Coffee Borgia Mousse

Coffee Borgia Mousse

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

This dessert was inspired by one of my favorite espresso drinks, the coffee Borgia. A Borgia is like a mocha (espresso, chocolate syrup, steamed milk) but with orange zest mixed in. It’s a wonderful flavor combination that I recreated in this chocolate mousse with melted bittersweet chocolate, a bit of heavy cream, espresso powder and orange zest. The recipe is very easy to make, takes no more than about 15 minutes total and you can easily scale it up and make a fancy dessert for a large crowd.

Coffee Borgia Mousse
 
Cook time
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used a Ghirardelli 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bar)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon very finely grated orange zest (about one orange)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • two thin orange slices as garnish
Instructions:
  1. Melt the chocolate along with the cream and the espresso powder in a bowl over simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, take it off the water pot. Stir in the orange zest then set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg yolk with the sugar in a bowl until lighter in color and texture than when you started.
  3. Quickly whisk the chocolate mix into the egg/sugar mix in two to three batches.
  4. With an electric mixer, whip the egg white with the cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
  5. Whisk about half of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate.
  6. Carefully fold the remaining whipped egg white into the chocolate mix (take a half-turn around the bowl with the whisk and then shake the mousse through the tines of the whisk).
  7. As soon as no streaks remain, fill the mousse into individual serving bowls. Work quickly because the mousse will set very fast.
  8. Garnish with the orange slices and serve by itself or with whipped cream.

Food Photography and Styling: I was going for rustic with a touch of elegance here so I used rough wood planks as a surface (the same ones that I used here) and a fancy cocktail glass to hold the mousse. The thin orange slice on the surface of the mousse wasn’t a strong enough clue that this dessert is quite heavily orange-flavored in my opinion so I added more orange in the back of the frame to reinforce the idea. The set still looked a bit naked so I placed a few chocolate squares here and there. I observed the rule of thirds very closely here and placed the glass along the right vertical dividing line and the orange slice on the mousse on an intersection point.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/4, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Vanilla Cream with Cinnamon Sugared Cranberries

Say hello to an absolute smasher of a holiday dessert. If you’re looking to serve something that’s easy and next to impossible to mess up but at the same time stellar both in taste and looks then this is the ticket.

Vanilla Cream with Cinnamon Sugared Cranberries Dessert Recipe

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

The vanilla cream is actually the same recipe I already shared with you a while ago here; it’s made with eggs, cream, vanilla and sugar, stiffened with gelatin and takes literally just a few minutes to put together.*

The cranberries are quick and easy as well, you just simmer up a simple syrup flavored with cinnamon, briefly submerge frozen cranberries in it, then roll the berries in sugar. I sprinkled a few chopped pistachios over everything for extra visual appeal but you can skip them if you want to. The light and sweet vanilla cream contrasts perfectly with the tart berries that have just a hint of cinnamon flavor. It’s my new favorite dessert, and not just for the holidays!

*The vanilla cream recipe comes from The Centennial Collection of Favorite Recipes from Grace Episcopal Church in Paducah KY, Second Edition 1975

Vanilla Cream with Cinnamon Sugared Cranberries
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients:
For the cranberries:
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (more for rolling)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries
For the vanilla cream:
  • 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • one 2-inch piece of vanilla bean
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • finely chopped pistachios for garnish (optional)
Instructions:
For the cranberries:
  1. Heat sugar, water and cinnamon in a saucepan to a simmer.
  2. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the cranberries. Stir them around to make sure they are completely coated with the syrup.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cranberries onto parchment paper.
  4. Add granulated sugar to a shallow bowl then roll the cranberries around in it, one by one, until they are all fully coated.
For the vanilla cream:
  1. Add gelatin along with 3 tablespoons of cold water to a saucepan. Let sit for 4 minutes.
  2. Cut the vanilla bean open and scrape out the seeds.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks with ⅓ cup sugar and vanilla seeds in a bowl until creamy.
  4. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
  5. Whip the cream with 1 teaspoon sugar to stiff peaks.
  6. Heat the bloomed gelatin just until dissolved.
  7. Whisk the gelatin into the egg yolk mix.
  8. Fold in the cream.
  9. Fold in the egg whites.
  10. Fill the mix into a large bowl and chill.
  11. Scoop the cream onto individual plates and serve with the cranberries.
  12. Sprinkle pistachios on for garnish.

Food Photography and Styling: The plates you see in this photo are actually meant for large candles (I think I got them at World Market a few years ago) but I like to use them as props for food and I thought their elegant and modern look went well with this dessert.

