Thursday, November 3, 2011
30-minute Thursday: Spinach & feta filo pie + experimenting with faux shrimp
And, yes, you read right. I have jumped back on the horse and ate:
Pine nuts. From a different source and a different store. If I get pine mouth from these the love affair is over forever. If I don't, Viva Kirkland! You read online that the pine nuts that are the culprits come from China or Korea, but every package of pine nuts I have seen since (and I've been checking) is from China.
The tomato salad was supposed to be resting on a blenderized mixture of basil, olive oil, garlic, and white wine vinegar, but big bundles of basil aren't easy to come by around here, so I subbed cilantro, and would have eaten my cats if they'd been dunked in this. But then I have a serious weakness for salsa verde.
I have some big new-cookbook love going on for Meals in Minutes. Plus the fact that I actually saw Jamie Oliver making one of these meals on his show while I was at the gym yesterday. I don't have a TV, so other than downloading shows from iTunes or other places, don't watch it except, starting very recently, at the gym. The one I saw him doing was the Curry rogan josh--and I only caught the last 15 minutes and so didn't realize until I got home and read the whole menu recipe that it was actually vegan except for the yogurt. The book is very vegetarian friendly, and in the index the vegetarian recipes are indicated with a "v". I believe all of them are available online as well. But the book is very kewl, very beautiful, very inspiring.
Any experienced vegan cook delights in converting omni recipes, and that's what I did with my "shrimp."
I know what you're thinking. I wasn't too sure about them either. Here's the label:
So I'm standing in the store reading this, and going "Curdlen? What the...?" Isolated soy protein, okay, wheat fibre, fine, konnyaku is what gives shirataki noodles their peculiar chewy texture, so I'm good with that too, but I'd never heard of curdlen. Calgary, Alberta, where this product is made, is very local, so this is a Canadian product. Apparently curdlan is a food additive derived from certain kinds of bacteria. According to Wikipedia:
Curdlan (or beta-1,3-glucan) is a high molecular weight polymer of glucose. Curdlan consists of β-(1,3)-linked glucose residues and forms elastic gels upon heating in aqueous suspension.
It is produced by Agrobacterium biobar, a non pathogenic bacteria. The production of curdlan by Alcaligenes faecalis is being developed to be used in gel production as well.
Clearly nothing to be wary of. It's used to add texture to foods, to sort of curdle them (curdlen, curdlin', get it?). And apparently it is quite safe. So they say.
Having put that little matter behind me, I opened the package, expecting a fishy taste I was fairly sure I wouldn't like, at the very least the fishy odour of raw shirataki noodles. But no. These little guys had a pleasant, fresh taste, kind of like a cross between tofu and cooked shirataki noodles, which is essentially what is is, and no smell whatsoever. They'll take on the flavour of whatever they're cooked with. Next time I buy them (and for sure I will buy them again) I'll marinate them in something before cooking. This time I made a shrimp curry based on the recipe at Padma's Kitchen, just subbing out the shrimp with the "shrimp."
What really sold me on this recipe was that it called for a whole bunch of curry leaves all sliced up, which give the dish a lot of its flavour, and I am a curry leaf ho--one of the great culinary regrets of my life is that I only discovered them in the last two years or so. Buy them fresh, freeze them, and they'll keep for a good long time.
The whole meal:
Crazy good! It includes a cauliflower-butternut curry with chickpeas and spinach, a carrot-ginger salad, a lemon pickle you make in 10 seconds (not kidding, 10 seconds), jasmine rice, tofu yogurt, and pappadams. I discovered on my own that you don't have to deep fry pappadams--you can just brush them with a little oil and bake them in a 350F oven for 30 seconds or so and they're just as good. Probably you all knew that before, but I didn't, and this knowledge has made me very happy because I love pappadams.
So all happy and everything, I leave you--