Keep your eyes peeled for an easter egg video to how to make your own chili powder…
One of those times where I just mix a bunch of stuff together and it turns out all right.
If your special event doesn’t include a specialty cocktail made specifically for your event, then you, my friend, don’t know what the word “celebration” means. This is just one man’s opinion, of course, and not every word out of my mouth is applicable to every person and nor should it be. For example, the previous sentence, because OF COURSE a specially-made hand-crafted libation makes EVERY event better. And for those of you who don’t drink, well…I guess we’re just not made to ever understand each other.
A great friend of mine that I spent two years with in a hellhole of a law firm graduated from Columbia Law School and passed the bar in Washington D.C., and I decided that I would cook her dinner in honor of her fabulous success. This dinner that comprised of Drunken Noodles and Shrimp Shumai took place around my birthday, and to celebrate that my friend bought me a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin (which is a pretty nice gin).
Also for my birthday, my girlfriend got me a sort of sexy Swiss Army Knife of bartending that came with a corkscrew, zester, knife, and a strainer, among other things. All in one neat, little package.
I think I’m pretty easy to buy a gift for as I am always enthusiastic for gifts that get me drunk or that aid me in that endeavor. So in honor of two of the neatest women that I am thankful to have in my life, I concocted a drink that would use both of their gifts (and suggested flavors as my girlfriend also chose some of the other ingredients), and I named this drink after them.
(Pronounced like Dine-Ken.)
– Hendrick’s Gin
– Ginger Ale/Beer
– Cucumber Soda
– Juice of half a Lemon
– Juice of half a Lime
– Dash of Bitters
The gin doesn’t HAVE to be Hendrick’s, but it would be a shame not to use it if available. It is a fine gin, very smooth and infused with rose and cucumber, which helps it go into the cucumber soda quite nicely. However, cucumber soda can be a little dry depending on the brand, and when mixed with gin, the flavor can get a little sharp. Hence the ginger ale, which not only adds hints of ginger to the mix but also a bit of sweetness.
- Combine two shots of gin, the juice of half a lemon and lime, and a dash of bitters.
- Fill a glass with ice, as well as wedges made from the lemon and lime you juiced.
- Pour in gin mixture, and then fill the rest of the glass with equal parts of the cucumber soda and the ginger ale, and mix with a swizzle stick.
The cocktail is wonderful when the weather is hot, which is exactly what it was on the day that I had been standing in the kitchen for hours making the shumai.
Unfortunately, I was not able to make the drink for my friend that night, and she has since moved to D.C. so this is the only way I have to share the cocktail with her. It’s yummy, bubbly, and packed full of gratitude and exaltation.
Dedicated to Dynamite Dinah and Krazy Kenisha.
So warm, soft, crispy and cheesy it’s almost stupid.
With every single recipe I create, I am positive that I have just cooked the most ridiculous thing I could have ever concocted. But oh, how time makes fools of us all. Sometimes what I make doesn’t really pan out (I’m so close to make a cooking pun here, but I just can’t get a grasp on it). Sometimes the recipes aren’t original enough. I don’t want to simply post my version of chocolate cake of chicken carbonara because it’s boring. You don’t come here for a boring, nouveau-fusion, “let’s add mango to our salsa!” recipe; you come here for exciting, out-of-left-field, “let’s fill this mango with salsa and then cover it in maple syrup!” recipes. Most of the time, however, the ideas I come up with have already been created by others. Just last weekend, I thought I had an original idea of bacon-wrapped bananas until I discovered that not only are there a slew of bacon-banana recipes, but some of them did things with the dish I would never have dreamed of (such as making chocolate-covered, maple bacon bananas). So it’s not surprising that my recipes are absurd to the point of being grotesque; after the failures, other people getting there first, and my own crazed creative standards, the ridiculous is all that’s left.
Case in point: this goddamn recipe. I’ve been making Shrimp n’ Grits ever since my girlfriend incessantly bugged me to make it for her about a year and a half ago. Earlier this year, my girlfriend started bugging me to make her polenta.
Hmmmmm. Maybe I’m not innovative, but rather my girlfriend just annoys me a lot.
