garlic

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

Some say the simplest dish is the hardest dish to master.  I was asked recently what my favorite Italian dish was and I answered aglio, olio e peperocino with no hesitation.  I think the person who asked this question was disappointed with my unimaginative answer.   

But do hear me out though…  I chose this dish for a number of reasons and they are just as simple as its ingredients.  This pasta is quick and easy to make.  It doesn't require a bankroll and it certainly doesn't require a lot of utensils or crazy steps.  And sage, for some odd reasons, was so much easier for me to find in Hong Kong.  The entire cooking process can be done within 10 minutes.  It is filling and definitely healthier than instant noodles.  Plus it’s got so many little tweaks that you could do to elevate the dish to a whole new level.  Honestly, I could never get tired of making it and eating it.  The possibilities are immense and every family does it differently here in Italy.   

So here is my humble rumble version of aglio, olio e peperoncino.  I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do.  

Happy Cooking and Happy New Year! :D

Servings: 1 person

Preparation Time: less than 5 minutes

Cooking Time: less than 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 small sprig of sage, finely chopped

1 small anchovy *optional*

1/2 tsp dried chili flakes

1/4 cup grated parmesan

100g pasta (spaghetti/tagliatelle/linguine) 

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil;  cook pasta according to its packaging label.  Drain the pasta approximately 1 minute before it turns al dente.  Reserve a small cup of the pasta water for later. 
  2. Preheat a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp olive oil on medium heat, cook garlic, anchovy, chili flakes, and sage 2-3 minutes.  Stir occasionally to avoid burning the garlic and reduce heat ifnecessary.  
  3. Add the cooked pasta with a ladle of pasta water to the frying pan.  Sprinkle a generous amount of grated parmesan and mix well.  Season.  Heat off.  
  4. Transfer the pasta to a plate, add a drizzle of olive oil and grated parmesan before serving.  Enjoy!  

One Broccoli Two Destinies

Most of my inspirations come from whatever I have in my fridge.  My goal is to utilize everything I have in my kitchen.  These two recipes are extremely easy and I usually make them when I can't be bothered with anything.  In other words, "plain lazy" is what I am saying.  Lately, I've been swamped with work.  I just want something quick and easy by the time I get home.  

So I got this broccoli from the market the other day and I wanted to utilize this broccoli so I split it into two meals.  These two recipes are perfect for the busy bees.  Both dishes required very minimal ingredients and they must've costed me less than USD10 all together.  

Plus I've always had a thing for broccoli because of the numerous nutritious benefits.  I like my broccoli a little crunchier so I don't usually cook it for too long.  I prefer to retain a bit more nutrients and that's probably better for us anyway if not eaten raw.  

TGIF!  Have a great weekend! 

Love, 

Cindy x

The three essential ingredients are broccoli, garlic, and chili.  With just those three super ingredients, we can whip up an effortless and delicious meal in no time. 

The first dish is the "no brainer" spicy broccoli pasta.  

Serving: 1 person

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

1/2 broccoli, chopped into florets (reserve the stalk for the second recipe here)

1/2 chili, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 lemon zest

1/2 cup vegetable stock

1 sprig of sage leaves

1 tbsp grated parmesan

100g spaghetti

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1) Bring a pot of salted water to boil, cook pasta according to its package label.  Remove from heat 1 minute before it is cooked. Reserve a ladle of pasta water.  

2) While cooking the pasta, on another stove, preheat a saucepan with olive oil on medium heat.  Cook garlic, chili, and sage for 1-2 minutes.  

3) Add broccoli florets and vegetable stock. Cook for 1 minute and reduce heat to low.  Put a lid on and cook for 5 minutes.  

4) When the pasta is ready (remove from heat 1 minute before), add the pasta to the saucepan with a ladle of pasta water.  Mix well and heat off when the pasta water is absorbed.  Season with some fresh ground black pepper.  

5) Add lemon zest, grated parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil before serving.

spicy broccoli pasta 

spicy miso broccoli fried rice

Serving: 1 person

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 7-10 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 broccoli stalk, thinly chopped into small pieces

1/2 broccoli florets

1-2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp chopped spring onion

1/2 chili, finely chopped

1 tsp miso pasta

1/4 cup water

1 bowl cooked rice ( I used leftover rice for this recipe)

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1) Preheat a frying pan with medium heat, cook garlic and chili for 1-2 minutes.  Add chopped broccoli stalks and florets and cook for 1 minute.  

2) Add miso paste and water.  Put a lid on and simmer for 3 minutes.  

3) Add the cooked rice to the saucepan, mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Season.

4) Serve with some fresh chopped spring onion.  

Spicy miso broccoli fried rice

garlicky butter knot pretzels

I found this recipe on Pinterest by a blogger named Jonathan Melendez.  His blog is called The Candid Appetite.   Like many others out there, I was instantly attracted by his beautiful pictures.  So I gave those little knots a try this afternoon.  

The outcome was not what I expected.  Actually, I was expecting a dozen of soft and fluffy bread rolls but when the knots were made, they seemed more like pretzels to me.  So I went back to the original recipe and read the entire blog post.  And that's when I realized that those little knots are indeed pretzels.  

Yeah, ummm, so that was a fun (and dumb) day.  But guess what, I know how to make pretzels now. Ha! :) 

These little garlicky and buttery knots are fairly easy to make.  If you love pretzels, then you'll not be disappointed by these knots.  

Like many other bread recipes, these are the essential ingredients.

Serving: 10-12 pretzels

Preparation Time: 1 hour 45 minutes - 2 hours

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients for the dough: 

3 cups white bread flour or all purpose flour

1 cup warm water

2.5 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt 

2-3 tbsp olive oil

Instructions for the dough: 

1) Mix water, yeast, and sugar.  Let sit for 5 minutes until the mixture starts foaming.

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, oil, and the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and start kneading by hands for 5 minutes.  

3) Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise for an hour.  

4) When the dough has doubled its size, punch it in the middle to release the extra air inside the dough. 

5) Transfer to the lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out a flat sheet.  

6) Cut into 10-12 strips and tie each strip into a knot.  

7) Place the knots 1-2 inches apart of each other on a baking sheet.  Place a plastic sheet on the baking tray and cover with the damp towel for 30-40 minutes.  Let the knots rise a bit more.  

8) Preheat oven at 190ºC, bake the knots for 20 minutes until they are golden brown.  

9) Brush the garlicky butter oil on each knot.  Sprinkle sea salt and grated cheese on top.  Serve whatever sauce you like with your pretzels.  

Knead the dough by hands on a lightly floured surface until the dough becomes smooth.  

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl then cover with a damp towel and let it rise for 1 hour.  

After an hour or so, the dough should have doubled its size.  Then punch it in the middle to release the extra air inside the dough.

After rolling out the dough to a flat sheet, cut the sheet into 10-12 strips.  

Ingredients for the garlicky butter coating: 

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tbsp sea salt for sprinkling

1 bunch chopped parsley

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Instructions: 

1) Preheat a frying pan with oil and butter on medium low heat, cook garlic for 3-4 minutes until golden.  Heat off. 

2) Add parsley and a pinch of salt to the cooked garlic.  

3) Brush the garlicky butter on each pretzel knot, sprinkle more salt and cheese on top of the pretzels.  

Brushing the garlic butter dressing and sprinkling sea salt and cheese on each knot.  

Garlicky butter pretzel knots :)