Category Archives: pasta

Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki

I was reminded of this elaborate variation of okonomiyaki today while playing with a sourdough adaptation of the basic recipe and decided to share the LJ post from four years ago.  It’s a lot more work than I normally have the energy for these days so I’m unlikely to cook it again in the near future.

It’s been a while since I made this tasty Japanese pancake so I decided to take it to the next level with a Hiroshima style okonomiyaki.

It’s a bit labour intensive because you have to do a lot of prepping of the ingredients, but the actual execution is a breeze. So, once you have everything in its own bowl, you can crank out 1 or 2, or 4 okonomiyaki in a row and everyone can have their own flavour combinations.

Overview of the Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki

1 portion of yakisoba noodles
1 egg, fried sunny side up and yolk still runny
1 okonomiyaki with desired garnishes

Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki

1. Make the Yakisoba noodles

Yakisoba Noodles – you can divide this batch of noodles in half to serve as the base of 2 portions if you wish.

1 bundle of Y&Y brand 3 minute chow mein noodles (from a 1 pound package)
1 recipe of yakisoba sauce
1-2 tsp vegetable oil

In a medium saucepan boil 4-5 cups of water. Add the bundle of chow mein noodles and gently tease apart. Cook for 3 minutes. Drain well. If using immediately, heat a large non stick frying pan to medium and add vegetable oil. Add noodles and fry for a few minutes until the noodles start getting some colour. Pour the yakisoba sauce over the noodles and stir through.

If making ahead, drain the noodles and rinse them with cold water. Drain again and store in a plastic wrap covered bowl so they don’t dry out. When frying make sure the noodles warm through before adding the yakisoba sauce.

Yakisoba Sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sake/mirin/water
1-2 tsp soy sauce
1/4-1/2 tsp wasabi paste (add more if you like it hotter)

Stir together in a small bowl and pour over the noodles as required.

2. Fry the egg

3. Make the Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki – makes one pancake

2-3 strips bacon, cooked, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup shredded cabbage (or bagged coleslaw mix)
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) all purpose flour
pinch or two of salt
3 tbsp water or dashi soup
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped green onion (optional)

Other meat choices
– a few cooked shrimp, shredded surimi, 3-4 pieces thinly sliced pork

Okonomiyaki Sauce – mix the following together

3 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon Soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Okonomiyaki Toppings

2 tablespoons mayonnaise (diluted with 1 tbsp milk to make it easier to pipe)
Aonori (ground dried green seaweed) or shredded nori and dried bonito shavings (to taste)

Mise en place – From left to right. Top row: yakisoba sauce, cooked yakisoba noodles, shredded coleslaw/carrot mix, 2nd row: shaved bonito flakes, egg, 2 stalks of sliced green onion, okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise in squeeze bottle, bottom row: sliced surimi, fried bacon cut into 1 inch pieces

Making the Okonomiyaki batter

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Gently mix in the water and egg. A whisk will assist with this. Next, add all the remaining ingredients and mix them together thoroughly with a large spoon.

Okonomiyaki batter and surimi

Heat the griddle (or frying pan) to medium or medium-high and lightly oil. Spoon the okonomiyaki mixture onto the griddle and spread it into a round shape about 1/2 an inch (1.2 to 1.5 cm) thick.

When air bubbles start to rise in the middle of the okonomiyaki, lay the cooked bacon pieces on top, turn the pancake over with a spatula and fry while pressing down on the pancake slightly until done.

Bacon and Okonomiyaki – before turning over to cook the top of okonomiyaki

Underside of okonomiyaki

Transfer to a serving dish, bacon side up.

Yakisoba noodles and fried egg – waiting for their okonomiyaki top

Okonomiyaki (top side up) on top of noodles and egg and ready to be garnished

Spread the okonomiyaki sauce over the pancake, top with mayonnaise in a pretty pattern.

Sprinkle on the aonori and dried bonito flakes, if using, as well as any other garnishes. The okonomiyaki is now ready to eat.

ETA: Version #2 with avocado garnish and green onion mixed into batter. Bean sprouts are good inside the batter as well.

Playing with the toppings … and what is inside the pancake as well

Closeup with oozing egg – I’m still working on cooking the yolk less.

