Ramen for Kate

I am not certain it is possible to make authentic ramen in an apartment kitchen and in a short amount of time, but our family loves this recipe (whether it is truly authentic or not) which mixes techniques from a number of cooks (David Chang, Food Lab, and others) to make a pretty wonderful weeknight meal.  If you want to make it more special–and you have a few hours to let pork belly very slowly braise–it makes a great centerpiece to the dish and raises the elegance level dramatically (braised pork belly recipe follows). This recipe serves two, but can easily be doubled or tripled.


32 oz. low- or no-salt chicken broth (the better the quality, the better the dish-Whole foods makes a very good stock)

1 slice of thick cut bacon or 2 thin cut slices, cut across into squares

one inch square of pacific kombu (optional-but available at Whole Foods as well as at Asian groceries)

½ inch slice or two pieces of dried ginger

one carrot, sliced into the thinnest strips (think matchsticks) that you can

handful of pea pods, trimmed of tough ends and strings

4-5 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced across the cap

2 scallions sliced into rounds using the white and very light green–save the scallion ends for the broth

2 eggs (you might want to make 3 in case one explodes during cooking)

soy sauce


vegetable oil

1/2 package of Japanese curly noodles

cooked meat of your choice (pieces of chicken, slices of cooked pork or beef, even shrimp could work)


1.  To make the eggs, place them in a pot of just boiling water (they can come straight from the fridge or can sit on the counter for a few minutes first) and cook keeping the water just gently bubbling for 6 1/2 minutes.    While the eggs are cooking, half fill a bowl with cold water and ice cubes.  When the eggs are done, immediately place them in the bowl of ice water until they cool.  These can be made an hour or two ahead (or even a day, but then store them in the fridge).

2.  Place the chicken stock, bacon, kombu (if using), ginger and scallion trimmings into a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the bacon has rendered its fat and become limp.  Strain out the bacon, kombu, ginger and scallion ends.  Add soy sauce to taste (but remember more will be added at the table).

3.  In a fry pan, heat 1 T. of vegetable oil over medium heat until hot and add the shiitake mushrooms along with a tablespoon or so of mirin.  Cook until the mushrooms are just beginning to brown and the mirin has evaporated and coated the mushroom slices.

4.  While the mushrooms are cooking place the pea pods in a container of very hot water to soften a bit, then drain.

5.  Bring a pot of water to a boil for the noodles.

6.  Carefully peel the eggs and set them aside.

7.  Reheat the broth, if needed.

8.  Place the 1/2 package of noodles into the boiling water and separate them using a fork or chopsticks.  Cook for approximately 3 minutes, then drain.

9.  To assemble the ramen, place the noodles in the bottom of a bowl and ladel the hot broth over the noodles.  Top with the carrots, pea pods, scallions, and meat.  Hold an egg in your hand and carefully slice in half and immediately transfer to bowl.

10.  Add more soy sauce at the table.

Polenta – soft or crispy

For someone who grew up thinking mashed potatoes were the epitome of comfort food, polenta has been a real revelation–the range of textures and the depth of flavor make it one of my favorite starches to put under ragus or to serve on the side with grilled meats.


4 cups chicken stock (no or low-salt) or water

1 cup water (to be added to stock or water for a total of 5 cups)

1 cup polenta (not instant)

salt to taste (use 2t if only liquid is water, less if main liquid is chicken stock that has salt)

¼ cup grated parmegian reggiano

1 T. unsalted butter


  1.  Bring the 5 cups of chicken stock/ water to a boil in a large pot or pan.
  2.  Slowly add the polenta, stirring all the while with a whisk or wooden spoon to prevent lumps.
  3.  Reduce heat to low and continue stirring until polenta thickens (about 5 minutes).
  4.  With heat on lowest setting, continue cooking, stirring every few minutes so the polenta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, for 20-30 minutes or until all the grains are cooked and soft. If it becomes too stiff and dry, add a little more water.
  5.  Add the parmegian reggiano and, once it is fully incorporated, taste for and correct salt.
  6.  Stir in the butter.

