Blue Apron: Steamed Pork Belly Buns with Red Cabbage (Home Cookin’)

I’ve already tried Plated (and loved it)… now it’s time to test out one of their competitors, Blue Apron. The concept is the same: new recipes are created each week and the ingredients are delivered to your home. However, Blue Apron is slightly less expensive than Plated ($10 per meal compared to Plated‘s $12 or $15 per meal). But with those savings comes a requirement of six servings per order (the minimum for Plated is four).  Both services allow you to input cuisine preferences (e.g. vegetarian, meat, fish, etc.), but Blue Apron does not let you choose the actual meals that you want — Plated does. I was in luck this week because Blue Apron had three meals that sounded great, so I invited some company over and cooked them all in one night! First up, steamed pork belly buns with red cabbage and carrot slaw. The pork belly was pretty fatty, which made me happy. The cabbage slaw helped to cut the richness of the pork and added some brightness with the lime & sesame oil dressing. Overall, it was a successful dish!

Blue Apron

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First round of ingredients

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Lime & sesame oil dressing is made

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Refreshing red cabbage and carrot 

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Steamed buns are good to go

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Frying up that succulent pork belly

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Ready to eat!

Blue Apron: Steamed Pork Belly Buns with Red Cabbage (Home Cookin’)

Fresh Pasta: Pappardelle with Meat Ragu (Home Cookin’)

One successful pasta down, one more to go! It’s time to get started on the meat ragu for my homemade pappardelle. After browning the ground beef and ground pork, I added tomatoes and red wine and let the mixture simmer for about three hours. In the meantime, I rolled out the remaining dough until it was paper thin and then hand cut wide strips. A little dusting of semolina flour and the pappardelle was ready to go. Once the ragu was looking nice and thick, I dropped the pasta into boiling water and scooped it out after a mere sixty seconds — lightning fast! I ladled a generous amount of meat ragu onto the al dente pappardelle, sprinkled on some Parmesan, grabbed a fork, and dove right in. Mmm, delicious… if I do say so myself! 😉

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First, I need to start the ragu with onion, garlic, and basil

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Ground beef and ground pork are my meats of choice

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The meat is nicely browned

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Tomatoes and red wine join the party

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After simmering for three hours, the ragu is ready

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Time to make the pappardelle

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Using a knife, I sliced wide strips of pasta and dusted them with semolina flour

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Papparelle needs only 60 seconds to cook

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Top the pasta with meat ragu and a little parmesan cheese

Fresh Pasta: Pappardelle with Meat Ragu (Home Cookin’)

Fresh Pasta: Ricotta Ravioli with Butter & Basil (Home Cookin’)

I love eating ravioli, especially with ricotta cheese inside. I was very excited (and a little bit nervous) to make my own ravioli today. Fortunately, we made them in the Rustico Cooking class, so I had an idea of what to do. First, I prepared the ricotta filling, which includes eggs and Parmesan cheese.  After brushing a sheet of pasta with egg wash, I spooned small amounts of the ricotta onto it, making sure to space them out evenly. Once that was done, I covered the pasta & ricotta with another sheet of pasta and very carefully pressed down to seal them together. Sometimes it is tricky to remove all of those pesky air bubbles! I used a little ravioli wheel that I bought on Amazon to cut each raviolo with the classic curvy pattern on the edges (it looks more authentic that way. 😉 ) The final step was to dust the ravioli with semolina flour so that they don’t stick together. So far, so good! While the water was boiling, I heated a pan with some butter and basil to use as the sauce. The cooking time for the ravioli is only four minutes — pretty fast, huh? Five minutes later, I was ready to serve homemade ricotta ravioli with butter and basil. I couldn’t believe that I actually made them — and they tasted great! There’s still some dough left, so tomorrow I’m going to make pappardelle with meat ragu.

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Prepared the ricotta filling

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Brush one pasta sheet with egg wash

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Spoon small amounts of the filling on the pasta

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Cover it with another sheet of pasta and gently press to seal

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Cut with a ravioli wheel and dust with semolina flour so they don’t stick together

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The finished ravioli is ready to be cooked

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After 4 minutes in boiling water, the ravioli are ready to serve with a little butter and basil!

