Sunday, March 28, 2010

Soba with Mushroom Broth, Cabbage and yams.

I've been going through my back issues of Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines the last few months, pulling out recipes I think I'd actually make and putting them in my recipe scrapbooks. Sometimes I feel kind of guilty because I'm great at scrapbooking recipes, but my kids' pictures are all in a box molding downstairs. Well, the pictures don't keep multiplying in piles that we trip over in our living room like the cooking magazines do. The latest pictures are all multiplying tidily on the computer now.

Anyway, there was a recipe that looked great to me in a Bon Appetit. Looked great is the pivotal phrase. The picture was so beautiful: Udon with mushroom broth, cabbage, and yams.
I wanted to tweak it a bit -I had purple cabbage instead of napa, and wanted to use buckwheat soba just for the whole grain factor, and I also had those Chilean porcinis I wanted to use for the broth instead of the shitakes they suggested. It still turned out yummy, and the purple cabbage turned a stunning bright blue when blanched.
You blanch all of your vegetables, noodles, and tofu separately and then add them to your broth at serving time. If you decide to make this though, I would encourage you to salt your blanching water really well. The vegetables need that little seasoning it gives.

The broth is the masterpiece though. With those mushrooms simmering in it for an hour, and the lemon grass, and coriander and ginger, it makes the whole house smelled wonderful. I started with a good vegetable boullion for the base since I didn't have vegetable stock made, and it turned out just fine. The mushrooms and ginger are so flavorful, I don't feel like I missed much by not starting from scratch. The recipe suggests serving with a chili sauce like Sambal oelek. We didn't use it because I didn't think the kids would like it, but I kind of think now it would have been a good idea to have a little kick like that.

When we went out to a Japanese restaurant a few weeks ago, each plate of food served to us was like a still life -so artfully presented, that it brought extra pleasure to see it as well as taste it. That was what atracted me to this dish, and it didn't disappoint. All the kids ate it up and I felt like I put one over on them. Once again it was "just vegetables" with some noodles, but I guess a little extra showmanship pays off.
I also wanted to tell you guys I've tried two of the Choosing Raw vegetable based dressings and they were fantastic. I tried the Curried Tomato, and the Butternut Squash (which I made with the last of my garden grown pumpkin instead --those queensland blues really produced last sumer!). I can't even tell you which is my favorite, they are both good. Of course I did switch them up a little -using lemon juice instead of vinegar because I like it better, and adding a little more water because my pumpkin was pretty dense to start, but they are great starting place recipes -just like all recipes. I've found when cooking, I've always got to change things up a little based on the ingredients I've got, how my family is feeling, and our background. I used to worry about it more, and sometimes it still results in disaster (remind me to tell you about the cucumber pie I made one time because I had a ton of cucumber but no apples --yeah. Not Tasty.), but usually it just makes the recipe, whatever recipe it is, feel like mine. It feels like I've helped in the creative process instead of just followed directions.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What's for dinner mom? Vegetables?!?

Every night's vegetables in some form at our house, but the kids (all four of them) had fun eating them last night. I picked up some rice paper wrappers in the Asian store, and they got to make their own spring rolls.
I gave them each a finger bowl for dipping sauce.

and provided a big pot of hot (not scalding!) water to dip their papers into to soften them.

For filling we had cucumbers, lettuce, red bells, tomatoes, chopped fennel fronds, cilantro, curried chickpeas, and roasted green beans.

These little packs cost only a dollar or two, (are pretty low calorie if you care) and they made the whole "vegetables again!" thing fun . Everyone liked the exotic package, and the papers that soften and become magically stretchy.