Sunday, March 28, 2010

Garlic Buttered Egg Noodles with Asparagus and Button Mushrooms

Growing up, my Mom was very very tricky. One of her favorite tricks was to make my brother Jason and I believe that cheap and mundane dishes were expensive treats to be had only on occasion. I love that trick.

One dish my Mom would make that I loved was garlic buttered egg noodles. I took my Mom's old recipe and jazzed it up a bit. It's cheap, delicious, and a great main vegetarian dish or side dish with my shellfish recipe.

Garlic Buttered Egg Noodles with Asparagus and Button Mushrooms

1 lb egg noodles
1 lb asparagus (cut in thirds)
1 package button mushrooms sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp garlic salt
4 tbs salted Irish butter
A couple dashes of hot sesame oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup red onion

First, cook the egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet (I use my wok), heat the olive oil. Saute the asparagus and button mushrooms until they are cooked to your taste. Remove the vegetables from the pan. Next, add the butter to the pan and melt the butter, next add the cilantro, garlic, and red onion. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Then add the noodles, sesame oil, vegetables, and garlic salt. Cook all together for 5 minutes. Serve it up and enjoy!

This recipe will run you about $5-$7 and will feed four people to the gills.

Shellfish Steaming Stock Base for Mussels, Cockles, and Clams

I have been searching for perfection in my quest for a blow your mind recipe for steaming shell fish. Last night I did. I considered simply updating my existing spicy mussels recipe with this new recipe, but there is enough difference in flavor and prep time that I decided to go ahead and create a separate recipe. Also, the side dish I prepared with these mussels balanced the flavors in a really simple and effective way.

And completely by accident I created a seafood soup stock that had my dinner guests asking for good Italian bread that they then used to dip and sop up as much of the stock as they could. One of my guests was allergic to shellfish, and she risked hives in order to sample the sauce from the mussels--more than once.

These mussels take a little bit longer prep time (adding an additional 20 minutes), but it is worth it. Sweet baby Jesus it is worth it. I will post the recipe for the side dish (Buttered Noodles with Asparagus and Button Mushrooms) in a separate post. I loved that so much that I may make another batch of it today.

So here it is:

Shellfish Steaming Stock Base (Mussels, Cockles, Clams)

2 to 4lbs of your favorite mussels, cockles, or clams
1 loaf of fresh Italian bread or baguette
4 cups sweet white wine (I use pinot grigio)
4 cloves garlic minced
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp salt
2 tsps fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp fresh rosemary
2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp Brandon's Shut Yo Mouth Hot Sauce or two thai peppers diced
1 jalapeno diced
1/2 tsp hot sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp salted Irish butter
1/2 cup fresh cilantro minced
1 bunch scallions minced
1/2 small red onion minced
1/4 cup sweetened cooking sake
1 package Goya Sazon con Azafran

Combine all the ingredients, except the shellfish and butter, in a large pot. Stir the steaming stock and make sure that all of the ingredients are well mixed. Then add the butter to the pot.

Next over medium high heat bring the stock to a simmer. DO NOT LET THE STOCK BOIL! If the stock boils it will weaken the flavor. Once the stock has reached a steady simmer, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the stock and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Next add your shellfish to the pot. Cover, turn the heat to high, and steam the shellfish for 7 to 10 minutes (cockles take less time, clams take the most time). Uncover, remove any shellfish that have not opened, and serve. Prepare to have your mind blown. Pour the juice in a dipping bowl and serve with fresh baguette or Italian bread for dipping.

Depending on how your kitchen is stocked in terms of spices, this recipe will run you $16 to $20, and it will feed four people comfortably. Consider serving it with my Buttered Noodles with Asparagus and Button Mushrooms.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tostones con Ailoi a la Tasha y Nat (Fried Green Platains with Creamy Garlic Dipping Sauce)

Last night I made my spicy mussels dish for a group of friends at the Brooklyn home of my diva-licious friends Tasha and Natalie.

