Monday, December 21, 2015

Recent Noodle Revelations: Harlequin Noodles, Kabocha Macaroni, Laminated Dill, Squashed Dough, Cherry Tomato and Parsley Gemelli

 Harlequin Noodles
 Kabocha Macaroni
 Laminated Dill Rice Noodle
 Squashed Dough
Cherry Tomato and Parsley Gemelli

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Babaganouj Soup

This was absolutely sublime. First roast an eggplant over an open flame until it is entirely charred on the outside. Put in a big paper bag and let cool. Then pick off the charred skin. Chop the cooked eggplant into small pieces and dehydrate. You will have about a tablespoon or two of roasted eggplant powder. Add an equal amount of flour and enough egg to make a firm noodle. Roll out as thin as possible and cut into ribbons.

Then make a simple fish stock with chardonnay and saffron. Cook the noodles in the stock. Throw in a handful of smoked scallops. Drizzle over some tahini sauce (tahini paste and yogurt, though I actually used chevre and milk, I was out of yogurt). Then sprinkle with zaatar. This serves one person.

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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Bronze Beast or Troccolaturo

I really adore this new device, but I will admit it scares the crap out of me too. It weighs a ton and the ridges are quite sharp. I would definitely not use it without shoes.

Nonetheless, it works much better than the wooden versions. Simply roll with pressure over a sheet of dough and it cuts beautiful even noodles. They might need to be separated by hand, but otherwise very efficient.

I have made two noodle types with it. Here is a classic durum and white flour in 50/50 proportion, one cup worth and one egg. It makes a perfect large serving for one (my breakfast). I also made another with oat, rye, chestnut, buckweat (all 10%) and 50% all purpose flour. Rolled and cut the same way, also with excellent effect. I think it may be the easiest way to cut noodles quickly, without needing to set up a crack or machine. At 4 AM I did the latter batch this morning in about 10 minutes start to finish, in a state of zen concentration. (And half asleep!)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Noodle Trio: Potato, Bacon, Onion

A day playing with the dehydrator yielded these results. One is a purely potato noodle (rather than potato starch). THe potato just shaved with a peeler, sprinkled with lemon to prevent discoloration, dehydrated, ground and mixed with slightly less than one egg. Tastes great and very easy to roll. I was thinking it wouldn't be for some reason.

The other is 2 slices of bacon pulverized and mixed with flour and egg, hand rolled and cut.

The last is a red torpedo onion sliced, dehydrated, ground and mixed into a flour noodle. The idea was the complement of the three in tandem. I could have used sour cream I suppose, but I wanted a nice soy-dashi based dipping soup since it's been so hot lately. Everything is nicely chilled.

And the photo was totally random and unplanned!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Smoked Noodle Soup

I think a few people have experimented with a smoked noodle. Normally that means taking a pre-made cooked noodle and cold smoking it or using a smoke gun. I wanted the depth of flavor that comes from prolonged exposure to wood smoke. So these are fresh raw whole wheat grains smoked for a few hours over grape vine cuttings. I just used a standard red backyard smoker. I think the temperature got to about 200 degrees, not enough to burn them, though I was originally thinking of a farina di grano arso. This is just toasty and smokey. But not burnt.
 The flour is SO deeply malty and smokey, but nothing acrid or burned. I'm surprised actually. I used a spice grinder, since this is a small test batch. Enough for a single serving. Mixed in a malted milk shake, I would swear it was just that. With smoke.
 Easy to roll out and cut by hand. They behave like any whole wheat noodle. No egg, just water. Held together very nicely.
Finally some really smokey noodles. They were served cold like soba. With a soy and dashi stock mixture on the side for dipping. The umami is just intense.

If it weren't so hot out, I think a meat broth and some vegetables would round it out nicely. Maybe mushrooms too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Tsuketsuyu - a cold dipping soup for summer. Made with dried shirataki noodles, smoked Scottish salmon and cooked broccoli rabe. Black sesame seeds too. All goes perfectly with the "soup" made of soy, sake, mirin and dashi stock.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Leek noodles turned out great

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yan Pi Noodle Made with Pork Rinds

I have been playing around with adding pork to noodle dough lately, to make something like the Yan Pi wrapper or "swallow skin". Ham dehydrated and ground worked well. This one was equally intriguing: pork rinds finely ground, added to flour, rolled out and cut. This one was made with wheat flour which worked better than tapioca or sweet potato flour. I'm not sure exactly what it should be like, I've never actually tasted them.

