Archive for the ‘Pastas and Rice’ Category

Every year approximately 2 months before Christmas, I start getting giddy with excitement. So powerful is this Holiday for me that I am unshaken by the spooky merrry-making of Halloween, and I glaze past Thanksgiving with a grateful heart, but all the while looking ahead to Christmas Festivities.

This year however, I promised myself I would pay proper homage to the aforementioned two fabulous holidays and celebrate them whole-heartedly. So in all the frenzy of brainstorming creative costumes for Halloween, and planning a hearty Thanksgiving Feast, I forgot to get excited about Christmas! (*Gasp!*)

It took me until now – a mere 2 weeks before my favorite holiday of the year – to dawn with the realization that It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas. 

THE Tree @ Rockefeller - This is on my way to work everyday :)

Camels in Rockefeller Center? I'm still trying to figure this one out...something about the 3 wise men? Someone please enlighten me!

Even my office building is participating in the Christmas Spirit by bringing out these gorgeous bright red ornaments!

Christmas everywhere you go. This picture was sent to me by Brian, on business in the UK. 100s of Santas gathering underneath the Edinburgh Castle!

So now that the Christmas Spirit has fully consumed me, I feel compelled to create dishes evoking memories of Christmas past. Chestnuts have always been one of my favorite winter munchies. The sweet succulent delights conjure images of the family enjoying these roasted delicacies while gathering ’round to watch movies in our pajamas.  We found so many ways to enjoy them – drizzled with honey, sprinkled with salt, dipped in soy sauce.  But in all these years of savoring them, I’ve never actually created a dish with them. So last night, I decided to work it into a simple weeknight pasta dish – letting the sweet smoky flavor of the chestnuts mingle with the savory taste of the mushrooms, and tying it all up with the peppery zest of the arugula and buttery nuttiness of parmesan cheese!

Gathering the Goodies:

  • 3/4 cup of roasted chestnuts (recipe to follow), chopped
  • 4-6 oz of pappardelle, tagliatelle or similar egg pasta
  • 1-2 cups of arugula, washed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 6 chinese black mushrooms, soaked for 20 minutes until soft, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup shaved/grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Oil, to cook
  • a pinch of dried tarragon
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2 tsp soy sauce

Getting Into the Spirit:

  1. Prepare the Chestnuts: Cut the shell with an “X” where the shell bulges outward. Place the chestnuts in a dish and completely cover with water and soak for 20 minutes. Place in a baking dish and roast at 400  for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven, peel, and chop!
  2. Bring water to a boil, season with salt, and boil the egg pasta for 6-8 min, until cooked.Drain and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Saute the sliced mushrooms in oil and a little bit of soy sauce until the aroma fills the air
  4. Pour in the egg mixture and scramble everything up.
  5. Add the chopped chestnuts and cook for another few minutes. Stir in the pasta and the remaining olive oil and mix until everything is well coated.
  6. Add in half of the parmesan cheese, and sprinkle in tarragon and more salt & pepper to season.
  7. Turn the heat on low, add in the arugula and toss some more, making sure the arugula does not actually cook and stays crisp.
  8. Scoop onto a plate, decorate with more parmesan flakes, and fill your tummy with Christmas!



  • If you don’t have or don’t like black mushrooms, Portabello, oyster, or white mushrooms would be just as tasty
  • If you can’t eat mushrooms, try other meaty veggies like eggplant.  Other proteins like tofu or soy protein veggie “meat” products would blend well too.
  • Try substituting spinach or even cabbage for arugula (although the cabbage would be better when well cooked)
  • Indulge yourself and make a buttery cream sauce with herbs like tarragon, basil, thyme, or sage
  • No one should be a scrooge, but if you can’t stand chestnuts (say it aint so), you can also use hazelnuts, walnuts, or almonds


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Once upon a time, there was a little Eggplant who lived in the produce section of the Japanese Market. Eggplant’s dream was to be part of a Sushi Roll. Alas, whenever Sushi Making took place, Eggplant was never selected as a candidate. He looked on forlornly as his friends Avocado and Cucumber were repeated picked, and puffed resentfully when he was passed over for the smelly fishy Tuna.

