White-cut chicken with ginger-scallion oil

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(bái qie ji) Adapted from KQED Food and The Woks of Life

Ingredients:
One 3-4 lb. free-range chicken, at room temperature
2 whole scallions, cut into large pieces
5 slices ginger
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons Kosher salt, plus more to season the chicken
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Sauce Ingredients:
3 tablespoons finely minced scallion (white and light green parts only)
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt
soy sauce (optional)

Directions:
1. Clean the chicken inside and out, removing any innards, rinsing with cold water. Optional: Rub salt liberally inside and out and sit for 1 hour. I didn’t.

2. Fill a large pot with water full enough to cover at least ¾ of the chicken. Bring the water to a boil, and add the smashed ginger, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of salt. Place the chicken in breast side up, cover, and bring to a boil. Switch it to low heat and let simmer for 45 minutes.

3. Flip the chicken, cover it and cook on low heat for some more time. Test if the chicken is done, insert a chopstick near the thigh. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done. To lift the bird out of the pot, slip 2 chopsticks beneath the wings and lift up. Let cold water run over the chicken for a minute or so “to cool the skin off quickly to give the chicken skin a “crunchy” texture.”

5. Pat the bird dry and rub with the sesame oil. Allow it to cool for 30 minutes before cutting — I started cooking late, so I just let it cool as long as it took to make the dipping sauce and boil some potatoes (my carbs for the meal, because I didn’t have a rice cooker).

6. Prepare the dipping sauce by heating the vegetable oil just until it starts to smoke. Pour it over the scallion, ginger, and salt, and mix together. Serve with the chicken immediately.

My friend Peggy highly recommends this recipe for times of sickness — I saved the broth afterwards, and it made a pretty tasty soup! I boiled some rainbow potatoes from Trader Joe’s for 10 minutes in the broth, to make the meal a bit heartier. Stay warm!

~Jessica

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Fettucine con sugo di Mafalda

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Adapted from Lidia’s Italy

Ingredients:
Kosher salt
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 lb. pasta (I had farfalle)
10 basil leaves, freshly shredded (I had parsley)
1/2 cup Grana Padano, grated

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta. Meanwhile… Saute 1/2 chopped red onion, 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 minced carrot, 1/2 chopped gray zucchini in the saucepan. Bring the tomatoes to a simmer. Stir in the heavy cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Slip the pasta into boiling water. When the pasta is al dente (15 minutes) and sauce is ready, drop the pasta directly into the sauce. If some pasta water gets in there, all the better!
Add the shredded basil (parsley), then toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Remove from heat, stir in the grated cheese, and serve immediately.

I never knew this sauce had a name, but I have added cream to tomato sauce many a time for a variant on plain ol’ marinara. Not for the lactose-intolerant, of course, but adds some extra fat to a tasty vegetarian meal!

~Jessica

Farfalle al salmone

IMG_20171008_220954.jpgAdapted from Cucinaconoi and Mediterranealicious

Ingredients, For 4 portions:
500 g of fresh tagliolini (or 360 g dried pasta)
500 g of fresh salmon
300-350 g of heavy cream
2 spoonfuls of grated parmesan cheese
40 g of brandy (optional — I had sherry)
15 g of minced shallot (I had red onion)
40 g of butter
1 beefsteak tomato (Roma would have been better)
1/2 zucchini
a little branch of dill (I used parsley)
a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Directions for the salmon:
Clean the salmon, removing the skin. Then slice the fish into strips or cubes. Add the butter to the saute pan, add a spoonful of EVOO and the chopped shallot and let it pan-fry at a very low heat. Now add the salmon and let it sear, stirring to evenly cook. If you have brandy, pour over the fish. When the brandy has evaporated, I added some chopped tomatoes and diced zucchini and let that saute a bit. Then add the cream, then salt and pepper, and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

Directions for the pasta:
Set a pot of water on high heat for the pasta. Once the pot is boiling, salt the pasta water. Cook the farfalle for 15 minutes or until al dente. When the pasta is ready, add it directly into the pan with a sieve; then add in half a ladle of the pasta water to bind the sauce.

Sprinkle on some chopped parsley, some salt if necessary and let it pan fry for a bit, stirring. Switch off the stove, add some freshly grated parmesan. Garnish with some parsley as desired. Serve.