Usually they're used as dumpling wrappers, but apparently can be cut into noodles as well. I'll try finely ground cooked pork next.

The piggy flavor went so nicely with shrimp, pork shoulder and cilantro. Fish sauce too. I actually started by sweating shallots in guianciale, which I know makes little sense, but it tasted right. I think if you didn't tell anyone what it was, it would pass as a Pad Thai. I gave my younger son a noodle to taste and he thought it was good, until I told him it was a pig skin noodle!  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Fresh Bowls for Noodle Soup

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Miniature Noodle Soup

yes this is a real noodle soup in a real pewter paten. I think the smallest that is humanly possible. I needed a magnifier to cut and assemble it all. It's a minestrone by the way!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Scallops and Rice Noodles

After a week of eating too much, there is something so satisfying about simplicity. But before I explain what this is, you must indulge me in a small boast. At the CIA's World's of Flavor Conference in Napa, they prepared one of my noodle soups for 700 people (Pho Stock and Tapioca noodles with carrots, tomato, lime, sriracha) and Martin Yan was tasting it. I asked what's the verdict? And he said really good chewy homemade noodles. I then told him it was my recipe!

Ok, so these are scallops thinly sliced and marinated in white soy, chardonnay and some potato starch. The soup is a very light dashi stock. The noodles are the thinnest possible rice noodles. Then some seaweed some nice Japanese people gave me at the conference. Really balanced flavors. Anything stronger would have overshadowed the scallops. A keeper recipe.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Adding Meat to Soup: Chinese and Japanese

I have found that there are two completely distinct ways of adding meat to a bowl of noodle soup, both equally enticing. Not that these are the only way you can do it, of course. Meat can be fried and added, braised, long cooked right in the soup. These two methods are for adding it at the last minute.

What you see here is a pork shoulder chop that was seasoned, dipped in egg, then coarse dry bread crumbs, fried in olive oil and butter, then let cool. The crumbs keep all the moisture in the meat, and as you can see I like it a little rare. The next day four thin sliced were made and it was just placed in the very hot soup to heat through. It tastes so much better in the soup than on its own. The technique is more or less Japanese, and the way it's served. The point is that the pork is still really succulent and tender.

But you can also take the exact same cut of meat, slice it thin raw, season with soy sauce, ginger, maybe some sesame oil let it marinate with a generous teaspoon of rice starch, or some other kind of starch. The prep is exactly as you would do for a stir fry. But instead, just lower the slices into the pot of soup and simmer for a couple of minutes. The starch keeps all the moisture inside the meat. It would just seep out into the broth otherwise. This technique is derived (again more or less) from Chinese cuisine.

I'm not sure which I like better, but both are infinitely more interesting than just boiling meat in soup, which if a delicate cut, just ruins it. By the way, the same can be done with chicken breast or very lean beef. Try one of these techniques the next time you do regular chicken soup, for example.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mung Bean Noodles Tinted

Rather interesting that the same mung beans shown below, when added to a soup base with red cabbage, took on this spooky pink color. Jut think of the possibilities of coloring noodles this way. I wonder if you could get saffron yellow noodles, or red just by cooking in beet juice. I must have read somewhere that people have been trying this, but this one was an accident.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Salad Soup with Mung Bean Threads

I realized this morning that I have eaten nothing but noodle soup for about a week. I can't think of anything that sounds as appealing. This morning, however, I determined to do something else. I can't conscience cereal. I OD-ed on pancakes years ago and can't go near them. Toast, cheese and cold cuts just don't cut it any more. So I thought: salad! There I was tossing romaine lettuce, carrots, celery, red peppers. And I couldn't go through with it. I dumped it all in a pot of dashi stock with mung bean threads. And it was SO good. The vegetables still a little crunchy but definitely cooked. Why don't we cook lettuce more often? This was hot, but I think cold it would be very much like a Korean soup I've had. Must try that soon. I almost drizzled in oil and vinegar!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hipster Chia Noodle Blackberry Cocktail

Are we ready yet to think about hipster cocktails with noodles? I think so. I first put this in a small pickle jar, but those are so 2013. The noodles themselves are made of black chia seeds, ground in a spice grinder, rolled out and cut. They're in a juice of blackberries cooked in a little water, strained, chilled and with rum added. I came an inch from putting on a dollop of Greek yoghurt on top, in which case it could have been a deconstructed smoothie. But I think alcohol works better. If I only had a sprig of mint!