I took the plates off my prop shelf and had just set them on a small black table next to a window when I saw a ray of morning sunlight run across them. The light looked absolutely beautiful on the plates and I would have photographed the dish in that natural light but I hadn’t actually made the dessert yet (and of course the light was gone within 15 minutes) so I tried to replicate that same morning light with my strobe.

That is one of the aspects of food photography I still enjoy the most, taking full command over my equipment and creating and placing every shadow and every highlight exactly where I want it. It’s always a challenge and it took a bit of experimenting here but I settled on my through the doorframe technique and used a thin white curtain to diffuse the light.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/8, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight.

Spicy Edamame

Spicy Edamame Beans Recipe

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

I had spicy edamame beans at a sushi restaurant for the first time a little while ago and I can tell you I have never been this surprised and impressed with a dish. Up until that dinner I had only ever had plain steamed and salted edamame and I always found those to be “meh” at best. Well, it turns out that spicy edamame are a completely different story! They are exciting and full of interesting flavors; a bit garlicky, a bit smoky, a bit salty and a bit spicy. You get all these flavors when you bite into the pod to squeeze out the actual beans. It’s a really addictive appetizer, we ate the entire plate barely taking a breath between bites.

Naturally I tried to replicate the recipe at home. Since it seems impossible to create the smokiness you get from a restaurant-quality wok and burner at home I resorted to liquid smoke and while that’s not exactly the same thing it does come close. In addition to that I added sambal, garlic, salt and dried red pepper flakes. The dish is easy to make, you just steam or boil the edamame beans, then heat the remaining ingredients in a bit of vegetable oil, toss the beans in the oil and voila, you’re done. If you’ve only ever had regular salted edamame I urge you to try this, it will change your view of the vegetable completely!

Spicy Edamame
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 1 pound frozen edamame beans in their shells
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sambal
  • ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicier)
Instructions:
  1. Steam or boil the edamame beans according to package instructions. Drain and let dry.
  2. Heat up oil, garlic, liquid smoke, salt, sambal and red pepper flakes in a pan, then add the edamame beans and stir to coat.
  3. For more spiciness sprinkle more red pepper flakes on.

Food Photography and Styling: I saw these old wood planks sitting in an alley behind a store here in town a few weeks ago and thought they might work well as a surface and it turns out they do! The store owner said he would love for me to take them off his hands so that just goes to show that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. The burlap is a really cute small bag that I got at a distillery a few months ago (the bottle of gin I bought was in it) and it worked perfectly as a placemat type-of-thing here. To reinforce the idea that these edamame are spicy I set a small jar with crushed red pepper flakes into the composition (and since the recipe says that you can sprinkle on flakes to taste that wasn’t too far fetched). As usual I used my strobe to light the set.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/5, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight.

S’mores Mousse Tart with Crystallized Ginger Meringue

Smores Mousse Tart with Crystallized Ginger Meringue

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

You can think of this as a fancy s’mores tart. What I love about it is that it has all the great features that s’mores have and none of the annoying ones.

Instead of gooey, uber–sweet marshmallow fluff it’s got a torched meringue whose flavor is enhanced by little pieces of crystallized ginger. The chocolate part is a creamy, bittersweet mousse instead of straight melted squares that get all over your fingers.

The crust is a graham cracker crust, but not just any old graham cracker crust. Rather than crushing up the bland, store-bought crackers I used this delicious homemade graham cracker recipe and morphed it into a tart crust recipe. And it was surprisingly easy to do, too. I basically just left out the leavening agent (baking soda) and that was all that was needed.

Just like any graham cracker crust dough this one is too brittle to roll out and transfer into the tart pan, instead you need to press it in with your fingers. I flavored both the tart crust and the chocolate mousse with my favorite spice blend, pumpkin spice, but if you’re not into that (really?) you can use cinnamon in the crust instead and leave the spice out of the mousse entirely.

