Zoodles have changed my life (recipe redo)

Unless you’re living under a rock you’ve probably noticed the “spiralizing” trend in which various vegetables are put through some kind of contraption that shapes them in to long thin strands and then they’re served like noodles or pasta.

I’m not usually one for trendy kitchen gadgets, but this one intrigued me. For years I’ve been shaving off thin layers of zucchini with a vegetable peeler, boiling the shavings and using them in my Summer “Pasta” recipe. Could a spiralizer make that dish, already one of my favorites, even better? I also wondered at the possibility of spiralizing other veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes. So, on a recent trip to Bed Bath & Beyond I plunked down $14.99 and left with this baby.

vegetti

A couple of weeks ago I was making a simple light dinner of some grilled ocean trout and needed a side dish. This seemed like the perfect time to try my spiralizer out. I’d just picked up some green and yellow zucchini at the farmers market too, so I’d be starting my spiralizing with zoodles (zucchini noodles + zoodles, get it?).

After a quick internet search I prepared the zoodles as follows. After spiralizing my zucchinis I put the zoodles in to a colander and tossed them with a whole bunch of salt and left the whole thing over a bowl for 30 minutes while the water drained out. After 30 minutes I rinsed the zoodles to get rid of the salt, patted them dry and then threw them in a bowl and into the fridge to dry out some more. A couple of hours later I heated up some olive oil and sauteed my zoodles for 3-4 minutes with some garlic, oregano and mint. The result… Ah-May-Zing.

Draining my zoodles

Draining my zoodles

I love zucchini in all forms, but Chris is usually pretty meh on it. “Delicious!” Chris exclaimed after his first bite and he helped himself to seconds. The zoodles were definitely a success.

Of course that meant that I know had to try out zoodles in my Summer “Pasta” recipe which is exactly what I did last weekend and guess what? The zoodles really did make one of my all time favorite meals even better!

So here’s what to do to make the original recipe even better:

1. Ignore the part about peeling and boiling the zucchini; instead prepare zoodles as above (spiralize, salt, rinse, refrigerate for a couple of hours or over night).

2. Prepare pancetta, onions, tomato, etc as directed.

3. When the non-zoodle veggies are mostly cooked toss in zoodles and cook for 3-4 minutes to desired doneness.

4. Toss the pancetta back in the pan. Remove from heat stir in mascarpone and basil.

5. Enjoy every amazing bite while thinking of all the other great things you’re going to do with your spiralizer.

Even better than the original!

Even better than the original!

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Z is for… Zambia, The end is here!

Hello!

Flag of Zambia

Flag of Zambia

It’s finally over! After some triumphs and plenty of bumps, I’ve finally reached my final alphabetical international recipe.

There are only two countries in the world that start with Z, Zimbabwe and Zambia; both in Africa and bordering each other in the southern part of the continent. Finding something to cook from either country was a challenge since both cuisines rely heavily on peanuts, which I’m deathly allergic to so I was delighted when I stumbled on a few mentions of Golabjamoun, a fried sweet potato treat from Zambia.

Traditionally Golabjamoun are fried in peanut oil, which I obviously needed to find a substitute for. Though olive oil isn’t the best of oils for frying, since the end of my 26 Dishes project coincided with the end of Hanukkah and it’s traditional to use olive oil on the holiday, I decided to go that route.

I couldn’t find many recipes for Golabjamoun and those that I did weren;t very detailed (“mix ingredients then fry until done”) so there was a bit of guess work here. Still this was an incredibly easy recipe and my only mistake was not realizing that they were meant to be deep fried and instead shallow fried them in a pan. Oh well, I’ve certainly messed up worse during the 26 Dishes project…

Golabjamoun

  • 1lb (about 2 medium) sweet potatoes; peeled and diced
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (or more to taste)
  • Oil for frying

Place sweet potatoes and milk in a medium pot set over medium-high heat. Bring milk to a boil, then turn heat down to medium, maintaining a steady boil until the potatoes are very soft and milk has mostly evaporated; about 10-15 minutes (this will largely depend on how small you cut your potatoes).

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Transfer to a mixing bowl and mash the sweet potatoes in to any remaining milk until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

When mixture is cool enough to handle,  add the flour, sugar and cinnamon and stir until fully incorporated.

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Heat the oil in a frying pan (or dutch oven with thermometer if deep frying). Take a bit of mixture in your hand and shape in to balls about 1 inch big, wetting hands between each and place in the hot oil.

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Fry until brown, flipping half way through, about 5 minutes a side.

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Place the finished Golabjamoun on a paper towel lined plate.

Yields 14-16 Golabjamoun

FINAL VERDICT: B

Chris and I both thought the Golabjamoun were quite tasty and perfect for this season as the cinnamon was very prevalent. I had some left over cranberry sauce so I served that on the side and it paired really well.

