Friday, July 24, 2009

Pumpkin udon noodle soup

With the beautiful, brightly fleshed pumpkins around at the moment, it's good to find as many different ways to consume them as possible! This is a recipe I've recently discovered, and am enjoying this new way of appreciating the flavour and texture of pumpkin. It combines so well with spinach and udon, and the gentle saltiness of dashi stock really brings its sweetness. It's also nice having it in a soup, but still in chunks, as opposed to the traditional pureed pumpkin soup.
Dashi stock is available from most health food stores and japanese grocery stores.

Pumpkin udon noodle soup
1. Cut half a small pumpkin into 2cm cubes. Remove the stems from two fresh shitake mushrooms and slice the caps into 3cm pieces.
2. Make 750ml dashi stock. Combine in a saucepan with 1tbs mirin, 1 tbs soy sauce and 1/2tbs sugar and bring to the boil, stirring.
3. Peel and julienne one carrot and add to the stock, and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add the pumpkin, mushrooms and 1/2 package of sliced silken tofu and cook for a further five minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender.
5. Cook half a package of udon noodles in boiling water for five minutes, drain and place in a bowl.
6. Add 1/3 bunch english spinach to the soup and then remove from heat.
7. Ladle the soup, vegetables and spinach over the noodles, and scatter with green onions.
Serves 1.

The joy of pumpkins

There are so many levels of joy to be derived from this one simple pumpkin.
1. I bought it for the princely sum of $2 from the eveleigh farmers markets, so it's fresh, cheap and chemical free!
2. It was a lovely object to have sitting on my kitchen bench until I decided what to do with it.
3. I was very pleased with the drawing I did of it..

This one I did on brown paper (recycled from some flowers I bought last week!). I tried to represent the pumpkin's green/grey dusty skin using a combination of green and blue pencils, as well as white, brown and orange pastels. Finished off with charcoal pencil.
4. I made a delicious pumpkin and spinach udon noodle soup with it.. (recipe to follow).

This pumpkin's time on earth was not wasted.. if only if it brought such happiness to little old me!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Swine flu is rife.. it's time to dose up on garlic and bolster the body with some carbs. According to my Organic Cookbook potatoes are a good source of vitamin C and B group vitamins. Organic potatoes are helpful in supporting the body's natural resistance and keeping energy levels steady. Their peel can be safely eaten, boosting fibre levels, nutrition and flavour. Waxy potatoes (such as new potatoes, Kipfler, Pink Fir Apple and Charlotte) are ideal for frying and steaming, while floury potatoes (Maris Piper, Estima, Yukon Goldare good for mashing, steaming and in soups.
This weekend I made a delicious batch of Potato, parsley and garlic soup to get those piggies on the run.

Potato, parsley and garlic soup

1. Finely chop up 750g of your preferred type of potato, 8 cloves of garlic and one onion.
2. In a large pot heat up a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter and saute the potatoes, garlic and onion for five minutes, or until the onion is soft and transparent.
3. Finely chop up most of a bunch of parsley. Add half of this to the pot, along with 1.5L vegetable stock.
4. Bring to the boil, partially cover and reduce heat to simmer for half an hour.
5. Add the remaining parsley and a cup of milk/soy milk.
6. With a hand blender, puree the soup to your desired consistency. Season to taste.
7. Serve with lots of cracked pepper and wholemeal sourdough..mmmm :)

Orchard fruits

We often think of winter fruit as being pretty boring compared to the wide variety available in summer and autumn. But perhaps we should think of it as a chance to appreciate a more subtle range of flavours. The difference between apples and pears, for example, or even between types of apples can be quite distinct.
I used to think the catchy names for apples were a bit arbitrary, and maybe even just a marketing ploy, but this year I've been enjoying trying the different types as they come and go out of their own mini-seasons. At work we've been known to get quite passionate discussing the punchy sweetness of a pink lady in contrast to yesterday's jonagold..although some fail to appreciate the virtues of such comparisons.

Things to do with orchard fruits:
* put them in a compote (e.g. rhubarb and pear compote shown here in a previous post)
* simmer briefly to soften, and then bake in a cake

* bake an apple for dessert, stuffed with walnut, brown sugar, spices and raisins. Bake in oven for half an hour, in a tray with a bit of water in it to help steam and soften it.
* slice them up into small pieces and put into your porridge when you cook it.
* juice them and have a hot spicy drink.

Reasons to buy organic orchard fruits:
* non organic apples and pears are sprayed with toxic fungacides, herbicides, insecticides and growth regulating hormones. The insecticides are a similar chemical to nerve gases.
* Although you can peel the fruit to avoid consuming these chemicals, this is the most nutritionally rich part of the fruit.
* before going on sale, the fruit is often treated with preservatives.These lengthen its shelf life, but don't preserve the nutrients within the fruit.
* the fruit is often picked before it is ripe, which also reduces it's nutritional value.

Tofu with miso sauce

The end of a challenging week and another cold winter's night called for a good dose of protein, bolstered with a hearty flavour. Glad for an excuse to fire the oven up, I made an all time winter favourite, tofu with miso sauce. Baking tofu gives it quite a different flavour and texture to steaming or stir-frying it, particularly when it's slathered with this delicious miso sauce.
The shallots also have quite a different flavour when roasted whole. While it was all baking in the oven I fried up some vegetables with some soba noodles in an impromptuyaki soba. It's important in macrobiotic cooking to try to use several different cooking methods in the one meal, to balance the energy of the meal.

Tofu with miso sauce.
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
2. Cut firm tofu into slices about 7cm thick, and then cut these into squares.
3. Place whole shallots along the bottom of an oven dish, and arrange the tofu squares on top of the shallots, so that they are leaning on each other like dominoes.

4. In a suribachi (Japanese mortar and pestle), mortar and pestle, or just a bowl, combine two tablespoons of dark miso (my favourite is brown rice miso, but barley miso is nice too) with the juice of half a lemon, or to taste. Blend into a smooth paste. Add 1/4-1/3 cup of water and puree until smooth and creamy.
5. Spread the miso sauce over the tofu squares evenly, so that each square has some sauce on it.
6. Place oven dish in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Prepare accompanying vegetables and grains of your choice.
7. Take out of the oven and sprinkle sesame seeds and sliced shallots on top of the tofu and miso sauce and place back in the oven for a further five minutes.
8. Serve and devour! (in a balanced, macrobiotic fashion ;)

This recipe was taken from the Changing Seasons Macrobiotic Cookbook, by Aveline Kushi and Wendy Esko.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Silverbeet drawing

I finally kept some silverbeet around long enough to get to draw it, before cooking it up and eating it :)
This one I drew on plain white paper using pastels and finished off with charcoal pencil.