Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sweet potato sandbags (in retrospect:first signs I was pregnant)

Ok ok. I have to be honest the soup diet was unable to hold up, or rather I should say we were unable to hold up to the soup diet. We went to the mainland this weekend and when we are on the mainland our kitchen is bare. Meaning we don't have any of the necessary spices or ingredients to make meals. So we brought some soup off island with us and then went and had pizza. There is a place on Federal Hill called Bob and Timmy's, I swear it is a hidden gem. Perhaps everyone else knows how good it is too, but the few times we've been there it is as if we have discovered this little whole in the wall with delicious thin crust grilled pizzas.

So it went like that the whole weekend. Not pizza, but the salad bar at Wholefoods, homemade black bean burgers at Jullien's, and brown fried rice at Twist. Once the levees broke no amount of sweet potato soup sandbags could fix that whole. We did eat sweet potato soup which I had made to take with us off the island, it was delicious but I made the mistake of eating it with slightly moldy bread and gave myself a stomach ache. I have to say I did little to promote said soup diet.

Last night, back on the island, I made vegetarian chili. It was delicious and was served with homemade cornbread. This week we'll see how the fare fairs.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dashi it to me (Dashi w/Shrimp & Rice Noodles)

Ahhh Dashi. I had never made this traditional Japanese broth before and I have found that I absolutely love it! It has been the missing ingredient in so many noodle soups, miso soups, or other Japanese dishes that just seemed to be lacking the oomph that you may experience from a meal at a Japanese restaurant. Dashi is made by simmering an 8 inch piece of konbu (which is a seaweed also known as kelp, very nutritious) in about 4 cups of water. Adding bonito flakes is optional, but I opted for it and found it added a nice depth of flavor (vegetarians leave these out). This broth can stand alone, or be the base for any vegetable or seafood soup.

Dashi with Shrimp and rice noodles (seen below)

1/12 lb med shrimp cooked and peeled (save peels)
2 1/2 cup dashi broth
½ oz dry shitake
3 Tbl fermented black bean sauce
2 Tbl ginger strips
4 med scallions
4 heads bok choy
½ lb button mushrooms
2 pakage rice noodles cooked and tossed in olive oil

Boil ¾ cup shrimp water and stir in BB sauce, Dashi.
Stir in veggies, cook for 20 minutes
Stir in shrimp, noodles, and scallions last and serve

Chop said it may have been the best soup he's ever had! The dashi broth when used as a base for miso soup was amazing too.

Health Benefits: Miso contains many trace minerals including zinc, manganese, and copper, which help to strengthen the immune system, boost energy, and protect bones and blood vessels. It is also a rich source of protein -- one tablespoon has 2 grams of protein and just 25 calories.

Studies have also found that substances in miso help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Note: Miso is high in sodium, so it may not be appropriate for those on low-sodium diets.

2. Seaweed

Seaweeds like kelp, wakame, arame and dulse are commonly used to make Japanese salads and are added to soups, stews and other dishes. Seaweed is also used as a wrap for sushi. Seaweed tastes similar to leafy green vegetables, with an underlying salty, sea flavor.

Health Benefits: Seaweed contains the broadest range of minerals of any food -- the same minerals found in the ocean and in human blood, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and iodine.

Seaweed also contains vitamin C, fiber, beta-carotene, and pantothenic acid and riboflavin -- two B-vitamins needed for your body to produce energy.