Slow Cooker Ramen

No one who lives in DC is actually from here.  “Home” is always a word for another state, another city, another place – even if that’s somewhere in the DMV area (so, I admit I don’t think Fairfax counts as DC).  Somehow, almost 14 years have passed since I first moved here, and when I talk about going home, I always mean Boston.

However, there are some signs that my son will mean “DC” when he talks about home.  Like the fact that we just bought a house here. (Side note:  Yea, so that happened, and it was terrifying.)  And he owns more DC-onesies than can fit in his chest of drawers.  And most importantly, the local ramen guy knows his parents, and always manages to squeeze them in ahead of the long line.  Thanks, Tony.

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Slow Cooker Ramen, inspired by Cooking Light

  • canola or olive oil
  • 2 pounds pork roast or loin
  • salt, pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • 2 onions, peeled and halved horizontally
  • 8 cups chicken stock (can also use some water instead)
  • 1/4 cup  soy sauce, divided
  • 2 containers shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • about 2 inches of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  • 1 package fresh udon noodles
  • one egg per servings planned (i.e., one egg per bowl)
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, sliced
  • a handful of sesame seeds
  • optional – 1 sheet nori, cut into very thin strips; 1 cup or so corn kernels

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil to pan. Season the pork with salt and pepper, and then add pork to the pan and sear on all sides.  Place in the slow cooker.

2. Increase the heat of the skillet and add onions, cut side down.  Cook until charred, and then transfer to slow cooker. Add the stock and about two tablespoons of soy sauce to the slow cooker.  Shake some red pepper in there for heat. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and add those to the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.

3. Remove pork from cooker and let rest while you thinly slice the mushroom caps.  Strain the mushroom caps from the brother.  Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, mushroom caps, sesame oil, and ginger to slow cooker. Cook on high for 20 minutes. Add noodles and corn to slow cooker; cook 5 minutes.

4. As the noodles cook, poach an egg or two to serve. Serve with the soup, sprinkle with sesame seeds, scallions, and nori, if using.

The Verdict:

No one will be replacing Sakuramen anytime soon, but goodness this was good.

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ALL the Go-Tos…AKA Showering Sasha.

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the epic bridal shower my mom threw for one of her BFF’s daughters.  She made lobster paella and smoked salmon canapes.  We drank champagne and rose.  I left home feeling happy, full, and totally in awe.

So, it was sort of a hubris-filled idea to host a bridal shower for one of my BFFs this past weekend.  You will note from the picture below what was not on the menu: lobster paella or smoked salmon canapes.  (Obvi on the champagne and rose, though).

IMG_3833For everyone’s benefit (and so that I’d actually have something to feed 15 people), I stuck to some tried and true standards.  These are truly the go-tos in our house: I realized as I was posting this that every single item is something I’ve already posted about here.  Which tells you I’m either really uncreative, or just totally confident in these recipes.  Probably both.

(I think) it turned out beautifully.  And most important, my friend Sasha seemed really touched.

IMG_3844 I hope everyone went home happy and full.  Unfortunately, I was already home, which means I was also in charge of cleaning up.

Good thing I had lots of leftover champagne and rose.  And basil vodka lemonade.  (Main idea: create a basil-infused simple syrup by boiling 1 part water, 1 part sugar and 1 big handful basil.  Add to lemonade, another handful basil and a big old splash of vodka.  Start showering/TPing the bride/asking the embarrassing “how well do you know your future spouse” questions.)

Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

There’s nothing I don’t love about Mexican food.

Onions? Check. Cilantro? Check. Heat? Check. Crispy, fried corn chips? Check. Melted, delicious dairy? Yes, please.  Something you can make with veggies or with meat, so Husband doesn’t complain about wasting away? YUP.

Because we tend to have Mexican food fairly often, I keep a lookout for interesting twists.  This quick-pickling innovation, from Cooking Light, really is as good (and as quick) as it sounds.  Reduce the amount of jalapeño if heat isn’t your thing.  But seriously, make these.

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Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

  • 1 thinly sliced red onion, divided
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • large handful chili powder
  • about half handful ground cumin
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • small handful smoked paprika
  • small handful garlic salt
  • handful pepper
  • handful crushed red peppers
  • corn tostadas
  • to serve:
    • sour cream, cilantro, cheese, avocado
  1. Combine 1/2 of your sliced onion, vinegar, water, a little bit of sugar, about 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the jalapeño in a small saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook for a minute.  Remove from heat and place to the side while you make the rest of your meal.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and add the other half of the onion, along with bell pepper.  Cook down about 5 minutes, and then add ground turkey and garlic.  Break the turkey up and add all of the spices.  Cook 5-7 minutes, or until browned.
  3. Drain pickled veggie mixture.  Top tostadas evenly with the ground turkey, pickled onions and jalapeños, a bit of sour cream, avocado, cilantro – whatever makes your heart sing.