I would definitely make these again. I have a feeling that boiling these in milk is kind of unnecessary and instead you could just use left over baked sweet potatoes. Perhaps this could be a great Thanksgiving leftover recipe.

I do think these would’ve been a bit better had they been deep fried, but all in all they were still delish.

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So good with cranberry sauce!


Bon Appetit!

Stay tuned for the announcement of my next project, coming soon…

Y is for… Yemen; Scrambling to the finish line

yemen

Flag of Yemen

Yemen is the only country in the world that starts with the letter Y, so I didn’t have much choice in what country I’d make a dish from. I was, however, faced with the same problems I always have when making Middle Eastern food. First, they use a ton of things I’m allergic to and second that the dishes are more regional and less country specific. With that in mind I dug in and began my research.

Shakshouka is kind of a big deal in the Middle East. It’s a dish I’ve heard about for years from friends and family who’d enjoyed it in Israel. It involves tomatoes and spice, two things I love. Unfortunately, they told me, it also involved poached eggs. I do not do runny or soft eggs. I repeat, I do not do runny or soft eggs. I eat my eggs hard boiled or scrambled, period!

A shame, I thought, because I love a spicy tomato dish. Imagine how delighted I was then to find out that in Yemen Shakshouka is made with scrambled eggs! When I stumbled on to that fact there was no doubt what I was going to make. I got some fresh eggs at the farmer’s market and even managed to snag one of the last tomatoes of the season and I was in business.

PicMonkey Collage

Yemeni Shakshouka

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 small white onion; roughly diced
  • 1 medium tomatoes; roughly diced
  • 1 large pinch cumin or to taste
  • 1 large pinch ground coriander or to taste
  • pinch of saffron
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 a hot green chili, such as a jalapeno or to taste; roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs; lightly beaten

Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften; about 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes and all spices and stir, then add water. Cook over medium heat until tomatoes break down and sauce thickens; about 8 minutes.

thick

Starting to thicken up

Stir in green chili and cook for one minute more

Turn heat down to medium low. Pour beaten eggs over tomato mixture and let stand for 1 minute, then, using a spatula or wooden spoon, start scraping the sides of the eggs in to the center as you would when making an omelette until eggs have cooked through; about 1-2 minutes.

Using my Jamie Olive omelette technique

Using my Jamie Oliver omelette technique

Serve!

Yields 1-2 servings

FINAL VERDICT: A

Yum! What a great way to get back on the map. I at this for lunch yesterday. I’d taken a sick day because I’d hurt my back so this was a perfect nourishing and comforting dish and the saffron made this so visually appealing. I would eat this every day for breakfast (or lunch… or dinner…).

This dish will definitely be added to my repertoire. It would be so easy to double for more people plus you could easily use canned tomatoes when fresh are not in season.

I ate this with warm flat bread, but it would be just as good with toast.

I ate this with warm flat bread, but it would be just as good with toast.

W is for Wales… not a sovereign state, but a country

Helô

Welsh_flag

Welsh flag

When I started this project a year ago I did some basic research to determine that there were countries that started with most of the letters in the English alphabet. Of course, in this day and age, we all know that the most absolute accurate purveyor of knowledge and authority on all things is Wikipedia (bu- bu- pipe down and go with it!). So, periodically I would look at the Wikipedia “List of sovereign states,” which led me to believe that there is no country that starts with the letter W.

I could’ve panicked, but instead, being the worldly and magnanimous lady I am, I decided I would cook a dish from Wales. So OK Wales is part of the UK, but it’s a place with its own distinct culture and so, it reasoned, it’s own distinct food.

Soon after I made this well-thought out decision I ran in to my friend Paul, a native of Wales, and I couldn’t wait to tell him of my generous gift to the good people of Wales; letting them be their own country for the sake of my blog. And so I excitedly told Paul all about this new project I was starting and then, building excitement as only the finest storyteller can I reached the crescendo and exclaimed, “and since there’s no country in the world that starts with a W, I’ll–”

“I’m sorry, what? There’s no country that starts with W? There is NO country that starts with W?” (You gotta hear that in your head with Paul’s Welsh accent, it makes the story funnier).

“I mean I know that Wales starts with a W,” I explained, “but I mean it’s part of the UK.” At which time Paul reminded me that the UK is made up of four distinct countries; England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. You see Wales is in fact a country, but not a sovereign state.

Well there goes my career in diplomacy!

I had invited my friend Anna over for dinner on Friday and since it coincided with the timing of my W recipe, I decided to serve Welsh Rarebit as an appetizer. Despite the name often being pronounced Welsh Rabbit (both are correct from what I hear), this is actually a cheese dish. Basically you make a fondue type sauce, pour it over toast and then throw it under the broiler. Melty, oozey, bubbly cheese and bread; yes please!

