Favorite Spicy Mushroom Udon Soup

Favorite Spicy Shitake Udon Miso Soup
Favorite Spicy Shitake Udon Miso Soup

The soup with knock the cold right out of you. I make everytime I feel the sniffles coming on, and much more often than that. At least 50% of the time, when I ask Senor Lanky what he wants to eat, this is what he requests.I don’t actually every use a recipe for this – I just make it as I go, so feel free to adjust the ingrediants for your preferred level of *kapow*.

Favorite Spicy Shitake Udon Soup

Serves 4

1 block extra firm tofu, presses

1 Tbs. seseme seeds

4 cloves of garlic, loosely chopped

2 Tbs. chopped fresh ginger root

1 cup assorted fresh mushrooms (shitakes are best)

3/4 c. assorted dried chinese mushrooms (shitake, black, etc.)

2 Tbs. seseme oil

6 cups water

1/2 cup soy sauce

4 Tbs. miso

2 Tbs. chili sauce (preferably pure, crushed asian chilis)

4 oz. dried udon noodles.

Cut the tofu into small blocks. Fry until golden brown in in sesame oil, adding the sesame seeds and salt and pepper to taste. Set the tofu aside.  Heat the seseme oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and fresh mushrooms, cooking and stirring often until the mushrooms soften. Add the water, soy sauce, miso and chili sauce, whisking to misk. Add the dry mushroom, raising the heat, boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat, again, to medium. Add the udon noodles, cooking until just soft (about 7 minutes.) Stir in the fried tofu, and leave flame under the soup until the tofu is heated through (about 2 minutes).

Serve in large bowls, garnished with chopped fresh cilantro, fried shallots, or green onions.

Kiss that cold goodbye.

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Shiao Lan Kung

Hot and Sour Soup, no ham
Hot and Sour Soup, no ham

There are so many place that I love to eat in Chinatown, but so many more places that I haven’t been to yet. Shiao Lan Kung was a new choice, and came recommended.  Senor Lanky and I met Beth and her fiance, Senor Brownguy on a blustery weekend night and though the small restaraunt was bursting at the seems, we soon got a table. The menu is huge, and choices were difficult, though the appetizers were easy – they have NO vegetarian appetizers. Luckily, they make a hot a sour soup, no ham if requested, that is increadible. Spicy, oily, full of delicious tidbits and fragrant with seseme, it was exactly what I needed to warm up.

Salt-Baked Tofu
Salt-Baked Tofu

Shiao Lan Kung is known for their salt-baked squid, so I ordered the salt-baked tofu. I’ve never had anything like it.  Salty and crispy on the outside, soft and velvety on the inside, and topped with fried green onions.  The only that dissapointed me was the lack of vegetables – nothing but tofu for this main dish. It would be best as a giant, table appetizer, which is the way that I’ll order it next time.

The restaraunt, like many in Chinatown, is low on ambience, and sitting at a table by the door on a winter night can mean a lot of cold gusts to deal with. But it’s inexpensive, delicious, and BYOB. I’ll back.

Shiao Lan Kung on Urbanspoon

Huevos Rancheros with chili sauce

Huevos Ranceros with chili sauce
Huevos Rancheros with chili sauce

On a cold Sunday morning, going out for brunch was less than appealing. I whipped up a quick huevos rancheros with some leftover, frozen chili sauce that I made a few weeks ago for spicy soy-chorizo enchiladas.  I like to fry the eggs directly in the sauce, slow, with a cover on the pan, then melt the cheese on top. Some whole-grain tortillas with flax seed from Trader Joe’s, crisped in a frying pan,  sat-in for traditional corn tortillas. We ate big, and stayed warm inside.

Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh with kale and soy-miso carrots

Orange Pan-Seared Tempeh from <em>101 Cookbooks</em>
Orange Pan-Seared Tempeh from 101 Cookbooks

I made this orange pan-seared tempeh from the recipe on 101 Cookbooks. While the flavor was fine, the tempeh didn’t really glaze – it more like boiled in the sauce and softened. Maybe a bit more sugar, or less orange sauce, and I would have gotten the results I was looking for. I served the tempeh over black rice with a side of garlic kale and carrots glazed with a soy-miso sauce for a house dinner, and the roommates and I enjoyed it with a bottle of wine.

