I procured some Sichuan peppercorns following our Chengdu travels two Septembers ago, but left them untouched in the cupboard until stumbling upon this recipe for Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions in the June 2013 issue of Bon Appétit.
What made these noodles something to talk about was the chili oil made from scratch with fresh scallions, crushed red pepper flakes, and tongue-quivering peppercorns. Mixed with tahini, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, the chili oil packed enough heat to make us sweat and imparted the kind of nuanced flavor that kept our chopsticks coming back for more.
I prepared these noodles to accompany a Chinese Wood Ear Mushroom Salad, because man cannot survive on fungus alone. Sharing similar flavor profiles, the two dishes complemented each other and made for a perfectly satisfying vegetarian lunch. Note to self: add broccoli, eggplant, and tofu to the noodles next time around for a well-balanced, one-dish meal.
For the chili oil
- 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons Sichuan pepper, coarsely ground
For the noodles
- 24 ounces Chinese wheat noodles (or spaghetti)
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 6 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons sugar
Cook scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12–15 minutes.
Let chili oil cool in the saucepan or in a bowl.
Continue reading ‘Sesame Noodles with Made-From-Scratch Chili Oil’
The Astronomer and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary this past weekend. As is tradition around here, festivities included reliving our wedding banquet at Five Star Seafood Restaurant in San Gabriel (the food was as delicious as ever) and cooking up a little something inspired by old school anniversary gifts. Thus far in our marriage, The Astronomer has been gifted Paper, Cotton, Leather, and Fruit.
Since it is customary to bestow wood upon one’s beloved in recognition of the fifth anniversary, I prepared a Chinese wood ear mushroom salad with edamame (mu’er maodou shala) using a recipe from Issue #140 of Saveur magazine.
This vibrant salad brightens snappy wood ear mushrooms with chilies and vinegar. It works great as a cold appetizer or as a side dish, depending on what your spread calls for. Really though, it’s impossible to go wrong, because nothing says “I love you” like prepared reconstituted fungus. Trust me.
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms, preferably wood ear
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen edamame
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced cilantro
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 2 tsp. soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
Place mushrooms in a bowl and pour over 8 cups boiling water; let sit until soft, about 45 minutes.
Drain mushrooms; tear into large bite-size pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with edamame; set aside.
Continue reading ‘Chinese Wood Ear Mushroom Salad’
Not last weekend but the weekend before, I attended the most spectacular brunch hosted by Zoe Nathan, Josh Loeb, and Laurel Almerinda to celebrate the release of their brand-new cookbook, Huckleberry.
Inspired by their Santa Monica cafe and bakery, Huckleberry celebrates the bounty of breakfast. From pancakes to teacakes to muffins and egg-topped plates, this beautiful book has mornings covered (and then some).
Rather than host a traditional book talk and signing, Zoe, Josh, and Laurel dazzled a slew of Los Angeles’ food writers with a seemingly endless parade of made-from-scratch delights from their cookbook. The spread was nothing short of brilliant, and I probably ate enough for triplets!
Continue reading ‘Huckleberry’s Cherry Tomato-Goat Cheese Cobbler’
The Astronomer and I celebrated another year of marriage this past April, and I’ve been meaning to crank out this post since then. Life can feel hectic these days both on the personal and professional fronts, but there’s always time for cakes and milestones—Always!
Since it’s tradition to bestow fruit upon one’s beloved in honor of the fourth wedding anniversary, I baked my guy a Rhubarb Crumble Cake. He can’t resist tart rhubarb paired with a good streusel topping, and I’m always up for a culinary challenge.
This cake, which is seasonally served at Chef Fergus Henderson’s super-fabulous St. John Restaurant in London, is a triple threat. The bottom-most layer, moist and buttery cake, gives way to a generous layer of tangy fruit kissed with orange zest. Finally, a nutty topping that’s crunchy and wholly complementary ties all the layers together. This is certainly “a kind of British cooking” that I can get behind.
For fruit mixture
- 3 large stalks of rhubarb
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup Turbinado sugar
- Grated zest of 1 orange
NOTE: You could also use apples, apricots, cooked quinces, nectarines, gooseberries, pears and ginger, or plums
For cake mix
- 1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
- Scant 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/3 cups self-rising flour, sifted
- Scant 1/4 cup full-fat milk
For crumble mix
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 3 ouces unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 Turbinado sugar
- 1/4 cup ground almonds
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- A pinch of salt
First top and tail the rhubarb, give it a good wash and cut it into slices about 3/4 inch thick. Mix it with the sugars and the orange zest and set aside for 30 minutes.
For the cake mix, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, bit by bit to prevent curdling. Then fold in the sifted flour, and last of all mix in the milk. Put to one side.
For the crumble mix, sift the flour into a bowl, add the butter and rub them together with your fingertips until they look like large breadcrumbs. Stir in the Turbinado sugar, ground almonds, sliced almonds and salt. Continue reading ‘St. John’s Rhubarb Crumble Cake’