Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cooking with Loosey

When I first decided to delete my account on Facebook, I had some withdrawal. But now that it's been over two months, I don't miss it at all.

However, the folks that were my Facebook friends have run into me from time to time and actually told me things they missed about my posts. Apparently, I was was humorous. (That was very sweet of them to say). I also apparently inspired them in the kitchen. So they missed my recipes.

So, I'm going to post a couple here. Both of them are vegetarian, but not vegan.

The first is a deliriously easy soup for anyone who likes mushrooms. Its from this month's issue of Vegetarian Times.

Mushroom and Pappardelle Soup with Gremolata

If you're like me, you said. "Um, I have no idea what pappardelle and Gremolata are." The truth is that the picture of the food lead me to the recipe. (I loathe cookbooks without photos. Really, what's the point unless you can see the awesome goodies in front of you. I mean, don't laugh, but I kind of want to know what it's supposed to look like, so I can tell if I'm way off or not. So, Moosehead, you and I never got along... for only this reason.) Anyway, if you click on the recipe above, you'll see the photo. It looks like a semi-creamy soup with wide noodles, mushrooms and green beans.

The beauty of this recipe is that after you sauté the mushrooms and onions, everything else is a dump and stir. That's my kind of weeknight brain power, and the whole thing takes 35 minutes or so to prepare.

As it turns out, Pappardelle are wide fettucini noodles. I couldn't find them at Schnuck's. So, I googled substitutions and ended up using the Extra Broad No Yolks noodles. I also didn't have time to run to Meijer to get the Cremini mushrooms, so I used sliced baby bellas and they were fine. I had also never used mascarpone cheese in anything, but it was in the snooty cheese section by the Deli. And it made a nice non-heavy cream base with the soup.

And a Gremolata is a "chopped herb condiment" according to Wikipedia that you use like a garnish on top of the soup before you serve it.

I'm a big fan of pho. So I devoured this like I was devouring a mega bowl of the weekend vegan pho at Xinh Xinh Café in Urbana. Now it's literally swishing around in my round, happy belly.

Nutritionally, each 1 1/3 cup bowl has around 216 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Not too bad. But I'll admit I had two of them. :-)

The other dinner is from the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I ordered it online from Amazon (via London) to get a copy earlier than the one that was released in the states. I was hesitant to start with it because it is MUCH more complicated than anything I've done before. I usually stay away from any ingredient lists that require over 12 things... and I also usually require that I already have at least 7 of those things in my kitchen. For example -- salt. Not a worry.

But this one I went out on a limb for. And it was worth every moment of prep work, but I'd recommend you do it on a Sunday. Oh, and practice your pancake flipping...

Bánh xeo (Vietnamese pancakes)

1 1/3 cups rice flour
1 small egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 3/4 cups coconut milk
a little bit of sunflower oil (I used safflower)

2 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce (sweet/kecap manis, if you can find it -- I didn't so I used regular)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger (I am a believer in those pre-minced bottles of herbs for stuff like this)
1 fresh red chile, finely chopped
1 garlic clover, crushed
1/2 tsp salt

1 large carrot, peeled
1 daikon radish, peeled (they were out at the Savoy Schnuck's and Meijer when I went, but the ones I found in Urbana were HUGE, and you only need a small one, so I substituted parsnip)
4 green onions
1 fresh green chile
1 1/2 cup snow peas
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2/3 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup enoki mushrooms

Blend the rice flour, egg, salt and turmeric in a large bowl. Slowly add the coconut milk, whisk it well to get rid of the lumps. The batter should be thin, so add more milk, if you need too. The batter will thicken while it sits, just so you're prepared to add a little more.

For the sauce, just whisk together all of the ingredients. If you don't like spicy, feel free to skip the chile.

For the filling, shred the carrot and root vegetable of your choice thinly. I used the large end of my grater. Slice the green onions on an angle and make the chile and the snow peas into long strips. Set aside all the vegetables with the herb leaves and mushrooms.

Heat up the oil in the 9" pan. This makes four servings, so you can use a measuring cup to divide if it makes it easier. Once the underside is brown, flip it over to cook the other side. Keep them warm while you do the remaining 3 pancakes.

To serve, put one pancake on each plate and fill with vegetable mixture, herbs and mushrooms. Drizzle the sauce on top of the vegetables and fold the pancake over like an omelet. Put some more sauce on top and serve.


And that's what's been cooking in my kitchen this week.

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