Creamy Smoked Salmon Capellini

Hubby had a dinner appointment so I was on my own. The little girl and lola had their own thing going so I was really on my own…

As always when I am eating by myself, I don’t bother to cook. Sometimes I don’t bother to eat – call me lazy but it seems to me that cooking then washing and cleaning up after doesn’t seem to be worth the bother if I am the only one eating…

This time though, as I rifled through the fridge for something (I was thinking fruit actually), I saw several containers of leftovers – a 50ml container of smoked salmon (left over from hubby’s dinner the night before), a 500ml container of capellini and parsley (left over from our dinner 2 nights before), ricotta cheese tub with a fourth of ricotta left in it, sour cream tub with about 1/4 cup left, a small pat of butter (left over from chocolate chip cookie cake the week before), several pieces of shimenji mushrooms (I don’t even know WHY there’s leftover mushrooms!!!), fresh milk (not really that fresh since it’s been in the fridge at least 4 days!) and 2 pieces shriveled calamansi…

What a merry bunch of leftovers!

At first I thought of making leftover omelette – a favorite of ours and perfect for using any and all kinds of leftovers, except maybe the pasta….

So then it hit me… why not make leftover pasta instead?

Who would’ve thought that the leftovers in the fridge would make an elegant meal for one, especially paired with Chardonney, yep, leftover from last Christmas! (Thanks to our friend who gave it to us for Christmas!)

So here is the no-recipe recipe for my (lonely, but seriously change the ‘n’ to ‘v’) dinner for one –

1. Sauté some sliced onions in olive oil and (leftover) butter until the onions are softened.

2. Add the (leftover) mushrooms and stir-fry several seconds.

3. Add the (leftover) smoked salmon and mix to break the pieces apart.

4. Add the (leftover) sour cream and (leftover) ricotta cheese. Thin the mixture with (leftover) milk.

5. Add the (leftover) capellini; mix gently to coat the pasta with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Cook over low-medium heat just until everything is heated through. Transfer to your (lonely) dinner plate.

7. Sprinkle a drop or two of (not fresh, since they’re a bit shriveled) calamansi. Garnish with (leftover) parsley (and Parmesan – just about the ingredient that is NOT left over from anything). Pair with (leftover) Chardonnay. Sit and enjoy.

8. Post the dish online and revel when hubby’s jaw drops because you had a lovely dinner while he had ordinary food at his meeting!

(Yuuuuummmmmmmm!)

Advertisements

Soy Sauce Fried Eggs, v2 and v3

Breakfast is not complete if it doesn’t have an egg, specifically fried.  I guess I got used to it because it was a staple when we were growing up.

Nowadays, hubby is served eggs for breakfast too.  On most days they’re plain fried eggs, or maybe scrambled eggs.  But once in a while, he gets a special treat… like today!

These fried eggs with soy sauce is a childhood favorite.  I had forgotten the original recipe and tried to re-create it a couple of years ago. My first attempt was not bad, but something was missing.

Sometime later I tried again, and it was better.  The resulting dish had more depth –

1 tablespoon light soya sauce
1/2 tablespoon mild vinegar
1/2 tablespoon mild honey
1 tablespoon water
dash of sesame oil

The procedure is uncomplicated — fry some eggs, sunny side up.  Place in serving platter (not a flat or shallow one but not a deep bowl).  Mix the sauce ingredients and heat slightly; pour over the eggs.  My variation here is that I added a “century egg”.

[side note:  I found the cookbook sometime after (which is as old as me – it was published the year I was born!) and  I was happy to discover that my recreation was pretty close.]

Hubby liked it, but when he heard there was honey, he asked if (next time) it was possible to skip it…

Fast forward to “next time”, i.e. now – I reformulated my sauce recipe (procedure is the same) …

1 tablespoon kecap manis (sweet soya sauce)
1/2 tablespoon sinamak (local spicy sap vinegar)
1 tablespoon water
dash of sesame oil
pinch of chili powder

Hubby prefers it this way.  I did explain that the soy sauce I used is a sweet one, but he was ok with it!

Enjoy!!!

 

Creamy Anchovy Vinaigrette

Ever since I learned how easy it was to make vinaigrette, I’d been experimenting with all sorts of combinations.

The basic elements of a vinaigrette are (1) the sour, (2) the salty, (3) the oily [olive oil], and at times, (4) the sweet, and/or (5) the creamy [if preferred].  Add spices as desired (seasonings like herbs, or flavor profiles like bacon, etc.)

