Archive | June 2013

Linguini & Zucchini in Garlic Scape Sauce

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Scape Pasta 3

Hello summer!! I live for my Saturday morning trip to my farmers’ market. I just never know what I am going to find. Last weekend, I arrived late morning, having decided to check it out with ease after my step class. Well, there was virtually no art-is-in bread left and there were only three bunches of the most beautiful garlic scapes in sight. I quickly snatched them up not knowing what I was going to do with them . Immediately to their right, perfectly situated, were rows of quarts of cherry tomatoes. Again, didn’t know what I wanted to do with them, but I did not hesitate to add them to my basket.

I love garlic scapes, especially in stir-fries, but my favourite way to have them is like this, in a sauce. This sauce is extremely versatile. I have used it with perogies, to dress roasted vegetables, and even as a sandwich spread. The nice part about garlic scapes is you get to enjoy the robust flavour of garlic, without that pungent lingering taste in your mouth.

I’m always trying to find ways to add vegetables to my pasta dishes and though this dish would work well without the zucchini linguini, I don’t recommend it. The garlic scapes sweetly embellish the zucchini, which can have quite a neutral flavour. The fact that they are raw provides a very subtle crunch and a burst of freshness with every bite. Every once and a while, you are lucky enough to bite into a roasted cherry tomato, the sweet ruby of the summertime.

This dish is summer to me. My husband went back for seconds. It’s a quick week night summer meal that leaves plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors afterwards.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:
Tomatoes, cherry 1 quart
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Garlic, cloves, minced 2
Salt
Black pepper
Basil, fresh, roughly chopped 1 tbsp
Oregano, fresh, roughly chopped 1 tbsp
Garlic Scape Sauce:
Garlic scapes 8 oz (3 bunches)
Olive oil 2/3 cup
Salt 3/4 tsp
Black pepper, freshly ground 2 turns
Lemon rind 1/4 lemon
Lemon juice 1.5 tsp
Pasta:
Linguini, spelt 1 lb
Zucchini, large, raw, julienned 2

Directions:

        Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Regular-sized cherry tomatoes may be used whole. If there are some that are big, cut in half or in quarters.
  3. Place cherry tomatoes in a small, glass baking dish.
  4. Add olive oil, garlic, salt, and black pepper.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. When you have removed the cherry tomatoes from the oven, add fresh basil and oregano and stir until evenly distributed.  Set aside.

       Garlic Scape Sauce:

  1. Steam garlic scapes for 5 minutes.
  2. Place garlic scapes in a food processor and pulse until they begin to break down.
  3. Add salt, black pepper, lemon rind, and lemon juice.
  4. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until you achieve the desired consistency. Set aside.

       Pasta:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Season generously with salt.
  3. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. My brand of spelt pasta cooks in approximately 8 minutes.

        Zucchini:

  1. Meanwhile, using a julienne shredder, julienne lengthwise the raw zucchini. Only julienne the flesh. Do not julienne the seeded middle section. Set aside.

       Assembly:

  1. Strain pasta and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add garlic scape sauce (I used the whole thing, but if you like, you may add a little bit at a time until you achieve the desired taste) and toss the pasta well until fully coated.
  3. Add the raw julienned zucchini strips and mix well.
  4. Garnish with the roasted cherry tomatoes.

Fresh Tofu in a Sichuan Broth

Muslim Chinese Soup

There was something especially different about the hussle and bustle of the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an, China. I can’t put my finger on it except to say that its particular pulse kept drawing me in. The colours, the aromas, the movement and its people, of course, were very intriguing.

We went to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors, but the Muslim Quarter is without a doubt one of the highlights of our trip. There are approximately 200,000 Muslims in China and though the fusion of cultures has produced unique culinary delights, the Chinese Muslims definitely have a strong identity and presence. There is no shortage of good food in China; some of its best is found in the Muslim Quarter.

