Category Archives: Favorite Foods

Recipe: Duck Congee

Duck Congee was on a regular food rotation in our house growing up.  I have always loved it. My mother would make it whenever we had left over Peking Duck and I would always end up eating the majority of it, much to my little brother and sister’s dismay.  As you can see, I’ve always had a big appetite.  This past weekend we were in Long Island and my mom hooked me up with some left over roast duck.  This is serious comfort food, it’s warm, filling, and so tasty since the duck flavor infuses the rice stew.

Ingredients

Short grain rice


Canola oil

Roast duck – we used about half a duck (just pick some prepared roast duck at a Chinese restaurant)

Bok Choy

Scallions

Salt

White pepper

2 garlic cloves

Instructions

Use a cup and a half of rice.  Rinse thoroughly.

Use a large sauce pot, put in rice and 1 tablespoon of canola oil.  Add a lot of water, we filled the pot halfway up with water.  Start with medium high heat, when water boils reduce heat to low.  Cook the rice for about 20 – 25 minutes.

Add duck.  Cook for another 25 minutes.

In the meantime, clean and wash bok choy.  Chop finely, should have about 2 cups of chopped bok choy.  Mince two garlic cloves.  Use a saute pan, add some oil, add the garlic.  After two minutes, make sure not to burn the garlic.  Add the bok choy, saute for 5 minutes.  Add in to duck congee and mix.

At this point, you will want to add salt and white pepper to taste.  Serve with chopped scallions.  Enjoy!

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Recipe: Tomato Sauce

J grew up next to a woman straight from Italy.  She is so wonderful, warm, generous, funny, and a fabulous cook as well. She is the genius behind an amazing Tomato sauce.  So J decided to take advantage of the bountiful amounts of fresh plum tomatoes at the Syracuse farmers market and decided to make her fresh tomato sauce.  I have to admit, I was a little iffy about it at first because I have a lot of expectations for sauce.  It needs to be well-rounded, and the flavors need to be balanced. It needs to taste fully but tangy.  I like a little texture to it as well.

I know he’s my husband but DANG the sauce he made met all of my criteria and surpassed them.  He served it to me over some al dente spaghetti and I was licking the bowl after I ate all the pasta.  His neighbor gave him this recipe and I wanted to share it with you!

Ingredients

8 quarts Roma Tomatoes

1 large Vidalia onion or 2 small – medium onions

4 garlic cloves

1/2 – 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cans of Hunt’s tomato paste

1 Italian pepper

1 handful of fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Wash tomatoes and then crosshatch the bottom of each tomato (not too deep, just enough to score the skin.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Drop in tomatoes (in small batches) in water for about a minute. Use a slotted spoon to pull them out. Set them aside. Repeat until all tomatoes have been boiled.  This loosens up the skin so you can easily peel off the skin off all the tomatoes.  Once all tomatoes are peeled, set them aside.

Chop the onion and garlic.  In a big soup pot, bring oil up to temperature (using medium high heat).  Add chopped onions.  Cook until soft and golden, approximately 12 minutes.  Midway through, add chopped garlic.  Be careful not to burn onions or garlic.  After the 12 minutes, add all the tomato paste and stir frequently for 3 – 4 minutes.

Add tomatoes (either rough chop before) or give each tomato a big squeeze before adding into pot.  Turn heat down to medium.  Stir frequently to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.  Cook for 1 and 1/2 hours.

Seed and cut pepper in half (lengthwise).  Add to pot.  Rough cut basil and add to pot.  Add a bit of salt and pepper, but don’t overdo it because sauce will continue to reduce.  Continue to cook for another 1 – 2 hours, until you see oil appear at the top layer.  Once that happens, the sauce is done.

This makes A LOT of sauce, so jar it up and enjoy!

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Nothing like…

A crisp apple. I recently started eating Ginger Gold Apples.  They are slightly tart, very crispy, and just sweet enough.  Perfection. I buy them at the Honest Weight Co-op.  That place and the Troy Farmers’ Market really opened a whole new world of apples to me. I grew up eating Red Delicious and all of the other standard varieties at the grocery store.  But then at the Troy Farmers’ Market, I had a honey crisp.  Oh my, was that delicious.  And then I recently had a Cameo apple (again at the co-op), which almost tasted like a pear.  I’m open to suggestions on some great apples out there.  A caveat, I’m really not a big fan of Granny Smiths.  Keep them coming please.

