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What’s your Pasta?

Pasta comes in all colours, shapes, and sizes. It’s also one of Matchachoco’s favourite dishes, and I noticed that we’ve featured a couple of pasta dishes here on the blog. We also love trying out all sorts of unique types!

Featured in here are: coloured bowties, orzo, long fusilli, mushroom fettuccine, and gnocchi pasta.

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Some of these pastas have been featured in previous blog posts such as Colourful Heirloom Tomatoes with Basil Pasta Salad and Balsamic Kale and Cranberry Pasta, while I’m still planning on doing future blog posts on the others. Some other unique pasta shapes we’ve tried before that are not in the photos are Biciclette Tricolori Pesto Pasta with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes and Festosi Pasta with Light Lemon Zest Cream sauce.

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I’m still planning on making my own pasta from scratch one day (once I get a pasta maker!). But in the mean time, I’ll just be collecting unique types of pasta for now 😛

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IMG_0638Coloured Bowties
I got these on sale from Winners, otherwise they are quite pricey! They are mostly naturally coloured, made with beets, tumeric, and black squid, except for the blue pasta which is made with blue curacao. These bowties are great for pasta salads or any pasta dish that has a clear sauce.

IMG_0635Orzo
Is it rice or pasta? Orzo I thought (I’m sorry I’ve been waiting for so long, to use that pun). Basically, orzo is a pasta shaped like rice.

IMG_0633“Gnocchi” pasta
My mom got these for me from Winners. I recently used this pasta for my kale and balsamic pasta dish. This pasta is great with dishes with meat or vegetable pieces as those pieces stick to the hollow areas of the pasta. This pasta is often confused with gnocchi, the doughy type of dumplings, which is also a popular Italian dish.

IMG_0640Mushroom Fettuccine
This pasta was bought from Winners (again). There’s actually a lot of unique  pasta finds at Winners, and even better when they go on sale! What I love about this pasta is that it smells like cream of mushroom soup when I cook them in water. The mushroom taste in this pasta is very subtle, though. To get the ultimate mushroom experience, serve this pasta with mixed mushrooms.

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Long Fusilli
I love the whimsical shape of this pasta! I think this pasta is great with oil-based sauces, such as pesto, and it also makes your plate look fuller because of the curls.

So what’s your favourite pasta? 😛

– Ricelessasian

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Balsamic Kale and Cranberry Pasta

It’s that time of the year again! Leaves are turning brown, everything is pumpkin-spiced, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. This week is also my reading week at school, so I get to have some time to cook/bake again 😀

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Here’s a dish inspired by Laura Vitale’s Kale with Cranberries and Balsamic. This is one of my favorite ways to cook kale, and the cranberries give the dish some sweetness and a Thanksgiving feel to it.  I added pasta (I’m not really sure what type of pasta I used, but it’s a cool shape!) and some toasted walnuts to Laura’s recipe. I love the combination of ingredients, and I think it makes such a light and healthy autumn-themed dish, in contrast to Thanksgiving dishes which tend to be very heavy. If you like, you can finish it off with a sprinkling of some Parmesan cheese.

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This dish could be part of the Thanksgiving table as a light alternative, or if you’re looking for a recipe to make using leftover turkey, it can be included to the dish as well for added protein.

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Hope you’re having a great Autumn!

Kale me maybe,

– Ricelessasian

Cooking for One: Colourful Heirloom Tomato and Basil Pasta Salad

It’s too pretty to eat…

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Here’s another Cooking for One recipe and a very simple and colourful one as well!

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I think I get easily amused with weird pasta shapes and colours (as evidenced by this previous post and this one), so I was really happy when I found these coloured bowtie pasta on sale at Winners. These bowties were naturally coloured with turmeric, beets, and squid ink. The red portion of the pasta becomes a little dull after cooking the pasta, but the black and yellow parts remain vibrant after cooking. I’m inspired to colour my own pasta from scratch, but first I’m going to need to find out where I can get my hands on squid ink and a pasta maker!