For this salad – mixed greens, sliced tomatoes, feta and double-cream cheese, I decided to use up the leftover anchovies in the fridge.

In a shaker, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons calamansi juice, about a tablespoon of anchovies, mashed, a large pinch of sugar, and 2 tablespoons mayonnaise.  Shake, shake, shake then pour over the salad!

 

Bamboo Shoot-Salted Egg X.O.

Hubby and I were at the Chinese grocery store to buy soy sauce.  I chanced upon the lovely bamboo shoots that were displayed.  Not being able to resist, I picked up a 500g pack!

So what did we have for dinner???  Bamboo shoots!!!

My mother once told me that bamboo shoots should always be boiled is lightly salted water… even those that come from a can.  So that’s what I did – I boiled the bamboo shoots after slicing them into pieces.

My next problem was how to cook them.  Usually I stir-fry the shoots with some pork, shrimp. and mushrooms.  Except that I had not of those at the moment.  Upon searching the fridge, I discovered that I had… salted eggs!  And some spices, i.e. XO sauce and dried shallots.

So then I got out 2 pieces of salted eggs and removed the yolks.  The yolks were mashed, while the whites were cubed.

Heat some oil in a wok then put in the mashed yolks.  Cook the yolks until frothy, then add the whites.  Stir fry several seconds, then add a chopped up dried chili (I used dried Thai chili), about a tablespoon of dried shallots and a heaping teaspoon of XO sauce.  Mix around a bit then add the bamboo shoots.  Splash some water into the wok to prevent it from drying out.  Season with salt, to taste, if desired.  Cook a couple of minutes more.  Then it is done!

I was nervous at first that hubby would not like it, since it is an “invented” dish but he said it was very good!

(smile, smile)

In Someone Else’s Kitchen, 3 of 4

Mixed Mushrooms, Watercress, and Pine Nuts was the vegetable dish for the night.

The original recipe had cashews instead of pine nuts.  But I knew our host had a history of gout and I knew that nuts were on the no-eat list due to its effect of heightening uric acid so I substituted pine nuts.

Except that (I didn’t know) mushrooms were high in uric acid too.  Sigh…

About 500 grams mixed fresh mushrooms (shitake, button, and oyster)
about 300 grams fresh watercress
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
crushed garlic
soy sauce

Clean the mushrooms, cut into more manageable pieces if needed.  Toss in about a tablespoon of soy sauce; marinate for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile crush about 10 cloves of garlic in a mortar with a pestle.  (The beauty of someone else’s kitchen is that I get to use stuff I don’t have in my kitchen.  And learn something new!  Like how pounding garlic in a mortar with a pestle is so much more satisfying that a knife and a chopping board!)

Then, trim the watercress of tough stems and ends.  Rinse and pat dry.

Heat some oil in a pan.  Sauté the crushed garlic until soft and fragrant.  Add the mushrooms; stir fry several seconds.  Add the watercress and a splash of soy sauce (add as desired but be mindful not to make the dish too salty).

Cook until the vegetables are soft but still crunchy.  There will be a lot of liquid.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the watercress and mushrooms to a serving dish (my watercress shrunk and got hidden under all the mushrooms), then scatter pine nuts over the top.

(Our gracious host enjoyed this dish the most, he said.  Even with my faux pas, and his rising levels of uric acid.)

 

 

 

Homemade Vanilla Extract

There are many recipes for homemade vanilla extract.  Basically, there are 3 ingredients – vanilla beans, vodka (or brandy, rum, bourbon, as long as it is at least 80 proof), and TIME.

The most important ingredient in the recipe is – TIME.

How I made mine?

I started in 2014.  December.

With 1 liter of vodka and 14 Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans.

I split the beans and scraped the seeds out.  I placed all the seeds and pods into the bottle of vodka, capped the bottle, and then wrapped the bottle in brown paper.  The bottle got named and tagged then into a cool cupboard it went… where it stayed for 3 years.

I opened it today and took a whiff.

Heavenly.

Mmmmmm….

 

Roast Chicken over Scalloped Potatoes

My little electric oven is such a treasure!  While my gas-fired baby oven is my ultimate favorite (after all I have been baking with it for more than 3 decades – so now you know how old I must be!), my little electric is really more convenient since there’s usually just 4 or 5 of us.  It is just a bit larger than a toaster oven (but yes, it is a fully functioning oven, with rotisserie too!). The largest sized pan that can fit in it is a 9-inch square and even that is a bit pushing it.

