I was going to post a pasta dish this week – it’s really good and summery but still creamy and light – but I just couldn’t bring myself to suggest that you turn on both your oven and your stove. I don’t know about you, but we are in the middle of a heat wave. It’s another heat wave, or maybe it’s the heat wave we’ve kind of been having all summer despite a couple days last week. We have established a system of closing our windows around noon when it starts to get really hot outside, turning on the air conditioning when the inside temperature gets unbearable, and then opening the windows in the evening once the outside temperature is lower than inside or maybe if there’s a slight cool breeze blowing by.
On days like this, I can’t imagine eating anything hot. In fact, I would prefer that everything I ate was cold and crunchy, preferably also maybe juicy or with a little tang or spice to it. These toasts almost fit that bill – no juiciness really (unless you include the cucumbers that I GREW IN MY OWN GARDEN – sorry, I’m excited), but lots of crunch from the sliced vegetables and tang from the miso cream cheese. You do have to turn on your toaster, but it’s worth it, I promise.
It has been HOT in Portland, you guys. I’m talking like 90 degrees, humid, blech. The kind of hot that just makes you want to dip your toes in a fountain, drink milkshakes, and take a nap in the afternoon with the fan blowing full force. When it’s this hot, it officially becomes salad season. Here are some weekend finds to help deal with the heat.
Jonah claims he doesn’t like gazpacho, but I’m convinced I can change his mind if I find the perfect recipe. I haven’t committed to one yet, but I’m determined to make some this week, before it cools off too much. I’ve been looking at recipes like this, this, and this. Let me know in the comments if you have a great gazpacho recipe.
2. Tomato, Corn, Cucumber Salad
Earlier this week, we needed a quick, crunchy, cold dinner before we went to play a show. I picked up some corn, grape tomatoes, and feta on the way home, we sliced it all up, added some cucumber, and voila, dinner (via this recipe). Then last night we went over to a friend’s house for salad night and we pulled out the leftovers, threw them on top of some spinach, added some chickpeas and a tahini dressing (this one minus the ginger and garlic, plus a little more vinegar). It was filling and refreshing and really delicious.
3. Crispy Tofu with Sriracha Honey Lime Sauce
On the nights it isn’t so hot, we cook things like this crispy tofu with sriracha lime honey sauce from I Am a Food Blog. I think this might be my new favorite way to make tofu. Be warned though, that sauce is spicy. (I like eating spicy things when it’s hot out – why not be hot on the inside and the outside?) Also, if you don’t know about I Am a Food Blog, you should. Go to her site and poke around. Everything we’ve made from her has been awesome.
4. Cleaning out your spice drawer
We are re-signing our lease, and that means we are doing a massive cleaning of our house. We’ve probably cleaned out our spice drawer(s) multiple times since living here, but it can’t hurt to do it again. It’s important to know how long you can keep things before they lose their punch. This guide from The Kitchn is a great help.
5. Miso Quinoa Pilaf with Eggplant and Cucumber!
I don’t usually like quinoa. I find that it tends to be underseasoned/underdressed, and as a result is awfully bland. But my roommate is slowly changing my mind… We made dinner together a few weeks ago from some leftover, and we made this really delicious quinoa bowl with roasted vegetables. Anyway, point is, I’d like to try to eat more quinoa, and this miso quinoa pilaf looks like a great place to start.
For those of you who saw the title of this post and went “What the hell is a Momofuku?” let me explain. Momofuku is a group of restaurants in New York owned by Chef David Chang. The group includes Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Milk Bar, and a few more. Anyway, I became mildly obsessed when I bought my dad the Momofuku cookbook for his birthday last year (he was obsessed after having eaten at one of the restaurants on a trip to NYC). Momofuku translates in Japanese as Lucky Peach, which is the name of a magazine that David Chang has recently published, all about cooking and eating. It includes articles by some other chef favorites like Anthony Bourdain, Wiley Dufresne, and Mario Batali.
Anyway! I found this recipe for a Momofuku noodle bowl on a blog called A Cozy Kitchen, which I’ve used before and I really enjoy. While the recipe is a little ingredient heavy, it’s really delicious, so although it may be a little extra work to get all this stuff (luckily Jonah and I already had the Asian ingredients), it’s worth it. We use stuff like soy sauce and rice wine vinegar all the time. They’re handy things to have around for a quick and easy meal (feeling lazy? marinate some chicken in soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and olive oil). We did fudge some things though, so I’m putting in the actual recipe and in parentheses what we did.
Momofuku Noodle Bowl
1 medium sized cucumber
¼+ tsp salt
½+ tsp sugar
2 ½ cups (or one bunch) thinly sliced scallions
½ cup (or just one large piece) minced ginger
¼ cup grapeseed oil (we used olive oil because we didn’t have grapeseed)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbl olive oil
½ large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 lb noodles – ramen, soba, or lo mein (we used udon)
Thinly slice the cucumber. In a bowl toss the cucumber with salt and sugar and let it sit for a few minutes and then taste one of the slices. Adjust the salt and sugar as necessary. I ended up probably using twice or even 3 times as much sugar and salt. Just because I wanted it. Thought it tasted better.
In a different bowl combine the scallions, ginger, 1/4 cup of olive oil, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Allow to sit and marinate for 30 minutes.
While those items are marinating, heat the Tbl of olive oil in a pan and add the cauliflower. Cook them on high till they start to brown and get a bit crispy. While the cauliflower is cooking, you can boil water and cook your noodles according to the package. Once the noodles are cooked, toss them with the scallion/ginger sauce. Now, serve the noodles in a bowl, and top with the cauliflower and cucumbers.
Now, this is a vegetarian dish, but Jonah and I were hankering for some more protein, so we bought a chicken breast. Jonah cut it up into bite size pieces and cooked it with a bit of fish sauce, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce, and it was good. A delicious addition to the dish. Yum!
Last week, Jonah and I made a delicious dinner of this Japanese cucumber salad and Korean marinated beef (to be seen in an upcoming post). This salad was so incredibly simple and delicious. It would be perfect for a summer dinner. It’s very refreshing. But we had it in the winter and it was still so crazy good that I couldn’t stop eating it.
Japanese Cucumber Salad
2 medium cucumbers (or 1 large English cucumber)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbl toasted sesame seeds
We bought the sesame seeds in the bulk section at our grocery store (we needed a bunch for the beef too, so it made sense) and you can just toast them in a dry pan over medium heat. Keep an eye on them though, because they can burn quickly.
Peel the cucumbers leaving alternating green stripes of the peel. Slice them in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Now, using a food processor, sharp knife, or one of those mandolin things if you’re one of those people, slice your cucumbers into very thing slices. Think paper thin. Lay your cucumber slices out on a double layered paper towel or a dishtowel to absorb some moisture while you whip up the dressing.
Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl, making sure to stir it up to dissolve the sugar. When you’re ready to serve, add the sesame seeds and cucumbers, and toss to coat. Serve!