Noodles with Chicken and Mushrooms

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An easy and flexible weeknight recipe for noodles involving ground chicken, mushrooms and a quick sauce that comes together from pantry/fridge ingredients. Add more vegetables if you have them, make it as spicy as you’d like, it’s all good!

Off late I’ve found ground chicken to be so convenient, to put together quick and delicious meals in so little time! No chopping and dicing and browning required, and it gives the recipe some heft without weighing you down. It’s a perfect ingredient for busy weeknights, as you’ll see with this recipe adapted from Bon Appetit magazine!

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Blistered Garlicky Green Beans

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Growing up, my sister and I ate all our veggies. With my mom, there was no other option – the rule was to finish everything served on the plate whether or not we like it; if we didn’t like something, the only available option was to not have seconds. As a grown up, I haven’t necessarily been “eating all my veggies”. It’s not like I will let them go to waste (there are always stews and gratins and quesadillas to make the boring veggies disappear), but I can admit that I sometimes conveniently “forget” to buy those vegetables when I’m shopping.

My husband frequently bugs me about having “favorites” when it comes to vegetables (hello, potatoes! goodbye, spinach), and now that we have a baby, he warns me that I may not have the necessary moral high ground to make our kid eat all his veggies. Reminds me of an episode of The Big Bang Theory I recently watched where Howard (Simon Helberg) finds out they are expecting a baby, and he is totally freaking out, and tells the guys “I shouldn’t be raising a kid. I don’t even eat my own vegetables.”. Green beans were probably near the top of the list of vegetables I didn’t really care for, until I made these.

These blistered green beans from the Bon Appetit magazine are the best green beans I’ve ever had, and I don’t say such things lightly. Granted I picked this recipe only to get through the mountain of green beans we had languishing in the fridge, because someone (me) didn’t want to eat them (forget about cooking them), but I’m so very glad I did!

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Wontons with Sesame Sauce

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Few times a year I spend the better part of a Saturday assembling wontons. I try to go seasonal with the fillings, but if not, I fall back on the classic fillings: usually a combination of ground chicken, ground pork, diced shrimp, fresh ginger and scallions, and finely chopped water chestnuts. Ever since I took the “Wonders of Wontons” class at the Civic Kitchen in San Francisco, I’ve felt super empowered to experiment with wontons and potstickers. They are easy to assemble (time consuming, sure, but oh so rewarding), easy to freeze, and if you fold them a certain way, can double as boiled wontons as well as potstickers.

This year I tried adapted a recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine, which suggests adding sesame oil as well as vegetable oil to the filling and whisking (almost beating) it till the fat is fully incorporated in the filling. When cooked, it makes for a really lush wonton. I switched the pork for chicken so maybe mine weren’t as fatty as the ones from the original recipe, but still very comforting and delicious!

I usually drop my wontons in a quick chicken broth, but I really loved the Sesame Sauce here – a quick little sesame paste condiment that takes less than a minute to assemble, and I imagine will be delicious with a great number of things. You can always substitute tahini or even peanut butter if you don’t have sesame paste on hand.

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[for young chefs] Corn and Cheese Galette (Tart)

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This freeform buttery pastry tart (“galette” in French) is as beautiful as it is delicious – full of sweet corn and cheesy goodness! The puff pastry sheet makes this recipe extra easy and extra quick. In the time it takes for the oven to preheat, your galette will be ready to go in the oven. Anyway who sees (and tastes) this galette will never know just how easy it is to put together! Easy enough to make for our young chefs at home, of course under adult supervision!

Galettes have all of the deliciousness of pies and tarts, with just a fraction of the effort. Following a few basic steps when handling puff pastry sheets opens up a whole world of quick and delicious appetizers and desserts, so its definitely an ingredient worth getting to know! Typically sold frozen (by Pepperidge Farms and Pilsbury), it can be super easy to work with if handled with care!

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Ukad (rice flour and buttermilk porridge)

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This recipe is very close to my heart, almost family heirloom status. It’s one of my mom’s favorite recipes, a modified version of which she happily fed my sister and I since we were 7 or 8 months old. Something my grandmother fed my mom since she was a baby herself! It is quick, comforting and resembles a warm hug in food form. Not that I’m biased or anything.

A mixture of rice flour-buttermilk (or yogurt thinned out with water), flavored with finely chopped ginger, green chilies, asafetida (hing) and salt, is cooked in a quick tempering of mustard seeds, sliced garlic and curry leaves (sometimes with turmeric, sometimes without), until its a soft, smooth and tangy pillow. The porridge is served with a drizzle of raw oil, and is to be enjoyed in complete peace and quiet – at least the one you can control, in your head. If peace is eluding you, this Ukad will help you get there. And that’s all there is to it.

Shall we?

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Savory Tea Biscuits (shortbread cookies with carom seeds)

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It’s not often that the world changes so dramatically in a span of just a few weeks. When I started this tea pairing challenge a few weeks ago, none of us had any idea what was coming our way. In most parts of the world at this point in time, life as we know it is upended. In some parts of the world, people are fighting for a chance to live in the resources their hospitals can afford them, while elsewhere, others are separated from their families, far far away. Such stories are normally reserved for third world countries, but it is heartening to see it happen in US and Europe. This pandemic has brought the world to its knees, and we don’t know how life will be in its wake.

Whoa, not something you would expect to read if you were browsing for a nice teatime biscuit recipe, huh? Well, it is rather uncomfortable – talking about tea and biscuits like everything is alright in the world. I’ve written myself into a corner here – there are no elegant segues from this topic to tea pairing, so I’m just going to put a pin in it for now (as we are all trying to do by self-isolating…here I go again!), and talk about my favorite thing in these bleak times: tea.

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