S'mores Mousse Tart with Crystallized Ginger Meringue
 
The crust for this tart is adapted from Martha Stewart.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients:
For the graham cracker crust:
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup light-brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
For the chocolate filling:
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
For the meringue topping:
  • 4 egg whites
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (make sure you have the individual pieces more or less separated and not in one large clump to make it easier to fold them into the meringue)
Instructions:
For the graham cracker crust:
  1. Whisk the flours, wheat germ, salt and pumpkin spice together in a bowl.
  2. Beat butter, sugar and honey for a few minutes until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the flour mix.
  4. Bring the dough together with your hands and flatten into a disc.
  5. Press the dough into a 9-inch greased tart pan, then place the pan in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Bake the tart crust until golden-brown (8–12 minutes).
  8. Let cool completely.
For the chocolate filling:
  1. Add chocolate and pumpkin spice to a bowl.
  2. Bring ¾ cup heavy cream to a boil, then pour over the chocolate/spice mix and let sit for a minute.
  3. Stir to combine cream and chocolate into a smooth mix. (If you end up with chocolate clumps, gently heat the mix over a pot of simmering water). Let cool.
  4. Whip 1 cup heavy cream with the sugar to stiff peaks.
  5. Fold the cream into the chocolate mix.
  6. Pour the mousse into the cold crust, spread out evenly with an offset spatula, then chill in the fridge for 1½ hours.
For the meringue topping:
  1. Beat the egg whites until they start to foam, then, with the mixer running, gradually add the granulated sugar until you get glossy peaks.
  2. Again with the mixer running, gradually add the powdered sugar.
  3. Fold in the crystallized ginger.
  4. Spread the topping onto the chocolate mousse tart and briefly burn with a torch.

Food Photography and Styling: What I really liked about this tart was the alternating layers of brown and white and to extend that color pattern to the rest of the photo I put the tart on a white cake stand and set it into a brown set. The slice I cut out of the tart was a mess so I couldn’t put that into the composition and instead I just put the dirty knife into the frame to complete the story. As usual I used my strobe and large softbox and lit the set from the left with a few flags to keep the background (which is my trusty wood tray) dark.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/4.5, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Turnip Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage

Why I love it: This meal is easy, cheap, delicious and a great way to use up all the turnips that might be piling up in your vegetable garden.

Turnip Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage Recipe

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Turnip and potato are a wonderful combination. Usually I roast the two together and eat them with a goat cheese salad but I had already done that a bunch this turnip season and was looking for something new. And this dish is it. It’s a straight-forward potato gnocchi recipe but with pureed turnip mixed in. The strong flavor elevates the gnocchi from slightly bland to really delicious and with a bit of browned butter and some chopped sage you have yourself an easy, cheap and yummy meal.

One thing you have to watch out for here is the moisture in the turnips, you don’t want that to clump up your dough so here’s what you can do: put the turnips into your potato ricer one by one after they’re cooked and peeled and just squeeze them enough to get rid of the water, it works surprisingly well. After that you can blend them up in your food processor and mix them into your dough.

Turnip Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds Russet potatoes
  • 1 pound turnips
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of fresh black pepper
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 sage leaves, chopped
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Poke a few holes into the potatoes with a fork, then place potatoes and turnips on a baking sheet and roast until a knife goes through easily, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  3. Peel the potatoes and put them through a ricer into a bowl.
  4. Peel the turnips and put them in the ricer but don't try to push them through, just squeeze them enough to get the water out of them.
  5. Puree the turnips in a food processor, then mix in with the riced potatoes.
  6. Add egg, flour, salt and pepper to the bowl and distribute the ingredients evenly by stirring them around with a fork.
  7. Carefully knead the ingredients just enough to let them come together into a ball.
  8. Divide the dough into 4 pieces.
  9. Roll each piece into a ½-inch-thick rope.
  10. Cut the rope into 1-inch-long gnocchi. (If you like, lightly press and roll each gnocchi down the backside of a fork to create ridges).
  11. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
  12. Add half of the gnocchi and cook until they float to the surface (1 - 2 minutes).
  13. Spoon the gnocchi out and cook the remaining half in the same fashion.
  14. Melt the butter in a skillet and cook until it starts to brown.
  15. Add the sage and cook for a minute.
  16. Drizzle the butter over the gnocchi and serve.

 

Food Photography and Styling: Isn’t that spoon great? I got it a while ago from an antique store, it apparently used to be a mining spoon but I think it looks great as a sauce spoon in a food photo. It’s got a super-long handle (like 8 inches), which means that I can grab it easily and firmly without any worry that my finger tips will be in the frame…wonderful! The surface in this photo is a vintage metal trunk and I think it almost looks like fabric here.

