Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summertime Soba

It's summer and Toronto hasn't been this hot in years. Our new apartment is adorable, but pretty tiny and it's hard to engage in those culinary projects that span several hours and involve prolonged use of heat. So we've been opting for salads and quicker unfussy recipes to cope with the heat wave. This simple Soba dish is so quick to make and absolutely satisfying. If you have time, chill the cooked noodles and eat this dish cold because soba is best served chilled...

Recipe: Mushroom Soba with Sesame Soy Sauce

1 package dry soba noodles
2 C Sliced Cremini mushrooms (you can use whatever other mushroom you like)
1/2 Red Onion (thin sliced)
2 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Water
1/4 sheet Nori (Cut in tiny strips like confetti)
1/4 tsp Sesame oil
2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
2 Tsp Sesame Seeds
salt & pepper

Bring the cooking oil to medium-high heat in your skillet of choice and fry the onions until they are lightly golden. Add the mushrooms, soy sauce, sesame oil and water to the same skillet and cook together until the mushrooms are soft and have taken some colour. Taste before you add salt and pepper, as soy sauce can be quite salty.

In a separate pot, bring some water to a boil and cook the soba according to the instructions on the package. It should only take a few minutes. When the soba is drained, toss it in a splash of canola oil to stop it from sticking together. If you wish you serve the dish warm, divide the soba between your dishes now. Otherwise, chill the soba for 10-15 minutes.

To Serve, top the noodles with a healthy scoop of the mushroom sauce and garnish with the nori confetti and sesame seeds.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fungi Pizza

Pizza is a staple food in Toronto. There are pizza joints in this town that have line-ups out the door from before noon til after last call when the pub crawls come spilling out along Bloor and College street. But even though there’s a lot of great places to get a slice around the city, truth be told, the best pizza I’ve ever had has always been at home. This is probably a bit of a deception, my first summer job was tossing dough at a pizza stand at Ontario place, and I spent a summer working at a chain of family run trattorias that a lot of people think is the best spot for a pie in town, so maybe I’ve got a jump on the dish, either way as long as you can get your oven over five-fifty you should be able to make some thin-crusted magic in 7 minutes. The trick is to make a good homemade dough and throw it to the cieling, the rest is all just icing on the cake.

Pizza al la fungi

1 tblsp dry yeast, dissolved until frothy in
1 1/2C of warm water with a tsp squirt of honey
3 1/2 flour
1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup basil, pasted
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup pecorino, micrograted
2 tbsp walnuts, ground

1/2C sun dried tomato, thinly sliced
1C oyster or other mushrooms, roughly chopped
2C baby spinach, chopped
1/3C chevre

Preheat oven to 550. Start by making your dough in a large mixing bowl. Blend the ingredients until it forms a ball, then kneed dough on a floured surface for ten minutes or until you work up a sweat. Cover and let rise for an hour. Beat it down, then let it rise again for a half hour or until doubled. Now, with floured hands stretch out the dough by spinning it between your pinched fingers, give it a few good tosses and flips (you can youtube this kind of thing if my description leaves you totally clueless, I apologize). Next, roll it out and put it on a baking sheet lightly dusted with cornmeal. Sporadically poke it’s surface with a fork to avoid getting big unsightly, untasty bulbs in your pie.

In a mortar (or food processor), paste all the ingredients of your pesto. Apply the pesto liberally to your dough (Note: If you don’t have enough oil in your pesto it will make you dough soggy and no good for eatin). Your pie is now ready for toppings. Add everything you’ve got prepped to approximately equal sizes, so that they’ll have similar cooking times. Top with healthy scoops of the goat’s cheese, or grate anything else you’d like.

We devour these things before they even get a chance to cool with our favorite dirty little secret, Saroli Fine Food’s hot peppers in oil, which is pretty much like foodie crack.