Homemade Spaghetti with Roasted Tomato Sauce

My wife just got me the pasta attachment for our kitchen aid so the first pasta I wanted to try was a great spaghetti with tomato sauce.  I wanted to get some great depth of flavor in this simple dish so I decided to roast the tomatoes for the sauce.  Lina’s cousin has a great recipe so that was the base for the sauce.

First thing was to make the pasta, I used a basic recipe of egg, flour, water, and salt to make the dough.  The great thing about the kitchen aid is that everything can be done in the mixer, from the mixing to the initial kneading (you need to to do a bit by hand), then the actual pasta making.  After running the dough through the flat pasta roller to get the desired thickness, I ran it though the spaghetti cutter, and voila, fresh pasta.  Throw a little flower on it a let it dry for an hour.

Next step was to roast the tomatoes.  Here is the recipe, I didn’t have a jalepeno so I added red pepper flakes instead.  After they are roasted and get some color on them I transferred them to a large pot and immersion blended the tomatoes to get a nice pureed sauce.

So after the sauce was pureed I cooked up the pasta.  The great thing about fresh pasta it only takes 2-3 minutes to cook.  I then added a little bit of sauce to the pasta (a little goes a long way, it’s all about a balance about the pasta and sauce) and was ready to serve.  I grated some Parmesan on top and this was it.  Delicious fresh pasta, with awesome tomato sauce.  The pasta was creamy and delicate while the sauce added a great depth of flavor from the roasting and the added pepper flakes.  If you have the option of making fresh pasta you have to do it, there is no comparison.

Banh Mi – Vietnamese Sandwich

To continue my exploration of what pork can be used for in it’s variety of forms, I decided to make the Vietnamese sandwich called the Banh Mi. This sandwich featured pork loin seared and then cooked off in the oven (you could also use pork shoulder/butt). When cooked it was moist in the center with a bit of a crispy fatty edge. Awesome! For the toppings I pickled some carrots in vinegar, salt and sugar. Chopped up some jalapenos from my garden out back,

jalepeno

some sliced cucumber, cilantro, mayo (with lemon mixed in), and some soy sauce drizzled on top. This was all served on a white sub roll. Now traditionally this is served on a french baguette but I thought I would try it on a fresh sub roll. If you need a bit more heat just add some sriracha. This sandwich combines a lot of flavors and goes perfect with a cabbage salad and a dry Asian beer (i had a Sapporo).

Now the recipe was a combo of different techniques I came across online. Here was the main source.

A couple of my variations were to

1. use pork loin (sear it then finish off in the oven)

2. add a bit of lemon to the mayo

3. Use a sub roll instead of french baguette.

4. A little sriracha to add bit of heat.

If you are looking for a sandwich that is a little bit different and has an explosion of flavors, check this one out.

Barbecue Pork Ribs – North Carolina Style

Pork has become one of my favorite meats as of late due to its versatility and great taste.  I think that we can all agree that bacon is one of the best ingredients ever.  But this week is about the ribs, slow cooked and seasoned North Carolina style.  North Carolina has its own way of doing barbecue and that way is all about the vinegar.

What I did first was brine the ribs.  Brining is soaking the meat in a salt water overnight to tenderize the meat and make sure they stay moist.  For the sauce its a mixture of apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and liquid smoke.  Now I used liquid smoke because I did the ribs in the oven.  If you have a smoker on your grill use that. Bring all the ingredients to a boil and that’s it.

Next is to cook it slow for 3 hours on 275 basting every half an hour.  After that you have perfect ribs, tender and moist with a great caramelized sauce on top. Here is the full recipe.

I also grilled up some fresh corn we got from the farmers market and Lina made a classic cole slaw.  This was a great southern style meal ya’ll.

Don Ishiyaki – Greensboro, NC

Don Ishiyaki is one of my favorite casual dining spots in the city.  Great food at a good price and they have kimchi, so that brings me back to my days in Koreatown (LA).   The star of the menu is the Ishiyaki which is means “cook on hot rock”.  I started out with a house salad which has mixed greens, carrots, cucumber, and fried wantons.  The dressing is a classic ginger dressing.  One of the few casual spots that chooses to serve mixed greens instead of iceberg.  Kudos for that.

House salad

For my entree I usually go with the Bibimbap with brown rice.  Bibimbap is steak, kimchi, green onion, bean sprouts and raw egg on top (you can’t see it in the photo because i got excited and forgot to take a picture).  It comes out in this hot rock bowl and you can push the egg to the side to start cooking it.  I mix it in a little.   The rice at the bottom continues cooking and gets this great crunch to it.   They also bring out some sauces and the spicy asian is a must.  The entrees are also served with a bowl of miso soup on the side.

Lina got the Veggie Ishiyaki and that is just as good.  Comes with tofu, bean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, onion and zucchini.  She also got hers with brown rice to keep it on the healthy side.

veggie

This place is great for a casual lunch, low key dinner or group dinner before a night on the town.  Did I mention the vibe is killer.  The lights are dim and I think I heard some Hot Chip while I was there.

Imperial Koi – Greensboro, NC

Not having access to really fresh sushi and sashimi is a pain I deal with living inland. Nothing compares to sushi so fresh you can taste the sea it came from. So when a new sushi place opens up I get excited and hopeful that this may be the link to that freshness.

