Tuesday 1 December 2009
The seventh meeting of the Macrobiotics Cooking Club, and seven of us cooked and ate. Kim and Barry, Emily, Laura, Tyler, Ryan and Hilary (myself). As always, bring back friends next week!
Everything Went So Well Together
It is easy to compose a balanced menu from whole, seasonal, “honest” ingredients. At each meeting we have used a variety of whole grains, garden vegetables, natural oils and sweeteners, seeds, fruits and beans. We vaguely ration recipe responsibility to avoid four pots of rice; and new members tend to like bringing sweet vegetables, like winter squash or carrots.
The menu this week was yet another Winning Combination, with just enough for us all to eat our fill.
Sprouted Wheat Flatbread with Miso-Tahini and Pickled Daikon Greens
Wheatberry “Mash-Up” with Mushrooms, Shallots and Delicata Squash
Baby Bok Choy with Soy Sauce and Toasted Sesame
We accompanied all that with Peppermint Herb Tea and Barefoot Merlot.Sticky Sprout Dough
A few weeks ago, we made a cracked wheat and sesame dough; spread it thin and baked it into crispy crackers. This week, I tried a similar technique to make chewy sprouted grain flatbread.
The ground sprouts naturally form a sticky dough. To make the flatbread, spread the dough out on a baking sheet and dry it in a low oven (200 degrees F). For a sour taste, ferment the dough with a sourdough starter (a few Tablespoons) for a day or two before spreading and drying it. Salt the dough to taste. Sprinkle sesame or another type of seeds over the dough before drying if you like. Half-way through drying, score the sheet of flatbread into small rectangles and flip it over to dry the bottom.
Mine turned out really sour; we doused it in sweet Miso-Tahini sauce and topped it with pickled Daikon greens.
For Delightful Tofu, Press It
Pressing tofu improves the texture, making it more firm; as some might say, ‘toothsome.’ It also removes moisture from the tofu, enabling it to absorb other flavorful seasoning liquids.
To press tofu, spread out a clean kitchen towel or paper towels on a baking sheet or plate. Lay out the tofu in even slices and cover with another clean towel. Place another sheet pan or plate on top and put some heavy jars or books on top of that. Remember you don’t want to crush the tofu, just press the liquid gently out of it. Leave it for 30 minutes or so.
To broil tofu, heat the oven broiler up. Lay the tofu slices out on a baking tray and sprinkle some soy sauce over them to season. Place under the hot broiler until they begin to brown around the corners. Remove from the broiler and flip the slices over, then return them to broil the other side. Serve them hot or in a sandwich!
Lettuce grows much slower in the winter so we made this salad with whole wheat, squash and two kinds of mushrooms. Vary the grain and vegetables with the seasons.
For this December version, Laura used:
Winter Wheat Berries
Shiitake and Button Mushrooms
She cooked the wheat ahead of time, then cooked the diced squash and mushrooms with the shallot in some oil before mixing it all together. There were a few sprigs of parsley left in the garden for garnish, and we seasoned our individual portions with Sherry Vinegar to taste.
Fork and Knife Food
Sometimes vegetarians like something to cut into, too. Small vegetables make good Fork and Knife food.
Mother (Kim) cut each Baby Bok Choy in half and cooked them first in olive oil, then in soy sauce to season and soften them for cutting on the plate.
Vegetables cooked like this are pretty enough without a garnish, but then, toasted sesame seeds are good on everything.And Winter is A Good Time for Drenching Radishes
The little Daikon radish patch provided one last garden harvest for this year. I remembered a spectacular recipe from Shizuo Tsuji’s book, Japanese Cooking; A Simple Art. It is simple but each step is important.
1. Bevel the radishes. Cut thick slices and shave the rims to create a rounded shape from each slice. They will look something like little turnips with the tops and roots sliced off; flat on the top and bottom with smoothly rounded sides.
2. Simmer the radishes. Place them in a cooking pot with cold water to cover. Cut a piece of kitchen paper to fit right inside the pot and place it over the surface of the water to keep the radishes from floating to the top and drying out. Heat to boiling then lower the heat and simmer until the radishes are soft and translucent; 20 minutes or so, depending on size.
3. Drench the radishes. Drain the radishes of the simmering water and return them to the pot. Save the paper. Cover the radishes again with liquid, but this time use Dashi (Japanese broth) or something else with good light flavor. We used liquid reserved from cooking the wheat berries; seasoned with soy sauce and grated ginger. Cover the radishes again with the kitchen paper and return to simmering for another 20-30 minutes in order to drench them with the flavor of the broth.