In addition to my spicy mussels dish, I made tostones (fried green plantains--a common side dish from the Caribbean) and a quick version of aioli that I made up last night as I went along. Natalie revealed that she had attempted to make tostones recently, but she wasn't able to get them to smash into round circles. It was revealed that she was trying to mash the uncooked green plantains, which would be akin to trying to use a rolling pin to mash a brick.

So, I decided, today, to reveal my easy tostones recipe along with the delicious "quick," aioli that I conjured up last night. And, just to note, I have named this quick and easy dipping sauce after my favorite two Brooklynite dykes: Tasha and Nat!

Tostones con Aioli (Fried Green Plantains with Garlic Dipping Sauce)

5 Green Plantains cut into quarter sized slices
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp garlic salt
1 small container sour creme
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large paper grocery bags

First, prepare your dipping sauce. This is remarkably easy. Open the sour creme container. Scoop the sour creme out into a small mixing bowl. To the sour creme add the olive oil, and to that add the garlic salt. Mix thoroughly and let stand at room temperature. Set aside.

Next, in a large pan (a wok actually works wonderfully) heat your vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the plantains. Chances are you will have to cook the plantains in several rounds. Preparing tostones is a two step process. Fry the tostones until they are golden in color, then remove from the heat and place on one of the paper bags. Next lay the second bag atop the first and using a rolling pin or a large can, roll over the uppermost bag and smash the plantains. Continue to do this process (frying and then smashing) until all of the plantains are cooked.

Then, add fresh oil to the wok and fry the plantains again! Cook them until they begin to turn a deep golden brown. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with garlic salt, and serve with the dipping sauce.

This recipe will run you about $5 and will feed a horde of hungry friends (four people will be comfortably stuffed before you serve the main course).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Quick Spicy Mussels with Salad Greens and Avocado

I love dazzling people with dishes that look amazing, and sound sexy, but are ridiculously cheap and easy to make. I learned that trick from my Mother. I grew up extremely poor. There were times when it was touch and go if we were going to be evicted from our home, and for most of my life my Mom worked two jobs, usually two minimum wage jobs.

My Mother was a hero, period, but she was a goddess in the kitchen. One thing that she did was turn mundane, everyday food, into miracle treats. My little brother Jason and I were convinced that buttered egg noodles were a delicacy, when in fact it was nothing more than sauteed noodles in butter, salt, and garlic. But, my mother would only make the dish rarely, and she made a big deal out of it when she did. Presentation and flair when serving a dish can turn anything into a fancy treat.

Last night, I made my favorite mussel recipe. Other than the brown rice, the entire dish takes roughly 15 minutes to make INCLUDING cooking and prep time. The reaction, however, when I posted a picture of my plate to Facebook was astounding.

So here is the recipe for my dinner last night. Enjoy!

Spicy Mussels with Salad Greens and Avocado

2lb Prince Edward Island or Blue Mussels
3 garlic cloves minced
2 jalapenos sliced
3 Thai chili peppers sliced
1/2 red onion diced
3 cups white wine
1 to 2 ripe avocados
1 bag of mixed garden greens

Mussels are wonderful because you don't have to clean them first. They generally come in 2lb bags at your local grocer in the fresh seafood section. The first thing that you want to do when you get home is go through the mussels and toss out any broken mussels. Next, in a large pot, add the wine, peppers, onion, and garlic. Next add the mussels. Cover the mussels and cook over high heat for 8-10 minutes until the mussels are opened. After 10 minutes (MAX!) remove from heat. Do not cook longer or the mussels will start to get chewy. Do NOT eat any mussels that haven't opened. Throw those away as well.

To dish up the mussels, lay down a bed of salad greens on a plate, next add white or brown rice to the top of the salad greens. You can then add the mussels (in the shell or out of the shell) to the top of the rice, and add slices of fresh avocado to the plate as well. Salt to taste and ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY!

You can also serve the mussels as an appetizer. Just place the mussels, in the shell, in a large bowl, and provide a separate bowl for shells. Folks can just dig in and eat 'em up.

This dish will serve 2 people well and the total cost, depending on the price of mussels, will run from $8 to $11.