Pantry Update #2: Not everything works

Good thing it was just me and Fronx for dinner, and neither of us were that hungry.

After my recent successes, today I was weak. For tonight’s dinner, I wanted to use up some fresh ingredients I had, and I really wanted to finally make rava upma. Two problems: I used a poor recipe for the rava upma, and none of the dishes I made went together.

Failed dinner
Left: spiced eggplant. Top right: silken tofu and avocado. Foreground: rava upma.

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Grilled Greek Salad

When brainstorming dinner plans (as we drank our breakfast coffees) I said I was thinking of perhaps roasting vegetables. Fronx said he would rather have something crunchy, like a Greek salad. Vegetables and low effort was the main motivation for me suggesting roasted vegetables, so I agreed that Greek salad was also good.

But thinking about romaine lettuce reminded me of the fantastic grilled meal we’d had over at Ole’s in the summer …

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Biángbiáng noodles

The only thing I wanted to eat when I was in NYC was Chinese food that I can’t get in Berlin. I succeeded.

In addition to a lunch stop at Congee Village, I ended up having what is my new all time favourite Chinese dish, Biángbiáng noodles, from the Shaanxi province, brought to New York by Xi’an Famous Foods in 2005. I have since learned, from this great post on Lady and Pups, that “Xi’an famous foods” is a known phrase in Chinese referring to a collection of dishes from Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province. The chain has been so successful and influential that is even has its own Wikipedia entry.

Upon my return – actually, no, it was when I was still at Newark waiting for the plane home – I looked up how to get these amazingly sloppy, slippery wide noodles in Berlin. And the only way was to make them myself. Using the Lady and Pups recipes as my guide, I made a vegetarian version using a trio of mushrooms instead of lamb.

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Mapo tofu

Morgan has been on a mapo tofu kick since he went to Mission Chinese when he was in San Francisco. Even before he got back from that trip, the Lucky Peach newsletter landed in his inbox, including the mapo tofu recipe from Mission Chinese!

The very tasty recipe is here:
http://luckypeach.com/recipes/mission-chinese-foods-mapo-tofu/

After sourcing all the ingredients (except the beef fat), Morgan invited me over to prepare it. We made it using a technique best described as “pair cooking”, a reference to “pair programming”. In pair programming, often one person is at the keyboard doing all of the typing, and the second person formulates and talks over ideas with the person typing.

Mapo tofu going in for a close up
Mapo tofu going in for a close up

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