local is good, but sometimes you want flavors from afar

I love local foods. In every season. BUT, sometimes I just really crave flavors that are not from here. Pad Thai is one of my rotational dishes. Here is a really simple recipe that you can obviously tweak to your liking.

7 oz. dried flat rice stick noodles
3 tbsp. tamarind pulp
3 tbsp. palm sugar or light brown sugar
2 tbsp. nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. Thai chili powder
7 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 small shallots, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
12 ounces seitan
2 tbsp. tiny dried shrimp
Half bunch Chinese chives or 4 scallions, green part only,
cut into 2" pieces
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 lime, quartered

1. Soak noodles in a large bowl of hot water until pliable, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Dissolve tamarind pulp in 1 cup water in a small bowl, then strain through a sieve into a medium bowl, pressing on pulp with the back of a spoon to push most of it through. Discard seeds. Stir sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, and chili powder into tamarind liquid and set sauce aside.

2. Heat the remaining 6 tbsp. oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add shallots and garlic and stir-fry until soft, about 10 seconds. Add seitan and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add dried shrimp, chives, half the bean sprouts, half the peanuts, the noodles, and the reserved sauce and stir-fry, tossing constantly, until noodles absorb most of the sauce and sauce thickens, 2-3 minutes. Garnish each serving with the remaining bean sprouts and peanuts and serve with limes.


shameful stir fry

it's shameful that I cook multiple nights a week and have not updated this blog in 8 months!!! I can't even use the excuse that I've been pregnant, lost a limb or contracted SARS. I simply have been neglectful of this blog and so tonight I am posting one of my very simplest - favoritest recipes. there are no quantities for vegetables - just use your judgement on what you and one other person would eat...i guess we always end up with a little left, which is nice for next days lunch.
the sauce:
roughly 1/2 cup of pineapple and or fresh orange juice
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 tbls honey
2 tbls toasted sesame oil
2 tbls cornstarch or arrow root powder

- whisk all the above ingredients together
go ahead and section off your veggies according to cook time. I like to do:
  • carrots, onion, or roots first for a few minutes
  • then add bell peppers
  • then greens such as kale, bok choy, broccoli, snap peas, romano beans. i also add pineapple or baby corn at this time
a little sesame oil first over high heat...then the first round of ingredients
stir until just bright green - do not over cook! you want your vegetables to still be alive
crank up the heat and add in the sauce

allow to thicken for just a minute or two, then serve over your favorite rice

Summer Vegetable Ragout w/ Pinto Beans

today was a 2 hour kinda day. 2 hours sipping tea, knitting. 2 hours garden tending. 2 hours blogging. 2 hours cooking and soon to be...2 hours of vampire watching manhattan sipping. below is a hearty yet summery satisfying dish albeit takes some time so be patient and set aside time to soak and cook your beans...canned are no substitute. This abundant dish cost me $ 12 as a combo of garden collecting and farm stand purchases, enjoy cooking something on the cheaps but with a huge reward!

Summer Vegetable Ragout w/ Pinto Beans
serves 4 - 6

1. soak roughly 1 cup of dried pinto beans all day in cold water, then cook while you are doing the remainder of this recipe - it usually takes me an hour to cook down my pintos so they are nice and creamy but still holding together.

for the ragout:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup 1/4 inch diced onion
1/2 cup 1/4 inch diced carrot
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled (important!) seeded (important!) and chopped
2 pounds red and yellow bell peppers, peeled (important but a pain) seeded and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 jalapeno, half seeded, finely chopped
2 tbls chopped fresh basil
1 tbls chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
sea salt or kosher to taste

* in a large saucepan, the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook until soft = 5 minutes, do not allow to brown.
* then stir in prepped tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, herb sprigs (not basil) and jalapeno.
* raise heat to high and bring to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover and simmer until the peppers are meltingly together = 20 minutes.
* while the ragout is simmering, if you've timed right, you can drain your perfect pintos. after draining and when ragout is done, add in beans and chopped basil/parsley. season with salt & serve.


Saffron-Dumpling Soup

a tip. don't throw out your good parmesan cheese rinds, cube them up to add at the very end of soup making.
dumpling makings

saffron broth
Bob's grandmother's dumpling recipe

serves 6 -8

2 tbls canola or veg oil
1 cup chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
2 celery stalks, diced
4 cups cubed potatoes
8 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt


In a large stock pot, heat oil and saute onions & garlic on medium heat for 10 minutes.
Add carrots, celery, potatoes, boiling water, saffron, paprika, salt, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, make up your dumpling mixture.
After 30 minutes, gently drop in spoonfuls of dumpling mixture. then add zucchini and parmesan cubes, let the soup cook for another 10 minutes.


great marinara

i make this marinara once a week, usually on soccer night for Bob. the great thing is that it can be adjusted to what ever you want to add, olives, shrooms, meat, crab cakes....the list goes on. i found this in Saveur, recipe below.
This tomato sauce, based on one served at Angelo's Fairmount Tavern, tastes just as good when tossed with spaghetti as it does when cooked in dishes like the Veal Parmesan and Baked Manicotti. We recommend using a good brand of canned tomatoes, such as Muir Glen; their balance of tartness and fruity sweetness will yield a brighter-tasting sauce. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 8 days.

1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1⁄2 small onion, finely chopped
1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano
1⁄4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. finely chopped
curly or flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground
black pepper, to taste

1 Put tomatoes and their liquid into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Set aside.

2 Heat oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

3 Add the chopped tomatoes along with the oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly and its flavors come together, about 20 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.


grilled spring vegetables, salmon and curry sauce

we usually get some nice treasures from local farms while we are at the market doing bagels. this week included some weird Japanese turnip thing, carrots, spring onions, leek flowers and oregano

i know i'm pushing it with corn, but i get so darn excited for new veggies at the co-op...and corn just popped up!

delicate, tender, wonderful spring onions

leek flowers that i grilled with the salmon

grill them all up, mix them all up and topped with a coconut red curry sauce


Summer Salmon Salad

picking the delicate meat off 3 cooked salmon collars that our local fisherman can't sell, so our freezer sits full of these delicious fatty treasures.

i don't know, it must be a little of my grandmother in me that delights at seeing such little waste. this is all that left after i divided the fish in a bowl for us and a bowl for daphne.

meat for us, fatty meat and skin for Daphne

summer salmon salad = serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbls pure maple syrup
2 tbls dijon mustard
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
(whisk the above in a large bowl)
1 cup diced red onion
1 1/2 cups green beans, quickly blanched & cooled, chopped
3 hard cooked eggs, chopped
2 cups potatoes, cooked, cooled and chopped in 1 inch cubes
2 cups cooked & cooled salmon
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

gently combine all ingredients in the bowl with the dressing, season with salt & pepper to taste. serve cooled or at room temp over salad greens.