Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Après Ski Detox - Meatless Moo Shu Dinner

My husband and I recently enjoyed a brief ski weekend away with three other couples at a gorgeous lake house up in Adirondack, NY. As is often the case when we spend time with great friends, there was lots of eating and imbibing, laughter, and other hijinks. Our rental house not only had gorgeous panoramic views of Schroon Lake, but also the most amazing chef's kitchen I've ever seen up close - it even came complete with a chef's jacket and funny cook's hat that made for some very amusing photo ops as the nights, and drinks, wore on. 
Schroon Lake, Adirondack, NY Photo, NK 

Our location, 4 hours north of NYC, was remote to say the least. The lack of nearby restaurants meant we'd be relying heavily on our tricked out kitchen to cook up some great meals. As for me, I can take none of the credit for the cooking and baking that went on during our stay. Our first night, my best friend and her husband prepared homemade pizzas in several varieties which they cooked on their handy pizza stone. Their efficiency in preparing these incredibly tasty and made-to-order pies was mind-bending. Check them out:

Red Onion and Spinach Pizza, Photo: NK

Fresh Tomato and Garlic Pizza, Photo: NK

Pineapple Pie! Photo: NK 
Another couple brought up a fresh suckling pig from a butcher in NYC that they basted with oil and slow roasted until it emerged from the oven extremely juicy and delicious. As you can see, it was also quite popular.
Oven Roasted Suckling Pig, Photo: NK

As if all these dishes weren't enough, we were then treated to a home-baked chocolate bundt cake which was made even more delectable by the addition of Jameson Irish whiskey. Apparently we find ways to get alcohol into everything!

Our weekend was a smashing success and we did tons of fun activities including skiing and even an impromptu trip to an Alpaca farm (these guys are really friendly and adorable).

Our Alpaca Friend, Photo: NK
During the four-hour ride home, I found myself craving vegetables. I just wanted something light and reasonably nutritious to erase the culinary (and cocktail-fueled) overindulgences we'd engaged in for the past three days. 

When I think food detox my mind jumps to vegetarian fare, and after searching for meatless entree ideas (on my sluggish Blackberry in slow traffic on the Thruway), I came across a fast and easy yet untraditional Moo Shu recipe. This vegetarian version omits the usual pork and substitutes whole wheat tortillas for the traditional pancake wrappers. 

Since I had a lot of time on my hands, I reasoned that somehow this would be less filling if instead of using a bunch of tortillas, I made this into more of a noodle dish with just a small portion of soba noodles (made of buckwheat). Yeah, buckwheat sounded wholesome to me in my weakened state. As the original Vegetable Moo Shu recipe on Eatingwell.com suggests, buying ready-chopped veggies such as broccoli slaw really does cut down prep time significantly. Below is my adaptation of their recipe. You have the option of using whole wheat tortillas for a play on traditional Moo Shu pancakes, or mixing in a modest portion of noodles or even brown rice as your carb addition instead. 

If you are interested in learning more about  traditional Moo Shu (or Mu Shu) Pork and its potential origins, check out this interesting excerpt I found online:
I am sure I will be making the real thing one of these days!

Moo Shu Vegetable Soba
Serves 4
Adapted from Eating Well

3 teaspoons toasted Sesame Oil
3 large Eggs - 2 eggs with yolk and white, one with just white, lightly beaten together
2 teaspoons fresh Ginger, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 bunch Scallions, sliced and divided into two portions
1 12 oz. Bag of Shredded Mixed Veggies such as Broccoli Slaw, Rainbow Salad, or Carrot and Cabbage Slaw
2 cups of Mung Bean Sprouts 
1.5 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce plus extra for serving
Pancake or Soba Noodle Option: 4 Servings Soba Noodles or 12 small Whole Wheat Tortillas 

Moo Shu Veggie Ingredients, Photo: NK
~If using the Soba Noodle version, set a medium pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add noodles and cook, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes. Drain and set aside. You may have to loosen the noodles with water before serving. 

~If serving in "pancakes," set aside 12 small tortillas and heat them just before serving veggies. Diners can fill their own pancakes and top with extra Hoisin sauce served alongside.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet or Wok over medium high heat. 
Add the eggs as you would if making an omelette and cook them until they are set, 3-4 min.
Remove egg pancake to a plate. 

Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining two teaspoons of sesame oil over medium heat and add the ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until softened and fragrant, about 1 min.

Add the shredded veggies, bean sprouts, half the sliced scallions, soy sauce, and vinegar. Stir and cover, stirring again once or twice, until the veggies become crisp tender, about 3 min.

Meanwhile, slice your egg pancake into thin strips and slice the strips once again down the middle. Add the chopped egg  and Hoisin sauce to the skillet and toss until heated through, about another 1 to 2 min. Stir in the remaining scallions and remove from the heat. 

To serve: 

Place a small portion of Soba Noodles on a plate and add the veggies on top. 
(I actually like to place a tiny pile of noodles on 4 corners of the plate and fill the middle liberally with the Moo Shu Veggies.)

For the pancake option, serve heated tortillas and allow diners to fill the pancakes with the veggie mixture themselves. Serve with extra Hoisin. 

Moo Shu Veggies and Soba Noodles, Photo: NK


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