Category: Noodles

Dinner from My Kitchen

February 14, 2011

First things first.  I think I am going to ask you all what you would do with ingredients more often!  The uses you came up with for those pickled raisins were amazing!  Curried carrot dip, on top of pizza with Gorgonzola, baked in squash with couscous and pistachios – I want to make everything.  The winners, picked randomly, are commenters #26 and #18.  Bebe would put them in chicken salad and Stacey would put them in anything with cauliflower.  Congrats ladies!  Contact me soon to get your raisins.

Moving on.

It has been a busy couple of weeks in my kitchen.  Since the beginning of the month, I have taught three classes, cooked a yoga dinner for 24, made a birthday cake for my younger son, and baked cupcakes for my older son’s class.  When typing that out, it doesn’t look like all that much.  But it was a lot, especially coupled with regular old everyday life.

At the end of a long stint of cooking, I sometimes feel like I am done with it.  The thought of chopping anything, turning on a burner, bringing butter up to room temperature, cracking an egg – just too. much. effort.  But then my husband goes out of town and a friend brings her kids over for dinner, and I realize what I really want to eat for dinner is not take-out but my cooking.  And so, back into the kitchen I go.

This Asian-noodles-in-a-broth-with-tofu idea is not new on this site.  It is one of my favorite things to eat in the world.  Each time I make something like this, it is a little different.  I glanced at a recipe from Deborah Madison to get me going in a slightly different direction than I would have if left to my own devices.  Then I totally made it my own.  As with most Asian noodle dishes, soups or otherwise, I would eat this every night without complaint.  If it is still frosty in your part of the country, a bowl of noodle soup warms you like no other.  But this is light and fresh enough to taste right even if your city is thawing.

One Year Ago:  Holly B’s Favorite Cornbread
Two Years Ago:  Vegetarian Caesar Salad and Red Curry with Winter Vegetables and Cashews

Somen Noodle Soup with Spring Vegetables and Baked Tofu
Dana Treat Original
Serves 3-4

This recipe might look a little complicated but it is actually quite quick to make.  You can always double the broth and freeze half for next time. Somen noodles are very thin wheat noodles found on the Asian aisle of your supermarket.  Feel free to use different vegetables in the mix – snow or snap peas would be great.

For the broth
Zest of 1 lime
3 stalks lemongrass, bruised lightly with a knife, then sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2-inch piece ginger, cut into coins
½ of a large red onion, sliced
10 sprigs cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. light brown sugar

For the tofu
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. dark sesame oil
2 tsp. hoisin sauce
2½ tsp. light brown sugar
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
1 pound extra firm tofu, blotted dry and cut into small cubes

For the soup
6 ounces somen noodles
Vegetable oil
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
2 medium carrots, peeled and very thinly sliced (use a mandoline if you have one)
Small handful green beans, trimmed and cut into thin slices
5 spears asparagus, ends trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal

Garnish
1 lime, cut into small pieces
Cilantro leaves
Jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced

Make the broth
Put all ingredients except for the soy sauce and brown sugar in a large saucepan.  Pour in 8 cups of water and add a large pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.  Cool slightly, then strain out and discard the solids.  Stir in the soy sauce and brown sugar.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.  Keep warm over low heat.  (Can be made two days ahead.  Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate.)

Make the tofu
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Mix together the marinade in a medium baking dish.  Taste, making sure the balance is to your taste.  You want it to be salty, sweet, and slightly sour.  Stir in the tofu, coating well with the marinade.  Allow to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally to make sure the tofu is coated with the marinade.  Place in the oven, uncovered, and allow to bake until all the marinade is absorbed and the tofu is getting a slight crisp to it, about 35 minutes.  Toss the tofu once or twice in the baking process so that all the pieces come into contact with the pan.  Remove tofu from the oven and allow to cool.