Polenta can be served as is (soft) with a topping of tomato sauce, shredded meat, sautéed vegetables, or even just more parmegian cheese.  It can also be spooned onto a foil-covered or greased flat pan (like a cookie sheet) and cooled.  It can then be cut into pieces and sautéed until browned in either olive oil or butter or (carefully) grilled.


This is one of the easiest, and one of our family’s favorite ways, to use leftover meat from a roast or the grill.  You can put anything that appeals to you in it.  Just make sure you get the potatoes nice and crusty.


½ lb. of lean steak, pork, sausage or chicken  (leftovers work well for this)

2 large or 3 small potatoes (preferably waxy, such as Yukon Gold)

1 small or ½ large yellow onion

1 red pepper

olive oil

salt and pepper


  1.  Peel potatoes and cut into very small dice (1/4″ to 1/3″ cubes) and place in a bowl of water to cover the potatoes.
  2. Cut the onion into either long thin strips or medium dice.
  3. Cut as much red pepper as you like into medium dice (roughly the same size as the potatoes).
  4. Heat a frying pan until quite hot.  If you do not have leftover cooked steak, pork, etc. Add 1 to 2 t. of olive oil to the pan.  Salt and pepper the steak, pork, sausage, etc. Fry in the olive oil, turning once until the steak is medium rare or the pork, chicken or sausage are just cooked through. Remove from pan, tent with foil, and let cool on plate or cutting board.
  5. When meat is cool, cut into pieces of similar size to the potatoes.
  6. While the meat is cooling, turn the heat under the pan to medium, add 1 – 2 T. of olive oil, then the onions, and cook just until wilted.
  7. Increase the heat to medium-high and when hot drain potatoes and add to pan (stand back in case the potatoes splatter in the oil).  Stir or shake pan to evenly distribute potatoes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cover partially (use aluminum foil if no lid is available) for the first 5-10 minutes of cooking.
  8. When potatoes are tender, remove top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and turn the heat back to medium high.  Scrape the potatoes as you mix them in the pan so they brown on all sides and add the cut up mean and red pepper.  Heat through and serve.

Makes enough for two.  Any leftovers will keep for three days refrigerated.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

When I was just out of graduate school, living in a triple-decker in Belmont, Mass., it was always great fun to have a friend come over and to cook dinner together after work.  My dear friend Jane and I made this linguine dish more times than I can count, sharing some wine and many laughs each time.  Once my kitchen and my skills improved, the canned clams were replaced by fresh ones, and the sauce became a bit more complex.  Still, for a simple weeknight meal with a friend, add a salad and you can’t beat this!


1 can of chopped or minced clams

2-3 cloves of garlic

2 T. olive oil

½ cup white wine (as dry as possible)

½ to 1 lb. linguine

freshly ground black pepper

fresh basil or parsley


  1.  Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
  2.  Finely chop the garlic.
  3.  In a large pot or frying pan (big enough to hold the pasta and the sauce) add the olive oil and warm over medium-low heat.  Add the chopped garlic and sauté just until fragrant but do not let it brown.
  4.  Add the can of clams, including the juice.  Add the white wine and cook until just beginning to bubble.  Set aside.
  5.  Cook the pasta and drain thoroughly.
  6.  Add the pasta to the clam sauce, season with salt (if needed), black pepper.
  7. Top with either torn up basil leaves or chopped.

Serves 2-3 (depending on how much pasta you cook and how hungry you are).


Quite a few years ago, my husband was looking for a healthy breakfast he could take with him to work.  Yogurt and granola fit the bill except for the amount of fat in most commercial granolas and the fact that he really doesn’t like dried coconut which is ubiquitous in most preparations.  As a result, I decided to experiment with a granola that would be low in fat, high in fiber and did not contain coconut.  The recipe quickly became a favorite of David’s and of both of our daughters.  I now make it in four pound batches just to keep up with their demand.  The recipe below makes two pounds, but can be doubled if you have more than one sheet pan.


