I have been crazy busy with grad school the past few months, and currently am enjoying my last few days before the next (and final!) semester begins. I cannot wait to get back to regular cooking and posting – I think about it and miss it on a near daily basis. Recipes like today’s wonderful one from Gather and Dine are so simple and perfect for when you’re 1) really busy, as we all tend to be, and 2) in the dead of a cold, bitter winter and want something light and refreshing but still so flavorful and delicious. It’s a simple quinoa and black bean salad that even quinoa haters can enjoy. I’m certainly not a huge quinoa fan, but in salads like this with a great tangy vinegar-and-lime punch, I can really get into it. This salad is also vegetarian and vegan, so it’s a great dish to bring to a get-together and make everyone happy. Almost all of the ingredients can be used either fresh or frozen/canned, so the salad can be made in winter while you dream of summer.
When I made these honey sesame chicken wings, it was actually the first time I had made wings at home. I couldn’t find the recommended “party wings” or “wingettes” in my grocery store, so I ended up just buying regular wings and cutting them as per the instructions. I was a little worried that it would turn out somehow wrong, because I don’t know a single thing about cutting chicken, but once the wings were slathered with the sauce and roasted, they looked good enough for me! The sauce on these is really good, and I would almost be tempted to double the sauce ingredients so that I could pour more over the finished wings.
The recipe is super, super easy, especially if you can find the party wings or wingettes at your store. It basically is as simple as mixing together the sauce, throwing it on the wings, and baking for a little over a half-hour. That is my kind of recipe. I’ll definitely be making it again in the future.
These ginger scallion noodles are so easy that I thought they might be boring, but that definitely was not the case. They are super, super simple but the flavors come together so well to make a great vegan/vegetarian side dish – I had no idea simple green onions could give so much flavor. If you add grilled pork or chicken, these can also turn into a main meal. They originally come from Momofuku by David Chang, which can do no wrong in my book. I recently started grad school, so I am super into very easy and delicious recipes and these noodles definitely fit the bill.
To go along with my last homemade hummus recipe post, I also delved into making homemade pita bread for the first time. It was not too difficult at all, and what made me nervous was just the super-hot oven temperature and slapping the pita dough circles onto a hot pan in the oven. This recipe was pretty foolproof though and the pita puffed up like it’s supposed to, which made me very happy!
The dough itself is very simple. You need to heat a pan in the hot oven and then individually place the pita dough circles on the pan for just about 2 minutes on each side, and then they’re done!
They taste fantastic and when puffed up could totally be cut in half and used for a sandwich. I ate them with hummus and it was pure awesome. Try making homemade pita – you shall not regret it.
Homemade Pita Bread
from the New York Times
Makes 8 circles of pita bread
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup (35 grams) whole-wheat flour
2 1/2 cups (310 grams) unbleached all-purposed flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
First, make the sponge:
Put 1 cup lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the whole-wheat flour and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and whisk together. Put bowl in a warm (not hot) place, uncovered, until mixture is frothy and bubbling, about 15 minutes.
Form the dough:
Add salt, olive oil and nearly all remaining all-purpose flour (reserve 1/2 cup). With a wooden spoon or a pair of chopsticks, stir until mixture forms a shaggy mass. Dust with a little reserved flour, then knead in bowl for 1 minute, incorporating any stray bits of dry dough.
Turn dough onto work surface. Knead lightly for 2 minutes, until smooth. Cover and let rest 10 minutes, then knead again for 2 minutes. Try not to add too much reserved flour; the dough should be soft and a bit moist. (At this point, dough may refrigerated in a large zippered plastic bag for several hours or overnight. Bring dough back to room temperature, knead into a ball and proceed with recipe.)
Clean the mixing bowl and put dough back in it. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then cover with a towel. Put bowl in a warm (not hot) place. Leave until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Cook the pitas:
Heat oven to 475 degrees. On bottom shelf of oven, place a heavy-duty baking sheet, large cast-iron pan or ceramic baking tile. Punch down dough and divide into 8 pieces of equal size. Form each piece into a little ball. Place dough balls on work surface, cover with a damp towel and leave for 10 minutes.
