New URL, New Blog, Project Food Blog

13 09 2010

Back I’m back I’m back! Sortof… not here for long.

1. For starters, I’m finally hosting my blog on my own server and it has a new URL so change your bookmarks and feeds:

2. Related to that, I’m cooking again. I took a break for a while but I’m back and I’ve got lots to share. Finding time to get it on here… well, that’s another story.

3. And related to all of that – I’ve entered Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog. I’m one of almost 2000 contestants and I barely blog these days so I’m gonna need some help – you can vote for me. I’ll be posting updates as it happens. Look out for the first post. You can see my profile here.

Moral of the story – change your bookmarks and update your links – I’ll be over ***here*** from now on.


Vegan(!!) Miso Veggie Stew

27 01 2010

I know I know, I’m cracking up. I’ve gone bonkers over here… second day of no meat and tonight it was completely vegan! I think I might have to have a steak or some ribs tomorrow…

A lot of the time, especially when I’m just cooking for myself, I have a lot more than I need of something for a meal and lots leftover. Tonight I used some of the same stuff that went into my dinner last night and added a few other things I had around. I made sortof a vegetable stew with a miso soup base – except I didn’t add the bonito. This soup was super simple and actually really tasty and surprisingly filling.

It went a little something like this… First, I sliced sunchokes and boiled them for 15 minutes, according to the reccomendation in my Vegetable Book, by Colin Spencer. It’s a pretty nice reference about vegetables organized by species that I picked up at a thrift store years ago for like a dollar… very informative.

I wasn’t super familiar with sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) but I did know they had a flavor and texture similar to artichokes. They almost look like little balls of ginger root, but when cooked they taste like artichokes. Weird shit… Apparently they can make you pretty gassy and boiling them ahead of time can reduce that.

So I boiled the sunchokes and then set them aside. Drained the water (to avoid the fart fest) and refilled with some new water that I simmered a couple of small pieces of kombu in. Kombu, if you don’t know, is the hard, thick, dried seaweed that’s one of the main ingredients in the broth used to make miso soup. Usually that broth, called dashi, also has bonito (dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna) flakes in it but I opted to leave them out.

So I basically just started with a mildly seaweedy broth and added to that some diced carrots first that simmered for a bit and then a pile of chopped kale, some of which I chopped a little more finely to add some color and texture to the broth. After that simmered for a couple of minutes I turned down the heat and added some miso paste. You don’t ever want to boil after you’ve added the miso because you don’t want to kill all that good bacteria. After that I tossed in my leftover cooked quinoa from last night (which wasn’t much and I could have used more), the cooked sunchokes and some finely diced jalapeno. The result, topped with some sliced scallions, was pretty damn good…

My idea with the sunchokes was that they’d add sortof a firm-ish potato-y texture to the soup without totally starching it out and mucking up the miso. You could try potato if sunchokes aren’t around but honestly I think it would have been just as good without em… they didn’t really bring anything amazing to the soup, just helped fill it up. I think they’re probably better to just eat on their own so you can enjoy the flavor.

Vegan Miso Vegetable Stew
In order of appearance:

2-3″ of kombu (not the end of the world if you can’t get it, just leave it out)
6 cups water
4 carrots
4 cups chopped kale
3/4 cup miso paste* (more or less to taste – treat it like your salt seasoning for the soup…)
1 cup cooked quinoa (I’d use more if you have it… 2 cups probably would have been perfect)
6-8 cooked sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes)
1 small jalapeno pepper

Chop it however you want, stew it all together, and rest easy knowing that no animals were hurt or even consulted about this meal.**

*When you’re adding miso paste it helps a ton to thin it out with a little bit of hot water in a small bowl before pouring it in – you’ll avoid fat chunks of undissolved miso in your soup.

Vegetarians/vegans stop reading here.


**I’m sorry I just can’t resist – this would have been awesome if it was started with bacon… I’d simmer the water with the kombu in a separate pot. While that was going on, I’d sautee some chopped bacon in the soup pot. You could leave it in to really flavor the broth or remove it to use later as a topping. I’d then sautee the carrots with the fat (and bacon if you leave it in) for a minute before adding the hot broth and continuing from there.

Vegetarian What?

26 01 2010

I’ve been getting a lot of “even though your blog is all about meat and I don’t eat meat, I’ve been sending the link to my friends who do” comments lately… it’s not ALL about meat! So here it is. No meat. I didn’t eat a single piece of meat all day today. I’m cutting back. I don’t even eat as much as it seems like from the pictures… most of these meals last me days. But I’ve decided, after reading Food Matters, by Mark Bittman, that I’m gonna cut back a bit. Not out, just back. I don’t really want to cut anything out completely… I am a huge believer in moderation. Most of my meat-centricity on here is because it’s fun to talk about. But it’s far from the only thing I cook or eat… I have a salad with just about every meal I eat and always have some vegetables around my meat… I don’t like it to get lonely….

