This weekend turned out to be a weekend of near-constant cooking. To me, it seemed like great timing to hang out in the house. It’s mud season in Fraser and, while the weather has been pretty nice, there’s not as much primo outdoor recreating as there is in the height of summer or the height of winter. It’s still far too wet and muddy to hike, and the snow is slowly but surely melting away so snowboarding and cross-country skiing are wrapping up for the season. Bike riding seems to be our best bet, and we did that on our day off on Friday. But mostly, I spent a lot of time playing the kitchen. Here are our weekend kitchen experiments:
Alex’s curry “man” soup
I had been fighting a creeping cold all weekend, and by Sunday at lunchtime my throat was really starting to hurt. I told Alex I wished our Indian food restaurant was open for lunch so I could go get some curry. This warm spice always seems to help soothe a sore throat. Alex didn’t hesitate for one second. He got right up and declared that he would make me a curry soup. What a good hubby, hah? 🙂 Alex is really good at making something from nothing, at putting together a bunch of random spices and ingredients into something scrumptious. So, he set out to concoct a curry soup using whatever we had in the fridge! I was on the couch, being a “backseat driver” to his soup-making, giving him little lessons on the basics of making soup from scratch (I make soup A LOT..almost every week!) “This is a man soup,” he kept saying. “It’s a man soup.” I am not sure on the meaning of this, but I can only assume it meant that he was just throwing it all together. But man, did his man soup turn out good! When I sat down to write this post, I asked Alex what he did to make that soup. He refused to tell me, saying, “Nope, nope,” then, with a smirk on his face, “Ummm I cannot just prostitute my man soup.”…ahem…Then finally, “I don’t even know what I did.” Sorry guys, we obviously are not very diligent “recipe developers,” but that’s why this post is about experiments! Anywho, from what I saw from my vantage point on the couch Alex coined and sauteed 1-2 carrots, then added some strips of red and green pepper and a few diced green onions. It smelled to me like he seasoned all of this with curry, and I would later find curry, ginger, and mustard seed left out on the counter. Lucky for me he rarely cleans up after himself, so his kitchen secrets aren’t too hard to figure out 😉 While the veggies softened, he seemed to be melting some frozen chicken stock cubes in a saucepan and perhaps adding spices to this as well. Next, he put the veggies into the chicken stock, and began to saute and spice some tofu. This is when I dozed off a little. But I know that he added Udon noodles and the cooked tofu to the soup at some point. He woke me from my doze with a steaming bowl of curry soup. It was sooooooo delicious. It was spicy and hot, sweet and soothing. I devoured it, and enjoyed a 30 minute reprieve from my aching throat. If Alex ever decides that it is, in fact, acceptable to “prostitute his man soup,” I will be sure to share the official recipe with you.
The idea for this was to have a kind of dense and filling pancake item, made out of cooked oatmeal! First, I put about 2 cups of quick oats in a bowl and mixed them with boiling water, making sure they weren’t soupy at all, but sticky instead. I then added a handful of raisins and a handful of pecans. Next, I formed balls out of the mixture and squished them between my two hands, making one cake at a time and using a spatula to get the sticky cake off of my hand and into a pan. I had greased the pan with coconut oil, and now cooked the cakes, letting them get golden on one side and then flipping them and letting them get golden on the other side. When the cakes were done, I drizzled them with honey and served Alex his with yogurt. These were yummy! With crispy outsides and dense, packed insides, they had a different texture than regularly-prepared oatmeal and were still just as filling. Success!
Sweet Potato Hash browns
I love sweet potatoes, and I love hash browns. So, one morning, I thought I would try my hand at combining these two glorious things. I used one sweet potato, and started by peeling it and cutting it in half width-wise (this sounds like a very weird term…but I cut it the way that wasn’t lengthwise. Is that called width-wise?? Somebody help me out on this one.) Then I grated one half into a bowl using a cheese grater. Next, I spread the grated product onto a paper towel, topped it with another paper towel, and pressed out as much moisture as I could. I recently learned that sweet potatoes have a very high moisture content, so I thought taking some of that water out might speed up the browning process. I then repeated the grating and pressing with the other half of the sweet tater. After I squeezed out as much moisture as I could, I tossed all the hash in a bowl with some cinnamon and a little bit of corn starch, which is another technique to remove moisture (I learned this when making sweet potato fries on Thursday night, following this recipe from A Couple Cooks….they were AMAZING)Next, I heated up some coconut oil in a pan and, once it was melted, I add the sweet potato hash. Using a spatula, I pressed it down until it was like one big cake. Then I let it sizzle for quite a while, at least 20 minutes. I cooked it until it was starting to brown on one side. Then I flipped it and let the hash brown on the other side. It was definitely getting crispy, but was still pretty soft in the center. I turned up the heat a little so they would really crisp on the outside and, after flipping them multiple times so neither side would burn, I served them up with some eggs. Overall, these turned out being pretty yummy. But I would like to try this experiment again and see if I can get them crispier, maybe by baking them for a while first to get ride of moisture and then frying them quickly for crispiness?
Squash and Zucchini Noodles
For this experiment, I followed a super easy recipe. I bought three zucchini and two yellow squash. I peeled them. I used my julienne cutter to cut each one, top to bottom, into “noodles,” taking care to stop the cutting when I reached the center/seeds. I then lined two baking sheets with paper towels (don’t worry, nothing caught on fire!) and baked these zoodles on 200 degrees for 30 minutes. When they came out of the oven, I let them cool for a few minutes and then wrapped the paper towel around them and squeezed out a bunch of moisture from the zoodles, which had begun to sweat during the baking process. Next, I sauteed them in olive oil until they reached the texture I wanted, and added some tomato and spiced, cooked tofu to them. It was much like a spaghetti squash dish, and I loved that it was fresh and still filling. Next time, I will try these with pesto. Yum!
Cauliflower Pizza Crust
This is something odd that I’ve heard and read about a few times recently. It was intriguing and simple enough to make me want to try it. Taking bits and pieces from a few different recipes, I was able to make a pretty decent cauliflower pizza crust. I bought a bag of frozen cauliflower and let it thaw. I then measured out 2 cups of cauliflower and, using my manual food processor, I ground it into a rice-like substance, being careful not to grind it to less than rice-grain size. Next I put it in a bowl, added two eggs, and about 1 cup of cheese. I mixed it all together, spread it onto a pizza stone, and sprinkled some Italian seasoning on top. Then I baked it on 400 degrees for 20 minutes. I took it out and added sauce and toppings, and put it back in for about 10 minutes. The end result was quite light and delicious. I do want to try this again, but next time I will try to make my “dough” less moist, as it didn’t get as firm and crispy as some of the recipes I read indicated it would. I would also like to make it thicker “crust” pizza next time because it got pretty flimsy after I added toppings.
Well, it was a weekend of good cooking and good eating. I am happy to say that almost everything we ate this weekend was fresh and clean, hearty and healthy. I am sad to say that, despite the efforts and healthful eating, I still ended up with a cold 😦 No fair! At least there’s leftover man soup in the fridge in case that cold persists.
PS: We got a new niece on Monday morning at 5:38am. Can’t wait to meet sweet little Beatrice this weekend!