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Archive for the ‘Tastespotting at Random’ Category

Tastespotting at Random: Hanoi noodle soup

Posted by Jeanne on March 2, 2011

This post is brought to you by Saveur’s recipe for Hanoi noodle soup with chicken, baby tatsoi, and bok choy.

I used leftover turkey from Friendgiving, and the stock that I made from the turkey bones after the birds were carved.  I didn’t have any fresh cilantro or mint as called for in the original recipe.  I had frozen mint, and some of the Thai pesto I made last summer, so I improvised using those.

Also, I couldn’t find any tatsoi, so I bought some mustard greens and decided to use spinach we already had instead of the bok choy.

Mustard greens are pretty.  And really delicious.

Now I’m starting to sound like the reviewers on Epicurious or the Food Network website – except I promise not to say “I changed EVERYTHING it was possible to change, and made the recipe vegan. This recipe is TERRIBLE!”

Hanoi noodle soup, inspired by Saveur’s recipe

8 cups stock

2 TB fresh ginger, sliced

3 cloves garlic, smashed whole

2 TB Thai pesto (or 0.5 C fresh cilantro), divided

0.5 C frozen mint (or fresh if you’ve got it), divided

3 – 4 cups chopped cooked turkey

1 bunch mustard greens, thinly sliced

0.5 lb. raw spinach

0.25 lb. rice noodles (preferably 0.5 inch wide)

Sliced scallions

Bring stock to a simmer over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, Thai pesto and half of the mint (half the cilantro too if you’re using fresh).  Simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain out the solids and return the liquid to the pot over medium heat.

Add turkey and mustard greens and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, until greens are tender.  Add spinach and cook 5 minutes, until wilted.

While greens cook, soak rice noodles in hot water for about 10 minutes, until very soft.  Add to soup and serve immediately, with remaining herbs, sliced scallions, Sriracha or chili-garlic sauce, and slices of lime.

Despite all my changes, this was REALLY good.  Really really really good.

And naturally gluten-free!


Posted in Birdies, Cooking, Entrees, Soups & stews, Tastespotting at Random | Leave a Comment »

Tastespotting at random – mulberry trifle

Posted by Jeanne on February 6, 2011

This week’s inspiration comes from Daily NibblesStrawberry Almond Cream Tart.  Now – it is not strawberry season here, or any berry season, by a long shot.  But I had some frozen mulberries I bought from the co-op in July or August in the freezer, and decided to use those.  Because I wasn’t using fresh fruit, I essentially made a mulberry curd over a plain custard.

I also intended these to be bars but… the custard didn’t set up all the way (which is shocking given the amount of cornstarch I used – I thought it was going to set up like a rock).  So I made a trifle.  Regardless, tasty.  And it reminded me that eventually spring will return.

Mulberry Almond Cream Trifle


1 sleeve graham crackers, crushed

0.25 C almonds, chopped very finely or ground into meal

Almonds & graham crackers, pulverized.

2 TB sugar

2 TB water

4 TB butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare a small cake pan (a 2-quart Pyrex dish would be perfect – I doubled the recipe for this pan) with butter, oil, or cooking spray.  Mix all ingredients together and press evenly into the pan.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Cool completely.

Almond Cream Layer

1 C milk

1 C heavy cream

0.33 C sugar

3 TB cornstarch

1 tsp almond extract

2 eggs

Combine milk, cream, sugar, and cornstarch in a saucepan and whisk over medium heat.  Allow to come to a simmer, stirring often to prevent cornstarch from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Remove the saucepan from the heat, and add a tablespoon or two of the milk mixture to the eggs, stirring constantly.  You may have to do this a couple of times.

When eggs have been warmed (so they will not scramble when added to milk), place the saucepan over medium heat and add the egg mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly.

Continue whisking over the heat until thickened, about two to three minutes.  Do not boil.  Remove pan from heat and stir in almond extract.  Pour into a bowl and cool completely, covered in plastic wrap pressed onto the top of the custard.

Mulberry Layer

3 C frozen mulberries, thawed

0.33 C sugar

1.5 TB cornstarch


1 TB lemon juice

3 large eggs

1 TB butter

Place berries in a blender, and process until smooth. Press berry mixture through a sieve over a medium bowl.

