Sunday, September 27, 2009

two vegetarians. and bacon.

last night we threw a party at "elliott manor" to say a fond farewell to our lovely roommate, melinda, who has moved to the NE side of town. (i know what you are thinking but, no, i did not take her room! there were two rooms available when i moved in!) anyway, to my excitement (and everyone else, too), mikey made his famous whisky and carmel candied bacon ice cream! he made a whisky (!) based vanilla ice cream and then mixed a creamy carmel sauce into it with little bacon bits that had been candied with sugar...

it was delicious. very delicious. only in portland, folks. come and get it. (pictures to come.)

with the smell of bacon in the air, i had a feeling we were going to have a few vegetarians on our hands so i decided to make a couple vegetarian dishes and of course, another dish that contained, you guessed it, bacon.  i went to the hollywood farmer's market in the morning and picked up some fresh veggies including beets, pears, shallots and gobo root.


i'm sorry. i'm really excited about this. it's been hard finding japanese vegetables, so when i saw it, i grabbed a ton of it and decided it was going to be one of my dishes for the night.

for all of you that have not heard of gobo or burdock, it's a woody root that's known for it's medicinal properties to help with digestion. basically, it has tons of fiber. i mostly know it from having to chop it up for long hours at a time (thanks mom!) to create the japanese dish called kinpira gobo. (i'm pretty sure my mom is laughing right now.)  to much of my surprise, many people had not heard of gobo, so it was very exciting for me to make something from home for people to try. here goes:

mom's kinpira gobo:
serving size (giant bowl. or 10 people as a side dish)

4 gobo roots (about 18 inches long). peeled, cut on the diagonal, .2cm thick. then matchsticked*.
4 carrots, same as gobo
sesame seed oil
1/4 cup sugar
4-6 tblspn mirin (japanese sweet rice wine)
soy sauce,  about 3-4 turns of the pan
dashi no moto**

ok, so the dish is really easy to cook. it's the prep that's the problem.  in mom's version we don't peel the carrots or the gobo, just scrub it real good.  for the sake of the newbies, i peeled everything this time.

*the "punishment" part is cutting the carrots and gobo on the diagonal and then matchsticking everything. basically, slice it thin but not paper thin. if you don't like chopping, i would suggest investing in a mandolin.

when the carrots and gobo are all prepped, heat your pan on medium high and pour in enough sesame seed oil to coat the bottom.  when it's hot, throw it in and saute it so everything gets coated (not even 30 seconds). then sprinkle the sugar all around and keep sauting to incorportate (1 min).  add the mirin. then add the soy sauce last. (must be in this order! if you ask, i'll tell you later why.) give it a taste. you may need to add more sugar or more soy sauce. that's it! ( i understand it's difficult to know what it's supposed to taste like if you have never had it. i'll make it for you first, i promise!)

**i normally throw in a few teaspoons of dashi right when i add the sugar, but since it's fish based, i kept it out for the vegetarians. if i put it in, it gives it more "umami."

next. i made a beet salad.  most people don't know this but this was my first time cooking with beets. i didn't grow up with it, so there. i referred to my "cooking with jamie oliver" book for this one and adapted his beet salad recipe.

jane's first beet salad:
4 beets, peeled, and matchsticked (yay, for chopping!)
4 ripe but firm pears, matchsticked ( i used starkrimson pears because it was the favorite of the little girl that was selling them. i'm a sucker. what can i say?)
lots of mint from the backyard
8oz crumbles feta cheese
small handful of sunflower seeds

juice from 2 lemons
2 tablespoons of honey
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper

chop everything up, and throw it all in a big bowl that you won't worry about staining. for the dressing, combine the first 3 ingredients first and then whisk and add the olive oil last. add salt and pepper to taste. toss the salad with the dressing and that's it. i let it marinade in the fridge for a bit before serving. the main ingredients are jamie oliver's idea and the dressing i made up on my own! it was a great dish to celebrate beets!

last but not least,  i made green beans and bacon. really easy, guys.

green beans and bacon:
1 pound of green beans, stems removed and cut in have (or in thirds if you like)
6 (or more) slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper

heat pan to medium high and add a little oil to get it going. add bacon and brown.  remove bacon from the pan and set aside. add green beans and saute in the bacon fat. after a few minutes add the shallots and garlic and saute till carmelized. add salt and pepper to taste. by the time the shallots/garlic have carmelized, the green beans should be sauted just to al dente (cooked but with a bite!). taste it. if it's good, then you're done!

the party was a success. beets were eaten. kinpira gobo was eaten. green beans were gone. the ice cream made you want to raise the roof.

oh yeah,  i also made chocolate kahlua cake. but that one's a secret! sorry!

p.s. sorry about the photo quality. i didn't really take my time taking them so they're a little blurry.

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