Sunday, December 14, 2008

Comfort Food

Recipes found in books that are not cookbooks have extra appeal to me. They seem more special somehow, and more worth trying, perhaps because they're not expected, as opposed to having page after page of recipes (although many cookbooks are wonderful, and the photographs can be rather enticing). When my daughter was in second grade, we read a story together called Jalapeno Bagels in which there was a recipe for "chango bars", and we had to bake some, because they sounded (and taste) so good!

In The Friday Night Knitting Club and Knit Two, author Kate Jacobs offers a few tempting recipes, including "Dakota's oatmeal, blueberry, and orange muffins" and "maple apple muffins". Trying out the muffin recipes in these books will add another dimension to my reading experience of them. I haven't yet read Comfort Food, also by Kate Jacobs, but I've learned that it's the story of Augusta Simpson, a famous cooking celebrity on the Food Channel. Augusta, who's called Gus by everyone (this author often gives her characters off-beat, unisex names), is about to turn fifty-years-old, and starts to question who she is and what she has done so far with her life on a personal and professional level. Somewhat surprisingly, I read that this book doesn't have any recipes in it, although it talks a lot about food, especially Spanish food; perhaps the author thought it would be too predictable to include recipes in this book and wanted to focus more on the storyline. Still, my guess is that reading Comfort Food makes you head for the kitchen or out the door to a favorite restaurant. But let me return to my discussion of recipes in non-cookbooks or unexpected places. Here, I present a recipe in an unlikely place, in my blog about books, after a little background information.

I came up with this recipe for miso soup because I wanted my vegetarian daughter to be able to enjoy it again. I found three problems with the fresh paste, instant miso soups on the market. First of all, I couldn't find anything vegetarian--they all have fish in them. They also have MSG and a lot of sodium in them. I thought I could do better, so I asked the advice of friends and some family members, and also searched on the web. The result is my recipe for vegetarian miso soup, below.



Vegetarian Miso Soup ~ A Healthy Comfort Food
Serves 4

Ingredients:
5 cups of water
1 teaspoon shredded dried wakame seaweed, broken up
1 dried shiitake mushroom
1 tablespoon of extra-firm tofu, strained, and chopped into tiny rectangles
2 to 3 green onions, sliced into small pieces
1/3 to 1/2 cup of miso paste, depending on taste (I prefer an organic dark miso paste that I order from the Asian Food Grocer in San Francisco.)

Directions:
Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer seaweed and shiitake mushroom in the water for at least 20 minutes. The longer you simmer the seaweed, the less "fishy" the seaweed will become. I leave the top partially on the pot, to allow steam to escape, and keep the heat on low.

After simmering, remove shiitake mushroom, slice up, and return to the broth or "dashi".

Add sliced green onions, tofu, and smallest dash of soy sauce, and continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

Gently mix miso paste in a bowl with about a cup of the dashi, then add to soup pot and simmer uncovered for a couple of minutes on very low heat before serving. (Do not boil miso, because that destroys the flavor and healthful properties of miso, which is a superfood.) Soup is best enjoyed steaming hot.

As with any recipe, vary amounts of ingredients to taste. You can get creative and add small amounts of other things to your miso soup, such as edamame and sliced baby corn. To make miso soup for one, use about 1 cup of water, two teaspoons of miso paste, and reduce other ingredients as well.

4 comments:

  1. Just wanted to pop over and say hi and tell you I have awarded you an award! Go on over to my blog http://writingspace.blogspot.com and check it out!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Kim! I'm heading over to your blog right now!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I LOVE miso soup! I had plans to make it a while back, but had a dickens of a time getting the miso paste -- not available within my circle of shopping; and not a high enough priority to pursue it beyond the grocery store aisles. I decided to just stop in at my favorite sushi place whenever I'm craving miso soup. It is wonderful! Especially in the winter.

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  4. Christie, thanks for your comment!

    ReplyDelete

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