Homemade and Hand Rolled Tagliatelle

Fresh Tagliatelle

When my sibs and I brainstormed our menu for October’s Sunday Family Dinner, we thought it would be delicious to create a meal that was hearty and celebrated the flavors of Fall. But when the day finally arrived, instead of chilly weather we were greeted with a sunny, 85 degree afternoon. That’s Southern California for you…….

We put together a simple antipasti platter of delicious cheeses, cold cuts, olives and bread to munch on while we were prepared dinner. And for dessert, my sis, N, made fruit tarts with pears and apples.

Anti Pasti

My sis, T, was in charge of the main course– slow braised Osso Bucco. Due to the hours of slow cooking, the shanks broke down into rich, meaty goodness with a wonderfully, savory sauce. Once plated, we topped the Osso Bucco with spoonfuls of gremolata—a condiment made from tons of chopped garlic, lemon zest and Italian parsley. The gremolata brought brightness to the dish and also helped cut some of the richness.

To serve with the Osso Bucco, I was inspired to try my hand at homemade, hand rolled/cut pasta. Why hand rolled instead of employing a hand crank or KitchenAid attachment? Simple…I don’t own either. (Hint! Hint!)

Osso Bucco with Fresh Tagliatelle

I used Mario Batali’s recipe for the dough and have one recommendation–beat the eggs first before pouring them into the “well” of flour. It may not be traditional but it’ll reduce any potential “leaks” that may occur. Trust me, you should have heard the shrieks coming out of me when the walls of my “well” started oozing eggs. I was a mess for a hot second! And I have to admit, I was working up a sweat from all the rolling that was going down—those Italian grandmas must be buffer than they look!

In the end, I think the Tagliatelle turned out well and was worth the effort. I do wish I could have gotten it a little thinner but I guess I’ll need to work out my biceps a little more in preparation for next time.

Happy Friday Friends!

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Recipe from Mario Batali via Joy the Baker

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese because it’s my Blogiversary!

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

My how time flies……

In the past three years, I left a comfortable job and moved to a brand new city. My family has welcomed a few new additions and have had our share of ups and downs. I’ve celebrated milestones with friends and loved ones and have stumbled upon great adventures.

And of course, three years ago I started this blog.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

I can hardly believe how a quick decision one “wine-induced” night has catapulted me into a wonderful world of food and self-exploration.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

This experience has introduced me to the food blogging community—a group of folks who are so supportive and generous. And I have been extended wonderful projects to participate in–which I still find so mind boggling! Not too shabby for this home cook :)

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

After three years, I am still so grateful. Thanks to my loved ones who serve as my steady food testers and inspiration.

And Thanks to you All for your continued support of The Culinary Chronicles. I promise, there’s a lot more to come.

ps. To celebrate, try out my Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. Comforting and a bit decadent…just how I like my food.

Happy Foodventures!

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Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6

Ingredients:

¾ Pound Elbow Pasta
2½ Cups Whole Milk
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
4 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Gruyere Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Fontina Cheese, cubed
½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Kosher Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
10 Ounces Cooked Lobster Meat, tail and claw
½ Cup Toasted Panko Breadcrumbs
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, diced

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Heavily salt the water and cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes until it is just shy of al dente. Drain well and set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the milk and bring to a slow simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter and vegetable oil together over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk for about 2-3 minutes to allow the flour to cook. Whisk in the hot milk and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Remove the pot from heat and add in the Gruyere, Cheddar Cheese and Fontina. Stir until the cheeses have melted and then add in the red pepper flakes, nutmeg, kosher salt and black pepper. Add in the pasta and lobster and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into a greased 9×9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the top with Panko and Parmesan Cheese. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and bake in a 400 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chives over the baked dish.

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

I’m quite pleased to share that our Sunday Family Dinners have been going swimmingly well.

And what’s fun is that we’ve adopted some international themes for each dinner—the last inspired by Latin flavors. It was a memorable afternoon/evening where everyone had a hand in creating our delicioso menu.

My contribution this time around were fresh margaritas (no pre-bottled stuff here!) and a huge bowl of Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo.

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

I’m pretty obsessed with Chimichurri Sauce –full of bright herbs and citrus flavors. I usually drizzle it over grilled skirt steak but I’ve been known to stir a spoonful of it into scrambled eggs or as a spread in sandwiches in lieu of pesto.

The dish turned out to be a winning combination that can be served either warm or at room temperature. Total Nguyen-Win :)

Stay tuned for our upcoming Family Dinner where we will venture to Europe!

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Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo
Serves approximately 6

Ingredients:

1 Pound Dried Orzo
1 Pound Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher Salt
Pepper

Chimichurri Sauce
1 Large Bunch Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
1 Large Bunch Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
6 Sprigs Fresh Oregano
2 Large Garlic Cloves
1 Serrano Chile Pepper*
1 Tablespoon Lime Zest
¼ Cup Lime Juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes*
1 Teaspoon Honey
3/4 – 1 Cup Olive Oil, more if needed
Kosher Salt
Pepper

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and set aside.

