Mushroom and Nori Soup

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By Alaina Sullivan

Mushrooms are delicate but powerful in their ability to add rich meatiness to cooked dishes. This recipe calls for about three cups of mushrooms, though in my fungi-frenzy I measured closer to four. I used shiitake, oyster and cremini — each contributed a distinct texture, creating a rhythm of chewy, porous and meaty spoonfuls. The mushrooms swim in a broth of chicken stock and soy sauce, which intensifies the earthy flavor of the dish. The addition of lemon juice gives a surprising brightness, pulling it up from its savory depths, and strips of nori add a note of the sea. Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express

Mushroom and Nori Soup

In a pot over high heat, cook about three cups of mushrooms (any combinations works; oyster and shiitake is especially good) in a couple of tablespoons of butter until they begin to release their liquid; add a diced onion, a minced garlic clove, and a chopped celery stalk and cook until the onion in translucent. Add about four cups of vegetable or chicken stock, a quarter cup of soy sauce, the juice of a lemon, a pinch of celery seed, salt, and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Tear or slice a sheet of nori into strips and put in soup bowls; pour soup over the nori (it will mostly dissolve) and serve.  

 

Posted in Japanese, Recipes

Corn and Avocado Salad

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Here you have three choices for preparing the corn: If it’s truly fresh and really good, leave it raw; just shave the kernels from the ears and toss them with the rest of the ingredients.

That’s not usually the case, though, and almost as good is to roast the kernels from good corn in a skillet with a little oil. Or use the kernels from already steamed corn, which—if the corn was good in the first place—is an excellent way to take care of the leftovers.  Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in American, Produce

Melon Gazpacho (in Cucumbers)

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By Freya Bellin

I love repurposing food to be functional. These cucumber cups are a fun way to slurp a shot of gazpacho (or a shot of tequila, if you’re so inclined – cucumber chaser?)  Mine were a little leaky, but it was no problem – just drink quickly!  I also think that leakiness could have been prevented by scooping out a bit less cucumber flesh.

The gazpacho here is worth making, cucumber cups or not. The pure melon version in the main recipe is almost like a dessert, the half-melon/half-tomato variation is a surprisingly delicious mix of sweet and tangy, and the Bloody Mary version is perfect for a Sunday brunch. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Trouble Coming Down the Pipeline

So many thoughts after today’s column, in which I wrote about the Keystone XL pipeline. If it’s approved by President Obama, it would carry diluted bitumen — acidic crude oil — 1,700 miles from the tar sands in Alberta to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. The Times has already come out against the pipeline, citing the risk of spills, spikes in greenhouse gas emissions and massive destruction of Canada’s boreal forest. Proponents cite job creation and “oil security.”

Oil security suggests that by getting more oil from our peaceful upstairs neighbors and less from our suppliers in the Middle East — sometimes seen as volatile or even hostile, though the supply has been steady — our national security is enhanced. We’re only “safe” if we can reliably obtain all of the oil we “need.”

 

This is an infuriatingly shortsighted and self-destructive position. This is the behavior of addiction, and the only people who can justifiably — though still incorrectly — argue otherwise are those who truly believe that the oil that gives us such comfort now won’t be causing catastrophic harm later. As far as I know, President Obama isn’t one of those people, but if he doesn’t block the pipeline he will be acting just as ignorantly as if he were. (He thinks this is what voters want?

(Read the rest of this post here.)

Posted in Food Politics

Zucchini and Dill Soup

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By Alaina Sullivan

There comes a time around the end of August when I feel an urgency to take advantage of the produce that, come autumn, will cease to overflow at farmers markets. It is during these dwindling days of summer that I crave the season’s fruits, vegetables and abundant herbs in their pure, unadulterated states. Meet a simple soup that embodies the freshness of summer: pureed zucchini, delicate and light, hosts handfuls of freshly chopped dill—it’s a combination that highlights the strengths of its core ingredients without unnecessary frill.

Though mild in taste, zucchini, especially grated, has a texture well-suited to soup – its natural moistness is further softened by a quick simmer with onion and vegetable broth, and a final puree brings it to a light, pulpy consistency. Dill supplies the flavor – simple, clean and savory – it is a perfect herbal companion to the zucchini. I found the soup most delicious served cold—a cooler temperature emphasizes the freshness of the zucchini and elevates the flavor of the dill.

Though simple in its ingredients and preparation, it is the type of soup that can be infinitely tweaked according to personal taste. A few dollops of Greek yogurt provided an added creaminess in my version, and, as someone who craves a crunch in my pureed vegetable soups, I garnished the bowl with toasted pistachios before diving in. As with most simple recipes, the quality of ingredients is key. When the zucchini and dill are fresh, this soup makes the impending arrival of fall feel more distant with each spoonful. Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express.

