A while back I made a mistake in my meal plan (if you don’t know about the meal plan you can learn about it here). Now, this did 2 things: 1) freaked me out because I hate mistakes – not because I rationally think they are a big deal but because my irrational anxiety brain freaks out. It just does. But 2) it made me think about how that mistake highlighted my whole goal of helping people confidently step away from always needing a recipe when they cook.
Here is how it went down. A subscriber wrote and pointed out that in the method portion of the recipe I mention adding the honey but there was no honey listed in the ingredients. Oops. I fixed it asap, but also thought back to why it happened and how it could be a helpful thing on which to shine a light. I knew immediately the reason: I was undecided about the honey. I made a carrot salad and had tried it both with and without honey, and liked it both ways. I hadn’t decided right down to the wire, so even changed my mind mid recipe writing – decided no while listing out ingredients, but apparently yes while writing up the method. Because, guess what – they were both good! Long story short, a recipe is more often that not a guide rather than a rule. Try things out. Mix things up. Follow your own path. Here is the recipe. Try it both ways and see what you think.
Shredded Carrot and Radish Salad
4 medium/large carrots, grated
4 medium/large radishes, grated
1 tbsp chopped chives
2 tsp honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
Mix juice, oil and honey until the honey has dissolved into the liquid. Toss the carrots, radishes and chives together with the dressing. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
2-3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated/microplaned
2 tbsp butter
⅔ cup sugar
2 tbsps flour
½ stick butter, softened
½ cup oats
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
Heat the oven to 375. Melt the butter for the filling in a small saucepan. Cook all but about ½ tsp of the ginger with the butter for 2-3 minutes. Mix the butter and cooked ginger in a bowl with the pears. Add in the reserved ginger, as well as the sugar and flour. In a separate bowl, mix all the topping ingredients. Lightly butter an 8×8 pan. Spread the pear mixture into the pan and sprinkle the topping over it. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until bubbling and browned on top.
You know what I love? When you order a sushi plate and it comes with a bowl of miso soup. Not kidding, just now, typing miso made my mouth literally water. Talk about umami bomb. Trouble is, though, it’s always just a starter, meaning, basically, not enough to make me happy. So I decided to do a loaded up version to boost it into dinner territory. Don’t get me wrong – I love that light broth with the soft little tofu cubes bobbing amidst floating seaweed. I just wanted it to become a meal. All it needs for that is a bunch of veggies, some chicken, some shrimp, mmmm…ok.
But… it also has to be quick and easy. Weeknight dinner. No ingredients that are too inaccessible. This translated into a not totally regular soup. Usually miso soup is made with a dashi broth, which I find not always easy to get my hands on. Sure, I could make it but also can’t always find bonito and/or kombu. I almost always have miso paste, though, and can find it in many grocery stores. So instead of dashi I add depth with mushrooms and cooking the chicken in the pot first to get the flavor of the fond. Beyond that, this whips up quick and easy, a perfectly satisfying weeknight meal. Try your hand at it and tell me if it makes you as happy and cozy as it does me.
Loaded Miso Soup
1 lb chicken breast
½ lb cooked shrimp
10 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup peas
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
6 cups chicken stock (or a mix or stock and water)
⅓ cup miso paste
Place a wide bottomed pot over medium high heat with a bit of oil. Salt the chicken breast and place it into the heated pot. Cook for about 4-5 minutes on one side, flip and cook another 4-5 with a lid on. When it is cooked through, remove the chicken from the pot, slicing after a short rest. If there is any tasty business on the bottom of the pan, deglaze it with a splash of stock. Toss in the mushrooms and cook these for about five minutes. Add the carrots and cook a few minutes more. Stir in the miso then add the 6 cups of liquid, stirring to combine. Add the peas and shrimp, as well as the chicken. Feel free to add more miso if you like a stronger flavor.