Pasta alla Caruso

I was going to do a giant post featuring the two chickens I bought a couple of weeks ago but I postponed it, again, for this Italian pasta dish featuring an item many people may not associate with Italy … chicken livers.

I love chicken livers and have had a craving for a while so I picked up two pounds on Saturday and set aside half a pound for use in this delicious dish that I ran across while net surfing a while ago.

Pasta alla Caruso is a chicken liver dish named in honour of the Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso, who was said to love it, and a speciality of his home town of Naples. The Italian name, “Pasta Con Fegatini Di Pollo, Cipolle E Funghi” refers to the ingredients … chicken livers, San Marzano tomatoes, onions and mushrooms.

Pasta alla Caruso – serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb (225 gm) fresh chicken livers *
1/4 cup finely diced onion (or 2 tbsp sauted)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 lb (225 gm) sliced mushrooms (half button and half cremini)
1 tsp dried herb mixture (equal parts dried parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup dry red wine (Italian preferred ie Sangiovese)
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 – 1 /2 cups canned, peeled plum tomatoes (San Marzano preferred)
salt and ground black pepper, as needed

* If you don’t like chicken livers, slice a zucchini into 1/4 inch rounds, coat them with flour and deep-fry. Drain on paper towels and then use them in place of the fried chicken livers.

Garnish – grated Pecorino Roman (or Parmigiano Reggiano, if that’s all you have)

200 gm thick pasta cooked according to package directions ie fettuccine or linguine or even bucatini

Puree the plum tomatoes and set aside until needed.

Rinse and trim the chicken livers. Drain well and cut into 1/2 in (12-13 mm) wide strips.  Sprinkle about 1/8-1/4 tsp salt over the liver. Heat up the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the livers and fry over medium/medium-high heat until firm. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside until needed.

Wipe out the saute pan, add the unsalted butter and saute the diced onion over medium heat until it’s started to pick up some colour.

Add the sliced mushrooms to the saute pan, sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of salt over the top, and saute them until they start getting golden brown but are still a bit firm. Add the dried herbs and stir through.

Add the tomato paste and fry for a few minutes until you’ve coated the onions/mushrooms and the mixture is fairly dry. Add the wine and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and the pureed tomatoes and liquid. Cook, uncovered, for 7-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and infused into the vegetables.

Add the cooked chicken livers and any juices that may have come out of them and stir through. Cook just until the chickens are warmed through. You don’t want them to get tough.

Taste the mixture and add whatever else you might need – some more salt, some ground pepper, or even a bit of lemon if the sauce seems a bit flat.

Divide the freshly cooked pasta between two plates, ladle half the sauce over each portion and grate the cheese over the top.

Serve with a glass of the red wine.

Enjoy!

The rest of the chicken livers were sauteed in vegetable oil with a sprinkle of salt, Hungarian paprika and a medium sized onion. Just like my mother used to make for me. There’s nothing like chicken livers over mashed potatoes or mamaliga (the Romanian version of polenta). At least, I think so.

Tutti a Tavola…

“Tutti a tavola a mangiare” or ‘everyone to the table to eat’ is Lidia Bastianich‘s closing on her Italian cooking show.

I thought it was an appropriate title for this Italian themed menu.

Strozzapreti (priest-strangler) pasta made with flour, a pinch of salt and hot water. Kneaded for five or six minutes until smooth and supple, this simple pasta is rolled out about 1/8th of an inch thick with a rolling pin and then cut into one inch strips with a pizza cutter.

The strips of pasta are then stretched a bit before being rolled between the palms of your hands to form little ‘snakes’ of pasta. Tear the pasta into 3-3 1/2 inch pieces and let dry for half an hour before cooking. Depending on how thick your pasta is, it will take five or six minutes to cook to al dente.

Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce of your choice.

