Spicy Ginger Peanut Noodles


I cannot tell a lie: this is one of my favorite noodle recipes to eat.

It’s not because I love peanut butter, and ginger, and sesame. It’s not because I love that you can make this as spicy or as mild as you like. It’s not because it’s super easy, although all those things are nice too.

It’s really because every time I make it, it’s a little different. Depending on what fresh ingredients I have in my fridge or growing in my herb garden, I can always change it up a little, and it always tastes amazing and fresh. And because of that, it’s easy to customize the recipe to include ingredients that you love, so that you can make it just the way you like it. Like a little extra heat? Just go for the max number of thai chilis. Like it a little milder? Seed one jalapeno and use that instead. Hate carrots? Leave ’em out. Crazy for ginger? Up the quantity to two tablespoons….

TIP: Smaller chilis are more potent than larger chilis of the same variety. Chilis grown in a hotter, more humid climate are spicier than those grown in a cool, dry climate.

TIP: If using the optional vegetarian “chicken,” read ingredients carefully before you buy to make sure that your variety is vegan. Also, look for brands that are made in the USA; brands made in taiwan or china may not include all ingredients on the label, and may not be vegetarian at all. If I am using vegetarian “chicken,” I go to my local asian mega-mart and look there. They carry US brands, and they are typically much cheaper than popular grocery store brands such as Morningstar Farms.

What other fresh ingredients would YOU add to these noodles?

Spicy Ginger Peanut Noodles

Ingredients

  • 12 oz spaghetti, preferably whole wheat
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter (chunky, smooth, or other)
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely diced
  • 5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 -4 thai chilis, chopped (or 1 jalapeno, chopped, or 1 tsp tabasco sauce)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp black (or white) sesame seeds
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 4 spring onions, sliced on the bias
  • 8 oz vegetarian “chicken” shreds, or strips sliced into long, thin pieces (optional)
  • Any other veggies or herbs  you want to add (i.e. celery or chilis sliced on the bias; shredded raw kohlrabi, turnip, or jicama; fresh parsley, mint, or chives; etc.)

Method

Break spaghetti in half before cooking (this will make it easier to distribute the rest of the ingredients evenly at the end). Cook pasta to al dente in salted water according to package directions. Drain, and place in a very large bowl. Add toasted sesame oil to the pasta, and use tongs to toss the spaghetti in the oil; this will keep it from sticking.

Meanwhile, place 1/4 cup sesame seeds in a dry pan, and toast over medium heat until aromatic and just starting to brown a little. Set aside to cool a little bit.

Place peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chilis or hot sauce, brown sugar, and toasted sesame seeds into your blender. Blend until smooth. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is the consistency of cream.

Pour the dressing over the noodles. Add the black sesame seeds, carrots, spring onions, veggie  chicken, and any other veggies or herbs to the bowl. Use tongs to toss. Serve room temperature or cold.

Makes about 8 servings.

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Tea

Hello! Anybody still out there? I know it’s been quiet in Kat-Food-land, but work and school have been very demanding lately. This week is finals week at school, so I’ve been preparing for that and haven’t been cooking much.

One of my current classes is typography, and for our final project, we had to create a two-page editorial spread. Of course I wanted to do a spread that could appear in a food magazine or cookbook! I took the photo for the spread, and arranged the type. So I thought I’d share my project with you here, since I don’t actually have a recipe to post at the moment.

But don’t worry, the recipes will be back soon. Enjoy the spread, and go make some tea!

Date Night Mini Pizzas

Even though we are married and see each other every day, Will and I still try to have a date night at least once a week; we’re both pretty busy people and it’s nice to have some time that is dedicated for us to just relax together and really talk.

One of our favorite date night things to do is make mini-pizzas together. This is really fun because we each prepare our pizzas side by side, share toppings, fling sauce at each other, and comment on how we each choose to arrange our toppings.

