Tofu Shirataki Noodles: Shaped Noodle Substitute

Tofu Noodles with Shrimp & Vegetables

I first heard about tofu shirataki noodles on one of the foodie website I visit often, LTH Forum. It was one of those threads that was interesting to read but pretty much forgot about. That is until Friday when I stopped into Whole Foods and the noodles happened to catch my eye as I made my way from the fish counter to the yogurt area. Sitting on the bottom shelf with the other refrigerated soy products in plastic bags filled with water, I suddenly remembered reading about these “shaped noodle substitutes,” which came in three thicknesses (spaghetti, angel hair and fettuccine).

Tofu Shirataki Noodles

I checked out the package and saw that the noodles were healthy, and I mean really healthy. Each eight-ounce package was two servings and were vegan, gluten-free and contained no sugar or cholesterol. Additionally, each serving had just 20 calories, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 0.5 gram of fat and 1 gram of protein. Not bad, right? So long as the noodles would be as filling as traditional noodles made from flour and eggs and taste just as good.

Needless to say, I couldn’t resist and bought a package of spaghetti, figuring it couldn’t hurt to give it a try. But something about using these noodles in place of traditional egg pasta didn’t seem right, such as spaghetti with marinara sauce. So instead, thinking about how tofu traditionally picks up whatever flavors it’s mixed with, I decided to use them as I would udon or ramen – in an Asian-inspired preparation.

And you know what? It was actually pretty good. I followed the advice from an LTH poster who said to rinse well, which was immediately apparent as soon as I opened the package and got a wiff of the noodles’ strong “aroma.” Not to mention it was quick and easy, and much better than the $0.59 ramen noodles I made last week when I was craving Asian noodles. There’s no exact recipe for this as you should season to taste, but here’s what I did:

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When the Sum is Greater than its Parts: Salmon & Cilantro Polenta

Salmon & Cilantro Polenta with Red Peppers

I have to apologize for only having a few pictures of this simple salmon and polenta dish. You see, I began taking photos as I was making it, but the further it went the more doubts I had that it would be blog-worthy. The idea was to use the keta salmon, which I bought for dinner last night but never got around to making, for a quick and easy lunch for one. I found some instant polenta in the cabinet, some leftover diced red peppers from earlier in the week, a lime, and a bit of minced cilantro. I had hoped that these flavorful and colorful ingredients would add up to a delicious lunch.

Throughout culinary school and restaurant jobs, the biggest rule was always to taste you food as you went along, which I did today. I kept tweaking the polenta, trying to make it into something edible as I could already tell it would fall significantly short of greatness. The keta salmon was something new; the guy at the fish counter at Whole Foods explained that it was wild-caught from Alaska and very mild in flavor but rich in fat and texture. The color was a light pink/gray, much different from the wild salmon I usually buy. Read more of this >>


Review: “The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh,” plus two recipes

Mocha muffins with chocolate chips and pecans

When I buy a new cookbook, I usually sit down on the couch with it, sometimes with a cup of coffee and a snack, and I read it. Yes, I read it like a novel, then it goes back on my bookshelf where I’ll use it to reference recipes in the future. However, my latest acquisition created a bit of a challenge: “The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh” is HUGE.

With 1,100 recipes, there was no way I could sit and read it cover to cover. But I was curious about its claims of “quick dishes for everynight cooking” and  “you can create a delicious, fresh meal that takes minimal effort to prepare,” so I decided to test a few and see if the claims held true.

The first recipe I chose was a present to my sweet tooth: mocha muffins with chocolate chips and pecans (p. 538). I tried really hard to stay true to the recipe and only changed one ingredient out of necessity (subbed butter for vegetable oil), plus added a pecan garnish simply because I had some toasted ones leftover. The muffins were tasty although not quite as decadent as the heading implied. But the best part was that they were easy to make – it took just ten minutes to make the batter! I cooked them in two batches, each for 25 minutes. The muffins themselves turned out a little dry, which can probably be attributed to my last-minute substitution, but the chopped pecans and chocolate chips added some much-welcome texture variation. Read more of this >>


Food magazines taking over my home: I need your help!

Magazines & newspapers on bookshelf

The farmer’s market was just a little more exciting than usual this morning: Barbara Fairchild, editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit magazine was there signing copies of her new cookbook, “Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh.” Of course I had to buy it right then and there, despite the fact that it was $15 cheaper on Amazon (same thing happened when Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg were selling their fantastic new book “The Flavor Bible” – story about this below**).

While waiting to pay for my book, I began chatting with Fairchild and a few other women in line with me about the magazine and how we all store our copies. Fairchild said how for her it’s easy because she has all the issues in her office organized by year. The woman behind me used to have 40+ years of the magazine which she had to sell when she moved, but they were organized by month. Me – mine are in piles all over my apartment. Read more of this >>


Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Risotto

Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Risotto

It feels like it’s 90 degrees in my apartment (thanks to building management who turned on the heat two weeks ago) and here I am standing in front of my oven set to 350F while stirring risotto in my small kitchen. Am I a glutton for good food or what? And to think I thought it was bad yesterday when I was simply roasting a chicken…

Anyways, back to the point of this post: this amazing butternut squash and caramelized onion risotto. It’s an easy recipe with the main requirements being patience and attention. Plus, I actually made two recipes out of the ingredients in the same time it would take to make one. The second dish, roasted butternut squash, will be perfect for lunch tomorrow.

The reason I made two dishes was because I used only half a smallish butternut squash (1 1/2 pounds) for the risotto. So, rather than wrapping the remaining squash and refrigerator for some random future use, I diced the entire thing and mixed half in a baking dish with a pinch of cinnamon, brown sugar and olive oil. I then roasted it in a 350F oven while cooking the risotto. Read more of this >>


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