sage

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!  

an authentic Italian meal- homemade focaccia, aglio olio e peperoncino, and a side of greens

Earlier today, I made a pretty simple and authentic Italian meal.  We were gonna sit outside to enjoy the nice weather we had this afternoon but the heat was unbearable so we ended up moving back to the air-conditioned indoor.  Perhaps, we should wait another couple of months to really consider sitting out.  

Back to my meal, it was my first time making focaccia and surprisingly, the result came out fantastic.  I got this recipe from a blog called The Cookery Wife that was created by these two sisters from Texas and Oregon, Andrea & Hannah.  I'm a huge fan of their Instagram feed.  Their blog got a lot of pretty awesome recipes and many of them are quite easy to follow.  I've been obsessed with making bread lately so I am collecting a bunch of bread recipes on Pinterest and trying out the simple ones for now.  Once I get the hang of this whole dough making phenomena then I will try something a bit more challenging. ;)  I think bread making is pretty phenomenal because all we need is just a few key ingredients to do the magic.  Pretty much is just water, yeast and flour, given the right amount of time and quantity,  knead a little here and there, toss the dough into the oven for a set time, and BAM! You got a beautiful loaf of bread right in front of you.  That IS magic.  

This was inspired by The Cookery Wife's recipe.  I used a little bit of garlic powder, fresh thyme and rosemary as topping.  I baked it in my oven for about 15 minutes at 200ºC.  

Ingredients for dough: 

2 tsp dried yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp sugar
3 ½ - 4 cups flour
1 tbsp coarse salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil + extra for brushing

Topping:

extra-virgin olive oil 

fresh rosemary 

fresh thyme 

salt and pepper

Nothing beats a loaf of fresh homemade bread.  Must try if you love to bake.  I made the dough the night before and after rising, I place the dough in the fridge and bake it the next morning.  Bring the chilled dough to room temperature before popping it into a preheated oven.   

Alicia, my niece, is loving her bread. :) Such a satisfying moment.  

You can't get any simpler than a plate of aglio olio e peperoncino.  Every family does it differently and here is our recipe. 

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

ooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: (for 2 persons) 

200g spaghetti/linguine

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 red chili, finely chopped

1 sprig sage

1 small anchovy

1 tsp caper

grated parmesan

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1) Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Cook pasta according to its package label.  

2) Preheat a frying pan with olive oil on medium low heat, add garlic, sage, anchovy, and chili, cook for 2 minutes.  

3) Reduce to low heat and let the garlic and herb to cook slowly so the fragrant and flavor would kick off.  This should take about 5-7 minutes and watch out for burning the garlic.  

4) Add capers and cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup of pasta water to the frying pan along with the cooked pasta.  Stir well and coat the pasta with the garlic oil and pasta water sauce.  Heat off.  

5) Transfer the pasta to a plate, Add some grated parmesan and a drizzle of oil before serving.  

A simple homemade Italian meal that we never get tired of in this house.  :) We served our meal with a side of greens and some fresh lemonade.  

some easy starters..

This pumpkin salad is dedicated to a dear friend who loves pumpkin so SO much.  Every time we have potluck at hers or her boyfriend's place, she would ask me to make something with pumpkin.  I know it's not exactly the pumpkin season right now but we are fortunate to have the luxury to get them from a few local farms here in Yuen Long.  I especially like the mini squash because they give off a much sweeter flavor.  

Another starter that I always make is bruschetta.  There are many different ways to make bruschetta.  I usually make it according to what I have in my fridge or what I can get in the nearest supermarket.  There are times when I can't find mozzarella cheese (like today) and if it happens, I usually just skip it.  And sometime if I happen to pass by Il Bel Paese, I would grab a small bowl of fresh olives in oil to add to my bruschetta.  Just be flexible and creative.  Our imagination is unlimited.  :) 

Have a good week ahead! x

some easy starters for a mini gathering.

Servings: 4 persons 

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 mini pumpkin, deseeded & skin removed, chopped in wedges

1 large bowl arugula or mixed greens

1-2 sprig sage leaves

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 chili, seeded, finely chopped

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1) Preheat the oven at 180ºC.  Get a baking tray, drizzle a little oil, add pumpkin, sage, garlic, and chili.*  

2) Roast the pumpkin for about 15-20 minutes.  Try to stir and flip the pumpkins in midway.  

3) Once the pumpkins are ready, mix them with the greens.  Season, add more oil, and ready to serve! Simple!! 

* If you don't like your garlic, chili, and sage a little burnt, add them to the pumpkin a few minutes after roasting.  

Servings: 4 persons

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 1-2 minutes for toasting the bread

Ingredients: 

1 small loaf baguette

1 garlic clove, minced half garlic and leave the other half to brush the bread's surface

200g - 250g cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced or chopped according to the size that you like

2 tbsp basil pesto*

1 tbsp pine nuts

1 tsp caper, finely chopped

extra-virgin olive oil

*Remark: To make the basil pesto, simply blend a bunch of fresh basil leaves, 1/2 garlic clove, 1 tsp of roasted pine nuts, and sprinkle a bit of grated parmesan, season and add oil.  

Instructions: 

1) Slice the baguette into 6-8 pieces and toast the bread.  

2) Get the halved garlic and rub against each bread's surface.  

3) Get a small bowl, mix pesto, tomato, minced garlic, and caper.  Season.  

4) Transfer the tomato mixture to each slice of bread and sprinkle some pine nuts on top.  Garnish with some basil leaves if you like.  I ran out of basil leaves so I couldn't do it. ;)