Upon producing said polenta, I realized that grits and polenta are pretty much the same thing. Each uses cornmeal, each go well with shrimp, each can be chilled and fried –
And thus a recipe was born! Prepare yourselves for the insane meeting of Italy and the American South which, if going by racial stereotypes alone, would be one of the rowdiest, drunkest, sexiest, and delicious weddings ever!
Fried, Grit-filled Polenta, or Polengritsa for short
I even stuffed the word “Grits” into the word “Polenta” . . . I’M BANGING ON ALL CYLINDERS OVER HERE!
– 2 cups of Cornmeal
– 4 cups of Chicken Stock
– 2 cups of Whole Milk (After drinking whole milk, I shall never go back. It’s the rare steak of milk.)
– 2 cups of Water
– 1 stick of Butter
– 6 oz of Cheddar Cheese
– 6 oz of Parmesan
– 3 tsp of Salt
– 4 thick strips of Bacon
– 4 thick strips (or equivalent) of Prosciutto
– ¾ cups of Red Onion (chopped)
– 1 tsp of Black Pepper
– 1 – 2 Jalapenos (chopped)
– Olive Oil
– Vegetable Oil
– Fresh Parsley (chopped)
Once again, I used Alton Brown’s recipes for making the actual grits and polenta. They are both insanely easy to make as long as you have some patience, a little focus, and a whisk. I did do some things differently, however. When tasted side-by-side, grits and polenta are similar and yet distinct; grits are creamier while polenta is more porridge like. Yet when they are smashed together and fried in bar-form, it can be a challenge to distinguish the differences between the two, so I decided to modify them each a tad.
I used more cheddar and parmesan than the recipes state, although you’ll want to save some of each for later.
- For the grits, I cut up four strips of bacon, cooked them, and then threw in the jalapenos and sauteed it all together. This helped make the grits spicier to contrast the polenta.
- To the polenta, I added some finely chopped parsley, paprika (to taste), and prosciutto. I was able to find cubed prosciutto (which I crisped up in a pan) so it came out more “hammy”. If you can’t find cubed prosciutto, just get the equivalent of four strips of bacon. Tip for thin Prosciutto – If you bake it, it’ll easily crumble into the polenta.
It’s still tough to tell them apart in the final dish, although everyone I served it to didn’t seem to mind; some didn’t really know the difference between grits and polenta, some had never had either, and some slipped into a food coma before they were able to say anything. I’ll take my success where I can get it, ignorance and incapacitation be damned.
- Make the grits first, and do it in the morning for breakfast. Eating a single bowl takes away enough volume so as not to make it difficult when covering them with the polenta, but it leaves enough to make a substantial layer. Could you just change the amount of grits at the beginning so you weren’t forced to eat grits? Sure. You could also sacrifice a lamb over the dish in the name of the ancient god Ba’al; just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Besides, if you have to be forced to eat grits, why the hell are you cooking this thing?
- In a baking dish (8”x8” or 6”x9”) that is lined with parchment paper, pour the remainder of the grits in. Smooth it out with a spatula until everything is even and then refrigerate until completely firm, which should take most of the day.
- Go for a twelve mile hike, watch the entire The Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition trilogy, stake out and rob a bank; anything that will get you out of the house for eight hours.
- Make the polenta. While that’s cooking, go ahead and cut up the firm grits into bars. My cuts were about 2”x4” and I was able to get about six bars out of it. There will be scraps leftover, but those are called dinner.
- When the polenta is done, take another 8”x8” baking dish lined with parchment paper and pour about ⅓ of the polenta in. Smooth it out with a spatula until everything is even.
- Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the polenta. We’re not looking for full coverage here, I’d say maybe one handful or less.
- Place your grit bars on top of the polenta and cheese. If you leave enough parchment paper coming up over the sides, I would take a marker and give yourself some guiding lines on the edges of the paper so you know exactly where to cut once everything is covered.
- Pour another ⅓ of the polenta over the grits. Take the spatula and gently push the polenta into the spaces around the grit bars, all the while softly shaking the baking dish.
- Spread another round of cheese over it all, and then pour in the rest of your polenta. Like before, smooth, even, and shake.
