Rye Tagliatelle with Yeast Butter and Truffles

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I’m warning you now: this recipe is really difficult to pull off, but it also produces one of the most delicious pastas things I’ve ever tasted. In other words, it’s totally worth the hours you’ll spend in the kitchen wondering why you listened to me, cursing me under your breath while attempting to make this dish. Patience, my friend.

Adapted from a recipe by Noah Sandoval, the original version calls for handmade capellini. But, you know, I’m not a magician and producing hair-thin strands of pasta with rye flour (which is quite coarse), was beyond my skillset. I enlisted Nishan to help with the pasta-making (he’s handy with a KitchenAid) and the resulting tagliatelle was perfect.

I don’t recommend substituting regular pasta to accompany the sauce here. There’s something about that earthy rye flavor and the yeasty sauce that results in a vaguely Nordic umami bomb beyond your wildest dreams. Enjoy.

Rye Tagliatelle with Yeast Butter and Truffles

Ingredients:

2 cups 00 flour, plus more for dusting

3/4 cup rye flour
2 tablespoons caraway seeds, ground to a powder
Kosher salt
Pepper

10 egg yolks

3 eggs

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

1/2 cup black truffle butter

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Shaved black truffle (optional) and snipped chives, for garnish


1. Sift both flours with the caraway and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the egg yolks, whole eggs, olive oil and 
1 tablespoon of water. Using a fork, gradually whisk the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until a shaggy dough forms. Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and knead until stiff but smooth, about 
15 minutes. Wrap in plastic and let rest at room temperature until softened and relaxed, about 2 hours.


2. Divide the dough into 
12 pieces and work with 1 piece at a time; keep the rest covered. Press the dough to flatten. Set up a pasta machine to roll flat pasta. Starting at the widest setting, run the dough through successively narrower settings until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the sheet to a lightly floured work surface and dust with 00 flour. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.


3. Set up a pasta machine with a tagliatelle cutter. Working with 1 sheet of dough at a time, gradually feed the dough through the cutter. Gently toss with 00 flour and transfer the tagliatelle pile to a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining sheets of pasta to form 12 piles.


4. In a small saucepan, whisk the cream with 2 tablespoons of water and the yeast and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the yeast is dissolved and the mixture is very thick, 
3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the unsalted butter 1 tablespoon at a time until emulsified, then season with salt and pepper. 


5. In a large saucepan of 
salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente, about 
2 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Wipe out the saucepan.


6. In the large saucepan, melt the yeast butter with the truffle butter over moderately high heat. Add the pasta, the 1/4 cup of Parmesan and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water and toss until hot and evenly coated with the butter, about 2 minutes. Add a little more of the cooking water if necessary. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl. Top with grated Parmesan and garnish with shaved black truffle, if desired, and snipped chives. Serve immediately.

Halvah-Stuffed Challah

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Growing up, one of my favorite after-school snacks was halvah rolled up with lavash flatbread: simple, sweet, and satisfying. Called halvardeh in Persian, Middle Eastern halvah is ubiquitous these days in well-stocked American grocery stores. But when I was a kid, halvah was precious: we’d make semi-monthly drives from Santa Rosa to San Jose to stock up on Iranian favorites, including halvah, sour cherry jam, lavashak (sour fruit roll ups), and spices and herbs for days.

This halvah-stuffed challah is a grown-up version of my childhood snack and make no mistake about it: this is a weekend project. Adapted from a Food and Wine recipe, this takes the better part of an afternoon to make, and the results are well worth it. This recipe makes two loaves so make like me and freeze one for eating later, when the craving strikes.

Halvah-stuffed challah

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
5 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup tahini
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
Salt
1 1/2 cups chopped halvah
Sesame seeds and more sugar, for sprinkling

1. Make the dough: In a small bowl, whisk the water with the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes, until foamy.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk 4 of the eggs with the oil and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, pinch of salt, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cardamom and the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Mix to blend. Add the egg and yeast mixtures and knead until the dough comes together, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and knead until smooth and slightly sticky, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled large bowl and cover with wax paper and a towel on top.

3. Make the filling and topping: In a medium bowl, stir the tahini with 1/3 cup of the honey, the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with the remaining 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of water.

4. Preheat the oven to 375F degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Transfer 1 piece to a lightly floured work surface and keep the other piece covered with a damp kitchen towel. Divide the dough on the work surface into 3 equal pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll out 1 piece into a 
14-by-6-inch rectangle. Spread 1/4 cup of the tahini mixture on top, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the halvah over the tahini in an even layer. With a long side facing you, tightly roll up the dough into a log, pressing the seam and ends together to seal in the filling. Repeat with the other 2 pieces of dough, 1/2 cup of the tahini mixture and 1/2 cup of the halvah. Arrange the 3 logs on one of the prepared sheets and braid them together. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds and sugar. Repeat with the second piece of dough and the remaining filling, egg wash and toppings. Bake the challahs for about 25-30 minutes on the middle and bottom racks of the oven, shifting and rotating halfway through, until deep golden. Transfer to racks to cool.