Make the soup
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the somen noodles and give a good stir.  Watch the pot so it doesn’t foam over.  Cook the noodles until they are almost done, with just a slight bite, and drain.  Rinse well with cold water, drain, and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add just enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the red onion and sauté until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, jalapeño pepper, and ginger and cook for another two minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the green beans, carrots, and asparagus and continue to cook, stirring often, until the green vegetables are crisp tender, about 5 minutes.

Place some noodles in the bottom of a deep soup bowl.  Ladle on the broth.  Add tofu and vegetables and garnish with cilantro, lime, and jalapeño pepper slices.



Hot Soup, Cold Day

January 6, 2011

We have had some cold weather here in Seattle recently.  Cold here means high 30′s during the day and well below that at night.  I know for those on the East coast and in the Midwest, this is small potatoes.  It makes me realize what a true weather wimp I am.  Rain, endless gray days, darkness at 4pm – all those things I can handle.  Extreme temperatures though?  I can’t.  Randy likes to joke that I am only comfortable if it is between 70 and 75 degrees and I think that is about right.  Too hot and I am miserable, too cold and I am miserable.  This makes it nearly impossible for me to live anywhere other than Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and perhaps San Diego.  (I could live in London or Paris though.)

One nice thing about a relatively mild (read: rainy) climate is that, except for a few staggeringly hot days each summer, we can enjoy soup all year.  I am a big fan of soup for many of the same reasons that most people are.  It tends to be easy, you can easily feed a lot of people, it can be very healthy, and soup keeps well.  Many soups taste better a day or two (or even three) after they have been made.  Busy families need soup.

I am a sucker for any Asian soup, especially those involving rice noodles.  I love eating pho, the rock star Vietnamese rice noodle soup, at my favorite joint in any season. For how much I love this kind of soup, I don’t make it all that often.  I recently paid a pretty penny for a cookbook from Australia because I was blinded by the fact that there was a delicious sounding pho recipe in there.  The book was small and now I fear it is at the bottom of a toy box covered with trucks, trains, and construction vehicles.  So I made this soup instead.

Something I really liked about this version was how much flavor the broth brought to the bowl.  I’ve made Asian vegetable stock for various thing before but somehow this was much better.  Yes, you cheat a bit by using a small amount of pre-made veg stock, but if you use a good one (Rapunzel is the only brand I like) you end up with an incredibly flavorful base for your soup.  One that tastes like it’s been simmering for hours, not 20 minutes.

Noodle Soup Previously on Dana Treat: Asian Coconut Noodle Soup

Tofu and Shiitake Noodle Soup
Adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 3-4

There was originally one pound of eggplant in this soup as well but I have very specific ideas of where eggplant should be.  Not in Asian noodle soup for example.  I used a pad thai width noodle here but the super thin kind would be great too.  If you use those, I would do 4 ounces instead of 6 ounces.

3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 whole lemongrass stalks, thinly sliced
Six ¼-inch thick slices of fresh ginger, smashed slightly, plus 1 tbsp. very finely chopped fresh ginger
¼ cup soy sauce
Freshly ground white pepper
6 ounces rice vermicelli
Vegetable oil
¼ pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and caps quartered
Salt
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 pound firm flavored tofu, such as Thai, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ a Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
½ cup bean sprouts
¼ cup cilantro leaves
2 tbsp. mint leaves, torn
Lime wedges and hot sauce for serving

In a medium soup pot, combine the vegetable broth, water, lemongrass, sliced ginger, and soy sauce and season generously with white pepper.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until flavorful, about 20 minutes.  Strain the broth into a heatproof bowl, pressing on the solids.  Discard the solids.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil.  Cook the rice vermicelli until al dente, about 5 minutes.  Drain and cool under running water.

Wipe out the soup pot and heat just enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom.  Add the mushrooms, season with salt and white pepper, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chopped ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the tofu along with the vegetable broth, cabbage and noodles and simmer just until the cabbage is wilted, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the bean sprouts, cilantro and mint and season the soup with salt and white pepper.  Serve the soup in deep bowl.s passing lime wedges and hot sauce at the table.



