Scallion-Ginger Chicken Soup with Fresh Noodles

Scallion-Ginger Chicken Soup with Fresh Noodles

I had a suspicion that when I made fresh pasta/noodles for the first time, I would likely get addicted to the process.

It is incredibly satisfying knowing that all it takes is flour, a liquid like eggs or water, time and a pasta machine to make fresh pasta/noodles from scratch. So here is my encouraging nudge to dust off a pasta machine you may have tucked away in your pantry and bring it out for the sake of trying something new!

I’ve been meaning eyeing the Scallion-Ginger Chicken Soup from Cynthia’s new cookbook, A Common Table, for several months now, and the rainy weather the past few weeks was all I needed to make this comforting soup. I like recipes that are simple, with very few ingredients, but have great flavor, and this soup is that type of recipe. Cynthia’s recipe boils dumplings or pieces of dough in the hot soup. I recommended this recipe to my sister, Kristen, and she said she switched out the dumplings for soup noodles. I knew I would like noodles better, so I decided it was finally time to try using a pasta machine for the first time.

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Pecan-Topped Toffee

Pecan-Topped Toffee

I was positive that I had already posted a recipe for this toffee but it turns out I had imagined the whole thing!

I was so certain because this is my absolute favorite sweet treat to make during the holidays. After getting over an initial fear of boiling hot sugar and butter to the hard crack stage, it is actually very, very simple and very, very rewarding.

I have very fond memories of making this toffee around Christmas with Popo over every school break for as long as I can remember. The process was always the same and the taste of it always takes me back to those happy childhood moments. As a result, I have become a toffee snob and will always hold this recipe in the highest regard even though it is literally four simple ingredients.

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Roasted Tomato Sauce with Mini Meatballs

Roasted Tomato Sauce with Mini Meatballs

Every few months I crave the favorite classic—spaghetti and meatballs.

Sometimes I'll make the sauce from scratch depending on what kind of jarred sauce is on sale. If I do make it myself, I will usually opt for for using canned San Marzano tomatoes but since we are in the middle of tomato season, I was hankering for something fresh and truly from scratch. 

The last time I made tomato sauce from raw tomatoes was almost exactly two (!) years ago. That was a delicious sauce but for some reason this one was even tastier. I used almost the exact same recipe, but with a few changes.

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Zucchini Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Zucchini Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I tend to crave grilled cheese sandwiches more in the summer rather than in the fall or winter.

In the colder parts of the year, I am more likely to make soups or stews because they release all of that cozy heat that I don't want to deal with in the summer. Grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect for summer because they don't require any major, long-term cooking. There's something about fresh bread, melted cheese and summer produce that is a different sort of combination from a salad. Typically, I reach for tomatoes but this time I chose to stick with zucchini. I love summer tomatoes in a grilled cheese sandwich but towards the end it can make the bread soggy which we'll save for this salad

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Tomato and Basil Frittata

Tomato and Basil Frittata

Breakfast for dinner, anyone?

Sometimes eggs don't agree with me in the morning so I am perfectly happy to eat them at a later time in the day. This time, I found that the addition of slow-roasted tomatoes helped cut down the taste and texture of the eggs and I even found myself reaching for seconds. Either that or I was really hungry post-photographing this frittata. 

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Chinese-Style Eggplant

Chinese-Style Eggplant

Besides the association with a certain type of suggestive emoji meaning, I think eggplant is a rather underrated vegetable. 

It is such a beautiful purple when raw but can turn kind of bleh and brown when cooked. Personally, I think it should be cooked thoroughly so you don't end up with bitter or chewy eggplant, but I have found my desire for it to be soft and silky and almost falling apart off-putting to others. I can just hear my sister Kristen saying "Ewwww".  

So perhaps I have turned you even more away from eggplant, but cooking it this way with a savory, garlicky sauce is one of my favorite ways to eat it. When it comes to eggplant size and shape, I prefer small-medium Japanese or Chinese eggplants for this kind of dish. The small globe-shaped Indian eggplants tend to have a skin that is too thick with not enough flesh. The large Italian eggplants are the opposite and have too many seeds. This is a Chinese dish so it makes sense to choose the eggplant best suited for it!

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Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

This salad is a celebration of two things—heirloom tomatoes and homemade croutons.

Davis is in the heart of tomato growing country, so for the whole month of August you'll see what I call "tomato turns" or what happens when tomato trucks take a turn onto or off of the freeway too fast and tomatoes fall out. There is a particular section on the ramp on 113 North that is notorious for being covered in very sad smashed tomatoes. That's how I know we're in the thick of tomato season and that they should be gobbled up until they are no longer in season.

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Crepes with Fresh Strawberries

Crepes with Fresh Strawberries

In honor of the first farm stand strawberries, I made crepes for probably only the second time in my life. 

I am grateful to live in California where you can get the most beautiful, ruby red, sweet and juicy strawberries from April-October. When I was living in Hawaii, strawberries and stone fruit were the two produce items that I missed the most. But on the other hand, they have mangoes, pineapples and lilikoi. It's hard to have the best of both worlds. 

Crepes are the perfect vehicles for fresh strawberries because they have a delicate flavor and texture that allow the berries to shine. After I graduated high school, I visited France and of course we had to try crepes from a stand. Without a doubt, Nutella and strawberry was the winner. When I tried to make them from scratch several years later, I was traumatized because they never turned out circular. It was always some weird alien shape with a hole or some horns. Little did I know, if I had kept trying, I probably would have liked making them a lot sooner than now especially after one of my friends encouraged me to try making them again.

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