Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bitter Sweet Secret

More news, "badder" news about honey hit the headlines last week. The vast majority of this natural sweetener being sold in those kid cute plastic bears in your local supermarket is either not really honey at all or is significantly contaminated sludge.  Vast loopholes in our loopy food laws have allowed vast tonnages of toxic "honey" to get imported from India or China without having to reveal that on the labels. In other words, what you don't know could harm you.

Purveyors of honest honey have been hit hard by the price undercutting this permits and are struggling to stay afloat in a tsunami of cheap crap. Lack of honest labeling makes it hard to know what's actually in the jar you're reaching for on that supermarket shelf. You'd be surprised to know some of the biggest, most "trusted" brands on it are the evil ones duping and poisoning you. One of them is the ubiquitous Sue Bee. It's come a long way from Sioux Bees.

If you want real honey from real bees using real hives, if you want uncontaminated and unadulterated honey, if you want honey that honestly comes from bees nearest you, if you want your sweetener sweetly worry free buy it ONLY at a farmers' market or locally run organic grocer who knows exactly where the merchandise came from. It may cost you a few more quarters, but saving money on honey could kill you.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Februaries

The Februaries used to be an airline marketing phrase for the prevalent malaise at this midwinter moment when it's not quite spring but feels like it ought to be. Time to lift spirits and fly away to a brighter, warmer place.  Well, we can lift sagging spirits through food too. We can bring to the table dishes that radiate the warm sunshine of the cultures that created them, while also being mindful of the moment.

We're at the end of winter storage crops like turnip, cabbage and carrots. Some cold weather crops are starting to show up in more temperate area farmers' markets. French breakfast radishes not overgrown to the size of small torpedoes are back, and American grown peas are starting to pop up. There's really no perfect food for the moment, but here are a few ideas for mental transitioning out of the Februaries.

Joumou, a Haitian beef and pumpkin stew/soup
Actually it's a little late for this traditional Haitian New Year dish but we just had Lunar New Year so why not go for it? It's a tasty last stand for all the winter vegetables we're about to give up: turnip, cabbage, carrots and winter squash. Some versions have noodles too, which you can feel free to add to the mix.
serves 4

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch scallions, cleaned
1 tsp dried thyme
1 shallot, diced
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, seeded
1/4 c chopped flat leaf parsley
1 lime, juice only
1 lb stew beef in 1/2" cubes
2-3 tbsp olive or corn oil
8 cups stock, beef or vegetable
2 lg carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
2-3 celery stalks, cut into 1" lengths
1 sm leek, cleaned, halved and cut into 1" lengths
 3 med. Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 med white turnip, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
 1/2 small white cabbage, cored and coarsely shredded
1 sm/med Kabocha, red chestnut, red kuri or similar deep orange winter squash, peeled and chopped

Combine everything from garlic to lime juice in a blender/processor with 1/2 c water and puree. Slather this on the beef. Put the beef into a covered bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hrs. to marinate.  Remove from the marinade and rub the meat dry.  Put the oil in a large heavy gauge casserole and heat over medium high. Add the beef and brown it, stirring occasionally.  Pour in the stock and what's left of the marinade, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook until beef is tender--anywhere from 60-90 minutes.

Put the squash in a saucepan with enough water to just cover it and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook until tender, 10-12 minutes.  Remove from liquid and put into a blender/processor and begin puree to a paste, streaming in up to 1/2 c cooking liquid to help.

When the meat is tender, at the rest of the vegetables to the pot--not the squash. Continue cooking until they are tender to a fork, 15-20 minutes. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste. Stir in the pureed squash and continue cooking until it slightly thickens the liquid in the pot. This could take 10 minutes.

Serve with chopped scallions and a wedge of fresh lime so everyone gets fresh lime juice on their portion.