When you walk into Imperial Koi it feels clean and formal. The service is top notch, they are very attentive to you all night, not letting a glass go empty and making sure that “everything is wonderful”.

Lina and I went with a group of friends so I got to see alot of different dishes. The menu had a good selection of starters, entrees, and sushi. I started off with some nigori sake which came in a small glass with a stick of cucumber. For starters I got the seaweed salad which was a nice start to the meal, simple and clean.Lina got the Simple Salad which was mixed greens (not iceberg), wontons, and orange segments. The dressing was a ginger dressing. Very nice salad.


For my entree I needed to try the sushi so i ordered ala carte. Tuna, salmon, white tuna, sea urchin, and a spicy tuna roll.

The plate came out simple and clean. What I was looking for was freshness of the fish. All the sushi was quite good as a whole which is hard to find here. Between the tuna, salmon, and white tuna nothing stood out but were all great pieces of fish. The sea urchin was delicious, this is one of my favorites and this one was awesome. But the highlight of the night for me was the spicy tuna roll! I usually don’t order this roll but I wanted to see the execution. This roll had great texture, the spicy tuna mixture had a little kick and did not have too much mayo. This roll was outstanding.

My wife ordered sweet potato tempura roll, eel sushi, and shrimp and cucumber roll. Everything was good but the highlight was the sweet potato tempura roll, it was an interesting twist on a roll and the sweetness of the potato played nicely with the saltiness of the soy sauce.


And finally for desert we got the chocolate banana spring roll with vanilla ice cream. This was nice end to the meal as the portion was perfect and the flavors were well balanced.


I would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for fresh sushi, great service, and an awesome spicy tuna roll!

La Torre de Escorial (Barcelona)

In search of the Calcot….

Day Two. A day of Gaudi, great weather, and a suprising little restaurant called La Torre de Escorial. We were lucky that it was calcots season when we went, and also lucky that the concierge knew of this place.


Calcots are white onions replanted, left for several months to sprout up through the soil. They are then grilled and dipped in romesco sauce. After seeing Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia and La Predrera we were ready for lunch. It was on the way to Park Guell which made it convienient.

So we take our seat and see the fixed price meal which includes a whole bottle of wine. This seemed like the best option considering the whole menu was in Catalan. The appetizer was bread rubbed with tomato and drizzled with olive oil. This is a very popular way to eat bread in Spain and is a wonderful change from the typical bread and butter.


Next up was the first course, the calcots.

Now eating these wonderful onions is serious business. There are the gloves and the bib. (we didnt use the bib)

 

The peeling. You have to peel off the outer layer to get to the middle onion. These can be hot so you have to be quick.

 

The dipping. You then dip them in the romesco sauce which is tomato based sauce with garlic, almonds, hazlenuts, chile, and red wine.


The tilting of the head. You then tilt your head back to lower the calcot in.


And then the consumption. Ahhh, this is why you come to Barcelona!! Now drink some red wine and repeat.

The third course came and was aplate of different meats. We had pork, chorizo, rabbit, chicken, and a grilled potato. Simple flavors but perfectly cooked.


Then the desert was Crema Catalana which was a delicious custard with torched sugar on top.

This was one of our true Catalan dining experiences with traditional Catalan cuisine and a cozy local feel. If you are in Barcelona during calcots season be sure to seek this place out.

Pinotxo Bar (Barcelona)

Barcelona : 10:00 AM

We took a cab from the airport, checked in to our hotel, threw our bags in the room, and then hit Las Rambla. A couple blocks down was the famous Mercat de la Boqueria where we were looking for some coffee and some food. When you enter La Boqueria you are hit with meat, fruits, tourist taking photos and then Pinotxo Bar where you can start your day right with a glass of cava and a chu chu, and thats what we did. (and then some…)

So as we sit down at the bar we are greeted by Juanito the owner and order two cafe con leches. As we try to decide what we want first Juanito picks up a Xu Xu (Chu Chu) and gives a thumbs up. This pastry was delicious, fried dough with custard in the middle. It was the best pastry we had in Barcelona.

The bar was getting crowded and the staff moved in and out of their small space with ease. They were cooking up calamari, chick peas, lamb stew, and various seafoods. It was time for us to get the next course. Dos copas des cava por favor!!

With cava in hand we are ready for the real stuff. Looking overwhemled Juanito comes to the rescue with suggestions of seafood and meat dishes.

We had heard of the fresh seafood of Barcelona and Juanito recommended the large shrimp and some of the lamb stew.

They grilled the shrimp whole and sprinkled salt on them. They tasted like the sea. We also had seen Bourdain suck the the brains so here was our chance to experience that type of food ecstasy moment. It was briny and salty, full of flavor.

We came back 3 more times to Pinotxo Bar mainly for cortados and xu xus, but we did try another special which were the chick peas. Cooked in oil and mixed with onions, raisins, and pine nuts, this was one of the tastiest dishes we had in Barcelona.

If you get a chance to experience this bar, please do. Everyone from tourists to locals eat here and there is a good reason for it. The food and drink are delicious and the atmosphere gives it that extra charm.