Asian Slaw

When my family has people over for brunch, which happens several times a year, my dad prepares an elaborate spread (perhaps too elaborate…).  One dish which always receives compliments is his asian slaw.  Given my aversion to vegetables and nutrients, it was many years before I tasted this disk, let alone tried to make it on my own.  I was pleasantly surprised both by how good it tastes, and how easy it is to prepare.

Asian Slaw

1 bag of slaw mix (12 oz.)
1 pkg. Oriental ramen noodle
1/2 cup vegetable or Canola Oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 scallion chopped
1 cup dry roasted sunflower seeds

  • Combine oil, vinegar, sugar and flavor pack from Ramen noodles. Toss slaw with scallions. Just before you serve, crunch noodles over the slaw mix.
  • Add sunflower seeds. Then, apply dressing mixture slowly. Apply then toss and taste. If you think more is needed, add more, toss and taste again, until you achieve the most proper balance. Then you and your loved person may enjoy this most inscrutable and most honorable dish.
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Apple Crisp

My mom does the baking in my house.  Pies are her specialty – a confection I have not yet tried to tackle, intimidated by her reputation.  I have memories of apple crisp on the stove – generally devoured within the hour that they emerge from the oven.  Last year, I decided to try to fulfill my craving for this treat, and through trial and error, came up with this recipe.

Fruit Crisp

Note:  Do not use frozen fruit unless you want a watery mess of a crisp.  I made the mistake of trying out frozen fruit for the first time for my school’s Christmas potluck this year, and was embarrassed to put my sloppy raspberry crisp out.  Learn from my mistakes – don’t use frozen fruit, and if you are going to use berries, toss them with some flour to absorb the moisture before baking.

Apples are the cheapest and most common, but I think that peaches are especially delicious.  Gavin and I call these crisps ‘fruit salad’ – which allows us to unabashedly consume mass quantities of crumble topping.  To make it ever so slightly more healthy, add 1/4 C of fast cooking oats to the topping – it will also make it a more crumbly, dry topping.

Ingredients

  • 3 Apples or 3 Peaches, or equivalent of any fruit – you can determine your own ratio of fruit to crisp, and just remember that fruit will shrink when you bake it.
  • 1 C of flour
  • 1/2 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 stick of butter (aka, 1/4C and 4T)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or more if you want)

Directions

  1. Peel and chop apples, or just chop peaches (you can make a crisp with both apples and peaches – just cut the peaches slightly larger than the apples because they cook more quickly)
  2. Soften the butter by using the ‘defrost’ setting on the microwave.
  3. Use a fork to combine all ingredients
  4. Put fruit in a square baking tin, and top with the crumble topping.
  5. Bake at 350 until it smells done, the fruit is soft, and the topping is cooked – about 30 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!
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Carbonara

Lasagna is a bit labor intensive.  I believe that it is worth every minute, but in case you are short on time, or just want to be incredibly impressive without breaking a sweat, try a carbonara…it is as good vegetarian as it is with pancetta or bacon (the classic).  I prefer smaller pastas, but you can use spaghetti if you want.

Pasta Carbonara

Ingredients

  • One Box of Pasta – I like Campanelle
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Onion
  • Pancetta, bacon, zucchini, or yellow squash (or all of them!)  I use pancetta most often, but using the zucchini and yellow squash makes it vegetarian, and bacon makes it more traditional

Directions

  1. Boil Water, Add Pasta, Follow Directions on the Box
  2. In a saucepan, heat olive oil and garlic.  Don’t let the garlic burn.
  3. Add pancetta (or other ingredients) and saute with salt and pepper until cooked
  4. Chop small onion and add to the pancetta – cook until translucent and soft.  (ONION IS OPTIONAL)
  5. In a bowl, mix together the egg and Parmesan.  Season with a lot of salt and pepper – especially pepper!
  6. When the pasta is done, drain it, and pour it into the pan with the pancetta.  Immediately pour the egg and cheese mixture over the whole thing, and stir together.  The heat will cook the eggs, making a delicious, creamy sauce.
  7. Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan.
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The Most Delicious Lasagna In The World

I live in Manhattan, where the cost of groceries makes my astronomically high rent seem reasonable in comparison.  For all intensive purposes, eating out is more practical than cooking.  There’s an abundance of great places, and having a wide repertoire of culinary experiences gives you a lot to talk about at a party, where conversation generally revolves around where you have been and what you have recently tried.  Even the prices are comparable – an entree at a Thai restaurant can cost half what a meal that you prepare for yourself would.

