Thursday, October 29, 2015

Saving Your Bacon Op Ed in the SF Chronicle

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dioscorea opposita Noodle

This unassuming little root makes such a delicious noodle. Also called Chinese Yam or Shan Yao. Tastes sort of like potato. If you find fresh roots just peel (carefully, they're very slimy) and slice, dry, grind and mix with egg white to a stiff dough. Then roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap and cut by hand.

These I cooked in beef broth with ground beef, mushrooms and kale. Makes quite a satisfying meal.

You can also by the slices dried or even already powdered and ready to go. But from fresh roots is very easy.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cricket Flour Noodle

I wont say it was terrible, but it actually wasn't that good either. I had to do it. The cricket flour can be bought on line. When you open the bag and work with the dough, it smells like a pet shop. Now I know where that odor comes from. I mixed the 100% cricket flour with all purpose wheat, enough water to make a firm dough, rolled out, cut and boiled for about 2 minutes.

These are served in soy, mirin, dashi stock, and a touch of brown rice vinegar. As I said, it's not terrible. The smell dissipates with cooking. With these flavors it might pass as buckwheat soba. Apparently this is sustainable high protein. But at 10 bucks for .22 ounces, and I used half the bag for this batch, it's pretty expensive. If it had tasted great I might have done it again, but once is enough.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Purple Carrot Noodle

I was particularly pleased with both the noodles here and the combination of flavors. Here's how I did it: I took 5 small purple carrots, chopped them and put them in very light brine for 5 days. They fermented a bit, just to add depth of flavor. I dehydrated the carrots for a day and cooked down the brine to a thick syrup, about 1/8 cup. Then ground the carrot bits (nearly microscopic!) in a coffee grinder and mixed that with an equal part flour and added the syrup. It all came together in a lovely hand rolled and cut noodle. I did much the same with the celery root, though not fermented, and used an egg to bind the dough. These were both boiled separately, arranged in the bowl, and a rich duck broth was added. I also added some cooked and shredded duck confit and 3 slices of potato latke, which sounds a little redundant, but went nicely with the other flavors. Chopped sage is sprinkled on top too. Amazingly the strongest flavor was the celery root. I could still taste it an hour later!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Messisbugo's maccheroni alla Napoletana

This is a seriously strange noodle, with breadcrumbs, flour, rosewater, eggs and sugar. It dates to 1549. Very easy to roll out without gluten development, but also quite soft when cooked. Not al dente in the least. But its really the sugar that throws you off. Especially cooked in a rich duck broth, as I did. I'm cooking this dish at the NY Academy of Medicine for a festival October 17th. I hope people like it. I'm not so sure myself!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Peanut Noodle

After several botched attempts to use peanut butter or peanut flour, which I think overpowers all other flavors, I settled on dehydrated raw peanuts, ground and mixed with 50% wheat flour. Then made into a dough, pushed through a grater and dehydrated again.

Here they are in beef broth with shiitake browned in butter and spinach. Really a delicious combination and the peanut comes through very subtly. I would call the flavor leguminous.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The quality of flour is not strained, but extruded. Grist and Toll Charcoal Wheat.

I have been tasting a lot of flour in the past year as part of my noodle soup quest. Some of it was difficult to find, some rather common. There is really no connection between cost and quality. I have also noticed that a lot of flour sold in supermarkets has gone stale, or never tasted like much of anything in the first place. Whole wheat in particular can be really nasty when stale. The best way to taste wheat is not in bread or pancakes because there are so many other ingredients. Try a noodle first and you will get what I'm talking about immediately.

This week's research involved side by side tastings. Mass produced wheat consistently rated lowest, no surprise. Once in a while there was a gorgeous batch I found somewhere odd. But if you want to taste really fresh whole wheat, very interesting strains, try Grist and Toll based in L.A. This charcoal wheat, I was told, will float my boat. And it sure did. This was extruded from the Italian hand powered bronze torchio into spaghetti about 6 or 7 feet in length. I tried it with nothing on it whatsoever, not even salt, lifted by hand and lowered into my mouth. This is pasta. But the rest awaits a really serious soup base, I'm thinking of the goat meat I have simmering on the stove now.

Goat Goulash with Home Made Paprika. Isn't the color gorgeous. Smells and tastes divine too.