Remove 1 ball (keeping others covered) and press into a flat disc with rolling pin. Roll to a 6- to 8-inch diameter circle, about 1/8 inch thick, dusting with flour if necessary.
Carefully lift the dough circle and lay it flat quickly on hot baking sheet in the oven. After 2 minutes the dough should be nicely puffed. Turn over with tongs or spatula and bake 1 minute more. The pita should be pale, with only a few brown speckles. Transfer warm pita to a napkin-lined basket and cover so bread stays soft. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.
This crazy and simple recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen and as always, it is awesome. It is a simple hummus recipe, but with the added tip of peeling the chickpeas before making the hummus. The chickpeas easily pop out of their shells and peeling them only takes 10 minutes, but results in a super creamy and smooth hummus texture. It’s worth it.
I am always on the lookout for desserts that are super easy to make but that end up looking pretty and fancy anyway. These strawberry tarts are super easy – you just need to get some pre-made puff pastry and pop strawberries on top. The rest is kind of just a bonus. I made a reduction out of white wine, balsamic vinegar, and honey to go on top, which takes them to the next level. If you haven’t made a reduction before, it is super easy – just cook down the liquid until its syrupy and sweet.
These otsu sesame noodles are absolutely one of my favorite dishes I have made in the past two years. I can’t believe it’s taken me even this long to share them here, because I love them so much and have made them at least ten times in the past year. My boyfriend loves them too, and we’ve made them when people come over, always to great success.
They use my absolute favorite noodles (soba noodles) with a fantastic sauce on top. The veggies are really pretty customizable, but I try not to overload it with too many. Just add whatever crunchy veggies you like and if you hate eggplant and tofu, maybe try zucchini and chicken. It could only be delicious.
I doubled the amount of sauce that is in the original recipe, because we usually want a bit more and its a good sauce to have leftovers of. I imagine it would go good on just about anything – chicken breasts, pork, other roasted vegetables, rice… It’s just such a good, versatile and flavorful sauce that makes anything tasty. It’s sort of like peanut sauce, tangy and nutty but with lemony ginger flavor to it also. If you make and enjoy these otsu noodles as much as I do, let me know!
Mango lassi is one of those recipes that takes a few super simple ingredients, and when mixed together, becomes incredibly great. It’s basically just a yogurt-mango smoothie, but the addition of cardamom is really what gives it depth and that awesome flavor. I had to go out and buy cardamom to make these (I’ve been on a sort of spice cabinet-stocking mission this summer) and it was 100% worth it. Just a pinch makes the whole thing perfect.
You can certainly purchase mango already pureed, but if you can’t find that, you can do what I did and just peel and chop up a mango and throw that in the blender. This can also be thinned out more with milk if you like a less thick version. If your mango is super tart, add a little sugar, but if it’s good and ripe, just the mango should do fine! If you’ve never tried mango lassi, give it a go – it might just be my favorite smoothie.
These spiced blackberry hand pies were, for lack of a better phrase, so freaking good. I want them again right now and I probably will for a long time, or until I make ‘em again. They are sort of like a seriously jacked-up homemade pop tart, but with a much thicker and more delicious buttery, flaky crust, and a fresh fruit, lightly spiced blackberry filling. There is the smallest hint of cayenne in the filling (a callback to my recent blackberry spiced honey greek yogurt) that doesn’t taste spicy, but just adds a subtle background heat and flavor.
The title of this recipe is “favorite chinese fried rice,” and even though I didn’t name it, I totally agree with it. This is nothing like the fried rice you’d get at a Panda Express or most takeout Chinese places. It has fantastic flavors, and an especially unique one that I hadn’t heard of until I saw this recipe: Chinese preserved mustard greens. I saw this recipe years before I finally got myself some preserved mustard green, and was so happy when I was finally able to make it. They are a slightly spicy, slightly pickled vegetable, and though it might seem weird or different at first… when diced and tucked in fried rice, they give the *best* flavor and crunch. They are totally necessary here.
If you live in or near any major city, you should have an Asian grocery somewhere in the vicinity. Look for preserved mustard tuber or preserved mustard stem in the ingredients. I’ve included photos of the exact brand I found (I believe it is the same or very similar to the one Jen uses in the original recipe):