Miso Hungry

Do you ever have those moments when you realize that you’ve done something really, really dumb? You know, like when you go to wash your face in the shower and realize you just poured conditioner into your hands. And to make it worse, you haven’t shampooed yet, so you can’t just go on and condition, so as not to waste.

Or when you walk up to the counter to pay for your coffee and realize you left your wallet in the car. Or worse – at home? They don’t really let you wash dishes to earn your coffee/food like people say they do. But sometimes they are nice and they let you slide, or pay them next time.

I don’t have a gym membership anymore, but when I did, there were plenty of times when I’d get showered and ready for work at the gym, only to find that I’d neglected to pack a bra. Let’s just say that sweaty sports bras have no place in the professional world, or at least they shouldn’t have…

Hopefully you’ve all been there a time or two as well. Or at least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

Food-wise, I’ve done plenty of silly things in the kitchen. Last night even, I was making pizza, and I must have spread the dough too thinly because when the pizza came outta the oven, it definitely didn’t come off the pan. We were left picking chunks, some charred and some gooey, off the pan instead of sitting down to perfectly cooked pieces of pie.

I’ve already told you about the time I forgot to take the tie off of the soba noodles, and ended up with goops of noodles. And yeah, there are plenty of others, I’m sure.

The worst though, is when you finally use an ingredient, one that you’ve heard about, read about, and for whatever reason, never bought yourself, and you LOVE it. At least for me, I think of all those months and years I could have used said ingredient, enjoyed said ingredient, shoved said ingredient into my face. Avocadoes are one such ingredient, and I’ve tried to make up for lost time.

Miso is another. Oh, baby. Be still, my heart.

Since my discovering miso, oh, 1 month ago, there has been miso-glazed chicken, miso-curry vegetables, and now this – a rice salad with miso vinaigrette. Vinaigrette! Miso, where have you been all my life?! It is extra-salty, but nutty in a way, too. Decadent, but pretty healthy since it’s really just fermented soybeans, usually. Umami for sure comes to mind. And just plain freakin’ awesome.

Don’t be like me – don’t read about this great-sounding miso-laden recipe and turn the other cheek. You’ll regret it 5 years later when you finally do come around. Live for now, and get thee to the Asian aisle of your grocery store and get this.

Wild Rice Salad w/ Miso Dressing
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen; serves 4

printable version

time commitment: 1 hour (for cooking rice, which can be done in advance. if so, time commitment drops to 20 minutes or less.)

this is a great, versatile recipe that can be served warm or cold. I’m so into miso dressing lately that I made this again since I had all of the ingredients on hand except the carrots, which is used in the original recipe instead of butternut squash. Feel free to use either one – if you do choose the carrots (1-2 cups, sliced), you can skip the sauté part and throw the carrots in with the edamame after the tofu is sautéed, just to heat them up a little and take away some of the hard crunch of the fresh carrot. Also, I threw in the arugula to “bulk up” the salad a little and make this dish stretch to four servings instead of 3.

ingredients
salad
1/2 c wild rice
14 oz. block extra firm tofu
2 t coconut oil
1 small butternut squash, cut into 1″ pieces
2 t soy sauce
fresh ground pepper
3/4 c cooked, shelled, edamame
1 large handful of baby arugula
3 T toasted sesame seeds
chopped cilantro, for garnish

dressing
2 T white (shiro) miso
2 T agave nectar
1 T sesame oil
2 1/2 T rice vinegar
1 shallot, minced
Juice of half an Orange

instructions
Rinse the wild rice. Bring two cups water to a boil. Add the rice, turn the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed (about 35-40 minutes), adding a bit more water if necessary to finish cooking. You will see a tuft of white pop from the center of the rice.

Meanwhile, drain the tofu of excess water. I like to wrap it in a dish towel and sit something really heavy on top of it for about 10 minutes. Cut it into a 1” dice. Heat the coconut oil over medium high heat – a cast iron skillet would work great, but any skillet will do. Add the butternut squash and sauté for about 7 minutes, then add the tofu and saute for about five minutes. Sprinkle the soy sauce and a few grinds of fresh pepper over the top and saute another few minutes until the edges are browned, adding the edamame at this point as well. Turn off heat and set aside, letting cool as much as possible.

To make the dressing, whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Then, in a large bowl, combine the rice, tofu, squash, and edamame. Toss everything with the dressing. Add the arugula, sesame seeds, and cilantro and give it another toss. Serve room temperature or chilled.

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Going Green

Over the course of 29.9 years, I’ve ever so slowly heeded my parents’ advice, or demands, rather. I’ve eaten my vegetables. And I take that back – I’ve heeded my mom’s advice; my dad despises any food that’s green. In fact, he just hates green altogether.

My mama though, she bonded with my dad’s family over collard greens like you wouldn’t believe. Even though my parents are divorced, she still comes to Aunt Faye’s house for Christmas dinner with us, and I’m sure those collard greens are in the top three on her agenda. She eats beans and carrots and broccoli, and she never understood why even eating one spoonful (my “no, thank you” serving) was almost as bad as having one’s mouth washed out with soap, perhaps worse.

I remember it all very clearly. I remember those canned green beans, the fresh-from-gramma’s peas, and those lumps o’ mustard greens at Christmas that were dumped into a bowl and eerily similar to creamed spinach, without the cream. They all scared me; they were soft and chewy, reminiscent of baby food (except the mashed bananas, which I continued to eat for quite some time) and when paired with barbecue chicken and french fries, it was hard to take even one bite, let alone an entire serving.

I like to think that, had my mom fed me a dish of sauteed chard with steak and edamame, that I wouldn’t have turned my nose up at it. But since she didn’t, I’ll never know whether introducing chard in adolescence would have been a pivotal moment in my opinion of and love for greens, or not.

