Archive for May, 2009

Asian Noodles

May 5, 2009


I joke sometimes that if I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, that it would be french fries.  I do so love french fries but I think a lifetime of them, even the very best ones with lots of ketchup, would get old.  But some kind of Asian noodles in some kind of Asian curry sauce with tofu with some kind of green vegetable?  That could sustain (and not bore) me.

I make a lot of dishes like this.  I have never met a Southeast Asian noodle dish I haven’t liked.  I love rice noodles, bean thread noodles, soba, somen, and Chinese egg noodles.  I love green, red, and yellow curry.  I love the combo of coconut milk, soy sauce, and curry.  I love mixing shallots, garlic, and ginger into a kind of holy trinity.  I love any excuse to eat tofu and to have it taste like something other than a sponge.

For tonight’s dinner, I had planned to make Burmese Noodles from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  As I was preparing to make the curry paste, I remembered I still had some homemade red curry paste in my refrigerator, and suddenly Burmese Noodles didn’t appeal to me.  On the facing page, was a recipe for Noodles in Thai Curry Sauce which sounded good but plain.  I decided to mix the two recipes and throw in some changes of my own.  Almost every time I make an Asian curry, whether I am using noodles or rice, I throw in some tofu.  I don’t obsess about my protein intake but when given the chance to eat tofu, in a dish where it plays so nicely with others, I take it.

One of the beautiful things about this recipe is that you can change it your heart’s delight.  Use a different kind of noodle, use a different green vegetable, omit the tofu, substitute Thai basil for the cilantro if you are a cilantro hater.  By all means, use a commercial curry paste – there are some good ones out there.  Below you will find how I adapted it.  Although I make dishes like this often, these noodles were one of my better creations.


Here are 2 low fat notes.  This kind of dish can actually be kind of unhealthy.  Two ways that I try to combat that are by using low-fat coconut milk, and by not deep frying the tofu.  Last night I sprayed a hot non-stick skillet with non-stick spray and fried the tofu that way.  You want a bit of a crust on it.  You can also get that by shallow-frying it in bit of flavorless oil (like canola).

Noodles in Thai Curry Sauce with Tofu
Inspired by Deborah Madison
Serves 3-4

Since I was using my own curry paste (which is less spicy than store-bought), I added the full 3 tablespoons.  If you are worried about spice, add just 1 to begin and more to taste if necessary.

8 ounces dried Chinese egg noodles (linguine can do in a pinch)
8 ounces extra-firm tofu, pressed dry and cut into 1 inch pieces
Canola oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced into rings
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 15-oz. can unsweetened lowfat coconut milk
1-3 tbsp. Thai red curry paste
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 handful snow peas, strings removed
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 scallions, thinly sliced into rounds
3 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Cook noodles in pletny of boiling water until tender, about 4 minutes for the Chinese egg noodles and slightly longer for linguine.  Drain and rinse well to stop the cooking and to keep them from sticking together.  Set aside.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray and add the tofu.  Cook on each side, flipping as the tofu turns slightly brown.  Pour out onto a paper lined plate and set aside.

Heat a wok or a skillet over medium-high heat.  Pour in just enough canola oil to coat the bottom and add the shallots.  Cook until starting to brown, about 4 minutes.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the coconut milk, curry paste, and soy sauce and stir to break up the paste.  Add the snow peas and green peas.  Lower heat to medium-low and cook until the snow peas start to become tender, 3-4 minutes.  Add the noodles and tofu and stir well.  Add the scallions and cilantro and give it another good stir.  Allow to cook for 2 minutes to blend flavors.

Mexican Brownies

May 4, 2009


To tell you the truth, I’m not sure why these are called Mexican Brownies.  As I’m sure we all know, Cinco de Mayo is coming up tomorrow which also happens to be my client day.  I am making (what else?) Mexican food and I wanted the “treat” to fit in with the theme.  A quick search on Epicurious brought me here.


I know Mexican chocolate has cinnamon in it and this brownie batter calls for a whopping tablespoon of the stuff.  I don’t know what the topping contributes to making them Mexican.  I remember reading that Latin America likes it’s desserts really sweet (how about that for a gross generalization?), and if that is true, these should please a Latin American palate.  They are very sweet.  Kind of like brown sugar fudge on top of a cinnamon-y brownie.

