Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Spaghetti with Spicy Ragù and Roasted Eggplant +1 焼き茄子入りスパイシーラグーのスパゲティ(+1)

Bought a huge eggplant (as large as a small pineapple) on a whim - had to think for a while about what to do with it, but came up with this vegetable-heavy yet hearty pasta sauce.


Cut up the eggplant into bite sized chunks, sprinkled some salt and pepper on them, then roasted them in an oven on an ovenproof pan coated with a thin layer of olive oil for 10-15 minutes. This extra step allowed me to avoid the eggplant from getting too soggy with oil (which would've happened if I cooked it with the other vegetables in the sauce).


Meanwhile, in a deep pot, started making the ragù by sautéing some mirepoix (mix of chopped onions, celery, and carrots) in olive oil over medium heat adding some finely chopped garlic halfway. Once the vegetables were nicely browned and soft, added some italian spicy sausages removed from the casing, and continued sautéing until everything was nicely mixed and the sausages were browned. Added a dash of red wine to the mix, mix and cook until evaporated, then added a large can of crushed tomatoes and lowered the heat to simmer for 30 minutes or so.


To finish, add the eggplant to the ragù, mix and season to taste, then serve over spaghetti cooked to al dente with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Baked Rigatoni with 4 cheeses and an eggplant-tomato ragu ナスのミートソースとチーズの焼きリガトーニ
Now for the "plus one" - Had a lot of leftover sauce so made this casserole a few days later. Mixed the sauce with cooked rigatoni (any macaroni-type pasta would do), and some asparagus cut into small pieces, placed in a casserole lined with butter, added a mix of cheeses (used Cheddar, Gruyère, Swiss,  and Gorgonzola), then sprinkled with a mix of breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Baked in an oven until golden brown. You guessed correctly - another dish making use of leftovers!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rigatoni with asparagus in a Gorgonzola sauce リガトーニとアスパラガスのゴルゴンゾーラソース

Rigatoni with asparagus in a Gorgonzola sauce リガトーニとアスパラガスのゴルゴンゾーラソース by naotakem

One "guilty pleasure" that you occasionally crave so much that you just know you have to make it.


Blanched the asparagus (cut into bite sized length) in lightly salted water, then sauté them in a pan with some olive oil. Add some milk and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, stir until cheese is melted and smooth. Add the rigatoni (or penne) cooked a minute or two short of al dente with a splash of pasta cooking water, toss well, then mix in some chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper to serve. Hard to fight the temptation to make a large batch and have seconds of this...


Pajeon (Korean pancake with garlic chives and scallions) ニラ・ネギ入りパジョン(チヂミ)

Pajeon パジョン by naotakem
Pajeon パジョン, a photo by naotakem on Flickr.
Another way of utilizing leftover vegetables for a quick meal.


Made a batter using a flavored flour mix for Japanese okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), water, and eggs, then mixed with a generous amount of garlic chives chopped into 1-inch strips and scallions chopped into small slivers. Cooked the mix in a cast iron skillet with some canola oil to achieve a crisp surface with a fluffy inside. Served with a dipping sauce made with minced garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and hot chile sauce.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Roast pork with rice and bok choy 叉焼飯(風)


The initial idea was to buy some roasted pork belly at a Chinese supermarket or a shop in Chinatown and just have it with some rice for an easy dinner - but by the time we got to the stores they were either sold out or closed. So instead, we bought a pound of pork belly and roasted the pork at home on the next day. (We ended up eating some noodles that day)


To prep the pork belly, cut the skin and fat into a cross hatch and inserted thin slivers of garlic into the incisions, then rubbed in plenty of salt and black pepper all over the meat. Placed it into a 250F oven to roast it slowly at low temperatures for about an hour to an hour and a half. The idea is to slowly render the fat on the top out and baste the flesh so if you use a grilling pan there's no need to flip the meat over. For flavor, occasionally basted the meat while cooking with a mix of soy sauce, sake, and honey.  