Still, it’s nice to stay home sometimes, and eat dinner while you watch the new HBO shows.  One thing that I like best is to make a meal that will last me for several days, acting as lunch during the week.  Here is one of my favorites:

Butternut Squash Lasagna
If you think that you don’t like butternut squash, you are wrong.  This is the most magical lasagna for cold nights, and everyone who eats it will fall in love with you.  It’s not hard, and it is every bit as good warmed up in the microwave the next day.

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed.  You can buy this already peeled at cubed and in a  plastic package in the vegetable section of any grocery store.  Buy two or three of them – three if you are going to make a big pan of lasagna.  You can use the whole squash, but you will need to peel it, scrape out the nasty seeds, and cut it with a very big, very shard knife.
  • Sweet Onions (Yellow or Vadalia)
  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes

Béchamel Sauce

  • 5 TBS of Flour
  • Butter (salted)
  • Milk
  • Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes
  • OVEN READY LASAGNA SHEETS – do not get the kind that you have to boil!  They are difficult to use, and unnecessary for this recipe.  Get the ones that are no boil!  You can find them in the pasta aisle.
  • Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheeses

You can add all sorts of things to jazz up the flavors, but with just the things listed above, you’ll have something really really fabulous.  If you don’t want to do the work of making a béchamel sauce, use tomato sauce from a jar.  Still tasty, just a bit less so…

Directions:

Filling

  1. Chop 2 onions
  2. In a large pan, melt 2 Tbs of butter
  3. Add the onion to the butter, and stir so that they get coated in it
  4. Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt over the onions
  5. Allow the onions to soften and become transparent while you chop the squash
  6. Chop the squash into cubes which are of an equal size – about 1inch squares or slightly bigger.
  7. Add squash to the onions and butter
  8. Season with Salt, Pepper, Oregano, and Red Pepper Flakes (if you like it spicy!)
  9. Cover to cook and allow the squash to soften.

Sauce

  1. In a saucepan, melt 4T of butter
  2. Add 4T of flour, and use a fork to quickly mix them together so that a paste is formed.
  3. Slowly add 2 C of milk, using a fork or a whisk to make sure that the paste doesn’t glob up on the bottom.
  4. Over medium heat, let this cook until it gets thick and creamy – it will take longer than you expect!
  5. Season with salt and pepper

Preparation

  1. Spoon the sauce onto the bottom of the pan and spread it around evenly
  2. Place lasagna sheets in the pan, across the bottom.  There should be a bit of space between them and around them, because they will grow a bit when they cook.
  3. Spoon sauce onto the sheets to cover them thoroughly (if they don’t have sauce on them, they will not cook in that spot)
  4. Put 1/3 of the filling on top of the sauce, spread evenly, of course
  5. Top with Mozzarella cheese
  6. Lay down another layer of lasagna sheets, followed by the sauce, the filling, and then the cheese until it is all used up.
  7. Finish with lasagna sheets, and sprinkle parmesan and mozzarella over the entire top.
  8. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes – taste to see if it is done.
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How To Chop Garlic

Garlic is the best.  It is the Rockstar of ingredients.  Use it often, use a lot of it, and learn to cut it up quickly.

  1. Slice the hard end off of the clove of garlic
  2. Use the flat side of a knife to smash a clove of garlic.  Hit the knife hard, one time, to make the skin pop off of the garlic.
  3. Pull the skin off and throw it in the trash
  4. Slice the garlic finely.  You can smash it again to make it easier.  The more you beat it up, te more flavor it releases.
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How to chop an onion

Use Red Onion for salads, on sandwiches, or basically anytime that you want raw onion.  Use white, yellow, or vadalia to cook.