And though I enjoy chard in a hearty ribollita, or stuffed into pork chops, I think this dish may be my favorite use of this beautiful green leafy veggie thus far.

Though you’d think the sirloin would play a major role in this dish since it’s the primary source of protein, it actually takes a back seat, and the green components are really what stand out here. The chard is perfectly, barely-wilted and the edamame add a wonderful crunch; herbs thrown in at the end add freshness and brightness. Toss it all around with caramelized onions, asian flavors, and a new favorite of mine, red rice, and you’ve got yourself one lovely, healthy, vegetable-lovin’ dish; the steak happily lurks in the background.

So sure, years 1-25 were not full of vitamins A, K, and beta-carotene, but they are now, and happily so. My mom can finally be proud of her little daughter’s food choices. I doubt she even eats chard or kale, but I know it makes her happy that I finally do.

Collard greens? Southern I may be, but still, “no, thank you”.

Stir-Fried Red Rice w/ Sirloin, Edamame, & Chard
Adapted from Food & Wine, March 2010; serves 4

printable version

ingredients
1/2 c red rice
1 c water
3 T canola oil
8 oz thinly sliced sirloin steak
salt and pepper
1 lg vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 T minced fresh ginger
1 bunch red swiss chard, thinly sliced
1 c shelled edamame, fresh or thawed
3 T reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 c cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 T mint, coarsely chopped
lime wedges, for garnish

instructions
in a small saucepan, cover rice with water and bring to boil. cover saucepan and cook on low for about 25 minutes, until rice is tender. spread rice out on baking sheet to cool. can be made in advance and stored until needed.

in a large skillet, heat 1 T oil. add garlic and cook over mod-hi heat for 30 seconds. add sirloin, season with salt and pepper and cook, turning once, until browned – about 1 minute. transfer to plate.

heat remaining 2 t oil. add onion and ginger and cook over mod heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. stir in greens and stir fry over high heat until wilted, about 1 minute. stir in rice and edamame, then soy sauce and steak and stir well. season with salt and pepper. garnish with cilantro, mint, and lime wedges.

Fashionably Late Party Tricks

edamame wontons

One. More. Day. I’m slowly trudging through one nightmare of a week. Things would be much better around these parts if the threat of impending snow wasn’t littered through the morning news, if the construction crew across Michigan Ave could take a few days off (just for me – why is that so impossible to arrange?), if some youngin’ didn’t hit me (well, not me, my car) while we were trying to park for the Weezer show, or if I weren’t forcing myself to eat like a rabbit all week. Yeah, a rabbit. I suppose rabbits don’t eat lean cuisines, but either way I’ve found myself nibbling every little morsel of food with the ferocity of those little critters – making sure I’m tasting each and every bite, because let’s be honest – there aren’t many bites in those lil’ boxes.

edamame

So let’s recap – I’m hungry. I want to bake some cookies or make fudge or maybe even another loaf of pumpkin cranberry bread. Shoot – give me cassoulet or chili – something warm and hearty and I’d shut the hell up. But as I remind myself that the week is almost over and it’s almost time for me to reward myself with some of the above, I also remind myself that I don’t want to buy a new wardrobe because my pants stopped fitting. Or because I busted through them. That wouldn’t be pretty. No sir.

wonton step1

Shoot – I’d wrestle a kitten for those pretzels I made the other day. And yes, the freezer stash was also among the casualties this past weekend. But in making those pretzels, eating them and then re-eating them this past weekend, I reminded myself just how much I love appetizers, and I definitely don’t make enough of them. Truth be told, even the ones I make somehow never make their debut here, and that’s a cryin’ shame. Well, for you it is. I get to eat them either way.

wonton step2



But I do occasionally make appetizers. Especially when we have company, as they’re sure to impress. Like these little morsels of delight. Aren’t they just the cutest? Little nibbly pretty envelopes of edamame, so cute I could pinch them in two. I made these in September, and I forgot about them. Can you believe this?! But thankfully, I remembered – partially due to my self-induced hunger and the need to continue that torture by perusing all of my old food photos. But also thanks to the pretzels for reminding me how heavenly appetizers can be. Better late than never, right?

wonton step3

 

So, thank you pretzels. Thank you, edamame and your salty, toasty dipping sauce. Thank you week for almost being over so that I can make more appetizers and cookies. The question is, what do I make?

wonton step4

 

Edamame & Ginger Wonton Ravioli with Soy Sesame Dipping Sauce
Serves 4, makes about 32 wontons

 

printable recipe

Ok, so first I’ll apologize for being late on sharing this recipe. I should have, but I was a little bit more excited about finishing culinary school – my bad! But, this should not keep you from making this for an upcoming party, as they are sure to dazzle your guests. Plus, they taste good! Who doesn’t love edamame, right? And the dipping sauce? drinkable..

 

ingredients
wonton ravioli
2 2/3 c shelled edamame
2 T coarsely chopped ginger
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 t fresh  lime juice
salt & pepper to taste
About 32 dumpling or wonton wrappers

dipping sauce
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1 t chopped garlic
1 t chopped ginger
1 t chopped scallions
1 t toasted sesame oil
1/2 t honey

instructions
puree edamame in food processor; add in ginger, cilantro, garlic clove and lime juice. season with salt and pepper, to taste. add more lime juice if mixture appears too dry.

place ~1 rounded t of mixture in the center of each wrapper. brush wonton lightly with water to moisten. fold one corner of wrapper onto other corner, making a triangle shape. fold all three sides of triangle inward to make an envelope. keep wontons folded as they’re being made so as not to dry up.

meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. boil in 2 batches until tender, about 2-3 minutes each. remove with slotted spoon.

whisk together ingredients for dipping sauce.