Veggie Lunchbox and Shrimp 'Veins' With a Side of Hot Fudge
There were too many good questions left undone from this week's What's Cooking jamboree. Below, a few to chew on, with an invitation to weigh in on any or all of the topics -- vegetarian workday lunches, deveining shrimp and the search for a true-blue hot fudge sauce.
Have a delicious and safe weekend.
Vienna, Va.: Kim, do you have any ideas for a healthy, satisfying vegetarian lunch that I could easily pack in a lunchbox at 6 a.m.? I've tried the old standby of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but it doesn't seem to fill me; I've tried packing leftovers, but my supply of leftovers is inconsistent.
Vienna, you're a prime candidate for Jamaican patties, veggie style. (Scroll past the meat filling details and you'll see what I'm talking about.)
Spend an afternoon on the weekend whipping up a batch, then you can freeze them individually, pack it in your sack and by lunch time, the patty is thawed and you can heat it up at your office. Use the recipe as a guideline, but you can mix and match veggies, and I might even add chickpeas to the mix for kicks. A wonderful hand-held treat that will hit the spot.
For the second day in a row, I'm giving a high five to gazpacho, the cold tomato-based puree that is a zillion times better than a V-8. The reason for my encore praise is that not only does it cool you off, gazpacho keeps all week long, so that you can have instant presto lunch at the ready.
My larger point, though, is that a batch of soup made on the weekend, is wonderful lunchtime fare for workers of the world, particularly for a veg head like you.
For a healthy inbetween meal snack, may I suggest a handful of Lulu's cookies, a wholesome biscuit-y honey-sweetened nugget chockfull of seeds, raisins, oats and chocolate chips -- and it's dairy and egg free! Batter can be frozen and used as needed, which makes them even more convenient.
I'd also consider picking up a slab of silken tofu, whipped in the food processor, and seasoned with herbs, garlic, scallions, cayenne or whatever else excites you. Use it like a spread, on crackers or inbetween bread bookends, great with cherry tomatoes this time of year.
Mt Vernon, Va.: My husband and I quite often get uncooked shrimp from the supermarket that has already been deveined. I've noticed every time I peel and wash the shrimp before we use it that there is what looks like to us a 'poop' line on the underside of the shrimp. What is this line? By the way, I always take the time to remove it.
Hey, Mt. Vernon, the "vein" is a euphemism for the shrimp's digestive tract, which can appear on both the back and on the concave side that you refer to. Usually, black gritty deposits will surface on the exterior back side, which admittedly can be unsightly when you're entertaining. As for the interior side, I wouldn't worry too much. Usually that line is more of a milky gray color and is harmless. The most important thing is to do what makes you comfortable; however, may I suggest that next time you buy shrimp, ask the person behind the counter where it was caught. Domestic shrimp is the way to go.
Charlotte, N.C.: I promised my sister-in-law that I would make her hot fudge sauce -- the thick kind that kinda hardens a little on ice cream and has a little sugary, gritty taste. I can't seem to find a good recipe that doesn't get chewy on the ice cream -- any ideas? HELP! I need this for a trip next week and I'm getting desperate! Thanks!
Hard to say, Charlotte, if you're asking for a chocolate coating (I'm thinking Dairy Queen) or a classic hot fudge sauce that you warm up just before serving.
I'll go out on a limb here and offer up recipe details from David Lebovitz, the man who hasn't steered me wrong yet in his very reliable "The Perfect Scoop."
Because I haven't tried this one myself, I don't have stovetop notes to share. The other thing I'd like to point out is that this recipe calls for corn syrup, one of my least favorite ingredients on the planet given its connection to big agri-business, but it is handy as a stabilizer for candy and confections, which is essentially what you're making.
One possible substitute is golden syrup, an amber-colored syrup made from byproducts of cane sugar processing. It looks and tastes similar to honey, and because of its color doesn't always work seamlessly. A common sweetener in the U.K., where it's manufactured, golden syrup is trickier to find in this country, often displayed near maple syrup and corn syrup. Look for the green tin with the brand name "Lyles."
That said, here's Lebovitz's recipe, which looks super easy; please let me know how things turn out.
Lean Chocolate Sauce
From "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz
2 cups water
1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup light corn syrup
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Whisk water, cocoa powder and corn syrup together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a very low and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth. Serve warm.
Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Rewarm it gently in a microwave or by stirring in a saucepan over very low heat.
Makes 2 cups.
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