Also, I just had to share this picture of the really sweet, couldn’t stop eating them heirloom tomatoes from our garden.  They were a mixture of Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, and Striped German, all of the starter plants were from the Farm at Miller’s Crossing.   J used this recipe, Heirloom Tomato Salad, at Epicurious.com.  Really freaking good.

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Don’t eat this on a date

I tried making my own chimichurri sauce (an Argentinian condiment) years ago and wasn’t very impressed. But then J broke out his own recipe for the sauce, and I remain to this day, very impressed. I request the sauce alot and I love it on grilled pork tenderloin that J also marinates in the chimichurri.  I also made a delicious discovery when dipping a nice, crisp roasted potato in the chimichurri.  Pretty much anything is good with it, just don’t eat it on a date because all of the green parsley and cilantro will get in between your teeth and you’ll also be emanating strong garlic odors.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ingredients:

2 bunches of parsley

1 bunch of cilantro

10 – 12 garlic cloves, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tablespoon oregano

1/3 to 1/2 cup of red wine or sherry vinegar (to taste)

1/3 to 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil (to taste)

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Salt, black pepper

The juice of 2 limes

Instructions:

You will need a food processor.  First throw in the garlic, jalapeno pepper, and vinegar (start with a 1/3 cup) and pulse until mixed and chopped finely.  Add in everything else, with the olive oil, start with a 1/3 cup and add more if preferred.  Pulse until a nice paste is created.  The chimichurri shouldn’t look dry but shouldn’t be soupy either.  It should have a thick consistency.  Keep tasting, add more olive oil, lime juice, or vinegar if you’d like.

The sauce is good for about a week in the fridge.

Put this sauce on anything and it will taste so good, you’ll want to do shots of it.

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My favorite breakfast

I eat oatmeal five days of the week and I’ve been doing so for the past 5 or 6 years.  It’s funny because I usually get tired of foods pretty quickly especially if I’m eating them everyday.  But not with oatmeal.  Mainly I eat it because it’s quick and as filling as I can get without eating a full eggs and toast breakfast.  Plus it’s my way of balancing my intake of french fries.  I figure the oatmeal kind of evens out the badness.

I recently discovered steel-cut oats.  I’ve dabbled in them before but never thought they were quick enough for me during my morning rush of trying to get the heck out of my front door to work.  But I had them at a work conference a couple of months ago and totally craved them, so my dear husband bought me some bulk steel cut from our favorite store, Honest Weight Food Co-op.

The easiest method that I found of cooking them is throwing them in the slow cooker and putting the setting on low.  Which is kind of a safe guard for me because I’m a total space cadet sometimes and forget about the oatmeal until the next morning. Which is actually fine, if on the low setting (I did it once on the high setting and I got some weird tasting oatmeal). I use a 1:3 ratio of oats to water and if I cook it for an hour or so, I get that nice steel-cut texture. If I space out and leave it on all night, it’s nice and mushy and still delicious.  Sometimes I add a little water because I need to heat it up in the microwave but overall I’m really happy with the steel-cut and will never go back to rolled oats.

To add some texture, I throw in a handful of sliced, spiced almonds and then a small teaspoon of local honey. YUM.

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Friday Addiction: Stovetop Popcorn

I never knew popcorn could be so sinfully delicious until my husband made me some popcorn on the stove.  His popcorn now makes me scoff at microwave popcorn (which by the way, can cause cancer).  This stovetop popcorn has a buttery taste without actually using any butter.  Do I have your attention now? Good, now get moving and make some popcorn!

Ingredients

1/3 cup Canola oil

3/4 – 1 cup popcorn kernels (we use white, organic popcorn because we’re stinkin’ snobs)

Salt

Instructions

Place the canola oil in a big metal bowl or big soup pot.  Heat the oil on medium high heat.


When the oil gets hot, almost smoking, add the kernels in.  Shake the bowl around to coat all the kernels.

Put a cover on the bowl.  Move the pan over the heat source back and forth to distribute the heat. It is essential that you lift the cover a little every now and then to let steam out. But be careful, when popping starts in earnest, make sure that kernels aren’t flying all over your kitchen.

As popping slows down considerably, pull the bowl off the heat.  Put the popcorn into a bowl, toss with salt (to taste).  Toss from bowl to bowl, adding salt until salty enough.

Note: to make it even more delicious, get some Cabot shakable cheddar cheese and shake that shit all over the popcorn.  Get ready to get into a fist fight with your family over that popcorn; it’s that good.

