Wednesday, May 4, 2011

(Your very own) Miso Soup

Ahh...Miso soup. That delicious, salty, mostly broth concoction that's (usually, and should be) free at every sushi bar. Seems like it would be a challenge to make it taste exactly the way your favorite restaurant makes it at home, right? Wrong, but just because you can doesn't mean you should. The best part about making Miso Soup at home is that you can make it more of a soup and less of a broth by adding whatever the heck ingredients you want, if that's your cup of tea (it's mine). I like to add a lot more "chunky stuff" to my miso than you would typically find at a restaurant. The soup pictured here contains mushrooms, yams, and tofu cut into my usual favorite right triangle shape.

The most satisfying part of what I'm about to post is the Dashi stock recipe. You can buy the stock pre-made, but it's so much more satisfying to make your own! Plus, it's not even that hard. If you don't count the water, my basic Miso soup is just 4 ingredients!

For the Dashi stock:
5 cups water
1 large piece of Kombu (4 inches or so), see below
1/2 cup Bonito Flakes, see below

To Make the stock into Miso Soup:
1/4 Cup Miso Paste
Soy Sauce

Bring water and kombu to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes. Add the Bonito flakes and simmer 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally to re-immerse the Bonito flakes if they float to the top. Turn off heat and let sit for 5-10. Strain out the Bonito and Kombu. I'm sure you can freeze the stock at this point if you want to save it for later, but mine is always eaten immediately =]

Return the pot of Dashi to a low flame and stir in the miso paste until dissolved. This is your Miso soup! Taste it and add small splashes of soy sauce, depending on how salty you want it. Be careful; soy sauce can quickly overwhelm the delicate Dashi and ruin your soup, but in my opinion it's this tiny amount of soy sauce that makes all the difference.

Now you can add whatever you want to it and make it "your" soup. remember, we're still mad scientists here! In case you're wondering, here's how I made mine.

Add 1 chopped yam and 1/2 block chopped tofu immediately, since the yam will take the longest to cook and we want to give the tofu time to soak up the flavors. Meanwhile, saute 3-4 sliced mushrooms in sesame oil about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1 tsp. sesame seeds to soup, simmer until yams can be easily stuck all the way through with a fork.


Bonito flakes are dried fish flakes. You can get them at health food stores, but if there's a Japanese market nearby you should definitely get them there, it's much cheaper!

Kombu is a kelp-like seaweed that smells very strong. Again, you can get it at a health food store if you live in a place like Santa Cruz that doesn't have a Japanese market.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Romanesco Fritters with Peanut Curry Dipping Sauce

This was my first attempt at cooking with or even eating the intriguing Romanesco, or "Italian Cauliflower". So why did I choose to fry it rather than enjoy it in all its simple, spiky, prehistoric-looking simplicity? Speaking of simplicity, there's no simple answer to this question. There, I said it. Everything tastes good fried, including some of the most visually pleasing veggies. I was inspired when I came across a recipe for cauliflower fritters and happened to have just picked up my first Romanesco from the farmers market, so why not, right?
As for the dipping sauce, it's a tried and truly yumtastic one that I use for my Thai enchiladas. Even though it has my stamp of approval, feel free to play around with the ingredients and remember that since I almost never measure ingredients, my recipe isn't going to be exact. I'll never forget a disclaimer I saw on a food blog telling readers exactly this, because "this is cooking, not baking" AMEN!!!!!!!


-1 head romanesco, cut into "florets". I know this isn't cauliflower but i don't know what else to call them


-1 cup Flour
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. baking powder
-dash of chili powder (optional)
-1/2 cup warm water
-Panko bread crumbs to roll fritters in optional..i guess =/
-oil for frying

FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE: taste as you go for best results!
-1/2 can coconut milk
-1/4 cup Peanut butter
-1 Tbsp. soy sauce
-1 Tbsp. Sesame oil
-2 Tbsp. Thai curry paste
-Sriracha sauce or Asian chili oil to taste
-2 Tbsp. sugar
-at least 1/4 cup water. add more or less (but probably more) depending on how thick you want it.

Mix all the batter ingredients together until it's as lump-free as it's ever gonna get. Heat oil (at least 1/2 inch) until bubbles gather around a drop of batter. let the first batch of romanesco florets soak in the batter for at least a minute, while you lovingly and repeatedly spoon more batter over them. roll battered florets in Panko and fry immediately until golden on each side, flipping only once. let cool on paper towels. serve with the sauce, unless you had other plans for that sauce. It's your sauce, dude.

