Time for our fall version of the Guest Countertop Series. This month I interviewed Alaina Hee. She’s a fabulous cook with both Italian expertise and Chinese heritage – which makes for a persistent interest in blending unexpected cuisines – basically everything we love here at The Coastal Countertop. Alaina and I sat down and talked food – and then she taught me how to make pasta by hand, from scratch. Read on!
+What are your favorite ingredients to use?
I tend to blend Asian and Latino flavors in my cooking and really believe that cilantro is always a good addition.
+Essentials you must have stocked in your kitchen at all times?
Cilantro, black beans, olive oil, sesame oil, rice, eggs, garlic, herbs, red onion, soy sauce and spam (yes, spam). My fridge is also stocked with a variety of cheeses at all times.
+ Aside from your KitchenAid, which kitchen tools can you not live without?
My next go-to kitchen tool would probably be my rice cooker. When I moved to San Francisco that was one of the first things I bought for my apartment. Then I would say a really good knife – I’m in love with my Santoku.
+What’s your go-to cookbook right now?
I have to admit that I am currently obsessed with Gwyneth Paltrow. Her cookbook My Father’s Daughter has a lot of great recipes – a collection of both health conscious dishes and some things to indulge in. I made her fried brown rice with kale and scallions for dinner tonight and it was great!
+What’s next on your list to try?
I want to continue exploring pastas and want to make butternut squash ravioli soon, but my next big meal is going to be Gwyneth’s “Perfect Roasted Chinese Duck.” Chinese duck is one of my all-time favorite things to eat and I would love to have this recipe in my back pocket.
+Guilty Cooking Show Pleasures?
I’m a Top Chef girl, but when it comes to the Food Network I love Iron Chef America. My dad and I used to watch the original Iron Chef with the Japanese subtitles and I still enjoy watching Morimoto take down his competitors in Kitchen Stadium. I also like to watch Chopped and imagine what I would do if I were dealt that basket. I can get pretty invested.
+Celebrity Chef Crush?
Fabio Viviani from Top Chef. Maybe it’s the accent or it reminds me of my days in Italy, but I would LOVE to meet Fabio.
- 2 large eggs
- 10 large egg yolks
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for kneading
- pinch of salt
- Whisk eggs together in a bowl.
- Put the flour in a bowl and make a small well in the middle. Mix eggs and flour and knead it until a dough forms. Depending on how sticky the dough is, you can add more flour here.
- Let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes before moving on.
- If you don’t have a pasta machine, dust a large cutting board (or clean counter) and roll the dough into long thin rectangles – the thickness of the dough here will be the thickness of your noodles so be careful!
- Fold the pasta over itself (top right image above)
- Cut the pasta with a knife to the desired width. Unfold to reveal noodle size. If unhappy at this point, start over at step 4.
- Bring a large pot to boil and add salt.
- Cook the noodles for 3-4 minutes until al dente – fresh noodles cook very quickly!
- Drain and top with a sauce of your choice. Enjoy!