Classic Cold Soba

Classic Cold Soba makes a great summer dinner as the noodles are served room temperature or even cold. We like to serve the noodles with sliced leftover roast pork, such as leftover Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Maple Chipotle Sauce. Steamed Edamame makes a nice accompaniment as well. To find the soba noodles, the dashi kombu and the bonito flakes that the recipe requires, you will probably have to venture to an Asian grocery. Once you have them though, they last a long time. We now buy these ingredients in fairly large quantities and always have them on hand. For convenience, I am reproducing the recipe we use here. However, this information has been gleaned from two different sources and combined into one. The first source is and the second is I quickly tired of paging through multiple page documents every time I wanted to make this, and so here is a more user-friendly version.

Classic Cold Soba


For the Dashi:

2 C cold water
6 g dashi kombu (a kind of flat seaweed)
15 g bonito flakes

For the Dipping Sauce:

1 1/2 C prepared Dashi
1/2 C Soy Sauce
1/2 C Mirin
1/4 tsp granulated sugar

For the noodles:

1 package soba noodles
Large pot of water, salted liberally


In a small saucepan, combine the cold water and the dashi kombu. On medium heat, bring to a near boil. Remove the dashi kombu. Take off the heat, and add in the bonito flakes. Steep for two minutes. Strain in a strainer lined with a coffee liner or a paper towel.

Measure the dashi to 1 1/2 cups. Rinse out the saucepan and return the dashi to the saucepan. Add the soy sauce, mirin and granulated sugar. On medium heat, bring to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Bring the large pot of liberally salted water to a rolling boil. Add the soba noodles, stir once, and boil for 5 minutes. Noodles should be tender when done. Remove from the boiling water and put straight into cold water until ready to serve.

Serve noodles with individual bowls of dipping sauce.

Leftover noodles and sauce will keep a few days in the refrigerator, but you should store them in separate containers.


Beef Stroganoff over Buttered Noodles

Beef Stroganoff over Buttered Noodles first existed in our house as a list of ingredients handwritten on a sticky note that my husband had jotted down while watching Tyler Florence make it on television. After a quick trip to the grocery store, my husband used that sticky note to reproduce the same recipe in our kitchen. This sticks in my mind as a long-term memory because it prompted one of the first and most significant friendly arguments we have ever had about food and cooking. Simply put, the recipe calls for cognac, and since we didn’t have cognac, (we still don’t) he decided to use beer instead. I thought he was crazy and told him so. I figured there was no way he could substitute beer for cognac given their different attributes. Beer is darker, I reasoned, and bubbly while cognac is not etc. He insisted it would work. Of course, it was delicious made with beer. After this experience, I learned to trust his cooking instincts. He’s usually right.

If you want to make this and use beer instead, just use half the bottle. The other half, of course, goes to the chef. We try to avoid cooking with IPAs, chocolate stouts and Guinness, but pretty much anything else will work and be great. The original recipe only calls for a couple of tablespoons of cognac, so you would want to use a bit less beef stock as well to avoid the sauce being too watery.

Pad Thai with Shrimp

Pad Thai with Shrimp is an Alton Brown recipe from Food Network. I have re-written his recipe for a couple of reasons. First, his original recipe only makes two servings. I try to have all of my tried-and-true recipes sized appropriately for my family. We like leftovers for weekday lunches, so I quadrupled his recipe. Second, there is a lot going on in his original recipe, perhaps too much definitely more than we are able to manage for a week night dinner. And honestly, more than it needs. For this reason, I have left a few things out, like marinated tofu, salted cabbage and dried shrimp. The remaining ingredients can be purchased in any decent mom-and-pop Asian grocery store. The rice noodles I like to put in a bowl in hot tap water a couple of hours before I want to use them. My 12-year-old gets home at 4:30pm and this is an easy job for her to do.