Turkish Lamb, Carrots and Rice
serves 4
2 tbsp of ghee or 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 med onions, chopped
4 lg garlic cloves, minced
1 lb lamb stew meat in bite-sized chunks, cooked*
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely grated into strips
1 3/4 c long grain (Basmati) rice, rinsed and thoroughly drained
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
4 c stock, beef, chicken or vegetable
salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste
for Garnish: parsley and Greek yogurt

*To cook the lamb, brown it in olive oil in a heavy gauge casserole with lid. Then cover it with beef or vegetable stock or water. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat to simmer and cook until lamb is tender. You can remove the fat layer and use the liquid for the rest of the dish as the stock.

Heat the ghee or oil/butter in a heavy casserole over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic. Cook until they soften and begin to color. Add the cooked lamb, stir to blend and cook 90 seconds. Stir in the carrots. Add the rice, spices, stock, salt and pepper. Stir to blend. Bring to a boil and boil for 90 seconds. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until all liquid as been absorbed. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean dish towel and put the casserole lid on top.  Let the dish steam this way for 10-15 minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Garnish with chopped parsley. You can put dollops of yogurt on individual plates or make a well on the main plate and put some in the center. Or you can eliminate it all together.

This would be lovely served with a salad of chopped dates, oranges and arugula with flecks of mint.

Mediterranean style Spinach, Lentil and Rice Cake
serves 6

2 lg bunches (1+ lbs) fresh spinach leaves
1 c Italian short grain risotto rice (such as arborio or carnaroli)

¼ c hulled red lentils or hulled halved mung beans

Salt and black pepper
1 med onion
6 crimini, shiitake or button mushrooms, cleaned and minced
2 tbsp finely chopped dill
2 tbsp butter, plus more for the pan
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 lg eggs, beaten
½ c grated parmesan cheese
¼ tsp nutmeg
A handful of fine breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400º. Heavily butter an 8 or 9” springform cake pan.

Pick over the spinach, discarding discolored leaves and stalks. Wash  several times to be sure all grit is gone. Stuff the still wet spinach into a large pot with no extra water and cook covered on low heat until it withers. Tip it into a colander and drain thoroughly.

Boil the rice and lentils in salted water for 10 minutes, then drain.

Peel and finely dice the onion. In a large frying or sauté pan, melt butter and fry the onion and mushrooms with a small pinch of salt until onion is soft and golden. Drizzle in a tsp of fresh lemon juice. Use scissors to roughly chop the spinach. Add to the frying pan with dill and rice. Stir to blend.

Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool before adding the beaten eggs, parmesan, nutmeg, black pepper and a pinch of salt.

Butter the cake pan and lightly sprinkle the bottom with fine breadcrumbs. Fill it with spinach/rice mix, level, and press flat with the back of a spatula. Sprinkle a few breadcrumbs on top and a pinch of paprika. Bake at 400º 25 minutes-- or until the cake is firm, crisp and golden. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before unmolding. Serve hot or at room temperature.
And of course there is never a wrong time to whip out French Breakfast Radishes with soft goat cheese or fabulous cultured butter and Fleur de sel. 
Just clean the radishes and cut the stems leaving a little tip so you can pick them up.  Smash soft goat cheese or butter into a shallow bowl and edge it with the radishes. Put out the salt.

Now it's DIY: pick up a radish, roll it in the cheese or butter and then in the salt. Healthy, colorful and yum!

Commercial Break

My alter ego Nana Chef just launched a 30 day Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for 6-8 videos for a Nana Chef You Tube channel and the website for kids. 

Nana is back in the kitchen teaching kids the magic of cooking and the love it generates all around. Old fashioned Nana doesn't want kids to see kitchen magic as another cutthroat competition or must-do resume builder, but the traditional way all children learn skills, confidence and bonding with others. Nanas cook up sublime memories to nourish a lifetime. So if you can help, please do.

Thank you all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Food for Love: Valentine's Day Eating

Valentine's Day is on the way. This year it falls on a Sunday, so no excuse for no time to bring some love to the table. When you do, you'll be part of something huge. People have been feeding each other aphrodisiacs since nobody knows when; it goes back too far. 

