Tag Archives: Squash

Noodle Bowl Winter Night

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Laura, Emily, Hilary (V), Tyler (D) and Hilary (M-B, myself) made five at the eighth meeting of the Macrobiotic Cooking Club.

One Degree, Fahrenheit

Laura four-wheel-drove us through the frozen outdoors to get sake and ingredients. Steaming noodle bowls and sweet roasted squash added another sixty or so degrees to the one outside.

The Menu:

Baked Puffed Mochi
Soba Noodles in Japanese-Style Broth (Fish-less Dashi)
Roasted Buttercup Squash
Brown Rice

We drank Corn Silk tea and Odell’s Isolation Ale while chopping the Buttercup and bringing seaweed to boiling. After adding a splash of sake to the noodle broth, we let the bottle bubble in the noodle-water pot to heat.

Pounded or Purchased Sweet Rice Snacks

Mochi is a Japanese snack food made from sweet rice. Grainaissance, the same company that makes sometimes-available commercial amasake, also makes widely available commercial mochi.

Commercial mochi is a ‘slice and bake’ pounded sweet rice snack that is packaged as flat rectangular cakes. The cakes are hard until you cut them into small squares with a sturdy knife and bake them in a hot (450 degree) oven.

Mochi puff in the oven, becoming light and chewy.

Dashi, Traditional As You Like

Japanese Dashi is made by bringing water to boiling with a piece of kelp submerged, then adding shaved dried bonito fish, briefly, before straining it all. The resulting stock is light and used in everything from vinegar dressings for salads to clear, hot still-life soups. The Japanese often use granulated instant dashi now, but traditional homemade dashi will lend authentic Japanese flavor even to American-made noodle bowls.

We combined two styles of Japanese dashi for a vegetarian noodle broth. First, we made Kombu Dashi by placing a few squares of kombu in cold water and bringing it to boiling. Then, we removed the kelp and transformed the liquid into Shiitake Dashi with dried shiitake mushrooms.

Noodle Broth
Adapted from Shizuo Tsuji’s recipe in Japanese Cooking; A Simple Art

8 cups cold water
4-5 pieces kombu (kelp), about 4″ x 4″ each
7-8 dried shiitake mushrooms
4 Tablespoons tamari soy sauce
2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup
2 Tablespoons sake
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons kudzu root starch, ground and dissolved in cold water

These measurements are approximate. The soy sauce, rice syrup, sake and salt must be adjusted to taste. You will know when the seasonings are balanced by tasting a distinct Japanese flavor. The kudzu is optional. It thickens the broth.

Place the kelp and cold water in a pot over medium heat and bring just to boiling. Remove the kelp and add the shiitake mushrooms. We let the mushrooms simmer for 10-15 minutes to infuse their flavor into the broth.

Strain the mushrooms out, reserving them and returning the pot to heat. Add the tamari, rice syrup, sake and salt, adjusting to taste once they are all in.

When the broth is seasoned, add the dissolved kudzu and stir, simmering, until the broth thickens.

Steaming Noodle Bowls

You must have heard somewhere about the Japanese custom of slurping noodles hot. They slurp to eat noodles steaming hot without burning their mouths. In order to serve hot noodles, keep the broth simmering while you boil the noodles; and have all of the other components ready.

We topped the soba noodles with shiitake mushrooms cooked in oil, then added the hot dashi and a garnish of sliced green onions.

Cutting the Round Vegetables

You must be cunning for the task of cutting round vegetables, such as onions, winter squash and cabbage. If their size and solidity aren’t deterrents enough, you will cuss the challenge of making uniform pieces from the shape of a globe.

For winter squash, thick wedges are satisfying. However, because of their layers, onions and cabbages are easier to cut uniformly if you slice them thin as you can.


Seventh Meeting of the Macrobiotics Cooking Club

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
Broiled Tofu
Wheatberry “Mash-Up”
with Mushrooms, Shallots and Delicata Squash
Baby Bok Choy with Soy Sauce and Toasted Sesame
Drenched Daikon

We accompanied all that with Peppermint Herb Tea and Barefoot Merlot.

If you don't grind Meat, you can grind Grains to look like Tuna!

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-less Salad

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
Delicata Squash
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.

Daikon Radishes, doing their job a month ago.

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.

Lean Lukewarm Burnt Cloves of Carrots

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Tuesday night cooking club with Laura, Emily and Miles, another Laura and Jess, Harley, Tom Biscotti, Andy, Ryan and Hilary

The theme was Breakfast for Dinner.

