Soba Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables

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Now don't tell anyone, but the inspiration for this did come from the Rachel Ray Magazine. I know what you are thinking, but my friends get me subscriptions, I have never in my life paid for an issue. But it is a guilty pleasure, and sometimes when Rach is not busy calling soup "stoup" or olive oil "EVOO", she has some good ideas. Even my husband will read the magazine, just don't ask him to admit it.

I really like napa cabbage, especially in stir fry., and decided to go for it. I adjusted the recipe, adding chicken, bean sprouts and omitting a few things I can't even recall.

Soba Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables
Serves 2
4 oz of soba noodles
2 small chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
1/2 head of napa cabbage, shredded
1 cup of edamame
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 cup of bean sprouts
4 stalks of green onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
hoisin sauce
soy sauce
grated ginger
salt and pepper
vegetable oil
mint leaves, a handful

1) Cook soba noodles, drain and set aside
2) In the meantime, cook the chicken in some vegetable oil, until no longer pink, and set aside.
3) To the same pan, add napa cabbage and edamame. Cook until cabbage begins to wilt, add soy sauce and hoisin sauce to taste, a few tablespoons each. Add garlic, and ginger.
4) In the last few minutes, add noodles, chicken, sprouts, green onion and mint. Cook for 3 or so minutes, add additional hoisin sauce and season with salt and pepper.

It's a pretty simple, healthy meal. At first you feel nice and healthy. But then you want snacks. So don't have snacks around. Or drink plenty of water to fill yourself up, then you can feel healthy all night long.

White Asparagus, and oh yeah, Pasta

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If you read this blog, or even glance over it occasionally, you can tell I like pasta. And I like it often. So let me first mention the white asparagus. If you haven't tried some, you should. It's delicious and nuttier than it's green cousin. In Spain, all we had was white asparagus, usually marinated, and huge. So when I saw my local market had some, and for the same price as the green, I bought a pack.

There's apparently different ways to prepare this, but I went for the simple oven roasted recipe. A few days prior I had made a simple dressing with olive oil, champagne vinegar, a shallot, sea salt, pepper and thyme, so I just drizzled some of that dressing over the tender asparagus and baked them for 20 minutes or so. They were delicious.

As for the pasta, I noticed in my previous posts I didn't really list a recipe, so I'll attempt to this time. I used some tomato fettuccine, I like my pasta colorful, but you can use any pasta you want. It's the sauce that's important.

Pasta Sauce
Serves 3 really hungry people, or 4 moderate eaters. For 1 lb of pasta.
Hungarian bacon (peppered), a small chunk the size of a child's fist (I buy a huge chunk, chop it up and freeze in pieces)
Italian sausage link
1/2 can of black olives, sliced
1/2 can of artichokes or artichoke bottoms (I used bottoms this time since I had some left over)
Fresh basil
Dried basil, rosemary and oregano
pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
4 cans of tomato sauce (8 oz), you can also substitute one can of crushed tomatoes, if you like the sauce chunky. I don't, but I compromise for the husband.
1 tbsp of tomato paste
olive oil
salt and pepper

1) Cook bacon for a few minutes. Once it begins to crisp, add sausage and garlic. Cook until sausage is no longer pink.
2) Add tomato paste, cook for a couple of minutes, and add pepper flakes, artichokes and olives.
3) Pour in the tomato sauces, season with salt, pepper and dried herbs.
4) Let sauce simmer for 15 minutes of so. Taste, adjust seasoning. Add fresh basil after turning off heat.

Make sure to top your pasta with cheese, and enjoy! It's a quick sauce, taking about 30 minutes, but tastes like you've been cooking it all day.


Thanksgiving: Turkey and All

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I have to first say, my picture taking abilities disappear when I have guests. I always forget, or just manage to take the blurriest photos imaginable. And Thanksgiving was no different.

I did my prep work the night before. I made a delicious curried carrot soup (with no photos as evidence), prepped all the vegetables for the stuffing and corn casserole, washed and trimmed by green beans, cooked a lot of bacon ( oh yes, bacon was used in two dishes), and readied my kitchen for the next day's activities.

Thursday was the difficult day, mostly for my husband, who spent a good part of the day with a turkey in his arms. First we washed, dried and stuffed the 20 pound monster. Then, every hour there was the basting and constant rotating in the oven. Although the turkey is long gone, leftovers disappearing fast, my husband's back pain lingers, as does the stink of icy hot on my hands.

