26 September 2009

Ginger Miso Poached Noodles with Mint

I'm a loyal follower of Heidi of 101Cookbooks, it's true, but often find myself grappling with the healthy substitutions of meatless products (ie., tofu, seitan, etc.)

Every six months of so, I like to challenge my distastes ... often to just realize why in fact I do not like them in the first place. Can't hurt to try, right?

Well, this is the tale of one of those nights, my friends. With extra-firm tofu in hand, I went about slicing and marinating with some soy sauce and other random seasonings, suggestions from one of my vegetarian friends, Steph. I'm sorry Steph, not even the delicious mix of flavors and grilling masked the texture. I tried though, I really did.

Anyways, chalking it up to a tofu loss, the rest of this dish was pretty damn fantastic and comforting, I must say. Rice noodles steeped in a ginger miso broth, dressed with some shelled edamame and mint. Summery, light, with a hint of a burn from the ginger and a shot of sriracha and a broth to slurp. Oh, and tofu that I quickly tossed. Can't win 'em all.

Ginger Miso Poached Noodles with Mint
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Rice noodles
Shelled edamame
2 TB miso paste
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
Handful of mint
1/2 a lime

Heat water to cover the rice noodles on the stove, slowly incorporating the miso paste until well dissolved. Add the ginger slices to flavor the broth. When about to boil, add the noodles, take off the heat and leave covered for 7-10 minutes, until the noodles are cooked.

Meanwhile, cook and lightly salt the edamame. Shell if need be.

When noodles are cooked, drain a portion of the broth, leaving about a cup or two left. Add the edamame and the mint. Add a squeeze of lime. Stir and serve. I added a dash of sriracha, but that's just personal taste. Enjoy!

Mussels, mussels, mussels

Properly cooked mussels + a bread-dip worthy broth + a side of crispy frites + fresh aoili = bliss for me.

That's just one of the many equations to my heart. Boys, take notes.

My love affair with mussels began back in Caen, France in 2006 on the coast. Entertain me for a minute while I have a flashback.

First things first ... blogosphere, meet my (Italian) sister-friend, Sab (and a curlier, more ginger looking me).

It was my first trip abroad with my best friend, Sab. We headed off with one of her cousins to go join forces with her other family members in Paris. Zal and Rina, former Rochestarians, had relocated to Florence, Versailles and then settled in Paris, where they were based in 2006. They had met and fell in love while at university in Caen, where we had traveled to see some of their friends, visit Mont St. Michel, and have an epic seafood dinner on the coast as the sun set.

It was one of the most memorable sunsets I've ever seen. Luckily Adriano caught it on camera ...

Sab and I both ordered the pot of mussels, faced with over a pound for each of us. Looking back, we should have shared ... but what can you do. Sometimes a mussel overdose after a long day at the beach is needed.

They were out of this world, and the first time I'd had mussels. My aunt had tried to get me to taste some seafood growing up, but it wasn't anything we were ever served at home outside of a fish fry in Lent (to which, to this day, I'm not sure was fish). My mother detested most forms of seafood, and the look of disgust she made when oysters went by to another table stuck in my head. I had a phobia for all things from the sea. I admit it.

But I fell in love with these little things, to the point that they now represent the best pick me up for me now. As they did back this past July ...

I was stressed ... and my colleague knew it, outside of my general frustration voiced for not being able to find good mussels at the store. Lo and behold, just before the day closed, he snuck off to his house and came back with mussels on ice and beer to steam ... my own little mussels kit. And I have to say, it was *just* what I needed to cut through the stress and bad mood. Thanks TN :)

The broth I made was basic, including beer, some sprigs of thyme, a splash of wine and a pat of butter. I added the butter to the broth afterwards. Odd combo, I know, but I was experimenting. Delicious nevertheless ... now if only I had frites and aioli. Next time, next time ...

Peach & Strawberry Cobbler w/ Lemon Crust

Ah, cobbler. How I love thee. It's like the shepherd pie of desserts ... well, kind of. If you think of shepherd pie as the fridge-emptying solution that doesn't taste like complete garbage. Cobbler is somewhat like the fruity dessert version, IMO.

OK, so that made more sense in my head, humor me.

It was July, peaches were in season, strawberries were chopped and in my fridge, and as often happens, life during the week got surprisingly busy. Busy enough to throw my menu planning off and leaving me with produce about to turn.

I hate throwing things away or wasting food, by the way. It's a sort of affliction / mission in life, and leads to some very, um, interesting dishes and concoctions (ie., the jalapeno jam I have 6 jars of in my cupboard. Any takers? Please?)

The peaches were meant for a dinner party as dessert, with a fate including halving, a balsamic and brown sugar glaze, grilling and creme fraiche.

Then someone brought a pie. And I love pie. Sorry peaches. Next time.

I have to say though, this cobbler had the perfect mix of sweet and tang, with the lemon crust cutting the potential sugary sweetness of mixing peaches and strawberries. And a nice recipe to add to the cobbler section of the cookbook in my brain alongside the winter version -- the black 'n blue.

I made mine up in my paella pan brought back for an ex that needless to say stayed in my possession. His loss ;)

Peach 'n Strawberry Cobbler with a Lemon Crust
Adapted from a 1999 Bon Appetit recipe

4 peaches, fresh preferred, canned are also OK. pitted and sliced
3 cups or so (eyeball it) of sliced strawberries
* rough estimates here ... fill the pan
1/3 cup sugar
dusting of cornstarch
sprinkling of lemon juice, about 1/2 a lemon

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix together the top set of ingredients so all fruit is covered. Dress with lemon juice.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Beat butter and sugar together in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg yolk, lemon zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture and make into a dough-like substance. Form loosely over the fruit. Don't worry, it doesn't need to completely cover the cobbler, and in fact, shouldn't. It'll spread a bit when cooking, and you want it to bubble through a bit.

Pop in the oven and cook until the topping is lightly browned and the filling is bubbly, approximately 55 minutes.

Every 15 minutes it's breakfast ...

A colleague once told me this, after a brief moment commiserating with one another about how fast time flies. As time passes, this becomes even more true, and consequently, often leaving certain parts of my life poorly maintained. More often than not (or better yet, always) this is my personal life we're talking about. So is life.

Well, poor food blog -- you were the object of avoidance this time, I'm afraid to say. It's not that I *intentionally* lagged in posts. I've had a list of posts owed running for weeks, just in need of the time to sit down and focus. Time I thought would never come. My apologies for the silence, blog readers, if you're out there.

But never fear. I have a list, a plan (how I operate best), and with any luck, I can push through those and get the motivation to update this more often. The last few months have been oh so busy, with summer blowing past before I really realized it was ever *here*. There was the Alaskan trip to end all Alaskan trips, a milestone of a birthday, and more air miles in the past 3 weeks than a human should endure (16,500+?). All of which will be documented, I promise.

To start ... let's roll back the calendar a bit to July ...