Once you achieve a nice, glazed color on the outside and an internal temperature of 150F, the pork is done - remove from the oven, wrap it with foil and set aside to rest. Used that time to cook the rice and blanch some bok choy (in lightly salted water). Serve thickly sliced pork with the rice and bok choy like the photo the beginning for a satisfying one-plate dish.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Farafelle with kale, sausage, carrots, tomatoes, and garlic 野菜とソーセージのファルファッレ

Put this pasta together to make use of some kale, carrots, and tomato that had been sitting in the refrigerator (and a couple of Italian spicy sausages in the freezer) for a while - but it turned out to be quite tasty to our surprise.


Removed the sausages from their casing and cooked them in a skillet with olive oil with some garlic and red pepper flakes until browned throughout. Added finely chopped carrots, mixed well, then added the tomatoes (peeled and seeded) until cooked.


Meanwhile, cooked the farfelle in well-salted water until al dente, and added the chopped kale during the final minutes of cooking to soften. Drained the pasta and kale, added to the sauce, tossed well, and served with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.


カボチャの煮物 Stewed Pumpkin


Another Japanese style vegetable dish made using the dashi stock used to make the dishes in this post.


Washed the pumpkin well, removed the stem and the seeds, then cut it up into fairly large chunks with the skin on. Placed in a bowl, sprinkled a few spoonfuls of sugar and a pinch of salt - then covered with a plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator for a few hours, tossing once. This extracts moisture from the pumpkin and condenses the flavor within the flesh.


Took the pumpkins out of the refrigerator and put them in a pan with some depth. Added enough dashi so the pumpkins are halfway immersed, then brought to a boil with medium heat. Once boiling, reduced the heat to a simmer and added a mix of soy sauce, sake, and mirin (ratio = 2:1:1) to season, gave it a gentle stir, then cooked until the pumpkins became tender, but not quite falling apart. Removed from the heat to let it cool for about half an hour (which allows the flavors to permeate) before serving.

Monday, August 5, 2013

3 Japanese Style Vegetable Dishes Using Dashi Broth 出汁を使った野菜料理三品


Three vegetable dishes made with a big batch of dashi stock made with dried kombu kelp and katsuobushi bonito flakes. This one is a stew of aburaage (fried tofu) and komatsuna (mustard spinach) cooked in a mix of dashi, soy sauce, sake, sugar, and mirin. Trick is to use the flavoring agents besides the dashi sparingly - you don't want to make it too salty, sweet, or reeking of alcohol. Had this with natto (fermented soybeans) and miso soup with wakame seaweed and onions for a vegetarian dinner. 

This is an ohitashi - a side dish of blanched greens briefly marinated in warm, unseasoned dashi - of mizuna greens. Trick is to dunk the blanched greens in cold water to stop cooking and preserve the colors, then squeeze gently to remove excess water to achieve a good texture. Pour warm dashi over the mizuna, let stand a few minutes, then garnish with katsuobushi to serve.

Last but not the least - a miso soup of kabu turnips, using both the root and the leaves. Washed the kabu roots well, sliced thin, then cooked in dashi until soft. Stirred in the miso (the white variety, which has a milder flavor which works better with root vegetables), and added some pre-blanched and chopped turnip leaves before serving.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Spaghetti with Cabbage in a Tomato Garlic Bacon Sauce キャベツとベーコン入りトマトソースのスパゲッティ

Spaghetti with cabbage in a tomato garlic bacon sauce キャベツとベーコン入りトマトソースのスパゲッティ by naotakem


Made this simple (not sure whether I should call it "cooking") pasta to use up some unused vegetables in the refrigerator, but it turned out surprisingly tasty.


Sautéed some chopped bacon, onions, and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent, then added a peeled and diced tomato. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer while cooking the spaghetti.


While the sauce is simmering, cooked the spaghetti in well-salted boiling water until al dente, and added roughly chopped cabbage during the last 2 minutes or so to cook through.


Drained the spaghetti and cabbage in a colander, shook off excess water and tossed it well with the sauce, then garnished with parsley to finish.  Fairly healthy, with a sauce to pasta ratio of about 2:1.