easy

Salads, Vegetables

Spicy Cucumber Salad

Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

Has anyone been to Momofuku? Visiting a David Chang restaurant has been on my short list for many moons. And a few weeks ago serendipity intervened. I was in DC for work and as the cab pulled up to my hotel, I spied a telltale electric pink 'milk' sign belonging to Momofuku CCDC just across the way. Cue the heart eyes emoji. But my luck didn't stop there. By some small miracle I had no plans for lunch or dinner that night. I made a quick calculation as to whether this good fortune outweighed the impropriety of going to the same restaurant twice in one day. It totally did and so I went. Don't judge. 

Among the many ridiculously delicious things I ate between my two outings (pork buns, shrimp buns, spicy noodles), it's the cucumber salad that's been occupying my daydreams. It's the kind of salad you want to eat a bucket of - crunchy, refreshing, salty, and spicy. I more or less did eat a bucket since the cucumbers were such a perfect foil to the rest of the rich, heavy fare we ordered. Although I had the good sense at the time to ask our server how it was made I did not have the good sense to write it down. Of what she shared all I recall is 1) it's finished with togarashi and 2) the dressing contains pureed scallions. Curiously though you use only the light and dark green parts. This stayed with me since it's the opposite of what I've been conditioned to do with scallions. 

I did a bit of Googling but the internet failed to turn up a recipe so below is my best attempt. Is it spot on? Of course not. I'm no David Chang. But it was pretty darn good and should hold me over until Momofuku sets up shop in Boston.

Cukes | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Cucumbers | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

Ingredients

  • 4-6 mini seedless cucumbers (these require no peeling and have less water than the big honkers)
  • 2 scallions, roughly chopped (light and dark green parts only, toss the white bulb)
  • Handful cilantro leaves (about 1 cup, loosely packed)
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled + roughly chopped
  • 5 Tbs. neutral oil (canola, peanut, or safflower)
  • 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • Togarashi spice
  • Kosher salt

Prep

  • Chop cucumbers into small chunks (split in half and then slice crosswise into 1 inch pieces).
  • Line a colander with paper towels. Place cukes in colander and sprinkle generously with salt.
  • Let the cucumbers sit at room temperature (or in fridge)  for about 30 minutes. This will infuse flavor and also sweat out some water.
  • While you're waiting make your dressing. Place scallions, ginger, cilantro, oil, rice vinegar, and a pinch of salt in a blender. Puree until smooth and taste for seasoning.
  • Toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and beginning to brown. Let cool and then roughly chop.
  • When ready to dress and serve, pat cucumbers dry with a fresh paper towel.
  • Toss cukes, dressing, almonds, and serrano chile in a bowl. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with togarashi and a few more almonds.

Meat

Butter + Sage Braised Pork Ribs

Butter + Sage Braised Pork Ribs | www.hungryinlove.com

I'm always grateful for Sundays, but 25-hour Sundays that follow Halloween? Let's have more of those. What did everyone dress up as? I was enlisted into a group costume this year - the Camp Firewood gang from Wet Hot American Summer. Besides going bonkers all week looking for a puka shell necklace to complete my look as Katie (found at the 4th stop!), it was a big success. After a dinner of tater tots, s'mores, and bug juice us campers trekked into the city for an amazing double ticket: Grace Potter & Charles Bradley (aka 'The Screaming Eagle of Soul'). If you're unfamiliar watch this and this. Goosebumps, right? Now imagine Charles and Grace doing a duet of Otis Redding's Pain In My Heart. Yes, that happened. 

Our Wet Hot American Halloween was super but it was also more excitement than I'm accustomed to these days. I decided to dial it way back and use today's extra hour for some slow and low cooking. These ribs have been on my shortlist of recipes to try since our wonderful friends Eddie and David made them for us about a month ago. Eddie and David are both phenomenal cooks so I didn't have ambitions that mine would match theirs. But, whoa. I surprised myself this time. These guys are crispy, melty, and do that whole fall-off-the-bone thing really well. And it's spooky how easy they are. Active cooking time is less than twenty minutes. Happy November!