When people in love say, “there just was this chemistry”, they mean mysterious emotional attraction to a person, but they could as easily mean the food in their kitchen. In just about every culture, alchemists and chemists have experimented with food to devise seductive potions and hormone formulas that provoke carnal desire, stimulate attraction, promote fertility, and perhaps most importantly cure impotence. Thanks either to those chemical science efforts or poetic association with passion, particular foods are now considered aphrodisiacs. Others got on the list because personal memories of eating that food evoked feelings warm enough to put someone in the mood. 

The most traditional and cross cultural dinner table aphrodisiacs are chocolate, wine, asparagus, artichokes, oysters, the mushroom known as truffle, vanilla and chili pepper.  

Apples are also on that list. Remember what tempted Adam and Eve? Snow White? It turns out apples--although arguably the ancients meant pomegranates (seed sacs like testicles), are historic symbols of temptation. In Greece, they actually were the symbol of love. In a popular myth, the goddess Atalanta, renown for athletic prowess, vowed to marry whoever beat her in a foot race, and when the god Hippomenes beseeched the Goddess of Love for help in winning, sympathetic Aphrodite gave him three golden apples.
She told him to throw them on the track as Atalanta approached. Indeed the sight of these shimmering orbs so distracted Atalanta, she lost the race, meaning love won. In the Mediterranean mind, apples became so tightly associated with love that upon seeing their first tomato (likely yellow heirloom) from the New World, Italians immediately called it, pomodoro, golden apple. 
Some people consider saffron an aphrodisiac because of its red color, rarity and expense, and haunting, seductive flavor. So if you have time to fuss and want something sensational to go with, say, rack of lamb or roast beef, try this:

Red Kuri Squash Stuffed with a Saffron, Apricot and Cherry Pilaf
1 lg (2 1/2 lb) red kuri squash--or sugar pumpkin
1 cup (heaping) long grain Basmati or Jasmine rice (rinsed)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
a big pinch of saffron threads
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
Peel of 1/3 orange (no pith please), sliced into very thin strips
1/4 cup pistachio nutmeats
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/4 cup dried cherries soaked in boiling water 5 minutes and drained
8-10 dried apricots, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 tsp rosewater
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper to your taste
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 bunch mint coarsely chopped or 1/2 cup dried mint leaves
1 bunch dill, coarsely chopped
1 lemon cut in wedges for garnish
1 cup thick fresh yogurt for serving

Preheat over to 400º. Soak the saffron threads in 1 tsp hot water.

Wash the squash and microwave it just long enough to soften it so you can put a knife in.
Cut off the stalk end to use as a lid. Scoop out all seeds and strings. Put the lid back on the squash, put the squash on a baking sheet and put it in the oven for 1 hour.
     Now, put the rice in a pot with just enough water to cover it. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, partially cover the pot and cook 10-12 minutes until all the water is absorbed. (The rice will not be totally cooked, no worries.)
     Meanwhile in a wide lidded skillet or casserole, heat oil and butter until butter melts. Stir in coriander, orange peel, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, drained cherries and apricots. Sauté one minute. Add the rice, saffron (with water) and rose water. Season with salt and pepper.
    Turn off the heat. Cover the pot with a clean, dry dish towel and press the pan lid down over it to a tight fit. Let the pilaf steam for 10 minutes. Toss in the parsley, dill and mint.
     When squash is ready, lift off the lid and fill it with the pilaf, gently stuffing it in. Put the lid back on and put the stuffed squash back in the oven for 20 minutes.
     Remove the lid to serve. Slice the lemon into wedges. There are two ways to present this: one is to simply put the wedges all around the squash on a serving plate, put 1/4 of the yogurt on top of the pilaf and pass the rest in a separate bowl, and let everybody dig in. Or you can slice a 1/2" thick round off the top of the squash, lay this ring on a plate, fill it with the pilaf, top this with yogurt and place a lemon wedge to one side.
Why is asparagus on that list? According to the wildly popular lookalike theory of earlier times, the asparagus spear that triumphantly shoves its way up through thawing Earth should be a boost for the male libido. Bridegrooms in 19th C France were served a pile of spears on their wedding night. But it turns out there’s more to asparagus than its suggestive phallic shape. Dense with potassium, folic acid and vitamin B6 among other critical nutrients and fiber, asparagus increases production of histamine, a chemical that causes capillary dilation and muscle contraction. The human body requires both of these to happen so it can achieve orgasm.

