Sweet Soy Glazed Salmon

SSSalmon2After a weekend filled with carbs & starches (Sat: pasta carbonara & Fri: sweet potato fries & pimento cheese fries at our new favorite restaurant) we decided to go to one of our staples: salmon.  It’s easy to cook; it can be broiled, grilled, baked, pan fried, or steamed, and doesn’t make you want to lay down after eating a bunch of it.  We like Asian flavors and this one packs a double umami punch of soy sauce and hoisin sauce.  The key here is reducing the marinade while the salmon bakes, but not burning the marinade as it reduces.  Also, please please please use low sodium soy sauce as anything with more sodium will be way too salty and surely raise your blood pressure.

A nice cold slaw pairs well with the spice and salt from the salmon.  We used a large beet and a large carrot (both of which were from the farmers market) and we made a refreshing vinaigrette with olive oil, rice wine vinegar, fresh lime juice, and fresh mint.

Sweet Soy Glazed Salmon

Ingredients: 
  • Two 6oz salmon fillets
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you want a little extra heat)
Instructions:
  1. Mix together all of the ingredients except for the salmon in a bowl.
  2. Place the salmon fillets in a zip-lock bag. Pour the sauce over top and close the bag. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the salmon fillets from the bag and place on baking pan. Bake for ~20 minutes.
  4. While salmon is baking, pour the marinade from the bag into a small pan. Bring to a very low simmer on the stove. Reduce until the liquid has thickened. (Do not have the heat too high! The sugar will burn.) This may take 10 minutes or the whole 20 minutes that the salmon is cooking. Just keep a close eye on it.
  5. After the salmon has cooked (should flake easily with a fork), brush with the glaze and serve.
Serves 2.

SSSalmon

Homemade Pasta Carbonara

carbonara3In 2015, we went on a trip to Italy & Turkey. After eating our way through Rome, we became mildly obsessed with fresh pasta. So we got the pasta attachments for our stand mixer and have been trying to master making pasta from scratch ever since. The first time we attempted homemade pasta, we decided to make carbonara to go with it. It was so good that I honestly don’t think we’ve made pasta without carbonara since. But this dinner is exactly why we made this blog! We’ve done things slightly different each time, with obviously slightly different results. And we can never remember what alterations improved (or didn’t improve…) the final dish!  Hopefully this will remedy the situation.

Generally when we make this, Ally is responsible for the pasta, and Selim is responsible for the carbonara itself. For the pasta, we make the dough fresh and by hand, and then use rolling and cutting attachments for our stand mixer to create the pasta. If you don’t own said attachments (go get them!), you can roll and cut the pasta by hand. I have no knowledge or ability to do such a thing, but allegedly it can be done ;).

Cheese: Try using other styles of cheese.  Any hard cheese will work well here.  Obviously, traditional carbonara has only Italian cheese (Parmesan and/or Pecorino), but this version isn’t 100% authentic by any means. Some of our favorites for carbonara include: aged mahon, manchego, and asiago.  In the future, we’d like to try a hard Swiss or sharp cheddar.  Play around with the cheeses to find out which combos you like best!

This meal begs for wine to accompany it. Tonight we drank Stone Mountain Vineyard’s 2011 Merlot.

Homemade Pasta Carbonara

(Our recipe is adapted & combined from several sources: The Cook’s Book, 400 Sauces, & KitchenAid’s insert that accompanied our pasta attachments.)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 eggs, divided
  • 6 strips of bacon or pancetta
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced/pressed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (try turffle oil for a different flavor)
  • 8oz hard Italian cheese (Parmesan, Pecorino), shredded
  • Fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Start by making the pasta dough. On a clean, dry counter-top, mix together the flour and salt and form it into a volcano (a mound with a crater scooped out in the middle). Crack two eggs into that center well/crater.
  2. Using a fork, slowly mix the egg into the flour. Try to keep the eggs within the crater, pulling in more and more flour. (If you fail, don’t worry, life will go on.) Once the egg is mixed into the flour enough that it’s not trying to run away anymore, switch to use your hands. Fold together until well combined. [You made need an extra dusting of flour if the dough is wet and sticky, or to wet your hands if it’s a bit dry.]
  3. Continue kneading the dough, stretching and folding, for at least 5 and up to 10 minutes. By this point, the dough should be smoother and elastic, so that you can form into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to two hours. pasta2
  4. Once the dough has set, roll out and divide into quarters. Using the pasta roller attachment on the stand mixer, flatten out (#5 if using KitchenAid’s model). Let the flattened dough rest on a floured surface. Then cut into your desired type of noodles using that attachment. [Follow your particular pasta roller/cutter’s instructions for doing these things.] Tip: keep your hands and the surface of the dough lightly floured during this process.
  5. If you have two people, the other person can start preparing the carbonara while one is working on the pasta. If not, finish working with the pasta and set aside on a floured surface and begin to work on the carbonara.
  6. Slice the bacon into lardons. In a deep sauté pan, or a sauteuse pan (I just learned the name of this!), cook the bacon over medium-high heat. Top with five turns of a pepper grinder. Once the bacon has released much of its fat and is becoming crispy, add the onions to the pan. Cook for ~5 minutes and then add the garlic to the pan. Continue cooking another ~2 minutes and then turn the burner off, leaving the pan on the burner.
  7. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the fresh pasta to the boiling water. Cook for only  two minutes!! Strain.
  8. Add the pasta once strained to the pan of bacon, onion, and garlic. Stir a few times to mix.
  9. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining four eggs vigorously with the olive oil. Then add 7oz of the cheese, continuing to whisk together. Top with another five turns of the pepper mill.
  10. Stir the cheese/egg mixture into the pot of noodles. Toss to thoroughly coat the noodles. Serve immediately, topped with the remaining cheese and another bit of pepper if desired.