2 lbs. of thick or extra thick rolled oats (not steel cut)

½ cup of dark brown sugar

¼ cup of chopped pecans (or more or less to taste)

¼ cup of slivered or sliced almonds (more or less to taste)

½ cup of canola oil (or other neutral vegetable oil)

½ cup of honey

a pinch of salt

Dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, apricots, blueberries, and banana chips) OPTIONAL


1.  Preheat oven to 275 deg. F.

2.  In a large bowl, using your hands, mix together the oats, the brown sugar and nuts.

3.  Add the oil, honey and the pinch of salt.  Switching to a large, sturdy wooden or metal spoon, mix until the oil and honey are thoroughly distributed throughout the mixture and there are no large clumps (a few small ones are fine).

4. Place the granola on a sheet pan or other large oven-safe shallow pan with sides.

5. Cook for 30-50 minutes depending on how toasty you like it (Sarah prefers lighter, Kate likes hers quite dark).

6.  Immediately upon removing from the oven, using a spatula or large spoon, transfer the granola to a large bowl or storage container to cool.  If you leave it on the pan, it will stick terribly.  Stir the granola every 10-15 minutes as it cools so that it stays separate.

7.  Once it cools, add dried fruit if you wish.

The Fritz’s Famous Fish Chowder

Two summers ago, we spent a wonderful week with friends on Cape Cod in a house overlooking the sea.  I still smile every time I think of it. We would go off on a separate activities during the day and come together in the evening for cocktails and a communal dinner. One of the highlights of the trip for a hardy few was a very early morning fishing trip that resulted in a boatload (almost literally) of fabulous striper.  One night Patty and Craig Fritz turned some of it into this tasty fish chowder.  The credit for the recipe is all theirs and I am grateful they have let me reproduce it here.

The fresher the fish, the better the chowder.


8 T. butter

6 T.  flour

1 large onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

8 cups of milk

2 lbs. of potatoes (preferably red), peeled and diced

3 lbs. fish (preferably striped bass or similar fish), cut into pieces

2 T. chopped parsley

other herbs to taste (thyme is a good choice)


  1.  Melt butter in a stockpot.
  2.  Add onion, celery and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3.  Stir in flour and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring all the while.
  4.  Add milk and potatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender.
  5.  Stir in fish and simmer for 10 minutes or until fish flakes.
  6.  Add parsley and salt, as well as thyme or other seasoning, if using.
  7.  Serve and enjoy.

Serves 8-12, recipe can be halved.

Jamaican-inspired Pork and Rice

An old friend described for me years ago the flavors that he missed most from time spent in Jamaica–the combination of warm  and hot spices.  In his view, no other combination was as comforting.  Growing up, my daughters both grew to agree with him, although one favors the warm spices while the other likes a bit of heat.  This recipe combines both in one of our favorite weeknight meals.

This recipe can easily be doubled or even quadrupled to feed a crowd.


1-2 boneless or bone-in pork chops, or one half of a small pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes

2 T. olive oil or vegetable oil

1 small onion

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 jalapeno pepper (optional if you object to a little spice)

2-3 cloves of garlic

3 T flour

2 cups white wine, preferably dry (if it is sweet you can skip some of the brown sugar)