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Since these bowties are so colourful, I thought about pairing the pasta with some colourful heirloom tomatoes. I was thinking of what kind of pasta dish to make, and I decided to stick to something simple.

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Although it’s very simple, it turned out pretty well for a dish that does not require a lot of ingredients and effort. It’s convenient to pack for lunch and also portion controlled (lol).

Eat the rainbow,

– Ricelessasian

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Colourful Heirloom Tomato and Basil Pasta Salad (Serves 1)
Adapted from All Recipes

Ingredients*

~1 cup of coloured bowtie pasta
1/4 cup of chopped heirloom tomatoes, including the juice released
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 large basil leaves, chopped
1/4 – 1/2 clove of garlic, finely minced
2-3 tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

*Adjust amount of ingredients according to your taste. Experiment by adding ingredients such as onions, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and olives. This is just a guide to how much I used for one serving, and I just used what I had at home.

Directions

  1. In a non-reactive bowl, mix together olive oil, heirloom tomatoes, chopped basil leaves, and finely minced garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let this mixture sit while you are cooking the pasta. TIP: If you don’t like the taste of raw garlic, you can sauté the garlic in olive oil first before mixing all the ingredients.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, toss warm pasta with the heirloom tomato mixture. Toss with crumbled feta cheese. Eat it as it is, or refrigerate and eat it as a cold pasta salad.

Matcha Christmas Tree Cupcakes

O’Christmas tree, o’christmas tree…

It’s our favourite time of the year! For UCL’s first Christmas post, Ricelessasian and I decided to make our signature Matcha Chocolate Cupcakes…with a twist of course!

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Besides the natural green colour matcha provides, we love using it because it gives a subtle hint of tea flavour when used in small quantities. It’s a versatile ingredient that goes well with anything really, even mixed in oatmeal! I usually buy my premium matcha powder from Ten Ren Tea shop and it lasts for at least a year, which gives me plenty of time to make them frequently for birthdays or other events.

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To fit the theme of Christmas, we piped the cupcakes frosting into the shape of a tree and everything else fell into place. Honestly, half of the fun was going with Ricelessasian to Bulk-barn to buy all the neat little decorations – the tiny gingerbread men, the miniature snow-flakes and the red glitter! We had a blast shopping for what decorations would be on our ‘Matcha tree’ so much that we were giddy when we left the store!

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For the chocolate cupcake base, we used the same chocolate cupcake recipe from our Ghostly Halloween cupcakes.

For the matcha frosting,  the frosting has to have a fluffy, stable consistency so it can be piped into a tree. We recommend using an American buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, or Ermine frosting recipe. Omit the vanilla flavouring and add matcha powder 1 teaspoon at a time to the frosting recipe according to your liking. The frosting we used for the photos is Swiss meringue buttercream.

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To give the cupcakes a snowy effect, we sprinkled them with powdered sugar.

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We’d love to hear what you’re baking this holiday season! Feel free to leave us a comment 🙂 Keep posted for our upcoming entries this month and the exciting things that are store for us in 2014!

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Happy holidays and as always, happy baking,

-Matchachoco

Simple Vegetarian Bibimbap (Korean Mixed Rice)

I simply love bibimbap! Whenever I go to a Korean restaurant, I would usually get their bibimbap. I love how the meat and vegetables are arranged accordingly over hot Japanese rice, and it tastes just as appetizing as it looks.  Just remember to mix all the ingredients with the gochujang sauce (red pepper sauce)! The first time I had bibimbap I did not know I was supposed to mix all the ingredients together with the gochujang sauce. Silly me.

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There are many  recipe variations for making bibimbap. Usually, bibimbap would consist of one type of meat, an egg, and various vegetable toppings. The vegetable toppings are varied from place to place, but I find that zucchini, carrots, bean sprouts, spinach and mushrooms are very common toppings.  Sometimes it’s topped with a sunny side up egg or a raw egg yolk. Bibimbap can be served over a plain bowl or stone bowl (dolsot). I prefer the stone bowl version because the rice gets crispy at the bottom and it’s usually topped with a raw egg yolk that gets cooked as you mix the bibimbap (I think it’s creamier with the raw egg yolk). Here’s a simplified vegetarian  version of how I usually make bibimbap at home. I don’t have a stone bowl, but this one is good enough to recreate one of my favourite Korean dishes at home.

