Monthly Archives: January 2013

ffwd: shrimp and cellophane noodles

shrimp and cellophane noodles

This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is a bit of Asian fusion, sort of. Dorie says she was first served this dish, Shrimp and Cellophane Noodles, by her friend Hélène Samuel as part of a dinner of orange food. Interesting… I’ve been wondering which part of the dish is considered orange. The coral of the cooked shrimp or the red of the tomato puree. I’m not sure.

Ingredients for this dish spawned a trip to HMart, a gigantic nearby Korean supermarket with a usually large selection of Asian ingredients. Though they have more choices of kimchis and marinated meats for Korean BBQ than I’ve seen anywhere else, their inventory usually includes what’s needed for most Asian cuisines. For some reason, this trip, I was surprised that there was only one choice for tree ear mushrooms and one choice for cellophane noodles. On the bright side, half of the back wall of the store is a fresh fish counter, so I could pick up shrimp and make it a one-stop shop.

To be fair, this recipe should have been named Shrimp, MUSHROOM, and Cellophane Noodles. The dried tree ear mushrooms, once rehydrated, were the main ingredient. I couldn’t believe how much the mushrooms, well, mushroomed. The little one ounce pack grew to fill a medium sized bowl with gigantic tree ears. I debated using only half of the mushrooms, once shredded, but ended up using it all.

Bloomin' Mushrooms

Also, I didn’t understand why the rehydrated noodles were doused in sesame oil and then, shortly before assembling the dish, cooked ever so briefly in the pot of water which simply washed the oil off. I added more sesame oil afterwards, but I wasn’t sure about the purpose this step. Anyone have a clue?

Asian ingredients with tomato puree sounded like we were in for a bit of fusion cooking. Unfortunately, the end result was weird. I mentioned the large amount of mushrooms. The dish offered varied textures with the firm shrimp, the slippery noodles, and the dominant shredded mushrooms. I didn’t expect it to taste Italian from tomatoes alone, however, the tomatoes seemed to flatten out the taste completely. There wasn’t any hint of the Asian flavors, even though there was ample sesame oil, five-spice powder, and garlic in there. To Howard, it tasted very sweet, though we couldn’t figure out if that was from the miniscule amount of sugar or the warm spices in the five-spice powder. The consensus at our table was that this dish didn’t quite work.

We don’t post the recipes, but you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. To see what other Doristas thought of this recipe, check out their posts here.

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Soup Season

Soup Ingredients

The month of January has been filled with wild temperature swings. The past few days have been frigid, starting in single digits, but staying well south of freezing. And yet, we saw a balmy 50 just this past weekend and 60 one day last week. Climate change is in the air, and something needs to stabilize it.

I do love winter, though maybe not as much as I used to. I certainly prefer winter to summer. The trick is to dress properly. In winter, you can bundle up. In summer, you can only take off so many clothes. My mainstay has been my flannel-lined jeans. That extra layer helps cut the wind and generally keeps me warmer inside and out.

Another trick is eating soup. A bowl of soup is just what the doctor (or maybe the weatherman?) ordered. I’ve made so many delicious pots of soup this month; I just haven’t gotten around to sharing about them.

Here’s a little roundup of my favorites:

carrot soup with tahini and crisped chickpeas

This carrot soup is from Smitten Kitchen. The soup itself is nothing exciting, just a simple carrot puree. What makes this soup special are the garnishes: a lemony tahini sauce to swirl in, crispy chickpeas to sprinkle on top (though flavorful, mine were not very crispy), and za’atar topped pita chips (my new favorite snack). A bowl of this fully-adorned soup is a keeper!

cauliflower soup

This cauliflower soup was recommended by my Dorista friend Teresa from One Wet Foot. My previous go-to cauliflower soup starts with roasted cauliflower. This one does this same. However, Teresa’s soup is seasoned with curry powder. The curry powder also imparts a slight yellow tinge to the soup (you can’t really tell from the photo). This soup achieves a silky, creamy texture without any cream, so it will become my new go-to cauliflower soup recipe. Delicious!

turkey mushroom barley soup

Finally, drawing on inspiration from the freezer, pantry, and refrigerator, I created a pot of Turkey Mushroom Barley Soup. I thawed turkey bones from the freezer to make into rich stock in the slow cooker. To the finished stock, I added a complement of hearty vegetables (about 6 cups in all) and some barley and let it simmer until the barley was nearly tender. Finally, sautéed mushrooms and chopped turkey (frozen leftovers from Thanksgiving) were added to the pot. The result was a thick, hearty soup to warm us from the inside out.

Spring doesn’t usually arrive in these parts until April (optimistically), so there will be many more pots of soup in my future. Do you have a favorite recipe to recommend? Please share!

Turkey Mushroom Barley Soup
Serves 8

8 cups turkey stock (chicken would be fine)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, diced into ¼-inch pieces
2 turnips, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
1 cup barley
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound mushrooms, quartered
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, combine stock, onion, carrots, celery, turnips, and barley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for 40 minutes, until barley is nearly tender. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the mushrooms until they have given up all their liquid and the liquid in the skillet evaporates. The mushrooms should be tender at this point. When the stock has simmered for 40 minutes, the barley should be nearly tender. Add the mushrooms and turkey. Continue to cook the soup until the barley is completely tender and the turkey is warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.