Here's a Spanish treat for a lazy Sunday brunch or breakfast:
Asparagus Revuelto (not quite an omelet)

3 tbsp olive oil

2 peeled garlic cloves, plus 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 cups bread cubes, made with day-old bread, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and pepper
2 ounces Spanish chorizo, diced (use pepperoni if you can't find it)
1 bunch thin asparagus, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut in 1- 2" lengths
1 bunch scallions, chopped
8 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp pimentón
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Put 3 tbsp olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add peeled garlic cloves and let them sizzle until lightly browned, then remove. Add bread cubes, season with salt and pepper, lower heat to medium and gently fry until lightly browned and crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove bread and set aside to cool.
     Add chorizo and fry lightly. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and stir-fry until cooked through but firm, 3 to 4 minutes. Add green onions and minced garlic and cook 1 minute more. Season eggs with salt, pepper and pimentón. Pour into pan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until soft and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add parsley, top with fried bread cubes and serve immediately.

You can serve that with heart shaped scones bearing red flecks of dried cherries:
Scones with dried cherriesfor best effect, you need a heart shaped cookie cutter
makes about 14
1/2 cup ( 4 oz) dried cherries, chopped or at least halved
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6-8 pieces
2 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp (heaping) baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 c + 1 tbsp heavy or whipping cream

Marinate the cherries in 1/4 cup of either rosewater, cherry brandy or plain water. Preheat oven to 375º. Butter a cookie sheet or line it either with silicone liner or parchment paper.
   In a food processor or mixer bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Process quickly, just until mixture looks like coarse meal. With the motor running, pour in the cream and process only until dough starts to form.  Drain the cherries and stir in. 
   Line your counter with wax paper. Form the dough into a ball and roll it out 1/2" thick. Cut 2-2 1/2" scones. Place on the cookie sheet. You don't have to leave too much room between them. Brush the tops with that 1 tbsp cream. 
  Bake 12 minutes until solid to the touch. Do not brown. Serve warm.   

You can offer whole apples with cheeses and nuts. You can serve an apple tart. Or you can add to your brunch or afternoon a beloved almost forgotten classic: (Alert: this requires deep fry.)
Apple Fritters

2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup white sugar 
1 tbsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 
1 tsp salt 
2 eggs 
1 cup milk 
2 quarts peanut oil for deep frying (it has the highest smoke point)
4 large apples, peeled and cored 
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs and milk. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until smooth.In a deep fryer or heavy bottomed deep pot or skillet, heat oil to 375º.

Slice apples into ½” rings. Dip apple slices in batter and fry, a few at a time, turning once, until golden. Drain on paper towels and dust with confectioners' sugar.

To serve wine not in a goblet but paired with vanilla for two in one, make this dessert:
Red Wine Poached Pearsfor 6 but you can half it 

3 c water
1 lg lemon, juice only
6 lg pears, still firm but ripe (Bosc does not work well here)
2 c dry red wine
1 c sugar
1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of ground cloves
   Combine the water and half the lemon juice in a large bowl. Peel the pears but leave stems on. If they can't stand up, slice a little off the bottom until they do. Put them in the lemon water so they don't brown.
    In a large wide saucepan, mix wine, sugar and remaining lemon juice. Slit the vanilla bean, scrape its seeds into the wine, then toss in the pod too. Or add the vanilla extract. Bring to a boil and boil over medium heat about 5-7 minutes until you have syrup. Drain the pears and put them in the syrup, standing in a single layer, bottom down. Adjust heat to simmer, cover the pot and cook until pears are tender to the core. Baste from time to time. 
    When pears are tender, place them upright in a large serving bowl. Raise the heat under the wine syrup and boil for 3 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly. Pour it over the pears, vanilla bean and all. Set aside to cool but baste every so often. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate to serve chilled.