A fun little fact: I suspected that the particular romanesco head I bought was on the small side, and I was right. I ended up having a lot of batter left over, so I decided to fry some apples and yams! good! Breaded, fried apple slices are my new favorite thing.

"Drink your apple-a-day!"

"Fry your apple-a-day!" '

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mango Bread Pudding

A delicious pudding recipe featuring one of my all-time favorite fruits courtesy of my good friend the Internet! I've always loved bread puddings and couldn't wait to try this one when I found the recipe. Just don't ask me to explain why it took me over 2 years after I wrote it down to get around to making it....
The recipe calls for white sandwich bread....YAWN. I used sourdough because that's what I had, but I think it would be delicious with a crunchy, earthy whole grain bread. It's quite mangoey as-is, but I still don't think adding another mango would hurt anyone, except maybe the mango.

-6 slices your favorite sandwich bread, torn into little pieces
-2 mangoes, peeled, seeded, and diced. My favorite way to do this: cut the 'meat' off the seed vertically in 2 sections, cutting as close to the seed as possible. then slice a tic-tac-toe pattern into the meat, push it out from the skin side, and cut off the little cubes. Then remove the skin from the remaining seed section, cut off the meat and dice.
-1/4 cup sugar
-3 eggs, lightly beaten
-2 cups milk
-1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
2 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 300 and grease a 9x11 baking dish. Toss the bread and mango together and place in the dish. Wisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cardamom. Pour over bread & mango. Cube butter and sprinkle cubes over the top of the mixture. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until it starts to look like bread pudding (puffy & golden on top)

Pictured with chocolate sauce and sliced blood oranges.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mad Spatch's first birthday celebration: acorn squash stuffed with yellow split peas and oyster mushrooms!

I forgot to mention this in my last post but I've now officially been recipe blogging for a year! I've made a wishy-washy new years resolution to post something at least once a week, but we'll see how that goes now won't we?
On tap for this week is something STUFFED! And not only is it stuffed, it serves as a bowl, a bowl you can eat! I love things like bread bowls where you can enjoy the contents without being sad when you get to the bottom, because then you can just eat the bowl, and I think it's generally accepted that if you're not full by then you must have some sort of problem. With my stuffed acorn squash you can eat everything but the skin! (note: please don't try to eat the plate). This dish can take over an hour to prepare, so I like to make the split pea filling the day before to save some time.

1 acorn squash, halved lengthwise with seeds removed
1 1/2 cups dried yellow split peas
2 cups oyster mushrooms cut into bite-size pieces
1 Tbsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Cover split peas with water (at least 2 inches above peas). Bring to a boil and simmer for at least an hour, then add curry powder and salt. Continue to cook until peas are soft.
Meanwhile, place squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until they can be pierced easily with a knife. Meanwhile again, melt butter in a frying pan and add mushrooms. Sautee until they start to wilt, then add the wine and cook until just a small amount of "juice" remains in the pan. Stir mushrooms into cooked split peas. Stuff the mixture into cooked squash halves and serve with a side of your favorite greens.

note: I'm sure it would be delicious if you timed it right and stuffed the squashes midway through the baking process, but it's good just like this as well.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Carrot Ginger Soup

A recipe from my mom! The best thing about this creamy, delicious soup is its deliciousness. The second best thing about it is a secret: sssshhhhh! The problem with most cream soups is that they call for cream, and cream=tunz of fatz. I hate writing stuff like this because I don't want my blog to turn from curious girl screwing around in the kitchen to crazy calorie-counting monster woman, but this really is an amazing thing so I'm going to go ahead and flaunt it: my mom's secret is to use cauliflower instead of heavy cream. Sounds weird but I give you my word and my photo of said soup, and we all know how many words a picture is worth. Go ahead and call me a liar.

3 cups broth
2 pounds carrots, chopped up small
1 head cauliflower cut into florets
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves chopped garlic, depending on how garlicky you like things to be
2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
nutmeg, olive oil or creme fraiche to go on top

In a large pot, combine broth, carrots, and cauliflower. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil and sautee the onions and celery until translucent, add garlic during last minute of cooking. Add to the pot along with the grated ginger. Remove pot from heat and puree with a handheld blender. If you don't have one, wait for the soup to cool a bit and use a regular blender. Stir in the curry power, add the salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a float of olive oil or creme fraiche and a dash of nutmeg.