Fresh Pasta: Ricotta Ravioli with Butter & Basil (Home Cookin’)

Fresh Pasta: Making the Dough (Home Cookin’)

It has always been a dream of mine to make my own pasta. I attempted it a few years ago, but I’ll admit, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Needless to say, the resulting pasta wasn’t great. This time around, I took a pasta-making class at Rustico Cooking (thanks, SaraDish & Estevino!) and I learned how to make it the right way. Using a combination of semolina and all-purpose flour as well as four eggs, I mixed and molded and kneaded (it was quite a workout) until I wound up with a pretty good looking pasta dough. Success! The next step was to roll out the dough, and KitchenAid’s pasta attachment made this task really easy and convenient. I ran the dough through until the very last setting (#8), at which point it became ultra thin. I cut it into four strips to make it more manageable to work with and now I’m ready to try my hand at making ravioli and pappardelle!

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It all starts with eggs and flour 

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I start by mixing the eggs and flour inside the well using my index finger 

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Slowly, the dough starts to take shape

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A few minutes later, I had a little bit of water to moisten it up

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Almost there! Must…keep…kneading…

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The finished dough

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Cross section

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Thank goodness for my trusty KitchenAid pasta attachment

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Each time the dough goes through, it gets thinner…

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…and longer…

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…and smoother!

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The dough is paper thin and ready to be molded into pasta

Fresh Pasta: Making the Dough (Home Cookin’)

Plated: Shakshuka with Seared Halloumi (Home Cookin’)

Excited to make my second Plated meal: Shakshuka with seared halloumi cheese. Shakshuka is a popular dish in Israeli and North African cuisine and consists of eggs that are poached in a mixture of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions. I’ve never eaten this dish before, but I love eggplant, tomatoes, eggs… And I’m a huge fan of halloumi cheese, especially when it’s fried! This was a super flavorful, comforting dish that I enjoyed making — and eating. :-)

Plated

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Time to make the shakshuka!

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Mmm, I just love eggplant

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Something smells really good right about now

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Fried halloumi makes me happy

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Last step before it hits the oven: two eggs

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Can’t wait to dig in!

Plated: Shakshuka with Seared Halloumi (Home Cookin’)

Plated: Pan-Fried Redfish with Peas and Fingerlings (Home Cookin’)

My first Plated delivery has arrived! I’m very excited to prepare my first meal: redfish with peas and fingerlings. It’s a real challenge to buy exactly the right amount of ingredients for a particular dish — I always end up with extra stuff that I don’t use and it winds up in the garbage. That’s why I love the Plated concept so much — they provide the precise amount of ingredients so that there is no waste. And it all arrives right at your doorstep with the recipe included! Doesn’t get more convenient than that. Within 30 minutes, I had a delicious dish that was super easy to make and tasted great. Thanks, Plated!

Plated

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My first Plated delivery arrived!

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Prepping the fingerlings and green beans

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Everything I need to prepare the redfish

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All floured up and about to hit the frying pan

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Redfish is looking good

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Fingerlings are roasted

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Time to eat!

Plated: Pan-Fried Redfish with Peas and Fingerlings (Home Cookin’)

Tzatziki Sauce (Home Cookin’)

Eating chicken breast can get pretty boring after a while (or a day). I needed something that would add a ton of flavor to an otherwise mundane meal. Sure, a few pats of butter would help, but I wanted a healthier option. Solution: Tzatziki! It’s a cool, refreshing Greek sauce that packs a powerful flavor punch and tastes great with so many different things. I just got a new mini food processor in the mail — time to test it out. After a couple of attempts where I failed to remove all of the moisture from the cucumbers (result: watery tzatziki), I finally got it right. I salted the cucumbers to drain some of the water, then used a fine mesh strainer after it was processed to get rid of the rest. Once it was mixed with the Greek yogurt, it was thick and creamy. Opa!

