Handmade Noodles with Fried Tofu Curd

We had leftover dough from dumplings again. Usually it gets wrapped and left in the fridge until someone remembers it, then it gets transformed into green onion pancakes or handmade noodles.

The way I’ve always learned to make noodles is rolling out the dough until very thin, generously flouring, folding several times, and finally cutting into thin strips. I decided to play with the dough today and stretched the dough until the strands became thinner and broader. The texture is slightly different but definitely not something you can experience using storebought noodles, even storebought “handmade” ones.

The fried tofu curds come in a package and can be bought from an Asian food market. The broth consists of the tofu, bok choy, sliced green onions and minced ginger. A very satisfying lunch. 🙂

Lady and the Tramp, Anyone?

I love Disney. Even with its subliminal messages and not so subliminal ones.

I love the simpleness of its romances. I cannot see spaghetti and meat balls without thinking of Lady and the Tramp. Of course, no real person, or dog, would slurp a strand of spaghetti without chewing through and breaking it. That makes the scene all more romantic. I like the film even though I honestly can’t remember anything else about it besides that scene, but I thought about it today while I thought, planned, and made dinner.

Simple spaghetti and meatballs.

Okay, maybe not that simple. I did use whole wheat spaghetti and ground flax after all. I know, I can’t leave anything well enough alone. But regardless of all my efforts at health-isizing this dish, it retained its heartiness. A true comfort food through and through.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and dig into the meat with your fingers. This helps to distribute the spices without overworking the meat and produces the most tender meatballs. Be sure to give the meatballs a deep golden brown, this contributes greatly to flavour.

The ground flax is not really noticeable in the meatballs, but you’ll that it’s there to give your meal fibre and Omega 3 fatty acids. I also used prepared pasta sauce to speed up the process, and also because I didn’t have any tomatoes. Feel free to substitute your favorite recipe for tomato sauce.

Cat’s Spaghetti and Meatballs (Be comforted in knowing that this comfort food is somewhat good for you)
makes 4-6 servings

3/4 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
salt
1/2 c. dried bread crumbs
a few dashes Worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley
scant 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 c. minced onion
2 Tbsp. ground flax, optional
1 tsp. olive oil
1 24-oz jar of prepared pasta sauce (I used garden vegetable)
1 lb. spaghetti, whole wheat

  1. Place the ground meat, Worcestershire, herbs, pepper, onion, garlic powder, flax seed, and bread crumbs in a large bowl. Salt generously.
  2. Plunge all ten fingers into the meat and mix thoroughly. Shape into 24 meatballs. Wash your hands well afterwards.
  3. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan and brown the meatballs in batches, until well browned.
  4. Pour the pasta sauce into the pan and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Toss with the sauce. Serve piping hot and twirl away.

Spicy Cold Noodles

It’s hot here. My mom always says that when it gets too hot she loses her appetite. I can certainly understand that, although I agree more with not wanting to cook in heat.

These noodles are hot n’ cold. No, not quite like the song.

They are cold on your lips and hot on your tongue. Quite an interesting contrast. The toasted Sichuan peppercorns add just a bit of numbness to the mix. I took this to a potluck and it was very well received. In fact, it was gone before I could get to it. I got an interesting comment though. One lady asked me what kind of peanuts I used. I was confused and told her that it was simply raw, regular peanuts. She thought it tasted sweet. I told her the dish contained no sugar. She didn’t understand how the peanuts tasted sweet.

While I’m not exactly sure why she said it, I could guess that in toasting the peanuts until they are a golden brown brought out the deep roasted and sweet flavour. The peanuts leftover on the bottom of the dish after all the noodles were eaten were picked off too. Don’t skimp on the toasting time; the flavours leak out into the oil and meld onto the noodles later.

Spicy Cold Noodles
makes a ton, or a lot for 4-6 people

1 lb. thin spaghetti
1/3 c. oil, not olive
1/2 c. raw peanuts
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns
3 Tbsp. Chinese Chili Sauce with Oil (Lao Gan Ma 老干妈)
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped roughly
salt to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and run cold water over it until the noodles are very cold. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large wok, add the peppercorns, pepper flakes, and peanuts. Toast on medium low heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the peanuts are starting to turn golden brown.
  3. Add the garlic powder, chili powder, noodles, and chopped cilantro. Toss until coated. Serve cold.

Happy Birthday Franklin!

Today is my brother’s birthday. We celebrated on Sunday with his church friends and a much-loved soccer ball cake. My mom and I cooked a lot of food for dinner today. It was a feast, as I’m sure my stomach will happily tell you. Here are some pictures, enjoy!

This is This is Braised Smoked Pork Shank. We purchased the pork shanks partially cooked and smoked, and braised it in soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and green onions. The soy sauce is probably why it turned out so dark, but looks notwithstanding, the meat was tender and wonderfully smoke infused.