One day, an Experimental Chef came wandering into the Japanese Market looking for inspiration. She wanted a weeknight dinner dish that was quick, easy to make, yet delectable. As she passed by the Eggplant, he called out to her, “Oh pick me, pick me! Take me home and make me into a sushi roll!”

The Experimental Chef was skeptical. “But sushi ingredients are usually fresh and raw. You would have to be cooked. And how would I flavor you to complement the rice and nori?” Eggplant replied, “But aren’t you an EXPERIMENTAL Chef? Isn’t it your business to figure these things out?” At a loss for a good comeback, the Chef shrugged, put the Eggplant into her basket, and headed home to figure out how to tackle this challenge.

After some pondering, the Experimental Chef went to work, mixing up sauce potions, cooking the Eggplant and it’s friend the Beech Mushroom, and rolling the sushi. As she took a bite into the roll, a smile spread across her face. She thanked the Eggplant for reaching out to her, and vowed to share this wonderful recipe with the world.

That night, the Eggplant sat in Shelly’s Belly, content that he had fulfilled his lifelong wish. He hoped that his brothers and sisters would also make an appearance in a sushi roll sometime soon.

The Eggplant

Beech Mushrooms (selected companion for the Eggplant)

Eggplant & Friends:

  • 3 Japanese Eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1 handful of Beech Mushrooms
  • 2 cups Long Grain Rice
  • 4 large pieces of Toasted Nori Seaweed
  • 1/3 cup Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Mild Miso
  • 3 Tbsp Ponzu Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Mirin
  • 3 Tbsp Agave Nectar
  • Toasted Sesame Seed, to dress
  • Peanut Sauce or Mayonnaise, to garnish

Roll With It!

  1. Make the Sushi Rice. Proportion – 2 cups Long Grain Rice + 2 cups water + 1/3 cup Rice Vinegar + 1 Tsp Mirin + 1 Tbsp Agave Nectar. You can make this in a rice cooker or on a stove top. I prefer to stick it in the rice cooker – fluffy perfection every time!
  2. Create a Saute Sauce Potion with: 1 Tbsp Miso + 3 Tbsp Ponzu + 1 Tbsp Mirin + 2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
  3. Heat up a frying pan with some canola oil. Saute the Eggplant with half of the sauce until fully cooked. Take eggplant out and set aside in a small bowl
  4. Saute the Beech Mushrooms with the same sauce until cooked. Set aside in another bowl
  5. Set a Nori Sheet on a flat surface. Take about 1/2 cup of the cooked rice and spread on half of the sushi.  Place the eggplant and mushroom on top. Sprinkle with Sesame Seeds and roll the sushi, using small amount of smashed rice to glue it together at the end.
  6. Drizzle with Peanut Sauce or Mayo (optional). Cut into desirable pieces, and enjoy with pleasure!


  • I really think this could have used some greens – something like spinach or watercress would have been great!
  • Other cool veggies I’d like to try: Bamboo shoots, shitake mushrooms, celery, zucchini, roasted bell peppers, yams.
  • Instead of rice, I think it’d be interesting to use mashed potatoes or hummus.
  • Try some other sauces – what about a citrusy vinaigrette, or maybe a mildly curry flavored mix?


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Thanksgiving – the gathering of loved ones, the expressing of gratitude, the stuffing of food!

Did you, like me, abandon your calorie count and gorge yourselves at your spectacular Thanksgiving Feast? Are you as tired of leftovers as I am?  Does your stomach groan when it hears the words “Gravy”, “Gratin”, and “Casserole”?

If so, I thought I’d spare you all the recipes of the fluffy sweet potato souffle and the cheesy eggplant zucchini gratin and post a dish that is still related to this holiday, but may not have been on your Thanksgiving table.

Chinese Sticky Rice (also known as Nuo Mi Fan) has been a tradition in my family since well as long as I can remember. Instead of the traditional bread cubes or cornbread, we make our stuffing with good old rice!  What’s not to love? It’s a dish that’s aromatically fragrant, infused with ingredients that trigger your “umami” tastebuds, and a refreshingly healthy choice next to all the bubbling cheese and sugary pies. I’ll admit, it’s a time consuming recipe, but worth every minute. AND it’s not just for Thanksgiving, which means you can enjoy it…right now (or more accurately in 3 hours)!

