Sunday, November 11, 2012

Spicy Udon Soup

Despite the summer-like weather, I made some spicy udon noodle soup this afternoon. A few days ago I saw this recipe on Foodgawker, and knew right away that I wanted to give it a try.   It is definitely a keeper, with endless variations. 

First, in a large sauce pan I sauteed garlic, ginger, and an onion in vegetable and sesame oils.

After a few minutes, I added in diced bell pepper and mushrooms.  This recipe is very versatile, so you could add really anything that you want here.  I bet bamboo shoots, green onion, and bok choy would all be awesome additions or substitutions. 

After a few more minutes, I added in vegetable broth (canned, this time) soy sauce, and lime juice.  Bring on the sodium!

Next I added some miso and chili garlic sauce.  Sriracha would work well too, but all of my sriracha is at work.  I let that boil for a few minutes and then dropped in an egg and scrambled it up in the broth with a fork. If you've never done this before, it is a great way to add a little protein to soup, and is great with ramen. Finally I added in the noodles. Udon noodles are an Asian variety of thick wheat noodles.  I was able to find some at my local Giant.  They either don't take long to cook, or come precooked.  I'm not sure.  I let the soup boil for just a few minutes, and then ladled myself a bowl.  Yum. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Butternut Squash Pasta

At work we used to have a lunch club.  Every other week, someone would bring in a dish for the group to eat.  The cook rotated, so everyone got to enjoy new recipes and someone else's cooking.  My coworker Sarah Catherine brought in this butternut squash pasta. It was so good that I later asked her for the recipe so that I could make it myself. The recipe can be found here

The first step in making this pasta dish is to roast the butternut squash.  Cutting up the squash was probably the most difficult part of making this dish.  I lined a baking sheet with foil to minimize my clean-up and then tossed the cubed butternut squash with rosemary, salt, and pepper.  I baked the squash in the oven for about 45 minutes. 

While that cooked, I started on the sauce that would eventually pull the dish together.  First, I sauteed some scallions in olive oil while also preparing pasta according to the package. Hopefully I don't have to explain how to do that...

The next step is a little more complicated though.  Because I don't have a double boiler, I made my own contraption out of a frying pan on top of a sauce pan. The point of a double boiler is to avoid direct heat.  By putting water in the sauce pan, the frying pan receives indirect heat, reducing the risk of burning your sauce. I started off with a combination of salt and flour.

Then I added milk and stirred until the sauce started to thicken.  The flour helps with that process.  Next I added provolone cheese to the mixture. 

Once that was melted, I transferred my sauce to a sauce pan... 

...and stirred in the cooked pasta. At this point, the pasta was essentially macaroni and cheese.

Then I transferred everything to a oven-safe baking dish and topped the pasta with the butternut squash and scallions.  The final touch was to add some parmesan cheese.  You can never have enough cheese, right?

I baked the dish in the oven for about ten minutes, or until the parmesan cheese on top was melted.  Judging by this picture, I probably could have left it in the oven for a few more minutes.  But, alas, I was hungry and it smelled amazing.  I couldn't help myself, so I took it out and dug in. 

This dish is indulgent and delicious.  The recipe suggests adding bacon as well.  You can't go wrong with bacon, so I'm sure that is a great addition.  I'm so glad my coworker introduced me to butternut squash pasta!