Still, it is absolutely perfect for half a batch of cake, 6 cupcakes, a regular brownie or a dozen cookies or so. And for meals? It is just right! A whole chicken with the rotisserie function (but no, a turkey or a super jumbo chicken won’t fit) or half a chicken in a baking pan.

Take this roast chicken meal… quick and easy, and best of all, tasty!

6 pieces chicken legs, cleaned and patted dry
salt and pepper, to taste

5 to 6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly
1/2 cup shredded mixed cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan mix)
butter
1/4 cup 35% whipping cream
3/4 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Make slits on the chicken legs.  Rub the chicken legs with salt and pepper (I like using sea salt), place some between the skin and meat as well.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 375F.

Butter a baking dish (mine is about 6 by 8 inches.  Arrange half the sliced potatoes in the pan, sprinkle the shredded cheese all over.  Top with the remaining half of potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour the cream and milk over the potatoes.

Arrange the chicken legs over the potatoes.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is done, at 165/170F internal temperature.  Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

In Someone Else’s Kitchen

We had a lovely vacation (read as hubby had a couple of meetings but the kid and I relaxed and enjoyed the cool air!) and our generous host fed us scrumptious meals.  Of course I had to reciprocate!

(Flashback to some 3 decades ago, when I cooked paella for 20 people in someone else’s kitchen!!!)

It is not easy cooking (meddling???) in someone else’s kitchen, mainly because I have no idea where anything is!  But what is quite nice about the kitchen of someone who likes to cook is that the kitchen would definitely have the basic tools and then some.  Since friend G had an oven, I gladly made use of it.

My menu consisted of 4 parts – protein, carbohydrate, healthy (veggie) and something sweet.

For the protein, I thought roasted salmon was perfect!  And again my favorite recipe comes from Mark Bittman.  With a bit of a twist, though.  The online version of the recipe is slightly different from the book version –

First, I used half butter and half olive oil, which I seasoned with pink salt and freshly cracked peppercorns… and about 1/2 tablespoon of dried dill seeds.  Off in the oven it went until the butter melted and stopped fizzing.

I then placed 4 pieces of salmon fillet slabs, about 220 to 250 grams each, skin side up, into the pan and back to the oven it went and stayed for about 5 to 7 minutes.  The fillets got flipped to get the skin side down.  And then I sprinkled some more pink salt and crushed peppercorns over the top.  It went back into the oven for another 5 to 6 minutes, just until it was done.

 

Salmon Roasted in Butter and Dill

When I think of experimenting in the kitchen, I browse and peruse my cookbook collection. One of the first books I reach for is Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”.

It is there that I found a super easy and very tasty recipe for salmon.

I used half butter and half olive oil, and fresh dill, following the secondary instructions for ‘Salmon Roasted with Herbs’.

The recipe can be found online – http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/04/mark-bittmans-roasted-salmon-with-butter.html

Scallops and Mushrooms on Yellow and Red Peppers

This dish is a hubby-wifey compromise.  Hubby loves bell peppers and I love scallops and mushrooms.  The bonus is that it cooks up in a few minutes!

300 grams shelled Chinese scallops

1 large yellow bell pepper
1 large red bell pepper

200 grams white Shimenji mushrooms

1 large thumb-sized ginger, smashed and chopped (skin off)
sea salt
oyster sauce
shao xing wine

Clean the Chinese scallops with some sea salt and rinse; drain fully.  Marinate in 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce.  (personally I use the lower limit and adjust later.  this is because various brands have slight nuances in saltiness etc.)

Clean and dry the bell peppers.  Remove the top and seeds, then slice into squarish or diamond-shaped pieces.  (meanwhile, start heating the wok with about 1 tablespoon of peanut oil (or canola oil).

Cut the ends of the mushrooms; rinse and dry them.

When the wok and oil is (very) hot, put in the bell peppers and stir fry a few seconds.  Sprinkle in a large pinch of sea salt.  Stir the peppers around, and remove from the pan using a slotted spoon to a serving dish.

In the same pan, sauté half the ginger then add the mushrooms.  Add 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce and stir fry several seconds.  After a couple of minutes add the rest of the ginger and the Chinese scallops.  Splash some shao xing wine (about 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon/s) and stir fry until the scallops are just about done (about a minute or two, depending on the size of the scallops, bigger ones take a bit longer to cook).  Adjust seasonings as desired.  Do not overcook the scallops otherwise they will be tough.

Using a slotted spoon, place the scallops and mushrooms over the bell peppers.

Reduce the liquid in the wok to about half (as preferred) then pour over the dish.  Serve immediately.