Individual beef and mushroom braciole

Beef and Mushroom Braciole – serves 4

1 pound/454 gm eye of round, cut into four 1/2 inch slices**
1/2 cup finely diced mushrooms
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 slices bacon, finely diced
1/8 tsp dried parsley flakes
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
bundle of fresh basil leaves (6-8)
2 1/2-3 cups spaghetti sauce
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp ground black pepper, divided

Hot cooked pasta or polenta

** Eye of round cut into 1/2 inch thick slices, pounded to 1/4 inch thick with a meat tenderizer. Set aside.

Add the mushrooms, onion, cheese, bacon, parsley flakes, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper to a food processor. Pulse a few times until you have a homogenous mixture which still has some texture to it. Remove the mixture to a small bowl and divide by eye into four even portions.

Season the beef cutlets on both sides with some of the remaining salt and pepper. Spoon the mushroom mixture onto each cutlet, spread out leaving about 1/2 inch free on all sides. Starting on the longer side, roll up the beef cutlet to enclose the mushroom mixture. Tie up each roll with butcher’s twine. (Or use toothpicks to seal.)

Preheat the oven to 325 deg F.

Place a dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the oil and when hot, sear off each beef roll until browned on all sides. Transfer the rolls to a plate.

Drain off any remaining oil from the dutch oven and add the spaghetti sauce and the basil leaves. Add the seared beef rolls and any juices that have drained off. The sauce level should be almost to the top of the rolls. If needed, add some water to the sauce. Bring the spaghetti sauce to a simmer. Put the lid on and transfer into the preheated oven.

Bake for 1 1/2-2 hrs, turning over about half way through the cooking time, until the beef is tender.

Remove the string from the braciole, slice into 3/4-1 inch slices and serve over the polenta with some of the spaghetti sauce spooned over the top. Alternatively, toss freshly cooked pasta with some of the spaghetti sauce and serve the sliced braciole on top.

Dessert was a quick and easy affogato or ice cream ‘drowned’ in a shot of espresso.

And, a couple of ham, bacon, mushroom and mozzarella cheese pizzas for work lunches.

Black Pepper Shrimp

I’m cooking more dishes for one or two these days, rather than pots of ‘stuff’. This black pepper shrimp makes a fast work day supper served over plain rice or noodles.

Black Pepper Shrimp with Udon Noodles

Black Pepper Shrimp – serves 1

4-6 oz/113-170 gm peeled, headless raw shrimp, tail on
1 rounded tsp whole black peppercorns
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 clove garlic, finely minced or 1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry or dry white wine
1 tsp sugar
pinch (1/8 tsp) of salt
1 tbsp green onion tops, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Lightly pound the black peppercorns using a mortal and pestle until they are coarsely cracked. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, put the peppercorns in a sturdy freezer bag and crack with the smooth side of a meat tenderizer. Don’t leave any whole peppercorns but you don’t have to pound the peppercorn to a powder.)

Heat up a skillet or wok over medium/medium-high heat and add the butter. Add the garlic and black pepper and saute until you smell the aroma of the pepper, then add the shrimp and stir to combine. Add the oyster sauce, stir a few times before adding the wine and sugar.

Stir fry until the shrimp are cooked.

Plate, sprinkle the green onion over the top and serve immediately.

NOTE: This is a fairly dry preparation (no sauce) so you can stir cooked noodles (ie udon noodles or spaghetti) into the skillet as soon as the shrimp are cooked to coat them with the butter and any juices released by the shrimp. If serving over plain rice, season the rice with some soy sauce.

Black Pepper Shrimp with Plain Rice

Pork Tenderloin Four Ways

If you have a chance to buy pork tenderloin fresh, it’s quite a versatile protein for a singleton, and you can take your time making various dishes.

Unfortunately, I bought mine frozen, so when I thawed it, I had to prepare (trim off fat and remove the silver skin) and use it in as soon as possible.

Pork tenderloin souvlaki – marinated (Kraft Zesty Italian dressing), threaded onto skewers with chunks of onion and sweet pepper (red, yellow and orange), and then broiled on the bbq or in the oven under the grill. Serve with starch of your choice. In this case, I had leftover Mexican rice in the freezer so that’s what I used.

 

Korean pork tenderloin roast – marinated in a Korean paste and served over plain rice. I boiled and served the marinade over the slightly charred pork.