carbonara2

Makes 2 very large individual servings, or 4 non-fat-American-sized servings.

Hodge-Podge Vegetable Soup

MMSoup2

What do you do when there are a bunch of vegetables that have been in your refrigerator and pantry for quite some time?  You make soup!  Ally loves soup, and I’ve learned that somehow, I come up with a great tasting soup.  The key is in getting the liquid portion to taste delicious as it will heighten the flavors of the other ingredients.

Umami, not only fun to say, but fun to cook with.  A little bit of an umami ingredient will go a long way in developing flavor in any dish.  Some of our favorites are soy sauce, fish sauce, cured olives, hard cheeses, bacon fat, Worcestershire sauce, and anchovies.  I’d like to try cooking with dashi as it’s always used by some of our favorite restaurants and chefs.

The stock we used in this soup, we actually made 100% from scratch.  Every Thanksgiving, we scoop up any and every bone from every house we go to.  A couple of years ago, we had a huge Virginia ham bone that made an amazingly rich stock.  This past Thanksgiving, we got the bones of turkeys, one that was fried and one that was baked, for our stock.  Turkey bone stock is quite easy to make, all you need is water and bones.  Cover the bones, boil, cool, skim the top, boil, cool, skim the top, and then strain (cheese cloth in a strainer works well).  We can our stock every year so it will last longer in the refrigerator.  That’s a whole big ordeal that I’m sure we’ll document this holiday season.

Anyways, we hope you enjoy this soup.  It probably goes a little bit better with cooler weather (think: fall day, with clouds and maybe a light drizzle) instead of the 90+ degree heat with humidity.

Hodge-Podge Vegetable Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 15 kalamata olives, pitted & sliced
  • 3 tbsp of liquid from olive jar*
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 32oz stock
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt & pepper to taste
*Look at see if your kalamata olives are in a water-based or oil-based liquid. We strongly prefer water-based, and that’s what we used here.
Optional Substitutions: 
  • Soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce instead of fish sauce – need the umami!
  • A hotter pepper for the jalapeno – for more heat!
  • 2 tbsp of oil (we like safflower, or try coconut oil for a little twist) for the bacon – to keep it vegetarian!
  • Try a different herb or combos of herbs, like rosemary, oregano, or basil.
  • Use whatever type of stock you’d like 🙂
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare all of the vegetables. Peel the sweet potatoes & squash prior to cubing. Remove seeds from jalapeno, unless you want the extra spiciness. Slice bacon strips into lardons.
  2. In a large stockpot, cook bacon over medium heat until the fat has liquefied and bacon is starting to crisp. Add onions and cook until translucent (~5 minutes). Then add garlic and saute until fragrant. Next add jalapenos and red pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Now add butternut squash and sweet potatoes to the pot. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add stock, fish sauce, and herbs. You may need slightly more stock depending on your pot size/shape – you want the liquid to cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer. Adjust temperature to maintain a low simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add corn to the soup with 10 minutes left.
  5. Taste liquid and add salt & pepper as needed before serving. Don’t add the salt until the very end! (We didn’t use any.)
Makes ~8 servings.

MMSoup1

Mango Coconut Veggie Curry

MCVCurry

I love pretty much any and all Asian foods and flavors. Thai-style curries are among my favorites. But disclaimer… I threw together this recipe myself. And as an average American with European mutt ancestry, I make no claims about authenticity of any sort.

But with that being said, I think this turned out really well. I think the sweet and spicy flavors balanced each other out nicely. Don’t be put off by the thought of fruit and vegetables together in a curry. It works, I promise.

