Sunday, January 12, 2014

Kitchen cleanse recipes

If I don't think about it, all I eat is bread and cheese, pasta and cheese, and, OK, fruit. It's not that I don't like vegetables, but that they require some kind of preparation. (Meat, fish, and dessert are similarly complicated, but not things I'm particularly trying to eat more of.) Like everybody else, I want to be better about getting through the produce I buy, always with such good intentions. I don't want to waste food, to find shriveled carrots in my laundry. I also want to get through pantry items, and I've got quite a collection. (My apartment doubles as an Italian restaurant and an East Asian grocery.)

I try to imagine what would make sensible meal-preparation more appealing, more glamorous. Photo-ready, not that I'm taking pictures. I will think of it not as cleaning the kitchen, but a kitchen cleanse. A mandoline helps (or will, until I slice off part of a finger with it, as seems to happen to everyone who owns one sooner or later), as does a willingness to mix things that don't go together. So let me recommend the following excessively-time-consuming meals. Hey, it's a Sunday.

1) Shaved artichoke salad: Based on a salad from Bianca on Bleecker Street, and possibly a David Tanis recipe as well. You trim a whole bunch of raw baby artichokes, but after trimming each one, quickly shave it with a mandoline into a bowl with lemon juice (from one lemon's fine). Otherwise it turns brown. Shave in some garlic as well, if you're feeling adventurous with the mandoline. Add olive oil, black pepper, and grated parmesan. Salad's ready. Then boil up some pasta - at least you started with a salad!

2) Rice-paper (crisper-drawer-clearing) rolls: A Pinterest-ready cleanse-looking meal that's best combined with some kind of giant pastry you've already procured for dessert, which I foolishly had not. Using the artichoke-stained (it's unavoidable) mandoline, thinly slice whichever vegetables you find in the fridge and want to use up. Cucumbers, radishes, carrots (OK, I got lazy and never sliced the carrot), etc. Find some more substantial ingredient (pathetic unripe avocado, say), and slice that with a knife. Elegantly arrange this on a plate. Soften rice paper, and wrap whichever combinations of the vegetables you think go together. Dip these rolls into some kind of sauce. I went with a mix of soy sauce and sesame oil, because that's what I had, but something more in the hoisin sauce family would have been better. Maybe something with miso and sugar, but that - don't ask why - would have been too complicated.

But yes, you really do need some kind of main course or piece of layer cake or something after this, or you'll get cranky in the afternoon and start eating stale peanuts because you live in the woods and nowhere that sells layer cake is close by. (Amy's can you hear me?)

3) Kitchen "cleanse" stir-fry: As in, you get through stuff in the kitchen. You do not emerge Gwyneth-esque. This is actually a substantial (if vegan!) meal. I'd bought dried bean curd sheets (yuba, tofu skin, etc.) at H-mart a while ago, but kept forgetting I'd done this. Yet preparing them is not complicated at all, so much easier than making yuba from scratch. OK, it's kind of complicated, because until you soak them, the sheets are incredibly fragile. Anyway, you soak them until they look like yuba (it said 20 minutes on the package, but was more like 10), strain it, and stirfry it in peanut oil with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and whichever vegetables you haven't mandolined. In my case, that was a sad-looking yellow bell pepper and some (ugh, why, why) kale. But look! Kale, with enough strong flavors around it, can morph into the generic, inoffensive leafy green you've always wanted it to be. Something the olive oil and garlic method fails to accomplish. Serve with a starch of some kind you'd also impulse-bought at an Asian market. I boiled up some rice-paper pieces (not rice cakes, nor exactly rice noodles), which weren't great, and regretted not going with the bean-thread noodles.


MikeWebkist said...

Sandor Katz's recent The Art of Fermentation suggests savory sourdough pancakes as a quick dinner. My interpretation is great for using up vegetables and leftovers: sauté whatever vegetables you have on hand in a non-stick pan. Beat an egg (and milk/water if needed) into a cup of sourdough starter with some salt. Pour over softened vegetables and cook until set. Adding cheese, leftover meat, etc. would also be great.

Phoebe said...

Sounds interesting! I've been on a buckwheat crepe kick already, but hadn't tried throwing terribly much in there.

I've found that when it comes to leftovers, I'm more likely to use up leftover ingredients than a full-on pre-prepared meal, unless it's one that actually improves if it sits in the fridge a while. (Japanese-style vegetable salad with rice vinegar, etc.) But throwing everything into a pancake would work, because, well, pancakes!