This is Tofu with Fish Sauce. The tofu is panfried until crisp and then briefly cooked in the sauce. The sauce has nothing to do with fish. It’s simply a version of a sweet and sour sauce with Sichuan peppercorns.

I’ve never seen vegetable Asian noodles before, but today at the supermarket Franklin requested them so we bought it. It’s flavoured with spinach and reminds me of spinach pasta. This is Stir-Fried Vegetable Noodles with ground pork, mushrooms, and zucchini. The Chinese traditionally eat noodles on birthdays because the noodle’s length symbolizes a long life.

Mom’s specialty. Simply stir-fried shrimp. See it also here.

Baby bok choy with dried salted shrimp. It’s refreshing to have a simple vegetable dish in a multi-course meal.

This is a cold dish and makes a great appetizer. It’s blanched long beans tossed with soy sauce, black vinegar, and smashed garlic. Very addictive.

Chinese chives with squid. Both main ingredients are fresh-tasting and complement each other. The squid is tender;  the chives are vibrant. I realized that I may possibly like squid more than shrimp, perhaps because there is no shell to peel. Lazy me. 😉

The last dish is just peanuts roasted in the wok. This dish usually accompanies potent Chinese liquor such as Maotai. We didn’t drink with our dinner but included this dish because mom wanted to make eight dishes. Eight is an auspicious number in the chinese language because when pronounced, the word sounds somewhat like the word “to become rich.” So it wouldn’t do to have only seven dishes. Gotta have eight for my brother. The peanuts are wonderfully salty and nutty because of the low heat and long toasting time. Use high heat the peanuts will be burned. My mom rushed making this dish because we all wanted to start eating already.

What do you say? Isn’t Franklin a lucky boy?

Ribs for Lunch

Alas, we have come to the end of July, which means the conclusion of my National Blog Posting Month. I have posted every day for the past month, and I have enjoyed sharing both food stuffs and life stuffs with you. Although there were a couple days when I wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t have blogged, if not for my commitmend, I stuck it through, and I’m glad I did.

For this last post, I have no real food stuffs because, unfortunately, I’ve been out all day, to a company-sponsored BBQ lunch. Ribs was the main idea. Accompanied by the traditional potato salad, coleslaw, Boston baked beans, and a myriad of other sides. The meat was juicy but could have been cooked a tad longer, for more smokey goodness. I had strawberry shortcake for dessert, and make-your-own ice cream sundae for post-dessert.

Sadly, no other pictures of food since I have both an old camera and old batteries, which means the battery life is about 30 pictures. They are happily getting replaced soon.

I’m currently baking my brother a birthday cake. It will be in the shape of a soccer ball. Wish me luck! 🙂

Double Bean Fried Rice with Cashews

We always have leftover rice at our house. Always. It’s because no one like rice, except my brother. But my dad actually gets offended and yells at me if I give Franklin more rice at the dinner table.

That is why we always have leftovers.

Which is the blank canvas for a plethora of different kinds of fried rice. Lunch was fried rice with green beans and green soy beans (available at Asian food markets). Also toasted cashews, which adds a great nuttiness and crunch to every bite.

Double Bean Fried Rice with Cashews

2 c. leftover white rice, fluffed
1/2 c. whole cashews, coarsely chopped
1 c. trimmed green beans, cut in 1/4 inch segments
1 c. frozen green soy beans
1/4 lb. kielbasa sausage, diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp. oil
salt to taste

  1. Heat oil in a hot wok over medium high heat. Add green onions, garlic, and cashews.
  2. Toast, stirring, for about a minute. Add the sausage and brown for about a minute.
  3. Add the green beans and cook for about three minutes, or until tender.
  4. Add the soy beans and heat through. Finally add the rice and distribute evenly throughout the vegetables.
  5. Heat for an additional three minutes. Salt to taste.

Green Beans with Onions

If I could only eat three vegetables for the rest of my life I would choose:

  1. Broccoli!!!
  2. Green Beans or asparagus (although apparently asparagus makes one’s er, urine, smell funny…)
  3. Onions

And this dish has two of the vegetables on my list. Gotta be good right? At least to me it was. I like to cook green beans till they are a little soft, not crunchy at all. My dad claims that not well-cooked green beans, i.e. crunchy beans, are toxic, but I’m not sure he has actual proof for that. I just like the softer texture better.

I also used a little bit of bacon grease. I am fairly health-conscious, but bacon grease is good stuff. I actually have a tupperware of it in the fridge, mixed with Chinese sausage as well as Italian sausage grease. Might sound kind of gross to you, but a little pat of the thing melted in a wok does wonders on vegetables. You get a meatiness without using actual meat. Of course, if you are a vegetarian, skip.

This is terribly simple to make. Trim the beans, slice the onions. Melt the bacon grease, or add a couple tablespoons of oil. Add the vegetables and stir. Place the lid on and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring every few minutes. The beans will be tender and the onions soft. Great quick side dish!

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