– Ricelessasian

(oh, the irony of my name!)

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Bibimbap (serves 2)
Adapted from Maangchi

Ingredients

2 – 2 1/2 cups of cooked Japanese rice
Half a bunch of spinach
1/2 cup julienne-cut carrots
1/2 cup julienne-cut zucchini
1 1/2 cup bean sprouts
4-6 button mushrooms
4-6  shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup nori strips
2 eggs (one egg for each bowl)
Cooking oil
Sesame oil
Soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Directions

  1. Cook spinach over boiling hot water for about 1-2 minutes. Rinse cooked spinach with cold water and squeeze the excess water with paper towel. Add a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil to the spinach. Add some salt if desired. Set spinach aside.
  2. Cook bean sprouts over boiling hot water for about 2-3 minutes. Drain cooked bean sprouts. Add a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil to the spinach. Add some salt if desired. Set bean sprouts aside.
  3. Stir-fry carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms independently. Season with salt and pepper. Set the stir-fried vegetables aside.
  4. Cook sunny side up egg.
  5. In a large bowl, place about a cup of cooked Japanese rice. Arrange vegetable ingredients and nori strips accordingly. Top with the sunny side up egg. Garnish with sesame seeds.

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Gochujang sauce

For the gochujang sauce, I halved the amount of ingredients from this recipe. Instead of using honey, I added about 1/2 – 1 tsp of finely grated garlic.

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To eat bibimbap, mix everything together with the gochujang sauce. Adjust the amount of gochujang sauce to your liking. Serve with a side of kimchi if desired.

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The universe favours an increase in entropy and so does your bibimbap!

Alternatively, you can serve bibimbap already mixed in. I used my heart and star shaped rice molders for a fancy presentation.

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Roasted Vegetables Pesto Pasta

We’re still blogging!

Matchachoco and I are currently taking a break from baking (calm before the storm?). In the meantime, do enjoy this roasted vegetable pesto pasta :).

-Ricelessasian

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Roasted Vegetables Pesto Pasta (serves 4-5)

Ingredients

1 Japanese eggplant
1 zucchini
1 yellow zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1 onion
1 garlic bulb
2-3 tbsp cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste

~300 g spaghetti
6 tbsp. basil pesto
Juice of half a lemon
1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Directions

Roast vegetables

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Chop zucchini, yellow zucchini, eggplant, red bell pepper and onion into even pieces. Peel garlic cloves but do not chop.
  3. In a bowl, combine zucchini, yellow zucchini, eggplant, red bell pepper, garlic cloves, 1-2 tbsp. cooking oil, and salt and pepper. Mix together until the vegetables are coated with the cooking oil. Repeat step in separate bowl with onion and grape tomatoes.
  4. Lay out zucchini, yellow zucchini, eggplant, red bell pepper and garlic cloves in one even layer over two baking trays. Laying out the vegetables in one even layer will allow the vegetables to roast properly. Repeat step in a separate baking tray with onion and grape tomatoes.
  5. Roast zucchini, yellow zucchini, eggplant, red bell pepper and garlic cloves in the oven for about 30 minutes. Roast onion and grape tomatoes in the oven for about 20 minutes. Rotate baking tray and toss vegetables mid-way for even roasting.

Prepare pasta

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. While the pasta is still hot, mix in basil pesto, lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Top pasta with roasted vegetables. If the pesto sauce is a little bit dry, add a little bit of the starchy cooking water from the pasta.

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IMG_2832Before roasting:IMG_2841
After roasting:
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There’s something so special about the taste of roasted vegetables. The taste is not the same if you stir fry or boil veggies. By roasting vegetables, the flavours intensify and the veggies taste sweet because of caramelization. Not to mention, caramelization is my favourite non-enzymatic browning :).

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