Kale, Apple and Pomegranate Salad with Japanese Sesame Dressing

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This to me is the perfect autumn salad. It tastes great with butternut squash and other fall vegetables, potatoes, and roasted poultry. Kale also keeps incredibly well and only tastes better with time as the flavours from the dressing and fruit marinate it. Great for Thanksgiving dinners and leftovers! I made this over the weekend to bring it to a retreat upstate in the Catskills, and the salad valiantly survived 8 hours before it was promptly devoured by the crowd😉.

The Japanese sesame dressing is store-bought. I use the Arabiki goma/sesame one from Sunrise Mart, a chain in NY. I recommend using store-bought dressing because the prep is a little tedious, what with prepping the kale and scooping out those pesky pomegranate seeds without making your kitchen look like a crime scene. (The pomegranate juice inevitably gets everywhere.)

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

 

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Kale, Apple and Pomegranate Salad with Japanese Sesame Dressing

Ingredients
1 bunch kale (approx 1-1.2 lb of kale), de-stemmed and leaves chopped finely
1/2 red onion, minced finely
2 crisp apples like Jonagolds/Fuji/Honey Crisp, sliced into thin and short matchsticks
1 pomegranate, seeds only
6 tablespoons Japanese sesame dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
fine sea salt

Method
1. Put kale into a large pot, drizzle olive oil. Massage softly with hands. Sprinkle a couple dashes of sea salt in.
2. Add red onion, apples, and pomegranate. Toss carefully.
3. Drizzle dressing and toss again. This salad keeps well for 2 days in the fridge, but I’ve also found that it’s fine sitting on the countertop in this cooler weather for up to 6 hours.

Happy autumn!

Spaghetti Carbonara, Re-visited*

Classic Spaghetti Carbonara

Classic spaghetti carbonara: one of my absolute favourites. You can’t go wrong with bacon & cheese, and it’s also quick to make. Tops 45 minutes for prep and cooking maybe? What do you think?

A quick internet search suggests that the conventions are pretty much set: we need spaghetti, bacon, garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, egg, black pepper, and salt. I cheat a bit and add a little whole milk to the egg + cheese mixture, but that’s about it. I don’t remember which recipe I referred to initially but usually use 1 large egg to about 0.5 cup of Parmesan cheese, with extra for serving, for 2 big portions. Do use a good quality cheese and make sure you save a little of the hot pasta water for the sauce.

The only downside to carbonara is that you can’t really keep leftovers, but I guess W and I generally don’t have a problem cleaning off our plates when it comes to pasta😀.

Buon appetito!

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*Re-visited because I posted a recipe a long while back on a rather unorthodox take on carbonara with ham and spinach (my Italian friends, please forgive me)

Creamy Pasta Gratin with Mushroom, Chicken, and Kale

Creamy Pasta Gratin with Chicken, Mushroom & Kale

This pasta gratin is something that I had in my head to create for a long time, and I finally did it! The combination of mushroom, chicken, and kale turned out really well. The kale in particular was a great addition because the green gave the dish extra colour, in the way that parsley would, but it tasted better than parsley.

The sauce is just a basic bechamel (white sauce). I think of my mom whenever I cook this kind of sauce because it was she who first taught me how to make it for a tuna macaroni bake one afternoon when I was back home for the summer. I treasure that memory deeply, and I think it’s because we naturally cling to memories of our parents teaching us how to do something new.

The bechamel recipe I learned from Mom is most probably from the 12th edition of the Fannie Farmer cookbook, which was a culinary bible if you will for many home cooks throughout the 20th century—Wikipedia tells me it was first published in 1896! Bechamel makes for a simple base for any white sauce you’ll ever need to make. Add herbs like thyme or rosemary or nutmeg, or minced garlic and onion, to give it extra flavour.

Creamy Pasta Gratin with Mushroom, Chicken & Kale

Ingredients (for 3 portions)
0.75 lb dried pasta, your pick
0.5 lb chicken breast, diced and marinated in salt and black pepper
6 large mushrooms, diced into same size as chicken
kale leaves, 3-4 stalks worth, chopped finely
1 cup cheese mix, your pick (mozzarella, cheddar, etc)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 tablespoon + extra olive oil

Bechamel–
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk + a bit extra
salt and black pepper

Method
1. Cook pasta as per package instructions. Tip into an oven-safe 8×13 dish or equivalent.
2. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (about 205 Celsius).
3. Bechamel sauce: in a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Gradually add in flour, mixing it in thoroughly. When flour is well incorporated with butter, add milk. Heat to boil, then simmer while stirring thoroughly. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.
4. Heat olive oil on medium heat in skillet. Pan fry chicken, leaving to brown on one side before flipping.
5. When chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove from pan. Add extra olive if needed, then cook garlic and mushrooms together until fragrant. Mix in kale last and cook until soft.
6. Mix in chicken, mushroom, kale mixture with pasta in oven-safe dish ready for baking. Pour in bechamel sauce and stir to mix.
7. Top pasta with cheese and extra black pepper.
8. Bake until cheese is nicely colored, at least 20 minutes.

