Friday, August 26, 2011

Feel Good Soup

I am sick.

It rarely happens, but this week I came down with the flu. All feverish and achy, I didn't each much on the first day. You know that feeling. But then I needed nourishment, and I kept thinking about this soup I had once while working at the restaurant in Philly. It was one of those cold, rainy days, and half the kitchen staff had a cold. Our boss had it waiting for us when we came in - his "feel good" soup, he called it. It was chock full of healing ingredients - garlic, ginger, seaweed, chiles, etc. These ingredients are said to increase circulation, build up immune systems, and reduce inflammation. The fresh chilis also opened up my sinuses, and the hot broth felt great on my throat. It didn't hurt that it was delicious.

So, I decided to make this soup for myself at home, but wasn't sure how to go about it. I found a recipe for "long life soup" in my Candle Cafe Cookbook, which seemed to have many of the same ingredients I was looking for. It was simple enough to make, and didn't take too long, which was important so that I didn't pass out in-process. It turned out to be hot, delicious, and just what I needed.

We all get sick sometimes, and I want to share this recipe with you all for when you or someone you love comes down with the "crud," as my grandmother would say. I made a couple changes to the original recipe, and added some frozen asian dumplings in at the end.

A note on the Candle Cafe Cookbook: I recommend this one for any vegan cooks our there looking for some really special dishes. Candle Cafe and Candle 79 are two of the best vegan restaurants out there, and they know what they are doing.

Enjoy, and feel better.

Feel Better Soup (Adapted from Candle Cafe)

1 oz. dried shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup arame seaweed*
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/2 cup peeled and minced ginger
1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 fresh chilis, cayenne or jalepeno, minced
2 teaspoons brown rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup green onion, thinly sliced
10-12 frozen vegetarian dumplings (optional)

1. Place the dried shitake mushrooms and the arame in 2 separate bowls and pour 4 1/2 cups of hot water over each. Let sit for 20 minutes each. Drain the mushrooms and reserve the water. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Drain and rinse the arame and discard the water. Coarsely chop the arame.

2. Heath the oil in a saute pan and cook the onion, garlic, and ginger until softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a soup pot and add the tamari, cayenne, vinegar, and sesame oil. Add the reserved mushroom water, mushrooms, arame, and an additional 4 1/2 cups to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered, for 10 minutes.

3. Place 3-4 dumplings in your bowl. Pour soup over dumplings and let sit for 1 minute. Top with sliced green onion and additional chilis if desired.

*Note: Arame is an ingredient you may not have worked with before. It is a certain type of sea vegetable that has a mild, sweet flavor, and a bunch of health benefits. One serving of arame contains 50% of your daily calcium needs, which is great for vegans. You can find arame at your local asian market, or at a health food store. I prefer the asian market because it is much more affordable. Don't be intimidated by sea vegetables - they are incredibly easy to work with, and so very good for you.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Grilled Corn Bruchetta with Tarragon

Will travel for food.

Last week, at the end of our summer in Virginia, my husband Geoff and I took a little trip to NYC for theatre (Geoff) and food (me). I have a habit of traveling to specific locations based solely on the food they offer, and as you might guess, the big apple is no exception to that. New York restaurants offer more amazing vegan food and local, organic produce than any other city I have been to. Ok, maybe the super-crunchy Asheville rivals their vegan options, but only NY has this variety of high-end, gourmet vegan cuisine. Since this is a food blog I will spare you the details of the vacation (and the pics!), but let me hit some high points of the food before moving on to today's post. My favorites include chimichurri seitan and grilled kale salad at Candle 79, kimchi pancakes at the vegan Korean spot Hangawi, and the best damn grilled cheese I have ever had at the Chelsea market (clearly not vegan or healthy in any way but soooooo amazing).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Simple Grain Salad with Cashews & Mint

Hello friends. It's been a while. I've been away for the summer, in a place where the chance to cook a meal is a rare occurrence, and the chance to cook one well is non-existent. So, I am happy to be home and to refocus on cooking healthy, veg-focused food. I can't wait to try new things, perfect old recipes, and to take advantage of the local summer produce while it lasts.

This morning I was looking through my fridge, and seeing a bunch of leftovers that didn't call to me. How can I accumulate this many leftovers in only 4 days? Not entirely sure. Is there a leftover fairy that visits my home in the night and leaves half-eaten dishes in my fridge? Possibly. Anyway, I won't get a chance to hit the farmer's market until Saturday anyway, so today's recipe is one of those "clean out the fridge" ones. However, I can tell you, sometimes those can be the best, and it is a great feeling to re-purpose something into a new, tasty dish. Also, I hate throwing away food. I am morally opposed to it. Not really, but it does hurt my heart a little.