Red Flame Carrots
Laura cut them and we ate them raw. You know the texture of a young carrot. Orange inside and red outside, 6 or 8 inches long. We served the carrots from a handmade Black Walnut wood plate that is smooth and light in weight.

Breakfast Carrots
This idea is based on Ed Brown’s directions in Tassajara Cooking. Didn’t adding ketchup turn them into Dinner Carrots? Most important is eating cooked carrots in the morning.

10 carrots, or how many you want to cook
2 Tablespoons canola oil
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup raisins, chopped into bits

Clean the carrots and chop them into medium sized pieces with the skin on. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot or frying pan and add the carrots, sprinkling them with salt. Cook the carrots over medium to high heat, stirring often enough to prevent burning, until they begin to caramelize.
When the carrots are as brown as you wish, add the raisins and a splash of water and continue cooking until the raisins are plump and the carrots soft.

Ginger Soy Tempeh or Breakfast Sausage
It is obviously not sausage. Everyone seems to love tempeh.

2, 8 oz. packages soy tempeh
3-4 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons grated or minced fresh ginger root
1 Tablespoon soy sauce, more to taste

Crumble the tempeh into course chunks. Heat the oil in a heavy pan and add the crumbled tempeh. Cook over medium high, stirring enough until the tempeh is browning.
Add the ginger and soy sauce along with a few tablespoons of water to the browned tempeh. The water will help gather up the browned tempeh that might be stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add enough water to make all of the tempeh moist. Season to taste with soy sauce. I haven’t tried forming it into patties.

Buckwheat Waffles
Aveline Kushi’s Buckwheat Pancakes recipe adapted as waffles. Until amazake becomes more available commercially, or until we learn to make our own, we will have to use the EdenBlend amazake and soymilk drink from the aseptic packages. This double batch made one waffle each for ten of us.

2 cups buckwheat flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons light sesame oil
2 cups EdenBlend, more as needed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
water, as needed

Combine all of the ingredients, adding more EdenBlend or water to thin to the desired consistency. Try not to stir any more than you have to. Cook it in the waffle iron or in an oiled frying pan. To keep the waffles from getting soggy while you cook the rest, stack them on a rack instead of on a plate.

Serve the waffles with button mushrooms chopped and sauteed, and sprouts or, even better; mushrooms, arugula and sour cream if you wish.

Kasha (Roasted Buckwheat Cereal) with Scallions
More buckwheat, Kushi-style.

2 cups whole buckwheat
6 cups water, more as needed
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
6 scallions, sliced

Dry roast the buckwheat in a heavy pan until it is dark brown but not burned. Add the water and salt and bring to boiling. Lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the buckwheat is soft like porridge. Add more water if it gets too thick.
Serve small portions in bowls, garnished with sliced scallions.

Roasted Squash with What You Like
Jess and Laura work on the farm and brought some squash to cook!

1 medium Delicata squash
1 medium Butternut squash
canola oil
sea salt

raisins, or baby onions, or what you like

Heat the oven at 350 degrees or higher.
Peel the squash and cut them into chips. Clean the seeds. Oil the squash and spread them out on a baking sheet. Oil the seeds and put them off to one side of the baking sheet. Sprinkle all with salt.
Roast the squash and seeds in the preheated oven until the squash is soft and the seeds are crisp.
Add raisins, if you like, or sliced baby onions to the roasted squash and put it under the broiler at the end to brown a little bit.

Who Wants Cook’s Temperament?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A possibly chaotic cooking club meeting. Carrie and Tyler showed up. Kim and Barry with the squash. Emily, Miles, Laura, Ryan and Hilary.

One idea of Macrobiotics is cooking (and eating) in harmony with your surroundings. Sometimes the kitchen appears more chaotic than it is. Our food turned out pretty good, if a little chaotic. The mood at the dinner table was equally so. What does one expect with such a high ratio of Beards? We made the following:

Brown Rice with Farro
Farro is an ancient type of wheat (more accurately called Emmer). There was a little bit of organic farro left from my grain splurge at Kalustyan’s in New York City clear last February so I mixed it with the rice. When mixing different types of grains with rice, use about 2-3 parts rice for 1 part other grain. Short grain brown rice is good with all sorts of other whole grains, including barley, wheat berries, rye and wild rice. I use the same ratio of water as for plain rice, but sometimes cook the grains a little longer (especially with wild rice). It helps to soak the rinsed grains in the cooking water for a few hours before cooking them.

