Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cacio e Pepe

While I was less than thrilled with Rome when we visited last year (too many people, too much hype), I did come back with a new pasta love, Cacio e Pepe. I hadn't had it before in the states. When reading, however, about what to eat when in Rome (the answer is that everything is geared towards tourists and particularly amazing), I did take note that Anthony Bourdain said to just eat Cacio e Pepe anywhere in Rome. So, I took his advice and was very pleased that I did as it was delicious. I was sad to not see it on many restaurant menus here in the states, though, so I was happy when I found this recipe by Mark Bittman on the New York Times' website. The comments I think are quite helpful, though. Here's how I made it for a single portion for myself. 

Cacio e Pepe  


1/3 cup pasta 

~1 cup of grated cheese (see below), equal parts pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Regiano (important that this is real brick cheese to start and not pre-grated cheese that is commonly available)

pepper, freshly ground


1. In a large pot, fill about half way with water and salt well (1-2Tbsps). When boiling add the pasta. 

2. Meanwhile, in a food processor (or you can do this by hand with a grater), grate the cheese until quite fine. 

3. Begin to watch the pasta closely and when it is about 1-2 minutes from being done (you'll have to check it carefully), transfer the pasta only to another saucier type of pan. Then, add ~1 cup of the pasta water to the new pan. Turn the heat on medium-low. Slowly, sprinkle in the cheese, turning the pasta over until it forms a nice sauce that clings to the pasta. Once you have enough cheese to do this, stop and don't add too much cheese or it gets too thick and sticky. 

4. Add freshly ground pepper to taste and so it has the nice look with all the black specks evenly dispersed. 

5. Enjoy! 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Apple Crisp

My favorite recipe for apple crisp was from one of the professor's who lived in my dorm at university as a "professor in residence." I made it for a long time, but it required Bisquick, which I just never have on hand. When looking to make this recently, I was looking at other recipes, and essentially put one by the NYTimes and the professor's together to create this version. 

Apple Crisp


8-10 apples 
3/4 cup water

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup oats 
1 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. 

2. Peel the apples and cut them into small 1/2-1 inch chunks. Place them in the bottom of a 8 or 9-inch round baking pan with somewhat taller sides. Pour the water over the top. 

3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt. Mix in the butter with hands until the consistency is like sand. Then, mix in the sugar, oats, and cinnamon. 

4. Pour the topping over the apples and cook for about 40 minutes, until the topping is browned and the apples are tender. 

5. I like to serve it warm, but you can serve it hot or at room temperature with ice cream. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fried Eggplant with Tomatoes and Chickpeas

Found this nice recipe on the NYTimes recipe webpage and made some changes. Thought I would share. Apologies for the less than appetizing pictures - I decided to post this after I already ate it, so this is the pictures from my lunch container. Still looks good, though!

Fried Eggplant with Tomatoes and Chickpeas + Chutney



2 pounds of small Italian eggplants sliced 1/4-inch thick rounds 

A lot of olive oil (1/2 cup probably) 

1 large yellow onion, cut in half and then sliced (into smiles)

5 cloves garlic, chopped 

1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon smoky or sweet paprika 

1 pound ripe tomatoes (I used Roma in the winter), chopped into 1cm chunks

1 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) cooked chickpeas (if in the can, drain and rinse the chickpeas)


 2 cups of mint leaves 

1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves & tender stems (1 bunch) 

1 jalapeno pepper cut into chucks (and seeded if you don't want it too spicy)

1 scallion cut into 1-inch chunks or 4-5 chives 

1 garlic clove

2 teaspoons lemon juice 

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1-2 teaspoons water only if needed to get the blender going


2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate 

1 teaspoon maple syrup

Serve over rice. 


(If making rice, start that now)

1. Season the eggplant slices with salt all over. Heat a large flat-bottomed skillet over medium heat and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Place the slides on the bottom of the pan to fit in one layer without overlapping. Cook until the bottoms are browned, about 3-5 minutes per size, then flip and cook for a couple minutes more. You will most likely need to add more oil during the frying (the eggplants soak up a lot of olive oil). Once cooked, transfer the eggplants to a plate and continue this with the other slices of eggplant until they are all cooked. 

2. Heat another 1-2 tablespoons of oil in the pan and then add the onions and cook until golden and softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes (don't burn the garlic). Add the spices, tomatoes, and chickpeas, and 2 tablespoons of water. Partly cover the pan and let this simmer for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are completely broken down. Taste and salt (lightly) if needed. 

3. Add the eggplant to the pan and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until the sauce thickens to your liking. 

4. While the eggplant / chickpeas cook, place the mint chutney ingredients in a blender or in a food processor and blend until pureed. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, or both. 