You could, of course, leave off the topping all together and have a very tasty (and incredibly easy) bar.  I like sweet things but this was a little much for me.  I’ll let Randy and the boys eat these and I will turn my attention to the slices of 6 layer chocolate cake that my neighbor brought over.

I made a few changes here.  After reading some of the comments following the recipe, I bumped up the amount of cinnamon from 1 tablespoon to 1 1/2.  I also added semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate because I could sense these were going to be super sweet as it was.  Also, I opted to leave the sliced almond topping out, because I don’t think chocolate and nuts belong together.


Mexican Brownies
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Makes 16

For brownies
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 6 ounces)

For brown sugar topping
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 tbsp. vanilla extract

Make brownies:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil, extending foil over sides.  Stir unsweetened chocolate and butter in heavy large saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth.  Cool 5 minutes.  Whisk in sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Whisk in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla.  Continue to whisk until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add flour and whisk just until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing surface.  Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on rack.

Make topping:

Whisk suar, cream and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until mixture is smooth and comes to boil.  Remove from heat; mix in vanilla.  Cool 10 minutes.  Whisk and then allow to come to a thick enough texture to spread, whisking occasionally.  Spread over brownie.  Let stand until topping sets, about 1 hour.  (Can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.)

Using foil as aid, lift brownie from pan.  Cut brownie into 16 squares.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Mentoring and an Island

May 3, 2009

Right after I started this blog (a year ago this week), I read about a group that Kristen started over at Dine and Dish.  She called it Adopt-a-Blogger and in it, she paired up people who had been blogging less than a year with people who had more experience.  The idea was a mentor/mentee relationship and support for one another’s blogs.  I loved the idea and, having just started, was desperate to be adopted.

Alas, I was too late and missed the deadline.  As it came around again, even though I am just under the year mark, I decided to mentor.  As my husband pointed out, this follows the pattern for me of learn, do, teach.  I did with yoga, I did it with mothering a newborn, I am doing it with cooking, and now am doing it with blogging.

I got paired up with Tammy of Sassafrass Cafe who has been blogging since December of last year.  On the surface, we don’t have much in common.  She lives in Arkansas, I live in Seattle.  She eats meat, I don’t.  But digging just a little deeper, we both have two children (one being a 2 year old), we both have music and teaching in our backgrounds, and we both love to cook and bake.  Tammy has dived right in and joined two blog “clubs”, Tuesdays with Dorie and Barefoot Bloggers.  She has had great success with both which is really impressive.  I hope you will wander over and take a look at all she is making.


Last week, I took the boys over to Bainbridge Island for the day to visit my lovely friend Jen.  I have known Jen since middle school and she is truly one of my favorite people in the world.  She has four children and teaches yoga in a delightful space on her property.  She is hosting a retreat next Saturday called Motherasana and she asked me to make lunch for the group.  I figured a visit was in order so we could talk about the menu and catch up.  In addition to being a truly wonderful friend and inspiration, she figures large in my life because she was present at both my decision to stop eating meat and also my decision to stop eating fish.


Every time I get on a Washington State Ferry, I am stunned by the beauty of the place I call home.  I have lived here almost my entire life and yet it all still surprises me.  The ferry ride that takes us to Lopez Island finds me staring out the window the entire time.  I have done that passage more than 100 times in my life and I always get a little breathless.  The trip to Bainbridge is much quicker – the ferry leaves from downtown Seattle and the crossing is about 30 minutes.  The boys love the ferry.  They love looking at the water, running around, and pretending to play the driving video game.  Mostly they love that they get a treat on board.


This is my baby.  He is two years old and very excited about the prospect of a muffin.


And this is them splitting  and enjoying the muffin (big brother is 4).  They loved going to the island.  They loved playing at the park near Jen’s house.  They loved playing with Jen’s sweet kids.  They loved the delicious lunch that Jen threw together for us.  But really all they talked about was the muffin…and the soft pretzel on the way back.  If there was every any doubt, these boys are definitely my children.

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