There was a lot of food, and most of my recipes are not written down, or memorized, so I'm going to skip writing out rough versions, if anyone is interested in anything in particular, you can let me know, but here's what we had, besides the 20 pound bird:

Grilled Green Beans

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic

Corn Casserole (with bacon). A few folks were disappointed this was not mac and cheese.

Stuffing, with bacon, sausage, artichoke bottoms and celery. We made some in the turkey as well, but after tasting both, my husband and I decided never to stuff a turkey again.
It's just not as good, or worth all the trouble.

Carrots and Yams, roasted with the turkey.

There was also homemade bread and gravy, my husband's doing, and homemade cranberry sauce from a neighbor, and Costco pies from the brother-in-law.

From the sleepy expressions on my guests' faces, and their protruding tummies, my husband and I declared Thanksgiving a success!

Ahi Tuna with a Honey Glaze, on Watercress

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We bought some ahi tuna the other day and I wanted to do something different. Not that the soy/wasabi marinade my husband usually makes isn't delicious, but, we were going to have it with watercress and I wanted something more... balanced. I quickly looked up a honey glaze recipe on my phone, and by the time I got home, I forgot the exact measurements and ingredients, and decided to wing it.

Honey Glaze Recipe (this is by no means exact)
2 tbsps of honey
2 tsps of rice vinegar
olive oil
red pepper flakes
juice of one lime
salt and pepper

I mixed the above ingredients, tasting along the way, adjusting the olive oil or vinegar. Then I brushed both sides on the tuna and grilled it. I reserved some of the glaze to drizzle over my salad and fish after it was cooked. It was pretty simple and delicious. The sweetness went well with the bitterness of watercress, which we don't have very often, but have vowed to more regularly.


Station House Cafe Breakfast/Lunch

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We arrived at Point Reyes hungry, and with 30 minutes before our cheese tour (that's right!) at Cowgirl Creamery. But we were determined to sit down for a meal, and decided on the Station House Cafe down the street from the creamery.

The husband had to have oysters, so he ordered the Hangtown Fry, with oysters fried with bacon and eggs. I was ready for lunch, so I settled on the pulled pork sandwich with yummy cole slaw. The slaw had everything crunchy under the sun - celery, radish, apples and jicama.

With a tasty meal in our stomachs, we walked to the creamery for a tour, which was more like a "sit and chat" since they have a pretty small production space. But we got to sample some delicious Cowgirl cheeses, and in the end that's all that mattered.


Oysters, and lots of them

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After the San Francisco conference, the husband and I drove to Point Reyes, for three peaceful days filled with eating oysters, going to sleep early, reading, and enjoying the beautiful scenery. It was a lot like heaven, but with lots of cows.
During our two and a half day trip, we ate something close to 5 dozen oysters. Now, I have to say, 8 months ago, I did not like these fleshy little monsters. But, I was encouraged to keep trying, and I did have a delicious oyster at Anisette in Santa Monica and really liked it. So, I quickly became an oyster snob, deciding to eat only oysters I deemed to be fresh and worthy.

And there's nothing fresher than seeing oysters at an oyster farm. The Point Reyes area has six, but three open to the public, and we went to all three. Starting off at Hog Island Oyster Co., where we had a dozen sweetwaters; we then headed to Tomales Bay Oysters, picking up beers on the way, and sampled their goods.

The last day, we stopped off at Drakes Oysters, and had two dozen more before our flight home. And I'm now completely won over by these delicious creatures. But my favorite part was learning to shuck them. And by the end, I was pretty good at it.
(RIP our oyster shucker. We had to buy an oyster shucker at Drakes, since they didn't lend one out. We had two dozen oysters waiting for us, so we had no choice but to dish out $12 for a shucker. I decided it would be worth trying to sneak it back with us in our luggage, except we weren't checking in any bags. As you can imagine, airport security came to the rescue, and our shucker was confiscated. We had a small chance of it getting through, as I stood there explaining to one confused secuirty officer what the object he was holding before him was. "It's for oysters, it's not very sharp," I said. But before I could say more, a lady security guard comes by with her eyes big and excitedly says,"I just saw an episode on CSI where someone was stabbed with one of those on a plane." And that, was the end of our shucker.)