5. Combine the tamarind chutney ingredients in a small cup / bowl. 

6. Serve over rice with the chutneys and with plain yogurt if you would like. 


Monday, October 19, 2015

Sweet Potato Gnocchi and Vodka Sauce

The night before the Twin Cities Marathon (which I recently successfully ran!), my running partner made homemade pasta while I put together some sauces. It was part of our grand carbo-loading plan. The next weekend, she invited me over for homemade gnocchi - this time with no carbo loading in mind, just pure taste-filled pleasure. They turned out so well that I tried to make them myself at home - with success! They're actually super easy - easier than other pastas that require the pasta machine to make. They're so soft and pillow-y! Despite binge-ing on them all last week and declaring myself carbed-out over the weekend, I made them again this week, and they turned out great once again. So, here's the recipe for future use. Try them - you won't be disappointed! 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi


1. Large sweet potato or a combination of sweet potatoes and yams. About 2-2.5 lbs total. 
2. 1 large egg 
3. 1/4 tsp salt 
4. 1 - 1.5 cups flour
5. 1/4 cup white wine (perhaps)


1. Bring a larger saucepan filled with water to a boil. Also bring a large pot filled with water + dash of salt to a boil. 
2. While waiting for the water to boil, peel the potatoes, cut in halves or quarters (if large), then place into the saucepan of boiling water and cook until they are soft (a fork can be inserted to them without resistance)
3. Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a clean bowl. 
4. Put the potatoes through a potato rice or do a combination of grating the potatoes and mashing them so that they are fairly smooth and there are no major chunks. 
5. Mix in the egg fairly well. 
6. Fold in 1 cup of flour; add more if necessary. The dough should still be somewhat sticky. If it ends up being too dry, add the white wine about 1 teaspoon at a time to combat the dryness until the flour is incorporated. 
7. On a good-sized cutting board or clean surface, sprinkle a handful of flour. Take about 3/4 cup of the dough and roll it out into a 'snake-shape' until it's about 1-2cm thick and not sticking to the board. Try not to overwork. Cut the snake into 1-2cm pieces. Repeat with all the other pieces of dough until it's all made into gnocchi.
8. Place the raw gnocchis in the larger pot of boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the gnocchis float + 1 minute. Then, drain the gnocchis and immediately either cool with some water or drizzle with olive oil / butter to prevent them from sticking. 
9. They are ready to eat with the sauce of your choice! 

Vodka Sauce


1. 1 large onion 
2. 3 cloves of garlic 
3. 4 large tomatoes
4. 1 Tablespoon basil 
5. 1/2 cup vodka
6. dash of olive oil or 1 tablespoon of butter 
7. 1/4 cup heavy cream 
8. Salt to taste


1. Clean the tomatoes, cut out the stem part, cut in half and place in a blender (VitaMix preferably). Blend until smooth and almost juice-like (about 15-20 seconds). Set aside.
2. Dice the onion (cut it into 1cm squares). In a large saucepan, place the onion and olive oil/butter and bring it to warm / sizzle over low-medium heat. Cook until the onions get somewhat transluscent. Stir regularly to prevent too much browning. 
3. Chop the garlic into little pieces. One the onions are about done, add the garlic and the basil and cook until you can smell both of them - about 30-60 seconds. 
4. Add the vodka, and stir. Once cooked down, add the pureed tomatoes. Cook until the sauce has cooked down some and the sauce is the thickness that you like - about 5-10 minutes. Take off of the heat. 
5. Take an immersion blender and blend the whole sauce to get rid of the onion chunks. 
6. Add the heavy cream. Stir. 
7. Ready to serve - enjoy! 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Peach, Nectarine, and Apple Cobbler

When you live in a part of the country / world with seasons, summer is a season that you come to cherish. Not only does it bring back great memories of long, lazy, and fun days filled with swimming, biking, road trips, and running through a sprinkler in your backyard, but it brings with it the most amazing fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Yes, fruits and veggies you can find all year long, but let's face it - winter strawberries just don't taste as good as the summer ones, especially if you just picked them off the vine when they are still warm from the sun. I can't even find peaches outside of July and August in the grocery, so when they are here, I try to take full advantage. This cobbler is just one great recipe that I changed up a little from the original on epicurious. You can make it with all peaches, all nectarines, or probably all apples, but I like the mix and usually pick among the best and most ripe fruits that I have in the kitchen so that I get the best product. I've included below my recipe that makes a larger product (enough for a 9"x13" pan). I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did! 

Peach, Nectarine, and Apple Cobbler


Fruit Filling: 
5 ripe peaches
3 ripe nectarines
1-2 apples
1/3 cup sugar 
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Cobbler Topping: 
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 and 3/4 sticks cold butter 
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup boiling water 

9x13" baking dish


1. Heat over to 425 degrees. 

2. Start to boil some water on the stove or take 1/2 cup of water and put it in the microwave for 45second-1minute to warm. 

3. Take all the fruit, peel and slice it into 1/2-1 inch pieces (I left some of the nectarines with the skins on, however). Try to do this over the baking dish so that the juices from the fruit are collected in the pan. Put all of the sliced fruit evenly into the bottom of the 9x13-inch pan. Sprinkle with the sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch, then mix it in the dish with a spoon so that the fruit is generally evenly coated with these. 

4. Place the fruit in the oven as it is heating up to get the fruit starting to cook. Leave it in there for no  more than 10 minutes. In the meantime, start to make the topping. 

5. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the cold butter into paddies. Take the paddies of butter and add it to the flour, mixing it with your hands (will be messy) until the flour and butter are incorporated well into each other and the butter is about the size of small peas. Add the boiling water and mix together with a spoon until well incorporated, but do not overmix. 

6. Take the fruit out of the oven. Scoop the cobbler topping on top of the fruit and gently spread to try to cover as much surface area as possible. Place the baking dish back in the oven and cook until the topping is golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. 

7. This is great to serve warm for ice cream or can sit for a couple of hours to serve later. 

8. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Crème Brûlée French Toast

Mmm... French Toast in the morning. There is something special for me about well-made French toast. It's probably my love of carbs, and especially bread. Crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside, with real maple syrup and of course berries or fruit to make me feel like it's a healthy choice - I love making this recipe when I have time for it. It doesn't take a lot of time, but my usual workday routine doesn't allow time for serious cooking. With residency finished in June, however, I had July to study for boards (painful), but break  did give me enough time in the morning to indulge in making French press coffee, reading the news, and of course this wonderful French Toast recipe! 

I used to make French toast by just whisking together eggs and some cream and then dipping the bread in it and frying. However, the toast always ended up tasting a little egg-y (which I despise) and the batter usually ended up not being evenly dispersed over the toast. Thus, I decided to make a batter like you would make crème brûlée, which significantly improved the final product. It does take a little bit more time and a couple more dishes, but in the end it's significantly worth it. This recipe is enough for 1-2 people (makes 3-4 slices of toast), but can be sized up easily. 

Crème Brûlée French Toast 


1/2 cup heavy cream 
1 medium-large egg yolk 
pinch of salt 
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Optional: pinch of cinnamon +/- nutmeg 
3-4 pieces of slides quality bread (I like mild sourdough)
1 Tablespoon butter 

Fruit of choice for garnishing
Real maple syrup


1. Place the heavy cream in a saucepan and turn on medium. Scald the cream (heat it until it starts to mildly bubble). While you're waiting for the cream to scald, separate the egg yolk from the egg white and place the egg yolk in a small bowl. 

2. Once the cream is scalded, warm the eggs (whisk the egg yolk constantly while pouring 1/3-1/2 of the cream into the bowl with the egg yolk, continue to whisk constantly). Place the saucepan back on the stove and then transfer the warmed eggs to the rest of the cream mixture in the saucepan, again whisk constantly. Whisk for a minute to two or until the cream-egg mixture thickens. Once it is thickened, turn off the heat. Stir in the salt, vanilla extract, and any other flavors you want the batter to have. 

3. In a larger flat bottomed pan or (cast iron) skillet, place the patty of butter and allow it to melt on medium heat. Place a piece of bread into the cream-egg batter mixture and coat both sides of the bread. Once the butter is heated (but not burned), fry the bread in the butter until the sides are slightly crispy, about 1-2 minutes per side. Once cooked, remove from the pan and put on a plate. Repeat with the other pieces of bread until all are pan-fried. 

4. Cut up fruit of your choice into bite-sized pieces. Serve on the plate with the French Toast. Drizzle with real maple syrup. 

5. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pot Roast

It's snowing. It's cold (it's only 15 degrees), and I'm sick of cooking, but don't really want to go out. Time to re-discover the good old Crock Pot!! I had a craving for beef and so made this pot roast, which I think turned out really well. Here's the recipe for my future memory and for you to try! 

Pot Roast 


1.5-2 lbs of brisket, trimmed of fat 
1 onion, cut into chunks
2-3 cups of beef broth (enough to cover the meat but not to fill the whole crock pot)
3 Tablespoons olive oil 
3 bay leafs (leaves?)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or thyme)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon salt (if beef broth not too salty) - more to taste if needed, esp at the end with the gravy
pepper, to taste 
2-3 parsnips cut into french-fry type shapes
2-3 carrots cut into french-fry type shapes 
1/4 cup flour & 1/4 cup water, mixed into thickish paste

Mashed potatoes to your liking if you want. 

1. Get out your crock pot and make sure it's not dusty. 

2. Trim any fat off of the brisket. In a large flat-bottomed pan / skillet, heat the oil until just before its smoking point. Add the brisket and quickly brown on each side (max 1 minute each side). Take the brisket off of the pan and put it into the crock pot. (Don't transfer any excess oil).  

3. Put the rest of the ingredients except the parsnips and carrots into the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

4. 1-2 hours before dinner, put in the parsnips and carrots and cook for 1-2 hours. (Start the mashed potatoes soon if you want them). 

5. Take out the brisket and place on a cutting board and allow to rest for a bit. Then, cut against the grain into strips for eating. 

6. Remove the veggies with a slotted spoon and place them in a pan. 

7. Transfer the juice from the crockpot into a pot. When boiling, add the flour-water mixture and whisk until thick like a gravy. You may need to add more flour-water mixture or cornstarch-water mixture to get to the gravy consistency. There is no exact science. 

8. Serve the brisket and veggies topped with gravy and mashed potatoes on the side. Mmm.