Today on Good Food, Chef Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy talks about the challenge of cooking vegetables versus meat. She explains that unlike meat, vegetables are mostly water and often uniform in structure. To achieve the same satisfaction we get from the Maillard reaction when cooking a steak, she suggests smoking your veggies.
Invest in two pans (one perforated and one not) and some wood chips. These three components will allow you to smoke vegetables, herbs and nuts. (Imagine smoked hazelnuts in a salad or a smoked basil pesto!) Smoking vegetables provides an unexpected flavor that many diners often associate with meat. But beware, in her book Cohen cautions diners: Smoking plant based foods may cause delicious tastiness, extreme flavor, and may make your entire house smell edible.
As you can see, Cohen’s Dirt Candy cookbook is part graphic novel, part instruction manual and part recipes. Now that you are ready to get more texture and excitement into your veggies, try this recipe for Spinach Soup with Smoked Corn Dumplings and Lemon Confit and scroll down for more Ryan Dunlavey illustrated graphics below.
Spinach Soup with Smoked Corn Dumplings and Lemon Confit
(From Amanda Cohen’s Dirt Candy cookbook)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons minced ginger
1/2 tablespoon grated lime peel
1/2 tablespoon seeded and diced jalapeno
1/4 cup peeled and diced potato
3 cups basic stock
4 cups tightly packed spinach leaves
1 cup rough chopped cilantro
1 1/2 cups rough chopped parsley
Salt to taste
Serves 4 to 6
1) Start a pot on medium heat with olive oil and onions, then add garlic, ginger, lime zest and jalapeno and cook until very soft (about 6 minutes).
2) Add potatoes and stir once or twice, then add the stock, bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft (about 3 minutes).
3) Remove from heat and let cool (15 minutes in an ice bath), then blend.
4) Refrigerate mixture until cold. This is the soup base, which can be refrigerated for later. It will keep for about 3 days in the fridge.
5) Put cold soup base in blender, add spinach, parsley and cilantro and blend until very smooth. Push through a chinois to remove chunks.
6) Heat the soup over medium heat. This is when it should turn bright green. Add salt to taste and serve immediately.
Smoked Corn Dumplings
2 cups smoked corn kernels
3 tablespoons finely diced jicama
1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped green onion
1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped mint
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons potato starch
¾ teaspoon rice wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
1 package of store bought eggless wonton wrappers
Makes 32 dumplings
1) Mix all ingredients together in a bowl (except for the wrappers) until they are very incorporated.
2) Lay the wrappers on your work surface and punch out the center with a round 2” cookie cutter. The round shape is easier to fold.
3) Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper, wet the edges of the wrapper with water and fold into half-moon.
4) Pinch the ends of the dumpling together. Place the filled dumplings on a plate and cover with a damp cloth to keep from drying out.
5) Bring a deep pot of very lightly salted water to a boil. Drop the dumplings into the pot in batches and let boil for 2 – 3 minutes. The dumplings will float to the surface when they’re done, but there are a million variables that could keep them from doing that, so let them boil for 2 minutes before scooping them out with a slotted spoon.
2 lemons, zested
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
Makes 1/4 cup
1) In a pot over high heat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Then add the lemon zest, let it return to a boil and keep boiling for 3 minutes. Remove and strain.
2) Repeat Step 1 with fresh water 2 more times (3 boils, total). This makes the zest less bitter.
3) Bring lemon juice and sugar to a boil over low heat in a very small pot and cook until the sugar is totally dissolved.
4) Add the zest. It should be covered by the liquid. If it’s not covered, add water to cover.
5) Turn heat to low and cook zest until it’s almost translucent and lemon juice is thick and syrupy (about 20 minutes).
Below are more pages from Cohen’s Dirt Candy cookbook. All of these graphics were illustrated by Ryan Dunlavey.