Into the oven they go… Then we pull them out, swoon over how beautiful our pizzas are, and sit down together to eat. We are never disappointed, because the beauty of mini-pizzas is that we each get make our pizza exactly the way we like it!

As if having a fun and tasty activity with your S.O. wasn’t good enough, it gets better…the crust is FAST and EASY. And it’s got whole wheat flour in it. And delicious herbs. And even though it has yeast in it, it only needs to rise for 15-20 minutes, which I’ve found is just enough time to prepare the toppings.

Here’s another great thing about the dough recipe, you can easily double or triple it for a crowd. Or double it, portion it, and refrigerate or freeze whatever you don’t use. Just remember that if you are going to store it, you should coat the inside of a zip top bag with cooking spray or a thin coat of cooking oil to make dough retrieval a snap.

TIP: You don’t really need any special equipment for this recipe, but a pizza stone is really going to make a huge difference in the quality of your crust, especially if you like a crispy crust. I would definitely recommend using one if you can.

Toppings are limited only by your imagination. Mini-pizzas are a great way to use up little odds and ends of produce that may be accumulating in your fridge. 1/8 of an onion? Slice it up. One lonely jalapeño? Adds some zing.

Will tends to like tomato sauce, onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, and daiya cheese on his pizza; he is pretty consistent. I like to try different things, so this week’s pizza was topped with pesto, daiya cheese, sauteed onions and garlic, and veggie sausage crumbles; I also put a big handful of torn arugula on top when the pizza was hot out of the oven. YUM!

What kind of toppings do you like on your pizza?

Date Night Mini Pizza With Herbed Whole Wheat Crust

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast (about half a package)
  • 1/4 tsp sea or table salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped herbs of your choice, OR a few pinches of dried herbs, crushed between your fingers (oregano, basil, thyme, whatever you have lying around)
  • 1/2 cup hot water (115º-125º F)
  • 2 tsp agave nectar

Method

Preheat oven to 425º F.

In your mixer’s bowl, combine AP flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, and salt and stir. Add water and agave nectar, and mix until smooth.

Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes (–OR– knead by hand on a floured surface, 5minutes), adding whole wheat flour 1 tablespoon at a time if dough sticks.

Using a bench knife or sharp chef’s knife, cut the dough in half and shape it into smooth balls. Invert your mixing bowl over one, and place another deep bowl (or piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap) over the other and let rest 15 minutes.

Stretch or roll or toss each dough ball into desired shape and place on parchment paper (or a baking sheet, if you are not using a pizza stone). Turn over a small lip all around the edges and seal with your fingertip by pressing slightly. Have fun with toppings.

Cook in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until dough is browned around edges and as crisp as you like it.

Yield: 2 mini pizza crusts

Luscious Lime Ice Box Cookies

Food-091115-0004Whew! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Life has been crazy, between work and school and a hard drive crash on my home computer. But I’m easing back into it today with one of my favorite flavors: LIME.

Food-091115-0001I can’t take credit for this recipe, as it is just a minor tweak of the Grapefruit Ice Box Cookies from the book Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar by the amazing Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. The original recipe is here, but I’ve listed it again below with my changes to make it limey.

While I thought the original recipe featuring ruby red grapefruit sounded excellent, my DH has an aversion to anything grapefruit. But after a foolish CostCo run recently where I found myself in possession of 10lbs of limes (why??), I decided to use some of them up on these cookies. And I am *so* glad I did! The sweet lime flavor of these cookies is so bright and citrusy, and the shortbread has just the right balance between tenderness and crispness. I love them!

Food-091115-0002DH loves them too…he walked into the kitchen this morning to announce that they were a hit, as he had eaten several for breakfast; I considered this a victory as he had seemed less than lukewarm about the lime idea when I had originally pitched it to him. Go lime!

