Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Cooking with Miso, Growing Green Onion, and some wine

I had a busy weekend this week, with an Italian wedding on Saturday. I was a +1 as a favour to a friend - but I really did not mind at all, because the food was fantastic, and they even served a nice local wine. Our table wines were Trius Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 and Sauvignon Blanc 2011. I wish I could do a better review of them, but I consumed a little too much. The Cabernet I can say was medium-bodied, rich red fruit, vanilla, touch of oak. Very nice under $15 Ontario wine, and a stunning winery if you're ever in Niagara. Also - it's on sale until Sunday!

Back to this week, I found a little time to cook last night, and the stove was full. I attempted 2 dishes using one of my new favourite superfoods, miso paste. The first being a Vegan Cheesesteak wrap (yes, I know I have officially changed everything about it), and the second being a Green Onion and Pea soup to use up my stock of green onions. The latter didn't quite work so well - I had a hard time getting a smooth consistency while maintaining a fresh flavour.

However - I would like to take a moment point out just how easy it is to have an abundant and fresh supply of green onions on hand. Green onion, along with other herbs, is one of those things I buy for a recipe, use half of, then throw the other half out when it gets old and tired. No more! I found out that you can very easily grow green onions from saving the bottoms of green onions from the store. I did this a while ago, so I don't have procedure pictures. Basically, here's the deal:

1. Save the white bottoms of store-bought green onions after you use them.
2. Stand them upright in some water (with the root-part down and the cut part above the water).
3. Change the water daily for 2 - 3 days, during which you will see the roots start to grow longer and green onion shoots will start to grow taller.
4. After a few days, plant in soil and place in the sunlight.

Easy, yummy and fresh! They grow really quickly, so you don't need much for a steady supply. This is the result of planting the bases of 3 small bunches of green onion:

A week later, after using green onion for a green onion fritatta, green onion and pea soup, and salad rolls (with lots of green onion) over the course of the week. It's never-ending.

Back to miso: miso is generally made by fermenting a mixture of soybeans and grain (barley or rice). What fermenting does is makes it an un-cooked and unprocessed "living food", with healthy bacteria that aids in digestion. It is also a good souce of fiber, vitamin k, and maganese. It is a good source of plant protein. However, it is very high in sodium, so needs to be used sparingly. It had a great umami ("meaty") flavour so it can be used to create a meaty flavour in vegan/vegetarian foods. So far, I've been using it in gravy, substituted for boullion in flavouring soups, and in veggie burgers. However, it should be heated as little as possible as cooking kills the healthy bacteria. It's not the most common grocery-store item, but you can get it at any health food store and any grocery store that has a decent ethnic sections (Food Basics, Loblaws). I got it at T&T, because of the large selection and good prices.

Last night, I used it to flavour a gravy in making a vegan cheesesteak, complimented with this Basil Cashew Cheeze sauce from the amazing vegan recipe blog Oh She Glows. I also made vegetable stock, but I will save that for another time.

Cooking requires wine.

Surprisingly, the end of my Monasterio bottle was still good days later! Actually, I swear it was better.

Vegan Cheezesteak

Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers (any colour), sliced
  • 1 lb large cremini/portabello mushroom, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp Red Miso (any miso will work fine)
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • Ground pepper
  • Vegan Cheeze Sauce
  • 4 sandwich rolls or wraps
1. Heat oil to a large pan over medium high, saute sliced onions, pepper and mushrooms until soft, about 8-10 minutes.
2. Stir cornstarch into warm water. Add mustard, soya, and cornstarch mixture and stir to slightly thicken, about 1 minute.
3. Remove from heat and add one heaping tablespoon of the miso paste, stir to incorporate. Season generously with fresh ground pepper.
4. On halved sandwich rolls or wraps, spread a heaping tablespoon of cheeze sauce. Add 1/4 of the mushoom/pepper mixture. Close/roll and enjoy!

I'm not great at the picture-taking yet, so here is my results for this round. I know, not too appetizing.

I promise to work on my recipe writing!!

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