linguine in katsuo nori furikake carbonara sauce


Since making the breakfast baozi the other day I have discovered the wonderful umami flavor of katsuo nori furikake. The sauce is hardly complicated. First I made a roux then whisked in a cup and a half of warm milk. I added about two tablespoons furikake and two teaspoons of soy sauce, a bit of salt and several twists of cracked pepper. To the sauce I added the cooked linguine with blanched sugar snap peas, stir-fried carrots and sweet pepper, and some shredded cooked chicken. That’s it. My take on carbonara sauce!

At Paolo’s

Actually this is Mamma Mia’s in Salaya but the place owes a lot to Paolo’s personality. He’s a great host. For a month, Andy and I noshed on the Antipasto Italiano but today we decided to move on. We ordered the Mamma Mia Salad with Italian Dressing, Salmon Spaghetti, and Mushroom Risotto–with our usual glass of house red. DSC04117

casuyon chicken menudo pie

Casuyon Chicken Menudo Pie (adapted from a recipe by Claire Casuyon’s Mom)
If you subtract the pie crust, bacon and leeks you have Menudo, Filipino style. Either one is a great dish, very easy to make for a Sunday supper with an accompaniment of a simple salad of fresh greens and grape tomatoes.

2 slices smoked bacon, chopped
3 cups leeks, sliced thin (about 2 leeks)
1 smashed garlic clove
1 tablespoon canola oil, optional
4 inch ginger root, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 boneless skinless thighs, trimmed of visible fat and chopped into 2 inch chunks
2 boneless skinless breasts, halved into 1 inch thick fillets and sliced into 2 inch chunks
1 1/2 cups red potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 cups baby carrots (1/2 bag of baby carrots), sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 cans of tomato sauce (preferably Hunts)
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Menudo Seasoning, or to taste

Menudo Seasoning (from The Cook’s Thesaurus)
Combine two parts oregano, two parts onion flakes or powder, one part crushed coriander seed, one part cumin, and one part crushed red chili pepper. Store in a jar.

1/2 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator
1 tablespoon fat free milk
1 large egg white

  1. In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium high heat until brown and crisp. Then sauté leeks and garlic with the bacon and fat until slightly soft; if necessary add more oil. Add ginger and sauté for 2 more minutes.
    Add chicken thighs and stirfry. Reduce heat to medium. Let the meat cook until the outside turns white, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper for taste.
  2. Stir in two cans of tomato sauce and the bay leaf. Add water if the sauce seems too thick, then let sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Add menudo seasoning. If a stronger, thicker tomato sauce is desired, add the tomato paste.
    Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  3. Add chicken breasts, carrots, potatoes and bay leaf. Cover and let simmer until chicken is cooked and veggies are soft, about 20-25 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes. Add the peas. Adjust seasoning.
    Pour meat and vegetables into a 9.5 inch pie plate.
  4. Roll out pie crust onto a well-floured board so that there is an inch overhang. Loosely roll up the pie crust onto the rolling pin and roll it out on top of the meat and vegetables. Tuck the edges under on the rim of the pie plate. Either pinch the edges between thumb and forefinger or crimp with a fork. Mix water and egg white together and brush the top with the mixture. Poke the top with a knife to make slits or use the tines of a  fork to make vents. Bake 20-30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove the pie from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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pressed tofu with garlic mint sauce

After all my dietary sins this week, I atoned for it with this meal. I felt quite virtuous about it, too; a good Catholic enjoys doing penance. The tofu was quite tasty–slightly lemon-y, mint-y, and garlic-y.  It’s a tad redder than it should be because I got over-enthusiastic with the paprika. Nevertheless,  I enjoyed the garlic mint sauce, but I would ramp up the flavors, as I have noted in the recipe. I like to follow a recipe exactly the first time I try it, but I was a bit alarmed by the directions in the original. It said to press the tofu  while it was cooking by weighting it down with another skillet and a large can of tomatoes. My top skillet got hot and I worried about heating an unopened can of tomatoes. It’s far safer to press the tofu before cooking, so I’ve given directions how to do this.