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Recipe: Cold Sesame Noodles (Warning: You will become addicted to these)

Okay think about the sesame noodles you get at Chinese take out places. The noodles I’m going to tell you how to make are about 1000 times better than those.  With these noodles. you might not be wowed at the first bite. But keep eating and you’ll see, they’re kind of ninja like in how they sneak up on you and then all you want to do is keep eating them.  You won’t stop until you’ve stuffed every last bit of noodle into your mouth.  And then you’ll want more.

Cold Sesame Noodles (recipe courtesy of my mother, one of the greatest cooks of all time)

Dried Chinese Noodles

Kikkoman Soy Sauce

White Vinegar

Sesame Oil

Scallions (1 piece or more depending how much you’re making)

Sriracha (only for those who can take it)

Cooking Instructions:

Boil water for noodles.  Just like you’re making pasta, have enough water to cover the top of how ever much noodles you’re making.  Once water boils, take a handful of noodles (again adjust to your preferred amount) and throw them in the water.

Turn heat to medium high.  Stir the noodles around, make sure you’re separating them in the water so they don’t stick together.  Let noodles cook for approximately 8 – 10 minutes.  Check around that time to see if the texture is right.  Should be a little chewy, and not too mushy.

Drain noodles in a colander. Rinse noodles with cold water.  Stash noodles in fridge to cool. Can be made a few days ahead of time.

When noodles are sufficiently cold enough, take them out. You can dress them now.  Start with the sesame oil first.  Drizzle oil onto noodles, making sure you’re not drenching the noodles but just about coating them.  Mix the noodles around (I like to use chopsticks, they seem the easiest tool to use to mix the noodles around) Then drizzle the noodles with the soy sauce.  Again, don’t drench them but use enough soy sauce so that the noodles are a nice brown color.  Pour 1 – 2 capfuls of the white vinegar onto the noodles. Mix.  Taste.  If you like it saltier, add more soy sauce. If you want more tang, add more vinegar.  But ideally you should have a nice balance of salt and a slight tang to the noodles.

Chop up 1/2 – 1 stem of scallions. Mix them into the noodles.

Add the Sriracha. The Sriracha really kicks up the flavor of the noodles so I highly suggest it.

Voila! Dive in!

Just a note. If you put the dressed noodles in the fridge, just make sure to add more of the 3 sauces whenever you’re ready to eat them again because the noodles tend to soak up the sauce.

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Friday Addiction: Soft Pretzels

Soft pretzels can be very good or very bad (aka soggy, no flavor). When they are good, they are crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, with a small amount of salt.  These pretzels exist at the Philly Pretzel Factory
in Clifton Park.

The pretzels are extremely affordable, you can buy a whole bag of the pretzels, eat all of them or save some for later.  We usually do that and stash them in the freezer.  They heat up wonderfully in the toaster oven.

I just ate one, here it is prior to entering my belly:

Yum.

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The Best Lasagna Recipe

A few years ago we discovered the best recipe for lasagna, and then we made it even better.  It is gooey, cheesy, and saucy, all the essential elements of a perfect lasagna.

You can find it here on the Epicurious website:  Turkey Sausage – Spinach Lasagna with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Make the following changes to the recipe:

Cut the sausage to 1 lb. (it can be regular sausage/turkey/or chicken, for best results however use Sindoni sausage, which can be found at Pricechopper)

Substitute mozzarella cheese for the Provolone

Forget making the spicy tomato sauce, and make your life easier and buy some Casa Visco Spaghetti Sauce (2 small jars or the 64 oz. jar)

1 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes

1 eggplant

Recipe Directions:

Prepare the eggplant first as it will be used to layer in the lasagna.

To prepare the eggplant:

Cut into 1/4 inch horizontal slices

Layer on a cookie sheet pan

Sprinkle with salt and pepper

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Use your hands to make sure both sides of the eggplant are coated with olive oil, salt, and pepper

Pop into a preheated 375 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes or longer, once soft, they’re done.

Proceed with the recipe.

Add the red pepper flakes to the sauce and sausage when simmering them together.

When layering the noodles, cheese, and sauce, add eggplant after the 2nd layer of noodles and sauce. Then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of the eggplant.  Continue following the recipe, finishing off with the dollops of the ricotta/spinach mixture.


Note:  when layering, depending on the depth of your casserole dish, you may want to apply some light pressure to the noodles to give yourself more space.

Enjoy – the recipe makes A LOT of lasagna.  You will eat every last bite of it.

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