Pad Thai with Shrimp
adapted from Alton Brown of Food Network


12 – 16 oz thin rice stick noodles
1/2 C fish sauce
1 block palm sugar
1/4 C rice wine vinegar
4 oz tamarind paste
Canola oil
1 bunch scallions, chopped
8 tsp minced garlic (1/8 C + 2 tsp)
3 whole eggs, beaten slightly
12 oz shrimp, shells removed and deveined
Bean sprouts
Roasted salted peanuts, chopped


One to two hours ahead of time, place the rice stick noodles in a mixing bowl and cover with hot tap water. Let sit until ready to start cooking. Drain.

Combine the fish sauce, palm sugar, rice wine vinegar and tamarind paste in a small bowl and set aside.

Place wok over high heat. Once hot, add enough oil to coat. Heat until the oil shimmers. Add about 2/3 of the scallions and then the garlic, and cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the eggs to the pan; once the eggs begin to set up, about 15 to 20 seconds, stir to scramble. Add the remaining ingredients in the following order and toss after each addition: noodles, sauce, shrimp, a couple of handfuls of bean sprouts, and a handful of peanuts. Toss until shrimp are pink and everything is heated through.

Garnish with remaining scallions, and more bean sprouts and peanuts.

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Spaghetti

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Spaghetti is the spaghetti sauce of my childhood. Less acidic, more sweet than most, it wasn’t the only spaghetti sauce that I liked, but it was special. The only time spaghetti had this taste was at my grandma’s house. I couldn’t have told you when I was a child that she used canned tomato soup. Even though I rarely use processed ingredients in my recipes, one bite of this spaghetti and I’m eight years old again, eating spaghetti on Grandma’s blue and white china plates.

Of course, Grandma didn’t really hand me the recipe, so what I’ve written here is my interpretation of her description of making the dish. She started out, “Well, first you fry up your celery and your onion . . .” Enough said. She told me that she uses Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil and garlic powder for the seasonings, but I found similar recipes online that suggested the oregano and basil in place of the Mrs. Dash.


1 Tbs olive oil
1 large celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 a large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, fresh ground
1 pound hamburger
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
2 cans Campbell’s Tomato Soup
1 Tbs Worchestershire Sauce
1/2 C of the pasta water, reserved
1 pound of dry spaghetti noodles


Fill a large pasta pot with water and place on the stove, covered, on high heat.

Put olive oil in a large, wide skillet, turning to coat, and put on another burner on medium. When the olive oil is heated through, add the celery, onion and fresh garlic, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Cook for a few minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the hamburger and a bit more salt and some fresh ground black pepper and continue cooking. When the hamburger is cooked through, add the garlic powder, oregano and basil.

Keep the sauce covered on low heat while you finish the pasta. The sauce should always wait for the pasta; the pasta should never wait for the sauce. When the pasta water is boiling, add kosher salt until the water tastes like the ocean. Then add the dry spaghetti noodles. Cook according to package directions. When finished, reserve 1/2 cup of the water before you drain the noodles.

Once the noodles are drained, return them to the now empty pasta pot, without the pasta insert. Add the Worchestershire Sauce and the 1/2 cup of pasta water to the sauce. Taste, and add salt or black pepper as needed. Pour all of the sauce over the pasta in the pasta pot and toss with tongs to combine.

Serve immediately. Makes about 6 servings.

Mac Salad from a Plate Lunch

Mac Salad from a Plate Lunch is the only macaroni salad recipe I have ever really liked. Most macaroni salads that I have been served have goofiness such as bay shrimp, green onion, celery or cubes of ham. This recipe is basically just cold macaroni in a creamy dressing, and it’s total comfort food. You would be hard-pressed to argue that there is anything healthy about this recipe, so we don’t make it often. When we do make it though, we usually go whole-hog and have teriyaki chicken and steamed rice as well. This recipe also works well for potlucks and barbecues because it makes a lot of salad without a lot of extra effort. It is unusual for me to take to a recipe like this because the author doesn’t give exact amounts for anything; I hate that, usually. In this case, however, the descriptions are apt and the resulting salad has always turned out fantastic for me.