Pressed Tofu with Garlic Mint Sauce


2 packs firm tofu, cut into 3/4 inch slices
4-6 cloves garlic
1 1/2 -2 teaspoons salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
lemon zest from 1 lemon
3 tbs lemon juice (half a lemon)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 cup vegetable broth


1. In a large bowl or dish, make the marinade. First, mash garlic and salt together into a paste. Combine with mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, paprika, and 1/2 cup vegetable broth and mix. Set aside.

2. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels and place tofu in a single layer on top. Cover the tofu with more paper towels. Place another large rimmed baking sheet on top of the paper towels. Weight down the baking sheet with canned goods or books or both. Let sit for 20 minutes until tofu slices are flattened and the paper towels are soaked.

3. Place tofu slices into marinade, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

4. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Heat skillet on medium.  Gently shake tofu slices to shake off excess marinade, and place them in the pan to brown, about 4 minutes per side. You may need to do this in batches. Save the marinade.

5. After you remove the last batch of tofu, add the reserved marinade and the remaining 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by one third. Pour garlic-mint sauce over the tofu slices. Serve with hot rice and eat Chinese-style with chopsticks!

central park challenge and a simple supper

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A fine mizzle was falling across Central Park when we arrived in the early morning for the YAI Central Park Challenge. We had signed  up for the 3K walk through the park. The meeting point was at 72nd and Central Park West but we saw no signs. Everyone was going into the park so we just followed everyone in until we saw the tents. Not long afterwards, the sun came out. It was a beautiful day–cool and sunny. I thought how two weeks ago we saw the park as a resource fit for the dinner table. Today, the park was a green oasis in the city for exercising, for having fun, and relaxation. And so, to cap an active day, we had a simple supper of homemade vegetable soup with chicken and ham, and romaine hearts with grape tomatoes served with Hugo’s sushi vinegar dressing. The dressing is mild and slightly tart. Simply delicious.

Hugo’s Sushi Vinegar Dressing

2 parts sushi vinegar
1 part extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried basil

coconut kale with filipino garlic fried rice

Taranee pointed out this recipe to me because it’s quick and easy to make for a weeknight supper. I jazzed it up by adding her coconut kale to it, not that it needed it, but I’m not cooking as much and I need to move some of those vegetables before they spoil! The kale added just the right color to complement the eggs, and were satisfyingly chewy, coconut-flavored, and spicy. I also used up some leftover rice. Fried rice is good for that. This recipe was lightly garlicky, chewy;  a nice contrast between the slightly bitter kale, the bland eggs, crunchy green onions,  and al dente rice.

Coconut Kale with Filipino Garlic Fried Rice (adapted from The Kitchn)

Serves 4

2 teaspoons butter (optional; can also use vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 large eggs
Salt and pepper
12 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 whole head of garlic, depending on the size)
4 cups cooked long­ grain brown-and-white rice (ratio 2:1)
4 cups kale, trimmed and chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon coconut oil
red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon soy sauce or fish sauce, to taste
2 green onions, chopped

Heat 2 teaspoons of butter or oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Beat the eggs with a dash of salt and pepper. Pour them into the pan and cook until the center is set. Roll up the omelet with a spatula. Turn the omelet out onto a plate and set aside. When it is cool enough to handle, cut it into strips about 1/4­inch wide x 2­ or 3­inches long.

Using the same pan or a separate wok, if you prefer, heat a tablespoon of oil over moderate heat and add the minced garlic. Fry the garlic, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning. When the garlic is crispy and golden, remove it from the pan (leaving the garlicky oil in the pan) and set aside.

In the same wok or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil until it just becomes fragrant. Add the kale and stir fry until it becomes wilted and turns a bright green. Sprinkle a little red pepper flakes all over and toss.