Getting Out of the Rut

November 4, 2010

It’s been over two weeks since I last posted a main course recipe.  It hasn’t been two weeks since I cooked a main course, but sometimes cooking and posting do not go hand in hand.  Truthfully, I have been in a bit of a cooking rut lately.  I feel restless and agitated which is not conducive to good menu planning.  When I feel this way, I tend to want to revisit things I have already made and that does not an interesting food blog make.  (Curiously, I seem to have no problem with baking.  Hmmm.)

The best way to get out of a rut, in my opinion, is to choose a type of cuisine that you love and then turn to a cookbook that you trust.  In my ennui, I picked up my still relatively new but already much beloved copy of Plenty and begged it to inspire me.  Of course, it did.

The mere fact that I have a “noodles” category on my side bar (which is different from the “pasta” category) should tell you that I am passionate about Asian noodles.  I will happily eat any variety but I think rice noodles are my favorite.  Pair them with a homemade curry paste and coconut milk and we are venturing into “I could eat this everyday” territory.  I’ve made other variations on this theme before but this particular recipe had me swooning.  The curry paste is incredibly flavorful and actually, not hot.  I seeded my chiles because, although I love spice, you just never know.  I won’t next time.

Some notes and tips.  Ottolenghi instructs you to toss both the cooked noodles and broccolini with sesame oil.  I opted out of that to keep the dish healthier and also because I couldn’t see that distinctive sesame flavor as welcome here.  I made the mistake of adding Kaffir lime leaves to both the paste and the noodles and wow – yum.  I’ll continue to do that.  Ottolenghi says you can make this noodle dish with a store-bought green curry paste in a pinch but I say his paste is precisely what makes it taste magical, as stated above.  Do yourself a favor and double it.  This kind of paste can keep for several weeks, covered, in the refrigerator.  The changes I made are reflected in the recipe below.

One Year Ago: Holly B’s Lemon Sour Cream Muffins and Tomato Leek Soup
Two Years Ago: Harira Soup and Fattoush Salad

Broccolini with Rice Noodles
Adapted from Plenty
Serves 4

My Whole Foods always has Kaffir lime leaves.  Wide rice noodles are specified in the book but I couldn’t find them so I used Pad Thai width.  I would avoid the ones that are angel hair width.

1 pound broccolini, cut into florets with long stems
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. brown sugar
7  Kaffir lime leaves
1 14-ounce can “lite” coconut milk
1 14-ounce package rice noodles
Juice of 1 lime, plus wedges for garnish
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Spice Paste
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium green chiles, seeded (or not) and roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, outer layer and tough ends removed, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
7 Kaffir lime leaves
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cumin
Grated zest and juice of 1 small lime

Start by making the paste.  Place all the ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor and blend to a paste.  You might need to stop once or twice to scrape the mixture back down from the sides of the bowl or add a little water to it to loosen it up.

Sauté the onion with the oil in a medium saucepan for 3 or 4 minutes, or until translucent.  Add the curry paste and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.  Add a teaspoon of salt, the sugar, lime leaves and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Bring two medium saucepans of salted water to a boil  In one, cook the rice noodles for 3-6 minutes (check the package instructions and don’t overcook them).  In the other cook the broccolini for 2 minutes.  Drain each one and run cold water over them, running your fingers through the noodles to make sure they aren’t sticking together.  Squeeze the lime juice over the noodles and sprinkle with salt.

Divide the noodles among shallow bowls and top with the broccolini.  Spoon the sauce over top and garnish with the chopped cilantro and lime wedges.



New Favorite Noodles

August 4, 2010

Several months ago, I had lunch with a friend at a relatively new local restaurant called Nettletown.  It has been getting a lot of buzz lately and I took precious babysitting time to go check it out.  I am not a restaurant reviewer but I can tell you that within a very modest space, very exciting über-local and sustainable food is happening.  If you want more information, Tea wrote a great post about Nettletown here.

