Sambal Arrabbiata

In all fairness I owe a lot of what’s written to my brother, Sean. He’s basically my 24/7 hotline for bouncing recipe ideas off of someone, and getting editing suggestions. Sometimes he’ll even blurt out, “you know what would be cool…,” and then hit me with some nifty idea that I try and work up. This was one of those times.

He threw the idea of putting sambal in arrabiata sauce. For those of you who don’t know arrabiata is a pasta sauce that consists of tomato, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. That’s it. I tried making this with just subbing out the chili for sambal and it was fine, there just wasn’t any magic.

Then I decided to add a couple of flavor friends, fish sauce for salty funk and ginger for extra pep in my step, and the flavor profile felt full and packed with umami.

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Salmon With Matcha Noodles and Kinda Dashi Broth

Ok so in the past I’ve gotten bad about feeling the need to do some intense diet and exercising for the new year. I usually lose weight for a while, but end up feeling restricted, overworked, and not very happy by Summer. Instead for 2020 I’m going with a goal of “happy food.” I aim to cook what’s making me happy in that moment no matter how weird or out of my normal culinary zone it may be. I’m on a new path of chasing after happy dances.

That being said, like many of you this holiday season got me jacked up. Spiked hot cocoa, tons of red meat, and all the latkes I can eat are really cool, but I needed a major reset button to start 2020 feeling fresh and clean.

One of my favorite things to have in the morning is a huge mug of matcha to get me perked up and ready to go, which was the jump off point of this dish. The surrealistic pondscape consists of some of my favorite clean flavors: salmon, cucumber, nori, roe, and dashi. The effect is a really cool combination of oceany flavors from the fish and dashi with the earthiness of matcha to create something that feels very nature inspired.

Even though we’re in the middle of winter the lightness and freshness of this dish can’t help but make me feel like spring is around the corner. Another cool perk is it can be served at any temperature and still work.

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Chocolate Pasta with Balsamic and Raspberry Sauce

Back in I want to say sometime between 1999-2001 I lived for when my parents would let me stay up late so I could watch the original Japanese Iron Chef. The drama, the chefs being themed on nationality, my dear sweet Chairman Kaga, and that fortune teller judge. What a time to be alive.

Those late (to a six-year-old) nights were pretty much my crash course in getting wild and creative. I remember they made ice cream out of EVERYTHING, namely squid ink, which I didn’t even know was a thing you eat, but now I adore. But this story leads to one place. And that is my first ever love/hero, Masahiko Kobe aka “Iron Chef Italian.” This dude made ravioli with chocolate pasta dough.

My. World. Was. Rocked. I went borderline rabid asking how is that possible, and if my mom would make it for me. She looked like I grew two heads.

Fast forward about 10 years. I’m a junior in high school. My mom, brother and I took a trip to Asheville, North Carolina. We stopped in a fancy chocolate shop. And there it was…a bag of chocolate fettuccine. I immediately flashed back to my Iron Chef days and tried to do everything to get that bag to go home with me, to no avail.

But guess what, mom? I’m an adult now and can make my own damn chocolate pasta! (I’m sorry mom, I love you.)

The biggest challenge was figuring out what sauce to make with it. I thought creamy, I thought mascarpone, and then I thought nah. I decided I wanted something that felt fresh to go with it. So I landed on raspberries and mint for freshness, with a punch of balsamic vinegar for intrigue.

This dish creates a bright, fresh, fun feeling that will have you asking if you’re eating chocolate for dinner, or pasta for dessert. Either way I promise you never had one like this before. Continue reading “Chocolate Pasta with Balsamic and Raspberry Sauce”

Eggplant Lasagna with Mushroom Ragu

In an almost Garfield level consistency my boyfriend and I crave lasagna. Do I really need to explain why??? I’m no stranger in trying to find slight ways to “health up” lasagna. But I wanted to take it even farther. So I came up with this version that promises no carb bombs or meat sweats.

Instead of a classic bolognese I made a mushroom ragu to give that meaty texture and flavor, and swapped out noodles with layers of roasted eggplant. The end result is kind of like eggplant parm meets lasagna. And. Im. Am. Into. It. And the best part? Despite eating a bowlful I still feel ready to take on the world, or in this case my house cleaning.

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Spaghetti Vongole

I think my ultimate food happy place is any kind of pasta and shellfish. Something about the sweet, briny flavors on top of a bowl of noodles gets me going every time. A particular favorite of mine is spaghetti vongole. This os a dish that clasically consists of clam and chili. What’s not to love??

Like my pasta puttanesca this dish uses the classic aglio olio consisting of anchovy and garlic as the flavor base for the sauce. The anchovy not onoy enhances the ocean flavor of the clams, but also adds a huge savory kick as well. So all in all we have sweet, salty, briny, spicy, savory, and bright. Just talking about it I wish I had a bowl in front of me.

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Pumpkin Gnocchi with Pancetta and Sage Brown Butter

The month of October, like the Walmart seasonal aisle, has two sides. First you have the spooky Halloween side with all the fake blood and skeleton decor your heart could desire. Then you have the warm, autumnal items. Think burlap wreathes and pillows with stitching that reads “thankful” or “blessed.” I made it a goal this month on fancy redneck to capture the duality of October with my recipes. After all, it is Libra season and balance is critical.

First up to capture warmth and fall flavors I have pumpkin gnocchi. Usually when I make gnocchi at home I use sweet potato, but really wanted to stretch myself with an ingredient I never use, pumpkin. The combination of the fried sage, pancetta, brown butter, and pumpkin together really create a symphony on the tongue with the only component missing being the crunch of leaves on the ground.

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Mom’s Spaghetti

All Eminem refrences and memes aside, my mom’s spaghetti was always the pinnacle of comfort food. What beats a warm, hearty bowl of spaghetti? As an added bonus my mom’s recipe is simple, cheap, and jumbo-sized enough to feed a family of four for days. For a recipe that will keep you feeling warm and fuzzy and won’t fail you even when your palms are sweaty look no further.

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