Apologies for the lack of photos, I was busy entertaining my guest.

pour

Welsh Rarebit

  • 3 Tablespoons beer (stout or ale)
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard powder (such as Colemans)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Worcestershire sauce; to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 6 oz Welsh cheddar or caerphilly cheese grated
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 slices of bread (can be whatever you like, but I suggest a heartier, crustier variety)

In a small sauce pan mix a bit of the beer with the mustard powder to dissolve. Add butter,  Worcestershire and remaining beer.

Once butter has melted whisk in flour until smooth. Allow to cook for one more minute.

Add cheese, whisking until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly (mixture should still be warm).

Meanwhile toast the bread.

When the mixture has cooled to warm whisk in the eggs until smooth. Pour mixture over the toast and put under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until a bit browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

spread

FINAL VERDICT: A-

I mean people, do I need to say it again!? It’s melted cheese and bread, could it really not be amazing!?

With some minor tweeks this would definitely be an A+ recipe. Anna and I both agreed that the dish was delish and the texture was pretty fabulous; soft, creamy cheese and nice crunchy crusty bread. I think I need to play with the ratios though as the cheese should’ve been a bit meltier/bubblier. Also because I used a stout and white cheddar, the dish was not the most appealing color brown. I think next time I’d try and get an orange cheddar which wouldn’t effect the taste, but should help the color.

rarebit


Archwaeth dda!

Latke! I barely know ‘er…

…thanks folks, I’ll be here all night. Try the veal.

Weak title, right? Well the title may be weak, but my latkes are strong. Strong like a Maccabee!

What’s a Maccabee you ask? The Maccabees were warriors who defeated the Greeks and kicked them out of Judea. However, during Greek rule the Temple, the holiest of places for Jews, was desecrated by the Greeks. After the Greeks were sent packing, the Jews took to cleaning the temple and rededicating it. After the clean up was done, the Jews wanted to light the Temple’s Ner Tamid, eternal light, which acts  as  “a symbol of God’s eternal and imminent presence in our communities and in our lives,” but found that they only had enough oil for one day. They lit the Ner Tamid and miraculously the oil lasted for 8 days. That’s why Chanukah is celebrated for 8 nights.

Chanukah is not a particularly big or important holiday and has really just been played up by the same marketers who’ve done so much to commercialize Christmas. Chanukah has little religious significance and is more of a kids holiday. We don’t go to synagogue on this holiday unless it’s for a party! We do light Menorahs at home and eat foods fried in oil.

Yup, a holiday that consists of going to parties, lighting candles and eating fried foods… a little bit you wish you were Jewish right now, no?

The eating of fried foods represents the Jewish people’s love of food and lots of it  miraculous oil that burned for 8 days. In Israel they eat fried jelly donuts called sufganyiot, but in America it’s all about latkes, fried potato pancakes.

So in honor of the miracle of Chanukah here’s my latke recipe. Happy Chanukah!

PicMonkey Collage

Latkes

  • 5-6 medium yukon gold potatoes; peeled
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs; lightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 1/2 cup cornflakes; crushed by hand (I recommend Erewon brand)
  • A whole lot of olive oil

PicMonkey Collage2

Cut half the potatoes and the onion in to rough chunks and puree in food processor.

Grate the other half of the potatoes on a box grater and mix in with the onion and potato mix.*

Working in batches places some of the potato mixture in to a tea towel and squeeze out as much water as possible (this step is very important!) and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Mix in salt, eggs and chives, then mix in crushed cornflakes and stir until just combined.

Heat about an inch of oil in a deep frying pan.

Scoop up some potato mixture by hand and form into a circle, maybe  3 inches in diameter. Working in batches carefully lay the latkes in the frying pan. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes and then flip and repeat on the other side.

Drain on paper towels.

Serve with sour cream on the side.**

Yields 12-14 latkes

done

Cooks Notes:

*Back in the day latkes were always made by grating the potatoes, but today they’re often done in blenders of food processors. You could definitely just do one or the other in this recipe, but I like the texture you get from combining the two.

**The other traditional accompaniment to latkes other than sour cream is applesauce. Since I’m allergic to apples I’ve never tried it that way, but if you can eat apples you may want to serve that alongside your latkes too.

***I made these last night to bring to a friends house so I don’t have a picture of them on a plate with a nice dollop of sour cream. Use your imagination.

The world’s best cranberry sauce

You might think I’m overly confident, but facts are facts; I make the world’s best cranberry sauce and yes I do have many people who will back that up. I’ve received many of my most enthusiastic comments from people who’ve always hated cranberry sauce in the past, but found themselves loving mine. It’s not too sweet and not too tart. It doesn’t have weird thing floating in it or a weird gelatinous texture and it highlights the flavor of fresh cranberries.