1/2 cup farro
1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
2 1/2 cups water
pinch salt

Combine the farro and rice in the cooking pot and rinse several times with cold water. My farro was pretty dusty so it took a while. I don’t know how yours is. Drain the grains and add the cooking water. If you have time, leave them to soak for a few hours before cooking.
Place the grain pot over high heat and bring to boiling. Add the salt, cover the pot and reduce heat to lowest possible. Simmer, covered for about an hour without lifting the lid. Off the heat and allow the grain to rest ten minutes, covered before serving.

Roasted Acorn Squash in Rings
Squash addiction suspicions confirmed by Mother’s choice of vegetable.

2-3 medium acorn squashes
olive oil
sea salt

Heat the oven at 400 degrees while you prepare the squash. Slice the squash into rings and scrape out the pulp and seeds. Rub them down with olive oil and oil a baking pan too. Arrange the squash rings in a single layer on the baking pan and sprinkle on some salt. If the salt if course, crunch it up with a mortar and pestle. Roast the squash until soft, flipping them half-way so that they are evenly browned on both sides.

Mushrooms with Onion
When we found out about Mother’s squash, Emily decided to bring mushrooms. Fucking fiends. Apparently cremini mushrooms are the same variety as white button mushrooms and portobello mushrooms; they are between those two in maturity.

3 cups, approximately, fresh cremini mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion
olive oil

Slice the mushrooms and onion. Heat a small skillet on medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the oil followed directly by the onion. Cook the onion for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms. Add some salt and cook the mushrooms on low heat until they begin to release moisture so that they will not burn. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are soft and browned. Serve with squash, obviously.

Oatmeal Cookies
Should be served for breakfast. Based on Aveline Kushi’s recipe.

1 1/2 cups instant oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons walnut oil
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all of the ingredients to form a sticky dough. Allow the dough to rest for a half hour or more before baking. It will thicken to a good cookie dough texture. Heat the oven at 350 degrees. Oil the cookie tray and spoon out 12-15 cookies in even rows. Bake about 15 minutes. They will just begin to brown but you probably don’t want them too crispy. If they are smaller you may want to check at 10 minutes. Allow them to cool a bit before eating.

The above dishes served with Carrot Greens Condiment that Emily made and Seitan ‘Dumplings’ with Gravy Experiment by Ryan and Hilary, red wine and bancha to drink and for the appetizer Laura brought black radishes with Japanese peppered sea salt.


Next week: Yellow Split Pea Dahl with Carrots, Celery, Onion and Ginger, and What else?

Buttercup Squash Pie

chopping up buttercup

This is what squash looks like through mate vision

If you are going to replace your Thanksgiving turkey with Stuffed Hubbard Squash, then what about the pie? Happily you do not have to choose between the two.
The concept of Balance is central to the macrobiotic diet and philosophy, but macrobiotic cooks and eaters are excessively obsessed with the bright orange, Round vegetable called a Buttercup (or Kabocha). Whatever. A squash addiction thinly veiled behind the macrobiotic principles of seasonality and local eating is simply more dignified than squash gluttony.

Garden Buttercup

Use a cleaver or large, sharp chef's knife to halve the squash

Don’t Fuck It Up!
Winter squash may be compared to ripe summer tomatoes. The cook with much more than a good sharp knife will almost certainly disguise or degrade the vegetables’ inherent perfection. Still, you can’t serve steamed squash for dessert, and so I performed once so far

The Squash Pie Experiment:

squash pie

Don't be fooled by the appearance; you will definitely wish there was more filling if you make these miniature pies.

Aveline Kushi’s Basic Crust or preferably Crackers
It is a respectable crust made with whole wheat flour (whole wheat pastry flour recommended but all I had was whole wheat flour). The crust is not sweet. I baked the scraps sprinkled with salt and they made fine crackers for lunch.

3 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup + additional cold water

Combine the flour and salt, and mix in the oil until it is the texture of sand. Add the cold water, using as much as is necessary to form dough. Mix minimally once the water is added to keep the gluten from forming. If you use the pastry flour this is less of a worry. Either way, it is difficult or impossible to make a flaky crust with oil.
I chilled the dough for a half hour or so before rolling it out, and used an empty jar instead of a rolling pin. Sprinkle the cutting board or counter with flour, press out half of the dough at once and roll it about 1/8″ thin. Place it in your pie plate and finish the edges decoratively. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork to keep it from puffing up. Bake ten minutes, empty, in a pre-heated 350 degree oven before filling it up. Crusts are most definitely not my strong point or my specialty. I don’t recommend making miniature pies in the muffin tin with this because there is way too much crust-to-filling. The filling is the good part here. You might enjoy making the entire batch (or a half batch) of this crust into crackers and eating the filling cold with a spoon.

