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How To Make Taiwanese Street Food
Aug 18th, 2018 by
A bowl of udon noodles with carrots and cucumber.

You can add chopped cucumber, raw carrots or even shredded chicken to this dish.

Cold Taiwanese sesame noodles with peanut sauce is a favorite street food there. I know because I got a subscription to Universal Yums for my birthday. Each month, I get a box of snacks from a different country along with a fact book about the country. This month’s booklet included this recipe, which is quick and very easy to make. And it tastes perfect on a hot, muggy night in August.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Noodles, close up.Peanut butter (or sesame paste), 1/4 cup
  • Soy sauce, 2 tbsp.
  • Rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp.
  • Sugar, 1 1/2 tbsp.
  • Garlic, 3 cloves finely minced
  • Ground ginger, 1 1/2 tbsp.
  • Water, warm, about 1/4 cup
  • Asian wheat noodles, like udon or soba
  • Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
  • Spicy scallion stick (optional)
  • Cucumber slices (optional)
  • Raw carrot cut into thin matchsticks (optional)
  • Shredded chicken (optional)

What I did:

Combine peanut butter (or sesame paste), soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, ginger, and warm water in a bowl. Set aside.

Cook noodles according to package directions. Then drain and rinse under cold water. Mix in optional ingredients and then the sauce and stir well.

 

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Recipe Videos From Boston’s Best Chefs and Bartenders Found on YouTube
Jul 17th, 2018 by

(This is one of my favorite recipes from the weekly Dorm Room Chef series I produced. Watch the video above, or read the recipe here.)

A few years ago I produced a series of weekly food videos for the Boston Globe. Both “Dorm Room Chef,” and “Drink of the Week,” ran for about a year and were catalogued in an online blog that unfortunately was lost when the Globe redesigned its website.

And that’s a shame because the videos featured some of Boston’s best chefs and bartenders explaining how to prepare easy-to-make meals and cocktails.

Recently, I discovered that most of these videos are still available on the Globe’s YouTube channel. Below are direct links to some of my favorite recipes as well as links to the index sites for both series.

Dorm Room Chef Favorites 

Drink of the Week Favorites

 

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Nutella Cookies: Quick and Easy Makes This Recipe Sweet
May 20th, 2018 by

I suggest making a bunch of these in advance because the deep frying goes very quickly.

My friend Antoinette (who is one of the best cooks I know) brought these to my house for a dinner party. They’re so good, it’s hard to stop eating them. And then when she told me how easy and fast they are to make I had to try it. Here’s what you need to do:

Ingredients:

  • Nutella (buy a small jar)
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vegetable oil

Procedure:

Powdered nutella cookies.

Here’s what they look like when they’re done.

Put a dab of Nutella (less than a teaspoon will do) into the middle of a wonton wrapper. Fold the wrapper over so that it creates a triangle. Press down the edges until they stick. (Some other recipes recommend sealing the edges with a beaten egg, but I found this wasn’t necessary).

I suggest making up a bunch of these before you start deep frying because the deep frying goes very quickly.

Nutella cookies frying in a cast iron pan.

It takes only seconds for these to cook.

Heat about an inch or so of vegetable oil over high heat in a good skillet (I used a cast iron skillet). Drop three or four wonton cookies into the oil and cook on each side for about 30 seconds or less (just until light golden brown). Remove cookies to a plate lined with paper towels so the oil can drain.

Put cookies on a platter and sprinkle powdered sugar over both sides. I used a sieve to sprinkle the sugar evenly.

That’s it. These cookies can be made well in advance. The cookies come out crunchy and sweet. And it’s very hard to stop eating them.

One final note: I always believed there were many similarities and/or opportunities to blend Italian cooking with Chinese cooking and this recipe proves it.

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A Long Lost Julia Child Recipe From the Days Before the Internet
Mar 24th, 2018 by

Roulade: The Rolled Souffle

Without this relic, there would be no broccoli roulade recipe for me to share.

A long time ago in a world far away, before there were smartphones, social media, the World Wide Web, and PCs had tiny green screens….That’s right, I’m talking about the 1980s.