My cranberry sauce recipe is not only my best, it’s also my oldest. When I was a kid, it was my job to make the cranberry sauce every Thanksgiving. We always used the basic recipe on the back of the bag of cranberries which consisted of cranberries, water and sugar. That recipe is actually quite tasty, but as my love of cooking grew I started experimenting more. About 10 years ago I finally perfected the recipe and I’m very proud of it.

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Alli’s Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • Zest of 2 large oranges
  • 2 12oz bags cranberries
  • 2 large oranges, supremed then roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Grande Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
  • Large pinch of kosher salt

In a large Dutch oven combine water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and orange zest and stir to dissolve sugar. Set over medium high heat. Bring to a boil.

Stir in remaining ingredients and bring back to a boil.

Reduce heat and allow to gently boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool completely then refrigrate several hours, preferably overnight

Cranberry sauce can be made several days in advance as sugar acts as a perservative.

Serves 10-12

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10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 6

Today I’m thankful for experiences that I’ve had living in various cities.

It should come as no surprise to you that New York is my favorite place in the world, but New York is not my adventure as it is for many people. I grew up in the suburbs, but growing up all of my grandparents lived in Brooklyn, my dad worked (and still works) in midtown. Weekends were often filled with trips to the city to go to Broadway shows or museums and even school trips often took us in to the city. So while I wasn’t raised a city girl, New York City still very much felt like my home.

As much as I’ve always loved New York City and as much as I knew I’d end up back here some day, I also knew that I would regret it if I never experienced anything different. I went to college in Providence, RI and fell madly in love with that city. I lived and worked therefor a couple of years after college as well and without the safety net of school, I really felt like I made that city my own. After I graduated college, I spent 6 months living in Copenhagen, Denmark and it became my second home. It was amazing to take a flying leap out of my comfort zone and in to a new culture. At some point after my second stint in Providence, I became a bit restless and ready to move on, but I wasn’t quite ready to come home yet so, on a whim, I decided to move to Boston where I met a group of amazing friends who remain some of the closest people in my life.

I am so thankful that I’ve been able to experience life in different cities and I would urge anyone else to do the same. Even if you love where you live, if you ever have the opportunity to spend even a few months living somewhere else I say go do it!

S is for… Slovenia; Soup for the sleep deprived

Pozdravljeni

Flag of Slovenia

It’s been acrazy few weeks for me between work, holiday planning, volunteering and about a million and a half other things. I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks exhausted. I was really craving food that was simple and comforting so Slovenian mushroom soup, Gobova Juha, seemed to fit the bill.

Apparently Slovenian’s are crazy for mushrooms. Who knew? My original plan was to also make Slovenian bread dumplings because they sounded heavenly, but between my exhaustion and acknowledging that with Thanksgiving coming up I should probably keep it light, I stuck with just the soup.

Gobova Juha
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion; diced
  • 2 cloves garlic; crushed
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1lb meaty mushrooms; cut in to chunks
  • 2 medium potatoes; peeled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 medium potatoes; cubed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup Riesling or similar white wine

    Ready for our bath!

Melt butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until they just begin to soften about 3 minute.
Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
Stir in mushrooms, spices, potatoes and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are nearly cooked through.
Stir in wine and bring back up to a boil. Allow soup to gently boil for an additional 10 minutes.
Serves 4

Boiling away

FINAL VERDICT: B
I will definitely be making this soup again. Next time I make it, when I’m less concerned with authenticity, I’ll probably experiment with spices, but this was just a really nice, easy everyday soup. Most of the recipes I found suggsted serving this with a dollop of sour cream on top. I’m sure that would be amazing since it’s a commonly known fact that sour cream makes everything better, but the dollops of sour cream didn’t exactly fit with the whole eating light before Thanksgiving plan.
This is a grat vgetarian recipe to have around and could easily be made vegan by replacing the butter with something vegan friendly. I’m not well schooledin gluten substitutions, but I’m also guessing it wouldn’t be too hard to find a replacement for the flour to make this soup gluten free.

I feel so naked without my nice dollop of sour cream, but I’m still yummy!

Dober tek!

10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 5

Today I’m thankful that I live in a city where I have access to so many amazing foods.

New York is probably the best place in the world when it comes to the diversity of food you can get here. Having people from all over the world all living in one city means that they bring their foods with them. The number ethnic restaurants you can find here is unblievable and while it’s often hard to me to experiment with new cuisines, it still makes my foodie heart sing to know that I live in a city that’s collectively excited to try new foods.

Living in a city that is so richly diverse also makes experimenting a pleasure. When I’m trying a new recipe I rarely worry that I won’t be able to find the ingredients I need. Of course you can’t get everything in New York, but I think it’s safe to say that you can get most things here and I am very thankful for that!