Amish Noodle Casserole

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Even though I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and have even been to Amish country and eaten in their restaurants when I was young, I never knew about Amish noodles until a couple weeks ago. A coworker made a nice homey casserole with these thick cut fresh egg noodles, white sauce, and a bunch of stuff on hand. I was intrigued. Especially because what he called Pennsylvania Dutch noodles were strongly reminiscent of xi’an style hand torn noodles. After some research I even found that at least some recipes for Amish noodles relied on kneading boiling water into flour, which is also one method (minus the eggs) for the Chinese torn noodles. So, if anything, these noodles are Amish by context, but they’re texture really does fit the same bill.

Noodles:
340g ap flour
160g boiling water
55g cold water
Salt

In a bowl, pour the boiling water into the flour and mix with a fork. Then add in the cold water so that you can knead with your hands. It will be still be quite warm but as one of my chefs used to like to say “Pain don’t hurt!” knead for a full 5 minutes. Rest under a moist towel for 20 minutes. Knead for 1 more minute until the dough is smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap for at least one hour. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s between 1/4 and 1/2 inches thick. Slice it up, rustic-like, into noodles about 8”x3/4”. Dust with flour and store in a single layer on parchment until everything else is ready.

Bechamel:

500g cold soy milk (preferably freshly made)
25g flour
25g olive oil
1 shallot, halved
3 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
5 pieces dried porcini

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour gradually, avoiding clumps. Add the shallot, garlic, herbs, porcini. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly so that the roux (the mixture of flour and fat) takes on color evenly. When it becomes a deep khaki but not quite brown, vigorously whisk in the soymilk, trying to avoid lumps. Bring to a simmer, making sure it doesn’t boil over, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Strain through a chinoise. Keep warm until ready to use.

1 cup Blanched peas
1 cup sautéed mushrooms
1 cup breadcrumbs, rubbed with olive oil and salt

Pull the noodles gently to the desired thickness. Blanch the noodles in boiling salted water until tender, about 90 seconds. Drain and add them directly to the warm bechamel. Add in the peas and mushrooms,and stir to mix together. Season with salt, pepper, and vinegar to your liking. Soy sauce or gravy master can also add a little something to this, if you’d like, at this point. Fit into a casserole and cover with breadcrumbs. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes at 350.

108 layer lasagna. Ready for the cast iron.

108 layer lasagna. Ready for the cast iron.

Steamed Buns with tempeh ragu or braised frisée


One of the first things you notice when biting into a good steamed bun is the neutrality of the bready puff. But I t’s not lacking anything in its subtle sweetness and soft wheaty aroma. In fact it can be good empty. A well made bao is like the most elegant and fertile blank canvas you can imagine. Just about any juicy flavorful filling will make it a masterpiece. Here is a recipe for the bun and two different fillings.

buns

4 tablespoons sugar
1 cup warm water
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

Mix the sugar, water and yeast. Into the bowl of a standmixer, sift the flour. Using the dough hook, mix on low until it becomes a single shaggy mass and drizzle in the oil. Mix for about 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft. lightly oil a large bowl and plop in the dough. warp in plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough and knead in the baking powder until it’s well incorporated. cut the dough into approx. 50g pieces. roll the dough into a ball and then roll it out into a disc. spoon about 3 tablespoons of filling into the center of the dough discs. pull the edges of the dough up and around the filling. pleat and twist the dough to enclose the filling. place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap for about 30 minutes. follow the directions on your steamer to set it up. cut out parchment squares large enough to fit the buns. put each bun on a parchment square and into the steamer. steam the buns for 20 minutes.

Filling 1 (tempeh ragu)
1 block tempeh
2 large onions, small diced
1 large parsnip, small diced
5 slices dehydrated porcini, small diced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 small bunch kale, chiffonade
2 cups fruity dry red wine
4 bay leaves
6 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds

For the tempeh ragu, grate the tempeh on the 2nd largest side of a box grater. Pour 1/3 cup of oil into a searing hot, preferably cast iron, pan. Drop the grated tempeh in and season it with salt. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes until the tempeh is browned all over. Pour the contents of the pan onto a paper-towel lined plate and reduce the heat in the pan. Refill the oil and drop in the vegetables. Season them with salt and cook on medium, stirring often, until they are thoroughly cooked but have not browned. Add the tomato paste and kale and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the red wine and reduce until the pan is dry. Add the seared tempeh back in along with the sachet and cook over low heat for 30 minutes or so, until the flavors are well developed and savory,

Filling 2 ( frisée)
3 heads frisée, root removed but greens attached
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon fermented black beans
Pinch of Aleppo chile flakes
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons black vinegar

Heat a cast iron pan with a sheen of oil. Add the frisée and season with salt. cook down until its just wilted. Add the garlic, fermented black beans, chile and cook for another 2 minutes, until the raw garlic aroma is gone. Deglaze with the soy sauce and black vinegar. Cook 2 more minutes and put the contents of the pan into a colander. Let it drain and cool while you prepare the dough.

Noodles, Noodles, Noodles Class @ Cook

The other night I taught a sold-out class at Audrey Claire’s Cook on making fresh pastas from around the world. Some of these component recipes are already up on the blog, but most are not and they are all together here (except for the bulgur filling and chile oil which will be added soon). The menu was: Bulgur wontons with chili oil Pandan glass noodles with turmeric vinaigrette, cashews, and green mango Pappardelle with lentils, fermented escarole and apple Gnocchi with mushroom ragu and pickled mustard seeds.

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Pasta Snails with Cauliflower Cream, Olives, Capers, Almonds, Parsley

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Cauliflower and olives is not too common of a combination but its a classic Italian pairing, especially around Marche. Cauliflower has a remarkable flavor of its own, but it pairs with strong flavors very well - gojuchang, olives, horseradish, even cocoa if it’s done right. The simple flavors in this dish become more than the sum of their parts and make a startling contrast to the essentially white-on-white presentation.

  • 3 large shallots, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 cups chocciola
  • ½ cup oil cured olives, chopped and lightly rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons toasted almonds
  • 2 tablespoons chiffonade parsley

Sweat the shallots, garlic and almonds in ¼ cup of olive oil with a teaspoon of salt over low heat, covered. When that’s soft and flavorful, after about 10 minutes, add the cauliflower. When they’re tender, add the white wine. Reduce until the pan’s almost dry, then add 1 cup water. Simmer for 3 minutes or so until the cauliflower is soft. Blend thoroughly, pass through a chinois and season with salt. 

Boil the pasta

Warm the cauliflower cream gently and add in the olives, capers, and almonds. Toss in the pasta. Adjust the thickness of the sauce with water if necessary. Toss in the parsley and serve.

Bowties with Fermented Escarole, Onions, Lentils

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This satisfying wintry dish is all about a well-stocked larder. Lentils, onions, dried pasta, preserved vegetables. The real star is this fermented escarole. It’s another idea from Ideas in Food, although it’s basically saurkraut. Escarole has always been my favorite green, but I always thought it would get stringy and mushy if fermented. Not true. You could put this on anything.

Fermented escarole:

  • 1 head escarole
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 ½ tablespoons salt

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Root salad with crispy ginger and pickled cranberry vinaigrette

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This is a very good salad if you are craving fresh vegetables but still want a warming winter meal.

Ginger is a strange part of a plant called a rhizome. Other well-known rhizomes include ginseng and turmeric. Ginger can elevate a lot of fall/winter flavors and it coincidentally helps warm the body. Rhizomes are very tough and fibrous and so their flavor is usually infused into dishes by grating, infusing oils, juicing, or drying and making into powder. But there are a few ways to make their intact flesh edible - namely through pickling or cooking them slowly in oil. This latter method makes ginger into little flavor bombs while simultaneously mellowing it’s harshness by drowning it in fat. It also works beautifully on fresh turmeric.

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Split pea soup with mushrooms, rye bread, miso bits

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Split peas have a very unique flavor that’s at it’s best when balanced by salty and savory. This soup is brothy and fatty and full of flavor.  One alternative to the miso bits that I want to try is to drizzle in a little fermented black beans with chili.  

  • 2 tablespoons high-quality miso
  • 2 cups rye bread cubes
  • 1 small bulb fennel, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 pint crimini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 pint split peas, soaked in salted room-temperature water for 2-6 hours
  • 3 cups white wine or rice wine
  • 1 head garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
  • 1 medium carrot, washed
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch chives, minced

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Manischewitz-braised Seitan, Mashed Potatoes, Greens, Marjoram

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Seitan? Fake meat?  Not so much.  It takes a little bit of work, and I haven’t mastered making it from scratch yet, but seitan is a legitimate food product in it’s own right. It’s no more processed than bread and one cold even argue that it takes less equipment to make. It has hundreds of years of tradition behind it and making the good stuff is truly an art form. And just because it cooks a lot like meat doesn’t mean it’s trying to be meat. Now that we’ve gotten that out of our way, this is a super-exciting dish to me. I love manischewitz wine. Deal with it. It’s fermented concord grapes.  But to cook with, I highly suggest Mogen David brand concord grape wine - it’s still sweet but the flavor is much clearer. I also include fresh concord grapes in the recipe even though they’re season is already done for the year.  they add a nice touch but the dish stands without them. This dish is a lot like the common Port Seitan that’s served at a lot of vegan restaurants, also similar to Veal Marsala. It’s just better than them. 

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Rice Dumplings, Coconut Curry, Tempeh, Persimmons

Their texture is more like rice gnocchi than rice dumplings or rice cakes. And their flavor is concentrated like nothing else - if you use jasmine rice you really do taste jasmine. This recipe is from the Dumpling book, and even though I wasn’t a fan of the Indian stew they made these with, the dumpling recipe was spot on. I have some plans to make these italianish sometime soon, but for now, here’s a nice red curry, based on one I found in David Thompson’s uncompromising book: Thai Food.  In this picture, I used Chinese black rice, which has it’s own unique flavor. And although I used a perfectly ripe hachiya persimmon - a fuyu one or pineapple chunks or pomegranate seeds would also work.

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