Selim’s Take: Since I had absolutely no part in this recipe, and since Ally wasn’t following any recipe, I may or may not have been slightly nervous as to the finished product.  When she makes something by herself, she kicks me out of the kitchen completely; I’m not even allowed to get something to drink or a snack out of the refrigerator.  Ally likes to keep the ingredients a secret, because I’m really good at figuring out what she’s making just by knowing a few of the ingredients.  My nose was in for a treat this time… the house smelled delicious from all the aromatic garlic, onions, curry paste, paprika, and mango.  At one point, I thought I smelled maple syrup, but it was just the coconut and mango mix cooking down.  Like I said, the smells coming from the kitchen filled the house, sweet and spicy, definitely building the hype for this concoction.  The finished product didn’t disappoint either. I could definitely taste all the flavors, sweetness of the mango, corn, and coconut milk, the spicy curry, and a touch of umami from the fish sauce.  I would like to add that you could throw in a bit of chicken, tofu, or some beans to the dish for a little extra protein.

Mango Coconut Veggie Curry

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tsp oil (we like to cook with safflower oil, but use whatever you prefer)
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp red Thai curry paste
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 20 baby carrots, sliced
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels sliced off
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauceMCVCurry2
  • 1 cup of rice
  • Lime wedges
Instructions:
  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic. Allow to saute for 5+ minutes. Then add the jalapeno and saute another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, slice mango flesh away from the pit. Using an immersion blender (or regular blender), combine the coconut milk and mango. Blend until the combo is smooth.
  3. Once the onions and garlic have softened and become fragrant, add the curry paste to the pan. Stir so the paste combines with the oil. Allow to continue to saute another 5 minutes.
  4. Next, add the mango-coconut mixture, stock, paprika, soy sauce, and fish sauce to the pan. Stir to combine. Allow to come to a soft simmer.
  5. Once sauce is simmering, add the carrots. Continue at a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the corn and cook for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook rice per directions.
  6. Serve rice in bowl, cover with vegetables and sauce, and squeeze a lime wedge over top.
Makes 4 large servings.
MCVCurry3

Berry Mocktail

I don’t know about where anyone else lives, but it is hot as ****** down here in Columbia, SC. At 9am this morning, it was already above 90 degrees. I might melt. Or die.

So this afternoon, I decided to treat myself to a cool little drink. It’s somewhere between a smoothie and a sparkling cocktail. And it was exactly what I was craving. berrymocktail

{All of you lushes can add some liquor and make a cocktail instead of a mocktail, but I was too hot for alcohol!}

Berry Mocktail

Ingredients: 

  • 5 strawberries
  • 5 cherries (pits removed)
  • 5 ice cubes
  • 1 can of Prickly Pear San Pellegrino (Ficodindia e Arancia)
  • Fresh mint

Instructions: 

  1. Use a food processor or blender to blend the berries and ice together. (Don’t put the soda in now… it’ll fizz all up!)
  2. Stir the can of soda into the mixture.
  3. Garnish with fresh mint.
Makes 1 large personal drink (as pictured) or 3-4 cocktail-size servings. Could easily scale up and make a pitcher to share!

 

Sfiha

sfiha

Yesterday morning before going to the grocery store, we had a pretty standard conversation around here…

“Do you want to pick out a new recipe to try tonight before we go to the store?”

“Duh.”

Selim was perusing one of our favorite books, The World’s Best Street Food, from Lonely Planet. Our friend Kayla gave it to us for Christmas one year. The recipe for sfiha, which are Lebanese meat pies, caught Selim’s eye. From an eyeball at the pictures and the recipe, sfiha reminded him of one of his Turkish favorites, lahmacun. So, we decided to try it tonight.

This recipe does include several ingredients you might not have on hand, but nothing you wouldn’t be able to use again. We had to get a few things. We couldn’t find pomegranate molasses though. This is commonly used in many dishes in countries that were once part of the Ottoman Empire… think Turkish or Lebanese food. Well we couldn’t find pomegranate molasses at the store OR any fresh pomegranates to make our own. So below, you’ll see a non-traditional improvisation. Instead of pomegranate, we used some of our fresh cherries and made a little syrup out of them by squeezing the juice out and reducing it with a touch of balsamic and lemon juice. [Most of the time Whole Foods, international grocery stores, and Middle Eastern markets will have this ingredient, we were just feeling lazy today and didn’t put in that much effort.]

Conclusion? These are delicious! The filling is so flavorful. The more you think about it, the more flavors you notice. Meat! Spices! Mint! Pine nuts! So many tastes!! Ours came out a little greasy. I think the butter in the recipe is completely unnecessary and would definitely leave it out next time. Didn’t ruin the deliciousness though!