Zucchini and Dill Soup

Add fresh ricotta, sour cream, or yogurt while pureeing, for richness.

Grate a couple of zucchini. Cook a chopped onion in butter until softened, then add the zucchini and stir until softened, five minutes or so. Add vegetable or chicken stock and bring to a boil; simmer for about five minutes, then puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and lots of fresh chopped dill.

 

Posted in Produce, Vegan

Profits First, Environment. . . Later

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I wasn’t surprised when the administration of George W. Bush sacrificed the environment for corporate profits. But when the same thing happens under a Democratic administration, it’s depressing. With little or no public input, policies that benefit corporations regardless of the consequences continue to be enacted.

No wonder an April 2010 poll from the Pew Research Center found that about only 20 percent of Americans have faith in the government (it’s one thing upon which the left and right and maybe even the center agree). But maybe this is nothing new: as Glenda Farrell, as Genevieve “Gen” Larkin, put it in “Gold Diggers of 1937,” “It’s so hard to be good under the capitalistic system.”

(Read the rest of this article here.)

(Photo: South Dakota Tar Sands Pipeline/Flickr)

Posted in Food Politics

Last Week in Food

Thank you, Anna Lappe, for writing what so many of us non-GMO-Kool-Aid-drinkers have been thinking about Nina Fedoroff’s Times Op-Ed.

When it comes to food safety, the F.D.A. has more than ever to do – but not a lot of resources with which to operate.

The U.S. is becoming a food stamp nation. But we’re still a soda nation, and we’ll stay that way for a little while longer at least: the U.S.D.A. rejected New York’s proposal to ban the use of food stamps for sugar-sweetened beverages. The U.S.D.A. prefers healthy incentives to outright restrictions, but I have to think the U.S.D.A. could be a little more forceful in attempting to reduce soda consumption among food benefit recipients, and everyone else.

More on the most sensible basic way to change our eating habits: A Vienna University of Technology study says if you want to help the environment switching to organic is a lot less productive than just eating less meat. Different story, same ending: Tufts food economist explains why not all food price increases are bad (spoiler alert: they can lead to drastic forms of moderation like. . .gulp. . .eating a little less meat.)

I guess I can’t talk about eating less meat without including this shout out to Bill Clinton, now America’s most famous vegan. (You gotta think he cheats, though, no? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

(Read the rest of this post here)

Posted in Food Politics

Lobstah, 12 Ways

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The pleasure of eating lobster is intense, and the reward-to-work ratio is unsurpassed, all of which is fun to talk about. What’s not so fun to talk about is lobsters and pain, which is why I’m going to avoid it. All of us lobster eaters do. (If you want a full consideration of the lobster/pain issue — one that resolves absolutely nothing but grapples with it beautifully — read David Foster Wallace’s hilarious essay “Consider the Lobster.”)

(Read the rest of this article here)

 

Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Heirloom Tomatoes: Get ’em While They Last

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Recipes here. (One day I’ll get the blender to work.)

Posted in Produce

Flash-Cooked Curried Salmon

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By Alaina Sullivan

This unique salmon preparation involves a cut of fish that falls somewhere between razor-thin smoked salmon and a robust wild Alaskan filet. I rarely think to slice fresh salmon filets horizontally, but one of the beauties of preparing it this way is the speed of its execution – it can go from pan to plate to palate in a matter of minutes. (Shorter if you skip step two like me). The most time-consuming part was removing the tiny bones from my fresh Coho, but speed bump aside, a swift slice down the middle, a generous seasoning and the fish is ready to go. The cooking, as the name suggests, is over in a flash: a brief touchdown in the hot skillet and the salmon slivers are cooked to perfection with a rosy hint of rareness in the middle.

Though robed in curry powder and delicious on its own, pairing the salmon with a creamy chickpea raita rounds out its Middle Eastern flavors. I rarely pass up an opportunity to use yogurt as a condiment – I love that its subtle tang adapts to sweet or savory, and its creamy texture is an invitation for ingredients to nestle within. It is no stranger to being used as the base of sauces to adorn meat, poultry and fish – the Indian raita being no exception. This cool condiment, spiked with cumin and mustard and textured by chickpeas, minced cucumber and red onion, takes as little time to assemble as the fish. A dash of red pepper gives it the perfect dose of heat to compliment the curry-spiced salmon. I recommend having a warmed pita or naan bread nearby to mop up any sauce that lingers at the end. Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes On America’s Chefs.

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Posted in Indian, Seafood, Uncategorized