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So excited about my new food processor!

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After salting the cucumber and draining the water, add it to the food processor with the other ingredients

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Once the cucumber is well processed and strained, toss in the yogurt 

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Tasty tzatziki!

Tzatziki Sauce (Home Cookin’)

Julia Child’s Chicken Fricassee (Home Cookin’)

Julia Child is a culinary icon, pioneer, and a true inspiration. I’m honored to be able to prepare one her legendary recipes, Chicken Fricassee, in my home kitchen. I made a little herb bouquet with parsley, fresh herbes de provence, and bay leaves (I didn’t have any fresh thyme in my fridge to I used the herbes instead). I also didn’t have any cheesecloth on hand so I improvised and used a coffee filter — it worked like a charm. :) For the most part, the recipe was very straightforward. I was a little worries that I would mess up the egg & cream immersion part, but I took it slow and, thankfully, the eggs did not scramble. The resulting cream sauce was beautiful, and the entire dish ended up being a success!

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Get the onions going first because they will need almost an hour to braise

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Make sure both sides of the chicken legs are nicely browned

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Mirepoix is essential!

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Made a little herb bouquet with parsley, fresh herbes de provence, and bay leaves 

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Chicken is covered in broth — time to simmer!

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Cooking the baby bellas in butter and water

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Ten minutes later

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The chicken is looking good!

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Now for the cream sauce:  egg yolks and heavy whipping cream

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Gently whisk small amounts of the chicken broth into the egg mixture. Make sure the egg doesn’t scramble!

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What it should look like if you do it right

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Add the egg and cream mixture to the pan… what a beautiful creamy sauce!

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Braised onions are looking and smelling great

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Add the mushrooms and onions to the pan 

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A classic Julia Child dish!

Julia Child’s Chicken Fricassee (Home Cookin’)

Quinoa Tabbouleh (Home Cookin’)

After trying the Assiette Mediterranean platter (hummus, babaganoush, tabbouleh) at Le Pain Quotidien, I fell in love with the tabbouleh. It was bright and fresh — and made with quinoa instead of couscous. I’ve been embarking on a new health kick ever since giving up white rice and white bread for Lent this year, and quinoa has slowly crept into more of my homemade meals. I enjoyed this dish so much that I was inspired to make it in my own kitchen. I found a simple recipe online by Bon Appetit and got to work. (Tip: even if the quinoa is pre-washed, I suggest that you wash it again… and again. You want to get rid of the bitter aftertaste.) Overall, this quinoa tabbouleh was super simple to prepare and I was able to keep it in the fridge to munch on over the next few days. Such a great healthy snack!

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All you need are a few simple ingredients

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Mix them together in a bowl

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Thn add the quinoa and mix some more!

Quinoa Tabbouleh (Home Cookin’)

Beef Stroganoff (Home Cookin’)

For Valentine’s Day this year we wanted to do something low key at home, rather than going out to a fancy restaurant. It’s freezing cold and snowing outside, so what’s better than meaty comfort food like beef stroganoff with egg noodles? :)  I searched online for a while and finally settled on Tyler Florence’s recipe — it requires the beef to cook for a good two hours, unlike many other recipes that are 30 minutes or less. I like my beef to be melt-in-your-mouth tender! This dish was incredibly hearty and cozy, kind of like a warm blanket of meaty, noodle-y deliciousness. Happy Love Day to all!

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We’re starting off with a beautiful four pound chuck roast

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Cut the meat into cubes and generously season with salt & pepper

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Get a nice sear on each piece

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The meat is browned and beautiful

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Onions and bourbon have been added, time to pour in the beef stock

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Time to simmer for two hours

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While the beef is simmering, prepare the mushrooms

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Dijon mustard and sour cream make this dish super tasty!

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Add the mushroom mixture to the pan and mix well

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What a gorgeous sight! (And it smells great, too)

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Last step is to cook the egg noodles and coat them with butter

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Hope you’re hungry because it’s time to eat!

Beef Stroganoff (Home Cookin’)