Honestly, the possibilities of noodles in cocktails are endless. I'm going to embark on extensive research right this moment!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pig Blood Noodle

I didn't realize there really was such a thing as pig blood noodles, but I suspected there must be. Of course it's Italy, Sudtirol. Blutnudeln or Tagliatelli al Sangue. I hope you will forgive me for going completely Asian here though. It is wheat flour to hold the blood together and then in dashi stock. I then garnished it with various soba-friendly condiments like fish cake and seaweed, just to be confusing - but there not pictured here. It's good. The blood isn't as pronounced as I thought it would be. It's awfully nice though and I bet if served in a Japanese bowl no one would bat an eyelash.

 Ooh, it looks much nicer extruded. This is in a smokey broth with some dehydrated kimchi on top - which I LOVE!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Noodle Soups: Mung Bean and Chicken, Potato and Ketchup, Salmon Noodles in Shellfish Broth

Current work on noodle soups. Of course I'll give you the recipes once the book comes out! This is an ordinary chicken soup with mung bean threads.
I wish this thing would let me line up the pictures side by side. Anyway, like the new majolica? It's melamine.

The noodles here are mashed potatoes and potato starch, rolled out, steamed and cut. A cousin of gnocchi, or a spin on French Fries and Ketchup
This is an extruded wild salmon and rice flour. I didn't even know I had a piping bag! Tomatoes and chevre. Really pleasant.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Home Made Rice Noodles, Pine Nut and Orange Soup

Rice noodles are so easy to make. Just get a big pot with about an inch of water boiling, place in a steamer insert. Then mix rice flour with enough water to make a thin batter. Get a spring-form baking pan that fits into the pot and pour in some batter just to barely cover the bottom. Put the pan into the pot and let it steam for about 10 minutes. Remove the pan with tongs. Unhinge the pan and let cool. Remove the noodle sheet, oil it lightly, roll it up and cut into thin noodles.

Then take a handful of pine nuts and the juice of one orange. Whizz in a blender. Add a tiny bit of salt. Pour the broth into a bowl, add the noodles and then garnish with some slivered orange peel, without white pith.

This should be room temperature. If you like cinnamon would work nicely, or a touch or cardamom powder. It reminds me of rice pudding in a way.Sweeten it with sugar too if you like.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tortelloni in Brodo

These are lovely little lumps of veal, mortadella and parmigiano cozily wrapped in their doughy bathrobes with arms folded. They took the plunge in a beef shank broth with just a pinch of parsley. Simpler the better.

The entire meal, for my son's 18th birthday was crostini di polenta, calamari fritti, insalata di finnochio, saltimboca alla Romana con gnocchi di patate, and tiramisu to finish. Getting the Italian groove on.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tongue on Rye Noodle Soup

 Beef Tongue cured with spices for a week. Then braised in the oven for about 4 hours. Then cool in the liquid. Later to be peeled and sliced.

And a jar of sauerkraut I made a long time ago and just found in the back of the spare little fridge. Along with a jar of homemade mustard. Kismet.
Mixed Bone Broth with turkey wings, beef shanks, pork ribs, celery, carrots, parsnips, onion, garlic. All roasted for a few hours then simmered for 8 hours into a deep stock.
100% Rye Noodles with an egg, some ground caraway, mustard powder. Cut much the same as soba. Now the burning question is whether when all this comes together I should melt some swiss and add a squirt of Russian dressing. WHY the hell not?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Chestnut Flour Noodles

These definitely must go in the book. Basically just 2/3 chestnut flour and 1/3 all purpose wheat and enough egg to make a firm dough. Rolls out really easily and then cut on the chittara. Really sweet and a little chewy. They went into a homemade oxtail stock.  

I think my next experiment will be doing exactly the same thing with acorns. I just found a stash from last season on the back of my work shelf!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Corn Noodles in Tomatillo Broth

I didn't think this would work. It's a dough made not of masa harina but South American P.A.N. which is a kind of precooked corn meal. I just added water and rolled it out. It was a little tough to work with, but with patience it was cut into rather nice noodles. I thought steaming them would be gentler and I was absolutely right. It's a completely different texture than cut up tortillas; these really are noodles. Then tomatillos fried and stewed in water and salt. Nothing else. Oh, scallions. But really simple pristine flavors. I loved it, so did Darwin, the big dog.