- Place this in the fridge and wait. You could go rob another bank to pass these second eight hours, or maybe just go to sleep. Only you can decide how badass of a cook you want to be.
- In the morning, cut the polenta-grit bars using the guidelines you drew earlier, and prepare for heating.
- Deep frying isn’t really an option as the suckers are just too big and dense; they’ll fall apart in the oil before heating all the way through. If you must deep-fry, you’re gonna have to batter and/or cover with lots of breadcrumbs first. For me, I put olive oil on the bars themselves rather than in the pan, took some parmesan cheese and sprinkled it on each side and sauteed them. The crust was crispy and tasty, and it added some symmetry because of the cheddar that was layered into the bar.
Once finished, this thing is pretty outrageous and embodies the word “Contrast”. Light, crispy, and cheesy on the outside, and dense, creamy, and soft on the inside. Sweet and spicy bacon bits in the middle, salty prosciutto on the edge. The parmesan crust and the gooey cheddar layers. The thing is quite heavy, so I wouldn’t go building a meal around it. If anything, maybe a small salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. I might try these again but make them smaller and more manageable, but for now I say, “Go big or go home.”
Enjoy! (FYI – Be on the look-out for that salsa-filled, maple syrup mango.)
Thanks to my friends Dan Forcade and Elliot Grossman for acting as taste-testers!
Deep-fried candy, but in a good way.
There are times I want to say that I am so talented and prolific, all I need is a pen and paper and I can create art that is moving, entertaining and insightful. Then I remember that the name of my particular muse is χαζή τύχηm, which is Greek for “dumb luck”, and my delusions of grandeur just fly right out the window. Case in point: this is another recipe idea I got from my inability to type. While chatting online with a friend while we were talking about Chinese food, I meant to type “eggrolls” but instead typed “eggrolos”.
And thus, a new creation was born.
For those of you who don’t know about Rolos (meaning that your childhood was a loveless pit of despair and lamentation), they are a simple candy of milk-chocolate coated caramels. They were sweet, every so chewy, and came wrapped in gold-colored foil, encased in a paper tube.
Deep-fried Rolos are not a new invention (as people who attended the 2011 Arkansas State Fair can attest to), but to put it in the form of an eggroll helps to subtract the American tradition of frying every food beyond recognition, and add a little international flare to the dish. And because a mentor of mine once said, “Nic, the ONE time you DON’T half-ass a job is when you’re just fucking around”, I couldn’t simply take Rolos, wrap them in eggroll wrappers, and then cook the suckers. No, I had to make the caramel and the chocolate myself, and then get to frying.
This dish was daunting and intimidating once all the ingredients were laid out before me. But because you can never learn to fly without jumping off of a cliff, there’s no other option but to dive in head first and hope you sprout wings before you fall to your death.
– 14 ½ oz. Sugar
– ½ cup of Water
– ½ cup Light Corn Syrup
– ¼ tsp. of Cream of Tartar
– 1 ¾ cups of Heavy Cream (room temperature)
– 2 tsp. of Soy Sauce
– 10 tbsp. of Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
– 1 tsp. Sea Salt
– 8 oz. of Milk Chocolate Morsels
– Vegetable Oil
– Eggroll Wrappers (So I didn’t make everything from scratch; I’m an artist, not Chef Chu from Eat Drink Man Woman.)
– Confectioners Sugar
This recipe scared me half to death. Melting sugar is always very scary to me as it is the culinary version of napalm, and things can go from okay to horrible in a matter of moments. As a cook, I’m a guy who flies by the seat of his pants most of the time, not knowing what the final dish is going to be until I put it on my plate and eat it. Candy is more of an exact science: keep the mixture at 233° for 32.12289984 minutes, and then turn the heat up to 450° for 4 seconds, and then add salt, then take it out, then add hard water, then document the results and publish them in an accredited scientific journal. All of these strict guidelines can be frightening to a new candy-cooker, but there is also comfort in them as you don’t have to think about anything. Just follow the directions to the letter, and you’ll be okay.