Prepare the Chimichurri Sauce. In a food processor or blender, add the first nine ingredients and pulse several times. Stream in the olive oil and blend until the items have fully incorporated. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Check for seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate until ready to be used. (*Chile amounts can be adjusted based on heat level preference)

Bring a grill pan to medium high heat. Cover the pan with cooking spray and grill the shrimp about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain well.

In a large bowl, toss together the orzo, shrimp and ½ cup of the Chimichurri Sauce at a time. (Add additional sauce as needed.) Plate and garnish with additional cilantro.

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

Okay. Here’s my confession.

The way I feel about Pad Thai is how I imagine “non-Vietnamese folks” feel about phở. It’s kind of the gateway dish to the culture’s cuisine but it’s so flippin’ good!

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai


Pad Thai has a whole range of textures and flavors all in one plate…what’s not to love?

So it was high time that I started to make it on my own. After grabbing a few key essentials, I turned to Alice over at Sweet Savory Life to fix up some seriously authentic and delicious Pad Thai.

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

By far, this is the best recipe I have tried yet. The sauce is totally clutch and is what makes this version a keeper! I also suggest to not substitute cane sugar for palm sugar as it will be way too sweet.

As for the tamarind, I opted for the concentrate like Alice but my sis shared that she used tamarind pulp when she took a Thai cooking classes.

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

And once you have the sauce done, the rest goes by super quick and easy. I owe you big time Alice—this recipe is definitely staying in heavy rotation! :)

With that dear Friends, I hope you have a fabulous Mother’s Day Weekend!

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Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai
From The Sweet Savory Life

Ingredients:

1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup palm sugar
1/2 cup tamarind juice concentrate
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces dried rice stick noodles
6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups thinly sliced shrimp and fried tofu
1 egg
1 cup carrots, match sticks
1 cup green onion cut diagonal in ½ inch segments
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 cup cilantro
1 cup toasted peanuts chopped
Lime wedge

  1. To make pad thai sauce, heat a small pan on medium low and add fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind concentrate, and garlic. Cook sauce until palm sugar has completely dissolve. At this point, you will want to taste the sauce and tweek the sweetness or hotness (be careful, the sauce will be hot). To make it more spicy add a little Thai chili powder (I used Thai chiles). Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before storing it in a jar or plastic container.
  2. Boil noodles for 4-5 minutes and drain immediately rinsing with cold water for a few seconds. Noodles should be slightly firmer than Al dente. But don’t worry, they will continue to soften and cook later when stir frying. Using kitchen shears, cut the noodle clump in half. This will make it easier to fry and eat.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or frying pan on high and cook raw shrimp with tofu for 3-4 minutes. Remove tofu/seafood into a small bowl. Next, heat the remaining oil and then add garlic and red onions to the hot pan and stir fry for 1 minute stirring the garlic mixture so it will not burn. Add noodles and stir for 1 minute. Add 3-4 tablespoons Pad Thai sauce continually stirring noodle mixture until well coated with sauce. Add cooked meat/tofu/seafood back and fry for 2-3 minutes. Move the noodle and meat mixture to one side of the pan and crack an egg on the other side. Scramble the egg with a wooden spoon and cook for 30 seconds. Add carrots, green onions, and sprouts and cook for one more minute frying everything together. Test the firmness of the noodle. If the noodle is too firm, fry for an additional minute. If your noodles need more flavor, add another tablespoon of sauce and fry another half minute.
  4. Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with remaining raw carrot match sticks, spouts, cilantro, toasted peanuts, and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

This past weekend I caught up with some friends over dinner. And before we knew it, we launched into an extensive and detailed conversation on how we believe that Pesto goes with practically anything.

Sandwiches, appetizers, crackers, pastas……….

P had even threatened to top the panna cotta I made for dessert with it but his wife quickly intervened. Okay…that may have been a bit much but I see where he was going with it.

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

 

 

I typically go on a major pesto binge when herbs are abundant at my local farmers market. It’s so easy to change things up with various herbs and whatever types of nuts you have on hand. And the awesome thing is— Pesto freezes beautifully! Just drizzle some olive oil on top before sealing the container and your fresh pesto can keep in the freezer for months! A quick and easy way to flavor dishes with yummy herbaceous notes.

 

 

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

 

 

This little number is a delicious and satisfying quick meal. PERFECT for any weeknight as you can pull it together in under 30 minutes! Easy Peasy!

And for an added spin, toss the pesto pasta with a cup of shredded cheese (of your choice) and spread into a casserole dish. Top with panko bread crumbs, more parmesan cheese and drizzle olive oil on top. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and you’ve got a hearty and tummy warming alternative dish!