As for the food styling, I intentionally didn’t skim the foam off the butter to keep the liquid in the bowl of the spoon from looking just uniformly dark. Other than that I made sure to distribute the sage bits more or less evenly over all the gnocchi and arranged them in a nice, circular pattern to keep the viewer’s eye circulating around in the frame.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/4, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Cinnamon Bourbon Honey Cayenne Roasted Plum Tart

Cinnamon Bourbon Honey Cayenne Roasted Plum Tart

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

This plum tart features a multitude of flavors but is really easy to make. Best of all, the tart shell and the filling are prepared completely separately, so the danger of a soggy crust is reduced to a minimum.

Here’s how it goes: you macerate the fruit in a mix of Bourbon, honey, cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper. All those flavors work very well together, the cayenne pepper adds just a bit of sharpness that enhances the cinnamon. Once the plums have soaked up all the liquid you roast them in the oven until they are soft. Then you lay them into the fully baked shell and voila, your tart is ready to serve!

Cinnamon Bourbon Honey Cayenne Roasted Plum Tart
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients:
For the crust:
  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons ice water (more if needed)
For the filling:
  • ½ cup Bourbon
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 9 ripe plums
  • whipped cream to serve
Instructions:
For the crust:
  1. Whisk flour, sugar and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Add the shortening and the butter and cut them in with a pastry cutter until you have the consistency of a meal.
  3. Sprinkle the water over the fat/flour/sugar mix and bring the dough together with your hands. (If the dough doesn't come together, add a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time).
  4. Form the dough into a disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
  5. Roll out the dough in between two sheets of plastic wrap and then fit into an 9-inch greased tart pan.
  6. Put back in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  7. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Line the dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove the weights and the foil and bake until golden-brown (about another 20 minutes), then take out and let cool but leave the oven running at 350 degrees F. While the crust bakes, make the filling.
For the filling:
  1. Add Bourbon to a saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. Let cool.
  2. Stir in honey, cinnamon and cayenne. Set aside.
  3. Slice the plums into wedges and add to a large bowl.
  4. Pour the Bourbon glaze into the bowl and toss the plums in it until they are well coated. Let the plums macerate in the liquid for 20 minutes.
  5. Spread the plum slices out on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Don't throw away the macerating liquid.
  6. Lay the slices into the tart shell in circles, then brush some of the remaining cinnamon liquid onto the plums.
  7. Serve with whipped cream.

Food Photography and Styling: To show the nice spiral pattern that the plum slices formed I shot this tart from an overhead perspective. I started the shoot by setting the tart pan directly on the wood and then tried various items underneath it (fabrics and paper of various colors). The white paper looked best to me because of the way it made the black, scalloped rim of the pan stand out, it gave the tart a really pretty outline. As far as equipment goes I used my strobe (as always) but instead of my 105mm lens I actually used my 60mm macro lens here. I generally only use the 60mm on restaurant shoots (because space can be very limited in a restaurant) but I was in the middle of reorganizing my studio last week and just didn’t have a high enough ladder on hand.
 
Nikon D600, 60mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 250. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Rosemary Caramel

Why I love it: The goat cheese and the rosemary add new and interesting flavors that transform this simple dessert into something special.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Rosemary Caramel Sauce RecipeForest Picnic SpotRosemary Caramel SauceGoat Cheese Cheesecake with Rosemary Infused Caramel SauceForest Summer Picnic Spot

To license any of the images please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Hi there! How’s your summer going? I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I do, it’s been great over here in the Rockies. The weather is wonderful and we’ve already been doing lots of great hiking and a bit of camping. I should say “glamping” because we have a small camper with such delightful features as a bed, running water, a stovetop and a fridge. It’s awesome, I love that little thing. The fridge is nice and spacey so it’s no problem to bring cheesecake(s) either and what you see here is my new favorite camping dessert: goat cheese cheesecake drizzled with rosemary caramel sauce.

From what I can tell rosemary caramel sauce seems to be a common accompaniment to cheesecake but I had never made it until last week, which is a shame because it tastes fantastic. You make it simply by infusing the cream you use for your caramel sauce with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

The goat cheese cheesecake recipe comes from Whole Foods. I saw it and knew immediately that I had to try it, I mean what a great idea! The result was wonderful, the goat cheese adds its signature tangy flavor to the cake and turns it into something half savory. The cake is not very sweet at all, the sweetness in this dessert comes mostly from the caramel sauce.