- The recipe I used for the caramels was Alton Brown’s (my cooking idol), and can be found here. I’m not going to go through the exacts of the recipe because I didn’t get it quite right the few times I’ve tried it. The first time I attempted it, the candy came out more like brittle, which would not be a pleasant experience when biting into a hot fried tube of sugar. The second time, I ended up with something that was the consistency of the caramel that is swirled into the ice cream cartons that you buy at the grocery store, which works better with the EggRolo recipe, but isn’t what the recipes says it should be. I’ll keep trying to perfect it in the future but I started to get diabetes from eating all the failed efforts, so I just went with the swirly-saucy caramel.
- Make a ganache for the chocolate portion. Ganache is an icing or glaze that is made with chocolate and cream. Heat ¾ cup of heavy cream. Put your chocolate in a bowl. When the cream is ready, pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for two minutes. Stir the chocolate and cream until fully mixed, and then add 2 tbsp. of butter. Mix until fully incorporated and then set aside to cool.
- I used dark chocolate to make my ganache because I prefer it, but a milk chocolate ganache would be truer to the Rolo concept, as well as taste more like it. Also, you run the risk of the dark chocolate overpowering the caramel.
- Prepare a eggrolo-rolling station, which should include your caramel, your chocolate ganache, eggroll wrappers, and a small bowl of cold water to dip you fingers in.
- The size of your eggrolos depends on your personal preference. I tried both traditional eggroll wrappers and then smaller potsticker wrappers as well. The eggroll wrappers will create a normal looking eggroll, which would be good for a dessert in a coursed-meal. The smaller wrappers created tiny eggrolos about an inch in length, which would be ideal for snack food for kids or in a big bowl at a party.
- The key to filling eggrolls (or any stuffed pastry/pasta) is to use a lot less than you feel you should. Start by putting down a small, thin layer of ganache –
- – and then a thicker portion of caramel –
- Then you flip the corner over once then fold in the sides. At this point, you want to wet your fingers and rub the edges of the wrappers. This will make sure that you get a full seal on your eggrolos so that nothing seeps out when you start frying. Gently press out all air pockets, and finish rolling the eggrolo, making sure to seal every edge. Set on a plate.
- Once you’ve prepped the amount of eggrolos you want (I only did four big eggrolos and four little rolos, but I think this recipe could yield 64 eggrolos, easily), refrigerate the eggrolos for at least an hour.
- The point of chilling the rolos for so long before cooking is to make sure that the intense heat of frying melts the inner ingredients rather than burning them.
- Fill a pot with the oil and start to heat to 350° (get yourself one of them fancy candy thermometers).
- Once your eggrolos are chilled and your oil is ready, put two to four eggrolos in the oil (depending on the size of your pot and the size of your eggrolos). Since we don’t need to worry about the contents of the eggrolos cooking, once they turn a golden brown, take the eggrolos out and set them to drain.
- You will want to serve these pretty quickly, so that the outside is really crispy and the inside all melty and gooey. If you wait too long, the crunch will be gone and the effect ruined.
- Dust with confectioners sugar, and then serve.
The final product came out pretty much like I expected, but the reality of it had much more impact than I had imagined; hot, crispy and crunchy lightness on the outside; warm, gooey and sweet decadence on the inside. Serve with some small scoops of vanilla ice cream, or if you are brave, try dipping them into soy sauce which will add some saltiness to the party, making the flavors more complex. Either way, your diners are in for a pleasant surprise.
A new recipe embodying New Orleans for the new year.
NEW CAMERA OBTAINED! No more blurry, undefined blobs of color! No more apologizing, or insisting that, yes, that really is mac n’ cheese instead of a bowl of orange paint! Finally, the pictures of my recipes will match the quality of my writing (at least that’s what I tell myself). I wish I could say I was able to buy the new camera because of money I made via this blog, or an acting gig, or some other creative endeavor; in truth, I just strong-armed my grandmother in spending a couple of hundred dollars on one by saying I never get presents anymore.