Good Dog Late Night

Good Dog Veggie Cake sandwich
Good Dog Veggie Cake sandwich

Señor Lanky was luck enough to score us some free tickets to the Symphony this week. We hurried from work to the gym to the Kimmel Center, with nary a moment for a healthy bite to eat, besides the Flavor & Fiber bar we split on the way to our seats. The Symphony (Curtis School, playing a particularly great Berlioz Symphonie Fantastic) ended at 10:30PM, and we stumbled out with rumbling tummies.

Where oh where to get a bite so late on a week night? Good Dog to the rescue, with a kitchen that stays open late and all kinds of veggie options. While I was tempted by the black bean and rice “soup of the day,” I succumbed to the more substantial veggie cake sandwich – a crispy roasted eggplant, scallion, mushroom, lentil and cilantro cake (likely deep fat-fried) on a cibatta with curried mayo, lettuce and tomato. And no, that’s not fake bacon you see. It’s a handful of crispy veggie chips, right on the sandwich. I order the mixed greens with a nice balsamic instead of the fries, gobbled half up, and saved the other for the next days lunch, when it was still delicious.

Good Dog on Urbanspoon

El Camino Real

El Camino Real decorated door
El Camino Real decorated door

After hearing such good things about El Camino Real, and all of their vegetarian options, I had to pay a visit to this new, signless spot on Liberties Walk. I was craving tex-mex so much, I actually hopped the subway on a freezing holiday night. It was worth it. El Camino’s dim, candle lit space, filled with inexpensive, classic unvarnished pine import furniture immediately felt cozy.

Michelada and Margarita

Senor Lanky and I started the evening off right with a few drinks -a Michalada for him, and a classic margarita with additional chili and salt for me. They were both yummy and nicely spiced, though the Michalada is made with Clamato (boo!) and not vegetarian-friendly.

Michelada and Margarita
2 salas
2 Salsas

I was ravenous, so we quickly ordered the chips and salsa. While I usually vote for the rojo, it was the pulpy green tomatillo salas, heavily dosed with lime, that caught my attention, though the chipotle red was nice, too.

One of the best things about El Camino, Senor Lanky pointed out, is that they don’t try to do tex-mex – they do Mexican and then Texan, with all kinds of veggie options. Brilliant!

Homemade Jalepeno Poppers
Homemade Jalepeno Poppers

I went absolutely appetizer crazy. First off, homemade jalepano poppers, stuffed with real cheese, a little bank of spice, and a deliciously sweet sauce with pineapple and, if I remember correctly strawberry. The appetizer is wonderful, but at $8 for two, perhaps a bit expensive. Through another popper in there, El Camino, and you’ll have my heart.

Fried Pickle Chips!
Fried Pickle Chips!

I’m on a never-ending quest for Philadelphia’s best fried pickles (Memphis Taproom, you’re still crushing) so this appetizer was a no-brainer. And damn tasty. They may not look like much, but the cornmeal batter is a genius move that prevents the chips from getting too grease-sogged. The chili-mayo wasn’t half bad either.

BBQ Seitan
BBQ Seitan

I ended the evening with an order of the BBQ Seitan (spicy style). Again, a revelation! The seitan had a wonderful, peppery, crispy-grilled flavor by itself, and was dynamite dipped in the bbq sauce.

El Camino, I’m dreaming of my next visit.

El Camino Real on Urbanspoon

MLK Day: 7th Day Adventist Lunch

Feed the Children Food Boxes
Feed the Children Food Boxes

For MLK Day I volunteered at the 7th Day Adventist church down the street handing out prepacked food boxes. Over 250 volunteers arrived and over the course of a few hours we handing out 800 food boxes  to 400 individuals.

Split Pea Soup with "Ham"
Split Pea Soup with "Ham"

After a cold afternoon of flyering the neighborhood and carrying boxes to people cars and nearby homes, the West Philly 7th Day Adventist church (who as our host) provided us with a tasty vegetarian lunch of split pea soup with imitation “ham” and garlic croutons and imitation “Chicken” salad sandwiches on whole wheat bread with pickles and tortilla chips. The church also offers monthly vegetarian cooking classes for those interested.

"Chicken" salad sandwich
"Chicken" salad sandwich