  1. Cut off the ends and throw them away.
  2. Cut the onion in half, from end to end
  3. Peel off the outer layer (and skin) and throw it away
  4. Place the onion with the flat, cut side face down.  Make 3 or 4 evenly spaced cuts vertically (from end to end)
  5. Start at one end and thinly slice the onion until you reach the other end.
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At The Beginning…

The first thing that I learned to make from scratch was a grilled cheese.  In elementary school, we were allowed to leave school at lunch time.  Most days, we flocked to the pizza shop around the corner, taking up all of the tables, buying dollar slices and peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies, and flirting awkwardly with the boys we were starting to realize were cute.  On the days that we didn’t get pizza, we could walk an extra two blocks to get to someone’s house.  It was on days like these that I perfected my grilled cheese recipe.

My Best Grilled Cheese

Note:  If you are going to use American cheese, do not use this recipe.  American cheese is an insult to cheese, and would ruin this, and any other recipe.  Go for the cheddar.  Also, it’s best not to use grated cheese – thinly slice whatever block of cheese you are using.

Ingredients:

  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Sliced Bread – whole wheat, challah, anything delicious…
  • Salted Butter

Directions:

  1. Heat a pat of butter in a small skillet, not much bigger than the bread you are using
  2. Place one piece of bread in the hot butter – melting the butter first make the bread absorb it in exactly the right, unbelievable delicious way
  3. Place slices of cheese on the bread, evenly!  Make sure all area is covered and that it is evenly done – I like lots of cheese, but suit yourself.  If you have too much, it will drip out and you will have delicious pieces of fried cheese to much on if you pull them out of the pan with a spatula.
  4. Keep the heat at medium – too high and the cheese will not melt
  5. Butter one side of the second piece of bread, and place the bread butter side up on top of the grilled cheese.
  6. Flip when you can see that the cheese is soft and sticking to the bottom piece of bread.  The bread should be a beautiful golden brown.
  7. EAT HOT

As the years have passed, I have jazzed up the recipe.  I have added tomatoes, avocado, bacon, pancetta, and a variety of cheeses.  Always use a hard, sharp cheese, ingredients that don’t need to be cooked (no raw meat!) x tand always build in the hot skillet for the best results.

The next recipe that I learned was scrambled eggs.  My dad made breakfast every morning – delicious french toast or egg sandwiches.  Sometimes he would make me cream of wheat, and would put a spoonful of jelly in the middle of the white grains.  Cream of Wheat made me sneeze, and I would find the grains in my mouth all day.  Needless to say, I didn’t try to replicate that recipe.  However, the eggs and french toast remain unblemished in my mind, as the best breakfast that exists anywhere, and I have spent much time trying to replicate my dad’s creations.

EGGS

Note:  Use butter in the pan.  Even if it isn’t a lot, it makes a difference in the taste.

Scrambled:

  1. Melt butter in a medium skillet
  2. Crack eggs in a bowl – to be healthy, use 2 egg whites for every egg that you want.
  3. Add a splash of milk – this makes it fluffier.  If you use milk other than skim, it also will make it richer.
  4. Grate or thinly slice your cheese (NEVER AMERICAN OR SWISS) into the eggs and milk.
  5. Add salt and pepper to the mixture.
  6. Pour the entire bowl into the pan and let it cook on the bottom before scraping it.
  7. Scrape from the edges towards the middle, allow the batter to redistribute and cook, and then scrape again.
  8. Enjoy!

Omelets:

  1. In a pan, melt a bit of butter.
  2. Chop any omelet ingredients you would like into small pieces and cook them over low heat in the butter (peppers, onions, ham, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.)
  3. While they are cooking, prepare your egg mixture – eggs and milk, seasoned with salt and pepper.
  4. To enhance the flavors, I like to add a tablespoon on dijon mustard, or sprinkle paprika or garlic powder into my batter.
  5. Pour the mixture over the filling ingredients in the pan, and leave on medium/low heat until the bottom is cooked and there is a thin skin over the top of the mixture.
  6. At this point, add cheese – sliced or grated
  7. Allow the cheese to melt before folding the eggs in half.  Allow to cook for a few minutes more to ensure that the cheese melts and the middle is fully cooked.
  8. Enjoy!
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