But enough of my manipulation of family members; let’s get to the chow. Being creole (along with filipino, polish, austrian, german and native american – I might even be russian; once you reach four different ethnicities, the goal is to claim as many as you can ), gumbo always marked a special occasion in my household. For those of you who don’t know what gumbo is and are therefore leading sad, empty lives, it’s a kind of hefty, spicy soup from Louisiana that is served over rice. There is no one standard recipe, but it usually includes fried chicken, andouille sausage, okra and shrimp. When I started cooking for myself like a big boy, gumbo was on the top of my “Learn How To Make This” list, and now it’s all my family wants me to make.
But I don’t want to tell you how to make gumbo; you can get recipes all over the internet, and that’s just not hardcore enough. After some heavy pondering (and heavy drinking, let’s not deny it) I came up with this:
Not a hot dog. Not a chili-dog. Not a chili-cheese dog. A GUMBO dog. And not just any hot dog, but a hot link.
Now sit down and get ready for the stupidly awesome to fill your mouth.
Jumbo Gumbo Dog
– 1-2 lbs of Chicken Meat
– Corn Starch
– Powdered Garlic
– Cayenne Pepper
– Black Pepper
– Vegetable Oil
– 1 Cup of Onion (Chopped)
– 1 Cup of Green Pepper (Chopped)
– ¾ Cup of Celery (Chopped)
– 2-3 Jalapenos (Chopped or Sliced)
– Tsp Garlic (Minced)
– 1 lbs of Andouille Sausage (Cubed or Sliced)
– 7 Cups of Chicken Stock
– Rice (Jasmine, if possible)
– Hot Link (at least one)
– French Bread or Baguette
This recipe comes in two stages: 1) – Make Gumbo; and 2) Pour Gumbo Over Hotlink. For the first stage, I’m going to refer you to the recipe that I learned from – Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo – as it’s basically what I still use today. As far as the second stage, there’s not much to go into:
- Heat the hot link in the manner you see fit
- Place hot link in french bread/baguette
- Mix gumbo with cooked rice
- Pour gumbo and rice on hot link
- Sprinkle with some diced green onions
- Serve, along with a few choices of hot sauce
Look, I never said it was going to be the most complex recipe in the world (although if you think making gumbo is a walk in the park, you’re crazy), nor did I say it was 100% all my recipe. But I think I get a couple of points for being the first to come up with the idea, at least to my knowledge and what time I spent looking for it on the internet. I will talk about some things that I do differently from Chef Paul, however.
- You can skip all the product placement; any andouille sausage (yes, it MUST be andouille) will do. And while Chef Paul’s seasoning blends are okay, you can do just as well with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic powder when seasoning the chicken.
- For the fried chicken, I just used breast fillets cut into strips. It’s easier to cut up into the gumbo, and you don’t have as much to worry about as you do with chicken that still has the skin and bones. This does mean that the breading on the finished chicken is more chalky instead of crispy since it’s just flour, but because it’s going in a soup it doesn’t matter.
- I dredge the chicken twice; once in the flour mixture, and then I add some cornstarch to the mixture and dredge a second time right before I fry it. The cornstarch is finer than flour and can get into all the nooks and crannies that flour sometimes misses. And don’t worry; having cornstarch in there won’t hurt your roux.
- Speaking of roux – you don’t have to do it the way Chef Paul instructs. There are slower and safer methods to making roux that will ensure you get it just right without the risk of ruining it; just be prepared for those methods to take much longer. I would give y’all more details on those methods, but I’ve only ever done it Chef Paul’s way because I’m not a pussy.
- I added jalapenos to the chopped vegetables for some more heat. If you don’t want it too hot, you can always seed and core the peppers before adding them. If you want even less heat, you don’t have to add them at all. If you want a completely mild gumbo that isn’t hot at all, then you might as well just eat an american cheese, miracle whip and wonderbread sandwich for all the living that you’re doing.
- So the fuck what if I used a bag of microwaved rice?! I was drinking and didn’t want to worry about getting the timing of everything just right. Leave me alone.
- It’ll be hard to wait, but I would suggest cooking the gumbo at least a day ahead of actually making the gumbo dogs. Part of the magic of gumbo is that it’s fantastic when fresh, but mind-blowing when it has sat for a day or two. The longer all of the ingredients (chicken, sausage, soup, etc.) sit with each other, the deeper and richer the flavor becomes. Of course, if you have added shrimp, crab or other seafood to your gumbo, you may not want to let it sit around.