This YouTube video is a fresh salmon tagliolini recipe, an alternative to the classic pasta with smoked salmon; if you want, you can use 100-120 gr of smoked salmon instead of fresh. I couldn’t find a good price on smoked salmon, so I picked up 1 lb. of fresh salmon from Trader Joe’s. Enough for 3 generous portions, or 4 modest ones.

~Jessica

Spaghettini all’olio e rosmarino

Adapted from Lidia’s Italy

Ingredients:
Kosher salt
1 lb. (450 g) spaghettini
2 spoonfuls of EVOO
3 spoonfuls of unsalted butter
3 spoonfuls / 2 sprigs of rosemary
chopped fresh Italian parsley (optional)
1 cup grated Grana Padano (I used Parmigiano)

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large skillet, over medium–high heat, melt the butter in the olive oil. When the butter is melted, add the rosemary, and cook until the needles are sizzling and the rosemary is fragrant. Ladle in 1 cup of pasta water, and simmer to reduce by half. Stir in the parsley.
When the pasta is al dente, remove with tongs directly to the skillet. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Remove the skillet from the heat, toss with the grated cheese, and serve.

~Jessica

P.S. I threw in 1/2 chopped red onion because I had it.

Budget Meals: Day 6

Ingredients
GOYA black bean soup $1.50
Dried rosemary $6.29
1 carrot $0.23
1 zucchini $0.94
4 tomatoes on the vine $1.33
10 oz white button mushrooms $1.79
Total: $12.08

Directions
Chop fine 1 red onion, 3 cloves of garlic. Saute in olive oil in a medium pot. Season with salt, cracked black pepper, red pepper flakes, crushed rosemary. Chop 1/2 carrot, 1/3 zucchini, 1 tomato, 5-6 mushrooms. Saute vegetables over medium heat. Add the can of black bean soup, plus another cup of water rinsing the can. Season with turmeric, thyme, oregano, paprika, and cumin. Raise heat and cook until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer. Here I added 1/4 box of penne rigate and enough water to cover it, cooking it al dente for 5 minutes. Serves 3-4.

I recently acquired some cheese from Trader Joe’s, so feel free to slice / grate some on top for a Tex-Mex feel. It’s rather hard to shop plastic-free at TJ’s I realize now — not great for #plasticfreeJuly then.

~Jessica

Budget Meals: Day 5

Ingredients:
6 eggs $0.99
1 medium carrot $0.25
1 medium green zucchini $0.82
4 red onions $0.98
1 small yellow squash $0.40
Ginger $0.54
Total: $3.98
2 packages udon noodles
roasted peanut oil / sesame oil + vegetable oil
Kosher salt + freshly ground pepper
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions
Thinly slice red onions, ginger. Slice thinly into sticks 1/2 carrot, 1/2 yellow squash, 1/4 zucchini. Saute onions and ginger and carrots in vegetable oil. Add the two squash, and cook, stirring.

In a separate pot, boil water and cook the udon for 1-2 minutes. Drain and add to the vegetables. Mix thoroughly. Season with soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. Add a spoonful of cornstarch mixed with cold water, to form a slurry. Set aside

Scramble two eggs with chopsticks in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in some green scallions. Fry separately in a little oil in a pan. Add to the rest of the stir fry. Serve immediately. Serves 3-4.

Redoing my sister’s udon with tofu and bok choy, this is my budget version. I had a bag of frozen edamame lying around, so I tossed that in the stir fry. My kingdom for some crushed red pepper flakes!

~Jessica

Budget Meals: Day 4

Ingredients:
32 oz. tomato sauce $1.50
Paprika $2.19
Ronzoni penne rigate $1.89
1 carrot $0.25
1 green zucchini $0.82
4 brown portobello mushrooms $0.77
4 red onions $0.98
1 yellow squash $0.40
Total: $8.80

Directions
Chop 1 red onion, 1/2 yellow squash, 1/2 zucchini, the mushrooms, 1/2 carrot. Mince 3 cloves of garlic. Saute the onion, garlic until fragrant. Add the carrot, then the two squash. Add the mushrooms. Cook together a few minutes, stirring. Add the can of tomato sauce. Season with paprika, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.
Boil salted water. Add half the box of penne. Cook 5 minutes until al dente. Add pasta to sauce. Serves 3-4.

Just to make it fancy (and I didn’t have Parmigiano because it’s wrapped in plastic and expensive unless I buy it at Trader Joe’s), I added a drop of my truffle olive oil, which I brought back from France, before serving. Just for the aroma, which I really really like.

~Jessica