Butter + Sage Braised Pork Ribs | www.hungryinlove.com
Sage | www.hungryinlove.com
Butter + Sage Braised Pork Ribs | www.hungryinlove.com
Butter + Sage Braised Pork Ribs | www.hungryinlove.com
Butter + Sage Braised Pork Ribs | www.hungryinlove.com
Butter + Sage Braised Pork Ribs | www.hungryinlove.com

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 2 lbs. good quality pork ribs
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • Kosher salt

Prep

  • Pat ribs dry with a paper towel. Salt generously on all sides with kosher salt. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  • In a wide saucepan or braising dish melt 1 Tbs. of butter into 1 Tbs. olive oil over medium high heat. Sear ribs in two batches, about 4-5 minutes per side. Add remaining butter and olive oil before searing second batch. Transfer ribs to a plate.
  • Turn heat down to medium and pour wine into braising dish. Use the back of a wooden spoon to loosen up the browned bits.
  • Return ribs to saucepan and add water and sage sprigs. Arrange rib racks so no rack is entirely submerged in liquid.
  • Bring liquid to a steady simmer.
  • Cover saucepan and transfer to oven.
  • Braise for 3 hours (or longer if you have time to kill!). Check every 30 minutes or so to make sure liquid has not evaporated. Add more water 1/2 cup at a time if necessary.
  • Serve alone or over polenta / mashed potatoes / rice (basically anything that will sop up some of the braising liquid).

 

Snacks

Roasted Green Grape Guacamole

Roasted Green Grape Guacamole | www.hungryinlove.com

This weekend Tripp and I mapped out our grand calendar of upcoming summer adventures (Carolina! Maine! France!). Besides making me totally giddy, the activity put a rumble in my belly for summery fare, picnics, and parties. With a few weeks left of New England spring, testing summer recipes inside on rainy days is a substitute for the real thing I won’t turn down. Hence, guacamole.

Ah yes, guacamole: friend-maker, woe-mender, harbinger of good times. If I were someone who believed in magic, these powers might seem reasonable. But I’m a notorious skipper of horoscope sections so an alternative explanation is in order. Perhaps it’s nothing beyond the singular alchemy that is avocado + lime + salt.

I’ve long been a fan of fruit-laced guacamole (hello, mango). But last summer was the first time I enjoyed a grape-studded rendition. Plump and bright, grapes are a splendid counter to creamy, rich avocado. Throw roasted grapes into the equation and whoa, you’ve just made a dish with an ingredient ‘two-ways’ at home. I have to admit I was pretty proud of that.

Roasted Green Grape Guacamole Mise En Place | www.hungryinlove.com
Roasted Green Grapes | www.hungryinlove.com
Roasted Green Grapes | www.hungryinlove.com
Grapes: two ways!

Grapes: two ways!

Avocados | www.hungryinlove.com
Guacamole Mise En Place | www.hungryinlove.com
Roasted Green Grape Guacamole | www.hungryinlove.com

Ingredients

Makes 3-4 cups

  • 2 cups whole grapes (visually I think green grapes are best here but red are a fine substitute)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil + salt
  • 3 ripe Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and diced into small cubes
  • 1 cup quartered grapes
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 2 serrano chiles, finely diced (if you don't like heat, use only one or omit altogether)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (about 1 bunch)
  • Juice of three limes
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

Prep

Roast Grapes

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Toss 2 cups whole grapes with olive oil, season with salt, and spread on a baking sheet
  • Roast for 15 minutes; grapes will release juices and start to caramelize
  • Transfer grapes to a plate to cool
  • Roughly chop

Assemble Guacamole

  • Place avocado, roasted grapes, quartered fresh grapes, onion, chile, cilanto, lime and salt in a mixing bowl
  • Use a fork to combine until all ingredients are evenly dispersed but avocado chunks remain
  • Taste for seasoning; add more lime and salt as needed
  • Serve with tortilla chips or crudite
  • The flavors will be doubly awesome if you allow guac to sit inthe  fridge (covered) for a couple hours