Archive for February, 2011

Here’s a recipe that will appeal to fans of Thai food, paleo/low-carb eaters, people who want yet another delicious Thai-inspired use for Stokesberry Farm’s ground chicken and local tasty winter vegetables, or anyone who wants to try something new.

Pad woon sen is a particularly delicious Thai noodle dish. Woon sen are thin glass noodles made of rice or bean; in pad woon sen they’re typically stir-fried with meat, vegetables, sauces and egg. I make the dish now and then, or sometimes enjoy it out (Chayo on 15th near Northgate makes a mean pad woon sen). But it is kind of a large tangle of carbohydrates and leaves one a little sleepy. But…

Not too long ago, I was shopping at Madison Market and saw something in the refrigerator case that caught my eye: a package of what looked like woon sen noodles, except they were actually kelp. I couldn’t resist; I bought them.

I kept putting off cooking them. They keep many months in the package and, honestly, since I hadn’t tried them, it felt like a gamble. There were too many nights when I was busy with homework and wanted to cook something familiar and reliable. What if they were terrible, and I had to eat something bad while doing homework, or waste food/time cooking something new? I’d open my fridge it would say, “Make your mother’s roast chicken; it’ll cook while you study.” or “Don’t you want the rest of that onion soup in the freezer? I thought so.”

Note that if your fridge is talking to you, you might want to start getting more sleep.

But my fridge was secretly conspiring with the package of noodles. The fridge slowly talked me into getting all the right ingredients, unaware of what I was doing. And so, yesterday, when I finished a deadline and opened the fridge, I heard: “Look. You can defrost that ground chicken in the freezer. Meanwhile, we have shiitake and oyster mushrooms, carrots, onions, broccoli, spinach, napa cabbage, garlic, eggs, a lime, and those damned kelp glass noodles. Do ANY of these things not go together?”

My fridge had a point. That was pretty much the makings of a perfect pad woon sen. (Also, I really needed a nap.)

I tasted a kelp noodle. It was a little crunchy. I was a little skeptical. But I was done with a deadline, and decided I’d cook this anyway. It only took a few minutes: Throw the garlic and onion in the wok, add some fish sauce (soy or other sauce optional), add carrots, cook till soft, add mushrooms… Cook in the chicken, add the broccoli and cabbage and noodles, add eggs and stir until cooked. Maybe ten minutes.

Reader, I ate it. The kelp noodles lost their salad-like crunchiness in the wok. They were pretty much just like the regular woon sen noodles except less chewy (and woon sen is a little too chewy, if you ask me).

The only thing is, these noodles are made pretty much of water, sodium, and calcium. True, they have almost no carbohydrate (1g) but they have almost no *anything* — which is to say you really want to make this dish with meat or something substantial, or you’re going to be hungry again pretty quickly.


Pad Woon Sen (Sea Kelp version) With Ground Chicken, Winter Vegetables and Egg

NB: This recipe is very approximate in ingredients and proportions. You can modify it to taste like any kind of stir-fry you like to make. Fish sauce is essential for Thai flavor, and spices or ginger make a nice addition.

  • 1 package kelp noodles (available at Madison Market and possibly elsewhere
  • 3/4 – 1 lb ground chicken (Stokesberry has this at the U-District and Ballard farmers markets)
  • Assorted winter vegetables (garlic, onion, carrots, napa cabbage, mushrooms — the shiitake and oyster mix from the U-district market worked beautifully, broccoli, etc)
  • 2 eggs
  • fish sauce
  • soy or other Asian stir-fry sauce (optional)
  • coconut oil or chicken fat (schmaltz; Stokesberry has this, although the amazing jar I have is one I got in San Francisco)
  • 1 lime
  • a pinch of sugar (optional; you can also use Thai palm sugar which is not very sweet at all)
  • hot sauce to serve (optional)
  • other flavors, like ginger or hot peppers, as desired


1. In a wok, stir-fry onion and garlic in oil or fat. Add a few dashes of fish sauce. Add carrots and stir.

2. Add a bit more fat/oil and add mushrooms. Cook until they emit liquid.

3. Add ground chicken and any other flavors (ginger, hot chilis, etc) and stir until cooked. You can add the optional pinch of sugar at this point.

4. Add other vegetables and cook for a minute or so.

5. Add kelp noodles and a little more oil/fat. Stir to combine.

6. Make a hole near the bottom of the pan for two eggs, and crack eggs into it. Let them cook a minute undisturbed, then break them up with your spoon and stir them throughout.

7. Add lime or any other flavors (taste and adjust), stir, and serve hot.




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Mini Quiche Cakes

This recipe happened by accident.

Here’s what I was going for: I’ve been making quiches with alternative crusts. Sometimes frittata-style/crustless, sometimes gluten-free, often nut-based. Recently I made a quiche whose crust was made of thinly-sliced potatoes (you could also use sunchokes) that I’d layered throughout the pie pan bottom and sides, covered in olive oil and a little salt, and pre-baked before adding the quiche filling and baking again.

Some of the potatoes were colorful deep purples and pinks. I wondered, what if I made the same thing, but in ramekins? Could I turn it upside down and get a little quiche dome coated with a thin dome of nicely-colored potatoes?

It turns out the result if you do that doesn’t work very well; it’s better to leave the quiche in its container, because the potatoes don’t hold a great shape.

But. BUT!

I had some left over little bits of potato, so I made a few ramekins where the potato slices were placed with a bit more space in between them, allowing quiche filling to come through. The result? These nice little cakes, browned at the edges, cheesy on the bottom, and full of quiche deliciousness.

Great brunch food. You could probably also reheat these for a few breakfasts.

Mini Quiche Cakes

makes four ramekins

  • a few very small, colorful potatoes
  • 4 ramekins or ceramic baking cups
  • 2 eggs
  • ~ 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 mushrooms sliced or chopped
  • small handful italian parsley chopped fine
  • other greens (spinach, kale, collard) chopped fine
  • cheese (gruyere, swiss, cheddar) grated
  • salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
  • a teaspoon of flour (I use rice flour. This is optional)
  • olive oil
  • butter


1. Preheat oven to about 385 (somewhere in the 375-400 range depending on your oven)

2. Slice potatoes into thin pieces and cut the slices so they’re about an inch across. All shapes are fine. In a bowl, coat these slices with olive oil and sprinkle salt on them. Arrange the slices in the ramekins, on bottoms and sides. Allow space between them.

3. Gently place ramekins in oven and bake until potatoes soften, probably about 10-15 minutes. If some slices have fallen off the sides, gently put them back in place.

4. While the potatoes are cooking, start your filling. Slice onion thin and cook it slowly in butter with a little salt until all pieces are either browned or clear.

5. Add a little more butter and olive oil, and add your mushrooms, letting as many slices touch the pan as possible. Turn when browned, and cook until they release liquid.

6. Add parsley and stir for a minute. Add greens and cook until done.

7. Flavor: Add nutmeg, pepper and salt to taste. Also, add the teaspoon of rice flour and stir well. This helps it stick to/combine with the egg later.

8. In a bowl, whisk eggs with cream. Add a pinch of salt and a little more nutmeg. Mix in your vegetable filling.

9. Pour the filling into the ramekin cups, taking care not to knock all the potato bits off the sides. Grate cheese on top, which will become the bottom.

10. Bake until done, about 20 minutes. Let them cool slightly before running a knife around the sides and turning them onto a plate.



More pictures of the successful cakes:

Here, on the other hand, is what happens when you try to coat the ramekin fully with potatoes:

Better to leave these experiments in their containers. 🙂

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