Is it Monday already?
I’m back from upstate, and none too happy about it: I miss the smell of lilacs and the sight of gold-flecked grass under afternoon sun. Sigh.
Sadness over leaving the country was offset by a lovely mother’s day dinner with my mom, who just so happened to be celebrating her birthday yesterday, too! It was our first mother’s day dinner at a vegetarian friendly restaurant (Josie’s, on the Upper West Side), and it was probably one of our best ever. Before I arrived back in NYC, I got to spend a slice of mother’s day with Chloe’s Mom, who is like a second mother to me, so yesterday truly was a celebration of the wonderful women in my life.
On Saturday evening, Chloe’s mother and sister and I set about preparing a quick dinner upstate. I already had it in mind to try some of the tasty looking short-grained brown rice mix that Chloe’s mom had in her pantry: it’s a Lundberg variety, and it looks something like this:
Before I get to the recipe, I’ll say this: try this mix out! It’s extremely chewy and flavorful, and it’s got just a touch of stickiness (which I love for Asian-inspired dinners). Two thumbs way up!
Chloe’s mom also had a lovely selection of bok choy, asparagus, and shitake mushrooms in the crisper, so I decided I’d pair my rice with some steamed veggies. Of course, I needed some kind of flavorful sauce to top it with. Typically, when I make these steamed grain/veggie plates for dinner, I’ll opt for a tahini dressing of sorts–such as my carrotini, tangy tahini, or simple tahini dressings. But we didn’t have any tahini handy. What we did have was a wealth of organic miso paste (mellow white and red), and a pantry stocked with every specialty vinegar under the sun. As soon as I saw that we had mirin–which is one of my absolute favorite condiments–I knew what I wanted to try: a sweet and salty miso glaze.
The nicest thing about staying upstate is participating in the harmonious ballet of simultaneous omni/vegan cooking. Chloe’s mother is a spectacular cook, and she’s passed it down to her kids (Chloe’s sister is a consummate baker; Chloe’s a terrific chef in her own right, and I like to harass her about starting a catering company in New Orleans). Though Chloe’s family is mostly omnivorous (Chloe’s a pescatarian), they’ve always been accepting and gracious about my way of eating, and Chloe’s mother always takes care to have a fridge full of produce when I’m staying upstate. She also gives me space to whip up vegan food alongside the family meal, which is exceedingly considerate of her!
What’s really fun, though, is when we can collaborate a little on dinner. So when I mentioned my idea for a miso glaze, Chloe’s mother immediately perked up and said she might use it to glaze and grill some chicken breasts she was planning on making. One sauce, two dinners–what could be more copasetic?
Of course, I’d never made miso glaze before in my life. In truth, I’d never even prepared miso soup. So with a little trepidation, I decided to wing it, and I came up with this:
Delicate Miso Glaze (yields 1 cup, or so)
1 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp miso
1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp tamari
1 tbsp maple syrup (optional, but the sweetness really deepens the flavor of this sauce)
Bring water to a simmer and add the miso, stirring until it’s dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and keep stirring till the sauce has reduced and thickened a bit — I’d say twenty or twenty-five minutes should do it. Use the sauce on chicken, fish, veggies, or grains.
To recreate my dinner, simply prepare some brown rice ahead of time, and set it aside. While the glaze is reducing, steam 1 small head of baby bok choy, 3 fat asparagus stalks (chopped), 1 medium sized carrot (chopped), 5 thinly sliced shitake mushrooms, and a cup or more of kale. Steam the veggies till crisp-tender, and remove from heat.
To serve, toss the steamed veggies in a tablespoon of the glaze — just enough to coat them lightly, but not enough to mask their natural flavor. Plate them alongside a cup or so of cooked rice, and drizzle the plate with another tablespoon or two of the miso glaze. Bon appetit!
In spite of my inexperience with such a glaze, it turned out really well. I loved the flavor. Chloe’s mom thought it might use a bit more tamari, so if you make this, I’d suggest you feel free to season with more tamari if you like, and to play with your proportions of flavor (I really loved the mustard and sweetness, but you could also amp up the vinegar). This, like all easy recipes, works best if you modify it to suit your own palate.
Check out this earthy, nourishing meal:
And since we’re all enamored of nutrient-rich, meal size salads these days, I thought I’d share yesterday’s lunch, which was vaguely Indian in flavor. I paired some of my leftover curried cashew spread with about half a cup of cooked red lentils (one of my absolute favorite legumes — so tasty and fast to prepare!) and some of Chloe’s mom’s signature lemon vinaigrette. I also got a taste of my first ripe and delicious tomato of the season — local and greenhouse!
Such a perfect lunch.
I hope you had a wonderful weekend, too. What did you do to celebrate the moms in your life?
With that, it’s go time. Have a good one!