Stir in the rice. Make sure all the rice is coated with oil and then spread it across the pan in an even layer. Cook for a couple of minutes, then stir and repeat this process until the rice is heated through.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of soy sauce or fish sauce into the rice, toss and taste, adding more if needed. Remove from heat. Serve the rice garnished with egg strips, scallions, a little more red pepper flakes, if desired, and the fried garlic.

gai yang roulade with corn grits

Sometimes food gets boring. Every night it becomes the same old, same old. So I tried spicing up a chicken fillet by rolling it. So revolutionary. Here’s a chicken breast fillet rolled up in a gai yang marinade adapted from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe.

First  brine 3 boneless skinless chicken breast fillets in 2 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons sugar dissolved in 4 cups water 30-60 minutes. Slice each breast in half horizontally and pat dry. Place each fillet between two sheets of plastic and pound each one to 1/4 inch thickness. In a large bowl combine

  • 12 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1/4 cup)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches), minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Marinate the fillets in the garlic-ginger mixture for at least 30 minutes. Scrape most of the marinade from one side and paste in the center. Roll up around the garlic-ginger paste and place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until the inside of each roulade measures 160˚F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from oven and slice into pinwheels.

Serve with yellow corn grits. So simple! This recipe is from Zea Rotisserie and Brewery.

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup yellow corn grits
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1/2-1  tablespoon salt or to taste (use more or less salt depending on whether the butter was salted)
  • 1 ear grilled corn, kernels removed

Strip off most of the husk and silk. Soak in water to cover 15 minutes. If you don’t have a grill, broil the corn in the broiler for 15 minutes or until the kernels turn brown. Set aside to cool

Bring liquids to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the grits. Add butter and salt. Cook at simmer until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Cut the corn off the cooled cob, and crumble in your fingers. At the end of cooking, stir in the corn.

buckwheat noodles with beef and sweet ginger scallion sauce

Okay, okay, it’s not vegetarian! That is beef sitting on top of the noodles.

Buckwheat noodles, also called soba, are delicious, as I discovered last week when I added them to the Thai beef soup kao lao. Since I had an extra packet, I decided to try this recipe from I made two tiny adjustments. Instead of chili oil, I substituted vegetable oil and added 1/4 teaspoon chili paste, and I used maple syrup instead of honey.

I also made up my own beef marinade, but you can substitute soy sauce or teriyaki sauce for my marinade, and you can use chicken instead of beef, and firm tofu instead of any kind of meat at all. I spooned the noodles on top of chopped romaine lettuce. It’s delicious, trust me!

Buckwheat Noodles (Soba) with Beef and Sweet Ginger Scallion Sauce

8-9 oz. dry soba/buckwheat noodles
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 1/2 cup scallions, chopped fine
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons chili oil (I used 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 1/4 teaspoon chili paste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey (I used organic maple syrup)
Coarse salt
Fresh ground black pepper

2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

For meat lovers:
1 lb beef sirloin steak sliced into 3 inch strips across the grain
1 tablespoon hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon soy-ginger sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

  1. Mix all the scallions, ginger, cilantro, sesame oil, chili oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and honey in a bowl. Set it aside for 10 -15 minutes to let the flavors meld.
  2. For Meat Lovers: Skip this step if you want the vegetarian version. Season the steak strips with hoi sin and soy-ginger sauces and the cornstarch. Chinese cooks often use cornstarch as a binder and thickener. According to America’s Test Kitchen, a little cornstarch seals the marinade to the meat during cooking. Chinese cooks have known this all along! Let sit 10-15 minutes while the noodle sauce flavors are developing. Heat 2 teaspoons oil on medium high heat and stir fry the beef until it just turns brown. Even though a little red streaks remain, stop. Do not overcook the beef.
  3. Boil the soba noodles per the package’s instructions and drain. Toss the noodles with the sauce and sesame seeds. Serve noodles hot on a bed of romaine lettuce. Spoon beef strips on top of noodles.

It’s gai yang, but where’s the khao neow and somtam?