Other modifications: I used waxed paper to roll up the cookies instead of parchment, and I baked them on a silicone baking mat. I was able to fit all the cookies on one cookie sheet, because they don’t spread out very much. Also, I really only needed about half of the glaze, so I cut the quantities in half for the recipe below. For the entire recipe, you will probably only need about 3 limes, maybe 4 if they are small. Remember to zest your limes before you juice them!

Luscious Lime Ice Box Cookies

IngredientsFood-091115-0003

For cookies:

  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoons lime zest for sprinkling

Method

In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed, cream together the margarine and shortening. Beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla, lime juice, and lime zest. Add flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and beat until a soft dough forms. On a piece of parchment paper from the dough into a log about 14 inches long. Roll up in parchment paper and fashion the log into a rectangle by rotating and pressing the dough to square off the sides. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough from fridge and slice rectangle into ¼ inch thick slices and place on cookie sheets. The end slices are going to be wack, that’s ok, just discard them or make 2 weird looking cookies. Bake 15 minutes, edges should be lightly browned. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

Make the glaze and assemble: In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to mix together sugar, juice, and vanilla. It should fall from the fork in thick ribbons, if it seems to thin add a little extra sugar. Too thick, add more juice by the teaspoon. Spoon onto cooled cookies and spread a bit. Sprinkle with a little zest. Let set for at least half an hour. If it’s warm in the kitchen, place cookies in the fridge to set. Store in a container until ready to use.

Pomegranate Party Trick

pomegranate-091021-0001Autumn brings us so many tasty delights, I look forward to it every year. I think Autumn may be my favorite season. In addition to beautiful fall foliage, we get beautiful squashes and pumpkins, gorgeous greens, and of course…pomegranates! I always get so excited when I pick up my first pomegranate of the season, and this year is no exception.

pomegranate-091021-0003Pomegranate seeds are not just pretty to look at and tasty as all get-out, but they are packed with nutrition too. They are high in vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants, and fiber, and are low in calories.

I love to put pomegranate seeds on just about everything, and they work really well with both savory and sweet dishes. I will sprinkle them on salads, soups, ice cream, overtop of pumpkin bread…anywhere I can think of.

One of my favorite things to do with pomegranate seeds is to float them in a carbonated beverage. Yes, pomegranate seeds can float! So today instead of a recipe, I offer you this formula for an impressive party beverage:pomegranate-091021-0002

  • Carbonated Beverage
  • Slice of lime (optional)
  • Pomegranate seeds

I love to use sparkling water for this, it is an almost-no-calorie treat. The pomegranate seeds sink to the bottom of the glass at first, but then float up onto a wave of carbonation. For a more adult beverage, I like prosecco, or even champagne.

TIP: I promise this trick can make even cheap champagne more impressive!

What other carbonated beverages can you think of to try? (Please don’t say beer!)

Szechuan Greens

turnip greens-091017-0003One of my husband’s friends gave us some Szechuan peppercorns a while ago as a gift. I was pretty stoked to get them, but didn’t have any immediate plans for them so I stuck them in a cupboard and kind of forgot they were there for a while.

turnip greens-091017-0002I don’t know why I remembered them all of a sudden on the weekend, but I decided to pair them up with some turnip greens that I had left over after making my slaw. Maybe I wanted to go Szechuan because I find turnip greens to be pleasantly bitter and a little bit spicy on their own, or maybe it was because I had just made another asian-inspired dish, I don’t know. But the results were delicious! And the good news is that I think this recipe would work with any kind of greens, not just turnip.

The Szechuan peppercorns really brought a nice flowery note to the dish. They don’t actually have a lot of heat themselves like black or white peppercorns do. If you’re not sure, try eating one whole, I think you will be surprised.

But back to the star of the show: Turnip greens.

One of the nice things about turnip greens is that you don’t have to remove all the stems, like you do with greens like chard and collards and kale; however I do trim away the larger stems closer to the root end if they seem tough. The parts of the stem that are still attached to the leaves are typically nice and tender. You can cook them at the same rate as the leaves, and they add a pleasant crunch to the dish.

