Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chilled Soba with Ginger-Jasmine Poached Sole

I don't know about you, but it's a little hot around here these days. Also, I'm done teaching my summer class and my dissertation is starting at me. Guess that means it's time to cook something!

My old room-mate, Lea, introduced me to cold soba on a hot day. (She has a blog, too!) And it's probably been that long since I had them, since my favourite noodle book, Noodle, advocates making your own dashi and I can't be bothered. It's not that I'm not one to leap at the chance to do things "the right way" or make stuff from scratch; it's just that there's something about "high heat and humidity warning"that doesn't groove with simmering fish stock in a small apartment. But then another friend of mine opened my eyes to the fact that there is, in fact, ready-made soba dipping sauce. I don't know why this didn't cross my mind earlier.

Anyways, boring story short, I give you soba-something, loosely based on the chilled soba recipe from Noodle, with jasmine-ginger-poached sole, of my own invention, and chilled cucumber salad.

You need:

For noodles:
4 bundles of soba noodles
water to boil
soba dipping sauce (or make your own!)
3 green onions, sliced thinly

For fish:
4 fillets of sole, or other white fish
enough water to cover in a shallow pan
1 jasmine tea bag
6-8 slices of fresh ginger
1 green onion, sliced
1 tsp sesame oil

For salad:
1 large cucumber
rice vinegar

1. Cook your noodles according to the package directions, then drain and rinse well, until the noodles are cool. Then chill them in the fridge to keep cool. I tossed mine with a bit of sesame oil for good measure.

2. Put all the fish ingredients except the fish in a shallow frying pan, large enough to hold all your fish without overlapping. Let this simmer for 15 minutes, to let the flavours develop.

3. Meanwhile, slice your cucumber thinly. Mix rice vinegar, mirin and salt in the bottom of a medium bowl, and adjust the amounts to taste. Then toss the cucumber in the dressing and put in the fridge to keep cool.

4. Add the fish to the simmering liquid and cook for 15 minutes, never letting the bubbles get big. When the fist flakes easily with a fork, remove it carefully.

Serve the noodles and fish separately, side by side, or stack the fish on top of the chilled noodles; your noodles won't be as cold this way, but the presentation is nicer.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In which there is GARLIC

You know when you leave something for a while and intend to come back really soon and then it's Reading Week and you go out of town and then it's finals time and you're busy with marking and exams and then when you finally get back to it it's been four months and it's May already? Yeah. That happened to me one time, too.

ANYWAYS enough about me. Let's have some food.

I swear one time I had this recipe for some kind of Italian bread stew but I looked for it tonight, because that's what I felt like eating, and all I could find were recipes for Italian bread SALAD or Italian bread SOUP and I didn't want either of those. So I just wung it. (Wung is the past tense of wing, in case you didn't know.) Actually, I'm kind of in the process of winging it right now, so if you ever see this, it means I was successful. If not, then I guess you're not reading this right now. Who knows, maybe after four months no one is reading it anyways!

If you feel like eating my made-up recipe for Italian bread STEW, then you need the following:

3 cups of cubed stale bread
1 large tin of diced tomatoes
1.5 c cooked white beans
1 diced onion
1-5 cloves of garlic, minced (I used 5 because I'm on Team Buffy)
[Optional: some diced prosciutto, which I used because it was in my freezer and I felt like it]
1 diced carrot
two bay leaves
fresh or dried basil to taste. I added about 3 TBS fresh chopped that I had frozen from the summer!
a sprig of fresh rosemary or a bit of dried rosemary
olive oil
garlic salt (if you are so inclined)
salt and pepper
some lovely minced parsley

1. Start by heating a glug of olive oil in a deep-ish pan. Sautee your onions and your prosciutto, if you're using it. Then add the garlic and cook until it's fragrant.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients (down to where it says olive oil) and cover and cook for 10 more minutes on medium and then on low for another 30 minutes.

