I’ve been cutting back on my grocery shopping trips so when I had a craving for potstickers/gyoza, rather than going out and buying a couple of packages of the ready made wrappers, I finally buckled down and decided to make them from scratch using this recipe.
The ingredients are simple, flour and salt and boiling water. And time … to let the dough hydrate and to roll them out.
Pleating also takes some time and, of course, practice.
After all that, I’m quite pleased with the results for a first try and WILL be making them again.
I revised my old carbonara recipe because I was inspired by a ‘saucier’ version I saw posted on FB yesterday. Pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.
Pasta Carbonara for One
90-100 gm dry pasta
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp bacon fat or olive oil
4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, divided
pasta water, as needed, cooled slightly
3 strips of crispy bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
freshly ground black pepper
salt, to taste
dry parsley flakes
Time is crucial for a carbonara as it waits for no-one to be served.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Remove about a cup of the pasta water to a bowl and let cool slightly. Drain the pasta and reserve for a minute or two as the sauce is prepared.
In a small bowl, whisk together the yolks, bacon fat and 3 tbsp of Parmesan cheese. Whisk 2-3 tablespoon of cooled pasta water into the egg mixture, a tablespoon at a time.
Pour the carbonara sauce in a large saute pan and place on the stove over the lowest heat to barely warm up the sauce and melt the cheese but not enough to start cooking the egg yolks.
Add the drained pasta and the bacon pieces to the pan, toss with a pair of tongs until the pasta is well coated and everything is warmed through. If the sauce starts tightening up, add another tablespoon or so of cooled pasta water to the pan.
Plate and sprinkle the parsley flakes over the top. Add more grated cheese if desired.
As close as I can get to an Irish meal to celebrate the occasion.
Corned beef brisket, colcannon and carrots.
I forgot to buy any beer but a nice pint glass of an Irish beer (is Harp beer good?) would be a nice accompaniment, I think. Dessert will be a slice of cran-apple pie though a piece of Irish “Brick” cake with some custard sauce might be more appropriate.
PS: I have some creamy potato-leek soup in the fridge but just wasn’t hungry enough to serve it.
Another pasta dish which is fast and easy to prepare and not that pricey, depending on the protein used.
Today’s post features shrimp and mushrooms. I like to pair a protein and a vegetable.
Basic Alfredo Recipe for One
90 gm pasta (fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti) 2 tbsp butter, extra virgin olive oil or equal parts of each 3-4 mushrooms, thickly sliced 100-125 gm raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined 1 clove garlic, finely minced 1/2 cup whipping cream 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh or dried parsley and more grated Parmesan for garnish
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add one tablespoon of butter and when it has melted and starts to bubble, add the mushrooms. Cook until golden brown on one side, turn and repeat with second side. Remove the mushrooms to a large bowl and reserve. Depending on how much butter remains in the pan, add a second tablespoon and when it melts, add the shrimp. Saute quickly, flipping over until both sides have begun to turn pink, then remove to the bowl with the mushrooms.
Add the minced garlic and saute briefly, stirring, until the garlic barely begins to pick up some colour, turn down the heat to medium and add the whipping cream and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the mixture starts to bubble, the cheese melts and the mixture begins to thicken. Add the cooked pasta, mushrooms and shrimp, stirring to coat with the Alfredo sauce.
Transfer to a plate and serve immediately garnished with some more grated Parmesan and parsley for colour.
Other options: chicken and asparagus or ham and green peas.
The simplest Italian pasta dish is spaghetti aglio e olio, pasta with garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil. If you’re on a budget, this is an inexpensive dish when paired with a big bowl of soup and a salad.
But you can build on this basic dish if your budget is more generous.
Instead of olive oil, you can use butter (or use both) and add some leftover roasted chicken. Or shrimp if you’ve just been paid. A bit of shrimp (100 gm per portion) can make you feel like you’re dining out at a fancy Italian restaurant, especially if you add a glass of a dry white wine to your meal. Clams or mussels are other protein options. Or a nice piece of salmon. If you’re avoiding meat but still want some protein in your dish, add a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas.
Add some jarred pasta sauce to the previous meal for a change in colour and flavour. And tomatoes are veggies, aren’t they? If you have tomatoes in your garden, dice up one and add that to the meal above. Grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half, are another option.
If you’re not in the mood for tomatoes, transform your aglio e olio into an Alfredo sauce with the addition of whipping cream and grated Parmesan cheese. Sometimes the cheese goes on sale and it freezes well, grated or ungrated.
Another option is to add some whipping cream to the tomato sauce. The result is a fancy ‘blush’ or pink sauce. You can add white wine to thin out a leftover Alfredo sauce if you’ve got some in the your cupboard or fridge. Vodka is another add-in to a blush sauce instead of the white wine.
And, if you’re a veggie fanatic, add blanched spinach or Swiss chard or kale to your pasta dish.
Kale is a bit on the bitter side so you may want to blanch it ahead of time or sautee it with your olive oil and garlic. Asparagus is another alternative. And, of course, you can sautee your favourite mushrooms in the olive oil until golden brown and remove them from the pan before adding your garlic, and return them to the pan along with your cooked and drained pasta to warm through.
Yesterday, my SIL gave me a head’s up that my brother was stopping over with a treat today. I kind of forgot that tomorrow (Feb 16) is Paczki Day. Paczki are glorified filled donuts for those who are not in the know.
So, when I got up to snow, with more snow predicted through the day AND into tomorrow, well, I couldn’t be TOO cranky.
I’ve sent an email to the gentleman who shovels my snow to book a visit after it’s all done. I haven’t heard from him yet but he’s got three weeks off so I’m hoping for timely shovelling.
In the meantime, I’ve got coffee and donuts to make my day.
I haven’t bought any ice cream lately but had cravings so I dug out my last can (10 oz in Canada) of sweetened condensed milk and a container of whipping cream and looked through my ‘meal ideas’ file.
I came up with this Japanese inspired anko (red bean paste) ice cream …
and a decadent Nutella-chocolate ice cream.
Anko Ice Cream – makes 2 cups. Whip 3/4 cup whipping cream in medium sized bowl until forms stiff peaks. In a 2nd medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk, 1 tbsp vodka or other neutral alcohol, and 100 gm coarse anko paste. Gently fold whipping cream into condensed milk mixture until no white areas remain and trying not to deflate the whipping cream. Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for 6 hrs or overnight. Serve.
Nutella-chocolate – makes 2 1/2 cups. Replace the anko, from the recipe above, with 1/4 cup of Nutella and add 2-3 tbsp of finely shaved dark chocolate.
I wasn’t going to do anything special this year cause I had a case of the Christmas blahs, but, at the last minute I bought a fresh leg of lamb and roasted it off with rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Threw in some diced potatoes and carrots as sides. Washed the meal down with a spiked (vodka) cranberry lemonade. Dessert was slices of a bought dark fruit cake. And, it was, on the whole, a good Christmas.
Because I had a lot of leftover meat (sliced lamb and salami), I baked off a quick batch of enriched (eggs, milk, sugar and melted duck fat) kaisers and hamburger buns for sandwiches.
Lunch plate of nibbles … bought cracker assortment, cheese (smoked Gouda and old white cheddar), Genoa and Hungarian salami and some apple slices (Ambrosia).
Regardless of the way you celebrate this time of year, I hope you were surrounded, virtually or in person, by friends and family (blood or choice).