From the specials list, I chose a dish that turned out to be one of the most interesting and delicious dishes I have eaten in a long time.  I don’t remember everything exactly but I know for sure that my shallow but well-filled bowl contained fresh rice noodles, very firm and perfectly flavored tofu, sea beans, mizuna, and shiitake mushrooms.  There may or may not have been other delicacies in there.  I was pretty hungry that day and I still only made it through about half of my dish.  I dislike leftovers but I loved my noodles so much that I took my unfinished portion home with me and ate them later that night.

Since then, the dish has haunted me.  I have been back to Nettletown twice and have been dismayed to find it absent from the specials menu.  So, I have attempted to re-create the dish.  Three times.  The first two times I was so hungry and distracted by the time the dish was done that I didn’t have the energy or patience to take a photo.  (Fellow food bloggers, can I get an amen?)  I just figured I would make it again.  These are flavors and ingredients I love so why not use “no photo” as an excuse to repeat?  Each time I refined the dish a little more.  Some things stayed constant, others changed.  All three times I hoped to use fresh rice noodles and was never able to make that happen in spite of looking for them at my local Asian market.

So what is going on here?  First I made a marinade/sauce.  I cut the tofu into pieces, put them in a small baking pan, and poured about half the marinade over top.  I sautéed up some shiitake mushrooms until they started to brown and added just a touch of soy sauce at the end.  I rinsed sea beans, pre-cooked and then rinsed the rice noodles, and I allowed the tofu to bake long enough to absorb the marinade and develop a bit of a crust.  I assembled the whole dish together, poured the remaining sauce over top, and quickly seared bok choy halves to put on top.

This is not exactly the dish I had at Nettletown.  I’m still going to keep tweaking it and I am going on a fresh rice noodle quest.  But I’m getting close.

One Year Ago:  Zesty Tofu Wraps

Rice Noodles with Marinated Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms

Dana Treat Original
Serves 4

I tried both the angel hair thickness rice noodles and the more fettucine thickness and preferred the latter.

For the marinade:
2 inch pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, minced
2 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves removed, minced
6 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1½ tbsp. mirin
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. water
½-1 tsp. red pepper flakes

12 ounces extra-firm tofu, blotted dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed and cut into thick slices
4 baby bok choy, sliced in half
Large handful of sea beans, rinsed and drained
Mizuna leaves (you can substitute spinach)
1 pound rice noodles

To make the marinade/sauce, mix together all the ingredients in a medium size bowl.  Taste for flavor balance and add more soy, honey, or lime juice to taste.  Put the tofu in a shallow baking dish (an 8×8-inch pan is perfect) and pour about 1/3 of the marinade over top.  Allow the tofu to sit for at least half an hour, turning the pieces periodically.  You can also refrigerate the pan, covered, for up to one day.  Reserve the rest of the marinade.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Place the baking pan in the oven and bake until the marinade is absorbed and the tofu is developing a bit of outer crunch, 30 to 40 minutes.  Turn the tofu once during baking.  Set aside.

Heat a medium non-stick pan over medium heat.  Add just a bit of canola oil and then the mushrooms.  Allow to cook with out turning too much so that they get a bit browned.  Once they are soft and have released all of their liquid, add about a tablespoon of soy sauce.  Stir until the soy sauce is absorbed and set the mushrooms aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the rice noodles and cook until just tender.  Check the package for how long they need to cook and be sure to taste them to make sure they are done.  Drain and immediately rinse them with cold water until they are cool.

Heat a bit more oil in the same skillet in which you cooked the mushrooms.  Add the bok choy halves and cook just until softened a bit, about 3 minutes.