We ate at a popular local restaurant, which featured many dishes, but my favourite was de fu yuan. It was in the company of a famous lamb dish, a naan-type bread made to be cut into pieces into a local soup, and breaded, flash-fried mushrooms. The de fu yuan is pictured below. You can’t see it, but underneath all that freshly made tofu (you have not tasted tofu until you have tried freshly made tofu) is a generous bed of glass noodles and bean sprouts.

With my first bite, I became extremely excited. It was like nothing I had previously tasted. The broth was one of the brightest and deepest yellows I had ever seen. At its foundation were pickled vegetables, green sichuan pepper, chili peppers, and cumin. I had never before tasted a more intricate and tantalizing broth: a harmonic combination of sour, salty, spicy, spicy floral, and sweet. I quickly wrote down the ingredients I was able to detect and asked a few questions fully intending to recreate it at home.

This is my rendition. It is, by far, one of the most beautiful broths I have ever made. John enjoyed it so much that he went back for seconds and the only thing in his plate the second time around was the sunshiny broth. Before digging in, be sure to use your spoon to cut up the tofu into bite-size pieces.

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As for the Terracotta Warriors, they were pretty amazing too! We have now seen two of the four of the world’s ancient cities and hope to see the rest in good time. There are centuries of archeological work left to do in Xi’an; only a small portion of the 8,000 Terracotta Warriors have been uncovered. I can only imagine what it will all look like when it is fully revealed! It’s an incredible story of how the vanity of one Emperor over a timespan of 37 years and with the help of 750,000 slaves provided the world today with an exact replica of ancient times. Like in most Chinese fashion, the museums, open for viewing, have literally been built on top of and around the excavation sites allowing visitors to watch as the archeologists conduct their work. On the day we visited, there were only 50,000 other visitors (mostly Chinese tourists).

The bike ride along the ancient city wall was a little bumpy to say the least, but invigorating as we watched the sun go down. This fortress wall is one of the best preserved in the world.

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Jodi and Sandra, let me know how I did in recreating the flavours of the Muslim Quarter. The preparation of this dish brought me back to our Xi’an adventure. Thank you for the memories.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

 Broth:
 Olive oil  3 tbsp
 Onion, medium, sliced  1/2
 Wild garlic, cut in half separating the   bulbs from the greens  9
 Chili, red, finely chopped  1
 Chili, green, finely chopped  1
 Ginger, sliced into medallions  1.5 inches
 Green sichuan pepper  1 tsp
 Cumin, ground  3/4 tsp
 Turmeric  1/2 tsp
 Water  9 cups
 Salt  1.5 tsp +
 Salted bamboo shoots & mustard greens in chili oil  3/4 cup
 Soup:
 Olive oil  1 tbsp
 Red chili, seeds removed, finely chopped  2
 Green chili, seeds removed, finely chopped  2
 Green sichuan pepper, roughly ground using a mortar and pestle  1/4 tsp
 Cumin, seeds  1/8 tsp
 Honey  1.5 tsp
 Lemon juice  1.5 tbsp
 Tofu, soft, cut into 4 large cubes  500 grams or 18 oz
 Noodles, rice, cut in half  50 grams
 Bean sprouts  3 cups
 Coriander, fresh, roughly chopped  lots

Directions:

  1. In a medium pot, over medium heat, heat oil.
  2. Saute onion and white part of wild garlic for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add 1 green and 1 red chilli and ginger. Saute for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add Sichuan pepper, ground cumin, and turmeric and saute for 1 minute.
  5. Add water, salt, and salted bamboo shoots and mustard greens in chili oil.
  6. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain reserving broth. Discard contents.
  7. Return broth to pot and stove and bring to a slow simmer.
  8. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil, 2 red chilies, 2 green chilies, the green sichuan pepper, cumin seeds, honey, and lemon juice. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes and taste broth for salt. Adjust seasoning to own taste.
  9. Add noodles and tofu and simmer gently until noodles are cooked.
  10. Remove from heat and add bean sprouts, fresh coriander, and leaves of wild garlic.