My philosophy on food is that the healthiest way to eat is to diversify yo bonds. Eat everything. It’s part of the reason I love Korean food so much – in just about every meal you get cooked, raw, pickled, spicy, mild, vegetables, fish, meat, broth, rice… in one meal! So a lot of the time I try to work that kind of diversity into the things I eat…

Tonight it was meat-free because I had a chance to swing by the Berkeley Bowl and couldn’t help myself with the produce. I came out with a pile of awesome fruits, vegetables and bulk grains and I decided to put some to use for my feeding.

Chanterelle mushrooms, garlic, carrot, zucchini, radicchio, kale and red quinoa. Quinoa is an amazing thing. I owe my knowledge of its existence to Andrea. Apparently it’s a “pseudocereal”. It’s like a grain, but not quite a grain… And, among other things you’d expect to find in something you treat like a grain – it’s full of protein. Which makes it pretty useful if you’re into cutting meat proteins out of your diet. The coolest thing about it though by far… is that it tastes damn good. It has a great texture – somewhere between rice and cous cous, which makes it really fun to eat. Oh yeah and it’s amazingly simple to cook. You can’t fuck it up. It’s like cooking rice except you have a zero percent chance of failure.

It also comes in a few different colors, which makes it pretty fun to use too. White, red and black, that I’ve seen. The best shot I have of it is a closeup of my half-finished plate… you can see how it sprouts little tails when it’s cooked that help the grains cling together kinda like rice.

Super simple meal. Dry sauteed the chanterelles to take out some water and then sauteed the garlic in olive oil then the carrots, then zucchini, mushrooms back in, chopped kale and radicchio just for a bit. The radicchio adds a nice bitterness and the kale adds a nice crunch and some bright color. Sometimes when I make a dish like this I’ll leave the kale raw and just chop it up and mix it in at the end.

Like I said before – baby I like it raaaaw (but not all raw). I like to have a mix of cooked and raw, but this time I just cooked everything. I got my raw non-meats in the form of pickled cauliflower that I made last week – I’ve been pickling my leftover veggies left and right so they don’t go bad when I can’t finish them all in time. It saves waste and gives me another easy flavor boost that I don’t have to do anything for but take it out of the jar. Just had that on the side.


The beauty of this is that you can basically use anything. I used:

1 cup red quinoa + 2 cups of water with a little bit of spicy garlicky salt in it (more on that later): boil water, pour in quinoa, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes

2 big chanterelle mushrooms, chopped
1 small white zucchini, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 cloves of garlic
a few leaves of radicchio, chopped
a few big leaves of kale, chopped
salt + pepper
a nice splash of balsamic vinegar at the end for some good, sweet acid

Shaved some Old Amsterdam aged gouda on top.

I’m not gonna lie – it would have been better with bacon. But anything would and it was fine without it.

Fried Slow-Poached Egg & Ground Pork

9 01 2010

Minus the slow-poached egg, this is a variation on one of my standard dinners… usually I eat it tossed with noodles and it’s much better that way than with rice. This one wasn’t the best but you get the idea.

The slow-poached egg is another one from Momofuku. The very abbreviated version of the story he tells in the book, is that old Japanese women would take baskets of eggs to the hot springs and the water was the perfect temperature to poach them inside the shell.

The recipe says to hold them in a bath of water between 140 and 145F for around 45 minutes. I did it for exactly that long and they were still a little bit too loose. I think something closer to an hour would have been better.

You can also see in the picture below that the eggs are sitting on the lid of another pot inside my dutch oven – this was to keep them from sitting on the bottom where the pot is hotter than the rest. The pot lid proved not to be the best solution because it trapped the water that was heating underneath it and made circulation a problem. I’d suggest using something more porous. The best solution would be a metal steamer basket – the kind your grandma always used to steam broccoli in until it was brown and soggy.

The ground pork/sauce thing is something that I make pretty regularly and the ingredients always change but the basic premise is – ground pork flavored with some combination of soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar and chilis. This particular incarnation went something like this:

– Onions and garlic sauteed with whole dried chilis.
– Ground pork, sauteed till brown
– Sauce mixture of: soy sauce, mirin, Shaoxing cooking wine, red vinegar & water steeped with strong oolong and roasted green tea*
– Diced bok choy

I poured the meat sauce over rice, topped it with a pan-fried slow-poached egg, and topped it all with some chopped up Belgian endive, a few peanuts and some sesame seeds.

*A lot of times when I don’t have stock or broth around, I’ll brew a pot of tea to use as a base for soups and sauces to give them some extra flavor. Oolong and roasted green tea (hojicha) work great – especially for Asian dishes.