And give the day's grand finale all the chocolate you've got. Here are two exquisite recipes: one for a shiny heart and one that's gluten free for food fetishists.
Chocolate Heart (from Flo Braker)
(Alert: you need a heart shaped cake pan for this)

 3/4 cup (2 ounces) ground pecans
1/3 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
6 tbsp unsalted butter
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 tbsp water
1/3 cup each granulated and light brown sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1 tbsp rum, optional
1 tsp granulated sugar
Optional: 1 pint fresh raspberries, cinnamon hearts, nasturtium leaves

Adjust rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350º. Grease and flour an 8-inch heart-shaped pan and line with waxed paper or parchment.
In a small bowl, mix nuts and flour. Melt butter and chocolate in small saucepan over low heat. Blend in water until smooth. Transfer warm chocolate mixture to a large bowl, stir in the sugars. Cool five minutes, blend in yolks, then rum, then stir in nut-flour mixture. Whip whites with one teaspoon sugar to soft, white peaks; stir-fold into chocolate mixture. Spoon batter into pan and smooth evenly. Bake 25 minutes, or until soft but not liquid in center. (Chocolate firms as it cools.) Remove from oven, cool 15 minutes, invert on rack. Peel off paper.

For the Glaze
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
Place everything in a bowl that fits snugly over saucepan. Fill pan half full with 130º water, set bowl on top. Stir occasionally until mixture is smooth, shiny and liquid. Place cool cake on a piece of cardboard that is on a rack placed over jellyroll pan to catch spills. Pour the glaze over the cake and spread evenly with a long metal spatula.
You can go for Baroque and decorate with fresh raspberries or cinnamon hearts or edible red nasturtium leaves.

  Mocha Fudge Cake (flour free)
serves 14 but you have to make it a day ahead

1 c strong coffee (you can use instant)
1 lb semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 c sugar
2 c unsalted butter
8 eggs, lightly beaten

      Preheat oven to 250º. Butter a round 9x3" removable bottom cake pan. Line with a single piece of foil, pushing the foil to the bottom, then up the sides and over the top without tearing (no leaks wanted). If your foil is too narrow, greatly overlap two pieces. Butter the foil so nothing sticks to it.
    In a large saucepan, combine the coffee, chocolate, sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it feels like hot bath water. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs, gradually. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 1 1/2 hours. (If the center seems loose, don't worry, it will keep firming up as it cools.) Cool completely, cover and chill overnight.
    Before serving, try to level the top of the cake, then invert it onto a serving platter and remove all foil.

Make frosting
1 1/2 c heavy cream

1/4 c powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Whip all ingredients together in a large bowl until very stiff. Frost the top and sides of the cake with this mixture. You can decorate the top with shaved chocolate, fresh raspberries, a pinch of nutmeg or just leave it alone. This is divinely rich.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lunar New Year: Long Noodles for Long Life

Lunar New Year is almost here: February 8 or 9, depending  on where you are in Asia, and it's always celebrated by serving food symbolic of wishes for the year to come. Chinese New Year, Tet, Losar...the eats du jour are fish because they only move forward, carrots because they can be cut like coins and shine like coins, long noodles for long life--at least long enough to get to next New Year.

So if you want to join the celebration at the table, here are some Asian noodle dishes. The preferable noodle is the longest: the cellophane mung bean noodle, equivalent of vermicelli, but I'm including recipes from all across Asia for differing noodles in case that's what you have handy.

Tibetan Ping Sha (meat with cellophane noodles)
You can use Chinese mung bean noodles or the green bean noodle known as Sai Fun or Italian vermicelli in this clever dish where the noodles soak up all the stew juices so that it’s served on a plate as though it had been a braised dish. 
Serves 4 as a main dish

2 oz. bean thread noodles 

1 lb. stewing or grilling beef, cut into 1 inch cubes 
1 lg. onion, peeled
2 tbsp. ginger/garlic paste
1 tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. crushed Szechuan pepper
1 lg. tomato
½ cup peas
4 boiling potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp. cooking oil (corn, canola, mustard, safflower)

Heat the oil in a medium casserole. Over medium heat sauté the ginger/garlic paste and the onion until the onion is translucent. Add the chili powder, Szechuan pepper and the beef and blend. Stir fry two-three minutes to brown the meat on all sides.
Chop the tomato and add along with two cups of water or enough to cover everything. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Put the Asian noodles in a large bowl and totally cover them with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes. They will expand. Cook vermicelli according to package directions. Drain. Cut with a scissors two or three times to make them easier to handle.
Slice the potatoes into thin disks or cut them into bite-sized chunks. Add to the stew and continue to cook another 5 minutes.
Add the peas and salt, stirring to blend. Add another cup of water if necessary to have everything just covered. Simmer five minutes.
Stir in the noodles. Heat through. They will soak up the sauce. Serve.