We’ve been good, AJ and I. Since we’ve been back in New York City on the low carb-low fat diet we haven’t had skin, chicken skin that is, for the last four months. It was time for a treat. I figured if I’m going to break the diet, then I should make it worthwhile. I decided to make  gai yang or roast chicken, Thai style, because I found this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen. It didn’t disappoint; the flavors were authentic, the chicken juicy. It just wasn’t fiery enough!

Purists will know that gai yang is traditionally served with papaya salad (somtam)and sticky rice (khao neow). Well, I  committed a heresy. Instead of papaya salad, we had a spinach, strawberry, and hearts of palm salad with lemon-poppy seed dressing. Instead of the sticky rice, I made stir-fried baby bok choy in garlic and ginger and seasoned it with Maggi sauce. Thus, I assuaged the guilt with some low calorie veggie sides.

The original recipe called for grilling on an outdoor barbecue. But since I live in a city apartment, I have parted ways from the original and broiled/baked the chicken instead. I have also added two chilies to the dipping sauce. What’s a dipping sauce without some heat?

Gai Yang or Thai Style Roast Chicken


Chicken and Brine

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup table salt
  • 4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts about 12 ounces each (I used 1 chicken breast and 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)

Dipping Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 small cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 chilies, chopped (optional)


  • 12 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1/4 cup)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches), minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


1. To brine the chicken: Dissolve sugar and salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate at least 30 minutes but not longer than 1 hour. Rinse chicken under cool running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. For the dipping sauce: Whisk ingredients in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature to allow flavors to meld.
3. To make and apply the rub: Combine all rub ingredients in small bowl; work mixture with fingers to thoroughly combine. Slide fingers between skin and meat to loosen skin, taking care not to detach skin. Rub about 2 tablespoons mixture under skin. Thoroughly rub even layer of mixture onto all exterior surfaces, including bottom and sides. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Place chicken in medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing grill.
4. To broil the chicken: Cover the broiling pan with foil for easy clean up. Spray with cooking spray. Place the chicken pieces skin side up and broil 10 minutes or until the skin is golden or blackened. Turn the heat to 350˚F and put the pan in the oven to finish cooking, about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F  160˚F on an instant read thermometer.

Chinese-Trinidadian stir-fried shrimp with rum

I found this rather unique dish on and decided to try it for Sunday dinner. It’s really a variation on Chinese sour-and-sweet dishes except that it is made with dark rum instead of rice vinegar. As a result, it has a mild rather than a pronounced sour flavor. Using a dark rum instead of vinegar is really an inspired idea. It shows how the Chinese adapted their cuisine to include what is locally available, as they did in  Trinidad and Tobago, where they have lived since the early 19th century.

Chinese-Trinidadian Stir-Fried Shrimp with Rum

1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined with the tails on
Juice of 1/2 lime
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt 1 medium ripe tomato, cut into thin wedges
1 large bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

1. In a medium bowl toss the shrimp with the lime juice for a few seconds. Rinse the shrimp, drain, and set on a plate lined with paper towels. With more paper towels pat the shrimp dry. In a small bowl combine the ketchup, rum, soy sauce, and ground white pepper. [Cook’s Note: I didn’t have a piece of fresh ginger so I added 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger to the sauce.]

2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the oil, add the garlic and ginger, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 10 seconds or until the aromatics are fragrant. Push the aromatics to the sides of the wok, carefully add the shrimp and spread them evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the shrimp begin to sear. Sprinkle on the salt and stir-fry 30 seconds or until the shrimp begin to turn orange. Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions and stir-fry 1 minute or until the shrimp have turned almost totally orange. Swirl the ketchup mixture into the wok and stir-fry 1 minute or until the shrimp are just cooked through and the sauce coats the shrimp. Stir in the cilantro.

3. Serve with hot cooked rice and vegetable sides. I recommend steamed green beans lightly sprinkled with kosher salt and pan-roasted asparagus drizzled with lime juice and almond slivers.  And if you can get it, ripe plantains baked in the skin for 15 minutes.