Reserve 1 cup puree; discard seeds. Reserve any remaining puree for another use in the refrigerator.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium, heavy saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Stir in reserved puree, lemon juice, and eggs. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.

Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute or until thick, still whisking constantly. Remove from heat; add butter, stirring gently until butter melts. Cool completely.

Unedited photo – the purple color is so unbelievably cool.


Crumble crust.  Place a third of the crust in the bottom of a large bowl. Top with a third of the custard and a third of the mulberry curd. Repeat.

Repeat again. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Let sit for at least six hours, or overnight.

Enjoy.  The mulberry flavor was subtle but delicious – I can’t wait until we can get fresh berries again!

Posted in Baking, Pastry, Tastespotting at Random | Leave a Comment »

Tastespotting at random – homemade bread

Posted by Jeanne on January 30, 2011

Today’s inspiration comes from Apple Pie, Pastis, and Pate‘s post about ciabatta bread.  I lack the mental fortitude to begin making bread today that cannot be eaten for several days, so instead of making a starter and then not making bread until Tuesday, I decided to make the basic bread recipe found in Ruhlman’s Ratio book.


1000 g flour

600 g water

2 g salt

3 g yeast

Combine all of the above ingredients in the mixing bowl for a stand mixer.

Mix the dough using the dough hook, and once combined knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover and rest the dough until doubled in size.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead briefly to redistribute the yeast and press excess gas from the dough.  Rest dough for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450F and place a cast-iron pan in the oven on the lowest rack.  Shape dough (I made a round, boule-like thing and then baked it in a Dutch oven).

Add 1 C water to cast iron pan to create steam in the oven.  Add bread and bake for 10 minutes at 450F.  Lower oven temp to 375F and bake another 40 – 50 minutes, until bread sounds hollow when you knock on it.

There is something magical and amazing about bread.  Flour and water?  Glue.  Add some salt and yeast? Bread.


Posted in Baking, Breads, Tastespotting at Random | Leave a Comment »

Tastespotting at Random 5 – lemony pancakes

Posted by Jeanne on January 10, 2011

My first round for this one was homemade baby food which… might be vaguely entertaining to have for dinner but is not really my cup of tea.  The next were these lemon ricotta pancakes from Pig Pig’s Corner which are not so much gluten-free.  Soooooo I improvised.

Yesterday it snowed all day, and then it snowed all night.  So I got up to go to spinning at 5:45 am and instead shoveled for an hour then went inside and gave up on leaving the house today.

And made pancakes.

Gluten-free lemony pancakes, based on this recipe

2 eggs

0.25 C plain yogurt

1 TB vanilla extract

1.5 C almond flour

2 TB powdered sugar

0.5 tsp salt

0.5 tsp baking soda

Zest of one lemon

In a blender, combine eggs, yogurt, and vanilla and blend on high until smooth.  Add almond flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and lemon zest and blend again to incorporate dry ingredients into batter.

Warm butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

Pour pancake batter from blender onto skillet; pancakes will form little bubbles.  When the bubbles open (about 30 seconds to 1 minute), flip pancakes over and cook on the other side for about the same amount of time.

Remove pancakes from heat to a plate, keeping warm.  Repeat process with remaining batter, adding more butter to skillet as needed.  Serve immediately.

Makes 6 – 10 pancakes
Curt recommends Lyle’s Golden Syrup for serving.

Posted in Cooking, GF for LF, Tastespotting at Random, Vegetarian | 3 Comments »

Tastespotting at random 4: Sweet potato ice cream

Posted by Jeanne on January 4, 2011

An interesting pick this week – Bonnie the Baker‘s sweet potato ice cream with toasted marshmallows.

Also, poor Curt got way more involved in this one than he wanted to as he is our household ice cream expert.

Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Toasted Marshmallows, adapted from this post

1 lb sweet potatoes

0.5 C heavy cream

About 0.75 C milk (I used 1% because that is what we had) – you may not need to add it all, depending on consistency

0.5 C brown sugar

0.75 tsp ground cinnamon

0.5 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of nutmeg

1 TB maple syrup


Special equipment: Ice cream maker, kitchen torch (or big lighter?  Not really recommended)

Scrub sweet potatoes.  Place unpeeled sweet potatoes into large pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are very tender.