R & G Lounge for Dinner

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The R & G Lounge located in San Francisco's Chinatown was packed on a Tuesday night. We had made reservations just that afternoon, and good thing too. After a brief wait, we were seated in one of the restaurant's dining rooms. The highlight of the evening was the most delicious fried salt and pepper crab, R & G's specialty. When it arrived, we were in awe, as it smelled as good as it looked. It took us a while, but we finished it off, licking our fingers the whole time.

The entertaining portion of the night did not involve food at all, but an obnoxious family of three, seated a table away. The parents, along with their seventeen-ish daughter, dressed up like a Kardashian, texting all through dinner, took about six minutes to order. Now, six minutes is a very long time to place an order for three people. Very long. Especially when the order ends up being egg rolls, chow mein, and some sort of rice. It was painful to witness. Why come to a fancy Chinese restraurant and order items off the Panda Express menu?

The best part was when the daughter removed a tube of hand sanitizer from her purse, placed it on the table and proceeded to sanitize after every course, all the while texting.

Getting back to food though, my husband tried the braised shark fin soup, another house specialty. At $12 a cup, this was a pricey soup, but he was curious to taste it. The curiousity did not last long, as the soup tasted bland. There just wasn't much to it.

I however, went for the predictable hot and sour soup, and was not at all disappointed. It has a nice kick, and lots of flavor. My soup won that round.

We also had an order of pineapple friend rice with shrimp. It had some nice flavors, but it was hard for this dish to follow the crab.

The crab had this amazing batter, and was so succulent and tender. Skip the eggrolls and indulge yourself. And don't forget to bring your sanitizer; who knows what kind of weirdos might be sitting next to you.

Vietnamese Lunch at the Slanted Door

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Last week, I got to visit San Francisco for a conference. I love this conference, not only because it is in SF, but I actually enjoy this awesome application called Salesforce.com. No one is paying me to say nice things about this product, although they should, but this very generous organization gives their product to nonprofits for free. And free is good.

My husband always tags along to this conference, and spends his days eating, drinking and stumbling around town. We don't see each other often, but this time we got to share two meals on our first day there. Our first, was a lunch at the Slanted Door Vietnamese Restaurant. It is located in the Ferry Building, with great views of the bay.

We started off with some drinks, and I had a delicious rum and ginger drink called the Shanghai Buck.

We then had the Imperial Spring Rolls with shrimp, which were very tasty, and the beef carpaccio, which we had some debate over. My husband was picking up a soapy taste from the beef, and I was not. So, I ate most of it. Win for me! It was served with rice crackers.

We also had the shrimp and pork wonton soup, and crispy noodles with seafood and veggies. All good. I would give this place a solid B. It was tasty, and the location was great, but nothing was exceptional, except for these crunchy pork bites in the soup. Now those will be remembered.

Vegetable and Chorizo Soup

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I made this soup early last week. I don't have much to say about it, except that it was heartly, simply and satisfying. You can obviously replace any of the ingredients with other ones you might prefer better, but I like this combination of veggies and beans. And I had always wanted to use chorizo in a soup, and found it added a nice salty flavor here.

Vegetable and Chorizo Soup
Serves 4 to 6
1 can of garbanzo beans
1 can of cannellini beans
2 chorizo sausage links, casings removed
1 potato, diced into small cubes
1 yellow zucchini
1/2 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 large kale leaves, chopped roughly
1 can of tomato sauce, 8 oz
1 carton of vegetable stock, 32 oz
1 tsp of tomato paste
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1) Brown the chorizo in a small sauté pan, drain off the grease, and set aside.
2) In olive oil, sauté onion and garlic for several minutes, then add cubed potatoes, and sauté for another 5 minutes or so. Add tomato paste and stir.
3) Add zucchini and beans to the pot. Cook for a couple of minutes and add stock and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and add kale and chorizo. Season with salt and pepper.
4) Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until potatoes and kale are soft.


Angel Hair Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Herbs

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I had to work on Saturday. And it was awful. Not so much the work, but waking up at 6 am. I don't do that during the week, so to do it on my weekend really made me sad.

When I got home, after1 pm, much later than I expected, a lovely lunch was waiting for me on table. My husband prepared angel hair pasta with fresh tomatoes and herbs from our garden - basil, parsley and oregano. He also had roasted garlic in there, which made it even better.

I don't have a recipe here, but you can probably figure out what to do from the ingredients above. Toss with olive oil and enjoy warm or cold.

Ramen Craving Satisfied

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I had intentions of cooking on Friday, but as I drove home, listening to an NPR story about ramen, those intentions were quickly replaced with a desire for a hot steaming bowl of noodles.

