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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Herbed Edamame Sauce with Soba Noodles and Peppered Cashews

This past week has been full of way too much heavy food. My roommate had a friend visiting from Texas, and in an effort to show her a good time, we ate at two local Italian restaurants, one pizza parlor, one ice cream shop, and one frozen custard joint. Then, to add insult to injury, we visited a tasty German Bakery/Deli/Café over the weekend and between dinner, breakfast, and rich pastries, all courtesy of the café, my stomach had reached its limit. Don’t get me wrong...it was all VERY yummy, but I needed something light and vegetarian to counteract the previous 5 days of rampant gluttony.

Tired of rich, heavy foods, I turned to my fridge and cupboards to see what kind of light meal I could throw together for dinner tonight. I noticed a half-eaten bag of frozen edamame in the freezer, and decided to use it up.

I really love my edamame. It’s the ultimate mod pod! The beans boast a buttery, nutty flavor and crisp texture, perfect for snacking. They’re addictive as peanuts but with far less fat―only 3 grams per ½ cup, all of which is the heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated kind. Because they are high in protein (8 grams per ½ cup), they make an ideal choice for getting your 25 grams of soy protein daily. Edamame also provide 4 grams of fiber per ½ cup. Go edamame!

Anyway, I wanted to do something more than just boil and eat them, like I always do, so I decided to puree the heck out of them, add some herbs ‘n’ stuff, then ladle the whole mess over soba noodles.

The results turned out quite nice! A light, meatless meal with plenty of protein and not a whole lot of fat! Tasty and healthy. Finished up with a small handful of fresh strawberries for dessert. Mmm-mm. Just right.

I eyeballed the ingredients. I’ll try to duplicate the recipe here.

Herbed Edamame Sauce with Soba Noodles

About 1 cup frozen shelled edamame (blanched)
¼ cup dry roasted cashews (pine nuts or other nuts could probably be used)
½ cup basil leaves
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt
Dash of pepper
A couple heaping teaspoons minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
1 cup hot water
Hot cooked gluten-free soba noodles

Prepare edamame according to package directions. (Probably a good idea to omit salt – I always do, but for this recipe it’s especially necessary).

Place edamame, cashews, basil, and next 7 ingredients (basil through garlic) in a food processor and pulse it up until finely chopped.

Next, slowly pour hot water through the food chute and keep processing the mixture until smooth. Serve over soba, and garnish with extra cashews, cilantro, whole edamame, and lime wedges, if desired.

Notes
• The sauce was a bit too citrus-y for my taste, so I sprinkled some cheese on top. I had pecorino romano on hand, but any hard cheese should work. Next time I’ll add the cheese to the sauce to tone down the lime flavor.

• I don’t have a food processor. I like to pretend I do, and write recipes that require one. For this recipe, I used an old, beat-up blender. I think I bought it at Rite-Aid on sale for $8 when I was a Freshman in college. It didn’t work as nicely as a food processor would, but with a bit of elbow grease, it got the job done. Who wants to buy me a food processor, hmm?

• Whole Foods has a new item in their bulk department: peppered cashews. I had to give them a try. They did not disappoint.

• The brand of soba noodles I had in the cupboard was a bit salty. I guess soba noodles are supposed to be salty to begin with, but they seemed extra salty to me. Next time I might try regular ol’ wheat spaghetti noodles, and experiment using pine nuts and more basil for an Italian flare.
Here are some photos of the finished product.

My happy little live basil plant:



Soba & Sauce:





Thursday, July 16, 2009

Katharine Hepburn's Brownies



So far, the best recipe for brownies that I’ve ever come across is Katharine Hepburn’s. The story of Kate’s brownies is all over the web, in various forms, but it goes something like this:

After Hepburn died, eulogies came from all over the world, many including stories about her brownies. In an article in Bon Appetit magazine, a woman recalled wanting to quit her studies at Bryn Mawr. Her father managed to get Katharine, a Bryn Mawr alum and a neighbor, to intervene. The famous Kate invited both the young woman and her father to her home one afternoon. At tea, the budding student got a taste of the legendary brownies as well as a glimpse of the actress's views on education.

In her tribute to Kate, Ms. Henderson (the young woman) wrote, "I'll always be grateful to Miss Hepburn for making me stick it out at Bryn Mawr and for giving me these rules to live by: 1. Never quit; 2. Be yourself and 3. Don't put too much flour in your brownies."