Ramen with Miso Pesto

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I hate cilanto. It tastes awful to me. (Yeah, I’m one of those.) But cilantro is good for you and lately I’ve been trying to sneak it into recipes where I might not notice, like in salsas or chutneys, or this miso pesto tossed with springy noodles.

And you know what? I don’t taste the cilantro. Adapted from Bon Appetit, this pesto is packed with bright, herbaceous flavor, thanks to the addition of spinach, lemon juice, and a healthy dollop of sweet and salty white miso.

These noodles make a perfect warm-weather dinner and they’re a terrific way to get in bunches of greens without even trying.

Ramen with miso pesto

Ingredients:

4 cups baby spinach
2 cups cilantro leaves with tender stems
1 tablespoon white miso
1 small garlic clove
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt
2 5-ounce packages fresh ramen noodles
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Toasted sesame seeds, for serving

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, puree spinach, cilantro, miso, garlic, olive oil, sesame oil, and lemon juice in a blender until mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pour pesto into a bowl.

3. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and add to bowl with pesto. Add butter and toss until butter is melted and noodles are coated in sauce.

4. Divide noodles between bowls and top with sesame seeds.

Singaporean-Style Chicken Congee

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Congee, jook, bubur, porridge — whatever you call it, it’s the ultimate comfort food in a bowl, and an endlessly adaptable one at that. Topped with fried shallots, drizzled with sweet and salty soy sauce, served alongside Chinese doughnuts or a soft-boiled egg — the possibilities are endless.

Whenever I travel to Asia, I eat a lot of congee, especially for breakfast. One of my favorite ways to prepare congee is Singaporean-style. This version uses sticky rice as well as short-grain rice for a creamier version, but you can use simply regular short-grain rice for equally delicious results.

Singapore-style chicken congee

Ingredients:

1/2 cup short-grain rice
1/2 cup glutinous white rice
4 cups water
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound boneless chicken, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons shredded ginger
2 teaspoons crisp-fried shallots
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Pepper

1. Wash both types of rice, drain, and place in a large saucepan. Add the water and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer with the saucepan partially covered for about 1 hour, until the rice is very thick and soft, stirring from time to time to keep the rice from sticking. (If the congee is looking too thick, add some water or stock to thin it out.)

2. When the rice has been cooking for 30 minutes, put the chicken in a bowl, sprinkle with cornstarch and toss to coat. Add the soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, and ginger. Mix and set aside.

3. When the rice is porridge-like, add the chicken and its marinade. Stir well and simmer until the chicken is cooked, 7-10 minutes.

4. Transfer the porridge to serving bowls and top with the crisp-fried shallots, green onion, and pepper to taste. Serve accompanied with more soy sauce for adding to taste.

Bean Thread Noodles with Oyster Mushrooms and Cucumber

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I could eat noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day and I wouldn’t get bored. But I’m trying to reduce the amount of grains in my diet lately, and this citrusy Southeast Asian-inspired salad is just the answer. It’s light, summery, and best of all, delicious.

Made from mung beans, bean thread noodles are gluten free, grain free, and have a slippery, wonderful mouthfeel similar to Korean sweet potato noodles. Use these in stir-fries, soups, salads — really, anything.

Bean thread nooles with oyster mushrooms and cucumber

Ingredients:

1 pound oyster mushrooms, cleaned
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bundles (about 3 ounces) bean thread noodles, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes and drained
1 green onion, cut lengthwise into thin slices and then cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
Ground black pepper
4 tablespoons lime juice
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok over high heat and add the oyster mushrooms, stir-frying until cooked through and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, cut into bite-size pieces, and set aside in a large bowl.

2. Wipe out cooled wok and return to stove. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in the wok over high heat and add the garlic and stir-fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and stir-fry, then add the salt and a small pinch of sugar and continue stir-frying until cooked through and slightly golden. Remove from heat and add chicken to the bowl with mushrooms.

3. Bring a pot of water to a boil, cut the soaked bean thread noodles into 5-inch lengths, and add to boiling water for 1 minute, until just cooked through. Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain again. Place the noodles in the bowl with the mushrooms and chicken.

4. In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice, fish sauce, chili flakes, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently.

5. Add the green onions, cilantro, and cucumber to the salad and toss again. Arrange noodle salad on a platter and sprinkle lightly with ground pepper.