A friend joined us for a quick trip to Little Tokyo, where we had a nice, satisfying meal at Koraku. This time making sure we had cash, we started with pickled napa cabbage, and gyoza. The gyoza was super tasty, with lots of green onion.

I had been craving something spicy, and ended up with a large bowl of Kim Chi Soup (top photo). It had strips of pork, green onions, ramen, and kim chi. Although I tried to act tough and finish my soup, in the end I gave up, and passed it over to my husband in defeat. It was just too much for one person.

My husband had a delicious Japanese beef curry, which smelled perfect, and tasted pretty good.

And our friend had a bowl of steaming soup as well. His came with pork, mushrooms, ramen and lots of vegetables like bean spouts and cabbage. It was much more subtle in flavor than mine, but tasted fresh, and light.

Next time, I definitely want to try one of their curries. Although as we sat waiting for our food, watching dishes come out of the small kitchen, there was not a single one that passed our table that did not look delicious.

Okra, with Roasted Asparagus

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This past Thursday, once again, I went running with my friend, and then we made dinner, and then I was yet again watching a Jane Austin film on her uncomfortable couch.

I had some asparagus at home, so I brought it along to roast. The menu kept changing, but after her lunch-time shopping, my friend settled on Greek-style okra.

I hadn't had okra in a very long time, but I recalled liking it. And although it's not my favorite thing to eat, it was tasty, and different, so I definitely appreciated that. Although I was in the kitchen, chopping and stiring, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to measurements. So keep that in mind.

Roasted Asparagus
Serves 3 or 4
1 bundle, about a lb of medium size, ends trimmed
olive oil
sea salt and pepper

1) Place on cookie sheet, lined with foil, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
2) Bake at 350 degree for about 15 minutes, rotating half way through.

Greek-Style Okra
Serves 4
2 lbs of okra, ends trimmed
1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, minced
10 oz of crushed tomatoes in sauce (about, you can add more if you see it fit)
salt and pepper
olive oil

1) Wash okra, trim ends, and soak in vinegar for 10-30 minutes. We only did 10 or so, since we were hungry.
2) Saute onions and garlic in olive oil for 5-6 minutes. Add okra, and saute for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often.
3) Add crushed tomatoes, season, cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes.

We had it topped with feta cheese and a side of bread. As a kid I recall always having it over white rice.

Russian Sausages, with Beans and Chard

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I like sausage, especially the little Russian ones. They are simple, so it's best to dress them up. But with a little bit of seasoning, they quickly become tasty. They go well with cabage, and almost any starch. But the other day, I paired them with butter beans with chard. Butter beans are giant and delicious. With red onion and garlic, this side takes no time at all, and is good with chicken and other meats.

Russian Sausages, with Beans and Chard
Serves 4
1 1/2 lbs of small Russian links
1 bundle of Swiss Chard, at least 4 large leaves, chopped
1 can of butter beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 red onion, chopped to your preference
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper

1) Heat some olive oil and add links, season with paprika, cumin, and pepper to taste. Let them cook for about 15-20 minutes, rotating regularly.
2) Heat olive oil in another pan and add onion and garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes, and add beans. Saute for a few more minutes and add chopped chard, balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until chard has wilted.


Eggplant Appetizer, eat it cold

Pin It On Saturday, while waiting for my big pork roast to cook slowly (more on that later), I decided to use the jumbo eggplant I had bought the previous day and make one of my favorite eggplant dishes, with no name. Well, I'm sure it has a name, but I don't know it. My grandmother used to make it all the time, but I cannot recall us ever calling anything besides "cold eggplant."
This dish is very simple to make, the only difficult part is waiting for the eggplant to saute, in batches. And you have to wait at least 24 hours before digging in. The longer it sits, the tastier it will get, just don't let it sit around for weeks. Cold Eggplant
Makes for about 15 individual appetizers
3 large eggplants, sliced thin, but not too thin
5 tomatoes, sliced thin
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
handful of parsley, chopped fine
salt and pepper
olive oil, and lots of it

1) Saute eggplant until golden on both sides in plenty of olive oil, season as you go.
2) Let the layering begin. Start with eggplant, then garlic and parsley. Top with tomato, and repeat. It's up to you whether you want to end up with tomato or eggplant on top. I prefer my tomato in between the eggplant, it absorbs more of the flavors. You can do however many layers your container will allow, I usually do two or three.
3) Place in fridge and wait for at least 24 hours, then enjoy.
This is a garlic infused dish, which is why it's so delicious. And the best part is that it looks as pretty on a plate, as it tastes.