 

Korean (Gochujang) Pork Tenderloin Marinade – serves 3-4

1 large piece of pork tenderloin (1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs)

1/2 cup gochujang
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey or brown sugar*
1-6 cloves of garlic, minced*
2 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
pinch of salt

* I used honey and only 1 clove of garlic

Pesto pork tenderloin roast – marinated in home made pesto and served with pesto fettuccine

 

Honey mustard pork tenderloin – Pan fried pork cutlet served with honey mustard dressing … it turned out I hadn’t taken a picture of the honey mustard over the pork itself, just over the raw broccoli so you’ll have to imagine. The protein was served with skin on, smashed potatoes.

One Pot – Creamy Ham, Pea and Egg Noodles

Cooking for one (or two) means you often have leftovers from things you’ve thawed. In this case, I had a cup or so of diced ham from a 2 cup bag I’d frozen for soup. (I used the other cup for a broccoli, cheddar cheese and ham quiche.)

I found an online ‘one dish’ recipe and scaled it down to suit the amounts I had. Although I halved all the other ingredients, I used the full 2 cups of chicken stock (1 1/2 cups of stock and 1/2 cup of water, works too) because I needed to have enough liquid to cover the noodles. The noodles were cooked in the pan and didn’t suffer taste-wise from the substitution. I also omitted the lemon juice because I was saving my lone lemon for something else. Instead of using half and half, I used 1/4 cup of whipping cream.

Creamy Ham, Pea and Egg Noodles Pot

The dish was quick to assemble and delicious and the leftover portion could be taken to work the next day for lunch or enjoyed for a repeat supper.

Baked Meatballs … and Stuff

I’m so bored that the dozens of pictures that I took over the last month or so are languishing on my hard drive, unlikely to ever see the light of day. And the July clear-out post of pictures, scheduled to drop, eventually, is probably going to be deleted, as there’s nothing really new in them.

The most exciting thing I’ve made since my last post (NOT yesterday’s Italian bread post) is a batch of baked beef meatballs which I combined with jarred mushroom spaghetti sauce and rotini pasta for today’s supper. I toasted a couple of slices of the bread for garlic bread.

A few days ago I thawed the last of the hamantaschen pastry from Christmas. Today, I rolled out the pastry, cut out 2 inch circles and shaped them into a sort of ‘bow-tie’ cookie filled with mincemeat, also leftover from Christmas. Tasty but otherwise … meh.

In a recent ‘conversation through blog comments’ with a blogging friend I mentioned my last culinary shopping splurge, at the local LCBO … a bottle of Niagara Pinot Grigio and a bottle of sake. The Pinot was slated for risotto and/or mussels in a white wine and tomato sauce, and the sake was supposed to be paired with something sushi related. It didn’t happen. In the middle is a bottle of Polish made mead in a ceramic bottle gifted to me by my nephew. I’ll have to do something creative with it, one of these days.

And that’s about it, folks.

Pantry/Freezer Clearout – Tuna Noodle Casserole

A few weeks ago, I asked for suggestions on my FB groups as to what to do with canned tuna. One of the most popular suggestions was a tuna noodle casserole. I finally got around to making it and wondered why I’d waited so long. Cause this is some tasty stuff, folks.

For a recipe I went with the one from the Campbells (TM) website.

I was tempted to only use one can of tuna but, since I had five cans in the pantry, I splurged. I left out the pimento, since I didn’t have any, and topped the casserole with about a cup of crispy fried onions, from my pantry, instead of breadcrumbs. I also sprinkled some sweet paprika over the top, for colour.

 

 

Review: Delicious, if a bit bland. You might want to add about a quarter teaspoon of salt and pepper to the mushroom soup/milk mixture before you add the cooked noodles and the rest of the ingredients.

Pantry Clear-out – Day 1 (Whole Wheat Pasta)

Over the last few years, I’ve made many resolutions to empty out my freezers due to excess frost build-up. Unfortunately, great grocery sales keep tempting me to bring home more goodies to stuff inside.

Today is the last day of classes and I’ll have about three months of free time to play in my kitchen. It also means no pay cheques coming in. A perfect time to use up what I already have. I’ll try to buy only items absolutely needed to finish off carefully planned dishes or menus. I’ll transfer as much of the contents of the freezer that’s next to my kitchen as possible, to the one used for long term storage in the basement, and use up what’s left. When the freezer is empty, I’ll thaw the freezer, removing any ice that falls off the sides, then clean and dry carefully. When it comes back up to temperature, I’ll do the reverse with the one in the basement.