Shout out to my friend and fellow-blogger Zack Keller for being my co-chef and photographer while I held the gumbo dog. I have many more recipes of both food and drink planned, and each will come with HD pictures shot by my brand new camera! Hell, I may even go back and remake some of my old recipes just to get you guys better shots…after I finish cleaning up my kitchen since making gumbo is messy work. And then after I have a drink. And then another. You know, let’s just say it’d be a nice idea.
Dedicated to my grandparents Dorothy and Tony Frantela
A Meaty, Sweet & Savory, Guilty Pleasure Recovery Meal
Phew. All this drinkin’ catches up with a man. Unless you’re incredibly lucky (or unlucky, depending on your view of things), we all have had to deal with the after-effects of a hardcore party. Queeziness, headaches, slow reflexes, etc. And it’s times like those that you want food that tastes good, is easy to eat, will fill your stomach, and give you back some shred of dignity. What I’ve made will help you with those first three; you have no chance with the fourth because someone took pictures of you trying to make out with that floor lamp and we’ve all seen them.
Hair of the Dog Noodles
– 8 oz of Wide Ride Noodles
– Pack of Bacon
– 4 oz of Sausage/Ground Pork
– 4 Eggs
– 1-2 Bulbs of Shallots (Sliced)
– 1-2 Garlic (Minced)
– Handful of Chives (Chopped)
– 5-6 Large Mushrooms (Sliced)
– Soy Sauce
– Maple Syrup
– Shot of Jack Daniels
This is essentially a Drunken Noodle recipe, but some ingredients have been changed to make it more breakfasty and American. It’s also not going to be as spicy as your run of the mill Drunken Noodles since I’ve taken out the Thai Chilis; a hot pepper is just enough to push that hangover nausea to a full-blown “Can I make it to the toilet before I BLAAARRRGGGG?!!” moment.
- Preheat oven to 400°. When ready, bake the pack of bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes, or until crispy. Yes, I said to bake your bacon, and yes, I said to use an entire pack of it. This is a hangover recovery meal, not an example of health. Set aside when finished.
- Soak and soften noodles in boiling water. When done, drain, rinse, and set aside.
A note on the noodles – The kind of noodles I use are wide rice noodles (also sometimes labeled as rice sticks), an Asian noodle available in any Asian market, or online, if those kinds of markets aren’t in your area. In the end, any Asian noodle will do; just don’t use normal pasta.
Yes, it does matter; stop arguing with me. Never argue with a chef, especially if he’s drunk.
- Beat eggs in a large bowl.
- Melt some butter in a large skillet. When hot, pour in eggs, and create a large, thin omelet – this can be made by constantly shaking the pan until egg mixture is mostly solid, and then flip. Set aside.
- In a large pan/wok, cook the sausage/pork. Set aside.
- Crumble bacon, cut omelet into 1” x 2” sections, and pour sausage into a large bowl.
- In the same pan/wok, heat some oil. When hot, throw in garlic, shallots and mushrooms. Fry until soft.
- Throw in drained noodles. Mix well.
- Pour and mix in 2 – 4 tablespoons of soy sauce.
- Toss in 2 tablespoons of butter. Mix until completely incorporated.
- Salt and pepper noodles to taste.
- Pour in bacon, sausage, and eggs. You must mix it.
- Pour in ¼ cup of maple syrup. You must mix it.
- Pour in a shot of Jack Daniels (this is called ‘Hair of the Dog’ Noodles, after all, and the whiskey compliments the syrup). You must mix it.
- Now mix it into shape; shape it up; get straight; go forward; move ahead; try to detect it; it’s not too late; to mix it . . . mix it good (WHIPCRACK).
- Add in chives.
