Leftover clams

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This was one of those thrown-together-out-of-what’s-on-hand dishes that worked so well I need to write it down. We had perfect little clams from Taylor Shellfish and a very spicy Mexican chorizo from Silvana Meats, both left over from a paella I had made a couple nights before, and I wanted to use them both up. I started by sauteeing an onion until very soft and sweet, added the chorizo and browned it, then added a tub of (also leftover) tapenade from the grocery store and a bit of water from the boiling pasta I had going on the side. I added the clams and nestled them into the sauce to steam open, then added a big handful of fresh parsley from the garden. That all got mixed up with thin spaghetti noodles, drizzled with a bit of extra Sicilian olive oil and eaten with a cheap Gascon wine. Fabulous. Would make again, if at all possible.

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squid noodle

squid noodles

When you buy squid or shrimp in the grocery store around here (even at the fish market), it’s usually bagged frozen stuff that the shop has just thawed that day. This is why we usually buy big bags of it ourselves, so we can thaw it out in small quantities as we want it. We never have any lack of ideas for the shrimp, but somehow the squid wasn’t getting used very quickly. I spent some time hunting out recipes for pre-cut rings and tentacles, especially Chinese, which I thought would be particularly well-suited. I found surprisingly few Chinese recipes for squid, but lots for clams, and it occurred to me that if clams in black bean sauce was such a fixture, why not squid in black bean sauce? Why not on noodles? And a dinner concept was born.

So far I’ve been making it up as I go along each time, but maybe at some point I’ll settle on a particular recipe – or maybe not. I tend to cook by the “spoonful of this, spoonful of that” method in any case. If you have squid in the house, and you can remember to thaw it in time, this is a fantastic, blazingly-fast weeknight dinner – certainly no more than half an hour from start to finish, if you prep while the noodles are cooking. And you could use considerably less chile than I do, if you don’t happen to like having your sinuses cleared by your dinner. But what I really love is the contrast of texture between the squid and the noodles, and the saltiness of the black beans. Everything else is flexible.

squid noodles

The way I’m doing this at the moment (subject to change as I experiment, but this is way tasty): first I cook and drain the noodles – we’re really liking udon with this, but any kind of slithery noodle would work – and toss them in a large bowl with some of the sludge from our homemade hot chile oil and a splash of soy sauce. Then I get all my condiments, squid and vegetables ready to go, as none of this takes any time at all to cook. I heat peanut oil in the wok, and toss in chopped garlic and scallions. As those sizzle, I add a spoonful of chile-garlic sauce and a spoonful of fermented black beans. Then I add the squid and start stir-frying briskly, adding a splash of rice wine. As soon as the squid turns opaque (perhaps a minute), I turn it out into the bowl of noodles. Then I put the wok back over the heat and toss in a bunch of chopped greens, like bok choi or beet greens, and stirfry with a bit of soy sauce until wilted, then scrape those into the noodles as well. Serve hot. Slurp.

and the house smelt of truffles

truffle salami

noodles for dinner

On Monday I really, really didn’t feel like going anywhere, including the grocery store. I rummaged through the refrigerator, then tossed a tweet out asking for suggestions based on my mainĀ available ingredients: macaroni noodles, fresh tomatoes, feta and salami. Cook Local (as well as my cousin Katherine) came through with an improvised pasta idea – thanks! I decided to add arugula at the last moment, partly to add color but mostly because a friend gave us a bag of arugula that still needed to be finished off – I had forgotten to list it among my assets.

truffle salami

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there’s always noodles

I’m feeling somewhat at a loss for what to post about. What have we been eating, anyway? Lentil soup, a roast chicken, lamb pizza, a hamburger down at the pub, and a very odd evening at the new Japanese place (how many birthday parties were going on in there, anyway?) where I forgot to take any pictures. Hmph.

lunch

In the absence of anything more exciting, let me tell you about this bowl of noodles I put together for myself a couple of weeks ago. I had a rare day at home alone, and no leftovers in the house to eat, so I made do: buckwheat noodles, boiled just to al dente, a perfectly soft boiled egg, a handful of grated carrot, and a heaping spoonful of chile-black bean sauce stirred into a small pan of chicken stock, all piled together into a bowl and slurped up hot.

This sort of thing doesn’t feel like cooking to me, it’s just combining whatever’s lying around. But cooking or not, it was so good, I’d like to eat it again. Now, please.

there's always noodles

I’m feeling somewhat at a loss for what to post about. What have we been eating, anyway? Lentil soup, a roast chicken, lamb pizza, a hamburger down at the pub, and a very odd evening at the new Japanese place (how many birthday parties were going on in there, anyway?) where I forgot to take any pictures. Hmph.

lunch

In the absence of anything more exciting, let me tell you about this bowl of noodles I put together for myself a couple of weeks ago. I had a rare day at home alone, and no leftovers in the house to eat, so I made do: buckwheat noodles, boiled just to al dente, a perfectly soft boiled egg, a handful of grated carrot, and a heaping spoonful of chile-black bean sauce stirred into a small pan of chicken stock, all piled together into a bowl and slurped up hot.

This sort of thing doesn’t feel like cooking to me, it’s just combining whatever’s lying around. But cooking or not, it was so good, I’d like to eat it again. Now, please.

a nifty little chickpea salad

impromptu salad

This was a spur of the moment side dish that I threw together last week. I had originally intended to make a Turkish salad of chickpeas, cumin and lemon, but then I got sidetracked by pomegranate molasses and fresh garden tomatoes – one of those cooking moments that seem to happen to me so often, where I have two or three cookbooks open and end up ignoring all of them. Fortunately, this turned out delicious.

Impromptu Chickpea Salad

olive oil
1 red onion, minced
a spoonful of pomegranate molasses
1 can chickpeas, drained
handful fresh spinach leaves
fresh mint, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped
several little red tomatoes, halved

Combine the chickpeas, spinach and herbs in a bowl large enough to hold the salad. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the red onion until just softened. Stir in the pomegranate molasses, then add the hot onion mixture to the salad bowl. Toss to wilt the spinach. Add the fresh herbs and tomatoes, and extra olive oil if desired. Let sit at room temperature for half an hour or so before serving.