Friday, December 30, 2016

Cold Soba Noodle Salad

Copyright LtDan' 2016
The recipe hailed from the original Queen of Food Porn, Nigella Lawson in her cookbook Forever Summer. However, I had to do some minor tweaking to her original recipe as the amount of noodles she specified seems to need a little bit more dressing. Maybe it is an Asian thing but we like our noodles to be swimming in gravy. 

Although the recipe is wonderful in itself, I just felt it also needed more to make this dish more substantial in terms of texture and flavor. Since I made this two Christmases ago when avocados were available, I figured the addition of chunks of avocados and cucumbers will complement the dish without really changing it completely. It turned out that it was indeed a good match and for lunch on a hot day, this will be the perfect healthy meal. 

Cold Soba Noodle Salad - Adapted*

1 8-oz soba noodles
1 medium avocado pitted and diced
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
5 scallions, sliced thinly


2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp honey
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
5 tsp good quality soy sauce

1. Prepare the dressing by mixing all the ingredients. Set aside. 

2. Cook the soba noodles as per packet instructions. Once cooked, shock them
    in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain in a large colander. 

3. In a small bowl, combine the avocados and cucumber and add enough 
    dressing just to coat them. Set aside. 

4. To assemble, transfer the noodles into a large bowl and season with the 
    dressing. You may not have to use all of it if that is your preference. Toss in 
    most of the scallions and most of the sesame seeds.  

5. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the avocados and cucumber. Garnish 
    with the remaining sesame seeds and scallions. Serve immediately. 
* Lawson, Nigella, Forever Summer, Hyperion Books, New York: 2003.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Stove-top Pot Roast

Copyright by LtDan' 2016
Christmas has always been a big part of my family's traditions and we usually celebrate it on Christmas Day. Christmas Eve was more of going to Midnight Mass and having a light snack in preparation for the big event the following day. It was no different this year and although my Mom has been gone for almost 10 years, I try to keep our family traditions alive. 

For this year's celebration, I wanted to go a different route and celebrate Christmas by cooking festive foods from all around the world. My soup and fish course were adapted from Sophia Loren's cookbook based on her family's recipes in Italy. The desserts are Filipino in terms of origin although they have been both updated. The roast chicken is typically American while the beef stew was supposed to be Greek in origin but I ended up buying a pot roast cut of beef so I had to go American. My inspiration was Ina Garten's recipe for a Company Pot Roast. It is funny to note that the label on the meat that I bought read "Fat Roast". Considering that I do not have a Dutch oven, I cooked this pot roast in a large pot over charcoal but you can totally prepare this on a gas or electric burner.   

Stove-top Pot Roast

6-7 lbs beef (butt or pot roast cut)
2 white onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 bay leaves
5-6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup pitted green olives
1 32-oz canned whole tomatoes
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 lb peeled baby onions
1 packet fresh parsley (3-4 stalks)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried rosemary
olive oil
salt and pepper
4 cups beef broth
2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup flour

1. Tie the beef with butcher's twine to hold its shape during the cooking process. 
    Season with 1 tbsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper. Dredge with the flour and set 

2. In a large pot over medium high heat, add about 4 tbsp of olive oil and sear 
    the beef on each side for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. 

3. Remove the seared meat from the pot and add the garlic, celery, bay leaves 
    and the diced onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. 
    You may have to add more olive oil when it gets too dry. 

4. Return the beef to the pot and add the red wine, broth, the dried herbs and 
    the parsley. Add enough water to cover the meat and bring to a boil. Once 
    boiling, lower the heat to low and simmer covered for an hour. Check and add 
    more water when needed. 

5. Add the tomatoes and simmer for another hour. Rotate the meat to ensure 
    even cooking. In a pan with 2 tbsp olive oil, saute the baby onions until the 
    skin is browned. Add to the pot with the carrots and the olives and simmer 
    for another hour. Continue to rotate the meat to make sure it is tender on all 
    sides. Add water sparingly at this point to thicken the sauce.

6. Once the meat is fork tender, check the seasoning and adjust accordingly. As 
    a final touch, add the butter. 

7. To serve, remove the wilted parsley and ladle the vegetables on the sides of 
    a large serving tray. Cut away the butcher's twine and position the meat in the 
    center and spoon the sauce all around. Slice into desired thickness. This goes 
    well with mashed potatoes or rice pilaf. 

The Revival

It has been almost a year and a half since I last posted on this blog. It does not mean that I stopped cooking or baking. That is something that will never happen. I just had to deal with a few more important things in life besides blogging. Over the past couple of years, I had to juggle a full time job as a Professor in Chemistry while taking care of my elderly Dad during the weekends. Something's got to give and it was the blog unfortunately which had to make the ultimate sacrifice. 

So what changed? Nothing really. It's just that I missed blogging and I decided that maybe I needed some time to devote for myself every now and then and whether it means I spend more time with friends, family or blogging, then so be it. Given this drive, I will try to post at least one recipe per month considering that I have amassed quite a lot of unwritten recipes over the last 15 months. 

Here's to 2017 and more blog posts. - Dan