Cooking Without the Cow

I have a dairy allergy. I digest it well enough but it gives me a headache, which is not fun. I do use a little butter, especially in baking, because margarine scares me. Cheese is such a prevalent ingredient in even vegetarian offerings that I have had to experiment with different dishes to come up with some staples that will work for my family. I hope you enjoy them, too!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Rainy day cooking (Pseudo-Japanese Soup, Pound Cake)

Today was an ugly, rainy day. The Boy played a computer game for most of the afternoon and I fooled around in the kitchen. I decided to bake something like this Easy Pound Cake because baking always makes a gloomy day more cheery, but had to add some cocoa powder. It's a compulsion - either chocolate or garlic, whichever makes more sense - my favorite ingredient must be added to almost everything. I have to say, it really was easy and not overly sweet. The actual recipe I started from, which link couldn't be found for some reason, was from someone named Dee (according to my recipe card), used a cup of cow's milk less one tablespoon, and no cocoa.

Dee's Easy Pound Cake, amended

3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup soy milk
6 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
6 tablespoons cocoa
pinch of salt

Beat all ingredients together at high speed for 5 minutes. Pour into large ungreased tube pan. Bake at 350° (do NOT preheat oven!) for 60 - 80 minutes, until it tests done. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

For dinner, it had to be something light if we were going to have cake afterwards. I gave The Boy some leftover turkey/vegetable stuff and then made my pseudo-Japanese spinach soup to round out the meal. I call it pseudo-Japanese because I don't know if the traditional Japanese add udon to their dashi soup or if the addition of spinach or garlic would be an insult of some kind, as the norm is seaweed and scallion. But The Boy just loves it and, again, it's really easy. The best part is that when he and I went out for a birthday splurge to a sushi place, he tasted his soup and said, "This tastes just like the kind you make." How cool is that?

The secret is in the dashi powder or hon-dashi bonito fish soup stock, which you can find at any Asian food store. It's an odd, granular-looking product containing dehydrated bonito fish and must be refrigerated after opening. The most important thing to remember is that a little goes a long way. I understand from Obachan of Obachan's Kitchen & Balcony Garden that it is also sold in an easier-to-use liquid form, called shiradashi or shirodashi. I haven't been back to the store to check it out, but I still have plenty of the dry type to use up in the meantime.

The udon noodles are bound in little bundles and are sold about 10 bundles to a package. I love the way Japanese translates into English - they call it "Elementary Japanese Pasta". The Boy liked them the first time I made them and they are now a staple in our house. They look a bit like fettuccine when cooked but are softer and somehow hold up better in soup.

Pseudo-Japanese Spinach Soup

1 clove garlic, minced
8 cups of water or mild broth
1 bunch thin udon noodles
1 10oz package frozen spinach, thawed and not drained
1/8 teaspoon dashi powder (approximately)

Saute the garlic briefly in a medium saucepan. Add the water or broth, bring to a boil and then add and cook the noodles over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, according to package directions. Add the spinach, turn off the heat and then stir in the dashi to taste.

We enjoyed our dinner and then The Boy had some sort of issue with our dessert. He looked at the plate and said, "Pound cake isn't supposed to be brown on the inside, is it?" That's what I get for putting in the extra effort, lol.


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