Drain the sweet potatoes in a strainer and let cool until they can be handled.  Peel the sweet potatoes (the peels should slip right off).

Pour heavy cream, brown sugar, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg  into a blender and puree until very smooth.  Add the milk slowly until the mixture is lump-free and the consistency of a thick smoothie (not runny). Chill the mixture in the refrigerator.

Pour ingredients into ice cream maker that has been frozen according to manufacturer’s instructions. As ice cream begins to churn, pour in maple syrup.  Churn until ice cream is frozen. Once fully churned, scoop into a storage container and freeze.

Allow ice cream to soften at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Scoop bowls and add marshmallows on top.

Again – not recommended.  But we don’t have a creme brulee torch so we improvised.

Toast marshmallows to desired brown or blackness, and eat!

This is INCREDIBLY delicious.  I was pretty suspicious but it really is awesome.  Also – gluten-free!  Yay!

Posted in GF for LF, Tastespotting at Random | 1 Comment »

Tastespotting at Random 3: Pasta with mushrooms

Posted by Jeanne on December 27, 2010

This week’s post comes from this LiveJournal post – wholemeal pasta with mushrooms.  I think it is just the ticket coming off a lot of rich holiday food!

Of course I had to find a completely different recipe and change it until nearly unrecognizable… but still.

Pasta with Mushrooms, inspired by this recipe.

12 ounces cremini mushrooms

3 garlic cloves

2 TB  extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 lb. skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 0.5 inch pieces

1 small sprig rosemary, crushed to release oils

3 TB balsamic vinegar

1 (14-oz) can tomato sauce

1 C chopped fresh tomatoes, or a 14-oz can of chopped tomatoes, drained

1 lb. dried whole wheat spaghetti

5 ounces greens (I used 1.5 cups frozen mixed beet greens and chard)

Grated Parmesan, for serving

Pulse mushrooms and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers.

Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just golden, about another 3 minutes.

Add mushroom mixture, rosemary, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes or until mushrooms begin to give up their juices.

Add vinegar and cook until evaporated.  Add chicken, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and greens and bring to a simmer.  Simmer sauce until just thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until very al dente.

Stir drained pasta into sauce and cook for 1 minute.

Serve topped with grated Parmesan.

Posted in Birdies, Cooking, Entrees, Tastespotting at Random | Leave a Comment »

Tastespotting at Random #2: Pizza Margherita

Posted by Jeanne on December 19, 2010

Deep sigh of relief at this one.  It’s not a dessert!  Hallelujah!

This entry is inspired by the pizza margherita made by Alex at A Couple Cooks.

Unfortunately for us, it’s December and we live in Nebraska and the basil is long, long gone.

Fortunately for us, I froze a whole bunch of pesto so we can still have some basil-y goodness on our pizza.  It’s not the same, but it’ll do when there is snow on the ground and June is both a distant memory and an impossible-seeming dream.

I hate to issue caveats before I’ve even written the recipe, but please keep your expectations low on this crust.  It’ll do in a pinch, but it more closely resembles focaccia than an actual pizza crust.  If you’re planning ahead, use this recipe instead.

No-rise Pizza Crust, found online ages ago and source unknown – if I’m stealing your recipe let me know and I’ll provide a link!

1 C very warm water

1 TB yeast

1 tsp sugar

1.5 C all purpose flour

1 C whole-wheat flour

1 tsp salt

2 TB olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F.

Sprinkle yeast and sugar over water in the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl.  Let proof 5 to 10 minutes.

Add flours, salt, and olive oil and knead together until combined.  Add a bit more water if the dough is too dry.  Let rest 10 to 15 minutes (dough is easier to shape after resting).

Press dough onto a greased baking sheet or pizza pan.

Top as desired, and bake at 425F for 20 to 25 minutes.

I was really going for “drizzle” of pesto and ended up more at “blobs.”  Oh well.

It all melded together in the oven anyway and was TOTALLY DELICIOUS.


Posted in Cooking, Entrees, Tastespotting at Random, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »