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Archive for February, 2011

Barbecued Turkey Joes

Turkey is such an underused meat. Most of us eat it, deliberately, only once a year — at Thanksgiving. Well, I avoid even that since turkey at Thanksgiving is so cliche. But this year I find myself planning more turkey main dishes and craving the taste of a well-spiced, nicely complemented turkey dish. This is an easy and tasty place to start Adventures with Turkey.

We all know sloppy joes, right? Well, this is Barbecued Turkey Joes, using barbecue sauce as a base instead of ketchup, since barbecue sauce comes with spices and flavorings already added. Just chop up your fresh veggies and you’re good to go.

Barbecued Turkey Joes
serves 4

1 lb. ground turkey breast
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 c. barbecue sauce, your choice

Brown turkey in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off liquid.

Add peppers and onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.

Add barbecue sauce and cayenne pepper; heat thoroughly, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.

Serve on the bun of your choice, but a whole grain or multigrain bun is a great foil for the tangy, sweet barbecue turkey.

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The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com

Note from the challenge host: The most important thing is not to overcook your noodles, or you will end up with a gelatinous mass. Have a bowl of cold water and ice standing by, and once you have drained and rinsed your soba place it in the water. The great thing is once that’s done you can leave it in the fridge for up to a couple of hours and it will still be nice and fresh. Take your time and complete each step all of these items work well prepared beforehand, so don’t rush.

I made this soba dish twice this month, and both times forgot to go unpack the camera from vacation and take pictures! Rest assured that it was passably lovely and incredibly tasty. Usually by the time I remembered that I should take a photo, my bowl of soba was practically gone. Sad face.

Soba is a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour, as opposed to European-style pasta which is traditionally made with durum wheat flour, semolina, or egg. The brand of soba noodle I bought is conveniently packaged in paper-wrapped bundles, three bundles (or incredibly generous servings) to a bag. This style of soba, called hiyashi soba, is a cold soba noodle salad with toppings of the diner’s choice sprinkled in, and a thin sauce or broth to accompany it. The recipe from Lisa serves 4, but this can be easily adjusted to serve 1 or 2 or 20.

Hiyashi Soba
serves 4

Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the noodles a small bundle at a time, stirring gently to separate. When the water returns to a full boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this twice. When the water returns to a full boil, check the noodles for doneness. You want to cook them until they are firm-tender. Do not overcook them.

Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold running water until the noodles are cool. This not only stop the cooking process, but it also removes starch from the noodles. This is an essential part of soba noodle making. Once the noodles are cool, drain them and cover them with a damp kitchen towel and set them aside, allowing them to cool completely.

Lisa also gave us two recipes for dipping sauces, a traditional one called mentsuyu and made with dashi, soy sauce, and mirin, and a spicy one. After surveying the ingredients in each, I chose the spicy dipping sauce, and I’m glad I did.

Spicy Dipping Sauce

3/4 c. green onions or scallions, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. English mustard powder*
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste**

*I found powdered Colman’s in the spice section of my nearest large grocery store.
**Roughly 1/3 tsp. of each.

Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water. Season again if needed.

Common hiyashi soba toppings that Lisa suggests are:

thin omelet strips
ham
boiled chicken
cucumber
boiled bean sprouts
tomatoes
toasted nori (dried seaweed)
green onions
wasabi
grated daikon radish
pickled ginger

The first time we made this, I used just what I had on hand, which was some shaved deli ham and julienned cucumbers and some more chopped green onions. We decided that tofu would be a good topping as well, and also filling, which might let us reduce the amount of pasta per serving, since one serving-sized bundle of soba made for a huge serving! So the second time we made this, I prepared and cooked half of a brick of extra-firm tofu and split one bundle of soba in to two servings (one bundle makes about one cup and three-quarters, cooked). I also bought some bean sprouts, which I love, but then I forgot to add them to my dishes! (It’s been a very forgetful sort of month for me.) It’s nice to be able to use pretty much whatever you’ve got, as long as it’s germane to the flavors of the dish (I nixed the idea of using peppers) — fresh, not overwhelming, and well-balanced. I loved the way the shaved ham’s salty savoriness played off of the dipping sauce’s spicy saltiness, and the cucumbers are clean and crunchy, playing up texture while toning down the sauce a bit. The tofu experiment turned out well, but I need to perfect my skills for cooking with it!

Hiyashi soba definitely earns repeat appearances at the Eatery!

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