As you can see I made individual small cakes with tart molds here but you can also make one large cheesecake. Either way it’s a great dessert for just about any occasion and also perfect for bringing to a picnic in the forest and eating on a bench under a nice, shady tree.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Rosemary Caramel
 
This recipe is for one 9-inch springform pan or 8 individual 4-inch tart molds with removable bottoms. Fill the pan or molds ¾ full.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients:
For the graham cracker crust:
  • 1⅓ cup crushed graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 12 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
For the rosemary caramel sauce:
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 long sprig of fresh rosemary
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
Instructions:
For the graham cracker crust and the cheesecake:
  1. Head on over to Whole Foods for instructions. Small individual tarts take much less time to bake than a 9-inch cake, start to check them after 10 minutes.
For the rosemary caramel sauce:
  1. Add the cream and the rosemary sprig to a saucepan.
  2. Heat the cream until it starts to simmer, then turn the heat off, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the rosemary sprig and transfer the cream to a container you can pour from. Set aside.
  4. Clean the saucepan well, then add the water to it.
  5. Add the sugar in a mound into the middle of the saucepan. Be careful not to have any sugar on the sides of the pan.
  6. Turn the heat on to high and without any stirring or touching of any sort, let the sugar/water mix come to a full boil. Be careful, the mix will get very, very hot. Do not touch the pot or the caramel under any circumstances.
  7. Keep boiling the mix on high heat (still without any stirring) until it starts to turn golden brown.
  8. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to boil until the mix reaches a deep amber color.
  9. Turn the heat off.
  10. Standing back, very slowly whisk the cream into the mix, a little bit at a time. The sauce will bubble violently and is still very hot, so be careful.
  11. Let the sauce cool until you can handle it easily and fill into a glass container. If it's too thick by the time you want to use it, gently warm it up over a pot of hot water or in the microwave.
Notes:
Recipe adapted from: Whole Foods Market

Food Photography and Styling: Photographing whole, large cheesecakes is really a trick and trying to cut a perfect piece out of a whole cheesecake is even more difficult so to make it easier on myself I resorted to a small, individual cake. Drips are always beautiful in my opinion so I made sure to have some caramel sauce run over the sides of the cake (and to imply that I had just poured the sauce I let a drip run down the saucepan in the background as well). That was a bit of a trick too because the sauce had to have just the right temperature to be runny enough to form drips but not too runny to run away, so to speak. Since you can’t see the rosemary in the sauce I put a sprig of it on top of the cake and sprinkled some in the background as well.

Cold Sesame Noodles

Why I love it: This dish takes five minutes to make, is delicious and requires mostly pantry ingredients. It’s perfect when you don’t have time or groceries.

Cold Sesame Noodles with ChiliRaw Soba Noodle Packets

To license any of the images please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

A few weeks ago we watched the series Cooked, a documentary about the history of cooking that is based on Michael Pollan’s book by the same name. It’s a very interesting show that is also absolutely beautifully shot, if you haven’t seen it I definitely recommend it. One of the things I was at first surprised to learn from Cooked was that people in the U.S. cook less today than they have in at least 30 years

I didn’t realize that this was the case, what with all the cooking shows and, yes, food blogs out there. But after thinking about it a bit I could actually understand it. Cooking is a job. It takes time, planning, thinking and energy. And with all the responsibilities each of us have in our daily life, time and energy to cook a homemade meal every evening are a luxury for many of us. And I have to admit that even though I love to cook and have time for it, I too usually prefer a quick and easy recipe.

That’s where this simple noodle dish comes in. It’s delicious, cheap, super easy and takes five minutes from start to finish. You simply whisk together sesame oil, natural peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sambal and coconut milk, and then toss freshly cooked soba noodles in. Mix in a few fresh vegetables like carrots or cabbage for some crunch and you have a perfectly satisfying meal.

Cold Sesame Noodles
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 4 ounces soba noodles, uncooked
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (with peanuts as the only ingredient)
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sambal (more if you like it spicier)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • mint leaves and sesame seeds (optional)
  • shredded cabbage and/or carrot
Instructions:
  1. Cook the soba noodles according to package instructions, then thoroughly rinse them with cold water.
  2. Whisk oil, peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sambal and coconut milk together until smooth.
  3. Toss the cold noodles with the sauce, sprinkle with mint leaves and sesame seeds (if using), add shredded vegetables and serve immediately.
  4. Whatever you don't eat you need to throw away, you cannot store this noodle dish.

Food Photography and Styling: A most difficult subject. Gray, thin strands covered in gooey brown sauce and nothing else. Definitely not an easy task. I made sure to lay the noodles in the bowl in an orderly and wavy pattern and positioned my strobe at about the 11 o’clock position for a dramatic look. There are chili peppers in the sambal so I put a dried chili in the composition to add a splash of color and to mirror the waviness of the noodles.