Snow and Pho

3:58 pm

We’re up to our elbows in snow, and a good four days into our 10-day adaptation of the Food Lovers’ Cleanse. The biggest problem I’ve had (as I suspected would be the case) is that it has been really difficult to make the plan’s suggested breakfasts and lunches work with my weekday schedule, but I’ve also found that the recipes in general have been really hit or miss.

Dinner:  January 9, 2011

I was almost ready to give up entirely after our first dinner, the disastrous Ultimate Winter Couscous, which smelled so lovely in the oven but tasted like a whole lot of unpleasantly-textured nothing on the plate (and I’m still at a loss as to why those vegetables needed four whole tablespoons of olive oil). Mike tried and really liked Heidi’s cinnamon quinoa, the edamame hummus (both of which I look forward to trying), and the tuna with celery root and apple salad, but I couldn’t even smell that salad without gagging (and I love celery root). I ended up eating dry tuna with even drier Wasa crackers.

Dinner: January 10, 2011

On a positive note, we truly loved the salmon in Bengali mustard sauce and the black-eyed pea curry (for which I used yellow-eye beans from Freedom Bean Farm in Maine), both of which we’d happily put into regular rotation.


Perhaps my favorite recipe so far, though, is one that does not appear in the original BA Food Lovers’ Cleanse, but one I decided to swap in for the OMG-are-you-serious? on-a-weeknight? Successively Simmered Koya-Dofu and Vegetables, the incredibly aromatic, delicious, satisfying, and – wait for it – easy enough for a weeknight (or any darned time) Vegetarian Pho by our friend Winnie Abramson.

snow day lunch

You toast coriander seeds, cloves, star anise, and a cinnamon stick in a dry skillet until fragrant, add them to some warm vegetable broth with an onion and some peeled and smashed ginger, plus an Indonesian soy sauce (which I couldn’t find, so I used her suggested substitution of brown sugar and tamari). You bring it to a boil, simmer, strain out the solids, chop the softened onion and ginger, then add them back to the pot along with edamame and chopped bok choy. Cook a little longer, add your rice noodles (I even used whole grain rice noodles! Healthy!), and finish with a big hit of fresh lime juice, Sriracha, cilantro and fresh scallions. Easy. Peasy. Delicious. And so nice we ate it twice.

7 thoughts on “Snow and Pho

  1. I love pho. I use that spice combination with duck, goose, chicken, lamb, turkey (and of course beef). The freezer is never without some form of it. Have you tried making Moroccan tagines using it? It’s amazing.

  2. I think we might take some recipes from the cleanse to add to some healthier recipes we are using. The Pho looks fabulous, you are right about the food lovers recipe – I got tired reading the instructions!

  3. How can I not try a pho recipie that looks that delicious – especially when described as “Easy. Peasy.” Impossible. It’s now on my list…

  4. Julia says:

    I was struck by the vehemence of your dislike for the apple and celery root salad and went to check out the recipe, since I was thinking of making it myself. It doesn’t seem to contain anything intrinsically horrible (celery root, applies, celery leaves or parsley, walnuts, lemon, vinegar, mustard, walnut oil). Could you say more about how those came together that made it so awful? Don’t want to risk it myself if there’s a hidden alchemy of horror at work… The pho looks wonderful!

  5. Jennifer Hess says:

    Peter – I use a similar spice mixture when I braise lamb or goat shanks, but I will definitely try this mixture next time. And yes, I’m now addicted to pho. There’s a place we’ve gone on College Hill that turns out a nice version with tendon and tripe and all that stuff, but it’s nice to know I can do a lighter meatless version at home so quickly and easily. Of course, this whole enterprise got me scheming about whether we could pressure can batches of pho stock.

    Winnie – thank YOU for such a wonderful recipe. Really. We loved it.

    deepa – We have friends here who made that recipe and they had to special order the tofu for it on Amazon – half a case worth! I don’t have the patience for that 🙂

    Stacy – I hope you love it as much as we did!

    Julia – You’re right, there’s nothing at all about the ingredients that would signal a problem, and as I said, Mike ate it (from the same batch of the salad that my lunch portion came from) and really liked it. I’m not sure what happened exactly, but when I opened my (non-reactive) lunch container with the salad in it, I got this overwhelming almost chemical smell. I have no idea what caused it, and I was disappointed because I love celery root, and I’ve had it in salad and slaw form many times without incident. I certainly don’t want to put you or anyone else off because of my one bad experience!

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