Buttercup Squash Pie Filling

1 buttercup squash, 2-3 pounds or part of a bigger squash
1 cup water
pinch salt
1/2 cup barley malt syrup
1 Tablespoon kuzu dissolved in a little cold water
1 cup raw walnuts, chopped


Because I know you wondered what this woman's hand looks like

Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut it into chunks.

It doesn't matter how course you chop the squash. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook.

The amount of squash does not have to be exact; you might just wind up with extra filling if you use too much. Make sure you have enough. Place the squash chunks in a pot with the water and pinch of salt. Bring to boiling then lower heat and simmer until tender enough to puree; maybe half an hour.
Use a spoon followed by a whisk to smash up the squash and whip it to a smooth puree. Add the barley malt and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Add the dissolved kuzu and simmer another few minutes until the mixture is thick and smooth. Let it cool slightly before filling the crust.

Top the pie with walnuts and bake until the crust is browned around the edges and the walnuts are toasted. Be careful they don’t burn.

squash pie 3As with pumpkin pie, this is better cold, so make it ahead. Alternatively, chill the filling and eat it like pudding. Damn.
You could probably use maple syrup if your teeth are particularly sweet that day, although the barley syrup does just right for the flavor of the squash.

first meeting of the macrobiotics cooking club

Meetings will be every Tuesday, 6-9 pm. Cooking macrobiotic recipes from Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking for Health, Harmony and Peace and our heads.

Tuesday, 20 October, 2009
Attended by Laura, Ryan and Hilary, we made:

Inaugural Brown Rice
Without a pressure cooker, soaking the rice for a couple of hours before cooking will make a noticeable difference. Wash the rice and soak it directly in the cooking pot with the measured cooking water.

1 ½ cups organic short grain brown rice
2 cups cold water
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce

-rinse the rice in cold water several times and drain; place in small heavy pot (2 quart capacity?) and cover with the measured 2 cups cold water
-place the rice pot uncovered over high heat and bring to boiling; add tamari, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to lowest heat possible. I stack two burners to bring the pot farther from the flame; another option is a flame diffuser or just stick with the basic lowest heat possible
-cook rice 50 minutes to 1 hour without opening the lid (the timing depends on how low you can get the heat—lower heat means the rice can cook longer without scorching on the bottom and the texture is better). After 50 minutes open the lid and fluff rice, recover for 10 minutes off the heat before serving.

Roasted Buttercup Squash

½ a large buttercup squash
canola oil

An unspecific recipe: the oven was about 375 degrees, half a squash cut into 6 wedges and rubbed with a tiny amount of oil. Roasted skin-down on a baking tray until soft. I added some water to the tray near the end of roasting when the squash seemed to be drying out, but the ends of each wedge were still sort of sharp.
Use little enough oil that it is not noticeable when eating; no salt is necessary. They took half an hour or more to soften.

Charred Collard Greens
Ryan’s humble dish which satisfied our greens appetite.

1 bunch collard greens
olive oil, about 1 Tablespoon
sea salt, ¼ teaspoon or more to taste

-wash the greens and cut off the stems
-heat olive oil in small skillet and, when hot, add the greens all at once; cover and cook until bottom layer of greens are charred and top layers are wilting and bright green
-stir the greens, add salt and about ¼ cup water and continue stirring over high heat until all of the greens are soft and the water has evaporated (add more water if needed)

Braised Roots with Ginger
Laura chopped the roots and hid the salt.

3 carrots
2 golden beets
2” piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
½ cup apple cider
pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce, more to taste
1 ½ teaspoons kuzu

-course chop the beets, chop the carrots into slightly larger pieces than the beets; place into large pot with grated ginger and pour the cider over, adding water to nearly cover the vegetables
-add sea salt to the pot and bring to boiling; cover, reduce heat to lowest possible and simmer until vegetables are just tender (check every 5 minutes after 20); remove lid and add tamari
-grind the kuzu and add cold water to dissolve; pour into the root pot and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens

Basic Miso Soup
From Aveline Kushi’s book; made with 3 year barley miso and addition of tofu

2 small onions, sliced
1 strip wakame, rinsed to soften and chopped
1 quart water
1/3 cup small cubes firm tofu
3-4 Tablespoons barley miso
2 scallions, sliced

-place onions and wakame with water in the soup pot; bring to boil, lower heat and simmer 20-30 minutes to soften onion. Add tofu at the end of cooking.
-add soup liquid to the miso in a small bowl to soften the miso; add softened miso to the soup, warm for a couple of minutes without boiling and off the heat. Garnish each bowl with the scallions. Makes 5-6 small bowls’ soup.

Above dishes served with homemade sauerkraut, roasted tea, lotus blossom green tea.