Sfiha

Adapted from Lonely Planet’s The World’s Best Street Food

Ingredients:

Dough
  • 1 cup warm milksfihaingredients
  • 1 tsp active yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Filling
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1lb ground lamb
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, dicedrollingballs
  • 5 large mint leaves, torn
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tsp Balsamic vinegar*
  • 1 tsp lemon juice*
  • 20 cherries, pitted*
  • 2 tbsp butter {I would omit this next time!}
*{Can skip this if you have pomegranate molasses. In that case, use 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses.}
Optional Toppings
  • Additional yogurt
  • Additional pine nuts
  • Feta cheese
  • Lemon wedgessfihacounter

Instructions: 

  1. Set the cup of milk out so it can warm to room temperature. You can check with a thermometer; you want the milk to be ~100 degrees. Once it’s warm, whisk in the yeast. Once the yeast is dissolved, set the bowl aside until it begins to froth and bubble a little bit.
  2. Now mix the other dough ingredients in another bowl. Mix well.
  3. Once the milk/yeast bowl has frothed up, add it to the bowl of a stand mixer with the bread hook attachment. Start the mixer on low and add the flour/etc bowl to the stand mixer bowl. Allow this to work together for ~10 minutes. (Alternately, do this step by hand and knead for 10 minutes.)
  4. Now cover the dough in the bowl with a dry cloth and allow to rise. You want it to double in size. This will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  5. Take a break for awhile or make your filling so its ready when the dough is. The filling can sit in the fridge for awhile if need be.
  6. To start the filling, add the pine nuts to a small pan, so they make one flat layer. Toast over medium heat for only a few minutes. You’ll notice them start to get brown and toasty. It only takes a few minutes… don’t let them burn! Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Pit and halve cherries. Squish them with the back of a spoon to juice the cherries. Place the juice in a small pan over low heat with the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. It will thicken up after only 5 minutes or so. Once your juice/sauce has thickened, remove from heat.
  8. Combine toasted pine nuts, cherry/pomegranate syrup, onion, tomatoes, garlic, mint, and spices in a food processor. Pulse until they are well-combined.
  9. In a large bowl, combine the above mixture with lamb, yogurt, and tahini. It may seem a little on the liquid-y side (I thought so!), but it’s fine. Refrigerate if you’re still waiting on your dough.
  10. Once dough is ready, roll into small balls between your palms. You want the balls to be fairly small… prune-sized?? Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  11. Flour a dry surface and roll out your dough balls into rough circles.
  12. Place 1-2 tbsp of the meat filling in the center of the dough, depending upon the size of your dough. You want a fairly small dollop, smaller than you might be inclined to use. Pinch up the edges of the dough into corners.
  13. Place little pastries on a cookie sheet that’s either covered with a Silpat mat (greatest invention!) or sprayed with cooking spray.
  14. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. The edges should be golden-brown and the filling should be sizzling.
  15. Enjoy plain or top with a dollop of yogurt, some feta, extra pine nuts, or a squeeze of lemon. sfihaoven
This recipe makes 25-30 portions.

Mediterranean Cucumber-Zoodle Salad

Have you been introduced to zoodles, the semi-recent food craze and healthy-eater favorite? I love these spiralized “noodles” of zucchini. We’ve made several dishes with them, and I think they work great as a noodle or grain substitute if you’re into that kind of thing. What I don’t think however, is that they are “just like pasta.” You’ll see recipes floating around for things like Zoodles Alfredo where the authors claim they “can’t even tell the difference” between regular pasta and zoodles. I call BS. I like zoodles. I think they taste good. I think they work really well as a substitute in many situations where you would otherwise use noodles or rice. But I can definitely tell the difference!medzoodles

I personally like cooked zoodles way better than just spiralized zucchini raw. I don’t know why it tastes that different to me, but it does. Hence why in this recipe I cook the zoodles, even though I’m making a cold salad. Don’t judge. (And don’t do it if you don’t want! I’m sure normal people would like the whole thing raw.)

Mediterranean Cucumber-Zoodle Salad

Ingredients:

Salad:
  • 2 zucchini squash
  • 1/2 of a large cucumber
  • salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Handful of baby carrots, chopped
  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted & quartered
  • 4oz Feta cheese
Dressing:
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegarZoodles
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions:

  1. Use a spiralizer to spiralize the zucchini and cucumber. Alternatively, use a mandolin or julienne peeler. You want to end up with thin strips. Place the zoodles in a strainer (set aside the cucumbers). Toss with salt. Allow to sit out over the sink for 15+ minutes. This draws the liquid out of the vegetables and keeps them from getting mushy.
  2. Now squeeze the zoodles between your fists. You’ll be amazed how much liquid you can squeeze out! (You won’t hurt the zoodles, they’re pretty durable.)
  3. Put olive oil in saute pan over low-medium heat. Once warm, add zoodles to the pan and saute for ~10 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside, and allow to cool. [Skip this step if you’re not weird like me and are fine with raw zucchini.]
  4. Combine zoodles, cucumber, olives, and feta (crumbled or cut into chunks).
  5. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. Then toss the vegetables with the dressing and serve.medzoodles2