Sesame Noodles

IMG_3548Oh, hello there. It's been a while. And a lot has happened since my last post–I'm officially a California resident (not used to it yet), we moved into an apartment and bought a car (my first!) All very exciting, but one of the things I was most excited about when we found our place (which was a process, as anyone who's looked for housing in the Bay Area recently knows) was the fact that I could cook again. After staying with very generous family and friends for more than six weeks, you can bet that I was anxious to get back in the kitchen, and the first thing I made when we were moved in were these sesame noodles. IMG_3549

Sesame noodles were my go-to order from our local Chinese takeout in Brooklyn, and I haven't found a place in Oakland (yet) that makes the same kind–so when I found this recipe from the New York Times, it seemed to perfect to pass up.

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These noodles come together in minutes and satisfied my craving for takeout Chinese exactly–now I just have to learn how to make scallion pancakes and I'll be all set.

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Sesame Noodles (modified from The New York Times)

1 pound Chinese egg noodles (1/8-inch-thick), frozen or (preferably) fresh, available in Asian markets

2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus a splash

3 ½ tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar

tablespoons tahini

tablespoons smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons chili-garlic paste, or to taste

Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch by 1/8-inch by 2-inch sticks

¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes; they should retain a hint of chewiness. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and toss with a splash of sesame oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the soy sauce, rice vinegar, tahini, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic and chili-garlic paste.

Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with cucumber and peanuts.

Ladurée

I am a little embarrassed to say this. I'm not a very patient person, so I don't particularly like waiting in lines, whether it's at the bank or to get into a bar. However, I waited in line, in the cold, for 20 minutes to buy macarons. Yes, those little French cookies that seem to be made of air and butter and goodness.I first heard about Ladurée when I was visiting friends in Paris during my semester abroad during college. We couldn't afford many dinners out, but all of us could afford a cappuccino and an exquisite little cake at Ladurée, one of the oldest pâtisseries in Paris and the inventor of the macaron as we know it. They now have several locations, but the one we went to felt like stepping back into a 19th century salon. You almost expected women in bustled gowns and men with top hats to step through the doors at any moment. I don't remember what I ordered, but I know it was some combination of hazelnut and chocolate deliciousness. We left feeling incredibly elegant and sophisticated, proud that even we, on college student's budgets, could afford some of the luxuries of Paris. Imagine my excitement when I heard that Ladurée was opening its first American outpost right here in New York over the summer. Being that the Upper East Side is a very long ways from Brooklyn, and the lines were around the block, I stayed away for months. However, on Friday I gave into my longings and ventured up to Madison Avenue and waited in line. It was cold, but everyone who was waiting was so excited just to get inside the pastel-colored shop. The macarons were artfully arranged by flavor, and you have the option to buy exquisite boxes by the dozen. I decided on six flavors -- cinnamon-raisin, sea-salt caramel, vanilla, lemon, coconut, and raspberry. To be honest, I was still a little hesitant since the macarons are flown in from Paris every day, which seems slightly excessive. However, after the first bite of sea-salt and caramel, all of my doubts melted away. I have had macarons before, but this was entriely different. The cookie was soft but with a lovely crunch to the outside, and the filling was pure caramel -- spiked with a hint of salt to keep it from being overly sweet. The following flavors were just as wonderful. It's not something I could spring for every day, but it's nice to know that there is a little slice of Paris in New York.