Our Thanksgiving Feast (Chinese Minestrone Soup, Eggplant Zucchini Gratin, Sweet Potato Souffle, Stuffed Mushrooms, Sticky Rice, and Sesame Peanut Noodles (surprisingly the most popular dish of the night!)

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 cups short grained sticky rice
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 1 handful chinese black mushrooms (soaked in water until soft), sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chili sauce
  • 1 cup Morningstar veggie sausage crumbles
  • 1 cup of frozen mixed corn/peas/carrots (or you can use fresh ones)
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • canola oil (to cook with)

Sticking Together:

  1. Soak the sticky rice in cold water for 2 hours (make sure water completely covers the rice by at least 1 inch in excess).
  2. Indulge yourself and catch up on some blog reading or tv shows while rice is soaking :)
  3. In a frying pan or wok, heat up some canola oil and throw in the sliced mushrooms and Morningstar crumbles adding in just a tad bit of soy sauce and salt & pepper. Stir fry until you can smell the aroma of the black mushrooms.
  4. Add in the corn/peas/carrots/veggie mix and continue to stir fry for a couple minutes
  5. Drain the sticky rice and add to the pan/wok.
  6. Stir in the remaining soy sauce, sesame oil, chili sauce, and half of the cilantro until rice is well coated and mixed
  7. Now, add the veggie broth, making sure rice is mostly covered. Turn the heat to medium low, cover with a lid, and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. When the rice is done, all liquid should be absorbed and it should have a soft, sticky consistency.
  9. Next, mix everything up again, add in any last minute flavoring, garnish with the rest of cilantro, and…Bon Appetit!


  • Like fried rice, you can add in any of your favorite ingredients. I’d advise that the black mushroom remain a staple because it adds so much flavor but here are some other suggestions: Water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, snow peas, cabbage, spinach, hard tofu cubes, leeks.
  • Feel free to add in other spices and flavors that strike your fancy, like curry, five spice, oyster sauce, or sweet chili sauce.
  • Take some seaweed wrappers and wrap them inside like sushi for a twist
  • Wrap them in some spring roll wrappers and you’ll have yourself a Chinese burrito!
  • If you’re in the mood for something sweet instead, simply swap the soy sauce and savory ingredients for agave infused water and raisins, dates, and red bean paste.

And if you’ve made it this far down, I’d like to express my deepest Thanksgiving thanks to all of you! The support I’ve gotten and the friendships I’ve made through this blog has added so much flavor and excitement to my life. So I’m passing on this 09 blog appreciation award to all of you before 2009 ends! Thanks to Kristy for passing this along to me.  Kristy’s enthusiasm in the kitchen and her effervescent personality is just infectious. She has been such an inspiration and her blog is full of delights and surprises, so give it a visit if you haven’t yet!

I also received this awesome Peas Love Carrots award from Mathea. Mae is a truly original artist and total trendsetter, even though she emphasizes that she is not “hip”. Her ideas are astonishing, her writing is whimsical, and her creations are imaginatively exceptional. I’m hoping she won’t get mad at me for not 100% following the rules and posting 7 odd facts about me. I’ve already done that and I’m afraid posting 7 more will really make all of you wonder if I’m quite right in the head. However, I will pass on the blog love to people I haven’t had a chance to pass on an award yet.

  1. Kristy @ My Little Space – I think the above says it all!
  2. Sanjana @ Ko Rasoi This is a girl who knows how to make extraordinary food and has a warm personality to match
  3. Noelle @ A Singer In the Kitchen Someone who shares my predicament/adventure of having a carnivorous man in the house
  4. Rochelle @ Acquired Flavor Delicious and original recipes, complemented with mouthwatering drool-inducing photos 
  5. Divina @ Sense and Serendipity Stumble upon some serendipitous posts on nutritious dishes – you’ll be happy you did!
  6. Penny @ Jeroxie Her posts will make you feel like you are right there living through all her adventures
  7. Joy @ joylicious Make some discoveries in the joy of food!

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