Now, I know this seems like some reject from Epic Meal Time, but once the dish is made, it’s not all that; the amount of noodles helps spread out all the protein, syrup and liquor. What you end up with is something that is equally sweet and savory, crispy and soft, simply delicious and ‘who gives a crap as long as it helps with the hangover?’ My roommate, who ate much of the finished dish, stated that it was the perfect hangover meal because it was easy to eat. I think he meant that you didn’t have to do any hard work to consume it, like peel any fruit . . . or, like, chew it. Every single bite will taste like glorious mix of every breakfast you’ve ever had. Not for the vegetarian, nor the health-conscious, but perfect for a household full of drunks after a wild and crazy house party.
Okay, so it’s just chop suey. I just figured out how to make chop suey. Whoop-dee-doo! But I figured it out on my own without looking it up. That’s how much of a genius I am; I create age old dishes completely on my own.
It actually bummed me out when I went online and did less than five minutes of research with google and discovered that what I thought would usher in a new era for veggie-only and gluten-intolerant folks (Vegetable Pasta! Pasta, made out of vegetables! I am a pioneer, a goddamn innovator, a fucking trailblazer!) was actually invented in the 1800’s. I feel like a grandparent who calls up his grandson to ask, “Hey Billy, have you heard about this MySpace thing?”
Still, I’m going to put the recipe down as I don’t have anything else right now and I took all these damn pictures (still have a shitty camera though, sorry). Plus, the possibilities for this dish are somewhat insurmountable so it might be good to know anyway.
Vegetable Pasta (Chop Suey)
– Zucchini (also called Italian Squash, apparently)
– Carrot (also called the Orange Killer of the North)
– Red Pepper (also called Dave)
– Onion (also called Onion)
– Eggplant (I normally try to go for a Chinese or Japanese Eggplant for this, but they didn’t have any good ones at my local foodmart so I had to go with the White Eggplant which just looks like a very large bean to me.)
You can use any vegetables that you want, but long thin ones work best if you want that pasta effect. Also shy away from the starchier stuff as it would take a lot longer to cook than the other stuff.
- Using a mandolin with a julienne attachment and set at ¼ inch, make long stands of the zucchini, eggplant and carrot. Keep the eggplant and zucchini separate from the carrots by putting them into a bowl and putting that bowl into the fridge. They will start to brown really quickly.
- Core the pepper and remove the seeds. Cut the pepper into thin strips.
- Peel and halve the onion. Then, laying the flat side down, cut to the middle of the onion. (This finished product should look like this) Take the julienne attachment off and slice the onion half until it’s gone. You’ll be left with a bunch of broken onion rings which will uncurl as you cook them.
- If you don’t have a mandolin, get on the ball and purchase one, or do it by hand. If you do it by hand, don’t use a cheese grater as things will come out too thin. Also, leave the squash and eggplant for last as by the time you finish with everything else they will have browned.
That’s it, basically. How you cook it is up to you and up to the style you want. Stir-frying with some garlic and ginger will give you the Asian flair. If you want a more Italian theme, fry the onions and red pepper with some garlic, boil the carrots, leave the squash and eggplant alone (they don’t need to cook just to be heated, which a sauce can do) and pour over some tomato sauce and cheese. You could even leave everything raw, throw in some olives and asparagus, drizzle on a vinaigrette and have a salad you can twirl onto a fork. And if you don’t feel like being vegan-friendly or gluten-free, throw some shrimp in that stir-fry! Put sausage in the tomato sauce, and use actual pasta too. Cut up some barbequed chicken into that salad.
As for me, I did a stir-fry this time with my own sauce.
– 3 Tbs. Hoison Sauce
– 2 Tbs. Sweet Chili Sauce
– 1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
– ½ Tbs. Sesame Oil
– ½ Tbs. Crushed Ginger
– ½ Tbs. Crushed Garlic
– ½ Tbs. Black Pepper
- Mix together in a bowl.
- When stir-frying you veggies, go ass the produce in this order: Carrots, onions, pepper, squash & eggplant. The carrots are going to take the longest to cook, and the squash and eggplant don’t need to cook at all so don’t add everything at once.
- When all the veggies have been added, turn off the heat and pour sauce over the noodles. Toss to coat.
Then you put it into a bowl, dash on some sesame seeds and throw in some pine nuts. I also ate it with some broiled white fish. It may not be innovative, but it sure is tasty.