Monthly Archives: May 2011

Girls Just Wanna Have Pho

My obsession for noodles is a direct result of my Mother’s love for all things starch.  I love noodles and I don’t discriminate.   Spaghetti with red sauce, linguine & clams, angel hair with lemon, butter and cheese, sesame noodles, lo mein with chinese vegetables, egg noodles, spaetzle, kugel (both sweet & savory), soba noodles, fideos, pancit (a Filipino noodle dish), pad thai… but then, there are noodles with broth!   Here is where I start to swoon.

During our childhood we all had chicken noodle soup, I always wanted mine extra noodle-y please (and I still do).  But now there are so many choices to feed this obsession!  Udon, those thick chewy noodles swimming in broth just waiting to be slurped up, ramen noodles (the thing we all survived on during our poor college years), beef noodle soup, Italian wedding soup and last but most certainly not least is Pho.   The Vietnamese “do it yourself” soup.

Although it felt like the middle of July, I needed my fix.  I had to have a bowl of noodles and the weather was certainly not going to deter me.  I was on a mission and there was only one place that would suffice.  I had been craving Pho for weeks and tonight was the night.

My face perched over the bowl inhaling the lime kissed broth, getting a “noodle facial” if you will… knowing full well I’m about to be in gastronomic bliss.  It’s the noodles and broth thing that really gets me.  It is the epitome of comfort food.  It’s what I want when I’m sick, when I’ve had a rough day, when it’s cold outside or when I just need a little comforting…  and this bowl of noodles did not disappoint.

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2 birds, 1 stone

To (selfishly) honor a request for a 5 ingredient or less recipe, I decided to make bruschetta.  For those of you who listen to my whining about what I crave (and sometimes tolerate it), it was time to put up or shut up.  Bruschetta is one of those things that you can barely classify as a “recipe” but it has clean, simple flavors and when made with great ingredients it is amazingly delicious.

There is nothing worse than using those insipid, pale, cellophane-wrapped tomatoes from the supermarket when summer’s bounty is about to give you the most luscious, ripe tomatoes you could ask for.  If you are lucky enough to have any kind of green space or even a pot on a fire-escape you know the joy of seeing those little seedlings bear fruit.  Growing your own food is something I long to be able to do,  but in the meantime I go to the farmer’s market.

There are farmer’s markets everywhere now and there is a world of difference between a tomato that came from a farm and the aforementioned kind… a tomato that hasn’t been “genetically engineered”.  A tomato that actually tastes like a tomato.

For obvious reasons,  this is best made when tomatoes are in season.  A perfectly ripe tomato is what summer tastes like to me and when making something with such few ingredients, it is essential to have them at their peak. 

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17th of May

These days my neighborhood is primarily Italian,  but rewind a couple of decades and you’d see a very different picture.  A few blocks over from where I live now used to be Scandinavian, specifically Norwegian.   The streets used to be lined with Norwegian bakeries, stores, restaurants, etc. but unfortunately the majority of these have disappeared.  However, all is not lost…  every year there is a 17th of May parade, which is a national holiday in Norway marking the signing of their constitution and the best part (besides the food) are the people dressed in traditional clothing showing off their Norwegian pride.

photos courtesy of Keith Alexander

It’s all Greek to me…

Most of us are trying to eat healthier these days & lose a few pounds before we have to put on the dreaded bathing suit.  I am among the masses doing the very same…   I’ve been eating so much lettuce I’m afraid my front teeth are about to elongate into Bugs Bunny teeth.

The problem with salads, although to be quite honest I do like them,  is the dressing.  You think you are making a good choice by eating a salad for dinner and then you pour on a claggy dressing that has a ton of fat in it so you opt for the (sometimes chemical-laden)  fat free variety,  which in my book isn’t always the lesser of two evils.

Making salad dressing at home takes 5 minutes at most and is so much heathier and tastier that it really is worth the very minimal effort.

Tonight’s dinner was a Greek salad and chicken, so I made a Yogurt Dill dressing to tie the flavors together.

(A helpful hint to catch the lemon pits is to put a small strainer on top of the blender)

 

Cod & Tapenade

Some things just go together…  peanut butter & jelly, bacon & eggs,  mashed potatoes & gravy,  champagne & …  hell, ANYTHING.

For me, another one of those pairings is fish and any kind of salty condiment.  I love salt.  I know it isn’t good for you in excess,  but I can’t help it.  There are at least 8 different kinds of salt in my kitchen at this very moment.  Smoked Salt, Truffle Salt, Hawaiian Pink Salt, French Sea Salt, Kosher Salt,  Maldon Salt, Australian Pink Flake Salt, Sel Gris,  but NEVER idiodized table salt.

I am not alone in this near-obsession.  As is the case with most Chefs, we have a salty palate.  What I mean by that is we are so accustomed to highly seasoned food that for the average person it can be a bit too salty. (My Mom used to tease me that she was going to buy me a salt lick at the feed store by our house).

To feed my addiction,  I made olive tapenade.  It is one of the most delicious things and it will keep in your refrigerator for over a week.  It can be eaten on its own:  spread of a piece of warm, toasted baguette, or use it as a flavoring on a piece of fish for example.  Luckily for me I have a great  fishmonger a few blocks away, which brings me back to some things just go together…  Fish loves salt.  It doesn’t have to come from actual salt,  it can come from bacon, capers or olive tapenade!  If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.  Where do fish live?  (in salty ocean water…)

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