Beef Burgundy, with no prior research

Pin It On my Friday off, I decided to make a stew. I had a huge chunk of chuck roast, and after a good amount of prep work, I had my 2 inch cubes ready for stewing. I've stewed meat many times with wine, but never had I done small cubes. I usually keep the the meat roast whole. This time, without looking up any recipes, I just did what came to mind, probably from watching a recent episode of Simply Ming, where he makes short ribs in a similar fashion.

Beef Burgundy (by no means the official version)
2 1/2 lb chuck roast, trimmed, cut into 2 inch cubes
5 carrots, chopped into medium chunks
4 ribs of celery, chopped into medium chunks
1 large onion, chopped roughly
1 1/2 bottles of red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
a bouquet of thyme, rosemary, and sage
salt and pepper
olive oil
water, if needed

1) Season and brown the meat in batches, in a large dutch oven, in olive oil.
2) With the meat resting, add a little more oil and saute the vegetables for several minutes, 5-7.
3) Place the meat back into the pan, and add wine, seasoning, and the bouquet of herbs. The wine should barely cover the meat and veggies. If you need more liquid, add water or beef stock.
4) Simmer for 2-3 hours until meat is tender.

Serve over egg noodles, or rice, or polenta. Basically whatever you'd like.

I got a late start on this dish, and was really hungry when it was finally done. So my sauce was a little thin and I didn't have patience to reduce it. If you have time, and want to do this right, you can thicken up the liquid by removing the meat and veggies, and letting it cook down. You can also add tomato paste in the beginning, and do things like coat your meat with flour before browning.

Even though the ingredient list on this stew is short. It had lots of flavor, and the meat was tender and tasty after hours of cooking. This was also the first time I served a stew with egg noodles, and really liked that combination.

This was the perfect meal to make on a day off work, as the house smelled like wine and beef all day, as I went about my housework.

Vegetable Soup, after Thursday night workout

Pin It On Thursday, a friend and I went running at the Rose Bowl. Well, not really running. We walked fast and ran slow, sometimes. We are hoping to keep up our weekly date of running, getting mad at each other, cooking dinner, getting more mad at each other, and watching tv.

After the workout, my friend promised to make a vegetable soup for dinner. When she got into my car, she tried to back out of this saying it would take too long. But we did have soup that night, so she stuck to her word.

There was a lot of sighing involved as she chopped the veggies, and I drank a lot of wine, and didn't pay much attention to every detail. But I think I got the just of the recipe. And apparently, you can just add or omit any vegetable you like from this recipe, and no one would notice.

Vegetable Soup, a la Liz
2 leeks, chopped
1 shallot, chopped fine
2-3 garlic cloves (I can't really recall)
1 large potato, diced into small cubes
1 tomato, diced into small cubes
1 bunch of spinach, washed, stems trimmed
1 can of black beans
1 can of Peruvian beans
1 can of pato sauce, mexican style tomato sauce
1 can of tomato sauce
1 carton (32 oz) of chicken stock
salt and pepper
olive oil
vinegar, optional

1) Saute leaks, shallots and garlic in olive oil for about 4-5 minutes. Add beans and tomatoes. Saute until tomatoes begin to break down.

2) Add potatoes and saute for a couple more minutes. Add pato and tomato sauce, season, and add chicken stock. Cook for about 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

3) Add spinach to the last 5 minutes of cooking (This was a fighting step for us. As my friend wanted to put the spinach in at the beginning, but I was bossy enough to prevent her. I hate mushy spinach, and I've always seen it added as one of the last ingredients in a soup, but my friend did not agree. She just went along with me, so I'd shut up.)

4) Taste, adjust seasoning, and serve with a splash of vinegar and olive oil on top.

The evening was funny, and at times tiresome, not just from the running, but also the clashing of our two personalities. But the soup, the soup was delicious. It was hearty, filling, and fairly quick to make. It took about an hour from start to finish, and could have taken less if there was less complaining and faster chopping. It also had a nice spiciness to it due to the pato sauce, which I think most vegetable soups lack.

Later this week, I am planning to make my own version maybe with garbanzo beans, small pasta, and other vegetables I can find in my fridge at the time.