During this prehistoric time, I was working at a small-town newspaper and was earning squat and so when I wanted inspiration for something to cook, I’d watch Julia Child on TV and write down the recipe as she made one of her brilliantly crafted, butter-laden treats. I was too cheap to go out and buy one of her cookbooks.

And I’m glad I was because I don’t think this recipe made it into any of her cookbooks. And it’s not online either (until now). This roulade is stuffed with a buttery concoction of broccoli and shallots and is the perfect spring dish to serve at an Easter brunch (which I plan to do).

The green drawing paper I scribbled the recipe on (see photo at right) is faded, stained and ripped, but I was able to decipher it some 30-plus years later. Here is the sacred code:

INGREDIENTS:

  • Butter, one stick, plus 2-3 tablespoons (what did you expect?)
  • Flour, 2/3 cup.
  • Milk, 3 cups
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp.
  • White Pepper, several grinds.
  • Nutmeg, a dash (but be careful, more than a few specks will overwhelm the taste).
  • Eggs, 6 large
  • Cream of tarter, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Grated Swiss Cheese, 4 ounces
  • Bread crumbs, enough to sprinkle over jelly roll pan.
  • Fresh broccoli, 2-3 cups
  • Shallots (or scallions), about 2-4 tablespoons chopped.
  • Heavy Cream (a little bit — hey, that’s what she said)
  • You’ll also need a jelly roll pan (a small cookie sheet, about 10″x15″) and some wax paper to line it.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

Julia Child

Julia Child

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Butter a jelly roll pan (or cookie sheet) and line it with wax paper. Then butter the wax paper and flour it (pour flour over the butter and shake off the excess so that the flour covers the wax paper which covers the pan).

Make the Bechamel Sauce:

In a pan over a low-to-moderate flame melt one stick of butter mixed with 2/3 cup of flour. Cook it until it froths and foams, about 2 minutes without coloring. Take off the heat and let it cool a moment (it should no longer be bubbling). Then add 3 cups of milk and whisk it vigorously. Return it to moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon and allow it to boil slowly for about 3 minutes. It should thicken. Once it’s thick, add a teaspoon of salt, several grinds of white pepper and a dash of nutmeg (be careful, more than a few specks will overwhelm the taste).

Divide the bechamel sauce in half. Keep one-half in a pan placed in another pan of hot water to keep it warm.

Make the Souffle Mixture:

Separate the 6 eggs and beat just the yolks into the other half of the bechamel sauce (the half that is not being kept warm in a hot water bath).

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Then add 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tarter and a pinch of salt. Continue beating until the egg whites are stiff, but not dry. Fold this into the souffle mixture (the egg yolks and bechamel sauce). Then fold in 4 ounces of grated swiss cheese.

Pour this mixture onto the prepared jelly roll pan (or cookie sheet). Spread it evenly across the pan. And cook it for 15 minutes in the middle level of an oven set to 425 degrees. Take it out of the oven and sprinkle bread crumbs over the top. Let it sit for 5 minutes covered with another sheet of wax paper.

Make the Filling:

Fresh broccoli, a sign of spring.

Fresh broccoli, a sign of spring.

Finely chop up 2-3 cups of fresh broccoli.

Add 2-3 tablespoons of butter to a frying pan over moderate heat and then cook the chopped shallots (or scallions for about a minute, until they soften. Add the broccoli and a pinch of salt and cook 2-3 minutes. Add a little bit of heavy cream and the remaining bechamel sauce and 2-3 tablespoons of grated swiss cheese. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes and taste.

Put It All Together:

Unpan the souffle (you should be able to tip it out of the jelly roll pan). Spread the filling ontop evenly. And then roll the souffle using the wax paper onto a platter.

You can slice it as is or you can top it with a piperade (a mixture of cooked red and green peppers with onions) or a hollandaise sauce.

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A Quick, Easy, One-Pan, Weeknight Eggplant Delight
Mar 23rd, 2018 by

Turkish Eggplant Casserole: Imam Bayildi

This dish takes about 20-30 minutes to prepare and then another 45 minutes to cook in the oven.