Japanese Curry with Pan Fried Pork Cutlet

Japanese Curry is another favourite dish of mine because it is easy to cook and freeze, budget friendly, and scrumptious. I use the medium hot curry roux cubes from Vermont Curry and pan fry some kind of protein to go with it (beef, pork, chicken, even tofu). This version is with pork cutlets—hope you enjoy!

Japanese Curry with Pork Cutlets Bento Lunch

Japanese Curry with Pork Cutlet, Bento Lunch Edition

Japanese Curry with Pork Cutlet

Japanese Curry with Pork Cutlet, Dinner Edition

Japanese Curry with Pan Fried Pork Cutlet

Ingredients, makes 4 portions
0.5 lb thin pork cutlets, fat trimmed off and sliced into rectangles
cornflour
1 egg, beaten
panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
salt and black pepper
vegetable oil

~110 g, Japanese curry roux cubes
1 potato, diced into bite-sized cubes
1 medium carrot, as above
1 medium yellow onion, as above
1 zucchini, as above
water
1 teaspoon, Worcestershire sauce, optional
0.5 teaspoon, runny honey, optional

Method
1. Dice vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
2. Set up separate dishes for the egg wash, the cornflour, and the panko.
3. Heat wok with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on medium heat. Cook onions and carrots until fragrant. Then add potato and zucchini, cook for about 2-5 minutes.
4. As the vegetables are slowly cooking, prepare the pork cutlets. Marinate with salt and black pepper. Rub each piece with a thin layer of cornflour, then dip in egg wash, and then finally cover in panko.
5. When vegetables have softened, add 3.5 cups of water to wok and boil. After water has reached boil, lower heat so that mixture is just simmering and cover wok with lid.
6. Heat separate fry pan with 1.5 tablespoons of oil on medium heat. Fry pork cutlets by cooking on each side until nicely brown (about 5 minutes each side), then flip over. Add extra oil once you flip the cutlets so that both sides brown properly—the panko will char otherwise.
7. As cutlets are cooking, check on vegetables. When the potatoes are cooked through, stir in curry roux to the mixture. Optional—add Worcestershire sauce and honey for extra flavour. Simmer for another minute and then switch off heat, cover.
8. Serve pork cutlets with curry and short grain rice.

Teriyaki Salmon

I started this blog on August 27, 2012, so a couple of days ago, my blog turned 3. Happy Birthday, Blog! *blows party horn* I feel like I should celebrate by posting a cake recipe or something but the truth is, I seldom bake. ( I enjoy chocolate chip cookies and carrot cake as much as if not more than your average human being though.)

Short of a cake post, I thought I’d write about a dish that has been on our fortnightly rotation for the past years: Teriyaki Salmon! This is one of our favorites because there is so little prep and few ingredients involved. Plus, apparently eating fish is good for your brain.

 

Teriyaki Salmon

Teriyaki Salmon

Ingredients
0.5 lb fillet of salmon, skin on
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons water
1.5 teaspoons sugar
1-2 scallions, minced or sliced thinly diagonally (optional)
vegetable oil

Method
1. Rub salt and black pepper on both sides of fish. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in skillet on medium heat.
3. Add salmon to skillet (skin down), making sure that skin is oiled.
4. Cook for about 5 minutes or until skin is nicely colored and starting to crisp up.
5. Flip salmon. Cover with lid.
6. Cook salmon for about 5 more minutes until cooked through.
7. Remove salmon from heat, turn heat down to low. Using a paper towel, carefully wipe away residual oils from pan.
8. Mix soy sauce, mirin, water, and sugar in bowl. Add to skillet.
9. With an eye on the pan, heat on low-medium heat until it caramelizes into a glossy sauce. Ensure that it does not overboil and burn.
10. Pour teriyaki sauce over salmon. Add scallions if using for extra color and flavor.