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The Verdict:

While lamenting the effectiveness of the tostada as a food delivery system, Husband agrees: we should pickle more vegetables, more often.

The Only Pasta Salad Recipe You’ll Ever Need.

I neglected to write a “planning” post this week – whoops!  I actually DID plan out our meals, too…though with only a couple of nights of cooking needed (we are headed to MIAMI! this weekend), I took a bit of the easy way out.  We did a lot of recycling and reusing chez nous, and we’re still dining on leftovers.  For example, this pasta salad, which I made to bring to a friend’s impromptu BBQ on Sunday evening (another reason to love spring: impromptu BBQs).

This “recipe” is an absolute go-to.  I remember making it for the first time with my mom probably ten years ago, and it’s become a staple at the yearly beachside bonfire we host with a bunch of family friends.  Of course, the first time she made this, my mom was just using up vegetables she had in her fridge – I don’t get my propensity to throw things together and call it dinner from nowhere, you see.  There are, however, two secrets to elevating this from grocery store pasta salad to the kind of pasta salad to end all other pasta salads.  See if you can spot them.

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The World’s (well, in my humble opinion, anyway) Best Pasta Salad

  • 1 box curly pasta – my favorite is Cavatappi
  • 1/2 jar sundried tomatoes, in oil – coarsely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced (orange adds a nice pop of color!)
  • 1 can corn, drained, or ideally, 2-3 stalks of fresh corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 small container cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • one bunch green onions, chopped
  • handful of spinach
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • a goodly amount of Parmesan cheese
  • fresh herbs: cilantro provides a gorgeous zing, but parsley and/or basil also good options
  • dressing:
    • a good squeeze of anchovy paste (*leave out if making a totally vegetarian version*)
    • salt, pepper, crushed reds
    • balsamic vinegar
    • olive oil
  1. Boil water for pasta; while you’re waiting, prepare/wash/chop all of your veggies, and place in a LARGE bowl, EXCEPT for your sundried tomatoes.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions.  While the pasta is still warm, toss with the veggies – and then add your sundried tomatoes and a bit of the oil it comes in.  Give it a thorough toss.
  3. Whisk together your dressing and add to your pasta.  Finish off your salad with Parmesan and a generous dose of herbs.  Serve warm or chilled – it won’t last long either way.

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The Verdict:

This one’s a go-to for good reason.  I made an extra large batch on Sunday, taking most of it to the BBQ and leaving a bit behind for me and the Husband.  By Monday evening, I had (very generously) left him two (full!) strands of Cavatappi.  I am such a great partner, sometimes.

PS: You can obviously add olives to add brininess, and whatever else your little heart desires.  I have and enforce a strict no-olive policy chez nous.

Tomato and Corn Tart with Olive Oil Sesame Crust

After a week of gorging on my mom’s amazing beef stew, I’ve gone back to my non-protein ways.

Sorry, Husband.

(Veggie) tarts are just so GOOD.  And sometimes, they’re even good for you.  Or at least not terrible.

Inspiration by Martha Stewart…and my friend Kate.

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Tomato and Corn Tart with Olive Oil Crust

for the crust

  • a little less than 1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • about 1/3 cup olive oil, plus a little more
  • about 1/3 cup water, plus a little more

for the filling

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • salt, pepper & crushed reds
  • about a cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked together
  • 1 can corn kernels, rinsed (Note: this would be SO much better with fresh corn, but sadly, we’re not quite to that season yet!)
  • 1 big handful grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In  medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, & sesame seeds; slowly pour in the water and olive, forming a large ball.  You may need to add a touch more water or olive oil to help it stick together.
  2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and press into an 8 or 9 inch pie shell.  Prick all over with a fork and then bake for about 10 minutes; remove and cover the crusts, so they don’t burn.  Reduce the heat to about 375 and bake another 10 minutes or so, until lightly golden brown.
  3. While the crust bakes, heat olive oil over medium low heat in a saute pan, add onion and shallot.  Add salt, pepper and crushed reds, and cook down – until golden and/or translucent.  Finally, add the corn and just give the whole thing a quick toss.
  4. When the crust is done pre-baking, sprinkle the bottom with a health layer of Parmesan cheese.  Add the onion/shallot/corn mixture, then top with the tomatoes.  Season with a little salt and pepper, lightly pour the egg mixture over it (this just helps it to stick together), and add the rest of the Parmesan to the top.
  5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees; serve with a little Parsley and a light side salad.  Think about how awesome this will taste when you make it with New Jersey corn, straight from the roadside stand.

IMG_3231The Verdict:

The crust does take a little getting used to – it’s “healthy,” after all, and the taste of the olive oil shines through.  As with any dish, the fresher the veggies, the tastier it’ll be.  Still, it’s been a while since I joined the ladies (and a few good gentlemen) over at Fiesta Friday, but I think this is good enough to bring.  What’s more fiesta-y than corn?