Japanese Soba Noodles with Green Beans and Mushrooms
This recipe is in Veggiyana, the Dharma of Cooking

serves 8
3/4 lb soba noodles (soba means buckwheat)
2 tbsp corn oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 lg garlic cloves, smashed and peeled into thin strips
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 lb Chinese long green beans or long Blue Lake or Kentucky Wonder green beans, uniformly cut into 1/2" pieces
1/4 c vegetable broth or water
1 bunch scallions, cleaned, split lengthwise and cut into 2" strips
10 oz med/lg shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into thin strips
3 1/2 tbsp Chinese rice wine or Japanese Mirin
1/4 c Tamari or soy sauce
Freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

Cook the soba noodles according to package instructions, drain well and coat with 1 tbsp sesame oil.

In wok or sauté pan, heat the other tbsp and corn oil over medium heat. Lower heat, add pepper flakes and garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Don't burn the garlic! Add green beans, 1/4 c broth or water and stir fry over medium heat 1-2 minutes until liquid has evaporated. Add mushrooms, scallions and rice wine. Cover and cook 3 minutes until mushrooms are soft and shiny.

Remove cover. Add soba and soy sauce and blend everything. Cook over low heat 90 seconds or until noodles are hot. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

  Vietnamese Garlic Noodles
serves 4-6

½ lb spaghetti
4 cups coarsely chopped fresh kale or Asian mustard green leaves (no stems)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
juice of ½ large lemon
1 tbsp butter
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
Cook spaghetti according to package instructions.
   While the spaghetti cooks, in a large sauté pan, heat butter and 3 tbsp olive oil. Add garlic and sauté for 60 seconds over medium low heat so the garlic doesn’t brown. Add black pepper and cheese and reduce heat to lowest setting.
   Drain the cooked spaghetti well. Toss into the sauté pan and raise heat to medium low. Add the salt and lemon juice and toss the spaghetti to coat with the garlic and oil. Heat 30-60 seconds. Remove from heat and add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil, blending it in to serve.

Burmese Ohno Khao Swé (spicy chicken and coconut noodle soup)
Serves 6 people as a main course.
6 boneless breasts of chicken, cut into large bite sized pieces
2 tbsp corn, Canola or sunflower oil
1½ tbsp. red curry paste
3 cups coconut milk
1 tbsp. Garam Masala
½ tbsp turmeric
1 star anise or ½ tsp powder
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1tsp ground cardamom or 3 crushed pods
2 cups chicken stock
½ tsp brown or raw sugar
¼ c fish sauce
About 6-7 (loosely packed) cups of boiled flat Chinese Bah-mi egg noodle or 20 oz flat rice stick noodles
1 tsp lime juice
Thinly sliced shallots (garnish), fried.
To garnish: 6 slivers of fresh lime, chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Optional: 1 cup pickled Chinese cabbage

Soak noodles to remove excess starch and drain. Cook noodles as per directions on package and set aside. Fry the garlic in a little extra oil until transparent.
    In a heavy casserole or soup pot, heat oil and add the red curry paste, curry powder and turmeric. Cook stirring vigorously until the curry paste is fragrant—1-2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the paste.
    Add 1 cup of coconut milk. Over med/high heat, let it come to a boil and bubble for a few minutes, stirring well, until the red oil separates from the coconut milk. Add another cup of coconut milk and wait until the oil separates.
    Add garlic, chicken pieces, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom with chicken stock and the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, add fish sauce and simmer.
   Cover the pot and simmer until the chicken is done, 4- 5 minutes. Check seasonings; you might need to add more fish sauce. The flavor should be a bit salty and spicy with a sweet aftertaste. It should be a bit saltier than what you would like the final dish to taste. Stir in lime juice and remove from heat.
    Divide noodles between deep soup bowls. Pour the coconut chicken over the noodles. Garnish with fried shallots, cilantro leaves and a lime wedge. Optionally pickled cabbage.

