my focus has been almost exclusively on baked cheesecakes. A quick scan of my files shows only two no-bake cheesecakes. This post is one small and very tasty step toward correcting that omission.
f I could have only one dish this Thanksgiving, it would be a tossup between this stuffing and this tart. Wait, I also need these rolls, these mashed potatoes, and this gravy. Okay, it’s hopeless; may as well throw in this salad and this turkey. But even though each of these dishes is memorable, I bet this stuffing wins “Best of Show” at our Thanksgiving table this year. I can’t seem to get enough of it.
Roasting a perfect Thanksgiving Day turkey is a cinch—especially if you keep a few things in mind. The first and most important of these is to buy a premium, FRESH turkey. Below are some of the options available in Portland, Oregon. The biggest myth I hear from folks about roasting turkey is that it “takes all day.” I just roasted a 16-pound bird to perfection in 2¼ hours. It’s resting on the stovetop now for another 30 minutes. Then we will eat it with the best stuffing I’ve ever made: Spicy Ciabatta & Cornbread Stuffing with Italian Sausage, Wild Mushrooms & Fresh Herbs. (Posting next.) So minus the brining (48 hours) and warming to room temperature (1 hour), the bird is ready to eat in under 3 hours.
A large roast turkey is considered mandatory for many families as part of the massive meal that typifies Thanksgiving. It’s big, bold, beautiful, and definitely celebratory. When you have a large crowd to feed, there is no grander way to go. But what if your family is small, dispersed across the country, or for whatever reason, you long for a more intimate but still festive dinner with only a few close friends?
True confession. This is my first real encounter with romanesco. Tempted by it many times over the years at the Portland Farmers Market, this past weekend, I succumbed. I bought two heads without a clue what to do with them. A member of the brassica oleracea family, romanesco has an exotic, almost alien beauty and can be a little formidable to the uninitiated.
I am very fortunate that the newest member of our family, Christopher Weaver, LOVES cheesecake. Because I love to create endless variations, and can’t afford all those calories hanging out in the fridge taunting me. Chris is a workout machine, so he doesn’t worry a fig about calories. If there are a few slices of cheesecake left after a family dinner, he saves me by taking them home.
Every fall about this time, I am sitting cross-legged on the flour, surrounded by stacks of dessert cookbooks and culinary magazines. I’m looking for a cranberry tart for Thanksgiving. A UNIQUE, MEMORABLE, WOW-INDUCING tart worthy of the most spectacular meal of the year. And I’m willing (okay, eager) to try (okay, eat) several cranberry tart contenders before making the final cut.
Can you say NYOK-ee? Luckily, gnocchi are more difficult to pronounce than to actually make. And unlike the pronunciation, you have lots of latitude on how to make, shape, and sauce these delectable little dumplings. Beyond the standard ingredients of ricotta, eggs, flour, and cheese, you can go wild with additional flavors. It’s almost Halloween, so of course I added pumpkin to my time-tested gnocchi recipe. And I’m glad I did. These may be my favorite gnocchi of all time.
I knew these rolls were going to be a hit, but I didn’t anticipate the mania that ensued as I took them from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, pulled them apart, and piled them on a platter to serve. I mean, should you stop someone from eating six rolls, back-to-back, without coming up for air? Or just pass them more butter?