3. In the last 10 minutes, heat some more olive oil in another pan. Toast the breadcrumbs in the olive oil, tossing with garlic salt to taste. GARLIC! I would recommend watching the breadcrumbs closely as some of mine got a bit overly toasted and had to be eaten before their time.

4. Taste the stew for seasonings and adjust if you need to. When your breadcrumbs are all toasty and garlicky,  serve the stew in bowls and top with a heap of breadcrumbs! And parsley! You could even sprinkle some parmesan cheese on there if you were really feeling decadent!

VERDICT: DELICIOUS. Hence my posting of it here.

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Monday, January 10, 2011


This loaf, despite being completely vegetarian, has all the familiar comforting taste of a genuine meatloaf, especially when you add the slightly sweet, rich, ketchupy glaze part way through the cooking. And, unlike a regular meatloaf, this one has NINE GRAMS of fiber per slice. NINE. So if your New Year's Resolutions involve eating healthier, this recipe is for you. (Even if you don't have New Year's Resolutions that involve food, sometimes it's a good idea to take a break from meat once in a while. It's cheaper, for one thing, and it's better for you and the environment.)

Part of the secret to how good, and how like a traditional meatloaf this one tastes is because of two secret ingredients. That's right, not one, but two secret ingredients. The first is steak sauce. The original recipe called for A-1 sauce, but we prefer HP so that's what I used, and lots of it. The second, very surprising, secret ingredient is finely chopped dates. I know. But they add a sweet, sticky texture that actually mimics meat surprisingly well. I wouldn't leave them out if I were you.

I'll warn you, though, that it's not as quick a meal to throw together as an actual meat-meat-loaf. If you add up the times on the page of the original recipe, even they have underestimated by at least 20 minutes by their own count. I would say allow 30 minutes for prep, but using the food-processor for everything will speed stuff up. I had to cook my rice as well as my lentils, so that also added time to the recipe, despite my renowned talent for multi-tasking.

I don't want to scare you off, though, because the results are amazing.

So! Now that I've rambled sufficiently, here is the recipe, which I've altered slightly from the original. It makes one large loaf, which we managed to cut into 9 slices. We ate the leftovers the next night and they were equally tasty.

You need:

A food processor (you will save yourself a lot of headache, trust me.)
1 cup dry brown lentils
2 medium carrots, grated or shredded
1 cup finely diced dates (I did mine in the food processor)
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons HP sauce
1/2 cup ground or very finely minced pecans (did 'em in the good ole food processor)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3 large eggs

Sauce for Topping Loaf:
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

First, note that you can do all your chopping in the food processor. You might as well, because you need it anyway to get the lentils the right texture, so if it's already got to be out, you may as well take advantage of it. Do the pecans first, then do the onion, celery, and carrot, and lastly the dates, because they are sticky and you  want to minimize the cleaning effort.

1. Cook your lentils in plenty of boiling water for about 20 minutes, or until they're very soft but not yet mush. Drain them really well and set aside to drain more.

2. Meanwhile, sautee the onion, carrot, celery, and dates in the butter over medium high heat for 6-8 minutes, until things are getting soft (like the onions) and there isn't a lot of liquid. You should stir a lot to make sure all the liquid gets a chance to evaporate. Add the garlic, cumin, soy sauce, and HP sauce and cook for another minute.

3. Pulse the lentils in the food processor until they're smooth. Put them in a big bowl. Pulse the cooked vegetables in the food processor until they're smooth. Add them to the lentils in the big bowl. Mix all this well and make sure it's cool enough to not cook eggs.

4. Add the rest of the ingredients for the loaf to the bowl and mix well. Make a sling with tin foil and put it in the bottom of a loaf pan. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan for easy removal. Spoon in your loaf mixture and cook for 20 minutes at 375ºF.

5. While it's cooking, add the sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and cook on low for 5 minutes, until thickened. After your loaf has cooked for its 20 minutes, take it out and slather it with the sauce. Then put the loaf back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

6. Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve as you would normally serve meatloaf! In our house, that means with lots of ketchup.

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