Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cauliflower and Leek Pasta

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Why do we keep buying cauliflower? I don't even like them! Anyway, our orange cauliflower was in the fridge staring back at me. So I had to cook them. Something simple maybe?

You will need:
  • 1 head of cauliflower (I used orange cauliflower), tough stems removed
  • 1 medium leek, white part only, sliced thin
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter or butter substitute (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cinder vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  • 1 pound whole wheat pasta
In a medium pot, melt butter or butter substitute with olive oil. Add leek and garlic. Saute gently until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add cauliflower. Stir. Add dry white wine and vinegar. Bring mixture to boil and then turn down to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil. Season with salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain. Toss pasta with cauliflower mixture and toasted pine nuts. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

I think the orange cauliflower was sweeter than regular. I like it more than regular cauliflower. But it's been years since I've had a regular white cauliflower that I struggle to remember what they actually taste like. VB thinks that I actually like cauliflower but for some unknown reason have denied that fact most of my adult life. Maybe I just need something to hate on. I mean, I can't like to eat everything, can I? Can I?

Oh, remember kohlrabi? We liked it so much that we bought it again at the farmers' market. This time, I peeled them and sliced them thinly along with a couple of granny smith apples. Then I tossed them simply with some vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. It's fresh, slightly sweet, crunchy and really delicious as a side salad/slaw.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Green Tea Pot Stickers

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I've been feeling uninspired. I've been cooking, but I didn't feel particularly excited about anything. I'm trying to cook my way out of the funk, so I tried something a little different -- green tea pot stickers. I mixed some green tea powder in the dumpling dough, which adds fragrance and a little bitterness that complements the bok choy filling very well. I tried steaming them, but learned (the hard way) that bamboo steaming baskets need to lined with cheese cloth, NOT parchment paper, unless you want puddles of water under your dumplings. But thankfully, I was able to save the dumplings by quickly pan frying them.

For these green tea pot stickers, you will need:
  • 5 bok choys, rinsed and cleaned
  • 4 ounces vegetarian ham (or extra firm tofu)
  • 1 pint shiitake mushrooms (or wood ear mushroom)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1 portion green tea dough, recipe below
For the green tea dough, you will need:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water (about 160 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons green tea powder
  • pinch of salt
In a large mixing bowl, mix together all-purpose flour, green tea powder and salt. Slowly pour in warm water and mix well with flour. Knead gently for a few minutes until the dough comes together. Set aside for 15 to 30 minutes to allow the dough to relax.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Quickly blanch boy for 30 seconds. Remove and allow to cool. Add bok choy to food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Place finely chopped bok choy into a cheese cloth and wring out any excess liquid. Place bok choy in a large mixing bowl. Add vegetarian ham and mushrooms into food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Mix together with bok choy, soy sauce, sesame oil, grated ginger, and white pepper. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary.

Divide the dough into about 36 equal pieces. Roll out each piece to thin rounds. Add about 1 tablespoon of bok choy mixture onto the dough. Fold dough over and pinch to shut. Steam and serve. Dough will turn deep green after cooking. If you want to pan fry them, place dumpling into a hot, greased non-stick pan fitted with a lid. Pour in enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and allow dumplings to steam until water completely evaporates. Repeat 2 more times and serve.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mystery Produce of the Week: King Trumpet and Pink Oyster Mushrooms

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There's a mushroom stand at our local farmers' market. We passed by it many times and never bought anything interesting until recently. Based on nothing more than just how they looked, we bought these king trumpet mushrooms and pink oyster mushrooms. I decided that I want to highlight the mushrooms by making something simple and savory. So I made something really similar to the healing bowl and topped it some sauteed mushrooms.

I didn't think the king trumpet mushrooms were anything special. Sure, they were meaty and tasty, but pretty unremarkable as far as mushrooms go. They tasted like mushrooms. Just regular mushrooms. That cannot be said about pink oyster mushrooms, which were pungent in a distinctive way. When I cut them up, they had a woody, slightly astringent smell that was a bit unpleasant. But that did not compare with the way they smell when cooked.

After struggling a bit with finding the right words to describe them, VB said, "They smell like the zoo. A zoo with lots and lots of monkeys." And, yes, that was exactly what they smelled like -- monkeys. A big, happy family of stinky, gross monkeys. It's pretty rare for me to find things that I won't eat and this was really close. VB found them downright disgusting. So it's pretty safe to say that we won't be buying anymore pink oyster mushrooms in the near future.