All that about not cooking much?

victoria —  October 29, 2004 — Leave a comment

I made up for it yesterday. In class we made maple-glazed carrots, braised pumpkin, braised celery and peas with fennel and bacon. My group was assigned the carrots and pumpkin. I primarily worked on the carrots. I thought they turned out well, though the chef and several class members said they needed more salt. I just can’t bring myself to salt at that level yet. I guess I’ll get there or I won’t do very well on my production grade. He did say they were cut and cooked well and, thank the gas range gods, they weren’t overcooked.

When I got home from class, I peeled off my rather smelly chef’s coat and went to work in my own kitchen. The boychick needed bread for his PB&J standard lunch box offering. As I knew I wouldn’t have time to go all out on the bread making, I popped all the ingredients in the bread maker for light wheat and let it get to work.

I know that artisans and bread purists will be distressed by the whole bread machine thing. I do make bread by hand fairly often. But when your kiddo, no joke, wants a PB&J everyday in his lunch box, that’s a whole lotta bread. He’s not crazy about the fancy stuff because the crusts are too crusty, so this is the way I’ve chosen to get some decent whole wheat bread in him that I know isn’t full of preservatives and other scary things. I know this sounds defensive. I do have the cook’s guilt over not making a stone oven on the car pad outside the duplex and grinding my own flour, but there are only so many things the modern mom can accomplish.

After the bread machine loading, I cleaned the kitchen, for the third time that day, and had a long chat with the Divine Ms. M, who promises an Ask Foodieporn question for later. Keifel returned home with the torx screwdriver he had been in search of to swap out the dead hard drive in the TiPB and while he played in the guts of the PowerBook and the old, mostly dead Pismo, I made dinner.

When we went to K&S, the international market on Nolensville Road here in Nashville, I bought two pounds of soba noodles which Keifel had been eyeing suspiciously in the cabinet. I do tend to run amok at the grocery and do occasionally purchase things that take on a patina in the pantry before I find a good use for them. However, I had been wanting to try sesame noodles at home for some time and I know that I don’t like regular durhum pasta with the peanutty sesame sauce. The mouthfeel is wrong.

Both Nigella (in Forever Summer, I think) and Ina Garten in the original Barefoot Contessa cookbook have recipes for sesame-style, anglicized, cold noodles. Nigella calls for the more authentic buckwheat/soba noodles while Ina says to use the more readily available Italian-style spaghetti noodles. Ina’s sauce however sounded better (blasphemer, I know). I made a few adjustments, as I didn’t have sherry, sherry vinegar or chili oil. These were easily replaced with a dry Marsala (which I try to always have on hand), rice wine vinegar and a whole serrano pepper (with the seeds and membranes left in for extra heat). All that and tahini, organic peanut butter, canola oil, dark sesame oil, soy sauce, black pepper, garlic and ginger got whirled about in the blender while the noodles were on the boil. I also julienned half of a yellow pepper and chopped some cilantro for garnish (because I love cilantro and am always looking for a reason to add it to something).

I sauced the noodles in the bowl. I boiled a pound of noodles and was certain there would be leftovers. Sauced noodles don’t keep very well, but if you refrigerate the leftover sauce and noodles separately the leftovers will make a great late night snack, breakfast or lunch. Keifel was impressed with my on the fly recipe combo (I did make notes and am hopeful it can be reproduced at a later date).

Finally, after dinner, I made granola. My recipe is more and more loosely based on a recipe given to me by CSG. It’s a recipe of her mother’s for making a lowfat granola in the microwave. It works and I didn’t have to add to the already blistering heat in our tiny kitchen.

Granola via CSG’s Mom

3 cups old-fashioned, rolled oats (NOT the quick cooking or instant)
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds (do you see a pattern here? Still, I think cilantro flavored granola would be pushing it)
1/4 cup packed, dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit*

In a large heatproof and microwaveable bowl (I use the large size pyrex mixing bowl– you also have to consider what will fit in your microwave). Add the oats to the bowl and microwave on medium high power for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Add the wheat bran, coconut, sesame seeds, sugar, and spices and stir to combine. Add the remaining wet ingredients and stir to coat. Microwave for 6 minutes total stirring every two minutes. The bowl has the potential for getting very hot toward the end of the time, so use hot pads to take it out of the microwave. Pour the hot granola onto a baking sheet to cool. When completely cool, break it up into small pieces (it may be pretty dry so this may be an unnecessary step) and store in an airtight container. At our house, I like my granola with milk, the boychick likes his with vanilla yogurt and Keifel eats his dry (he’s not a big milk consumer).

* I add whatever dried fruit I want to the serving bowl. It turns into leathery, unchewable bits if cooked or stored with the granola. Dried cranberries are my favorite addition. I also use various and sundry things in place of the coconut and sesame seeds: pecans, almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds–really whatever nutty or seedy thing is on hand.



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