Hand-Ripped Noodles Made Easy
The folks at Xi'an Famous Foods have made their addictively good hand-ripped noodles even more so by offering a series of DIY kits for preparing them at home. Each of the four kits— spicy cumin lamb; spicy and tingly beef; Mt. Qi pork; and hot oil-seared noodles—contains all the ingredients needed to make the dishes right off Xi’an Famous Foods’ menu. The noodles, of course, are the fun part. The kits include four pieces of dough ready to be pulled and ripped into noodles. And the results were fantastic. The noodles are slippery and chewy, and the sauces that come with the kits are amazing, with sophisticated, intense and satisfying flavors. Each kit makes four servings. They are available starting at $38 on Xiankits.com.
A Schmear of Umami
We love the way umami-packed anchovies deliver deep, savory flavor without tasting overtly fishy. So we were intrigued to learn about Fortnum’s Spiced Anchovy Relish, a smooth paste that the company calls “an armada of anchovy.” Rich and robust, this paste can be spread (sparingly) directly onto bread for a savory treat. But it also is perfect for dressings and pastas or to create a smooth bagna cauda dip for vegetables. A tiny dab adds umami to tomato sauces and dressings. We also like it stirred into lemony Caesar salad dressings, mixed with mayonnaise for an earthy egg salad, combined with butter for a deep finish on grilled steaks, or mixed with fresh ricotta on a cheese board to slather onto crostini. Available for about $21 from fortnumandmason.com.
Washing Up, Chainmail Style
Scrubbing stuck food from your carefully seasoned cast-iron pots and pans can be a miserable task. Sponges often aren’t up to the task. And if they are, they are as likely to wash away the seasoning as the grime. It’s why we were so excited to learn about chainmail scrubbers, small “rags” made from stainless steel links. They are beefy enough to remove even the toughest scorched- on food, yet gentle enough to spare the finish on cast-iron and carbon steel pans. They’re also great on stainless steel, but skip the nonstick pans. Scrubbers available starting at $25.95 at store.177MilkStreet.com.
The Greater Ginger Grater
Tired of scraping our knuckles while grating fresh ginger on rasp-style graters, we went in search of a better way. And the solution was even better than we’d imagined! The moHA! Ginger Grater features blades that are arranged in all directions, allowing for speedier, easier and more even grating. And when you rotate the device, an integrated cleaning arm sweeps in a circular motion, scraping the shavings off the blades so all of the food ends up in your recipe, not stuck in crevices. A small compartment catches the shavings for less mess and easier measuring. Plus, the concave sides are comfortable to hold and allow you to keep a firm grip during use. Available for $15.95 at store.177MilkStreet.com.
Strumming up Great Pasta
We don’t often make pasta from scratch, but the alluringly named chitarra might just get us to do so more often. Named for the guitar-like strings that stretch across it, the chitarra is a wonderfully old-school tool from southern Italy for cutting sheets of pasta dough into thin spaghetti-like strands. Numerous models are available online; many have two sides, with the strings spaced at different intervals for varying widths of pasta. Available for $79.99 from fantes.com.
Pressed for Better Tofu
One of the easiest ways to improve the taste and texture of tofu is to press it, which removes excess water. This gives it a meatier mouthfeel and allows it to sear better and absorb more flavor. Plenty of devices do this, but many are large or leak water. That’s why we love TofuBud. Just a bit larger than a 14-ounce block of tofu, it combines a strong, spring-loaded press with a plastic container for liquid. It also has a spout to easily pour off the water as it collects. Available for $35.95 at TofuBud.com.
Pesto Genovese may be a classic, but basil and pine nuts are just the start. The term “pesto” comes from the Italian verb “pestare,” which means to crush—and pretty much anything that can be crushed can be made into a pesto. So we asked the creative minds in the Milk Street Facebook Community to share their favorite alternative pestos.
Carol McClendon, of Houston, likes to make a spicy, smoky, Mexican- inspired pesto from chipotle chilies, pumpkin seeds, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and cotija cheese. We love it with cooked pasta, but it’s also delicious in a quesadilla. Or try it on roasted winter squash or grilled chicken or pork chops.
Jason Lewis, of Philadelphia, roasts butternut squash and red onion, then finishes them with a tahini-lemon-garlic sauce and a dusting of za’atar, the Middle Eastern herb, spice and seed blend.
Mia Liberman, of Watertown, Massachusetts, makes a colorful pesto with roasted beets. Toasted walnuts and salty Parmesan complement the beets’ natural sweetness, and a little lemon wakes up the flavors. Store-bought cooked beets make this easy to throw together. Liberman likes the pesto on pasta and pizza. We also think it makes a great sandwich spread.
For Milk Street’s versions of all three recipes, go to 177milkstreet.com/communityrecipes.