And that really is the key. This recipe calls for only ¼ cup flour, making the brownies turn out quite chewy and dense, and not dry at all. I usually leave out the walnuts because I’m not much of a fan of a nuts in my baked goods, but I’m sure they’d be fantastic either way. Besides, who says I have to follow this recipe to a ‘T’? As Kate would say, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies

• 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
• 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Melt together 1 stick butter and 2 squares unsweetened chocolate and take the saucepan off the heat. Stir in 1 cup sugar, add 2 eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and beat the mixture well. Stir in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (In the original recipe, 1 cup chopped walnuts is added here as well.) Bake the brownies in a buttered and floured 8-inch-square pan at 325°F for about 40 minutes.

(I added some chocolate buttercream frosting on top. I’m sure Kate would approve.)





Raspberries

Fancy, complicated, gourmet food is fun to cook (and eat!), but sometimes…sometimes, the best food comes straight from the vine/ground/tree/bush.

Fresh raspberries. ‘Nuff said.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rosemary-Brie Mac 'n' Cheese

Awhile ago I tried my hand at Rosemary-Brie Mac ‘n’ Cheese. It didn’t turn out as great as I’d hoped. It had kind of a bitter taste to it, and I couldn’t figure out if it was due to too much rosemary in the mix, or perhaps the fact that the breadcrumbs got slightly burned. It was fun to try this recipe, though, and now I want to do more cooking with figs, just because!

Rosemary-Brie Mac 'n Cheese

2 cups small elbow macaroni, or similar pasta as desired
1/2 cup panko flakes or other breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole milk (be prepared to add more as necessary)
7 oz. Brie, rind removed
5 oz. gruyere, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
5 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in 1 teaspoon butter
1 cup diced fresh figs
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cook macaroni in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain.

Melt 3T butter in large saucepan; melt remaining tablespoon in small saucepan. Mix panko or other breadcrumbs into small saucepan; remove from heat and set aside.

Add flour to large saucepan; whisk over medium-low heat 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Add rosemary and bring to boil, whisking constantly. Whisk 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Add cheese, mushrooms and figs; stir until melted. Add more milk if necessary for thick, creamy consistency.

Preheat broiler. Mix macaroni into sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into Pyrex (or, for more crunchy surface area, spoon into 9-inch pie plate); sprinkle crumbs over. Broil until crumbs brown, about 2 minutes, and serve hot.

Roasted broccoli with olive oil and salt/pepper on the side.





Monday, July 13, 2009

Kiwi Sorbet

Last week, I was happily eating a kiwi fruit when I got the brilliant idea to make...Kiwi Sorbet. This idea nagged at me for several days until it turned into a burning desire. I HAD to make sorbet. I was craving kiwi sorbet all day and seeing visions of it in my sleep.

I’d had my eye on ice cream makers for about a month. As luck would have it, a nice model (Cuisinart, capabilities to make 2 quarts) was available at Costco at a decent price. I gave in and purchased it. And, of course, christened it with kiwi sorbet.

The recipe I found was in a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream & Dessert cookbook that I purchased a couple years ago. I modified it a little (doubled the recipe and substituted ingredients). Here's my version:

Kiwi Sorbet

1 lb. fresh kiwis (about 6) peeled and cut into small pieces
1 ½ cup sugar
6 Tbsp. lime juice
1 cup pineapple juice
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 cups cold water

Combine kiwis, sugar, and lime juice in a mixing bowl. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When ready to freeze sorbet, mash the kiwis up, then add the pineapple juice, corn syrup, and water and stir until blended.

Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following manufacturer’s instructions.

Make 2 quarts.

Notes:

• I tried mashing with a potato masher, but that didn’t work so well, so I transferred the mixture to a blender and pulsed it up to get the consistency I wanted.

• Substitutions: Lime juice in place of lemon, pineapple juice in place of midori (melon liquer).

• It never fully freezed in the ice cream maker (technical difficulties using the appliance for the first time, and maybe the pineapple juice had something to do with the freezing process) and I wound up adding banana and ice to make smoothies for dinner guests out of about half the batch. The rest went into the freezer overnight.

• It turned out nice and frozen, but more like a “kiwi ice” than a “kiwi sorbet”.

• The smoothies were pretty good, but the sorbet is really, really sweet. Without the bananas and ice to tone it down, it’s a little over the top. Next time I’ll try just one tablespoon corn syrup, and maybe less pineapple juice or something different in its place.