Friday, September 28, 2012

Grown-Up Ramen

If you've ever been to college, chances are, you've had Ramen noodles. You get a whole meal for just $.33. How can you beat that? 

Well, we've progressed since our poor college days, and we wanted to find a way to elevate the Ramen noodle. Mostly because the salt content in those little packets of seasoning are through the roof! You can buy just the noodles in the International aisle of your grocery store, or you can buy the individual "soup" packages. 

This preparation will be cold. If you want to try it warm, just prepare your onion and dressing before you cook your noodles.

Here's what you need: *Note - the quantities on the dressing are approximate. Use your taste buds. They'll tell you when you have the right mix.

1 package Ramen noodle soup
1 scallion
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 - 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 - 1 Tbsp honey
5-6 drops of Sriracha (more if you like it spicy!)
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt if you need it, but you should get enough salt from the soy

Here's what you do:
First things first, open up the package of Ramen and throw the seasoning packet in the trash. You don't want to be tempted to use it.

Now that that's taken care of, put a sauce pan of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add your noodles and let cook for 3-4 minutes. They cook fast, so don't let them go too long. No one likes mushy noodles.

Pour all of your dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

Your noodles should be done by now, so drain and rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking and cool them down. If you are serving this as a warm noodle dish, just drain and add to your dressing.

Slice up a scallion. We like to cut them diagonally when we're putting this in a salad like this. It's just prettier. You can slice them any way you want, we won't judge you. 

Add your noodles and scallions to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat everything.

That's it! You're ready to eat.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Spezzatino is an Italian dish that we saw on David Rocco Dolce Vita. We made this to go with our polenta... which happens to also be from David Rocco's Dolce Vita. What can we say, we like rustic Italian food.

Here's what you need:
4-5 lb roast (you can use beef, pork, veal, venison - whatever!)
4 carrots
4 celery ribs
1 large onion
4-5 baking potatoes
1 15 oz. can low sodium tomato sauce
1/4 cup red wine (we think we used a cabernet)
Kosher salt and black pepper

Here's what you do:
Slice the roast into about 1" cubes.

Place a large pan (or perhaps a enamel coated cast iron dutch oven would be better (You'll see why later)) over medium high heat and add a bit of olive oil to the bottom. Sear the meat. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, chop your carrot, celery and onion.

You don't have to be precise about your chopping, because you're going to run it through the food processor.

Peel and chop your potatoes.

Your meat should be seared, so remove from the pan.

Add the veggies to the pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Brown them for about 5 minutes.

Once your veggies are softened, pour the wine over them, and deglaze the bottom of the pan by scraping with a spatula. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

You're going to want to let this simmer for a few minutes. Once you can't smell the alcohol in the wine any longer, you're ready to move on.

Add the potatoes to the pan. Stir and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Now add the meat.

Next goes the rest of the wine.

And finally the tomato sauce.

Give everything a good stir. We had to be very, very careful with this step. As you can see, our pan probably wasn't quite big enough.

Bring this to a low boil.

Now, just reduce your heat to medium and cover for an hour and a half.

The meat tenderizes and the potatoes cook through, but aren't mushy. We think you're really going to enjoy this one.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Creamy Polenta

Recently, we've discovered David Rocco's Dolce Vita. It's a great show on the Cooking Channel. We always thought polenta was some difficult side to make and you were better off buying the pre-made polenta and just slicing it to use when you needed. Boy, were we wrong. Polenta is actually pretty simple, just a little tiring. You have to stir the entire time. Slight forearm discomfort is worth it for this yummy dish.

Here's what you need:
4 1/4 cups of lukewarm water
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 lb yellow corn meal

Here's what you do:
The first and most important step is to start with lukewarm water - not hot, not cold. Cold water will make your polenta lumpy. We don't really know why you shouldn't use hot water, but David Rocco said use lukewarm, so we did, and the polenta turned out amazing.

Add the salt to the water. Pour in a high-walled skillet or low-walled dutch oven. Your pot needs walls, but you don't want them too high because you're going to be stirring a lot.

Turn the heat on medium and add the corn meal. Start stirring in a clockwise direction.

Continue stirring, always in a clockwise direction. Apparently if you don't stir in the same direction, Italian women all over the world will roll over in their graves and your polenta won't turn out properly. We didn't want to risk that, so we stirred in one direction the entire time.

Eventually, your polenta will thicken and look like this:

At this point, there were a few bubbles coming through and the polenta was the consistency of porridge. The entire process takes 20-30 minutes.

You can serve your polenta two ways - warm, with a bit of olive oil and grated Parmesan, or cooled. We did both, but forgot to snap a picture of the cooled polenta. 

To cool it, spread the polenta in a baking dish (we used a 9 x 13 Pyrex) and let cool on the counter. Slice into squares and serve.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Smashed Black Beans

As a side to our flank steak fajitas that we had the other night, we whipped together this tasty side of smashed black beans. This is one of the simplest sides we've ever created, and we're pretty sure we'll never have black beans any other way for the rest of our lives. Alright, that may be a slight exaggeration, but they were really tasty. This recipe only makes enough for two, so if you're feeding a larger group, increase the amount of beans.

Here's what you need:
1 can of black beans
crumbled queso fresco

Here's what you do:
You're going to need to either pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees, or if you have a toaster oven like us, use that! We used a small Pyrex dish and it fit perfectly in the toaster oven. We didn't have to heat up our whole house with the hot oven either. 

Heat the beans in a sauce pan over medium heat. Keep them in their own juice for this part. 

You just want the beans to heat through. Once that's done, scoop them out with a slotted spoon so that the juice is left behind. Spread in an oven safe dish.

Using the back of a fork, gently smash the black beans so that they break open, but are still basically bean-shaped. 

Crumble the queso fresco over the beans.

Place in the oven/toaster oven for 5-10 minutes, or until your cheese melts.

Serve hot.