Another nice thing about turnip greens is nutrition. Like most greens, they are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, high in fiber, and a great source of vitamins A, C, E, folate, calcium, B6, trace minerals, and chlorophyl, to name a few.

Can you believe that some people throw these delicious and nutritious beautiful babies away?

I like to use a wok for cooking greens, but use any large pot or pan that has a lid. This recipe makes enough for two large servings, or maybe 4 smaller side servings.

Szechuan Greens

Ingredients

    turnip greens-091017-0001

  • 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tsp chili oil or toasted sesame oil
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp crushed chile flakes (optional)
  • 2 bunches turnip greens, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Method

Toast szechuan peppercorns in a dry wok until just fragrant. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar & pestle and grind.

To make the dressing, whisk together the ground peppercorns, chili or sesame oil, salt, cayenne (if using), rice wine vinegar, and sugar. Set aside.

Heat the canola oil in the wok until it is shimmering, and add the crushed chile flakes if using. Cook the chili flakes for about a minute. Add the turnip greens and toss to coat with the oil. Cook until they are wilted but still bright green, continuing to stir and toss them frequently. Put the lid on the pot when not stirring.

When the greens are tender and emerald colored, remove from the heat, and pour the dressing over top. Add the sesame seeds, and toss to coat. Serve hot, garnished with some extra sesame seeds if desired. Leftovers will last in the fridge for 2-3 days, and they taste good cold too.

Kohlrabi and Turnip Spicy Asian Slaw

kholrabi slaw-091017-0003One of the cool things about doing a CSA is that from time to time something shows up in your share that you’ve never seen before. This week for me, it was kohlrabi.

If you’ve never tasted it, kohlrabi has a very mild, pleasant flavor. I found it to be kind of cabbagey tasting, in a very good way. It also has a very satisfying crunch which reminds me of broccoli. Apparently when kohlrabi is very young, you can eat it without having to peel it. But the outer layer of the large specimen we got was fibrous and tough, and it definitely needed to be peeled.

Our share this week also contained a bunch of turnips, and I had some left over carrots from the farmers market too. In light of this, I figured it was slaw time.

The dressing on this slaw is one that I use all the time with a shredded cabbage base, so feel free to sub in about a half of a head of cabbage if kohlrabi and turnips aren’t your thing.

This makes about 6-8 cups of slaw. When I’ve made (the cabbage version of) this in the past, I’ve often doubled it because it’s so tasty, and it does not last long in our house!

Kohlrabi and Turnip Spicy Asian Slaw

For the Dressing:

kholrabi slaw-091016-0002

Ingredients

  • 1.5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1.5 tbsp tamari, soy sauce, or Bragg’s Amino Acids
  • 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 5 thai chilis, sliced on the bias (or a seeded and chopped seranno  or jalapeno)
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced

Method

Whisk together all ingredients except for the onion (you can also use a blender for this). Pour the dressing over the sliced onion in a large bowl, and set aside for half an hour to let the onions macerate slightly in the liquid. Stir occasionally.

For the salad

Ingredients

  • 1 large kohlrabi
  • 3-4 small turnips
  • 2 small carrots
  • 2 tablespoons black or white sesame seeds
  • 1 handful mint leaves, chopped
  • Other herbs of your choice (optional, but chopepd cilantro or parsley or thai basil would be nice)
  • Veggie “chick’n” strips (optional)

If your turnips still have their green tops attached, cut them off and set them aside for another use. Peel and trim all the veggies.

A food processor with the disk for shredding works best for the veggies. Shred all the veggies, and add them to the bowl with the onions and dressing. Add the sesame seeds, mint leaves, and “chick’n” strips and other herbs (if using). Toss the slaw to coat with dressing. Garnish with extra sesame seeds and herbs.

Serve right away, or tuck it into the fridge until you are ready. This lasts about 4 or 5 days in the fridge, but is best the day it’s made.
kholrabi slaw-091016-0001