Porcini Risotto

Risotto is a quick (25 minutes!) meal to make at home. With mastered cooking method, you can easily make different kinds of healthy and delicious restaurant-quality risotto in a comfort of your own kitchen. Make sure you have the right ingredients! This recipe features whole frozen porcini mushrooms and Italian Superfino Arborio rice. They are available at our local Astin foods stores: Central Market has the rice, and Borderless European Market (BEM) — the mushrooms. The BEM porcini mushrooms are foraged in Lithuania and distributed by AmbeRye (AmbeRye Boletus Mushrooms, packaged 300 g / 10.58 oz).

April 17, 2017
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Ramen: Creamy Chicken Stock | Tori Paitan | 鶏ガラパイタン

Creamy chicken stock for ramen is now my number two favorite after tonkotsu. Torikotsu uses the same technique but requires less time and efforts to make it than tonkotsu — it is much easier to gelatinise chicken cartilage and connective tissues and extract flavors from less dense chicken bones. Most of the myoglobin is neutralized during the fist step of soaking chicken in cold water. To make it efficient, chop chicken wings and legs to smaller, 1-2″ pieces to expose bones marrow. As a result, there is significantly less scum to skim during the second step. Just like for tonkotsu, it is essential to remove the foam that appears, but keep the chicken fat and emulsify it into the creamy stock later, during the rapid boiling. Pressure cookers are very helpful and streamline the last stage of making chicken paitan even more if you are working on just a few portions. For the recipe below, use a 10-quart stock pot.

February 16, 2017
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Ramen: Pork Belly for Ramen | Chāshū | チャーシュー

Chāshū is my favorite meat ingredient for ramen. Just like ramen, it came to Japanese cuisine from China and transformed into a very different dish. Originally, char siu 叉燒 is a kind of barbecued pork in Cantonese cuisine. In Japan, it is meaty pork belly slowly cooked in a flavorful broth. At the end of cooking, pork belly loses a lot of fat and becomes very tender and soft. Every bite of chashu melts in the mouth. For ramen, chashu os served thinly sliced. A very similar Japanese recipe for cooking pork belly to serve it with cooked rice, hot mustard sauce, and pickled vegetables is called Buta no Kakuni (豚の角煮, “pork cut square and simmered”). For both recipes, pork belly can be skinless or with pigskin, based on personal preferences and availability.

February 16, 2017
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Pho Bo with Beef Tendon and Tail

It’s raining, it’s gloomy and dark, perfect weather to eat a bowl of steamy hot Pho Bo — to warm your soul, to wake up your tastebuds! Last year, I made my the first and the best Pho at home, because it was 100% to my taste. I also managed to adjust the recipe logistics to a busy lifestyle. In other words, no need to stay hours in the kitchen to enjoy a bowl of good Pho Bo at home.

There are many good Pho recipes available online. My version is based on Andrea Nguyen’s Beef Pho Noodle Soup Recipe (Pho Bo), where you can find a lot of detailed information about Pho.

December 4, 2016
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Dumplings: Vareniky with Black and Red Currants

I don’t have an explanation why we’ve never made dumplings with red and black currants at home. My Mom used to add currents to the sauce, but never fill dumplings with them. It’s funny that I am tasting this well known version of Ukrainian varenyki only now, so far from home, in Texas, where currants are exotic! I asked myself why dumplings with tart cherries and currants are so popular in Eastern European countries. I think, the key is the intensity of sweet and sour flavors rounded with soft dough and a little bit of cream or butter. Many other fruit and berries change its flavor when cooked, but tart cherries and currants keep it well and tease our taste buds with every bite!

August 4, 2016
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Dumplings: Georgian Khinkali

Khinkali (Georgian: ხინკალი) is a juicy Georgian dumpling, filled with seasoned minced meat (lamb or beef + pork). Minced onions, red chili pepper, and cumin are always part of the recipe, while herbs (cilantro and parsley) are optional. Khinkali is supposed to be eaten with hands (no utensils). It is picked up by the top of the dumpling (aka kudi or “hat”) and turned upside down. First, you bite a small hole to suck all the meat juices trapped inside. Than, you can eat the rest of the dumpling, except for the part you’ve been using as a holder, the “hat.”

April 10, 2016
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Dumplings: Ukrainian Varenyki with Tart Cherries

Dark tart cherries are one of the most traditional fillings for Ukrainian varenyki — sweet dumplings served with fruity sauce, or melted butter and honey, or sour cream and sugar. Their recipes vary from region to region. Varenyki I remember were mostly made with the dough enriched by soured milk or whey and eggs. There are also recipes using only boiling water for the dough. All of them have the same goal — a dumpling with a soft and pleasant texture.

April 3, 2016
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Very Citrusy Candied Citrus Peel

Homemade candied peel tastes better than commercial, but we have to blanch the peel to remove bitterness, and to boil it to soften. These two steps also remove a lot of flavor from the peel. In my recipe, citrus flavor is concentrated and returned back to the peel. There are no leftovers for later use. Everything, the whole fruit is in work to make the best tasting candied peel.

December 23, 2015
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Fresh Linguini with Cuttlefish and Ramps Sauce

I like when my students can take home what they made during the class and finish or use it for cooking at home. This recipe is a perfect example how to fix a quick and beautiful meal at home using what you learned and prepared during my cooking classes. Frozen ramps paste and ramps compound butter are the products of Wild, Wild, Wild Ramps! workshop, and fresh linguini are the result of Fresh Pasta cooking class.

May 9, 2015
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