This recipe takes about 20-30 minutes to prepare and then another 45 minutes to cook in the oven.

RECIPE UPDATE (May, 30, 2018): So last night I made this dish by baking the eggplant instead of frying it and it tasted just as delicious. I couldn’t tell the difference, except maybe the meal was a little lighter (which was my goal). I’m sure it definitely had less calories. What I did was brush olive oil on both sides of the slices and then bake them on a cookie sheet in a hot (425 degree) oven, being careful to turn each slice over as it turned brown. I  then assembled the dish according to the recipe below.

This dish is similar to eggplant parmesan but without the cheese and without as much work. It is, however, as delicious as that Italian favorite. And a dash of cinnamon sends it to another world.

I got the recipe from the “Feed Me Phoebe” blog. Phoebe describes herself as a gluten-free chef, obsessed with finding the sweet spot between health and hedonism. And I can attest that this casserole feels very indulgent while you’re eating it.

I changed the original recipe slightly, most notably using a large eggplant rather than 2 medium eggplants, and I found that I needed a little more tomato sauce. The next time I make it, I may try baking the eggplant after brushing the slices with olive oil, as the eggplant slices soaked up a lot of oil during the frying process. But maybe, that’s why it tasted so good.

Here’s the recipe, which can be made using just one cast-iron pan:

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant (I don’t salt it as recommended in the original recipe as I believe that makes it more acidic. Instead, be careful to select a very firm eggplant with little or no blemishes. The color should be a deep purple. And then peel it vertically in strips so that it looks like it has thin purple stripes before you slice it into 1/4-inch slices, horizontally (the original recipe suggests slicing it lengthwise).
  • Sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Olive oil. Use a good grade regular frying-style olive oil, not extra-virgin
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • About 18-24 oz of diced tomatoes from a can or box. (The original recipe recommended 14.5 ounces but I found I needed more.)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, divided in half
What You Need To Do:

Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a cast iron skillet (or oven-proof skillet). If you don’t have one, you can use a regular frying pan and then this dish becomes a two-pan meal as you’ll need to bake it all in the end in a small roasting pan or lasagna pan.

Fry eggplant slices over medium heat until golden brown (about 2 minutes on each side) and add more oil as needed so eggplant doesn’t stick or burn. Remove the cooked eggplant to a plate.

Add onion to skillet and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and cinnamon. Cook for one minute more, until fragrant. Carefully pour in the tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in half the parsley.

Remove most of the tomato sauce from the pan, leaving only a thin layer (about 1/4 cup) spread evenly over the bottom. Add one layer of the eggplant in the pan over the sauce and then top with more sauce. Continue to add layers of eggplant and sauce, as if you were building a lasagna.

Cover with foil and cook in the oven for about 45 minutes until eggplant is soft and sauce is reduced. Garnish with remaining parsley and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it.

You can serve it warm or at room temperature.

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Seared Scallops with Peas, Mint, and Bacon (Prosciutto?)
Sep 8th, 2017 by
I served it with a side of rice, mixed with parmesan cheese and parsley.

I served it with a side of rice, mixed with parmesan cheese and parsley.

My friend Ray, who owns a fishing boat in Gloucester, gave me a bag full of scallops on Saturday that were caught that day. I got around to cooking them Tuesday night and they were still fresher than anything you could buy at a reputable fish market.

The pea/mint mixture is sweet.

My wife, who doesn’t ordinarily like scallops, ate them all up saying they were better than lobster. And I’m not a big pea fan, but combined with the mint, the green puree made this dish sublime.

This recipe was billed as easy, quick, and good enough to serve to company, according to the Epicurious website. I agree, although it does dirty a few pots and pans. The recipe said it would take 22 minutes to make (This is a good timeline but don’t use it while you cook as ingredients aren’t included) and it took me about 30.

I didn’t have any bacon, so I used imported prosciutto instead. But other than that, I didn’t change a thing. So here’s a link to the recipe.

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