To assemble the bowls, place a small handful of mizuna at the bottom of a wide shallow bowl.  Top with ¼ of the noodles.  Pour ¼ of the marinade/sauce over the noodles.  Top with some tofu, sea  beans, mushrooms, and a couple bok choy halves.



Spicy Peanut Noodles

May 26, 2010

Lately, I have been doing a fair amount of catering.  Some of it has been real official catering and some of it has been making food for lots of people on behalf of friends.  Either way, I am always faced with the challenge of how much food to make.  Working as a personal chef for three years and also catering lunches, dinners, and parties – not to mention all the entertaining we do ourselves – has made me a pretty good judge of portions.  I have no formula, I just kind of guess.  (Very scientific, I know.)  If I’m not sure, I err on the side of too much food because leftovers are nice but being hungry because the hostess/chef/caterer didn’t make enough food is not.  Once in a while I am off but thankfully not very often.

My parents came over for dinner last night along with my brother Michael.  Both of my brothers have incredible appetites and if they like something, you had probably better duck for cover.  My brother Alex once went to a wedding where he ate 99 skewers of shrimp with each skewer holding three shrimp.  I do know he did not get sick.  I do not know if anyone else got any shrimp that night.

Anyway, Michael, the baby in the family, also loves food and I always like to send him home with leftovers.  Keeping that in mind, and knowing I was cooking for five last night, I decided to one and half the recipe for these Spicy Peanut Noodles.  Just a pound and a half of noodles.  That should be right for five hungry people with a few leftovers, right?  If I were making this pasta or this one, I wouldn’t hesitate to use a pound and a half of pasta.

I’m not sure what happened to my nice Barilla whole grain spaghetti, but I could have fed about ten people with this dish.  As I said, better too much food than not enough.  Especially if it is a savory dish like this one.  I love Asian noodles of all kinds and these are no exception.  Peanut-y and smooth with terrific bite from the lightly pickled vegetables.  After we all ate our portions, I sent both my brother and parents home with some, and the boys and Randy ate the rest of them tonight.  That is a lot of noodles.  (By the way, my boys – the little ones – inhaled this dish.  Both of them had two huge plates-ful and Graham even had a second helping of tofu.)

I usually scoff at using spaghetti in Asian dishes, but I had some on hand and I like that the Barilla noodles have quite a bit of protein in them.  Their nutty flavor was most welcome in this dish, I just cooked them past al dente so their texture would be right.  No tofu was in the recipe originally, but I liked it here.  I held back a bit of the peanut sauce, brushed both sides of the tofu with it, and baked it in a 375º oven for about 25 minutes.  I also added the slightly pickled carrots because I thought the dish could use an extra bite and a bit of color.

One Year Ago: Greek Pasta Casserole

Spicy Peanut Noodles
Adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 6

1 pound spaghetti
¾ cup smooth peanut butter
½ cup + 2 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. sugar
6 tbsp. soy sauce
½ cup water
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove
12 oz. extra-firm tofu, cut into ½-inch thick wedges
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
2 carrots, peeled and grated

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a blender, puree the peanut butter with 6 tablespoons of the vinegar, 3 tbsp of the sugar, the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, crushed red pepper, ginger and garlic.  Remove about ½ a cup of the dressing and place in a pie dish.  Put the tofu slices in the dish and turn them to coat with the dressing.  Place dish in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove and turn the slices over.  Bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a pot of boiling water, cook the spaghetti until tender.  Place the remaining dressing in a large bowl.  Using tongs, scoop the spaghetti out of the water and into the bowl.  Toss to coat the noodles with dressing.  Ladle in some of the cooking water if the noodles seem too dry.

In another bowl, toss the celery with the cilantro and 2 tbsp. of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Do the same in another bowl with the carrots and remaining vinegar and sugar.  Drain if they seem too wet, but allow them each to sit in their liquid for at least 10 minutes.

Serve the noodles in bowls and top them with the celery and carrots.



« Older Posts Newer Posts »