Sunday, July 10, 2016

Homestyle Miso Soup

Miso is one of the most versatile ingredients to work with in vegetarian cuisine -- it can be used as a marinade, dressing, in side sauces or most commonly, as a soup base. This is a fantastic dish that only takes about 15 minutes to make, and can be used either as a light starter or an easy main course if you want something nutritious and comforting. The miso paste can be adjusted depending on your taste, and the vegetables can be switched around to your liking. This is how I was taught to make it, and very similar to what I've had in most Japanese restaurants.

The zucchini can be left out completely, but I just love the soba-like effect of spiralized zucchini noodles in this particular soup. It adds a nice texture on top of the nutritional punch it packs.

You will need:

1/4 cup miso paste
1/3 cup warm water

4 cups water
2 tbsp tamari sauce
1 scallion, sliced
1 handful sliced white or Cremini mushrooms (about 3-4 whole mushrooms)
1 small zucchini, spiralized
4 oz tofu, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the miso paste and warm water. Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, heat the olive oil, scallions, tofu, and mushrooms over medium heat. Sautee them all together until the mixture becomes fragrant and the tofu begins to brown on more than one side. Add the water and tamari sauce and bring to a strong simmer, then add the zucchini noodles. Cook until the zucchini is at the desired texture -- 4-5 minutes if you want more crisp noodles, 7-8 for softer noodles. Once you've gotten the zucchini cooked, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Thoroughly stir and add the miso paste while the soup is still hot but not simmering. Serve immediately.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Vegetarian Spaghetti Carbonara

I love spaghetti carbonara. However, it's basically the opposite of vegetarian. I've found a way to replicate it, though. Some people don't like to add cream to their carbonara, so omit that if it's not your jam. Otherwise, carry on.

You will need:

1 pack vegetarian bacon
1/4 cup cream
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
4 cups cooked spaghetti (do this last since you'll need it piping hot)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

I like to cook vegetarian bacon in a skillet with olive oil, it crisps it up nicely. Cut it into small pieces and cook it with the garlic. Once it's crispy, take it off the heat and set aside.

Whisk the yolks and cream together, and as soon as you drain the spaghetti, add it to the piping hot pasta. Toss it thoroughly, adding the salt, pepper, parmesan, and cooked bacon and garlic as you go. After a few minutes it should be ready to serve!

I'm a bit wary of recipes that call for raw eggs, so I try to get them from pasture-raised chickens whenever I can. The brighter the yolk, the better the end result is going to look. If you can't do raw eggs, baking the pasta after everything is mixed for a few minutes will cook them thoroughly without sacrificing too much texture. It's creamier with the raw yolks, but it'll still be delicious if it's baked after.

Roasted Butternut Cream Chowder

This is a recipe that just never fails. It's seasonal, relatively cheap to make, and I have yet to find someone who doesn't adore it. Feel free to adjust the seasoning as you see fit; smoked paprika can add a lot of heat to an otherwise mellow comfort food, so you do you. Since one butternut squash makes a lot of puree, I'm posting the version that uses all of the puree. Feel free to halve it if you don't intend on using the whole squash, or freeze some for another day.

You will need:

1 small to medium butternut squash; I try to find the smallest of the bunch, something that will yield around 3 cups of puree is ideal
8 oz light cream
4 oz chevre
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/3 cup crushed cashews
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
a few sprigs of rosemary
1/3 cup chopped white onion
1 tbsp butter
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
salt to taste
turmeric for color

You've got to roast a squash to do this right. Halve it, scoop out the seeds, and place it cut side down in a roasting pan. Fill it with about half an inch of salted water. Preheat the oven to 350, and let it bake for 60-90 minutes. Some people roast at 400 for a much shorter time, but I prefer the longer method -- you get a more tender, sweet result. Let the halves cool completely before scooping out the puree.

After that, it's pretty simple. Using a large soup pot, throw in the onion and butter and let them cook until the onion begins to brown. Add your 3-4 cups of squash puree and the broth of your choice. Whisk it together over medium heat until it's more or less uniform. Add the paprika, cashews, herbs and chevre, and simmer on medium-low. Check it about every 5-10 minutes and give it a nice whisk each time. After around 15 minutes, add the cream and turmeric and whisk, whisk, whisk. Some people like to use an immersion blender for this, it does yield a creamier result. Taste it and add however much salt you need.

I've found that keeping this on very low heat for some more time brings out the flavor more, but it can be served immediately as well.