Keep your fingers crossed that I’ll end up with two frost-freezers, a much reduced pantry, and a few extra dollars in my pocket, by the end of the summer.

Whole Wheat Pasta Pappardelle with Duck Ragu

Whole Wheat Pasta – makes ~ 1 lb/454 gm pasta, serves 2-4

2 cups/250 gm whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
water (6-8 tbsp) **

** add 1 tbsp of olive oil and then water, as needed

Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly on low.

Add the eggs and olive oil to the food processor through the feed tube, pulsing briefly. With the food processor on, slowly add the water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough gathers together into a ball.

Remove the pasta dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 3-4 minutes using as little extra flour as possible.

 

Shape the dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic food wrap. Let sit on the counter for 30 minutes to allow the gluten developed during kneading to relax.

 

 

Divide into 3-4 portions and roll out with a rolling pin or pasta machine to about 1/8 th to 1/16 th inch thickness, depending on the purpose required. Cut into strips etc.

Fill a large pot with water, salt generously and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 3-5 minutes until the pasta is tender but still a bit chewy. Dress as desired.

Asparagus and Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo with Greek Yogurt

Work’s been good this past month so I was feeling a bit ‘spendy’ when I went grocery shopping.

My grocery list had ONE item on it … MILK … but I ended up spending $60 on various extras including a box of ice cream drumsticks. (SO bad … but it was a PROMO sale.)

I decided to skip replenishing my stock of potatoes so meals in the week ahead are going to feature pasta and rice side dishes. I was going to start with a chicken Alfredo. Unfortunately, it turned out that that carton of whipping cream that I was sure I had in the back of the fridge … wasn’t there.

Substitution time.

A fast search on the net and I ran across a recipe for an Alfredo sauce using Greek yogurt. I also added a couple of ounces of cream cheese and, of course, Parmesan cheese, to the sauce.

Greek yogurt … I had strained it previously because I wanted a nice thick yogurt for something else, so I had to add more pasta water than expected to thin it down enough for the recipe below.

The result was delicious, and I didn’t miss the whipping cream at all.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus and Chicken – serves 4

300 gm fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti pasta
1/2 pound (~230 gm) chicken breast, cubed**
1/2 pound (~230 gm) asparagus stalks, cut into 1 1/2-2 inch pieces

** I had a couple of chicken cutlets that I had prepped and frozen, so I used those.

Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water for use in the Alfredo sauce below. You’ll start with 1/4 cup but if your sauce tightens up you may need to add more.

NOTE: An easy way to cook your asparagus is to add it to the pot of pasta for the last 3 minutes of cooking time. It will be tender but still have a bit of crunch and retain its green colour.

Greek Yogurt Alfredo Sauce

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp coarsely ground black pepper (use white pepper if you want a whiter sauce)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup white wine (or pasta water, vegetable broth or chicken broth; the broth will make the sauce less white)
2 oz (~60 gm) Philadelphia cream cheese, cubed
1 oz (~30 gm, 1/2 cup) shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Additional grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Melt the butter and olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced chicken and asparagus and sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top. Saute until the chicken is lightly golden and no longer pink inside and the asparagus is tender, but still a bit crunchy. Remove the chicken and asparagus to a small bowl and reserve.

Lower the heat under the saute pan to medium and add the minced garlic. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the wine (or pasta water) and scrape the bottom of the pan to bring up the fond (bits of browned chicken and garlic). Whisk in the cubed cream cheese until it melts into a ‘sauce’. You may want to add a bit more pasta water at this point to help. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 2 minutes to cool enough that the yogurt won’t curdle.

Whisk in the yogurt and the grated Parmesan cheese and then return the pan to the stove over medium-low heat. Add the reserved chicken and asparagus and stir constantly until the Parmesan is mostly melted into the sauce, 3-4 minutes. Do not let the sauce come to a simmer or boil as this could cause it to curdle.

Add the cooked pasta to the saute pan and stir so that the sauce will coat the pasta. Add additional pasta water if needed to thin the sauce.

Serve and garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.