It’s like eating a cloud….no really

Fluffy airy Pavlova with a mix of fresh berries and dusted with powdered sugar

The  weeks recipe is handy to keep in your back pocket for occasions when you find yourself with a lot of leftover egg whites. After making the custard for last week’s coconut cream pie, that’s exactly the situation I was in. Pavlova are sweet baked meringues but with crispy airy outer shell and a gooey marshmallowy center. They’re a perfect vehicle for seasonal fruits like fresh berries and other fruits.

Though you don’t need special equipment, you could mix them by hand. But unless you want your arm to fall off, I’d suggest at a minimum using a electric hand mixer but ideally a stand mixer.

Pavlova

4 eggs. whites

1 cup super fine sugar*

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons corn starch

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar

Preheat 275F

Wipe the inside of the stand mixer. bowl with white vinegar to make sure there is not oil or grease in the bowl. Using the whisk attachment, whip the 4 egg whites on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Mix the salt and sugar and gradually add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time into the egg whites,  whisking in between additions of sugar. Scrape down the sides of the Whisk until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Add in the cornstarch, vanilla, and lemon juice and whisk until incorporated. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use the back of.a large spoon or a piping bag to form meringue mixture into 2 7″ rounds or 6-8 4″ diameter rounds. Bake on the middle rack at 275F for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Turn off the over and let Pavlova’s cool in the oven while leaving the oven door slightly ajar. Serve with freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit

Poached Cod with Ginger Garlic Broth and Udon


Poached Cod in Garlic Ginger Broth with Udon and finished with a dash of Furikake and a drizzle of eel sauce.

A few months back we tried out Blue Apron to sample different types of cuisine without having to spend a fortune on pantry items, to reduce midweek trips to the grocery store and to cut down on the amount of produce we waste weekly. As it turns out, we wound up only cooking a few of the recipes and just stuck the protein in the freezer and used the produce for other stuff. Nothing against Blue Apron itself as a concept it just didn’t work for our lifestyle and schedules. My wife works from home mostly and I have a schedule that fluctuates. There’s quite a few evenings where I’m not home for dinner or to make dinner, we wound up just not cooking many of the meals.

Blue Apron did help us break out of our rut of chicken breasts, steaks, and salmon as our sole protein sources and Blue Apron helped me realize I don’t hate all squash or cod and I still really hate beets. I would recommend Blue Apron for novice cooks and folks trying to branch out and try more diverse cuisines. Most of the meals can be prepared within an hour and they try to have things cook in 1 pan. Which is great for folks just starting out or in a dorm where they may not have made the investment in a lot of kitchen gear. That said, if the previous does not apply to you, you can save a lot of time by multi-tasking through a recipe and using a couple of pots and pans to prepare the different parts of the dish.

But what does any of that have to do with poached cod? Well the Mrs. said that the wants to try pescatarianism again and I mentioned that we still had some cod in the freezer left over from our Blue Apron days. The question then became what to do with it using stuff we already had in the pantry and fridge. Our panty probably isn’t typical, we are blessed to live in an extremely diverse area of Southern California so we can access these ingredients fairly easily. You will need to to have access to a decent Asian grocery store. I’ve seen miso paste, toasted nori and furikake at Safeway/Vons and of course carrots, ginger, scallions, and garlic are available in the produce department. Sometimes you can find udon. I’ve seen udon at some Whole Foods, Vons/Safeway and Wegmans (for those Mid-Atlantic folks). They probably do have a selection of dried mushrooms, but it’s been my experience that they’re are wildly over-priced outside of Asian markets. You will also need an Asian Market for eel sauce and Kombu stock, this is also where I find sachets (usually on the tea aisle). If you can’t find eel sauce, then a drizzle of soy sauce or oyster sauce will give a nice fermented saltiness.

The poached cod is on the lighter side with no added fat though there is a good amount of sodium from the kombu and miso. If you want something lower carb you could easily add more vegetables and leave out the udon all together. If you want something with a little more heat you can add Sriracha or garlic chili paste or some dried chilies to the poaching liquid. This is also a quickish weeknight meal which you can have prepped and on the table in about 30  minutes so long as the fish is thawed.

Ingredients

1  Qt water for poaching

4 cups water to cook udon

1TBS White Miso Paste

½ cup dried shitake mushrooms that have been steeped in hot water

2 TBS scallions

2 TBS julienned carrot

½ cup shredded napa cabbage

2 3oz Cod fillet or white fish of you choice deboned and skin removed

2  packets of kombu stock ( I get mine from Daiso)

1 head of garlic

3 nickel sized slices of ginger that have been smashed with the flat side of a knife

1 sheet of toasted nori

2 star anise

2 lemon sliices and juice of half a lemon

eel sauce and furikake for garnish

To start, place dried mushrooms in a deep bowl and cover with boiled water. Let steep until they are soften. This will take about 15 minutes. While mushrooms are steeping, julienne the carrots, cut the napa and chop the scallion.