Bhutanese Bumtang Putta (soba noodles with scrambled eggs and tomato)
serves 4 

½ lb. buckwheat noodles (soba)

1 lg. onion, peeled

8 scallions, roots off

2 tomatoes

1 poblano chili pepper or 2 lg. jalapenos

fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. cooking oil (corn, canola, safflower, mustard)

3 extra large eggs

OPTIONAL: 1 tbsp. unsalted butter 

Boil the buckwheat noodles in salted water until tender—usually 6 to 8 minutes. Drain.

Whisk eggs with ¼ tsp salt and a pinch of black pepper.  Coat the bottom of a 10” skillet with 1 tsp. oil and heat on medium.  Pour in the eggs and form a pancake, tilting the skillet so uncooked egg runs to the side or underneath the cooked egg. Once you have a solid pancake, turn it out onto a cutting board. Slice it into thin strips.

Chop the onion coarsely. Chop the tomatoes.  Seed the pepper(s) and slice into thin strips. Slice the scallions into thin strips.

Put another 2 tsp. of oil in the skillet and heat on medium. Add the onion and pepper and stir fry until soft and lightly browned—about 3-4 minutes.  Add the scallions and tomato, stirring to blend.  Cook until the tomato has softened, another 3 minutes.

Lower heat. Add the egg strips, noodles and ¾ tsp. salt and toss all ingredients in the skillet while heating thoroughly. Remove from heat. Garnish with fresh ground black pepper and, optionally, shave on the yak cheese or stir in the butter.

and finally, the original ultra symbolic noodle dishChinese Buddha's Delight 
recipe and explanation of symbolic meaning of every ingredient in
Veggiyana The Dharma of Cooking

 1 1/2 tbsp corn oil
1 cube fermented red bean curd (Fu Shung) or 1 tsp miso paste as an easier to find alternative
2 oz tofu (extra firm is best, pressed is better, sticks are most authentic), cut into thin strips
1 oz wood ear or shitake mushrooms (whichever you can find; soak any that are dried)
3/4 cup soaked golden needles (lily buds), soaked overnight
½ dozen peeled gingko nuts or raw, shelled peanuts
10 snow peas, cleaned
10 water chestnuts, drained from the can and halved
1/3-1/2 cup bamboo shoots
any one of the following (depending on what you can find):
    1/4 cup jujubes (red Chinese dates), soaked overnight and pitted
    1/3 cup black Chinese moss (fat choi), soaked overnight
    1 sm lotus root, peeled and sliced into thin disks
    1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin disks
6.5-7 oz cellophane noodles (depending on how they are packaged), soaked in boiling water for two minutes and drained just before you start
 2 tbsp soy sauce, or more to your taste
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice cooking wine or vinegar

Do not throw away any of the soaking waters. Combine them.
 Have all ingredients ready to throw into the wok or skillet. Arrange them on a large platter.
    Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over a hot flame. Add fermented bean curd or hoisin sauce and stir to blend. Fry tofu strips for one minute to crisp them.
    Add mushrooms, lily buds, nuts, snow peas, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and whichever of the three final ingredients you chose. Stir-fry for one minute.
   Add noodles and ½ cup of the soaking water. Try to separate the noodles and blend into the other ingredients. Stir-fry 2-3 minutes, adding soaking water in ¼ cup increments as needed to nothing sticks or burns.  The steam from the water is also necessary for fast cooking.
    Add soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar, stirring to blend. Continue to stir-fry 1-2 minutes, making sure there is always some liquid in the bottom of the pan.
    Remove from heat and serve.
 Nontraditionally, you can garnish with chopped fresh cilantro leaves and or grated ginger.