Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

You will need:

For the salad:
1 package of rice vermicelli (the skinny clustered kind, but the spaghetti-like ones work, too)
1 package of firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 cups of chopped cabbage
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh herbs (mint and basil work well, but you can use cilantro, parsley, or all 4, I think mint is essential)
                                                                                        2 shredded carrots
                                                                                       1 cup mung bean sprouts
                                                                                        1/2 package of pea shoots

                                                                                    4 scallions
                                                                                    4 tablespoons chopped peanuts

                                                                                    For the sauce:
                                                                                    6 tablespoons soy sauce
                                                                                    2 cloves of garlic, pressed
                                                                                    1 lime, squeezed
                                                                                    8 tablespoons water

Start frying the tofu in a large pan in canola oil (about 3-4 tablespoons). Cover the pan and set on medium to medium-high heat. Meanwhile boil water for noodles. They don't take long to cook and when in the pan you do have to stir with a fork frequently to get them apart. Check on the tofu, turn as much of it as possible to brown the other side, press down to release liquids. Cover and let it cook.
Chop the herbs and shred your carrots, toss them in a large bowl with the cabbage, pea shoots and mung beans. Check the tofu. You might want to turn it again.
Whisk together the soy sauce, lime juice, water and garlic. Set it aside. The noodles are probably done. So is the tofu. Drain the noodles, rinse them in cold water and take the tofu off the heat.

Divide the noodles onto plates or bowls (leave some aside, you will have extra noodles. Add generous heaps of the vegetable mixture to the side, or on top. Add tofu, which should be crispy and brown on most sides.
Top with chopped scallion and chopped peanuts, drizzle with dressing and eat.

You can mix the noodles and sauce all together, if you prefer. Some great substitutions: sliced cucumber instead of carrot (or with), lettuce instead of cabbage, add some sesame seeds to dressing, or chili sauce to spice it up.

Apple Pie!

Yes, it is that time of year....
I also went apple picking last month and have lots of apples.

So, first off, make the crust. I make a standard butter pie crust, but if you have a crust you like better, feel free to use it (gluten free, vegan, whole grain, etc).

2 cups of flour, plus 1/4 cup for rolling
2 sticks of butter, cut into small pieces and COLD!
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ICE COLD water

(the key to good crust is the COLD butter)

10-12 crisp apples
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
butter for greasing pie plate

Using a pastry cutter, cut the flour into the butter until it is crumbly (pea-sized pieces). Now get ready to use your hands. Start kneading the dough, as gently, but thoroughly as possible. I use the same way I do for bread: the envelope method. This is when you fold one side up and press, then again going around each side. As the butter and flour start to meld together, add some of the cold water, a tablespoon at a time to help the dough stick. It shouldn't take too long to have a ball of dough that is smooth and elastic, but sticks a little to sides of bowl.
Wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge so the butter doesn't soften. If you can see bits of butter in the dough, don't worry, that will just make it yummier.

Now preheat the oven to 400.

While the oven preheats, peel and slice 10-12 apples. You can use more if you want, it usually depends on the size of the apple. Use a firm, crisp apple, like MacIntosh, Granny Smith, Northern Spy, Matsu, etc. They hold their shape and texture really well when baked.
Toss the apples in the flour, cinnamon and brown sugar, try to coat as evenly as possible.

Pull the dough from the fridge, cut it in half and place one of the halves on a floured surface. Roll out flat, moving in forward motions, turning the dough to keep the round shape. You want the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick.
Spray or grease your pie plate. Line the plate with your dough, letting the extra hang off the sides. Press it firmly in, so you don't have gaps.
Roll out the other dough. Cut off a small amount (maybe 3 inches) and put aside. Continue to roll dough flat and round.
Fill the pie plate with the apple mixture, using a spoon to make sure the apples fill the space.
Top with dough and using the extra around the sides, pinch dough closed around the edge of the pie plate. Nice and tight.
Roll out your small dough. Using a cookie cutter (star, leaf, fish, whatever) cut out a few shapes and place on top of pie.
Cut a slit in the middle and bake 30-40 minutes. Viola!Pretty as Pie!