Mise en place of reconstituted shitakes, napa cabbage, julienned carrots, scallions, garlic, ginger, anise and lemon slices

Strain the mushrooms reserving the liquid and set the mushrooms aside. Bring 1QT of water to a boil and add the leftover liquid from the mushrooms, kombu stock packets, miso, garlic, ginger, star anise, lemon slices, lemon juice and sheet of nori and let boil.

 

Kombu stock, nori, and sachet of garlic, ginger, lemon and anise coming to a boil.

In another pot bring 4 cups of water to boil.  Reduce the heat on the boiling stock  to a slow simmer and add the fish fillets. It will take about 6-8 minutes to poach. Quickly blanch the julienned carrots and strain retaining the boiling water. Set aside the carrots and add the udon noodles. Udon usually cooks in 2-3 minutes. Remove the fish from the broth and reserve the broth. Strain the udon. Divide the udon between 2 soup bowls and place a fish fillet on top, add vegetables to each bowl and cover with the poaching broth. Garnish with furikake and eel sauce.

 

Spring Rolls and light summer time fare……

It’s been crazy hot and humid in NJ these past several days. I’ve been thinking of some light dinner and lunch options. First up, are fresh Spring Rolls. I made them using left over rotisserie chicken and arugula for a little peppery bite. I just took the chicken and shredded it into a bowl then added about 1 TBS of prepared hoisin sauce. The rice noodles, are soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes then drained and cooked in boiling water for 3 minutes. They are drained again then rinsed in cold water, drained and allowed to cool.

Shredded chicken, rice noodles, arugula, carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, chinese long pepper, basil leaves, and scallions all cut up and waiting to go into the spring rolls.

Shredded chicken, rice noodles, arugula, carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, chinese long pepper, basil leaves, and scallions all cut up and waiting to go into the spring rolls.

Spring rolls are fairly easy to make, you just cut up the ingredients that you want to use, then wrap them in Spring Roll Wrappers. I like to take a dinner plate and put about ½ cup of warm water on the bottom of the plate. I take a dried spring roll wrapper, dip the edge into the water then rotate the wrapper until the entire wrapper has been coated with water. I let the excess water drip off, then I’ll place the damp wrapper on a plate. Place my ingredients in a pile on the edge close to me. Then I’ll roll it once, then fold in the sides and roll to the end of the wrapper. I repeat this process until I”m out of ingredients.

You can also fry the spring roll wrappers. I minced about ¼ lbs of peeled and deveined shrimp, then placed it into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. I added a clove of garlic that was finely minced, a nickel sized, piece of peeled ginger, minced, the white and green of a scallion, 1 tsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of corn starch. I mixed all the ingredients together and refrigerated for about 30 minutes. Once the shrimp is chilled, wet the spring roll wrappers as above and then fill with 1 TBS of the shrimp filling. Fry at 350ºF in small batches until golden brown. Serve with lettuce leaves and herbs like cilantro, thai basil and mint. They’re also served with cold rice noodle salad.

Shrimp Spring Rolls frying.

Shrimp Spring Rolls frying.

Both types of Spring Rolls are traditionally served with Nuoc Cham.

Nuoc Cham
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cloves of garlic mashed
1 thai red chili
3 TBS of Vietnamese Fish Sauce (Nuoc Mam)
½ cup water (I’ve also used coconut soda)
2 TBS of molasses or dark corn syrup

Mix all the ingredients together until the molasses dissolves. You can store this in a container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

And here are the finished spring rolls.

Spring Rolls with Nuoc Cham

Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls served in lettuce leaves with Nuoc Cham.

Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls served in lettuce leaves with Nuoc Cham.

Here is Rice Noodle Salad with bbq beef and fried shrimp spring rolls with Nuoc Cham Dressing. The rice noodle salad employs the prep once use twice method. The veggies, herbs and rice noodles were prepped for making the fresh Spring Rolls earlier in the day. The bbq beef is left over from the banh mi sandwiches that we had last night.

Chilled rice noodles are served with an assortment of chopped vegetables, lettuce, herbs, bbq beef, fried shrimp spring rolls  and garnished with dry roasted peanuts.

Chilled rice noodles are served with an assortment of chopped vegetables, lettuce, herbs, bbq beef, fried shrimp spring rolls
and garnished with dry roasted peanuts.