1/2 cup tomato sauce

⅛ t. cinnamon

⅛ t. ginger

1 T. brown sugar

sturdy pinch of red pepper flakes

cayenne or hot sauce to taste


  1. Place trimmed pieces of pork and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with flour (and salt and pepper) and toss to coat.
  2. Chop onion and red and green peppers into approximately one-inch squares. Finely chop the jalapeno (use gloves if possible) and the garlic.
  3. Heat oil in a large fry or sauté pan that has a lid available over medium heat. When oil is hot, add pork and cook until very brown on all or most sides, turning occasionally. Some of the flour will stick to the pan, don’t worry about it. Remove pork to a dish and set aside.
  4. Add the onions and peppers to the pan and cook until wilted. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or two until you can smell it.
  5. Add the wine and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, stirring vigorously.
  6. Add the tomato sauce, cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar and pepper flakes/cayenne/hot sauce. Mix well and return the pork to the pan. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the Jamaican pork to bubble slowly until the pork is very tender when you pierce it with a sharp knife or the tines of a fork (20 minutes to 35 minutes depending on the size of the pieces).
  7. While the pork is cooking you can make the rice–see below.
  8. When the pork is tender, remove the lid and turn up the heat so the sauce boils and becomes thicker. Turn it off when you reach the thickness you like. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.



¾ cup of long grain rice

1½ cups of water

pinch or two of salt


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a pan with a lid.
  2. Place the pan uncovered on a burner set to medium-high until the water begins to boil.
  3. Turn the heat to medium-low or low depending on how hot the burner, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Check at ten minutes, if the rice is not tender and there is still some water, recover and cook for 3-5 minutes more, checking after a minute or two. If the rice is not tender but the water is gone add a few more tablespoons of water.
  4. Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and leave covered for 2-5 minutes. If you do not want sticky rice, fluff the grains with a fork to separate them.

Makes 2 servings

Sarah’s Chicken and Dumplings

We have a tradition in our family that on a birthday, you can ask for anything you want for dinner.  For Sarah, the answer is almost always the same–Chicken and Dumplings.  These are the old fashioned dumplings that my father used to make, spooned on top of the bubbling chicken and sauce to cook up and absorb flavor.

Note:  The basic dough for the dumplings is taken from Christopher Kimball’s Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook.

3/4 to 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
1 T. olive oil (or butter if you don’t have olive oil)
2 T. sweet butter
1/2 small onion
4 T. flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup frozen peas (4 ounces or 115 grams)
green beans (optional), as many as you want cut into 1 inch long pieces and tips discarded
1 t . either dried tarragon or dried thyme
1 cup flour
½ t. salt
½ t. baking soda
1 egg (beaten and divided in half)
2 T. melted butter
1/3 cup of milk
1 t. lemon juice

Note:  the milk and lemon juice can be replaced with a generous ⅓ cup of buttermilk if you have that on hand.


1. Heat a fry pan over medium-low heat and add the 1 T of olive oil. Place the chicken in a fry pan and cook over medium-low heat covered (with foil if you lack a cover) turning once until breast is just cooked through (about 8-10 minutes)

2. While chicken is cooking, finely chop the half onion.

3. Remove chicken from pan and set aside covered with foil.

4. Prepare the dry ingredients for the dumplings. In a medium to large bowl combine the 1 cup of flour, the ½ t.  salt, and ½ t. baking soda. In a small bowl or cup beat the egg and divide roughly in half (save the other half to use for something else). Melt the 2 T. of butter in a small pan or microwave. Set aside.

4. In a pan or pot that is at least 4″ deep, melt the 2 T. butter over medium-low heat and add the chopped onion. Cook just until the onion is translucent. Add the 4 T. of flour and mix until the butter and the flour are thoroughly combined.

5. Add the chicken stock and raise the heat to medium-high bringing the mixture to a low boil, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce heat back to medium-low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes to finish cooking the flour.

6. While base is simmering, cut the chicken into bite size pieces.

7. Also, while the sauce is simmering, mix the dumplings: add the 1/2 egg, 2 T. melted butter, ⅓ cup milk and 1 t.  lemon juice to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to combine with a large spoon.

7. Add the chicken, peas, green beans (if using) and the tarragon or thyme to the pot and mix throughly to combine. Taste for salt and pepper.

8. Using your large spoon, scoop very large egg-sized portion of the dumplings onto the top of the sauce (they may sink a little). Cover and lower heat to gentle simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until dumplings are cooked through but still tender.

9. Serve and enjoy.

Makes approximately 3 servings.


My daughter Sarah started making risotto when she was in second grade.  She was asked to write down a recipe that she made at home and since she had only been my assistant to that time, she wanted something that was her own to cook.  Since she loved eating risotto and we had a stool tall enough to let her sit at the stove and stir it, a small chef was born.

Note:  This recipe is adapted from one that was created by the great Judy Rogers and appears in the Zuni Cookbook.


2 T. sweet/unsalted butter (1 ounce or 28 grams)
1 small onion
2 pieces of American style bacon or a small piece of ham or 1-2 slices of prosciutto
2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1/4 cup white wine (or 60 ml)
4-5 cups of chicken stock (or just over 1 litre)
1/4 -1/2 cup of grated parmigian cheese (preferably parmigiano reggiano)


1. Chop onion into fine dice.

1. If using American bacon, cut into small dice and cook in a deep wide pot (Dutch oven or similar) until fat has rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon pieces and  reserve.  Add butter to pot to melt. If not using bacon, begin by melting butter in pot.

2. In either case, add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook just until the onion is wilted and translucent.

3. Add the rice and stir until the grains are coated with the fat in the pan.

4. Add the wine and about 2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir as needed until the liquid is absorbed.

5. Add another cup of liquid and follow the same process. After this liquid is absorbed check the risotto for salt (even though the rice is still hard) and add salt now if needed.

6. Continue adding liquid 1/2 cup of the stock at a time until the rice is just tender.

7. Add the parmigian, along with the crisp bacon, the ham or the prosciutto (cut into small pieces, if using), and the pepper and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings so you can have risotto cakes the next day.

Creamy Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is one of those dishes that can easily grow up with us (and has with my daughters)  with the cheese changing (and improving) and the pasta choices becoming more interesting.  it can also play host to a range of other foods, making it a really versatile recipe to have in your repertoire.


1 lb. (450 grams) short dried pasta (elbow macaroni, rotini, etc.)

5T (or 5 c.s.) of sweet (unsalted) butter

5T (or 5 c.s.) of all purpose flour

2-3 cups (475-700 ml) of milk

6 oz. (or 170 grams) of cheddar cheese (you can substitute another

cheese like Gruyere for up to 2 oz. (55 grams) of the cheddar)

1/3 cup (75 grams) of grated parmagian cheese

1/8 t. (or 1/8 c.c.) cayenne pepper

1/4 t. (or 1/4 c.c.) ground nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup of panko or other very dry bread crumbs (optional)

2T of salted butter, melted (optional)


  1.  Preheat the oven to 300 deg. F (gas mark 2).
  2. Grate the cheddar cheese and set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.
  4. Add the pasta and cook until just barely done. Drain well (shaking to get extra water out) and set aside
  5. In a large pot or pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and mix with a whisk until fully incorporated with the butter.
  6. Add 2 cups of the milk slowly, whisking or stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
  7. Raise the heat to medium and keep stirring until the sauce begins to bubble (the flour is through thickening at the point the sauce reaches a low boil).
  8. Reduce the heat to low and add the grated cheddar, the parmesan, the cayenne and the nutmeg. Stir until the the cheese is fully melted. If the sauce is too thick add more milk until it is the consistency you want.
  9. Add the drained pasta to an oven safe dish, pour the cheese sauce over the and stir until the pasta is thoroughly coated.

NOTE: To make this a heartier or more interesting dish you can add crumbled, cooked bacon or pancetta, small pieces of cooked chicken, or cooked vegetables such as broccoli or chopped spinach or anything else that strikes your fancy that is not too wet.

  1. In a small bowl mix the panko and the melted butter, if using, until well blended.  Sprinkle over the mac and cheese
  2. Place in the oven for 15-25 minutes until the crumbs are brown and the mixture is bubbling.  Serve.