Oh Pesto….I love you.

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Creamy Pesto Rigatoni
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Pound Chicken Breast, skinless and boneless
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1 Cup Pesto
1 Cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
1/4 Teaspoon Red Chili Flake
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Olive Oil
1 Pound Rigatoni Pasta

Slice chicken breast into strips and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Fill a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Heavily salt the water and cook pasta according to directions.

In a heavy bottom pan, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the chicken. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan. Add an additional tablespoon of oil and cook garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes before tossing in the tomatoes and red chili flakes. Cook for about 2 minutes and stir in pesto. Heat the pesto and then stir in the heavy cream. Once incorporated, toss in the pasta, chicken, parmesan cheese and coat well. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Vegetarian Chap Chae for Mom

DSC_0276

A short time ago, we held the 5 year anniversary of our mom’s passing. And for a long time, the siblings and our dad tossed around a lot of different ideas on how we would commemorate Mom. But at the end of the day, it all came down to focusing on what was important to her—-Family and of course, Good Food.

So, on a beautiful and sunny Southern California day, the clan gathered. Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, Children, Grandkids (including Canine Grandkids) all converged upon my sister’s home to honor Mom. We spent time with each other, retold stories of her, cooked, and ate. And boy, did we eat!

It was all quite fitting actually. Mom was the head Foodie of our family and irrefutably the best cook. If we didn’t have a delicious spread for the party held in her honor, she would not have been a happy camper!

Vegetarian Chap Chae

One of the things that made Mom such a Foodie was her wide range of taste and her fearlessness to experiment in the kitchen. In the latter years she went through a big Korean phase—and I’m not only talking about Korean cuisine. I would often come for a visit and find my parents watching Korean soap operas—without subtitles! They claimed they could still figure out the storyline despite the fact that they didn’t understand the dialogue. Go figure.

It seemed fitting that one of my contributions for Mom’s international menu would be Chap Chae–a dish she would often make for Dad and their friends.  I went the vegetarian route but it’s just as easy to add beef, pork, chicken or seafood.

All in all, I think we did Mom proud. I’m sure she would have preferred for us to bicker less during the preparation but hey—we’re her kids! We love, we laugh, we bicker, we eat. :)

We love and miss you Mama!!

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Vegetarian Chap Chae (Jap Chae)

Ingredients:

1 Pound Sweet Potato Noodles
½ Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Medium sized Carrot, julienned
2 Small Shallots, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1 Small Red Bell Pepper, julienned
2 Scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Cup Shitake Mushrooms, sliced
1 Cup Inoke Mushrooms, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 Cups Fried Tofu, cut into long strips
2 Cups Fresh Spinach Leaves, washed well and drained
¼ Cup Mirin
Black Pepper
½ Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Seeds

In a large pot, boil the noodles until firm–about 5-6 minutes. Strain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Using kitchen shears, cut the noodles about 4-6 inches in length.

In a small bowl, stir the sugar into the soy sauce until dissolved. Set aside.

Heat a large wok, with the vegetable oil. Add in shallots, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms and stir fry until tender. Add in tofu, garlic, scallions, spinach and cook for an additional minute. Use the mirin to deglaze the pan and then season with black pepper. Quickly toss in the noodles and half of the soy sauce mixture. Stir fry for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and drizzle in the sesame oil. Taste and add in more of the soy sauce mixture as needed.  Plate the Chap Chae and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top.

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

I’m kind of in love.

With this soup, that is.

It’s warming and fulfilling with tons of veggies, beans, sausage, and pasta. I also threw in some beautiful Swiss Chard at the end for some added texture and flavor— but any type of dark, leafy green could do the trick. Extra veggies never hurt a gal, right?

Depending on how you like the consistency of your soup, you can either add or limit the amount of chicken broth. I personally like mine on the soupier side so I can dunk some crusty bread in.

But one thing is for certain. No matter how you prefer it, this Pasta e Fagioli is the ultimate comfort food.

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Pasta e Fagioli
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Pound Spicy Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 Cup White Onion, diced
1 Cup Celery, diced
1 Cup Carrots, diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 28-Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
1 15-Ounce Can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
6 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth, or more depending on desired consistency
3-4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Dried Bay Leaves
¾- 1 Cup Macaroni Noodles, or other short pasta
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
3 Cups Swiss Chard, cleaned and roughly chopped
Kosher Salt and Pepper

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat olive oil over medium. Add sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat. Continue browning until the sausage is barely pink. Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the pot and sauté until the vegetables have softened. Add in the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour in the tomatoes with its juices and Cannellini beans. Add chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves. Partially cover and bring the pot to a boil. Remove the lid and stir in the pasta. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until pasta is al dente—about 10-12 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme stems. Stir in the cheese and Swiss Chard. Season with salt and pepper and serve.